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Putin Declares Crimea Bridge Explosion Terror Attack by Ukraine; Missile Attacks Rock Ukraine Ahead of Putin's Security Council Meeting; North Korea Claims Missile Launches Show Tactical Nuclear Readiness; 2 People Shot Outside Rep. Zeldin's Home; Rick Scott & Tom Cotton to Campaign for Herschel Walker. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 10, 2022 - 06:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: "Russians are trying to annihilate us." That is from Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, following overnight missile and rocket attacks across Ukraine. It's Monday, October 10. I'm Brianna Keilar with Alex Marquardt this morning. Great to have you.



KEILAR: And John Berman is off this morning.

A barrage of deadly large explosions rocking Ukraine. A Ukrainian commander saying that 75 rockets were fired. At least four blasts targeting several locations during rush hour in central Kyiv.

Officials say at least five people have been killed and 12 injured. Surveillance video captured the moment that a pedestrian bridge in Kyiv was struck by an explosion, or at least nearby. And a children's playground was among the sites, as well, hit by a rocket or missile attack.

A crater left just feet away from a jungle gym.

The mayor of Kyiv now urging people to stay out of the city, to remain in shelters. Explosions were also reported in cities like Lviv, Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia.

MARQUARDT: And happening now, Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding a meeting with his National Security Council after declaring the explosion on a key bridge that links Russia to Russian-occupied Crimea, he called it a terrorist attack that was orchestrated by Ukraine.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have no doubts that this is a terrorist attack aimed at the destruction of the critical infrastructure of the Russian Federation. And authors, executors and masterminds are the secret service of Ukraine.


MARQUARDT: Ukrainian officials have not claimed responsibility but they, along with Ukrainian civilians, have been celebrating the explosion on that bridge.

Many people being spotted taking selfies with artwork in Kyiv, showing two fiery blasts on the Kerch bridge.

Now all this comes amid glowing concerns about the nuclear threat posed by Moscow. The Kremlin spokesman has, however, dismissed the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons in retaliation.

KEILAR: Let's get right to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen. He is in Kyiv, live for us near where one of those missiles struck.

Fred, can you tell us what is the latest there on the ground?


It was a rude awakening for us this morning in the Ukrainian capital. I'd say the first impact that we heard was at around 8:15 in the morning. That would be around 1:15 in the morning your time. And then it was followed by just several other explosions.

You can see behind me, there's a tractor is trying to clear some of the debris. I'm actually in exactly the other side of where that one rocket hit that also damaged that playground that you guys were talking about.

And I do have one update that I just got a couple of seconds ago, Brianna. The Ukrainians are now saying it was 83 missiles that have so far been launched towards Ukrainian territory by the Russians. And they say about 43 of those have been taken out by Ukrainian air defenses, obviously, from what we've been seeing throughout the day.

Some of those missiles did make it through.

I want to show you just how powerful these missiles were, because we've been just walking around here. We're quite a ways away from that explosion. I managed to pick up some of the shrapnel pieces, which appear to be from a warhead from that missile. That was confirmed to me by some of the Ukrainian clean-up crews here.

And you can see that these are just actually deadly, very sharp-edged, that they get very hot, as well. We did see the recovery crews take away one body here.

The latest information that we have, guys, is that five people were killed here in Kyiv, and more than a dozen were wounded. However, of course, as you can imagine right now, with this being an ongoing situation, that number could change, guys.

MARQUARDT: Eighty-three missiles that are certainly going to ramp up calls for air defense systems from the West. Fred, it does look like many of the targets today were not military targets; instead critical infrastructure. What more do we know?

PLEITGEN: Yes, that's absolutely correct, Alex. And essentially, what the Ukrainian president has been saying, local officials, as well, that they believe that the Russians are targeting energy infrastructure and, in fact, there are some places where there's power outages. Lviv for instance, in some areas, apparently there's power outages.

Kharkiv, as well, there's some power outages there. Obviously, a lot of places were targeted.

But they do say it seemed as though the Russians were going, at least in part, for critical infrastructure. Interesting one thing here, which really is a bizarre target, if you will. They hit a pedestrian bridge here in Kyiv, which really has no logistical value whatsoever for the Ukrainians.

And if you look at the target of the area behind me, that impact -- the impact crater that you guys are seeing, that's right in the middle of a civilian crossing.

And of course, if we're talking about 8:15, 8:30, there would have been a lot of people who were out there. Again, so far, we've seen them take away one body.

