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Ukraine Warns Russia's Atrocities Are Worse in Other Cities; CNN Team Witnesses Removal of Bodies From Basement in Bucha; Ukraine Officials Warn Deaths Likely Higher in Other Liberated Cities. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 05, 2022 - 07:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice over): The basement is being turned into a shelter and delivery room if necessary. Birth, life continues. We met Alena (ph) 30 minutes after she had delivered her baby Yarislava (ph).

How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm well. She's well too, my first daughter.

AMANPOUR: Your first daughter?


AMANPOUR: Your first child?


AMANPOUR: As we're living, she tells us, I love my country, I love my daughter, my family, my husband. And in the delirium of new motherhood, she says, everything will be great for us.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Kharkiv.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: Good morning to viewers in the United States and around the world, it's Tuesday, April 5th. I'm Brianna Keilar in Lviv, Ukraine, with John Berman in New York.

And we may only be scratching the surface of Russia's atrocities in Ukraine with what we now know. Other towns and cities may be worse than what we have seen in Bucha, we are being told, a Kyiv suburb that Russian forces turned into a killing field before leaving. The world left reeling by the unimaginable brutality there.

We do want to warn you that the images you're about to see are disturbing. A CNN team witnessed the removal of five bodies from a basement in Bucha. They were in an advanced stage of decomposition, found in an area that had been held by the Russian military. A Ukrainian official says they were tortured and executed.

The death toll in Bucha alone is believed to be well over 300, and the deputy prime minister of Ukraine told me that casualties could be even worse there than in other cities.


IRYNA VERSHCHUK, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF UKRAINE: Borodyanka was also fully occupied for a while and we had no access. We could not see what was happening there. Therefore, we are inviting journalists, criminal experts and anybody with relevant experience to come and witness what we will discover in Borodyanka because we know that the animals in military uniform, there's no other way to call them, were torturing women and children.

Yes, because there are witness accounts. We know that women were raped and civilians were killed just for walking in the street or hiding in the basement. Thousands of such people have been tortured and killed.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: This morning, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy will speak to the United Nations Security Council on which, of course, Russia is a permanent member.

Breaking overnight, the Russians are on the attack in Eastern Ukraine, in the Donbas region, over here. A Ukrainian official tells CNN the situation there is difficult with heavy bombardment. I can push in and give you a closer look of the region where the fighting seems to be getting very fierce right now. Ambulances and rescue teams unable to reach some districts where civilians, we are told, are now being buried in their yards.

And this just in to CNN, civilian ship in the port of Mariupol in Southern Ukraine, that's right here, we're told that that civilian ship is on fire and sinking after being hit by Russian troops. According to Ukraine's Interior Ministry, the ship is flying a flag from the Dominican Republic.

And new overnight, an evacuation convoy of seven buses heading to Mariupol has been blocked and turned back by Russian troops. This has happened time and time again. It will be news when those buses are actually allowed in. Them being blocked is a daily occurrence. There are 100,000 people at this point trapped in Mariupol.

We want to bring you back, though, near the capital right now. That's where our Frederik Pleitgen and his team have been doing phenomenal reporting. And we understand that his team has now made it to the town of Makariv, you can see it here east -- west, I should say, of the capital. Let's go to Frederik Pleitgen on the ground. Fred, what are you seeing?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, John. We have been talking so much about the fact that the Ukrainians, as they take some of these towns back and get back into them, that they're finding a lot of dead bodies. And we referred to some of it before, some of the bodies unfortunately that were found in Bucha yesterday.

We came into Makariv and the folks immediately said that we need to go here, to the outskirts of it, because, actually, what's going on here right now is unfortunately more of the same. I'm sorry to have to show you this, there's a body collection team that they brought us to. And they found a body here with someone who apparently was riding his bicycle here when he was gunned down. The Ukrainians say he was gunned down by Russian forces. Obviously, for us it's very difficult to tell.

