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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
U.N. Security Council Special Meeting Tonight Amid Russia Threat; Separatists And Russian State TV Says Ukrainian Forces Shell Donetsk; U.S. Warns Ukraine Of "Imminent" Full-Scale Russian Invasion; Zelensky: Russian Leadership Approved Incursion Into Ukraine; More Ukraine Government Websites Are Down. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 23, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Today, we went to the crypt. That's what's going to serve as the shelter, and I mean, the word "crypt" obviously conveys a lot, right? This particular crypt is 400 years old. We had to crawl to get into parts of it. The interior spaces were small, they were claustrophobic.
There was, you know, actually a coffin in one of the largest spaces, and I kept thinking, you know, if you're in here, as a shelter, you wouldn't even have the lights either.
It was another sobering reminder of what the people here are living with every day and that tonight, this hour, in these early hours as this breaking story develops.
And our breaking coverage continues now with AC 360.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
With his country now under state of emergency under cyberattack and surrounded on three sides by Russian troops, the Ukraine President made a direct appeal tonight to the Russian people.
Speaking after midnight, Ukraine's President Zelensky said Vladimir Putin has approved the invasion of his country and in Russian warned the consequences not just for Ukraine could be dire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): There are over 2,000 kilometers of common border between us. Your army is along that border now. Almost 200,000 soldiers, thousands of military vehicles, your leadership approved for them to take a step further to the territory of another country.
This step can become a great beginning and become the beginning of a great war at the European continent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President Zelensky went on to say that he tried to reach Vladimir Putin by phone today, but got silence instead and that alone speaks loudly as does the break his speech tonight represents after weeks of downplaying the threat that the Biden administration and others had been warning was imminent. A warning that got louder today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.) PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: What we see is that Russian forces continue to assemble closer to the border and put themselves in an advanced stage of readiness to act, to conduct military action in Ukraine, again, virtually any time now.
We believe that they are ready. I'll just put it at that -- leave it at that. They are ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, we believe they're ready he is saying and publicly available satellite imagery is showing a number of new Russian deployments. These field units and military convoys approximately nine miles east of the border with Ukraine just north of Kharkiv, which is the second largest city in Ukraine.
Late tonight, Ukraine shut down three commercial airports and Russia has issued a notice banning civil aircraft from flying routes bordering Northeastern Ukraine.
As we mentioned, cyberattacks are already underway. Culprits are not officially known yet. Key Ukrainian government websites are now down including for Ukraine's Foreign Ministry and Security Service and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry is reporting dozens more ceasefire violations in the breakaway eastern regions, with Russian media saying that the leaders of the two Russian back so-called Republics are asking Moscow for military assistance against what they described as Ukrainian aggression.
With all of that and more unfolding, we have learned just a few moments ago that the U.N. Security Council is going to hold an emergency meeting scheduled for 9:30 Eastern Time tonight, so that's about an hour and a half from now. We are bringing all of it to you as only CNN can.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House, Clarissa Ward is in Kharkiv, CNN contributor, Jill Dougherty is in Moscow and CNN's Jim Sciutto is in Ukraine in Lviv.
Kaitlan, let's start with you. What is the White House is saying about the apparent change in tone from Ukrainian President Zelensky.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They're watching it very closely, because of course, this is a White House that is often had to balance Ukrainian officials who say one thing in public and maybe something else in private, noting that Zelensky throughout this as Russia has continued to build up these forces has multiple audiences that he is juggling here.
But Anderson, what they have noticed in the last 24 hours is quite a shift in tone when it comes to the Ukrainian government and what you're hearing from the Ukrainian President because of course, they have declared this State of Emergency. They have mobilized their military reserves. They have told that their citizens, their Ukrainian citizens who are in Russia, they need to leave immediately.
And then this speech tonight from Zelensky himself, which most of it was conducted in Russian. That was intentional, White House officials believe, and I also just think it was so striking his comment as they were monitoring them here from Washington about the gravity of this situation because this is a leader who you've heard in recent weeks say that the Ukrainian officials believe the West was overhyping the threat of an attack, using the word imminent repeatedly. You saw the White House stop using it for a period of time after that.
