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Ukraine Says, Russians Strike Lviv, Killing Seven and Displacing Hotel Evacuees; GOP's Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) Says, Death Threats Made Bipartisan Votes Frightening; 143 Mass Shootings in U.S. Since January, Hundreds Killed or Hurt. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 18, 2022 - 07:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: New Day continues right now.

Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world. It is Monday, April 18th. I am Brianna Keilar. John Berman is off. John Avlon is with us this morning.

JOHN AVLON, CNN NEW DAY: Good morning.

KEILAR: Great to have you here.

Breaking news, Russia launching strikes across Ukraine, sparing no city, four missile strikes hitting Lviv overnight, at least seven people were killed, nearly a dozen others injured, including a child among those casualties. Officials say three of these missiles hit warehouses that were not being used by the military. The fourth hit a tire repair shop, destroying dozens of cars. And we're told the blast also shattered windows at a hotel that was housing evacuees.

The attacks breaking a relatively calm there in the western city that has largely been spared from the Russian assault, certainly no civilian targets have yet been hit. Just last week, even the curfew in Lviv was relaxed. People were starting to breathe, I think, a little better. But this is a sign that Lviv practically on NATO's doorstep, just some 43 miles from the Poland border, not safe.

There were also strikes in Dnipro and Luhansk, in Eastern Ukraine. The military governor in Luhansk urging civilians to evacuate, saying that there are no safe places left in the region.

AVLON: Also in Eastern Ukraine, the city of and Kreminna has fallen into Russian hands. Officials say Russian forces entered the town with a huge amount of equipment. They say, as some residents tried escaping in their vehicles, the Russians opened fire on their car, killing at least four.

Ukraine's President Zelenskyy telling CNN they are not willing to give up territory in the eastern part of the country to end the war. He says the coming battle in the Donbas region could influence the course of the war.

The situation in Mariupol growing more desperate by the way, Russia telling Ukrainian fighters to defending what's left of that city, lay down your weapons or be eliminated. That ultimatum was rejected, yet another example of Ukrainian resistance. Russian troops have surrounded the city for some time. And today some say Mariupol will be closed for exit and entry and the men remaining there will be, quote, filtered out.

KEILAR: I do want to bring in CNN's Clarissa Ward. She is live in Dnipro where a Russian missile struck overnight. Clarissa, tell us what it is like there.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, again, it had been relatively calm here before, Brianna. And life is still going about as normal. This town has been hit before, but as you mentioned, two missile strikes hitting on the outskirts of the city. Authorities here saying that it was some kind of infrastructure facility, slightly vague language, two people injured, nobody killed.

But everybody is seeing what is happening in the east, what is projected to get much worst in the east with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a new address, saying that the battle for Donbas is about to begin in the near future.

And we visited one of the towns that will be very much in the crosshairs.


WARD (voice over): At the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Slovensk, an ardent prayer from worshippers under the shadow of Russia's war. We ask for your mercy, Lord. Please hear us.

They have gathered here for orthodox Palm Sunday, carrying willows instead of palms, per the orthodox tradition. It is supposed to be a celebration of Jesus' return to Jerusalem. But there is little joy in this congregation.

Ukrainian officials say this city will be a decisive battleground in Russia's imminent offensive in the Donbas region. The streets are getting emptier as the fighting gets closer. Those still here are being urged to leave. The air raid siren is an unrelenting wail.

You can't hear it because the sirens are so loud, but we have heard a steady stream of booms coming from that way in the distance. But as you can see here, people here are just used to it. The children continue the play. The adults try to stay strong.

This group is awaiting an evacuation bus to the safety of Western Ukraine. Rayisa (ph) tells us she is taking her grandchildren to Lviv. Their mother died three years ago.

You hear what's happening here, she says. My husband is still at home. His health isn't good enough to make the journey. Her granddaughter offers some support. Oh, grandma, she says, I love you.

Anna Stepanovna (ph) is full of anguish that the international community has failed to rein in Putin. [07:05:00]

When they show the children killed, I can't, I cry, she says. Why can't they stop this one idiot? If they will send me, I will shoot him.

Seven weeks into this ugly war, there is no end in sight. Pavel (ph) is saying goodbye to his wife, Olga. She doesn't want to let go of him, scenes of separation that have become all too familiar.

