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Zelenskyy: Russian Soldiers Are No Different From Terrorists; Zelenskyy Describes To U.N. Brutal Killings, Torture And Rape Of Civilian; U.S. Amb To U.N.: Leaders Must "Show Some Back Bone" Against Russia; Zelenskyy Calls For War Crimes Trail For Actions In Ukraine; Residents Told To Stay Inside After Nitric Acid Tank Hit By Russian Strike; Milley: Russia's War Is "Greatest Threat To Peace And Security"; Zelenskyy Demands Accountability For Russian War Crimes. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired April 05, 2022 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello everybody, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. It's a sober day, today raw anger from Ukraine's president. In front of the United Nations Security Council, Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded a new Nuremberg trial for Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership. Zelenskyy says the Russians are no different than terrorists. He accuses the U.N. of failing its own charter and a failing his country. And he retold stories of horror from inside Ukraine.
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VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Some of them were shot on the street, others were throwing to the wells, so they die. They're in suffering. They were killed in their apartments, houses blowing grenades. The civilians were crushed by tanks, while sitting in their cars in the middle of the road. Just for their pleasure, they cut off limbs, cut their throat, slashed their throats, women were raped and killed in front of their children. They were - their tongues were pulled out only because the crescent did not hear what they wanted to hear from them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Zelenskyy's emotional speech following even more ghastly pictures of war crimes. Again, all of what we're about to show you is graphic and disturbing. A basement grave here are five men, their bodies decomposing. All of them bound, all shot and killed at close range. A Ukrainian official says, they were tortured before they were murdered.
Russia claims this is all a hoax. That's what Russia says, all a hoax and Lavrov ruse to Kremlin says to shame Moscow on the global stage. Here some of the proof, this is all too real. The bodies found in the streets captured on satellite images taken weeks ago, weeks ago when Bucha was under Russian control. In Makariv, 30 miles west of Kyiv, more of the awful same. CNN's Fred Pleitgen was there.
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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They say, they've already today picked up 15 dead bodies. And as you can see, in the car, there there're several of those sacks, which are unfortunately also filled with corpses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: To begin our coverage this hour in Lviv, that's in western Ukraine, CNN's Phil Black is right there. Phil, what's the latest?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, that address from Zelenskyy to the United Nations Security Council was indeed an extraordinary moment. The leader of a country under invasion, not just addressing the security council, but accusing one of its permanent members of war crimes. More than that, comparing Russia to a terrorist organization.
As you've touched on, he backed up that comparison with a long, detailed, horrible, grotesque list of the crimes that had been uncovered just in a few days, since Russia withdrew from this territory it had occupied in the suburbs north of Kyiv. From Zelenskyy, this was ultimately yet another speech to the world calling for action and justice, but it was very likely his most powerful yet. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. ZELENSKYY: Geography might be different of various, but cruelty is the same, crimes are the same and accountability must be inevitable.
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BLACK: So, there were other some of the key themes of that speech. Zelenskyy did not hesitate to make the council and indeed the world feel uncomfortable by pointing out, in fairly - in a powerful way, the impotence of the security council and doing anything about this war. The reason of course, Russia's permanent member status gives it a veto on all resolutions there.
But he also wanted not just the council, but the world to consider that the things that we've seen in Bucha in those nearby areas in recent days represent just a small window, a small insight into the behavior of Russian soldiers in areas under their occupation. At a time, when much of his country is still occupied by Russian forces and has been for more than a month, John? KING: Phil Black, for us live in Lviv. Phil, appreciate the important reporting. Let's come back to Washington now. CNN's Natasha Bertrand joins us. Natasha, some important new diplomatic demands and political demands from Zelenskyy today.
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE & NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: That's right, John. So, Zelenskyy, basically calling for an overhaul of the entire U.N. system, asking that they please provide Ukraine with security guarantees, because clearly, up until now, it just hasn't been working. The U.N. charter has been repeatedly violated by Russia, they say. And he says, what is the point now of the United Nations if it cannot do what it originally intended to do and ensure peace?
And of course, in a very notable moment, he actually called on the U.N. to prevent Russia from continuing these kinds of war crimes to expel it from the country there, saying that, if they cannot do that. If they cannot ensure that Russia stops its atrocities, then they might as well just dissolve themselves.
So, Zelenskyy, is extremely fed up here. And he went into detail about the kinds of war crimes that he believes the Russians are committing. And he said that, he wants to see a Nuremberg type trial take place to hold the Russians accountable for the war crimes that he says they have committed.
