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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
New Explosions Rock Kyiv As Capital Braces For Major Assault; People In Southern Ukraine On Edge, Preparing For Russian Siege; Standing By For Biden To Leave White House; Biden To Call Out Putin In State of The Union As He Announces Ban On Russian Aircraft; Ukraine Capital Awaits New Russian Attacks; Source: Biden Speech To Be One- Third Ukraine, Two-Thirds Domestic Issues; Biden To Deliver State of The Union As Ukraine War Rages. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 01, 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: Zelenskyy went on to talk about the lives lost, children killed by Putin's airstrikes, and when he finished, a standing ovation as so many around this world we live in so deeply moved by what is unfolding in Ukraine.
Our special coverage of President Biden's State of the Union address begins now with Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: These are live pictures from Ukrainian capital where new explosions were heard tonight. The city bracing for an all-out assault by Russian forces.
Vladimir Putin's brutal war is intensifying at this hour as President Biden is about to deliver his first State of the Union address.
I'm Anderson Cooper coming to you tonight from Lviv in Western Ukraine for this Special Edition of AC 360. There is grave concern across this country and in the region right now about Russia's increasingly aggressive bombing campaign.
In recent hours, we have seen Russian rockets striking strategic targets in the heart of Ukraine blasting a government building and hitting civilians in its second largest city in the east in Kharkiv. Russian troops and hardware are on the move as well, that massive 40- mile convoy positioned just outside Kyiv. Its forces regrouping and could roll into the capital at any time or at least try to.
After decades or excuse me, days of extraordinary resistance by Ukrainians, the coming hours could go a long way to deciding the fate of Ukraine, its people, and its democracy.
I want to bring in my colleague, Jake Tapper in Washington.
Jake, this war is certainly a huge test for President Biden. What do we expect to hear from him tonight? JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Anderson, when President Biden enters the
House Chamber at the Capitol, about an hour from now, he is expected to not only address Congress and the American people, but to deliver a message to the world including to Vladimir Putin.
We are told that President Biden will directly call out Putin this evening in his speech that was reworked to respond to the fast moving and tragic developments in Ukraine.
Biden, we're told will slam the Russian President for launching a quote "premeditated and unprovoked war and for rejecting efforts of diplomacy." And we learned a short while ago that President Biden will announce a ban on Russian aircraft from entering U.S. airspace.
This is the newest move to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine, punishing Putin for this war, clearly a top priority for President Biden at a time when he and the American people are facing extraordinary challenges and frustrations here at home, which of course Biden will also discuss tonight.
We're going to have more on that ahead.
But right now, let's go back to Anderson Cooper in Ukraine -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jake, I want to give an update on the situation of Ukraine's capital Kyiv at this hour, CNN's Clarissa Ward, is there.
Clarissa, brutal bombing, a 40-mile convoy of Russian troops outside the city. What is the latest?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it has been quiet here for the last couple of hours, but it certainly wasn't that way earlier on in the day. We are now getting new images and they are a little bit distressing, of the aftermath of some kind of a strike on two apartment buildings in a suburb of Kyiv. Well, it's about actually 30 miles to the west of Kyiv called Borodyanka.
And from what you can see in this video, a man is showing you around the aftermath, the area where that apartment building was hit. Apparently, a restaurant was part of that complex. You also see a children's playground at one stage, which is littered with debris of the aftermath.
Now, CNN does not have any information about whether there were any casualties, anyone killed or injured and you can hear a man talking over the video, he says: "They hit our homes. I hope you die. Putin, you scumbag." And then towards the end of the video, he simply says simply, "Look at what you've done, Putin."
This is just one incident today. We, also Anderson, saw the Kyiv TV tower, that was hit next to Holocaust Memorial Park. And so five people at least were killed in that attack. And everyone now bracing themselves for what may come next with that Russian convoy that you mentioned, bearing down on the Ukrainian capital -- Anderson.
COOPER: Clarissa Ward, thank you. We'll check in with you throughout the next several hours.
The President of Ukraine is urging President Biden to deliver a strong message about the Russian invasion in his speech tonight.
Now, CNN got an exclusive interview with President Zelenskyy in the bunker where he is leading his country's military response. He spoke with our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance. Take a listen.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The United States has said that it will not enforce a no fly zone over this country and it won't put boots on the ground. Do you think it is now time for President Biden and other western countries to reconsider that, and to help you not just with military aid, but with manpower?
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I've already turned to some foreign leaders with this request. I believe that leaders must support democratic states of the world who are keen to defend such principles.
The powerful issue of closing the airspace helps us tremendously. This does not mean dragging NATO into this war. We spoke many times with President Biden, and I'm thankful for him for these opportunities and support.
