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U.S. Stock Markets Fall Sharply As Investors Worry About Recession; No Major Battlefield Gains Expected For Either Side In The Coming Weeks; Biden To Meet Sweden, Finland Leaders At White House; Afghan Women Open Up About Life Under The Taliban; New Mexico Fighting Largest Fire in State's History; Russian Soldier Pleads Guilty in War Crimes Trial; Kalush Orchestra Receive Hero's Welcome at Home. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 19, 2022 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause. Coming up this hour, the plummet continues. Stock markets in Asia sharply lower following a big fall on Wall Street, triggered by dismal earnings by big retailers fears record high inflation.

Standstill, Russia's Eastern offensive appears to have stalled. NATO saying Ukrainian forces may soon have the upper hand and could try and retake all territory occupied by Russia.

And still too early to call in the Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary, but not too early for Donald Trump to urge his candidate to declare victory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.

VAUSE: A dismal day for Wall Street as the rollercoaster ride on the U.S. stock market continues. The Dow tumbled more than 1,100 points in its worst trading day since June 2020. The S&P was down 4 percent putting it on the precipice of bear market territory. NASDAQ lost nearly 4.8 percent.

The sell off again after retail giant target reported a 53 percent drop in profit for the first quarter came a day after Walmart stock posted its worst day since 1987. Markets in Asia are also in the red this hour, big worries over a global economic slowdown. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live versus out in Hong Kong following us the very latest.

So, after this rather Wall Street, what's the market picture there in Asia? It just seems it's down across the board.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John Asian markets are definitely feeling that downward pressure after U.S. stocks they posted the worst single day decline in two years. Investors are apparently spooked by two things are spooked by investor or rather inflation fears. And they're also being spooked by weak earnings.

Look, Target is the latest big box retailer to inject fear into the market. It posted that stunning first quarter profit decline of about 52 percent. It blamed a number of factors including inflation, which is holding consumers back from buying non-essential items. It's also blaming the global supply chain disruption and of course, all roads lead back to China.

In fact, we heard from the U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday, and she said China's zero COVID strategy and the ongoing lockdowns in China are apparently impeding the global supply chain.

Now let's bring up the latest data for you and take a look at what the Asian trading day looks like right now. And you should see a number of red arrows across the board. The Nikkei losing 1.7 percent. The Seoul KOSPI is down 1.3 percent, Australia S&P losing one and a half percent the Shanghai Composite down just a 10th of 1 percent. Here in Hong Kong the Hang Seng losing over 2 percent.

From Asia we're also monitoring U.S. futures. We're going to bring up that data for you to get just an idea of Wall Street is going to look like when it opens up in a few hours from now. And it looks a bit more confident the S&P set to gain about two tenths of 1 percent, NASDAQ features up fractionally point zero 4 percent, Dow futures to gain about two tenths of 1 percent.

Look, markets over the past month or so have been hammered after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled that they would regularly hike interest rates by half a percentage point on the bid to tame inflation which has been at its highest level since the 1980s. But now you have numerous securities and others predicting that the Fed will tighten more aggressively. They will hike interest rates by about three quarters of a percent in June and in July.

Want to bring up the statement for you. It's from the head of Global Research from Nomura. And he says this quote, we recognize that fed speak has no has not outright endorsed a 75 basis point hike yet. But in this high inflation regime, we believe the nature of fed forward guidance has changed it has become more data dependent and nimble, unquote.

The chief economist at Deutsche Bank says that the Fed will hike interest rates all the way up to about 5 percent. If and when that happens, that will be, wow, the highest level since 2006. Back to you, John.

VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout there with the update from Hong Kong. Appreciate that.

LU STOUT: You got it.

VAUSE: Vladimir Putin three-day war is now today 85 and appears to be going from bad to worse with one NATO official segment momentum is shifting in favor of Ukraine, with Ukrainian troops now on the offensive in the east.


For the next few weeks, NATO is expecting a standstill neither side making major gains. But Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region is making some significant progress with another settlement back under Ukrainian control, or Russian forces continue to be pushed back.

Just eight miles from the Russian border in Kharkiv region, this video shows a Russian tank on fire hit by Ukrainian fighters. For the south in the Luhansk region, Ukraine has destroyed a number of bridges to slow a Russian advance.

