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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Russian Sabotage Groups Have Entered Kyiv According To President Zelensky; Biden Imposes Additional Sanctions On Russia Says Putin Is The Aggressor; Fire Engulfs Ukrainian Military Academy; Subway Turned Bomb Shelter As Russia Attacks Ukraine; CNN Witnesses Intense Firefight At Airport Outside Kyiv; Zelensky: Russian Sabotage Groups Have Entered Kyiv. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 24, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Some ran out of money, although we did see some still had money early this evening.

Then there were the gas lines. This one is outside the city. And again we did see a few stations had run out, but the lines were incredibly calm.

I spoke to some people and one woman told me as her voice broke that she had had a plan to leave for Poland if the unimaginable happened, but when it did, she decided to stay. She says she is staying quote, "until the end."

There is so much we don't know tonight, but we do know that the people that we have met here over the past couple of weeks have all had an incredible, powerful reservoir of strength.

Thanks so much for joining us.

AC 360 starts now.



Ukraine tonight bracing for the coming hours might bring, already it has seen Russian forces attack on three fronts with concerns now growing about what one American lawmaker, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said could be an imminent move on the capital.

Speaking late tonight, Ukraine's President Zelensky said that Russian saboteurs were already there targeting him.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): According to our information, the enemy has marked me as target number one. My family is target number two. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.

We have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv.


COOPER: Secretary of State Blinken spoke to that threat as well tonight on ABC News.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not in a position to comment on exactly what's going on, on the ground at this moment, but what we do know and part of the Russian plan has been to put Kyiv in danger, to assault the capital, to go after other major cities.

We are seeing forces come in from the north, from the east, from the south, and that's all part of the plan that we've laid out for the world in recent weeks.

QUESTION: You're convinced Putin is going to overthrow this government?

BLINKEN: I'm convinced he's going to try to do that.


COOPER: Well, if true, it would be chilling, certainly, but not exactly unknown or unthinkable in the Russian or the Soviet way of waging war. But already 137 Ukrainian troops had been killed, according to President Zelensky, 360 wounded, with more fighting on the certain in the coming hours.

As only CNN can, we have got reporting tonight up close where it's all happening. CNN's Jim Sciutto is in Lviv, CNN's Clarissa Ward is in Kharkiv, CNN contributor, Jill Dougherty is in Moscow for us and CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House because there is so much to catch up with.

Let's begin with this from Jim Sciutto.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ukrainian airports under bombardment, air raid sirens across the country, explosions still lighting up the sky outside the City of Kharkiv tonight.

These are scenes of what many thought could never happen, an unprovoked Russian invasion into Ukraine on a massive scale, the biggest war in Europe since World War Two.

Russian forces began hitting targets across Ukraine overnight. A senior U.S. defense officials said Russia has now launched more than 160 missiles. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced what he called a special military operation. He refused to call it a war.

BIDEN: Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war, and now, he and his country will bear the consequences.

SCIUTTO (voice over): Today, President Biden implemented a massive wave of sanctions in response to the invasion.

BIDEN: This is going to impose severe cost on the Russian economy both immediately and over time. We have purposely designed these sanctions to maximize the long term impact on Russia.

SCIUTTO (voice over): He made it clear that the U.S. would not send troops to fight in Ukraine, but the Pentagon announced that some 7,000 U.S. troops that had been placed on standby would be sent to Europe possibly to bolster the defensive NATO Response Force.

BIDEN: I've also spoken with Defense Secretary Austin and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Milley about preparations for additional moves should it become necessary to protect our NATO allies.

SCIUTTO (voice over): Ukrainian forces are fighting back. They say they shot down at least two Russian helicopters and five other aircraft. A senior U.S. official familiar with the latest Intelligence assessments tells me there is fairly good resistance by the Ukrainians particularly around the city of Kharkiv. However, it is the U.S. view that Russia has already established air superiority over Ukraine. Its intent, to control at least the Eastern two-thirds of the country.

