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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
U.S. Defense Official: Russian Attacks "Increasing" And Hitting Civilians; U.S. Ambassador To The U.N. Asks How Much Devastation Is Putin "Willing To Wreak For This Enormous Mistake"; U.S. Ambassador To NATO: Alliance "Not Prepared To Move Forward With A No-Fly Zone" In Ukraine. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 07, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And today, we saw that same kind of determination and that strength of the groups of moms, here, in Lviv, who have banded together to do whatever they can to, to help in the fight against Russia.
COOPER (voice-over): In a volunteer center, in Lviv, moms, whose husbands and children have taken up arms, gather supplies, for those fighting, for their East.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We understand we need to hold strong, like a fist, like this. And we have very strong faith. We believe that we will win, and this will hold us together.
COOPER (voice-over): Erina (ph) works for a group called "Angel On Your Shoulder." She's recruited more than 100 women to pack boxes, around the clock.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Non-stop, non-stop.
COOPER (voice-over): Everything is donated, medicine, and toiletries, all kinds of pre-packaged food.
(on camera): They're looking for things, which are easy to prepare, which you can just add water to, for troops, at the front, or families.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
COOPER (voice-over): Nothing stays here, for long. The work is hard. The war is harder.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
COOPER (voice-over): Angela's (ph) husband, left for the front, yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband left yesterday.
COOPER (voice-over): He's a doctor, a veteran, of the Soviet war, in Afghanistan.
(on camera): Does it help to work here, to stay busy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We are doing what we can. We keep on praying. People ask how you're not crying. But you know crying doesn't help. Each person does what they can.
COOPER (voice-over): Angela (ph) is in the reserves as well. But, for now, she's taking care of her family, and volunteering.
(on camera): Thank you for your strength. You give - you give me, and everybody, strength.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Thank you very much.
COOPER (voice-over): In another building, more mothers, more volunteers, making camouflage netting, to hide tanks and artillery.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Let me teach you. Do you see? Just like this.
COOPER (voice-over): Alina's (ph) son is already in the fight.
(on camera): What made you want to come here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We need to protect our country. It is difficult to speak. My son is in the army, since 2015. I did not want to let him go. And he said, "Who will go, if not me? How will I be able to say to people that I hid and sheltered?" So, he left. And it was extremely difficult, for me.
COOPER (voice-over): Many, in this room, have had to flee their homes, in Kharkiv, and Kyiv. They wonder, when the bombs will fall here.
(on camera): If you could talk to mothers, in Russia, what would you tell them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I would tell them to take their sons back. We're all sorry for them. They are also humans. Human life was created by God. How can it be taken away, just like that? They will be judged, and face punishment, for this. You cannot do this. Let them take their kids.
COOPER (voice-over): This war has many fronts. And, for mothers, there are many ways to fight.
COOPER: We'll continue, from Ukraine. Ahead, children's bedrooms, no match for Russian firepower. These are the images Vladimir Putin does not want the world to see, the reality of what is happening here.
Matthew Chance joins me live, after witnessing, the fallout, for himself, next. [21:05:00]
TEXT: BREAKING NEWS.
COOPER: It is just top the - past at the top of the hour, America's U.N. Ambassador has told the Security Council, at the U.N., it is clear that Vladimir Putin has, in her words, quote, "A plan to destroy and terrorize Ukraine."
At the very same forum, Russia's ambassador said that his country is simply not bombing civilians, at all.
And from the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin proposed a ceasefire, starting tomorrow, with a cruel twist.
As Clarissa Ward reported, earlier in the program, many of the so- called "Safe corridors," in their proposal, leads straight into either Belarus, where Russian forces are, or Russia itself.
That cruelty though, hardly compares to what Putin is inflicting, on Ukraine, where they live, every single day.
More now, from CNN's Matthew Chance.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Clearing up the broken debris, of a shattered home.
It's the devastation caused, by a Russian attack, on a residential neighborhood, in a small Ukrainian town.
Bila Tserkva, 50 miles south of the Ukrainian capital, is nowhere near the frontlines. But it has felt the rage and the pain of this war.
CHANCE (on camera): Right. Well we've come inside, one of the houses, who was affected, by what was apparently random artillery, or rocket fire, into this residential neighborhood. And you can see just how - just how shattered, the lives of the family, here.