Meantime, Russia says nearly 1,000 fighters have surrendered at the Avazstol steel plant in Mariupol. Most of them now held in Russian controlled territory in Donetsk. Ukraine has been negotiating in hopes of a prisoner exchange with Russia.

Support in Odesa has come under increasing Russian airstrikes in recent weeks. One missile struck a resort hotel, which was once popular with Russian tourists. CNN's Sara Sidner went to the hotel.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The hotel is called Grande Pettine. In Italian, it means a big shout. Most of the guests came here because it's 30 meters from the beach, or right on the beautiful Black Sea.

Let's go. I'll show you what happened after the missile strike. His security cameras caught the missile strike as it happened. This is the first time it's been seen by the public. This is at full speed, then we slowed it down. You can see the missile low and straight from the direction of the Black Sea, where Russia has been launching its attacks on Odesa.

(on camera): So there was a direct attack from a missile right into your hotel and no one was hurt or died.

(voice-over): Thank God no one was injured here because normally in this place, there were always children and parents. His once pristine seaside hotel used to be a favorite of Russian tourists and politicians. They spent good money here and the years before the war. He doesn't want to admit it, but he himself was once a member of the pro-Russian party here.

(on camera): This is destroyed. You blame the Russian soldiers and Putin? What did you think of Russians before this?

(voice-over): Since 2014, I felt they were bastards, but I didn't want to believe in that.

2014 was the year Russia invaded and annexed Crimea. 2022 the rest of Ukraine came under attack.

(on camera): Why do you think the Russians hit this hotel? (voice-over): I can't explain this. There were no military, no mercenaries, no terrorists, no Ukrainian Nazis. There was no one like that here.

(on camera): Will Russians ever be allowed to come back here and stay at the seaside resort?

(voice-over): I only allow them to come back if they are taken prisoner and forced to rebuild.


VAUSE: CNN military analyst Dana Pittard is a retired U.S. Army two- star general and co-author of Hunting the Caliphate. He joins us this hour from Indianapolis. General, thank you for being with us.

MAJ. GEN. DANA PITTARD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Hello, John. Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: You bet. Now, the assessment from NATO for the next few weeks at least is that this war in Ukraine is going nowhere. But in the bigger picture, CNN is reporting the current NATO discussion is that the momentum has shifted significantly in favor of Ukraine. The debate within NATO circles is now over on whether it is possible for Kyiv to retake Crimea and the Donbas territories.

So well, Ukraine has every right to try and regain its entire territorial sovereignty, is that necessarily the smartest decision at this point because they risked losing all that they've won so far?

PITTARD: Well, in war, momentum often ebbs and flows and shifts. And at this point, Ukraine has momentum. And so oftentimes in war, it's best to continue with that momentum that offense momentum as much as you can. But Ukraine must be careful, they must be careful with offensive overreach which could result in at least a near term offensive combination. They have rocked and pushed the Russians on their heels. But the Russians are consolidated in places like Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

So Ukraine must be careful on that. So, if I were to recommend anything from Ukraine at this point would be to consolidate what they have, gain strength, gained offensive weaponry such as the MiG-29 jets, and or more tanks to help them to continue the next phase. But if Ukraine is not careful, they will have an overreach and end up being offensively culminated because they are not ready to be able to take the Crimea and other territory that the Russians took and 2014.


VAUSE: So Russians watching state TV on Monday may have been surprised to learn the war in Ukraine is not going so well, that Frank (ph) assessment came from another type of one's very senior Russian military official. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COL. MIKHAIL KHODARYONOK (RET.), RUSSIAN DEFENSE COLUMNIST (through translator): I must say, let's not drink information tranquilizers. Because sometimes information is spread about hearing some more or psychological breakdown of Ukraine's armed forces, as if they are nearing a crisis of morale or fracture. None of this is close to reality.


VAUSE: This goes in part to that NATO assessment about momentum and high morale on the Ukrainian side. But again, what are the risks here and reaching for the gold ring of total victory? Is it overconfidence by Ukraine, being overly confident by those early successes, which does not guarantee ongoing success?

PITTARD: No, in fact, early successes can be certainly very helpful. But Ukraine and Russia must be prepared for a long conflict. This is just the early stages of this conflict, in my opinion. So what the Ukrainians must do, as I mentioned, is to gain offensive strength, offensive weaponry, and really plan to take back the territory that they have lost in this conflict in 2022, and then look to regain the territory lost in 2014. But that will take a long effort, a long hard effort.

