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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
At Least 406 Civilians Reported Hurt Or Killed In Ukraine; Russia Intensifies Attacks On Ukrainian Cities; New Massive Russian Convoy Nearing Kyiv Stretches For 40+ Miles; Large Explosions Heard In Kyiv As Talks End Between Russia And Ukraine; UN: 500,000+ Civilians Flee Ukraine For Neighboring Countries. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired February 28, 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: Thanks for joining us. Our breaking news coverage continues now with AC 360.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It is morning here, 2:00 AM in Lviv. These are the hours when Russian airstrikes, rocket attacks, and shelling across Ukraine often begin. These may also be the hours and days of an especially difficult period for this country. That is, according to The Pentagon and lawmakers who just received a classified briefing on the situation here.
According to one member, they were given a quote "alarming" -- their word -- estimate of when some cities might fall. The fear is and the evidence is already starting to show in Kyiv and Kharkiv and elsewhere that Russian forces having run into greater resistance than they might have anticipated are reverting to try to tactics for Russia, brutal tactics, namely surrounding cities and laying siege to them without much regard for the civilians who live there.
According to the U.N., there have now been at least 406 reported civilian casualties in Ukraine with more than a hundred civilians killed within the past few days.
The sense of impending danger is only underscored by video like this, satellite images of a massive convoy of Russian vehicles now on the northern outskirts of Kyiv, and according to a new estimate, much larger than it was earlier today.
Ukraine's President Zelensky spoke to the country again tonight offering an update on this morning's peace talks and issuing a warning about Russian tactics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Today, with the Russian side's initiative, we had the first round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. These negotiations took place with the shelling and bombing of our territory on the background, shelling of our cities, synchronization of the shelling within negotiations was obvious.
I think that with this simple-minded method, Russia is trying to pressurize, do not lose time. We do not accept these tactics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That said, they may only escalate from here as have an apparently, as will economic sanctions on Russia, which had begun hammering the lives not just of oligarchs, but ordinary Russians as well. Vladimir Putin's rhetoric has also escalated with his order this weekend raising Russia's nuclear alert posture, and again, according to the U.N., the war has already produced more than half a million refugees.
As only CNN can, we've got correspondents throughout the country, throughout the region, CNN chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward is in Kyiv tonight for us; CNN contributor, Jill Dougherty is in Moscow; CNN's Sara Sidner is in Poland just across Ukraine's western border where refugees are streaming out. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is on the Russian side of Ukraine's northeastern border, where Russian troops have been going in; CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is on the Black Sea and Odessa and here with me, CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, who starts us out with a look at the big picture.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ukrainian forces have so far managed to hold on to the capital, Kyiv, defying U.S. Intelligence assessments, despite the increasing intensity of the Russian onslaught.
But U.S. officials are now warning that Russia could soon increase the intensity of their attack.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.) PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: They have suffered setbacks, but I don't think we can just assume that they're going to stay set back.
SCIUTTO (voice over): Satellite images show a Russian military convoy getting closer to Kyiv from the north. The head of the convoy most recently observed at an airport fewer than 20 miles from the city center.
As the Ukrainians try to hold off the Russian advance across the country, the U.S. and its allies are keeping up the pressure on the financial front, sanctioning Russia's Central Bank, essentially cutting off Vladimir Putin's ability to support the Russian ruble, which fell as much as 30 percent on Monday.
NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: These actions will severely impact Putin's inner circle, impede the Kremlin's use of its international reserves and limit its ability to fund ongoing destabilizing activities.
SCIUTTO (voice over): And in a historic move, even Switzerland, long a bastion of neutrality has decided to match the European Union sanctions on Russia.
IGNAZIO CASSIS, SWISS CORPORATION, President (through translator): Russia's attack against Ukraine is unacceptable with regards to international law, unacceptable politically speaking, and unacceptable from a moral point of view.
SCIUTTO (voice over): As the war continues to rage, Russia has come to the negotiating table with Ukraine. Ukraine says their primary aim is a ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. Russia says the two sides found points where they could make progress, a second round of talks will take place in the coming days.
Though Ukrainian President Zelensky sounded pessimistic before the talks began.
ZELENSKY (through translator): I don't really believe in the result of this meeting, but let them try, so then later on no citizen of Ukraine would have any doubt that I, the President, did not try to stop the war when I had a chance.
