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Ukraine: 30 Killed, 100 Hurt after Russians Strike Train Station; Deputy Mayor of Mariupol is Interviewed about New Russian Attacks; Ukrainian Soldiers, Civilians Defend Small Town from Russians. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 08, 2022 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It's Friday, April 8. I'm John Berman in New York. Brianna Keilar is in Lviv in Western Ukraine. We do begin with major breaking news out of Eastern Ukraine.

Russian forces have hit a train station. A missile attack on a train station here in Kramatorsk. Thousands of people at that train station, trying to get out of the region. Responders say at least 30 people were killed, including children; 100 more injured. We're told you can see bodies lying on the ground with their suitcases right next to them. These people trying to get out of that war-torn region.

The Ukrainian officials say the Russians knew what they were hitting.

I want to show you images of this train station from just four days ago. Look at this. You can see how packed this train station has been. Imagine what it would be like in a missile strike now.

Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are planning for a huge breakthrough attempt in that part of the country, in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine. The preparations for the offensive, we are told, are nearing completion. Residents are being urged to get out. No doubt that's what the people at that train station just hit were trying to do.

Ukraine's foreign minister says the battle will remind everyone of World War II with large-scale operations and thousands of tanks.

The latest intelligence assessment from the United Kingdom says that Russian force have now fully withdrawn from Northern Ukraine, this region right here, into Belarus and Russia over here, although they're no doubt trying to move over here to the Eastern part of the country.

And in an overnight stark, first of its kind admission from the Kremlin, a spokesperson admits that Russian troop loses are significant and calls it a huge tragedy. The Ukrainian military claims the Russians are searching for ways to replenish troop levels, conscripting those who have been discharged from military service since 2021, especially mechanics and junior officers.

Brianna, let's go to you.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I'm here with Phil Black here in Lviv. Phil, these pictures that we're seeing coming out of Kramatorsk are terrible.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They really are, Brianna. Kramatorsk is a key hub in the East of the Donbas region, and it has been especially so for the purposes of people trying to get out of that area. And there's been a real push to get people out of that area in recent weeks because of the expectation that Russia is about to launch big, new offensive operations there.

The point is, as has been made, there have been hundreds of people there every day for some time now. So from the Ukrainian point of view, they do not see this as an accident. They do not think that this is something that -- they believe it was deliberate. They believe that this was a deliberate attempt to strike fear, to cause terror in the heart of the local civilian population, to increase pressure and cause chaos that ultimately does increase pressure on the Ukrainian -- Ukrainian government and services and military through displacement of the local population in a way that is clearly less than orderly.

KEILAR: And like you said, I think there's this expectation that Russia knows what they're doing. This is an area where there have been so many people. And it's just a continuation, because even as they deny, it's really a farce, as they are denying that they're hitting civilian targets.

BLACK: That statement is absolutely a farce, as we know, based upon the evidence that we see every single day. But this is extraordinary to think that this was a deliberate target, really. These are families with children, people trying to leave the war zone, trying to find safety.

It's -- it is extraordinary to think and difficult to believe that this was targeted deliberately. But the Ukrainians say, how can you think otherwise? Just simply based upon what they know has been taking place at that train station every day for some time.

It does appear that the missile was a targeted missile. And the impact, the result is clearly tremendous loss of life. As we say, around 30 so far. But officials are saying that that's a preliminary figure, and it is expected to get much greater. And the number of injuries and other injuries, of course, is far greater, as well.

KEILAR: All right. Phil, we know that you'll be keeping an eye on this all day. We do appreciate it.

Berman, it's more of the same in a way. But these scenes are -- are horrific.

BERMAN: They are horrific. And we could see a lot more of them. let me just show people again where this is. Kramatorsk, it is in Eastern Ukraine. This is the region where everyone expects fierce fighting to take place and very soon. I'll push in a little bit more so you can see.

This is the city right here where that train station was. And I can show people a video of the train station from just a few days ago. Crowded. Thousands of people at this train station, packed. Imagine what it would be like if a missile hit.

I want to bring in chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour.

Christiane, the details are just coming in. We're told at least 30 dead, 100 injured. But you can imagine those numbers will rise.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, we've actually just been on the phone to the mayor of Kramatorsk, and he has given us more details.

Basically, the numbers are 30 dead right now, 100 wounded. But as you say, that is bound to rise, the number of dead, because many of them are in critical condition, he says, and are in the hospital as they attempt to treat them.

