Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Russian Missile Barrage Slams into Cities Across Ukraine; Investigation on the Louisville Police on Breonna Taylor's Death Released by the Justice Department; Bodies of two Americans Killed in Mexico to be Repatriated; Dominion Voting Systems: Fox News Seeks First Amendment License to Knowingly Spread Lies; Indonesian Football Officials Sentenced Over Stampede; Battle for Bakhmut Continues; Israeli Fighter Pilots Side with Demonstrators. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 09, 2023 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here the United States and all around the world. You are watching "CNN Newsroom" and I am Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, Russian shelling targets Ukraine's power grid across several regions, leaving Zaporizhzhia's nuclear power plant completely offline. We will have a live report just ahead.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is hospitalized after a fall Wednesday night.

Plus, we will break down the results of the Justice Department's probe into the Louisville police force after the death of Breonna Taylor

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Developing this hour, the U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is recovering in hospital after a fall. His spokesperson says McConnell tripped to the hotel in Washington during a private dinner Wednesday night. No word on his condition.

McConnell has fallen at least once before at his home in 2019 when he fractured his shoulder. The 81-year-old is the Senate's longest serving Republican leader, more on this story as it develops.

Well, we look now at Ukraine where a new wave of Russian attacks has targeted energy facilities in at least seven regions across the country. In Kyiv, at least three people have been wounded, and power has been knocked out around 15 percent of the city after two missile strikes there. The Russian assault reaching as far as the western city of Lviv where at least five people have been killed.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is following developments for us. She joins us now Live from London. Good morning to you, Selma. So what is the latest on those Russian missile strikes across parts of Ukraine today?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So terrified to Ukrainian families waking up this morning to yet another barrage of missiles from Moscow. All across the country really, we are hearing reports from officials telling people to shelter in place, take shelter underground from these missile attacks. Sirens going off from Odessa, to Lviv, across the country. We understand, according to Ukrainian officials, that seven different regions have been hit. They say, officials say, that energy facilities are one of the primary targets in this wave of strikes.

We understand, as you mentioned, that in the capital Kyiv, there the mayor saying around 15 percent of the city is without power. We have seen this before, right, Rosemary, continuation of that strategy from the Kremlin to really attack energy facilities, and leave the people of Kyiv, and other areas far from the front lines without basic necessities, without power or running water.

So were seeing that play out now on the ground, you also pointed out the attack on Lviv, that's significant by our count, it seems there hasn't been any deaths in Lviv since April of last year. That's very much a place that has been considered a safe haven.

But today, a residential area in that city of Lviv struck at least five people killed so far, officials still working at the scene of the site, that residential area, to try and recover people, try to help people who have been impacted by that attack.

And then separately, of course, in this wave of attacks, I have to mention the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Ukrainian officials say it has been disconnected from Ukraine's power grid, now in blackout mode, that nuclear power plant, this is the sixth time that has happened in this conflict. There is always a huge amount of concern, of course, when we are talking about the nuclear power plant that's very much on the front lines of this conflict.

So, for now, the country officials' families all scrambling, some taking shelter, and we're still getting more and more updates by the hour when it comes to what is impacted by this barrage of Russian missiles this morning, again.

CHURCH: All right, Salma, Abdelaziz, keeping an eye on all that live from London. Many thanks.

Well still to come this hour, a city forever changed, this is what Bakhmut used to look like, before Russia's invasion, and months of heavy fighting in and around the eastern Ukrainian city. CNN looks at the brutal effects of war on Bakhmut, and on those who once lived there.

Well, lawmakers in Tblisi, Georgia are withdrawing a controversial foreign agent spill that sparked days of protests.


The measure would have forced groups like charities news organizations to register with the government if more than 20 percent of their funding came from overseas. Protesters compared it to the law Russia uses to stifle freedom of press and expression. Police used water cannon and tear gas to try to clear the tens of thousands of protesters. Dozens of people have been arrested.

