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NATO Foreign Ministers Meet On Punishments Against Russia; Ukraine's Biggest Rock Star Joins New Day After Visiting Bucha; Ukrainians Fleeing War Seek Asylum At U.S.-Mexico Border. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired April 07, 2022 - 07:30   ET




NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (on camera): Three messages, he said -- weapons, weapons, weapons.

NATO foreign ministers trying to make sure that the Ukrainians are in a position to fight a long war and perhaps a tougher one than they had around the capital, Kyiv.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Matt Rivers in Budapest, Hungary where this country's Prime Minister Viktor Orban is now publicly trying to play a role in what could eventually be a peace process between Ukraine and Russia.

Orban told reporters on Wednesday that he spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and invited him to come here to Budapest to discuss, quote, "an immediate ceasefire." Orban went on to say, "I know it doesn't happen spontaneously, so I suggested they come to Budapest -- Putin, the president of Ukraine, the president of France, and the German chancellor -- the sooner the better." He said that the Russian president's response was positive but that nothing was committed to.

LAUREN IZSO, JOURNALIST (on camera): I'm Lauren Izso in Jerusalem. Israel took its strongest position yet on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid saying he was horrified by Russia's recent actions in Bucha, calling them war crimes. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also condemning the killings, saying the images shocked him, but failed to blame or even mention Russia. The Kremlin has denied it was behind the atrocities in Bucha.

Israel's concerned about alienating Moscow. They need Russia's support to strike Iranian targets in Syria. But as time goes on and evidence of alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine grows, Israel's leadership is finding it ever harder to maintain balance between competing strategic interests and morality.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, the United States has sent 100 of these -- these are Switchblade drones -- to the Ukrainian military. That's according to the Defense Department. The small so-called kamikaze drones carry warheads and detonate on impact, and they can hit a target up to 20 miles away.

Joining us now is CNN global affairs analyst and Time magazine contributor, Kim Dozier. And, Kim, here's some graphic mockups of what these things do.

How will they be used? Why is it important to have these for the Ukrainians?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CONTRIBUTOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, these can be used by small special operations teams to target armored vehicles and tanks from a distance. They can fly half an hour, 40 minutes, loitering above a target. Because, you know, with tanks, they're hardened on the sides so you've got to try to attack them from above. But, they're one and done.

So we know that at least 100 have been sent and more are on the way. And senior Defense officials have told us that some Ukrainian troops who were already in the U.S. for some other purpose are getting trained on how to use them. Because while this was used a lot by U.S. special operations forces, it's not something that is typical on the Ukrainian battlefield.

BERMAN: It is interesting they're being trained right now. And you can imagine a scenario where if in the eastern part of the country this becomes a conflict with larger formations -- lots of tanks from the Russians going up against some Ukrainian tanks as well -- where these become important weapons to take out the Russian formation.

DOZIER: Yes, especially when you have the wide plains, like here -- less cover -- and that's where you get into more of the tank-on-tank battles where Russians are supposed to have superiority. And the Ukrainians have been trained by the U.S. and others since 2014 to kind of avoid those kind of battles. So these drones would give them what you'd call sort of a standoff way of attacking with greater distance, more cover.

BERMAN: We're getting word that the Russians are using this new kind of land mine that I, frankly, didn't know existed. First of all, these are shot in. These are not placed, necessarily. These are launched in. They land.

And then, how do they work, and why are they so potentially devastating for civilian population?

DOZIER: Well, Human Rights Watch first reported this a couple of days ago and they said these POM-3s, as they're called -- they're like an advanced Bouncing Betty, if you remember those from the Vietnam War and World War II.

Footsteps can trigger them as opposed to a Bouncing Betty had to be planted. These burrow themselves into the ground and then if you walk by, they get triggered. They jump up and spread shrapnel over a wide area. They are lethal. And it's just one more sign that the Russians really haven't distinguished between civilians and troops. When you fire something like this you don't know who it's going to hit.

BERMAN: Well, it's just that point that disturbs me so much. And we have spoken to people in Ukraine who told us that they were victims of land mines. The target can only be, primarily, civilians. If you're using this, then you are intending, it would seem to me, to kill civilians.

DOZIER: Well, if you fired it at what you think is an area where there are Ukrainian troops, I can see from the Russian side that they would say oh, there's a timer on these. But it doesn't matter.

The other thing that it does is it -- with all of these left behind, it gives you Ukrainian troops a problem they have to solve. They've got clear these before joining the fight in the eastern part of the country. Otherwise, civilians will pay the price.