The mayor says that there were two missile strikes. And I'm going to read you what he says about exactly where. He says they were in the temporary waiting room at the station, where hundreds of people were waiting for the evacuation train.

In his view, this is another proof that Russia is brutally, barbarically killing the civilian Ukrainians, with one goal only, and that is to kill.


So let's just be very clear. For the last two weeks, this station has been the well-known hub for evacuations from the East, from Donbas. It's a major area there. This station everybody knew.

The mayor says that some 8,000 people per day came to that station to be evacuated and have been being evacuated for the last two weeks. Today, he says, up to 4,000 people were there when the two missiles struck.

Now, we have seen the pictures. We're not yet broadcasting them. And this to me is very, very reminiscent of the attacks by mortars in Sarajevo on the marketplace, where ordinary civilians were massacred as they just went about their business.

What's important about this is the terrible loss of life, the relentless attack on ordinary people, men, women and children. Each time this has happened, it has stiffened the West's resolve.

Each time a horror happens, it has propelled, for instance, the E.U. to put more and more sanctions on Russia. Today the E.U. Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, is coming to Kyiv to meet with President Zelenskyy, as the E.U. has already voted to pass a fifth tranche, fifth round of sanctions.

At the same time, the Russian [SIC] president -- sorry, the German president is admitting that Germany, which was very close to Russia, very dependent on Russian energy, has admitted that they got Putin wrong, and they should have adapted their policy to adjust to what they saw coming out of Putin's Russia, especially since 2014.

So, again, the mayor of Kramatorsk, 30 people dead, 100 wounded. He says 90 percent of the casualties were women, children, and the elderly. That's 90 percent of the casualties and make up the majority of those trying to evacuate. Because you know the men mostly have to stay and fight.

John, this is a terrible new development in this war.

KEILAR: Christiane, what do you see the Russian objective here as?

AMANPOUR: You know, it's really hard to talk about an objective of a so-called modern military that wages its brutal campaign either with total indiscipline, total indiscriminate shooting, or with a desire to win, based on the back of the civilian population.

We have seen, because of intercepted communications, again, the German intelligence has intercepted communications which were reported on our air and elsewhere yesterday, that the Russian soldiers certainly in the Kyiv region communicating back with Moscow were having discussions about killing, not just soldiers of Ukraine, but also civilians, with the aim being to sow panic and to, what they think, spur defeat by sowing this panic and this carnage to -- to lower people's resistance and their courage to stand up.

So far they're failing at that. But they are, bomb by bomb, missile by missile, attacking, killing, injuring mostly Ukrainian civilians. This is their aim. It's really important to understand that the civilians are not being caught in the crossfire. They are being targeted.

BERMAN: Christiane, I want to --

AMANPOUR: Despite the denials by the Kremlin.

BERMAN: And I just want to reiterate that point or have you reiterate it. Because this target is a very specific location. Kramatorsk is in the East right now. This is where the fighting is intensifying.

This is where thousands of Ukrainian refugees are now trying to get out of this area and move to relative safety. And they have to go through here.

It's a well-known fact they have to go through that train station, so many of them do. And there have been thousands and thousands of them there every day. This is, by definition, Christiane -- I knew it's an infrastructure target, but it's a civilian target, and it's where thousands of civilians are known to be every day.

AMANPOUR: It's not an infrastructure target that would be, you know, a legitimate military target. As I said, they've known for two weeks that this evacuation started, according to the mayor of Kramatorsk, centered on that train station. They have known this. Even if they just put up a satellite, they could see it. Even if they just had intelligence on the ground, they would know it.

Furthermore, Kramatorsk is part of what's known as the greater Donbas area, which is the target of the Russian military machine now. You've reported and we've seen they've pulled back from all the North area. And they are regrouping to do a full-scale attack on the East. Because they're not just content with the bits they illegally occupy right now, the separatist bits of Donetsk and Luhansk, but they want the whole Donbas. They want the whole border region.


And that, according to the head of military intelligence here, is to take territory, to hold it, maybe even partition Ukraine either forever or as a negotiating tactic.

The Polish prime minister said that he believed that they would see, we would see increased attacks on this Donbas area in the East and in the South.

Mariupol continues to be hammered in order for the Russians to hold that land and then to, as I say, either negotiate from there or to keep it.

The military intelligence chief said that he believed the Russians were attempting a North and South Korea style division/demilitarized zone. And it is coming at the cost of the killing of civilians.

BERMAN: Dozens killed at this train station so far. We could learn more.

