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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  April 20, 2022 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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instagram, and tiktok. if you ever miss an episode. show, you can listen to it wherever from wednesday you get your podcasts. our coverage tigs now with wolf blitzer. he is running next door in a place i like to call "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- happening now, breaking news. the besieged city of mariupol. time is running out to save the tempe tens of thousands of citizens trapped there. russia is saying it will destroy everything in its path as it intensifies its attack. also today, russia tested a nuclear capable missile in the midst of war. and he says it should give
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moscow's enemies food for thought. in brussels, as well as here in washington, russia's brutal war now heads into a ninth week. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> we begin this hour with one of the most intense battles in the war in ukraine. the fight for mariupol. russian forces launching relentless attacks and tightening their squeeze on the decimated southeastern city. the struggle to defend mariupol growing more and more desperate right now, as a ukrainian commander is warning, there may be only hours left. cnn's matt rivers is on the ground force in ukraine. first of all, what are you
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learning about conditions of mariupol tonight? >> reporter: well, they're horrible, wolf. and we had a slight glimmer of hope earlier today when an evacuation corridor was agreed to at 2:00 p.m. local time. it was to get the citizens out. but russia violate the cease fire, meaning only a small number of people were able to evacuate. we spoke to one man recently inside mariupol who was fighting who gave us some unique insight into the conditions on the ground. the steel plan housing marm's last line of defense. if the defenders here fall, so goes the city. a few days ago, george said he was right in the heart of the fight. >> i've never seen such a brutal, devastating war because russians are just trying to execute civilians. >> reporter: he spoke to us via video chat from an undisclosed
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location. severely injured during the fighting, he says he was smuggled out to recover. he is a georgian national and a commander in the azov battle beyond, one of the few remaining units left defending the city. he says he was among the soldiers fighting the russians while at the same time taking care of the hundreds of civilians sheltering in the area. some of which seen here in a video cnn can't verify, posted on the ukrainian government's social media. how long do you think your group can take care of all those people and yourselves? >> that's hard to answer for me. time is short. >> reporter: tens of thousands of citizens in besieged mariupol still need to be evacuated. on wednesday, a slight glimmer of hope. a humanitarian corridor agreed to by both sides where civilians could evacuate mariupol, heading to other places and then onward,
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eventually to the ukrainian held city of zaporizhzhia. the city's mayor urging people to use it. he said dear people of mariupol, during these incredibly long and difficult days, you survived inhuman conditions. i want you to know main thing. they are waiting for you in zaporizhzhia. it is safe there. video from marm's city council shows buses lined up ready to take those who wanted to leave. it is unclear howl many got on. but video shows fewer people got out than he hoped. leaving requires trusting that the russian military will not harm those who are trying to leave. this is the same military that has spent the entire war systematically targeting civilians across the country. and yet the city has become unlivable. for the military units still resisting, he says they're caring for soldiers and civilians. sometimes with the same injuries, due to russian
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shelling. >> child or soldier. i've seen a lot of times it was a soldier saying, take your child. it is a priority. >> reporter: a commander inside the steel plan has urged the international community to set up an evacuation route using a third party. another country that might be able to facilitate the transfer of soldiers and civilians to safety. if that doesn't happen, he says russia will continue the bombardment and it will end only one way. >> there will be nobody left in this area. there will be dead, all the children. i'm not talking about the soldiers. the civilians will be eliminated. it will be on us, on the civilized world. >> reporter: you know, wolf, i asked him wolf any of the messages of the azov battle beyond still fighting in mariupol consider surrendering to the russians, and he said categorically no. they are so convince that had the russians hate them so much,
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that if they surrendered, he believes they would be summarily executed. he said if they get out. there are two ways. one, they'll be evacuated somehow somehow. number two, they'll die fighting. meanwhile we're hearing from a top aide from president zelenskyy, emhe is willing to go to mariupol to begin negotiations with the russians but no response from the russians so far. >> matt rivers on the ground for us in ukraine. thank you very much. in the midst of this truly horrific war, russia just test launched a newly capable intercontinental ballistic missile. and putin seized on the opportunity to give a warning to the west. what are you learning, barbara? >> reporter: russia releasing video of this intercontinental ballistic missile test. modernizing a key strategic weapon just as it presses forward with its new offensive in the donbas region of ukraine.