BERMAN: Yes. Likewise, it gives cities who want to get back to regular life -- people who want to move back in something to worry about for weeks, months, maybe even years to come.


BERMAN: Kim Dozier, great to see you. Thank you very much.


BERMAN: So, Ukraine's biggest rock star has been using music to lift the spirits of his country. His latest stop, Bucha. He joins us next.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: One of Ukraine's most famous rock stars has joined the army here and is traveling this country publicly documenting the devastation that he's seen. Slava Vakarchuk was recently in Bucha where the government has reported hundreds of bodies were found after Russian troops retreated.


He is joining us now from Chernihiv. Slava, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

You were in the capital when bombs started to fall there and you signed up for the army. Can you tell us where you have been and what you have seen?

SVYATOSLAV "SLAVA" VAKARCHUK, UKRAINIAN ROCK STAR, LEAD VOCALIST, OKEAN ELZY (via Skype): Oh, I probably will need one hour or more to explain everything but thank you for the question.

I've been everywhere, like Johnny Cash sings, but for different reasons. I, certainly, went to the east. I went to Kharkiv. I went to Sumy, Okhtyrka. Also to the south -- Mykolaiv in front line. And certainly, on the north in Bucha and Volnovakha, and all of these horrible places that will be now symbols of genocide.

But now, right now, live, I am in Chernihiv. It is a place which was besieged by Russians for almost a month.

And behind me, you can see the ruins of a children's library. And very symbolic that I found a book here and this book says "Ukraine in the Flames of War." This one is about World War II. But sadly, we are now facing the same thing that Europe and Ukraine was facing during World War II. And Russians are doing what Nazis were doing.

And you should see the hole from the air bomb. It's over here. If you can see, it's right here. It's very big. There are four of these bombs.

And next to me -- next to this library -- which, by the way, was a 19th-century monument -- we will -- we will see the ruins of the stadium. And it's also a very important place because I will show you right now -- just give me a sec because it's not that easy to go there, but I will show it to you. I will look like you're war correspondents here.

But here is the stadium. You can see it. It's not coliseum; it's a new stadium. And our band, Okean Elzy, which is a band I'm singing in, performed here many times. It was packed with thousands of people.

And you can see what's happening there now. Right in the middle is the big hole, probably three or four meters depth. Also, a hole from air bomb.

And my question is to everybody who is -- who is looking at that -- were this library or stadium military objects? Did they impose any threat to so-called military operation of Russians? I think certainly no because their aim of this operation is not Ukrainian military facilities.

This is -- their aim is to destroy the whole Ukraine and just to deprive us of independence and of a future. But we will never give them the possibility to do that and certainly, we will win the war.

But this is very, very horrible -- everything that we see.

KEILAR: Yes, it's -- Slava, it is horrible. And it's so important to see it and I'm so glad that you can show it to us for that reason.

But like you said, you've been to so many places. You've talked to so many people. I'm sure you've given them comfort when they see your familiar face.

Has anything, in particular, really -- is there something that has stood out to you that you've heard over and over, or something that someone told you about -- an experience that they've had?

VAKARCHUK: You know what? The most important thing and the thing that always gives me goosebumps is the spirit of Ukrainians.

Yesterday, in Volnovakha and in Bucha, I saw ladies who were completely -- who looked devastated and who looked absolutely down. But when we start -- because they -- some of them lost their relatives. Some of them just saw themselves -- were witnesses of killings. Some of them lost their homes completely -- everything.

But when we started talking, it seems that all of them remain optimistic and all of them say a couple of very important things. First, today, they have trust in Ukrainian military forces. Second -- the second thing is that they believe Ukraine is going to win. And third is that they are happy and they are proud to be Ukrainians.

And I'm just not joking. I'm saying, literally, what I heard. And that probably makes -- creates me goosebumps because I realize the person -- realize the person in the -- in the -- in the worst situation you can imagine, you've lost your relatives -- someone who you loved. You lost your home -- everything. And you still have this optimism and readiness to go further and optimistic for the future. And that's why I think Ukrainians are undefeatable, and that's for sure.


So, despite all these devastations and all these horrible things, the most important thing for me that is in my heart and in my -- in my memory is Ukrainian spirit, and it's very high.

KEILAR: I understand that you stopped performing in Russia after the 2014 invasion. But you had performed in Russia -- your band Okean Elzy had.


