Return to Transcripts main page

Hala Gorani Tonight

Ukraine Urges People In Three Eastern Regions To Evacuate; Horrific Scenes Emerge In Borodyanka After Russians Retreat; NATO Meet On How To Further Support Ukraine; More Atrocities Revealed As Russian Troops Leave Russian Towns; Red Cross Offering Aid In War-torn Ukraine; Chinese State- Run Media Boosting Russian Propaganda; Lithuanian Foreign Minister: Sanctions Are "Disappointing;" Red Cross Convoy Of Mariupol Evacuees Reaches Zaporizhzhya. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 06, 2022 - 14:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, and welcome to the program, I'm Michael Holmes at the CNN Center. Ukraine urging people across three

eastern regions to evacuate now if possible or risk death as Russia gears out for an all-out assault. Now, one of the main targets is Mariupol, and

the mayor says weeks of relentless bombardment have turned the whole city into what he called a death camp.

He called it a new Auschwitz. The military governor of Luhansk meanwhile says more Russian forces are arriving in that region amid escalating

shelling attacks. He says civilian areas were hit 81 times during the past day alone. A senior U.S. defense official is confirming a shift on the

battlefield meanwhile, saying Russian forces have now completely withdrawn from areas near Kyiv and Chernihiv, to, quote, "reconsolidate and refit in

Belarus and in Russia." President Joe Biden said this just a short time ago.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks to the bravery, the grit and the fighting spirit of the Ukrainian people, Russia has already failed

in its initial war aims. Russia wanted to take Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv and topple its democracy and elected government. Today, Kyiv still stands,

and that government still presides.



HOLMES: The horrors of Russia's temporary occupation of towns near Kyiv is still unfolding. A U.S. official says the killing of civilians in Bucha

appears to be premeditated and quote, "very deliberate". NATO's Secretary- General had this stark warning ahead of a meeting in Brussels today.


JENS STOLTENBERG, SECRETARY-GENERAL, NATO: We have seen no indication that President Putin has changed his ambition to control the whole of Ukraine,

and also to rewrite the international order. So we need to be prepared for a long haul. We need to support Ukraine.


HOLMES: Borodyanka is another Kyiv suburb where Russia's extreme brutality against civilians is just starting to come to light. CNN's Frederik

Pleitgen got a firsthand look at the widespread devastation. They are warning as we've been saying for many stories these days, some images and

details in his report are graphic and disturbing.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the war that Russia has unleashed against Ukraine, few places have suffered

more than Borodyanka. Occupied by Vladimir Putin's troops since late February, recently taken back by Ukraine's army.

(on camera): Borodyanka was held by the Russians for a very long time. And just to give you an idea about the scale of the destruction, you have

houses like these that were completely destroyed, but if we look over here, you can see that even large residential buildings have been flattened. This

entire building was flattened. It was connected with this one before, but now there's absolutely nothing left of it.

(voice-over): And the Russians made sure to show they owned this town, painting the letter V on occupied buildings, even defacing Borodyanka's

city administration. V is the letter the Russians use to help identify their forces that invaded this part of Ukraine. Oksana Kostichenko(ph) and

her husband just returned here and found Russian soldiers had been staying in their house. She says they ransacked the place.

"Alcohol is everywhere", she says. "Empty bottles in the hallway under things. They smoked a lot, put out cigarettes on the table." They also

showed us the corpse of a man they found in their backyard. His hands and feet tied, severe bruises on his body, a shell casing still nearby. Russia

claims its forces don't target civilians, calling reports of atrocities fake and provocations. But these body collectors are the ones who have to

remove the carnage Russia's military leaves in its wake.

In a span of less than an hour, they found a person gunned down while riding a bicycle, a body burned beyond recognition, and a man still stuck

in his car gunned down with bullet holes in his head and chest. He was believed to be transporting medical supplies now strewn near this road.

"The most awful thing is, those are not soldiers laying there, just people, innocent people", Gernadi(ph) says. For no reason? I ask. "Yes, for no

reason. Killed and tortured for no reason", he says.


The road from Kyiv to Borodyanka is lined with villages heavily-damaged after Russia's occupation. Destroyed tanks and armored vehicles left

behind, but also indications of just how much fire-power they unleashed on this area.

