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Ukrainians Fighting Back After Russian Unit Cross River in East; New Surveillance Video Released in Alabama Manhunt Case; Russia on the List of State Sponsors Terror; Parents Scramble to Find Baby Formula as Shortage Worsens. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired May 09, 2022 - 09:30   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Now CNN has confirmed the existence of that pontoon bridge.

Joining me now to discuss, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army.

Always good to see you, General. Let's start on that pontoon bridge there. When you see this, is that concerning to you? And what do you think it could mean moving forward?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's always a part of intelligence, Erica, to denote these kind of things occurring on the frontline. And the Donbas fight, especially in the north, especially in the southern Donetsk area in Popasna and north of Izium all have to cross and contest the Donetsk River. So when you see a pontoon bridge, it's certainly important from a military perspective.

But what I'd also say is there have been other pontoon bridge attempted to be laid by the Russian military. And in every occasion, they have been destroyed by Ukrainian counterattacks. So the Ukraine army continues to have increased capability where those pontoon bridges, which truthfully have to be defended, aren't capable of sustaining the kind of transport that the Russians would like.

HILL: As we look at how everything is playing out, this is now day 75, I believe, what we heard from Putin this morning, no declaration of victory, as we know. More defensive. But also no indication of an end in sight. When you look at what is happening on the ground there, specifically in the south and in the east of Ukraine, where do we stand on day 75?

HERTLING: Well, where we stand, first of all, confirms what you just said, day 75. This was supposed to be a three-day war by the Russians. They fought for eight years in the Donbas and didn't achieve any kind of military objectives in terms of expanding their goals there. So what we're seeing right now, and I think, you know, we have to not only listen to what Mr. Putin said in his Victory Day speech, but what we also observed. The parade seemed much smaller.

In fact, analysis indicates now that it was about a third less. There were no overhead overflights by the Z-patterned aircraft. General Gerasimov, who was rumored to be wounded in Izium, was not noticed to be there. The hammer and sickle flag were flying behind the Russian tricolor. All of those are indicators that Mr. Putin is a little bit concerned -- there's that flag right there. A little bit concerned about his status both militarily, politically, economically and informationally.

He is losing this fight. He did not call for mobilization or call -- change the description of this as a war. So that tells me he's rethinking and doesn't have a very good end state for what he's trying to do strategically.

HILL: It's interesting when you say that tells you he's rethinking, right, just in terms of what he did and didn't say. But the fact that there's no mass mobilization that was announced, I mean, that in itself is interesting if he needs to be in this for the long haul, right, he's going to need more troops.

HERTLING: Yes. There are indicators that there is -- under the wave top calls for mobilization in some areas of Russia. But even that, Erica, gives an indication that he's failing. He has a problem or beginning in the early stages of a problem with the domestic audience within Russia. Now he certainly has support from the older generation in Russia, the ones that literally have more basis to remembering the Victory Day in Europe -- in Russia during World War II.

But the younger generation, the ones that are going to have to fight this war, as well as their mothers, are increasingly countering any kind of indications. There are indicators of sabotage throughout Russia, there are indicators of people not reporting to recruitment stations. And the fact remains, too, no matter how many people he gets in, there's an intelligence indication that they don't have equipment to man those people if they were to go into combat.

So all of this speaks to me that we're in the very early stages of a downfall of the Russian regime.

HILL: Well, we'll be watching. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, always appreciate your insight, your expertise. Thank you.

HERTLING: Thank you, Erica.

HILL: The Ukrainian president honoring a dog for sniffing out mines and saving thousands of lives. This is Patron, he's a Jack Russell terrier mix. He's become a national figure having -- uncovered, rather, more than 150 mines in the northern city of Chernihiv.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, if you see him digging for these, I mean, it's just amazing to see. One aggressive little dog. President Zelenskyy presented him and his owner with a state-award for dedicated service during his meeting with the Canadian prime minister. There's the award ceremony. The State Emergency Service is now training dozens of dogs to do similar work. Life-saving.


Still ahead, the manhunt for an Alabama corrections officer and escapee charged with murder has now gone nationwide. The latest surveillance video released by police and why one of Casey White's victims says it's so concerning that he's free. That's coming up.


HILL: The manhunt for Vicky White, an Alabama corrections officer, and Casey White, a murder suspect, is now nationwide.


On Friday authorities found their abandoned car in Tennessee that had been at a tow lot for about week.

SCIUTTO: Since then officials have released new video of Vicky White at a hotel in Alabama, there it is, the night before she disappeared with Casey White.

CNN's Nadia Romero joins us now.

