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Erin Burnett Outfront

Russia Tests Nuke-Capable Missile; Putin To Enemies: "Think Twice"; Ukrainian Military Gov In The East Says Russians Control 8 percent Of Region, Warns They Will Not "Stop Here And Will Push Further"; U.S. Announces Sanctions Against 40 Plus People & Entities Accused Of Trying To Help Russian Oligarch Evade Sanctions; DeSantis Seizes On Culture Wars, Crusades Against All Things "Woke"; DOJ Appeals Federal Ruling On Transportation Mask Mandate; People Confronting Police Over Extreme COVID Tactics In Shanghai. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 20, 2022 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer. I'll be back in half an hour on our new streaming service, CNN Plus with a new show called The Newscast. It's also always available on demand. Thanks very much for watching.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Putin puts the west on notice, testing a powerful new missile that he claims will make the West think twice as new intercepted communications between Russian soldiers appear to show them turning on their own.

Plus, there is breaking news, the CDC is now asking the Justice Department to fight back and bring back that mask mandate for travelers, so are masks coming back?

And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with two major victories tonight, is that why Fox is talking about him more than Trump? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight we have some breaking news, Russian President Vladimir Putin's warning to the West, test launching a new intercontinental ballistic missile and saying that anyone thinking of threatening Russia should now quote think twice.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through interpreter): This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our Armed Forces reliably ensure Russia's security from external threats and provide food for thought for those who in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric try to threaten our country.


BOLDUAN: But as we all know, it is Putin who is the aggressor not only threatening but invading another country. A country that has managed to hold its ground for 56 days now. A surprise to many, including President Biden today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I knew they were tough and proud, but I tell you what, they're tougher and more proud than I thought.


BOLDUAN: Still, Russia is continuing to cut a path of destruction across eastern Ukraine tonight. The head of the Luhansk regional military administration tells CNN 80 percent of his region's territory is now under Russian control. He says Russia is destroying everything in its path.

And for the South in Mariupol, the nonstop Russian bombardment continues, the city utterly destroyed as Ukraine barely maintains control. It's a city that is crucial to both sides. Clearly, it would allow Russia to more easily mobilize troops and move supplies by creating a land bridge between the Donbas and Crimea which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

Today, Ukraine says an evacuation corridor out of Mariupol did not work as planned. Those are their words. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy says scores of civilians are still trapped in the fighting. We've got all the angles of this covered for you tonight with reporters on the ground.

I want to start with Jim Sciutto OUTFRONT in Lviv. Jim, what is the latest on the ground tonight?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Ukrainian Air Force about to get a helping hand from the U.S. and its allies. We're learning this evening that by sending spare parts, as simple as that, the key spare parts to the Ukrainian military, they're able to make 20 more jets operational to join the fight.

You remember the debate, Kate, about sending jets MiGs, old Soviet- made jets themselves to Ukraine that face some opposition as perhaps being too escalatory with Russia. But this move getting the spare parts in may have the same effect, nearly two dozen new planes for the Ukrainian Air Force as it faces a tough new fight in the east.


SCIUTTO (voice over): As Russia's attacks on the east intensify, there is new evidence that some of its own soldiers have had enough. The Security Service of Ukraine releasing purported new intercepted communications among Russian soldiers.

One man recounting a conversation he had with his commander. He can be heard saying we asked the commander, "What shall we do? We got nothing." He says the commander told them, "Effing shoot all the civilians to the end." And then warn the troops, "Whoever leaves their post will be a deserter." That's when another soldier on the recording can be heard saying,

"Tell them to eff off."

As the conversation continues the soldier then complaining that Russia has all been abandoned that saying, "Just imagine, they didn't provide a way to retreat, didn't say anything, didn't even bring food, eff them."

CNN cannot vouch for the authenticity of the recording, but Ukraine has previously released audio of Russian soldiers and Russian troops have used unsecured lines of communication according to military observers.

As the war enters its 56th day, new images reveal how the situation in Mariupol is getting worse by the hour. Bodies piling up from the nonstop shelling and fierce street fighting. Human remains lining the streets, some with bullet holes in their backs.


Others killed by missile strikes. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the slaughter is the worst Ukraine has witnessed.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through interpreter): Crimes that are happening there are far more scary and in larger scale than in Borodyanka.