Russian troops allowed a CNN team to film them on the ground. These forces less than 20 miles from the capital, Kyiv. And tonight, Ukraine says the Russian military has taken control of Chernobyl, the site of the infamous 1986 nuclear disaster.

Some Ukrainian citizens attempted to flee with a possible refugee crisis developing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My family stays here and I feel like I don't know when I will see them. I don't know if any of them will die or my friends will die.

SCIUTTO (voice over): As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges calm and shows strength --


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN President (through translator): Dear world leaders, leaders of the free world. If you don't help us today with a strong and powerful response, war will come knocking at your door tomorrow.

SCIUTTO (voice over): The horrors of Putin's war are becoming apparent. In multiple cities, civilians were killed as Russian forces shelled residential areas and beyond.


COOPER: That was Jim Sciutto reporting. We are going to talk to Jim in just a moment. He is in the western part of the country.

We are going to start with Clarissa Ward who is in the East. Twenty- four hours ago, Clarissa, you said Kharkiv felt like a city on edge. In Jim's report, there was talk about the potential for resistance by Ukrainian forces around Kharkiv.

What do you -- what is it like now?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I don't know if you remember 24 hours ago, behind me the public square in the center of the city here was all lit up. It was very quiet. It was certainly tense, but nothing like it has been today.

There has been steady rounds of strikes coming around the town. There is a curfew in place now from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. We heard from the Kharkiv Military Civil Administration, basically asking people to volunteer as drivers to try to keep the city functioning to try to be able to continue basic services here.

They have also been asking people to donate blood, Anderson, reportedly 400 people came forward today to do that. And as we saw, many were finding shelter in subway stations.

It's just surreal to think there would have been commuters there one day, and then today, hundreds and hundreds of people, children, dogs, animals, and families hunkered down, waiting this out, trying to get a better sense of what's going to happen because this city, as you just mentioned, and as Jim mentioned in his report is uniquely vulnerable.

We're just 20 miles away from that border with Russia. We know that Russian troops have already come through. We hear that Ukrainian forces have been engaged in fighting them, trying to defend this area.

But the real question becomes, at what point do they start an all-out assault on this city if that is indeed their plan. It is also possible that they might try to surround the city or to lay siege to it or even to bypass it completely. But because there is such a lack of clarity here, Anderson, what you're seeing is an entire city of 1.4 million people in a state of deep fear, and really not being given any information as to what they should do to protect themselves, where they can go that is safe.

I asked one woman, I said: Do you have a car? Is there somewhere you can go? And she said but where -- yes, I have a car. But where is there to go? Where is safe in Ukraine anymore -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jim, you're in Lviv, just in terms of what you've been seeing and hearing and what the people you have been talking to, what is -- where are people's heads at tonight?

SCIUTTO: Anderson, there is not a part of this country, the second largest country in Europe in fact, after Russia that has not been targeted by Russian airstrikes in the last well, just under 24 hours. Lviv hit by rocket attacks just outside. There were light restrictions in the city because of that, and it shows the scope and breadth of this Russian operation.

And just to give you a sense of how this country feels it is necessary to respond, it was a short time ago that the Russian President Volodymyr Zelensky instituted a general mobilization order. That means calling on conscripts to come up. It means calling on reservists to come up and do their service.

It also, really, a remarkable requirement, we think about it that all males aged 18 to 60 are now barred from leaving the country so that they can be called upon to help defend. The trouble, Anderson, and this is the sad fact of the mathematics of this war is that the Ukrainian military is vastly outnumbered, it is outgunned, it is out armored.

Russia, as I mentioned in the story, already maintains air superiority. This is a mismatch. It's not clear that the Ukrainians fighting on their own can keep up this defense for long.

U.S. military assessments of the battle are not hopeful, frankly, for the Ukrainian military. They are calling on everyone to do their part. It's not clear how long they can defend themselves.

COOPER: Kaitlan, what is the least from the Biden administration tonight about how the invasion is unfolding and talking about, you know, the sanctions that they've announced today?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, they are monitoring what's happening right now very closely given of course, it was about this time last night when these attacks kicked off in earnest and so they are watching closely.

