Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Mariupol on Brink, Zelenskyy Says City Can be Saved With More Weapons; DOJ Appeals Ruling to Strike Travel Mask Mandate After CDC Advises; U.S. Officials Walk Out of G20 Meeting When Russians Speak. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 21, 2022 - 07:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: His forces simply don't have enough serious and heavy weapons to defeat the Russian army, the Kremlin dismissing any possibility of a diplomatic solution.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking this morning, Russian forces are attempting to make a bigger push into the Donbas region in the eastern part of the country there. They have taken control of one village, Kreminna. I'm told by U.S. officials that, otherwise, the battle lines remain static.

The Biden administration responding to this new offensive, bigger offensive by announcing a new round of economic sanctions as well as a new weapons package, we're reporting, is on the way.

The Russian leader, in the midst of all of this, has test fired a new nuclear capable ICBM, intercontinental ballistic missile, sometimes referred to by the name Satan 2. That's right. He said on Russian state T.V. that Russia's enemies should think twice. This was a message he said to them. U.S. officials say they were not surprised by the launch. They have been informed. They downplayed the threat.

There is, however, new evidence of serious morale issues within Russia's forces. The Security Service of Ukraine has released revealing new intercepted communications between Russian soldiers discussing their commanders. You are going to hear their conversations ahead, what they were ordered to do, too. It's just shocking.

Let's begin now with CNN's Isa Soares. She's here with me in Lviv. I wonder, before we get to a shocking and harrowing situation for thousands, in fact, in Mariupol beyond the steel plant, just for folks at home, so they understand why Russia want Mariupol. This is central.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It is a strategic port city. It would be a major win. It would be probably the biggest win so far militarily. But it's a port city in the Black Sea. They would isolate Ukraine further from the rest of the world. They would control roughly 80 percent of that Black Sea territory. So, economically, that's incredibly --

SCIUTTO: 80 percent of the coastline.

SOARES: 80 percent, and that would be incredibly damaging.

But also if they take control of Mariupol, then their troops are free to fight that new offensive that we were mentioning in the Donbas region. But also, the third point really is, it would create the land corridor that you and I have talked about for a long time since the beginning of this war in February 24th between Mariupol and Crimea. So, it would be a major win. And so that is why we have seen President Putin try to sell it to his people today as liberating Mariupol.

Now, I think it's important to take Putin's language and put into human language, because there is a lot of spin this morning.

SCIUTTO: It's dealing territory. I mean, it's 19th century.

SOARES: Yes, absolutely.

SCIUTTO: That's what we're seeing with this war, unprovoked invasion. He wants the country, he wants the coastline, he sent his army in there to take it.

So, let's talk about the folks there. I mean, you have the steel plant where there are several hundred people, civilians and soldiers. Then you have the city itself that Zelenskyy says there are many more.

SOARES: Thousands according to Zelenskyy speaking the last hour or so, thousands of people trapped. They tried to evacuate many people yesterday. Only four bus loads were able to be evacuated, Ukrainian officials blaming the Russians for obviously not sticking to their word. That should come as no surprise.

But it's important to note that the plant, this stellar stronghold here of Ukrainian resistance is sort of valor, really, Jim, that we haven't seen military valor that we have seen since the Second World War. They are taking hold. They are standing still.

And people need to understand, it is not one building. This is a huge complex, around ten kilometers and with people trapped inside, women, elderly, children, as well as thousands of -- a thousand troops or so, wounded soldiers.

So, when Putin says we are not going to storm it, we are just going to block it, it is not him saying it out of the kindness of his own heart. I think it's important for people to understand. He's saying it because it would be a huge loss for him because there are catacombs and there are -- it's so sprawling that actually it will lead to a huge loss of lives from the Russian side. So, he is trying to block them and trying to see if they can -- with no weaponry, with no food, they can wear them out.

SCIUTTO: It's like an industrial city. It would be urban combat. And that's something that Ukrainians have proven good at defending against, and perhaps he just doesn't want to lose forces there. Maybe he has enough, Putin does.

Isa Soreas, thanks so much.

Here we are, Brianna, Russia continuing to go invade the country and willing to kill indiscriminately, as it does.