The U.S. Justice department has released a damning report on widespread discrimination and excessive use of force by Louisville police officers. The review launched in the wake of Breonna Taylor's death found the department specifically targeted black people and vulnerable. The report is 90 pages long. It was compiled after interviewing hundreds of officers and community members, and reviewing body camera video.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has details.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scathing review of the Louisville Metro Police Department, documenting persistent problems, abuse, and really blatant racism.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Some have videotape themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars, insulted people with disabilities, and called Black people monkeys, animal, and boy.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The two-year investigation from DOJ found Louisville police officers practiced an aggressive style of policing that deployed selectively, targeting Black people and vulnerable people throughout the city.

GARLAND: This conduct is unacceptable. It is heartbreaking. It erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Specifically, DOJ lists a number of findings including the use of excessive force, unjustified and dangerous neck restraints, discrimination, and conducting searches based on invalid warrants.

The review began in 2021, one year after Breonna Taylor was killed during a botched police raid at her partner in Louisville. Officers are accused of falsifying information to get a search warrant, failing to properly announce themselves, and one officer allegedly fired blindly into Taylor's apartment.

TAMIKA PALMER, BREONNA TAYLOR'S MOTHER: I don't even know what to think. To know that this thing should have never happened, and that it took three years for anybody else to say that it shouldn't have.

SCHENIDER (voice-over): Four of the officers are now facing federal civil rights charges, but the DOJ is clear in its report, the unlawful conduct by Louisville police did not start with Breonna Taylor in 2020.

GARLAND: Shortly after we opened an investigation, and LMPD leader told the department that Breonna Taylor was a symptom of problems that we have had for years. SCHENIDER (voice-over): DOJ has now entered an agreement with the city

of Louisville to perform its the police department. Already training has been revamped, no knock warrants are now prohibited, and more mental health professionals will accompany police on 9-1-1 calls.

CRAIG GREENBERG (D), LOUISVILLE MAYOR: We reformed how we recruit, train, equip, support, supervise, and deploy. The more than 1,000 public servants, whose job it is to serve as guardians of the public safety, every day, and every night.


CHURCH: There has been swift reaction to the new report from the White House, the Kentucky governor, and local civil rights leaders.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Breonna Taylor's death was a tragedy, a blow to her family, her community, and also to America more broadly. And the President continues to call for the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act to be sent to his desk that he will sign.

ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY GOVERNOR: Now, I know that law enforcement knows that I support them. But at the same time, we can always take a look at how we can do a better job, and especially if there are communities that feel like they are not being served, or feel less safe, working to make sure that we understand those concerns, and we address them, it's just the right thing to do.

RAOUL CUNNINGHAM, PRESIDENT, LOUISVILLE NAACP: For the entire community, this report should be embraced, studied, make sure we all understand it, and try to make Louisville a better place.


CHURCH: Joining me now is retired Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey. She is also the author of "Black and Blue, Creation of a Social Advocate". Sergeant Dorsey, thank you so much for being with us.

So after a two-year review of the Louisville Metro Police Department, the DOJ found police had engaged in a pattern of violating constitutional rights, discriminating against black people, engaging in excessive force and invalid searches. And this review came in response to the 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman fatally shot during that botched raid in her own home. What is your response to these findings?


SGT. CHERYL DORSEY (RET), LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, it is not surprising, and you know, they keep coming out with these investigative reports to corroborate what black folks know happens day in and day out. This is their lived experience. And so, I am appreciative of what Merrick Garland is doing, and compelling this police department to now do in response to his investigation.

Police chiefs, sheriffs and commissioners, they only understand one thing, and that is a consent decree, when they are forced, when their hand is forced to take action, to hold officers accountable, to reform their agencies, they will behave during that time, and what often happens is once the consent decree ends, then it goes back to business as usual. So, this is a great first step.

CHURCH: And some changes have apparently already been implemented by the Louisville Police Department, but now that this report has been released, what more needs to be done based on these findings?

DORSEY: Well, there needs to be real accountability. And so, we know now there has been an agreement with the police department and the attorney general as a result of their investigation to and no knock warrants there in that city, which is great. We need to have an end to no-knock warrants I think across all 18,000 of these police departments.