SCIUTTO (voice over): Borodyanka, the town outside Kyiv, where Russian troops killed numerous civilians and left behind utter destruction. The President of the European Council, visiting the town today and meeting with Zelenskyy saying that Russia's assault has left him speechless.


CHARLES MICHEL, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: There are no words in order to explain what I feel not as President of the European Council but as father, as human being. These are atrocities. These are war crimes. It must be punished, it will be punished.


SCIUTTO (on camera): The Biden administration is preparing another large weapon shipment to Ukraine, $800 million following $800 million last week. And the focus of this, I'm told, Kate, this new shipment, is going to be heavy artillery. U.S. made 155 millimeter howitzers' ammunition. For that the U.S. drawing on help from allies as well.

It shows you, Kate, just the kind of battle they expect in the east, artillery on - artillery tank on tank, airstrikes, they're expected it sadly to be big and bloody. BOLDUAN: Yes. Jim, thank you so much. OUTFRONT for us now, retired

Colonel Cedric Leighton, former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Steve Hall, the former CIA Chief of Russia Operations. Thank you for being here, gentlemen.

Col. Leighton, Russian forces in addition to everything that Jim laid out, Russian forces have added 17 battalion tactical groups, four in just the last 24 hours. Ukrainian officials, as I mentioned earlier, say 80 percent of the Luhansk territory is now under Russian control. You add that together, can Ukraine continue to fend them off?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Kate, that's a good question. I think they can, I think Ukraine can do that, but they're going to have a really tough fight on their hands, because with about, I think, 82 battalion tactical groups now arrayed against Ukraine in the east, that's going to create a situation where what they're going to have to do is they're going to be have to be extremely agile and extremely mobile in their response to the Russian forces.

So as soon as the Russians move in one way, they have to respond to that and possibly preempt them and cut them off before they can surround the Ukrainian forces. That's going to be the tough thing that they're going to have to do and I think they can do it with the right supplies, but those supplies have to get there.

BOLDUAN: That's absolutely the key at this moment.

And Steve, I want to play a little bit more of that recording released by the Security Service of Ukraine. They say it's intercepted communications of a Russian soldier in communication, talking about their commander. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sat there for three days without (inaudible) anything. Our commanders, they receive provisions, cigarettes, food and our command of all (inaudible) off. They abandoned everyone and (inaudible) off. We don't even know where they are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) jackals. (Inaudible) shoot them and that's it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just imagine, they didn't provide a way to retreat, didn't say anything, didn't even bring food stuff, (inaudible) them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) shoot. (Inaudible) wit. The first one.


BOLDUAN: I mean, CNN can't vouch for the authenticity of this recording, of course. But if true, Steve, it tracks with what we have heard anecdotally, kind of throughout this war many times, which is bad morale among Russian forces, what do you make of it?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, first, Kate, I didn't have any reason to doubt that this is a valid intercept. I've listened to it a couple of times. It's certainly possible that it's fabricated by the Ukrainians, by the SBU who's a pretty good service. But my guess is it's probably pretty accurate.

And I certainly don't disagree with Cedric in terms of the difficulties and the hard fight ahead of the Ukrainians, but what we're hearing in that particular take is almost astounding unprofessionalism, a lack of professionalism in the Russian army. I mean, you've got, first of all, you got guys that are communicating in an insecure fashion, probably via cell phone or something like that. And then they're talking about killing their own commander, they're talking about the hard - so they know that this is going to be picked up.

Perhaps it's gotten to the point where the Russian troops just don't care. Remember a lot of these Russian troops are simply the guys in Russia who didn't - whose family didn't have the bribes to be able to get them out of military service. Unfortunately, that's the way it oftentimes happens in Russia, so it really doesn't surprise me that we're beginning to hear things like this.

BOLDUAN: And then Colonel, President Zelenskyy in speaking today, he said, the way he put it is that Ukraine doesn't have enough serious and heavy weapons to defeat Russia, the Russian army when we're talking specifically about Mariupol. We know that the U.S. is obviously sending in weapons. You said the key is getting it to them in all various parts of the country, but is there anything else when it comes to Mariupol that the U.S. could or should do now that it hasn't to help there?


