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Hala Gorani Tonight

Ukrainian Fighters In Mariupol Defy Russian Surrender Order; At Least Seven People Killed In Lviv As Russia Strikes The City For The First Time In Weeks; Riots Erupt In Sweden Over Quran Burning; Heavy Shelling, Fighting Across Eastern Ukraine; Violence Erupts Over Quran Burnings, Dozens Hurt; Japan Steps Up Defenses On Remote Islands Amid Tensions. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 18, 2022 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. The battle for Mariupol is on a knife-edge

with Ukrainian forces refusing to surrender. We'll bring you the very latest developments. Then at least, seven people are killed in Lviv. In

western Ukraine as Russia strikes the city for the first time in weeks. I'll be speaking to Lviv's deputy mayor.

And later injuries and arrests in Sweden after riots erupted over planned burnings of the Quran. We'll have that story later in the program. Now,

we begin with what could be the last stand for a city that's become the symbol of Ukrainian resistance. Russian forces are sealing off Mariupol,

vowing to, quote, "filter out the last remaining defenders who are refusing demands to surrender.

City officials say heavy fighting has been going on all day long, and you can in fact, hear blasts in the background of this video filmed by our

affiliate "France 2". Mariupol is part of the eastern Donbas region that Russia has vowed to capture, and Ukraine now says it is seeing signs that

the major expected offensive may have begun. The town of Kreminna has fallen.

And the governor in Luhansk says there are quote, "no safe places left across the region, urging all civilians to flee now while they can." Even

areas that have been relatively spared are coming under attack, Russian missile strikes killed seven people today in Lviv, in a city that's

virtually right on NATO's eastern door-step, very far west into Ukraine.

Let's bring in our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward. She's following all of these developments tonight from Dnipro and is also filed a

report on Easter services in a part of the country that has really gone through a lot of suffering. But first, let me ask you about this

anticipated offensive on eastern Ukraine by Russian forces. What is the latest on that front?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, what we have seen, Hala, over the last week or two is an intensification of

shelling, particularly of frontline towns in the so-called Donbas area. We actually visited one of those towns, a place called Avdiivka. These places

are no stranger to war. For eight years, they have been in the middle of the war between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists.

But what they have been seeing and experiencing on a daily basis in the more recent past is like nothing they've seen before. The fear is that it's

only going to get worse. Russia pushing ahead with this sort of three- pronged offensive trying to push down from the north, from the concentration of fighting at the moment is taking place in the town of

Izium, also trying to push in from the east. You mentioned the town of Kreminna, that frontline town according to local military authorities is

now not necessarily fully under the control of Russian forces, but Russian forces have entered the town.

There has been street to street fighting. There are reports of at least one civilian vehicle full of people attempting to flee, being fired upon. And

the fear is that as Russia pushes ahead with this offensive, that it is going to get much worse indeed. But it is worth mentioning that Ukrainian

authority -- Ukrainian forces are also fighting hard.

They have launched several counter-offensive, particularly around Izium, claiming that they took several villages back under their control, and

they've also been trying to attack Russian supply lines as they push ahead with this offensive.

So, not clear exactly whether this has really begun in earnest. President Zelenskyy said that he expects it to begin any day now. But certainly

things getting much hotter and much more dire situation for ordinary people living there.

GORANI: And you visited Sloviansk, this is a very ancient city, it's one that's really been on the frontlines of the Russian offensive and the pro-

Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine. It was, of course, a very important day in the Christian calendar over the weekend. What did you see?

WARD: So we attended a Palm Sunday service, and there were about a 100 people there -- which I should explain that Palm Sunday is a week later in

the Orthodox calendar. So there were about a 100 people there which was surprising to see that many people.

Churches have actually come under attack. Most notably in the frontline Donbas town of Severodonetsk, but nonetheless, people were gathering,

praying, and basically despite the fact that authorities are telling them to leave, many of them are still insisting they will stay. Take a look.



WARD (voice-over): At the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sloviansk, an art and prayer from worshippers under the shadow of Russia's war. "We ask for

your mercy, Lord. Please hear us." They have gathered here for Orthodox Palm Sunday, carrying willows instead of palms, per the Orthodox tradition.