But you saw President Biden impose those sanctions today. The ones that he had been saving in case Putin took the steps that he took last night, invading and attacking Ukraine, but something that President Biden was pretty blunt about today during that press conference we had when he was taking questions is that these sanctions are going to take time to go into effect.


And they are seen as a punishment for Putin for what he did last night. But President Biden said he ultimately hopes that they weaken the Kremlin, but he said it will take time and ultimately, it won't prevent Putin from doing what he wants to do here.

And I think one of those chilling remarks that President Biden made during that press conference was saying that Putin is not just going after Ukraine. Yes, of course, you've heard the Secretary of State say, they believe they are going to try to overthrow the government there.

You've heard the President in Ukraine say that they are targeting Kyiv, but President Biden here at the White House is saying today that he is going after rebuilding and restoring the entire Soviet Empire, not just Ukraine.

And so I think when you look at the sanctions that they imposed today, they felt like they had to do it, because it's seen as a form of punishment, but they don't ultimately think that it was ever going to stop Putin from achieving this goal, or was going to deter him from doing this. COOPER: And Kaitlan, just in terms of sanctions, you know, they are

drastic sanctions. They are not the complete options that were, you know, had been discussed in the past, you know, personally, going after Vladimir Putin's wealth, stopping all, you know, U.S. dollar transactions in the international monetary system.

Why didn't they decide to use everything they could have? Or could they -- or did Europe not want to go along with some of that?

COLLINS: That is true for some of it. For others, they were basically trying to maximize the punishment for Russia, but minimize the effects that other countries in Europe would feel because it's not just the United States, as the President was saying today could see energy prices affected by the response to this, but of course, Italy and Germany, this is top of mind for them.

When it comes to SWIFT, the financial banking system and potentially removing Russian banks from being able to use that, that is something that has to be done in agreement with the European Union, so it's just a very complicated process. And then, of course, for President Putin himself, that is something that President Biden has said in the past he has told me he was considering. Today, he said, it is still an option on the table, but he did not take that step today when he announced the sanctions.

But they are basically trying to go after Russia in the ways that they could to maximize punishment on them, while also trying to be careful about the effects that it would have on other nations.

I should note tonight that there are some Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Senator Bob Menendez who say they do believe that these are good, but they need to go a little bit further.

COOPER: Jill, what's the reaction you've been seeing in Russia today?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, if you look at the overall picture, you'd have to say that probably according to one poll I saw, probably three-quarters of the country support the President. However, there are people who do not and they were on the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and a lot of other cities.

In fact, about 1,700 people last we saw had been detained by the police in about 50 --five-zero -- cities across Russia. They obviously are anti-war, but it is much more difficult now for people to go on to the streets.

The authorities have made it very clear that if you do that, especially for young people, you can get a black mark in your record that could make it very difficult to go on to school.

And I did check that there is a little bit of polling about what people think about this conflict, and there is an independent polling agency, the Levada Center that says 60 percent think that NATO caused this, the U.S. and NATO, and then also the numbers of people who are feeling negative about Ukraine have been going up quite significantly, about half a little bit more of the population here in Russia feels negatively toward Ukraine, that never used to be the case before.

COOPER: Clarissa, as we mentioned, President Zelensky is saying that he believes he is the number one target, his family is number two target. Is it clear what he intends to do?

WARD: Well, Anderson, we know that the Americans had been advising him to leave because I think the very real fear here is that as the Russians close in on Kyiv potentially and try to install some puppet regime, his life could and appears to be in very real danger.

Now, he says in that address, the Jim referenced that he is going to stay in the Capitol and you know, one can assume his family as well for now. But the question becomes is at some point, that unsustainable, does he have to leave?

One other thing he said in that address, which really struck me, he said, I called the leaders of 27 European countries today to ask them about allowing Ukraine to join NATO, but all of them are too afraid at this stage to basically -- to take on that kind of risk.

And you can imagine how frustrating it is for him in this moment, despite the support, despite the sanctions, but to ultimately feel that Ukraine is basically alone in this on a military level and as Jim said, outmanned, outgunned, outnumbered.

