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Putin Defends Invasion of Ukraine in Victory Dad Address; Zelenskyy Delivers His Own Address to Mark Victory Day; G7 Leaders Give Zelenskyy Pledge of Continued Support; Supporters of Abortion Rights Demonstrate Across the U.S.; Voting Underway in Philippine Presidential Race. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 09, 2022 - 04:30   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: President Putin used the occasion to defend Russia's invasion of Ukraine drawing really parallels to the Second World War and blaming the West for not listening to the Kremlin's complaints. He also accused Ukraine of trying to acquire nukes. Have a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In Kyiv they were talking about the possible acquisition of nuclear weapons. The NATO bloc started developing, actively developing territories adjacent to us. And therefore, in the planned way were creating an absolutely unacceptable threat immediately next to our borders.

Everything pointed to a collision with the Nazism -- with the Nazis and with Banderites that was inevitable. And that was supported by the West. We could see how military infrastructure was being developed, how hundreds of foreign advisers were at work, regular supplies of the most modern weapons from NATO. Danger was increasing every day. Russia repelled this aggression in a preventive way. This was the only correct decision, and it was a timely decision.


SOARES: The only correct decision, the only timely decision. Jill Dougherty is adjunct professor at Georgetown University and was CNN's former bureau chief. And she joins me now from Washington. Jill, great to have you with us. As a correspondent, I know you lived for many years in Moscow. You have seen many of these Victory Day parades. You've heard many of President Putin's speeches over the years. What stood out to you today?

JILL DOUGHERTY, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: You know, I think it was more subdued than I expected. And I really think of it more, excuse me, as kind of a pep talk to the Russian people. I mean, to me this is a speech really for the Russian people. It's saying something that President Putin has said all along since the beginning of this conflict. It's not our fault. It was the West. It was NATO. They were plotting to actually attack Russia. And so, there was nothing that we could do. We had to respond. And then also, you know, he made that direct link between World War

II, the victory of the Soviet people, and then what's happening today. As we know, there were soldiers, Russian soldiers on Red Square today who were fighting in Donbas. So, he's making that direct link. And also, significantly he's talking about the price that the Russian people now have to pay for this. He didn't give any numbers, but he did say that Russian soldiers are dying. He admitted that. And, in fact, said, well, I've had a presidential decree to help them and the families, especially the children. So that was an acknowledgment I think that there is a price to be paid.

And then, Isa, I cannot avoid talking about the things that he worked into the speech. I mean, he actually worked in cancel culture, which is kind of an American concept. But he said, you know, Russia is the country that protects traditional values, and these are the values that they tried to cancel.

These are things that I think, if I look at a list of things that Vladimir Putin puts together for the etiology that he presents to the Russian people, it was really, you know, right down the list. The West started it. We are innocent. We are the people who are protecting actually the West and Western values and traditional values. It was really -- I don't want to make light of it, but it is really extraordinary what he packed into this in terms of his own view, his own resentment of the West and the way that he wrote that the United States tried, and he used this word, to humiliate the world.

SOARES: It is fascinating to hear what you took away from it, Jill, of course, because you've heard these speeches from Putin. He sounded defiant. I, too, was expecting more. He didn't mention, he didn't say war. He didn't call it a war. He still continued calling it a special military operation.

But like you said, I mean, I wrote down that almost he's attempting to justify his invasion of Ukraine to his own people. And I think that message, like you said, it's critically important as we know that the losses that have occurred here in Ukraine. What do you think that would translate to, though? Are we mobilization of forces? How would that be received back home, do you think -- Jill.

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, he didn't do that. And, of course, there was a lot of speculation that he would. So, what do we draw from that? Well, at this point he doesn't feel that he can do it. And if you look at some of the polling -- although, you know, polling is very difficult right now in Russia, people can't express their opinions. But it appears that there wouldn't be a lot of support for a massive mobilization.


So, perhaps at this point he feels, you know, the public would not accept it, but we don't know. I mean, this to me was kind of a, let's call it a place holder for where we are right now. But this is not the final statement by President Putin, I think. It was really, you know, we are, we've succeeded it. There was something he said, you know, it was an inevitable conflict. But Russia repelled the threat. So, at this point Russia has, in his eyes, has protected itself, and now the battle continues. But there's a lot of -- but there are a lot of loose ends in terms of where this goes.

SOARES: Yes. I mean, he did talk -- didn't talk about Kyiv. He didn't talk about Ukraine as a whole. He mentioned Donbas in particular -- as you noted there. And we have seen -- which is coming in -- we are seeing small pro-Russian events in Kherson. I think we have footage of this happening today, small crowds waving -- I think we've seen small crowds waving red flags and carrying flowers. Ukrainian activists in Kherson, Jill, being told have claimed Russia brought in people from Crimea to try and bolster the numbers.

