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CNN TONIGHT: Biden Calls For Putin War Crimes Trial After Images Of Bucha Atrocities Surface; Ukrainian Lawmaker On Possible War Crimes By Russia; Human Rights Watch Documents "Apparent War Crimes" By Russia. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 04, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We have breaking news, from Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate, voted tonight, to move Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination, from the Judiciary Committee, to a full Senate vote.
A key step, obviously, in her historic nomination, at the Supreme Court, every Democrat and Republican senators, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Susan Collins of Maine, voted, in support of Judge Brown Jackson. All three Republicans, are expected to do the same, in the final vote, later, this week.
Stay with CNN, for the latest, from Ukraine. The news continues. Want to hand it over to Jake Tapper, and CNN TONIGHT.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Anderson, thanks so much.
I'm Jake Tapper. And this is CNN TONIGHT, live from Ukraine, on night 40, night 40 of hell.
I'm in Lviv, in the west. But all eyes, right now, are on Eastern Ukraine, right now. That's where Russian troops seem to be repositioning, from the Kyiv area, and could be preparing, for a new large-scale offensive.
Ukraine's Defense Ministry says that the Russians seem to be focused on capturing the second largest city, of Kharkiv, which is about 20 miles, from the Russian border. The Pentagon says that they have also seen more military operations, in the southeastern Donbas region.
This new phase comes, after Putin's forces, failed to capture, the capital of Kyiv, and they've now mostly withdrawn, from that specific region. We now have a much clearer picture of the atrocities that were committed there, while the Russians were there.
A sickening picture, in the town of Bucha, which is on the western outskirts, of Kyiv. By now, you may have seen the images. If you have not yet seen them? I have to warn you, they're extremely disturbing. But they're also an important record of history, scenes of a massacre, slaughter, torture, of civilians, in Bucha, bodies, bodies of civilians, lying all along the streets. Some victims found with their hands bound, shot execution-style, like, by gangsters. There are accounts of rapes and beatings and lootings. Kids were killed.
Also jarring is the site of mass graves. Around 150 victims, estimated to be buried, at one site. But the Mayor of Bucha says there could be up to actually 300 bodies, in that site. This has, of course, horrified the international community.
But the question is, what will the world do, to stop Putin, if anything?
President Biden said, without hesitation, today that these are war crimes. And Biden says, he wants to see Vladimir Putin put on trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal. Well, the truth of the matter - you saw what happened in Bucha. This warrants him - he is a war criminal.
We have to get all the detail, so this could be an actual - have a war crime trial. This guy is brutal.
I think it is a war crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, how to stop him? How to stop the war criminal?
The White House said the U.S. will addition - will issue additional sanctions, against Russia, this week, in response to what happened, in Bucha. The U.S. will continue to back Ukraine, with military aid, and humanitarian aid, and economic support.
But what is going to actually stop this? Can Putin be stopped?
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, today, visited the town of Bucha. He's calling the atrocities there, genocide. Zelenskyy also visited the nearby Kyiv suburb of Stoyanka, Ukraine. These are new drone images of the massive destruction, there.
Meanwhile, a very close call, for one of our CNN crews, today, positioned in southern Ukraine, just south of the city of Mykolaiv. Their vehicles were damaged significantly, by incoming artillery rounds.
Watch for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(ARTILLERY SHELLING, EARLIER TODAY, IN MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE). BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Down here, John, down here. Keep on rolling.
(ARTILLERY SHELLING, EARLIER TODAY, IN MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE)
WEDEMAN: Those shells came pretty close to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Thankfully, all are physically OK, including CNN's Senior International Correspondent, Ben Wedeman, who you just saw there, in that clip.
Let's turn now to another Senior International Correspondent, Fred Pleitgen who, with his own eyes, bore witness, to those horrific mass graves, in Bucha, today.
Fred, is witnessing up close what will be remembered, as much as anything, we've seen, so far, in Putin's war?
And Fred's live, in Kyiv, with his firsthand account. Fred?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Jake.
And the situation, in Bucha, certainly is one that can only be described as tragic. And I think one of the things that really stands out is that the Russian forces withdrew from that place, four days, a little more than four days ago.