(on camera): The Russians say this is a special operation, not a war, and that they don't harm civilians, but look how much ammunition they left

behind simply in this one single firing position here. This is ammunition for heavy weapons with devastating effects on civilian areas.

(voice-over): That devastation cuts through the towns and villages north of Kyiv where the number of dead continues to rise. Now, that Vladimir

Putin's armies have withdrawn, Ukraine's leaders still believe many more bodies could be buried beneath the rubble. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Borodyanka,



HOLMES: Now, fighting in the east of Ukraine is escalating. One town in the Luhansk region, Sievierodonetsk, has been heavily shelled according to

the region's military governor. He says ten high-rise buildings are on fire. Now, further north in the Kharkiv region, authorities announced they

will evacuate two towns as a precaution. This coming as that region also faces heavy bombardment. Officials there say Russian troops overnight

carried out 27 strikes on residential areas.

Now, just as a reminder, one of our CNN teams was in Kharkiv a few days ago. They showed us these scenes of the utter destruction from Russian

shelling. Now, the next photograph we're about to show you is graphic as well. We want to warn you about that. This is in the town of Vuhledar in

the Donetsk region. Ukrainian officials say a humanitarian and distribution point has been shelled by Russian rockets.

In this image which CNN has geo-located, you can see civilian casualties in front of a school. Officials confirmed two people killed, five others

injured. Now, as we hear these reports from the east of intensified fighting, there are questions about how Ukraine's defensive strategy will

adapt. I want to bring in now Andrii Zahorodniuk who is a former Ukrainian Defense --


HOLMES: Minister, and thanks for being with us. The signs --

ZAHORODNIUK: Thank you --

HOLMES: On the ground, they suggest this re-alignment of Russian forces, the move towards the east and the south to consolidate gains in that

corridor from the Donbas to Crimea. What do you expect to happen there, is there enough Ukrainian weaponry to fight that push?

ZAHORODNIUK: We certainly have a very substantial forces there. Indeed, Russians have changed strategy -- another time -- one more time. So

originally, they wanted quickly to take Kyiv and a couple other areas, then they wanted to take over our cities. Then they started to bombard and shell

civilian infrastructure in order to cause us to some sort of, you know, peace or whatever, capitulation, whatever they called it. That all didn't


Ukrainian army and Ukrainian people still fight. So, now, their strategy is to concentrate most of their forces on the east, and at least to achieve

something. Because so far their operational goals are not achieved. None of them. And yes, this is obviously a big threat, because they are

concentrating serious forces. We believe that they are bringing reserves from Russia, and that would be -- they will concentrate most of their

capable forces still there to Putin in one place. So of course, for us it's going to be a great challenge.

HOLMES: Yes, would you as a former defense minister expect Ukrainian forces to pursue them there, to chase them there, and continue the fight? I

mean, it's long been thought Vladimir Putin wants that corridor from Donetsk all the way -- from the Donbas all the way through to Crimea and

perhaps around as far as Odessa. Do you think Ukraine will ever allow that? Could that become a bargaining point if there are talks?

ZAHORODNIUK: No. I don't think Ukraine will allow that. I don't think -- I don't think any politician is in a position to make a decision to cut the

chunk of the sovereign nation and just give it to Putin simply because of the -- because Putin wants that. I mean, I don't think this is legal,

actually, from any Ukrainian or international law perspective, I don't think Ukrainian people are -- Ukrainian people are resisting and they're

fighting for their freedom.

And so, I don't think this is something which any country should do, is like to respond to the aggression by saying OK, here we are, let's take a

one-third of the country, take it. You know, because --

HOLMES: Wow --

ZAHORODNIUK: In this case, Putin is going to move on. I mean, it's not like he wants Donbas. It's -- he wants Ukraine. And if we allow him to

easily to take part of the country, he will move further.


HOLMES: Yes, that has long been the fear. I mean, do you think that there will be at some point talks between Mr. Zelenskyy and Mr. Putin? Especially

in light of what we've seen in Bucha and elsewhere? Do you think there is reason for talks at the moment?

ZAHORODNIUK: Well, first of all, of course, Putin has crossed so many lines, war crimes, unimaginable material damages and personal tragedies and

so on. Whenever the talks are, nobody is going to forgive him that. So he should be tried as a war criminal, and all his gangs should be tried as war

criminals. That's definitely. And that's not up to any politician to decide, because this is what must be done. But from the other perspective,

of course, the talks might start.