VAUSE: With a point where NATO and the U.S. maybe needs to have a conversation with Kyiv, with President Zelenskyy maybe suggests that it's a, you know, a pragmatic conversation, that it may be time to trim those war aims that took it, lock in those wins, instead of taking this bigger gambit and trying to, you know, push Russia out of all of Ukraine, because regardless if Putin is pushed out or whether he stays, I mean, he will continue to fight on.

PITTARD: That's true but the Ukrainians have the will to fight, they want to regain their territory. That's like someone -- some outside country telling United States, it's OK that you've lost the eastern United States. Just be satisfied with what you have. I don't think the Ukrainians will ever be satisfied that the Russians have taken their territory. So they will be -- they will want to move to gain back that territory either militarily or diplomatically. But they'll want to get back to that territory.

VAUSE: Dana Pittard, former U.S. Army two-star general. Sir, thank you for being with us.

PITTARD: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: The leaders of Finland and Sweden will meet with U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday, a day after both countries formally submitted their paperwork their applications to join NATO. The White House says this is a watershed moment in European security. Turkey, though has been the lone NATO voice of pose to both countries joining the Alliance. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he's -- both countries of harboring Kurdish separatists, which Ankara considers terrorists. President Biden says he's optimistic that Turkey's problems can be resolved.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Both the leader of Finland and Sweden are coming to see me on Thursday. I think we're going to be OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can convince Turkey to accept their bid.

BIDEN: I think -- I am not going to Turkey but I think we're going to be OK.


VAUSE: Still too close to call in the race for the Republican nomination for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania. It could be days before a winner is actually known. TV Dr. Mehmet Oz has a razor thin lead about 1,200 votes of a former hedge fund executive Dave McCormick, but former President Donald Trump who endorsed Oz now urging him not to wait for those official results Cisco (ph) declared victory anyway. Here's CNN's Jeff Zeleny.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Overtime in Pennsylvania, Dave McCormick.


ZELENY: And Dr. Mehmet Oz.

DR. MEHMET OZ, PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: When all the votes are tallied, I am confident we will win.

ZELENY: Locked in an extraordinarily tight battle for the Republican Senate nomination with a razor thin margin from a field of 1.3 million votes cast. A day after the election, both campaigns tell CNN they see a path to victory, with McCormick relying on mail-in votes still being counted and Oz hoping his strength at the polls holds.

In Lancaster County, election workers scrambled throughout the day to sort through about 22,000 mail-in ballots, which were printed with an incorrect code that could not be scanned. In Delaware County, 4,800 mail-in ballots were being fed one by one and it was sorting machine.

KATHY BARNETTE, PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: This campaign has always been about you.

ZELENY: Kathy Barnette, whose candidacy surged in the final week of the race fell short but her imprint on the race was clearly a factor in the bitter duel between McCormick and Oz. After the counting, the race could head to a recount if the margin is one half of a percent or less.


LEIGH CHAPMAN, PENNSYLVANIA ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE: By next Tuesday, we'll have a good sense as far as whether or not there will be an automatic recount.

ZELENY: Donald Trump, who loomed large in the race weighed in today saying Dr. Oz should declare victory. The winning Republican will face John Fetterman, who won the Democratic Senate race but he's still recovering from a stroke with a defibrillator implanted on election day,

GISELE FETTERMAN, WIFE OF JOHN FETTERMAN: John is going to be back on his feet in no time.

ZELENY: The stage is set for a raucous general election in Pennsylvania with Doug Mastriano winning the Republican governor's race campaigning on a platform of lies about the 2020 election.

DOUG MASTRIANO, REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: There's this movement here that's going to shock the state here on November 8.

ZELENY: Trump picked a winner in Mastriano, who many Republicans believe is too extreme to win in November. He will face the Democratic nominee Attorney General Josh Shapiro. In Pennsylvania, it is the governor who ultimately selects the top election officials are critical post with the 2024 presidential campaign just around the corner.

(on camera): And as election day turns into election week, the margin between the Oz campaign and the McCormick campaign grew even smaller. The reality is both campaign advisors say they are bracing for a recount likely next Tuesday.

What that is just an automatic re tally of the results not counting every ballot, just simply running the tapes. But advisors also say the count going into the recount is the most critical. This race is likely to be won by hundreds and no more. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Chester, Pennsylvania.


