Return to Transcripts main page

Hala Gorani Tonight

Zelenskyy Warns Putin May Use Nuclear Weapon. Reports of Heavy Shelling Across Donetsk Region. Russia Issues Formal Protests of U.S. Supplied Weapons to Kyiv. Slovakia Sends Air Defense System to Ukraine. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 15, 2022 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, the latest on the war in Ukraine. The president of the country, Volodymyr

Zelenskyy, has a dire warning for the world as Russia heads into a fierce new phase of its invasion. Now Russia carried out its first major strike

around Kyiv in weeks, hitting a military factory where it says anti-ship missiles were being manufactured. Now that happened just hours after Russia

suffered that massive blow, the loss of its main warship in the Black Sea.

The Pentagon is now backing Ukraine's account of its sinking, saying that the ship was, indeed, hit by Ukrainian missiles. Russia, for its part, is

intensifying attacks across the Donbass region today, including in Mariupol. Ukraine says Russia used long range bombers to attack the city

for the first time as fighting continues to rage. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia wants to destroy the Donbass so that only stones

remain, quote, unquote.

Now in an exclusive interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Zelenskyy said the entire world should be worried about what could happen next.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The Director of the CIA warned that he's worried Putin might use a tactical nuclear weapon in this fight. Are you worried?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: Not only me. I think we all, all over the world, all the countries have to be worried because you know that

it can be not real information, but it can be truth because when they began to speak about whether or not the battles involve enemies or nuclear

weapons or some chemical, you know, issues can collapse us (ph). They should do it. They could do it. I mean, they can. For them, life of the

people - nothing, that's fine (ph). We should think not be afraid. I mean, that not be afraid, be ready, but that is not the question for - to Ukraine

and not only for Ukraine. For all the - for all the world. I think so.


GORANI: President Zelenskyy there. Now we're joined by Mr. Zelenskyy's Chief Diplomatic Advisor in Kyiv. Igor Zhovkva is the Deputy Head of the

Office of the President of Ukraine. Thank you, Mr. Zhovkva, for joining us. Let me ask you first how is the president doing? I'm seeing his interview

there with Jake Tapper. Is he - how is he doing psychologically? Is he physically exhausted? What is - what is - how is he felling right now at

this stage?

IGOR ZHOVKVA, CHIEF DIPLOMATIC ADVISER TO UKRANIAN PRESIDENT: You know, he's doing absolutely fine, and whatever, you know, personal circumstances

or, you know, life conditions may be -- I know they are difficult during the war time - my president is a real example and a real hero not only

Ukrainians I think but for the people over the war. You see him during interviews. We see him during his meetings with foreign leaders, and you

see many more foreigner leaders are coming. He's always full of energy. He's always full of not only hope but, you know, absolutely being sure that

Ukraine is destined to win. We only need assistance from our partners.

GORANI: Let me ask you about this formal diplomatic note that Russia sent to the U.S. saying essentially if you keep arming Ukraine, we are warning

you of, quote, "unpredictable consequences." What do you take that to mean?

ZHOVKVA: Let me remind you that this policy of worrying, you know, black mailings or, I don't know, drawing some red lines is typical for Russian

foreign policy. It used to be the case. Long before this open war started it used to be the case starting in 2014 (ph). It used to be the case in the

beginning of this year. It is the case now when they see that the world is helping Ukraine, is rendering real assistance. They start to threat and


I think the brave nations do not fear, do not already have those fear of Russian so-called strength (inaudible) and are ready and would be ready to

help Ukraine. We are not - we're not afraid here in Ukraine, so I think a combination --


GORANI: But it must be on your mind. It must be on your mind the possibility that cornered or challenged Russia will use tactical nuclear

weapons, that it could use even chemical weapons as well. It must be on your mind.


ZHOVKVA: Absolutely. It's on my mind. You should -- we should take it seriously. I don't say that we should not take it seriously. We should take

it seriously because the blackmailing about using the nuclear weapon or biological or chemical weapon practically started from the beginning of the

first day of war. You should remember that they threatened using the biological weapon when surrounding Kyiv in the beginning of the war. They

are now several times are iterating about nuclear weapon but look.