The question is when Russia will actually be ready for real negotiations, because as we know, we can talk to Russia for years which happened since

2014. And it's not necessarily any practical results going to come out. Russia will start real negotiation only after it runs out of all other

options. That's what they do --

HOLMES: Yes, well, Russia has often been accused of using negotiations as a delaying tactic. They were talking and talking --


HOLMES: Right up --

ZAHORODNIUK: Absolutely --

HOLMES: Until they crossed over the border into Ukraine. And when it comes to the Russians saying -- you know, they're kind of saying now that, oh, we

never really wanted to take Kyiv, we only wanted to protect the Donbas. I mean, do you buy that? Do you think that the Russians have given up on the

idea of taking the capital, taking out the Zelenskyy government, or do you think they're just sort of regrouping and that will come?

ZAHORODNIUK: First of all, they're regrouping. The fact that they had that plan originally, we have many sources which confirm that, including the

statements of the soldiers, because they've all been told they're going to Kyiv. We have seen their plans, U.S. Intelligence, U.K. Intelligence were

showing us the plans and so on. And so, we know for a fact that Kyiv was their original plan. They couldn't -- they failed with that plan and now

they decided to regroup.

The question, are they going to return for Kyiv or not? It all depends on how many resources they're going to have. So, our task is to make sure that

they don't have any chance to do this again.

HOLMES: You know, it was interesting last --

ZAHORODNIUK: And we're certain if we can --

HOLMES: Yes, sorry. I don't mean to interrupt. Last week, there was that strike inside Russia in Belgorod on a field depot. Now, Ukraine hasn't said

it was us. But in theory, should Ukraine be more aggressive, chase Russia into their territory?

ZAHORODNIUK: We need to understand that if we chase Russia into their territory, they would be using that against us in all -- like always

possible, and just saying that we told you that Ukraine threatens Russia. We told you that NATO threatens Russia and so on. So, we have to be

extremely careful about that. But we chase Russians in Ukraine. They have - - they have moved inside our country for quite a lot of areas, and we need to get them out of here --

HOLMES: Yes --

ZAHORODNIUK: As soon as we can.

HOLMES: That is a good point about crossing over. I want to ask you this just before we go. We've seen that you proposed a ban on Russian coal

imports, other steps as well. The Lithuania foreign minister immediately --


HOLMES: Called those steps disappointing, not enough. What do you want from the U.S. and the EU that they can realistically deliver, especially in

terms of sanctions on things like oil and gas which would hurt Russia but would also hurt a lot of European economies?

ZAHORODNIUK: It's a question of -- let's put it this way. If any business decides to do a business -- western business decides to do business with

Syria, it will stop existing. Nobody is going to deal with them. Because there are countries which are supporting terrorism. There are countries

which are crossing all imaginable moral and legal lines. And these countries should not be dealt as business as usual.

And, of course, there is a short-term effect. But on a long-term, we need to understand that if international trade supports Russian economy which

itself funds of the things which they're doing right now, it essentially uses international economy and global economy in order to kill the global

order, because that's what they're doing right now. They destroy international law based order. So economies have to be a little bit more

strategic and understand that we cannot allow these things to happen. And we need to make sure that countries like that do not survive. That's very


HOLMES: Andrii Zahorodniuk, thank you so much.

ZAHORODNIUK: Thank you --

HOLMES: Former Ukrainian --

ZAHORODNIUK: Thank you --

HOLMES: Defense Minister. Appreciate your time.


HOLMES: Well, European diplomats is working to approve new sanctions against Russia as we were just discussing there, that package as we said

includes an import ban on Russian coal, but not oil or gas. The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the next round of sanctions

will have to look into that, citing the massive revenues that Russia gets from fossil fuels. NATO also trying to put more pressure on Moscow, NATO

foreign ministers meeting today and tomorrow to discuss how their countries can further support Ukraine.



ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: We set out to do three things if Russia decided to pursue this horrific aggression against

Ukraine. One was to support our Ukrainian partners. We're doing that. Two was to put extraordinary pressure on Russia. We're doing that. Three was to

make sure that we were shoring up the defenses of our own alliance, NATO, and we're doing that. And today, tomorrow, we'll continue to talk about not

only how we can sustain these efforts, but how we can build upon them.


