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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Biden Bans Russian Oil, Natural Gas, Coal Imports To U.S.; U.S. Intel: Putin Likely To Escalate Ukraine War With No Concern For Civilian Casualties; Pentagon: Polish Proposal To Transfer Jets To U.S. To Give To Ukraine Isn't "Tenable". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 08, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: They are there, for refugees, to use, for their babies, after they left, home, and nearly everything else behind.

Coming up, more, from, the warzone, more, on the soaring refugee crisis, as the number of evacuees, reaches, tops 2 million. I'll be joined by Tom Friedman, of "New York Times," as our coverage continues, from Ukraine.



COOPER: Here, in Ukraine, there is a measure of relief, and gratitude, for perhaps the most significant tightening, of the pressure, on Vladimir Putin, of the war. President Biden's decision, today, to ban U.S. imports of Russian oil and gas.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This is a step that we're taking, to inflict further pain on Putin. But there will be costs, as well, here, in the United States.

I said I would level with the American people, from the beginning. And when I first spoke to this, I said, defending freedom is going to cost. It's going to cost us as well, in the United States.

Republicans and Democrats understand - alike understand that. Republicans and Democrats alike have been clear that we must do this.



COOPER: Ukraine's President Zelenskyy addressed the British Parliament, by video, a first, and received a standing ovation, for it. He talks about the experience, tonight, and the historical parallels, it conjured, for him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINE (through translator): Speaking today, in the British Parliament, I mentioned other difficult times. Other, yet similar. 1940, when tyranny threatened what it considered a small island. And it was sure that the island would not withstand brutal blows, bombings and a blockade.

And it turned out that the island could do more than that tyranny. Because it had wisdom. And endurance. And friends. And strength. And it believed in the future, the future of its own and the future of freedom in Europe.

As we believe. As we fight. And as we will win.


COOPER: As to that, a NATO official tells CNN that Russia is still making very little progress, on the ground, with NATO's current Intelligence assessments suggesting Moscow is unlikely, to make much progress, in the foreseeable future.

Quoting the official, we see very little change, which is, of course, little comfort to all the people, in all the cities, the Russian forces, are now shelling and bombing, especially given the current American Intelligence assessment, which is that Vladimir Putin is likely to continue escalating the war, with no regard, for human consequences.

CNN's Matthew Chance is, in Kyiv, tonight.

Matthew, what have you been seeing and hearing there, tonight, and throughout the last day?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, it's been so relatively quiet, here, in the Ukrainian capital, over the course of the past day or so.

Because there's been a sort of ceasefire, that's been holding, to some extent, to the north of the city, which is where the majority of the fighting, has been taking place, as Russian forces sort of move down, in a bid, to encircle the city.

And, for the second day, in a row, there have been many, many people, hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, flowing out, of those northern suburbs, to the relative safety, at the center of Kyiv, where they've been, in many cases, getting trains or cars, and heading west, to where you are, in Lviv, and towards Poland, as well.

And it's interesting, because, the Russians, this evening, announced that there would be another ceasefire, tomorrow, not just, here, in Kyiv, but in other cities, around the country, like Kharkiv, like Mariupol, like Sumy, where there has been this fierce facing, where civilians have been very severely affected. And they're opening those corridors, again, for people, to come out.

Now, obviously, there's a degree of skepticism, when we hear the Russians say this. In the past, in the recent past, civilians have been shelled, and killed, as they attempted to flee, for safety, along, what they thought would be, safe corridors.

But, at the same time, it is an opportunity, for these trapped civilians, to try at least, to get themselves, to some degree of security, Anderson.

COOPER: And, is that something - I mean, are there further talks scheduled?

CHANCE: There are. Yes. And so, we are seeing this succession of, I think, relatively hopeful developments.

On Thursday, for instance, we've got the highest level meeting that we've had, since the beginning of this war, and, for some time, before that, in fact, between the Russian and the Ukrainian foreign ministers.

And that's taking place in Turkey, in Antalya, in Turkey. And the fact that that's taking place, at all, is a really, really positive sign.