I mean, it is an extraordinarily trying time for this country's leadership and of course for its people -- Anderson.


COOPER: Yes, and I mean, as you said for all the talk of sanctions and that's a long term thing, as you say. He knows that the country is on a military basis alone.

Jim Sciutto, Clarissa Ward, Jill Dougherty, Kaitlan Collins, thank you. We'll come back to you.

When we come back, CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton joins us with a closer look at the Russian military capabilities in and surrounding Ukraine.

Later, more on what Clarissa saw up close, something that has been seen since the London Blitz in the Second World War, civilians men, women, and children taking shelter in the subways trying to stay safe from Russian airstrikes and shelling.



COOPER: The breaking news this hour.

Secretary of State Blinken says he is convinced that Russia will try to overthrow the Ukrainian government. Ukraine's President agreed tonight saying the Russian units may already be in Kyiv targeting him and his family and other noncombatants as well. We should say homes, apartments and other such locations have been

hit, whether deliberately or not. This is video of a military academy in the northeastern town of Sumy.


COOPER: On social media, the school put out a statement saying that no students were there at the time.

Joining us now with a broader look at the battlefield, CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton.

Colonel Leighton, I wonder what the latest is that we know about where Russian troops are and where they may be headed?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Right, Anderson. So what we know so far, of course, is we know that they are moving here to Kharkiv. We've had, of course, a lot of reports, Fred Pleitgen on the Russian side and Sam Kiley on the Ukrainian side telling us what's going on there.

Well, what we're seeing is all these movements are occurring in a way that would possibly either in circle or be a direct hit on Kharkiv. So that's one area. The other area is from the south. This is where we've had naval activity and that naval activity is actually quite important because what it can do is it can affect the Port of Odessa, or some of the other ports that are here and over here.

Those areas are going to be extremely important if the Russians decide to take this area and move inland this way or if they come down this way from Belarus. They've already done this, by the way. They've captured an airfield north of Kyiv, and they've also captured the Chernobyl area, the old nuclear power plant that had the radiation accident, the worst in history. So these areas are basically what is happening with the activity of the Russians here.

Now everybody had been focused on the Donbas region. This is still an active theater and what we see here is movements directly this way of Russian equipment into this area, mainly, we're talking about self- propelled howitzers, guns, things like that, that can actually be moved forward in a way that would help infantry units take further areas in this area.

So when you combine all of this, you actually have a situation where you can bring in all the different pieces to bear. So we're talking aircraft, we're talking missiles, we're talking rockets, that are fired at all of these different areas, and you see what parts of Ukraine they're actually covering, and it is a major area in that sense.

COOPER: Just from a strategic standpoint, obviously, we don't know what's in the mind of Vladimir Putin or his Generals at this point. But just from your military knowledge, does it make more sense to surround a city like Kharkiv and kind of come back to it later if you're trying to establish control over the entire country? I mean, do you want to try to get troops on the ground in as many

places as possible to lock it down and then move in on heavily populated cities? Or do you do that all at once?

LEIGHTON: Well, sometimes it really depends on what your ultimate goal is. If the ultimate goal is like we think it might be that they take over Kyiv, then to basically decapitate the Ukrainian government, then it would make sense to bypass -- surround and bypass cities like Kharkiv.

Go over -- take the big objective first, and then go back and take care of the rest, kind of a mopping up operation would be what they would do in that case.

So it really depends on the ultimate goal, but I think what they're going to be doing is they're going to go for Kyiv, and they're going to do it in a way that would decapitate the government that exists there. That's at least going to be their attempt.

COOPER: And that's what President Zelensky said tonight that he believes Russian sabotage groups have already entered the Ukrainian capital. If that is, in fact, Vladimir Putin's target, what is stopping him from taking it essentially?

I mean, do we know much about the defenses? You know, it seems like Ukraine in general was always pushing back on the idea that this was an imminent invasion. I don't know if that meant that they were not preparing for an imminent invasion, or that is just something they were saying. But do we know much about the defenses around a place like Kyiv or even Kharkiv?

