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Russia Marks Victory Day With Major Military Parade; Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Resigns; Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Leads In Philippines Presidential Election; U.S. Official: Biden Wants Intelligence Leaks To Stop; Jill Biden Meets Ukraine's First Lady During Visit; Prime Minister Resigns Amid Protests Over Economic Crisis; Opposition Leader Starmer Says He'll Resign If Fined For Breaking COVID Regulations. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 09, 2022 - 14:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, HOST, CNN NEWSROOM: Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade, you're watching CNN Newsroom live from Atlanta. Tonight, a show of military power in Moscow as Vladimir Putin defends his actions in Ukraine on Russia's victory day. We'll have all the reaction. Then Sri Lanka's prime minister resigns as protests over the economic crisis descends into violence. And later, is history about to be made in the Philippines? We'll have the latest on the presidential elections after polls close.

We have no new victory to declare on victory day. Vladimir Putin used one of Russia's most significant holidays to try to justify his invasion of Ukraine, and rallied his people around the war. He presided over a military parade in Moscow, held every year to commemorate the Soviet Union's World War II victory over Nazi Germany. That Russian president falsely said that his forces are fighting Nazis once again.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): I am now addressing our armed forces and militias of Donbas. You are fighting for the motherland, for its future. No one forgets the lessons of the Second World War. So that, there is no place in the world for executioners, punishers and Nazis.


KINKADE: In stark contrast to the pageantry in Moscow, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy walked the streets of Kyiv alone for his victory day address. Ukrainians of course were part of the Soviet forces who won World War II, and President Zelenskyy says, Ukraine will now defeat the Russians as well.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE (through translator): We are fighting for our children's freedom, and therefore we will win. We will never forget what our ancestors did in World War II, which killed more than 8 million Ukrainians. Very soon, there will be two victory days in Ukraine, and someone won't have any. We won then, and we will win now. Happy victory over Nazism day.


KINKADE: Well, pro Russian separatists held victory day celebrations in several occupied Ukrainian towns and cities today. This giant black and orange ribbon paraded through Mariupol is a traditional symbol of Russian military valor. Well, let's bring in Sam Kiley for more, he is in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. And Sam, Putin didn't make any grant declaration on victory day, nor did he signal what might come next in this war.

But he continued with his baseless claims that Russia is fighting Neo- Nazis in Ukraine. This is despite the fact that the president is Jewish and had ancestors that fought in World War II. Just give us a sense of the feeling in Ukraine.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a lot of buildup over this date, May 9th for victory day. An expectation among international commentators, the media, and I have to say ordinary Ukrainians, that perhaps Vladimir Putin would use today as an opportunity to do anything from declaring annexation of yet more Ukrainian territory, to launching some kind of major offensive. But the reality is that his forces themselves had probably stretched too thin already to do that.

But firstly and secondly, it's other people's obsessions, so particularly the media likes to put perhaps too much emphasis on these moments -- these anniversary moments. Nonetheless, it was marked into incredibly different ways in -- here in Ukraine, with a number of -- kind of, ceremonial performances in areas under Russian occupation and in Russia. A Somewhat muted sort of parade with, as you say, Vladimir Putin certainly repeating his past justifications, Rosmy(ph).

KINKADE: And Sam, Russia, of course, is continuing with these atrocious attacks on civilians. Ukraine's president says, some 60 people were killed after Russia bombed a school which was sheltering dozens of people. You met some of the survivors, I can only imagine their terror.

KILEY: Well yes, Rosmy(ph), I mean, this is part of the kind of grand political statements being made by Moscow versus the reality on the ground. And victory celebrations, and what victory looks like, and this is what it looks like in Ukraine.



KILEY (voice-over): This, for Vladimir Putin, is what a modern Russian victory looks like. Dozens dead or missing from a Russian airstrike on a Russian-speaking village, as part of a Russian campaign that Putin says is to protect his kin folk in Ukraine. The rescuers are saying the heat is overwhelming. Local authorities fear, about 60 people died here.

This was a school in Bilohorivka, in eastern Ukraine. Villagers were sheltering in its basement. Some had been there for weeks. Survivors were left with little, but grief. We asked if his family had been with him. His mother didn't survive.