LEIGHTON: Well, I think in the extreme case, Kate, it'd be opened up in a humanitarian corridor but that of course would entail a whole bunch of political and military decisions that I don't think anybody is willing to make at this point in time.

Having said that, though, the key thing here, I think, is providing them with some kind of - you almost have to - I hate to say it, but air cover to have a humanitarian exit out of there. The other thing would be to get those heavy weapons, including howitzers into an area where they could potentially do some good on the other side of the Russian forces, so not in Mariupol itself, because that's almost impossible to get to now, but on the northern edge of the Russian territory that they've occupied.

So those will be the kinds of things that could potentially happen. I don't see it happening. I think it's highly unlikely. But that's the kind of thing that would need to occur if they were serious about getting these people out and basically sustaining them.

BOLDUAN: Steve, as we mentioned, Putin tested an ICBM today. The U.S. says that Russia properly notified them of - that it was a planned test. But Putin was also quoted in Russian state media saying that this test should give thought to those who are trying to threaten Russia. What is Vladimir Putin doing here?

HALL: Well, I think he's doing a couple of things. First and foremost, it's important for viewers to understand that this was - that this is standard operating procedure. This is normal. This isn't - this wasn't a missile test that was done necessarily to threaten the United States or our Western allies. There was notification. It was a planned thing, so this is a routine type of thing.

With that said, the second thing that Vladimir Putin is doing, besides testing his missiles, is he's using it to do more nuclear saber rattling. He's saying, look, people have to remember or the West has to remember that I have these weapons. And he's going to continue to do that. I continue to assess that the likelihood of some sort of intercontinental exchange where he used strategic nuclear weapons to destroy each other's capitals is an extremely low probability.

Tactical nuclear weapons, I think, maybe a little bit higher likelihood but still pretty improbable, that would be a real slap in the face to the international community. But Putin is clearly signaling that look, take me seriously, I have these nukes, and I might possibly use them and that's something that policymakers in the West have to take into consideration.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's good to see you both. Thank you very much.

OUTFRONT for us next, U.S. officials, walk out of a G20 meeting when a Putin deputy starts speaking. This as the U.S. is stepping up sanctions on an oligarch who's leading a major global network. Who he is? That's coming next.

Plus what was Zelenskyy thinking when Trump said this to him?


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I really hope that you and President Putin get together and can solve your problem.


BOLDUAN: And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis crusading against anything that's 'woke'. How it's making him more popular than ever?



BOLDUAN: Tonight, walkout. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell protesting Russia's war in Ukraine as a Russian official was beginning to speak. We're going to show you, you're looking at a picture of the finance ministers after they walked out of the closed door session.

It comes as the U.S. announces a new round of sanctions targeting a vast network of people and entities tied to one Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. Matthew Chance is in the flesh out front with me tonight. It's good to see you here, Matthew. What do you know about this oligarch, Konstantin?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, not a great deal in the sense that Konstantin Malofeev is not an extremely high profile public figure in Russia, but he's obviously an extremely rich figure. He's a banker, that's where he made the majority of his money. But he's also closely associated with sort of conservative Orthodox Christian groups and his on the sort of right-wing, I think, you could probably say of conservative Russian politics.

And he's been sanctioned in the past for being accused of using some of his wealth to fund separatists in eastern Ukraine. And so he's been a sort of key figure when it comes to that, that those rebel groups in the east of Ukraine that were backed by Russia and were fighting for a separate independence from the Ukrainian government.

BOLDUAN: So it added now more sanctions on top for him. I also want to - I want to play for you, there's this video out that was put out today by Russia of President Putin speaking with a group of people, but specifically when he was speaking with this young girl, let me play this. Just watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russia a wonderful country.

PUTIN (through interpreter): The purpose of this operation, as I said, at the very beginning, was to help our people who live in Donbas same as you.


BOLDUAN: Striking today, only because it's Vladimir Putin continue to push the lie that he has been saying in order to invade from the beginning. But pair that with you also have now a Russian billionaire kind of breaking ranks, calling out Vladimir Putin, calling out the war, calling it, what do you call an insane war in this Instagram post that he put out. Can you - can these two realities continue to exist and sustain in Russia at the same time?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, I think you have to remember that inside Russia people aren't probably going to be seeing much of that statement that was put out by Vigor Tinkov (ph), the very critical statements about the war. It was on Instagram, people can't get Instagram anymore unless they got sort of VPN.