And we're looking. I mean, the windows have all been blown out, obviously. All their belongings have been left behind, as if they're going to hiding. There's a picture up there, of where it seem to be, maybe that's some of the people, who lived, in here. It was a family, with some children.
The family, they've survived this, which is good. But, of course, when you look at the situation, and the way that Russians have been shelling residential areas, across the country, so many people haven't survived.
And this is interesting. Come have a look. It's the - it's the children's bedroom. And you see, over here, look, the bunk beds, with the roof that's fallen down onto the - onto the top of them, when that shell hit. And, of course, in the panic, and in the evacuation, the kids have left all their - all their toys, up here. See there.
And it just shows you that no matter where you are, in this country, with Russia attacking, towns and cities, across it, lives are being shattered.
(voice-over): Svetislav is a close friend, of the family, who were nearly killed, in their beds, here, godfather, to the three children, who escaped with their lives. Now, he has one request, he tells me, for the United States.
SVETISLAV, CHILDREN'S GODFATHER: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
CHANCE (voice-over): "Please, close the skies, over Ukraine," he begs. "If we can just contact NATO, and ask them this, everything will be fine." "Otherwise," he warns, "Putin will cross Ukraine, and threaten the whole of Europe."
(VIDEO - CHILDREN SINGING UKRAINE'S NATIONAL ANTHEM)
CHANCE (voice-over): In a bunker, under the tent (ph), it's terrified children, singing Ukraine's national anthem that keeps them calm. And, as Russia invades, a whole generation of Ukrainians, is being united by this war, together, as they shelter, from the horrors, above.
COOPER: And Matthew Chance, joins us, from Kyiv.
The children's godfather, asking for a no-fly zone, over Ukraine, is that a common question, you hear, people, talking about?
CHANCE: Yes. I mean, it is, in these areas, Anderson, which have had heavy civilian - attacks on civilian areas, because they know that NATO has the power, to stop this, from happening.
They can, in theory, impose a no-fly zone. And so, there's a lot of frustration that you hear that that's not happening that NATO isn't doing this, that the West isn't doing this, to protect them.
Of course, the argument that that would bring NATO, into direct contact, with Russian forces, and risk a much wider conflict, is unfortunately something that falls on deaf ears, when your families, and your children, and your neighbors, are being sort of hit from the skies, like that.
COOPER: Matthew Chance, appreciate it. Thank you.
Joining us now is retired Army Brigadier General Peter Zwack. He's currently a Global Fellow, at the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute. Also with us, CNN Military Analyst, and retired Army three-star General Mark Hertling.
General Hertling, you see the images, of the ongoing shelling, the Pentagon estimating Russia's roughly 100 percent of the combat forces it amassed, before the invasion, are now inside Ukraine, itself. And yet, in some places, Russian forces have struggled to surround major cities.
What do you see as the - what happens? I mean, where are we, in this? If the goal, ultimately, is to occupy cities, or control Ukraine, do they - they don't have enough forces for that.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), FORMER ARMY COMMANDING GENERAL, EUROPE AND SEVENTH ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They do not, Anderson. I've been saying that, from the very beginning. They are woefully short, in terms of the number of forces.
So, what they reverted you, and Matthew's reporting, just now, is an indicator of that, they revert to laying siege to the cities, with artillery and missile strikes. So, the population leaves. And we've seen 1.7 million people leave Ukraine, already.
As soon as the people leave the city centers, the Russian troops had been used to rolling into the city, with their tanks and armor, and saying, "Hey, we're here. We've secured the city now. And it belongs to Russia. We've subjugated it."
Well, that's not happening here. The Ukrainian fighters, and their territorial defense forces, are fighting back.
Russia is having an exceedingly tough time, in moving forward. Their logistics supplies have been intercepted. And they're just not executing, according to the plan that they thought they would have. They lost their paratroopers, on the first day, on the attack, within Kyiv, because they did some really dumb things.
And across the board, Russia has not prepared, either with a good maneuver approach, or with a logistical support approach, to this campaign. So, what they are doing now, is these terror strikes, on cities, using artillery and air.
COOPER: And General Zwack, from a military standpoint, what do you do, after that? I mean, you strike terror, and then what?
