tv AC360 Special Report A Mothers Diary of War CNN May 30, 2022 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
>> 40 miles northwest of kyiv, a massive russian convoy is heading toward the capital. russian forces already on the outskirts of the city are meeting fierce resistance. >> the russian column that has come down here has been absolutely hammered. i don't want to show you this too much, but there's a body there. that's a russian soldier that is lying there dead on this bridge. look at this. i mean what kind of munitions does it take to do that to a car, to a vehicle? you know, i know that i was speaking to the local ukrainian commanders here. they've been saying that they were using western anti-tank missiles to attack these columns. look. so recent the battle, this vehicle is still smoking. >> four days after the invasion
begins, i interview olena for the first time on cnn. >> have you thought about trying to leave? >> yes, many times. one is to escape and survive. another one is to stay at take the battle. and we decided to stay. and what is going to happen, the worst happened to us in this case is that we can die. and we decided that we can die anyway. >> have you been able to talk to your husband? i know he's volunteered to fight. >> yes. yes. before the night started, i talked to him. yeah, and we had about two minutes of conversation, and that was the longest. before he was saying only, i love you, and my response was the same, and that was all. this time he even described a little bit what they were doing. in total, he said that it's not
romantic at all, but people are doing very well. everybody -- many people, they do their best to protect the city, to protect ukraine. ♪ >> olena is doing her best as well, trying to make her kids feel safe though there is no safe place in ukraine. ♪ woooooooooooooo... we are not getting you a helicopter. only pay for what you need. ♪liberty, liberty, liberty. liberty.♪
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had had. some clothes, some blankets for children, and i even took some toys for them. so i took these for taras. i took these for katya and these, derina already had this one, so it's enough. yeah, these are kids who are playing and laughing. children are children. >> an apartment building in chernihiv, some three hours north of kyiv, is struck. at least 33 people are killed. russia continues to claim they're not killing civilians or
striking residential buildings. [ speaking foreign language ] >> today, olena -- >> say hello. >> hello. >> he is so dirty, and he smells so bad, guys. really. yeah, and he looks very tired, and he has red eyes, and okay. but he's beautiful, yeah. my hero. he came for just 15 minutes of time just to see us. honestly he wanted us to hop in
the car and drive away because the situation is really serious, and this is like really the very last chance for us to escape, to move away. >> more than a million ukrainians have fled the country so far, but olena feels safest here in the shelter, though she knows it's not really built to withstand a bomb blast. >> there is the windows. that's the problem, you see? it's a bomb shelter with a window. you shouldn't have a window in the bomb shelter because it's dangerous in case of the shock wave, the glass will be knocked out, and the pieces of the glass can be thrown away and injure somebody. but, of course, as always, we hope for the better. >> and you are still resolute to stay? >> i stay. i'm still resolute to stay.
i state here because this is my home. if you guys afraid too, then i have no option not to be afraid, yes? if i leave, nobody else is going to come and protect my home and protect me. so it should be me, it should be my husband, it should be my neighbors. we should protect ourselves. we should fight ourselves. i don't want to sacrifice my children. i don't want to sacrifice myself. i don't want to be a martyr for something. i just want my peaceful, normal life back. i just want to go back to my bedroom. i want my husband back into my bed. i want, you know, just to have normal, peaceful life that i had before. >> there are moments in the basement when life seems almost normal. >> for the first time, derina started to grab her feet into her hands and to do, guess what,
like this and put it into her mouth. we slept well. katya doesn't want to wake up. it's already like 10:00 a.m., and she doesn't want to wake up. each morning or many times at night when i wake up, i have this feeling, you know, when my mother passed away. when i was waking up and thought, oh, so this was a nightmare. i was just sleeping. my mother is still alive. but now i have the same each time i wake up -- and i wake up many times each night -- i hope it was just a bad dream. i will wake up, and it will all be gone. but it's not. >> her life before the invasion already feels like a distant memory. >> serhei was so sweet. and me with my long hair. this is us again.