(on camera): It is not lost on anybody here that on the eve of Vladimir Putin's celebration of the Soviet victory in the Second World War over Nazi Germany, it is civilians who are suffering the most in the name of Vladimir Putin's denazification of Ukraine. A country with a Jewish president.

"I got slammed down by a slab, bent into a bull. Then another explosion, small rocks sprinkled darkness. Then, I looked and the dust settled and a ray of light appeared. Sergey(ph) crawled out, then he dug me out. Dug uncle Tolia(ph) out. Dug aunt Ira(ph) out. We crawled all in a fog", he said.

(voice-over): Ukraine has stalled Russia's plans for conquest. So the Kremlin's added strategic sites like oil supplies to its target list and stepped up its airstrikes against civilians in eastern Ukraine, this week hitting a residential block in the strategic city of Kramatorsk.

Ukrainian politicians refer to Putin's campaign ideology as a fascist creed they call Russism. Speaking soon after the latest airstrike, he said they shoot prisoners, they torture women and children, they rape, they loot, they go step-by-step towards Nazism. Such explanations for what is happening here don't really answer the painful question, why?


KILEY: Now clearly, Lynda, the celebrations, so-called of victory day in Moscow, with those parades, I think were quite significantly lower key than anticipated. Not least because the reasons that really don't match the excuses. There were very few fly past. No fly past in Moscow. No fly past in Rostov-on-Don, which is the big military city on the edge of Ukraine's southeastern corner. And, he excuse was the weather.

But in fact, the weather was pretty good across a number of these locations. Speculation, inevitably here, Lynda, that maybe the Russians were stretched too thin, even with their aviation, to put on a much of a display even over the capital, Moscow, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, it seems that could be the case. Our Sam Kiley in Kramatorsk, thanks to you and the team there and please stay safe. Well, I want to get more on Russia's victory day commemorations. Our Matthew Chance was in the stands in Moscow during the parade, and we need to remind you that Russia has introduced strict laws regarding how the conflict in Ukraine is described. It also prohibits the broadcast of information that the Kremlin says is false.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, this was a much anticipated event, amid speculation of victory day parade would be used to make an important announcement about what Russia calls its special military operation in Ukraine, possibly a formal declaration of war or a mass mobilization of troops. But, that didn't happen. What we did it witness though, was a spectacular display of Russian military might, say, you know, the air display was canceled last minute because of bad weather according to the Kremlin.

Eleven thousand troops marched over the cobbles of Red Square, followed by columns of tanks, rocket launchers, and of course, those intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles. In a short speech, Vladimir Putin repeated claims, trying to justify the conflict in Ukraine, that Russia was facing an imminent attack, and that it had to act preemptively, claims that of course, been disputed by Ukraine and by its allies.

He also drew parallels with the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the 1940s, which is of course what victory day is meant to commemorate, and the battles raging right now. Trying to use Russia's traumatic cultural memories of the Second World War to bolster support for the current conflict.


But there was also no indication from Putin's words that he was preparing to back down in Ukraine, suggesting that the Kremlin's strong man is choosing to continue his high cost military struggle. Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


KINKADE: Our thanks to Matthew. Well, my next guest says she hopes Ukraine will have its own victory day soon. Kira Rudik is a member of Ukraine's parliament and she joins me now live from Kyiv. Good to have you with us.

KIRA RUDIK, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, UKRAINE: Hello, thank you so much for having me.

KINKADE: So, Kira, the Russian president did not even mention Ukraine, even as he tried to justify this brutal war. He claimed Ukraine and the West were the aggressors, and that Russia was acting in defense. What's your reaction to the speech? What did you make of it?

RUDIK: Well, the first and the most important is not what was said, but what was not said. We remember that Putin did not announce that he will attack Ukraine. He didn't announce that he will take Crimea and commit all the atrocities. So, we still need to be aware, and we need to continue on this united plan of weakening Russia and making sure that we win this war.

