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Lviv Region in Western Ukraine Targeted by Russian Strikes; Mayor of Odessa is Interviewed about Russian Attacks; Major Fighting Underway in East as Russians Shift Focus; Top U.S. General: War in Ukraine Could Last Years; U.S. Officials: Putin May Try Again to Invade Kyiv. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired April 06, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Wednesday, April 6, and I'm Brianna Keilar in Lviv, Ukraine, with John Berman in New York.
We do begin with breaking news. Explosions heard overnight in Western Lviv, about 45 miles from here, or about 75 kilometers, barely 50 miles from the Polish border which is, of course, NATO territory.
Ukrainian air force officials say that two suspected Russian cruise missiles were downed last night before they could do any damage. We are trying to get some more information.
But this is happening as Ukraine is bracing for the next phase of Russia's ruthless war. Vladimir Putin is expected by NATO to regroup after a series of devastating setbacks and to shift his focus to the East on the Donbas region. His goal: taking it over.
Military analysts caution this new chapter in the war, if it materializes, could last months, if not years.
In the meantime, Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, turning up the pressure on the West. He is demanding that the United Nations do more to protect Ukraine, showing the U.N. Security Council a graphic video of Russia's atrocities and even questioning why the council exists, if it allows the slaughter to continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Civilians were crushed by tanks while sitting in their cars in the middle of the road, just for their pleasure. They cut off limbs, slashed their throats. Women were raped and killed in front of their children. Their tongues were pulled out, only because the aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them.
This is not different from other terrorists, such as ISIS.
(END VIDEO CLIP) JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have new video just in from the southern
city of Mykolaiv, where an ambulance was blown up in a Russian attack at a children's hospital. You can see that right there. An Ukrainian official says one child was killed along with dozens injured.
In Borodyanka, Northwest of Kyiv, civilians found lying in the streets, apparently executed. Police in the town says there could be hundreds of people buried under the rubble of apartment buildings that were levelled by the Russian attacks.
Breaking overnight, there was a fuel depot destroyed in East Central Ukraine, near the Dnipropetrovsk region there. According to a Ukrainian official, there were no casualties.
This morning Ukraine's commissioner for human rights says that female Ukrainian soldiers in Russian captivity were subjected to torture. This as the Biden administration prepares to announce new sanctions against Russia.
And we have some remarkable new video. Just look at this. That is Pope Francis at the Vatican, unfolding a war-stained flag from a battered city of Bucha. That was during a Vatican address. Bucha, of course, where those mass graves have been found. More than 300 civilians suspected killed. Look at the pope there with that flag. What a statement that is.
KEILAR: I want to bring in CNN's Phil Black, who is here with me in Lviv.
Phil, let's talk a little bit about these strikes. Not too far from here. We're in the city of Lviv. The Lviv region is obviously much larger. What do we know?
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So Ukrainian officials said that their air defenses knocked out two cruise missiles from the sky from over the Lviv region, about an hour's drive Northeast of where we are, Brianna.
They were fired, they say, from fighter jets operating over Belarus. They fell. There was an explosion, some damage, but nothing that couldn't be handled and no casualties.
That as a Russian statement says their cruise missiles knocked out various supply and support sites all across the country. One of those we can confirm, because Ukrainian officials say that yes, yet another fuel depot fire is burning in the Dnipropetrovsk region. That's in the center of the country.
So what it shows is that Russia is continuing this air campaign against key supply and support locations everywhere. They can strike everywhere across the country in the hope of degrading Ukraine's defense.
KEILAR: Because right now Russia shifted the focus to the East. This is all the way on the Western side of the country. It's very close to Poland where this occurred. But you have a lot of material flowing through Poland into Ukraine.
BLACK: Indeed, that's right. So a lot of the support that we understand that is coming from the outside world comes through the West. And of course, there are supply chains that extend from the Western border all the way to the front lines in the East.