But the teams here are doing something very similar than what -- as what we have seen in Bucha as well, and that they're going around, they're getting called to places now that the Ukrainians are back in control of this area and being called to pick up the dead. And they say they've already, today, picked up 15 dead bodies. And as you can see in the car there, there are several of those sacks which are unfortunately also filled with corpses, as this team moves along and they also say that they've already gotten a call to go into the next place.


So these grim things that we're witnessing and that we have been witnessing over the past couple days, unfortunately, they continue.

And you guys were saying that I think it was Volodymyr Zelenskyy who was saying that there's simply places that they don't have information yet. You were talking about Borodyanka. That's just down the road. That's actually the town where we're going again. Makariv, exactly the same situation, again, this group of body collectors here, they're going to go to the next place as it's slowly becoming more and more clear just how many civilians have come to harm in all of this.

Obviously we're still at the very early stages. Some of these places have only been taken back a couple days ago, but it is already clear that a lot more civilians were killed, were wounded, were injured during the Russian occupation than many people would have thought, guys.

KEILAR: What are people telling you there, Fred? I know that a lot of people had evacuated, but some stayed behind. And they witnessed all of this. I wonder what they're saying, especially since they've been going through this for well over a month and we're just learning about it.

PLEITGEN: Yes, you're absolutely right. A lot of them have been going through this well over a month and a lot of them, of course, were extremely afraid as all of this was going on. This particular place saw some pretty heavy battles, this area in Makariv, because, the Russians, they occupied the town called Borodyanka or the town of Borodyanka, just down the road. And, essentially, this road which leads further into the actually town of Makariv, that's where a lot of heavy fighting took place. There's a lot of destroyed buildings that there are there and that's really where the Ukrainians stopped the advance, at least in this area, of the Russian military. There's a lot of Russian destroyed military vehicles there as well. But the people that we speak to in this town and in other towns, they say that the fighting was absolutely brutal, and that obviously a lot of them also say that the Russians were really loose with their firearms. It was extremely dangerous for the civilians who were -- stayed in this area, obviously also very difficult for them, you know, to get the things that they needed, to get things like food, to get things like water. On the one hand, because those products were almost impossible to get, but also on the other hand going out of your house was something that was extremely dangerous.

And especially here in Makariv, there was some extremely heavy fighting, especially towards the end of the Russian occupation as the Ukrainian forces were pulling back -- as Ukrainian forces were moving in, I should say, and the Russians were obviously trying to stop them and trying hold that ground and further advance. This was really one of those places that saw a lot of really heavy fighting and, of course; also a lot of casualties as well.

BERMAN: To that end, Fred, you're talking about the heavy fighting. It's actually hard for me to process seeing you on the streets of Makariv right now, just as it was to see you on the streets of Bucha yesterday, given the battles that were being waged there, given the ferocity of the fighting. Is the war gone completely now from Makariv and Bucha? I mean, is there any shelling, any attacks from the Russians at all?

PLEITGEN: Yes, no. There's nothing. There's absolutely nothing and there's no Russian forces here anymore either. And I have to say, you really hit the nail on the head there, John, it is remarkable, because just a couple of days ago, we were hunkered down in Kyiv and hearing the shelling and seeing rockets flying and seeing large plumes of smoke just outside the capital in Bucha, you were seeing it in Irpin, for instance, but also around this area as well. And then you had a sort of big bang before the Russians left, where they seemed to be firing all the artillery shells that they had left maybe to cover, the fact that they were retreating. But it is really remarkable to see.

And I think one of the things that is also becoming clear is that the Russians absolutely got beat here. Every single town that we have been going through, whether it's here or around this area or whether around Bucha, has a lot of destroyed Russian armor. And we can tell that it's Russian armor because it has the symbol V on it what the Russians painted on their vehicles when they invaded this part of Ukraine. So, the Ukrainians certainly took out a lot of Russian tanks, a lot of Russian armored vehicles, a lot of Russian trucks.

