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Hala Gorani Tonight

Zelenskyy Addresses U.N. Security Council; Satellite Images Debunk Russia's Claims On Bucha Horrors; Mykolaiv Children's Hospital Hit In Russian Strike; Over 100,000 In Mariupol Need Evacuation; E.U. Proposes Ban On Russian Coal Imports; New Sri Lankan Finance Minister Resigns; Human Rights Watch Notes "Grave Abuses" In Russian-Controlled Ukrainian Territories; Kyiv Teen Forced To Leave Without Parents. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 05, 2022 - 14:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, and welcome, everyone, I'm Michael Holmes coming to you live from Atlanta. Tonight on the program, the

world has yet to learn the full truth of Russia's atrocities in Ukraine which go far beyond the massacres in Bucha. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

delivering that message to the United Nations Security Council today. And we do want to warn you off the top, during the next few minutes, we will be

showing very graphic and disturbing video.

Images emerging from Bucha have outraged much of the world and rightly so. Ukraine says Russian forces slaughtered civilians in that suburb of Kyiv

before withdrawing. In his powerful video address, Mr. Zelenskyy describing atrocities in heart-breaking detail. And he questioned the very existence

of the Security Council, suggesting it is pointless unless it will act in times like this.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE (through translator): Some of them were shot on the streets, others were thrown into the wells. So they died

there in suffering. They were killed in their apartments, houses, blowing up grenades. The civilians were crushed by tanks while sitting in their

cars in the middle of the road just for their pleasure. They cut off limbs, cut their throat, slashed their throats.

Women were raped and killed in front of their children. They were -- their tongues were pulled out only because the aggressor did not hear what they

wanted to hear from them. Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee? It's not there, although there is a Security Council,

and so, where is the peace?


HOLMES: Russia denies killing civilians in Bucha, saying the carnage was staged after its troops withdrew. But here's the thing. Russian forces

still very much occupy the area. When the satellite images were taken in mid-March, clearly showing bodies on the streets. On the left, you see

pictures taken on Friday, that show bodies lying in exactly the same locations. CNN's Phil Black with more on the horrors in Bucha. Once again,

the content is graphic, and it is hard to watch.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's little point closing the back doors of this van. It's stopping frequently, picking up those who

didn't survive Russia's brief occupation of Bucha. Each person is photographed, where possible, I.D. is checked, and where necessary,

bindings are removed. Their clothes, their belongings and in some cases, their restraints all indicate these people were a threat to no one in the

moments before they were killed.

In normal times, Vladeslav Vichenka(ph) is a painter. Now he collects bodies. "This one was carrying potatoes", he says. "You can see they're all

civilians and snipers shot them all in the head. This is how they were having fun." Tatiana Volodmarifna(ph) weeps beside her husband's shallow

grave. She says he was taken from their home and weeks later found in a basement, tortured, mutilated, shot in the head.

Ukraine's defense minister released this video of another basement in Bucha. A CNN team visited the site and saw five dead men. Their hands were

tied, most were shot in the head and legs. President Zelenskyy came to Bucha and walked its streets. Saying --

ZELENSKYY: It's very difficult to negotiate with Russia when you see what they have done here.

BLACK: Ukraine says it will investigate Russia's war crimes, the European Union says it will help. No need, says Russia, because all of this has been

staged. A resident says this equally sincere message was scribbled with lipstick in a Bucha home by a Russian soldier. "Thanks for the warm

welcome", it says. "Sorry about the mess." Russia's mess, the extraordinary suffering, death, and trauma inflicted during just a few weeks of

occupation is only starting to be understood for those who live through it, it's unlikely to ever be forgiven. Phil Black, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.



HOLMES: Now, even before the world saw those horrific images of mass graves and bound civilians in Bucha, Ukraine had been accusing Russia of

committing multiple war crimes. U.S. President Joe Biden has since called for the prosecution of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, but bringing him

to trial, much less enforcing a penalty, well, that won't be easy. Russia of course, is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, and that

means it can block accountability in that body. It's also on the U.N. Human Rights Council, a position the U.S. is now taking exception to.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Russia's participation on the Human Rights Council hurts the council's credibility.