Everything will be okay, the organizer tells her, comforting words but has a grim reality.


WARD (on camera): Ukrainian military officials in the Luhansk region, that's right in Donbas, say that the Russians have entered a town called Kreminna. That is right on the frontline. They said that they had been trying to evacuate people, that that is now impossible because Russian forces have been firing on civilian cars attempting to flee. They describe pretty harrowing sounding reports of street-to- street fighting going on in that town. And the fear is that this is really now the beginning, the tipping point, if you like, for some kind of an all-out offensive on the Eastern Donbas region.

But I do want to say that the Ukrainian forces have been hitting back hard going with the sort of old proverb that the best defense is actually an offense. They have been launching a number of offenses to try to cut off Russian supply lines as they begin to try to seize parts of this Donbas region. Brianna, John?

AVLON: Clarissa, what do you make of the fact that the Russians are gaining in Kreminna but that comes against the backdrop of the Ukrainians making real gains and liberating towns and villages, more than 1,000 Zelenskyy said recently?

WARD: Well, a lot of people said that they hoped or they thought that Putin would want to seek some kind of victory for Den' Pobedy, Victory Day, which his May 9th in Russia. But if you look at what's happening on the ground and what we've seen happen over the last seven weeks, it's very clear that Russian forces are getting into much more of a fight that they had anticipated and it's going to be much more difficult to pull off what it appears that they're attempting to do.

Essentially, they want to try to push down their forces from the north where they're currently engaged in heavy fight in Izyum and up from the south from sort of Kherson, Mariupol area and cut off or encircle Ukrainian troops who would be kind of trapped in a pocket there in the Donbas region.

But it does not look like this is going to be an easy fight. The Ukrainians have far from given up. Although, as you mentioned earlier, John, the anticipation is now that the city of Mariupol will likely fall in the coming days. They are continuing to bombard that city, the Azovstal Steel plant, which is where the remaining Ukrainian forces are kind of hunkered down. We actually spoke to a driver who we had worked with in Mariupol just a couple weeks before the war began. He told us that both of his parents had been killed in that city, and that he has no way to go back there and bury them.

KEILAR: There are so many people in that situation. It's horrific. Clarissa, thank you so much for that report from us from Dnipro.

And joining us now is Alex Adediran. He plays professional basketball in Ukraine. And he witnessed the bombings and killings that occurred over the weekend in Mykolaiv, which is a city in Southern Ukraine. Alex, thank you so much for being with us. I'm so sorry for what has been happening and what you are witnessing. But we appreciate you being our eyes here.

We have seen intense shelling there in Mykolaiv, bombing over the weekend. What have you seen?

ALEX ADEDIRAN, PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: This is -- where this happened is actually a church place where people go play, go see around and just think about what's going on. And during the day, when there were just a few people sitting down, I don't know where, there was a missile that injured I think close to ten people and killed two people where there is no army, there is no nothing that brings danger to Russian soldiers.

KEILAR: It's just a place for people to gather to get a little respite from what is happening there. I do want to tell our viewers, Alex, you took some photos. You took quite a few photos there in Mykolaiv. I do want to warn them that the images we are about to show, they are incredibly graphic. What can you tell us about what unfolded before these photographs were taken and after?


This appears to be people who were just, you know, taking a quiet moment.

ADEDIRAN: Well, this is -- it happens to us every three, four days, where everything quiets down a little bit and then out of nowhere, especially around the place where I live, we had a bus stop that during the day people were just standing waiting for a bus, and a missile flew in. It also killed nine people. As soon as I heard that, I went to that place, tried to help some people.

But the missiles that they smirched (ph), basically, if you're close to 10, 15 feet, if you are close to that range, most likely you're going to die. So, you can be just walking on the street and a missile flies in for no reason.

KEILAR: The city there has been without water for days. I know one of the pipelines was damaged during fighting. Can you tell me what people have been doing to get water? Are you still without water?

ADEDIRAN: We have a couple of places where we get water, rivers. A lot of people go to rivers. It's not too far from here. We fill it up, we boil it, and then we try to use it to wash our dishes and clothes. Another way, people who have got the private houses, they still have water because every private house has its own path of water.