You see very little in the way of Ukrainian material that was damaged. There was a little bit that we saw yesterday in Bucha that was being taken away, but it certainly seems as though the Russians took seriously heavy losses and that's why they decided to move out. Of course, the Russians, Russian government is now trying to sell that as a retreat that had always been planned, the fact that they wanted to weaken the Ukrainian military here to then focus on the east.

But if that was their plan, then they certainly have absolutely no regard for their own soldiers, because I can say with certainty that many, many of them were killed in these battles and many of them were downright incinerated inside their vehicles from what we saw with some of these burnt out carcasses of vehicles that we're seeing, guys.

BERMAN: Frederik Pleitgen on the ground in Makariv, Fred, we're going to let you and your team do more reporting but we would love to come back and check back in with you shortly. Thank you.

KEILAR: Let's bring in CNN's Phil Black now. He is here with me in Lviv. Here shortly we're going to be seeing President Zelenskyy addressing the U.N.


We have seen him address them before and other countries as well, but I suspect this is going to be a different message he's delivering.

PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's right, Brianna. There's certainly going to be a more emotive, more heartfelt message. He is going to go there and argue that the world needs to be tougher still in its response to Russia based upon everything that we have seen in the last few days, based upon the things that he saw himself when he visited Bucha yesterday.

The Russians are going to bring their own argument. And they say their own evidence, which shows that all we have seen, all we have heard, this gruesome detail, that all of this is part of some complex conspiracy, misinformation campaign or, in their words, an anti- Russian campaign perpetrated by the west and Ukraine.

But as I say, Zelenskyy was there himself yesterday. And when he was there on the ground having seen what -- some of what Russia left behind, he says he believes that the diplomacy with Russia is going to be harder. Take a look.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: The longer the Russian Federation delays the meetings, the worse it will be for them and for this war. Every day, when our troops are liberating occupied territories, you can see what is happening here. It's very difficult to negotiate when you see what they have done here. Every day, we find people in burials strangled, tortured in their basements. So, I think if they have any brains left, they should think faster.


BLACK: So, President Zelenskyy clearly feeling what he is seeing, I think, there. It was only a week ago that some Ukrainian officials were talking about progress in the diplomacy, breakthroughs on key points, the possibility in the near future of Zelenskyy and Putin getting together for a face to face meeting to hash out the final sticking points. Today, Zelenskyy has said that is not looking likely at all unless Russia were to accept full responsibility for its war crimes, and that's not likely either.

KEILAR: How do you shake the hand of someone who has that much blood of your people on it? It's just impossible to imagine. Phil, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Berman?

BERMAN: A CNN crew reporting near the city of Mykolaiv narrowly escaped incoming Russian artillery fire after stopping to talk to some Ukrainian soldiers. One of the crews' two vehicles badly damaged but they did manage to make it to safety.

CNN's Ben Wedeman part of that team, and he joins me now thankfully, safely from Mykolaiv. Ben, why don't you walk us through exactly what happened?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We were going forward, John, to an area where we knew that there was some fighting. We weren't going to go directly there. We were doing what we normally do under these circumstances, as you move forward, you stop, you talk to people to gather as much intelligence as possible. What we found out was that the Russians were not far away.


WEDEMAN: This is an area where there's been a fair amount of outgoing as well as incoming artillery. Down the road is a town that has been fought over for several days by Russian and Ukrainian forces.

In these vast open spaces, the Russians seem far away. They're not.

Down here, John, down here, keep on rolling. You see it over there?

We hugged the earth. Two more artillery rounds.

Cameraman John Torigowi (ph) keeps rolling.

All right, so we have had two incoming rounds responding to artillery that's been firing in the Russian directions. Those shells came pretty close to us.

No one has been injured. The officer tells translator Valeria Dubrovska (ph) we need to go now.

I hope the car is okay. Yes, let's go.

And so we run with full body armor to the cars.


