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Erin Burnett Outfront
Ukraine: Russia Strikes Hospital With Doctors & Patients Inside; 16-Year-Old Says She Was Raped By Russian Soldier: "He Said That If I Don't Undress He Will Kill Me;" Putin Vows "Lighting Fast" Response To Interventions In Ukraine; "People Will Simply Die Here": Ukrainian Commander Begs For Help Evacuating Soldiers And Civilians In Mariupol; U.S. Ambassador: Credible Information That Russian Forces Executed Ukrainians Attempting To Surrender; U.S. Ambassador: Russian Forces Executed Ukrainians As They Surrendered; Trevor Reed Expected To Arrive Back On U.S. Soil Soon. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 27, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Because if as Madeleine believed, there's a special place in hell for women who don't support other women, they haven't seen anyone like her yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Madeleine Albright died last month at the age of 84. May she rest in peace and may her memory be a blessing.
Thanks very much for watching.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Russia targets the most vulnerable, accused of striking one of only two remaining hospitals in the part of eastern Ukraine. The attack comes as Putin in an extraordinary statement threatens any country helping Ukraine with a lightning fast Russia reprisal.
Plus, the Ukrainian fighter who's been giving us regular updates from the frontlines is my guest tonight. He'll tell you what he's witnessing tonight as the war enters a dangerous new phase.
And Shanghai's brutal makeshift COVID quarantine facilities with no access to showers, lights on 24/7. Two people who are forced into one these government-run centers will tell their story. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, Putin unleashing new hell on innocent Ukrainians, tonight targeting one of only two working hospitals in the Luhansk region in Donbas. A video from the aftermath showing the damage with shattered glass, debris covering the floors.
In the room, you see here - you'll see again the windows completely blown out. The camera person pans to the next room and entire wall there is gone, along with all the equipment just completely ripped out. It's a hospital. A top Ukrainian military official tells CNN the Russians knew that that hospital was a working hospital. It was not vacant. But this is Putin's playbook.
A former top defense official telling me that when the United States shared coordinates of hospitals in Syria with the Russians, with the express purpose of ensuring their safety, the Russians turned around and immediately use those coordinates to bomb the hospitals. This hospital attack in eastern Ukraine comes as Ukraine's military says Russian forces have now seized control of several towns and villages in Donbas.
Earlier I spoke to a Ukrainian defender on the front lines and I asked him what does his battalion need most as Russia takes more Ukrainian towns and he was very specific in his answer to me, he said armored vehicles, a lot more artillery and, of course, fighter jets.
Now, the U.S. and its allies have been moving on the fighter jet front but have thus far been hesitant to give fighter jets to Ukraine for fear of triggering a much wider war. But as the conflict enters its third month, the fighting is already spreading beyond Ukraine's borders and Putin tonight has the threat of an all out war, vowing to retaliate against any country that interferes with his invasion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through interpreter): If someone intends to intervene and what is happening from the outside and creates unacceptable strategic threats for us, then they should know that our response to oncoming strikes will be swift, lightning fast. We have all the tools for this, ones that no one can brag about and we won't brag, we will use them if needed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Those tools Putin doesn't want to brag about that he's standing there bragging about that no one should be bragging about, obviously, pretty clear what he means, nuclear weapons. And tonight, the Pentagon is responding to Putin's threat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: It's irresponsible rhetoric. It's rhetoric beneath what should be the level of conversation by a modern nuclear power. We monitor the threat every single day, including today and the Secretary remains comfortable that we have the appropriate strategic nuclear deterrent posture in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Nick Paton Walsh begins our coverage. He is OUTFRONT live in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine. And Nick, what is the latest on the ground where you are?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Much of the focus today, Erin on whether or not there'll be a referendum in Kherson, the key southern city that was the first, frankly, to be seized by Russia at the beginning of their war here. They've had thought and literally every local you could speak to thought a referendum would occur today that does not appear to have been the case. Instead, that's been usurped by protests by locals in the morning and also tonight, images on social media showing explosions in the city possibly near TV broadcasts.