So hitting these sort of support locations could, in theory, although the Ukrainians don't talk about it in detail, have an impact on how they operate. At least in -- at least altering the way they operate in order to avoid these sorts of impacts.
KEILAR: All right. Phil, thank you so much for that. Really appreciate it.
Ukrainian officials actually -- we can confirm this, Russian missile strikes targeting the port city of Odessa over the weekend. Odessa's location on the Black Sea makes it strategically vital to Ukraine, especially after other coastal areas have come under Russian control.
Earlier today, I spoke to the mayor of Odessa, Gennadiy Trukhanov.
KEILAR: Hello, Mayor. Thank you so much for being with us. Can you tell us what you're experiencing there in Odessa?
GENNADIY TRUKHANOV, MAYOR OF ODESSA, UKRAINE (through translator): First of all, allow me to thank you for this opportunity to speak and to meet on your online. And it is a great pleasure for me.
And with regard to the situation in -- in Odessa, as of now, it is quite quiet, and everyone is working. In fact, all of the municipal enterprises are back in operation because, as per the president's decree, people have been allowed to return to their workplaces where it is possible to support and sustain economy in every possible way.
Having said that, with I should also note is that overall, more than (ph) the atmosphere among people is quite anxious, because lately the number of missile strikes on Odessa and Odessa region has increased.
KEILAR: What, Mayor, do you think is ahead as Russians are shifting their focus to the East and the South?
TRUKHANOV (through translator): Well, what can I say? You know, like I've already mentioned that we see the change in mode and growing concerns and anxieties among the people in Odessa. And this is quite understandable, of course, because for the occupier, for the aggressor, Odessa is a very delectable piece. It's a desirable city for them. Because it's the southern capital of Ukraine. It is a cultural hub. Obviously, they would like to visit Odessa.
However, it would be hard for me to guess the movements of the Russian troops. They -- they keep changing their tactics. It seems like at the beginning, they were looking into invading all of Ukraine. Now they're shifting their strategy.
But all I can say is that every single citizen and resident in Odessa is ready to fight. Our morale is high.
You know, we have a saying, if you want peace, you have to be ready for war.
And I can say that the armed forces of Ukraine are working hard to defend Odessa. They've ensured very professional defense line all around Odessa.
And I've also noticed that every single missile launched on Odessa and the region of Odessa only increases the anger and resolute of the people, especially as they see the cruelty and brutality and the atrocities of the Russian aggressors committed against the civilians, children, and all of Ukraine.
KEILAR: What are you thinking, Mayor, as you hear about these atrocities that are being uncovered around Ukraine?
TRUKHANOV (through translator): Well, first of all, we all thought at the very beginning when all of these atrocities and brutality have been uncovered, is that it's disappointment, shock, stupor. And with regard to this morally deprived people. Shocked that this can be happening in the orthodox world. Shocked that this can be committed by the orthodox people.
You know, Odessa prides itself on having a number of various religious denominations and people of faith. And yet, it is predominantly orthodox. And I, as a believer, and a person who attends an orthodox church, I -- I come to an orthodox church, and I see that people are shocked. They cannot get their head around how it is possible to -- that you have other orthodox people blessing this brutality and calling this a "special operation," whereas it is a war; a war against civilians. A war against people without any weapons.
And yet, they still continue pretending that nothing is happening. And they call it fraternity, but there is no fraternity. There's no human face in this whatsoever.
We clearly talk here about a genocide, an annihilation of the Ukrainian people, and wiping out the entire country of Ukraine off the face of the earth.
This is not an operation. This is brutality. And in fact, I -- there are no proper words that can describe what's happening now.
KEILAR: Mayor, do you have the food and medicine that you need in Odessa?
TRUKHANOV (through translator): Well, thanks to the global aid from -- well, the whole world is helping Ukraine now. And we are grateful to our partners in twin (Ph) cities, because we are continuously receiving aid.