BRIG. GEN. PETER ZWACK (RET), FORMER U.S. DEFENSE ATTACHE TO RUSSIA, U.S. ARMY, GLOBAL FELLOW, KENNAN INSTITUTE AT THE WILSON CENTER: Yes. Tough question. Because I think that the Russian playbook is getting increasingly smaller, and unimaginative. And it's exactly, as General Hertling, and you have been saying, it goes to brute force.
There are - the Russian military, yes, it's powerful, and it's big. But it is not built, for a fight like this, across Ukraine, against probably several 100,000 Ukrainians, who are armed, in the field, whether direct resistance, or out, along the roads, and in the forest.
This is a - this is only going to get - so, they're now amassing. And they're trying to finish it, because time is not on their side, and try to blast their way, in front of the whole aghast world, to try to get the Ukrainians, to submit.
But after seeing President Zelenskyy back, if you will, in the presidential office, today, which was the ultimate snub, to the Russians, I think this - they're in - the Ukrainians are in it. It's gruesome that they're paying this price. But the Russians are in deep trouble now.
COOPER: General Hertling, I mean, if you were Ukrainians, what would you do? If you were a Ukrainian General, what would you be doing with your army?
HERTLING: Exactly what they're doing, Anderson. Their maneuver, and their approach, to defending their cities, in my view, has been magnificent.
We've shown all of the cable channels, especially CNN have had great reporters, in the cities, showing the humanitarian crisis that's ongoing, the devastation, the terror attacks by Russia.
What they have not shown are some of the Ukrainian forces, beating the Russians. And, in fact, they're beating them quite badly. Not only the Ukrainian army, but also the territorial forces. They are standing up.
They are deploying the kind of technological weapons that they've been given, by the West, that have been shipped into the country. They are using the Intelligence that has been provided to them, to stop Russia, at every turn.
And truthfully, Anderson, too, Russia is making repeated mistakes. There was a report today, talking about how they have been communicating, in unencrypted modes. Another two-star general was killed today, on the Russian side. That's the second general, in 12 days.
The estimates of the losses by the Russian force, we have been seeing snippets, like the helicopter that just was blown up, on the screen that occurred a couple of days ago. But there have been repeated attacks, against the Russian forces, not only their tanks and their artillery, but also primarily their supply lines.
Like Peter just said, I don't think they can go much further. They are moving exceedingly slow. They have their entire force that was surrounding Ukraine, already inside the country, a 190,000. And what they're meeting right now is the 250,000 Ukrainian forces that are prepared to defend, plus probably a couple of 100,000 territorial defense soldiers, as well.
So, they are - if this lasts much longer, I will be very surprised. I can't define what much longer is.
HERTLING: But I think Ukraine already has the upper hand.
And I believe Russia will culminate, in the offense, because they've reached a defense that's holding the ground. And even though we're seeing a lot of destruction, in the cities, from artillery and air, I think that battle will turn here shortly, as well. That's a prediction.
HERTLING: I hope I'm right.
COOPER: Wow! That's really startling. Let's see what happens. General Hertling, thank you. General Zwack, it's always fascinating to talk to both of you. Thank you.
Coming up next, what the White House is doing, to keep the pressure on Putin.
Also, perspective from a former American ambassador, to Ukraine.
And later, Russians desperately searching for answers, about their loved ones, fighting in Ukraine, who may be wounded, captured or even killed. They're asking for help, from an unlikely source. The Ukrainians themselves! We'll tell you about that, ahead.
TEXT: BREAKING NEWS.
COOPER: Well, it's been said, by military and foreign policy experts, almost from the beginning, what a strategic blunder, launching this war, has been for Vladimir Putin, who's reverted to what he sadly seems to know best, inflicting cruelty on others.
That notion was echoed today, by U.N. Ambassador, Linda Thomas- Greenfield.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: We have been warning Moscow for weeks that, in the end, Russia will be weaker, and not stronger, for launching this war. This is already proving true. The question is how much devastation President Putin is willing to wreak for this enormous mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the question, now, for the White House, and European allies, is how to keep the pressure on, militarily and economically, while also providing Vladimir Putin, some sort of a way out, limiting the blowback on Western economies and consumers. That's a lot!
CNN's MJ Lee, joins us now, from the White House.
So, there's obviously a lot of discussion, bipartisan discussion, in fact, in Washington, about banning Russian oil imports. Given the administration's engaging countries, like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran, is it clear where the President stands on that? MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, we are seeing this idea, of banning Russian oil imports, gaining real traction, on Capitol Hill and, here, in Washington.