I mean, Russia is not the only nuclear power. Why should other nuclear powers let them blackmail the whole international community because the use

of nuclear power would have disastrous implications for the whole world community. So I think a strong reaction to this blackmail would be the best

- the best option.

GORANI: The Russians say they've hit a missile factory outside of Kyiv. This is - well it appears to be in retaliation for that strike against its

flagship vessel in the Black Sea, though it has never fully acknowledged that it was hit by Ukrainian missiles. The U.S. has supported your version

of events and says, indeed, that they believe as well that missiles hit that ship. Can you tell us more about whether or not this is going to harm

your ability to defend yourself against Ukraine - the Russian invasion?

ZHOVKVA: Look, I cannot give any more official information on both cases you mentioned, but look, Russia is ruining - is trying to ruin our military

infrastructure. That's what it did from the first days of war, and it claimed several times they ruined almost all the airports or almost all if

not all the factories. It has ruined, I don't know, all the military objects, but this is not the case. You see Ukraine's spite and Ukraine's

struggling. Again, with the support of our partners we'll definitely proceed with this.

GORANI: Now let me ask you what you - what more do you want now from NATO countries, from your allies in this war, in this - in this defense of your

country against the Russian invasion? I know that you've wanted in the beginning a no fly zone. That was off the table and that's not being

discussed anymore, but you would ideally like some fighter jets. I'm interviewing the Prime Minister of Slovakia in about 15 minutes on the

program, and there is talk of Slovakia providing your country with some Russian MiG jets. Is that going to happen?

ZHOVKVA: Look, we are thankful to Prime Minister of Slovakia personally for what he already did. You know, just recently he was visiting the capital,

the city of Kyiv and meeting with the president. He came not empty handed. So you'll probably ask Prime Minister of Slovakia what he can also do. I

mean, he's really a neighbor friend and a brother of Ukraine.

We badly needed - except what you mentioned, we badly need the grounds - ground weapons. We badly need artillery systems and ammunition. We need

MLRS. That's what we need in our little block (ph) for instance. That's cities in Mariupol (ph). We need armored vehicles. We need tanks. Yes, and

that's what we get from our partners. Just the day before yesterday my president spoke with President Biden, and you saw immediately there was an

announcement of additional help to Ukraine on all the items mentioned including helicopters by the way. So yes, that's what we need. We need it

more. We need it to get our victory over the aggressor.

GORANI: So you need more. You - there was - that's a quite a list there that you gave us. You mentioned Mariupol, and there is - there is really

some question about whether or not it is still holding out or whether the Russians have either taken it or on the verge of taking it. They've even

aired on their state-run media video of what they claim are Ukrainian marines surrendering. Is Mariupol still holding out to the invader or has

it fallen? What can you tell us?

ZHOVKVA: Well it's still holding out, and you might remember several times they proposed to surrender to our armed forces. Several times they proposed

a deadline and if you do not surrender we will - we will destroy you.

The city's holding out. Yes, true some parts of the city are controlled by the armed forces of Russia, and on those parts of the city the immediately

started to deport people illegally to the Russian Federation. I mean, children, women, and civilians were forcefully deported, and that's what

the international community should also pay attention at because, you know, it's absolutely breaking of all the humanity laws during the war. But there

is parts of the city are controlled by Ukrainian Armed Forces units and they are struggling and they are fighting.

GORANI: Yes, and regarding the expected full-scale invasion of eastern Ukraine, do you believe that this is something that is imminent?


ZHOVKVA: Well they are dreaming about Donbass starting from 2014 when they managed to capture to part of it. Yes, now according to their plans as we

understand it there are plenty of these battle over Donbass like we call it. So they are concentrating the troops, part of the troops which were

withdrawn from the north of my country, re-concentrated now in the east. While we also expect this, we are ready to this defense (ph). If our armed

forces are well prepared and we'll have a really - a really a struggle over Donbass. So not an inch of Ukrainian Donbass will be given away to


GORANI: Thank you so much, the diplomatic - Chief Diplomatic Advisor to President Zelenskyy, Igor Zhovkva, for joining us live from Kyiv.

ZHOVKVA: Thanks.

