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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

U.S. Evidence Russian Troops Killed Surrendering Ukrainians; Putin Vows "Lightning Fast" Response to Intervention in Ukraine; Giuliani is Central Figure in Trump's Bid to Overturn Election. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2022 - 05:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Laura Jarrett. Christine Romans has the morning off.

And we begin with breaking news. New atrocities to add to the mounting list of war crimes Russian troops are accused of committing in Ukraine. This revelation at the U.N. just a few hours ago.


BETH VAN SCHACK, U.S. AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE FOR GLOBAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE: We now have credible information that Russian military unit operating in the vicinity of Donetsk executed Ukrainians who were attempting to surrender rather than take them into custody. If true, this would be a violation of a core principles of the laws of war.


JARRETT: CNN's Isa Soares is live on the ground in Lviv, Ukraine, this morning.

Isa, these revelations come as the offensive on the ground continues to heat up. What more can you tell us?

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Laura. Let me start on the battlefield because you are right, we are hearing of intense shelling right across the east of Ukraine. We have heard from a Ukrainian general who have told us in the last few hours the Russian forces continue to exert intense fire across three regions. He said that the Russian forces are focusing in one area in particular, and that is in Izium, which seems to be a staging ground as they try to go into Donetsk and Luhansk, as you can see there on that map.

That is where the offensive is taking place. If I focus your attention on Luhansk, we have seen some of the most intense firing, we have some new video coming in to CNN from Severodonetsk in Luhansk where a hospital really taking a hit, severe hit. And this is a main hospital that we have seen operating in that area. We know that one lady died with that shelling. We have been told as well that the hospital despite the state of it as you can see there now is still operational.

And then I want to turn your attention to the south to the city of Kherson which has for weeks now been under control of Russians where Russia has been trying to create this independence referendum. We've heard from a Russian general speaking the last few hours who has said that he believes that Ukraine forces will not be able to take back Kherson, a very strong claim there from the Russian side.

And sticking to Russia, we have had a very bold and very stark statement from president Putin this morning. Have a listen to what he had to say.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If someone intends to intervene in 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 lightening 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.


SOARES: President Putin there talking about really foreign interference with a direct threat there.

We've also heard, Laura, in the last few minutes from the UK defense minister who, and I'll quote him here, who has said that President Putin's actions in Ukraine really is a cancerous growth on the country -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Isa, thank you for that report.

I want to bring in retired Army Major General Paul Eaton. He's a CNN military analyst and former commanding general of the coalition military assistance training team in Iraq.

Sir, so nice to have you this morning.

You just heard in Isa's report there, Putin vowing a lightning fast response to any foreign interference in Ukraine. What exactly could that mean? Could it mean providing weapons as the U.S. already has? How should we read this?

MAJ. GEN. PAUL EATON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Laura, thank you very much for having me. So it is important to remember that about 20 years ago when Mr. Putin was the equivalent to our national security adviser, he established a policy of, quote, de-escalation, which when explained is that when Russia is back on their heels, if they are under pressure, if they suspect that they're going to take a loss, they are likely to use a nuclear weapon. And typically a smaller one, but the point is to fire a nuclear weapon, to demonstrate the capacity to do so, and to attempt to in their words, in Russian words, deescalate the situation.

[05:05:06] So every time you hear a Russian rattle the saber of use of nuclear weapons or whatever euphemism they wish to apply to that, that's about what you are hearing. And we just need to be aware of it. And what the NATO forces need to do is to make sure that Mr. Putin understands that should he use a nuclear weapon, there will be an immediate and overwhelming reaction on the part of NATO. It's -- this whole thing of strategic ambiguity has got to be cleared up a little bit.

Otherwise, we're going to wind up in a situation that unclear parties as to the other's intentions may be provoked into doing something very rash. And the Russians are there.

JARRETT: You know, at the same time we've seen some remarkable images of tops blown off also the jack in the box effect. You can explain how that makes Russian takes more vulnerable?

EATON: Absolutely. So, the M1 tank which is probably the best tank in the world, certainly the best I've ever worked with, all of our ammunition is behind blast doors. If the tank is penetrated, and hits ammunition, there are gas release ports to make sure that the crew is kept safe and the tank actually can still operate.

Russian tanks use an auto loader system which requires their ammunition to be exposed on the inside of the turret. So if the turret is penetrated and all our weapons penetrate the turrets without bound, particularly the Javelin from top where the armor is thinnest, but that exposed ammunition will cook off immediately, it will go high order, and the whole exposed ammunition program inside the turret will blow which kicks it several meters in the air, flips it and that is why we have this classic T72, T84, T90 spectacle on the battlefield of dead Russian soldiers and tanks destroyed.

JARRETT: Just seems like a serious vulnerability.

I want to pivot to talk to you about this. Pentagon report that revealed U.S. left behind $7 billion worth of military equipment in Afghanistan after that hasty withdrawal last year. Are you surprised at that number? Seems significant.

EATON: It is significant. But when it comes down to cost of the material and cost to move it back, it is -- in the grand scheme of things, the amount of money that we spent in Afghanistan is simply stunning, it is appalling, and the leftovers that we left on the Afghan battlefield are modest in comparison to the total cost of the misadventure in Afghanistan.

JARRETT: All right. Major General Paul Eaton, thank you so much for coming on bright and early this morning, sir. Hope to see you back soon.

EATON: Thank you very much, Laura. Take care.

JARRETT: Coming up, a long awaited homecoming.


PAULA REED, MOTHER OF TREVOR REED: It will really hit us when we get to put our arms around him.


JARRETT: Trevor Reed ready to reunite with his family after his release from Russia. But first --


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Kyiv to Mariupol, from Kharkiv to --


JARRETT: Delivering supplies while dodging shells. Life in a frontline Ukrainian city, that's next.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

Some Ukrainian civilians are still living on the front lines of the war, many elderly with no place else to go. They are relying on Ukrainian police officers determined to bring them the bare essentials under a constant barrage of Russian shelling.