HOLMES: All right. Let's turn now to Nic Robertson who is standing by in Brussels where that meeting is taking place. Also we have White House

reporter Kevin Liptak in Washington. Nic, let's begin with you. We know about the new sanctions being proffered, but you know, Ukraine says a coal

ban is fine, that we need more, and they want oil and gas sanctions, Russia profiting handsomely from those. What can we expect then from this meeting

in terms of where it's all going to head?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, $4.3 billion is the amount of money that the European Union would spend on Russian coal

over a period of a year. So, that's a not insignificant amount of money, until you compare it to how much the European Union spends on oil and

Russian oil and gas.

We had a sort of a clear insight from Josep Borrell; the high representative, vice president here, the sort of top diplomat at the

European Union today of an understanding, a sense of his aspiration of how much more could be done, and also sort of from his view as well, how far in

a way, coal only falls short. This is how he explained it.



billion euros. It might seem a lot, but $1 billion euros is what we pay Putin every day for the energy he provides us. Since the beginning of the

war, we have given him $35 billion euros. Compare that to the 1 billion euros that we have given to Ukraine in arms and weapons.


ROBERTSON: Yes, so what? Thirty eight billion dollars there over a period of about 5 weeks compared to the $4.3 billion a year for coal. The European

Union is also targeting some other Russian banks. Four banks, the second largest bank, the VTB Bank, they're also banning Russian vessels, Russian-

operated vessels from using European Union ports, blocking the export of $10.9 billion worth of high-tech goods. We're talking here about quantum

computers, talking about high value rare semi conductors.

All things targeting Russia's sort of high-tech industries. But all of this, yes, the bottom line answer, an aspiration from the European Union is

more. The problem is, there's divisions about how to do it, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, I want to also ask you, because I know you're really across all of this, the latest on NATO's positioning.

ROBERTSON: Yes, we heard from NATO's Secretary-General saying this is going to be a longer war than anticipated. Could be months. Could even go

into years. So what are the foreign ministers doing? They're having a working dinner this evening.

They'll have four rounds of meetings tomorrow, and this will be targeting, making sure they continue with the supplies that they have been giving to

the Ukrainians, that they've been using so effectively against tanks like the armor-piercing javelin missile systems and also some of the surface-to-

air missile systems that have taken down helicopters, targeted jets, that have been very beneficial in the fight so far.

But there's a recognition that NATO, not just that the fight goes longer, that it also changes, Putin retracts troops from around Kyiv, repositions

them in the east and the south of the country, fights the war in a different way, lest, extended columns. So the Ukrainians were able to

target more red links, scored some successes in the early phases of the war. So, supply lines, logistics, that's a key thing that NATO needs to

figure out how to support and help Ukraine with.

Fly jackets, helmets, medical kits, fuel, for example, you know, Russia's targeting the fuel depots in Ukraine. So fuel supplies -- logistical fuel

supplies, but also the war will be fought differently. So hard-earned armor like tanks, that's in the supply line organized through NATO, also armored

vehicles as well. We know Australia, not part of NATO, Australia has committed armored vehicles. So, we can expect more of that to position and

prepare the Ukrainian forces for a longer, tougher, different fight.

And I think the reality here at NATO is that Ukraine's forces may not have the successes, may lose some ground, and that may even further embolden

Putin to want to have a second shot at taking the capital. And that's, of course, why sanctions are so important. Because it is the sanctions that

are going to change his mind-set. They don't change his tactics, day one, day two, day three in the battle.


But as his economy gets hurt, the assessment is over months, this will begin to change his calculus on how long he wants to fight the war.

HOLMES: Yes, one of the problems is sanctions such as they are, do take a long time to actually bite or many of them do. Kevin Liptak, to you now in

Washington. It's interesting because the U.S. had already said it would like Russia out of the G-20, but then we heard the Treasury Secretary Janet

Yellen saying that if Russia is at the next G-20 finance meeting, ministers meeting, the U.S. won't go. That really is sending quite the message.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN REPORTER: Yes, and what Secretary Yellen said was that, it can't be business as usual with Russia. That when it comes to these

international summits and meetings, that Russia has to be isolated. And what she said is that she told the Indonesian host of the G-20 that the

U.S. wouldn't participate in a series of meetings that are upcoming here in Washington if Russia were to attend.