We know that there was a pattern and practice of excessive use of force, and bad behavior by their officers. The Louisville department had a pretext use of force, elite unit, much like they had there in Memphis. In Louisville, it was called the Vipers, until they disbanded it, and gave it a new name, called it something else, and then they continued on with the bad behavior.

So, listen, their needs to be real accountability, we don't need a National Registry of Officers who misbehave and engage in this kind of activity. They know exactly who the bad actors are. They are already on a list. That is how they were able to determine what was going on. And so, now that we know who the officers are, what are we going to do about it?

I would suggest, getting them off the police department. I would suggest if you can't get them off the department to, at the very least, get them out of control, take them out of the field. It is not a right to drive around nightly in a patrol car.

CHURCH: And the DOJ also announced it will review the Memphis Police Department's use of force, and its policies in the wake of the death of Tyre Nichols. What do you expect will come out of that report? And how many more will need to be done before we see acceptable changes in police practices that don't end in the depths of mostly black men and women?

DORSEY: Probably 18,000 since that is how many law enforcement agencies there are across this United States. And so, I would expect much of the same out of any investigation, any review and oversight on the Memphis Police Department again. At least three of those officers that were involved in the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols had been previously disciplined for engaging in police misconduct.

So, again, we have a police chief who knew exactly who these officers were, and she failed to take appropriate action. She failed to properly have these officers supervised. She failed to listen to her community members when they would come in and lodge complaints about these officers.

And so, it is never until there is a death, as in the case of Tyre Nichols or George Floyd or Breonna Taylor, or any other name, I could go on an on with, that everybody starts clutching their pearls and pretending like this is something that is new to them, and maybe they should take a look at the (inaudible) that they have been employing on their department.

CHURCH: Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, thank you so much for joining us.

And still to come, a final homecoming for two Americans killed after being kidnapped in Mexico. We will have the latest on the investigation into the deaths, and how the survivors are faring.

Plus, new allegations against Fox news and the 1.6 billion dollar lawsuit brought by dominion voting systems. Back with that and more on that in just a moment.




CHURCH: California's Governor has declared a State of Emergency in 21 additional counties, that's 34 in total, as a new round of storms move in. Authorities urged residents to get ready and be prepared for heavy rain and possible flooding over the coming hours and days.

More than 17 million people are currently under flood alerts in California, not to mention those under winter weather alerts. Higher elevations are expected to be hit with even more heavy snow and they are still trying to dig out from earlier storms. Officials warn residents the rain combined with snow could overwhelm some communities, and they warn in of possible roof collapses.

CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam explains why.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, if you are anything like me, you have maybe fond childhood memories of playing outdoors during a winter storm with that light fluffy snow. And we know sometimes those storms come in on the mild side and we get it a dense or snow pack so it is easier to make snowball or snowman for instance. But sometimes there's so much moisture associated with these winter storms that they actually pose a threat to structures and homes.

Now, I bring that up because that's exactly what the National Weather Service out of California is warning some of its residents for the upcoming weekend with this latest atmospheric river event that is about to take place.

Did you know that 12 inches of snow on a typical-sized home, wet snow we are talking about, is equivalent to having three pickup trucks on top of your roof? Let's say you double that snow pack. We're talking 24 inches of heavy wet snow fall and we are talking about nearly 40,000 pounds of pressure on top of your house.


No wonder there is the risk of structural collapse with this heavy wet snowfall. We just have to investigate the origins of where is this moisture is coming from. We call it the pineapple express because it originates near Hawaii. It's pulling in a lot of deep tropical moisture, and that means it will be a mild storm as it unleashes this kind of fire hose of water and heavy wet snowfall on higher elevations.

The weather predictions picking up on that level three of four we see that shade of red, Sacramento to San Francisco, noticed that like a very small shift in that moderate risk of flash flooding for the day on Friday. So, keep that in mind, Malibu northward.