Now, he also has said that he wants a global security conference to take place in Kyiv, similar to outposts that - and establish outpost similar to what the U.N. has in country - in certain countries in Africa. And he essentially has called for the U.N. to take a really hard look at itself and decide whether it believes that Russia deserves a place there, John?
KING: Natasha Bertrand, grateful for that live reporting. Let's get some important insights now from retired Four Star Marine General, the President of the Brookings Institution, John Allen. General, grateful for your time today. Zelenskyy's case essentially was the world system, the accountability system is broken. That was his case from the United Nations or earlier today, before leaving for a very important meeting of NATO foreign ministers. Secretary of State Blinken, America's top diplomat said, the case is clear.
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ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATES: What we've seen in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit. It's a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: But is there anything in the current system that can be done about it when Russia and China have veto power on the security council? You have an active war, hot war still underway. And you have these pictures, as Zelenskyy says, probably just the first wave of atrocities, can anything be done now to fix the system? GEN. JOHN ALLEN (RET.) FORMER SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY, GLOBAL COALITION TO COUNTER ISIL: It'd be very difficult right now to do that. But this is an opportunity for the U.N. to look very hard at itself. But you're right, with China as a permanent member. The chances of the security council or the U.N. acting to expel Russia from the security council as opposed to subordinate bodies within the U.N. would be quite difficult, I think.
Now, other things that could be done right now, though, John, would be to conduct a thorough investigations into these crimes. Secretary Blinken was 100 percent correct. These are crimes against humanity. These are war crimes.
And we should be considering whether countries are willing to extend their jurisdiction over these crimes and be willing to indict the Russian leadership, military and civilian leadership with the idea that if other countries join them in that indictment, it makes it virtually impossible for Russians to travel outside the hell that is Russia today.
KING: outside the hell that is Russia today, as we watch that play out, I want to get to the battlefield because that is a process that is weeks and months and months and months and months, if, if the world heats what it should do here. The Ukrainian say right now, they believe the Russians are trying to just take over control of Kharkiv.
The Pentagon says, they see evidence that the Russians are going to refocus, they lost Kyiv. They just simply lost their efforts to take Kyiv. So, the Pentagon believes it's going to have an effort now over here. Take the Donbass, try to then control as much of eastern Ukraine as you can. If that is the case, you see on the map, a lot of that is red at lower.
Some of it, the separatists' areas, the Russians were already in, Crimea, the Russians had already claimed an annex. The red areas are new areas where there are Russian troops. What did the Ukrainians need? They've defended Kyiv forcefully. Now they say that if that's a retake land, go on offense, not defense, that's a different scenario militarily.
GEN. ALLEN: Well, they need to have maneuver forces that can do that. That's armor. That's armored personnel carriers, that's artillery. That's integrated air defense systems. And we've talked about the S- 300 being introduced to augment those capabilities that the Ukrainians have as well. If they need to move over into the offensive to begin to maneuver, they've got to have the maneuver forces and the equipment to do that.
The Russians intent probably is to create a crescent of control from Kharkiv all the way around to Odessa. And we've got to supply the kind of support necessary to the Ukrainians to prevent that from happening because it will eliminate any access by Ukraine to the Black Sea or the Sea of Azov. And we've got to prevent that from happening.
KING: And so, when you say have to prevent it, we could show some of the weapons' system. Number one, the United States now says it will facilitate the transfer of some T-72. That's a Russian even goes back to a Soviet era battle tank. A, how easy or how hard is it to physically get them into Ukraine in the middle of a hot war? And B, why? Why would they help the Ukrainians at this moment as the battleships?
GEN. ALLEN: Well, they have their own tanks and we've seen some of those tanks in action and they're quite good with them. But eventually, those tanks have mechanical problems, or they're knocked out themselves. And so, giving the Ukrainians the capacity to replace their battle damage and give them additional tanks of those tank crews that are waiting for to be armed and transport it, gives them that capacity to build their mechanized and armored forces that are necessary. So, we should be pouring those tanks into the fight if we can do it.
KING: You say pouring, the S-300, you just mentioned, that's a longer range of missile, surface to air missile. The United States and others have supplied, you know, shoulder launch missiles. The Ukrainian say, they need these, especially if you're going to move your troops. If you're going to move your troops to try to retake land, you expose them. And so, they need to be at it knock missiles out of the sky, knock planes out of the sky.
