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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Civilians Flee Ukraine After Evacuation Corridors Open; U.S.: Russia Has Launched 700+ Missiles In Ukraine; China's Role In Amplifying Putin's Disinformation. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 09, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: At least, that's the attempt. The report is from ITV's Dan Rivers, and it centers on one woman, in Kharkiv, who turns the camera on herself, as she watches her city, assaulted.

Her name is Anastasia (ph). And these are her last words, before she, and her family, got out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not going to take much, because I'm hoping I will return soon enough. My sister says, it's like going on a trip. But an awful one, I guess.

So, as my parents can no longer withstand it, the constant bombing, especially after, yes - last night, which was truly a terrifying thing, we are going to leave, if we live that long, of course.

So, I don't want to leave. And I won't be leaving Ukraine. We will be moving to somewhere just farther away from Russian border. I don't know why. But being bombarded is easier than leaving your home.


COOPER: Families, tonight, part of what the U.N. estimates, are 1.8 million, internally-displaced people, in Ukraine. That's on top of the more than 2 million people, they say, who have already left Ukraine, and become refugees.

More now on how some of those internally-displaced people, spent today, from CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the chaos, of this evacuation, the frantic search, for a lost child.


CHANCE (voice-over): In the rush, to escape the fighting, an orphan has been left behind. Each bus, I desperately checked, for familiar face. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).


CHANCE (on camera): Hi. Hello. Hi. You speak English?

CHANCE (voice-over): For the journey, across the front line, the children are well-protected, against the cold, if not the bombs.



CHANCE (voice-over): The older kids were terrified, what carer Natasha tells me. But the little ones didn't understand the danger, they were all in, she says.

This is a mass exodus, from areas, under heavy Russian assault, an agreed safe corridor, which hundreds of civilians, entire families, are using, to escape, before it closes, leaving the horrors of the past few weeks, behind.

CHANCE (on camera): Where, where?


CHANCE (on camera): Nadia. Where have you come from, Nadia?

NADIA: From Vorzel.

CHANCE (on camera): From Vorzel, which is a town up there?


CHANCE (on camera): And that--

NADIA: This is a town - this is a place, which was - which was the very dangerous. And there are a lot of Russians, and there are a lot of Chechens, I don't know.

CHANCE (on camera): Russians and Chechens?

NADIA: Yes. Russians and Chechens.

CHANCE (on camera): And - and--

NADIA: And they kill our--


NADIA: --owner of the house, where we sit in.

CHANCE (on camera): They killed the owner of the house?

NADIA: Yes. Yes. They killed the owner of the house.

CHANCE (on camera): And so, you must have been, and your family, over here?


CHANCE (on camera): You must have been terrified?

NADIA: Yes. It's terrifying.

CHANCE (on camera): Frightening?

NADIA: It was terrified, absolutely terrified. But family's OK.

CHANCE (on camera): OK.

NADIA: Now, we are going to the - to leave.

CHANCE (on camera): Where?

NADIA: 10 days in the underground.

CHANCE (on camera): You've been 10 days underground?

NADIA: 10 days underground.

CHANCE (on camera): Oh my goodness!

Well there you have it. Just one family that has taken this opportunity, to escape the horrific situation, they found themselves in, for the last 10 days, or more. And again, take that chance, to get themselves, and their children, out of here.

DEPUTY MAYOR KOSTIANTYN USOV, KYIV, UKRAINE: We have a lot of volunteers, who help with nutrition and warm--

CHANCE (on camera): Yes. All these - all these sandwiches and?

CHANCE (voice-over): And helping them do that safely, this embattled Ukrainian official tells me, is now as much a part of fighting this war, with Russia, as killing the enemy.

USOV: Yes. And yes, warm food, and warm drinks.

CHANCE (on camera): Yes.

USOV: We have a medical crew that helps to--

CHANCE (on camera): Yes.

USOV: --to manage people that were wounded. We've seen shelled people, with broken and ruptured legs, here.

CHANCE (on camera): Yes.

USOV: And we have a security force that actually interviewed people, because we are afraid that Russians may have sent some of their own in this--

CHANCE (on camera): Right, as spies?

USOV: --as spies as--

CHANCE (on camera): Saboteurs or like that?

USOV: And saboteurs.

CHANCE (on camera): Yes, right here.

USOV: Yes.

CHANCE (on camera): And all this is happening, of course, all this is happening, under the threat, the threat of artillery strikes and gunfire.

USOV: Sure.