VAUSE: Still to come, the Afghan women and girls trying to reclaim control of their lives and their future as the Taliban continues to roll back 20 years of progress for women's rights.



VAUSE: If there is one sad, depressing fact which sums up the medieval views of the Taliban, and then misogynistic child bride marrying ways it's this. Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are actively prevented by the government from receiving a secondary level education, despite a promise by the Taliban to the contrary. But some Afghan girls are now finding ways to assert their independence despite the risks. And they spoke to CNN's Christiane Amanpour.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Wednesday morning in Kabul, and we're going to girls' school, through these plastic curtains and past prying eyes.

Yes, this fashion studio has become an alternate education facility since the Taliban stopped girls from attending government high schools. 17-year-old Rokhsar wanted to be a doctor. Now she's learning to be a dressmaker.

We're feeling very bad, she tells us, girls are not able to go to school, staying home doing nothing. We hope that this will change our life so we can be self-sufficient, have a profession, learn, earn money to support ourselves and our families.

Neda wanted to be a professional soccer player.

(on camera): You're 17. You've never known the Taliban government. Did you ever imagine that this would happen to you that you would be prevented from going to school?

No, never. We tried our best for our future. But it's a dark one now because we're kept away from our schools.

(voice-over): Nageena Hafizi started this fashion business with her sisters four years ago. Today, she's running the resistance. When the Taliban slammed the door in their faces, she opened hers up to high school girls aiming to have them sufficiently trained to earn a living and support themselves within six to 12 months. She does this for 120 girls and women across three locations.

(on camera): You're helping them but they all want to be doctors or an athlete or, you know professionals, they want to go on to university. How do you feel about them having to be embroideries or dressmakers?

(voice-over): This is very upsetting says Nageena, when someone is following their own dreams, it's very good. It's different when they're forced into doing something else. And it's a bad feeling. Because most of these girls wants to go to university, become a doctor, a teacher, an engineer, it's very difficult for them. And I know that they can't do any other work, so at least they can learn the dressmaking profession for their future.

For the record, the powerful deputy Taliban leaders, Sirajuddin Haqqani told me that girls public high schools would open again soon, and that, of course, women have the right to work within the Islamic framework.

But 26 years ago, I had the same conversations about the same issues when the Taliban was first in charge.

(on camera): A lot of people want to know what you're going to do about the women issue. What about women's education, girls' education, women, working widows who have no other way to support themselves?

SHER MOHAMMAD ABBAS STANIKZAI, THEN DEPUTY TALIBAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I know that, especially in Western news media, it's the propaganda against that, that we are against women education, which is not right, not correct.

AMANPOUR: But the girls can't go to school. We've been to schools here that are all closed.

STANIKZAI: We have just told them that for the time being they should not come to office and school. So till the time that we can come up with some sort of solution.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Even the youngest understand something is not right. 10-year-old Aziza (ph) complains about having to stay home all day. We just do housework, cleaning, baking bread and sweeping the floors, she says.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love my work. It's my right to work. And I need to work. Because I got education in this country, and the government spent money on me. And even my family, and I want to express myself to my society.

AMANPOUR: Brave then brave now. Only now after more than two decades of progress for their wives, their daughters and their family incomes, so many more Afghan men support them.

Haji Noor Ahmed tells us not even 1 percent of Afghan people are against women working. We don't want our people to grow up as if we're in a jungle. We want people to have culture, knowledge, we need food and work.

Back at the design studio, these classes are not only open to high school students, but to older women who are suddenly out of work like 30-year-old Rabia, who's a teacher.

We feel suffocated, she says, why can't we in our own country, our own place live freely, move freely, wherever we go. Whatever work we do they put barriers in our way.


We can't reach our goals in life. We're always afraid. Whether the previous government or the Taliban emirate regime. Rabia comes here to retrain, and like many of the mothers and wives to have some kind of social life, like Norjan (ph), whose daughter Neda (ph), wanted to become a soccer player.

When I'm really upset, she tells me, my husband says I should come here so that at least I can meet others. My husband is so kind. We are all sisters here. Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.



VAUSE: One down more than 12,000 to go. Up next, the Russian soldier pleads guilty and the first war crimes trial in Ukraine.