And that's also the area where that children's playground is. We don't really see any military target.

One of the things that the Russians also said, of course, when the U.S. started delivering those multiple-launch rocket systems earlier this year, is that Vladimir Putin said at some point they would go after decision making centers.

We are, of course, in central Kyiv. There are some government institutions here in the center of Kyiv. We don't believe that any of those were hit.

However, is that one of the targets that the Russians also had? Absolutely unclear. But the Ukrainian president said he does believe that Ukrainian civilians were also the target of these Russian strikes that did cause a lot of havoc here this morning.

KEILAR: And the clock doesn't lie. Clearly timed for rush hour here, there in Kyiv.

Fred, thank you so much for the report.

MARQUARDT: Let's turn now to CNN senior international correspondent and Matthew Chance. Matthew, what are the Russians saying about the strikes all across Ukraine today?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENTHe: Well, actually, Vladimir Putin is, right as we speak, giving some address to his Security Council in the Russian capital, where the expectation is he'll be addressing this upsurge in attacks against various targets across -- across Ukraine. There's been a limited reaction so far from the Kremlin. Dmitry

Peskov, who's of course, the Kremlin spokesperson, giving his daily conference call earlier today.

And he was asked whether the attacks on Ukraine were Russia's answer to the Crimea bridge explosion. But he said that -- he sort of side- stepped that question and said that everything that's being done is being done within the framework of the special military operation. Of course, what Russia calls its conflict in Ukraine.

He said -- he was asked whether, also during this conference call, whether it was Putin's direct orders that led to this upsurge in rocket and missile attacks.

And he said that the key points of the operation cannot be carried out without reporting to him. And so, you know, he's reiterating this idea that it's Vladimir Putin, rather than the military commanders of the Russian army, that are basically calling the shots when it -- literally when it comes to this ongoing conflict in the country, Alex.

KEILAR: Matthew, we just haven't seen an assault like this, so widespread in months and months here. What do you make of the timing of this coming after that bridge attack across the Kerch Strait that is so essential to the Russian effort there in Ukraine?

CHANCE: Yes, I mean, the bridge attack has been a massive slap in the face for Vladimir Putin personally and for the Russians in general, as has the pushback that's been underway for the past couple of weeks around Kharkiv and in the South of the country, as well. The Northeast of Ukraine, the South of the country, as well.

The big military setbacks that Russia has suffered have really started to spark a lot of criticism inside Russia, not from the sort of liberal side of the -- of the opposition, if you like, in Russia who against the war on moral grounds. But from the hard liners who are saying, look, you know, we should take the gloves off and really show Ukraine, essentially to paraphrase, what we're made of.

And so, you know, this massive bombardment of missiles on Ukraine today may be, in part a response to that criticism by the Kremlin.

MARQUARDT: Yes. Those hard liners will certainly be happy to see what Russia is doing this morning.

Matthew Chance in London, thank you very much, sir.

KEILAR: And joining us now by phone is Andriy Kononenko. He was not far from the Kyiv blast site. He's now sheltering in place.

Andre, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Can you just explain to us what happened this morning and what you're seeing now?

ANDRIY KONONENKO, LANGUAGE AND AREA STUDIES EDUCATOR, KYIV (via phone): Hi, Brianna, nice to have you here. And I'm here at the intersection of -- intersection of Boulevard -- Kochenko (ph) Boulevard and Wilevinas (ph) Street. It's a quite central area, and it's a central site for me, because it is my alma major area.

I had two runs at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in my life. And to see it like -- like to see it in this shape is very, very sad.

So this is what's going on. The rocket hit right in the most busy intersection here on these crossings that I mentioned, killing at least five people. This is in between the buildings. The yellow buildings, we call it, where students study linguistics.

So this is where the busiest part of town and the other rocket hit the playground inside the park where I played with my children when they were young. And that is just crucial -- crucially, crucially painful for me to see that.

So I woke up this morning to these explosions on the left bank of the river, which is quite unusual, because we don't usually hear what's on the right bank. The essential part is on the right bank. Kyiv is, like Chicago, split by the River Dnipro.

So the left bank is far from the right. And the nearest explosions fell near the bridge, which I use every day driving to work and elsewhere. It's just all up in smoke. But the rocket missed the bridge and hit the area near the bridge, so that's good.

KEILAR: The -- and the air-raid alarm has actually been ongoing for hours. Is that right?