And now you are seeing Zelensky speak so gravely about the situation that is facing them, and I think that is something that no one can ignore, but certainly not officials here in Washington either -- Anderson.
COOPER: Now, Clarissa you are in Kharkiv, which is the second largest city in Ukraine. I think, it's got about a million or a million and a half people in it and President Zelensky has talked about that city, saying it would be potentially a prime and early target for Russian forces.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. And by the way, President Putin also mentioned it in that 57-minute speech he gave just the other day, he talked about how potentially, they would be able to fly missiles from here to Moscow in just a matter of minutes, and he mentioned Kharkiv by name.
And I have to say, at the moment, this feels like a city or indeed a country that is really just holding its breath. That shift in tone from President Zelensky is truly -- well, you really feel it here when you've been listening day in and day out and he has been making jokes and telling people to keep calm and carry on.
And now suddenly, it feels like a very different moment. We actually drove here today. We passed a large convoy of Ukrainian military vehicles.
When it came to getting into the City of Kharkiv here, there was a checkpoint to make sure who was coming in and who was going out. And as you said, those Maxar satellite images, Anderson, are showing some really disturbing trends.
You know, just on the other side of the border, we're just over 20 miles or so from that border, and 10 miles beyond that, they are seeing troops and sort of unit size formations starting to break off.
And so the concern is, we have been talking about imminent now for days, for weeks even, but I would say, just from a purely subjective point of view, for the first time since I've been covering this story, it really does now feel like it could be imminent. That's not to say it's definitely going to happen, but we heard again, President Zelensky saying that anything right now, the smallest thing could potentially trigger a Russian invasion.
And certainly, all the pieces of the puzzle seem to be falling into place, which is why this feels like a very different city and a very different country than it did even just a few days ago -- Anderson.
COOPER: And Clarissa, we just put up a map of Ukraine and Kharkiv. You can see how close it is to the eastern in eastern Ukraine, how close it is to the Russian border.
I mean, is the city -- are there checkpoints throughout the city? Are there bomb shelters? Are there -- what is it like there right now?
WARD: So there is -- well, right now, as you can probably see, it's very quiet, it's the middle of the night. That's not entirely surprising.
There is a public bomb shelter not too far from here. I think everyone is very much hoping that they won't have to use it, but certainly, it's an ominous sign when the Russians suddenly announced that they are closing certain parts of the airspace to civilian aircraft in the northeast area, right where we are basically along this border area between Russia and Ukraine.
And you know, this is not a country that has been doing the same sort of trench warfare, this part of the country, I should say, as it has in other parts of like the Donbas where you have seen that sort of frontline activity continue. This is a thriving city of young people and it is just astonishing, frankly, to actually imagine some kind of military incursion unfolding here.
Now, everybody, of course, is hoping that that won't be the case, that this crisis will be averted. But as I said before, it really does feel like a moment where everybody is kind of holding their breath, and waiting to see what the next hours, days bring.
COOPER: Jill, as a longtime observer of Russia, in the Soviet Union before that, how do you interpret President Zelensky saying that he tried to call Vladimir Putin and the call went unanswered?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there are a number of possible reasons. I mean, number one, maybe President Putin simply doesn't want to talk to him because he's made up his mind. But also, you know, legally -- and remember, President Putin is always paying attention to legal-isms, and his interpretation of legal and he considers the Ukrainian government and Zelensky illegitimate, because he would say back in 2014, I remember you and I were there during Maidan that there was a coup.
And since that was a "coup" quote, in his mind, that means that the government is illegitimate, therefore, you shouldn't talk to them. But I will say he did, President Putin had time to take letters from the leaders of those two breakaway Republic so-called, Peoples Republic of Lugansk and Donetsk and they were letters appealing to President Putin to help, to come to their aid because the military aggression -- was the phrase -- by the Ukrainians is now at fever pitch and they need protection.
And I think what you're seeing right now is setting -- actually, you know, driving the case, making the case and the pretext for some type of action. I will just add one more quote from Russia's U.N. Ambassador who also said the troops that Russia has in the Donbas region are he said, enforcing the ceasefire, and then he had this ominous phrase that anyone who violates that ceasefire, we won't go easy on you. It will cost you.