For President Zelenskyy as we try to see -- you know, as we've seen in Kherson, kind of this russification here. How worried do you think President Zelenskyy should be given from what we heard from President Putin today that this could go on for some time?

DOUGHERTY: I would think that is a conclusion that we have to draw, it would go on for a long time. Because there's no real definition here. You know, in the beginning people were saying, well, maybe he could declare a victory, or maybe it's all-out conflict with NATO. And neither really happened, although he moved in the NATO direction, I think. But not saying he that he wanted war. It was very much, you know, we don't want war but we were forced into. Which is very typical of President Putin.

You know, Isa, on the images, because this is really -- you know, you have to say this is the weaponization of history. So, images and emotion are very, very important. And I was struck when I looked at the video of President Zelenskyy walking down that street, that obviously is in Kyiv, but could be Moscow. You know, the buildings are the same, the feeling is the same. But he is walking down and kind of a, you know, fatigue, olive drab uniform by himself, walking down a street. It kind of reminds you of the victory parade in Moscow going on at the same time.

And so, what do you draw? We are still at war. You know, Ukraine is still at war. Whereas in Moscow they are celebrating, you know, a victory in World War II, which Zelenskyy would argue is hijacking history. That this is an incorrect interpretation of history. So, there were a lot of messages to me going on subliminally. But for Russians they're not subliminal. They're very visceral. So, it was interesting, again, the imagery that we saw.

SOARES: Fascinating insight, Jill. I could talk with you for hours. Really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you, Jill.

DOUGHERTY: Thank you.

SOARES: And we've got much more ahead right here on CNN. Don't go anywhere.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top story this hour. Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a defiant speech from Moscow in the last hour defending his country's invasion of Ukraine. And claiming it hadn't been provoked by the West. And for more on this I want to bring in CNN's Nic Robertson who joins me from Helsinki Finland. And Nic, I wrote this down. I actually circled it in my notepad. Because he said the West did not want to listen to Russia. They had other plans. How did you interpret what you heard today?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, those were the so-called security guarantees and proposals that Russia offered the West mid-December last year and waited sometime for a written response, and those security guarantees were really interpreted as demands. And Putin has sort of continued to use that as a stick with which to beat NATO. And say that NATO didn't want this, that it didn't, you know, wasn't going to give Russia what it wanted. And in fact, Russia -- rather, NATO was actually building up its forces in Ukraine. Hundreds of trainers, he said, sending in sophisticated weapons.

It really was a rehash, reamplification of everything President Putin has been saying about what he calls the special military operation and the need for it in Ukraine. You know, what I was watching as well, to me this was the speech, obviously, very much aimed at the Russian people.

But look at the parade itself. Look at how intensively and carefully it's being portrayed on Russian state television. A very careful set of the camera angles, you know, when the generals and the defense chiefs pull up in the big heavy vehicles, the cameras just in the right place, just to catch their expressions, just to catch the shot of the, you know, the veteran with the chest full of metals. It's all so careful. And when the Russian soldiers were there chanting back their response. It was so full on and carefully capturing the emotion and the timing of their chants on their faces.

It's a very, very powerful message for the Russian people when they need it. We completely see through what President Putin is saying, but it's not for us. I think that's one of the big take aways you feel. Because the message is so inverted of what reality is.

SOARES: Yes. As Jill Dougherty said in the last hour, it's a pep talk for those at home, those in Moscow. We heard, of course, from President Putin. We heard from President Zelenskyy. Let's listen in.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): On the day of victory over Nazism, we are fighting for a new victory. The road to it is difficult, but we have no doubt that we will win. What is our advantage over the enemy? We are smarter by one book. This is a textbook on the history of Ukraine. We would not know grief if all of our enemies could read and draw the right conclusions. On February 24th, Russia launched an offensive. Treading on the same rake. Every occupier who comes to our land treads on it. We have been through different wars, but they all had the same final.



SOARES: A powerful message there from President Zelenskyy. And Nic, I was speaking to an MP -- I think be it was in the last hour -- having listened of course to President Putin -- a Ukrainian MP. And she said to me, of course the fear is his attack now that we've heard from President Putin and it seems that the special military operation -- as he calls it -- will continue. So, we're looking at protracted war here. What would this mean? She was worried about the support, the continued support from the West and its allies. I know the G7 met yesterday. Give us a sense of what came out of that meeting. Because I know there was a show of solidarity ahead of this.

ROBERTSON: There was. And then it was designed to come ahead of this message in particular, too, you know, put a shadow on President Putin's own message. And it was a message of continuity, of support, of continuing to help Ukraine not just fight the war with the weapons that it needs to hold Russia back, but potentially push Russia back off of Ukrainian territory. Which we have heard from so many Western leaders is the aim. This is what Ukraine calls for and there is respect and support for that.