It's supposed to be a celebration of Jesus' return to Jerusalem. But there is little joy in this congregation.

Ukrainian officials say this city will be a decisive battleground in Russia's imminent offensive in the Donbas region. The streets are getting

emptier as the fighting gets closer. Those still here are being urged to leave. The air raid siren is an unrelenting wail.

(on camera): You can't hear it because the sirens are so loud, but we've heard a steady stream of booms coming from that way in the distance. But as

you can see, people here are just used to it. The children continue to play. The adults try to stay strong. This group is awaiting an evacuation

bus to the safety of western Ukraine. Ryesa(ph) tells us she is taking her grandchildren to Lviv, their mother died three years ago.

"You hear what's happening here", she says. "My husband is still at home. His health isn't good enough to make the journey." Her granddaughter offers

some support. "Oh, grandma", she says, "I love you." Anna Stepanafna(ph) is full of anguish that the international community has failed to rein in

Putin. "When they show the children killed, I can't. I cry", she says. "Why can't they stop this one idiot? If they will send me, I will shoot him."

Seven weeks into this ugly war, there is no end in sight. Pavil(ph) is saying good-bye to his wife, Olga(ph). She doesn't want to let go of him.

Scenes of separation that have become all too familiar. "Everything will be OK", the organizer tells her. Comforting words that mask a grim reality.


GORANI: All right, thanks to our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward reporting live from Dnipro and who visited Sloviansk on

Sunday. Matt Rivers joins me now live from Lviv with more. Let's talk about these strikes because officials are saying they killed seven people, and as

many of our viewers know, Lviv has been largely spared when it comes to this Russian offensive. What can you tell us about the targets?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, you know that Lviv has largely been spared during this war because these are the first

civilians here in Lviv killed as a result of a Russian missile strike. What we saw this morning or heard this morning, rather, were explosions across

Lviv with Ukrainian officials saying that there were four different missile strikes as a result of Russia targeting different areas across the city.

Ukrainian officials saying three of the four sites were areas with some sort of military infrastructure. The fourth site, though, Hala, was an auto

body repair shop. My team and I have followed that trail of black smoke, we ended up at that auto body repair shop. There was no military base there.

It was simply a place where cars get repaired. This was a civilian area, we spoke to the owner of that auto body repair shop.

He said that he had a dozen or so employees show up to work like normal before 9:00 a.m. They were getting ready to open up their doors to

customers at 9:00 a.m. It was around 8:30 local time when that missile struck. He said multiple employees under -- that work at his company were

killed, several others were sent to the hospital in what he called a just an auto tragedy.

And he was looking around when he was talking to us and saying, why did this get targeted? We're not a military base. We are of no strategic

importance to the Russian military, and yet, we were hit with a missile. It doesn't make any sense, and he called it yet another example of the

brutality of Russia's military in this campaign.

GORANI: And clear across the country in Mariupol, which has really become this symbol of Ukrainian resistance against very unlikely odds. The

remaining defenders are essentially holed up in this industrial zone refusing to surrender. And it really looks imminent that Mariupol is going

to fall to the Russians. What's the latest that you're hearing from that city?


RIVERS: Yes, and the wild thing is, Hala, is that it has looked imminent that way and you're right to characterize it like that, but it has looked

that way for a while now. I mean, we've been talking about Mariupol on the verge of falling for days, if not weeks in some cases, and yet, still, day-

after-day, what we're hearing from Ukrainian officials is that there are still -- there is still some sort of resistance in there. You are right

that it is centered in the Azovstal Steel plant where we believe the bulk of the Ukrainian resistance to be.

It's very difficult to get independent verifiable information from inside Mariupol because of the basically the information blackout due to a lack of

internet service. It's tough to talk to people in there and get verified information. But it does appear that there remains a resistance ongoing.

That said, we would be remiss if we did not mention the 100,000 or so citizens that Ukraine says still need to be evacuated from that city.