SCIUTTO (voice over): Today, the U.S. made a different kind of move on the diplomatic front, expelling 12 Russian diplomats from the U.N., accusing them of espionage activities, but noting this process had been going on for several months. CNN has reached out to the State Department for comment.
Military aid is still pouring into Ukraine, the Biden administration approving another $350 million of security assistance over the weekend.
And even Sweden, a non-NATO member announced they'd be sending 5,000 anti-tank weapons, 5,000 helmets, 5,000 body shields, and 135,000 field rations.
KIRBY: We're going to continue to provide security assistance to Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The Ukrainians had been effective at using these weapons and these systems, and about and at resisting and pushing back Russian forces.
SCIUTTO (voice over): Germany finally announced it would send weapons to Ukraine as well, and has said it will hike its own defense spending in light of Russia's continued aggression.
OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): President Putin should not underestimate our determination to defend every square meter of our alliance's territory together with our allies.
SCIUTTO (on camera): Tonight, the latest satellite images show the sheer immensity, Anderson, of that Russian force now making its way from the north towards Kyiv. It stretches 40 miles long -- imagine that -- from a point about 17 miles north of the city heading north from there. It is a combination of tanks, armored personnel carriers, supply vehicles, towed howitzers. That's the force that U.S. Intelligence believes Russia is going to attempt to surround and circle the capital and then attempt from there, really to take over the country. COOPER: It's also starting, you have Sweden supplying weapons now.
Germany, a huge reversal of German policy to actually now supply weapons. Question, I guess is, can they get here in time? And can they get to the places where they're needed?
SCIUTTO: My understanding from talking to U.S. officials is they have been able to keep those supply lines open. They are land routes, they are not coming in by air because Russia largely controls the airspace. But again, it's a numbers game here. Right? When you look at the size of that force, can the Ukrainian military apply the equal and opposite force against that? And that's an open question.
COOPER: Yes. I want to bring in our other correspondents covering this story. Clarissa Ward is in Kyiv tonight.
Clarissa, talk about what you have been seeing and hearing in these overnight hours and also earlier today.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, earlier today, Anderson, I would say it was a little bit quieter, and that may have been because of those talks that were ongoing between the Russian and Ukrainian delegation along the Belarusian-Ukrainian border.
We heard from President Volodymyr Zelensky that those talks didn't exactly yield any major fruit, but certainly, the hope is that there were at least one or two issues that both sides can now explore more to see if there may be some area that they can move forward on.
And it was interesting, the minute those talks finished, almost literally to the minute, we started to hear booms again. I think it was at least two or three loud explosions. We've had air raid sirens on several occasions, the most recent one about an hour ago.
I won't say it has been a noisier night than usual, because it hasn't. But the explosions that we have heard, I would say have been a little more intense, and arguably a little bit closer to the capital.
At the same time on the streets today, people have been locked up for 36 hours because of the curfew. This was their first time to go out, do some shopping, you know, get supplies to hunker down.
And so you did see quite a fair amount of people on the streets, mostly they were lining up to wait on line for those sorts of supplies. But also we saw a lot of people volunteering, and that is what's really extraordinary about this is there is a slightly different mood today, I would say from what we've seen before as like the shock has worn off a bit. I won't say the fear has worn off because everyone is aware of just how ugly things could get.
But because there have been some successful attempts to thwart Russian advances, you do have the feeling that people are a little more confident, a little more emboldened and actively engaging in any form of resistance they can -- Anderson.
COOPER: And Clarissa, it is important to point out, John Kirby, earlier today, a spokesman at the Pentagon pointed out, you know praising the bravery of Ukrainian forces, the resilience of their fight and the positive impact their fight has had on stopping or slowing the Russian advance.
He also did point out that Russian forces, the full power of Russia's military might remain and remains to actually be used in a city like Kyiv and that is what is now the City of Kyiv is facing.
WARD: And that's what the big fear is, right? I mean, so far there is still electricity, there is still communications. You can still use your cell phone.
There has been bombardment, obviously, but it is mostly on the outskirts of the city, and it is mostly targeting military infrastructure. That could all change very quickly.
We have seen historically in the past many times before from Grozny to Aleppo and other examples as well, where Russia has been far less discriminatory in in sort of targeting civilians.
And so the question now is, does this devolve further? Does Putin feel that he has kind of boxed himself into a corner, and now he needs to go all out in order to try to win this thing as some U.S. officials fear, and as some people here fear? Or is there some possibility and frankly, Anderson, in this moment, I can't see it exactly, but is there some possibility that these talks might lead to another round of talks, that some de-escalation, exit ramp can be found?