LEIGHTON: So we know that the defenses were not adequate, to be really frank about it. That doesn't mean that they are completely ineffective, but they were certainly no match. They are certainly no match for the potential Russian forces that can be arrayed against them.

Ukraine spent about a tenth of the budget of the Russians on their defenses in general, and when it came to things like air defense, the state of affairs with the air defense system was actually so bad that it couldn't be fixed in time when it came to the operations that are going on now.


They took a look at this in December, and concluded that it couldn't be taken care of and modernized in a way that would have prevented the air superiority that the Russian Air Force now has over Ukraine.

COOPER: Colonel Leighton, appreciate your time. Thank you.

We'll continue to monitor the latest developments. We also want to take a look further ahead, if it's possible to get some sense of what Vladimir Putin's next steps might be, not to mention, all we can glean about what might affect his decision making. Joining us for that, David Remnick, he is in addition to being editor

of "The New Yorker" also noted Russia observer, reporter, and historian as well as author of the indispensable book "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire."

So David, you heard President Biden talk about this in his speech today. Putin's desire to remake the Soviet Union. Do you think that is actually -- I mean, it may be an ideological aim, do you think it's actual, realistic thing he believes he could achieve?

DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR, "THE NEW YORKER": I think in the sense that Biden seemed to be talking about the recreation of this old Soviet Union and all 15 what were republics and are now independent nations, is not only impossible, but crazily expensive.

Why did the Empire collapse all over the world historically, not only the Soviet Union, but Austria, Hungary, and all the rest? Empire is expensive. Russia is not a wealthy country in the main, its entire economy is the size of the economy of Texas. And most of that, those resources come right out of energy extractions, a very fragile economy for a country at large.

Today we saw the ruble crater, we saw the Russian stock market crater, and we also saw something very curious and I have to say maybe even unexpected. Despite a continuing crackdown on dissent in Russia that's been going on for years, we saw protests of modest scale in dozens of Russian cities, and over -- according to one report, over 1,500 arrests, brutal arrests, and so on.

So to see politics on the street, is I think startling to Vladimir Putin because what he dreads the most, what he fears the most is some kind of uprising against him. And, you know, so we're coming to a reckoning here where internal Russian politics are concerned, too.

COOPER: So what is the significance of Ukraine to Putin? I mean, when he decided to take territory by force, why start with Ukraine?

REMNICK: Well, a logical person, whether just on sheer strategy, to say nothing of moral logic would tell you that you are probably not going to seduce a country back into the fold by dropping missiles on it, by bombing it. History is full of examples of this kind of, quote- unquote "seduction" through military means, and it fails.

It's quite likely that if Vladimir Putin wants to, his Armed Forces can take Kyiv, can arrest Zelensky and install a puppet government, but then what? But then what? How long does that last? How expensive is that? What do the Russians think about this, as the information begins to come into the country?

So that's why I was so surprised and heartened to see not only the resilience of the Ukrainian people, which is so incredibly moving and the dignity of President Zelensky's speech compared to the madness and erratic behavior of Vladimir Putin, it was also really an interesting sign to see what was happening on the streets of so many Russian cities today. I'm not saying that there's a mass uprising across Russia, not by any

means, but I also remember 1968, when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, eight people went to Red Square and unfurled banners against that invasion for less than a minute and they were beaten by the KGB and arrested and sent to prison and all the rest.

But that in many ways was the beginning of a dissident movement, a serious dissident movement in the Soviet Union that had incredible repercussions.

COOPER: If Putin is able to take over Ukraine, and as you said, you know, what then? I mean, the whole the country -- you know, does the cost of holding the country -- you know, there had been talk of the possibility of a future insurgency if there is a Russian occupying force. Do you think that's realistic? And obviously, we've seen a lot of people just trying to flee the country when they can, now all the males are being told they have to stay in Ukraine.

Do you see --

REMNICK: Well --

COOPER: How do you see it happen? What does it look like under occupation?


