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New Day

Ukraine Claims Strike on Russian Ship; U.S. to Send $800 in Military Aid to Ukraine; NYC Attack Suspect to Appear in Court Today after Capture. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 14, 2022 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers in the U.S. and around the world. It is Thursday, April 14. I'm Brianna Keilar in Lviv, Ukraine, with John Berman in New York.

Ukraine and the world are bracing for a bloody, large-scale Russian attack on the Donbas region as this war is entering its 50th day. The Kremlin making it clear that the goal is to conquer. French military officials are expecting the offensive to begin within days.

And Kyiv could also be targeted. The Russian military threatening to strike Ukrainian decision-making centers, including those in the capital.

There's so much devastation and heartache right now in Ukraine. This next video is a prime example, and it is so hard to watch.

A Ukrainian mother near Kyiv discovering the body of her missing son, dumped in a shallow well by retreating Russian forces.




KEILAR: We are told that the woman was able to identify her son by his shoes.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: There are contradicting reports this morning about a Russian warship in the Black Sea that had to be evacuated. We're not talking about just any ship. We believe this is the flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet. It's been able to wreak havoc, that fleet, on Ukraine.

The Kremlin says there was some kind of fire on board the ship. But the Ukrainians say they hit the vessel in a missile attack, which would be a major development.

Russia has also released this video, so that's a caveat right there. Take it for what it's worth. This aired on Russian state TV; claimed that it showed more than 1,000 Ukrainian Marines surrendering in Mariupol. Ukraine has denied the reports. CNN cannot verify the claim.

So ahead of Russia's anticipated attack on the Donbas region, President Biden just unveiled an $800 million security package for Ukraine. It includes anti-tank Javelins, military helicopters.

And this morning, the U.S. is talking about sending a high-ranking official to Ukraine. We're told President Biden and Vice President Harris, they are unlikely choices. But perhaps the secretary of state or secretary of defense.

We also this morning have new details on the arrest of the suspect in the New York City subway attack.

First, though, let's go back to the latest in Ukraine. Brianna is there.

KEILAR: I want to bring in CNN's Matt Rivers here with me now. Let's talk about this warship. Differing stories coming from Russia and the Ukraine.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's a big deal, no matter what happened here. The fact -- I think it's very significant that Russian state media can't ignore this.

You know, they can't ignore the damage and the fire on board this ship is big enough that, even if they don't want to admit that it was a Ukrainian missile, the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that their sailors had to be evacuated off the ship is a very big deal.

So as John was mentioning, this is the flagship of the Black Sea fleet that Russia has been using here in its fight with Ukraine. There's about 500 sailors or so on board, alongside everything from anti-ship, anti-aircraft missiles, torpedoes and naval guns and close-in missile defense systems. You're talking about an enormous amount of ordinance, some of which Russia has said has been detonated as a result of this fire.

Now, what the Ukraine side is saying is that they actually used a Ukrainian-developed cruise missile, called the Neptune missile, that was only brought into service in the Ukrainian military Last year.

They're saying that it was that kind of a cruise missile that struck the ship, the Moskva, that is the one that we're talking about here. It's also maybe going to alter the behavior of Russia's navy all around. If this is a capability that the Ukrainian military has, to

effectively strike these ships from shore-based cruise missiles, that's a big deal that could really start to change the way this -- this conflict plays out.

KEILAR: A Zelenskyy aide said this is the ship, one of the ships that was involved in that infamous Snake Island incident, where the -- you saw Ukrainian, I think naval -- a Ukrainian sailor telling off a Russian warship.

RIVERS: Yes. Using very choice words. That was -- our viewers will probably remember that. Because that was one of the things that happened early in the war that, I think, gave people a real insight into the mind-set of the Ukrainian military, that they weren't just going to roll over.

So this was these Ukrainian military members were on Snake Island. The Russian warship said, you know, that they should surrender. They told them to, using some choice language, basically get out of there.

And so apparently, this ship was part of that. And when we're talking about the symbolism of all this, yes, there's the military implications, without question.

But for Ukraine, if they can say that they were able to effectively destroy one of the most important ships in Russia's military that was also involved in that incredibly famous, worldwide famous incident, it's a big symbolic victory for the Ukrainians.