Now, this is how much rain we anticipated, 3 to 6 inches for the most part, there will be the heavy wet snow fall that will be measured in feet especially across the Sierra Nevada crust, but you have heavy wet snow on top of what is already fallen and that is why we have the potential for rapid snow melt, flash flooding, landslides and mudslides. You can't forget about the potential 70-mile an hour wind gusts on the highest elevations here is a quick look at the latest winter weather alerts blanketing the western U.S. Back to you.


CHURCH: Another incident of violence on a U.S. Airline flight has been caught on camera.


The footage shows a passenger is trying to separate two men who got into a fistfight on the Southwest Airlines plane in Dallas. It happened while they were boarding a flight heading to Phoenix on Monday. Witnesses say both men left the plane before takeoff. Police responded to the incident, but no one was arrested. Footage also shows the man who threw the first punch telling other passengers why he did it.


UNKNOWN: I'm telling you what happened. I'm telling everybody what happened. You have pushed me aggressively with my family. I don't play with my family. Tell them what happened. Tell them what you did --

UNKNOWN: There is no need for that right now.

UNKNOWN: I will sit down in jail for you approaching my family. I will die for my family.


UNKNOWN: So that's what I will beat your (BLEEP).

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: A South Carolina church held a vigil Wednesday night for four Americans kidnapped in Mexico over the weekend. All the victims are local residents and church leaders asked the community to pray for their families during this difficult time. Here is what the pastor had to say.


HERBERT GODWIN, PASTOR, WORD OF GOD OUTREACH MINISTRIES: We have been through stuff similar, and when you've experienced certain things in your life, you have a sense of what someone else might be going through. And its more of a sense of love for our community. I know the families of these people very well. Matter-of-fact, I grew up with some of them and I know these children.


CHURCH: And sadly, more prayers are in store for that community after learning two of the Americans were killed during their trip. In the coming hours, their bodies will arrive in Texas for a second autopsy. Shaeed Woodard and Zendell Brown were half of the group kidnapped at gunpoint in northeastern Mexico last week while traveling with a friend to get a medical procedure.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher reports.


BARBARA MCLEOD BURGEES, MOTHER OF LATAVIA WASHINGTON MCGEE: I feel good. I know that she's coming home and (inaudible).

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mother of kidnapped survivor, LaTavia "Tay" Washington-McGee, relieved she will see her daughter soon.

BURGEES: I was praying for all of them.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): But not all of them will make it home alive. Just two of the four Americans kidnapped in Matamoros, Mexico survived the terrifying ordeal, McGee, the only one not physically hurt by the captors, and her friend Eric Williams, who was shot three times in the legs according to his wife.

MICHELLE WILLIAMS, WIFE OF ERIC WILLIAMS: Tears of joy, I guess, that he's alive. I didn't even want to imagine what he was going through, or you know, what any of them were going through.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): But McGee's cousin, Shaeed Woodard, and longtime friend Zendell Brown did not survive.

BURGEES: To watch them die this will hurt her, she said.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): The group rented a mini van to travel from south Carolina so McGee could undergo a medical procedure. Just days later this terrifying video appears to show one of the Americans being shoved into the bed of a pick up truck at gunpoint in broad daylight and taken from the scene. Burgees tell CNN about her first call with her daughter.

BURGEES: She was crying. She said -- I said, are you okay? She said, yeah. She watched (inaudible). Him and her the only want to survive out of the four.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): And what she feared when she got a dreaded call from the FBI, who see she says confirmed her daughter was in danger.

BURGEES: There was on a clearer (ph) and I would never see her again.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): The Mexican government saying the group was found in a wooden home and had been moved around to create confusion and avoid rescue. They also say one person in connection to the two deaths has been detained, but the investigation continues. For McGee's family, their relief clouded by sadness for those who won't make it back home.


BURGEES: I will miss them because I love them. I love them to death.

GALLAGHER (on-camera): A source in the Mexico Attorney General's Office tells CNN that the repatriation, the bodies of Woodard and Brown, is expected to happen on Thursday. A U.S. Official tells CNN that Mexican funeral home vehicle will likely drive their bodies to a funeral home in Brownsville, Texas. A second autopsy will likely eventually occur at a later date.