VAUSE: Another report, another alarm on the climate crisis. The World Meteorological Organization says the last seven years were the earth's warmest on record and the world's oceans are now being pushed to new heights.

The report finds sea levels rose twice as fast in the 90s up to the end of 2021 than a decade earlier. The report follows a U.N. climate assessment which warned the world must cut greenhouse gas emissions or face catastrophic climate changes. The U.N. Secretary General says it's time to act.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: Time is running out. To keep (INAUDIBLE) alive and prevent worst impacts of the climate crisis, the world must act in this decade. The good news is that the lifeline is right in front of us.


VAUSE: And there is now startling new analysis from scientists in the U.K. saying that climate change is making the odds of a record breaking heat wave in India and Pakistan 100 times more likely. Those two countries are already dealing with extreme heat and soaring temperatures in recent weeks forced schools to close, damaged crops, put pressure on energy supplies.

Over the weekend in Pakistan, the city of Jacobabad (ph) saw the temperature climb to nearly 124 degrees Fahrenheit, 51 degrees Celsius.

Drought conditions are worsening wildfires in the U.S. state of News Mexico as a result of a state mandate over water rights may kill farmers' crops quicker than a wild fire would.

This report from CNN's Rene Marsh.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mobile homes and mansions on fire in southern California. Flames also turning homes to ash in New Mexico. 11 large wild fires are currently burning across the U.S. So far more than 1.3 million acres have burned. That's more than double the same period last year.

LOUIE TRUJILLO, MAYOR -- LAS VEGAS, NEW MEXICO: We have never had a fire this big.

MARSH: New Mexico has been in the bull's eye of a mega-drought, the state's largest reservoirs are at critically low levels. The Calf Canyon Hermit Peak wildfire is the largest in the U.S. and bigger than New York City. Wind gusts as high as 70 miles per hour have been fueling it.

New Mexico recently issued an unprecedented order, mandating farmers in some areas stop irrigating their crops, quote, in the interest of public safety to make water resources available for wild fire activity. Michael Quintana is a third generation farmer near Las Vegas, New Mexico.

MICHAEL QUINTANA, FARMER: It's completely open. There is no water. As you can see. Right now we have it completely open and there is no water coming out.

MARSH: All of his irrigation lines are dry. The wild fire is miles away from his 600 acre farm and yet it will wipe out all of his crops because of the state order mandating he temporarily give up his water rights.

have you thought about what that means to your bottom line?

QUINTANA: It's nonexistent. At that point we have no revenue from this farm.

MARSH: The water stopped flowing to this farm just four days ago. And this canal used to be full but now it is just down to a puddle. And you still see the water line from where the water used to be.

This was a canal before the state stopped water flow to his property.

You have no idea how long you will have to forego using your water, or give up your water rights? Could be months.

QUINTANA: It could be years.

MARSH: New Mexico's early, more intense fire season is sparking fear that extended fire fighting activity could significantly deplete the area's dwindling water supply.

TRUJILLO: It is actually in the forefront of my mind, you know, that another catastrophe could be taxing on our water supply.

MARSH: Climate change has increased wild fire risk and a new report for the first time matched areas with the greatest risk and how that is projected to increase over the next 30 years.

A total 80 million properties are at risk with 10 million facing moderate to extreme risk. Data projecting this will become the norm and more farmers like Quintana will be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice, relinquishing water rights to save the lives of those in the line of fire.

Rene Marsh, CNN -- New Mexico.



VAUSE: And with that, we'll take a short break.

You are watching CNN. Back with a lot more news after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: The first war crimes trial in Ukraine enters the sentencing stage in a Kyiv courtroom in the coming hours when a Russian tank commander takes the stand. 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty Wednesday to shooting dead an unarmed civilian, and he is facing a life sentence.

More details now from CNN's Melissa Bell, reporting in from Kyiv.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war now facing a reckoning. In a Kyiv courtroom too small for the 150 journalists who turned up, the first Russian soldier to be charged with a war crime pleaded guilty.


BELL: Vadim Shishimarin led away after the hearing was suspended until a larger courtroom can be found.

The 21-year-old is accused of killing an unarmed civilian, prosecutors say, after he and several others escaped an attack on their convoy in a stolen car. One of those Russian soldiers traveling with Shishimarin that day now expected to testify on Thursday.