But they also did not hear me, I've been telling them that Ukraine will fight hardest of all. You will see, but us alone against Russia, we would not be able to do it.
CHANCE: Your Army has enjoyed some significant battlefield victories in the past week. I myself have been to see some of the Russian armored columns that have been totally hammered and destroyed by the weapons and the men that you've got fighting the Russian advance.
Are you now concerned, though, that the Kremlin will double down on its military operations, and hit Ukraine even harder?
ZELENSKY (through translator): Firstly, why are we winning or why are we defending ourselves? Because this is our home. Yes, Russia will double up, but take a look at them. Why our men stronger, more powerful, and successful? Because as I said, we have what we need to protect and they do not even understand our state. They do not know the streets. They do not know our people, do not understand our philosophy, our aspirations, what type of people we are, they don't know anything here.
They were just sent here to fight and to die.
COOPER: Matthew Chance joins us now from Kyiv.
Matthew, it's an extraordinary interview. How did the President seem to you?
CHANCE: Well, he seemed -- he was under a great deal of stress. I mean, he looked -- you saw a picture of him there. He looks very pale. He hadn't shaved for a few days. He was wearing those khaki military fatigues that have been so characteristic of his sort of public appearances over the past couple of days or weeks, even since the threat with Russia has been so massive.
And he is obviously, you know, somebody who is attempting and succeeding, perhaps, to step up to this idea that he is the sort of pillar of strength in the country when it comes to resisting this massive Russian force that has gathered not just around his capital of Kyiv, but around the entire country, pounding it, as we've been hearing, you know, on a daily basis.
And so, yes, a man who is under a lot of pressure, and also a man who considers himself to be a target by the Russians, and not just that, but his family a target as well. He has expressed that on several occasions.
He was asked actually earlier during this interview, when last time it was that he saw his family, and you could see him sort of welling up. There was such an emotional sort of response there. He said: I haven't seen them since the beginning of this war.
And so yes, on a personal level, clearly this has taken a toll and he is having to move from bunker to bunker. You know, we met him in that underground bunker with, you know, sandbags everywhere. The light was low.
You know, a lot of pressure he is under, but you know, he is determined it seems that to keep up the resistance in the fight against Russia.
COOPER: Yes, Matthew chancer. Appreciate that.
Jake, I want to go back to you?
TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson. I'm over at the magic wall tonight. It's our version of a war room as we map out the latest military maneuvers in Ukraine.
John King is here along with retired Colonel Cedric Leighton, CNN military analyst.
Colonel, give us an idea of what President Zelenskyy and the people of Kyiv, the capital city in Ukraine are facing as Russia approaches?
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Absolutely, Jake. One of the big things that he is going to have to deal with is really all kinds of movements from the Russians at this point because what we see here is the Russians, the closest point of approach is right here.
This area, right to the northwest of Kyiv is the area where the Russians are going to really be focused on moving forward because that's probably, from their assessment, the most vulnerable point of the city, and that makes sense, because when you look at Kyiv itself, this area's river valley right here, they are coming from this direction right here. And coming down this way.
So they are coming down from the northwest, toward this part of town. They've already penetrated areas in this suburb right here, and they are moving down this way. They are taking paths down the river valley, and they could potentially go this way as well and that is an area where there would be a lot of different movements. But there is also danger for the Russians because what can happen here is they can actually go in and be enmeshed in urban warfare, and that is really quite the fight.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, one of the big questions has been why? You have a 40-mile convoys, so it is an impressive show of force and yet, it is moving at a snail's pace. The Pentagon officials saying they are having food shortages, they're having fuel shortages.
It is sitting duck as a target if you will. What is the strategic calculus? For the Russians, why is this thing sitting here for days moving so slowly toward Kyiv?
LEIGHTON: Well, John, that's a very interesting question because if I'm looking at this from my old Air Force perspective, I'm going to say this is the ideal target set right here. I would blow that up completely.
One problem, though, from the Ukrainian point of view, they don't have the weapons that can do that. They don't have the air superiority that they need. They do have the possibility of using drones. They have the possibility of using some other fighters which are still in existence, and they could potentially do something here.
But the question is, can they get the planes off the ground? And can they do it in such a way that it would actually make a difference to actually cut this convoy off?
Now if they did this, one of the things that they could do is they could actually start interdicting the convoy in several different areas. For example, if you cut it, like let's say, at a place like this, then what you would have is the ability to choose this color, you could cut it here, potentially in other areas like this, any crossroads might be a possibility.
You want to create as much damage as you possibly can, so that they either have to try to go around it, or they have some other issues that they have to deal with.