As far as where the President is on this? He is undecided. This is according to White House press secretary, Jen Psaki. She said that he hasn't made a decision on this that she's able to share.
But that what he is doing is consulting with his European allies, on this issue, including in this meeting that he had, just this morning, with leaders, of Germany, France, and the U.K.
What the U.S. and the administration is doing, as it is considering this ban, is thinking about different ways, of making sure that they are able to bolster the global energy supply, and basically try to get more oil, from other countries. And notably, this is why we have seen the administration in recent days, engaging with countries, like Venezuela, like Saudi Arabia, and Iran, on this issue.
This is really interesting, and notable, because, under normal circumstances, so I'm referring to before Russian invasion of Ukraine, these are basically regimes that the U.S. administration would not have necessarily wanted, to engage in, on this issue, would have been at the very least, wary of talking to these countries, about getting more oil, essentially, from these regimes.
But now that the circumstances are such that we could be seeing Russian oil import ban, they want to make sure that there's enough oil, so that the price that American consumers are paying, here, at a time, when gas prices are already so high, that that can be minimized.
And I think all of this, of course, goes to show how much U.S. foreign policy has been completely upended, and also just how sensitive the White House is, right now, to this, as both an economic and a political issue, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. MJ Lee, thanks very much.
Want to get perspective now, from William Taylor, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.
Ambassador Taylor, so, MJ Lee was just talking about the possibility, of a U.S. ban, on Russian oil. Do you think that would have much of an impact on Putin's invasion? Obviously, Europe gets a huge amount of their oil, particularly Germany, from Russia. That's a whole other question.
WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: It is, Anderson. You're exactly right. We don't get that much oil, directly, from the Russians.
However, prices are the same, around the world. Prices rise and fall around the world. So, if there is oil, taken out of the market, oil prices are going to go up, and it will affect us, and it'll affect the Europeans.
And if they're - if the Russians are not getting the revenues, from that oil and gas? That does affect them. That affects their ability to do two things. One is fund their military, which is already a major strain, on their economy.
But it also allows them to defend the ruble. The ruble, of course, has fallen off the table based on these very tough sanctions that are affecting normal Russians. And that has to have an effect, on President Putin, sooner or later.
COOPER: Russia is now proposing this ceasefire with certain humanitarian corridors, most of which seems to lead to Russia, or Belarus. Is that just something to, I don't know, if it's a time- killer, allowing them to just focus on kind of figuring out, what to do, on the ground, there? Or are they just playing here?
TAYLOR: They're not serious. They must know that it's not serious to give humanitarian corridors, to Ukrainians, to go into Russia, or even Belarus.
The Ukrainians, as your reporters have done a great job, of describing, they hate Russia. And they will hate Russia, for generations. And they're not going to go, on humanitarian corridors, into that place. So, that's not going to work.
That said, there are conversations, as we know, going on. There's a third round that happened today, on the border, between Ukraine and Belarus, where there's a serious Ukrainian delegation, led by their Minister of Defense, and a senior person, and President Zelenskyy's political party.
They're serious. They're willing to talk. It's not clear that the Russians are. It's not clear the Russians are willing to talk. They've sent a former Minister of Culture, to those conversations.
That said, there may be an opportunity, if President Putin feels, as pressured as he must feel, for all kinds of reasons that you've been describing, there, he can go to those. He can give the signal to those negotiations, to get serious.
And the first thing to get serious about is a ceasefire. They need to stop killing. They need to stop destroying. And so, that could come out, of these discussions.
COOPER: Yes. We did learn today that the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, will be meeting, with his Russian counterpart, on Thursday. Obviously, Putin is the only one who's going to be making his decisions. But that seems like a higher level of meeting than it's taken place thus far.
TAYLOR: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's a good sign. There have been other signs that diplomatic efforts are being made.
We heard that the Israeli Prime Minister was seeing Putin that - and President Macron has had a couple of conversations. So, we have heard that maybe the Chinese could get involved. The Turks have invited the two foreign ministers, for these conversations.
What really needs to happen, is exactly what you said, Anderson. That is, Putin has to decide. And he's got the opportunity to do that. And he may be hearing from these senior people, who say him that things aren't going as well. He's probably not hearing that, from his people. But he undoubtedly is hearing it from Macron, and the others, who have talked to him.
