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New Day

Mariupol on the Brink of Catastrophe as Russians Surround Compound; U.S. Spends $3.4 Billion on Ukraine Over Past Two Months of War; Intercepted Audio Implies Russian Troops Talking About Killing POWs; Ukrainian Pilot Trained by U.S. Speaks on Russia's War. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired April 22, 2022 - 07:00   ET



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question that if you've been previously infected that can provide immunity. But the real issue has been how consistent is it, how predictable is it. Somebody who's older, who has a weakened immune system, they may generate as much protection as someone who is younger, for example, who got very sick. It's hard to predict.

And obviously, Brianna, if you have to get immunity through the infection versus vaccination, infection can make you sick, it can leave to long COVID symptoms. And that's the balance. That's the real balance back and forth.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Those graphs don't lie in the protection and how dependable one is over the other.

Sanjay, thank you so much for that.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Friday, April 22nd. I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington with Jim Sciutto in Lviv, Ukraine. And we are beginning with breaking news.

Mariupol is close to a catastrophe. That is how the owner of the Azovstal steel plant is describing the situation on the ground right now. Food, water, ammunition growing more scarce by the hour. Men, women, and children, hundreds of them, still hiding inside the battered and burnt-out fortress. And there is still no agreement on evacuation corridors out of Mariupol for the thousands upon thousands of others in the city, mostly because the Ukrainians fear those routes will be attacked by Russian forces because they have been.

This morning, these disturbing satellite images revealing rows of mass graves. Russian soldiers accused of dumping the bodies of countless women, and children, and men into these ditches to cover their crimes. There are more than 200 new graves in these set of photos.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Think of that in the 21st century. Mass killing and mass graves. That's where we are. The mayor of Mariupol which has seen some of the worst of it calls all this evidence of war crimes. I spoke to him earlier this morning, and he told me that more than 20,000 people have died in his city. 20,000.

And U.N. Human Rights officers just announced they have now documented the unlawful killing of approximately 50 people in Bucha. That's a suburb of Kyiv, including some by summary execution.

Meanwhile, President Biden says the war is now entering a critical window. He has announced a new $800 million Ukraine weapons package, the second in just over a week. The focus of this new package heavy artillery and drones. That's to prepare for what's expected to be a bloody, bloody fight in the east.

President Zelenskyy tells the World Bank his country will now need $7 billion a month, a month, to make up for economic losses. In eastern Ukraine, the Russian are making attempts to advance. Overnight heavy fighting reported in both the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east. Evacuation attempts were disrupted once again by Russian shelling. This has happened before. They attack the humanitarian corridors. That stopped a bus from leaving the town safely.

And in new intercepted audio released by the Ukrainian military, Russian soldiers are heard referring to an alleged order to kill Ukrainian prisoners of war. Orders. We'll play it for you ahead. It's shocking.

Matt Rivers is here with me in Lviv this morning. And every day we are chronicling, we're witnessing alleged war crimes in the prosecution of this war.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No question about that, Jim. And the latest coming in that satellite imagery you mentioned which really, you know, in speaking to people in Mariupol, as we have over the past few days, there's a fear that, you know, those kinds of satellite images that show something around 200 graves potentially, according to Maxar, the satellite company that took them and analyzed them.

You're looking at what could be the tip of the iceberg. And you know, you spoke to the mayor of Mariupol earlier saying that 20,000 civilians were killed, so there is a distinct fear amongst people in Mariupol that graves like that could just be the beginning, especially given what we've seen what the Russians did in northern Ukraine, for example, in places like Bucha.

In Mariupol today, unfortunately, yet another day where there will not be evacuation corridors set up. And we have seen just a trickle of people be able to leave over Mariupol. I'm here at the Lviv train station where in just a little while we are expecting a train with some of the people who managed to get out of Mariupol to arrive. It's a little bit delayed, but we are expecting people on that train. But what I can tell you is that officials are not saying there are

nearly as many people on that train as there should be. Tens of thousands of people remain in Mariupol after evacuation corridors that were set up both yesterday and the day before didn't work as planned. Yesterday some 200 people queued up to ready to leave Mariupol, and yet the Ukrainian deputy prime minister saying that the buses could not leave because of shelling by the Russians that took place near where that bus was getting ready to leave.