KONONENKO (via phone): Yes. The alarm was going for hours. And I have an American friend who's staying here, so I was worried about her. I went to get her, make sure that she was in the shelter, spent time with her a little bit. And then I went here just to give you this feedback now.

So this is all happening so quick.


KONONENKO (via phone): So quick. And as I was heading towards the right bank, the explosions were taking place. And I have no idea why they hit that pedestrian bridge for the tourists to see the views of the city. Where I am is a beautiful tourist area. There's absolutely nothing here that would even prompt a military or key infrastructure. This was just laid-back tourist area people love populate and spend time. And students, too. And students. A lot of students.


KEILAR: A student area, no infrastructure, so important to note. Andriy, thank you so much for being back with us. We appreciate it.

KONONENKO (via phone): Yes.

KEILAR: Joining us now is CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger. He's also a White House and national security correspondent for "The New York Times." David, what are you making of just these developments? The bridge

attack over the Kerch Strait. And now what you are seeing as Russia is striking so many targets across Ukraine. And we're not sure when this is going to end.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Brianna, I think there is a bit of a turn in the war going on. Seven months ago, we thought that Russia had a strategy for taking over Crimea. The strategy failed. They don't have that now. I don't think they've got the hope of that. They clearly don't have the troops or the capability.

So now they have a strategy for terrorizing and destroying good parts of Ukraine. And that's really the -- been the reaction to the Kerch bridge attack.

I think by going after Crimea and the bridge -- the bridge, of course, connects Crimea to -- to the rest of Russia -- they were going after a pet project of President Putin's. He was the one who ordered the creation of that bridge and was present at its unveiling for operation four years ago.

But they were also suggesting that, in Ukraine's mind, the war included taking back Crimea. And I think that's led, in part, to escalation on both sides. I think the escalation would have happened anyway.

The good news is that the president's spokesman, Mr. Peskov, said that the bridge attack was not a reason to use nuclear weapons. I guess that's small solace, but we are seeing a real reign of terror here.

MARQUARDT: David, do you think this signals an expansion of the battlefield, or is this really just a quick knee-jerk reaction to the strike, the sabotage of Putin's pet project in that bridge?

SANGER: So great question, Alex. And I think it depends on how long this lasts.

It is interesting that they were aiming largely at energy production, at electric grid areas. And what's fascinating to me about that, Alex, is that they spent years, the Russians, developing cyberattacks against the energy infrastructure of Ukraine.

And you'll remember, they did some of those in 2015 and 2016. To some degree, that hardened the Ukrainians against the Russian cyberattacks.

Now they've gone back to, basically, the old-fashioned way, which is trying to blow up electric -- electricity production areas, substations, things like that.

And I think it tells you that, in the winter, the Russians think they have an advantage, because they can go after infrastructure that would leave Ukrainians in the dark, on the whole.

KEILAR: These missile strikes, clearly , a show of force by Russia but do you see it as a show of strength or not? SANGER: Not really. I mean, you know, at the end of the day, with a

missile strike, you have killed innocent civilians, hit downtown areas, shown your reach.

But there's no strategy in that, Brianna, for actually taking the country back, which, of course, was Putin's initial goal.

Now he has reset some of his goals, and he's speaking now with his national security conference that he has put together, his council. And we'll see whether or not he announces, you know, some actual goals here.

But at this moment, we don't really understand a strategy for Putin either to have an off-ramp, to use a phrase that P resident Biden used the other day at a fund-raiser in New York, or to have an escalation that would actually achieve his strategic objectives. So he's just sort of lashing out.

KEILAR: David Sanger, it's always great to have your perspective on this. Thank you so much.

That's just the question we have to ask, right? To what end? Besides maybe a salve to a bruised ego here over this bridge.

MARQUARDT: Right. And major questions whether, as David was noting, the Russians can maintain that because they have had a shortage of -- of missiles.

KEILAR: Yes, definitely.

MARQUARDT: Very interesting to see what happens next.

Let's turn now to North Korea. This morning, North Korean state media says that it's recent ballistic missile launches are intended to show its ability to fire tactical nuclear warheads at potential targets to -- against South Korea.

And this comes after Pyongyang fired two short-range missiles on Sunday. CNN's Will Ripley joins us now from Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.


Will, the state-run broadcast from North Korea said that Kim Jong-un personally guided this recent wave of military drills and tactical nuclear tests.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And he was all over state media after six months of silence. They didn't publicize these launches within 24 hours, which has been standard operating procedure all the years that I've covered North Korea.