And yet, down there, on the ground, the people, who are searching there, are still finding bodies, in the streets, in cars that were shot up, in basements, generally, in houses, also in houses. Quite frankly, that were destroyed also, in the fighting, as well.
So, the situation there, is tragic, for the people there. They're sad. They are angry. At the same time, they also vow that they want to carry on, obviously rebuild their town. But at the same time, they are still finding a lot of dead people, and they fear it will be a lot more.
And I need to warn our viewers that what you're about to see is extremely graphic, and extremely disturbing.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Ukrainian authorities, in Bucha, lead us into a basement, they call, a Russian execution chamber. It's a gruesome scene. Five bodies, their hands tied behind their backs, shot. The bullet casings, collected by Ukrainian police, pock marks from bullets, in the walls.
The Ukrainians say, these men were killed, when Russian forces used this compound, as a military base, while occupying Bucha. An adviser, to Ukraine's Interior Minister, not even trying to conceal, his anger.
ANTON GERASHCHENKO, ADVISER TO UKRAINE'S INTERIOR MINISTER: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
PLEITGEN (voice-over): "After the liberation of Bucha, five corpses of civilians, were found here," he says, "with their hands tied behind their backs. They were shot in the head and in the chest. They were tortured before."
Even, the body collectors, find it hard, to keep their composure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Vladislav Minchenko is usually a painter. Now, he collects the dead, left behind, after Russian forces, retreated from Bucha.
VLADISLAV MINCHENKO, VOLUNTEER BODY COLLECTOR: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
PLEITGEN (voice-over): "This is not what we learned in school," he says. "Do you see my hands? Hundreds, hundreds of dead, hundreds, not dozens."
The Kremlin has denied Russia was behind any atrocities, in Bucha.
(on camera): Now, the Russians say, the notion of their troops, having killed civilians, is all fake news and propaganda. But it does seem clear that they were here. That looks like a sort of foxhole position. And over there, they seem to have dug in, a tank.
(voice-over): On the outer wall, the letter "V," a symbol that Russian forces painted, on their vehicles, before invading, this part of Ukraine.
Now, a lot of Russian military hardware, lies destroyed, in the streets of Bucha, and other towns, around Kyiv, as the Ukrainians made a stand, and prevented Vladimir Putin's army, from entering the capital city.
Images, published shortly after, Russian forces left Bucha, show many corpses, lying in the streets. Some bodies had their hands tied, behind their backs.
President Biden calls what happened here, a war crime.
While visiting Bucha, Ukraine's President vowed to bring those behind the violence, against civilians, to justice.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
PLEITGEN (voice-over): "These are war crimes," he says. "And they will be recognized, by the world, as genocide. You are here, and you can see what happened. We know that thousands of people were killed, and tortured, tared (ph) limbs, raped women, and killed children." And still, the dead keep piling up. Many lay, in this mass grave, behind the main church, in Bucha. Local authorities tell us, around 150 people, are buried here. But no one knows the exact number. And here too, the scenes are tragic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Vladimir has been searching for his younger brother Dmitry. Now, he's convinced Dmitry lies here, even though he can't be 100 percent sure.
LIUBOV, BUCHA RESIDENT: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
PLEITGEN (voice-over): The neighbor, accompanying him, has strong words, for the Russians.
LIUBOV: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
PLEITGEN (voice-over): "Why do you hate Ukraine so much?" she says. "Since the 1930s, you have been abusing Ukraine. You just wanted to destroy us. You wanted us gone. But we will be, everything will be OK. I believe it."
LIUBOV: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
PLEITGEN (voice-over): But more corpses are already on the way.
At the end of the day, we meet Vladislav, and the body collectors, again. Another nine bodies found, in this tour, alone. And it's unlikely, they'll be the last.
PLEITGEN: And one thing that we have to keep in mind, Jake, is that the crews that are doing all this, they are all volunteers. And they tell us that they've already recovered those hundreds of bodies.
And as they were unloading that van, one of the things that really struck us the most, is that, first of all, some of those body bags, were already ripping apart, because they had so many bodies, in the back of that van.
But there were also some really small body bags that simply had single limbs, in some cases, really badly burned that obviously even make it difficult, to identify, some of the victims, of this. And there certainly, they say will be many, many more to come.