look at us. you see? 15 years ago or something, or how many years. and this is our wedding photographs. this is 13 years ago, wedding photographs. this is my favorite one basically. me and serhei. very romantic, yes? >> hello, honey. i saw you at night in my dreams. you were basically holding me in your arms and proposing to me to get married. and i said, come on, we're already married. >> but the reality of war is never far away. a russian tank column on the northeastern edge of kyiv is ambushed by ukrainian troops and suffers heavy losses.
the day before in the southern city of mariupol, a maternity ward is destroyed by russian bombing. >> you can see those women stumbling out, heavily pregnant, some having just given birth. you can hear the sounds of children and babies crying. you can see they're all cut up from the enormous destruction. >> this pregnant woman later dies from her injuries. her baby dies as well. a week later in mariupol, a theater clearly marked as a shelter for children is also bombed. according to local officials, about 300 people are killed. >> i cannot imagine anything worse than what happened in mar mariupol. we are innocent people, innocent
children who were killed by russians. and now this drama theater where hundreds of people were hiding with kids, and the big super bomb, they just dropped it on the theater. near the theater, there was big letters, it was written "children" in russian language. when this comes to the end, i promise to come to mariupol and make many videos about mariupol, about these people. we should not forget. we should not forgive. never. >> in irpin, a suburb of kyiv about 16 miles from olena, russian and ukrainian troops are fighting block by block. tens of thousands of residents are trying to escape near a destroyed bridge. >> there has been a steady barrage of artillery since we
got here just over an hour ago, and a never-ending stream of people just desperately trying to cross to safety. >> but even evacuating civilians are targeted. in this one attack, at least eight people are killed. olena is worried what this war is doing to everyone's children here. >> unfortunately, these kids, these children are losing a little bit of their childhood. they're being more and more traumatized. katya said that she's angry. >> i can't imagine what it's been like with this curfew, as you said, for 35 hours to be in
one room, you know, underground with your children. that's a lot. >> oh, yes, they are full of energy, and they don't know where to give this energy, especially we ask them most the time to be quiet. and we're in a closed room without any sunlight. for children, it's pretty hard, and they feel how stressed we are, adults, and they hear what we are talking about. so, yes, they are pretty stressed, but they are coping with the situation pretty well. >> oh, they're scary. they're scary tigers. they're fierce. >> they want to fight. >> argh! >> they are asking all the time about putin, why is he such a bad person? why is he destroying ukraine? why is he killing people? and when daddy will come back home and when we will come back home. >> coming up, a trip to kyiv to
report on the war means an opportunity to meet olena and her kids in person. >> hello. >> hey, it's anderson. >> hello, anderson. overs more hy miles with 5g than verizon. t-mobile has more 5g bars in more places than anyone. another reason t-mobile is the leader in 5g. i've got moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. now, there's skyrizi. 3 out of 4 people achieved 90% clearer skin at 4 months, after just 2 doses. skyrizi may increase your risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them. before treatment, your doctor should check you for infections and tuberculosis. tell your doctor if you have an infection or symptoms such as fever, sweats, chills, muscle aches, or coughs, or if you plan to, or recently received a vaccine. ♪ nothing is everything ♪ talk to your dermatologist about skyrizi. learn how abbvie could help you save.
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you can see. yahoo! just one hour ago or two hours ago, we were sitting in the bomb shelter under the ground without windows. it was dark. >> without light. >> because electricity was gone. >> we've seen a lot of civil resistance to the attempts of russians to run towns that they have taken on. >> they've halted the russians there, pushing them back. >> ukrainian forces have stopped the russian advance on kyiv, but there's little they can do to stop the shelling and the deaths of civilians.