So that is the situation in Mariupol, Jim. Just a horrific situation. It is not getting any better, even though it desperately needs to.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, and the fact is if Russia wanted those civilians to leave safely, it can make that happen. It could allow it to happen. It's not allowing it to happen. And oftentimes attacking those people as they leave.

Matt Rivers there in Lviv, with just some of the many Ukrainians displaced by this war.

As Russia intensifies its war in Ukraine, the U.S. is stepping up its commitment to help Ukrainians defend their country. In total, just how much is the Biden administration spending with the security assistance, the weapons, et cetera, coming here into Ukraine?

CNN's Barbara Starr, she's live at the Pentagon to break it down.

Yes, it's been a remarkable couple of weeks, right? Because in the span of two weeks, two $800 million packages loaded with weapons and other forms of aid. So when you step back and you add it all up, where do we stand now?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now it's $3.4 billion in U.S. weapons and military assistance that's gone to Ukraine. The latest, as you say, announced yesterday. You see it there. But right off the top, the president says it will not be enough. He will go back to Congress to seek more financial authority for additional weapons shipments to Ukraine.

And right now what they are also doing, of course, is scouring Europe, talking to the allies, talking to countries on that NATO eastern flank, to see what they have in their inventory that they can contribute.

The shipments are beginning to change character a little bit. In the beginning, as we know, it was largely anti-tank Javelin systems, anti- air Stinger systems. And that's still going. But the latest group of weapons announced yesterday, and let's take a deeper dive look into that, focused a lot, continuing to focus on this towed artillery that they hope to get into eastern Ukraine.

Right now in the weapons packages just announced in the last few days it's going to be enough towed artillery they say to equip five battalions. That is significant. That is beginning to build a Ukraine army, a miliary force that they really hope will be able to challenge the Russians in the east. But there are very fundamental things that are going to be needed to make that work.

What fuels an army? Spare parts, maintenance, command and control, communications, good training. All of these things are going to be necessary to keep the Ukraine forces going. As much as they are fighting on sheer will, they're going to need these additional elements to make it all work, according to U.S. officials.

And let me just add one last thing, Jim. What we are not seeing on that list may be very important. There is increased intelligence sharing by all accounts giving the Ukrainians a better idea of how and where the Russians may be maneuvering -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: And you make a good point. Because the change in weapons speaks to the change in the character of the battle. The Stingers, the Javelins, that speaks to kind of ambushes we saw in the north. These artillery pieces, the tanks and so on, I mean, this is for like a big armored formation, kind of World War II grinding battle. And those weapons speak to it.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks so much.

STARR: Sure.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, we will be joined by the Pentagon with more on those weapons going in and how the next phase of the war is shaping up. Speaking to John Kirby there. It's going to be an important interview -- Brianna.

KEILAR: So Ukraine's military --

SCIUTTO: Well, we also have this Ukraine's military intelligence --

KEILAR: Sorry, Jim. You go on.

SCIUTTO: You go, Brianna.

KEILAR: No, you go on.

SCIUTTO: No. This is what happens when you're anchoring things from a few thousand miles away. Ukrainian military intelligence released what it says are communications intercepted of Russian armed forces referring to orders, orders to kill Ukrainian prisoners of war. This in the city of Papasana in the eastern region of Luhansk. Have a listen to one of these.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What can I tell you, damn it? (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You keep the most senior among them and left the rest go forever. Let them go forever, damn it, so that no one will ever see them again, including relatives.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: "Let them go forever so no one will ever see them again." CNN, we should note, has not been able to independently vouch for the authenticity of the recording. That said, there is precedent for this. We know that Russian forces have been using unsecured lines, often just a local cell phone network to communicate. And that allows for relatively easy interception by intelligence services.