So, what I do, I got in a car and I went around where I stay, I go fill up some empty buckets or whatever people can find, especially older people who cannot carry a lot of stuff. I fill it up and I take them to people. And that's how we survive.

KEILAR: Alex, it is amazing what you have done. I do want to mention, you brought your family to safety in Poland. You chose to remain in Mykolaiv even though you are not a Ukrainian citizen. And we see the good work that you are doing to try to help people. Alex, thank you so much.

ADEDIRAN: Thank you.

AVLON: Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a close ally of President Biden, was asked on CBS's Face the Nation about recent marks he made about the U.S. sending U.S. troops into Ukraine, a move that the Biden administration had made clear is off the table. And here's Senator Coons' response.


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): I think President Biden's leadership has been steady and constructive, but this is a critical moment. If Vladimir Putin, who has shown us how brutal he can be, is allowed to just continue to massacre civilians, to commit war crimes throughout Ukraine, without NATO, without the west coming more forcefully to his aid, I deeply worry that what is going to happen next is that we will see Ukraine turn into Syria. The American people cannot turn away from this tragedy in Ukraine.

I think the history of the 21st century returns on how fiercely we defend freedom in Ukraine and that Putin will only stop when we stop him.


AVLON: Joining us now, CNN Plus Anchor of The Source with Kasie Hunt and Chief National Affairs Analyst Kasie Hunt, who spoke to Senator Coons for clarification on this.


AVLON: What is the clarification? Good morning.

HUNT: Well, look, I will just say that I think you heard Senator Coons there talk about the moral outrage that he feels. And I know, Brianna, you were just there and did such incredible reporting and helped us all understand the depths to which this is just devastating and from a humanitarian perspective completely unacceptable. And I think that is what you are hearing from Senator Coons there.

And I think the idea that he was criticizing the president for how he's handled it or that he's saying we need to send U.S. troops into Ukraine is taking things a step too far. But I do think he was expressing a concern that the U.S. maybe should not be out there in public ruling things out.

And we have heard this from both Democrats and Republicans who are saying, look, let's not explicitly take things off the table, let's not preemptively rule out anything, because, clearly, that's not what Vladimir Putin is doing. Putin is sort of leading out there that he may go as far as he'll use nuclear weapons, which has previously been forbidden (ph).

So, I think this is something to keep an eye on, something to watch, but I think that's kind of where Senator Coons was coming from.

KEILAR: The biggest cudgel in the toolbox, right, to get Russia right now to do something really isn't an American cudgel, it is a European one to do something with oil and gas embargo and just to say, no, we're not putting money in your coffers, Russia. And I wonder what the U.S. role is in that or not.

HUNT: Right. And I think you've absolutely hit the nail on the head with that. And as long as the Europeans find it impossible to cut off those imports, we're going to be in some version of this conflict the way that we currently are.

I think you have seen the U.S. take some steps to try to plug some of those holes, to try to ramp up and offer new ways for Europe to get whether it is American natural gas, for example, or other ways to do that.


I think that the response as well -- keep in mind, there is a very wide range of tools that we can use, that the United States can use in terms of providing weapons that we have not reached yet. There are also a variety of other behind the scenes ways, intelligence, other ways that the U.S. is clearly helping the Ukrainians that are not being said out loud, which is why having this conversation in the context American politics and what our politicians say in public doesn't give anybody a full picture of what's really going on.

AVLON: That is a very fair and important point. We will only the full history of this when the history books are written.

But what you're talking about, what Coons is talking about is America as a moral leader of marshaling the forces of democracy. And the fact is that we have our own problems with our democracy. And Congressman Fred Upton raised that this 24 weekend on Meet the Press. I want to play a clip he made about death threats and how they might have contributed to his decision to leave Congress.

Let's listen.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS HOST: You got death threats for voting for infrastructure spending. REP. FRED UPTON (R-MI): I did.

TODD: You played these voicemails. We played these voicemails.

UPTON: That's why I'm here today.

TODD: In some ways, it is, isn't it? I mean, it made it easier to say, I'm out.