KEILAR: We've seen that time and again, Jim. The Russian Ministry of Defense announcing that it successfully test-launched its new intercontinental ballistic missile dubbed Satan 2 by western officials, President Vladimir Putin bragging back in 2018 that the weapon would render NATO defenses completely useless.


Joining us now is Tom Foreman to talk about this. Tom, what do we need to know about this?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the test itself was not a surprise to the U.S. The Russians let the U.S. know that it was going to happen. This is a launch that occurred from the Kosmodrom Plesetsk, flew about 3,500 miles and landed up on the Kamchatka Peninsula. It was tracked by U.S. forces the entire time it was in flight.

So, what were they actually tracking? This missile is about a third of the length of a football field. It's called a super heavy ICBM and that it carries a very heavy payload. It's traveling at about mach 20, so around 15,000 miles an hour. And it can carry up to 15, 16 warheads, they believe.

Now, bear in mind, this can include decoys to help confuse missile defenses. It could carry hypersonic missiles, which you could then release, creating a different kind of threat. And very importantly, remember, it doesn't have to be nuclear warheads. This could be another way for the Russians to deliver conventional warheads in a big way if they wanted to.

So, the big question here is this possibility of evading defense systems. If you listen to what has been said by the Russians, they say this is something that really cannot be tracked. The question is are they right about that, Brianna, or are they simply fudging it a little bit?

KEILAR: I see why it is called Satan 2 now that you have explained sort of the diabolical nature of this weapon here.

Tom Foreman, thank you so much for that.

KEILAR: Jim, back to you in Lviv.

SCIUTTO: Thank you, Brianna.

Well, despair in Mariupol as Russian forces continue to take full control of the port city, another city Russia has invaded, killing civilians, as it does. Zelenskyy said his forces do not have enough, quote, serious and heavy weapons to defeat the heavy bombardment from the Russian military inside Mariupol.

Joining us now to discuss the war, the latest, retired U.S. Army Major Mike Lyons.

Mike, Mariupol, it's a big loss for Ukraine. It's a significant gain for Russia in that as we were just noting there, it's a good 80 percent of its coastline. What's the significance at this stage of the war?

MAJOR MIKE LYONS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): No, it is a big loss. And the reason it is totally surrounded right now, you could see Mariupol here and a distance to any of these Ukraine cities to try to support it is just too great at this, and there's no way they can get in and support it. They are completely surrounded. And at this point, it's a sad reality we should be negotiating to try to get the soldiers that are there out of it to try to save their lives. It's really no way that the Ukraine military can defend it at this point.

SCIUTTO: So, why not do that? I know there's been fear throughout this of escalation. If U.S. or NATO or a third-party country went in -- I mean, you could call it A berlin human airlift, right, to get these people out of there, but at least the civilians. Why isn't that happening? I mean, the fear is an escalation right, but every day, we have got a Russian military that's bulldozing cities and burying the civilian occupants of those cities and shooting them in the back of the head. I mean, I suppose folks at home and others might wonder, Putin is escalating.

LYONS: Yes, too big a challenge. There's no way you can get the material that they need in Mariupol in order to defend themselves. You would have to have a Patton tank army to come through, to fight through 300 kilometers of open field with tanks, with the heavy weapons and heavy artillery that the Ukrainian military just doesn't have. They are surrounded. There is really nothing they can do. It would be -- potentially it could come from the sea, I suppose, but that, again, would be an act of war from NATO's side, in order to do that because they would in direct fire support. At this point, again, unfortunately, the city is lost.

SCIUTTO: Wow, and maybe the lives of those civilians there.

The Russian military continues to face some of the problems we saw up north, supply issues but also morale issues. And to that point, Ukraine Security Services released what it says are intercepted communications between Russian soldiers. We should note CNN cannot vouch for the authenticity of this recording.

I do want you to listen to it because it is not the first time we have heard intercepted communications that speak to this issue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sat there for three days without (BLEEP) anything. Our commanders, they received provisions, cigarettes, food and our command have all (BLEEP) off. They abandoned everyone and off. We don't even know where they are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (BLEEP) jackals. (BLEEP) shoot that and that's it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just imagine, they didn't provide a way to retreat, didn't is say anything, didn't even bring food stuff. (BLEEP). UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (BLEEP) shoot him (BLEEP). The first one.



SCIUTTO: Do, as you listen to this, see morale problems that doom to some degree further Russian advances, particularly as we brace ourselves for a World War II-like battle in the east? I mean, can the Russian military overcome morale issues like this?