And you can probably hear from my voice as even as I'm saying it that I'm not overly optimistic about that, but it is incredible to see that the spirit of Ukrainian fighters and ordinary people appears uncowed despite what they are up against.
COOPER: Yes. The bravery is remarkable.
Sara, you're on the border between Poland and Ukraine. One of the spots where Ukrainian women and children are crossing, heartbreaking scenes, and just so much pain of families being ripped apart. Talk about what you've been seeing tonight.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can't tell you how many children I've seen. I can't tell you how many infants I've seen.
We actually talked to a couple of mothers, one of whom was Yulia. We saw her as she was crying and embracing a relative who had finally shown up after 24 hours. She had left everything, her whole life, as so many refugees have in Ukraine.
She had to leave her own mother who could not come with her, but she said she left for one reason. She said when the Russians come in, sort of to occupy, there were bombings, and there was gunfire. She left for a simple and very important reason, her six-year-old son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) YULIA, UKRAINIAN CITIZEN: My city was occupied by Russian Army and we
were leaving from Russian soldiers and shooting and bombing. It's very horrible. So I tried to save my son to get outside of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: She just wanted to make sure that he survived, and so she made it here. It was a harrowing trip.
We have talked to a lot of different people. And you can see it is about 12 past two in the morning. It is below freezing. We are outside. And there are dozens upon dozens of people who are underneath the train stations just to my right, who are underneath a thoroughfare here trying to stay warm in some way.
You see people are bringing what they have on their backs and their suitcases and trying to figure out, one thing, where can they spend the night and be warm and be comfortable, and they will figure out the rest of it all tomorrow.
But we are seeing so many children, so many women, and a lot of people from different countries who are residents of Ukraine or who are students of Ukraine; countries such as Afghanistan who can't go back to their country; Cameroon, who can't return to their country.
And you are seeing that as well. You've got people from India, people from all over Nepal. They are here as students and they are stuck. They are trying to figure out what to do next. But the one thing they wanted to make sure of is that they were able to get here, get to safety.
Poland has allowed so many people to come in from Ukraine. They basically have put up signs saying "You are welcome here. We will help you." They've been giving out SIM cards, food, and trying to help people get to where they need to go -- Anderson.
COOPER: I want to talk to Jill Dougherty in Moscow. Jill, what has been happening in that city? And also, do there continue to be protests on the streets in Moscow and other cities in Russia?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, with the first question, we did hear from President Putin today. Obviously, he is following the fighting in Ukraine, but the big thing here Anderson, there is no question, it is the sanctions, they are slamming into the Russian economy.
And so we saw President Putin on TV today meeting with members -- senior members of his government, and they were discussing what they say, is a plan that they have to deal with these sanctions. They say they were expecting a lot, and they are ready. And that's the message they're trying to get across to the Russian people. But obviously, there is an effect on the Russian people.
And then the other thing that happened today with President Putin is he spoke with the French President Macron, and there is certainly concern about the escalation possible in Ukraine in the fighting.
In fact, a spokesperson for the Elysee Palace said -- and this is a quite a quote -- "There are good reasons to fear --" this is coming, by the way from that discussion. "There are good reasons to fear that civilians will be targeted more massively, and without precautions by the Russians." So that's the French view. And again, from the French President who spoke with President Putin.
Then on the protest, the demonstrations do continue. Today was Monday, a workday and that may explain there were fewer, but the total so far for people who've been arrested is about 6,400.
Interestingly, I talked with one woman who was arrested in St. Petersburg or at least detained and she said that she was picked up and I think there are others on COVID violations because they were in public, and they were taken into the police station, fined, and the fines really can go up if they continue this.
COOPER: Jill Dougherty, appreciate it. Sara Sidner, Jim Sciutto as well. Clarissa Ward, we're going to talk to you in just a few more moments.
Coming up next, we will get a live report from the Russian side of Ukraine's Northeastern border where troops and artillery fire both pouring into Ukraine. We are joined as well by retired General Wesley Clark for his take on the direction the war appears to be heading in the next 24 to 48 hours.
And later, we'll speak with a woman who is in a bomb shelter right now in Kyiv and has been there since Thursday with her three kids, all while her husband volunteers to defend the city. A remarkable story of bravery and resiliency, ahead on 360.