I also was surprised that they did not mix the propaganda with just a little bit of truth. This is what they usually do. This means that he feels very confident inside the country because all the things that he was saying were absolutely obscene and bizarre, starting from the day to plan to attack, and then saying that Russian soldiers are fighting at their motherland. So, he was denying Ukraine as a sovereign state, as he was usually doing.

And the most important point right now is that, whatever Putin is saying, we need to continue on our plan. We need to make sure that the world is acting united way, the world is acting fast, and the world is acting, making sure that all the points from our planned list are executed. It was -- today's speech was very good for Ukraine, and the point that every single time, somebody would ask me, why don't you get into agreement with Putin? I can refer to this speech and say, well, look at this person. Do you think there could be any agreement with him?

KINKADE: Kira, U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says it's perfectly possible Ukraine will break the Russian army The U.S. is also positioning Ukraine to help with billions of dollars in weapons and security assistance. What else is needed right now?

RUDIK: Well, we need to act quickly. Well, the first point is the sixth package of the sanctions from EU to ban Russian oil. Even in the sanctions, it is said that there will be delay of six months. So at least for six months, we will have to fight until Russia will start being actually weakened. Second, we need to make sure that Russia does not find any other market for its oil.

This is why it's so important that United States, United Kingdom, and European countries recognize Russia as a country sponsor of terrorism. Because that would allow the relations that other countries have with Russia to be economically toxic, and to be stopped. So, it needs to be a thoughtful, united front, that all the democratic countries are working on, and they need to act fast. Because you see, we are fighting every single day.

We are making sure we buy this time for the world to act with our own lives, with lives of Ukrainian citizens and soldiers, and so we need the rest of the world to act fast, so we would not have to sacrifice that much for it.

KINKADE: Kira, this weekend, the U.S. first lady Jill Biden met with Ukraine's first lady. This is the first time we have seen Olena Zelenskyy since this war began. And of course, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also visited, and then we saw Bono from U2 performing in a subway in the capital. How are these visits viewed in Ukraine, and what do they do to morale?

RUDIK: Oh, they are incredible. I can tell you, Jill Biden met with Olena Zelenskyy in my hometown in Uzhhorod. So, even for me, it was incredible, important morale because I was thinking, OK, we're getting support, and my people, even in the farthest of the western part of the country would feel that they are important. They are needed, and that they have all the support from the democratic countries. We feel like the world is united around Ukraine.


That there is no fatigue of war, and that everybody and every democratic leader is committed, committed to making sure that Russia loses and we win this war. Committed to make sure that we all will be able to build a new democratic world we are, the tyranny, and the aggressors will not be able to succeed.

And this is why it's so important. This is why Bono was singing in Ukrainian subway, is a sign for each and every Ukrainian, we are not alone. We have this fantastic support, it's coming along. And we are very sure that we will win.

KINKADE: And Kira, even as we listen to Putin's speech on victory day, and heard that he believes Russia is acting in defense. Russia bombed a school in eastern Ukraine, which was sheltering dozens of people. What more can you tell us about that atrocity?

RUDIK: Russia continues attacking Ukrainian civilian buildings. They're checking every single box on the war crime list. And before we get this, the most important weapons to protect our skies, there is no place in Ukraine where we can feel safe. There is no place in Ukraine that I can tell my people, go to this or this town, and there, you would be definitely safe from Russian attacks or from the air. There is no place like that.

This is why we are waiting for the air force protection systems that are coming to Ukraine to be able to install and we'll be able to protect Ukrainians. Before that, the atrocities like the ones that happened today will continue happening. And Russia will continue doing all these horrible crimes. And Russia will continue killing Ukrainian people.

KINKADE: Kira Rudik, Ukrainian lawmaker, thank you so much for your time, and we wish you all the best.

RUDIK: Thank you, and glory to Ukraine.

KINKADE: Well, the French president had a warning for Europe on victory day, that it must learn from its mistakes and not humiliate or exclude either side in the war in Ukraine as it happened to Germany in 1918. Emmanuel Macron also says he's in favor of a new type of political European community that would include countries outside the European Union, like Ukraine and the U.K. The European Council president meanwhile traveled to the strategic port city of Odessa on the Black Sea, but had to take shelter after Russian missiles hit an area nearby.