COOPER: Yes. Ambassador William Taylor, really appreciate your experience. Thank you.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
COOPER: Ukrainians aiding not only its soldiers, its own soldiers, but, as we'll learn next, they've set up a hotline, for families, of Russian soldiers, who haven't heard from their loved ones, and just want to know where they are, and if they're alive.
Details on that, ahead.
TEXT: BREAKING NEWS.
COOPER: We've been talking a lot about Russia's military problems, in Ukraine, whether they can regain a footing, even, as according to the Pentagon, today, morale is sinking.
Russians heard from their President today. Vladimir Putin had a specific message, for the mothers, wives, and girlfriends, of the soldiers, offering them his support.
As our Alex Marquardt, reports, however, many of these women would prefer to know, where their husbands and sons are, and if they're alive. Some are reaching out to Ukraine to find out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Hello, is this where one can find out if someone is alive?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Hello, do you have any information about my husband?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Sorry to bother you, I'm calling regarding my brother.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): These are the voices of Russians, parents, wives, siblings, desperately searching for answers. Calling to find information, anything, on Russian soldiers, they've lost contact with, who're fighting in Ukraine, who may be wounded, captured or even killed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When was the last time he contacted you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): On the 23rd of February when he crossed the border [into Ukraine].
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Did he tell you where he was going?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He said towards Kyiv.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): This Russian wife, like many others, has turned to an unlikely source, for help. The Ukrainians.
In the Ukrainian government building, Kristina, which is her alias, is in charge of a hotline, called "Come Back from Ukraine Alive," which Ukraine's Interior Ministry says has gotten over 6,000 calls.
Kristina asked that we don't show her face.
(on camera): Your country is being invaded. But you also feel the need to help these Russian families. Why?
KRISTINA, HOTLINE OPERATOR (through translator): We will help find their relatives who were deceived, and who without knowing where and why they are going, find themselves in our country.
And secondly, we will help to stop the war in general.
[In Russia] They don't know what's actually going on in Ukraine. So the second goal of this hotline is to deliver the truth.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): The Russian relatives, who have called this hotline, say they haven't heard from their soldiers, since the invasion. The hotline, which Russian families have found, on social media, or through word of mouth, gave CNN exclusive recordings, of a number of the calls.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is not our fault. Please, understand that they were forced.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes, I understand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I also want this to end, I want everyone to live in peace.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes.
MARQUARDT (on camera): What are some of the calls that stick out to you that you remember the most?
KRISTINA (through translator): A father called.
MARQUARDT (on camera): It's OK.
KRISTINA (through translator): He said, "Our children are being used as cannon fodder. Politicians and VIPs are playing their games, solving their issues while our children have to die."
MARQUARDT (on camera): These are the notes, from one of the calls. And, in fact, this call came from the United States, the relative of a young Russian soldier, trying to find him.
She told the Ukrainians that his parents are no longer alive that the grandmother in Russia is quite sick. We have his birthday. He's just 23-years-old. And he was last known to be, in Crimea, right before the invasion.
Now, the Ukrainians don't have any information on him. But if they do find him, or get some information, they can then call his aunt, back, in the United States.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Data from the hotline shows thousands of calls, not just from all across Russia, but also from Europe and the United States.
(on camera): Hello, is this Marat?
VOICE OF MARAT, FAMILY MEMBER OF RUSSIAN SOLDIER: Yes, it is.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): We got through to three relatives, in the United States, of Russian soldiers, believed to be in Ukraine, who called the hotline, including a relative, in Virginia, of one, who also found the soldier's ID, and photos, on a channel, of the social media app, Telegram, also dedicated to finding the whereabouts of Russian soldiers.
MARAT: We do realize that all the signs are pointing to that it's most likely he was killed in action, but still trying to locate information, where is the body that can be potentially found. Or maybe hopefully, he's alive.
MARQUARDT (on camera): Is the Russian Ministry of Defense telling anything to the family?
MARAT: The family is trying to, not get contacted by anybody because everybody is so scared in Russia. Everyone's scared to talk. Everyone is afraid of law enforcement agencies tracking them.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Marina told us her cousin's parents have had no contact with him, no information on whereabouts, or on his condition.
(on camera): Are they being told anything?
VOICE OF MARINA, FAMILY MEMBER OF RUSSIAN SOLDIER: No, no they called. They tried to find him but like no one is [answering].