LYONS: Jim, I do. I think that it shows the lack of leadership within the Russian military, number one. Number two, it reflects unfortunately badly on their culture and the fact that the leadership -- this is an army that leaves its dead on the battlefield, does not police up things, does not really take care -- we're seeing what they are doing to civilians. We said from the very beginning how the Russian soldier would act in contact with the civilian population would determine how this would go.

So, I'm not surprised. And this is why we have to get these weapons and these systems in order for the Ukraine military to start this battle, to start what I perceive to be the World War II battle is going to take place here on this eastern front. I think it's going to come down here. The pincer movement has already started through Izyum here. We know that they are coming here from Severodonetsk. And we know that the Ukraine defenses are in this location.

So, what I perceive to be happening here is the offense is going to take place right here. And this will be the kill zone. This will be the area where if the Ukraine military can defeat the Russian artillery and the Russians as they are advancing across the areas, I think that Ukraine will then have real victory there in that part of the world.

But, again, the amount of courage it's going to take on the Russian soldier, we haven't seen them demonstrate it yet so far.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the eastern front, goodness, all the parallels to World War II, a bloody battle on the eastern front. Here we are again.

Retired U.S. Army Major Mike Lyons, thanks so much.

LYONS: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Brianna?

KEILAR: So, this morning, lawmakers are outraged after a false alarm evacuation at the Capitol caused a panic. It sent staffers fleeing from the building yesterday. U.S. Capitol police say they were tracking an aircraft posing a probably threat, but then it turned out to be out to be an Army plane with a parachuting into Nationals Park for a military appreciation event. You can see here what they were actually up to.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty live on Capitol Hill with more. Sunlen, this was stunning to watch on social media. You heard of people running from the Capitol only to realize suddenly what actually was going on.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. It certainly was a scary incident that unfolded over the course of about a 30-minute stretch last night. And it stemmed from a basic miscommunication at some of the top levels of government.

Now, this happened shortly before 6:30 P.M. last night. And this was a planned military appreciation event at the Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium. There you see there, this was planned to have parachuters from the Army Golden Knights come down on the field.

Now, that stadium is just about a mile away from the U.S. Capitol. So, when the U.S. Capitol police started tracking an aircraft they say after the fact that they did not know, that they were not made aware from the FAA that this event was planned with an aircraft. So, that set off a series of scary events up here on Capitol Hill. They set off the alarms. They sent all staffers a message saying, evacuate now, aircraft intrusion, probable threat to the U.S. Capitol. All clear was given 30 minutes later and people were allowed back in the building.

But that set off House Speaker Nancy Pelosi clearly outraged. She called out the FAA's action as inexcusable and said, quote, the unnecessary panic caused by this apparent negligence was particularly harmful to members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace on January 6th.

And the FAA acknowledging, quote, we know that our actions affect others, especially in our nation's capital region and we must communicate early and often with our law enforcement partners. And they say they will conduct, Brianna, a thorough review of this incident.

But, certainly very scary, acknowledging what Pelosi did there, still the feelings in this workspace and this building after January 6th.

KEILAR: Yes. Look, if anyone knows about the sensitivities around restricted airspace around Washington, D.C., it's the FAA, right? It's just incredible this happened.

Sunlen, thank you so much for that.

SERFATY: Thanks, Bri.

KEILAR: Zoo workers who stayed behind to help animals at a Ukrainian zoo found dead. The head of the zoo is going to join us and talk to us about what happened there.

Plus, why Ukrainian millionaire asked the military to bomb his own mansion.

And a big showdown looms as the Justice Department challenges this decision to lift the mask mandate on planes, buses and trains. So, what does this mean for you?

This is CNN special live coverage.



KEILAR: The Justice Department is appealing a ruling that was handed down earlier this week that lifted that federal travel mask mandate. The DOJ filed an appeal following a recommendation by the CDC, quote, that at this time, an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health.

Joining me now is Dr. Julie Morita. She is the executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and she is a former member of President Biden's COVID-19 transition team. Doctor, thank you so much for being with us.

I know that you support this move by the DOJ. Tell us why.

