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Ukraine Says Air Defense Shot Down 3 Missiles Near Zaporizhzhia; Zelenskyy: Russia Will See Less-Than-Painful Sanctions As Permission; Ukraine "Drone Unit" Exposes Russia Targeting Civilians. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 07, 2022 - 05:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It's Thursday, April 7th. Thanks so much for getting an EARLY START with us.

I'm Laura Jarrett in New York. Christine has the day off. Brianna Keilar is live in Lviv, Ukraine.

Brianna, good morning.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Laura.

We're beginning with some breaking news. Overnight, we've learned three cruise missiles were shot down near Zaporizhzhia by Ukraine's anti-air defense. Our CNN team on the ground heard what sounded like antiaircraft and one loud explosion. We'll be having more on that ahead.

But this comes as civilians are being told to get out as the region is bracing for a renewed onslaught by Russian forces. Ukrainian officials also accusing the Russian forces of using mobile crematoriums to burn bodies to hide evidence of war crimes. CNN cannot verify these claims, but it's coming from local officials.

President Biden vowing to ratchet up the pain on Vladimir Putin with some new sanctions.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine praising the move while also saying it isn't enough.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If there is no really painful package of sanctions for Russia, there is no necessary supply of weapons to us, weapons about which we have asked for, this will be considered by Russia as permission, the green light to go forward, to start a new bloody wave of attacks in Donbas.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: We're also getting a bird's eye view of some new drone video that we're seeing here. This is what you're looking at. You're seeing footage from Ukraine's atomic energy agency and it's showing abandoned fortifications and also trenches dug by Russian forces in the highly radioactive off limits areas near Chernobyl.

I want to bring in CNN's Phil Black to talk about what we're seeing now, what the status of things are in this war.

Shifting to the east, people are on the run trying to get out.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, it's confirmation, Brianna, that Russian forces have left the north of the country. The shift focuses to the east, the big battle to come. Although I think Ukrainian officials would say that battle is under way.

They're already talking about a big uptick in forces in violence of the Russian assault, I should say. And keep in mind, it is expected to take some time for Russian forces that have left the north of the country, crossed over in Belarus to be refitted, resupplied, repositioned. That's when things are going to get very tense.

But as I've said already, extreme violence we're hearing from Ukrainian officials. They're talking about a real assault in residential areas across three key regions, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk. They are urging the civilian population to get out now, while they still can, partly because it's obviously dangerous. They're in the way of Ukrainian efforts to fight off the Russians.

But I think that urging to get out also carries extra power now based upon what we've seen in areas around Kyiv, where Russian forces recently withdrew. The atrocities that were committed there before, they did so. There is the concern that can happen anywhere behind Russian lines.

KEILAR: They're seeing what's happened. I think even they expected it wouldn't be as bad as what they've seen. It's incredible.

Phil Black, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Laura, I want to head back to you.

JARRETT: All right. Here, we have civilian atrocities becoming an all too familiar sight in this brutal war in Ukraine. Bodies in mass graves, the unburied dead strewn across streets in Ukrainian cities.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has seen many of these horrors up close himself. He says drone video has exposed Russia's targeting of civilians. We want to warn you, some of these images that we are reporting are graphic and very disturbing.



over): It's like a scene from the gates of hell. The dead lay strewn across this highway, west of Kyiv, some still next to the wreckage of their vehicles as the dogs roam around looking to scavenge.

This is what Russian forces left behind when they retreated from here.

Oleksandr Radzihovsky tells me these were civilians gunned down from this position where the Russians had placed a tank.



RADZIKHOVSKY: This car, they started in line, there are no cars here because they wouldn't let them come. They shot at them as they approached.

PLEITGEN: The Russian government denies targeting civilians. They call such allegations, quote, fake and propaganda.


But Oleksandr is part of a drone unit, and they filmed one incident.

It was March 7th, when the Russians were still in full control of this area, and a group of cars was driving down the highway. They turned around after apparently taking fire from the tank position. This car stops and the driver gets out, then this.