And yet, there have been no humanitarian corridors open for days now. Russia announced that it has closed all entry and exit out of that city

which makes humanitarian corridors all but impossible. We heard from the deputy prime minister here in Ukraine today, demanding that Russia open up

evacuation corridors, saying that not doing so amounts to war crimes that should be investigated on an international level.

GORANI: All right, Matt Rivers live in Lviv, thanks very much. We're working on connecting the -- bringing the lineup with the deputy mayor of

Lviv, Serhiy Kiral, once we get that going, we'll go to him live. Still to come tonight, the story of one Ukrainian family whose only chance of

survival was to escape into enemy territory. They were finally reunited with their loved ones, smuggled to a third country. We'll tell you about

their remarkable tale of escape.

And later, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy talks to CNN about Russia's looming offensive in the east, and why it is critical that Ukrainian forces

stop them there. We'll be right back.


GORANI: The U.N. now says almost 5 million people have left Ukraine to find safety in nearby countries. But the Polish border guards says that on

Friday and Saturday, more people crossed from Poland into Ukraine than the other way around. It is the first time that has happened since Russia's

full scale invasion began.


CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is in Poland near the border with Ukraine. Before we get to those numbers of refugees flowing back into their country, I want to

ask you about that family that you met that had to first flee into Russia and then -- and then find their way to rejoin with family in Poland, and it

was quite the adventure for them. Talk to us about that.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Hala. It's quite an extraordinary story, a very roundabout way and dangerous way of course, to

get to safety here in Poland. But for the thousands living in areas occupied by Russian forces, bombed and besieged every day by Putin's

troops, there may be, if you can find it, only one way out, and that's towards Russia.

But once you're there, how do you get to safety? We spoke to one Ukrainian- American woman whose family made it into Moscow and she had to figure the rest out. Take a look.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Mila Turchyn does not trust the man she's about to meet. He is a smuggler. She is anxious, looking for her mom and sister,

hoping they are here. It's Veeda(ph), her sister, brief joy, but there's no time to hug her mom. The smuggler wants to be paid now, $500 U.S. for the

pair, much more than most families fleeing war can afford.


ABDELAZIZ: We pull away with her mom, Luba(ph), we don't want our presence to cause problems. Away from our camera, Mila is extorted for more cash.

Getting to safety is dangerous. This is the story of one family's escape into Russia after its troops bombed and occupied their city. They are from

Izium, a city under siege. Mila's phone was filled with videos like this.

Living in Cleveland, Ohio, she had no way to call her family. No way to find out if they were alive.

(on camera): So this is your room?

(voice-over): We first met Mila a day earlier at this refugee shelter where she volunteers.

TURCHYN: Somebody saw that missile actually hit my backyard, and I was crying so bad. I just don't know -- maybe they're dead already there --

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): How did you deal with that?

TURCHYN: I came to Poland to take that energy and convert it into something.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): She finally got a call, but it was not from Izium.

TURCHYN: I heard them for the first time after a whole month. I was so turned. I was happy they were alive, but I was terrified that they were in

Russia. And I don't know, should I be happy or should I be sad?

ABDELAZIZ: Mila's only option, she says, was to hire a smuggler to drive her family from Russia to safety here in Poland.

TURCHYN: Somebody from Poland gave me a number of people who transport, smuggling, basically. So, obviously, it's dangerous. Dangerous activity in

Russia. Very dangerous.

ABDELAZIZ: Now, they are reunited. But how did the victims of Putin's war end up in Russia? Desperate to flee, they tell us they could only find one

way out. A private driver offered a ride to the Russian border.

TURCHYN: Now, they fill me in on the details, and it actually was even worse than I thought, and I already was terrified.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Were you scared to go to Russia?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Even more afraid to stay where we were because it was hell and they needed to go somewhere to escape that.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Thousands of Ukrainians have faced the same. Many say they had no choice. It was go to Russia or die.


ABDELAZIZ: Now, Hala, what is unique about Mila's family is that they had Mila, a Ukrainian-American woman with access to cash, access to the

internet, essentially, the ability to help and get them out of Russia. But thousands of other Ukrainians do not have that fortune. We are told by

Ukrainian officials that many of them are stranded in Russia with no access to money, no way to get out. Stuck in a country that's bombed and besieged

them unwanted there. Hala?