TAPPER: Well, that's the thing, right, Fred? I mean, there's this growing fear that there are going to be other places, like Bucha, with mass graves, and atrocities. Bucha was not the only city, under Russia control, for this long period of time. It's entirely possible, this is just a little - this is just the tip of the iceberg, right? [21:10:00]
PLEITGEN: Yes. And that's actually exactly the words that the Foreign Minister of Ukraine used today, saying that they do fear that there are going to be places.
And the President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he also said there could be other towns, where the situation could even be worse, if that's something that can be imagined, judging by the horrors that we've been seeing, in Bucha, over the past two days that we visited that place.
One of the things that I actually did, Jake, over this weekend, is I went to other sort of small towns, around Kyiv that were held by the Russians. There's another one, to the north, called Borodyanka. And there, you also see absolute massive destruction, as well.
And the authorities there, told us - you know, we saw a lot of houses that were completely destroyed. We have some of the video here. And there, they said, they believe that there's a lot of people, who are still buried dead, under those houses, they simply haven't been able to get to.
But actually, as we were in Borodyanka, there were people, who came to us, and said that they had found a dead body, in their backyard that we then went and saw, with his hands tied behind his back, and a bullet wound, to the head. And we still found those shell casings, next to that body as well.
So certainly, it could very well be the case that there could be more atrocities that could be discovered, and certainly a lot more civilians that have come to harm, and been killed, Jake.
TAPPER: Fred Pleitgen, in Kyiv, thank you so much, for that important, important report. Appreciate it.
All the devastation that we're seeing, took place, in just a matter of weeks. That only magnifies really what could be to come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It may not be just a matter of a few more weeks before all is said and done. That first, quote, unquote, "phase" of the conflict, of - the Russians put it, was measured in weeks.
This next phase could be measured in months or longer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Timelines matter, in war, even more so given that a U.S. military officer tells me, the Biden administration, in his view, is simply not doing enough, or moving fast enough, to get needed supplies, military supplies, into Ukrainian hands.
I'm joined now, by former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and retired General Wesley Clark. Welcome to both of you.
General, what can be done, to get the Ukrainians, the supplies, they need, quicker?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, EUROPE, SENIOR FELLOW, UCLA BURKLE CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: Well, for one thing, some of the supplies they need, are not in American hands. They're in the hands of our European allies.
So, in order to fight the next phase, of this battle, the Ukrainians have got to have tanks, they've got to have mobile artillery, they've got to have maybe 100,000 artillery rounds. This is big lift stuff that. It's cannot come in from the United States. Got to come from Poland, Bulgaria, and so forth.
I'm told the White House has still not cleared our Allies to release this. Now, I don't know what the issue is. Maybe the issue is the Allies say, "No, no, we can't give this up, until you give us M1 tanks, and new self-propelled artillery," or maybe the ally - maybe we're measuring this, in some way, and say, "Oh, we don't want to give them too much. Because we don't, you know, we don't want to escalate this, so that Putin uses the nuclear weapon."
But Jake, my view on this, is that we've got a window of opportunity, here, to give the Ukrainians, exactly what they're asking for. We've got to do it quickly, and let them finish the fight, with the Russians. This is not about stabilizing Ukraine. This point, it's about getting the Russians, out.
And darling (ph), after what we've seen today, how can there possibly, how could you reward an aggressor, by giving him a piece of this country, after what he's done? God, Russia has to be forced out. And it's up to the forceful arms (ph) of the Ukrainians to do it.
TAPPER: Mr. Ambassador, what can NATO do? What should NATO do, about the kind of atrocities, we're seeing, in places, like Bucha? I get it that Ukraine's not a NATO country. And there's a lot of reluctance and hesitation to have NATO or U.S. boots on the ground. I totally understand. But what more can NATO do?
AMB. IVO DAALDER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO, PRESIDENT, CHICAGO COUNCIL ON GLOBAL AFFAIRS, CO-AUTHOR, "THE EMPTY THRONE": Well, NATO is an institution, other than actually moving forces, and can do very little. But NATO countries, as General Clark just said, can do a lot more.
And flowing in not just the kind of weapons that have been sent, in great quantities, but really, the more major capabilities, like tanks, like artillery, like multiple launch rocket systems, that General Clark was talking about, frankly, anti-ship missiles, there's a lot of missiles being shot from the Black Sea, the Ukrainians could defend themselves, that's really important.