CHANCE (on camera): That's a real threat, right now?

USOV: That's a real threat. But we have no choice, because we have thousands of people, who really have spent, more than a week, in the basements, with no cellular coverage.

CHANCE (on camera): Yes.

USOV: With no access to medical assistance, with no food, no lights, no electricity. And they want to flee. They need us to help them.

CHANCE (on camera): OK.



CHANCE (voice-over): But, as the buses leave for the capital, the boom of artillery fire, resumes, in the distance. The window, for this escape, from the fighting, is closing fast.



CHANCE: Well, there you have it. So, that corridor, a green corridor that was open today, it was open yesterday, as well.

Unfortunately, there is no indication, from the Russian side, that it's going to be open again, tomorrow, which means that this may have been, the last chance, for these families, to escape those war-torn regions, north of the Ukrainian capital.

There is some, I suppose, positive news, in the sense that there are negotiations that are scheduled to begin, within the next few hours, next day, also, in the Turkish city of Antalya, where the Russian and the Ukrainian foreign ministers will be meeting, for the highest level peace talks that have taken place - will have taken place, since the beginning of this war. So, it's, there is a lot of skepticism going into those peace talks, tomorrow. But, at least, it's a glimmer of hope that at least there are going to be talks about the possibility of a diplomatic solution.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Matthew, it's Alison Kosik, in New York. We did lose Anderson's signal. So until we do get him back up--


KOSIK: --I'll be talking with you, a bit.

I want to talk more about this round of talks, tomorrow, between the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers, this time, happening, in Turkey. Is there much of any optimism about what could happen?

CHANCE: Well, I think, optimism is a bit strong. But there have been some sort of talks, some word, from either side, about what they may, or may not, be willing to accept. For instance, the Russians have said, what they want to see, from the Ukrainians, is a commitment to neutrality.

So, they want, the Ukrainians, to back away, from their calls, to join NATO, the Western military alliance. They also want an acceptance that Crimea, which they annexed, from Ukraine, in 2014, will be recognized, by the Ukrainians, as fully part of Russia.

And that the two Republics, breakaway Republics, in the east of Ukraine, are recognized, as being independent states. Russia has already recognized them as that. No one else does. But it wants Ukraine, to make those territorial concessions, as well, on Crimea, and those Eastern Republics.

And the Ukrainians, well, they're going into this talk, saying, "Look, we have got faith, not in the outcome of these talks, but in our armed forces."

They've enjoyed significant success, on the battlefield. And, I think, the concern is that they may go into these talks, thinking they could actually win this war, in an outright military fight, with the Russians.

But, of course, if they don't accept, some kind of compromise, and perhaps do a deal, at this stage, with Moscow, there's the danger, that Moscow could double down or triple its military force that it's applying, into this conflict. And that could have devastating consequences, of course, for Ukraine, and for the people, in it.

And so, look, we're in a very fragile moment. It's a real junction, in this conflict. And we're going to see what the outcome of these talks are, to see which way we think, this war, is likely to go, in the days, and the weeks, ahead.

KOSIK: OK. Matthew Chance, live for us, from Kyiv. Thanks for all of your great context there.

Let's get some perspective now, from David Remnick. In addition to being Editor of "The New Yorker," he is also the author of six books, including the indispensable "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire."

But before we get to you, we're going to take a break, because I think we got Anderson's signal back up. We'll be right back to you.




COOPER: And welcome back to our live coverage, from Lviv, Ukraine. We had a slight technical problem. We seem to have worked that out. Apologies. It happens.

Want to get perspective now, what we have seen, today, and this past two weeks, and what we may see tomorrow.

David Remnick, in addition to being Editor of "The New Yorker," he's also the author of six books, including the indispensable "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire."

So David, you hear Matthew Chance, talk about this meeting, tomorrow, between the foreign ministers, of Ukraine and Russia. Obviously, there has, you know, we've seen some events of corridors that have been open. We've seen other violations of that. Both sides blaming each other for that.

Is there any evidence that you see that Vladimir Putin wants an end to this war, at this point?

DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR, THE NEW YORKER, AUTHOR, "LENIN'S TOMB: THE LAST DAYS OF THE SOVIET EMPIRE": Not yet. I mean, let's stipulate that this is an invasion, of a sovereign country, for no reason at all. And it's been merciless, and disgusting, and brutal. So, that's the thing that's most obvious.