COOPER: Within the hour, we learned that the Russian military convoy, which is now on the northern outskirts of Kyiv is growing, is now more than 40 miles long, ominous indeed.
We are going to check in with CNN's Fred Pleitgen on the Russian side of the border, just east of Kharkiv, the second largest city in the east of Ukraine.
Fred, talk about what you've seen about Russian troop movement tonight from where you are and what kind of condition does their equipment appear to be in?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The condition of the equipment was actually quite surprising to us, Anderson. We saw obviously a lot of forces moving in towards Kharkiv over the past couple of days and today as well. A lot of the infantry fighting vehicles that they have, generally a lot of the armor that they have and trucks that they have does appear to be quite old, and we do see a quite a lot of it actually break down as well. We've seen a lot of trucks breaking down today. We actually saw a
massive multiple rocket launcher, called an Uragan, which is a very powerful weapon, sort of stuck by the road with a crew trying to repair it. We also saw a heavy howitzer, which just seemed to have toppled over into a ditch.
It's unclear how it got there, but what is clear is that a lot of the equipment the Russians are using seems to be breaking down on the Russian side of the borders. You do see a lot of those trucks being towed, and a lot of other gear being repaired. Nevertheless, there is obviously a lot of gear still out there.
And one of the things that we saw today as we've been talking about this really heavy battle for Kharkiv that's been going on, and also civilian areas being shelled with several people being killed is that we did see a lot of rocket artillery fire outgoing from where we are right now, clearly towards the area of Kharkiv.
And we also saw several of those massive multiple rocket launchers being moved from where we are a towards the Kharkiv area, towards the frontline areas. It's unclear whether or not those fires today on those areas, but certainly the Russians bringing more firepower into that zone where the Kharkiv battlefield is, and also at the same time replenishing their forces as well.
And one thing that we have to tell our viewers, Anderson, from our vantage point here, close to the battlefield, the Russians do still have a lot of equipment stationed on this side, certainly seem to have the capacity to escalate all this if they feel they need to.
Of course, a lot of people are saying that the things in Kharkiv seems to be going very difficult for those Russian forces. They are running into problems.
And we do see that also, and we see indications of that here on our side of the border as well with some of the forces that are coming out actually hanging their flak vests into the windows of their trucks, the bulletproof vests they would normally wear on their bodies, which could be an indication that they might have been taking sniper fire while they were inside Kharkiv zone.
So from our vantage point, we do see a lot of troop movement, but we also see some ominous signs that there could be difficulties as well -- Anderson.
COOPER: Fred Pleitgen, appreciate it. Thank you.
Given what appears to be growing ferocity of Russian attacks in the face of some steady resistance by Ukrainians and given the growing and remarkably unified pressure on Vladimir Putin in Russia's economy from Western allies, there is a lot to talk about with our next guest, and before even getting into Putin's nuclear saber rattling, joining us, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, retired Army General Wesley Clark.
General Clark, you've heard the latest reporting from here in Ukraine. I'm wondering what you can tell about Russian tactics and where this attack around Kyiv or in Kyiv, how quickly it may escalate.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think the Russian time tactics are really hampered by the road conditions, Anderson. They have to stay road-bound now because the ground should have been hard frozen, it's not, so they're stuck.
They have got a long convoy. It has been on the road for hours. Stuff breaks down, things run out of fuel. There has got to be repairs to it. There is communications problems. It is a big logistic problem, and I don't think the Russians were prepared for it.
In terms of the tactics, they will eventually get the bulk of that convoy into position to bring artillery and rocket fire onto Kyiv. There are infantry fighting vehicles in that convoy and tanks that could try to penetrate the city, but if we look at what they did in Kharkiv, they weren't able to penetrate the city, they resorted to attacks by far against civilian targets. That is still continuing I am told in Kharkiv, and it's going to get much, much worse in Kyiv. That's the plan.
But if we could just look at the big picture for a second. The big picture is the negotiations today didn't produce anything. But if they had, what would it have meant if Zelensky had surrendered? What if he'd said: Okay, I'll give up, I can't -- we're not going to succeed against you.
Russia would have come in, having illegally invaded a country, killed hundreds of people, wrecked the economy, threatened nuclear weapons and gotten away with it. That's no win for Ukraine, but it is no win for us or the world. It is criminal assault and we can't have it.
So, he didn't give in. He stood firm.