COOPER: Jim, you are now in the western part of Ukraine and it is important to point out that and you see this from the vantage point of the country of where you are, it is not just the troops amassing along the Russian border with Ukraine, also you have Russian forces in Belarus, which is a much straighter shot and quicker shot to Kyiv if they went over the border.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This is a country surrounded on three sides, but by -- as it has been described to me by senior U.S. military officials, some three quarters of Russia's entire conventional force, when you think in terms of armor, air defense systems, aircraft, this this is Russia is trying to surround this place, and at least giving the Russian President options to crush it from three sides to do this, to mount this full scale invasion that we've heard described by U.S. officials this evening.
And I've also been told by senior U.S. military officials that Ukraine's military while committed to defending the country is grossly outnumbered by many multiples, outmanned, outgunned, out armored.
A fraction of the aircraft that Russia has nothing to -- no sort of air defense systems that they could hold off a serious air assault from Russia. Russia is aware of that.
Over the past several weeks and months, the U.S. has been supplying them. NATO allies have been supplying the Ukrainian military with anti-tank weapons. We've talked about them, these Javelin missiles you've seen with anti-aircraft weapons, shoulder fired missiles to help not even the fight, but not make it as easy of a fight, to raise the cost really is the goal here for the Russian military, but it does not make anything close to a level playing field.
That's a hard fact of what Russia is capable of if it unleashes the full might of the Russian military on Ukraine in the coming days. As you've heard from U.S. officials, they now expect and I just want to give you a vision of the size of that force, because we've heard it talked about, we don't often get to see it up close.
This is video of a collection of tanks, armored personnel carriers, just across the border from where Clarissa is in Kharkiv on the Russian side, Belgorod. It is just the numbers of the force that is now within miles of the Ukrainian border and in attack positions tonight is just daunting.
And it's sad to see, it's sad to see in Europe in the year 2022. COOPER: Yes, it's extraordinary to see -- Clarissa, does the
Ukrainian government have any realistic options left to prevent any kind of -- I mean, they're just at the mercy basically of what Vladimir Putin, whatever he wants to do at this stage?
WARD: I mean, you know, this is a question I've been sort of asking myself constantly throughout this process is: Where's the exit ramp? How do you deescalate? Is there some concession that the Ukrainians could make that President Putin would accept?
And in the beginning, I think there were some, but understandably, the Ukrainians weren't willing to make them. Now, we're at a stage that I genuinely don't know, even if the Ukrainian leadership was to turn around and say, we will make a declaration that we are not going to join NATO, would that be enough for President Putin?
Because when I listened to that speech, and it really, it sent like a shiver down my spine, it was chilling, because not only does he negate the idea of Ukraine having sovereignty of Ukraine's right to statehood or self-determination, but he also -- he just seemed so set in his mindset of carrying out what, you know, he has laid the groundwork now for.
It did not seem to me like someone who was still open to the idea of diplomacy who still might accept some conciliatory approach. It seemed to me that he was paving the way for this is what's going to happen, and he used this phrase "decommunization," and we'll show you what decommunization really looks like, which again is so ominous, this idea of really seeking essentially to completely neutralize Ukraine.
So I just don't know if there is anything that the Ukrainians could offer at this stage that would avert this catastrophe. It's just not clear.
COOPER: Clarissa Ward, Kaitlan Collins, Jill Dougherty, Jim Sciutto, thank you. Please take care.
Joining us now, William Cohen, who served as Defense Secretary in the Clinton administration, before, he was a distinguished Congressman and senator from the State of Maine.
Secretary Cohen, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister called this the largest security crisis in Europe since the Second World War and said that the continuation of the crisis would quote "throw us back to the darkest times of the 20th Century."
Do you agree with that comparison? And what you are we watching now happening here on the brink?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY IN THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: We're watching the possibility of real time viewing of mass slaughter. What Putin is able to do, he has choices as all of your contributors have pointed out, he can do it swiftly, moving into one city, perhaps trying to decapitate the leadership, certainly President Zelensky. He could start a bombing campaign, which would kill thousands of innocent people. So, he has all of those options available.
The question is, is he still rational in terms of what the consequences are going to be? Because in a situation like this, where you have innocent people who pose no threat to Russia, for him to unleash this kind of firepower, with the predictable consequences of the death toll that it would take, calls into question his rationality at this point.