GORANI: All right, Salma Abdelaziz, thanks very much. Salma is in Poland and we'll be discussing a little bit later.


The flow of refugees is increasing to the point that more people are going back to Ukraine than are leaving Ukraine. Let's talk more about the

situation particularly in Lviv with Serhiy Kiral; he's Lviv's deputy mayor. Thanks so much deputy mayor for joining us. And we saw that for the first

time, Russian strikes have targeted facilities that have killed civilians, we understand, in Lviv. Can you tell us what the targets were and what the

latest casualty toll is?

MAYOR SERHIY KIRAL, LVIV, UKRAINE: Thank you, Hala, for having me. In fact, while we are speaking just a few seconds ago, the new air raid alarm

was triggered. That means that there's no safe city in Ukraine, no safe haven, as people probably thought that maybe Lviv was a kind of. It's

really difficult to say whether this car repair shop was a legitimate target for the Russian, which is supposed to be a precision targeted long-

range missile launched from the Caspian Sea as we know at this stage.

But it ended up with seven civilians dead, four of them were PPE's(ph) workers, young men working at that repair shop. There were altogether about

20 clients. This is quite a popular place where people, you know, go there. I used to be a client there myself, to repair their cars, to change Winter

tires to the Summer tires, which is just about the right time to do that.

GORANI: Yes --

KIRAL: There was 11 people were hospitalized including a three-year-old boy which -- was also operated on today by our Lviv surgeons.

GORANI: Were all the people who died the seven who died at that car repair shop?

KIRAL: They were at that car repair workshop. Four of them were employees, just probably turning up for the -- for their jobs. And three others were

clients, probably awaiting that turn to get service.

GORANI: And is it -- can you confirm that one of the -- one of the dead is a child?

KIRAL: No, I cannot confirm that. What I do know is that 11 people were hospitalized, and one of this 11 people was a three-year-old child. He and

his mother were not in fact, at that workshop at the time of the attack.

They were staying at the nearby hotel in their room, and the injury to the arm of the child happened because of the shock wave, smashing the window

and one of the pieces of the glass injured his arm which was later operated. I was told that a piece -- a section of a small finger, the

doctors had to cut off in order to rescue the arm.

GORANI: So, that's the shrapnel from the actual missile that hit the -- and you said it was launched, you believe, from the Caspian Sea by the


KIRAL: Exactly. This is the official information I refer to, provided by the original military authorities.

GORANI: How -- I mean, you must be now concerned that even though the Russians are saying they will concentrate their efforts on eastern Ukraine,

that they're probably now trying to hit facilities that they believe whether it's the case or not, maybe repairing vehicles or maybe helping in

the supply of Ukrainian forces and their fight in the east.

So, naturally, that could lead to more strikes in western Ukraine. How much of a concern is that to you? Because Lviv up until recently had been

thought of as relatively spared.

KIRAL: I am concerned like every Ukrainian is concerned. You know, Ukraine is a full, all-out war. The whole of the country is like a huge front. As

in any war, you have an active front with the war zone, an active combat war front, and you have a home front. And Lviv is very significant. It's a

center of the -- of that home front. It's a humanitarian hub as some people call it with over 200,000 of IDPs who found their shelter here, and the

city has been actively supporting these people.

In fact, as we speak, you know, this weekend last week, we've embarked on a very important project to develop a temporary housing for this -- for the



And tomorrow, we have -- supposed to have an important event together with the Polish prime minister to open one of these locations which was donated,

a kind of a container-based homes for the IDPs which was donated by the Polish government. So, you're right, indeed, in Lviv, as the center of that

home front, it is and will be targeted for the -- to create more chaos, maybe panic, and also to disrupt any supplies which are also going on

through Lviv from our western borders to the eastern Ukraine.

GORANI: Now, one of the interesting developments in terms of refugees and IDPs, the internally displaced people, is that we're for the first time

seeing more people enter Ukraine than leaving Ukraine. In other words, I think people either understandably just tired of living in temporary

accommodation, feeling perhaps that Kyiv is a little bit safer, that some areas that have been evacuated by Russians are perhaps areas that they can

now, you know, return to even if their home is gone, at least, they can go back to where they're from. Are you noticing that type of movement of

people out of Lviv in terms of IDPs as well?