Nadia, it's been a week now. Authorities say they're still in the dark. What's happening?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim and Erica, the sheriff even telling us they could be in Alaska for all he knows. And they're just waiting for that right tip to come in that will lead them to Casey White and Vicky White. And as we talk about this story, it really is the plot for a made-for-TV movie, right. This is a love story with two unlikely sources. They've been on the run for more than a week.

But we also want to remember that there are real victims of Casey White who are terrified and anxiously awaiting his capture. Now back in 2015 he went on a crime spree which included kidnapping, carjacking, police chase. And that crime spree is why he was sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Now, Casey White went into the truck of a man named Josh Goan in Limestone County, about an hour and a half from where I'm standing outside the detention center. He went into his truck, use his firearm, took it the night before, then went on this crime spree using Josh Goan's firearm, using his gun.

Well, Josh tells me that he testified in court against Casey White. And he thought back then that he could put all of this behind him when Casey was sentenced in 2019 until of course Casey Escaped from prison. Take a listen.


JOSH GOAN, VICTIM IN CASEY WHITE'S 2015 CRIME SPREE: I mean, I just -- I was very, very satisfied that they had gotten him. Gave him enough time that by the time if he ever gets out, he would not be able to do anything. So yes, I took security in that. And definitely have lost a little bit of peace the fact that he is out. I don't feel I'm necessarily worried about him coming here. The fact that he is out in the world is a terrible thing for society. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMERO: It's a terrible thing for society, you heard Josh there. He says that once he was victimized by Casey White, that he started locking his doors. He moved, like a lot of the other victims. He's hoping that Casey is going to be captured without anyone being hurt. That's his wish at this point -- Jim, Erica.

HILL: Wow. Nadia Romero, appreciate it. Thank you.

Still to come here, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. says it is not necessary to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terror. Why our expert next guest, a counterterrorism expert who spent a decade at the State Department, disagrees.



SCIUTTO: Congress is working on sending $33 billion more in aid and military equipment to Ukraine, but the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pushing the U.S. to take another move, to name Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. CNN asked the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. about the Biden administration's position on that.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I think Russia has put itself on that list of state sponsors of terror. They are carrying out terror acts of people against Ukrainian people, against Ukrainian civilians. It's not necessary for us to put them on.


SCIUTTO: OK. Joining me now, Jason Blazakis. He's professor of practice at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. For 10 years he led the State Department office that determines whether nations make that list.

Jason, good to have you. First of all, just a practical question, what practical changes would result from placing Russia on this list that, for instance, other countries, such as North Korea and Iran are on right now?

JASON BLAZAKIS, FORMER DIRECTOR, COUNTERTERRORISM FINANCE AND DESIGNATIONS OFFICE, STATE DEPARTMENT: So it would put Russia in a really small category of pariah countries joining Iran, North Korea, Syria and Cuba to the state sponsor of terrorism list. But it would also beyond the symbolism behind that which every day we see the terrorism of the Russian federation in Ukraine.

It would actually have real impact. Heretofore the Biden administration has primarily focused its sanctions tool on individuals and organizations, going after the oligarchs, sanctioning Putin, sanctioning Lavrov. This would have a country-oriented sanction. And it would have a significant impact because businesses that do business in Russia still would face reputational risk if they continue to do business in Russia. So I think we would see more businesses flee the Russian federation.

Very importantly, like span the aperture and the kinds of sanctions the U.S. could deploy against the Russian federation. It would limit, for instance, dual use exports that can be sent to the Russia federation. And then perhaps most importantly, it would increase the cost of doing business for other countries doing business with the Russia federation. They could be implicated in secondary sanctions, for instance.

SCIUTTO: So is that the key here? Is that the difference between the sanctions we've seen so far, and that it would penalize third parties, in effect, for doing business with Russia, so expand the net?

BLAZAKIS: It would. It would also require the United States to push back against any Russian efforts to secure loans at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund amongst other things, but it would be this risk calculation that other countries would have to actually perform. That is the most significant part of this. So absolutely, yes.

SCIUTTO: So, we just put up on the screen what qualifies a nation for this list. You worked on this for 10 years at the State Department. Does Russia meet that standard?

BLAZAKIS: They do meet the legal standard. It's a standard that's pretty simple. Providing support for -- repeated supports for active international terrorism. What does that mean practically for the Russian federation and whether or not they meet the legal criteria? I've made the argument in the past that there are three elements that would put Russia back on that list.


The first is, Russia continues to provide sanctuary to a terrorist group known as the Russian Imperial Movement that the Trump administration has especially designated global terrorist entity pursuant to (INAUDIBLE) back in April 2020. This is a group also that's engaged in violent activities in Ukraine. Second, the Russian federation has a long past of political assassinations.