Charles Michel was visiting Ukraine on victory day. Our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is standing by and joins us now from Finland. Nic, so the French president addressed the European parliament in his first speech since re-election. He's also met with his German counterpart. Just give us a sense of the European reaction to Putin's speech on this victory day.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Macron, President Macron has called it bellicose, the German chancellor was asked that question -- just exactly that question a few moments ago, and he chose not to answer it directly. But I think perhaps the direct answer really came at the fact that the G7 leaders, which of course, includes several European nations had their virtual phone call -- virtual meeting over the weekend on Sunday. And that really was to send their message of unity and support for

Ukraine. And this was in advance of what was expected to be a tough statement coming from President Putin. So, that does seem to be the reaction, which is to continue to sanction Russia, to continue to make it hard for Russia to fight the war, to continue to make it easier for Ukraine to fight back by giving it the weapons and finance running of the country.

The -- we don't have a great deal of direct response, but I think what we heard yesterday from the G7 and President Macron's comments today about Putin being bellicose, really sum up the international position on what they had expected to be potentially an even tougher speech by President Putin today.

KINKADE: And Nic, you are of course in Finland. Finland and Sweden are considering NATO applications. Should they decide to join, what would it mean for those countries? And what would it signal to Putin, who already says Russia is threatened by NATO expansion?

ROBERTSON: Yes, and the Russians have said that they would sort of need to equalize the force on their side of the border. If Finland and Sweden, Finland in particular because it has the longest direct border with Russia, 830 miles, 1,300 kilometers, which is double the current length or it would double the length the border that NATO has with Russia. It also -- it would potentially mean an aggressive response from Russia.


It would mean for them, for the Finns and for the Swedes, it would mean that they would have the umbrella of protection of NATO. That if they were attacked, then once they were full members of NATO, other NATO nations would come and support them. And that is, for many Finns at this time, it's a comfort because they're very concerned about what they've seen happen in Ukraine. And they fear that their sort of long term not alliance status, neutrality as some people might reference it, is something that they just can't afford to have in the current time.

You know, people are very worried. But it would also put a burden on them, potentially going forward, that if another NTO country, like say, Poland for example, was to be attacked, and Finland and Sweden were members of NATO, they would also be expected to respond to that as well.

KINKADE: All right, Nic Robertson, our international diplomatic editor, as always, good to have you with us. Well, still to come tonight, vote-counting is underway in the Philippines after pivotal elections. It's looking like a victory for a familiar dynasty. The details just ahead.


KINKADE: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. Votes are still being counted in the Philippines, but the son of a former dictator looks headed for a stunning victory. Ferdinand Marcos Junior, also known as Bongbong is the only son of the infamous Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. A win would return the Marcos dynasty to power more than three decades after the family fled a mass uprising. Now, Ivan Watson has more on what's at stake.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Election history is in the making in the Philippines. Unofficial preliminary results suggest that one candidate for president, Ferdinand Marcos Junior, nicknamed Bongbong, appears to be winning by a landslide, with perhaps more than twice the votes of his nearest rival. In which case would truly be a historic moment because he campaigned on a platform of unity, on a platform of nostalgia, and may have succeeded in rewriting history.


Because of course, his father was the former Philippines dictator, Ferdinand Marcos Senior, who was ousted in 1986 in a people power movement after ruling with martial law for nearly a decade, with a horrific human rights record and allegations of wild corruption that are still being investigated to this day. But what we've seen so far is that Bongbong Marcos Junior was able to convince millions of Filipino voters that those accusations and allegations were not important, and that he could bring back some kind of -- as he put it, golden age to the Philippines.

One of the biggest challenges going forward, and one of the top concerns on many voters minds is the economy in this archipelago. Of course, the Philippines took a battering during the COVID pandemic economically. And that's going to be a big challenge. Inflation, unemployment, things like that.

This day of elections appears to have been a victory, not just for one political dynasty, but for two, because Bongbong Marcos Junior's running mate for vice president was Sara Duterte-Carpio, she's the daughter of the outgoing -- very controversial Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, accused of crimes against humanity for his deadly drug war.