GORANI: Appreciate your time this evening. Well as we just discussed there with Mr. Zhovkva, the Ukraine is reporting and discussing all that heavy

shelling that is happening in the Donetsk region of Donbass saying almost all settlements along the front line are under attack is what we're hearing

from other officials.

Ben Wedeman is in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region with more on what he is seeing and hearing. Ben --

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala. Well what we heard this morning here in Kramatorsk was a huge explosion which shook

this hotel. Apparently, it was a strike of some sort on an industrial facility, and what we are seeing over the last few days is an

intensification of Russian bombardment. It's believed that is sort of to soften up the area in anticipation of a Russian offensive. And one

Ukrainian official said it's a matter of days, not weeks.

And we went to the eastern most town in the Ukraine - under Ukrainian government control, and in more than one way it was a city on the edge.


WEDEMAN: Denise (ph) loads food in his car for a delivery run. The supplies sorted by volunteers in this old warehouse were donated from around Ukraine

and abroad. Denise (ph) was a musician before the war.

DESNISE (PH): My town, broken. It's destroyed.

WEDEMAN: Severodonestk is the city furthest east under Ukrainian government control and under constant bombardment from Russia forces nearby. The

supplies Denise (ph) and other volunteers deliver are what keep this city alive. Two missiles landed outside Nadia's (ph) decrepit Soviet-era

apartment building. The strain of living under the shelling more than she can take.

NADIA (PH): (Speaking foreign language).

WEDEMAN: "It's hard," she says. "I can't stay in this room. I'm so afraid. I want it to be quiet and calm again." With Russian forces massing in the

east there will be no quiet. There will be no calm.

Sitting on a hospital bed, Riyana (ph) recounts the night that her house was hit.

RIYANA (PH): (Speaking foreign language).

WEDEMAN: "I was in the kitchen and it started," she says. Her home is now in ruins. More than 20 corpses lie scattered in the hospital's morgue,

wrapped in sheets and blankets, awaiting burial. On the outskirts of this city, more evidence of the toll war has taken.

This is a hastily dug graveyard that was started since the war began. Just look at the dates. 7 of April, 9 of April, 3 of April, 4 of April. It goes

on and on and on. And more graves will soon be filled.


WEDEMAN: And we understand that basically the suburbs of Severodonestk are now are now the scene of a concentration, a massing of Russian troops,

armor, and artillery. Hala --

GORANI: All right. Ben Wedeman, thanks very much. Russia sent - and we were discussing this with the Zelenskyy aide - a formal diplomatic note to

Washington this week protesting against shipments of weapons to Ukraine and warning of unpredictable consequences if it continues to do so.

Our International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson, is in the studio with me. So I asked Igor Zhovkva, the Zelenskyy aide, what he thinks

unpredictable consequences means, and he said it's not the first time that they're stable rattling like this, but it's got to be a cause for concern.

This is a formal diplomatic note.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is, and we've had sort of informal positions stated by people like the, you know, Russian

Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, but this puts it in writing. This follows up and said -


GORANI: It's signed by Vladimir Putin I understand.

ROBERTSTON: And it's intended to convey concern to what - it's intended to convey his frustrations and anger and turn it into concern in the west and

get them to back down, but neither side's backing down in this situation, so it clearly has to be taken seriously. At NATO headquarters where I was

last week, they were saying that at the moment Russia doesn't have the ability to strike dynamic targets, meaning it doesn't have the ability to

sort of track a convoy coming across the border and then be able to hit it. But what we're hearing, and this was coming from state TV commentators and

we're seeing it happen on the ground, calling for train stations and train intersections to be targeted, and we're beginning to see this plus the

munitions --


ROBERTSON: -- that destroy equipment because that's the way a lot of this heavy armor that's going to be shipped in can go in.

GORANI: I'm actually quite surprised they haven't done this earlier.

ROBERTSON: So I think there's a lot --


GORANI: Do we know why?

ROBERTSON: Well it's a great question.

GORANI: I mean, yes.

ROBERTSON: And I think, you know, we have to look at what we've seen so far in Russia. It's now lost two warships. It had a completely failed drive to

try to get to Kyiv but frankly wasn't a far distance from the border with Belarus, and they put their crack (ph) troops in and flew them in by

helicopter and sent in huge amounts of armor, but they couldn't manage to do that.