KEILAR: Yes. Just to be clear, I was going down the highway yesterday, and on one of those overhead signs that span the entire highway, it says, "Russian warship, go 'F' yourself." It is the rallying cry of the war here.

Matt, thank you so much for that. Really appreciate it.


I do want to bring in CNN's Barbara Starr now. She's live from the Pentagon for us.

And Barbara, President Biden actually told President Zelenskyy that the U.S. is sending an $800 million security package. What all is the Pentagon sending?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, these are the heavy weapons that the Ukrainians have been asking for. The U.S. had been nervous about sending heavy weapons, worried it might appear escalatory. If there is nervousness, it is now gone.

Let's look at just part of the list that you have up there. Helicopters, Howitzer canons, drones, critical early warning radars. Hundreds also of heavy vehicles.

This is a package that is specifically tailored for that fight in the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine we've all been talking about. Because of the terrain out there. It is flat, it is open. It is going to be a fight against thousands, if not tens of thousands of Russian forces across open areas at long range. So these weapons are tailored for that.

But when we say heavy weapons, hard to get them there. You've got to pack them up. You've got to ship them all the way across Ukraine. And

and I asked the Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, given all the challenges, is it too late to get it all there?


ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY We're aware of the clock. And we know time is not our friend. And that's why, even before this was announced today, we had been moving at very, very fast speed all the other security assistance that we've been providing, at -- frankly, at an unprecedented rate.


STARR: Look, Russian troops have been in the Donbas for many years already. But they have taken those troops they had in Northern Ukraine, moved them around, refitted them, we are told, resupplied them.

And now those Russian troops, it is widely expected, will start moving back into the Donbas. The fighting there is expected to intensify significantly in the coming days -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Barbara Starr, thank you for that. Live from the Pentagon.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we will speak to John Kirby in the 8 a.m. hour -- Berman.

BERMAN: Much more now on the damage to the Russian flagship in the Black Sea.

Let me show you a picture of this ship, if I can. This is what you're looking at right now. This is the Moskva. This is the flagship of the Russian fleet.

It has been operating in the Black Sea with impunity. The Ukrainians claim they hit it with missiles. It had to be evacuated. The Russians say somehow a fire just happened to be set on board.

Joining us now, retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, former assistant secretary of state for political military affairs under George W. Bush.

General, this is an important vessel.

BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT (RET.), FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL MILITARY AFFAIRS: Yes, it certainly is. This is not simply a command ship that has a lot of electronic gear and radios on it. It's also a warship. You take a look at this, this is one of the most heavily-armed ships

they have in the Black Sea. Down here, you can see S-300 air defense missiles. You can see ship-to-ship missiles. So this is very much like a very large American warship, as well as having all the command and control.

Look at the size of this compared to the other ships they have in dock. So big hit.

BERMAN: If the Ukrainians did hit it with missiles, if they can strike ships, these Russian ships that are operating here and here, you know, how significant would that be?

KIMMITT: Well, look, one of the Russian tactics, one of the Russians' objectives is to get all the way to Odessa. Clearly, if you have Odessa, you now have the entire country landlocked.

So I believe that the Ukrainians understand that the Russians not only want to work in the Donbas, but they want to continue the operations to take Odessa and landlock Ukraine.

BERMAN: The other bit of news that we're getting this morning, these unverified claims from the Russians that there's been a surrender of some Ukrainian forces in Mariupol.

If the Russians are able to take complete control of this city, which they have been pounding for a month now, what would that do strategically in Donbas?

KIMMITT: Well, we talked about this before. It's not just strategically in Donbas. But this would give a connection from Russia down to Crimea, which they have wanted for a long time.

And sadly, these are the last forces they have in Mariupol. I would be surprised if they were able to hold out much longer, given the amount of work that's been done against them over the last few weeks.

BERMAN: So I've asked you repeatedly over the last few weeks what a full-scale war in Donbas would look like. And this morning, you tell me, basically, we can learn a little bit of something from what happened in the Persian Gulf.

KIMMITT: Sure. People are looking at the Donbas right now and thinking that the Russians will just attack East to West.

BERMAN: Full frontal attack.

KIMMITT: Full frontal attack. There's another option that they have. We can see from the geography in the Donbas.