These two political dynasties allied have convinced millions of Filipino voters to take a bet on them, to vote for them in again, a historic result. It may be one of the biggest electoral mandates for a presidential candidate in generations. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


KINKADE: Well, in Shanghai, the situation is desperate as China enforces its uncompromising COVID policy. Take a look at this, residents are begging for food supplies. Storming out of their guarded buildings and clashing with government workers. It comes as at least 31 cities across the country are in some kind of lockdown, despite infection rates being very low. And all of this is having a devastating impact on China's economy.

Well, the queen will not attend the opening of U.K. parliament on Tuesday. Buckingham Palace says the British monarch is continuing to experience mobility problems. His son Prince Charles is stepping in, reading the queen's speech on her majesty's behalf. This is the first time since 1963 that she's missed this key constitutional responsibility. She's only been absent twice before, and both times she was pregnant.

At 96 years of age, she is the country's longest-reigning monarch. And this comes amid fears she won't be fit enough to appear at her own jubilee celebrations next month. A decision on that will be made closer to that time.

Well, still to come tonight, what the U.S. President told his officials about recent leaks to the press involving Ukraine. We'll head over to the White House. Plus, Ukrainian veterans remember their roles in World War II, and tell us, they wish they could join their country's new fight for freedom.


KINKADE: Welcome back, I'm Lynda Kinkade, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, a war is not just about claiming or reclaiming ground. It's also about winning hearts and minds. And it's one of the reasons why some members of Western intelligence agencies have been telling the world about their role in Ukraine. But that's breaking the rules. And for U.S. President, Joe Biden, it has to end now. CNN's learning that he recently told national security officials that leaks about U.S. intelligence sharing with Ukrainians are not helpful and need to stop.

Well, I want to bring in our Chief White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. Good to have you with us, Kaitlan. So last week, the White House denied providing direct intelligence to Ukrainians with the intent to kill Russian generals after an intelligence leak claimed otherwise. What are you learning about the President's frustration with these leaks?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and the White House went to great lengths after that to push back on those reports saying that they were not intentionally providing specific information with the intent of killing those Russian generals, though, obviously, if they provided that intelligence Ukrainians then used it to do so I still think the outcome is the same despite what the White House was saying.

And so you are hearing now in this reporting that CNN has confirmed that in three separate phone calls last week, President Biden had with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the CIA Director Bill Burns, and the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, he talked about this, and he talked about the fact that he did not believe that these leaks about what exactly it was that the United States was sharing with Ukraine were helpful. He said that they were counterproductive to the ultimate us goal in Ukraine, helping the Ukrainian forces, of course, then themselves -- defend themselves against the Russians.

And so President Biden communicated this message according to what a senior official told CNN saying the leaks need to stop when it comes to the intelligence. And so that is something you'll likely see less of coming out of the administration potentially. But I think the question here is not necessarily that the U.S. is not providing this information, it's that the White House doesn't want it out there that they are providing what level of intelligence that they are providing to them, because it's not just the weapons on the battlefield, it's this level of intelligence as well, that is very crucial to the Ukrainians.

KINKADE: And Kaitlan, the U.S. has already provided a lot of weaponry to Ukraine. And last month, U.S. President Biden proposed a $33 billion aid package for Ukraine, which he sent to Congress last month. Later this hour, we are expecting him to sign a bill to make it easier to send weapons to Ukraine. Tell us about that.

COLLINS: Yes, this is a bill that would basically help remove some of the roadblocks that typically the United States has in place when they are shipping weapons like they are to Ukraine. Obviously, it's not always in the urgent manner that this is and so this is a bill, you know, pretty rare these days that you see bipartisan agreement, wide bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill. I think there were only 10 members of the House that voted against this bill. It was passed unanimously in the Senate. And now it is going to be on President Biden's desk today where he is signing it.

And so it's critical because the White House says it's going to help remove those roadblocks that typically would be in place that typically would so slow down the process. But we should note this is separate from the bill that President Biden also wants Congress to pass, which is that $33 billion in aid to Ukraine, the majority of that that would go to weapons. And the White House obviously has called on Congress to act quickly on that saying they're basically out of the authority for what they can send to Ukraine right now.