Christiane Amanpour, we're going to let you get back on the phone and find out more, if you can, of what has been a terror attack, frankly, at this train station in Eastern Ukraine -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, it is horrific. And some of the horrors, a continuation of some of the horrors that we have seen and been hearing about in Mariupol.

And I want to bring in the deputy mayor of Mariupol, Sergei Orlov, who is with us.

Sir, we are witnessing this now in Kramatorsk. You understand, obviously, what is going on in Mariupol. Can you tell us -- we understand that there have been some mobile crematorium facilities. This is something we've not been able to independently verify. Is this something that you have seen evidence of, that you have talked to people who have seen evidence of?

SERGEI ORLOV, DEPUTY MAYOR OF MARIUPOL: Hello. We received a lot of information and continue to investigate this issue. So what do we have?

We know that 10, 12, 15, 20 days ago, there were a lot of bodies on the street. We saw it on images. We saw it on photos. We saw it in the words of witnesses. So -- and it was thousands of killed people all over the streets. So we had a lot of information when you come to 100 meters in any city, about 20 bodies and killed persons.

And they start to disappear when it was well-known about Bucha, about Irpin. And we understand that a lot of Russians start to hide this -- all bodies and all war crimes, and they start to collect bodies in some district. We know where there's Northwest district in what is some ditch, some cemetery there.

We continue to investigate what do they do with bodies. Because we know exactly they do not bury them.

KEILAR: As we are seeing, deputy mayor, this attack on this train station in Kramatorsk, what is the effect of that going to be on people who are making that calculation to leave Mariupol, to separate their families, and to leave other areas in the East?

ORLOV: Yes. We know at the moment in Mariupol, there is 130,000 citizens, civil citizens, they are still in Mariupol. And all of them are like hostages.

Russia do not allow to humanitarian evacuation, to reach Mariupol for any humanitarian reason and transfer humanitarian goods. So all these people are all living underground, and in a shelter, bomb shelter, in some spaces just to be survived.

And this is their life day by day, hour by hour. And we want to solve this issue with humanitarian evacuation.

KEILAR: Yesterday, our Ivan Watson was interviewing people who had made it out of Mariupol. Women entirely that he was talking to on our air.

And one young woman, who is 28 that he spoke to, said that she had heard and she had seen pictures from her friends, women were being raped, and they were being killed, and disfigured. Have you seen evidence of that? Have you heard evidence of that?

ORLOV: We also heard a lot about such -- such war crimes, such victims. And I'm sure that we will know a lot after diplocation (ph), after Mariupol will be diplocated (ph) in military or in diplomatic way. And I think the numbers will be much more than in Bucha because there is more citizens in Mariupol. We have heard of such victims.

KEILAR: Deputy Mayor, thank you so much for being with us. We continue to check in with you in the coming days, as well. And hopefully, we'll be speaking again soon.

Sergei Orlov, thank you.


ORLOV: Thank you. Bye.

BERMAN: All right. We're getting much more information on the breaking news. A devastating missile strike on a packed train station in Eastern Ukraine in Kramatorsk. We're hearing at least 30 killed, dozens injured. Plus this.



GRAPHIC: I come out from the kitchen and I tell him, sorry for the language, ''F' your mother."


BERMAN: A small Ukrainian town that took on Russian forces and won.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right. The breaking news. Russian missile strike on a packed train station in Eastern Ukraine, the city of Kramatorsk right there.


We're getting new details in. We are told at least 30 killed, including children. More than 100 injured. This was a packed train station.

Let me show you a picture of what it looked like just a few days ago. Thousands and thousands of people have been crowding this train station to flee the part of the country where the fighting is getting more intense by the moment.

Thousands are packing this train station. And Ukrainian officials say the Russians must have known that.

In other words, the Ukrainians say the Russians knew exactly what they were hitting with this missile strike this morning. As I said, we're just getting more information in now. First responders are on the scene. The initial counts are at least 30 dead, 100 injured. Much more on this as it comes in.

In the meantime, I'm going to go to CNN's Ed Lavandera, who's on the Black Sea coast in Odessa. And you have a remarkable story of one town that took on the Russians and won.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It really is. And this is a battle that happened early in the war. And significant, though, because as we see the developing and the breaking news this morning and this push from Russian forces from the East. It's these small towns that will once again find themselves in the crosshairs.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): The sign into town reads, "Russian soldier, you will die here." The Russians didn't listen.

This is the story of how the small city of Voznesensk fought off the Russian invasion in early March.