ANDRIY SINYUK, UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR: He was in the car with Shishimarin. He saw the moment of the shot. He saw Shishimarin fire. He saw how the bullet hit the victim and how the victim fell after that. That is, he was a direct witness to the crime.

BELL: Over in Russian-held territory, meanwhile, the latest pictures released by the Russian ministry of defense showed some of those Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Looking gaunt and dejected, they are now also prisoners of war.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Qualified medical help is being provided to all the wounded. The norms of humanitarian law are basic for us so no one should have any doubt about that.

BELL: But will they be handed over as part of the prisoner swap that Ukraine had been hoping for?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: I want to emphasize Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. To bring the boys home, the work continues. And this work needs delicacy and time.

BELL: For now, though, they remain in the break-away Donetsk People's Republic. Its leaders suggesting on Wednesday that the fighters might now be put on trial, comments mirrored by the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament in Moscow.

VYACHESLAV VOLODIN, CHAIRMAN, RUSSIAN STATE DUMA (through translator): Nazi criminals should not be exchanged. They're war criminals. We should do everything to ensure they are put on trial. BELL: The Russian side now claiming that the commanders of the Azovstal fighters are not amongst the evacuees even as the fate of the surrendered soldiers takes a far murkier turn.

Melissa Bell, CNN -- Kyiv.


VAUSE: Oleksandra Matviichuk is the head of the Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine and she joins us this hour live from Kyiv. Thank you for being with us.

You know, it's rare that war crimes trials are held while a conflict is ongoing. But to get a case before a court in a matter seems unprecedented. I want you to listen to part of the prosecutor's case. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is the civilian who witnessed Shishimarin in that vehicle immediately after the shot was taken.


VAUSE: And that's just part of the evidence which is being collected. So how have investigators been able to gather and document so much credible evidence and build a case so quickly given the fact that much of the country is still a war zone?

OLEKSANDRA MATVIICHUK, CENTER FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES IN UKRAINE: Well, they speak about documentation of war crimes on the ground, now we have this ability to work in Bucha, in (INAUDIBLE), in Borsuk, in Kyiv region, in the liberated areas of Sumy region. And to speak with locals to collect evidence, and it's much more easier and provide such work distantly for -- in the area where Russian troops are still present.

VAUSE: There are more than 11,000 -- 12,000 war crime investigations right now. That includes a number of cases revealed by journalists including CNN in Ukraine. Here we go, listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a stark example of a potential war crime perpetrated by Russian forces.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When used in this fashion against civilians, it is considered a war crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Human rights and war crimes experts say Vladimir Putin is likely aware of what this military unit is accused of.


VAUSE: So 11,000 is clearly just the beginning. It's anyone's guess what that final number will be. Do you have any idea how many will actually get to trial?

MATVIICHUK: It's a good question because 11,000 criminal procedure in war is enormous number, which is not appropriate to cope -- we just couldn't able to cope in a state function and institution in a peaceful time.

That's why we as Ukrainian human rights defenders state that Ukrainian national system has international support.

We have to find a way how to implement international element into the level of national investigation and national justice.

VAUSE: We also have Human Rights Watch which has carried out investigations looking specifically at two regions and accusing Russian troops of summary executions, torture and other abuses. Listen to this.


GIORGI GOGIA, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, the ways they were exercising control was by rounding up civilians, by detaining them in unsanitary conditions, by you know executing. You know, there dozens of cases when people have been shot at very close range.



VAUSE: If we look at all the evidence which is being gathered so far, there does seem to be a trendline -- a pattern which is taking place which suggests that this isn't just random acts by angry soldiers. This is systemic within many parts of the Russian army. Is that a fair statement?

MATVIICHUK: We see that Russian army organized terror in the occupied territories of Kyiv and (INAUDIBLE) region for several weeks when they were here. And in the frame of the terror, they systemically practice killing civilian, torture civilians, illegal arrest of civilian and sexual violence against civilian. And this terror was organized with a military rule (ph). They want to stop the resistance of locals and to save control of the region.

VAUSE: Also from that HRW report, it highlights a level of cruelty and the lack of humanity. The report found that soldiers would not allow a 60-year-old man with cancer for whom sitting (ph) was painful, to go home. They said he could hang himself to alleviate the pain.

In terms of the overall big picture, that would seem to be of less consequence. But it does say a lot about the mind set of many of those Russian soldiers, doesn't it?