So it begs the question how effective is Russia really being in this fight? It's doing - it's doing a remarkably horrible and horrific job of killing

innocent civilians, shooting them in basements and such like but actually executing the war that President Putin thought could be executed -


ROBERTSON: -- not so much.

GORANI: The strategic vision is a complete failure. They have obviously killed lots of civilians, and we've seen it in places like Mariupol and

we're hearing from Ukrainian officials and even people on the ground that there have been forcible deportations to Russian-held territory as well. I

guess the question is - I mean, by the way, there is an open question about why they're not targeting the railways but why they're not targeting the

internet. That is because they also need some of those networks to communicate, right?

ROBERTSON: They need some of it themselves. They've got troops on the ground. If they destroy those then how do they communicate when they, as

they plan to, take those particular towns and cities? They don't want to - they don't want to hamstrung themselves. You know, it looks on the face of

it that some of this hasn't been particularly well thought through.


ROBERTSON: That's how it appears. What's actually going on inside the Kremlin is really hard to know, but the facts as they present themselves

are President Putin trying to execute something with an army that's incapable of doing what he wants it to do and a very shrill propaganda

machine urging him on to do more, to launch an even bigger, all out war against not only Ukraine but the suppliers, NATO and others, the suppliers

of the weapons.

GORANI: So the first attempt at Kyiv was a failure. They've lost the flagship. They clearly have floundered in other parts of the country. So

the big concern now is will Russia out of desperation use some of these tactical nuclear weapons or as we've seen them do on a very small scale

even in this country they've used chemical weapons against people in Salisbury, England a few years ago. I mean, how does NATO react to that if

they go down that road?

ROBERTSON: Well what NATO has said - and they don't give away very much - again, Stoltenberg famous in essence for his ability --



GORANI: Yes. We've all interviewed him more than once.

ROBERTSON: -- not to kind of lead onto the line, but what they say is we are - we will take a judgment depending on what the chemical or what the

chemical or other threat would be an action form Russia, and we are supplying Ukraine the equipment to deal with this, but so far we're not

there. Russia also knows the cost of escalation further. Putin -


GORANI: What is the cost escalation?

ROBERTSON: It's further being cut off from the international community. It's further economic isolation.

GORANI: I mean, they're paying that price they've paid from the beginning. They - it doesn't seem to be deterring Putin at all.

ROBERTSON: It's not deterring Putin so far, but Putin isn't the whole of Russia, and I think that's the sort of bigger international drive and push

here that Putin is now about to get into a bigger offensive in Donbass. It could end up looking like the First or Second World War where you get very

entrenched positions. You can't take much territory.

Following the summer he'll be into - coming the onset of winter again. It'll be a very different war. He's not being able to as yet take Odessa.

He's lost a vital battleship as part of that - you know, as part of the effort to take Odessa.

There's - when you look at the map and the areas of red that Russia controls at the moment, it got those bits fairly quickly.


ROBERTSON: It hasn't been able to run ahead and take the rest, and the idea of arming the Ukrainians is that they hold Russia in those positions and

potentially further push them back.


Putin - Putin's military offensive is in deep trouble, but his ability to wreak havoc despite that to your question is very real and continues.

GORANI: Well all those weapons that the Ukrainians are getting and top of the line weaponry as well and they're being trained on them very quickly,

it's - they're able to keep these certainly the ground troops at bay, certainly out of artillery range, and it's just really not what anyone

expected I don't think at the beginning of a war.

ROBERTSON: So the pressure comes back on Putin. He has to make - he has to make some very tough decisions, and the cost of escalating to chemicals and

nuclear comes with an incredibly heavy price, and he may not actually want that gamble.

GORANI: Nic Robertson, thank you very much for that. Much more on Russia's war on Ukraine could come. My interview with the Slovakian Prime Minister,

I'll ask him whether or not his country will supply Russian-made MiG jets to Ukraine after the break.