But that big Russian convoy is coming in, and if we don't get assistance into that area, I'm talking about javelins, I'm talking about ordinates for the remaining aircraft that the Ukrainian Air Force has or about anti-aircraft missiles, if we don't get that in there, that city is going to be in a world of hurt and that is still two and a half million people that haven't evacuated out of that city. They're going to be cut off from food, from water, and under artillery fire.
Can we permit that in the 21st Century?
So I hear people saying that Putin is maybe deranged. I don't believe it for a minute. He may be a little manic, he is taking a huge risk. He is rolling the dice. He is using nuclear weapons to deter a humanitarian response to his aggressive war.
This is a new use of the threat of nuclear weapons.
The United States and our allies have to come to terms with this because the same thing could happen in NATO, the same thing could happen -- China could do this. So we've got a real strategic conundrum in front of us here, not just
reply, but what do we do with it? Now the best way out of it is to respond and keep your brain in the fight. But can we do it?
COOPER: The other issue is, Russia would have the ability to, I assume cut off water supplies to Kyiv, to cut off electricity, to plunge the city into darkness. It could be, I mean, very quickly a humanitarian crisis, a humanitarian disaster inside the city if that city can't get medicine, if that city can't get food.
CLARK: Yes, exactly. Exactly.
Now, as I understand, Putin's orders they were to besieged Kyiv, and then clear it. So whenever it falls, or whenever somebody says: Okay, enough, enough, we're not going to starve all of these people. When the Russians come in, there's 3,000 to 5,000 or 50,000 people in that city who believe in democracy, who have worked against the Russians. They will be targeted and they will be either shipped out in prison, tortured, or shot on the spot.
This is the Russian plan and that is what has been released. So we have to understand, it is a humanitarian crisis that's looming, but it is a huge strategic problem, and I'm sure right now, people in the White House and the National Security Council are wrestling with this. And we are hoping the sanctions work and we're going to tighten those sanctions as tight as we can.
But I think Putin is intent on doing what he is doing. The way to stop him is to get the reinforcements, the replenishment in to Kyiv and help Kyiv hold.
COOPER: Yes. General Clark, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
Coming up next, we will check in with the citizens of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, and our Clarissa Ward, who is there has talked to residents ready to take on the Russian Army.
Also, there's new information or maybe some hope about those Ukrainians on Snake Island who famously stood up to the Russian Navy. More on that ahead.
COOPER: As we've been reporting throughout the day, satellite images showed massive Russian military convoys stretching roughly 40 miles now. It's now near the outskirts of Kyiv, the firm that took the images say that they include tanks and artillery. It's a certainly very ominous development for the residents in Kyiv and what it might pretend about what will happen there in the days ahead.
According to General Clark, what General Clark told us over the break, it could get much darker in Kyiv very quickly. As you saw earlier, our Clarissa Ward is there. She's spoken to the residents and say they are not giving up at all, and that they will fight. I'm joined again by Clarissa Ward. So, talk about what you're seeing in terms of just, you know, the volunteers ordinary Ukrainians getting involved in the fight against the Russian military. Let's take a look at what Clarissa saw.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The people of Kyiv are mobilizing. Across the capital, volunteers are pouring in, building up the city's defenses with whatever they can. Women bring in empty bottles to be made into Molotov cocktails. The leaders of this militia say Ukraine will win this war emboldened by recent successful operations to repel Russian forces.
Juan (ph) shows us his passport.
I am even though I am originally Russian he says, but no Russian boots will stand here.
(on-camera): Do you have a message for President Putin?
WARD (voice-over): It's a popular sentiment on the streets. This man sign is too vulgar to translate. Another billboard warns invading forces, Russian soldiers leave. How will you look your children in the eye?
Ukraine has borne the brutality of this invasion with patient grit and determination. Outside every supermarket, there are long lines and scarce supplies, but no one is complaining.
(on-camera): It's amazing to see the optimism of people here. They've been waiting in this line for about 40 minutes to get into the supermarket. But still, they're saying everything's going to be OK. You can feel a growing confidence among people that they do have a chance to defeat Russia.
(voice-over): In an eastern suburb of the city, (INAUDIBLE) front yard has turned into a staging area.
(on-camera): So you can see they're collecting things to donate to people, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, pickles, foods.
(voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) is a grandmother and a retired economists. Now she spends her days preparing for battle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This or That?
WARD (on-camera): OK.
This is where they make the Molotov cocktails. She says she's going to show us some now.