MATVIICHUK: Yes. In this report, there is a lot of such kind of basis. And we see even more on the ground because Human Rights Watch reports it is only a part of the horror which was procured in this territory.

And another example when Russian soldiers killed 14 (ph) years old boy when he played with a ball in a garden. So there is no reason to kill a child who played with a ball, but they did it because they can.

VAUSE: Yes. Because they can.

Oleksandra Matviichuk, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.

Well, the U.S. has promised another $215 million in emergency food assistance to Ukraine. It says more international aid is urgently needed to handle a global food crisis. Here is Secretary of State Antony Blinken who made the announcement at on Wednesday's U.N. meeting on global food security.

Blinken says aid from the U.S. should go through humanitarian organizations to keep them afloat while Ukraine's grain exports are blocked by Russia.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The cost of doing business for vital organizations like the World Programme -- food programme. the food and agricultural organization, UNICEF and others, the cost of doing business is going up.

We have to help them continue to do their business.


VAUSE: Russia's blockade of Ukrainian grain export threatens to worsen chronic food shortages around the world. Russia is also accused of stealing and trying to sell tons of Ukrainian grain.

Well, at least they now have a plan to end dependence on Russian natural gas and oil. The E.U. announced the program Wednesday with a price tag of more than $220 billion. The goal is to reduce imports of Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of the year, cut entirely by 2027.

The E.U. ahs already agreed to end Russian coal imports by this coming August and it's working on an oil embargo. European Commission President says the Union has learned its lesson on the war in Ukraine.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Putin's war is as we all see heavily disrupting the global energy market. It shows on one hand how dependent we are on imported fossil fuels. But it also shows how vulnerable we are on relying on Russia for importing our fossil fuels.


VAUSE: Under this E.U. plan, they intend to cut demand, find new suppliers and switch to renewable energy sources as a substitute for Russian gas.

Still ahead, a beacon of hope for a nation at war are now winners of Eurovision. Their triumphant return home for the band Kalush Orchestra when we come back.



VAUSE: The Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra returned to a hero's welcome after winning this year's Eurovision song contest. This is a much needed national morale booster to be sure, but it's also a chance for this group to use music to help heal the wounds of a war-torn country.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports but we must warn you, some of the images in her report are graphic.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra returning to a hero's welcome as winners of this year's prized Eurovision song competition. The folk rap group greeted at the Ukrainian border by servicemen and women bursting with pride.

Frontman Oleg Psyuk and his band launch into an impromptu version of their winning song, "Stefania".

Saturday, the musicians won the annual song contest in the Italian city of Turin, beating out their main rivals, the U.K. and Spain, riding a wave of popular support by voting viewers who skyrocketed them to the top.

"Stefania", initially written as a tribute to the band leader's mother, turned into a rallying cry and tribute to the nation as Ukraine battled against the invasion of its neighbor, Russia.

When I met them here in Lviv, it took little prodding for them to launch into a jam session of their popular song. But Kalush is keenly aware of the impact of the band's victory and what's at stake.

What does this moment mean? This is so much more than a musical competition.

OLEG PSYUK, FRONTMAN, KALUSH ORCHESTRA (through translator): we decided to take part in it because there are attempts to destroy and kill our culture. And we took part in it to show that our culture is alive. It does exist, and it's very beautiful.


MALVEAUX: The group was given special permission by the government to leave Ukraine to perform. And despite competition rules forbidding overt political statements, the band was praised by many Ukrainians for calling for the liberation of Ukrainians and Mariupol and inside the steel plant of Azovstal besieged by the Russians.

Soldiers sheltering in the steel plant belted out the lyrics as shelling could be heard from above.

Residents of Kalush, the hometown of the band, gushed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With all my soul, all my love, I love my Kalush.

MALVEAUX: And President Zelenskyy promised to bring the singing contest to a liberated Ukraine next year. Now Kalush is auctioning off its trophy and planning to tour Europe to fund raise for the Ukrainian soldiers and charitable foundations for Ukraine.

PSYUK: People say Ukraine is my mother and take it that way. That's why this song is now even called the anthem of war. But if it's called that, I would rather it to be the anthem of our victory.

MALVEAUX: Suzanne Malveaux, CNN -- Lviv, Ukraine.


VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. Rosemary Church picks up our coverage after a very short break.

You're watching CNN. Hope to see you right back here tomorrow.