Diane Gallagher, CNN, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.


CHURCH: An Indonesian court orders jail time after one of the deadliest incidents ever at a football stadium. We'll have a live report on who has been found responsible for stampede that left dozens of people dead.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. U.S. President Joe Biden is set to release his budget blueprint in the coming hours, and the White House says he will propose cutting the deficit by nearly $3 trillion over the next 10 years.

The cuts expected to be paid for by tax reforms aimed at the wealthy and large corporations. The budget will also focus on investments in early education and access to affordable childcare. We are learning the budget will propose boosting federal funding for childcare by billions of dollars.

The state of California is pushing back against drug retailer Walgreens after the company said it would no longer provide abortion medications in more than 20 republican-led states, even ones where abortion is still legal.

The announcement prompted California's Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, to declare his state was ending all business with Walgreens and pulling back on renewing a contract valued at $54 million.

Walgreens said it was deeply disappointed by the decision. The contract with Walgreens was primarily to supply specialty prescription drugs to California's prison system.

Dominion Voting Systems says Fox News is seeking a First Amendment license to knowingly spread lies. In a new court filing, the company claims Fox has already conceded that its on-air statements about Dominion rigging the 2020 election were false. And that is just the latest case of Fox News hosts being dishonest.

CNN's Paula Reid reports.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: I could not have been --

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the Tucker Carlson America sees on camera.

CARLSON: The outcome of our presidential election was seized from the hands of voters.

REID (voice-over): But new court documents revealing a very different Carlson behind the scenes. Texting a producer on January 4th 2021, just two days before the Capitol attack, saying of Trump, I hate him passionately. I can't handle much more of this. We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. Admitting what a disaster it has been is too tough to digest, but come on, there isn't really an upside to Trump.

Those private remarks, a total contrast to Carlson's public comments like these at a conservative event just a few months ago.

CARLSON: I actually love Donald Trump as a guy. I'm so grateful that Donald Trump ran in 2016. Donald Trump like --


CARLSON: Donald Trump completely changed my view of everything.

REID (voice-over): His private messages were released as part of Dominion Voting Systems $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the right-wing network, revealing that Fox News stars and top executives did not actually believe the lie they put on air that the 2020 election was stolen. But amid falling ratings, the network continued to promote Trump and his lies.

CARLSON: Voter fraud is something that is real, that just took place two weeks ago. What happened was the people in charge rigged the game.

REID (voice-over): Despite his prior personal objections to Trump, Carlson continues to support him publicly, defending him after a search warrant was executed at Mar-a-Lago.

CARLSON: No honest person could believe that the raid on Donald Trump's home last week was a legitimate act of law enforcement. It was not.

REID (voice-over): And seen here laughing with Trump at a golf tournament over the summer.

(On camera): In two weeks, there will be a hearing where both sides will try to convince a judge to resolve the case in their favor without a trial. If that doesn't work, they could potentially settle this out of court before it is scheduled to go to trial on April 17th.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: The U.S. Defense Department says a suspected al-Qaeda bomb maker has been transferred from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Saudi Arabia. Ghassan Al Sharbi spent more than 20 years at Gitmo where many other terrorism suspects are held. A review board determined there are no national security reasons to keep him there any longer.

Still, the transfer includes various security measures such as monitoring and travel restrictions. Thirty-one detainees remain at Guantanamo and 17 of them are eligible for transfer.

Two Indonesian football club officials have been sentenced to jail time over last year's deadly stampede by fans at a stadium. More than 130 people were killed in the crash after police sprayed tear gas during this match last October. A group of officials were later put on trial on negligence charges.


Anna Coren is monitoring the trial and joins us now live from Hong Kong. So, Anna, what is the latest on this?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, there are two civilians who have been found guilty of negligence and causing death today. They have been sentenced to one year and six months, the other one to just a year. Incredibly light sentences. This is for the chairman of Arema Football Club as well as the head of security of Arema Football Club.