And yet, we're in a situation, where we don't want it to escalate, to the point, where Ukraine is decimated, and just endless casualties, and a refugee crisis that destabilizes Europe, for the rest of our lives. We don't want to see that.

And, the ancient philosopher of wars, Sun Tzu, once said that you need to build a golden bridge, a golden bridge, for your opponent, for your enemy, so that he can walk across it, and retreat.

And somehow, some way, Ukraine is going to have to devise. And above all, Ukraine, West can do it for Ukraine, some sense of what can be conceded, as painful, and horrible, and unjust, as it is, so that there's a negotiated settlement, so that this insane war, instigated solely by Vladimir Putin, can end, and the bloodshed can end.


And these concessions will be enormously painful, whether it's recognizing Crimea, finally, as Russian territory, or some settlement in eastern Ukraine.

I totally recognize this as sovereign Ukrainian territory. But there's no sign yet that Putin is just, because he's suffered some military losses, in some parts, of the country that he's couldn't just merely retreat. That's not him. That's not his history, a lesson in Grozny, a lesson in Syria.

COOPER: Yes. And, I mean, you've certainly seen, we've all seen what the Russian military is capable of doing, in Grozny, in Aleppo, and in Syria. Leveling Grozny, essentially, installing a thug, as the leader there.

It's - have you been surprised at the performance of the Russian military?

REMNICK: Well, I think, Putin is surprised at the performance of the Russian military.

What happens, in an authoritarian regime, and Putin's regime is something that has become more and more despotic, year after years, it becomes increasingly isolated. It begins to believe its own nonsense. Fewer and fewer people come to the despot, with contrary information.

And he clearly thought he could waltz, into Ukraine and, in a few days' time, either install a puppet regime, or have them, just give up.

And Ukraine has proved itself, under the leadership of Zelenskyy, and just the sheer bravery, and resilience, of the Ukrainian people. They have proved themselves, capable, at least, until now, of fending off the Russians.

But let's not be deluded. Let's not be deluded. Yes, the attack, on Kyiv, has been stalled. But Russia, through sheer brutalism, is making enormous gains, in the south, along the Black Sea.

And, given time, time is unfortunately, on Russia's side, in this military game, because there is not going to be a no-fly zone, there is not going to be a defense, in the standard sense of NATO, coming to its rescue, as if it were an Article 5 country, a NATO member.

And it will get, as horrible, as today's news was, it will multiply and get much worse. That's who Vladimir Putin is--


REMNICK: --he's been for a very long time.

COOPER: I spoke to former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief, Jill Dougherty, in the last hour. We talked about the new Russian law, criminalizing independent journalism.

It is, I mean, this desire of Vladimir Putin, to suppress accurate reporting, about the war, Orwellian, not using the word, "War," can't use the word, "Invasion," what does it say to you, about how he views his own grip on power, right now, about his position, now? REMNICK: Well, a despot's grip on power is always innately unstable. It's always threatened by, from below, which Putin has always recognized.

He's looked around the world, and seen what's happened in the Arab World, some years ago. He's seen what's happened in Georgia, and in Ukraine, of course. And that feels like a threat to him.

Certainly, when there were demonstrations, on Bolotnaya ploshchad, Swampy Square, he suppressed that. And he recognizes the threat from his coterie of lackeys around him. I think the West is hoping that it'll see defections from above, and demonstrations from below.

And Putin is making every effort, every brutal effort, to suppress the likes of Alexei Navalny, who's sitting in prison, or demonstrators, who are arrested, or the independent press, which has been crushed. And he's very wary of anybody around him.

And you saw that. He made - he made a show of it, he made a theater of it, by broadcasting his meeting with the Security Council, and humiliating, humiliating anyone that had any contrary word, or scintilla of doubt.

And these, by the way, these are not dissonance. This was this was the Head of his Foreign Intelligence Service that he made a point of humiliating.

COOPER: Right.

REMNICK: Now, how long that can hold out? We'll see.

COOPER: Yes. David Remnick, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

REMNICK: Appreciate you, Anderson. Thank you.

COOPER: Every day, we're in the Ukraine, it becomes more and more apparent, how important, it is, in addition to all their other needs, for people, here, to simply be seen, and have their voices heard. People want you, around the world, to know what is happening, here. They want you to see it and hear it. They want you to hear their stories.


Ukrainians with relatives living in Russia, telling them what they're going through, only to be told, by an uncle, or a parent, or a close Russian friend, "No, that's not really happening at all." Imagine what that is like!

So, with that in mind, earlier today, I spoke with Kyiv's Mayor Vitali Klitschko.