KING: And yet Jake, even though you look at it slow, this is not going as fast as Putin would like even out here, not going as fast as Putin would like. But when you look at the map, six days, beginning of the seventh day, the Russians have made a lot of gains down here, and the question is here, all this shelling today leads most people to believe something more aggressive is about to happen.
TAPPER: Vladimir Putin has nothing but time, I think when it comes to this.
There is much more ahead. We're getting some new insights into Vladimir Putin's mindset as he wages this war of aggression and we are standing by for President Biden to leave the White House to deliver his first State of the Union address.
Stay with us, we'll be right back.
COOPER: We are back live from Ukraine on a very tense night across this country as Russian forces have been ramping up their attacks on major cities. We also are standing by, of course, for President Biden's speech tonight, his State of the Union address going to condemn Vladimir Putin's war as he delivers the State of the Union.
Right now, I want to go to southern Ukraine in the strategic port of Odessa, Nick Paton Walsh is there for us. Nick residents of Odessa fearing they may be Russia's next target. Talk about what you are seeing and what's been going on around you.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, Anderson, chilling frankly here. I've seen people putting in barricades that their grandmothers spoke of having last seen in 1941, a different generation here trying to defend this city of Odessa, yet to see a full Russian onslaught, but cautious and on edge it may happen any day.
The train station, people leaving, but people still digging in for defense here and sharing supplies, but this is on the receiving end of what has been growing Russian pressure that we've seen ourselves over the last five days.
Key is the city of Kherson, that to me was something of revelation today. Violent fighting for the strategic bridge on its outskirts, but residents wondering well what happens inside the town? Do Russian troops bother coming in? They've got their answer today. Russian soldiers walking through the streets, clashes it seemed, men being arrested, looting from stores by Russian soldiers it seemed presumably looking for food because of poor supply lines. A real sign of what they may seek to do if they come into population centers.
Pressure, too, mounting on this, the third largest city in Ukraine and its vital strategic port, 30 miles drive away from here, shelling and small arms fire and a real fear I think here that we may in the hours days ahead see pressure upon this city, which frankly unless you control it, you don't control Ukraine's economy -- Anderson.
COOPER: Nick Paton Walsh, I appreciate it. Thank you. Be careful.
As the war in Ukraine unfolds, there is enormous international concern about Vladimir Putin's state of mind, his decision making capabilities. I want to bring in CNN's Fareed Zakaria. Fareed, former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper says
that Putin is, quote, "more unhinged" than he's ever seen him. Do you think this is a different Vladimir Putin and how capable is U.S. Intelligence really, of understanding what's going on in anyone's mind, let alone the leader of Russia?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": He does seem to be a different man, Anderson, from the cautious, more calculating man who took office. He was careful in his military interventions. He seemed to weigh costs and benefits more.
What changed? Well, he's been in power 22 years. When he took over Russia, it was a basket case. It now has higher oil prices, high energy prices, big foreign exchange war chest. So at some level, Anderson, probably it is more than anything else that old line, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," which leaves us with a dilemma because as you say, he is now mercurial, unpredictable, rash.
But it is also worth pointing out, we can use all these descriptive terms. He is also evil. What he is doing is wicked. He is showing extraordinary vengeance against a country, against a people who have done him no harm.
COOPER: Well, also, this is a leader who has said that he believes that the fall of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th Century. We've seen what he has done in other countries.
I mean, when you think about in Chechnya what -- you know leveling of Grozny, the installing of a vicious thug, who now rules in Chechnya. How much of what Putin is doing is a bid to reconstitute the old Soviet Union?
ZAKARIA: It is an important point, Anderson, and an important analogy because the Russians, I mean, they may have killed a quarter of a million people in Chechnya, and as you say, Grozny was essentially leveled.
Putin seems to have dreams of being a kind of great tsar. He has often talked about Peter the Great as his great role model, and he wants to unify the Russian people, but behind all of that is a particular animus that Putin has, which is a very dangerous one which is that he sees Russia as the great victim. He sees Russians as being the great victim that quote, you know, "The greatest geopolitical tragedy that the West has wronged Russia."
ZAKARIA: Whenever you hear that I don't make Hitler analogies loosely, but these are the kinds of things when people start thinking of themselves as victims, as being humiliated, as having been stripped of their rights and dignity, it tends towards the feeling that anything justifies their actions.
And clearly, what Putin is doing is, in a sense, very much out of that playbook. I mean, think about the destruction he is leveling on Ukraine for an operation that he claimed Anderson was a special military operation to protect the people of Donbas, of eastern Ukraine.
COOPER: Diplomats like to create, you know, what they call off-ramps and allow their opponent to save face in a retreat. Is there an off- ramp here for Vladimir Putin?