RADZIKHOVSKY: At this moment, he was shoot by displaced.

PLEITGEN: Two people were killed that day, Maksim Yubhenko (ph) and his wife Xenia (ph), who was also sitting in the vehicle. The family has confirmed identities to CNN.

After the incident, the drone filmed Russian troops getting two people out of the car and taking them away. It was the couple's 6-year-old son and a family friend traveling with them, the relatives confirmed. Both were later released by the Russians.

The soldiers then search Maksim's body and drag him away.

This incident, both traumatizing and motivating for Oleksandr's drone unit.

RADZIKHOVSKY: In normal life, before the war, we were civilians who like to fly drones around casually and make YouTube videos. But when the war began, we became actually a vital part of the resistance.

PLEITGEN: Oleksandr sent us hours of video showing his team scoping out Russian vehicles, even finding them when they're hidden and almost impossible to spot, and then helping the Ukrainians to hit them.

RADZIKHOVSKY: We are eyes. We're calls eyes, because with eyes, you can see and you can report and soon as you see, you can conduct strikes, artillery, airstrikes.

PLEITGEN: How long does it take to get your information to the right place and to be able to act on the intelligence that you provide?

RADZIKHOVSKY: In good time, it's a matter of minutes.

PLEITGEN: And sometimes, a little mosquito can take out a whole herd of elephants.

This is drone footage of Oleksandr's unit search for a massive column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles. And this is that column after the drones found them. Oleksandr tells us units like his played a major role, fending off Russian troops despite the Ukrainians being vastly outgunned.

RADZIKHOVSKY: We're agile as a territorial defense. We can, oh, we don't want -- it's free to go. But the army, they have to stay. They're ordered to stay, they stay. They die but they stay and they hold in the ground.

PLEITGEN: Nobody knows how many Russians died here but the group says it was many, taken out with a band of amateur drone pilots looking to defend their homeland.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Mela (ph), Ukraine.


JARRETT: Fred, thank you for that report.

Ukraine has a new shipment of weapons from the U.S. to aid its defense against Russian forces. This time, 100 switchblade drones.

Joining me now, CNN global affairs analyst and "Time Magazine" contributor Kim Dozier.

Kim, so nice to have you on set. Nice to see you this morning.


JARRETT: Let's start with the 100 switchblade drones. Last week, it was tanks. This week, it's drones. How significant is this of an add?

DOZIER: Well, the Pentagon told us they are cutting red tape and increasing -- in response to requests from the forces on the ground. What switchblade drones are good for is small special operations units can use them to take out tanks.

As you might remember, the switch blade drones are -- you just fire them once and they're suicide bombers that can hit an armored vehicle and take it out and they can loiter in the air for a long time before hitting it.

So this is to increase the legality of what U.S. officials and some European officials are telling us are the best parts, most effective parts of the Ukrainian military, their ability to take out armored personnel carriers, tanks that the Russians are using against them. Now, this can't be used to take out artillery but it still is one of the major ways to take more troops off the battlefield.

JARRETT: I guess my larger question here, and I've wondered this every time we see sort of a new addition of a different weapon. Is that sort of the key that's going to unlock this war to ending? I imagine it's got to be more complicated than just weapons. We have obviously, a new sanctions package rolling out as well.

I imagine it's got to be some combination of a lot of different factors. What are you hearing from sources?

DOZIER: Well, from the European diplomat that I've spoken to, they say, look, not one thing is going to be the silver bullet that stops the Russian military. The sanctions have to have effect not just on elite but on the population, such that Putin responds and tries to find a way out maybe by saying hey, the eastern part of Ukraine is all I wanted and he'll find his own off-ramp out.

Plus, just giving the Ukrainian army what it needs to continue to make the Russian troops pay a high price on the battlefield. That's why this iterative amount of weapons keep going in.

But everyone I've spoken to, U.S., Europeans, they all think this is going to take months to a year.


