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Signs Of Executions, Torture In Town Left In Ruins By Russians; U.S Says, Bucha Appear Premeditated And Very Deliberate; Biden Vows Pain For Putin Amid Major War Crimes; U.S. Imposes New Sanctions On Russian Banks, Putin Daughters; House Votes To Hold Two Ex-Trump Advisers In Contempt Of Congress. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 06, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can tweet the show @theleadcnn. If you ever miss an episode of show, you can listen to The Lead wherever you get your podcasts.

I will be back tonight at 9:00 P.M. Eastern this evening for CNN Tonight with more from Lviv and from our reporters on the frontlines of this bloody invasion.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you in a few hours.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, new signs of executions and torture in one Borodyanka, one of the towns left in ruins by Russian invaders. The U.S. investigating atrocities says the horrors in nearby Bucha appeared to have been premeditate and very, very deliberate.

President Biden says major war crimes are being uncovered in Ukraine right now and he's vowing to keep ratcheting up the pain on Vladimir Putin after ordering new sanctions targeting Putin's own daughters as well as Russian banks.

Our correspondents are standing by in Ukraine, in Kyiv, European capitals and here in Washington for CNN's live global war coverage.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin this hour with mounting evidence of atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine. CNN getting a new and up close look at the horrors in the town of Borodyanka.

Let's go to our Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour. She's joining us from Kyiv, the capital.

Christiane, you traveled to Borodyanka, northwest to the capital. Tell us what you saw.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Wolf, this is one of those villages that has revealed the true horrors of what happened ever since the Russians pushed back and were forced to retreat. It is here that they believe they might find even more dead than in Bucha, although they are not those who have been summarily executed. Here, they are the people who have been buried under tons of rubble by indiscriminate fire on civilian buildings. This is what we found.


AMANPOUR (voice over): Welcome to Sasha's Restaurant, it says. Only Sasha's is no more, nor any of the apartments in this block above. A dining table and chairs, a jacket blowing in the wind still intact, the only visible reminders of the families who lived here.

The crows caw above this city of Borodyanka. Perhaps they sense the death here. It is clear that the heavy destruction is mostly along the main street. It appears the Russian armored columns simply opened up with heavy machine guns and artillery as they rumbled through town.

Brick by brick, today, the digging starts, trying to find civilians or their bodies buried beneath the rubble when even their basement shelters were turned into graveyards.

On this corner, they're looking for at least four missing from this block alone, says Victoria Ruban (ph), who's with the rescue team. We have never seen anything like this. It is very difficult for us. She says, and not only for us, but for the residents of Borodyanka. It is a great tragedy. Because of an ill disciplined force with a license to kill.

So, this is Vladimir Putin's idea of liberating a fraternal brotherly nation. So, either he's doing all these because he loves Ukrainians, or as many believe, because he's motivated by a rising hatred and anger at their westward loving democracy, at their resistance and at their refusal to come under Russian control.

And as an afterthought, a bullet to the head of Ukrainian's cultural hero, the great poet, Taras Shevchenko, not even statues are immune. Amid all of this destruction, the summary executions, the Ukrainian flag flies proudly in the central square.

For good measure, these Ukrainian soldiers are pulling out a captured Russian tank that was dug in. They say they'll use this and anything else the invaders have left behind to fight them in the villages, in the towns, in the fields, and all the way back to the Russian border.


AMANPOUR (on camera): Now, Wolf, the U.S. believes that these crimes, especially the ones in Bucha, were premeditated, as they say, and very, very deliberate plan. And we've been talking to war crimes officials, the prosecutor general here in Ukraine says they are already out looking for evidence, painstakingly gathering it and they will absolutely be really gathering a huge body of evidence to eventually hopefully, they say, make for war crimes prosecutions.

[18:05:00] Wolf?

BLITZER: Christiane, I want you to stay with us. I also want to bring in Retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, now a CNN Military Analyst. Also with us, our Senior White House Correspondent, Phil Mattingly.

General Clark, the U.S. says Russian forces have completely' withdrawn from the area around Kyiv, Chernihiv, but can Ukrainians really take any comfort in that?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Not really because they've got to get their land back, yes. But it is a real insight into what Russian plan was, seize the ground and then go in and dig out the people who might be western-oriented, who might create an opposition to the Russian occupation, take what you need, kill as many as you need to. And what happened north of Kyiv is they didn't dispose of the bodies well.