Now, it was their football club that staged this event. It was their club that lost the game. The fans took to the pitch and that is when the police responded, firing tear gas into the crowd, into the stadiums, on the 1st of October last year. That then triggered a stampede. People were trampled to death. They suffocated and that is because many of the exits of that stadium were locked.

Obviously, there is so much angst in this community. One hundred and thirty-five people died, Rosemary. More than 300 were injured. This is without doubt the worst football stadium disaster in the world. And yet, these two officials from the club that were in charge of, obviously, security as well as ticketing, there was overcapacity at the stadium, have been found guilty and sentenced to just over a year in prison.

Now, the public, much of their anger is directed at the police. Those three police officers that have stood trial, they will learn their verdicts in the coming weeks. There is one other official who will have a separate trial.

But families want answers, as you can imagine, Rosemary. You know, there were -- there were women there. There were children there. This was meant to be a family-friendly game. And Arema Football Club, it was only their fans there because of the fanaticism, because of the violence that can break out. So only Arema fans were at this stadium.

They feel that the police overreacted, that the amount of tear gas that was fired, obviously, created this stampede. But people are desperately wanting answers. Many will be watching to see what the judge, you know, does when he hands down those verdicts for the police officers, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Just a horrifying tragedy there. Anna Coren joining us live from Hong Kong, many thanks.

And still to come, the battle for Bakhmut. The latest on the situation there and how the city and its residents have been forever scarred by war.




CHURCH: NATO secretary general now says he can't rule out the battled city of Bakhmut and Eastern Ukraine may eventually fall in the coming days as the fight there rages on.



CHURCH: The head of the Russian mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, says Wagner has now taken all of Eastern Bakhmut as the Ukrainian military acknowledges Russian forces are still advancing. But the Ukrainian military is claiming more than 100 Russian soldiers were killed in the past day around Bakhmut.

Meantime, the head of Wagner appeared in this photo standing in front of a tank monument in the same area he says Wagner fighters now control. And in a video message, Prigozhin had this chilling message for Ukraine's president.

YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, HEAD OF RUSSIAN MERCENARY GROUP (through translator): The only request is to take out the elderly, children, and send here normal combat-ready units. We need to deal with you here, now.


CHURCH: Months of fierce fighting in Bakhmut has left the once thriving Ukrainian city largely in ruins. Now, those who have fled the battle are grappling with a life in a city forever changed by war.

CNN's Melissa Bell has the story.



MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bakhmut, now a buy word for horror --


BELL (voice-over): -- and death. Before the war, Bakhmut was about life. Its sculpted hedges and rose gardens regularly Instagram. A picture of peace. And one of the oldest cities in the Donbas, its gentile facades built on the prosperity of salt mines.

Maryna Zhvaniia is the fourth generation of her family born and raised in the city. Now, she and the pupils she taught have had to flee. Her life, she says, lies in ruins, like the old theater in which she had her wedding photos taken.

MARYNA ZHVANIIA, BAKHMUT SCHOOL TEACHER (Through translator): They started by destroying the buildings, that would be hardest to rebuild, the priceless historical heritage of our city, because I think they want to erase our nation.

BELL (voice-over): A history celebrated only recently for the 450th anniversary of the founding of Bakhmut. Its grand buildings proud reminders of better times. Seven months of Russian artillery have pulverized it, driving more than 90% of its people out and those left to the edge of sanity.


HANNA HOLUBTSOVA, BAKHMUT HUMANITARIAN WORKER (through translator): It's not leaving. It's surviving. People can get used to the living without heat and water. You can never get used to explosions.

BELL (voice-over): Before the war, Bakhmut was famous for the winery built in its salt mines and for its bubbles. A tourist attraction, now plundered by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group. His man closing in on the center of the city and making it harder for civilians to get in and out.

This is the so-called road of life, one of the last arteries into the town's center, bogged down and muddy, usable only now by armored vehicles. Home in Bakhmut is no more. The view from above from heaven to hell.