GORANI: For weeks now Kyiv has been pleading for more military aid, more weapons and defense capabilities. Slovakia is answering that call, sending

Ukraine its S-300 air defense system full of antiaircraft missiles. According to Slovakia's Prime Minister the country is considering sending

fighter jets as well. Last week, Prime Minister Eduard Heger visited Ukraine with (inaudible) seeing the country's devastation for himself, and

he joins me now from Bratislava. Thank you for being with us, Prime Minister. Let me ask you first about -



GORANI: -- this potential plan to send your country's Russian-made MiG fighter jets to Ukraine. Is that going to go ahead?

HEGER: Well first of all I have to say that we are in close coordination with the Ukrainian Armed Forces and we respond to their request. At this

moment there hasn't been request for the MiG-29s. On the other hand, the MiG-29s without Russian support, which we've denied at this moment, they

are not sustainable long-term, so within a couple months they will be - they will be not useful for us, and we are on the other hand waiting for

the F-16s to arrive next year. And I the meanwhile, we both speak to our partners in NATO and close-vicinity countries around to protect our

airspace after the MiG-29s stop working.


GORANI: Right. So you operate a fleet of MiG-29s, Russian-made fighter jets. You're saying that without Russian support they will have to go out

of commission very soon, so why not send them to Ukraine in the meantime? Have you discussed this with your NATO partners, and are they on board with

this plan?

HEGER: The discussion has been ongoing ever since the whole war started. We discussed several things, but like I said it first depends on the requests

of Ukraine, and there was a clear request on the S-300, which I am so glad that we worked out and we were able to provide it. And on the other

equipment we'll be speaking, their second request that they have is rather repair of their equipment since we are a close neighbor right next door. So

we right now working on helping them with the repairs of their equipment.

GORANI: So they've not requested the fighter jets is what you're saying. Now you mentioned the S-300. This is a Soviet - sorry, a Russian anti-

aircraft system as well. This is something that you've given to Ukraine while you wait for the Patriot missile system from the United States,


HEGER: Yes. Actually it is Soviet-made. It's really old. It's from 1987, and yes. The whole situation we needed to prepare, and thanks to

negotiation with the United States we were able to receive the Patriots instead, and therefore we were able to give our system S-300 to Ukraine,

which they have experience with.

GORANI: So so far they've requested antiaircraft systems as well they've asked you to help repair some of their weapons systems and vehicles I



GORANI: Is that correct?

HEGER: They also - they also interested in buying most likely the Howitzer Zuzana, and this is been in a fair - very detailed negotiation at this

moment as well.

GORANI: Let me ask you about the question that has really been at the heart of the hesitation of some of the countries in the beginning like Germany to

even arm Ukraine, which is the energy dependency that so many European countries have on Russian oil and gas. Your own country imports basically

almost all of its oil from Russia. Do you still -


GORANI: -- you still import it? Are you still sending that money in return for these energy shipments to Russia?

HEGER: Yes, we are.

GORANI: And in that sense, are you not contributing to the financing of the war from the Russian side?

HEGER: Yes, this is very sensitive issue, and yes, we are full dependent on gas and also oil. And therefore, we put a lot of effort in also with the

countries who are as dependent as us but also with the other countries within the whole European Union very intensively to find an alternative.

We've been doing different calculation and looking for LNG. It seems like the LNG is the quickest alternative, but unfortunately we have to prepare

the infrastructure because, as you know, it's around 100 billion of cubic meters of gas that we'll be missing, and it's a huge amount at this moment.

So we're working very - like I said, very hard and very closely, very intensively on -


GORANI: And how long will that - how long will that take?

HEGER: Well it could - yes, it could take - definitely a question of months and possibly years. But we're looking for all the possibly alternatives

since the dependency was so high, and it's a really a pity that we didn't do more in the past.

GORANI: Yes. And one - I want to ask you one last question. These unpredictable consequences that Russia is threatening in that diplomatic

note that it sent to the United States, do you take to mean unconventional weapons, biological or even nuclear?

HEGER: Well on one had we have to take everything in mean, of course, but on the other hand we know that Russia's been fighting also this hybrid

warfare, these psychological operations, and threatening and really trying to break the unity that we have in the democratic world. And we cannot

allow that, so we should not be afraid. We should really be bold and really face the danger and help Ukraine as much as it can. We see that it works,

and they reaching success in certain areas, and that's a very good sign. And we as a close neighbor and also people - we know Ukrainians very well.