The narrative on Russian state television, which is where most people get their news is that one we saw from Vladimir Putin there that this is an operation, a special military operation that has been created by Russia to save people inside Ukraine and they're fed a diet of that 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And so it's not like there are competing narratives really inside Russia. But clearly, I mean, I just want to say that statement from Tinkov shows you that there are Russians, both inside Russia and outside Russia, that see this for what it is and do not agree with this operation too.

BOLDUAN: But we don't know what kind of impact that has, if it has any impact on Vladimir Putin, if it has any impact on just like vast public opinion. That's, of course, I guess yet to be seen, it is what it is. I mean, there's also this clip surfacing that's getting a lot of attention.


And it's from 2019, it was at the United Nations General Assembly and this was between President Zelenskyy of Ukraine and then-President Trump, where the former president, he urged Zelenskyy, to try to essentially patch things up with Vladimir Putin, watch this.


TRUMP: I really hope that you and President Putin get together and can solve your problem. That would be a tremendous achievement and I know you're trying to do that.


BOLDUAN: The whole time, you're just watching Zelenskyy's face because it's something, like something is going on there. You've been covering Ukraine for a decade plus and covering him ever since he's kind of come on the scene. What do you see going on there?

CHANCE: Well, we don't know. We won't be seeing the pictures of what was at stake in Ukraine and in its standoff with Russia. And Volodymyr Zelenskyy there, the President of Ukraine knew very well that you doing a deal with Putin, coming to terms with him could have spelt the end of Ukrainian independence, its existence as a state, because he's been warning that that's what Russia wanted to do, destroy the independence of Ukraine and absorb it in some way.

But this is a reminder of the kind of atmosphere we saw back in 2019, I think it was.


CHANCE: Yes. With President Trump - then-President Trump sort of trying to sort of do a deal with Putin in some way, trying to get other people to settle their differences with the Kremlin.

BOLDUAN: And even at that time, this was in 2019, this is after the 2014 annexation of Crimea and asking him to like make nice with Putin even then. So it was crazy on its face, even when they're sitting there in 2019. In the context of today, it's just even more striking.

CHANCE: And even then, remember, members of the Trump administration, were saying to Ukraine investigate Hunter Biden, for instance. Investigate these things, play ball with us politically. And if you don't, we may cut off the flow of weapons to - that you need for your defense. And you can see what's happening to Ukraine now with the conflict they're engaged in, just what a sort of existential threat Ukraine posed to that country and so that's how important those weapons were and are to Ukraine.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that Putin poses an existential threat then and, I mean, it goes without saying what we're looking at now. It's good to see you, Matt.

CHANCE: Yes, you too.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

OUTFRONT for us next, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis is racking up one controversial win after the next, banning textbooks, we've talked about that, punishing Disney, drawing up his own congressional district, his approval rating going up all the time.

Plus, breaking news, the CDC is now asking the DOJ to appeal the ruling that struck down the mask mandate for travelers. What does this mean now?



BOLDUAN: Two big wins today for Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. The Florida Senate voting to punish Disney for its opposition to a law limiting teachers from talking about gender identity and sexuality. Critics had dubbed it the 'don't say gay' bill. The Senate also passed a congressional map drawn by DeSantis himself that eliminates two majority black districts in the state. Dianne Gallagher is OUTFRONT tonight in Florida.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is riding an increasingly conservative and controversial wave of legislative wins. Positioning himself as a warrior against anything he deems as woke.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: Woke-ism is a form of cultural Marxism.


GALLAGHER (voice over): During the height of the pandemic, DeSantis bolstered his name and conservative circles by skewing mandates and COVID health recommendations.


DESANTIS: We've stood for freedom across the board and the result has been Florida has defeated Fauci-ism, freedom has prevailed in the Sunshine State.


GALLAGHER (voice over): It's a strategy that has his party singing his praises.


SEN. DENIS BAXLEY (R-FL): We're convinced we've got the best governor in the country right now. He's very definitive, whether you completely agree with him or not. He knows what he thinks and he acts on it and he's very clear.