One car can't move, peppered with shrapnel.

We're losing petro.

No time to lose.

Throw it in the back.

Driver Igor Tiyagno (ph) razor focused on getting us to safety, his car also hit.

CRENDON GREENWAY, SECURITY ADVISER: Go, go go, go, go. WEDEMAN: All right. We're now trying to get out of this area as quickly as possible. Our other car completely destroyed.

Crammed into this small car, we approach safer ground.

GREENWAY: We're going to all the way into that hard cover of that village and then we'll take a breather.

WEDEMAN (voice over): Producer Karim Hadar (ph) checks the damage to the car. The soldiers we left behind are still out there. We could leave. They can't.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And we have spoken to those soldiers since then. They told us that there was more artillery bombardment overnight, but they're still okay. John, Brianna?

BERMAN: Ben, let me just say I'm so happy to see you right now, to you and your team. I'm so glad you made it out safely. Is that a line of combat right now? Do the Ukrainians feel like they're taking back that ground or are the Russians trying to push back in, Ben? Is there any way of telling?

WEDEMAN: It seems that the line is static, but there is combat ongoing in a town just south of where we were. The Ukrainians have managed to push them back, but it's questionable because the Ukrainians have good defensive weapons they've been provided with. But to really make progress in pushing the Russians well beyond artillery range of the city, they need offensive weapons. John?

BERMAN: And, Ben, I should ask, was there any sense that the Russians knew you were there, any sense they knew they were firing on media?

WEDEMAN: We have been asking ourselves those questions for quite some time. It was at a crossroads, so perhaps the Russians are bracketing that area in any event. But when we listened to the outgoing and the impact of that first round, it doesn't seem like they were very far away. So, perhaps, whether via drone or nearby outposts, they knew we were there. So, we don't know, but it was too close for comfort.

BERMAN: Too close indeed. Look, Ben, I know you've been through a lot in your career and been in a lot of warzones, you never get used to something like that, the situation you and your team just went through. So, thank you for everything you're doing. We appreciate you. And we're so glad you're safe today. Thanks.

So, up until this point in this conflict, since the Russian invasion began, Ukraine has been able to repel a much larger Russian force in some places, reclaiming some land that they lost in the past couple months. Now, the White House says Russia is shifting strategy to hold on to gains in Southern and mostly Eastern Ukraine.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: At this juncture, we believe that Russia is revising its war aims. Russia is repositioning its forces to concentrate its offensive operations in Eastern and parts of Southern Ukraine, rather than target most of the territory. All indications are that Russia will seek to surround and overwhelm Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine.

The next stage of this conflict may very well be protracted.


BERMAN: Joining us now is CNN Military Analyst and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark. General, great to have you here.

We're talking about this region largely. We're talking about the far east of Ukraine that includes the Donbas region there. I'm going to push in so I can show people exactly what we're talking about. What do the Russians want out of this?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: So, the Russians want to move their forces from here, seize this key area of Dnipro. And if they can breakthrough and bring forces here, breakthrough this way, lock this up and encircle the Ukrainian forces that are defending.

These Ukrainian forces have done a good job. They've held the Russian forces that are in this area pretty much static. But we see the main force coming in from the north to try to encircle them.

This is the typical strategy on the eastern front. You go behind. You encircle. You force your enemy to fight in 360 degree directions until they're exhausted. Then you close in.


BERMAN: There's been a war being waged here for eight years, so people know there have been lines here where there's been fighting back and forth ever since Russia annexed Crimea. So, this is a well- worn battlefront.

We all know, we think, what the Russians are going to try to do. So, what can the Ukrainians do to prevent this?

CLARK: So, the Ukrainians, first of all, they have got trench lines here. They have got three lines. They're tough to get through. And they've held these lines pretty well. But what they have got to do is they've got to either, with the forces here working this way or the forces coming through here, they've got to blunt these offensives and hold this area open.