Why is it taking so long? There are some countries in the region that have these systems who have said, we will give them ours, if, if the United States or some other NATO ally backfield, so that we are not left vulnerable? Why is it taking so long? Whether it's a patriot missile battery from the United States? Whether it's a missile battery from some of the NATO country? Why?
GEN. ALLEN: I can't answer the specifics of that, John, but that's something that we should be expediting as quickly as we can.
KING: And that again, why would the s S-300 make a difference on the battlefield?
GEN. ALLEN: Well, you said it very well. If we're going to move forces to contact with the Russians, we want to have the capacity to dominate the airspace over top of those forces. Now, the shoulder fired missiles that we have, would be traveling with the tactical forces, and they'll be ready to go. But what we want to do is control the higher altitudes, where the fixed wing aviation can marshal ultimately to attack the columns of the Ukrainians that are moving to contact with the Russians.
So, we wouldn't be able to dominate the entire airspace from the lower altitudes where the helicopters and fixed wing will be coming against the Ukrainian forces, all the way to the higher altitudes, and also have the capability for limited engagement of missiles in the air.
KING: If we are in this environment, where now where Putin's backed into a corner. He probably wasn't willing to negotiate to begin with, but less so now. Zelenskyy looking at these atrocities, says, how can I negotiate with Vladimir Putin right now, so that, how does Ukraine win this war? How do you push Russia out of Ukraine?
And I asked in the context, the NATO that we saw Secretary Blinken, earlier in the program, he's on his way to a very important meeting of NATO foreign ministers. Is it time for the NATO foreign ministers and then the NATO defense chiefs to rethink?
They have said, so far, no NATO boots on the ground. They don't want to send in more fighter jets because they think that would be provocative. They don't want to use a NATO enforced. no-fly zone. They don't even want to do a NATO enforced humanitarian core. Is it time for the NATO allies to sit down at a table and say, at this moment, we must do more to help Ukraine win?
GEN. ALLEN: I believe they're going to have that conversation. We have to think how the status quo changes, because this doesn't favor Ukraine over the long term. Now, we talked a lot about the Russian incompetence, the fact that their forces culminated in so many places on the battlefield. But we also haven't talked about the beating that the Ukrainians have taken, and they've been brave.
They have been operating in really marginal weather conditions for a very long time, as we have to be thinking about how we can ease up the pressure on the Ukrainians. And this is going to be a long fight. And however, we can help the Ukrainians to continue in this fight ought to be one of the objectives that will be discussed in Brussels with the foreign ministers.
KING: Lastly, is there any one or two things you would put at the top of that list? New things NATO could do tomorrow to help.
GEN. ALLEN: I'd get the S-300 across the border as quickly as possible. Help the Ukrainians to get that integrated air defense system over their urban centers. So, we can stop the missiles and close air support that's coming in, the fixed wing aviation that's attacking the Ukrainian cities, and layer that integrated air defense system so we can protect the Ukrainian forces in their counterattack and counter offensive, but also protect the Ukrainian cities. We should be doing that.
KING: General Allen, thanks for coming and we appreciate the important insights. Coming up for us, the top U.S. General telling Congress, he would support establishing permanent basis now in eastern Europe. Details on that big shift ahead.
KING: There are new and disturbing reports of Russian attacks across Ukraine on this day 44 of Vladimir Putin's war. In Mariupol, a civilian ship is on fire and sinking that after Russian troops hit it, according to Ukrainian officials. The ship was flying under a Dominican Republic flag, shelling caused a fire in the engine room and the captain warned, there are still people, wounded people on board. Residents in an eastern Ukrainian town are being told to stay inside after a Russian strike hit a tank of nitric acid there. The strike caused a pink cloud of toxic smoke. You can see the cloud right there. Ukrainian officials say the substance is "quite toxic." And in Mykolaiv, a CNN team stopped to interview Ukrainian soldiers when they witnessed incoming artillery rounds close, too close to where they were doing that reporting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down here, John, down here. Keep on rolling. You've seen over there.
BEN WEDEMAN CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): We hug the earth. Two more artillery rounds. And so, we run with full body armor to the cars.