If President Zelensky was so willing to call him say, perhaps I'll sign this document you want. Maybe I'll even resign if that's what it takes to save my people and to say, I'm not interested in talking to you.
So I think the decision has been made, and I think we, in the United States and the West have to make the decision right now, impose all of the sanctions because he's not going to be deterred, but he needs to feel some pain and the longer he feels it, the better it is going to be in the long term.
But I think we don't have any choice at this point, impose whatever we can, including kicking him out of the G-20. He is out of the G-8, anything to isolate him and put on his brow the curse of Cain, because that's what he's doing. He's about to kill thousands of innocent people.
COOPER: You think the U.S. should go farther than it has? That the Biden administration should go farther than it has in terms of sanctions rather than a kind of escalating scale of sanctions, depending on how far he goes into Ukraine? It should be everything at the U.S. disposal in terms of sanctions now.
COHEN: At this point, I do. I think we have to be careful what President Biden said initially, it depends how much he goes into Ukraine. No, it shouldn't depend how much he goes into Ukraine. He has taken two provinces now, a fig leaf to cover naked lies in terms of those documents that have been sent and signed.
So I think at this point, it is pretty clear.
Here's my problem. If he starts this war, starting a war in a dry place, so to speak, can set off a wildfire. This could spill over into the other regions where we are, whether it's in Poland, Romania, elsewhere in Europe. And secondly, if he starts seeing bodies coming home as a result of what we have supplied the Ukrainians, I think he's going to look elsewhere to cause problems for the United States wherever he can.
So I think we have to be on high alert in terms of the menace that he poses not only to Ukraine, but to all of the Western countries in terms of what his desire is right now.
COOPER: Secretary Cohen, I appreciate your perspective on this. It's so important in a time like this. Thank you.
Coming up next, a closer look at what is motivating Vladimir Putin. We will be joined by former C.I.A. chief of Russia Operations, as well as former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. As Secretary Cohen mentioned, I guess the big question is, is Vladimir Putin -- what in the world of political science they call a rational actor -- is he making decisions based on rational interests of the Russian state or something else about his own personality?
Later, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, with his take on how the White House is handling the crisis and how Congress should respond. We'll talk to him about what Secretary Cohen just said about trying to put all the sanctions in place now. Let's see what Adam Schiff says about that, ahead.
COOPER: We are just getting some more breaking news in right now, and it is potentially very significant. I want to remind you, American officials have and other European officials have repeatedly warned that any Russian military action might begin with some sort of false pretext.
With that in mind, Russian state media is now reporting -- this is new coming in -- Russian state media is now reporting Ukrainian Security Forces have begun shelling the eastern city of Donetsk. That is the claim being made by Russians media. We obviously have not independently verified that and we can't stress this too much.
I want to bring in our senior military analyst and retired Army Major General James "Spider" Marks.
General Marks, appreciate you being with us. First of all, can you just -- these reports by Russian media about explosions in Donetsk, and again, it's from Russian media and we just want to stress the very real possibility hits is part of, you know, a pretext, but we can't independently confirm what's happening in Donetsk. Can you just show us where that is and what this might mean?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Sure. Sure. Anderson. Again, thank you for having me on tonight.
What we're talking about the reports that you just read are in this area and in this area. Clearly, this is the area that the separatists have been in. There are Russian forces -- let's be frank, there are Russian forces that are already in there and they have been there for eight years, in many cases leading the separatist forces and supporting the separatists forces.
So any additional movement of Russian forces into there has probably already occurred, and it probably already occurred without a shot being fired. So, it is bolstering that presence. So that's that initial report.
Also, Anderson, it is really important where Clarissa is this evening, Kharkiv right here, there is a lot of imagery and video of activity in this area and you've reported that wonderfully. Let's look at the graphic here very closely. If these forces were
given the word to cross the border, they could come into Kharkiv and realize, this is a city of 1.5 million folks, which means there are rail networks, there are roads, there is the ability to move heavy equipment.
MARKS: So if these forces came into Kharkiv, that would give the Russian commander an option, an option to come this way if the fighting here then went across the border, he could now put Ukrainian forces that are right in here, in a vise of forces here and forces here.