The Russians have said, "Look, we want to make sure that Ukraine is neutral. We want to make sure that the territory of Crimea, and those rebel republics, in the east of the country that they're acknowledged to be not part of Ukraine," which is a substantial, moving away, from the demilitarization and the denazification, as they call it. They've moved away from the idea of calling for a new leadership, in Ukraine, which is, I suppose, something in the right direction, from the Russians.

And I suppose now the - it's going to be up to the Ukrainians, whether that's the sort of deal that they can work with, in order to, ensure their survival, as a country. Whether they're politically able, or they're willing to do that, or not, it's just not clear, yet.

COOPER: Matthew Chance, I appreciate it. We'll be watching, of course. Thanks very much.

I want to go next to CNN's Ivan Watson, in the country of Moldova, where some of Ukraine's now more than 2 million refugees have fled.

Ivan, I mean, Moldova is a very small country. It's got problems of its own. What are the people, in Moldova, doing, to help the refugees, fleeing from Ukraine?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They have, quite literally, opened their doors, to refugees. We hear almost everybody, you talk to, has taken in a family.


The government here, is assisting. Anybody, who arrives at the border, they get free transport. They're taken to kind of a first station, where they get a warm meal, and some instructions, about where to move on to next free transport.

But they're having to improvise, with the sheer numbers of people, coming into this country. For example, today, I was at a kind of indoor sports facility, squash courts, and pickleball courts, where hundreds of people are sleeping, at night, of these new refugees, who are arriving.

And many people are very much in shock, because of the speed, of how their lives have been turned upside down. The war isn't even 2-weeks- old.

And while there, some people are processing, and reacting in anger, and in defiance. Listen to this woman, Marina that I spoke to there.


MARINA AVDEEVA, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE: We are Ukrainians. It's our land. My son was born in independent Ukraine. It's our land, independent. Nobody can enter our land. And if you - if someone is entering, we have to answer, because it's our motherland. We have no other choice.

We are very peaceful people. We're not Nazi. We're just on our land, with hands up, please, we want to live. We want to be happy. Stop shooting, please.


WATSON: Now, Marina, comes from the port city of Odessa. Her son stayed behind, he's a lawyer, to defend that city, in case it receives a ground attack. The facility she was at, was being run by the Jewish community, of Moldova, and the Jewish World Congress, and other charitable organizations.

She is Jewish. Her son is Jewish. She's on her way to Israel, she believes. And she was saying, "Look, I am not a Nazi. Vladimir Putin says he's fighting Nazis, in Ukraine. My son stayed behind to fight. We are not fascists. We are civilian people, who are just trying to defend our homeland."

That's just one example of the millions of stories of people, uprooted, who fled across borders. And the United Nations estimates there are about a million people displaced, inside Ukraine, right now, as well, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Ivan Watson, I'm so glad, you're there, in Moldova. Thanks so much. It has not gotten a lot of coverage. And it's great that we're there.

Let's dig deeper now with the global pressure, being brought to bear, on Vladimir Putin, but also the limitations of it.

Joining us, "The New York Times" Foreign Affairs Columnist, Thomas Friedman. His latest column is headlined "Putin Has No Good Way Out, and That Really Scares Me."

He's also, as you know, the author of countless bestsellers, including "The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization," now available, in an updated and expanded edition.

Tom, what about the Putin situation scares you? THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST: Well, Anderson, can I just say, what a great job, you and all the CNN team, are doing?

I'm just so impressed! It's just been so helpful, for me, not being there, to have some understanding, of the story. So, first of all, just hats off. You make us proud to be journalists.

I think the Putin's dilemma is this. He can lose early, and small, or he can lose big and late.

And I fear that he doesn't have the ability, to climb down, to lose early and small, to say, "You know what? I'm going to take a mini deal. This is a little bit of a misunderstanding. I was just there, to help Russians. And I'm going to get out, and stop this madness, right now."