They're unclear quite what's behind that, but it's certainly not the suggestion that Russians wanted to put forward that this referendum a sham vote essentially would suggest that city was again suggesting it wanted to be closer to the Russian occupiers inside of it, fighting in the east, as you mentioned, and also explosions are in the areas bordering Ukraine inside of Russia, particularly in their own ammunition depot in Belgorod that Ukrainian presidential adviser has suggested may in fact have been the work of Ukrainian military.
So a lot happening here certainly, Erin.
BURNETT: So Nick, you're talking about what's happening tonight on the front lines, you've also had a chance in your reporting to see some of the atrocities committed by the Russian army on their push into Ukraine more and more of the horrors. What have you found?
WALSH: Look, to the south of where we're standing in Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, there have been villages changing hands week by week, frankly, vast expanses of farmland here. And as those villagers go back into Ukrainian hands, some horrifying stories have emerged.
At times, the brief moments they were under Russian control, I should warn you the story you're about to hear about the rape of a minor, who was pregnant by Russian - a Russian soldier is, by definition, very harrowing. So please bear that in mind while you watch our report.
WALSH (voice over): It's from these gentle shrugs of villages, lazy and clean, in the green expanses of Kherson region that some of this war's ugliest crimes are being dragged into the light.
This is Dasha (ph). She's 16 and was six months pregnant when just over a month ago, Russian forces came to her village here. Her family were in the basement sheltering from bombs, the cold and the Russian shooting in the air or at cars and legs, she said, at dusk, they brought the children out to the kitchen to eat, where there were two soldiers, one drunk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DASHA: He asked how old everyone was. There was a girl there who is 12 another one 14 and I, 16. First he called my mother into another room. He let her go quickly. Then he called for me. Then he started to shout, well, first he started telling me to undress. I told him that I will not and started shouting at me. He said that if I don't undress he will kill me.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WALSH (voice over): His sober colleague then came in and told the
drunk attacker to stop to no avail and left.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DASHA: When I resisted, he was strangling me or he was saying that he'll kill me and he said: "Either you sleep with me now or I will kill 20 more men."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH (voice over): By then, night had fallen in the cold house.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DASHA: I just remember he had blue eyes it was dark there and I don't remember more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH (voice over): She heard the Russian say her attackers name was blue. He was from Donetsk and had a criminal past. He tried to attack her again, she said, until Russian snipers later came to help her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH (on camera): But still some of the Russian soldiers in that unit even were disgusted by what happened and tried to move her and part of her family away to safety and then began a process in which Russian soldiers seemed to try to get her to go back on the claim she'd made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH (voice over): Two days later, she was taken to a Russian paratrooper commander who she said began shouting at her like her attacker had.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DASHA: He said he would to me the same as what the rapist did. I was so frightened I started crying. He said it was a test for him to check whether I was lying or telling the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH (voice over): It seems they did believe her, but the fate of her rapist remains unclear. While we can't independently verify her harrowing story, Ukrainian prosecutors told us they have investigated the case and confirmed this attack, which they said was a war crime. But like so much here, the question why is the one without a humane, palatable answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DASHA: If we hadn't gotten out to eat he wouldn't have seen us and then maybe he wouldn't have touched me. We were told that he was going around the village looking for someone he could - 'a girl of easy virtue' as they said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH (voice over): There are lives here that you can see Russia has changed forever, but also those whose trauma sits beneath the surface and lives on.
WALSH (on camera): And we asked the Russian Minister of Defense for a comment and they haven't got back to us. But this is fitting into a terrifying pattern, frankly, of stories revealed when Ukrainian forces take back control of areas even briefly held by Russian forces. An army that appears to have lacked a real solid coherent plan for an invasion, had an occupation that was often in tatters and now leave behind legacy of utter fear and terror, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you very much and powerful report. Hard to watch, as you said, but important to see.