(On camera): How would you describe what has been lost?

ZHVANIIA (through translator): It's as if my heart has been pulled out and thrown away. I am trying to pick up the pieces and put it together again. I don't know how else to describe it. Absolutely everything is lost.

BELL (voice-over): And soon, most likely, in Russian hands.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Kyiv.


CHURCH: And it can't be overstated just how deeply the war has changed daily life for the people of Ukraine. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke about the war's toll on Ukraine's children and the personal impact on his own family.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The last time you and I spoke, Mr. President, you shared with me that your son and your daughter have had to grow up quickly because of this horrific war. How are you and your family doing now? What do you tell your children?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (Through translator): Thank you for your question. Thank you for mentioning the children. Because it's -- because of them, we are fighting. My daughter joined the university. She studies there. My son is attending school in Ukraine. They're both in Ukraine. They're very much like other Ukrainian kids. We live with sirens.

Today, a different situation. We got used to it. We want victory. We don't want to get used to war. But we got used to the challenges. Everyone wants one thing, to end the war. Very importantly, with our victory. Nobody trusts Russia anymore. And probably, the next generations won't be trusting Russia. This is sure.

They grow up, and they don't need to be told anything. All our children in Ukraine, they are grown-ups, but with children faces. But they're very grown-ups. They understand everything. They're sure in everything. They're not mediators of this war. They only support victory for Ukraine.


CHURCH: Weeks of public unrest over the planned overhaul of Israel's judicial system has now spread to segments of the Israeli military. We'll bring you the latest just ahead.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: Israeli police say three suspected Palestinian militants have been killed in a shootout with undercover officers near Jeanine in the West Bank.

A spokesperson for the Israeli border police says the officers were attempting to arrest two of the Palestinians allegedly for shooting at Israeli troops in the area. The police say they returned fire when the suspects began shooting at them from their vehicle.

According to the Palestinian health ministry, at least 78 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year.

Weeks of angry street protests in Israel have failed to stop the government's plan to overhaul the nation's judicial system. Now, another group is joining the protesters, a group that Israel depends on for its security.

Elliott Gotkine has those details from Tel Aviv.



ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST (voice-over): They bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981 and regularly hit Iranian targets in Syria. But even some of Israel's revered combat pilots are now firing warning shots, with reservists from one squadron skipping a training session and suggesting they may not heed the call of duty if the government rams through its judicial overhaul. In this country, that's a very big deal.

COL. NERI YARKONI, RETIRED ISRAELI AIR FORCE PILOT: Mere existence of Israel is based on the Israeli air force. Simple as that.

GOTKINE (voice-over): Neri Yarkoni was an Israeli combat pilot for 30 years. He's also a lawyer, who warns that if the government continues with plans to (INAUDIBLE) the Supreme Court and give itself sweeping powers, the country may be in trouble.

YARKONI: Since we are talking only about few hundreds of people, then if you lose some of them, the mere existence of Israel is essentially degraded. That is why the government and all the people in Israel are very concerned about the protest of the Israeli fighter pilots.

GOTKINE (voice-over): Israel's defense minister, seen here meeting reservist commanders from the combined services on Tuesday, says he is listening.


(on camera): Weeks of street protests in Israel have thus far failed to persuade the government to even pause its judicial reform plans. Could this warning from some of Israel's air force pilots, the very people whose job it is to defend Israel's existence, could they have any more luck?



GOTKINE (voice-over): This analyst thinks they will.

PLESNER: I think what we are seeing now from the fighter pilots is a new ballgame altogether. It's an escalation of the protests. It comes alongside with other measures of escalation, and it seems like a snowball that is just gaining more and more momentum. I think that it will bring the government to the table.


GOTKINE (voice-over): On the ground, though, little appears to be changing. The government's judicial overhaul remains on track. And another day of mass protest, perhaps with a few pilots among the crowd, is planned for Thursday.

Elliott Gotkine, CNN, Tel Aviv.


CHURCH: And thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Rosemary Church. "CNN Newsroom" continues with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo, next.