I fear he does not have the ability to stand down like that, partly because he knows what's happened to previous Russian leaders, and czars, who have lost wars, in the past. And that leaves him, in this situation, where I believe he's going to lose. If he continues this way, he's going to lose late and big. And unfortunately, we'll all lose that way.

Because he cannot win in Ukraine, Anderson, because the whole thing is built on a complete fantasy. The fantasy is that Ukraine is not a country. The people were just waiting there, to be retrieved, and brought back, to the bosom of Mother Russia. He just needed to decapitate the Nazi leadership. And everything would have been fine.

He was completely misled, or delusional, about what was the case in Ukraine. And, as a result, he cannot win. He cannot win this war. But he can do enormous destruction, to Ukraine, to the world and, most of all, to Russia. And there's only one thing more dangerous than a strong Russia. And that's a weak Russia.

COOPER: It is remarkable, how he has been able to, not only unite Ukraine.


I mean, I've never seen a country, I've said this before, and - but I've never seen a country, which is as united, in their complete loathing, of Vladimir Putin, and what he has done, already, and a complete willingness, to fight, now, and next month, and however many years, it takes, if there's an occupation.

He's also united NATO, which was in somewhat of a disarray, over the last several years, obviously.

I'm wondering, what you think, about the economic sanctions now. You recently wrote about the use of economic sanctions, as a weapon. Now, the Biden administration is banning the importation of Russian oil and natural gas.

L. FRIEDMAN: Well, we have dropped the equivalent of a nuclear economic bomb, on Putin.

Basically, the Biden team, came to him, before the war, and said, "This is what we're going to do. If you do this, OK, we are going to drop the equivalent of a nuclear bomb, on your economy. So, don't bet the farm."

And then, he went out, and he bet the farm. And, as a result, his currency has been devastated. His airlines can't fly. His debt has been downgraded to junk status.

This is an economy that's going to seize up, sometime, in the next four weeks to six weeks. Without airplanes flying, you can't take the bus, from Moscow to Vladivostok. And so, what worries me - again, he brought this on himself. I just worry about disorder in Russia, now.

At the same time, you know, Anderson? I was talking to a friend, the other day. And what if Putin and his clique of cronies were removed? What if they were removed? And Russia could actually go back to that Russia, we hoped for, in the early 1990s, and join some kind of European security order that we could have a Europe that's whole and free?

This is one man's war. This is one man's war. And, if the Russian people, however, decide that they don't want that one man anymore, leading this war, if they can do that? I think it could open up all kinds of possibilities. We are at such an incredible hinge of history now, Anderson. I mean, this is amazing, what we're living through.

It's terrifying and terrible, for the Ukrainian people, paying this price. But if the Russian people could somehow understand, the opportunity, here, how this man is leading their country to complete disaster?

When Russia's a disaster, country with 6,000 nuclear warheads, with more oil and gas, than all, but two other countries, in the world, spanning 11 time zones? The whole world will feel that disaster.

COOPER: Do you have - Matthew Chance was talking about this meeting, on Thursday, between foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia. Do you have any confidence that something might come out of that?

L. FRIEDMAN: Well, I found his report, incredibly interesting, Anderson, because, Prime Minister Bennett of Israel, is the only leader, who's gone to Moscow, and seen Putin, face-to-face, in the middle of this war.

And I don't know the firsthand details. But I do understand that what Putin told Bennett really aligned with what the Russian Foreign Minister told his Ukrainian counterpart, in Turkey. "We just want the Donbas and Crimea. We want a neutral Ukraine. And we are not out for Zelenskyy's head." So, that's two different angles that's coming from. I have to believe that there's something to that that is not just a fate.

I have to believe that, because somewhere, somehow, Anderson, someone must explain, to Putin, he must know, by now, if he proceeds with this, he is going to be a war criminal. All the people around him are going to be war criminals. The only country they'll be able to visit is maybe North Korea, maybe. I'm not sure North Korea will want them.