We have no idea what's happening in Mariupol, where they've pulled tens of thousands into Russia, what's happened to those people or the ones that have disappeared down in Mariupol. This is a horrendous war crime.

But, Wolf, this is what Putin said he was going to do. He wants to eradicate Ukraine. That is what he said. And we knew before the war started, he had lists. How many lists, how many were on it, we don't know, all the people he wanted eliminated when the Russian's came in.

So, I think this is a terrible tragedy unfolding and it's not over yet because the Russians are still there and still pushing.

BLITZER: Yes, it's certainly not over yet. You know, Christiane, Russia is wrapping up its attacks in the east. Just today, Russia killed civilians in an attack on a distribution point for humanitarian aid. Is there no limit to how low Russia will go?

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, just as we've seen in these liberated towns and villages around Kyiv, where they really believe the U.S. that they will be able to pinpoint what units were responsible for what happened there. This is the kind of pattern that is going on around the country.

And it is two-fold. Really, it is their random bombing of civilian targets and towns in order to try to get these towns and the people to surrender, to reduce their morale, just to really sort of lay into them, particularly while their proper ground offensive doesn't seem to be going very well.

I think the biggest problem is going to be now in the east, and as many military analysts have said, that it is a window of opportunity right now, as Russia seems to be struggling, regrouping, slightly on the back foot in most of Ukraine in order to put his major force and his attention on the east.

This window of opportunity for the west, if they're serious about helping Ukraine defend itself and if they really do believe that it is a strategic and existential necessity for Putin to lose this, this is the window of opportunity to pour in the kind of defense that Ukraine needs to hold on in the east.

BLITZER: You know, Phil, the president, President Biden, he vowed today to ratchet up the pain for Putin. So, what does that look like?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What we've seen today and sanctions that world leaders are responding to the atrocities in a coordinated manner. The G7, the E.U., the U.S. all rolling out new sanctions that are far sharper that have been imposed up to this point. They are the harshest sanctions possible on two of Russia's largest banks.

The president banning all new U.S. investment in Russia from now to pretty much whenever at this point and also targeting individuals the closest to President Putin, including his two older daughters, the daughter and wife for Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and making very clear this is not the end but only likely the beginning. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: There is nothing less happening than major war crimes. Responsible nations have to come together to hold these perpetrators accountable, and together with our allies and our partners, we're going to keep raising the economic cost and ratchet up the pain for Putin and further increase Russia's economic isolation.


MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, that isolation is expected to only be ramped up in the days and weeks ahead, U.S. officials still in continuous consultations with their allies about new sanctions, potentially targeting energy. One thing to note on targeting President Putin's two oldest daughters, U.S. officials feel very firmly that Russian officials have been trying to shield their money through family members, that has made them very real targets for sanctions, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point. General Clark, do you expect Russia to use these same horrible, brutal tactics in the eastern part of Ukraine as we have been seeing around Kyiv?

CLARK: Yes, we can expect that. That is Putin's plan. It is top-down driven. He's got military intelligence units with these combat units that go in. As Christiane said, part of it is recklessness, part of it is an attempt to intimidate but behind it is this sinister effort to eliminate potential democratic forces that may be left behind there.


And he's settling scores.

And, Wolf, with all due respect to the administration, I think the sanctions and the tightening of the work and the work with the allies is fantastic but we've got to stop what is happening. This is the tip of the iceberg that we've uncovered and there will be much more. Those weapons have got to get into Ukraine. We're talking tanks, artillery pieces, aircraft. They have got to be able to stop the 200 sorties a day that are being flown against them in the east right now by the Russian Air Force. And the equipment is not flowing fast enough.

We don't know what it is. Is it bureaucratic red tape? Is it allies arguing about give us M-1 tanks if we give us our T-72s? We don't know what that is. But it is liable to be the crucial element in determining whether we can stop the war crimes or whether this is just the beginning of a horrible ethnic cleansing campaign by Vladimir Putin.

BLITZER: And get that equipment in there so they can stop all the killing of these men, women and children for no reason at all.

Christiane, the president, President Biden, today warned in very strong terms that this war potentially could continue for a long time. Should the world prepare for what could be not just months but maybe a years-long crisis?

