U.S. Air Force veteran Thomas Venable has been on the front lines since the war began and was in Lviv when explosions rocked the city. Venable, who joined “CUOMO” on Monday, and the rest of the team he is with were uninjured in the attack.
Putin said the strikes were retaliation for Ukrainian “terrorist” acts, including attempts to repel Moscow’s invasion and an attack Saturday on a key bridge between Russia and the annexed Crimean Peninsula. Putin alleged the bridge attack was masterminded by Ukrainian special services.
“Ukraine is controlling the narrative now and I think (Russian President Vladimir) Putin decided to try to do something to stop that,” Venable said of the motivation behind the attack. “The irony is that he called the bridge explosion an act of terrorism, but then turned around and struck civilian population centers.”
Though Russia said missiles targeted military and energy facilities, some struck civilian areas while people were heading to work and school. One hit a playground in downtown Kyiv and another struck a university.
Ukraine has been pressing a counteroffensive in the eastern and southern regions of the country over roughly the past two months that have resulted in the reclaiming of a significant chunk of territory. But military forces still face a daunting task, Venable said.
“It is a true David and Goliath,” he said. “(Ukraine) cannot do this without the West’s support, without those weapons, ammunitions and training. We should be doing more.”
The United States has sent more than $17 million in military aid, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS. They have proven consequential in helping Ukraine strike key Russian targets that’s aided the counteroffensive.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy is a professional dancer and activist who has been advocating for continued U.S. support for Ukraine. Born in Ukraine, Chmerkovskiy emigrated to America and is a choreographer on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Speaking Monday on “CUOMO,” Chmerkovskiy made an appeal for continued military aid, saying that as a major player in geopolitics, the United States should take the lead in supporting Ukraine.
“We’ve been ‘fighting’ USSR and Sovietism since the 50s and 60s. This hasn’t changed; it’s the culminating moment,” Chmerkovskiy said. “Ukraine is the closest to Europe and America and American lifestyle as any country we’ve ever helped.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.