UPTON: Yes. Well, death threats, I mean, they were never like -- we had this last year. But it was pretty crazy. And remember, that was a Republican bill. I mean, literally, a year ago this week, Governor Hogan brought a bunch of us up to his place in Indianapolis. Republicans, Democrats, senators, governors, House members, both sides of the aisle, we defined what infrastructure ought to be and decided how to pay for it. And it passed 69-30 in the Senate. It was the issue all last summer. Lindsey Graham, Trump's best friend, voted for it.

TODD: So, if you're getting death threats, what's the likelihood of somebody watching what happened to you and going, yes, forget it, I'm not going to vote?

UPTON: Yes. You know what, it's going to be a detriment getting good people to run. It really will be. Because I have got a school board member that lives on my street. I think he had death throats too just over the mask mandate.

TODD: We have a story out of Georgia where they can't find anybody to be the elections person in Fulton County.

UPTON: Yes, I believe it. I believe it. It puts you at risk, particularly when they threaten not only you, and I like to think I'm pretty fast, but when they threaten your spouse or your kids or whatever, that's what really makes it frightening.


AVLON: Death threats for infrastructure, death threats crowding out people from running, threats to people's families. Is this common in your coverage of Congress?

HUNT: Yes. I mean, it's exploded in the last two to four years, especially in the wake of January 6th. And it happened for Republicans. I mean, frankly, Republicans took criticism for citing death threats as a reason why they were afraid to vote to impeach Donald Trump, because people were like, oh, you should be courageous enough to take that vote and then deal with the incoming.

But it really says a lot about the people of the United States of America, I mean, many of whom are being spun up by these politicians, right? One of the things Adam Kinzinger says repeatedly is that there is a vacuum of leadership, right? There aren't people out there saying, hey, guys, this is not how we conduct ourselves, this is not what we should do. And, instead, we are left with people who kind of allow this to become commonplace or somewhat acceptable. But when you talk to members privately, I mean, they're often reluctant to talk about this on camera. I mean, I'm glad that Fred Upton shined light on it this weekend because they're worried about their own families, but they all say that this has just exploded, that they get them on their personal cell phones sometimes, that the Capitol police have had to add staff and people to deal with this because they actually do have to take these threats seriously, even if a lot of these people are just picking up the phone and deciding the person on the other end of the line isn't really a person and they don't actually intend to follow through on it. You can't make that assumption.

And I think to underscore what Congressman Upton said, it is very important for our democracy that there are people of strength, integrity, character and skill that serve in our Congress. And there are fewer and fewer people who are willing to say, yes, I want to put my family through this, I'm willing to step out there, The fact that they cited there's no one to run elections in Fulton County, a critical place in Georgia, after what happened in that election.

I mean, these are significant problems for our democracy. And I think you see it in the people that then are grabbing the headlines on Capitol Hill. Some of these people you never would have seen them there years ago. And, frankly, it's starting to creep into the Senate as well. We are starting to see in some of these Senate races. So, yes, I think it's a real problem and Congressman Upton has been one of the few people, quite frankly, who's been willing to cross the aisle and willing work with others, and as he said there, he's leaving, he's getting out.

KEILAR: That is an alarming trend.

AVLON: It is. It cuts to the heart of our democracy. We are a self- governing republic. We need good people to step up, and death threats crowd them out.

Kasie Hunt, thank you very much for joining us.

HUNT: Thanks, guys, great to see you.

AVLON: And you go out to The Source with Katie Hunt, weekdays at 4:00 P.M. Eastern on CNN Plus.


And we're going to continue to follow breaking news out of Eastern Ukraine, where a Ukrainian official says control of the town of Kreminna has been lost to Russian forces.

KEILAR: And to the west in Lviv, as many as seven people killed and nearly a dozen others injured, including a child, during overnight missile strikes. We haven't seen anything like this in the entire invasion. We are live there from the ground.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) AVLON: Each Monday, it's sadly becoming a trend to report on violent weekends in America. And from birthday parties, to malls, this weekend was no exception.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 143 mass shootings in the United States this year alone. Now, keep in mind the year isn't even four months old yet.

Now, CNN and the archive defined mass shootings is one that injures or kills four or more people.


And here are the cities in 2022 alone, Philadelphia, four times, Sacramento, three times, Pittsburgh, Furman, South Carolina, Syracuse, New York, Vegas, three times, Baltimore, four times, Columbia, twice, Stockton, California, twice.