We have very close contacts with them, so it's in our great interest to help them to win this war and get the Russian troops out of their territory

and really have - and keep their democracy and freedom which they've been fighting.



HEGER: It's in our great interest to help them to win this war and get the Russian troops out of their territory and really have -- and keep their

democracy and freedom which they've been fighting by their own lives, which is really so horrible that in the 21st century that we have to face this

kind of brutal war on the territory of our neighbor.

GORANI: There. We're seeing an image of you meeting with President Zelenskyy a few weeks ago in Kyiv. And I know you visited the outskirts of

the city as well. Thank you very much for joining us. The Slovakian Prime Minister, Eduard Heger, live from Bratislava.

And still to come tonight, terror and trauma in a frontline town. We'll take you inside Donetsk suburb under almost constant bombardment to see how

those who cannot leave struggle to cope with Russia's unrelenting aggression. We'll be right back.


GORANI: Well, Russia says it's made advances on Mariupol claiming to have "liberated" a steelworks plant from Ukrainian forces. CNN can't confirm


Meanwhile, Ukraine says, for the first time since the war began, Russian long range bombers have attacked the city with cruise missiles. This is

deepening the humanitarian emergency there. Ukrainian officials estimate there are 100,000 civilians still trapped inside this hellish landscape.

And Ukraine's military intelligence says the Russian General leading operations in Ukraine is guilty of war crimes in that city.

Now we are hearing extraordinary stories of Ukrainians stepping up to help their neighbors survive. CNN's Ed Lavandera met one of those people and

brings us her story.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When the first bomb struck Mariupol, Katya Erskaya thought her most effective weapon would be a gentle smile and the

ability to calm terrified families.


She lived in an underground shelter coordinating relief supplies for the trapped civilians of this besieged city.


LAVANDERA: So you're watching your city get bombed and destroyed, people are being killed. You decide not to leave but to help.

KATYA ERSKAYA, MARIUPOL RESIDENT: It's horrible. It's ominous. Didn't allow even children to go out from the city.


LAVANDERA: Day by day, the video Katya captured showed life in Mariupol unraveling. She lost touch with the outside world. None of her family and

friends outside the city knew if she was alive or dead. Life here was falling into an abyss.


ERSKAYA: It was like middle age.

LAVANDERA: It was like the Middle Ages?


LAVANDERA: It's almost like you could feel yourself running out of time. There was only so much longer you could stay in Mariupol.

ERSKAYA: I thought I will never go from Mariupol until the end.


LAVANDERA: On March 16th, Katya evacuated. She recorded two short videos on her way out just before seeing a family walking on the side of the road, a

mother, grandmother and two young girls.


ERSKAYA: We had two free places in our car, and we saw this family and we decided to help them.


LAVANDERA: At one of the Russian military checkpoints, they stopped in front of a soldier.


ERSKAYA: And he show us "go out" and we began to turn on our car, and after that he began to shoot.


LAVANDERA: One of the bullets pierced the car over her head. But in the backseat was 11-year-old Milena Uralova, shot in the face. The Russians

realizing their mistake sent the girl to a hospital. Katya, now separated, traveled on without knowing if the young girl survived until -- CNN found

Milena in the basement of a children's hospital in Eastern Ukraine after surviving life-saving surgery. For Katya, the relief is overwhelmed by the

horrors of what she witnessed.


ERSKAYA: I saw a lot of dead people, a lot of common graves on the street for example, in my yard, and I started to believe that they crazy because

they were like maniacs.

LAVANDERA: They were maniacs to you?

ERSKAYA: Yes, they're really crazy, like Nazis in the Second World War.


LAVANDERA: After escaping, Katya remembered the videos she recorded before the Russians ravaged Mariupol, Ukrainians protesting outside the now famous

theater that in a matter of weeks would be the site of one of the most grotesque bombings in this war.

The theater, still intact. The city's buildings unscathed. She sees the peaceful faces of families and children. The video is hard to watch. Are

these people alive or left in makeshift graves around the city? Katya Erskaya doesn't know. And for her, there's only one way to deal with this

haunting reality.


ERSKAYA: I decided that I will cry only once the Ukrainian gets a victory.