But additionally, of movement here, and I don't mean to mess up the map too much. But here he has an option. If this is something he wanted to do, and hit in the direction of Kyiv.
COOPER: We should also point out, there are Russian forces, I mean, on three sides of Ukraine. It's not just in Russia and in the Crimea region, it is Belarus as well.
MARKS: Oh absolutely. Forces are up here and here. In fact, there is a new hospital facility that that's been identified up here and an airfield with a number of maneuver capabilities, located again, proximity to Kyiv.
What's of interest is the Chernobyl exclusion zones right there, so you're pushing a bunch of soldiers through a nuclear disaster site, that's a headache in itself.
And then also, as we've been reporting, forces all along here, other great video and the imagery, commercial imagery that we've been able to obtain is a lot of activity down here. Rostov-on-Don, again, moving forces in the direction of the Donbas in these two separatist regions.
But bear in mind, what we could also see, if the push is now across into this area and to further cut this off, if there were forces here, what I just described provides a protection if the order was given to do that.
If this were the case, you'd now have Crimea connected with a land bridge here. Now Russia has access to Crimea, and certainly the Black Sea completely uninterrupted.
COOPER: And that is what makes this situation so difficult at this stage is, this is all in the mind of Vladimir Putin what he wants to do, how he wants to carve this up, and what decisions he is going to make and it is a pretty close circle, it seems who know exactly what his plans.
General Marks, appreciate it. We'll continue checking back with you.
I want to go back to Clarissa Ward in Kharkiv in Ukraine.
Clarissa, again, such a short distance from the Ukrainian border to the city where you are. I'm just wondering what you made of what General Marks was saying about the options that Russian forces have in front of them?
WARD: Yes, I mean, it certainly doesn't appear to bode well, Anderson, and it sounds frankly ominous. What's striking to see though, is that there haven't been any evacuations. There haven't been any major announcements from the mayor of this city.
We did hear the mayor of Kyiv announcing a bunch of restrictions in accordance with the State of Emergency, but here things do seem to be for the moment pretty calm. Now when I say calm, I don't mean relaxed. It definitely feels tense.
And as I mentioned to you before, when we're driving into the city, there's checkpoints. They pulled us over, they checked for identification. They wanted to know why we were going here. There was also a checkpoint for people leaving the area.
We didn't see a lot of people trying to leave, but it was already pretty late at night. I think it'll be very interesting to see what happens tomorrow morning. Whether there's some kind of an announcement urging people to leave.
The attitude up until this point, really from the Ukrainian government, Anderson, as you were saying, has really been to try to keep people calm, to stop people from panicking.
There's been a rift even at times between Ukraine's leadership and the U.S. leadership in terms of the tone and the messaging, if you like about this crisis. For so long, we heard President Volodymyr Zelensky insisting that an all-out invasion wasn't even possible, and yet the speech that you just heard from him earlier this evening was a remarkably different tone.
This almost seemed to be a last ditch appeal to the people of Russia trying to circumvent the Russian leadership and go directly to the people. He started out the speech in Ukrainian and then shifted into Russian saying: Listen, your leadership has approved for nearly 200,000 forces to take a step across this border into the territory of another country.
Now, frankly, it's unlikely that most Russians will even hear that speech and it is even less likely that President Putin is going to change his plans as a result of that speech.
And so for the 1.4 roughly million people living here, this feels like a pretty ominous time. As I said, you don't see evidence of panic. You can see the streets behind me, they are very quiet. It's the middle of the night. Most people are asleep. But I'm not sure how easily people are resting at the moment after hearing that from their President and everything that they're hearing coming from the international community.
It certainly has more of an air of inevitability about it than it has up until this point. That doesn't mean it's going to happen.
WARD: But it certainly feels much more likely than it has any other point.
COOPER: It's fascinating to me, though, that you're on a city, which is very close to the border, which has been said by both Putin and Zelensky likely to be an early target. There, you know, you said, you mentioned to checkpoints. We've all been in cities that are, you know, anticipating an attack or under an attack and they're, you know, everything is boarded up. They're sandbags in every street corner. They're armed civilians, you know, Manning makeshift checkpoints. That's not what you're seeing in that city.