AMANPOUR: You know, that is exactly what the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, today, that this could go on for months and even longer than that. And, you know, people who even warned that whatever it looks like right now, Putin may not have given up his ambitions for Kyiv depending on how he does in the east. So, I think nobody is really out of the woods here.

And I do believe, you know, as General Clark said, that there will be much more evidence of this kind of thing, because this is the modus operandum of Putin's ground wars, Putin's wars, period. He uses ground artillery in the way that we've seen it. He uses the air in the way that we're seeing it here. Again, we keep referring back to other pieces of hard evidence, whether it was Syria, whether it was Grozny, whether it was all these places.

And remember, and Wesley Clark knows this so well because he was right there, this is 30 years since Bosnia. 30 years ago, this month, the siege and the war in Bosnia started. It was the same kind of war, on a smaller scale but exactly the same motivation. General Clark said ethnic cleansing. That is what happened in Bosnia. It is a political ideology that is fought on the backs of civilians, and that is what they do.

BLITZER: Some war crimes trials will be coming forward at least at some point. Guys, thanks you very, very much.

Just ahead, as we see more gruesome images from Bucha, are world leaders more willing now to call it genocide? I'll ask the prime minister of Norway for his take. He's standing by live. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: The breaking news we're following, we're tracking very disturbing and graphic new evidence of Russian atrocities against Ukrainian civilians. Watch this. In a drone video, taken in the city of Bucha sometime before March 10th, you can see a Russian tank gunning down a bicyclist. The cyclist highlighted on the right side of the video could seen walking a bike around a street corner. On the other side the Russian tank is waiting just down the block. And then, totally unprovoked, the Russian tank fires multiple rounds killing the cyclist.

The slaughter happened on the very statement street where the bodies of at least 20 civilian men were discovered after Putin's troops withdrew from the region. Now a second video also posted on Twitter shows the gruesome aftermath, a body sprawled alongside a bicycle amid a hellscape of debris and burned out cars and corpses. The appalling images emerging from Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine are prompting condemnation, calls of genocide.

Let's discuss with the leader of one of NATO's founding members, we're talking about Norway, the Norwegian prime minister, Jonas Gahr Store, is joining us right now. Prime Minister, thank you so much for joining us.

As you probably heard, Poland's president has told CNN today that the Russian massacres in Bucha and elsewhere, and I'm quoting him now, fulfill the future of a genocide. Do you agree?

JONAS GAHR STORE, NORWEGIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, I believe -- I mean, Poland speaks with some experience. They were references to the gruesome tragedies that hit Poland during the Second World War.

I think I will -- I mean, these images are just so appalling and inviting all kind of condemnation. I would call them brutal massacres. I would support all those calling for proper documentation by the free press and also by experienced investigators who can document what has happened so that those who have been responsible militarily in the field and politically back in the capital of Russia have to be brought to justice.

BLITZER: So, at least for now, you stopped short of calling it genocide, but you call it war crimes?

STORE: What we see here is obviously war crimes. This is targeting of civilians. This is the clearest breach of international humanitarian law and we've seen that from the start. This is a horrendous war taking place in front of cameras. I think that is I think for the first time we get it so properly documented. So, this is a very flagrant breach of international law and obviously war crimes. And those responsible have to be held responsible.

BLITZER: Norway, of course, shares a border with Russia, and I know that you spoke with Vladimir Putin less than a week ago. You had an hour-long conversation, phone conversation with him.


What does he say about this brutal assault? Is he living in his own alternate reality? STORE: I don't think he is. I think he's pretty well connected. I think your reference to what has been his war practice, this is what we have seen in previous wars fought by Russia. You know, I had that conversation with the president. I'm a neighboring country, prime minister in a neighboring country, and I didn't want this to pass without having told him directly, what is this doing to Russia, what are we seeing, what are we experiencing and give him that narrative?

I consulted with allies in Europe and the U.S., you know, and we all agree that if there is any opportunity to tell the message, not that I believe it will change his strategy, but he should be aware that we are aware that Russia is committing horrendous war crimes by attacking civilians. We know also that Russia is taking severe losses. You know, up to between 10 and 20 percent of Russian troops may have been killed in this war thus far.

And, well, President Putin repeated his narrative, as we have heard it, but, you know, he should hear and feel that there is a broad reaction to this and we will hold him accountable.