It undermines the entire U.N., and it is just plain wrong. Let us come together to do what is right and do right by the Ukrainian people.


HOLMES: All right. I want to bring in our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson. Nic, let's talk about these chilling accusations of war

crimes from President Zelenskyy, and he also in his speech made a point many have made over the years that the Security Council is effectively a

toothless tiger.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, he said that, you know, if you can't bring peace which is the sort of first line on the first

chapter of the U.N.'s charter, then what's the point? If you can't bring that, then you may as well just dissolve yourself as President Zelenskyy

has done with every different government and institution that he's spoken to, he has reached to the core of the issue that affects Ukraine.

That organization can do to help the suffering in Ukraine, and more broadly, the suffering -- potential suffering in the future around the

world. And so Zelenskyy's remark there is particularly powerful, it's unlikely obviously for the reasons that you said that Russia is on the U.N.

Security Council, that the U.N. Security Council is going to dissolve itself. But it is a real emotional call, as emotional and as direct as he

can make to get the U.N. to act, an act against Russia and call Russia and hold Russia to account.

Which we'll be getting to hear more of not only here in Brussels, from the European Union, from NATO, from the Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

today, but from the United States as well, that Russia will be held accountable. That international criminal proceedings will be begun, that

Ukrainian investigators will get the help that they need to document all these atrocities. Zelenskyy pitching as strongly as he could, given the

forum, Michael.

HOLMES: I'm curious, and I know you asked a question about this too. How does Bucha potentially change NATO's handling of the situation?

ROBERTSON: I think there were several things to say here. One is, Russia is doing what it always does, which is deny and dissemble in the face of

accurate accusations and truths about what it has done. It was accused of atrocities in Syria, in Chechnya, in Georgia, and Russia had the ability to

lie and confuse and dissemble and disseminate to the point where -- we heard this from President Zelenskyy, to the point where no one knows what

the truth is and what it isn't.

Today, the technology is different. You have this satellite technology that's been available for a long time, but now it's much more immediate,

much more in the public domain, and you have so many more cameras on the ground of the recovery teams going in. They can take these images and match

and marry the images together as we've seen in Phil Black's report there. So the evidence becomes incontrovertible. That whatever Russia says, the

evidence is there.

That the satellite images put the bodies there when Russia's soldiers were there. That puts to a lie what Russia is saying. And I think the other

point is that, this is reaching, connecting, because the truth can be more easily seen. This is connecting through to an already galvanized

international community to ramp up the sanctions. Remember, President Biden came here just a couple of weeks ago, he wanted a fifth round of sanctions

but couldn't get it.

Now, suddenly, we're hearing the G7, the EU, getting together to push forward with more and tougher sanctions. And for NATO, they can see what

Russia is doing, that it is regrouping for another attack, and this is galvanizing efforts to put more weapons systems in Ukraine's hands. Get the

logistics-flow going that it needs.


Not just the tactical weapons, but flat jackets and helmets and fuel that it's going to need for the coming battle. So, this really strengthens

Ukraine's hand, and this is what -- and this really strengthens the potential final outcome. This is how Jens Stoltenberg; NATO's Secretary-

General explained it.


JENS STOLTENBERG, SECRETARY-GENERAL, NATO: NATO's task is to provide support to Ukraine, and we do so with the modern military equipment,

financial military support, and also humanitarian support. Then it is for the Ukrainian government and for President Zelenskyy and the people of

Ukraine to decide what kind of peace arrangements they can accept. We know that there is a very close link between what they can achieve at the

negotiating table and the strength on the battlefield.

So the stronger we are able to make them on the battlefield, the more support -- the more strength we can provide to the Ukrainian armed forces,

the better source they can achieve at the negotiating table.