WARD: And it's so funny, Anderson, because, you know, I feel like as Western journalists who have sort of descended upon Ukraine, a lot of Ukrainians have looked at us with kind of astonishment, like, Who are these people coming into our country and talking about how there's going to be this war, because you didn't have the sense up until this point that they felt it or that they believed it. I can't tell you how many people I've talked to, you know, and sitting in cafes and saying it just doesn't make sense. Why on earth would President Putin actually launched an all out invasion of Ukraine, no one could seem to understand the logic of it.
And whether that's because the Ukrainian leadership was deliberately playing this down, or whether it's because they genuinely interpreted the intelligence in a different way. They thought perhaps that this was a feint, and only now at this moment, do we see that shift in rhetoric from the leadership.
WARD: And so there is a sense yes, that people on the ground here Ukrainians are sort of playing catch up. I've only felt a shift really after President Putin made that speech and you started to see suddenly Ukrainian saying, OK, this really might happen, because this did not sound like the speech of a man who is interested in pursuing diplomacy. This sounded like the speech of a man for whom the occupation or invasion of Ukraine was already a foregone conclusion.
And so now I think you will start to see more preparations. But I guess we'll, you know, we'll be out there as soon as it gets light and we'll see for ourselves.
COOPER: Yes. The question is, is logic what is driving Vladimir Putin that's what we're going to look at next. Clarissa Ward, appreciate it.
Coming up next, to get a better idea of what is motivating or might be motivated with Vladimir Putin, whether he is a so called rational actor, whether it's making decisions based on logic. We're going to be joined by two veteran Russia watcher, Steve Hall, formerly the CIA and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:36:16]
COOPER: Another ominous development additionally, Ukrainian government websites are now down at least eight including the foreign ministry's website. But that and everything else happening we wanted to turn to Russian President Vladimir Putin what motivates him, what deters him and what is he really trying to achieve here?
Joining us now retired Air Force Lieutenant General and former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. These days he's a CNN national security analyst and author of Facts And Fears, Hard Truths From A Life In Intelligence. Also with us CNN national security analyst, Steve Hall, former CIA chief of Russia operations.
Director Clapper, I'm wondering what you make of the White House saying that Putin is supposedly improvising and adapting his plans after the U.S. made so much intelligence public over the last several weeks the idea of a false flag operation and other things. Do you think that's had an effect on the strategy by Putin?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I'm not sure I'd go that far. I think it's certainly been a distraction to him. It's been somewhat disruptive. But I think Putin's mind is made up. And he might improvise as he goes he I think he would do he would do that anyway.
Now that said, I think I completely support what the administration has been doing and using intelligence, because we must contest against the Russians in the Information Operations space. But I think it remains to be seen just, you know, how much impact that's had on his decision making, which that's another subject.
COOPER: Steve, it's interesting Clarissa Ward, you know, in Kharkiv was saying that a lot of the Ukrainian she's talked to over the last couple of days or, you know, sort of in cafes, saying it doesn't make any sense that Putin wouldn't do a full invasion. It doesn't -- it's not logical. That goes back to that sort of early days of political science classes where they talk about is somebody a rational actor? Is this a state leader, a rash -- are they making decisions based on the best interests of their country? Or are they not rational? What is Putin?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, Clarissa made a really interesting observation there. And I think it gets in one sense to the heart of what we're talking about here. And that is, the Ukrainians after many, many years of being independent from the Soviet Union and from Russia, are much more Western. And therefore we see their actions as rational. What Vladimir Putin is doing is rational to him, and perhaps rational to other Russians as well. And it just shows the sort of big difference that you have, between a Western oriented set of thoughts and then sort of the Russian version.
I agree with Jim, there's no doubt that Vladimir Putin has made up his mind on this. And he has a lot of other decisions to make as to how he goes about this. But I think we also can't, we can't ignore the fact that there have been a couple of really small but interesting data points with regard to Vladimir Putin, he has been very isolated. Of course, we all have because of the virus. But I think Putin even more so. He had the public dressing down of his chief of intelligence sort of CIA equivalent, which is extremely unusual for he's dressed down other people before, but to do the way he did, his shows that there's, I think more going on in there oftentimes, is with Vladimir Putin. And of course, you have President French President Macron coming back and saying he sends the sort of different feel for Vladimir Putin.