They are heading for Hitler-like stuff. And I have to believe, at some point, the message has got to get there that they need to find a way out. Whether he can bring himself to do that, I don't know. This is the greatest--


L. FRIEDMAN: --this is the greatest folly, I've ever seen, in my journalistic career.

COOPER: Yes. Tom Friedman, I really appreciate it. Thank you. It's always good to talk to you.

L. FRIEDMAN: I'm glad. You too, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, more on how President Biden arrived at his decision, to ban Russian oil and gas imports, with fuel prices already skyrocketing, and the midterm election campaigning about to heat up.

And later, a closer look, at Ukraine's President, who has certainly risen to the moment, beyond all expectations, rallied a country, in ways, rarely seen, but certainly welcome now.

That and more, as we continue our coverage, from Ukraine.




COOPER: President Biden's ban, today, on Russian oil, gas and coal imports was quickly followed by two iconic American brands, McDonald's and Starbucks, closing up shop, for now, in Russia.

That said, it's the import ban that will likely have the greatest impact, both there, on Vladimir Putin, and in the U.S., of course, on American drivers, at the pump.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now, from the White House.

So Kaitlan, this ban was something that the White House was deliberating about, now, for days. Why the decision now, today? And is there any expectation that European allies could do the same? Because they obviously import a lot more.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. They import much more than the United States, which does about less than 10 percent a year, Anderson.

And this is actually not a step that the White House had wanted to take. They've been pretty reluctant, to do so, because of exactly what President Biden, said today. There's concern that it is going to rattle global energy markets, and therefore cause those already high gas prices, here, at home, to go up, even further.

And today, President Biden, as he announced, this step, said that this is something people should be prepared for. But he was saying that defending democracy comes at a cost.

And, earlier later, when he arrived, in Texas, he said there's not much he thinks he can do, within his control, to actually change those prices that he does expect to go up, higher, saying that this is something that they're blaming on Russia, for this ongoing invasion.

But when it comes to this step being taken, in tandem, with European allies, the White House said that they have not asked European allies, to follow the United States, in this measure.


They don't expect them to do so, given Europe gets about 30 percent, of its oil, from Russia. So, obviously, them taking a step, like what the United States took today, has a much higher price, than it does to the United States, though.

It does still have a price here, in the U.S. And they are working on trying to make up for some of those imports, by talking to other countries, taking other measures that are on the table, right now.

COOPER: There's also this ongoing uncertainty, about whether Poland, will provide Ukraine, with MiG fighter jets, Soviet-made jets.

The latest Polish offer, which is to send those jets, to, I think, a U.S. airbase, in Germany, and let the United States provide them, to Ukraine, that's being met with skepticism, at the Pentagon, and kind of seems like a non-starter.

COLLINS: Yes, it seems to be basically outright rejection, from the Pentagon, right now. Because they're saying that this offer that was put out there, by Polish officials, today, by the Polish Foreign Ministry, they say, is untenable.

Because, the logistics of getting something like this done is so complicated. And they don't believe sending those planes to a U.S. air base, in Germany, is going to be the way to handle that.

Because really, the debate here is who actually gets the planes, to Ukraine, and how is that perceived by Russia? How do they respond to that? That's kind of the concern, when it comes to this.

But also, the logistics, of do Ukrainian pilots come and pick them up? How do they actually get them, across the border, to Ukraine? Because we've talked about the challenges, in just getting these anti-tank missiles, across the border, much less a fleet of airplanes.

And Anderson, we're actually told by sources tonight that this completely caught the White House off guard, making this offer, public by the Polish officials. They say this isn't something that Secretary Blinken had discussed with them, when he was there on a recent trip. Of course, we know Vice President Harris, is scheduled, to leave the United States, tomorrow morning, to go to Poland. And so, this will be something that they do discuss.

But, right now, this offer, from Poland, to give this flight - this fleet of used jets, to basically, in the hands of the United States, to then theoretically give them to Ukraine, seems to be off the table, when you talk to officials, here, at the White House, and at the Pentagon.

COOPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it, from the White House. Thanks so much.

There's been some confusion, for folks, who've been watching and looking at images, of Russian forces, of - well, maybe not that much confusion, but some questions about it. A letter that can be seen constantly on every road that Russian vehicles now travel.