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russian president vladimir putin bragging that the launch was a momentous event. >> translator: this true unique with that will strengthen the forces. and provide food for thought for those who, in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country. >> reporter: the missile sometimes called the say the an two, was revealed in 2016. it is designed to replace the soviet era model. russia claims it can carry multiple nuclear warheads and has a range of more than 6,800 miles, making it potentially capable of striking the u.s. russia says the missile was launched wednesday afternoon from northern russia traveling across the country to a test site in the far east. the penn says the test was not a surprise. >> they provided advance noticed of this launch under its new
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treaty obligations. the defense department said we didn't deep it a threat to the united states or its allies. >> reporter: but a senior u.s. defense official said the launch was not something would be done by a responsible nuclear power in the current tense environment. as putin's war drags on in ukraine, russia appears to be determined to succeed with its advanced weapons. the u.s. kalbed the scheduled icbm test earlier this month. >> we're at a very tenuous point. we wanted to make sure we're managing escalation. >> reporter: and president biden a short time ago concluded a meeting at the white house with his top military commanders from around the world. meeting with them to discuss both the general security situation and of course, russia, ukraine, discussing the need for troops and military plans nowadays with all the russian aggression to be able to adapt and change very quickly. wolf? >> stay with us as we bring in
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cnn diplomatic editor nic robertson joining us from brussels right now. what message is putin trying to send with this intercontinental missile test at such a key turning point in the ukraine war? >> there are two messages. to the international community, that despite how the war is going, we continue to test and develop our newest improved weapons systems. that we can do this while we're actually fighting a war. the war is going on to the west of russia. this missile test was from the north of russia, all the way to the far east russia. so there is a message that the army is capable, it's functional, it can do multiple things, and fire these very big new sophisticated systems upgraded from the soviet era. but it is more important for putin at the moment, part of this, the message that we just
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saw from him, and barbara is reporting there, was broadcast to russians. and the announcement of this missile test to the russians. this is to reend force the message that the army is capable, it is a modern army, a modernizing army. that it can continue to fight. and this, if you will, will try to scorch over all the little bits of bad negative information that are slowly, slowly filtering out to russians, that the war in ukraine is not going well. however, the kremlin tries to spin it. they have had to pull out of kyiv. they've spun that to their population. putin talks about the fight in terms of a noble cause. trying on re-rally troops and put more people into the fight. it is all part. narrative that the russian government is still on track with its military goals and pose as threat to its enemies. >> on that point, nic, how desperate is putin for any sort
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of victory? potentially, for example, in the battle for mariupol after russia's humiliation around the capital of ukraine, kyiv. >> mariupol is a fate that he is so committed to, if the ukrainians were to break through, with what seems to be impossible for the moment, break through and relieve the forces inside, that would be a huge humiliation. that doesn't seem to be in the cards. if he continues to stall and not be able to take this final piece of ground held by these few ukrainian fighters that are left in there, that will be a humiliation for him. it is a humiliation to have not been able to take kyiv. they respun, that that was their intention. if he gets bogged down in donbas, that will be very hard to sell to the russian people. that they're not making gains. not getting the territory that
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they've been talking about. and of course, that will undermain his bigger aims which are to secure bigger territory in the south and along the black sea. so he cannot afford another significant loss. so not being able to beat a thousand fighters holding out in mariupol for another several weeks, that is not going to look good for him back home. >> good point. barbara, you're over at the pentagon. president biden says weapons and ammunition are flowing into ukraine daily from the u.s. and other nato allies. but the administration is also preparing for yet another $800 million package of military aid for ukraine. are they bracing for the long haul? >> well, i think longer than perhaps they might have originally planned. who knows? there is another $800 million being assembled to go in. it will focus very heavily on ammunition.
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those are the key items they need for this fight in eastern ukraine. right now, the focus is on getting weapons into ukraine in order to help those forces defeat the russians over the long haul, decisions will have to be made about what future capabilities maybe transferred into ukraine to keep them secured over time. >> thank you both. the breaking news here in "the situation room" continues next with more on russian forces laying waste to huge swaths of ukraine. how will the country rebuild? we'll speak with a key ukrainian minister. you could save with america's number one motorcycle insurer. that's right, jamie. but it's not just about savings. it's about the friends we make along the way. you said it, flo. and don't forget to floss before you brush. your gums will thank you. -that's right, dr. gary. -jamie?