Now, these are not the high level leaders meetings, these are finance ministers meetings that are occurring sort of on the margins of the annual

World Bank and IMF meetings here in Washington in the next couple of weeks. But that does raise the question of whether President Biden would attend

the leaders' G-20 Summit that's due to take place in November in Indonesia. As you mentioned, President Biden has already said that Russia should not

be a member of the G-20 any longer, but of course, it would take a consensus of the G-20 members to actually eject them from the summit.

And U.S. officials are certainly very wary that countries like China, also a member of the G-20, would go along with that. Now, behind the scenes,

President Biden's aides are sort of in the initial discussions about what might happen if President Putin decides to attend that summit in November.

They certainly do not view President Putin's presence there as helpful, but on the other hand, they don't necessarily want to give up the leverage of

attending the summit themselves.

And one thing that they've been certainly very focused on is focusing on this unity among nations that would be very present at the G-20. Most of

those countries are on the U.S.' side here. So they have seven months to go before they have to make that decision. Certainly, this war doesn't seem

like what we have concluded by then.

HOLMES: Yes, Kevin, thank you, and Nic Robertson, you as well there in Brussels. Appreciate it. All right, quick break here on the program. When

we come back, the Ukrainian Air Force says it took down two Russian missiles in western Ukraine. We're going to be live in the region after the




HOLMES: Welcome back. The Ukrainian Air Force in western Ukraine says it used anti-aircraft missiles on Tuesday night to destroy two Russian cruise

missiles. For a firsthand account of what's been going on, let's go to Phil Black who is standing by in Lviv in the west of the country. So, Phil, tell

us about that, bring us up-to-date on what's been happening there.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sure, Michael. So, Ukrainian officials say that yes, two cruise missiles were knocked out of the sky here in the

Lviv region. Some debris fell, there were some fire, some explosions, but nothing serious. The Russian statement says that, in fact, they used the

cruise missiles to strike support and logistic sites at five different locations across the country. Of which, we're only aware of one that has

been confirmed, and that is a fuel storage depot.

Yet another one, we've seen so many of those go up in flames recently. This was another one in the central Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk region. But it is

more of Russia's campaign to knock out these support and logistic sites all across the country in the hope of perhaps causing nervousness and a little

fear, but also degrading Ukraine's ability to supply and support its frontline defensive units. Meanwhile, the really big fighting that we've

been hearing about today has been in the east of the country in three key regions.

The Kharkiv region, Donetsk and Luhansk, these are regions we're going to be hearing a lot about in the coming weeks because this is where Russia is

expected to focus its new offensive operations now that it has pulled its forces back from the north of the country, from Kyiv and from Chernihiv.

Once these places -- once these units, I should say, resupply, the expectation is they're going to go into the east. Now, that hasn't happened


And yet, Ukrainian officials are talking about a real uptick in Russia's assault across the eastern region there. They're urging particularly in the

Luhansk region, civilians to get out now while they can before things get worse. And we heard from one Ukrainian official today who said there had

been a lot of fire, a lot of shelling of residential areas, so much so that at one point, ten high-rise apartment blocks were said to be in flames at

the time. Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Phil Black in Lviv in western Ukraine, appreciate it. Thanks so much. OK, we can take a break here again. When we come back, the

challenges of delivering aid to a nation torn apart by war. We'll hear from Ukraine's Red Cross after the break




HOLMES: Welcome back. We want to return now to the town of Borodyanka, near Kyiv. Russian forces forced to retreat from there after a month-long

occupation, leaving horrific scenes behind them. CNN's Christiane Amanpour shows us how some makeshift shelters turned into graves.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Welcome to Sasha's restaurant," it says.

Only Sasha's is no more. Nor are 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 call above the city of Borodyanka; perhaps they sense the death here. It is clear that the heavy destruction is mostly along the main

streets. 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 is 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."

AMANPOUR: So this is what Vladimir Putin calls liberating a fraternal brotherly nation. So either he's done all this because he loves Ukrainians

or, as most people think now, because he's motivated by a rising hatred and vengeance, motivated by Ukrainians' westward leaning democracy, by their

resistance and by their refusal to come under Russian control.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): And as an afterthought, a bullet to the head of Ukraine's cultural hero, the great poet Taras Shevchenko. Not even statues

are immune.