And I want to go to Evelyn Farkas now. She's the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, now the Executive Director of the McCain Institute. Also with me, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton, the former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Thanks to both.
So Evelyn, we are hearing horrible stories of rape and this one, this individual story, horrible, disgusting, heart wrenching. When you see what's happening, though, does this surprise you? Is this, in a sense, part of the strategy here, this story that Nick just shared?
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA/UKRAINE/EURASIA: Yes. I mean, clearly, Putin has been calling the Ukrainian people. He's been saying they're under the spell of Nazis. But now we've been hearing more messaging, calling more Ukrainians Nazis. It's just a way to dehumanize the Ukrainian people.
And I guess this particular individual also had a criminal past. The Russian military now is not entirely professional. They have these mercenaries in their midst. And again, to the extent that they are supposed to be a 21st century professional military, we're seeing that they are not, and they're certainly ignoring Geneva Conventions.
I mean, the one thing I will say, Erin, is that all of this, it's just heartbreaking because it brings you right back to World War II, when Stalin was starving innocent Ukrainian civilians. It's just, again, another kind of ethnic warfare that we've seen also in the Balkans and elsewhere and we thought that we were done with this, but evidently we're not.
BURNETT: Col. Leighton, Ukraine did acknowledge today the loss of several towns and villages in the east and you heard Nick refer to it, that some of these - they shift who was in control. But in recent days, the Ukrainians do say the Russians have taken some additional villages and we saw that Russian military strike that struck a hospital in the east, that the Ukrainian said they had made clear to the Russians was a working hospital, one of only two in Luhansk.
So Colonel, when you look at what's happening and you hear the Ukrainian say that the Russians have taken some towns, actually saying that, do you think Russia is making real gains after seeming to completely stall in the east for a few weeks?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, Erin, I think they are making some gains. Of course, it remains to be seen how much they can actually hold on to these gains. As Nick mentioned in his report, there's this movement back and forth with some of these villages going from one side to the other fairly quickly.
So it does lead me to believe that the Russians are continuing to have some logistical problems. They're also having obvious command and control problems as well. Then you look at the factor of personnel and the number of troops involved and it seems to me that they're going to have a real difficult time holding on to these places. Doesn't mean they can't do it, but I think it's going to be very difficult for them to do so.
BURNETT: So Evelyn, Putin warned today that any country interfering in Ukraine, his threat seemed to be very clear anyone in any way interfering, supplying anything or anything like that would be hit with a lightning fast response. And I want to play again more of what he said, his specific word. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUTIN (through interpreter): We have all the tools for this, ones that no one can brag about and we won't brag. We will use them if needed and I want everyone to know this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, Evelyn it's pretty clear what he's referring to, he's referred to nuclear weapons in this way in the past and it seems pretty obvious, that's what he's saying. But what do you make of this latest threat? Is there anything to it?
FARKAS: I mean, Erin, this is all an effort to intimidate the United States and our allies to break the resoluteness of our transatlantic Alliance in particular, because it's coming. Also, at the same time that he is blockading energy from Bulgaria and Poland.
FARKAS: He's trying to make us afraid of his use of nuclear weapons. Let's not forget that other countries can 'brag' about having nuclear weapons, including the United States. And we have nuclear deterrence with Russia from the tactical all the way up to the strategic level. And, of course, France and England also have nuclear deterrence and many other countries. But the reality is that Putin should understand that if he uses any
nuclear weapon against the United States, then he will have direct contact with - direct conflict, rather, with the United States, whether we put boots on the ground or not. There's a lot of damage we can do to Russia, if they escalate in that fashion.
BURNETT: Col. Leighton, we saw those explosions overnight that happened in Russia near the Ukraine border. There's been cryptic references to them by the Ukrainians. They're not directly saying they're responsible, but it's it appears that they are, second time that they've attacked this area. It's in Belgorod, fuel facilities and things like that, that are important for the Russian logistics effort.
Do you think these continue to be smart strikes for Ukraine or do they just sort of escalate and enrage this more?