More now, from CNN's Phil Black.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's impossible not to notice. Many of the Russian vehicles, invading Ukraine, carry a distinctive mark. Trucks, tanks, fighting, engineering and logistical vehicles, they are advancing, through Ukraine, with the letter, Z, painted conspicuously, in white.

The people, being invaded, have noticed. Here, in the eastern Ukrainian town, of Kupyansk, an angry crowd swarms after, and attacks a single vehicle. Its only obvious connection to the war, the letter, Z.

ARIC TOLER, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND TRAINING, BELLINGCAT: It's almost certainly some kind of tactical grouping. There's a million different theories about what the Z means. But, I think, it's just a marking, just easy to do, easy thing to mark, just like a square or a triangle.

BLACK (voice-over): In a war, where the wannabe conquerors, are not flying their national flag, that single character has taken on special significance.


BLACK (voice-over): At a recent gymnastics world cup event, 20-year- old Russian competitor, Ivan Kuliak, accepted his bronze medal, wearing a Z, prominently, on his chest. He was standing, next to a Ukrainian athlete. The sports governing body described it as shocking behavior.

But how do you describe this? Terminally ill children, and their carers, formed a giant Z, outside a hospice, in the Russian city of Kazan.

BRIAN KLAAS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: It's disgusting that the state is co-opting young children to be propaganda mechanisms for their war.

It's dangerous, when small little symbols, become proxies, for being a loyal citizen, in an authoritarian regime, during a time of war, because those who don't wear it, those who don't show the Z, could be targeted by the state.


BLACK (voice-over): And, in this, highly-produced propaganda video, Russian men, wearing that letter, declare their support for the invasion, chanting--


BLACK (voice-over): --"For Russia! For the President! For Russia! For Putin!" An aerial shot shows a giant Z, made from the orange and black, of the St. George's ribbon, a traditional symbol of Russian military glory, usually associated with victory, over Nazi Germany.

By accident or design, a character that it doesn't feature, in Russia's alphabet, has become an iconic symbol, of Putin's invasion, and the propaganda campaign, to win support, among his people.

Phil Black, CNN, London.


COOPER: Well, coming up, former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, joins me live. We'll look at the CIA's assessment that Vladimir Putin could double down on his war.

We're also getting breaking news, on what the U.S. just announced, to help NATO Allies. That's next.




COOPER: There's breaking news, tonight.

The U.S. is sending two Patriot missile batteries, to Poland, as a, quote, "Defensive deployment." A spokesperson, for U.S. European Command, said, tonight, in a statement that they're designed to counter any potential threat, to the U.S., and NATO Allies, amid Russia's war, on Ukraine.

The Patriots are meant to counter and destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft, and cruise missiles, as well. CNN reported earlier this week that the U.S. was considering such a move.

Want to bring in CNN National Security Analyst and retired Lieutenant General James Clapper. He served as Director of National Intelligence, under then-President Obama. Director Clapper, first of all, I'm wondering what you've - just given what we've seen, in the United States, sending troops, now, these Patriots, to shore up NATO defenses, in Poland, what else could we see, you think, in the days, ahead?


There have been some deployments of - from, within Europe, to the eastern flank and as well, I think, the 82nd Airborne portion of it deployed. I think a more that would be reassuring, to the NATO allies, particularly, those on the eastern flank, and would certainly convey a deterrence message.


COOPER: The current Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, told Congress today that it's still not clear if Vladimir Putin, quote, "Will continue to pursue a maximalist plan, to capture all or most of Ukraine."

What kind of indicators would the Intelligence Community look for, to try to figure out, the goals, of a leader, like Vladimir Putin, in this?

CLAPPER: Well, that's a very interesting question. The most obvious, I think, indicator would be what the military moves are, in Ukraine.

Now, the problem is that the farther west, these troop formations, of the Russians go, a little harder and harder, it is going to be formed, to sustain them, and support them. But that's certainly one indicator. And I'm too, am interested in how this, the meeting, between the two foreign ministers, turns out, in Turkey.