KIRAL: It was somewhat quieter today in Lviv. Even a few stop by shops or cafes and restaurants compared to yesterday or some of the previous days.

Indeed, whether it is or is not some sort of a tendency or a trend that people -- more people are leaving, I'm not ready to comment on that. But on

the other hand, even the Ukrainian authorities, you know, the central government, the regional authorities in Kyiv, this -- those recently-

liberated areas have been warning people not to come within the next few weeks to the liberated areas, because they're heavily mined, and there is

still --

GORANI: Yes --

KIRAL: A lot of danger, and this is where the energy and the anti-mining special agencies have to continue to work to make sure they are safe and


GORANI: And yes, which makes -- which makes total sense, and we know the mayor of Kyiv has also warned people not to rush back. Thank you so much

for joining us, deputy Mayor of Lviv, Serhiy Kiral live from Lviv in western Ukraine.

KIRAL: Thank you, Hala.

GORANI: Now -- thank you. Brovary located just outside of Kyiv is one of several Ukrainian cities hit by Russian strikes over the weekend. The

town's mayor spoke to CNN earlier and told my colleague John Avlon what he wanted the world to know about his city.


MAYOR IHOR SAPOZKHO, BROVARY, UKRAINE (through translator): I'd like the world to know that Ukraine is currently defending the world's democracy,

the democratic order, against an occupier, against an aggressor. And that means children are being killed and women are being raped, and people are

being tortured. And this is unheard of in the 21st century, an age of technology and progress, and yet, we can see that the biggest part of the

European country has to defend the world and has to defend the world's democracy.

I just wanted to say that Brovary is not special in this situation. It could be Brovary or Bucha or Borodyanka, Mariupol, Kharkiv or Sumy, we are

all the same. We are defending our country, and we want to live at home, in our home country, and we want to live in our democratic country. So Brovary

is nothing special in that regard.


GORANI: All right, the mayor of Brovary there outside Kyiv. Still to come tonight, Ukrainian military officials say it appears Russia's eastern

offensive may just have begun, may really here is the operative word. We'll hear from Ukraine's president on why this battle could decide the future of

the war.

And also, in another part of Europe, protests in Sweden have turned violent. How far-right rallies are whipping up anger across the country.

That story is coming up.



GORANI: As shelling batters cities across Ukraine's Donbas, Ukrainian military officials say Russia's Eastern offensive now appears to be

underway. Artillery shells rain down today on Rubizhne and western Luhansk, igniting fires across the city.

Also, take a look at this. This is Kramatorsk, air raid sirens wail. There's an elderly men boarded up windows shattered by shelling. Heavy

ground fighting was reported today across the east.

And in an exclusive interview last week, Volodymyr Zelenskyy told our Jake Tapper how well Ukraine resists Russia's assault in the East may determine

the course of the entire war.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): For U.S., the battle for Donbas is very important. It is important for different

reasons, for the reason of safety. First of all, our grouping that is located in Donbas is one of the best military we have. It is a large

grouping, and Russia wants to encircle them and destroy them. It is nearly 14,000 people. It is 44,000 professional military men who survived a great

war from the beginning of 2014.

This is why it is very important for us to preserve that part of our army. That is one of the most powerful. This is why it is very important for us

not to allow them, to stand our ground because this battle, and it can happen so there will be several battles, and we don't know how long it is

going to take, it can influence the course of the whole rat because I don't trust the Russian military and Russian leadership.

That is why we understand that the fact that we fought them off and they left and they were running away from Kyiv from the north from Chernihiv,

and from that direction, it doesn't mean if they are able to capture Donbas they won't come further towards Kyiv that that is why for us, this battle

is very important for many reasons. It is very important to win this battle.


GORANI: Well, that was President Zelenskyy. I want to turn now to Tymofiy Milovanov via Skype from Kyiv. He's an adviser to President Zelenskyy and

the president of the Kyiv School of Economics. Thanks so much for being with us.