I think the problem is, as General Clark said, we, the United States, have very little of the equipment that the Ukrainians, I think, actually know how to use, or Allies do. And if the Allies insist that for every T-72 tank they send to Ukraine, they need an M1A1, from us, that's going to be problematical. We just don't have enough of them, to be sent in.
So, figuring out how to measure, what we would need, to send, to the Poles, the Bulgarians, and others, so they can start arming and providing more capabilities to Ukraine, it's just a tough task.
Remember that also that we want these countries to be able to defend themselves with our help, should this, in some ways, escalate to NATO territory. I do think that we need to start talking about, thinking about security guarantees, not only when the war is over.
But frankly, if the war is going to be concentrated, in the east, what are we prepared to do, in terms of securing much more of Ukrainian territory, now that the Russians are moving very far away, from some of the major cities? I think that's an issue that, frankly, NATO can and probably will be discussing, as it runs up to its summit, in June.
TAPPER: General, National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, said, earlier today that the Administration is going to announce more sanctions, this week. What more can they do? Is it enough, given that the ruble is about to rebound, to what it was worth, before the invasion?
CLARK: Well, I think, anything you could do with respect to sanctions is fine. As the President said, in the beginning, it's not going to stop the Russian attack. It's a form of punishment.
We know, from previously putting sanctions in, on countries like Haiti, or Iraq, or Iran that it causes a lot of problems. It doesn't produce regime change, and it doesn't necessarily affect the government's policies.
So here, I think, the United States needs a clear-eyed policy analysis, and say, "What is our aim with Ukraine?" Now, what we said was, we were going to do our best, to help Ukraine. Ukraine's going to want the help itself.
So, what's our objective here, to stabilize it? One former Ambassador says, "Oh, just stop the killing. Let them have - let - give Russia, Donbas. Give them Crimea. Just stop the killing." We have to understand, Putin's aims are not limited to Ukraine.
This is the opportunity, to stop Putin, in his tracks. If he takes Ukraine, the rest of NATO is at risk. So, we've got a window of opportunity, to give these fighting soldiers, in Ukraine, what they need.
And one thing, Ambassador Daalder, and I didn't mention, so far, I want to underscore. They need air support. They've got pilots. They'll fly. What is the difference between a drone, provided by Turkey, and a MiG, provided by some other country, both operated by Ukrainians? What's the difference? It needs to be in there. It needs to be in there now.
And if this is some kind of a policy hold-up, on the part, of the White House, because you're afraid, "Oh, let's get this calibrated exactly right. Let's don't have the Ukrainians go too far too fast. We might cause Putin to be upset," Putin doesn't need an exit strategy. Putin started a war, and he needs to be finished, by the Ukrainians.
TAPPER: General Clark, Ambassador Daalder, thanks to both of you. Really appreciate your thoughts, this evening.
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, says we cannot become numb, to these atrocities.
We're going to talk to a member of Ukraine's Parliament, about how these images, out of Bucha, affect her personally, what consequences she would like to see for Russia. That's next.
TAPPER: I want to turn now, to Ukrainian Member of Parliament, Inna Sovsun. She was recently reunited, with her son, after being separated from him, for the first three weeks, of this war, this invasion, by Russia.
She's in Western Ukraine, right now, where she's actively tweeting about the atrocities that we've been covering, atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine. And she joins us now.
Thank you so much, for joining us.
In a recent tweet, you wrote about an image, stuck in your head, from the Bucha massacre. It was the image of a woman's dead body. You said, she had shoes similar to yours. Tell us what was going through your mind, when you saw that image?
INNA SOVSUN, UKRAINIAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Well, first of all, you have to realize, we are all in shock, when watching those videos, and photos, from Bucha, and in the neighboring towns, around Kyiv, which have just been returned, under Ukraine's control.
And then, I was looking through the images. And I saw a picture, which just stuck in my head, and I couldn't understand what amazed me most. And I realized that the woman, that woman, on the picture, had the sneakers, which was similar to the one that I had.
And it stuck with me, because I was thinking like, "She's exactly like me. She's exactly" - we have the same taste. We were living similar lives. She was living not far away from me. We were shopping in the same shops. We were going to the same stores, and everything. And now, she's dead. And it's just random that she is dead. And I am not. It's just random death that came to her.