REMNICK: I -- again the, for me, the lowest form of journalism is prediction. I'm not. I'm not a gambling man. But it is -- the potential is there for something very bloody, very prolonged, something extremely expensive and blood and treasure. We've seen it. We've seen it ourselves as Americans. We've -- in other instances, we've seen it in the Middle East. We've seen it in South Asia. I don't, I -- the question here that has to be at the center is, what is Vladimir Putin think he's doing? Toward what end? How in any way does this help bring prosperity or even security to Russia? What threat is he responding to? Was Ukraine threatening Russia? Was NATO threatening Russia? No.

I think it Putin in large measure not to make this into a novel, but in large measure is responding to his own self drama as a man of great power and wanting to expand Russian power, revive Russian power after his failure to bring prosperity to Russia after 22 years in power.

COOPER: David Remnick, it's always good to talk to you. Thank you.

REMNICK: My pleasure.

COOPER: Coming up, a shelter like one we really haven't seen since the London Blitz of World War II, inside the tunnels keeping residents of one Ukrainian city safe.


[20:35:26] COOPER: Some of the most intense fighting has occurred in around the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine second largest city. CNN's team has heard loud explosions across the border in Russia. CNN has also witnessed rockets being fired was heavy concentrations of Russian troops. Effect is like something out of the London Blitz during World War II. Take a look at the side by sides images, innocent civilians taking cover and transit tunnels from immoral unprovoked attack. Images many assumed or relegated to history books of a time around 80 years ago until now.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is in Kharkiv. And she mentioned earlier met some of the residents taking shelter in a subway station.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kharkiv residents scrambled to find shelter as Russia's brutal assault unfolds. Deep underground scenes reminiscent of the Second World War, the shock just sinking in, that what was unimaginable is now reality. As 36-year-old Daria (ph) tells us.

DARIA (PH), KHARKIV RESIDENT: It's like you wake up in totally new reality at 5:00 a.m. And you find out that the world is no longer the safe place you imagine. We are independent country of Ukraine. And we are totally not same as Russians. And we don't want to be a part of Russia or any other countries. (INAUDIBLE) it really happened is really.

WARD (on-camera): Yesterday, this was just an ordinary metro station full of people going to and from work. Today, it has become a de facto bomb shelter. And there are just hundreds and hundreds of people who have descended on this place, fearful for their lives, and uncertain of what the future will bring. And the thing you hear over and over again from people is, where can we go? Where is it safe now to go in Ukraine?

And I want to be clear about something. This is not a frontline city in Ukraine eight-year war with Russia. This is a thriving metropolis of 1.4 million people who have never experienced anything like this in their entire lives. And now they're being forced to literally camp out with their families, their pets, their loved ones. They grabbed whatever they could from their homes, and they brought it here. And they don't know what's next for them. They don't know what the new Ukraine will look like, and what place they will have in it.

(voice-over): Many we approach are to overcome to speak.

(on-camera): I'm asking, you know, if they're afraid. They're very nervous.


WARD (voice-over): Look at the situation around you, this woman says.


WARD (on-camera): I'm so sorry. It's a terrible, terrible situation.

(voice-over): There's no doubt here about who is responsible for this conflict. But few can understand why.

(on-camera): So it's interesting. I just asked them, what do they think of President Putin that they think he's crazy. They said, he's not crazy. He's sick. He's sick. We just want to live peacefully.

DARIA (PH): I just hope that some people in Russia (INAUDIBLE).

WARD (voice-over): A simple plea for mercy that has so far fallen on deaf ears.


COOPER: And Clarissa is in once again Kharkiv for us tonight. So are people still in subway stations in these overnight hours?

WARD: There are actually people who are sleeping in those subway stations Anderson and it's incredible when you think, you know, we didn't see any bathrooms, there was no food being handed out. People had just whatever snacks that they could bring along with them. There were a lot of children and animals as you saw there. So you can just imagine how desperately frightened people would be to actually be spending the night in that kind of a situation, although arguably less frightening than being in their homes in this sort of precarious time.

