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Russia is Hitting Ukraine with Massive Shelling; Shortage of Key Medicines in RSV Surge; Coast Guard Rescues Migrants in Florida Keys. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 09:30   ET



DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Congress and a Democratic- controlled White House, which will continue to sort of stymy that comprehensive big package legislation that the Obama administration couldn't get, that the Bush administration couldn't get, and so on down the line.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: So, it remains an issue, not a piece of legislation. Imagine that. I think we've seen that show before here on The Hill.


SCIUTTO: Ryan Lizza, David Swerdlick, thanks so much to both of you.

SWERDLICK: Thanks, Jim.

LIZZA: Thanks, Jim. Happy Thanksgiving.

SCIUTTO: A Russian soldier caught describing the brutal reality of life on the front lines in a phone call intercepted by Ukrainian authorities. A call to his girlfriend. You'll want to hear it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You don't know what to expect here. Sometimes there's friendly fire and idiots shoot at us because they don't see our coordinates.


SCIUTTO: The desperation on the battlefield among Russian troops amid Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive. That's coming up.



SCIUTTO: New in morning, Kremlin officials say that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is planning to meet with the mothers of reservist Russian soldiers called to fight this week in Ukraine. Two weeks ago Putin said that 50,000 recently drafted soldiers had been deployed, but those forced to fight on the front lines apparently in many cases becoming desperate.

CNN has obtained an exclusive recording of one Russian soldier describing the brutal reality of war in an intercepted phone call to his girlfriend.

Have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The commander's position was shelled, so he packed up and moved further back. But what about us? Aren't we humans, too?

We had 96 people in our unit, but now there are less than 50.

You don't know want to expect here. Sometimes there's friendly fire and idiots shoot at us because they don't see our coordinates.

Being mobilized is crap. Nobody can go home until Putin announces the order. There's no way to return.

And if we weren't here, they, the Ukrainians, would already be at our borders. They would shell Moscow, Yekaterinburg, shell everything.


SCIUTTO: Russia continues to escalate the fighting in eastern Ukraine with massive shelling operations in the Donetsk region.

Here to discuss this further, CNN military analyst, former supreme NATO allied commander, Wesley Clark.

General Clark, good to have you on this morning.


SCIUTTO: So, Russia continues to wage what's become a familiar campaign there, and that is to punish the civilian population, take out critical services, electricity, et cetera, bomb residential areas here. This is happening as you've seen something of a new flurry of at least attempted diplomatic activity here.

Do you see any indications that Putin is willing to talk substantively, or at least begin a negotiation to end the conflict?

CLARK: Oh, absolutely. Putin's ready, not to end the conflict, but he'd love to have a pause. He'd love to have a ceasefire, let him rebuild his forces, hang on to what he has, argue about sanctions, try to rebuild his military with high-tech components, have more time to work with the Iranians to build their forces up, and then he'll get going again. So, there are a lot of well-meaning people here in the west, in the United States and elsewhere, oh, that's just so horrible We just have to stop the fighting. The problem is that's exactly what Mr. Putin wants. That is his exit strategy, if you would, not that he's going to leave, but he wants that pause to rebuild his forces.

SCIUTTO: So, it sounds like you're saying talking, discussing the possibility of a pause, not a good idea for Ukraine.

CLARK: I think it's fine to do the talks as long as you can handle the domestic blow back on this. This is a problem for democracies because when you start talking, people who are outside the talks get the idea that peace is imminent, and they want to cut the support to Ukraine. In fact, the only way to have these talks work is to intensify the support for Ukraine while you talk. So, it's talk, talk, fight, fight, and convince Putin he has no alternative but to pull out completely. And so if you talk and you can get these messages out without upsetting your allies or the Ukrainians or the American public, fine, go ahead, but be careful because it can backfire.

SCIUTTO: You have -- you mentioned, western support for Ukraine. You have members of the Republican Party here in the U.S., and that they have, of course, just taken the majority in the House, who have criticized U.S. military assistance and financial assistance to Ukraine. Are you concerned that with that new majority in the House that U.S. support for Ukraine will diminish?

CLARK: Well, there's -- there's no issue with being concerned with why are we doing this, what's in it for us and so forth. We should be talking about those things. This is not something that should be hidden from the American people. It's a legitimate subject for political dialogue.

However, the arguments are strongly in favor of intensifying the support. The cause of the inflation is basically Russia's invasion plus the Saudis hiking oil prices. So, there's not anything you're going to do to reduce inflation like cutting our spending.


And this is the fundamental issue that we're in.

This is a time, Jim, when the whole western structure that we set up in World War II is at risk. So, if we do this right, we support the Ukrainians, they're fighting for us, we push back on Mr. Putin, get him out of there, we have strengthened the global rules-based international order, send a strong message to China. If we pull back, cut the funding, turn inward, we're inviting big trouble later on.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's important to point out those big -- those big picture effects of this.

General Wesley Clark, always good to have you on. Thanks so much.

CLARK: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, as cases of respiratory illness surge in children, you may have experienced it yourself in your family, medication needed to treat them is now running low. We're going to have that story and what doctors are doing about it coming up.