KEILAR: Brooklyn, twice, the Bronx, Baton Rouge, twice, Elgin, Illinois, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Willow Brook, California, Indianapolis, Washington, twice, Miami, four times, Hartford, Covington, Kentucky, Buffalo, San Francisco, Dallas, Twice, Shelby, North Carolina, Monroe, Louisiana, two times, Colorado Springs, three times.

AVLON: Shreveport, Walterboro, South Carolina, Hollister, California, Cleveland, Waterbury, Waterbury, Conntecticut, Chicago, four times, Milwaukee, twice, Houston, three times, Austin, Norfolk, Fayetteville, Dumas, Arkansas, Madison Heights, Virginia, Fort Worth, New Iberia, Louisiana, Lansing, Michigan.

KEILAR: Fort Lauderdale, twice, Irvington, New Jersey, twice, Ozark, Alabama, Redding, Pennsylvania, Rochester, Autaugaville, Alabama, Columbus, Aurora, Jacksonville, Knoxville, twice, Minneapolis, Hazelton, Pennsylvania, Louisville, Lubbock, Monroe, Chester, Glendale, Arizona, Atlanta, twice, Alexandria, Louisiana, North Charleston, South Carolina, Bogalusa, Louisiana, San Antonio, three times, Saint Paul, Omaha, Des Moines, Portland, Oregon, twice, McComb, Mississippi, Charleston, Missouri, Turlock, California.

AVLON: Temple Hills, Maryland, Joliet, Illinois, Racine, Wisconsin, West Hollywood, Murfeesboro, Tennessee, Little Rock, Springfield, Missouri, Phoenix, Romeoville, Illinois, Fresno, twice, Wilmington, Las Cruces, Corsicana, Texas, twice.

KEILAR: Blacksburg, Virginia, Oroville, Raleigh, Winter Haven, Augusta, Saint Louis, Bakersfield, Inglewood, New Orleans, Savannah, Brunswick, Eugene, Oregon, Los Angeles, Montgomery, Jackson, Columbia, Missouri, Peoria, Dillon, Kenosha, South Bend and Denver.

AVLON: All told since January 1st of this year, 151 people have been killed in those shootings and more than 600 hurt.

KEILAR: Now, this morning, a manhunt is under way for multiple gunmen after a deadly shooting at a party in Pittsburgh cut short the lives of two teenagers. Mass shootings also broke out in South Carolina and Boston over the holiday weekend, leaving several people injured. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is joining us now. It is an epidemic. And I think just looking at that, we see the proportions of it.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And then, yet again, as you said, Monday morning, here we are reporting on another incident, several incidents of shootings across this country.

This morning, we're reporting on three separate incidents nearly, 40 people injured as a result of gunfire. One of those incident involved dozens of minors at a house party who some of them jumping out of windows to flee the gunfire.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have multiple shootings.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): In Pittsburgh, a mass shooting at a large party held at a short-term rental property. Two 17-year-olds were killed and police say at least eight others wounded by the gunfire early Sunday morning.

CHIEF SCOTT E. SCHUBERT, PITTSBURGH POLICE: It's heartbreaking. I mean, here we are, Easter, and we have multiple families, two that won't see a loved one.

PROKUPECZ: Police say as many as 200 people were at the party, most of them underage.

SCHUBERT: How can you even have a holiday when your child was involved in something traumatic like this?

PROKUPECZ: According to the police chief, multiple shooters firing more than 90 rounds inside and outside of the house. Some partygoers jumped out of windows, leaving some with broken bones and cuts, police say.

The search seven for the suspects is under way and officials are urging anyone with information to come forward as investigators process as many as eight separate crime scenes.

In Columbia, South Carolina, one man was arrested after a mass shooting at a mall on Saturday.

BAYRONE BILLUPS, WITNESS: We didn't know who was shooting, what direction it was coming from. And, I mean, it was really terrifying.

PROKUPECZ: 22-year-old Jewayne Price appeared in court Sunday. According to the Columbia Police Department, Price is charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol. Police said more charges are possible. CNN has not been able to determine if Price has a lawyer.


He's been released on house arrest.

Police said they believe those involved in the shooting knew one another.