And so, of course, Congress is back in Washington this week, both houses are, and so that is going to be something that is top of mind for all of those lawmakers.

COLLINS: All right, Kaitlin Collins outside the White House. Good to have you with us. Thanks very much.

Well, U.S. First Lady Jill Biden began -- became the latest high profile figure to visit Ukraine over the weekend. She crossed into the country from Slovakia, meeting with Ukraine's First Lady, Olena Zelenska, on Sunday.

This, of course, is the first time Mrs. Zelenska has been seen in public since the war began.


And they gathered at a school that now serves as a temporary housing for displaced Ukrainians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: I wanted to come on Mother's Day. I

thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal. And that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.


KINKADE: Well, as Russia marks Victory Day, Moscow's ambassador to Poland ran into protesters in Warsaw. Sergey Andreev was doused with what looks like red paint as he tried to pay his respects at the cemetery of Soviet soldiers. The ambassador later said he was not injured and police escorted him out of the cemetery. The Russian Embassy in Poland has said it will formulate protest against that attack.

Well, Russia's Victory Day is sparking mixed emotions in Ukraine. People laid flowers on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Kyiv, honoring the sacrifices of Ukrainians fighting in a Soviet Army during World War II. But what was once bittersweet is now just bitter. Ukrainians are again sacrificing themselves fighting against Russia.

Well, Sara Sidner joins me now from Cuba. And Sara, you sat down with two veterans from World War II. I can only imagine the anger they have at seeing what's happening right now as Russia wages this brutal war on a lie that they're fighting the Nazis in Ukraine.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is particularly painful for these two World War II veterans, both of whom say they can no longer celebrate V Day until there is a victory against Russia here in Ukraine.


Vasyl Kluy helped battle back the German advance in World War II when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. His proudest moments, helping liberate Mariupol by sea. "We liberated money up from the Germans in 1943. We went there with three warships and wrecked 11 Different German ships," he says.

Seventy-seven years after victory day, he has mixed feelings about Russia. It pains him to say it, but the country he once fought for has turned into the enemy, leveling the very same city he fought so hard to save from Hitler's onslaught.

"For all of us who went through the war at the time, it hurts. I want to take up arms now and go to defend the same places and my country," he says. His wife cannot contain herself as she listens to him and lashes out at the man she sees as responsible for the new war, Vladimir Putin.

"There shouldn't be anything like him on Earth," she says. He kills destroys our cities and villages. He destroys our defenseless people.

On the anniversary of Victory Day, there are no celebrations here, only mementos and memories. "It's no longer a holiday. It's very difficult," he says. There aren't

many of us left. But Metodiy Volynets is still here, the 96-year-old World War II veteran doesn't have to remember the terror of war. He's been given fresh memories. Russian tanks blasted a hole in the front of his home in the tree line suburb of Warsaw.

He fought as a Soviet against the Germans but has never had any love for the Soviets after he says he was jailed for speaking up against them. "I was awarded medals and orders for victory. But I did not recognize them and never wore them," he says.

He says Putin is Russia has started a war it cannot win. "It's an atrocity. It's vandalism," he says. "Probably the leadership is stupid. Only idiots would do this, start a war against Ukraine." Both men say they have the will to fight again, if not with their bodies than with their words.

"Why am I smiling? Because I believe that we will rebuild this house and that Ukraine will win."


SIDNER: Both of them have that same sentiment, but they are disturbed that here they are one at 96, the other at 95, seeing war in their country yet again.

KINKADE: Yes, incredible. In '95 and '96. And you spoke to them about the mixed feelings they have when it comes to Victory Day. What else did they tell you about those feelings?

SIDNER: Look, one of them has always felt very strongly against the Soviets for many, many years, but the first gentleman that was laden with all of those metals.


He said that he felt that it was a part of who he was, a Soviet soldier. He was proud of fighting against the Nazi Germans in 1943 to liberate Mariupol and it was very hard for him to have to watch the same country or the same version of country come in here and level the place.