>> today in the afternoon, there were missiles that were -- they were hit in the sky by an air defense system. but the parts of the missiles, they fell in our neighborhood. >> and you can hear that? >> oh, yes. we could hear it very clearly because we went a little bit upstairs just to see the light from the windows, from the basement. and all of a sudden, all the glass was shaking. and there was one loud explosion and, like, everybody like stood still. then there was another explosion. >> olena is venturing out of the shelter more frequently during the day, trying to get food and taking the kids to play. >> the best assessment we have -- and it's an assessment at this early stage -- is that they're going to be repositioned
probably into belarus to be refit and resupplied and used elsewhere in ukraine. >> on march 29th, unable to capture kyiv, russia announces plans to reposition its forces. >> this speaks to a really dismal state of affairs of the russian military. >> russians withdraw their troops from near kyiv, from the nearest towns. our armies say that this is us who just hit them and made them leave, made them go. at the same time, with all this, nobody is really celebrating because, like, we are suspicious. like is it really so? >> in towns now back in ukrainian control, the ferocity of the fighting becomes clear. so are the atrocities russian troops committed.
in bucha, some 12 miles from olena's basement shelter, ukrainian forces discover evidence of potential war crimes. >> ukrainian authorities in bucha lead us into a basement they call a russian execution chamber. it's a gruesome scene. five bodies, their hands tied behind their backs, shot. >> russian troops often left the bodies of their victims where they fell. this person was killed riding a bicycle. this man was most likely bringing potatoes home to his family. more than 400 bodies are found. >> i was watching all the details of these dead bodies just to remember, just to remember this forever, and not to forgive. never, ever to forget and not to
forgive what has happened. i hope that those people who were tortured in bucha became victims and they are looking at us right now from the skies. they are looking at me. they are looking at you. >> at least 50 people killed, many more wounded today at a train station in the eeastern city of cram ators sk. you see the bodies there, broken bones, pools of blood, men, women, children. >> this missile was sent by russians, just on the railway station even though they knew people were -- like civilians tried to evacuate. i feel really uncomfortable to
say that we will win. i'd rather say that we will finish this war because there are no winners in the war. >> there are still occasional air strikes around kyiv, but with a lull in the fighting, olena and the kids now visit their apartment more frequently during the day. >> look. she learned to crawl, and this is what she's going to do. uh-huh. she grows bigger and bigger, right? >> there's even the chance to celebrate birthdays. >> hi, there. >> katya turns 8, and for a moment, it almost feels like life before the war. >> happy birthday, honey.
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it's olena from ukraine with darina, and we're going to have a very special, special event right now. darina will have her first porridge, her first spoon, and daddy is back home. >> hello. >> for three hours again, and we are very happy because i wanted the first spoon to be given by him because this is like the tradition in our family. >> yum, yum, yum. >> so it looks like it goes
well. she's smiling. >> ukrainian forces fire at russian positions in the eastern donbas region. that's where the russians are now focusing their attacks as well as in southern ukraine. >> reporting from kyiv at the end of april, i arrange to meet olena at her apartment. >> hey, it's anderson. >> hello, anderson. please come in. >> hey.
how are you? >> i'm fine. i'm alive. so nice to meet you. >> hey. >> usually when you come to a ukrainian home, you will be treated with borscht and all the national food. i'm so sorry i didn't do this for some obvious reasons. but we've got this traditional easter bread. >> wow, it's lovely. >> so you can have it with coffee if you feel like. >> that's lovely. >> but for me to do the coffee, i need your help. >> okay. oh, my god. >> do you know how to make coffee? >> i do. >> try it. you have to know how to do this. well done. well done, anderson. you're doing great. >> olena tells me without her husband, she doesn't feel safe spending nights here with the kids.