BLITZER: Did you see, Prime Minister, any signs that Putin is actually feeling the pressure from the international community and potentially he could try to end this war or do you fear this is going to drag on and on and on potentially for many more months, maybe even for years?

STORE: Well, who is inside his brain? I don't know. I think he made a major miscalculation. I think he assumed that he would get Ukraine. And this would happen, you know, he would mobilize troops and get to Ukraine. That did not happen.

My impression is that they are rethinking, regrouping. I think this can end up to be another frozen conflict. The Russians tend to do frozen conflicts, so they will kind of dig in in part of Ukraine, so it may be for the long haul.

But I think what we have seen is that it is worthwhile fighting, it is worthwhile supporting those who took up self-defense because that is not against international law to defend yourself. And we should all now help Ukraine to defend itself by this very much moral obligation but also very much in line with humanitarian law. And that was also a message I brought to the president that he would have to expect that, you know, a broad range of countries would see that as an obligation to support neighboring country that puts up self-defense.

BLITZER: What is the worst case scenario, Prime Minister, if Putin isn't stopped? There is Norway, a neighboring country, you share a border, once again, with Russia. Does Norway see Russia as an existential threat right now?

I was in Poland a few days ago and I spoke to a lot of Pols who, Poland a NATO ally, like Norway, they're very nervous right now that this could escalate and that NATO countries near Russia could be their next target.

STORE: Well, let me give you my take on that. You know, Norway has been at peace with Russia for a thousand years. I think we are the only neighbor actually that has never been at war with Russia. So, I don't see that there is a direct military threat against Norway at our 200 kilometer border. We are up there, we are NATO's ears and eyes in the north, in the arctic, around the Barents Sea. And we kind of follow what happens on the Russia military front up there.

But being a neighbor maybe have different experiences. I had the prime minister of Estonia in Oslo yesterday and -- or early today, and being Estonia, having been part of the Soviet Union is a different story. Being Poland having been attacked by the Soviet Union, being under influence of the Soviet Union, is a different story.

But our obligation here, and this is key, NATO has collected security at its core. And I agree with those allies who say that not one inch of NATO will be accepted to be attacked or threatened. And that is why Norway now has troops in Lithuania. We sail alongside the U.S. Navy in the Mediterranean. So, we are putting resources not as (INAUDIBLE) but to defend our territory as NATO. So, I believe that NATO shall live up to that historic obligation and mandate of this fine alliance.

BLITZER: Well, certainly, let's hope that is the case. The Norwegian prime minister, Jonas Gahr Store, thank you so much for joining us. I want to continue our conversations down the road. I appreciate it very much. Good luck to all of the people in Norway.

STORE: Thank you so much.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Coming up, desperate Mariupol residents crowd together to get aid as the mayor there is likening his besieged city to Auschwitz.



BLITZER: Take a look at this huge crowd of people waiting for aid in Mariupol, in Southern Ukraine. The mayor is now comparing his besieged city to Auschwitz, saying the Russians have turned it into a death camp. And a Red Cross spokesperson is warning that the humanitarian crisis is growing worse and worse by the day.

Tonight, another 500 residents have escaped Mariupol, a Red Cross convoy making its safety to Zaporizhzhia after previous evacuation efforts were blocked. Many other war refugees are fleeing to Western Ukraine and they're trying to get help from neighboring Hungary as well, as CNN's Matt Rivers reports.



MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The convoy gets loaded up several times a week. Workers with Hungarian Baptist Aid making the several hour drive from Budapest, destination western Ukraine. Today, they're headed to Berehova, a quaint town just across the border that has become a magnet for Ukrainians fleeing the war.

Upon arrival, supplies unloaded by the kids staying at this shelter, what used to be a school. Inside of classrooms, bunk beds replace decks and photos of former students hang on the wall above the tiny shoes of the kidding staying in the room today, like little Yeva (ph) and her mom, Diana. They fled Kyiv a few weeks ago leaving behind her husband to fight the Russians.

She says, we stood there and cried at the train station. My daughter was so mad at him, she thought he was leaving us. He said, Yeva (ph), come give me a kiss but she wouldn't. Yeva (ph) was just too young to understand the sacrifice her dad is making, like so many other children here scarred by the war. Even in this safe place, air raid sirens still go off.