Amid all 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.


HOLMES: Christiane Amanpour there.

Now Ukraine's deputy prime minister says Russia has agreed to open 11 humanitarian corridors today. Mariupol one of the cities on that list;

although, as always, it is complicated.

Russian forces encircling the city aren't letting evacuation or aid buses in. About 100,000 people are thought to be still trapped in Mariupol in

dire conditions. It's been dire there for weeks.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has been able to escort people to Zaporizhzhya; several hundred civilians, who had already

fled Mariupol.

Olena Stokoz is the deputy director general of Ukraine's Red Cross Society. She joins me now from Vinnytsia in Ukraine.

Thank you for doing so. I know you've been to the town of Bucha, from where such terrible images have emerged.

What did you see there?

How bad was it?

OLENA STOKOZ, DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL, UKRAINIAN RED CROSS SOCIETY: Well, good evening. First of all, personally, me, I was -- I wasn't in the city

of Bucha, because I'm in central Ukraine.

But the Ukrainian Red Cross' emergency response teams are visiting Bucha every day. We're delivering humanitarian aid and not only Bucha city but

also we are visiting on a daily basis around 20 cities in the Kyiv region, the cities which have been recently deoccupied.

What we see there is, of course, a tragedy. I will not comment on those disastrous and atrocities and violence.


STOKOZ: But what we definitely see there, as the Red Cross, we see a huge humanitarian calamity there. And, in particular, people, when they see a

loaf of bread, they start crying, because they haven't seen food for weeks, for days. And that's horrible.

HOLMES: Yes, extraordinary stuff. Yes, I wondered that the Ukrainian Red Cross Twitter feed, I was reading it earlier today. It spoke of delivering,

in addition to the usual types of aid, quote, "psychological aid." And that is such an important aspect of this.

How big an issue is it and will it be going forward, along with the physical damage, the psychological damage?

STOKOZ: Yes. Of course. Well, at this particular moment, the first need to be covered in the liberated cities of Kyiv region are not only because we

have the same situation in so many (ph) (INAUDIBLE) in Chernihiv region.

While we, as we Red Cross, we provide for psychological aid, first aid as such. But the need is food, medicines, water, hygiene. So the primary

things are things are needed now by the people of these liberated cities.

We organize our tents in those cities. And we provide there for psychological aid. But we think that the need for this particular service

will rise with time, because, first of all, we need to provide very basic needs for people.

HOLMES: I'd speak to the needs elsewhere in the country, places like Mariupol, Kherson, Mykolaiv, it's a long list. I think you said you don't

even know if your staff in Mariupol is alive. I think I read that.

STOKOZ: Yes. That's correct. Well, we are the nationwide organization and we have our teams, staff and volunteers, all over Ukraine, including

Mariupol. And we are in the city. We know that there should be around six volunteers working in Mariupol, of the Ukrainian Red Cross on our staff.

But we were unable to contact them.

We have been unable to contact them for around, I don't know, a couple of days already. From time to time, they got in touch with us. But now we do

not know what their destiny is.

We know they were, until the last day we spoke to them, they were performing their humanitarian mission, which was difficult, because our

office was attacked. Our Red Cross (INAUDIBLE) were attacked. And then the connection disappeared. So we do not know what is happening there and we do

not have access at the moment.

HOLMES: All right. I appreciate you taking the time. I appreciate the work that you and other organizations are doing. Olena Stokoz, deputy director

of the Ukrainian Red Cross, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

STOKOZ: Thank you very much.

HOLMES: Still to come tonight on the program, one of Russia's closest allies still refusing to take sides.

What will it take for China to condemn the reported atrocities?

We'll discuss after the break.





HOLMES: This just in: there was an interesting moment at the Pentagon news conference a short time ago, where John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman,

expressed incredible faith in the Ukrainian army. I want you to have a listen.


ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: And if you look at what they've been able to do just thus far, Mr. Putin has achieved exactly zero

of his strategic objectives inside Ukraine.

He didn't take Kyiv. He didn't topple the government. He didn't remove Ukraine as a nation state. And he's really only taken control of a small

number of population centers. And even they weren't the ones that he was really going after.