ZAKARIA: I believe there is if he has at all, ha any rationality left. At the end of the day, most wars end with some kind of a brokered solution and we should continue to find and search for ways look, the Ukrainian government, the President of Ukraine, despite showing incredible bravery and courage and fortitude, is also keeping the path open.
I believe Washington should do the same. We have to find some way to allow this to happen. Is there a path for him? Well, look, here, there is one silver lining, it's an odd silver lining. Vladimir Putin completely controls his media space. He controls all of Russian media, all of Russian TV.
He can go and tell people that he got some great diplomatic victory, he got some kind of concessions. Nobody will contest it. There will be no dissenting voices. Truth does not get through.
I mean, yes, in small magazines and little radio stations like Echo which have been shut down. But there was a little bit, the vast majority of Russian media, it is Vladimir Putin's narrative.
If he wants to claim that somehow he won, and it spares the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, and it provides some kind of peace settlement, I think we should look for it. But at the very same time, we should be arming the Ukrainians, we should be helping them in whatever way we can. It is absolutely clear that Vladimir Putin needs to see a brick wall before his bayonet will stop.
COOPER: Fareed Zakaria, appreciate it. We're going to have a little more live coverage of the war here in Ukraine throughout the evening tonight as we wait for President Biden to leave the White House for Capitol Hill. We're also getting new details of his State of the Union address. Jake Tapper will have more of that in a moment.
TAPPER: And we are getting closer and closer to President Biden's first ever State of the Union address. It's a very different speech than he might have planned months or even weeks ago before Russia began its brutal assault upon Ukraine.
Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, what are you learning about the President's speech this evening?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, is we are waiting on President Biden to walk out those doors that you just showed there, we are learning more about what he is going to announce in this speech tonight when it comes to Russia.
We have confirmed here at CNN that the President is going to say that the United States is banning Russian aircraft from U.S. airspace, joining a move that we have seen several other countries take in recent days as they seek to punish the Kremlin for this invasion ongoing of Ukraine, that follows a decision by the United Kingdom to do so, the European Union, and Canada is well.
And Jake, we should note that as the White House was deliberating whether to take this step this came as they were noting that fully aware Russia could retaliate for this decision, as they've done with other European nations that have banned Russian aircraft from their flight zones, from their airspace, saying that they cannot fly there anymore.
Of course, that could cause a problem for some of those cargo planes that come from the United States fly over Russian air space, maybe to get to Asia. That is something that White House aides had said, had been a consideration in recent days. But this is just another step that you're seeing President Biden take to punish President Putin and he is going to try to lay out some of those steps tonight as he has one of the biggest audiences that a President ever enjoys.
And of course, this is an audience tonight that is not just interested in the domestic aspect of the State of the Union address, Jake, but also the global aspect, given what is happening in Ukraine.
TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Thanks so much. We'll come back to you.
And I'm joined here in studio with my friends and colleagues, Dana Bash, and Abby Phillip, and Dana, interesting that the President is going to talk about a no fly zone over the United States for Russian aircraft. Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine is begging NATO, Europe, President Biden to establish a no fly zone over Ukraine.
But you spoke with House Speaker Pelosi about that and that is not going to happen.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's universal across the American government right now. We've heard that from the administration, and you're right, I was on Capitol Hill this afternoon for a small briefing with the House Speaker, and also the Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer and they both made extremely clear that a no fly zone over Ukraine, which is what President Zelenskyy is asking for is not going to happen.
And she put it in really stark terms, Jake. She said, "The no fly zone is a Third World War." And it's really unfortunate.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And nobody has been more clear about that than President Biden himself who has been, you know, crystal clear that there are limits to the support that we're going to provide to the Ukrainians. And so tonight, I think his task is also to explain, okay, we're not going to do that, but what are we going to do? How are we going to prevent Putin from being a menace on the global stage?
And you know, what I'm hearing from people at the White House is that this is a President who feels like this is his moment. He has been in the political space, in the foreign policy space for decades. He ran on the idea that he was the most experienced to be in this position and so, this very difficult task that he has to basically say to the American public, we're not going to go so far as to put boots on the ground, but I do think that we will succeed in deterring the march of Putin's authoritarianism, that's the big task.
And this President, according to the people, I'm speaking to, feels in this moment that this is what he was elected for.
PHILLIP: And his job is to remind the American people of that.
TAPPER: And I hate playing the, I'm the old man at the table card, but I will say --
BASH: That's OK, (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: (INAUDIBLE) but I was born to that position. This is the first time since George HW Bush was president, that there is a foreign policy crisis on a relatively new president's desk. And people might disagree with how he's handling it. But nobody's questioning his expertise as opposed to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, people were worried, isn't it? Don't he doesn't know much about the subject. This is the subject, Joe Biden again, you might disagree with this policy, he certainly knows the players in the policy.