So I think he's rational. He's logic is logical, according to his own sense of it. But it's sometimes it doesn't make sense in the West as to what he's up to and what he's thinking. And I can tell you, inside of Vladimir Putin's head is a very, very difficult place to get even for the best intelligence services.
COOPER: And Director Clapper what Steve's mentioning CNN is reporting that the France President Emmanuel Macron told people told reporters and others after meeting with Putin this last time that he thinks Putin has changed his word in two years since they last met in person and the during a recent face -- a recent meeting Putin appeared in this a quote, stiffer and more isolated.
CLAPPER: Well, and that observation by Macron is borne out as well by the President of Finland who made a similar observation. You know, he's had a grievance eating at him for about 20 years and as made a decision, I think, to try to redraw the national security architecture of Europe, this grievance that the suffering of Russia is -- and that is compounded by his isolation, his bureaucratic isolation for 20 years in a position of power. And his physical isolation, as Steve mentioned, because of the pandemic.
He is the classic case, in my view of the emperor has no clothes. And as we saw graphically, the other day with a seemingly public humiliation of Intelligence Service chief, he's not listening to anybody that -- like not listen to anybody, and certainly not anyone that has bad news.
COOPER: So Steve, what do you see as the goal for Putin? I mean, is it a remaking of the map of creating bigger buffer zones around Russia trying to change the world order?
HALL: Yes, that's, that's the big overall, you know, goal, if he could, you know, if he could have anything in the world that would be, you know, what he would wish for. What he's actually capable of doing in that regard, we'll be interesting to see how far he gets. We've long known that Vladimir Putin is threatened first and foremost, not by Ukraine. But he's threatened by democracy, by the idea of democracy. And the idea that a, a country that used to be not even a country, just a Soviet Republic, and according to his most recent rant the other night, not even worthy of considered a sovereign nation.
The idea that a country like that could turn its back on Russia, and instead push towards the west wanted to join not just NATO, but wanting to join the EU, wanting to have increased trade ties. That is just anathema to Putin. And he would -- he'll do everything he can to stop it. As we've seen before with the former Soviet republic of Georgia. So this is his red line. He is not going to let these countries go, he just can't see it happening and it's important for him to keep that buffer.
COOPER: Yes. Steve Hall, General Clapper, appreciate it. Thank you.
Up next very busy night, more live reporting from Ukraine. And look at the front lines is the threat of war appears to be growing tonight.
COOPER: Going to breaking news more Ukrainian government websites going down, three major airports have closed Russia shutting down airspace on the eastern border. Also, Ukraine's President Zelensky addressing the country a nationwide state of emergency now in effect for his country tonight.
Right now, we want to take you along the front line. CNN's Alex Marquardt has that report.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Dirt roads that connect the Ukrainian villages near us to the front lines are meandering, covered in potholes and puddles. The empty landscape makes it easy to see the Russia backed separatists territory, and to hear the deep rumble of artillery and the distance.
Along the line of contact just over a mile away, Valery Dudechko h is one of the few remaining in this sparse, empty village called Taramchuk, which over the past week has been hit with waves of artillery fire, and the biggest spike in fighting in years. A farmhouse destroyed, its metal door cut by shrapnel. Out in the field behind gives you a sense of how widespread it was.
(on-camera): You can see here the randomness of these showing craters all over this field here, here and here. Many of them as deep as I am tall. We're told that it was just over the course of only two days last week that 16 shells were fired at this field.
(voice-over): Despite the renewed violence, Valery says he's not going anywhere.
MARQUARDT (on-camera): Conflict, how do you --
(voice-over): His son lives in separatists held land and has other family in Russia.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Out here it's mostly Valery and his animals, pets and livestock. His friend Oleksiy shows up to deliver some food and tells us there's definitely more shelling to come. But he doesn't believe there will be a full scale war.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): It is a confidence we have seen all over this country, in part because people like Valery and Oleksiy have already seen so much fighting for the past eight years, confidence that will likely soon be tested.
COOPER: And Alex joins us now. Where are you hearing the leaders of those breakaway republics have asked Moscow now for help for troops. What's the latest?