LAVANDERA: Ed Lavandera CNN, Odesa, Ukraine.


GORANI: And for those who remain near the frontlines and the cities and towns of Eastern Ukraine, life under bombardment is taking a terrible

physical, but also psychological toll. CNN's Clarissa Ward was in such a town just north of Donetsk where one father told her "Only the dead are not



CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The town of Avdiivka is no stranger to war. For eight years, this has been the front line of Ukraine's battle with

Russian-backed separatists. People here are used to shelling, but they have never experienced anything like this. A missile can be heard overhead as an

emotional man approaches us.

"He smashed the old part of town," he says. As we talk, the artillery intensifies.


WARD: I told him it's better to go home now because there's a lot of shelling and he said there's more shelling where he lives.


WARD: As Russia prepares a major offensive in the east, frontline towns like Avdiivka are getting pummeled.



WARD: So you can hear constant bombardment. This is the bomb shelter down here, but you can see this building has already been hit.


WARD: More than 40 people are now living in what used to be a clothing store. Lida and her two sons have been here for three weeks. She wants to

leave, but says her boys are too scared to go outside. "We're afraid to stay and afraid to go, " she tells us but it's fate whether you run or

don't run.

On an apartment block, an icon of the Virgin Mary has been painted, pleas for protection. But there is no respite in the bombardment.


WARD: If you look over here, you can see the remnants of some fresh strikes.


WARD: 37-year-old government worker Rotislav looks at what remains of his family home. He takes us inside to see the full scale of the destruction.


WARD: It's completely destroyed.


WARD: Mercifully, no one was at home at the time of the strike.


ROTISLAV, AVDIIVKA RESIDENT: This was photo albums. My children's photograph.


WARD: His family has already left but he says he plans to stay by. "I'm afraid like anybody else. Only the dead aren't afraid," he tells us but a

lot of people are still here in Avdiivka, living in bomb shelters and we need to support them.

Authorities say roughly 2,000 people remain in this town. There is no water, no heat. Electricity is spotty. The local school has become a hub to

gather aid and distributed to the community.

Volunteer, Igor Golioto, spends his days visiting the elderly and disabled. Today, he is checking in on 86-year-old Lydia. Petrified and alone, he has

yet to find an organization willing to come and evacuate her.

"When there's no electricity and it's so dark and there's shelling," she says, "You can't imagine how scary it is." She tells us she recites prayers

to get through the night. "I never imagined that my end would be like this," she says. "You can't even die here because there's no one to provide

a burial ceremony."

For Igor, it is agony not to be able to do more. "I promise you," he says, "I will help you to be evacuated." As we leave, Lydia is reluctant to say

goodbye. It is terrifying to live through this time. To do it alone is torture.

"It's so nice to see real people," she says. "Probably it's going to get worse." A prediction all but certain to come true as a second Russian

offensive draws near.




GORANI: Well, Jerusalem is on edge once again at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound. The Palestinian Red Crescent says more than 150 people have been

taken to the hospital for injuries from rubber bullets, stun grenades, and beatings as well, all happening during a holy day for the city's Muslims,

Christians, and Jews. Hadas Gold has the story.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The sounds of violence as dawn broke on Friday over the Old City of Jerusalem. Hundreds of Palestinians clashing

with Israeli forces around the mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount holy to both Muslims and Jews.

Israeli police say they were responding to violent rioters throwing rocks and launching fireworks. Surveillance footage released by police appear to

show masked men smashing rocks overnight in preparation. By mid-morning, the Palestinian Red Crescent said more than 150 people had been injured by

rubber bullets and stun grenades.

Among those injured was a Palestinian cameraman. Video showed him being kicked and beaten by police. Three Israeli officers were also injured, hit

by rocks police said.

At one point, Israeli police entering the mosque itself, a move seen as a major provocation by Muslims. Police said they arrested more than 300

inside. Israel's Foreign Minister defended police actions, saying rock throwers were jeopardizing free worship.


GOLD: Even before Friday's unrest, there had been a sense of a city holding its breath in anticipation as in a rarity, the holidays of Ramadan, Good

Friday, and Passover all overlap on the same day.


GOLD: In the middle of the night before the violence, the Old City's Muslim residents gather for the Suhur, the traditional meal before the sun rises

and the daily fast begins.