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. we're following breaking news. vladimir putin is intensifying brutal assault on eastern ukraine right now. where forces control as much as 80% of the luhansk reench one official is warning, russia will, quote, destroy everything in its path. let's go to our senior international correspondent ben wedeman in kramatorsk. i hear the air raid sirens where you are. i warm you to be careful. tell us what's going on. i understand you had a chance to speak to a ukrainian military officer. what did he tell you about this battle they're facing right now? >> reporter: at first, yes, the air raid sirens are going off. about 15 minutes ago, we heard six to seven large explosions within the city of kramatorsk. the closest we've heard since we got here. and yes, we had an opportunity to speak to an officer who we've gotten to know, and is a pretty good reliable source of
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information near the town south of one of the strategic fronts in the current russian offensive. he was telling us they believe there are around 15,000 russian troops in the area. despite that, ukrainian forces have been able to retake some ground. he said they have taken russian prisoners and they found there is poor coordination between russian units, poor communication between them. and among the soldiers they captured, they say there's clearly very poor morale. they said this officer was telling us, in one march area, ukrainians were outnumbered by the russians 7-1. but nonetheless, they were able to push the russians back. and certainly, the impression is given that the russians haven't made a lot of progress despite
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supposedly the beginning of this offensive, is that many of the shortcomings that were so blatant apparently during the battle around kyiv and north central ukraine are also showing up here. poor coordination, communication, morale. it seems even though it was thought that perhaps some aspects of this current russian operation in eastern ukraine show improvements. by and large, the problems among the troops are very much in evidence. wolf? >> they certainly are. we still hear the air raid sirens where you are in kramatorsk so be careful over there. ben, we'll get back to you. stay safe. i want to continue to follow breaking news. alexei is the ukrainian minister for regional development. thank you for joining us. i know you've been on the ground in kyiv, the capital, and other
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key cities in the north after ukraine pushed back the russians. when you look at the homes flattened, the water and heating infrastructure completely destroyed. just how absolute is the devastation that was committed by putin's army? >> thank you, wolf. first of all, i would like to say the refugee crisis and humanitarian disaster are deepening because ukrainian civilians are deliberately targeted by russia. moscow's clear objective is to destroy ukrainian nation as a viable political entity through the war of obliteration. we are facing a terrific, terrific numbers of destroyed assets, destroyed buildings. and i have visited the number of regions, the number of occupied regions, and they are facing very, very tragic situation. i can tell you that 10 million
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of ukrainian people have to leave their houses and 4 million are already abroad. which is already a serious risk for ukrainian economy. nevertheless, 6 million are still in ukraine and they prefer safer regions to be there. and this is, of course, a dramatic situation for the country. >> minister, what does the process look like of actually trying to rebuild your country? >> rebuilding of the country will take definite time. we're definitely going to do it. first of all, we are concentrated on basic things. visiting the deoccupied region is our major concentration. it will be to get back the electricity, water supply. heating where it is needed and of course, we are providing basic construction and ventilation works.
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which is very important for this moment. of course, we are taking care of the displaced people and the people who have lost their houses and many as you can see on the screen right now. from this point, we have several strategies. we provide modular houses. for instance, yesterday we have opened the first camp of modular houses together with polish prime minister. and we have done it together with a partnership of polish government. the first one is dedicated for 1,000 displaced people. and everyone, every month, we plan to increase it to 5,000 more. another strategy would be long term apartment, and we are planning to construct it very, very fast. >> ukrainian minister oleksiy,
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good luck to you and all of you. we are following what's going on. it is a critically important moment. >> thank you very much. >> thank you for joining us. ares beginning to form in the wall of billionaires around putin? we'll have a closer look at putin's grip on his financial elite. and whether his hold on power is in jeopardy. stay with us. zzling sounds] ♪ what does the future of strength look like? it's dynamic weight that adjusts for you in real time for a more efficient workout. and you can only experience it. (sigh) and you can only experience it. on tonal. ♪ (music) who said you have to starve yourself to lose weight? who said you can't do dinner? who said only this is good? and this is bad?