So for him, who has met Vladimir Putin in recent times, for him, this was just a really difficult personal thing, where he has long seen himself as a decorated Soviet soldier who went up against the Nazis and now the very same people, if you will, are dropping bombs on the country that he loves. Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes. Horrific to be witnessing that in their 90s after all, they've been through. Sara Sidner, some great interviews there from Kyiv. Thank you so much.

Well, still to come tonight, political turmoil in Sri Lanka after pro and anti-government protesters clash over the state of the economy. The Prime Minister has now resigned.

Plus the search for survivors of Friday's hotel explosion in Cuba. We'll have an update from Havana when we return.


KINKADE: Welcome back. Clashes have broken out in Sri Lanka after weeks of protests over a deepening economic crisis the worst in seven decades. Colombo's national hospital says more than 150 people have been injured after pro and anti-government demonstrators fought in the Capitol. A nationwide curfew has been put in place and the Prime Minister has resigned. CNN's Will Ripley is monitoring the political turmoil in Sri Lanka and filed this report.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There have been calls for Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, to resign for weeks, weeks of civil unrest that's been going on really since March. Anti-government protesters have been clashing with ruling party supporters. There's been violence, there have been alleged arsons, dozens of people sent to the hospital, and police have been out with tear gas with water cannons. There's a nationwide curfew. They'd even called in paramilitary and military forces to try to calm things down. Nothing worked.

So on Monday, the Prime Minister announced his resignation. He called for an all-party government, an interim government to try to figure things out. The problem is that people are angry not just at him but at his family, which is a political dynasty in Sri Lanka. His brother is currently the president.


He actually had to resign. The Prime Minister has been Prime Minister four times. He's been president twice himself. He resigned back in 2018 and then was basically reappointed by his brother when his brother was elected president in 2019. That's the year that many sat the economic crisis began for Sri Lanka, starting with the Easter bombings, which caused a dramatic drop in tourism. And then, of course, you had the COVID 19 pandemic and 2020 Justice Sri Lanka was bouncing back from the tourism decline from the Easter bombings.

They reopened to tourism in August of last year, but there was also a cargo ship fire late last year, that basically dumped plastic pellets all over their beaches. So -- and now they've had a dip in tourism yet again, with all of these weeks of unrest.

So the people who are opposing the government say that, yes, despite the difficult circumstances that Sri Lanka's faced, it's really the family that's at the top that is corrupt, and that's financially mismanaging money. So, the question is, will this all-party government be enough to pacify the protesters and stop the violence or are they going to continue to demand that even the President also stepped down? He still has quite a bit of time left a couple of years on his term. Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.

KINKADE: Well, another blow to women's rights under Afghanistan's new hard line rules, the Taliban issued a new decree over the weekend. It says women must cover themselves head to toe including their faces whenever they appear in public. A woman can be fined if she doesn't follow the rules, and her male guardian could be jailed and sentenced.

In December, the group banned women from taking long distance road trips on their own. And despite early promises of a right to an education, the Taliban shut down girls' high schools in March on the day they were supposed to open.

At least 35 people are now confirmed dead after Friday's explosion at a Cuban Hotel. Rescue workers are still combing through the ruins of Hotel Saratoga, hoping to find survivors. Cuban authorities say a gas leak is thought to have caused that massive blast at the five-star hotel. CNN's Patrick Oppmann has the latest from Havana.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Search and rescue operations continue around the clock here at the hotel Saratoga but increasingly it's looking like this has become a recovery operation. Over the weekend, we saw rescuers take out several dead bodies. We have not seen anyone in more than a day taken out who survived the explosion that was buried under this rubble.

Rescuers say they're still hopeful they might find someone, but they are having to go through the wreckage very, very carefully. They are concerned that this hotel could collapse down upon them. There's still unsafe structures that are hanging down over their heads so that has delayed their efforts throughout the weekend.

But they have continued throughout the day and night going through the wreckage of this hotel. They say the initial investigation points to a gas explosion, but the Cuban government says that they will continue to look into what happened, how this hotel on Friday morning suddenly exploded, how this apparent gas explosion just ripped through this hotel costing at least 30 people their lives, injuring so many others.