[06:10:12] So we do have enough food and medical supplies. And yet, we are also stocking up on medical supplies and food stuff, just in case of an attempt to -- to invade or to attack the city or maybe besiege.
Besides, it's important to understand that, since Odessa is in a somewhat better situation at the moment, we are continuously providing help to other, worse off cities such as Mykolaiv and Kherson. We are evacuating people from those towns, where there are more intense combat actions going on at the moment.
KEILAR: Mayor, thank you so much for being with us this morning.
TRUKHANOV (through translator): Thank you.
KEILAR: Just in, we're getting word of major fighting that is underway in Eastern Ukraine as Russian forces intensify their efforts in that part of the country.
Plus, the top U.S. military officer warning that the potential for more international conflicts is increasing, not decreasing. Why he also says the end to the war in Ukraine or the length of the war in Ukraine will be measured not in weeks or months but in years.
BERMAN: All right. New this morning, we are just getting word that major fighting is underway in Eastern Ukraine. This region you're looking at right here, the Donbas region.
Officials in Luhansk, which I can show you, right here, this area right here now urging civilians to evacuate, they say, before it's too late. And officials in the Donetsk and Kharkiv region there, nearby, are also warning of intensified fighting today. It really seems there is a new stage of the conflict there right now.
Joining us, CNN national security analyst and former CIA chief of Russia operations, Steve Hall.
There does appear to be a very intensified conflict now in this region, Steve. What does that tell you?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's kind of interesting, John. Because we were just talking about, you know, how long, essentially. Yesterday, we were talking about how long it's going to take.
The Russian forces, which are repositioned from areas further West around Kyiv moving back toward Belarus and then moving through Russia to redeploy in this area.
So I think that's still ongoing. But I think the thought was it's going to be quicker for the Ukrainians to move troops inside of Ukraine from defending Kyiv to this area, where I think is going to be the new focus.
The Russians made it around quickly but perhaps are still reinforcing. But it's really no surprise that this is going to be the next epicenter for the Russians and the Ukrainians.
BERMAN: And it's also where there has been a war going on since 2014. Years. Which is why I want to play for you what General Mark Milley, the No. 1 U.S. military officer, said yesterday about what he sees as the potential length of this conflict. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: But I do think this is a very protracted conflict. And I think it's at least measured in years. I don't know about decade but at least years, for sure.
This is a very extended conflict that Russia has initiated. And I think that NATO, the United States, Ukraine, and all of the allies and partners that are supporting Ukraine are going to be involved in this for quite some time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Years. It's going to last years.
Now, I should note, the war here has been going on since 2014. It's already been going on years. But Steve, what are the implications of this lasting years longer?
HALL: Yes, there's a couple of implications as we start getting into sort of the second phase of this.
The first phase, the Russians clearly lost. I mean, their goal was, of course, to basically come in and take over everything.
BERMAN: Here, and that didn't work.
HALL: Yes, and that didn't -- that didn't work out for them. So now I think what we're seeing is a refocusing on the Eastern part and then perhaps, you know, the so-called land bridge from Crimea over to -- over to Odessa.
But there's a couple of implications. First of all, we talked, really, in the opening days of this about the Russians committing to this long, grinding war. Like did they did in Chechnya. So when they attacked Grozny and basically levelled it. We're beginning to see signs of that there.
But as General Milley indicated, the real indication for NATO forces and American forces is a long-term plan that we have to come up with, as to, OK, what is our response going to be? Where are we going to put troops in the region so as to protect against a possible expansion of this war by Putin?
BERMAN: So there are three players in this, right? If it's going to last years. The Russians, the Ukrainians, and then NATO. What are the implications for the Russians, if this goes on years?
HALL: Well, it's going to be very interesting to see. Because of course, the Russians and the Russian people, they are controlled by Putin. So he will -- he will send whatever information he chooses.
Great victories against the Nazis, you know, throughout Ukraine. That sort of thing.