Usually, they'd have a launch. Twenty-four hours later, they'd have a front-page story. But for months they were doing all of these tests, this unprecedented number of missile -- ballistic and cruise missile tests, you know, and nothing. No coverage. And so I actually said a couple days ago, OK, maybe this it is all for

science. Maybe it's not for propaganda. And then, of course, today's special edition, you know, multi-color spread. Kim Jong-un in different color-coordinated outfits for the different kind of missiles that he was testing.

Clearly, this was for propaganda. I mean, they carefully crafted this. You know, 25 launch events this year, highest level of tension since 2017. And Kim Jong-un quoted, you know, saying that nuclear combat forces are fully ready to hit and wipe out, you know, airports in South Korea. Not to mention the U.S. Army's Camp Humphry is the largest military installation outside of the United States. You have 38,000 service members there.

So these tactical nukes that North Korea is developing, Alex, could really pose a real threat if they perfect this technology.

KEILAR: And Will, South Korea's National Security Council held an emergency council meeting yesterday after the most recent provocations. Are they planning sanctions in response?

RIPLEY: Well, look, there's always talk about sanctions, but this is the thing, Brianna. North Korea is the most heavily-sanctioned economy on earth.

In a way, when I've been there and I've talked to them about more sanctions. They almost laugh it off because they find ways to get around it. Whether it's illicit oil transfers on the high sea or stealing cryptocurrency, you know, from online casinos, they find a way. They've found a way for years. And there's no indication that they're going to continue to not find a way.

No matter what sanctions have been thrown, no matter what military pressure has been put, they just keep growing and building this arsenal. So when you have the United States and others calling for complete denuclearization, North Korea wrote in their constitution they're going to be a nuclear power forever. Someone needs to maybe have another look at a playbook here and try to figure out a new strategy is what a lot of experts are saying.

MARQUARDT: Twenty-five missile launch events so far this year. Really unnerving times around the Korean Peninsula.

Will Ripley in Taipei, thank you very much.

MARQUARDT: We are following more news today, including Republicans rallying behind the embattled Georgia Senate candidate, Herschel Walker, as the countdown to the midterms hit the four-week mark.

KEILAR: Plus gunshots ringing out near the home of New York Republican, gubernatorial candidate, Congressman Lee Zeldin. What we are learning this morning.

And it's set to be a busy week for the U.S. economy. Reports Wall Street has its eyes on ahead.



MARQUARDT: Gunfire ringing out near the home of New York Congressman Lee Zeldin. The Republican candidate for governor says that his family was not hurt, but two people were found with gunshot wounds near Zeldin's front porch.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us now with the latest. Brynn, what do we know about this shooting?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Alex, let's reiterate. It is important to note that this incident had nothing to do with the Zeldin family, and no one in the congressman's family was hurt. But really, what a scare, particularly for Zeldin's two teenage daughters.

A law enforcement source telling CNN the two men injured in this were walking down the same block where Zeldin lives on Long Island when a car pulled up and opened fire.

The men ran towards Zeldin's house and hid under his front porch and in the bushes, according to the congressman. Zeldin and his wife were not home, but his 16-year-old daughters were.

Zeldin responding to what happened in a tweet, saying this. "Thank you to all who reached out regarding the two people shot this afternoon outside my home. Mikayla and Arianna were at the kitchen table doing homework. One of the bullets landed just 30 feet away. They acted very swiftly and smartly. And Diana and I are extremely proud of them."

The family provided security footage to investigators and reportedly did not know the two individuals shot, who were brought to the hospital and are expected to survive. The shooting is being investigated as possibly gang-related.

KEILAR: How scary for the family. So this isn't the first time that Zeldin has run into an incident. What's happening here?

GINGRAS: Yes, you guys might have remembered this. The Republican congressman himself, he was a victim of a different incident back in July when a man allegedly tried to stab him while he was giving a speech on the campaign trail in New York.

Zeldin, as you probably know, is trying to win the New York governor's seat in a few weeks and has focused his campaign on the rising crime and what he believes is causing it.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who he faces of the ballot in November, she tweeted about this latest incident. She said, "As we await more details, I'm relieved to hear the Zeldin family is safe and grateful for law enforcement's quick response."

But certainly, as you guys said, such scary moments for that entire family there.