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of the russian president and his brutal invasion of ukraine. brian todd is working the story for us. putin has depend for decades on these billionaires, hand he? >> that's right. they say putin head them make their fortunates and they helped him make and hide his ill gotten money. tonight the fallout from the war has fractured another of those alliances. tonight a russian billionaire and bank founder now lashing out against vladimir putin's war in ukraine. oleg tinkov calls the war insane. he says innocent people and soldiers are dying. generals waking up with a hangover have realized they have a bleep earl. he asked the west to give a clear exit to save his face and stop this massacre. >> he is the first member of the russia's financial elite to speak out against the war directly. it is significant because while others have spent on out, they
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have not gone against putin himself. >> others have campaigned for peace, but avoided slamming putin directly. one oligarch has criticized putin directly, but he reannounced his corruption citizenship in a facebook post last month. >> translator: i do not accept this citizenship. my russian citizenship with the fascist putin at the helm. >> there is a growing list of luxury toys allegedly belonging to russian elites that have been seized, following the start of ukraine war, including several super yachts confiscated in european ports. one, with multiple vip suites, and a pool that turns into a health pad. another one worth at least $600 million with one of the largest pools ever put on a yacht. about 80 feet long. believed to be owned by the russian mining mag nate.
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one of the privately opened aircraft. it was named after his father. >> the seizure of yachts and mansions is administration increasing pressure on russian oligarchs who are overseas. that's why we're seeing them speak out. >> reporter: but is this a turning point for vladimir putin? if he continues to lose support from the oligarchs corks his hold be legitimately threatened? >> they have become important but not as much as the security service who's are closer to the security and closer to vladimir putin. >> reporter: analysts say putin started several years ago to replace the oligarchs in his closest inner circle with people of his own backgrounds. elites from russian military. one analyst says among those getting sanctioned by the west is a badge of honor and he doesn't see any of them staging a coup any time soon.
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>> thank you. significant information indeed. let's get more on what is going on. joining us now, the hoeflt of fareed zakaria. how important is that it this billionaire is speaking out against putin and pleading with the west to give putin a clear exit to save face? >> i wouldn't read too. into it. tinkov has made his money more from the traditional commercial side of russia, retail, banking. not oil and gas and things like that. i think more importantly, fundamentally misunderstands the axis of power in russia. putin does not depend on these people for his support. they depend on him. they are courtiers in his court. putin's power comes from the security services, from the army, and from oil rev news. remember. putin will get $320 billion in
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energy revenues this year. a few billionaires here or there make no difference to him. >> look at these images today of putin. look at these images. putin at this event today with young people. a girl, just 12 years old. read a poem implying the people of eerm ukraine are really russians. how grotesque is it to see putin use these children to advance his lies? >> well, it is grotesque and it also has that feel of this kind of staged propaganda that you wonder whether anyone is really buying. but it is worth pointing out, wolf. that perhaps the more disturbing feature here is a lot of russian people have been brainwashed. a lot of russians do believe that ukraine is just a kind of junior version of russia. that everybody in ukraine speaks russian and loves russia. putin is not alone in having
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believed this kind of fairytale about ukraine. and that's partly because what they are talking about, that russia is becoming a totalitarian society. brainwashed by propaganda, sealed from the outside world. it is a very worrying, what is even more worrying, a lot of people believe this stuff in russia. >> thank you so much, fareed. thank you for joining us. join him every sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern, 1 p.m. on cnn. we're getting word on whether the u.s. justice department is appealing a ruling overturning the mask mandates for american travelers. stay with us. be conniption-free, thanksks to the cartridge-free epson ecotank printer. a ridiculous amount of ink! you're mocking me. not again! the epson ecototank. just fill & chill.