GALLAGHER (voice over): Elected governor in 2018, DeSantis is running for re-election this year. But often positions himself against national figures like President Joe Biden rather than Democrats running for governor.


DESANTIS: There's one fellow that just hates Florida and his name is Joe Biden. He doesn't like Florida and he doesn't like me because we stand up to him.


GALLAGHER (voice over): A rising conservative rockstar, DeSantis does not shy away from engaging in political battles over hot button topics that energize the right like critical race theory, which the legislature banned from schools last year and led in part to the Florida Department of Education rejecting more than 50 math textbooks from next year's school curriculum.


DESANTIS: Because we will not spend taxpayer money to teach our kids to hate our country or to hate each other, we have banned CRT in K through 12 education.


GALLAGHER (voice over): Under DeSantis' close guidance this year, the Republican controlled Florida Legislature passed laws that banned abortions at 15 weeks.


DESANTIS: We're here today to protect life.


GALLAGHER (voice over): The Yale and Harvard alum has developed a reputation in state of using his power to squash dissent from lawmakers like vetoing congressional maps approved by the Republican- controlled legislature and calling a special session this week where the only map considered is the one submitted by DeSantis.


SEN. BOBBY POWELL (D-FL): It's play or punish, it's you're going to play into the hands of the governor or you going to be punished.


GALLAGHER (voice over): Opponents say his bully pulpit extends to private entities like Disney.


DESANTIS: They do not run this state. They do not control this state.


GALLAGHER (voice over): Which spoke out against a law that bans schools from teaching young children about sexual orientation and gender identity.


DESANTIS: It's those kindergarteners in Florida that they really want to have transgenderism as part of their core curriculum in school.


GALLAGHER (voice over): Dubbed the 'don't say gay' bill by opponents, Disney called for it to be overturned and stop political donations in Florida after DeSantis signed it into law last month. The same day the State Senate passed a bill called for by the governor that would dissolve Disney's special district.

DeSantis sent out a fund-raising email saying, quote: If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy.


REP. CARLOS GUILLERMO SMITH (D), FLORIDA: What is he going to do next? Today, he's passing legislation to eliminate black majority districts and to punish Disney for speaking out against him. Who is next on the hit list for Governor Ron DeSantis if they don't get in line and support his extreme right wing agenda?


GALLAGHER (on camera): Now, the DeSantis map is set for final passage and that room back there sometime tomorrow. It will increase Republican seats and likely reduce the number of seats that are currently held by black Democrats in the state of Florida and inevitably end up in court, Democrats said it is blatantly unconstitutional.

We reached out to the governor's office for comment. They said that he appreciates the legislature addressing his priorities. As far as his political future goes, Kate, we were told, quote, speculation about his supposed aspiration beyond Florida is unfounded.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Until it's not, that's how it always goes.

Dianne, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT with me now, CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten.

It's good to have you here, Harry.

Issue after issue, Dianne lays it out really well, Governor DeSantis, not only doesn't shy away from controversial, hot button, cultural, and social fights, issues, and fights around them, he leans into them. You've been looking at the numbers, and what has it meant for him in Florida?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: He's gotten more popular. This is why he does it. It works.

So, his approval rating, if you look back last August, was under 50 percent. Where is it now? It's clearly in the mid 50s. It's up six points.

This is the thing that I think we always sort of don't keep in mind with Ron DeSantis. He's a good politician. He knows exactly what he's doing to, quote, another former politician, Marco Rubio.

And, you know, he's up for reelection this year, right? His likely Democratic opponent, not yet determined, it will be Charlie Chris. What is going on in the polls? Well, we saw, if you look last August, basically to dead heat between him and Charlie Crist. Now, his lead has expanded. It's eight points. He's basically running away with this race.


ENTEN: So, his approval ratings going, up his chances of reelection are going up, and it's working for him. That is why he's doing it.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and what's also work for him for a long time, Harry, is his relationship and connection with Donald Trump, from campaign ads, two on, and on. There were strong supporters of each other, throughout the time the Trump was in office. Trump, repeatedly, has claimed that it was his endorsement that actually have helped Ron DeSantis win the governorship. Flash forward to this year, and that alliance seems to have, clearly, rubbed off on the governor. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We will ban critical race theory in our classrooms.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We're going after critical race theory.