KEILAR: What is your message to Russians who know you and know your music?

VAKARCHUK: Frankly, I stopped thinking about giving them messages because when you see that the vast majority of Russians support what their army and Putin does in Ukraine, I have little arguments left.

It all reminds me of behavior of German populations during the Nazi atrocities in Europe. After the world -- after the World War II was over and after Nuremberg tribunal and everything, they all were saying that they didn't know anything.

But today, you can't believe that during the internet time they don't know anything. I think they tend not to know anything and they tend to live in this Orwellian world where there is truth and there is something which big brother -- or actually, big granny -- grandfather Putin is telling them.

So I have little arguments. But still, there is something in my -- in my heart that doesn't stop me from completely, let's say, crossing out these possibilities. And what I'm trying to say now is that you know the truth. You know, even if you can't and pretend that you don't or something is different. Just say to yourself what will you feel or children will feel about

you and your behavior in 30 years or 20 years when the world, for sure, will know the whole truth, as it was in World War II? So, probably, think not about yourself but about your children -- if you still love your children as Sting sang in his favorite song. I hope --


VAKARCHUK: -- that maybe that will work.

But this is the worst thing -- that they don't trust to what the world sees. They don't trust to what I see behind me.


VAKARCHUK: And they say that it's all made up and that Ukrainian and world media are making it up, and everything. So I don't know. Maybe you help us to say that.

KEILAR: Slava, thank you so much for being with us.


KEILAR: Your spirit reflects the spirit of Ukrainians that you were talking about. I just want to say thank you so much for joining us and showing us where you are.

VAKARCHUK: Thank you very much. And if I -- thank you very much. And if I only have like 15 seconds more I want to say thank you to Americans for your support, but also ask you to -- for more support, and especially, military support and sanctions in Russia. It's very important. It's still not enough. Please help us to win this war and we'll stop it as soon as possible.

I trust you. Forty million Ukrainians trust you. And we want you to trust us that we know what we're talking. Air defense and military planes, and certainly, sanctions -- the harshest sanctions against Russia. Please tell it to your government. It's very important.

KEILAR: Slava, thank you so much. We really appreciate --

VAKARCHUK: Thank you.

KEILAR: -- you being with us.

VAKARCHUK: Thank you.

KEILAR: New this morning, Ukraine's anti-air defense shooting down three missiles, they say, near Zaporizhzhia. Plus, CNN is live on a train as civilians are racing to get out of eastern Ukraine with the ground war there breaking out.


[07:52:54] BERMAN: Millions of Ukrainians have fled their country. Some have even traveled thousands of miles, arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border where they're living in tents and waiting -- hoping to get entry to the United States.

CNN's Randi Kaye visited one camp and she joins us live now from a border crossing in California -- Randi.


We are here in San Ysidro, California, but just across the border from us we found hundreds of Ukrainians living in a tent camp in Tijuana, just across the U.S. border, hoping to gain access to the United States. That tent camp was closed just hours after we visited there due to safety concerns, but here's what we found.


KAYE (voice-over): This woman and 2 1/2-year-old are living in a tent in Tijuana, Mexico. Along with her husband, they escaped the war in Ukraine and are hoping to enter the United States.

KAYE (on camera): So, this is your son.


KAYE (on camera): One child?


KAYE (voice-over): She shows me on the map where she says she once lived in western Ukraine --


KAYE (voice-over): -- before the Russian bombs started to fall.

KAYE (on camera): How long did it take you to get to Mexico -- your travel?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

KAYE (voice-over): She tells me she traveled through four countries to get here. Mexico was allowing Ukrainians in with a simple travel visa. They just ran, she says, taking only a small suitcase and a blanket for her son. She worries about him when with the cold temperatures at night.

They are just one of hundreds of Ukrainian families camped out here at the U.S. border with Mexico. The tents are set up at the San Ysidro border crossing just south of San Diego.

At the time of our visit, about 2,400 people were waiting to enter the U.S., which has promised to allow 100,000 Ukrainians in on humanitarian grounds. They can stay for one year.

KAYE (on camera): How quickly are these refugees able to get into the U.S.?

INNA LEVIEN, VOLUNTEER: Oh my gosh, not quickly enough. We can get across maybe 300 people a day on a good day.

KAYE (on camera): Yes.

LEVIEN: Some days are 200, and some days are 150. So it's a -- it all depends.