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states that was struck down earlier this week by a federal judge. we're now getting word on whether the u.s. justice department will appeal that decision. our white house correspondent jeremy is joining us. jeremy, tell our viewers what you're learning. >> reporter: well, it was just two days ago a federal judge struck down the cdc's mask mandate for travelers. yesterday we heard the justice department say it would appeal the decision if the cdc deemed it necessary to do so. now, wolf, we are learning from the cdc that they do indeed and they are asking the justice department to appeal this decision by a federal judge. let me read you the statement we have from the cdc saying, to protect cdc's public health authority beyond the ongoing assessment announced last week, cdc has asked doj to proceed with an appeal. it is cdc's continuing assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for public health. they say they'll continue to assess public health conditions.
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i think what is notable here is that the cdc is saying that the decision to appeal is twofold. on the one hand, it is about the current conditions they do still believe based on the science that it is necessary and should be necessary for travelers on airplanes and trains, and other transportation to wear masks while they are traveling. and on the other hand, they're talking about protecting their authority going forward. the white house press secretary jen psaki made this point earlier today as well. talking about the fact that this is a pandemic is unpredictable. that there will still be highs and lows going forward. and they want to ensure, the biden administration wants to ensure the cdc will still have this authority as it relates to mask mandates going forward. should we see an increase in cases once again? should we see a new variant that pose as more serious threat? so again, we will have to see when this appeal is exactly filed. and also crucially, whether or not it involves some kind of a stay. travelers could be feeling some whip lash. they saw the mask mandates come
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off. airlines allowing them on travel without masks. we'll see what the future is in the coming days. >> we'll find out soon. jeremy diamond, thank you very much. let's get more on what's going on with our senior correspondent. elizabeth, what is your reaction to the news the justice department will in fact go ahead and appeal this federal court ruling ening the mask mandate for travelers in the u.s.? >> my thoughts are that the cdc didn't take the easy way out. they could have said, enough time have passed and community levels have gone down so much, and omicron is relatively mild. we were thinking about this anyway. maybe it's time for this mask mandate to come off. that would have been a much easier way to do this and they didn't. they must feel quite strongly about this. that these mask mandates are important. and that they protect people. because they have a fight in front of them.
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>> we're getting a lot of viewers who are confused about what's going on now. how can you stay safe while traveling on public transportation in the u.s., on planes, trains, buses, boats, cars, if the mask mandate is gone for good? will your mask still protect you if others are not wearing their masks? >> it will, wolf. of course, it would be better if others are wearing a mask but it will protect you. let's take a look at the data that we get. we got this from an engineer at uc davis. he found when you wear an n-95 mask, it decreases by 20 fold the number of inhailed particles you take in. a surgical mask, it decreases by nine times. a cloth mask, it decreases by three times. of course, it is important to say if other people are not wearing masks, you have a lot more stuff out there to inhale. you have a much greater chance
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of having covid around you. the mask will go a long way toward protecting you. is it as good as others wearing a? no. but you are better off wearing a mask than without one. >> and you're better off if others near you, especially in an indoor setting, are wearing a mask as well. pfizer updated on when a vaccine might be able for children under 5. what is the new information? what is the latest? >> they're saying now that it could actually why be in june which is right around the corner. speaking with parents of young children, wow, that would make us feel a whole lot better about taking our 2-year-old, 3-year-old, 4-year-old on a plane if they could be vaccinated considering that now people on planes are not wearing masks. so let's take a look at what it
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means. it would be a little different than adults. the initial series that they would get is three. so not two plus a booster but three to begin with. so two shots about, three weeks apart. and then another one about two months later. the dosage would be way smaller than for an adult. three micro grams instead of 30. we had all hoped this would have happened already. they said we tried a certain reg member and it didn't work as well as we wanted that so they're trying this and we'll see what their data is when they release it. >> elizabeth cohen reporting for us. thank you. just ahead, ukrainians who say they narrowly escaped death at the hands of russian forces, describe the brutality they endured. ♪i got bongos thumping in my chest♪ ♪and something tells me they d don't beat me♪ ♪ ♪ ♪he'd better not take the ring from me.♪
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tonight as russian forces are intensifying their offensive in eastern ukraine, we're now hearing new horror stories of their brutal assault near the capital city of kyiv. survivors share their first hand accounts with cnn's phil black. >> reporter: andre says his life will be forever split in two. before and after the day the russians came. he remembers the skies suddenly swarming with attack helicopters. he says they flew in a low formation like they were on parade. and soon after, he says, russian ground forces approached his home.