COOPER: Mayor Klitschko, what kind of supplies, do you need, in terms of humanitarian supplies? MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: We, we thank you very much for humanitarian help. We have right now a lot of food and, we receive also a lot of medication, medical supplies, in Kyiv.

We need right now the peace in Ukraine. But everything depends from Russians. Russians have to go away, and end this senseless war.

COOPER: We've seen civilians being attacked, as they tried to leave Irpin. Do you have any doubt that the Russians are targeting civilians?

KLITSCHKO: Yes, we have a lot of examples. For example, I am Mayor of Kyiv.

And Hostomel Mayor. Hostomel is small city around 10 miles from, from Kyiv. Small city, they, the Mayor of Hostomel bring the humanitarian help to the people and the Russian soldiers shoot him and kill him.

COOPER: There is still not agreement about the planes, from Poland, coming to Ukraine. How important is it to get planes?

KLITSCHKO: We need the weapons. We're ready to defend our country. We stayed up front of one of the powerful army in the world. And that's why we need the planes also very much. It's, the time - we, we don't have time to wait. It's minutes, it's hours. And that's why we need immediately the planes, from Poland to Ukraine.

COOPER: There were reports yesterday that the Russians were advancing, on Kyiv, a little bit, from the east. Is there an area you are most concerned about?

KLITSCHKO: The Russians make a pressure, and they came into it from the East. They lose a lot of soldier and a lot of tanks.

But, I concerned, yes, of course. I concerned to any activities from Russian Army, but we are proud of our Ukrainian fighters, warriors, real warriors, who give us their full for, for aggressors. And the Ukrainian soldiers destroyed the plans of Russians.

COOPER: Finally, the diplomat - the two foreign ministers, as you know, are meeting tomorrow. Are you optimistic something may actually come from that?

KLITSCHKO: We hope. We - everybody hope it will be planned a diplomatic solution in this war. I don't know. I don't know just one way the Russians have to go away.

It's difficult to find the solution if thousands of people already died. The infrastructure in our country destroyed. The economy, the economy of our country have huge damage.

And, by the way, we have a hope to stop the war. To stop the - to stop killing civilians in Ukraine. Every Ukrainian have hope to stop the war.

COOPER: Mayor Klitschko, I appreciate your time. Thank you. Be safe. KLITSCHKO: Thank you for unity. Thank you for your support. Thank you for help. It's very important. Unity is the key for freedom.

COOPER: Mayor Klitschko, thank you.


COOPER: Mayor Klitschko, Kyiv, saying "Unity is the key for freedom."

Now, a moment ago, you heard David Remnick, from "New Yorker," saying how there will not be a no-fly zone, over Ukraine. And that's certainly the view of U.S. officials and most in the European Union. My next guest would like to change that.

Joining us, a retired Air Force four-star General, and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Philip Breedlove.

General Breedlove, I appreciate you being with us.

You and 26 other former military leaders, and foreign policy experts, sent an open letter, to President Biden, asking him to impose a, what you say, is a limited no-fly zone, over Ukraine? What would that look like?


It was clear very early that a military no-fly zone with its more bellicose status was not going to be accepted, by anybody, in the West.

And so, what we have looked at, is what's happening, on the battlefield, which you heard described before, by the Mayor, and others, that some of the humanitarian corridors were coming under attack. In fact, some believe the Russians just use them to line up the targets.


And so, we looked at the way, to develop something that's used before, a humanitarian no-fly zone, which is far less bellicose. In that no- fly zone, the aircraft enforcing it, do not fire at anyone, unless they're fired upon, or if that aircraft fires upon the humanitarian relief, on the ground. So, it's a much - it's a much different scope, of what you have to do, to accomplish the zone.

COOPER: I've heard - Congressman Adam Kinzinger, was on this program, last week, mentioning this, this idea of sort of, he called it kind of a humanitarian air corridor. Would you see that as also a way to bring supplies in to civilian areas?

BREEDLOVE: Well, Anderson, there's a whole different group of people that have come to us now, to ask if their idea, would be compatible with ours. And there's a growing group of people now, pushing a humanitarian airlift, a la, Berlin airlift style, all the way, into someplace--

COOPER: Right.

BREEDLOVE: --in Ukraine, as opposed to stopping, say, in Poland, and then going across. And we believe that the two concepts are absolutely compatible, and are now advocating for same.

COOPER: What would happen - I mean, with a - correct me, if I'm wrong here.