So we've been reporting, other outlets have been reporting, that it appears as though perhaps the Russian offensive on Eastern Ukraine may have begun,

but we can't confirm this obviously. What can you tell us about this?


TYMOFIY MILOVANOV, ADVISER TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKY: I agree with you that it appears it may have begun. Over the last days, there has been a

continuous increase in shelling and attacks. And Russia has also been concentrating its military units in the east of Ukraine. But it does appear

that they have started moving forward.

GORANI: But not in a full scale offensive kind of way yet?

MILOVANOV: No, no, that's, you know, it appears to be that it's just trying certain areas, also multiple areas at the same time, it is not a full

scale, throw everything in the way they have done it in and around Kyiv.



GORANI: So what -- not yet, but you're expecting this to happen. How imminent do you think it is?

MILOVANOV: Well, you know, if we take a history lesson from 2014 2016, what Russia has tried and has achieved in the east of Ukraine, they have twice

encircled Ukrainian troops in the East, in the Baltics, Ilovaisk, and have destroyed them a certain units. And after that they negotiated peace

treaties with the Ukrainian government from the position of strength to an extent possible under the circumstances.

So I think that we might be seeing a similar tactic where they are trying to encircle Ukrainian troops in the area. And if they succeed in it, then

they will be ready to negotiate again from the position of strength. However, I don't think that's going to happen this time.

GORANI: OK. What do you -- first, why do you think it won't happen this time and secondly, I must ask you, obviously, what more Ukrainians need to

make sure this doesn't happen the second time around in terms of armaments?

MILOVANOV: I think the second question is the answer to the first.


MILOVANOV: This time around, Ukrainian military is ready. It's much more, you know, it's large in numbers, much more experienced, but it does require

ammunition. It's as simple as that. The war will be won not by those who have better strategy at this point in time, you know, in the next week,

this episode will be won by those who have better supply lines, you know, better morale, better -- prepared better. So there's no question about

morale and the troops. But we do need ammunition. We do need specifics, from heavy artillery, to heavy armor to just simply bullets, you know.

GORANI: Yes. So -- and you're not getting what you need?

MILOVANOV: Well, you know, I have to be diplomatic here. But the way it works is that we submit the list or that's what I do. You can even check it

from the open sources. So we submit certain requests that then we have provided some other things. We're very grateful for what we are being

provided, but it's not quite always what we expect or what we really need. And sometimes there are delays. We do need ammunition now. It really is


GORANI: Can I ask you what it is that you need that you're not necessarily getting? Is this something you can share with us or not?

MILOVANOV: Yes, artillery, everything related to the artillery mortar and artillery, just ammunition for the artillery, that mean -- just rounds and

even basic things like armor and simply, as I mentioned before, simply bullets, you know, huge, you know, the amount, it's a war, it's ongoing,

and, you know, whatever was sent, we could go last for several days, and then you need to, you need to replenish it. I think it's not just your

sent, you know, $100 million of support and it's gone within a couple of days.

GORANI: Can I ask you about -- before I get to those two Brits who have been captured by the Russians, Mariupol, there are holdouts there who are

not surrendering to the Russians, they are confined to this industrial steel plant area. Is Mariupol essentially lost in your opinion to the

Russians? It's what military experts have been telling me. They've been saying this is just now a matter of days.

MILOVANOV: Well, we have heard that it's a matter of days for, you know, several weeks now. But again, we can look in the -- into the history of

2014, 2016, there was the battle for Donetsk airport where, OK, it was much smaller scale, but 120 Ukrainian troops were there, 20 made it out and

eventually it was last but they held out for days and weeks and it was really brutal. A lot of people, a lot of troops died. And I think we're

seeing a similar scenario unfortunately.

GORANI: And I want to ask you also about these British fighters who were volunteering on the Ukrainian side in Mariupol, the name's Sean Pinner and

Aiden Aslin.


The Russian state TV showed hostage videos essentially of them which we will not air because it would be in contravention. It would be breaking the

Geneva Conventions on displaying POWs. They asked in the video to be swapped for a pro-Putin politician and Ukraine, Viktor Medvedchuk, who also

in a video released by the Ukrainian Intelligence Services wants to be swapped. Is this a discussion that is taking place?