But also, the immediate day-to-day needs of the Ukrainian government to run the country, to pay its workers, to pay its soldiers, to pay the nurses, to pay the doctors, to pay all those in transport, the international community will continue to stand behind. Look there absolutely is a recognition among Ukrainians, the Ukrainian businessmen and others, of course, that, you know, Western support can only last a finite amount of time. But it stands there today. That was the message.

SOARES: Nic Robertson for us in Helsinki, Finland. Thanks very much, Nic. And that does it for me. Isa Soares in Lviv, Ukraine. We've got much more ahead on our breaking news coverage of the war in Ukraine at the top of the hour on "EARLY START." For now, I want to send it back to Max Foster in London for some of our other top stories -- Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Isa. Millions of Filipinos are voting right now to choose their next president. We'll look at the front runners, the current Vice President versus the son of a late dictator.



FOSTER: Supporters of abortion rights made a lot of noise in Kansas City, Missouri. One of many such demonstrations as they faced on Sunday. Connecticut's governor and to Congress members attended a rally supporting abortion rights in Westport. Connecticut has recently passed laws protecting women from out of state seeking abortions there. Now, protesters also made their feelings known outside the U.S.

Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. Seeing similar regular protests since the leak of a draft opinion that would strike down Roe vs. Wade. The decision that established abortion rights in the U.S.

Senate Democrats are moving forward with legislation that would write abortion rights into law. Majority leader Chuck Schumer has a plan to advance the Women's Health Protection Act . He says he plans to file a motion that that will call on all Senate members to vote.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: This is no longer an abstract exercise. This is the real deal, and everyone's eyes are on them. So, we can always hope and we must have this vote. Every Senator must show where he or she stands.


FOSTER: The Senate is expected to vote on Wednesday on The Women's Health Protection Act, but it's unlikely to pass since it needs at least 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.

Voting has begun in the Philippines as voters pick the country's president for the next six years. There's a large field of candidates. But the two main contenders are Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., the son of the country's late dictator, and incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo.

Senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is tracking the election from Hong Kong. And a potential return of the Marcos family -- Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is true. A potential pivotal moment for the future of the Philippines. This is a big election, a record 67.5 million voters registered. More than 18,000 positions up for grabs. All the way from kind of local legislative council members to the top job, the president.

Not surprisingly, one of the key concerns is the economy for voters because the Philippines, through the COVID pandemic, like many countries around the world and here in Asia, has taken a beating economically. Take a listen to what several Filipino voters had to say to us earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): A candidate who is smart. That's important. It's also important to have strength. Someone who is ready to help people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our situation is not good now. The prices of goods are too high. Maybe the next leader will be able to control it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Poverty, jobs, I was an overseas Filipino worker. I am hoping that for us we'll be able to find job opportunities here.


WATSON: Now, Max, there are ten candidates for the post of president. They include the mayor of Manila who is the former TV star, the boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. The two who are believed to be front runners according to the polls are the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., the son goes by "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. and he served as a governor, as lawmaker in the past.

He's been campaigning on a pledge of economic renewal, of unity, and frankly nostalgia. Kind of rewriting the history of his father's legacy, who ruled under martial law for nearly a decade. His regime had a horrific human rights record. And Marcos Sr. was ousted in a people power movement in 1986.


Marcos, his widow was seen going to the polls, of course, Imelda Marcos, famous for her shoe collection. Which became a symbol of corruption allegations on a massive scale that the Marcos dynasty was implicated in. He's running against the Vice President, outgoing Vice President here, Leni Robredo, who is a lawyer. Who's been campaigning on transparency and democracy. These two politicians ran head to head in the 2016 election for vice president. She beat "Bongbong" Marcos, jr. There are a couple hours left before the polls are expected to close. We'll see who wins this time.

FOSTER: Looks like a big turnout doesn't it. Ivan, thank you very much for joining us from Hong Kong.

The NBA playoffs are kicking into high gear. Dallas Mavericks drawing 23 pointers to even their series against the Phoenix Suns at two games apiece. Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic had a double-double while scoring 26 points. And in Philadelphia, the 76ers drew even in their series against the Miami Heat with 116-108 Victory. Despite going scoreless in the first quarter, superstar James Harden exploded for 31 points to lead the 76ers to victory.

And it was a blazing sun and speed in Miami on Sunday. For the first time ever, Formula One racing came to the Sunshine State. At least one driver called the Miami Grand Prix the super bowl of Formula One with stars like Tom Brady and the former first lady in attendance. Max Verstappen took the checkered flag with his third win this season.

That does it here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max foster in London. Our coverage continues on "EARLY START" with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett. You're watching CNN.