(voice-over): These are the only weapons she has but she says she's ready to fight. Let those Russian shits come here, she says we are ready to greet them.
(on-camera): How did you learn how to make Molotov cocktails?
(voice-over): Google helps she tells.
WARD (on-camera): You Googled it?
(voice-over): Of course she says.
(on-camera): If Russian forces push into the capital here in Kyiv, what will you do?
(voice-over): We will beat them, they won't come she tells us. I believe in our Ukraine, I believe in Ukrainian people.
Moments later, she's off. Russian forces are still moving forward. And there is much work to be done.
COOPER: And I'm joined again by Clarissa Ward. It is really remarkable the spirit of people here in the face of this overwhelming adversary?
WARD: Yes, I mean, it's honestly it's sort of jaw dropping because there is such a David and Goliath dynamic to this whole conflict in terms of the power of the Russian military. It's one of the mightiest military powers in the world. And Ukrainians also have incredibly brave soldiers. They have certain weapons that they've been given. But it's not a fair fight, right? It's not a fair match. And yet you still see, in spite of that, and in spite of the bombardment, and in spite of the fears, people who are willing to come out onto the streets make Molotov cocktails and contribute in whatever way they can.
Now the fear here, of course, Anderson is that that dynamic could change if things do get uglier. But for now, we just continue to see these extraordinary acts of heroism, whether it's a bunch of men blocking a convoy of tanks with their cars, as we saw in a town in central Ukraine today, or whether it's in a town like (INUADIBLE) which is in the southeast near Mariupol, where you saw Russian forces take control of the town, and they marched. The Ukrainian residents of this town up to the town hall stood face to face with Russian forces, chanted, we don't want you here and then began singing the Ukrainian anthem. Anderson.
COOPER: So moving. Clarissa Ward, appreciate it. Thank you.
We've got some new information tonight on one of the more memorable incidences in this invasion thus far a number -- a dozens of Ukrainian soldiers who are outgunned, out numbered on an island south of the country last week. You may remember the story a Russian Navy ship demanded they give it their position. The sailors over the radio responded well, very directly telling the Russians what they could do with themselves.
Here's the purported audio of that encounter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The Ukraine's Presidents Zelensky later said that those soldiers died in that incident.
Nick Paton Walsh is in the south of the country with new information. So Nick, what did you learned about the fate of those sailors?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean, sort of remarkable legend in a war that is barely five days old Are there many Ukrainian would say eight years old. These sailors on Snake Island 20 miles off the coast from where I'm standing in Odessa, as you say, initially said to have all been killed by the Russian onslaught by President Volodymyr Zelensky. Then some glimmer of hope appeared when what appeared to be them were on Russian state media alive, shown as prisoners.
And now the Ukrainian Navy, giving this extraordinary reversal of events here, a moment of hope, frankly, obviously, for the families of those concerned that these 82 sailors who held out these 82 military men who held out on the island are in fact all alive and well. And rather than being killed, they in fact, had to surrender after their ammunition ran out. An extraordinary story of their resilience, frankly, and how so much misinformation could initially swirl around in a wall like this. But also about the violence that's been swirling Anderson around the Black Sea here. A lot of the focus on obviously the capital Kyiv, and it's 3 million people but this isn't vital economic lifeline to the capital to the entire country is the maritime gateway, this third largest city of Odessa.
Look it's blacked out now under curfew. Very edgy troops all around a barricades. We've been though for the last four days moving along the Black Sea coast from Kherson out in the East. Kherson is where there's a vital bridge, a lot of fighting happening around there. I've talked to some residents from that town. It's vital. If you go out from Crimea, which Russia hold up towards the north of the country. They've been seeing Russian vehicles for the first time coming into the town itself. The mayor of that town has said no need to be concerned they're still under Ukrainian control, he said on a Facebook page. But obviously there does appear to be a Russian presence very firmly sitting on the outskirts of that city.
Mykolaiv is the next big city along the Black Sea and inland from the sea itself. We were there Saturday night to Sunday morning intense shelling on its outskirts. The mayor on Sunday said everyone get Molotov cocktails get ready to do a circular defense. That appears to be a little precipitous as a warning. But today he warned again of 100 vehicles approaching that particular town, told women to get indoors, told men to prepare for the defense of the city. They are deeply on edge there.