BASH: Yes. I mean, he was just there when he was vice president. He was the highest ranking person in American government to go there most recently. And on that note, as the White House as the President's aides were drafting and redrafting his speech that he's going to give tonight, I was told that they went back to look at the last time the President began his speech with something on national security like this. And it wasn't since George W. Bush during the Iraq War. President Obama did quickly at the end of the Iraq War, but when it comes to a national security crisis, it hadn't happened since George W. Bush.
TAPPER: They were waiting for the President to come out and let's pop in with Wolf Blitzer now while we wait for the President to come out of the South Portico door there. Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: He should be walking up momentarily, Jake, and then driving up Pennsylvania Avenue to the U.S. Capitol. We'll watch that closely.
Gloria Borger and David Axelrod are with me. We're overlooking the White House right now. There's the president. Let's see if he answers a question. He clearly did not want to answer a question. There were reporters there full reporters there. In the vehicle, they'll be heading up to Capitol Hill right now.
He he's got to have a major challenge right now, because the Russian President Putin, David Axelrod, is going to be presumably from that watching, he's going to get a report. And I suspect based on everything I've heard today that President Biden is going to want to send a direct message to Putin.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, you know, this is, when you work in that building across the street, you learned very quickly, you can control events, you can plan as much as you want. They didn't plan on this, they had a whole different scheme for this. But it is an opportunity for the President because he's going to be standing on that platform. And he's not just going to be speaking as the American President, but really, really as the leader of the free world, in a time of crisis. And that is an opportunity for him. And that's important. Because he, you know, this is a guy who doesn't always look like he's in command at a time when people feel things are out of control. This is a big moment for him.
BLITZER: It really does Gloria, you have to reassure not just the nation, but the world, that the things eventually we'll get back on track.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He does. And I think this is an opportunity for him and talking to a senior administration official today. Put it this way, look, this is an opportunity for the President to talk about American values. And it is a way then he can segue into his administration's values when he starts talking about domestic policy. And we know that in his inaugural speech, he talks an awful lot about democracy versus authoritarianism. I think you're going to hear that again tonight.
One interesting thing that I was told today is that they have rewritten the Putin portion of the speech multiple times.
BORGER: We know that he has a relationship with Putin, and it is not good. He has told him face to face you have no soul. So, I'm wondering what the language is going to be when he talks about Putin.
BLITZER: Yes, I just -- and Geneva last June when Putin and Biden met --
BLITZER: -- and they both put their best foot forward, but it was a tough, tough meeting.
Still ahead, we're going to go back to the war zone in Ukraine. We'll get new insight into the big question right now. Will Putin order a major assault tonight, and will also go live to the U.S. Capitol as we await president of Biden's arrival. We have new reporting on his message and the stakes as he delivers his very important address to the world that's coming up.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: President Biden is on his way to the Capitol to make his State of the Union address. Lawmakers are now arriving getting seated in the Capitol. We are back with our live coverage the war in Ukraine as well. Live pictures from Kyiv tonight on a night of growing fear that Russian forces may soon unleash some of their most devastating attacks yet. This escalating conflict will be a significant focus for President Biden State of the Union address beginning just minutes from now. We'll of course bring that to you live but we want to get you the latest from on the ground here all around Ukraine. We talked to Nick Paton Walsh in Odessa earlier.
Let's go back to a Clarissa Ward in Kyiv tonight. Clarissa the second round of talks between Ukrainian Russian -- and Russians are scheduled for tomorrow. Obviously President Zelensky has expressed his skepticism I guess you could say about the potential results from that. How optimistic do you think are Ukrainians heading into these talks?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this stage Anderson, it's not even 100% that they will take place. Russian media has been reporting that they're scheduled to happen the Ukrainians had said that in principle they would attend but that it will really depend on whether we continue to see the sustained sort of bombardment that we saw yesterday. President Zelensky, saying that basically, you can't really have talks about ending the conflict unless there's some kind of a ceasefire, or at least a cessation of hostilities, a pause, if you will, that allows for a good spirit of communication to continue between the two sides. He called today's attacks, undisguised terror talking particularly about an apartment building, in Kharkiv that was hit also the municipality, the sort of town hall in Freedom Square in Kharkiv. That's Ukraine, second city, where some 10 people were killed.