ROBERTSON: And Russia's alleged war crimes are bringing that strength that Stoltenberg is talking about. A determination, a desire to do it quickly. A

desire to give the Ukrainians what they need. Michael?

HOLMES: All right, great wrap up. And Nic, thanks so much. Nic Robertson there in Brussels for us. Now, as Russia is accused of war crimes in Bucha,

Ukraine's Human Rights Commissioner says Russia's treatment of prisoners of war violates the Geneva Convention. CNN gained rare access to a group of

Ukrainian POWs freed in a prisoner exchange with Russia. CNN's chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour brings us their stories.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Back home and free. These former Ukrainian prisoners of war once held by Russian

forces are greeted by friends and colleagues in Kyiv. Freedom for now is the drag of a cigarette walking on home turf, even if that means using

crutches. Bags of food are handed out to the more than 80 former Ukrainian POWs released in a prisoner exchange with Russia.

It's a welcome meal and a moment to decompress and reflect on what many here say was the physical and mental abuse they endured in Russian custody.

One POW named Gleb says he was captured nearly a month ago while evacuating civilians. He was beaten by Russian soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They hit me in the face with machine gun butts and kicked me. My front teeth were also chipped.

AMANPOUR: Anya and Dasha were in the same unit. It was shelled by Russian troops who they say tried to break them. Making them shout glory to Russia,

and they shaved their heads, telling them that it was for hygiene purposes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Maybe they were trying to break our spirit in some way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It was a shock. But then we're strong girls. You know?

AMANPOUR: Dmytro says he was taken by Russian soldiers in Mariupol and suffered daily beatings during his captivity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They would beat us five to six times a day for nothing. They would just take us into the hall way and beat

us up.

AMANPOUR: It's an ordeal and it will take time to heal both mentally and physically. Though many say, they want to go back to their units and

continue fighting. But before that, Gleb shows us a slip of paper with what he says are the phone numbers of loved ones of prisoners still held captive

by the Russians. He says he will tell the families they are still alive and not to give up hope.


HOLMES: And Christiane joins me live from Kyiv now. Good to see you, Christiane. Compelling testimony there from those former prisoners of war.

And I know watching your show last hour, you've been speaking to guys I see about what they're doing on the ground in Ukraine. Bring us up to speed.

AMANPOUR: Well, on the POWs, that's one good aspect of some of these negotiations that have been going on endlessly between the Russian and

Ukrainian side. So, at least, that is one resolve, even if there isn't any closeness to any peace settlement. And of course, that affects what's going

on, on the ground, especially places like Mariupol. So, I've just been speaking to the spokeswoman here for the ICRC, Alyona Synenko, and she was

telling me how very difficult and complex it is to get into a place like Mariupol.

They have an official, independent and neutral status, and they can't be seen to be playing politics with any side, they can't be criticizing any

side publicly. But suffice to say, they have been blocked from getting into Mariupol on every occasion that they've been trying to get humanitarian

corridors aid in, people out. This is what she told me.



ALYONA SYNENKO, SPOKESPERSON, ICRC UKRAINE: What I have seen in Irpin, what I have seen in Bucha, we are going to Chernihiv tomorrow, those are

scenes of desolation and scenes of incredible human suffering. This is just scenes of human pain. People have been through so much, when they start

talking to you, they just don't stop. They start crying immediately. They all have, like, severe post-traumatic syndrome.

They cannot sleep. They cannot eat. So I don't want to speculate, but what I see -- but considering that how many weeks now people have been going on

with no supplies, with no humanitarian assistance coming in, I am very concerned about what we might see when we get in.


AMANPOUR: So that she's talking about are the towns and cities that have been liberated by the Ukrainians, and we've seen the horrors have been

revealed. But she said there are still many people left there who need that kind of help. And everybody is concerned, Michael, about what one might

find, the more you look, the more you dig as the Russians retreat from this end of Ukraine, and refocus on the east. Michael?