>> we come back to the shelter for the night. i still sleep in the shelter. >> you still sleep there. >> i'm afraid of sleeping at home. i know that i just wouldn't sleep till morning if i stayed home. >> right. >> i will just stay on high alert, listening to the noise. >> uh-huh. >> and in the shelter, i'm like, okay, i close my eyes, and i can relax a little. >> have you noticed the kids changing during these last two months? >> oh, yes. they grew up a lot because they faced something that in normal life, children should not face. they are playing with, like, at war. and now it's like part of our life. today in the morning, taras woke up and said, mommy, could you please take a look at the news.
maybe putin already died. that was the first thing he said in the morning. they draw united europe. they just crossed kremlin and russia because they're very angry what russia is doing with ukraine. >> orcas. >> that's right. >> has it helped making videos? >> yes, it did. i just turned on the role of journalist and started reporting. and of course it helped me because i don't want people to see me weak and ugly. i wanted them to see me strong and beautiful. and i tried my best. and another thing, i realize -- >> even when you are weak, you are strong and beautiful. >> what's happening is a very important historical thing, and, yes, it was worth documenting. >> that was in your mind that this is part of history, and you wanted to document that? >> exactly.
like this is history. we have to document it. maybe i will die, but this video will be left behind. >> it's not just her kids who have been changed by this war. olena says she's changed as well. >> i remember even like the night before they started bombing us, i wanted to donate to the ukrainian army but i didn't because i felt uncomfortable to support the army because i thought, oh, i'm a peaceful person. i don't want to support the war even if it's like ukrainian army. but now i have no hesitation. before, i was reading an article about a mother of three who was learning how to shoot to protect her kids, and she said, i have no hesitation. and i thought, oh, i still have some hesitation. i'm not ready to kill a human being. and now, i am right now ready to kill the human being. it feels awful that this happened to me, that now i'm ready to do this. but what they have done to us,
what they have done in bucha -- >> in mariupol! >> in mariupol, it's awful, and now i am ready to fight. in o >> the children know by heart the names of places where atrocities have been committed. >> this is my neighbor. >> ah. >> you know, these old ladies, what they do, they take care of the small gardens. >> outside, the sun is shining. it is a beautiful day. what will you tell darina about this time? >> well, i will tell her that she was such a powerful warrior of life. we didn't plan her with my husband. this was a complete -- >> she was a surprise. >> moreover, we discovered her when i was already two months pregnant. >> oh, wow. >> now i'm not only a mother of
three kids, which is already difficult, but i'm a mother of three children at war. but i feel that she was gifted to me from the heavens, god, or something powerful, to help me to go through all of this. >> it all feels so normal. >> i want to show you some photographs. >> except olena's hospital, serhiy, isn't here. >> your husband is still serving? >> yes. for now he is in the army and in the territorial defense. territorial defense is now equal to the army. they do not know what's going to happen to their unit.
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before we say good-bye. >> okay. >> thank you so much. >> thank you so much. it was a pleasure. >> yeah. >> really to meet you. i hope we will have better reasons to meet in the future. >> i hope we meet in happier days. >> thank you, anderson. >> thank you. >> thank you, anderson. >> the war grinds on. ukrainian troops at the azovstal steel plant in mariupol continue to fight. ♪ in an underground bunker, they sing. "it's sweeter for us to die in battle than to live in chains." >> green things that serhiy has on his arm, this is the sign of
territorial defense. the days he has come home for five hours, this is fpretty lon to say good-bye because they will be relocated somewhere from kyiv. so that really broke -- broke my heart really, and i feel like i'm broken in many, many, many pieces right now. and i'm trying to put these pieces together and stay strong, but it doesn't help much. and another thing is that we don't know where exactly he's going to be. of course, i'm very much worried, and i wish -- i wish i could do something, and i hope he will come back.