MILOVANOV: I actually do not know. But I wouldn't be surprised that that is something which is -- which might be taking place because Medvedchuk is a

very important Russian figure. He had a faction in the parliament, he has been operating, you know, under the kind of disguise of a politician. But,

you know, when I was in the government as the minister, and when I was advising in the Office of the President, I've seen him work. And he always

worked against the government of Ukraine and against the sovereignty of Ukraine.

So I can see that he is a very important figure for Russia, at least symbolically, and they would want to protect their own so they would be

swapping people.

GORANI: But would the Ukrainians want to swap for two British fighters? I mean, is this something that would make sense on the Ukrainians' side?

MILOVANOV: Ukrainians probably would -- well, you know, we care about everyone who have fought for Ukraine. But, you know, we probably would want

to have many more people returned to Ukraine.

GORANI: All right. Well, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate having you on the program, Tymofiy Milovanov in Kyiv, an advisor

to Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Thanks so much.

MILOVANOV: Thank you.

GORANI: And still to come tonight, another part of Europe in the news. Riots, Quran burnings, clashes with police, cities in Sweden descend into

chaos over the weekend. We'll bring you that story coming up.


GORANI: Riots erupted in Sweden this weekend over planned Quran burnings. Dozens were injured as police and protesters clashed. The protesters were

responding in anger to anti-Muslim rallies.


One far right leader posted a picture of himself on social media burning the holy book and vowed to burn more. CNN's Nada Bashir has been following

this story closely and she joins me now to discuss how it all unfolded. So what happened over the weekend in Sweden?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, we've seen a series of counter protests and riots across a number of cities now, in Sweden, this all unfolding

triggered by a far right rally held by the far right Danish political party, the Hard Line Party, which has openly and vocally been anti-

immigrant and Islamophobic in its policies and its stance.

Its leader, Rasmus Paludan, has posted or posted a photo of himself, as you mentioned, burning the Quran, that is of course the holiest text in Islam,

and called on his supporters to join the rally to burn more of these Qurans with him.

So he's done this before a number of times. This isn't the first time he's pulled a stunt like this. He's called for similar stunts to be carried out

in France and in Belgium and across other parts of Europe. This really triggered what's been described as a counter protest. It sparked into a

riot. We saw videos of rioters throwing objects at police officers. We do know that dozens -- more than a dozen of -- members of public have been

injured. At least 26 people were arrested.

But the key point really now is that the investigation is still ongoing. Police have said they are still trying to figure out the exact cause of the

riot. They said that some members of the rioters, the counter protesters, may be individuals linked to criminal gangs who are taking advantage of the


GORANI: So provocateur and troublemakers. We saw with the Muhammad cartoon protests a few years ago that there was a lot of violence also associated

with that, but not necessarily, you know, an effort from some Muslim countries to kind of calm the tensions. Quite the contrary. But in this

case, what is the reaction of countries like say Saudi Arabia or the Gulf countries in the Middle East?

BASHIR: Well, a number of Muslim majority countries in the Middle East have now come out issuing statements condemning the acts of burning the Koran by

the far right party. We've heard from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, amongst them, Iraq even summoning its Swedish envoy there.

Saudi Arabia has issued a statement. It's condemned violence, but it's also calling for dialogue and tolerance. And we heard as well from the Jordanian

Foreign Ministry, they warned that such acts could pose a threat to peaceful coexistence.

GORANI: Right, thank you very much Nada Bashir with that story.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem continues to be a flashpoint on a weekend where Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Holy Days coincided for the

first time in a very long time. Now on Sunday, Israeli security forces and Palestinians around the compound, there was some violence there.

Israeli police say they entered this very holy site for Muslims to stop Palestinians who planned to throw rocks to disrupt visits by Jewish groups.

The site is holy to both Muslims and Jews. All of this follows some violence on Friday. The Palestinian Red Cross says more than 150 people

were injured then among Palestinians. And now as a result of this unrest, Israel's fragile government coalition may be in danger.