But you know that - I don't know what else to go on. Well, one other thing would be, of course, what we see, in a way of troop movements, activity within Russia. Are they're calling up more units, sending units, say, from the Far East--

COOPER: Right.

CLAPPER: --to Ukrainian border, which would indicate, the deployment, of more force. And, of course, for Putin, his troops are cannon fodder.

COOPER: Have you been surprised at the performance of Russian forces?

CLAPPER: Actually, I have been. I watched, certainly, during my time, as DNI, the modernization, in air quotes, of Russian military, particularly its army got smaller, more professional, allegedly.

Supposedly, they grew an NCO Corps, Non-Commissioned Officer Corps, which is kind of the backbone, of the leaders and military units. Well, that turned out not to be the case. I think one, well, surprise - a number of surprising things. But these combined arm - armed arms - armies haven't really acted, in a combined arms way. And their logistics, have been absolutely terrible.

And some of that, I think, is due to the fact that Russian army logistics is heavily dependent on railroads, within the confines of Russia. And, of course, now, when they project out, they're relying, on a truck fleet, which is undersized, for what the task is, to support those troops, with ammunition, food, et cetera.

COOPER: And obviously, that truck fleet, is very vulnerable, to attack, in a country, like Ukraine that's not as armored up, as armored personnel carriers or tanks.

Director Clapper?


COOPER: Appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, a top aide, to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, sharing his opinion, on the capabilities, of Russia's military forces, and the discussions, in the West, about sanctioning Russian energy exports.




COOPER: We've been talking, tonight, about Russia's military capabilities, and the targeting of civilians, by Vladimir Putin's forces.

Earlier, this week, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, said, of Russia's tactics, quote, "This is murder, deliberate murder." As we mentioned, the U.S. Intelligence Community believes, things are about to get even uglier.

Earlier, right before air, I spoke with the top aide, to President Zelenskyy, Andriy Yermak, who acts as the President's Chief of Staff, about Russia's abilities, in the field. Also, about the military aid, they're hoping to get, from the West.


COOPER: Mr. Yermak, according to the latest reports, Poland says they're willing to hand over their Soviet-made fighter jets, to the U.S., so that your pilots could fly them in this war.

Have you heard, if the U.S. has agreed to that? And what impact would those jets have, in the fight?

ANDRIY YERMAK, HEAD OF THE PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE OF UKRAINE: We just received this information. I don't know exactly that it's happened.

But I hope that United States will support this, because they know that how it's important. And this is a critical moment for our country. And we really need these planes. It's all that I can comment, for this moment, about these things.

COOPER: But you have pilots, ready now, who could fly those, if you could get those planes?

YERMAK: Yes, we have the pilots, who will able and immediately can be ready to fly for these planes.

COOPER: How - what is your assessment of Russian forces now, in country? U.S. officials are saying that 100 percent of Russia's combat forces that they had dedicated to Ukraine, are now in the country. Where is the greatest fighting going on? What's your assessment of the Russian capabilities?

YERMAK: You know, that before the war, it was more than 100,000 Russian troops, around the border of Ukraine.

You can see how, all these days, how our army, how our people, defend our countries. And, of course, I think that it was big surprise, for the Russia that what answer, they received, in the Ukrainian lands.


You know, it's difficult to calculate how many troops the Russia can be concentrated, and then send it to Ukraine more. But it's still a lot of, you know, the Russian army, in the several times bigger than Ukraine, bigger by the people, bigger by the techniques.

But Ukrainians, during these days, show to all the world that finally, the victory, it's not just the numbers of troops, not just the numbers of the techniques. It's brave of the people, the how to people are ready to defend our lands.

And it's very inspired that today, all the Ukrainian society, it's so joined, so ready, different people, from olds, up to the very young, women, men, young people, everybody wants to defend, fighting up to the end, but not leave any centimeters of our lands. I think, now, this inspiration, of the Ukrainian people, it's in all the world.