In reality, though, there's a lot of military experts that say it's going to be really, really hard for the Russians to have any significant success over the long run.
I predicted, if this turns into a guerilla war, into an insurgency war, you had the Ukrainians fighting in sort of the rubble of Ukraine, but against a larger Russian army, the Ukrainians are going to win that fight if it goes, you know, into the long run like General Milley thinks it's going to.
BERMAN: So you think the Ukrainians are better positioned for the long haul, even though it could come at great pain?
HALL: In the short term, the pain's going to be great. Over the longer run, I think that they have a good shot.
BERMAN: They talked about NATO -- and I just put this up here -- they talked about NATO having to address this, if it's a long war. What does that mean?
HALL: Well, it means making decisions like are we going to have permanent bases, or are we just going to rotate people through? I mean, we both remember days, you know, after the -- in the years, actually, after the Cold War, we had large numbers of American troops stationed all throughout Europe. You know, Germany, other places.
BERMAN: Four hundred thousand. Now it's about 100,000.
HALL: Yes. So are we going to return to that? And if that's the case, then geopolitically, what does that say about our other commitments or concerns, like for example, China and what's going to happen in Asia? Can we maintain both of those if Russia continues its shenanigans here in Ukraine? So we'll have to see.
BERMAN: All right. Steve Hall, don't go far. We're going to check back in with you in a little bit. Thanks so much for being here with us.
Russian forces shifting their focus from Ukraine's capital, moving troops, as we just said, to the South and the East. But there's new reporting that Putin may not have given up on trying to capture Kyiv.
Plus, back here in the United States, Ivanka Trump voluntarily testifying before the January 6th Committee for eight hours. What do you talk about for eight hours? That's coming up.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live in Western Ukraine. And we're getting some breaking news that major fighting is underway in the Eastern part of the country, where Russian forces have turned their focus.
But new CNN reporting reveals that Vladimir Putin may not be done with the capital, with Kyiv. CNN's Natasha Bertrand is joining us with some new reporting on this.
Natasha, I think this is certainly a concern of many people who have left Kyiv. They don't necessarily want to go back, even though it appears to be safer, immediately. They fear that the Russian forces will be back.
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Brianna. So U.S. and Western officials do believe that right now, Russia is resupplying, and they are going to potentially launch a major new offensive in the Eastern part of the country.
But their fear, and what they are preparing for, is the possibility that, if and when the Russian forces are able to consolidate control over the entire part of the East that they want to take over, the Donbas region, essentially, that he could then use that as sort of a launching pad to relaunch operations into the West of Ukraine, including the Kyiv region.
Now, this is because they don't believe that Vladimir Putin has given up on his goals here of decapitating the Ukrainian government. That he cannot abide a Western-aligned Ukrainian government, and he still really wants to get rid of Zelenskyy and his officials.
But key point here is that it's not going to be easy. This is going to be extremely difficult for the Russians, if they do, in fact, take this step after they achieve their military goals in the Eastern part of the country. Because they've already lost so much equipment. So many Russian troops have been killed over the last month. So it's not going to be necessarily an operation that is going to be simpler for them, just because they have the kind of launching pad in the East.
But still, U.S. officials are preparing for this possibility, and that is why they're actively yet informally weighing these kinds of security guarantees they can provide to Ukraine to potentially deter Putin from launching any kind of renewed offensives against the Kyiv region.
Of course, this will all be discussed today at the NATO foreign minister's meeting. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is there in Brussels. And this is going to be top of mind for them, Brianna.
KEILAR: Certainly will be. Natasha, thank you so much for that new reporting. We appreciate it.
The Russian invasion is forcing a Ukrainian veteran and so many others to return to the battlefield, leaving his children and his pregnant wife at home here in Lviv. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: What do you worry about?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): That he will not come back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: We will hear more from that family, ahead.
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Ivanka Trump voluntarily testifying before the January 6th Committee for eight hours. Maggie Haberman will join us live next.