And I was thinking about that image. And I was feeling that this is silly, remembering this image, because of the shoes. And I talked to a friend of mine. And he said, "You know what? I was feeling silly as well. But I saw a man, who was wearing the shoes, exactly like the one I have. And that struck me most as well."
Just because, this gives you this intense feeling that those - that person is exactly, like myself, and he or she is dead right now.
TAPPER: We've been showing the video, of these corpses, strewn about the streets, in Bucha. Has the Parliament - has the Ukrainian Parliament discussed any efforts, to identify, the people on these streets, and identify those buried, in the mass graves?
SOVSUN: Not as right now. We had the last parliamentary session, the end of the last week. And we don't know when the next emergency session will take place. They typically take place, once a week. But the next one has not been announced yet.
But different members of parliament, are making different efforts, in terms of helping people, who suffered, but also, in collecting evidence, about the victims. So, that is the process that is being done, right now.
But we are more involved, in the work, regarding the international proceedings of the war crimes that have been committed, there. And that is something that many members of parliament are trying to help with, including myself, because what we want is justice done, to those victims.
But we also want the world to make an official statement. "This were the war crimes, which were part of the genocide, of Ukrainian people, by Russians." And we want the world, to say that out loud, because we want the truth to be told, for those victims, but also, for the many people, who are still suffering, under Russian control, on the east and the south of Ukraine.
And I'm afraid to say that. But what we have seen in Bucha, we shall see much worse, of that, in Mariupol. We shall see worse of that, in Kharkiv, and in many other cities that are under Russian control, right now.
And that is why, while we are being in shock, about Bucha, what we're asking for is please give us weapons, so we can stop from many more cases, like Bucha, taking place, in other cities that are being under Russian control, right now.
And the only way to stop them is, I'm sorry, not with the sanctions, not with general condemnation, of Putin, and his soldiers, but with weapons, provided to the Ukrainian army.
TAPPER: And Putin seems to be even more popular than ever, in Russia. Do you think that that is because of the propaganda that he feeds his people, who don't believe these facts and figures, and what's going on, the atrocities that Putin and his army are committing?
SOVSUN: I can't imagine, what is happening, in the house of Russians. But there are some facts that I know.
We do know that the Russian soldiers, in the areas that they take under their control, they start looting the houses. And we have also seen them stealing stuff, from the people's homes, here, and then going back to Belarus, and then sending that stuff, back to their homes, to their wives, to their parents.
Those people know what their soldiers, what their family members, their sons, their husbands, are doing, here. And they're quite OK with that. They're OK, with their soldiers, with their sons, with their husbands, coming here, raping Ukrainian women, stealing stuff, from their homes, and sending those back to Russia. Those people know that, and they are OK with it.
And I can't imagine, how is that possible, in normal, I don't know, in a normal person's mind? But I believe this hatred, towards Russians - towards Ukrainians, is so strong, among Russians. And, of course, it has been supported by Putin's propaganda.
But it also, you have to remember there were centuries of complex relations, between Russia and Ukraine. This is not the first time that the Russians are trying to kill Ukrainians, in great numbers. In 1932, 1933, in Great Famine, they killed 10 millions Ukrainians. They keep on doing that.
SOVSUN: And that is a historical reality. So, I believe that many Russians, they understand what is happening here. And they support Putin, precisely because he is killing us, here. And that is even more scary.
Because, I wish there was an easy solution, of hoping for Putin, to die, soon, and then everything will be fine. But I don't think so. I think this hatred towards Russia - towards Ukrainians, is much stronger, than Putin, actually.
TAPPER: Thank you so much, Inna Sovsun. Appreciate your time tonight.
SOVSUN: Thank you.
TAPPER: Ahead, photographic proof that the Russians are lying, when they claim those bodies, in Bucha, were placed on the streets, after Russia withdrew, from the region. That's next.
TAPPER: White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, said, this afternoon that scenes, such as what we're witnessing, in Bucha, are quote, "Part of the plan" that Russia has, for this invasion.
U.S. Intelligence does not believe Bucha was a rogue act. Instead, U.S. Intelligence thinks Russia is looking to, quote, "Impose a reign of terror," across any territories that the Russians capture, in Ukraine.