And so, the feeling is here that it's very difficult to come to the negotiating table and make substantive concessions, as long as this kind of indiscriminate shelling is going on. One other thing I just wanted to add, Anderson that I think is interesting in terms of the State of the Union address tonight and what the Ukrainians are hoping to see from it. What they really would like to see is President Biden, talk forcefully about what's happening here, not just as a fight for Ukraine, as a nation state, but a fight for ideals, the ideals of sovereignty of self determination of liberal democracy. I can't tell you how many people on the ground say the same thing to us, Anderson. This isn't just us fighting for our way of life. It's fighting for yours as well.
COOPER: Yes reporting point. Clarissa Ward, be careful, we'll continue to check in with you throughout this evening.
I want to go back to Washington and Jake. TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson. Let's go to Jamie Gangel. Now she's been working her sources ahead of President Biden's first ever State of the Union address. And Jamie, you've learned roughly how much the President is going to focus on Ukraine in his remarks tonight.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So according to a source familiar with the speech, it will be about a third Ukraine and then about two-thirds domestic and I'm told that Biden's message will be directed toward obviously several audiences. The Congress, the American people, our allies. But perhaps most important, he is sending a message to one man, Vladimir Putin. According to a senior intelligence official, Biden is really facing the question how far Putin goes, and the source said, quote, The Grim period is about to start.
In response, my source believes the President's language has to be steadfast but calibrated and signal strength, but not trigger Putin. The source said there is a real psychological danger here with Putin. And the source believes put needs to hear the speech here the message from Biden, and that the U.S. allies are backing Ukraine, and that the Ukrainians are not going to give that up and take that into account as he makes his next moves.
I'm also told Jake, that Putin he said, a spokesman said he doesn't usually watch these things. But I'm told it is likely he will be watching the reaction from Republicans in the room members of Congress to see if the United States is unified, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jamie Gangel, thank you so much. You're looking at pictures, live pictures from the House chamber, if you end up seeing a lot of blue and yellow there this evening. And you might see some of the female members of Congress wearing blue and yellow outfits. A lot of that is in tribute to Ukraine. Those are the colors of the flag of Ukraine.
We're joined by our national security analyst here, the former director of national intelligence under President Obama, retired Air Force General James Clapper.
I guess one of the big questions that a lot of people are wondering, is, has Vladimir Putin become eccentric and unpredictable? He's always been barbarous, he's always been murderous. But it always seemed as though he just took it to what he could get away with without any serious punishment, whether it was taking Crimea or parts of Georgia, poisoning this opponent or that opponent killing this one or that one. But he never has faced punishment like he's facing right now from the Western world. Has he lost something?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we've all become armchair psychologist as a result of this change in his behavior and whatever it's attributed to. And I think this is set against the backdrop of his history. His history has been one of cold, objective, emotionless, actually rational, smart dialogue. The speeches of late had been kind of unhinged, and he has been anything but emotionless. On a contrary his anger in fact fury has been pretty clear.
So, you know, is he going off the deep end? Is he crazy? I don't think so. I do think he's under great stress for exactly the reasons you cite unprecedented pressure on him. And the isolation of Russia very suddenly from the economic system, from sports from, which means a lot to him. Plus the fact that things aren't going real great. And the Ukraine, the vaulted Russian army has not exactly performed up to standards. But I think all these factors together, plus the fact he's had 30 years to stew about the grievances imposed on the Soviet Union and Russia. He's been essentially isolated for 22 years. And it was since he's been in positions of leadership. And the last couple years, literally, physically isolated.
TAPPER: Yes --
CLAPPER: Well, that's not a normal (INAUDIBLE). I'm sorry.
TAPPER: -- (INAUDILE). He's really paranoid about COVID. He's really worried about COVID. You see that super long table, he sits in.
CLAPPER: Right. So, I think all these factors together, least telling me that there he is behaving differently. And, and the thing that still bothers me, I found chilling is warning and then the, the heightened alert status of a strategic nuclear forces. Vladimir Putin is a head of state for the largest single nuclear arsenal in the world larger than ours. So when he behaves differently, behaves abrasively and speaks in and makes unprecedented pronouncements about the potential use of nuclear weapons. Everyone sits up and take takes notice, notably the U.S. intelligence community.
TAPPER: General Clapper, that's chilling and fascinating at the same time. Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks, Jake. I want to go right to the White House. Our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is getting some more information. As we watched members of the House of the Senate, they pretty much are in place right now awaiting the President of the United States.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And of course, Wolf, you see several members of the Cabinet there in the room tonight for President Biden speech. There is of course, one member who is not included, that is the Designated Survivor every time during a State of the Union. You see a Designated Survivor just in case of some disaster that strikes that person does not go and CNN has learned that tonight that is the Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, who will be watching the President's State of the Union address from afar. Of course last year when the President addressed Congress there was not a Designated Survivor because most of the cabinet watched from afar during COVID- 19.