MARQUARDT (on camera): Is that why you called this Ukrainian hotline?
MARINA: Yes, that's why I tried to call. Yes.
MARQUARDT (on camera): Did you get any information? MARINA: Nope, nothing. I was, you know, hoping that he is like maybe like in prison or something like that, you know, that he's still alive?
MARQUARDT (voice-over): The vast majority of the calls do not result in immediate information for the families.
Back in Kyiv, Kristina makes clear that the call center isn't just designed to offer answers, but to galvanize Russians against the war.
KRISTINA (through translator): The more people we can share the truth about what's happening in Ukraine with, the more people will go out protesting and demanding to stop this bloodshed.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Sympathy for families. But also, one more way, to try to undermine the Russian war effort, as Ukraine fights for its very existence.
Alex Marquardt, CNN, Kyiv.
COOPER: That's a fascinating report!
Up next, the Ukrainians are escaping to neighboring Romania. We'll check in with CNN's Miguel Marquez, in Bucharest.
TEXT: BREAKING NEWS.
COOPER: Refugee crisis, caused by Russia's invasion, is growing, by the day, with the U.N. saying, more than 1.7 million people, have now fled Ukraine. Nearly 80,000 of them have escaped to neighboring Romania.
Our CNN Senior National Correspondent, Miguel Marquez, is in the capital, Bucharest, tonight.
So Miguel, how many Ukrainian refugees are in Romania, tonight, and what kind of options do they have?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well look, about 260,000 or so have come through Romania. Many of them have already moved on. They're dealing with about 30,000 a day. And they expect that to increase.
And it has gotten cold, tonight. About 24 degrees, right now. It is snowing. If they are lucky, they are staying in tents like that. But, in places, like Moldova, there are even more refugees. There is one group, desperate now, to try to help them, get here, to Romania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: How many people are sitting in Moldova tonight, waiting for a ride west?
ELENA CALISTRU, PRESIDENT/FOUNDER, FUNKY CITIZENS: There are tens of thousands, literally. Tens of thousands of people that are waiting, at the border.
MARQUEZ: How much time, do you have, before this becomes, an absolute crisis?
CALISTRU: Two days, three days, maybe by the end of the week, depending on how Putin decides to accelerate this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: So, look, these train stations, here in Bucharest, in Kyiv, in Lviv, they have become lifelines, like we haven't seen, in a long time.
But, in that particular area, it is buses that will get them from there, because there are no train services. They have about six, eight, maybe 10 buses now. They need 30, 40 or 50 buses. The need is only going to grow, as the Russians move, toward Odessa, the third largest city, in Ukraine.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, a country like Moldova is so small, it doesn't have the facilities to really deal with this kind of huge numbers of refugees that they're seeing.
COOPER: We mentioned the U.N. calls the number of Ukrainian refugees unprecedented. How prepared is Romania for more and more people?
MARQUEZ: They are trying to gear up, as quickly as possible. They're trying to build a green corridor, so that the paperwork that those refugees need, when they hit Moldova, they can get it filled out, and they can move, all the way, into Romania.
And then, once they have that paperwork filled out, they can then move, more easily, to all European countries. But it is a massive difficulty.
As it goes on, the people are leaving very, very quickly, their homes are destroyed. They have very little money. They maybe sometimes have just the shirts on their backs.
When they come in to this station, they have a bag or two, maybe a dog carrier, or a cat carrier, the kids, and that's about it. It is extremely - and getting more difficult to move these people, from point A, to point B, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. It's fascinating. CNN's Miguel Marquez. You were talking about those, by the way, Miguel, those tents, in the train station. I mean, is that - are people's homes open to - you know, in Poland, we've seen people's signs, inviting people into their homes. It seems like there's only just a few tents there. Where else do they stay?
MARQUEZ: That's one area, here, in the train station. There are several other refugee centers here - refugee centers, here, in the train station, and around town. But people are opening their homes. Universities are opening up dormitories.
Romania is trying to open up as much space as possible. Most, the refugees move on, from Romania, to other areas. But the numbers that are staying here, is growing. And it's going to grow, not just here, but across European cities, everywhere, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Miguel Marquez, appreciate it. Thanks.
More, from Romania, tomorrow.
If you want to help, or just want more information, on the group that Miguel was reporting on, they're called Funky Citizens. It's a pretty great name. You can go to their Facebook page, @facebook.com/funkycitizens.