LEIGHTON: Well, they might escalate it and enrage the Russians. But the fact of the matter is, if I were a Ukrainian general or Colonel, I would be definitely doing the same exact thing. While the Ukrainians are not setting Russia ablaze in the words of Winston Churchill to paraphrase him, this is a situation where the Ukrainians have to do this. They are hitting targets of military significance. They are doing things that will impede the Russian war effort and they are, frankly, legitimate war targets and so that is, I think, the right thing for them to do and that's a good way for them to do this.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate your time.
And next, the Ukrainian soldier who has been giving you and me regular updates from the front lines, what he's seeing firsthand as Russia makes gains in the east. He's going to join me after this.
Plus, inside Putin's war plans and the FSB unit that's executing them. The top Russia investigator of Bellingcat, which is really the prominent, the preeminent investigator of Russia right now is with me.
And American Trevor Reed arriving in the United States at any moment. He had been detained in Russia for more than two years coming out tonight, so that's significant and his parents have just spoken out about their son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA REED, TREVOR REED'S MOTHER: He was happy-go-lucky and he's - he still looks terrible, but he sounded better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A Ukrainian Army Commander in the southern city of Mariupol pleading for the safe evacuation of soldiers and civilians who are holed up in that steel plant there and have been for weeks. The commander saying, "If they can't leave safely, then well people will simply die here. The wounded will die and the living will die in battle." It comes as Russia is stepping up its attacks in the south and the east.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now Volodymyr Demchenko, a Ukrainian soldier who's been giving us regular updates from the front lines. He's at a training camp now near the front line. For his safety we are not disclosing his exact location. But Volod, I am so glad to speak to you again. It's been a few weeks since we spoke and the viewers who are following you saw you at the time you were headed to the east, to the Donbas region where that heavy fighting is underway. You're dealing with a new Russian offensive. Tell me what you've experienced.
VOLODYMYR DEMCHENKO, UKRAINIAN SOLDIER: Oh, hello, Erin. It's nice to hear you again. Like from my very new experience, which was very exciting. First time in my life, I saw military aviation and even from far Russian helicopters look impressive. But the most interesting moment was when the two fighter jet was flying just above our heads.
And to be honest, it wasn't a shame just to lay and wait as it fly away. That's interesting. And you understand according to what you see in vehicles, it's a big thing. When you're sitting somewhere and you're looking only with your eyes, it's always a small picture. But when you scale it, it's big actually. It's pretty big fight happening here.
BURNETT: So you mentioned seeing the air force, the Russian Air Force for the first time. Everyone knows before you went east, you were fighting in near Kyiv, but that was obviously soldiers (inaudible) troops who were there. Have you seen anything different, Volod, that you would say about how the Russians are fighting, their tactics, what they're doing right now?
DEMCHENKO: Of course, situation now is different and now there's a distance, actual distance between real troops, infantry, it's bigger. But there is a bigger number of artillery working and aviation working more intense. And for me now it look like a war in Ukraine that happened in 2014 in - after hot summer we have like fall when artillery just firing each other like all day, all day long forth and back.
And this is what's happening here now, artillery working like daily and it's so big like I never heard before. I have experienced with mortars, with 152-millimeter canons, but now all kinds of artillery working and a lot of, I forgot the word, but like (inaudible) and grad. It's a special artillery that can shoot at you like 40 rockets at the moment and everything is burning around and that's crazy.
And there is a different kind of war, there is a war when you can actually take your clothes off and get - rest well, second level is when you just dressed up, sleeping in a sleeping bag without your shoes. And there is war when you can take your shoes and you don't close your sleeping bag. This is kind of war like any moment something can happen and killed and wounded people every day like (inaudible) ...
BURNETT: Every day.
DEMCHENKO: ... I see it and here I am.
BURNETT: So Volod, obviously, that is - it is war, it is the horror of what you're experiencing. The Ukrainian military does say several towns and villages in the East have been lost to Russian troops. You're talking about more artillery than you've seen before, that there are killed and wounded Ukrainians every day. Are you worried at all about troop morale?