HOLMES: Indeed. Bucha is just one place. There are many like it around where you are in Kyiv and around the country. Christiane Amanpour, always

good to have you on. Thanks so much. All right, we're going to take a quick break, when we come back --



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down here, John. Down here. Keep on rolling.


HOLMES: A CNN crew sees Russia's shelling firsthand. We have the story of this close call just outside Mykolaiv. That's coming up. Also, human rights

groups on the ground in Ukraine documenting evidence of war crimes. We'll ask what evidence they need to make a strong case against Russia. That's

when we come back.


HOLMES: And welcome back to the program. Now to a firsthand account of shelling in the hard hit south of Ukraine, CNN's senior international

correspondent Ben Wedeman, photo journalist John Torigoe and producer Kareem Khadder and their team were just meters from incoming artillery

fire. This is outside Mykolaiv. Have a look at the report.



BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is an area where there have been a fair amount of outgoing as well as incoming

artillery. Down the road is a town that has been fought over for several days by Russian and Ukrainian forces.

(voice-over): In these vast open spaces, the Russians seem far away, they're not.


(on camera): OK, down here, John, down here. Keep on rolling. You see it over there?

(voice-over): We hug the earth. Two more artillery rounds. Cameraman John Torigoe keeps rolling.

(on camera): All right, so we had two incoming rounds responding to artillery that's been firing in the Russian direction. Those shells came

pretty close to us.

(voice-over): No one has been injured. The officer tells translator Valedrie Dubrovska(ph) we need to go now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go away, hit a run.

WEDEMAN (on camera): OK, I don't think it's safe. I hope the car is OK.



WEDEMAN: Yes, let's go.

(voice-over): And so we run with full body armor to the cars. One car can't move, peppered with shrapnel.

(on camera): We're losing petrol.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): No time to lose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throw it in the back.

WEDEMAN: Driver Igor Tiagnor(ph) razor-focused on getting us to safety. His car, also hit.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, hold on.




WEDEMAN: All right, we're now trying to get out of this area as quickly as possible. Our other car completely destroyed.

(voice-over): Crammed into this small car, we approach safer ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get all into the hard -- cover that village and then we'll take a breather.

WEDEMAN: Producer Kareem Khadder checks the damage to the car. The soldiers we left behind are still out there. We could leave. They can't.


HOLMES: And Ben Wedeman joins me now from Mykolaiv where Russia is keeping up that bombardment. The mayor -- I wanted to ask you first about your

experience there. But before I get to that, the mayor is saying that Russian forces hit a hospital and several schools, and most recently a

children's hospital. What are you hearing about that?

WEDEMAN: Yes, that was the regional children's hospital. We actually did a report from there the other day. And what happened was it came under

bombardment from Russian missiles. And one of those missiles had a direct hit on a parked ambulance. We don't have information about injuries in that

case. But also yesterday, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Doctors without Borders, they were visiting an oncology hospital here in Mykolaiv when that

hospital came under rocket attack, and the MSF team, they said that one person was killed, several people injured.

And in fact, yesterday, before we had that little incident that you saw in that report there, we visited another hospital that early in the morning

had been hit by a missile strike, one person had been injured there. And, of course, yesterday, the biggest, the deadliest missile strike on Mykolaiv

was on a market where nine people were killed, 41 injured. This seems to be the new Russian tactic in this area.

They were essentially driven back from the outskirts of this city several weeks ago. But using long-range artillery and missile strikes, they

continued to punish this city. Michael?

HOLMES: I want to get back to your experience and the team's experience, and I guess you and I both know this.


Your experience was dramatic. It was obviously frightening for all, but it was an example of the day-to-day, isn't it? It just happened to get caught

on tape, and that's the thing. Give us a sense of the day-to-day for people there, and which way they feel the tide of this conflict is flowing.