But Anderson you have to ask the question, what are these Russian forces going to do? When they get into these massive urban centers, Mykolaiv is big, and it is ready. And once we saw citizens frankly, just putting on armor, getting AK-47 and normal cars and heading off to the front to try and hold back, Ukraine and Russian forces.
There's a lot happening in this Black Sea area. It's deeply strategic and the Russian moves appear to be trying to get into cities and towns often fail and then have another go. Here in a desert that will be a massive horrific task. But its clear there's a lot of movement around this Black Sea but Russia's moves and not decisive at this stage. Anderson.
COOPER: Nick Paton Walsh, appreciate you and your team. Be careful.
Up next, we're going to speak to one woman who has been hiding with her children in a bomb shelter for days as her husband went to fight for Ukraine.
COOPER: As we reported just hours ago as talks ended between Russia and Ukraine several large explosions were heard in the center of Ukraine's capital Kyiv. This comes as the UN says more than 520,000 refugees have left Ukraine so far, with the number of people rising exponentially. And according to the UN and more than 400 civilians have been hurt or killed in Ukraine so far.
Our next guest is one of many people sheltering in Kyiv. She's been in a bomb shelter since Thursday with her three children, her youngest being only four months old. Her husband is a local journalist and Ukrainian volunteer to fight for his country in Kyiv. And she joins us now.
Olena Gnes. Thank you so much, Olena, for talking to us. How are you holding up?
OLENA GNES, UKRANIAN CIVILIAN IN KYIV BOMB SHELTER: (INAUDIBLE) for us, well, we're bad, but we keep it up.
COOPER: Your children are with you. How is it? How are they doing?
GNES: Children are basically doing very fine (INAUDIBLE) you heard she was coughing right now, but she's getting much better. I have some important medications for her because she has like breathing problems. And obviously, the air in the bomb shelter is not the best quality, but she's doing well and the other kids who are five and seven years old. I'm amazed how wise they are, how they understood what's really going on how, they quickly they grew up. And like yesterday, I went away for like half an hour for the first time back home just to take some food and water and clothes for them. And my daughter said like I said I will be -- I will come back for a son and my daughter said, Mommy, just come back, please.
COOPER: How did you explain to them what is happening?
GNES: Just what is happening just directly. Yes, on the first day, me and my husband when we understood that basically it started which has told them that yes, the war has started, that Russia attacked because before we were telling them about this possibility, that we will calming them down that everything will be fine, that we have very strong army, will be protected.
Yes, but we needed to tell them what's going on for them to understand fully and to be prepared and how we teach them, teach them how to hide, how to lie down on the ground and cover your head with your hands in case there is a bomb shelling, why it is urgently needed to rush in the bomb shelter if you're outside, and so on. The two shouldn't pick up. The boys on the streets right now if you go out because there can be explosives. So they fully understand everything of solid, what's going on.
COOPER: Have you been able to talk to your husband? I know he's volunteered to fight?
GNES: Yes, yes. I've been able to talk to him in the evening. So right now it's like half past three in the morning. And before the night started, I talked to him. Yes. And we had about two minutes of conversation. And that was the longest. Before he was saying only I love you. And I responded the same and that was all. And this time he even described a little bit was a good doing well, in total. He said that it's not romantic at all. But people are doing (INAUDIBLE), everybody, many people they do their best to protect the city, to protect Ukraine.
COOPER: And what is it like in the bomb shelter? How many people are there with you?
GNES: So the first day, nights, we -- there were much more people here, there were more than 300 as far as we understand. If you look, these are quarter of the bomb shelter. The first day that night it was full, absolutely. So on each of these chairs, there was somebody sitting on this side. And even on the opposite side, to side. But many people --
COOPER: Where do your kids sleep?
GNES: So there is another room. So I am right now in the corridor where there are less of people. And there is a room near the corridor where families whose children mostly stay. So I do not want to wake them up. This is why I came here. I only took my Darina (ph). So today we have about 100 people in this bomb shelter. And you call it the bomb shelter, but in fact, most of the places where people hide, they are not really bomb shelters, they just the basements of the building. So they're not very well prepared for any kind of bomb shelling.
So if the missile hits directly this building it will not stand. And it will be a trap. But at least it will protect from some tiny explosions. For example, in our room, we have a window with the glass. And there is no way how would you change it. And the glass in a bomb shelter, it's dangerous.
COOPER: Do you have enough food, enough water?
GNES: For today, yes. Like today, we are not hungry for today, and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, we have enough. But I'm not sure that we have enough if for later. And so we have just for a couple of days.