oh, kat, you look beautiful. look at her. she's beautiful. basically i asked if it's possible for him not to go, and like legally it is possible. but morally for him it's not possible. so he just said that if he doesn't go to the front line, if he refuses to go over there, then he will stop respecting himself. he says if each of the soldier, of the warrior, of the defender of ukraine could find a reason not to go and if we all start finding the reason not to go, then -- then what's the point? >> with her husband gone, olena continues to make videos for her youtube channel, what is
ukraine, and is grateful she and her family are alive. she has been able to talk to serhiy on the phone but can't say exactly where he is. >> we ukrainian defenders will have a lot of work to do here, and it looks like all of us, we have to keep working, yes, to keep standing, to keep fighting. yes. thank you for standing with ukraine. >> the last time we spoke, she told us she still hopes their story can have a happy ending. >> good-bye. darina, say good-bye. bye-bye. good-bye. ♪
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hello. just coming to ten minutes to the top of the hour. we'd like to welcome our viewers in the united states joining us now on "cnn newsroom." i'm john vause at cnn world headquarters in atlanta. the u.s. justice department's investigation how police responded to the uvalde mass shooting is now moving ahead. sources tell cnn the department is expecting to name the leader of review in the next few days. this comes over the growing outrage over why it took more
than an hour for law enforcement to try and stop the gunman once the gunman was inside the school. the horrific massacre in texas has reignited the debate over gun laws. there's growing pressure in washington to enact some kind of gun reform. president joe biden said he believes there's realization among some rational republicans the u.s. cannot continue like this. cnn's mj lee has our report. >> we can never repay the sacrifice, but we will never stop trying. >> reporter: president biden marking memorial day with a visit to arlington national cemetery honoring the american men and women killed while serving in the u.s. military. >> freedom is worth the sacrifice. democracy is not perfect, but it's worth fighting for. if necessary worth dying for. >> reporter: the solemn commemoration coming as the country continues to grieve the
horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in uvalde, texas, that left 19 children and two adults dead. those killings reigniting the fraught national debate on gun control and putting new pressure on the president and lawmakers in washington alike to take meaningful action. >> i know that it makes no sense to be able to purchase something that can fire up to 300 rounds. it's never absolute. >> reporter: the president signaling a hint of optimism about some of his gop colleagues in congress. >> i think things have gotten so bad everybody is getting more rational. i think mcconnell is a rational republican and cornyn as well. >> reporter: but biden also indicating his own hands are largely tied when it comes to major actions pushed by gun
reform advocates. >> i can't outlaw a weapon. i can't change the background check. i can't do that. >> reporter: over the weekend the president and the first lady traveling to uvalde to console a traumatized and broken community. as he left church biden confronted with anguished onlookers. back in washington some democratic lawmakers also sounding cautiously optimistic. >> there are more republicans interested in talking about finding a path forward this time than i have ever seen since sandy hook. we're talking about red flag laws. we're talking about strengthening and expanding the background check system. >> reporter: while many republicans appear eager to focus on strengthening school security systems. >> the things that would have the most immediate and succinct effect and tangible effect and
that's security in a school. >> reporter: an update on the conversations beginning to take place on capitol hill republican senator john cornyn telling reporters there's going to be a meeting of bipartisan lawmakers tuesday taking place virtually to try to figure out whether there's a framework of ideas can come together on gun reform. some of the issues he mentioned include mental health issues, background checks and also limitations on who can buy and maintain guns. president biden has made clear himself he's not started on some of these conversations with republican lawmakers but he did once again emphatically say he will continue pushing these lawmakers to make progress. mj lee, cnn, the white house. >> in the coming hours u.s. president joe biden plans to discuss record high inflation with federal reserve chairman jerome powell. this comes as the u.s. battles inflation not seen in decades. the fed is under pressure to lower inflation and cool the economy without sparking recession. not an easy job.
up to 6,000 flights across the world were canceled in the past few days causing chaos and f frustration for many travelers. u.s. airlines were the hardest hit. the carrier blames the weather, air-traffic control, staffing issues and increased covid cases. u.s. transportation secretary says a spike in -- is also a factor. >> now faster than expected the demand has come roaring back, and they are struggling to keep up. >> these flight delays kept going. they happened on monday as well. i can speak for that first-hand. i'm john vause at the cnn center in atlanta. i'll be back with more news after the break.
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hello and welcome to our viewers here in the united states and all around the world. this is "cnn newsroom." i'm john vause. ahead this hour, now it really hurts. the anguish of a community saying good-bye to 21 lives including 19 children gunned down at a texas elementary school. is close enough good enough? the european union agrees to an almost total embargo on russian oil imports. and russia focuses their firepower on one of the last remaining cities in territory under allies