WEDEMAN: Well, the sense of day-to-day here is that people try to the best of their ability to go about their lives as they -- as much as they

possibly can under these very difficult circumstances. So, for instance, today, we've been watching -- there's been traffic in the streets, people

walking down the streets, some stores are open. You don't get the sense of a city under siege. It's not under siege. But people are carrying on.

And today, for instance, there were fewer stores open because of these recent missile strikes that seem to be targeting randomly around the city.

But --


Excuse me, Michael. People really just -- what do you do? I mean, many -- about a third of the city's population has left. The mayor told us he

doesn't want people to come back because there is a fear that at some point, things could change, the Russians might come back. And as far as the

direction the conflict is going, at the moment, it's reached -- of course, we've seen the dramatic pull-back of Russian forces in the northern part of

the country around Kyiv.

In this part of the country, the lines seem to have stabilized, but there is a pervasive fear that things could change. And, in fact, today, there

was a rumor flying around this city that there are as many as 300 Russian tanks formed outside the city ready to make an assault. Turned out not to

be true. The government -- the local government said it's just a rumor. There's nothing to it. But that was enough to send lots of people to the

petrol stations lining up to fill up in the event that they had to leave town. Michael?

HOLMES: Yes, all right. Ben, our thanks to you and your reporting. Ben Wedeman there in Mykolaiv, thanks. All right, a quick break here on the

program. When we come back, Mariupol's mayor says Red Cross evacuation buses have yet to reach his city, even though Russia and Ukraine have

agreed to open humanitarian corridors, and time is running out.

Also the EU proposing new sanctions to hit Russia where it hurts, its energy exports. We'll discuss that as well after the break.




HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

Aid workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross have been released from Russian-held territory in Ukraine, CNN learning that they

were detained trying to evacuate those trapped in Mariupol.

The team was then sent to Zaporizhzhya, where the evacuees would have been taken to. The ICRC says it remains focused on evacuation efforts and here's

why. Mariupol's mayor says the city that's been under siege for weeks now is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

No light, no water, no food, no medicine for more than a month, he says.

Much of southern Ukraine is now under Russian military control. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Odessa to the west of those areas.

And let's talk about Mariupol; as we said, the ICRC been trying to get into there since Friday and those workers were detained at one point.

What's the latest on the ground in terms of the residents of that battered city and the efforts to get help to them?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we still understand that there are about 100,000 people, Michael, inside Mariupol, who

desperately need to be evacuated from that city. They have been living in horrific conditions for weeks now.

But despite repeated attempts, day after day, of trying to establish human -- humanitarian corridors, to get buses into that city, to be able to

evacuate people, it has still not happened.

It was happening even before the International Committee of the Red Cross was attempting to do that. The Red Cross has been trying since Saturday;

still to no avail. At one point yesterday, they had one of their teams taken into custody. They have since been released.

But it really speaks to the danger and the chaos of trying to reach these people, who desperately need help. And right now we understand that really

the only people able to escape from that city are having to do so driving their own civilian cars.

You can imagine, in situations like we have seen throughout Ukraine, people trying to do that have been the constant targets of attack. So that is an

incredibly dangerous and treacherous way to try to escape from the city.

HOLMES: It is. And people have died doing so, as you say.

After those horrible images from Bucha that we've been seeing, I know you've got reporting on new video from Borodyanka and the devastation

there. Tell us more about that.

LAVANDERA: Yes, Borodyanka is a suburb about 30 miles or so northwest of Kyiv. This is close to Bucha, where we have seen some of the initial

reporting in the aftermath of the retreat of Russian forces leaving those areas of northern Ukraine.

And once again, the video images that we are seeing, just simply devastating. This is a city, another city, that has almost virtually been

erased from the map. The main street, the main avenue there, every building damaged heavily in some sort of way.

Signs saying basically civilians aren't allowed to drive into the city, not safe. Every corner of that city has been demolished and brought down to

rubble. It is -- it is an incredible feat to imagine what it would be like to rebuild. It has completely changed the landscape of this area northwest

of Kyiv forever.