And they're basically trying to get donations, to help refugees, stuck in Moldova, to get a bus, to just take them. I think, 80 people fit on one of their buses, just take them to Romania. And then, from there, they can get on to Poland, and elsewhere.
Ahead, Senator Angus King, of the Intelligence Committee, joins me. What he thinks about talk of a no-fly zone, plus why he believes Russia would be more likely than any other nation, to seriously consider using nuclear weapons. That's next.
TEXT: BREAKING NEWS.
COOPER: Senior U.S. official warns that Russian forces are increasing bombardments of major Ukrainian cities, even as Russia claims to offer a new ceasefire, starting later, tonight.
On Capitol Hill, a group of bipartisan House members, is out with a bill that would ban Russian oil imports. It matches a bipartisan bill, in the Senate, whose backers include Independent senator, Angus King, of Maine.
Now, I spoke with Senator King, earlier, this evening. He sits on the Intelligence and Armed Services committees.
COOPER: Senator King, you see Russia's continued bombardment, of civilian targets. The Pentagon says that Russia now has all its combat power for the invasion inside the borders of Ukraine.
How long do you think the Ukrainian defense forces can withstand this onslaught?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): Well, I think the other way to put that question is how long can the Russians maintain it?
Because, my understanding, Anderson, and you're there on the ground, is that they're running out of fuel, food, and morale that the Russians aren't doing very well. And that even some of their soldiers are saying, "We didn't know that this was what we were being assigned to, or being sent in to do."
But it's a - this is a bad situation. I mean, the old saying is if someone shows you who they are, you should believe them.
And in Chechnya, 20 years ago, Putin just carpet-bombed civilians. And he may well do it, this time, because I think he's desperate that this - the military operation, isn't going, according to plan. And the longer it goes, the weaker the Russian position becomes.
COOPER: This new ceasefire proposal, if you can really call it that, would only open humanitarian corridors, much of which would go into Russian-controlled areas, into Belarus, into Russia. I mean, is that offer, even in good faith? Is it just a stunt, from Vladimir Putin? I mean, Ukraine--
KING: No. It's--
COOPER: --Ukrainians aren't likely to want to go into Russia.
KING: Calling it is as that, is a compliment. It's cynical, outrageous, and it shows the depravity of this guy that he calls this a humanitarian corridor, leading people into the arms of their enemy.
It's a terrible proposal. And the fact that that's something that they put on the table shows how cynical they are about this process, and in what bad faith they're operating.
COOPER: I spoke to Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger, last night. He's one of the few, in Congress, who is proposing a no-fly zone, in Ukraine. He's, certainly, he's aware of the dangers of it, the potential for confrontation.
The White House has obviously clearly rejected this. There's not an appetite for it, among most European nations, or NATO nations, either.
The congressman was arguing that maybe even a no-fly zone, just over western Ukraine, could have some value. Is that something you - or even sort of air humanitarian corridors, being created, to fly supplies in. Is that something, you could think, might think would work?
KING: Well, supplies can get in now, from the west, from Moldova, Romania, Hungary and Poland. And I think a no-fly zone is dangerous, because it would be viewed, I'm sure, as a significant escalation.
Now, if we keep supplying, which we are, anti-aircraft missiles, like the Stinger, or anti-aircraft equipment, like the Stinger, and other anti-aircraft capabilities, that's a kind of no-fly zone, without getting into a situation of either having NATO or American planes shooting down Russian planes. That's the danger.
And Putin, as I say, is trapped. And I don't want to give him a pretext, for widening this attack, and moving into Poland.
Anderson, there's something behind all this that really needs to be discussed. And that is that the Russians have a much lower threshold, for using nuclear weapons, than anybody else, in the world that I know of.
They actually have a doctrine called "Escalate to de-escalate." This has been their announced strategy, for some years. And that means, using tactical nuclear weapons, if they're losing, on the battlefield. And Vladimir Putin has made clear that this is something that he considers to be, in his arsenal.
COOPER: Senator Angus King, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
KING: Yes, sir. Good to be with you, Anderson. Thank you for your reporting.
COOPER: We'll be right back.
COOPER: We'll stay with CNN, for the latest, from Ukraine.
The news continues. Want to turn things over to "DON LEMON TONIGHT."