TRUMP: With Republicans, there will be no defunding of the police.

DESANTIS: We will not allow law enforcement to be defunded.

TRUMP: Today, we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity of our elections. DESANTIS: Florida has done more, than any other state in the country,

to ensure the integrity of our elections.


BOLDUAN: The words are similar, but more importantly, the playbook is very similar. The Trump playbook continues, it's been effective for Ron DeSantis.

It leads you to wonder, what would happen if these two men go head to head?

ENTEN: It'll be fun for me to cover, that will tell you that. If you look at their favorable ratings, nationwide, what we see is Donald Trump's favorable rating is high far higher among Republicans than Ron DeSantis' is. But, if you look at those, who have an opinion of both of them, when we see Ron DeSantis favorable ratings among Republicans who have an opinion of both of them, it's higher than Donald Trump's. It's seven or eight points higher, if you look at the polls.

And so, that's a clear indication, to me, that what Ron DeSantis is doing is working, and as more voters get to know him, more Republicans, he can jump ahead, and one way they can get to know him, is by, basically, going in, exploding this cultural issues.

If you look at Fox News right now, and you look at the mentions over the last six months, who has the most mentions of the non-Trump potential nominees to the Republicans? It's Ron DeSantis. More than, basically, doubling his nearest opponent, in Ted Cruz, well ahead of Mike Pence, well ahead of Nikki Haley. It's working for him right now.

BOLDUAN: Because early on, what matters, if you potentially do run for president, is name ID.

ENTEN: That's it. With Donald Trump, he did the exact same way, and that is Ron DeSantis, the Donald Trump playbook.

BOLDUAN: Interesting. Good to see you, Harry. Thank you very much.

ENTEN: Nice to see you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, people fighting back against police, slamming the communist party, as China locks down cities due to COVID.

Our David Culver is part of the only American TV crew. That is living through the lockdown, in Shanghai. He's with us live, next.

And, why Putin's invasion has the U.N. now warning of a global food crisis, not seen since World War II.



BOLDUAN: Following the breaking news, the CDC is asking the Justice Department to appeal a court ruling striking down the federal mask mandate for travelers, arguing now that the order to mask up, while traveling is, quote, necessary for the public health. It also comes on the CDC's own map is showing a low risk of COVID all over the country, creating potential confusion, really, over why a mandate that was set to expire in two weeks is still needed.

MJ Lee is OUTFRONT at the White House for us.

MJ, the Justice Department is already taking action.

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. It really didn't take long. Just moments after the CDC made this announcement, a DOJ spokesperson saying, the department had, already, filed a notice of appeal. So, if this is a complicated decision for the CDC because this comes at a moment when a lot of these people, across the country, feel like the pandemic is entering a different stage. They feel like they are ready for things to be different, for their lifestyle choices, to be different, and I should note, though, that the public cooling on masking and public transit has remained divided, across the country.

Now, the White House, of course, is in a tricky spot this week. Certainly, caught off guard, it did know that the support and ruling was coming.


And now, there is so much riding on the success of this appeal. The White House has been very consistent, throughout this pandemic, that they believe that these kinds of public health decisions should be made by the agency, the CDC, and that it should really come from public health experts, doctors, and people who know what the consequences are. Now, if the appeal is not successful, then they are worried that the authority that the CDC has could be affected going into the future.

The White House has also said that they simply just don't know. They can't predict what the pandemic will look like, going forward. So, they want to be sure that the CDC can set these kinds of mandates going forward, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, confusion not going away anytime soon.

Good to see you, MJ. Thank you so much.

We turn now to the other side of the world where the brutal COVID lockdown in Shanghai has been in place for 17 days. And now, the anger to the Chinese government over draconian policies is spilling on public even more. People confined to their homes without food or medicine, people testing positive going straight to so-called COVID facilities run by the government. It's a story we've been following closely.

And David Culver is in Shanghai, part of the only American TV crew living through this lockdown. He filed this report to you will only see on OUTFRONT.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shanghai residents pushing back after nearly three weeks of lockdown. These videos circulating on social media show people confront people for being forced from their homes. These are not folks with COVID-19, but rather, people whose apartments had been turned into government quarantine facilities to cope with the surging COVID cases.