Yevgeniy Velychko is the mayor of this city of 30,000 people. He took us to the bridge, at least where the bridge used to be, where Ukrainian soldiers, volunteer fighters, and a fearlessly creative cast of civilians stared down the Russians.

(on camera): How close did the Russians get to taking over this city?


LAVANDERA: You can see over here, on the other side of the bridge in the distance there, just on the other side of the bridge, a row of tires, and that's as close as the Russian tanks came.

(voice-over): The mayor says the Ukrainians blew it up so that the Russians couldn't cross into the heart of the city. That sparked a two-day confrontation, with thousands of residents were trapped on the other side of the bridge, the only section of the city Russian forces invaded.

This man, named Ivan (ph), lives in a house along the main road into town. Several homes and cars around him were scorched in the firefight. He hid inside, with his elderly mother, as the Russian tanks swarmed his neighborhood.

(on camera): He describes how terrifying it was. Several homes blown up around him; constant barrage of gunfire. But he tells us he actually didn't see it. He had to hide inside his home. But just the sound of it was terrifying.

(voice-over): Various cameras captured the images of the Russian military vehicles, with the letter "Z" emblazoned on the side. The mayor says three columns of Russian soldiers moved into the city. One military official says the Russians invaded with at least 100 tanks and armored personnel carriers, and as many as 500 soldiers.

(on camera): So, this is Ghost. He's asked that we not use his full name. And he is the head of a reconnaissance unit here in this town that was instrumental in fighting back the Russians.

And this was the spot. This was the spot where you fought the Russians.

He says he thinks he thinks that's a bloodstain there. Wow.

The remnants of a Russian meal.

GHOST, COMMANDER, RECONNAISSANCE UNIT (through translator): When they were advancing towards the bridge, thanks to the Ukrainian military forces, the air assault brigade, the territorial defense, and our recon squad, we hold them off. Here, we showered them with artillery, and we destroyed them.

LAVANDERA: The Ukrainians blew up multiple bridges in the city to keep the Russians from moving into this town that sits at a strategic crossroads in Southern Ukraine and kept Vladimir Putin's army from invading deeper into the country.

(on camera): In this spot, just on the edge of the city, multiple Russian tanks were taken out here. We're actually standing in the ashes of one of those tanks. And there were at least two Russian soldiers that were killed in this very spot.

GHOST (through translator): We are strong. Our city is strong. Our spirit is strong. When the enemy came, everyone rose up, from kids to the elderly.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Hiding residents called in the locations of Russian soldiers. Others ran ammunition and supplies wherever it was needed.

(on camera): The Russians had more firepower, had more weapons, than you guys had.

GHOST (through translator): They were powerful. They had tanks, they had APCs, a lot of wheeled vehicles. But we're stronger, smarter, and more tactical.

LAVANDERA: Are you worried that they're going to come back for revenge after you guys embarrassed them?

GHOST (through translator): No, it's them who should be afraid. They should know, if they come here, they will remain here as cargo (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We already have refrigerators for their bodies, and we can bring more.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): But the Russian soldiers weren't ready to face the grandmothers of Stepova (ph) Street. In a small village, on the edge of Voznesensk, 88-year-old Vera walked out, armed with her canes, and fired off an epic tirade of verbal artillery.


GRAPHIC: I come out from the kitchen and I tell him -- sorry for the language -- "'F' your mother. Has your Putin gone mad, firing at kids? 'F,' is he mad? He is a bitch. He must die."

LAVANDERA: They say they were chased out of their homes and robbed, but the women relish telling this story with laughter.

I ask if they're worried the Russians will return to seek revenge. They tell me they're not going anywhere.


LAVANDERA: Even though the grandmothers of Stepova (ph) Street may be smiling, John and Brianna, I can tell you that, inside the city, there is a great deal of tension and suspicion that they will have to fight this battle again as Russian forces regroup in the East, and obviously, the news from this morning is exactly the kind of thing that makes them worry about what will happen in the weeks ahead.

BERMAN: Yes. That's exactly right. Town after town in Ukraine going to have to stand up like this one and fight back the Russians. In some cases, with just courage and tactical brilliance. But it's a lot to ask.

Ed Lavandera, what a remarkable story. Thank you so much for that.

As Ed mentioned, we are following the breaking news out of Eastern Ukraine. Kramatorsk here, a crowded train station hit by a Russian military strike. At least 30 people dead, more than 100 injured. We're getting much more information in. Stay with us for an update on that.

Also, we have news on the condition of the FOX correspondent who was severely injured in Ukraine, an attack that killed two of his colleagues. Stay with us.