Joining us now Steve Hall, he's a national security analyst and a former CIA chief of Russia operations. He knows a thing or two about how the Russians operate.


It's good to have you on, Steve. I mean, your knowledge always helps us understand. One big picture question I want to is this, is what the Russian goals are now and can they achieve them? The Russians are now publicly saying this morning that their goal really is this. They want to basically capture the entire coastline of Ukraine, including Odessa and then connect to Moldova, the Transnistria region we asked about. Is that achievable for Russia?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, Jim, I think it's going to be a tough row to hoe even though if you look at the map, I mean, it looks like the Russians, of course, control quite a bit, as well as the, you know, the separatists so-called that are also cooperating with them. So they've also got a large swath of this. But as of today, you're absolutely right.

What we heard was is they're going to look even further to connect up a little further over here. So they've already got all of this. What they're looking to do is to get into this area right here, which is Moldova. This is Moldova. And there's already Russian troops in this part of the country. So what they're trying to do is they're trying to push all the way through.

Now, to do that, though, what they've got to do is they've got to get to Odessa. This is a really key tactical and strategic point because if they get all of this, then you'll see what happens pretty quickly, is that you've got a country, Ukraine, which is entirely cut off from the sea. If they take all of this and are able to link up with those Russian troops that are already in Moldova, that's going to be a significant challenge. But it's not going to be an easy thing for the Russians to do, I don't think.

KEILAR: Yes. The hit to the economy from that, I mean, we can't even overstate what that would mean for Ukraine here.

Steve, I do want to ask you about those recordings that we're hearing. If you can talk a little bit about what your read is on that. They're talking killing POWs.

HALL: Yes, first, with regard to the believability, if you will, of these recordings, the SBU, the intelligence service in Ukraine, is very good at intercepting these things. And they're also very good at sort of what we're doing now, too, which is getting that intelligence out there quickly to show people what's going on. You know, it's unconfirmed. There is a possibility, although I think

it is relatively low, that the Ukrainians are just making all this stuff up. I think they're actually -- these conversations are actually going on. But of course even more disturbing is what's going on in these conversations where you have Russian soldiers and assumably their, you know, immediate commanders, telling them, look, go ahead and kill people, go ahead and kill civilians.

It shouldn't be that much of a surprise because we have seen basically the leveling of cities like Mariupol, to include the killing of innocents, not to mention the destruction, unnecessary destruction of non-military targets. So when you hear this stuff in black about, you know, orders being given so ahead and kill whoever you need to, it's pretty chilling.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen. Echoes of Nuremberg. Just following orders.

I want to ask you about something else because there have been a series of mysterious deaths. Oligarchs overseas. Sergey Protosenya, his wife and daughter found dead. This is at their home in Spain. Investigators looking into the possibility of a murder-suicide. This follows another Russian gas boss found dead.

In my experience of covering Russia, when for instance journalists fall off balconies or opposition leaders are poisoned or things like this, it's not by accident. When you see these deaths, what do you think?

HALL: You know, it's easy for those of us in the West to sort of say, well, perhaps these are big conspiracy theories. Perhaps these people just died natural deaths. But the problem is that whenever you get somebody who speaks out against the Russian government, whether it's an oligarch or whether it's somebody who's inside of Russia like Navalny, or whether it's any of the people that the Russians have killed or tried to kill outside of Russia, you begin to see this pattern of the Russian government going after its critics regardless as to whether or not they're inside Russia, which makes it easier, or even outside.

We can't forget Sergei Skripal a couple of years ago who's living in Great Britain at the time, and was, you know, the subject of an assassination attempt. So these oligarchs are in very difficult positions. If they're outside of Russia they're uncomfortable with what's going on. It affects them economically, and they start speaking out against Russia. But then these things start to happen, which serves Putin's cause, which is to put a damper on these types of people.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Think of the list. Alexander -- Alexey Navalny, Alexander Litvinenko, Sergei Skripal, going back to Viktor Yushchenko poisoned, former president here of Ukraine.