They don't think Putin is done.

JARRETT: That's important timing in context there.

I also want to ask you about these Russian palm tree anti-personnel land mines. My understanding, you don't have to step on it. Anybody can be walking by and they can go off. Obviously, you know, it's a huge human rights issue -- Human Rights Watch is calling this, you know, it's horrifying.

What are your thoughts on this?

DOZIER: Well, the human rights watches put out a report about these Russian mines. They have a detection device in them. So, you don't have to step on them, you can be talking by and it triggers from the reverberation of your foot steps.

This is the kind of thing that shows us that the Russians have fired weaponry without any thought of civilians being in the area, because they fire them from above. These things scatter. And whoever walks by is going to trigger one of them. And that's the only way you're going to find out a mine field is there.

So, it's a really deadly, horrible weapon, and it just shows --

JARRETT: They have it to terrorize?

DOZIER: Yeah, they haven't taken measures -- to divide the civilian population from the troops and that is breaking the laws of war.

JARRETT: All right. Kim, so nice to have you on set. Always great to your thoughts and insights on all of this. Thank you. We appreciate it.

Still ahead for you, Poland welcoming a massive number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing this war. But they're straining to find some place to stay now. The space one group of friends turned into a shelter for families, next.



JARRETT: Polish authorities and volunteers are converting basically everything they can into accommodations for this massive wave of incoming Ukrainian refugees. Now, a group of friends who has turned an abandoned dormitory into a refugee center. More than 160 people are staying there now.

And CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is live for us in Poland.

Salma, good morning.

Tell me, what is this space like? I can hear children crying in the background?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, we've been reporting from the border for the last few days as you know. The most common question you hear is where do I sleep tonight? We wanted to show you exactly where a shelter would be for refugees.

Again, this used to be an abandoned dormitory. Quite clearly it used to be students' housing for 12 years. Nobody lived in this building, this group of friends group of volunteers never cared for refugees in their life decided, well, we're going to take it from the local government, we're going to take it from the local authorities.

In three day, they ran power. They ran water. They built beds. They made sure it's a place where doctors can come and families can make food. But I'm going to show you my favorite room here the kids' playroom.

Yes, it was an old abandoned building but it's fresh paint. Volunteers were sure to paint. You can see the bubble bees and the kids and all these little toys. And it's just a space that these kids can finally be kids again.

I want to introduce to you one of the organizers here.

Just tell us how you're able to pull this together. How you're able to do this in three days turn an abandoned building into a refugee shelter?

KAMIL PRUSINOWSKI, DIRECTOR, POLANDWELCOMES.ORG: You know, if you know there are women with children in the snow freezing, for many days staying at the border, we call everybody we know ask come on, can you come, help be part of Poland Welcomes. So, it is what we are doing here. So --

ABDELAZIZ: And tell me about the need from these families? What is the need that you're seeing?

PRUSINOWSKI: The need is everything. We need to build a home for them. So, starting from the bottom from the mattresses going through the whole support which they require, like jobs, education, private health care. We've got people who are newborn people in this place.

ABDELAZIZ: You have newborn babies here?

PRUSINOWSKI: Yes. So, actually, it is very unexpected.

ABDELAZIZ: But it's not just food, and bed and medicine, you need to give psychological support, you need to have doctors, you need to keep people safe.

PRUSINOWSKI: Absolutely. So, this is what we're thinking about. We are learning. We're not professionals. We're just amateurs trying to help and build a house, a home for these people.

ABDELAZIZ: Thank you so much.

And Kamil is just one of many volunteers we're seeing. Again, he had no idea how you start a refugee center. But overnight, he did it just because he was so affected by what he saw at the border.

JARRETT: Yeah, just the humanity and the creativity we've seen over these past couple of weeks is just incredible. Thank you for bringing that story, Salma. Appreciate it.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy vowing to keep fighting as Russia's attack escalates and the brutality continues. Ukrainian forces putting up a strong resistance despite widespread devastation and atrocities that have shocked the world. A Ukrainian member of parliament joins us live, next.




VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will find every way to save ourselves until Russia starts looking for peace. This is our land, this is our future, and we shall not give them away.


KEILAR: That was President Zelenskyy of Ukraine calling for ramped up sanctions and for more weapons from allies.

His request coming as the Ukrainian military continues to make gains around Kyiv and images of atrocities in cities like Bucha shock the world.

Moments ago, a curfew was announced there because of looting and the presence of land mines.

I want to bring in a Ukrainian member of parliament, Kira Rudik, with us now.

Kira, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

We're also seeing some incredible awful images out of Borodianka. Can you tell us a little bit about what else is being revealed today?

KIRA RUDIK, MEMBER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: Thank you for having me today. We again review more and more from outskirts of Kyiv. We find so-called torture rooms that were made in the basements of schools, kindergartens and gyms.


We find bodies whose knees have bullets in them. We find people that are -- that have their hands and feet cut off before -- before they were killed. When I was in Bucha, we have seen so many bodies with their hands tied behind them.

So, right now, this process of revealing more and more Russian crimes, more and more of these atrocities is still going. This is why we're not encouraging people to come back because I can't even imagine if people will start finding those bodies themselves.

The trauma that's happening to my people here in Ukraine is already at so deep and terrible, so that we would rather have the authorities to deal with -- with the revealing the results of the crimes.

We are taking note of every single crime that's being committed in the outskirts of Kyiv, in the occupied territories. We will make sure, absolutely, that we will have the list of Russian soldiers who are committing those crimes, and we will be getting their justice, this or the other way. This is incredibly important for Ukrainian people right now, knowing that justice will happen.

You know, I spoke to one of them, survivors from Borodianka. She told me when the Russians are killing them, you are the dirt, we are cleaning the land from the dirt. This sounds very Nazi to me, isn't it?

And this is why what's happening there, what's happening in Ukraine is genocide. And after this stop happening, I'm calling for every world leader right now, to understand this is a tipping point. There is no more closing the eyes and hoping this will magically go away.

There is no more hoping that one can continue buying Russian gas and oil, sponsoring this war and that it will not attack -- it will attack everybody. It will attack every single country in the world.

And this is why we are saying, this is a type to step up, a time to choose sides. To make that the Democratic countries are standing together, and not only condemning Putin and rooting for Ukrainians, but actually helping us with the real steps, with the sanctions on Russian gas and oil, with the heavy weaponry.

KEILAR: Kira, let me ask you about that. Kira, let me ask you about that, because this -- I mean, you look at these images. It should be a tipping point. It's a -- this should be an affront to all humanity, what we're seeing in Ukraine.

And yet, obviously, the kind of sanctions that would really hurt Russia would also hurt Europe. So what is your message to Europe about Russian energy? And what is your message to America about its influence in this?

RUDIK: You know, it's hard that on day 42 of the war, I am asking for the same thing that on day one, for the heavy weaponry and getting us the ability to fight in the skies, to fight in the air, because what you have seen. The images of destroyed homes are the images of what happened to Ukraine, because we were not able to protect ourselves from the skies.

But the most important, that everybody who is buying Russian gas and oil right now is paying -- is actually paying for what is happening in Bucha, for what is happening in Borodianka and so many places in Ukraine right now. So, every time you see a picture, if your country is buying Russian gas and oil, you are paying for it.

You're paying your dollar so they can be transferred to Russia. So Russia can pay their soldiers so they will come and kill Ukrainian children, rape Ukrainian women and kill the men trying to protect us from this. And this is so terrifying that right now, there's so many countries who are trying to support Ukraine with the one hand. And still pay Russia for their energy on the other hand, and still pay Russia for their energy on the other hand.

And this wouldn't work, because we will end up with more and more suffering, more and more deaths. And at some point, the war will spread to the other countries of Europe.

We will be standing, the last man standing, but we cannot be doing it forever.