The Kremlin is now lying about these horrors. Satellite imagery shows the truth that the Kremlin cannot refute. CNN has been able to match geo-located video, two satellite pictures, showing bodies, in the street.
The sad images show bodies that have been there, since at least March 18. Keep in mind Russia controlled that area, until March 31. As far back as March 10, weeks before the Ukrainians retook control, of the town, we saw trenches, being dug. Trenches, now filled, with corpses.
A new report from Human Rights Watch documents numerous cases, of Russian soldiers raping victims, in Ukraine, and even summary executions, of civilians, which reportedly happened, before what we are now seeing, in Bucha. The question is, what can the West do about it?
I'm joined now by Rachel Denber. She is Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch.
Rachel, thanks so much, for being with us. Human Rights Watch doing such important work, here. But explain for our viewers, the importance, of documenting, these atrocities.
RACHEL DENBER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, EUROPE & CENTRAL ASIA DIVISION, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Thank you, Jake. It's really good to be with you.
Yes, we've documented seven summary executions. One in Bucha that took place, in March 4, and one in the village, of Storozhynets (ph), in Chernihiv region that took place, on February 27. And we also, like you said, we did document one case of rape, in Kharkiv, region. And we've documented other just horrific - incidents of horrific violence, against civilians.
And it's really important, right now, to secure evidence. We have to consider Bucha, for example, the bodies that have been - that are strewn, all over the place, there, and in pits. We have to consider them, like a crime scene.
So, the evidence needs to be preserved, so that experts, forensic experts, ballistic experts can - that have training, in war crimes investigations, and know how to follow, and have experience, following protocols, for evidence preservation, so that they can do their work, preserve the evidence for eventual justice.
TAPPER: Rachel, explain to our viewers, what a summary execution is.
DENBER: It's - summary execution is where somebody like sets you up, and shoot - basically just shoots you, in the back of the - just shoots you. It's a - it's a shooting. It's a murder. And in the context of a war, in armed conflict, it's a war crime.
So, what we documented in Bucha, we had a woman, who witnessed the Russian soldiers, bringing five young men, out to a square, putting them on their knees, forcing them, to put their T-shirts, over their head. And then, one man, who seemed to be the commander, just popped one, on the back of the head. And when the woman left the scene, the four others, were still there, kneeling.
She, by the way, left Bucha, on March 9. And when she left Bucha, she saw that young man's body, still lying on the scene. And she saw lots of other bodies. She described seeing many other bodies, as she was leaving.
So, not only is there the photographic imagery that you were describing, that the test - that testify, to the presence of bodies, on the scene, in Bucha, well, before the town changed hands back, into Ukrainian forces. But we have - we have witness testimony, telling us all about these bodies.
We don't know - we don't know the circumstances--
TAPPER: The Biden administration--
DENBER: --for each and every - mm-hmm?
TAPPER: Keep going.
DENBER: Well, I just, I think it's important to underscore that, each one of those bodies has its own story. Some people might have been killed through summary execution, like the young men, whose execution we documented. Some people might have gotten caught in crossfire.
Remember, there were - there were lots of military hostilities, in Bucha. Some people might have been killed, by Russian forces, just shooting them, as their - as their cars were trying to escape.
We documented another case, in Bucha, of a man, who was killed because he, I mean, he was in his home. And Russian soldiers came up to the house, and just shot through the door. And he died of - you know, he bled out and died.
So, there are many different circumstances, under which people were killed. And each one of those, is a potential crime scene, and each one needs to be thoroughly and impartially investigated.
TAPPER: Rachel Denber, with Human Rights Watch, thank you so much, for your work, and for your time, this evening.
Coming up, we're live, in Odessa, in southern Ukraine, where Russian missiles destroyed, an oil refinery, and fuel storage facilities, across the street, from home, civilian homes. How much worse could things get, in southern Ukraine?
Plus, I'm going to talk with an American, born in Ukraine, who's now back here, on a humanitarian mission, to try and save people, in his native country. That's ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, is warning now that civilian casualties, may be higher, in other newly-liberated areas, such as Bucha, outside the capital of Kyiv.