HOLMES: Yes. Just watching that video, horrible, just horrible scenes of destruction. Ed Lavandera, appreciate the reporting. Good to see you. Thank


Now the European Union proposing a new round of sanctions on Russia, including a ban on coal imports. If it's approved, it will be the first

coordinated E.U. embargo on Russian energy exports, which are both critical to Europe and also to Russia's economy.

The European Commission also working on sanctions to target Russian oil. After seeing the atrocities in Bucha, European leaders say they will do

whatever it takes to stop the flow of money into Russia's deadly war machine. CNN's Richard Quest joining me now from New York.


HOLMES: So this ban on Russian coal imports, that's one thing.

But does it really matter?

Is it enough to address what we're starting to see unfold in Ukraine?

The horrors there, the question really is, how much pain are countries willing to absorb themselves to hold Russia accountable?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Look, banning coal, which is a fuel that people are trying to get rid of anyway, is only a token measure, a few billion is

even, by the E.U.'s own estimations.

The reality is that the only thing that would make a big difference is the banning of oil and gas, the energy, the major energy. And that's going to

hurt countries like Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and particularly Germany.

But you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. And if they're going to essentially show a sanctions uplift, if you will, if they're going to

tighten, harden and make the sanctions more vicious, then oil and gas is what it's got to be.

HOLMES: I guess that's the thing. I mean, if what we're seeing now in Ukraine doesn't start the truly hard decisions on things like oil and gas,

which would really hurt Russia and quickly then, what would, I guess?

QUEST: Well, I think in Russia, there's a sort of acceptance that the current sanctions are there. They're going to be there for a very long

time. And the economy is muddling through.

Now that doesn't mean it's doing well or that it's growing. It's going to go into a recession. The IMF say 10 percent or 15 percent down the economy

could be this year. But it's still there. It's a fairly, by Western standards, it's a small economy but it has strong domestic demand within


And until the planes start breaking, because they can't get spare parts, or machinery can't be repaired because of the sanctions, or they can't get

transfers of money in because of the sanctions, they will continue to muddle through.

And the thinking is that Vladimir Putin now has factored that in. So there has to be, if you're going to basically say genocide in Europe, there needs

to be a commensurate response. It's very difficult to see that merely banning coal actually does the trick.

HOLMES: Yes, and you're the expert on the economic side of things. And I keep getting asked this by people I'm speaking to in Ukraine, sanctions are

all well and good. They take time. They take months sometimes to have a real impact.

What would be effective economically that would have an immediate pain for Vladimir Putin?

QUEST: I'll add one thing to your months: years. Think more like years. Oh, the one thing is, first of all, oil and gas. Absolutely. It would cut

off a vital part of his revenue stream.

And then you have to just slowly but surely tighten to the point where the country is essentially completely blocked off.

Now do you want to corner the cat in such a way that he responds so violently?

That's an equation that has to be taken into account. Remember, Iran was able to evade the very worst of the sanctions we're talking about because

it had other countries that were prepared to trade with it.

So even if the U.S. and allies do put the full throttle and squeeze, as long as China, India and other countries are prepared to trade, to evade,

avoid, whatever word you want, the sanctions, they will not work as effectively as they could.

Michael, what really needs to, of course, the next stage of sanctions, which will be highly controversial and highly difficult to implement, will

be third party sanctions. telling people like India and China and others, if you trade with Russia, we will sanction you. Now we're starting to talk.

HOLMES: Yes, we saw that tactic when it did come to Iran, too. So it will be interesting to see if they go down that track. Richard, always good to

talk to you. Thank you very much, my friend.

Richard Quest there.

All right. We bring you now some other key stories from around the world.

In the United States, the January 6th investigation is interviewing former president Trump's daughter. The former top White House aide is thought to

have key insights into the insurrection, as she was the former -- with the former president for most of that day.