So Mariupol is still not taken. He's moved his forces out of Kyiv. He's moved his forces out of Chernihiv. They haven't taken Kharkiv or Mykolaiv

in the south.

So I think the proof is literally in the outcomes you're seeing every day. The Ukrainians are bravely fighting for their country and they have denied

Mr. Putin so many of his strategic objectives.

So absolutely they can win. And we have to just keep reminding ourselves that there shouldn't be any need for them to have to -- for us to have to

even answer that question because there shouldn't be a war in Ukraine. And Mr. Putin can end it today.


HOLMES: John Kirby saying, absolutely Ukraine can win. Of course winning and losing a war can have many different definitions of what constitutes

the win and the loss. But an interesting comment there from John Kirby.

Let's move on for the moment. The global community putting pressure on China to condemn the atrocities being reported in Ukraine. But rather than

take a stance against Moscow, Beijing seems to be boosting Russian propaganda. Will Ripley has been analyzing the situation from Taipei and

joins me to discuss the coverage of Ukraine and Russia and China.

That's so different to the rest of the world, an alternate reality in many ways.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And it's not that like this hasn't happened before, Michael, that Russia and Chinese state media are kind of

echoing each other's government narratives because they literally receive pieces of paper every day or emails every day with a list of talking points

that come straight from the party leadership.

So this is not a freefall of information kind of society. We're talking about the state media and what we're seeing is that this is being taken to

a whole new level now, with what has happened in Ukraine.

The horrific images of people, who are dead, lying in the street, they're not being seen by Russian television viewers. They're not being seen in

China, because state media is heavily blurring those. They are -- they're not getting the full story about the evidence of these alleged Russian war


And they're very quick to emphasize the Russian rebuttal. There were actually two prominent reports on CCTV, viewed by tens of millions of

people, if not hundreds of millions of people in China.

It was highlighting the unsubstantiated claims by Moscow, that this situation was staged, that the bodies were placed there after the Russian

forces withdrew. No mention of the satellite imagery that seems to show the bodies sitting in the exact same place weeks ago.

So this is -- there was even a graphic that said that Ukrainians "directed a good show." They're deliberately casting doubt on this horror. And to top

it all off, Michael, they're not even saying that Russia is culpable. They're blaming all of this on the United States.

HOLMES: You know, the thing is that they claim -- and they've done it before in other situations, too -- they are claiming to be a neutral party

but, at the same time, absolving Russia of any responsibility.

RIPLEY: Yes, exactly.

How can you be a neutral party and the country that launched an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign democracy gets a pass?

And yet, the United States is blamed for all of it, because of moves by NATO closer and closer to Russia's doorstep, China saying Russia had

legitimate security concerns.


RIPLEY: But look, this propaganda boosting, the refusal to condemn Russia since the beginning of the invasion, this might come down to saving face

for the Chinese president.

It was just weeks before the invasion began that President Xi and President Putin met in person on the sidelines of the Beijing Olympics. It was

President Xi's first in person meeting for the entire pandemic and he had it with Putin.

We don't know what they discussed but they left the meeting saying that they had a partnership stronger than ever, a partnership with no limits.

Weeks later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

China trying to play this image that they're actually a neutral party but there's a lot of questions being asked about China's role and the timing of

the invasion and China's support of Russia, including helping them to bypass international sanctions.

HOLMES: I guess -- is it the fact that China -- that Russia needs China more than China needs Russia, though?

RIPLEY: Well, China is, without a doubt, going to be the authoritarian leader in terms of economic, diplomatic, military firepower. It's all

there. China is on the rise.

And that is an indisputable fact, when you look at the numbers, climbing up year after year. Russia, on the other hand, has had -- some people felt

really passed its prime. And Vladimir Putin, who lived through the prime, some have said, is trying to get Russia back to make Russia great again, to

borrow an expression from another nationalist leader.

So Michael, Russia certainly does need China's support and they're getting it in spades. They're getting it from Chinese state media. They could be

getting it economically and even diplomatically because diplomats continue to refuse to condemn the actions of Russia and Putin, despite the world

watching in outrage, as civilians, including innocent children, are being killed.

HOLMES: All right, appreciate the reporting. Will Ripley there in Taipei for us, thanks so much, my friend.