Meanwhile, civilians, in the port city of Odessa, in southern Ukraine, are bracing for more Russian attacks, after Russian missile strikes targeted two major facilities, early Sunday.
CNN's Ed Lavandera, joins us now, live from Odessa.
And Ed, we've seen strikes, in multiple southern cities, including Odessa. What stands out from the way these Russian attacks are carried out?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you look at the two rounds of airstrikes that hit the Odessa area, on Sunday? Seemed very specific, targeted to these oil refineries and fuel storage facilities.
The Russian officials had said that they had used high-precision missiles, to attack those very spots. U.S. Military officials say they have no reason not to believe that that is what exactly happened, in this case.
And then you drive about two hours, east of where we are, Jake, into Mykolaiv, and you see the shelling that has happened there. And in the words of one local official there that they believe that those attacks there, are designed to harass and panic the public.
This is much more sporadic, no rhyme or reason, actually more deadly, as there's one strike in particular, that killed 10 civilians, and injured many more, early - earlier today. So, it's that indiscriminate nature of the way these attacks are being carried out, right now, here, in the southern region, that is perhaps most perplexing, and terrifying, for residents, here.
TAPPER: Parts of the south, other than Odessa, have been pummeled more than Odessa has, like Mariupol, for example. What do Ukrainian officials believe, is the Russian strategy, here?
LAVANDERA: Well, the concern and the fear is that the Russians still have their eyes set on Odessa. That was what the concern has been, from the get-go. Obviously, perhaps this dynamic changes, given how Russian forces were beat back, and pushed away, and had to retreat, ultimately, in the north, around Kyiv.
But if Russian forces, are able to regroup, and resupply, and then focus with all of the resources, into the east of this country, the concern is that they will have enough firepower, and manpower, to be able to come as far down south, as Odessa. And that's, the question they have, is exactly what are their intentions here, at this point?
TAPPER: Ed Lavandera, in Odessa, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
[21:45:00] Here, in the city of Lviv, a cultural center, sometimes compared with Paris, now turned humanitarian hub, we're seeing so many people, working tirelessly, to help those in need, in other parts of the country.
I want to share with you, the story of just one man, one volunteer, a young Ukrainian-born American, who felt, compelled to return, to his native homeland.
ERIC, VOLUNTEER AT LVIV HUMANITARIAN CENTER: I just want to come and help.
TAPPER (voice-over): Compelled to come.
ERIC: You know, like, this is where I'm from, you know, like, Ukraine is in my blood.
TAPPER (voice-over): One American, traveling thousands and thousands of miles, to give back, to the country, he once called home.
ERIC: I'm adopted from here. 2001, my American family adopted me, and my three other siblings, from a small town. I just want to provide back to where I came from, just hope the country, I came from, was born from.
TAPPER (voice-over): Originally, from a small town, near Donetsk, Eric grew up and still lives, in New Mexico.
And now, the 27-year-old is among the roughly 300 volunteers, working around the clock, at one of the biggest humanitarian centers, in Ukraine, where he helps with packing and unpacking humanitarian aid.
ERIC: Even though we're not on the frontlines, this work, that we're doing here, plays a key role.
TAPPER (voice-over): The Lviv humanitarian center helps up to 700 displaced people, directly, every day, and sends donations directly to the most hard-hit areas, of the country.
Today's shipment is going to Hostomel, and Bucha, where the city is reeling, over the discovery of this mass grave site.
ERIC: I feel like, as a society, like we do forget to realize that it still is going on.
TAPPER (voice-over): But it's not something Eric can forget about, seeing a chance to serve a country, where his roots run deep.
ERIC: I want Ukraine to be more of me. And I like to serve. So, giving back to those, who are less fortunate because, I mean, I was adopted, and then I had everything. And now, coming here, I see that there's people, a lot less fortunate than me.
(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: And our thanks, and best wishes, to Eric. His parents, in New Mexico, must be very, very proud.
Coming up, Polish schools, open their doors, to a flood, of Ukrainian refugee children. CNN goes inside their classrooms, as a teacher learns, how to educate students, in a language, she simply doesn't speak. That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back. We're live, in Lviv.
The U.N. says, roughly half of Ukraine's children, have left their homes, and forced to flee. Since Russia's invasion, of this country, many found refuge, in neighboring Poland, and in Polish schools.