So, down here in this school basement, they're using this as a bomb shelter and the school's director said they're coming down here an average of a couple of dozen times every week, even though no bombs have fallen in this area. But when the children come down here, the director says so many are still traumatized. So, for instance, the other day it was raining outside, there was a clap of thunder and a lot of the children screamed, the director said, because they thought it was a bomb.

Aid continues to flow into Berehova in the beginning of the war that was largely just a stop for refugees fleeing to other countries. Now, they're staying put.

BELA SZILAGYI, PRESIDENT, HUNGARIAN BAPTIST AID: Those who are arriving, they want to stay for the long-term and it certainly requires different kind of hosting.

RIVERS: For Hungarian Baptist Aid, more refugees means more need for everything else, including helping hands.

DANIEL NAGRUDNY, PHARMACIST AND HUNGARIAN BAPTIST AID VOLUNTEER: It is not really like a war. For me, I feel like it is a genocide of Ukrainians.

RIVERS: Pharmacist Daniel Nagrudny came to help from Philadelphia, the son of Ukrainian immigrants.

NAGRUNDY: If people come together and come to the country and try to help out, then something actually gets done.

RIVERS: It is definitely the spirit at a nearby church where a tiny volunteer operation has ramped up to hundreds of meals served every day as refugees decide to stay long-term. The reasons can vary, everything from hope that the Ukrainian army will prevail to simply not wanting to live in a foreign country.

For Diana, back at the school, the reason to not flee to neighboring Hungary was simple.

She says, we feel like we're closer, somehow closer to my husband. I will go back the moment it's safe for my children. (END VIDEOTAPE)

RIVERS (on camera): And, Wolf, the director of that aid group that we were with tells us that even if the war were to end today, which it obviously will not, they're planning on being here a at least a year after that because of these scenes of destruction like you just showed from Mariupol, the reconstruction would have to take place before these refugees could go home. And so these aid groups are going to have to be on the ground fear here for a long time to come. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, it certainly looks like that. Matt Rivers on the scene for us, thank you very much.

Let's talk more about this unfolding humanitarian crisis in Ukraine with Toby Fricker, an emergency Communication Specialist for UNICEF. Toby, thank you very much for joining us.

I know you just returned from a visit and Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro. What are the immediate needs of these people fleeing the heaviest fighting?

TOBY FRICKER, EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST, UNICEF: Yes, that's right. I, just a couple of days ago, was in Zaporizhzhia and actually at a car park there. There was a reception center set up for people fleeing areas in the southeast, so for people being able to get out of those areas. Most people had essentially made a run for their lives, jumped in their cars, the bombing, the fighting had got too intense and they said it was time to leave. They had to get out and bringing their children packing their cars with their kids, with whatever they could get.

And, really, the immediate needs were that they needed relief from what they've just been through. Immediate relief, getting a hot drink and get something food, getting some clothes, that we could provide some warmer clothes. And it was really a shocking sight to see the state of some of the cars that had come out. They had white ribbons on to try and warn any fighters that they were civilians.

And, really, the trauma of what those children have been through is horrific and they need urgent psychosocial support, which is what UNICEF and other partners are trying to do right now for those children that make it out. But, unfortunately, not everyone does. And we also met children in intensive care unit at the hospital in Zaporizhzhia who had been injured, some on their way out and others inside areas of heavy fighting.


BLITZER: We're getting this video of a children's hospital struck in Mykolaiv. And I know you've seen, as you say, children in another hospital, they have lost arms and legs in the fighting. What sort of trauma are these kids, these children of Ukraine dealing with right now as this war drags on?

FRICKER: Yes. I mean, the longer the war drags on, the worst the trauma, of course. And that trauma has an immediate impact on the physical and mental well being of children. But it also has a longer term impact, so on their education, on their development as a whole, and in the future even income generation. But what we're seeing now is what we need is the protection of children is absolutely urgent because children are being killed and maimed.

And these children that we saw in the intensive care unit had been -- had horrific injuries and the doctor said, when we asked, how have things changed since the conflict started, he said, well, we've had 22 children missing arms and legs and that really told the story.

BLITZER: Toby Fricker of UNICEF, thanks for all you and everyone at UNICEF are doing. We're grateful to you.

And an important note to our viewers, for information on how you could help efforts in Ukraine, go to and help impact your world, so important.