DEMCHENKO: No. No. This is only one thing I don't really worry about. Morale is really high still. And from - it's even became better because people are more calmer now and they think more and now like all these units because from - we start from like we're just running around in little groups, became bigger, bigger and now we're talking about battalions and like army garrison, which is - which coordinated. So everything going well and I see people doing their trainings. I don't worry about morale part at all.
Actually, I'm more worried about weapon like it just - we need this (inaudible) when Western weapon will come to us, but I think we're doing fine. Like we're doing fine.
BURNETT: All right. Volod, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.
DEMCHENKO: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: As we all hope that Volod continues to remain safe.
Next, an investigator looking into Putin's invasion of Ukraine tonight says his team has exposed so called remote control pillars. We're going to show you exactly what he means and he'll tell you.
And American Trevor Reed about to arrive back in the United States any moment. He had been held in Russia, so now there's been a swap. He's free. And we're learning new details about the high stakes effort to get him out.
BURNETT: Breaking news, the U.S. has credible information that a Russian military unit executed Ukrainians who are attempting to surrender near Donetsk. That's according to the U.S. Ambassador-at- Large for Global Criminal Justice who also sent this warning to Russia at the U.N.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BETH VAN SCHAACK, AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE FOR GLOBAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Let
us be clear, those who unleashed, perpetrated, and ordered these crimes must be held to account. And the evidence of this criminality is mounting daily.
Our simple message to Russia's military and political leadership and to the rank and file is this -- the world is watching, and you will be held accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now is Christo Grozev. He is the executive director and the lead Russia investigator of Bellingcat. Bellingcat is the name you need to know. It's the open source investigations website that has broken major stories about Russia.
You may recognize Christo from the new CNN film "NAVALNY." Christo was the lead investigator he identified the spies suspected of poisoning Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
And, Christo, I know that, you know, you did that through painstaking research, right, flight logs, checking phone numbers, finding out these individual's names, and you're doing that same painstaking research now on several investigations related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including evidence of war crimes.
What are you finding?
CHRISTO GROZEV, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BELLINGCAT: Well, the whole -- almost the whole organization that I manage, Bellingcat, is now focused on logging, archiving, verifying and preserving evidence of what seems to be war crimes for future investigators, for future law enforcement and the sad news is that by today, we have discovered what appears to be more than 650 cases of civilian harm. Much of it seems to be avoidable and intentional, even in the situation of warfare.
These include -- well, dozens of incidents of shelling that is -- whether indiscriminate or intentionally targeting civilian residential buildings, hospitals, theaters, so on and so forth. All of this is regularly reported in the news media. However, somebody needs to log it and verify and validate it happened on that place, at that location, at that particular time. And that's what we are doing most of the time, and we have a team of about 30 people that are devoted to preserving and logging this evidence.
Separate from that, we're investigating the context of how this is happening. Why is it happening? Why are cases of widespread executions and rapes, is this something that is happening just because of lack of control by the center in Moscow? Or is it because of instructions that are given by Moscow?
And sadly, we have find more and more evidence in which monstrosities are committed with instructions from Moscow, and it seems to be a matter of policy, a matter of sewing terror and intimidating the population to help advance the Russian forces forward. And not something that is just in excess on the ground. BURNETT: Which is hugely significant that you phrase it that way,
that you asked that question, and the answer you're finding, horrific but crucial. You have also been looking, I know, Christo, at a specific unit of the FSB, the Russian security services, that spent years preparing for this invasion from what you understand. What have you discovered so far?
GROZEV: Yeah. We use the same methods that we used to find the poisoners of Navalny as you saw in the film, to try to find out who these people were who were advising President Putin such false information to begin with, for him to believe this would be an easy war with the Ukrainian population welcoming the Russian invaders. Because that's what he was told, there are multiple reports that that was he believed based on reports from the FSB.