CNN's Kyung Lah, visited a school, in Warsaw, Poland, where communities are taking in refugees, with open arms, in spite of the many challenges.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To learn the full scope of war?
MAGDALENA AGACINSKA-WOZNIAKOWSKA, POLISH TEACHER: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
LAH (voice-over): Take a seat in Miss Magda's classroom.
AGACINSKA-WOZNIAKOWSKA: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
LAH (voice-over): She's a Polish teacher, using Google Translate, to communicate, in Ukrainian, with her new foreign students.
AGACINSKA-WOZNIAKOWSKA: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
LAH (voice-over): Her class has grown by 40 percent, this month, with new children, who've just fled the only home, they've ever known.
LAH (on camera): You're translating, on the internet, as you teach?
AGACINSKA-WOZNIAKOWSKA: Yes, because I know only Polish language.
LAH (on camera): How important is it for you, as a teacher, to help these kids?
AGACINSKA-WOZNIAKOWSKA: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE) very important (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
LAH (voice-over): Primary School 157 with bilingual classes has welcomed every new refugee. Classes are more cramped. But these public school students don't complain, because they feel they already know the strangers, sitting next to them. EDWARD CZYZEWSKI, POLISH STUDENT: Well a lot of kids have come to our school. And some of them have told us stories about what's happened. They've left - people that they left behind.
LAH (voice-over): Edward Czyzewski is 13-years-old, a Polish student, seeing the influx of war survivors come, through his school doors.
CZYZEWSKI: The more we take in, the better we're doing.
LAH (on camera): The better?
LAH (on camera): So you don't mind that the--
LAH (on camera): --rooms are crowded?
CZYZEWSKI: No. It's for a good cause.
LAH (on camera): So, these are all Polish kids?
EWA REKS-GRANAT, WARSAW PRIMARY SCHOOL 157: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
LAH (voice-over): Ewa Reks-Granat is the Vice Director.
REKS-GRANAT: It's hard.
LAH (voice-over): She feels, for every child, in the building, and only wishes she could do more.
REKS-GRANAT: Especially, when I see people helping, and I don't know, we can help, in only small part.
LAH (voice-over): Warsaw's Mayor tells us, the strain on the city schools, is enormous. The 100,000 additional refugee children, in Poland's capital, need an education. It's an increase of 30 percent, just this last month.
Nazar Samodenko is 13. He's from Kyiv.
LAH (on camera): Your mom is here?
NAZAR SAMODENKO, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE: Yes.
LAH (on camera): Your father?
SAMODENKO: No. He stayed in Ukraine.
LAH (voice-over): Nazar's father is a minister, helping fight, in the war. It took a week, for Nazar, to escape Ukraine, with his mother. School offers the structure of a life he's lost.
LAH (on camera): Your favorite subject is?
LAH (on camera): Math? You like math?
LAH (on camera): Is it easier being around other Ukrainian kids?
SAMODENKO: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
LAH (voice-over): "Yes," he says. "We can talk. They understand."
Of the 4 million refugees, fleeing Ukraine, half are children, paying the price of adults' sins.
LAH (on camera): How hard is it, for kids your age, to live through this?
CZYZEWSKI: I think it's practically impossible, to go through this. It's just mind-boggling, how this could happen, to someone that young.
LAH: Now, the school told us that they're not experts in war trauma that there really isn't a system, set up, to deal with all of this, at the public school level, here, in Poland. But despite that, and even if there's another wave, of refugees, who may come in, they will not turn one single child away.
TAPPER: Kyung Lah, in Warsaw, Poland, thank you so much.
We'll be right back, from Lviv.
TAPPER: Thanks for watching. I'll be back, tomorrow, with CNN TONIGHT, live from Ukraine.
And I will also see you, tomorrow afternoon, on "THE LEAD," which begins at 4 P.M. Eastern.
"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts, right now.
Hey, Don? How are you?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Hey, Jake? How are you? You just arrived in Ukraine. What are your impressions there, on the ground?
TAPPER: Well, if the Russians thought that their atrocities, were going to get the Ukrainian people, to sit down, and shut up, and surrender? This is what we saw, when we entered Lviv. On the right, you see a sign, welcoming us to the city. That's Lviv, in Ukrainian.