DR. JULIE MORITA, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION: Good morning, Brianna. Yes, I'm really glad to see the CDC asked the Department of Justice to appeal this decision. I think at this point it is the wrong time with cases on the rise in the United States. It's the wrong time for us to be lifting the mandate.


CDC really needs to have the ability to assess, look at the data, look at the evidence, look at the trajectory of disease of cases, hospitalizations to make the decision on whether or not the mandate is really important.

The other reason I think this is really important is that CDC really needs to retain its authority to really protect the public from introduction and spread of disease within the United States. And this decision by the federal judge in Florida really needed to be challenged.

KEILAR: You have seen some of the video of it being announced on planes, people are getting on flights and the flight attendant says masks aren't mandatory anymore and people are so thrilled. What do you say to people who are so sick and tired of wearing masks and they want to celebrate that it's not allowed on public transport?

MORITA: Right. Brianna, I think what we've seen, people are tired of the pandemic, and yet we are also in a period of time where we are seeing cases on the rise. I think I'm pleased not to have to wear the mask in every situation now but I recognize this judge's decision was not based on public health assessment. It doesn't mean that masks aren't important, aren't necessary in public transportation.

I look to CDC as my guide for whether or not mask wearing is appropriate in these tight situations where air circulation is poor. And so I would say look to CDC, look to public health for guidance regarding whether or not the masks are necessary. I wouldn't look to a federal judge for that kind of guidance.

KEILAR: If there is no mask requirement on planes and other forms of transportation, if you are, say, a small child who cannot even get a vaccination if your parents want you to have one, it's not available, you're under five, if you're an immunocompromised adult, even vaccinated, still vulnerable, are you safe on those modes of transportation?

MORITA: I think it's interesting. We know masks work. They protect people wearing the mask. They also protect people around them. It's interesting, in Chicago, I took public transportation Tuesday right after the announcement was made and everybody was wearing a mask. So, even though the judge made this decision, people should continue to wear masks in public transportation for public health reasons. And it will probably people, young children who haven't been vaccinated, will protect people who are immunocompromised, will protect the elderly as well. These are public health measures we can all do even if a federal judge made a decision like that.

KEILAR: Dr. Morita, we appreciate you being with us this morning. Thank you so much.

MORITA: Thank you.

KEILAR: His zoo was bombarded while starving animals and two brave employees were still inside. The founder of one of Ukraine's most famous and now destroyed zoos is going to join New Day next.

And what caused Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other finance ministers to storm out of a g20 meeting?

Plus, back in the U.S., Johnny Depp takes the stand, accusing his ex- wife of severing his finger.



SCIUTTO: A diplomatic walkout to protest Russia's bloody war here in Ukraine. CNN reporters are covering the latest news on the battle from all angles.


Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and finance ministers from other western countries walking out as a top Russian official began speaking at the G20 conference on Wednesday, Yellen and finance ministers from other countries, including Canada, walking out as the Russian finance minister, Anton Siluanov, began speaking at the G20 conference.

Treasury Department officials making very clear, as Secretary Yellen did, as she testified before Congress previously, that this will not be business as usual as it relates to Russians and these global conferences.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Clare Sebastian in London. It's emerged a Ukrainian millionaire businessman actually told the Ukrainian military to bomb his own home. Andrey Stavnitser told British T.V. program Good Morning, Britain. But in early March of the year, he fled his home 18 miles west of Kyiv, he says he was able to see on a webcam that Russian soldiers had come into his home and brought heavy weapons onto his property, weapons he believes they were using to go fire on the capital. He says contacting the Ukrainian military and giving coordinates of his house was a little piece he could do to help Ukraine win the war.

RAFAEL ROMO, ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rafael Romo in Lviv, Ukraine. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is requesting audiences with both Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv. According to a statement by Guterres' office, the purpose for meeting with both presidents is discussing urgent steps to bring about peace in Ukraine and the future of multilateralism based on charter of the United Nations and international law.

Separate letters were handed over yesterday to the permanent admissions of the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

SCIUTTO: We continue to follow the breaking news out of Mariupol in the south of this country this morning. President Putin, he is claiming victory. President Zelenskyy of Ukraine says that thousands of civilians currently blockaded inside. They fear for their lives. Their lives hang in the balance this morning.

Back in the U.S., a business story we're following, billions of dollars wiped off Netflix's value in one day. What is wrong with the once dominant streaming giant?