And also, who were the people who were preparing this fifth column, as they call it in Russia, the Ukrainian shadow government that was apparently ready to jump in and replace the Zelenskyy government once the Russian invasion was in place.
GROZEV: And we tried to find out who these people were. We found it's a team of almost 160 people that we have identified through cross referencing phone calls and travel logs, people whose only goal was to prepare for the establishing the country, and to grow assets, to recruit people, political functionaries, bloggers and journalists for the cause of the Russian invasion. And all of this failed, but it was a massive operation where they spent more than a billion dollars over the last eight years, in growing such sort of shadow government that never came to be.
BURNETT: Wow, Christo, that's amazing. You found those 160 people, those names are going to be a part of everything and it is only, hope people understand, it's incredibly painstaking work that your group is alone in the world of having been successfully able to do.
So thank you so very much.
I want everyone to know, by the way, Christo, the sacrifice you're making, you know, you have learned from major Russian sources that you're one of the top people on Putin's most wanted list for your work, and for your work with the film "NAVALNY".
So your work comes with incredible sacrifice and courageousness. We're all grateful for it, and I hope everyone will watch the CNN film "Navalny" of which Christo is central to this Friday night airing at 9:00 right here on CNN.
And next, American Trevor Reed released from Russia right now flying back to the United States. His parents say there are multiple doctors with him. He will be going into a straight medical evaluation.
Plus, a quarter of China's population right now reportedly under strict COVID lockdown. We're going to talk to two people who are forced in government quarantine run facilities for weeks.
BURNETT: Breaking news, Trevor Reed is expected to be back in America in a matter of hours. His parents say that he wanted to go to have doctor evaluations and then be sent to a military hospital for recovery. It comes after his parents said that Trevor Reed looks, quote, "terrible to us".
He has been if Russian captivity for nearly three years. So in the context of this conflict and the rhetoric, this release is significant. Reed is an American citizen and former marine. He appeared frail as he was released earlier today in a prisoner swap, an effort that grew increasingly urgent over concerns about his health.
Kylie Atwood is OUTFRONT.
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the moment Trevor Reed was exchanged for a Russian Konstantin Yaroshenko on the tarmac in Turkey, walking past each other like a scene from a movie.
The Biden administration says the prisoner swap with Russia was months in the making. A diplomatic victory for the United States. Despite its steadfast support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's invasion. Reed's parents finally breathing a sigh of relief.
PAULA REED, MOTHER OF TREVOR REED: It's going to really hit us when we put our arms around him and hug him.
ATWOOD: Reed was detained in Russia in 2019 for allegedly endangering the life and health of Russian police officers in an altercation while visiting his girlfriend. Reed and his family have denied the charges. In 2020, he was sentenced to nine years in prison, and he faced increasing health issues over the last year, contracting COVID-19. His family saying he was coughing up blood, and fighting symptoms of tuberculosis.
JOEY REED, FATHER OF TREVOR REED: He's going to have a head-to-toe evaluation. That may take a couple of days or a few days testing. Right now, they have him in some sort of isolation tent or a bubble on the plane.
ATWOOD: Those concerns about Reed's deteriorating health are, in part, what led to accelerated urgency according to a senior administration official. Ultimately, President Biden agreed to commute Yaroshenko's sentence, after he'd been convicted of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S.
Yaroshenko had been mentioned by Russians previously, both publicly and privately, as someone they would be willing to exchange for an American national.
NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: It was a decision predicated on the fact that this Russian individual served the majority of his prison sentence for a nonviolent drug crime.
ATWOOD: President Biden said the negotiations to pull this off required difficult decisions, a miracle for the Reed family.
But Trevor's release brings complicated feelings for families of other Americans still detained in Russia, such as WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is detained in mid-February when cannabis oil was allegedly found in her bag at a Moscow airport. And Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since 2018, on charges of spying which he denied. He's serving a 16-year prison sentence.
Paul's brother David describing his emotions to CNN.
DAVID WHELAN, BROTHER OF AMERICAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA: Surprised, elation to the Reeds. It's so great when an American hostage is released anywhere in the world. And then disappointment, because we hoped that Paul would be the next one to come home and he isn't.