Just ahead, Poland's president says Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls him frequently even in the middle night. Stand by for CNN's exclusive interview.



BLITZER: Breaking news, the Pentagon says it is impossible to know how long Russia's invasion of Ukraine will last, or what the outcome will be.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think anybody knows for certain if the war isn't brought to an end through diplomacy, how long it could last. It is impossible to know that.

And as for your question about whether they can win or whether we've given up on them winning or does this mean that they can't win because we think it is going to go for a long time, the answer is absolutely not. Of course, they can win this.


BLITZER: All right. Let's get some more. Our Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash is in Warsaw, Poland, for us right now. Dan, I know you just spoke with the Polish president who was very candid with you about his own efforts to help the people of Ukraine and his conversations with the Ukrainian president. Tell us what he told you.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was. And you know very well, Wolf, you were here just a couple of weeks ago, you not only understand the very long border that Ukraine and Poland share but also how acutely the Polish people feel the effects of the Ukrainian war because of the now about 2.5 million people who have come over the border but also because of the potential security threat here in Poland from Russia. Now, of course, NATO is -- Poland is a NATO country. And so they feel very protected by the whole NATO alliance. But in my conversation with President Duda, I asked if that, the whole idea that if one NATO country is attacked, then that is when they would go and defend that country, whether that should be the threshold at this point.


BASH: Is there a moment where you might not draw the line on a NATO country getting attacked and you look and say it is our moral obligation to help militarily more than we have been.

ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLISH PRESIDENT: Yes. I talked to Volodymyr Zelenskyy quite frequently, I think most frequently from all of the leaders. He's my direct neighbor. He's my colleague. And we had a conversation the day before yesterday. We had a long telephone call. Volodymyr calls me quite frequently even in the middle of the night if something happens in Ukraine. And that was the case when the Zaporizhzhia a nuclear power plant was under attack.

And I have this deep sense that we have to do everything to help Ukraine, yes. This is the feeling that I have stemming not only from the necessity to provide security to Poland. We want the Ukrainian state to exist as independent, sovereign and free. But I also have a deep sense I'm committed as a human being, as a colleague and I'm doing everything I can in this respect. And I'm seeing Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London and we're going to talk about this.

As I said, a couple of days ago, I talked with U.S. President Joe Biden and before that with Madam Vice President Kamala Harris, who also paid a visit here in Warsaw. So, actually, we are consulting on a political level all of time. Next week we will have president of Germany in Poland, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and we're also going to raise these topics.

So, this mobilizing for support to Ukraine within NATO from all of the sides and also from outside of NATO by all of their states of goodwill understand what it means to defend your freedom is very important to me and I try to mobilize everyone.


BASH: And, Wolf, I asked if he is able to sleep at night or will be able to sleep at night as long as Vladimir Putin is in power, and the gist of what he said was, I hope no one will communicate ever or talk to him ever again, meaning Putin, after what we're seeing in Ukraine. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, very important stuff. Dana, thank you very much, Dana Bash joining from Warsaw, Poland.

Coming up, we're going to have a closer look at two of the Kremlin's most closely guarded secrets of Vladimir Putin's daughters.



BLITZER: Ukrainian authorities just released this new video of abandoned Russian military positions near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It shows trenches dug by Russian forces in an off-limits and highly radioactive area near the plant called the Red Forest. Ukrainian officials say it's not clear exactly what the Russian troops were trying to do there. But whether they were -- whatever they were up to, it's very possible they all suffered significant radiation exposure at the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

Also breaking, the United States is turning up the pressure on Putin by targeting two of his children with sanctions.

Brian Todd is joining us right now.

Brian, tell us more about his daughters and what the U.S. has in mind.



You know, U.S. officials say Putin is notorious for hiding his money and other assets behind the names of family members and others. And tonight, we have new information uncovering some of the mysteries surrounding Putin's adult daughters.


TODD (voice-over): They are among the most closely guarded the Kremlin's secrets, Vladimir Putin's two adult daughters from his first wife, both believed to be in their mid 30s, now the subject of U.S. sanctions.

A senior Biden administration official confirms their names are: Maria Putina, who is believed to be the older daughter and also goes by the name Maria Vorontsova. And Katerina Tikhonova, shown here, once speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Putin spoke about his daughters in 2017.

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): My daughters work in science and education. They are not involved in politics or somewhere else. They have ordinary lives.