KAYE (voice-over): Inna Levien is from Orange County, California, and helping coordinate the volunteer effort here. Every family here has a number and when it gets called it's their turn to cross.

KAYE (on camera): Do you have a number?

KAYE (voice-over): This woman and her three children have number 1,594. They are sleeping here, she says, until it's their turn.

KAYE (on camera): Toys. Can I see?

KAYE (voice-over): Another woman, Erina Daskal (ph), tells me she's been sleeping in this tent with her five children.

KAYE (on camera): Do you know when you might be called to go to the U.S.?


KAYE (voice-over): There is food and games for the children. We found this boy playing with blue and gold Play-Doh, the same colors as the Ukrainian flag.

Eugene Saluk and his family escaped Mariupol for Mexico.

EUGENE SALUK, UKRANIAN TRYING TO CROSS INTO U.S.: Our house is destroyed. We lost everything, you know. We don't know anything about our friends in Mariupol. We don't know nothing about the parents of my wife.

KAYE (voice-over): If he and his family make it to the U.S. they will stay with family in California until it's safe to return to Ukraine.

SALUK: I have a cousin, yes.

KAYE (on camera): Where?

SALUK: Sacramento.

KAYE (voice-over): As the day wore on, Oksana Dovgan refused to give up hope she and her mother would make it to the U.S.

KAYE (on camera): What is it like waiting here for your number to be called? OKSANA DOVGAN, HELPING UKRAINIAN MOTHER CROSS INTO U.S.: I don't know. I mean, we came hoping that it was going to be fast -- maybe another hour -- but they're saying two-three hours at least until the number will be called. And then from there, I have no idea how long it will take us to cross the border.

KAYE (voice-over): Oksana lives in Colorado and flew to Warsaw hoping to bring her mom to the U.S. Before coming here, her 66-year-old mother had been sheltering in a basement in Ukraine for 10 days.

KAYE (on camera): So, will she come live with you in Colorado?

DOVGAN: Yes. I have a good place to accommodate her. My kids can't wait to see their grandma and spend time with her. And we want to -- we want her happy and safe, and relaxed --

KAYE (on camera): Sure.

DOVGAN: -- in the family circle.


KAYE: And if you take a look here behind me, this small group of people -- they are either Ukrainians who have already crossed or they are family members waiting for their loved ones from Ukraine to cross over. This is the first spot, so this is where they would meet them.

But we do have some good news. Oksana, John, who you saw at the end of that story of ours -- she did get across with her mom. They made it from San Diego to Colorado, so her mom is safe and sound there. And Eugene, who is from Mariupol, crossed just as we were setting up for our live shot this morning with his family, and he is headed to Sacramento, as he told us.

But we do, of course, know now that they've closed that tent camp, as I mentioned. Everybody has been moved, or as many people as they could. They moved them to the sports complex that can hold about 500 people. Just two bathrooms there, we're told by volunteers. So certainly, not great conditions but they are safe, John.

BERMAN: What a journey. What an incredible journey half a world away, fleeing the war there.

Randi Kaye, right on the border. We are so lucky to have you there. Thank you so much for your reporting this morning.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: Good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday, April 7. I'm Brianna Keilar in Lviv, Ukraine with John Berman in New York.

And we begin with breaking news. A full-blown ground war erupting in eastern Ukraine. Heavy fighting reported in the Donbas region, which is where Vladimir Putin is apparently determined to take over entirely.

According to a senior U.S. Defense official, Russian forces are no longer in the Kyiv and Chernihiv areas -- at least for now, anyways. NATO's chief is warning, though, that this war could stretch on for years and that Putin is determined to control the whole of Ukraine.

There appears to be no limit to the Russian leader's brutality. Ukrainian military officials say at least two civilians were killed and five others injured in an attack on a humanitarian distribution point in the town of Vuhledar, which is in Donetsk.

Then last night, Ukraine says that three Russian cruise missiles were shot down near Zaporizhzhia. A CNN team did hear what sounded like an aircraft and one loud explosion.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urging the West to impose stricter sanctions on the Kremlin. He says a weak response would be seen by Putin as permission to start a new bloody wave in Donbas.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): It seems the Russian leadership really got scared of the world's wrath. That what we saw in Bucha may repeat because of what we may see in other cities from where we will inevitably kick out the occupiers. We have the information that the Russian military has changed its tactics and is trying to hide killed people from the streets and basements in occupied territory.


BERMAN: Ukraine claims that Russia is using mobile crematoriums to dispose of corpses.