Later, as the sound of stun grenades and fireworks echoed in the background, pilgrims and locals from Western churches made their way along

the Stations of the Cross, tracing the path Jesus made before ending at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which Christians revere as the site of the


If the religious calendar had brought tension, so too had recent events in Israel on the West Bank, the Israeli army stepping up raids and operations

in Palestinian towns and cities in response to a series of attacks in Israel that killed 14 People in less than three weeks.

And though by early evening, it seemed like a lid had been placed on the city's tensions, it may only be a matter of time before it boils over once

again. Hadas Gold, CNN Jerusalem.


GORANI: Still to come this evening, Harry and Meghan make a stop in the U.K. to visit the queen. And Christians around the world are celebrating

Good Friday today. We'll tell you why some Ukrainians think a procession led by the Pope is incomprehensible.



GORANI: North Korea's celebrating the most important date on its calendar, the Day of the Sun. This colorful light show marks 110 years since the

birth of North Korea's founding father. Kim Il-Sung was the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un. There's no sign yet of the expected

military parade. In the past, festivities have included demonstrations of military might but not this year.

Twitter's Board of Directors has adopted and adopted what's called a Poison Pill that may thwart Elon Musk. Now, you'll remember he offered more than

$41 billion to buy Twitter. But the board is making it harder and more expensive for him to do so by preserving the right of other shareholders to

acquire more shares of the company at a relatively inexpensive price. Thursday, the Tesla CEO said that the takeover move is about more than just



ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA & SPACEX: This is not a way to sort of make money, you know. I think this is -- it's just that I think this is -- this could -

- my strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the

future of civilization.


GORANI: Well, Musk says Twitter needs to be transformed, as you just heard, hitting out at what he calls a lack of free speech on the social media


Ukraine's President Zelenskyy says members of his military will take part in this year's Invictus Games kicking off tomorrow in the Netherlands. He

says veterans and service men and women who are currently defending our state will compete.

Prince Harry founded the games in 2014 to support injured veterans' recovery. And both he and Meghan Markle will be attending the competition.

Well, the couple stopped by the United Kingdom on their way to the Netherlands paying Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, a visit. CNN's

Nada Bashir has more.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid a private visit to the Queen and that's according to the couple's

spokesperson who said the pair made a stop in the U.K. on their way to the Hague for the Invictus Games.

This marks the first time the couple have returned to the U.K. together since 2020, the year they stepped back as senior members of the Royal

Family. And, of course, Prince Harry was notably absent from a memorial service for his late grandfather, Prince Philip, held in March of this


Well, there has been intense scrutiny on the couple's decision to step back as senior members of the Royal Family. Prince Harry has said he has

maintained contact with the Queen, his family now based in California often taking part in video calls with the Queen so this will certainly come as a

welcome visit, although this does come at a time of heightened concern around the Queen's health.

She has expressed that she has felt tired and exhausted after a bout of COVID in February. We've also seen her in recent engagements opting to use

a cane suggesting she is experiencing some mobility issues. And, of course, in March, she did take a break from Royal engagements after spending a

night at a London Hospital for preliminary tests, doctors they're telling her to take a rest, to take some time off.


So there are certainly some concerns there, but of course the Queen is due to celebrate her 96th birthday next week. This is the year that marks her

Platinum Jubilee, those celebrations upcoming in the next few weeks.

But there is also some focus on the Easter weekend, the Queen traditionally attending a Easter Sunday service in Windsor, but according to a royal

source, she won't be in attendance this year, although other family members will be. Nada Bashir CNN at Buckingham Palace, London.


GORANI: Easter celebrations are underway in the Vatican as Christians around the world mark Good Friday, but next hour, the Pope will host a

procession that is facing opposition from Ukrainians. This is why. During the ceremony, a Russian woman and a Ukrainian woman will carry a cross

together and then shake hands, a response to the war that some Ukrainians call incomprehensible and inadequate.

The Pope has called for an Easter truce to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but has stopped short of directly criticizing Russia's President, Putin.

Well, thanks to all of you for watching this evening. I'm Hala Gorani live in London. Do stay with CNN. A quick break and then it's QUEST MEANS