The Litvinenko assassination in 2006, the attack against Skripal in 2018. It's the same reason why North Korea essentially was added to the state-sponsored terrorism list in 2017 for those political assassinations. And finally, the Russian federation, which is -- this the great irony of this -- provides sanctuary to American Neo-Nazi who is a leader of a Neo-Nazi group known as the Base, and he lives in St. Peterburg. And the Base is a group that tried to carry out attacks in the United States in 2020.

SCIUTTO: I covered the Litvinenko poisoning and it had been described to me as the first radiological terror attack because he was poisoned with a radioactive substance which then poisoned other people. And that was the concern there and spread out to dozens, hundreds of others. I do want to ask you this. When you hear the U.N. ambassador there

say, well, in effect Russia has already put itself on the list. What's your response to that administration position?

BLAZAKIS: That's disappointing because the state sponsor of terrorism tag would actually have real impact. Just saying that Russia put itself on the list without actually having action behind those words to me is somewhat meaningless. And I do see on Capitol Hill, for instance, Democrats and Republicans actually joining the fray, calling for Russia to be added to the list.

I saw Nancy Pelosi did that on Friday. Lindsey Graham did it as well last week. So there is this growing I think call for the Biden administration to do something about it because it would have real impact.

SCIUTTO: Yes. You're right. One of those rare bipartisan positions, particularly as it relates to Ukraine and Russia.


SCIUTTO: Jason Blazakis, thanks so much.

BLAZAKIS: Thanks, Jim. Take care.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, desperate parents now frequently facing limits on how much infant formula they can buy, when they can find it in fact. Why this shortage is getting worse, coming up.



SCIUTTO: This morning parents scrambling to find baby formula as a nationwide shortage gets even worse. New data shows at least 26 states are struggling to keep up with demands. Empty shelves there. And in six states as much as half of baby formula products out of stock.

HILL: CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joining us now with more. So I know there was a recall.


HILL: Is that what is causing this shortage or is that part of the problem?

ROMANS: It's a post-COVID perfect storm of a lot of factors that have meant trouble for a lot of families. And it's not getting any better. And that's what's really troubling here. Manufacturers say they are making as much baby formula as they can, but it's not enough to keep the store shelves stocked. In these six states, more than half a million baby formula in stores completely sold out. Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee.

Families there are struggling a bit. Some major retailers now are limiting purchases. CVS and Walgreens are allowing three toddler and infant formulas per transaction. And Target has limited baby formula to four units per customer if you're ordering online. But at Target there are no restrictions if you shop in the store. So what's happening? Supplies were already tight. That stretches back to last summer.

And then a serious product recall in February, the Food and Drug Administration told consumers not to buy three brands of powdered formula made by Abbott, Similac, Alimentum and EleCare. The FDA cited four infants becoming sick, two died, and Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan, was shut down.

Now Abbott told CNN in a statement it's working with the FDA to reopen that Sturgis plant. Until then, finding formula has been a challenge for some parents. And on social media, you can see a little bit of hysteria about this. I mean, stores and a lot of misinformation out there. You know, stores in some cases are limiting how much you can buy. But they have supplies.

HILL: Right.

ROMANS: Right. It's the more -- if you have a very specific kind of formula that only that formula will work, that's what some people are concerned about. You know, not being able to find their supply right now.

HILL: But they should be hopefully in most places they should be able to find it and their best chance is to actually go into the store physically as opposed to ordering online.

ROMANS: And look, and I would caution people who are buying this stuff from people you don't know online. I mean, be very careful about that. There's a little bit of that hysteria where people are spending a lot of money for supplies they're getting from somebody else. I would still trust your retailer.

HILL: Yes, Christine, appreciate it. Thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SCIUTTO: We do want to show you now the incredible aerial view of that historic upset at the Kentucky Derby. This was a crazy race. Rich Strike and his jockey Sonny Leon masterfully weaving through traffic, virtually the entire field there, as they were coming into the final stretch to finally outrun one of the favorites Epicenter and win it all.

I mean, listen, my mom is from Kentucky, Erica. I have watched a lot of Kentucky derbies growing up. I have never seen one like this before.

HILL: Yes.

SCIUTTO: This is crazy. And by the way, I was not bright enough to bet on that horse.

HILL: No. Well, nor was I. Odds 80 to 1. We were watching this at our house this weekend in disbelief. By the way, those are the longest odds for a winner since 1913. And keep in mind, Rich Strike wasn't even in the race until a late scratch on Friday.


HILL: His jockey told CNN today even he didn't think he could win. Take a listen.


SONNY LEON, JOCKEY WHO WON KENTUCKY DERBY WITH RICH STRIKE: I didn't have an idea he can win the derby. He could win the derby. I had a very good feeling. I know he can in the top 10 in the race. I didn't expect the relay. He did it in the Kentucky Derby. Wow. Unbelievable.


HILL: Unbelievable is right. Rich Strike also got a little attention for nipping at another horse after the race.