The rising tensions come as Chinese officials vow to send every positive case of COVID-19 and any close contact to government quarantine, no matter the age.

Here, you see an elderly man, shuffling towards a group of other senior citizens. Some, in their 90s, most in wheelchairs, transferred from their nursing home to this isolation facility after testing positive. Video shared from inside of another center, shows elderly patients, the really, left unattended, cots set up in the walls, with wooden boards and thin sheets as bedding.

Since the start of this outbreak in early March, more than 400,000 cases have been reported in the city, according to China's national health commission, and most in this metropolis of more than 25 million people, are still under strict lockdown.

CNN has been living through it, we've, mostly, been sealed inside of our homes. Led only for mandatory COVID tests, and the occasional government distribution of groceries.

Last week, we had a brief taste of freedom. I could step out of my apartment, and walk all the way to the compound gate. Still double locked. But, since, a reversal for our community, new restrictions have us sealed back inside our properties.

The draconian and inconsistent policies, coupled with the constant uncertainty, weigh heavily. People, tired, pushing back, physically, and through words. These banners, appearing on the streets of Shanghai, in the cover of night. This one calling residents to resist the limitless lockdown. This one, reading, people are dying -- referring to the dire struggle to secure food and medical care.

Online, a flood of frustration surfacing on China's heavily controlled Internet. On Chinese social media platform, Weibo, users began quoting the first sentence of China's national anthem. It reads: Rice, those who don't want to be enslaved -- a rally call no longer aimed at foreign oppressors, but rather Beijing's pandemic response. And, it's harsh restrictions.

That line now censored. Some residents, even boldly calling out Chinese officials for a perceived hypocrisy. This person wearing a photo of one of China's foreign ministry spokespersons, who repeatedly accused the Western governments' COVID response of harming people's well-being. The sarcastic critique shared repeatedly online.

The backlash likely to worsen as the weeks-long lockdown drags on, further damaging China's economic engine. YANZHONG HUANG, SR. FELLOW FOR GLOBAL HEALTH, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN

RELATIONS: The strategy might -- in an excessive manner, by itself, leads to exactly what the zero COVID strategy wants to avoid.

CULVER: The growing dissent calls into question China's zero COVID strategy at a critical time. Later this year, President Xi Jinping is expected to assume an almost unprecedented third term, paving the way for him to rule for life. But the highly anticipated coronation now marred by discontent over a policy so closely tied to the people's leader.


CULVER (on camera): Now, there is a lot of skepticism and doubt over the official numbers with regards to case count and deaths.


There was in Wuhan, Kate, and similar to when, you know, covered the initial outbreak there more than two years ago, we are relying now heavily on anecdotal evidence. For several weeks now, people have been sharing on social media of loved ones dying from COVID right here in Shanghai. And yet, for several weeks, the government kept the death counted zero, only a few days ago they start to adjust it.

Now, when they just those numbers, it points to the delicate balance that Chinese officials are trying to make here. They want to show on one side that their heavy measures are effective, but at the same time, Kate, they need to demonstrate that the virus is serious, and deadly enough, to merit this harsh lockdown. Otherwise, people will say, why are we in the midst of this?

BOLDUAN: Questions abound on this one.

It's great to see you, David, great reporting. Thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, Ukraine's farmers, fighting for survival, as Putin's invasion closes in. And that poses an unexpected threat, right now, far beyond Ukraine's borders.

Plus, the high-profile defamation battle between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard taking a graphic turn today.


JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: The tip of my finger had been severed.




BOLDUAN: Late word tonight that the Ukrainian air force just added 20 more fighter jets to its fleet. This as Ukraine's president says, he is ready to exchange Russian military prisoners for Ukrainian civilians still trapped in Mariupol. The war not only leaving the city and country in ruins, it is also having a massive unexpected impact on the world.

Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sergiy Yaiichuk runs a one-man dairy operation. He has six cows on a little farm just 15 miles from the front lines of the battlefield in southern Ukraine. But, either Russian soldiers, or falling rockets, have stopped the 49- year-old from tending to his work.

That is Sergiy's house there, just in the distance, and there is an unexploded rocket, landing this close. It landed here, about a week ago.

Did you hear the rocket land?

SERGIY YAIICHUK, UKRAINIAN DAILY FARMER (through translator): Everything happened before my eyes.