MARQUARDT: Yes, Anderson, the major concern is that President Putin in recognizing these two breakaway republics didn't just recognize the land that they hold, but the land that they're claiming, which is much bigger. And tonight we have the leaders of these two so called breakaway republics, who according to the Kremlin, have called on Russia to help them, the phrasing they used is to repel aggression of the armed forces of Ukraine.
Of course, they have been accusing Ukrainian forces of carrying out shelling against them over the course of the past few days. That is continuing tonight, according to state TV, Russian state TV. So they're asking Moscow to help them defend themselves against this threat from Kiev.
And Anderson as you and others have noted, President Putin so hung up on formality on legalisms may want to use this may see this as a pretext as some kind of justification to now send in his forces to defend these people in the eastern part of the country. These forces that of course, he has called peacekeepers. Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Alex Marquardt, appreciate it. Reporting live from Ukraine.
Just ahead, President Biden's next move the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee joins us to discuss the possibility of future sanctions and how the U.S. should respond to a Russian invasion.
COOPER: Warnings about a Russian invasion are dyer this evening, the leader of Ukraine in a speech this evening signal that a trigger for invasion could happen at any minute. Timeline backed up by U.S. intelligence as well.
I'm joined now by Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Chairman Schiff, I'm wondering what the latest information you have tonight about Russian troop movements in and around Ukraine and the plan for U.S. and NATO allies in the region? REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA) CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, the Russians, I think have amassed all the forces they need to fully invade the country. They've already begun that of invasion. But they could very quickly move to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. You know, the Ukrainians will put up resistance, but they'll be overwhelmed by the strength of Russian forces. Where I think is going to get really ugly for the Russians is over time, as the Ukrainians are likely to mount an insurgency campaign against them.
But they have the resources they need. They're already starting what we would expect in terms of Russian tradecraft that is surreptitiously moving people into Ukraine to prepare the battlefield, softening Ukraine's defenses with cyber attacks, flooding the zone of social media with propaganda, Russian propaganda to undermine confidence in Ukraine. So they're doing what we would expect for a more fulsome invasion.
COOPER: What does this mean for the future of Europe, for I mean, for the international order?
SCHIFF: Well, it depends on whether we and our NATO allies stick together and embark on an even more severe set of sanctions, which I fully believe and expect that we will. At the Munich conference that I attended with the Speaker, there was a high degree of solidarity among our NATO allies, it's going to have to be really punitive. We're also going to have to continue providing weapons to Ukraine so they can defend themselves and raise the cost of Russia, the rest of the world including China is watching China with an eye towards whether it can successfully get away with invading Taiwan.
So, the consequences globally, the consequences to the international rules based order could not be higher, which is why we have to make sure that if Putin goes forward with this invasion more fully than he has already, that the costs to Putin and Russia are just crippling.
COOPER: I talked to Secretary or former Secretary William Cohen. And he said he thought this the all the sanctions that we have at our disposal, the U.S. and Europe has at their disposal should be put into place now. Do you agree?
SCHIFF: Look, I'd like to see it all put in place ASAP, both because I think it's necessary. But I don't see the point in waiting if we can get our allies to come along with us. I think that essentially, Putin has made up his mind. And we ought to begin those costs as soon as possible. So, I would lean in, I think, in the way Secretary Cohen would, and move to approve and implement the most severe sanctions as soon as possible.
COOPER: What would -- I mean, the most severe sanction be?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, it would be a permanent end to the Nord Stream Pipeline. And I think we're already well on the way to that he would be sanctioning not just the fifth largest bank and other banks, but the largest banks in Russia, it would be separating them from the SWIFT system of financial transactions really crippling their business, their ability to do business with the West, it would be expanding list of an autograph, or would actually go after, it would be depriving them of technology that they need to use in their defense systems.
And I think importantly, going beyond the Nord Stream Pipeline, to diversifying energy sources for Europe, so that we can essentially shut off Russian sales of gas, their real source of wealth to the West, and I think that would be the most crippling of all.
COOPER: Congressman Schiff, I appreciate your time tonight. Thanks very much.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Things seem to be moving quickly on the ground. We'll be right back with more.
COOPER: Stay with CNN for the latest from Ukraine. The news continues. Want to head over to Wolf Blitzer in "CNN TONIGHT." Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you very much.