OK, we'll take another break. When we come back, we'll take you back to the devastated town of Bucha and show you how Russian media is spinning the

atrocities there to the Russian public. We'll be right back.




HOLMES: Returning briefly to the E.U. sanctions we heard about earlier in the show, not everyone happy with the new package designed to put even more

pressure on Russia. Speaking with reporters before today's meetings, Lithuania's foreign minister called on the E.U. to impose an oil embargo on

Moscow, saying the latest round of sanctions is disappointing.



GABRIELIUS LANDSBERGIS, LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: To be honest, just talking about coal, which is a very, very small portion of our imports from

Russia, jokingly, I said, OK, let's sanction candles and firewood if we want to send a similar message.

So if we're serious about our sanctions, if we're serious about our reaction to massacres of Bucha and other cities that are being uncovered,

then we have to be serious with our sanctions. And oil, I think, is next logical step that has to be taken.


HOLMES: Now for insight into Russia's perspective as the horrific images come out of the city of Bucha, it is not yet even known how many Ukrainian

civilians were killed there. But whatever the final toll, Russian media trying to deny any responsibility.

Matthew Chance with that story. We do need to warn you once again, this heartbreaking report contains graphic images.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "If you think Russian soldiers are humans," he says, "just look at this," the

shocked words of a Ukrainian driver, recording these appalling scenes on the road into Bucha.

But what took place here is beyond words, beyond outrage.

Ukrainian officials say the bodies being retrieved are of civilians killed by Russian forces in the tank, some with their hands tied behind their

backs before being shot dead. Evidence of war crimes, charges the Kremlin and its propaganda machine is categorically denying.

This is how one of the top anchors on Russian state television explained the massacre.

"It must have been the work of British specialists," he says, "because the town of Bucha and the English word 'butcher' sounds so similar."

Maybe it's a joke but no one is laughing, certainly not the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who's dubbed the killings "a well-staged, tragic

show" and "a forgery to try to denigrate the Russian army."

A huge amount of data, he told journalists, clearly indicates this is faked; staged, say Russian officials, after their troops had left.

But satellite images of Bucha, first published by "The New York Times," showed bodies had been strewn across the streets there for weeks, at least

from March the 18th, when the town was under Russian control, photographic evidence that contradicts the Kremlin's claims.

It's also raising concerns that more killings will be unearthed as Russian forces withdraw. The Ukrainian president seen here, visiting Bucha,

accusing Russia of trying to hide the traces of their crimes in other parts of Ukraine that remain under Russian control.

"It makes a peace deal even harder. Every day we find people in barrels, strangled or tortured in basements," President Zelenskyy says.

"It's very difficult to negotiate when you see what they have done here yet."

It is sickening to accept but the sacrifice of these people may have actually pushed back the chances of peace in Ukraine instead of bringing

this appalling conflict to an end -- Matthew Chance, CNN.


HOLMES: More now on the evacuation out of one of the hardhit cities in Ukraine's south. Ivan Watson is in Zaporizhzhya, where a lucky few are

arriving after escaping Mariupol.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I met with the Red Cross team shortly after they arrived here, leading this convoy of some

seven buses. But then maybe 40 privately-owned cars that kind of just joined in, to bring a total of 500 people from Russian-occupied territory

to this city of Zaporizhzhya.

The ICRC has been trying for five days and four nights to get into Mariupol, to follow international law.


WATSON: That says they're supposed to be allowed to, as a neutral aid organization, to deliver humanitarian aid and to help some of the estimated

100,000 civilians trapped there by Russia's military siege, to be evacuated, to escape.

But actually, at one point in their four or five days, they were detained, from Sunday until Monday, overnight and then released. Now the ICRC is a

neutral party; they're not going to blame the Russians for this.

But who controls the countryside and the gate to this shattered city?

It's the Russian military.

So who isn't letting in the Red Cross?

It's the Russian military.


HOLMES: Ivan Watson there.

Pope Francis has been condemning the killings in Bucha.


HOLMES (voice-over): Now he held up a Ukrainian flag, as you can see there. He said it had come from the martyred city.

The world has been reacting to the images of murdered civilians lying in the streets of this town near Kyiv. The pontiff then kissing the flag and,

again, calling for an end to the war.


HOLMES: Thanks for watching tonight. Stay with us. I'm Michael Holmes. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next. See you tomorrow.