ATWOOD: Now, a senior administration official told me that they do not believe that Trevor Reed's release here is going to contribute to momentum for those other Americans who were wrongfully detained in Russia. But we should note that that channel of communication between the U.S. and Russia was able to pull this off, that was able to create the situation that allowed for the prisoner swap, does still remain open. And so that, of course, is a positive signal -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Kylie, thank you very much of that.
And next, no privacy, no showers, the lights, fluorescent, stay on 24 hours a day. That is what my next guest says is like for those who test positive for COVID, even completely symptom free in Shanghai, they are forced into quarantine facilities.
What do you do when you rent doubles overnight on your home of over 20 years?
BURNETT: Tonight, I want freedom.
That is what you hear the woman in Shanghai screaming, amid the ongoing lockdown across China. This man, you see them kicking down the fences the Chinese government has put up to keep people inside of their homes, six foot high, green fences.
Tonight, roughly 344 million people are under some kind of lockdown in China. That is according to the investment bank, Nomura. And many of those who test positive, or ordered into a massive, makeshift, government quarantine facilities called fangcang across China. They are forced to sleep among thousands of strangers, with no access to showers, the light stay on all night.
Jane Polubotko and Alessandro Pavanello have both been forced into one of these government quarantine facilities after testing positive for COVID. And they join me no.
And I really appreciate both of you being with me.
Jane, you were just released on Friday. Understand, you are one of these government facilities for three weeks. And it is obviously with Chinese nationals are doing. You had no privacy, and I understand that you had to change or bed sheets, they help them over your head to change. There is a piece of cardboard above your bed, to try and block out the fluorescent lights, because it never went off, the entire three weeks you were there.
I know, in some ways, stay were your main enemy, for a lack of better word. Can you tell me about how hard that was?
JANE POLUBOTKO, SHANGHAI RESIDENT: Hello, well, yes, the combination of all of the factors that you just named, the lack of privacy, having lights 24/7 and not knowing which day of the time is this in time. What time of the day it is. And noise, because there are 4,000 people inside. So all of those were pressuring a lot I would say mental health.
Physically speaking, we barely had access to basic hygiene. So, no showers. Three weeks with no shower, just some water to wash your face or wash hair. Yeah, it was not an easy experience and not a pleasant one.
BURNETT: Oh, my gosh. Just to think about it. It's so dehumanizing. Even though, of course, I know it's organized. And, you know, everyone has a bed and it's all lit up. Because of that, it feels so dehumanizing.
Alessandro, I know you then were forced into one of these centers after testing positive. It was a different facility from Jane. So, you were not able to be together.
Can you tell me about your mental health and state of mind of those who around you, who don't know what day of the week it is and are stuck in a place like this for weeks?
ALESSANDRO PAVANELLO, SHANGHAI RESIDENT, HELD IN GOVENRMENT FACILITY: For sure. Well, it seemed to me actually that people were okay with being there. I had an old man who told me he was happy because he was fed three times a day and -- a meal, you know, and he didn't have to pay for it.
I did feel like the younger people were a bit frustrated to be there. They were just waiting and, you know, spending most of their time on the phone, maybe going outside for walk.
For me, it was also hard without knowing the time of day. I was lucky enough to spend less days there. I spent only six days. I did feel after the sixth day I was mentally exhausted and physically exhausted, because for me, it was a lack of sleep. I slept an average of three, four hours of sleep and I'm an eight hour of sleep guy.
So, overall, it was tiring. We, both of us and a lot of people right now still haven't been able to find a logic behind putting thousands, hundreds of people into these fangcang (ph), into these make-shift hospitals and we don't yet see the end of lockdown here in Shanghai because people, I tested positive again.
BURNETT: Tell me about that. I know when you came back, you know, some of your neighbors, they were openly hostile, right? You had been there, weren't sure if you had it or not. You're dealing with that as well. Now I guess you're positive now mainly because it's still in your system or something but you may have to go back? What happens?