MARQUARDT: We are also, of course, relieved that they are safe. Thank you very much, Brynn Gingras in New York.

KEILAR: So here with just four weeks left to go until the midterms, many are focused on Georgia's Senate race between incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker.

The spotlight on the race growing even more after a report in "The Daily Beast" from a woman who claims that Walker paid for her to have an abortion, despite his public and strong anti-abortion stance.

Here's how the former football star and some of his high-profile supporters have been defending Walker's candidacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: They are desperate to make this race about my family. They know they don't want to talk about Joe Biden and Raphael Warnock, what they've done to Georgia families.

DANA LOESCH, FORMER NRA SPOKESWOMAN: I don't care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles. I want control of the Senate.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: He'll do more to change the Senate just by the sheer presence, by his confidence, by his deep commitment to Christ.

He's been through a long, tough period. He had a lot of concussions coming out of football. He suffered PTSD.


KEILAR: Now, tomorrow Republican senators Rick Scott and Tom Cotton will travel to Georgia to campaign with Walker.

Joining us now is "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" reporter Patricia Murphy.

So look, he's getting the backup there, I wonder, Patricia, I don't think we really have the poll numbers to show any movement here yet. What are you hearing from people on the ground? Is this having any impact or is this just kind of baked into Herschel Walker's candidacy?

PATRICIA MURPHY, REPORTER, "ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION": I don't think it's baked into the candidacy. We all knew that Herschel Walker had a past that had not been fully examined. I don't think anybody thought at the beginning of this process that all of this would come out about Herschel Walker.

Republicans were wary of Herschel Walker's candidacy because of this reason, but I don't think even they could have conceived of how chaotic it would have gotten.

I think the real problem for Herschel Walker now, in addition to all of these allegations, is that it has just completely frozen his support among Republicans. He had not yet consolidated the Republican base yet. We were still seeing voters, even before these scandals, Republicans voting in small numbers but important numbers for Raphael Warnock. There were split-ticket voters: people voting for Governor Brian kemp, the Republican, and Raphael Warnock.

So this has obviously put a huge, huge wrench in the Walker campaign's efforts to consolidate those Republican voters, and then start to get some independents over, as well.

KEILAR: When you see Senators Rick Scott and Tom Cotton in Georgia today, campaigning for Walker, what does that signify?

MURPHY: Listen, it signifies the Republicans have no choice at this point. It's too late to put anybody else on the ballot.

And also, the GOP base here in Georgia elected Herschel Walker with nearly 70 percent of the vote. There were a lot of other Republicans running, more traditional candidates, highly qualified. But Republicans here, a lot of them are Trump supporters, also picked Herschel Walker.

So there's no way to change who's on the ballot. All they can do, in their mind, is hopefully keep Raphael Warnock under 50 percent. That would push this to a runoff in December and hopefully, in their minds, live to fight another day, if it all comes down to control of the U.S. Senate. We're hearing there's nothing Republicans wouldn't do to hold onto this seat and win it back.

KEILAR: Of course it matters where Democrats are. And as you have pointed out on social media, Keisha Lance Bottoms, the former mayor of Atlanta, current White House advisor, was saying that she's really concerned about the lack of enthusiasm that she's seen among Georgia Democratic voters. You'd expect that she'd have a pretty good finger on the pulse of that.

MURPHY: Yes. That was also a comment that other Democrats in the state did not appreciate, of course.

We are seeing -- it feels different than it did from 2020, when Joe Biden won the state and the two Democratic senators won their seats in the 2021 runoffs. It feels a little different. but because of the Herschel Walker scandal, it just puts all of this into unknown territory.

Stacey Abrams, indeed, is trailing Governor Brian Kemp by at least five points in most polls. She has not been gathering the kind of enthusiasm, the crossover appeal that they would have liked to have seen by now.

Democrats believed very firmly that abortion and abortion voters are not getting picked up in these polls and that there will be a different electorate that shows up on November 8.

But right now, it's just an effort to get as much momentum as possible, and early voting starts here in Georgia a week from today.

KEILAR: Patricia, it's always great to speak with you and get your perspective there out of Georgia. Thank you so much.

Ahead, more on the overnight missile strikes across Ukraine. How will President Zelenskyy and international leaders respond.?

MARQUARDT: And the latest on the deadly protests in Iran as human rights officials say nearly 200 people, including at least 19 children, have been killed in the latest uprising. We'll be right back.