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this is where he says they opened fire from a distance. an explosive round landed close by, fracturing his leg. shrapnel piercing much of his body. but he says he was lucky. he got to he says many veterans from the east were deliberately killed during the occupation. "if i had not been wounded, i would have been shot too," he says. [ speaking foreign language ] vasily also survived russia's occupation, but at great cost. vasily shot by the russian numbers and firepower that rolled in, a tiny village northeast of the capital. "so many tanks passed," he said. "so much ammunition. every house had 20 soldiers
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occupying it, includiiing the house where they were sheltering." the russians moved in above. one night, he says, four drunk soldiers pushed open the basement door and screamed. everyone out by the count of ten or all will be killed. vasily said women were screaming, children crying and as he was the last through the door he was blasted from behind with a shotgun. he says, nothing was left of the leg. all bones destroyed. just a puddle of blood in minutes. he says two days later some russian solders helped to get him to hospital. he still thinks they're beast, not people. the russian invasion of areas around kyiv violently interrupted and ended many people's lives. and some would somehow survive brutal intimate encounters leaving them forever changed.
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wolf, the thing you notice when you meet and speak to survivors like these is that they are still deeply shocked that they -- that they are still struggling really and especially those that have come -- that have experienced the callous cruelty and the willingness to indulge in such grotesque violence. these are people who speak very softly and who truly struggle to come to terms with all that they have lived through and experienced recently. >> it's awful, phil, thank you very much. stay with us. we have more news just ahead.. i. tresemme. do it with style.
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new fallout for moscow tonight from its brutal invasion of ukraine. wimbledon officials are barring russian and belarusian players prosecutor taking part in one of the premiere tennis competitions. let's dig diaper with sports analyst and "usa today" sports columnist christine brennan joining us. how significant is it that no russian or belarusian players will be competing at wimbledon? it's supposed to start on june 27. >> reporter: well, wolf, it's very significant. it is a major statement from a sport that russians do very well in, both men's and women's, tennis, it's a major statement from wimbledon. it is political in the sense that for a month or so the minister of sport in england has been talking about this, but it is action that is different from what we've heard over the last
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couple of months about teams being banned. for example, the figure skating team being banned from the world championship, the men's soccer team from the world cup. what this is going avid athletes and it is controversial. both the men's and the women's tennis tour today said they were against it. they were disappointed in this decision from wimbledon but right now that decision stands and it is a significant statement from england and from wimbledon about what they believe the message they would like to send to vladimir putin about the athletes that he does care quite a bit about which in this case are his tennis players. >> the kremlin quickly responded to this wimbledon announcement saying and i'm quoting now this is from the statement making victims of some kind of political prejudices intrigues hostile actions towards our country is unacceptable and you say there are others who might actually agree with that
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statement? >> yes, there are, wolf. obviously no surprise that the kremlin is upset and i'm sure many people are not too concerned about that, in fact, consider that a victory. that the statement is from wimbledon that is, it's being heard by putin and if it makes him angry all for the good for those for this. the concern is it's a slippery slope. these are individual, independent contractors. they are not part of a team. when they are playing tennis as part of a team, for example, future olympic games depending on where the world stands in 2024 then you might see them banned. they are banned from the men's and women's team competition, the federation cup and billie jean king cup. that is already happened in tennis but then as individuals they've been allowed to compete. and the concern again is the slippery slope is okay you do this in this case, what about other cases? that said, clearly the message has been heard in the kremlin. >> certainly has been, all right, christine brennan, thank you very, very much. an important feet to viewers,
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for information about how you can help humanitarian efforts in ukraine, go to and help impact your world. i'm wolf blitzer. i'll be back in half an hour in our new streaming service cnn plus with my new show called "the newscast" also always available on demand. thanks very much for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. outfront, putin puts the west on notice testing a powerful new missile he claims will make the west think twice as new intercepted communications between russian soldiers appear to show them turning on their own. plus, there is breaking news, the cdc is now asking the justice department to fight back and bring back that mask mandate for travelers. so are asks coming back? and ron desantis with two major victories. is that why fox talking about him more than trump. let's go outfront.


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