KING: That's Ben Wedeman and his crew there. We just salute the bravery of all of our people. And up from other news organization as well across Ukraine in this very difficult time. Today here in Washington proof, Vladimir Putin's Ukraine invasion is causing a global strategic rethinking.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, telling Congress he would support establishing permanent basis in eastern Europe. General Milley saying, U.S. forces would rotate through those bases as part of an effort to deter Russian aggression. Let's get to CNN's Barbara Starr, live at the Pentagon. She has more. Barbara, tell us about it?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we know that the Pentagon and NATO as well as all the allied countries in Europe, are looking at the new security order in Europe that is needed they say, because of what Russia has done by invading Ukraine, changing the face of European security perhaps for decades to come.
Milley saying, he supports new permanent bases, but wants to rotate U.S. troops through them. That is a less expensive way to go. For example, you don't have to build schools because the families won't be with the troops. But General Milley, the top U.S. military officer went on with what can only be described as a dire assessment of where the world is right now.
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GENERAL MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We are witness to the greatest threat to peace and security of Europe and perhaps the world. In my 42 years of service in uniform, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is threatening to undermine not only European peace and stability, but global peace and stability that my parents and a generation of Americans fought so hard to defend.
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STARR: Milley going on to suggest that the only thing that might, might have deterred Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine could have been the introduction of U.S. forces on the ground in Ukraine and the U.S. military advice, the U.S. administration's position. President Biden is that no combat forces on the ground in Ukraine, not willing to risk a war, a ground war with the Russians, John?
KING: And Barbara, you also have word today of an important new weapons test done by the Pentagon but done on the hush hush twice.
STARR: It was. It's called the hypersonic weapon. It is a test that took place about two weeks ago. The U.S. officials telling my colleague, Gorn Lieberman (Ph), that they decided not to publicize it right away because of concern. It could be seen by the Russians' escalatory, hypersonics or as classified vital technology, it is a weapon that flies around five times the speed of sound.
Everybody wants to get hypersonics right now, because they're almost impossible to defend against and the Russians do have them by all accounts and use them in Ukraine. A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. has been struggling to field a successful hypersonic weapon. The Chinese are working on them. So, this is a very sensitive matter for the Pentagon. And they decided not to talk about it right away. Let it pass for a couple of weeks before they acknowledge that they did finally have a successful test, John?
KING: Barbara Starr, appreciate the important reporting from the Pentagon. Barbara, thank you very much. Now, despite what the world is seeing in Bucha, the Russian defense ministry calls it "fake" and "staged." Well, when we come back, new satellite images prove otherwise.
KING: Ukraine's president today delivering an emotional speech in which he laid out the full horror of Russians actions in Ukraine. President Zelenskyy telling the United Nations Security Council, there is no doubt about Putin's intent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. ZELENSKYY: Russia's leadership feels like colonizer in ancient times. They need our wealth, our people. Russia wants to turn Ukraine into silent slaves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's get some perspective now from, Oleksiy Arestovich. He's a top adviser to Ukraine's President Zelenskyy. Sir, thank you for your time today. A very emotional address by your president in which he, said he expects to find evidence of more Bucha, more horror, more atrocities. Can you update us? We know the Russians have left most of the areas around Kyiv, as your folks go in. What are they finding?
OLEKSIY ARESTOVICH, ADVISER TO PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY'S CHIEF OF STAFF: So, Russia is leaving whole Kyiv districts. It's saving the situation in sumo districts, a little bit Russian troops near the Chernihiv, and then the Kharkiv district. And more efforts Russian conduct and provide right now at united operation forces zone. Its mean, source to the Kharkiv and directly to Mariupol. Mariupol is the worst and the most hot point in the front. And the source near the (Inaudible) Russia is in the defense. Our troops are conduct and to provide a little attack and it's a tactical mode.
KING: So, at this moment when you're in the middle of a hot war, and everybody believes as you just know that the Russians are going to focus now more to the east to the Donbass maybe from Kharkiv down a lot to the coast. You're trying to fight a hot war and you're trying to retake land from the Russians. What kind of international help does Ukraine need right now to try to document to build this war crimes case? To document these atrocities, so that your people, whether it's in the military or in the government or support agencies can focus on the fight.
ARESTOVICH: The main problem is Bucha that being (Inaudible), it's not a most horrible place. Today, we were in Borodyanka in Kyiv and situation in there are more and more horrible than even in Bucha. And we have - I think about dozens of places, like Bucha and Borodyanka, which we found - we found when we came back there in Russian retreats.
So, we need from the cold war (Ph) from America, the heavy weapon. We need heavy weapon to go through the Russians down from our length. Because every day, every minute, every hour of the time where when we're without a heavy weapon, a lot of dozens and hundreds our children died. They raped by Russians, they killed whole families.