The committee has also heard evidence that she was in the room for a crucial phone call between her father and then vice president Mike Pence.

Sri Lanka is battling a political crisis of its own. The new finance minister has resigned just a day after accepting the job. It came after 26

ministers resigned during the weekend.


HOLMES: And the president tried to replace them with four new ones. Sri Lankans are angry they're facing severe food shortages, fuel shortages as

well. And you can see the protests there. The country's trade minister will take over as finance minister for now.

Still to come on the program, my next guest says Russian commanders who failed to stop murder and rape of Ukrainians are personally responsible for

those war crimes. What Human Rights Watchers are finding in Ukraine. That's coming up.

Also, how war forced this Ukrainian teenager to say goodbye to her family and her home. How education is helping her cope. We'll be right back.




HOLMES: The U.S. secretary of state says the U.S. is working with other countries to document Russian atrocities in Ukraine, saying the reports

are, quote, "more than credible. The evidence is there for the world to see."


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What we've seen in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit. It's a deliberate campaign to kill, to

torture, to rape, to commit atrocities.


HOLMES: Human Rights Watch has been on the forefront of the fact-finding mission. They've interviewed witnesses, victims and local residents of

Russia-occupied territories across Ukraine. And they say they've documented several cases of explicit war crimes.

Yulia Gorbunova is a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, she joins me now from Warsaw.

Thank you for doing so. First, Bucha is one town. There are so many in the same situation in terms of Russian troop presence.

Do you fear more of these images that we've seen in Bucha, perhaps even worse ones?

YULIA GORBUNOVA, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Human Rights Watch has documented a number of cases of Russian military forces committing apparent war crimes

against civilians in areas they occupied, in Chernihiv region, in Kyiv region and in Kharkiv region of Ukraine.

We've documented cases of summary executions in Bucha. We've documented a case of summary executions in Staryi Bykiv, which is a village in Chernihiv



GORBUNOVA: We also documented a case of sexual violence in Kharkiv region, in a small village, which was also held by Russian forces at the time.

I feel that, as Russian forces are retreating and Ukrainian troops are taking over some of these areas, there will be more cases coming forward,

more witnesses, more testimonies and more cases of horrendous atrocities committed by Russian soldiers, while they were holding those areas.

HOLMES: Yes, a lot of people fear the same thing.

The images, the allegations, they're one thing.

But how strong is the actionable evidence of war crimes in your view?

GORBUNOVA: Look, we've documented several cases that we are quite confident of and which constitute war crimes. And summary executions in

Bucha and in Staryi Bykiv are definitely war crimes.

So just to describe one case in Chernihiv region, Russian soldiers have rounded up six civilian men. And I've spoken to an eyewitness, a mother of

one of the men, who was executed, who told us that they saw this man being apprehended and led away.

And they followed and were told by Russian soldiers to wait and that there will be just questions and let go. And then they heard gunshots. And the

next day they were able to go to a place, where they were executed and to see the bodies on the ground, of six men who had their hands tied, who had

gunshots to the head.

And they were able to bury them nine days later. So those testimonies have been corroborated by several people, who either witnessed that personally

or were in the vicinity of --


HOLMES: I was going to say, sometimes in war but pretty much always in war, the tragic victims, the most tragic victims are children but also


I was listening today in the United Nations, the Undersecretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs spoke of allegations of gang rape,

spoke of allegations of rape in front of children. Now Human Rights Watch also alleges evidence of rape by Russian soldiers.

What have you heard?

How widespread?

GORBUNOVA: So far we've documented one case in Kharkiv region that took place in mid March. A woman described to us in detail and also sent us

photographs of her injuries.

And she told us how a Russian soldier repeatedly raped her, while she was sheltering in a basement in a local school with her family and her 5-year-

old daughter. He basically terrorized all the residents that were sheltering in the same basement.