TODD: Putin is so secretive about his daughters that analyst have left to fill in some of the gaps and the mystery.

PROF. HOWARD STOFFER, UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAVEN: Maria is now in healthcare, in Moscow. The younger daughter, Katerina, is now working in an AI institute at the Moscow State University.

CASEY MICHEL, ADJUNCT FELLOW, HUDSON INSTITUTE: We know they have traveled widely especially in the west. We know one of them, Katerina, was married to Russia's youngest billionaire. And we know that she also tried to pursue a career in acrobatic rock and roll. The other one, Maria, we don't know quite as much about. We know she

has pursued or at least purportedly pursued a career in medical he sciences.

TODD: The younger of the two adult daughters, Katerina Tikhonova, was married to Russian billionaire Kirill Shamalov, who is under sanctions but they are now divorced.

Putin's discomfort with speaking about his children was exposed in a series of interviews he did with American director Oliver Stone, where he acknowledged he has grandchildren.

OLIVER STONE, FILM DIRECTOR: Are you a grandfather yet?


STONE: How do you -- do you like your grandchildren?


STONE: So, are you a good grandfather? Do you play with them in the garden?

PUTIN: Very seldom.

STONE: You are a lucky man. Two good children.

PUTIN: Yes, I'm proud of them.

MICHEL: Would have looked happier if you're under deposition, you acknowledge you are a family man. He is more interested in appearing with the Russian Orthodox Church or in military situations or riding shirtless on the back of a horse to project power. That's power. Family, in many ways, is weakness.

TODD: But one analyst says Putin has a darker reason for keeping his family details secret.

STOFFER: He doesn't went to be vulnerable to anybody else doing something to him. If a lot is known about his family.

TODD: A senior administration official says the U.S. is targeting Putin's adult daughters for sanctions because officials hey believe many of Putin's assets, his money, his luxury possessions, are hidden with family members.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is keeping bank accounts, keeping shell companies, keeping large-scale purchases in the names of not himself but those around him.


TODD (on camera): Analysts say there's also Putin's ex-wife, Lyudmila, the mother of Maria and Katerina, who also may have accounts in other places where Putin is hiding his assets. One expert who tracks his finances says he does not believe that Lyudmila has been placed under any sanctions yet, but he says that could be coming as the U.S. seeks to ratchet up the personal pressure on Vladimir Putin -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting. Brian, thank you very much.

Stay with CNN for much more in the war in Ukraine.

Up next, breaking news in the January 6th investigation.



BLITZER: We have more breaking news in the January 6th investigation. The House of Representatives just voted to recommend criminal contempt charges for former Trump advisors Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro.

Congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles is joining us from Capitol Hill.

Ryan, these criminal referrals come after Navarro and Scavino both refused to cooperate with the January 6 Select Committee.

Give us the latest.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, defiantly so if you talk to committee members, Wolf. Both Scavino and Navarro were asked to hand over documents related to the January 6 investigation. They were also asked to sit for depositions, and both rejected those invitations from the Select Committee.

Both claiming that they were protected under executive privilege, a privilege that they say was extended by the former President Donald Trump. The committee obviously feels differently. They believe that the current White House are the ones to decide whether or not there is a privilege claim, and they suspended all privilege claims as it relates to this investigation. And therefore, Scavino and Navarro should comply.

This vote was 220-203, largely along partisan lines, although there were two Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, those two, of course, members of the January 6 Select Committee who voted with Democrats to pass this resolution. Of course, Wolf, the big question now becomes, will the Department of Justice act?

So far, this will be the third and fourth criminal contempt referrals the January 6 Select Committee sent to the attorney general. He's only acted on one at this point, and that is for Steve Bannon who's been indicted. He will have a trial later this summer.

They've still been sitting for week on the criminal contempt referral of Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff. And, in fact, the attorney general was asked to comment on the progress on that investigation and pending indictment and refused to comment.

So, this will be another question as to whether the criminal contempt referrals carry any weight, especially once they get to the Department of Justice. The committee wants to demonstrate that if you defy an act of the Congress that there are serious consequences. Something along this line could lead to a hefty fine, even a year in jail. So, it will be up to the Department of Justice to see this through -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Ryan, thank you. Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll be back in half an hour on our streaming service CNN+ with my new show called "The Newscast."

Until then, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.