This happened just as Cuba was beginning to welcome tourists back to this island. Obviously, what took place here is going to hurt those efforts to bring tourists back here. And as Cuba's President Miguel Diaz- Canel said, this island needs to figure out what took place here so that it never takes place again. Patrick Oppmann, CNN Havana.

KINKADE: The U.K. opposition leader says he will resign if he's fined for breaching COVID regulations. Keir Starmer says he will do the right thing and step down if police find he broke the rules. But he maintains that no laws were broken. The Labour leader is under investigation over a video showing him drinking beer with colleagues. This is back in April 2020 when indoor socializing was banned. And, this of course, is the latest in a string of Partygate scandals to rock British politics.

We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back. Stay with CNN.



KINKADE: Welcome back. North Korea is watching what happens in Ukraine very closely and is paying particular attention to the international reaction to Russia's actions. CNN's Paula Hancocks explains. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Meeting for the first time in 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin revived a decade's long Alliance.

North Korea has unsurprisingly sided with Russia, calling the U.S. "The root cause of the Ukrainian crisis, the war reinforcing a basic lesson."


ANDREI LANKOV, PROFESSOR, KOOKMIN UNIVERSITY: Only one, but very important, never, ever surrender your nuclear weapons. They have known it anyway for decades. And now they got yet another confirmation after Iraq. After Libya.


HANCOCKS: Pyongyang often makes the connection between the former leaders of Iraq and Libya, giving up their nuclear ambitions then losing power and ultimately their lives. Ukraine agreed to transfer thousands of nuclear warheads to Russia after the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. It did not have an independent weapons program.

ANKIT PANDA, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: But I think the war in Ukraine really affirms the North Korean view of how the world works. You know, the North Koreans I think have persistently rejected the idea of any form of international order really having an effect on how states relate to each other.


HANCOCKS: Kim is experiencing the most favorable weapons testing environment he has seen in his 10 years in power, a split among United Nations Security Council permanent members, Russia and China on one side, the U.S., U.K., and France on the other means the chances of punishing North Korea are zero.


LANKOV: It's quite clear that China and Russia will block additional sanctions, and frankly, it's not quite clear what else can you possibly sanction.


HANCOCKS: North Korea has launched more than a dozen missiles already this year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile. Satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri underground testing site suggests a seventh nuclear test may also be imminent.

North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. The thought it might try again has long been dismissed. But Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the West's refusal to fight directly against a nuclear power is at least raising the question. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANKOV: Maybe, just maybe, this American president of the year 2045 or 2055 will not risk San Francisco in order to save Seoul.


HANCOCKS: North Korea could also benefit potentially from countries boycotting Russian oil and gas. Cash-strapped Pyongyang would be more than happy to pick up some of the slack for Moscow, potentially at a discount, and certainly would appreciate dealing with a country that no longer feels constrained by U.S.-led sanctions. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


KINKADE: Well, now for an act of heroism in Ukraine, Patron, the sniffer dog, received a medal for services to his country from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The dog plays an essential role in Russia's war in Ukraine, detecting bombs and saving lives with his keen sense of smell. He collected his prize bargaining and wagging his tail ahead of the conference between Mr. Zelenskyy and the Canadian Prime Minister on Sunday.


Well, if you'd like to safely and secure help people in Ukraine who may be in need of shelter, food, or water, please go to, you'll find several ways you can help.


BONO, SINGER: And darling stand by me, oh, stand by me.


KINKADE: You're listening to a concert for freedom in a Kyiv metro station that doubles as a bomb shelter. Thankfully, there was no shelling to be heard, only the music performed by U2's Bono in a 40- minutes surprise set playing hits with band mate, The Edge, and a Ukrainian pop star. Take a listen.


BONO: Without you. With or without you. I can't live with or without you.


KINKADE: He still got it. Visiting Kyiv's suburbs, Bono praise Ukrainians fighting for freedom from Russian aggression.

Thanks so much for watching tonight. I'm Lynda Kincade. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up next.