United Arab List Party, the first Arab party to fully enter the Israeli government as a coalition partner says it is freezing participation in the

coalition to protest police violence against Palestinians at their mosque.

Still to come tonight, an exclusive look at the coastal community with front row seats to rising tensions in the Pacific Ocean. We take you there

after this.



GORANI: So three people are reported to have died in Shanghai during the latest COVID-19 outbreak. These are the first officially announced deaths

of this latest outbreak raising questions about the authenticity of the official numbers.

It comes as other Chinese cities go under harsh lockdowns and when we say harsh we mean harsh. I mean people are just sent to these COVID centers,

they are locked in their homes. Wuhu banned all 3.6 million residents from leaving their homes after one case was reported. And in Xi'an around 13

million people are locked down after 43 positive cases were reported this month. By the way, the three people reported to have died in China,

unvaccinated elderly underlying conditions.

The security situation in the Pacific Ocean is becoming more volatile amid fears that China could launch its own operation resembling Russia's in

Ukraine. Japan is stepping up its defenses. Here's CNNs' Blake Essig speaks exclusively with the Chief of Staff of Japan's military and takes a look at

what life was like on some islands not far from Taiwan.


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the past 25 years, Kazushi Kinjo has made a living fishing the waters surrounding Japan's Nansei Islands, that

includes the uninhabited group of islands known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu in China. When he started, Kinjo says he never saw Chinese

ships, but in the last few years --


KAZUSHI KINJO, JAPANESE FISHERMAN (through translator): You can see it in the video. The bow of one of their ships was pointed straight at us and

they were chasing us.


ESSIG: Dangerous encounters specifically around the contested Senkaku Islands that Kinjo says are guaranteed.


KINJO (through translator): I don't know for sure. But I also saw what looked like cannons. Looking back, they definitely could have shot at us if

they'd wanted to. I felt that fear.


ESSIG: In response to CNN, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it's carrying out law enforcement duties in its territory. But it's not just the

Chinese Coast Guard trolling these contested waters. Japanese and senior U.S. defense officials say Chinese warships are routinely patrolling

Japanese territorial waters in the waters near Taiwan. And according to one of the men in charge with defending Japan, that increased activity isn't

limited to the sea.

From where I'm walking on the shores of Japan's Yonaguni Island, the east coast of Taiwan is only 110 kilometers away. It's so close that on a clear

day, you can actually see it. It's this stretch of water. It's been viewed as a potential battleground if China invades Taiwan.

It's that close proximity that has Japanese officials claiming Taiwan's peace and stability is directly connected to Japan's, a security threat

amplified by the ongoing nuclear threat posed by North Korea and a growing fear that China may try to take control of land the Japanese government

claims is inherently theirs.


GEN. YOSHIHIDE YOSHIDA, JAPANESE MILITARY CHIEF OF STAFF (through translator): Japan's territorial sovereignty extends to the Nansei Islands,

and I'm afraid that may be infringed in the future.


ESSIG: It's for those reasons that General Yoshihide Yoshida says defending the Nansei Islands is a top priority. The Nansei islands consist of these

198 islands. Since 2016, in a clear departure from Japan's post World War II pacifism, Japan's Self Defense Force has increased its footprint,

building bases on Amami Oshima, Miyakojima, and Yonaguni. Ishigaki is next.


ESSIG: How confident are you in Japan's ability to defend itself?


YOSHIDA (through translator): We are enhancing our capabilities but our competitors are also enhancing their capabilities at an extremely fast

pace. It will be very difficult to maintain our deterrence and response capabilities unless we further increase our military capacity.


ESSIG: Back on Yonaguni, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is sparking fears that China could be emboldened to act off Japan's shores.


KINJO (through translator): The people are terrified of the situation that's happening. I think that the Senkaku issue and the Taiwan contingency

are similar to the Ukrainian issue. I have a strong sense of crisis, but this island will eventually cease to be Japan.


ESSIG: But in the face of geopolitical concerns well out of his control, Kinjo and his crew do what they know. They prepare for another day at sea.

Blake Essig CNN, Yonaguni, Japan.


GORANI: Thanks to all of you for watching tonight, I'm Hala Gorani. I'll see you next time. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.