PAVANELLO: That's unclear at the moment. There is a community manager who we are in touch with who handles all I guess operations for us, but he called us yesterday saying that there's a chance I may go back to the makeshift hospital. I think it's because he doesn't really know the protocol.
Nobody really knows the protocol for someone that has tested positive, even after coming out of the fangcang. And therefore, in order to come out fromo one of these makeshift hospitals, you need two negative tests in a row, and I got those two negative test. Jane got three negative tests in a row.
BURNETT: Jane, when you had the test it took them days and days to acknowledge you had it. I want to add one more thing here, Jane, for you personally. I know you're from Ukraine. You haven't been able to see your family in more than two years because of COVID.
Now, your family is in a midst of war. I know your father is in Zaporizhzhia, as a doctor. That's obviously right near the front line now. I can't imagine when you add that to what you're dealing with. When do you think you'll be able to see him and your family again, Jane?
POLUBOTKO: Well, I guess I hope as soon as lockdown finishes. Alessandro mentioned, we don't know when it is going to happen. So, I really hope it's going to be this year, any time this year.
BURNETT: Thank you both very much. I appreciate your time.
PAVANELLO: Likewise, thank you.
POLUBOTKO: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, record-setting rent prices are spiking across the United States and no end is in sight to the price surges.
BURNETT: Tonight, 58 percent, that is how much rent has risen on average over the past two years in places like Miami and Palm Beach. One woman seeing the rent more than double on her home of more than two decades, and she's not alone.
Vanessa Yurkevich is OUTFRONT.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LAURA GUILMAIN, FLORIDA RENTER: Less and less and less --
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN OLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Maura and her daughter Carson have 30 days to find a new home.
How many properties do you think you've explored?
GUILMAIN: Thousands. Thousands.
YURKEVICH: For three years, Guilmain has been paying $2,100 a month for this 3 bedroom in Palm Beach gardens, Florida. But last month, she got a letter from her landlord.
GUILMAIN: Due to unforeseen circumstances --
YURKEVICH: Her new rent, $3,200 a month. An attorney for her landlord tells CNN rising property taxes and mortgage rates are to blame.
GUILMAIN: I freaked out. We can't afford it. Can't do it.
YURKEVICH: There's a housing affordability crisis. Home prices are sky high forcing more Americans into a competitive rental market.
Guilmain, a single mom and disabled veteran, is reliant on rental assistance from Housing and Urban Development of HUD. She gets about $1800 a month but even that is not enough now. The landlords looking to capitalize on rising rents are less willing to accept her rental voucher.
How critical is the HUD voucher to your existence?
GUILMAIN: That is our existence. Without it, we would be homeless.
YURKEVICH: Rents are rising across the country. Up a record 20 percent on average in two years. Double that in cities like Memphis, Tampa, and Riverside, California, but the Miami/Palm Beach area tops them all at 58 percent, nearly three times the national average.
GUILMAIN: When there's a hurricane, it's illegal for gas stations to jack up the prices. Why is there not a cap in the state of Florida? Why am I looking at a 43 percent increase?
YURKEVICH: In fact, it's illegal in Florida to impose rent controls.
SARAH ESPINOSA, RENTER: That gives me a lot of anxiety.
YURKEVICH: Sarah Espinosa is facing a 106 percent increase on her rent in Coral Gables, Florida. For 22 years, she's called this three- bedroom home. She raised her son here. She says the $1,700 she pays in rent is below market value, but the $3,500 her new landlord is charging is out of her budget.
ESPINOSA: It's not reasonable at all. I guess right now everybody's just price gouging because people need somewhere to live.
GUILMAIN: You know how many people have reached out? YURKEVICH: For Laura and Carson, their search continues with no
prospects in sight.
So, where does that put you?
GUILMAIN: Puts me out on the street.
YURKEVICH: Vanessa Yurkevich, Miami, Florida.
BURNETT: And thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.