And one other thing I would just mention, you know, we talked to a lot of people about fear, and that was certainly the predominant feeling. But there was also a lot of anger. And I think you saw it a little bit there with those women who said that President Putin was sick. We interviewed another young man called Vladimir and he said, you know, Russia is supposed to be our brother, but who on earth would treat a brother like this? We're not just scared, but we're really angry. And I do think that's a palpable feeling here too, not just a sense of fear but betrayal and anger, Anderson.


COOPER: Clarissa Ward at Kharkiv, thank you. Be careful.

Coming up next, the U.S. go farther with sanctions against Russia. Could they atop member of the House Armed Services Committee who visited Ukraine in December was briefed on the situation, joins us tonight.


COOPER: -- by the U.S. and Western allies but the Russian advance continues. As we reported Secretary of State Blinken says he's convinced Vladimir Putin intends to overthrow Ukraine's government. President Biden today insists that the effects of sanctions on Russia and on Putin would take time, and that the threat to directly sanction Putin himself for him is quote, on the table.

I'm joined now by Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton, a veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee, who was in Ukrainian December, who was briefed along with other lawmakers by top administration officials just this evening about those sanctions.

Congressman Moulton, do these sanctions go far enough?

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): No, they're important and strong first step. And I'm very pleased with what the administration has done thus far. But we need to go further. When I came back from Ukraine in December, the analogy I used was that Putin needs to have trouble buying a soda from a vending machine when this invasion starts. And we're not there yet. We haven't targeted Putin specifically, we haven't targeted a widespread number of oligarchs, there's clearly still more that we can do. And I think the administration is working on that.

COOPER: When you say more you could do, are you talking about sanctioning of Vladimir Putin directly personally, you know, going after his ill gotten gains. Do you mean, you know, using the go with the SWIFT protocols, stopping Russia from the ability to do banking with that?

MOULTON: So look, absolutely, Putin should be sanctioned directly. He's solely responsible for the largest war in Europe since World War II. So absolutely we should go after him directly.


Now a lot of things -- a lot has been said about the fact that we haven't targeted the SWIFT system. Obviously, we don't have all our allies on board with that specific sanction. I think actually, that's overplayed a bit. Because the reality is that in today's tech enabled world, a Putin and his allies can figure out ways around SWIFT. So I'd like to see SWIFT, I don't think it's essential. But these are exactly the kinds of negotiations the administration is having right now with our allies.

And when I was in Munich, last week, at the Security Conference, with National Security leaders from around the globe, I was continually impressed by how tightly our NATO allies are all working together. Yes, we have details to work out. But everyone is united on sanctioning the people responsible for this. And when you say the people responsible, it's Vladimir Putin, let's be clear.

COOPER: You used the analogy of the Vladimir Putin having trouble getting a soda out of a vending machine. Does that reference the idea that some of raised of cyber attacks by U.S. are allies against Russia itself?

MOULTON: Well, that's certainly a capability that we have, and I have personally encouraged the administration to be willing to use it. You know, the challenge with our cyber capabilities is that every time you use one of those tools, you essentially give it away. You explain it, whether you like it or not, you show the Russians how it works. And then it's hard to use it again. So that's why we we've been very careful to use these type of cyber tools in the past.

But look, my view is if you're not using it now, what are you waiting for? This is the most significant threat to national security the world over that we've seen in decades. And we need to be aggressive and confronting it.

COOPER: You sit on the House Armed Services Committee, is there anything you think Congress can do here, should do here?

MOULTON: Well, obviously, it would have been helpful, it would have been a helpful gesture, at least, if we had come together in a bipartisan way before the invasion and passed a sanctions bill. It's not essential, because most of these sanctions are put in place by the administration. And I know that most Democrats and Republicans aside from a fringe group of far-right extremists are aligned behind the United States, behind NATO and confronting Putin. It's only Trump and a few of his allies who are supporting Putin in this action.

But there's still more that we can do. And it means something to the international community for Democrats and Republicans to clearly come together to actually vote for sanctions through the House and the Senate. So I would like to see that in the future. And I'm prepared to go to Washington tomorrow if the leadership says we're ready to do that.