But what we did in the first Gulf War, we held the nose, as we say, of the enemy there. And then we had that lightning strike, that development of the Iraqi forces there.

[06:10:08] So by holding them in place, we essentially captured and surrounded and caused the entire force to surrender and try the get themselves back into Iraq.

BERMAN: Can you show me what that would look like in Donbas right here?

KIMMITT: If they do it that way, again, you have significant trench lines here. This area right here has been fought between the Russian separatists and the Ukrainian forces for eight years. So it's pretty dug in.

People talk about this great tank assault. That's a hard place to assault against. You've got to break through dug-in lines.

Could well be that they attack from Izyum here and either up here or down to here and basically surround and envelope and cut off those Ukrainian forces.

BERMAN: And the Ukrainians in that case would be trapped, basically, right here.

KIMMITT: Exactly.

BERMAN: All right. General Mark Kimmitt, we'll talk to you again a little bit later in the show. Thanks for helping us understand this. Appreciate it.

So Russian propaganda dividing families, including one whose teenager just escaped from the war zone. We'll speak with him live.

Plus, strange dramatic ending to the manhunt for the suspected shooter in the Brooklyn subway attack. What the suspect did moments before he was captured. We have the details next.



BERMAN: In just a few hours, the suspect in the New York City subway shooting will make his first appearance in court. The 62-year-old was arrested Wednesday after effectively turning himself in. He called a police tip line to tell investigators where they could find him.

He's accused of opening fire on a crowded train in Brooklyn, hitting 10 people, injuring 29 overall.

CNN's Jason Carroll, live from where the subway station is in Brooklyn. Jason, this is not the end that any of us thought was coming.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. And just let me tell you, this is where the search for James came to an end, right here on this street in Lower Manhattan. He was spotted just a few feet behind me. Police took him into custody with very little resistance.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: Thirty-three shots, but less than 30 hours later, we're able to say we got him.

CARROLL (voice-over): Frank James, the man suspected of carrying out Tuesday's attack on a New York City subway, arrested following a nearly 30-hour manhunt.

COMMISSIONER KEECHANT SEWELL, NEW YORK CITY POLICE: He was taken into custody without incident and has been transported into an NYPD facility. We were able to shrink his world quickly. There was nowhere left for him to run.

CARROLL: And it seems that it was a tip from James himself that led to his arrest. According to two law enforcement sources, James called into Crime Stoppers Wednesday afternoon, telling the operator that he was at a McDonald's restaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

When law enforcement arrived, he was nowhere to be found until a bystander flagged James to them on a nearby corner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suddenly, I see a gentleman getting, you know, handcuffed. And I thought this can't -- this can't be him. You know, it seems like something out of a movie.

CARROLL: Aleksei Korobow was one of the witnesses that saw James being taken into custody.

ALEKSEI KOROBOW, WITNESS: What was shocking to me also is that, you know, somebody who committed such a horrific act was just casually strolling around, you know, New York in the middle of the day.

CARROLL: James had been sought by police shortly after Tuesday's subway attack, where he's suspected of setting off smoke grenades and firing a handgun 33 times, and shooting 10 people on a crowded subway train in Brooklyn.

Authorities believe James had visited a storage unit in Philadelphia the night before the attack, where more ammunition and weapons were found.

The suspect's rented U-Haul was seen crossing into Brooklyn early Tuesday morning. Two hours later, a man matching the alleged shooter's description left the U-Haul on foot.

WNBC obtained this video showing a man authorities believe to be James entering the subway system about two hours before the shooting began.

Sources say the gun investigators recovered at the scene was purchased by James in Ohio in 2011, and a gas mask was traced back to the suspect through an eBay account.

While the motive for the attack is still unclear, investigators are looking into James' social media and his repeated chilling rants on YouTube.

His latest video posted on Monday, just one day before the attack, he talked about the consequences of committing violence.

FRANK JAMES, SUSPECT IN NYC SHOOTING: I've been through a lot of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) where I can say I wanted to kill people. I wanted to watch people die right in front of my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) face immediately. But I thought about the fact that, hey, man, I don't want to go to prison. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) that.

CARROLL: James is now charged with a federal terror-related crime.