In the room, we do see the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, that is someone who has been spending a lot of time with President Biden in recent weeks, of course, as Russia has continued to amass forces on Ukraine's borders started this invasion. We should note today, President Biden spent several hours rehearsing and editing his speech, balancing that between monitoring Putin's moves, and of course, spending 30 minutes on the phone today with Ukrainian President Zelensky. Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kaitlan, we'll get back to you as well.
You know, David Axelrod and Gloria are still with me right now. David, what is the President United States, as we're looking at these live pictures come in from the floor of the House? What does the President need to achieve tonight?
AXELROD: Well, first of all, you're not going to change everything in your political life with one speech, but this certainly on this, he needs to be strong. I was struck by one item in his excerpts that were released. Throughout our history, we've learned this lesson, when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos, they keep moving. And the costs and threats to America in the world keep rising.
And I think that's an important piece. It's not just about values. It's not just about ideals. It's about security as well, that was the lesson of the last century. In terms of the rest of the speech I think he wants to take, he wants people to know what he's done. But you can't be too triumphal in a country where 30% of the people say we're on the right track, we've been through hell, in this pandemic, people are concerned about crime, and certainly inflation, he has to address those things in this speech and give people some sense of direction for the future.
BORGER: You know, one speech can't transform anything, but it can start to change your trajectory.
BORGER: And his trajectory has been going down. And you know, the people in the White House say, look, this is an opportunity for the President to talk about who we are and who he is, as a leader. And give people the confidence that you were talking about Wolf, give people the confidence that he can lead us out of the economic ditch we're in right now. And tell them about the progress he has made. And what's coming and turn the page on COVID, finally, hopefully.
AXELROD: Yes, yes. You want to lay a foundation with this speech and you want to build on that foundation.
AXELROD: You're not going to change overnight what have been some pretty harsh numbers for him, but you do want to lay the foundation for (INAUDIBLE) future.
BLITZER: It's going to be, I think will be interesting that when he speaks about Putin, when he speaks about Ukraine and Russia, there'll be bipartisan support by-in-large.
AXELROD: Which is so rare.
BLITZER: On the other hand when he speaks about other issues there might not be.
AXELROD: Well he's starting with Ukraine and you may see bipartisan exhibitions of support there. And that's going to very important not just in terms of what the world sees, but also to set a tone for the speech movement.
BORGER: And I wouldn't be surprised if the Republican caucus has made a decision --
BLITZER: The Speaker is bringing --
BORGER: -- to applaud.
BLITZER: -- the session to order.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The gentleman from Massachusetts -- the gentlewoman from Massachusetts, Ms. Clark, the gentleman from New York, Mr. --
BLITZER: All right, going to continue to watch this unfold at dramatic moment, getting ready for the President's first State of the Union address.
AXELROD: One thing I would look for Wolf is does he try and reposition himself? There has been a criticism that he's been tugged too far left, in some ways by members of his own party. On issues like crime, for example, in policing, are we going to see a different tone tonight?
BORGER: Or is he going to talk about issues? So I was told, like the opioid crisis, which everyone can agree on, you know, you need to deal with this cancer, let's do the moonshot. Let's finally do that, to try and get some kind of unity, which is going to be a theme of his speech tonight.
BLITZER: But the big chunk at the beginning will be Ukraine right now. Jake, back to you.
TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf. Let's bring in CNN's Fareed Zakaria. And Fareed, the President Biden has a big task here. He needs to explain to the American people why they should care about the situation in Ukraine and just how high the stakes of this conflict are? Why they should be willing to see prices go up at the pump, for example?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. And the stakes are very high. This is the largest assault on the international system that the United States created after World War II in decades, it is the most consequential one because it is a nuclear armed Russia that is threatening to tear up the rules of the order and civilization. Look, Churchill begins his Great War World War II memoirs by saying in war resolution, Joe Biden has to show resolution. The battle has been drawn. The question now is who will prevail, Vladimir Putin, or Joe Biden and the allies that he has rallied? He needs to show that the costs will keep going up, that the stakes are worth it, that the West will not lose pay, you know, it's nerve. And if we can do that, I think he will present he has an opportunity, as David Axelrod said to step into the role as leader of the free world, he has rallied a large part of the world. Now he has to put steel in that coalition.
TAPPER: The Ukrainian president of a lot, Volodymyr Zelensky, told CNN's Matthew Chance earlier today that he has urged President Biden, then they spoke earlier today to send a useful message, a useful message on the Russian invasion. What would that look like? Because President Biden has ruled out a no fly zone over Ukraine? He's ruled out a boots on the ground and Ukraine, what would that useful message be?