COOPER: There are obviously many, many people trying to get into Poland or Hungary or somewhere else, women with children. Have you thought about trying to leave?
GNES: Yes, many times. That was -- that's a very complicated question for me why we didn't leave. You see at first, the government was saying that everything is under control. And it should not panic, you should stay where you are and continue your work. And basically, this is what we did in the first day like my husband went to, to History Channel to work as a journalist because he -- that was very important. And I decided to stay and wait for him and see what happens. In a couple of hours after the (INAUDIBLE) the first bombs, there were already huge traffic jams around the city. So I understand that for me was ritual run, it was very complicated to leave the city in this traffic jams and I can start in on the road. And it's not equally safe for me and my children. And then in the daytime, I there was air defense alarm that I need to run into the bomb shelter. And here I am since then.
And well we were talking with my husband, what should we do? And there were two scenarios. One is to escape and survive. Another one is to stay and take the battle. And we decided to stay. And what is going to happen, the worst happen to us in most cases this is that we can die. And we decided that we can die anyway. So let's just use the time that is left (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: I have a three-week-old child at home and I cannot imagine the strength that you have to take care of your children in this situation. It's stunning.
GNES: Well, all the people in this (INAUDIBLE), like everybody, I'm noticing them in a one by one, a (INAUDIBLE) with on your hands. And I was not cooking the first days, like at all because like with children, I couldn't run this apartment. And without me here, again, they have. So I was just given food by other people all these days. Like yesterday only for the first time I bought something myself. So the atmosphere here is very kind, and I feel how people care. So yes, they helped me.
COOPER: What do you want people around the world who will watch this to know about you and the others in the bomb shelter and your husband and all the people in Ukraine, and what is happening here?
GNES: (INAUDIBLE) is prepare for this war. (INAUDIBLE) days I was taking (INAUDIBLE) at the school, (INAUDIBLE) to kindergarten and my husband was at work and life was nice and normal here absolutely. (INAUDIBLE) shows that this has started the war. And it's very hard to believe and accept. And I understand that for you guys over there. It's really hard to accept that Putin started what I think is a third world war. And we are already involved, all of us.
You see people who are running away from Kyiv to other places there we're trying to find a (INAUDIBLE) there is a safe place on this planet anymore after Putin invaded, at least in Europe and like in the West. And it's yes, it's very scary. But we have to understand like, what, what happens because we are in denial. And urgently to something to prevent Putin for killing more people, because I know that many attempts are moving right now in this very moment to Kyiv, and (INAUDIBLE) but and yes, it's not happening on your land, but it's happening with you, too.
We in Ukraine, we will do whatever there is needed to protect our own land because it's our responsibility, our love. And we are Ukrainians. We are being killed by Russian, Russians. But guys, you can be the next and it's obvious. So let's stop within well, he is on the territory of Ukraine. And if you are afraid to escalate the conflict, yes, recently in Ukraine, one not escalating any conflicts at all, not provoking anyone. You see, he just decided to stand here his troops and airplanes and to bomb my city and kill my people simply because he wanted. And for this Putin has to be punished. And for this Putin has to be imprisoned, he -- to take him to (INAUDIBLE) international court. Because what he has done is an international serious and awful crime, because thousands of people have already died and they are not -- they are innocent victims. And those thousands of people, they are victims, not only Ukrainian. They're Russians too, that the big fell victim of this during.
So I don't like how the world is talking to Putin right now to negotiate with him to discuss something, because how can you discuss anything who is a criminal, who is lying all the time? He was saying it's just a military training. And then he invaded. He was saying they will not touch civilians and they bombed all this sleeping districts and apartment blocks and hospitals and schools. And now he says I want to have negotiations. So after this negotiations if he say attack should I -- shouldn't believe in it. So he's just a crazy guy, crazy monkey that needs to be imprisoned needs to be punished and just we need to keep ourselves safe from this person.
COOPER: Yes. Olena as you know, when Ukrainian -- when Ukrainian soldiers greet each other, they say glory to Ukraine. And it seems to me that you and you bring glory to Ukraine what you're doing right now taking care of your children, your husband brings glory to Ukraine. And thank you very much for talking to us. I wish you -- yes stay safe.
GNES: (INAUDIBLE) thank you.
COOPER: Olena Gnes in a bomb shelter or not even a bomb shelter, in a basement in the city of Kyiv tonight with her three children.
We'll be right back.