COOPER: Finally, what is your message? The United States is now cutting off imports of Russian oil and natural gas. Europe obviously has not. What is your message, to European nations, because they get so much of their natural gas, and oil, from Russia?

YERMAK: My answer to your questions, following that, now, it's time. Do not wait to time to act.

And the United States show today that they continue, make real steps. And, of course, we are very grateful to the United States, as our biggest strategics partners, for administration, Biden that these sanctions, today, it's issued. And, of course, we're waiting that our European partners will support it, will add it, and not wait a long period of times, to add it, and to continue, this pressing, to Russia, through the real sanctions.

COOPER: Finally, what is your message to people, in Ukraine, who may hear this, about what lies ahead for them?

YERMAK: We do our best and more that all this, our people, who is today, so united, so strong, show, for all the world that Ukraine, our nation, it's great. It's real. And the freedom, independence, for us, it's in our heart, in our blood.

COOPER: Andriy Yermak, thank you for your time.

YERMAK: Thank you very much. Thank you.


COOPER: Chief of Staff to President Zelenskyy.

Up next, his boss, the President, is refusing to back down. And his resilience and defiance is inspiring people, of this country. That's coming up.




COOPER: Well, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, remains defiant, in the face of Russia's continued assault


ZELENSKYY (through translator): Here I am. I'm staying here, on Bankova. I'm not hiding. And I'm not afraid of anyone.


COOPER: President Zelenskyy, on Monday. His heroism and leadership has inspired the Ukrainian resistance.

More, on his story, now, from our Randi Kaye.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): We are all here. Our military are here. Citizens and society are here. We are all here defending our independence, our state. And it will remain so.

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a show of unity, on the streets of Ukraine, the 44-year-old President, refusing an offer, from the United States, to be airlifted out, telling the U.S., early on, according to Ukraine's embassy, in Britain, "The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride."

ZELENSKYY (through translator): The enemy has marked me as target number one. My family is target number two.

KAYE (voice-over): For days, Zelenskyy has been leading the resistance, using social media, to call on Ukrainians, to fight.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): The world has seen that Ukrainians are powerful, Ukrainians are courageous.

KAYE (voice-over): On his Facebook page, Zelenskyy posted this, about Russia's bombing campaign.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): But they have an order to erase our history, to erase our country, to erase all of us.

KAYE (voice-over): He went on to call Ukrainians, a symbol of invincibility.

Earlier, Zelenskyy got a standing ovation, from lawmakers, with the European Parliament, for inspiring words, like this.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Every square of today, no matter what it's called, is going to be called, as today, Freedom Square, in every city of our country. Nobody is going to break us. We are strong. We are Ukrainians.


KAYE (voice-over): Zelenskyy has won the hearts, of many, around the world, inspired by his resilience, and defiance. Even world leaders, once tentative, about backing Ukraine, now stand with Zelenskyy, some, vowing to help him fight.

Germany's Chancellor has promised to arm Ukrainians, and has halted the certification of the pipeline project, which would bring Russian gas, to Western Europe.

The U.S., and its allies, also inspired by Zelenskyy, dealt a crippling blow, by cutting off Russia's Central Bank, from U.S. dollar transactions, and kicking key Russian banks, out of the SWIFT global financial network.

For his part, Turkey's President invoked a 1930s Convention that bars Russian warships, from entering, the Black Sea, limiting its naval operations.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Our main goal is to finish this slaughter. The enemy losses are very grave.

KAYE (voice-over): The world, today, galvanized, by a defiant leader, who, before becoming president, was an actor.


KAYE (voice-over): And comedian. (MUSIC - "DANCING WITH THE STARS" UKRAINE - 2006)

KAYE (voice-over): In April, 2019, Zelenskyy was elected Ukraine's President. Now, the country's future may depend, not on his comedy, but his courage.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): We will fight till the end, at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost.

KAYE (voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN.


COOPER: And we'll be right back.


COOPER: Stay with CNN, for the latest, from Ukraine.

The news continues. Want to turn things, over now, to "DON LEMON TONIGHT."