LAVANDERA: The explosions erupted all around him, when this strike hit. Russian rockets, often targeting his village, of 500 people.

YAIICHUK: We were covered in dust. Just dust and shrapnel all the way here. I fell to the ground, crawling, not feeling my legs or arms. It was scary. For those who have not gone through this, you would not believe it.

LAVANDERA: Sergiy keeps one eye on his herd and the other eye on the war.

So, these are Sergiy's six dairy cows, and if you notice, he has them spread out. He wants to separate them, so they all don't get killed in one strike.

He must keep the cows alive. This is the life of a farmer in Ukraine.

Maxim Krivenko and his family grow the traditional Ukrainian crops of wheat, and sunflower, on these lush, wide open fields. But the war has upended his business.

MAXIM KRIVENKO, UKRAINIAN FARMER (through translator): It has been unfortunate for all of us. Basically, everything has shut down and we aren't working now.

LAVANDERA: Maxim says the cost of fuel and grain seeds have skyrocketed. It's difficult to find parts to repair farm machinery.

He's supposed to plant this year's wheat crop in the coming weeks, but if the fighting returns to this land, it won't happen.

So this is the storage area where they keep their sunflower seeds. But they haven't been able to sell it because of the war.

Maxim is also stuck with an entire season, sunflower seed harvest. It just sits in the storage space.

Will this war kill your business?

KRIVENKO: It's already killed it. We have stockpiled our wheat production, and our sunflowers. We aren't able to sell them. So, I would say, it's a beginning at the end.

Ukraine is considered the world's bread basket, along with Russia, producing 30 percent of the world's wheat exports. The United Nations says this war is creating a food production crisis not seen since World War II.

Thousands of Ukrainian farmers now find themselves on the front lines of this war. And their growing fields of wheat and sunflower have been turned into debris fields for missiles, rockets, and other explosives.

The wreckage of recent battles, sitting in the farm fields. The body of a Russian soldier, buried next to this ammunition supply truck.

Farm or fight is the choice facing frontline farmers. Sergiy Yaiichuk has already faced this life and death decision. When the Russians invaded this village last month, Sergiy joined the fight. He was shot in the shoulder.

If the Russians come back, do you want to fight again?

YAIICHUK: What else can we do? I'll take my pitchfork and go fight. I will defend my village until the end.

LAVANDERA: When the war returns, the harvest will have to wait.


LAVANDERA (on camera): The United Nations estimates that about 30 percent of Ukraine's agricultural fields will go unused this year. Farming is a matter of national pride here. As one small farming town mayor told me, a few days ago, there are two things Ukrainian farmers can do, make bread and fight. They prefer to make bread when this peacetime, but they have to fight, they will fight -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: The impact of this is going to be huge and long. Ed, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT for us next, actor Johnny Depp going into graphic detail about his life, with his -- with his -- about what had happened between he and his ex-wife as he took the stand.


We'll be right back.

But, before we go, the incredible story of Putin's greatest nemesis, Alexei Navalny. Take a look at this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


ALEXEI NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: Vladimir Alexandrovich. It's Alexei Navalny calling and I was hoping you could tell me why you wanted to kill me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Remarkably, Vladimir Putin faces a legitimate opponent, Alexei Navalny.

NAVALNY: I don't want Putin being president.

I will end war.

If I want to be leader of country, I have to organize people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Kremlin hates Navalny so much that they refuse to say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Passengers heard Navalny cry out in agony.

NAVALNY: Come on, poisoned? Seriously?

We are creating a coalition to fight this regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are killed, what message do you leave behind to the Russian people?

NAVALNY: It's very simple -- never give up.

ANNOUNCER: "NAVALNY," Sunday at 9:00 on CNN, and streaming on CNN+.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, a years-long battle between Johnny Depp and his ex wife Amber Heard getting more intense in court today. Depp is back on the stand, testifying against Heard. He's suing her for defamation after she wrote about being a survivor of domestic abuse.

Depp said today that he was a victim.


DEPP: She threw the large bottle, and I looked down. I realized, that the tip of my finger had been severed.


BOLDUAN: Amber Heard denies that, meanwhile, has accused Deep of multiple instances of abuse.

Thanks so much for being here.

"AC360" starts now.