HALL: Yes.

SCIUTTO: There's a pattern there. Steve Hall, thanks for helping us connect the dots. HALL: Sure.

SCIUTTO: As the U.S. pledges another round of military aid, that means weapons for Ukraine, an American trained fighter pilot who goes by the name "Juice," he's going to join NEW DAY to tell us about his fights, there he is, again the Russians.

Plus, back in the U.S., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, he's called it a lie that he considered asking Donald Trump to resign. However listen to the tape.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign.




SCIUTTO: The U.S. is sending another $800 million in heavy weapons to Ukraine. The intention to help the Ukrainian military in the east. Also recently the U.S. and NATO sent spare parts that it says will get another 20 Ukrainian aircraft, military aircraft up into the skies again.

Joining me now is one of the pilots, Ukrainian Air Force pilot trained by Americans flying some of those jets. He goes by the call sign "Juice."

Juice, it's good to have you back on the show.



SCIUTTO: So it's been a month since you were last with us. You fly a MiG-29. But you said that Ukrainian pilots are just targets for Russian pilots who have more advanced jets. How do you stay ahead of them in the sky?

JUICE: Yes. Actually it's true because, you know, aerial war, it's not the combat just on the numbers. It's a combat of technology. That's why the Russians still have (INAUDIBLE) advantage against us, so that's why we need something more, something new. And we are just trying to hold the line, just to defend our citizens, our -- at that jets during some strike missions, et cetera. But it's not efficiently enough. And unfortunately we have (INAUDIBLE) during these two months.

SCIUTTO: Have you had encounters in recent days with Russian military jets, encounters in the air?

JUICE: We have a lot of sorties every day. Intercepting them and trying to engage them. But unfortunately it's almost unreal to engage them effectively at the moment because -- still because of technology. So we are just trying to push them from our areas, from our front line, from their bombers, from their attack aircraft and helicopters. But unfortunately it's just (INAUDIBLE) aur superiority. So as for me I'm also flying these missions. (INAUDIBLE) and I've been trying to cover them but it's very difficult and it's very dangerous.

SCIUTTO: Yes. There's been a lot of debate, as you know, and hesitation by the U.S. and NATO to send more aircraft directly to Ukraine. They have sent now more spare parts, which we're told gets 20 more aircraft up into the sky there. But do you have enough aircraft? Do you need more?

JUICE: Unfortunately, it's absolutely not enough to change the game in the air. Actually, it's -- of course it's helpful to maintain more Soviet jets here. But as I mentioned earlier, it is just prevention of some number of strikes. It' not real air superiority. So we have some jets fixed by the spares. But it could be some damaged aircraft after some operations here. So it's not a great number. It's just something to maintain our resistance in the air.

But not to win, absolutely not to win. That's why we need much more jets. And now I can tell you that not only is the number of Soviet jets, we need some advanced technologies. We need some advanced Western jets to win this battle in the air.

SCIUTTO: You know, early on at the beginning of this the prediction was that Russia would own the airspace immediately. That no Ukrainian jets would be able to fly. Are you amazed, proud, that two months in you're still flying?

JUICE: Yes, absolutely. And I just am happy that I'm alive. So I think it's great that our air force and our ground air defense are still keeping almost all areas of our peaceful regions and front line safe. But unfortunately, we couldn't tell the same about our eastern regions and south regions because we are not able to help these people, to help citizens of Mariupol and other cities like Kharkiv and Mykolaiv to be in safe absolutely.


SCIUTTO: I know. It must be difficult to watch. Ukrainian air force pilot goes by the name "Juice," thank you and be safe.

JUICE: Thank you, too.

SCIUTTO: Amazing to be able to speak to someone like that in the midst of this war.

Well, back in the U.S., what new audio further reveals about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's plans to ask then President Trump to resign following the Capitol attack. He said it was a lie. The audio makes that a lie.

Plus, just in, Congressman Liz Cheney who is on the January 6th Committee, responds to the tape. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)