ZAKARIA: The most useful message would be the costs will keep escalating. And we will not stop at what we are doing now that you can imagine visa bans on all Russians, you could imagine more travel bans, you could imagine hitting the Achilles heel of the Russian economy, oil and gas, all those things should be part of the of the package. And we should always point out we are willing to as long as President Zelensky is willing which is to negotiate. But you have to show deterrence, you have to show resolution.
TAPPER: All right, Fareed Zakaria, thank you so much.
Let's go to Jeff Zeleny now, who's on Capitol Hill, which is a place where you can find outspoken pro Putin voices in the Republican caucus these days. Jeff.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: For Republicans to show a sign of unity when President Biden talks about the American support for Ukraine. Look for a standing ovation from Republicans, Republican leaders have sent that message to their members that they should indeed show support and talking to most Republicans here. They say they will but check the political reality was clearly facing the President as he arrived on Capitol Hill. The fences are back up. National Guard members are here. Police are here. This is a bitterly divided capitol.
Yes, this is President Biden's first State of the Union address formally, but it could be his last two a democratically controlled House and Senate. He knows that he's aware of that. So don't look for much progress on his agenda. But one top Democratic senator told me just a short time ago. What we'd like to see from the president is to show leadership and show that he is in command. I think that that could help say this party in the midterm elections, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny. Thanks so much.
Let's go to Lauren Fox, she's inside the House chamber where the Vice President and the Speaker of the House have taken their place behind where the President will be standing, the first time in the history of the United States that a State of the Union address is being given with those two seats occupied by women not to mention the Vice President being a woman of color.
Lauren Fox, tell us what you're seeing in there.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this chamber looking very different than it did even last week when members were in here, because the attending physician has lifted that requirement about mask, there are now many members on both the Republican and the Democratic side meandering about talking to their colleagues getting very close, shaking hands. It's such a different scene than we saw even a year ago.
I mean, the other thing to keep in mind here is that even though Republicans and Democrats are largely united around Ukraine, there was some missives fired right before this speech with Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, sending out a statement saying he hoped the President would use this speech to apologize. It just shows (INAUDIBLE)--
TAPPER: (INAUDIBLE), but we're just watching members of the Supreme Court. There's John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the United States as well as the retiring Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, who else is there, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. So that's five of the nine in the chambers this evening. You just saw them walking in the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have already come into the chamber. I'm sorry, you can go back. Go back to what you're saying.
FOX: The other piece of this is just you have these Republicans in the House of Representatives, who certainly we expect will make Ukraine a political issue against the president. You had Mike McCaul sending out that statement, saying he hoped the president apologized tonight, Jake, for all of the misfires that he argued, were seen from Afghanistan, to his dealing with Russia. Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Lauren Fox, in the chamber there. Thank you so much. We'll come back to you.
And you do see Evan Osnos, some of the blue and yellow outfits in their attributes to the Ukraine flag. You were in Ukraine with then Vice President Biden -- hold on one second, the escorts coming in with the First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden. Anyway, Evan, you were in Ukraine.
EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I was yes, in 2014, with the Vice President when he went over. At that point, it was still, in some ways and smoldering from the protests from the departure of the previous leadership. And what you heard from Biden on that visit was very clear. As he said to me, this is who Vladimir Putin is that looms to today.
TAPPER: I think yes, we just saw the first lady with the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States. Is that (INAUDIBLE).
BASH: Yes. Yes, exactly. Sorry about that, Evan. It's Oksana Makarova, who is has been there in the halls of Congress working as hard as she possibly can to try to get support from members of Congress as to do more than they have been doing. To do more than they have been doing. Certainly, they're very willing to give as much aid as they can to give as much support economically. But the limit is very much when it comes to American armed force.
TAPPER: And here you see members of the Biden cabinet, led by the Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense, retired General Lloyd Austin. Very a lot of long nights for those two these days. There's Janet Yellen, Merrick Garland, the Attorney General and others.
We've never really seen a cabinet look exactly like this. You just saw Deb Haaland, the Secretary of the Interior, the first, I believe the first Native American in a cabinet, certainly the first Native American woman in the cabinet. (INAUDIBLE), this is the most diverse cabinet in the history of the United States.
PHILLIP: It is and it was part of a promise that candidate Biden made about the kind of government that he wanted to create if he were to be elected Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary who was who was gay and ran for president and when won the state of Iowa as well now in Biden's cabinet. This is a cabinet that Biden said would reflect America and so it does.
So as they come into this room, you can, you can see actually what you're seeing here really is a lot of people who haven't been able to do this in quite some time, hugging each other, shaking hands, seeing each other's faces.