This is a force on force battle. This is maneuver warfare. This is not about guys hiding in houses or behind trees and firing javelin missiles. So, what they need is they need tanks, they need mobile artillery and they need air support.

BERMAN: Tanks.

CLARK: This is real battle. This is war we haven't fought since we invaded Iraq, really.

BERMAN: The T-72 , as Jim Sciutto has been reporting, that Soviet tanks, these Russian-era tanks, there are some that are in NATO hands. The U.S. is trying to get them to the Ukrainians. Will they help?

CLARK: Absolutely. And the Pols have hundreds of these tanks. Now, what kind of condition they're in, how modern they are? Do they have night vision capacity and so forth, have they been upgraded? And then if the Pols and the Bulgarians and the others give up their tanks, are they backfilled by what are old M1s? What's your production rate and what about the ammunition?

And it's not just tanks, John. Really, the major killer is the artillery. So, what you need for every tank, you need four or five mobile artillery pieces. And those mobile artillery pieces, they look like tanks and they're often called tanks but they're firing hundreds of rounds per day. So you have got a huge logistics train behind you with lots of trucks going back and forth.

BERMAN: Logistics train that has really got to come all the way across the country in order to help the Ukrainians. General Wesley Clark, you're going to come back in a little bit. Thank you so much for being here and helping us understand all this.

This morning, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is set to address the U.N. Security Council as he warns the atrocities taking place in cities other than Bucha might be worse. We're going to bring you that speech live.

And breaking news, we're getting word that a nitric acid tank has been hit by Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine causing a cloud of toxic smoke to cover the area. Residents now being advised to stay inside. We have new details on that ahead.




JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: He is a war criminal. We have to gather all the detail so this can be an actual -- have a war crime trial. This guy is brutal. And what's happening in Bucha is outrageous.


KEILAR: President Biden joining the growing list of world leaders who are calling for President Vladimir Putin to be held accountable for atrocities committed by the Russian military in Ukrainian. But will the Russian leader ever face the consequences of committing war crimes?

Joining me now is Leila Sadat, James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law at Washington University in St. Louis. She also has served as a special adviser on crimes against humanity for the International Criminal Court since 2012. Leila, thank you so much. You are witnessing what we are seeing, these pictures coming out of Bucha, as reporters move on to Makariv, they're on their way to other cities as well. It just seems like more of the same. What are you hearing about these atrocities?

LEILA SADAT, JAMES CARR PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW: Thank you so much for having me on. These atrocities, this video footage, the photographs that we're seeing are absolutely shocking actually.

KEILAR: They're incredibly shocking. And I wonder at this point what is the accountability?

SADAT: Well, so as you know, Brianna, the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over this situation. The prosecutor has already announced that he is opening an investigation and 41 states actually referred the case to the ICC so that he can begin his important work immediately. He's dispatched an advanced team to the region and investigators are collecting information. The government of Ukraine is obviously collecting information, as well as other organizations and governments essentially around the world. So, a lot of evidence is coming in right now and the evidence that we're seeing is very disturbing.

KEILAR: It seems like the Russian military, the Russian government is never really held to account even when things are investigated, even when it's very clear they have happened. They don't extradite people, protecting themselves, insulating themselves. Why is the reason to believe that there will be accountability here?

SADAT: Well, that's a good point, that there has been a pattern, and the prosecutor has said this, that we have seen in Georgia, we have seen it in Syria, we have seen it in other situations as well. And here, the pattern and practice has gotten to a level combined with what an act of aggression against a sovereign state. And so I think the international community has a new resolve. The investigation is open. I think the prosecutor is determined to act quickly. And I think we see political will.

And so the big difference here, Brianna, is in other situations you could compile the evidence but you couldn't necessarily get the political will to go forward. And, remember, the ICC itself was under sanctions from the Trump administration for two years. And so it was very, very difficult to get this kind of unity that we now have, that these crimes are the worst crimes we know to humanity as a whole.