Then he led that woman up to a classroom, where he held her all night and repeatedly raped her and beat her. And, again, this is one case. I'm aware

of another well-documented case that was in the media and was documented by other groups.

We do not have enough data yet to know how widespread this is but, due to the nature of this crime and due to its social and psychological

implications and ramifications, it's very frequent that it can take months and sometimes even years for cases of sexual violence during a conflict to

become known and documented.

So from what we've seen and what we've heard, there's a very real risk of rape and other sexual violence by troops, by Russian troops in Ukraine,

especially as people remain under siege in some cities of Ukraine.

And we do not have enough information about what's going on. There are cities like Mariupol and Chernihiv, which has been under Russian siege for

weeks now.

HOLMES: And it's groups like yours that are really helping to get the evidence that will see those responsible held accountable. Yulia Gorbunova

with Human Rights Watch, thank you so much.

GORBUNOVA: Thank you.

HOLMES: And we will take a quick break and be right back.




HOLMES: Now 4.2 million: that's how many people the war in Ukraine has forced to flee to the safety of neighboring countries. One of those is

teenager Alla Renska. After saying goodbye to her family, she made the lonely journey to Hungary.

But despite the emotional hardship she endures, Alla remains hopeful for herself and her country's future. Matt Rivers spoke to her in Budapest.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's got a pink backpack, a warm smile and she's already made friends. Even though 17-

year-old Alla Renska, a Ukrainian, has only been here in Budapest, Hungary, for a month.

In an empty classroom of her new school, we sit and talk about how she never thought she would end up here.



RIVERS: You didn't believe it?

RENSKA: -- yes, it's 21st century. It's Ukraine and it's Europe.


RIVERS (voice-over): Before the war, she was just a normal teenager, making goofy videos with her friends, taking selfies. But then the war

reached where she lived in Kyiv.

RIVERS: When did your family decide you -- that it wasn't safe for you to be in Ukraine anymore?

RENSKA: When we heard explosions and our house was just like --

RIVERS: And your house was shaking?


RIVERS (voice-over): Her parents made the agonizing decision to send her to stay with friends in Budapest. Her dad took her to the train station on

March 4th. But in the crush of people also trying to leave, they were separated.

RIVERS: Could you see your dad when the train was leaving?


RIVERS: Was that hard?

RENSKA: Yes. Yes. I cried maybe all night.

RIVERS (voice-over): She took only these pictures from the train, a bleak landscape she says matched how she felt. But then an idea. She wrote an

email to Korosi Baptist High School, one of the best in Hungary, talking about the war and what happened to her.

"I really want to go to school and continue studying," she wrote.

"I kindly ask you to help me."

And help they did. The school converted these old containers into dorms, where Alla now lives and studies. Her days are spent in classes and, at

night, she chats with a few other Ukrainian girls just like her, who also fled, now living there, too, even though she does still miss her family.

RENSKA: I try to not cry and I try to be strong, because my parents, I know that, when I cry, they also feel not very good.

RIVERS (voice-over): That strength on full display when she video calls with her parents later that day. It's all smiles and updates on school and

work. We say hello and ask an obvious question.

RIVERS: How difficult is it right now to not have her with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cannot explain how I feel, because it's too hard for me. I'm happy that my daughter -- I love her very much.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is safe now is the main -- is the main for me.

RIVERS (voice-over): A few minutes later, though, the call is over. And Alla's stoic facade falters.

RIVERS: How was that for you?

RENSKA: Oh, I try to not cry.

RIVERS: They love you very much.

RENSKA: Me, too.

RIVERS: What are you thinking?

RENSKA: It's unfair. It's so unfair that I should be here, my friends there.

RIVERS (voice-over): This is what war does to a happy 17-year old. But she is determined to stay optimistic. This is a photo she wanted us to show.

Her parents sent it to her right after she left, the first spring flower to push through the snow near her house; a sign, they said, of brighter times

to come -- Matt Rivers, Budapest, Hungary.