BREON PEACE, U.S. ATTORNEY, EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Frank James has been charged by complaint in Brooklyn federal court with one count of violating 18 USC sections 1992, A-7 and B-1, which prohibits terrorist and other violent attacks against mass transportation systems.


CARROLL: And James will have his initial court appearance in federal court. That will be later on this afternoon. If convicted, he's looking at life in prison -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Jason Carroll in the East Village of New York, where the suspect was taken into custody.

Joining me now is former Boston police commissioner Ed Davis.

Commissioner, thank you so much for being with us. I think the question everyone has this morning is how unusual is it for a suspect like this to call the cops on himself?


You know, it is unusual but it's not unheard of. It's happened in the past.


Many times, a person who plans an extreme event like this, they may be very organized in the planning; putting together the weapons and the timing and the rental vehicles and everything.

But after the culmination of all of that and the incident happens, they don't really have a plan. And that -- that's, to me, this appears to be the case here.

He maybe thought he was going to get arrested immediately and didn't really have a plan for escape or for further attacks, thank God. And -- and he's -- he's basically saying, All right, I'm done with this. Let's -- let's face the music, so to speak.

BERMAN: Did anything that law enforcement did in the process, you know, releasing his photo, releasing his name, did that, you think, influence his decision to turn himself in?

DAVIS: You know, John, the importance of video can't be understated in these case. And as we saw in the Boston Marathon, when we released the photographs of the suspects, it put enormous pressure on them to do something. It caused them to move and to attempt another attack.

In this particular case, I think it caused the suspect to understand that he was not going to get very far because of the widespread use of his photograph out there. And he just started to wander around, hoping he'd get arrested. When he didn't get arrested immediately, he called -- he called himself in and basically started the process.

BERMAN: Yes, it really shrinks a suspect's world if there is video everywhere. Reduces the number of places where you can go.

One thing that I think -- I don't know if "lucky" is the right word here. You compare it to the Boston Marathon bombing, is that he was not armed, as far as we know. He had no more weapons at his disposal after the shooting, which makes a big difference, right?

DAVIS: There's no question. These individuals nine years ago wanted to do another attack. They had bombs. They had guns; they had ammunition. And they wanted to hurt and kill more people to continue the statement that they were making against society.

This guy seemed to be, you know, not satisfied but -- but maybe he'd done what he had always fantasized about, and now he -- he was facing life in prison. He knows that.

And -- and as the commissioner of New York City said, they gave him no place to go. So -- so this was the only option for him.

BERMAN: Talk to me more about the videos here. Because clearly, this guy had left a long trail, which maybe should have raised some concern amongst somebody here. But the question is who.

Eric Adams yesterday, the mayor of New York City, told me he wished social media companies did more policing on their own to spot this kind of content and point it out. How can something like this be monitored effectively to keep events like this from happening?

DAVIS: Well, the social media companies do pay attention to it. We investigate these cases all year long.

The problem with it is people have a First Amendment right to express their anger and upset. And it's a very delicate balance between expressing your -- your feelings with the First Amendment but also not crossing that line of threats to commit a crime.

Our criminal justice system is set up for people who do something, not for people who think something.

But in a case like this when you see real, real evidence of mental illness, there should be some type of intervention that can happen. There needs to be some type of mental health team teaming up with police to take a look at these things, I think. Because this happens more and more, especially after COVID, which is just an everyday occurrence, and it's very dangerous.

BERMAN: Great to see you, particularly, you know, just a week before the Boston Marathon. You've played such a major role in making that event something that everyone can look forward to once again. So thanks so much for being with us this morning.

DAVIS: Thank you, John. It's a pleasure.

BERMAN: So more on the breaking news out of Ukraine. New intelligence shows Russia's new assault in the Eastern part of that country could begin within days. We're live on the ground.

Plus, despite the president of Belarus being one of Putin's biggest allies, some dissidents are taking up arms -- some Belarusian dissidents are taking up arms from -- for Ukraine. We'll hear from them next.



KEILAR: Before Russia invaded Ukraine, including from its ally, Belarus, thousands of Belarusian men fled the country, trying to escape the strongman in charge there, landing in Ukraine where they're hoping to volunteer as part of the Ukrainian forces, alongside the Ukrainian forces there.

Salma Abdelaziz is covering the story for us from Poland.