CNN's Sam Kiley has more.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Severodonetsk, on the front line with Russia. It's an artillery frontline.

Let's get into the basement.

Local police are delivering aid to civilians unable to leave. There's no time to wait out the bombardment. There's no likely end to the shelling either. Supplies need delivering and fast.

She tells me there are three people next door including a granny of 92. Upstairs, a bedridden woman. She says that normally they stay in the flat and only use the basement when it's bad. Thank you for not forgetting us, she adds.

The urgency of these sorts of deliveries cannot be exaggerated. Just in this block, there's mostly old people. One gentleman is dying of cancer in front of his wife. She's saying she's living in a double hell.

Since we have been here, there are been five, six, eight impacts very, very close. And almost every tree, every corner, every bit of this local neighborhood has got the signs of recent impact. And Russians are just a kilometer, maybe three away.

Russian guns are so close you can hear the whole arc of their shells.


From Kyiv to Mariupol, from Kharkiv to here, this is the Russian way of war -- pound civilians, flatten cities, and maybe occupy the ashes.

Alexander says we're in danger now. They're shelling us so it could come at any moment and shrapnel could hurt us. We try to hide there in the bomb shelter.

Two months of war has driven these people underground. And there's no end in sight.

The fear, Alexander confesses, he tries to keep inside. But it creeps out.

There's one more delivery that the police have got to make, but every time we try to get out the front door of this building, there's another impact. There's another one now.

They're saying the hospital, which is nearby, is under heavy shelling. We were planning to go there. We couldn't get through nor can we even get out of this bunker.

The hospital was hit, images of the damage done that morning posted online by the local administration.

Officials said that one civilian was killed, others injured, and several floors were badly damaged. The humanitarian effort goes on. This woman asks only for the basics of existence. Water and candles for light.

Good job. You do this every day?


KILEY: He tells me most people left here now have nowhere else to go. They have lived here all their lives and don't want to abandon their homes.

Do you think the Russians are going to take this?

Never, he says. We will stand our ground to the last man. No one will leave here.

That may be a dangerous claim. It's likely that Ukrainians will destroy this bridge to hold up the invasion. And anyone still here would then be trapped in Russian hands.

Sam Kiley, CNN, Severodonetsk.


JARRETT: Our thanks so Sam for that report.

Well, the parents of Trevor Reed choking back tears of a their son was freed by Russians in exchange with a prisoner with the U.S. in Turkey. Paula Reed was shaken when she first saw the video of her son's release. She said he looked horrible, but after speaking to him on the phone, her worry turned to joy just in time for a special day.


PAUL REED, MOTHER OF TREVOR REED: It is absolutely the perfect gift. When we got the call early in the week, when they said something might be occurring this week, he said am I going to have a happy mother's day? And they said we can't say, but just be ready. So, yes, it is a perfect mother's day. Better -- well, not better, but almost as good as the day he was born.


JARRETT: Families of WNBA star Brittney Griner and former marine Paul Whelan are still waiting for Russia to release their loved ones. Whelan's brother David speaks to "NEW DAY" later this morning.

And just ahead for you, a damning report just released on the Minneapolis police department, what investigators found out after George Floyd's death.

But, first, the January 6 Committee is finally getting a crack at Rudy Giuliani.



JARRETT: A state investigation of the Minneapolis police department launched after the killing of George Floyd has revealed a pattern of, quote, discriminatory race-based policing by officers going back a decade. The report by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found that Minneapolis police stop, search and arrest and use force against people of color at starkly higher rates than against white people.

This disturbing report drawing a strong reaction for the city's mayor now.


MAYOR JACOB FREY, MINNEAPOLIS: We have a hell of a lot of work do as a city. We have a hell of a lot of work do in this nation. I found the contents to be repugnant, at times horrific. They made me sick to my stomach and outraged and I think that our community feels the same way.


JARRETT: The mayor went on to call for a full-on culture shift saying that we have to get this right.

Well, a key member of Trump's inner circle is either to answer questions from the January 6 committee. Sources tell CNN, Rudy Giuliani is expected to appear before the House Select Committee next month.

CNN's Annie Grayer is live in Washington, D.C. for me this morning.

Annie, good morning. What is the committee actually what is the committee actually hoping to learn from the president's former lawyer? Is he actually going to talk?

ANNIE GRAYER, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Laura.

Well, that's right. We reported last night that Rudy Giuliani is expected to appear before the January 6 committee next month. Giuliani was Donald Trump's personal lawyer and was key to the effort to try to overturn the presidential election results. The committee subpoenaed Giuliani in January trying to talk to him about those efforts. One of those efforts which we've learned through our reporting is Giuliani oversaw the effort of seven states to try to submit fake electors on behalf of Trump to try to keep him in power.

Now, that fake elector plot is a key investigative thread for the January 6 committee.


Now, Giuliani's lawyer has been going back and forth with the committee trying to set the terms for Giuliani's appearance. And now that we know that Giuliani is expected to appear, we'll have to see how much he actually divulges.

But Giuliani's expected appearance comes as lots of Donald Trump's family members have recently come into testify. We know that his daughter and former senior adviser Ivanka Trump came in earlier this month as well as her husband Jared Kushner. And we also know that Donald Trump Jr. is even expected to come into the committee in the coming weeks.

JARRETT: All right. Annie, we'll see what he says. I imagine a lot of privilege objections coming ahead. Appreciate it.

Still ahead for you, we'll hear from the global diplomat who just met with Vladimir Putin.

And Ron DeSantis, he wanted to try to stick to Disney. Why that might be harder than he thought.