COOPER: Congressman, Seth Moulton, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

MOULTON: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next, CNN continues our coverage of the ground in Ukraine, were one of our correspondents in a close encounter with Russian troops today.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Picture, picture.






COOPER: There's a lot happening in Ukraine tonight as Russia aims and key targets across the country. According to the UN more than 100,000 people in Ukraine are fleeing violence and Ukrainian President Zelensky says at least 137 soldiers have been killed and another 316 injured since the invasion began.

Our Matthew Chance is on the ground in the Kyiv region where he was caught in the middle of a firefight with Russian troops earlier today.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep inside, inside.

CHANCE (on-camera): In here, here?


CHANCE (on-camera): Focus. Are you going that way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Let's move down this way against the wall.





COOPER: Joining us now on Kyiv, CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chan. So, can you explain where you were, what was going on there?

CHANCE: Yes, it's a very unexpected and a really quite astonishing encounter. Because what it was is we were headed out to an airbase that we were told that been a clashes between Russian forces and Ukrainian forces. Russian special forces flown in there in order to seize that, that air airhead, so they could bring in sort of more supplies or more troops.

But we were told by Ukrainian officials that, you know, the airstrip had been, had been taken back by Ukrainian officials, by Ukrainian forces. And so we got there, we got to the gates of the place, the checkpoint, I went up to the soldiers, and they say, no, you can't stay here, you know, it's too dangerous. And I, in my broken Russian successfully argued for them to allow me to stay. Before I did that, before I went live. I said, look, you know, tell us who's in control of this now? Is it the Russians in control? Or is it the Ukrainians? And they said, it's the Russians. And I said, well, where are the Russians, you know, if that's the case. Then they didn't understand that. Well, where are the Russians.

And so, it was this incredible moment where we suddenly understood that the troops we thought, because we hadn't considered the alternative were Ukrainian were actually the Russian special forces.

COOPER: So with the --

CHANCE: (INAUDIBLE) just a few hours before.

COOPER: The ones with the white bands on their on their arms. Those are actually Russians? CHANCE: No, all those troops you saw in that video, there were Russian, you know, they, you know, there were no Ukrainian troops around now. I said, he said, he said, (INAUDIBLE), I was like (INAUDIBLE). You know, I am Russian he was saying to me. And I looked at his armband, actually I had these orange and black armbands on ribbons on -- which is sort of George (ph) ribbon, very sort of common in the in the Russia mentioned symbol of the Russian military.

And, and yes, so that was absolutely astonishing that they were so close to Kyiv, it was about 50 miles away. And of course, it's not just there, but it's another key installations around Kyiv as well. You get this, this idea that the city is being surrounded in preparation for something much bigger. You really got a sense of that is what's happening now, Anderson.

COOPER: And Zelensky we believe it -- or is he still in Kyiv, is he saying and he said there's always saboteurs in Kyiv?


CHANCE: Yes, he does -- he did say that. He said that in a public address that he's put out on social media an hour or so ago. He may have been talking about those sabotage groups, he may have been talking about those Russian special forces. Because the concern now is causing has been expressed by the U.S. Secretary of State, has been expressed by Ukrainian officials here is that the plan for Russia may be to come in and not just encircle Kyiv but to come in and decapitate the leadership and to replace the government here with a pro-Moscow administration.

Zelensky mentioned in this (INAUDIBLE) he said, according to our information, the enemy, the Russians, have marked me as target number one, they've marked my family as target number two, they want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.

And so, you know, the president of this country and the top leadership are absolutely, you know, I don't want to say freaking out but they are absolutely concerned as much as you can be concerned in bunkers at the moment somewhere in the city and elsewhere I expect. Sort of waiting for the possibility that they are going to be you know in circled rounded up and I don't know what toppled.

COOPER: Matthew Chance in Kyiv. Be careful, you and your team. Thank you so much for being there. We'll be right back.



COOPER: I'll be back three hours from now live at midnight for special edition of "360" to bring the latest from Ukraine the overnight hours.

The news continues right now. Let's hand over to Wolf Blitzer in "CNN TONIGHT." Wolf.