[09:45:31] Right now the U.S. is seeing a shortage of key medicines to treat common childhood illnesses, such as the flu, ear infections, and sore throats, just as an already severe respiratory virus season is getting worse in this country.

CNN medical correspondent Dr. Tara Narula joins us now.

So, I wonder, and God knows my own family and others, we're seeing a lot of cases like this in the last few weeks, what drugs specifically are in short supply and what's being done about it?

DR. TARA NARULA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, it's really an unprecedented combination of RSV, Covid and the flu that is slamming the country, and in particularly children as well. And so when we're talking about the medications that we're seeing in shortage now, we're talking about Tamiflu, which is an antiviral that's often given for the flu to reduce symptoms, reduce severity and shorten the duration of illness. We're also talking about anti- bacterial agents, like amoxicillin and augmentin, those are used typically to treat things like ear infection, pneumonia, strep throat, and then also albuterol, which is an inhaler that many people use who are asthmatic or have reactive airway disease.

It does appear like these are rally spot shortages mostly caused by this increase in demand. We know that prescription requests for Tamiflu are at a ten-year high for this time of year and the CDC is really reporting that more than half the states are having high or very high evidence of respiratory viruses.

So, we do think that this will resolve hopefully as companies begin to ramp up manufacturing in response, but it's going to take a little while because certainly they made their orders based on their projections earlier, which nobody could have predicted that we would be seeing this.

SCIUTTO: All right, so you're a parent and your child is sick.


SCIUTTO: What's the advice for parents while the shortage lasts?

NARULA: Well, first of all, don't panic. I mean there are certainly alternatives to many of these medications and they are available. It may require calling the pharmacy, calling to different pharmacies, driving further than you would have hoped. The other thing is that there are other options. So just because you can't get amoxicillin, there are other antibiotics, for example, that can treat. They may be more expensive, they may be broader spectrum, which is not often ideal or have different side effect profiles, but it's worth a discussion. And then there may be different ways to formulate the drug. So, actually, the FDA has released guidance to pharmacists about be able to take amoxicillin and make it into a liquid form which is palatable for kids.

And then, finally, Jim, I'll just add, testing your child is so important. We have tests for RSV and Covid and the flu, and we know that in general 30 percent of antibiotic prescriptions for kids are inappropriate. So, lots of people are receiving antibiotics when they don't need them.


NARULA: So, getting tested so that we can decide is this necessary or not is really critical to help, particularly now when we're seeing these shortages.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes, you don't want to -- you don't want to feed resistance over time. Already a problem.

Dr. Tara Narula, thanks so much.

NARULA: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still to come, the Coast Guard has rescued more than 100 migrants from an overloaded vessel near the Florida Keys. We're going to have the details on that rescue mission.



SCIUTTO: The U.S. Coast Guard says it has now rescued at least 100 migrants from an overloaded vessel before that vessel hit a sand bar in the Florida Keys. The rescue operation began yesterday after someone reported seeing the vessel in distress.

CNN's Leyla Santiago joins us now from Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

So, Leyla, what do we know, first of all, about the situation right now? Are there other people under threat, but also how this happened, what led up to this?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, Jim, we've actually learned from U.S. Border Patrol that an additional 18 Haitian migrants were rescued. That coming in this morning from them. That comes on top of what you mentioned, the 100 migrants. And what is so heartbreaking is, when you look at the image captured, you see that there are babies that were pulled off of this vessel.

So, yes, let's back up. Let's talk about what we know in terms of how this rescue went down.

Yesterday morning, a good Samaritan calls in, sees - says that they see an overloaded vessel out at sea. There were reports of people in the water. And when you talk to the Coast Guard, one of the first things they mentioned to me overnight was just what the conditions were like. Really, really rough seas. Six to ten feet, 25 mile per hour winds. So really rough conditions for anyone to be out there.

But there are still a lot of questions about how long were they out there? What will happen next? What I can tell you, in conversations that I've had with boaters and fisherman here, and I will quote one of them, this is nothing new. I mean just look at the numbers and you will see that according to CBP numbers, in October this year, they had 7,000 migrants in those type of encounters and rescues. If you look at those same numbers last year, 1,200. So, they've seen quite the uptick as CNN has reported before. And this is just the latest.

On Sunday there was another rescue where five people died over near Little Torch Key, not far from where we are. So, not only just a sad story, especially when you see those images of children, babies being rescued, but also an example of what we're seeing in terms of an increase in these type of rescues out here, Jim.


SCIUTTO: No question. A sad story behind it all.

Layla Santiago in Islamorado, I should have said, thanks so much.

Coming up, we are learning more about the victims from the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting, hearing from one of two men as well who took down the gunman, likely saved lives. We're going to have those stories just ahead.


SCIUTTO: Top of the hour now. I'm Jim Sciutto.

This morning, the suspect who killed five people and injured more than a dozen others at a Colorado Springs nightclub expected to face multiple charges, including not just counts of murder but also bias motivated crimes. Right now investigators are still trying to nail down details of his motive as we're hearing the incredible story of the man who first tackled and then disarmed the gunman.