With a regular no-fly zone, over a country, it's not just if you're fired upon, by the aggressor's Air Force, you can fire back, a plane can fire back, but also, if you're fired upon, or if artillery, on the ground, is firing at planes.

I mean, if there's a humanitarian corridors, one of the problems we've seen is artillery, by Russians, violating that humanitarian corridor, and firing, or firing, during a ceasefire, would those planes then try to take out artillery, on the ground that was violating the humanitarian corridor, also?

BREEDLOVE: It really depends, Anderson, because humanitarian no-fly zones would be defined by what we call the ROE, Rules of Engagement. And whatever the nations would lay out, as their Rules of Engagement, then would be used. Possibly, it could only be against other airplanes.

But you're right. There are a lot of capabilities on the ground that are firing into these. And so, it would just very much depend, on how it was constructed. But it could be constructed, to return fire, against ground positions, as well. It's just what the nations would bear, in the construct of the zone.

COOPER: Yes. And, as you know, right now, there is not much appetite, if at all, certainly, by U.S. officials, on a no-fly zone, in however, it's defined, nor with a number of European nations. But we shall see what happens, in the days and weeks ahead.

General Philip Breedlove, I appreciate your time. And thanks so much, for explaining your position.

BREEDLOVE: Thanks. Thanks for having me on.

COOPER: Coming up, innocent and helpless Ukrainian children, being forced to pay a heavy price, in this war, many now living, in neighboring countries, as refugees. For some, a battle - battling the journey alone. The story, next.




COOPER: Well, some of the most vulnerable people, in this war, of course, are children, whether it's Russians bombing of a maternity and children's hospital, in Mariupol, today, or terminally-ill kids, fleeing war-torn areas, on makeshift medical trains, or being brought by their parents, or even children being forced to leave their homes, and schools, and all they've ever known, without knowing when or if they'll be able to return.

It has been extremely difficult for kids here. And some of them are now living as refugees, in neighboring countries, some, without their parents.

More on that now, from CNN's Miguel Marquez.



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 9- year-old Sasha Resnichenka, one of hundreds of Ukrainian kids, with no parents, or separated from them, now being cared for, in Romania.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "I have no mother and father. They died," he says. "I lived in several places. And I know it's important to listen to my teachers and behave myself."

This government facility, north of Bucharest, has taken in 27 kids, all with varying degrees of physical or mental disabilities.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "This is a tragic moment for all of us," she says. "It's a huge challenge for the system and our community. But we have the resources, to care for these children."

These kids, along with a few teachers, fled Ukraine's southern Odessa region, last week.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "Our trip took all morning and all night," he says. "I don't know how to explain it."

MARQUEZ (on camera): Was it a long trip?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Stas Glikman, turned 11, the day we visited.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "I wanted a smartphone, for my birthday," he says. "But I'm afraid to ask the teachers."

Angelina (ph), Stas' big sister says their mother is still in Ukraine, unable to travel.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "I'm thinking about my family," she says. "My mother can't walk. She was injured in a vehicle accident."

They all know a war is happening back home. They don't totally understand it.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "There is a war in Ukraine," he says. "So, the director, of our school, decided to bring us here."

Nearly 220 Ukrainian children, like Sasha, are now in Romania, say immigration officials, here. Their futures, before the war, uncertain, today.

MARQUEZ (on camera): How long will you stay here?




MARQUEZ (voice-over): "Maybe two or three months," she says. "Maybe four months."

Just this one county, sheltering 66 Ukrainian children, in three different facilities, kids, who have no parents with them, and for now, no country.

MARQUEZ (on camera): How do you feel they are doing?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "They are feeling good," she says. "They're sleeping well, playing lots of games, and eating well."


These teachers and staff, from the Ukrainian school, upended their lives, too. Leaving loved ones behind, they stayed, with these kids. Their responsibilities, for them, and hope for their homeland, boundless.

MARQUEZ (on camera): How do you feel about the future? Where will all this go?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "We believe in a better future, and that the war will be over," she says. "I believe Ukraine will stay united, as a nation."

And, like kids, everywhere, they have dreams. Big ones!

MARQUEZ (on camera): What do you want to be when you grow up?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "I want to be an American," he says. Then adds?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "I also want to fly into space, and take my teacher with me."

Those caring for these kids have a simpler, maybe more impossible hope.

MARQUEZ (on camera): If you had a magic wand, and you could wish for one thing, what would it be?




MARQUEZ (voice-over): "Peace. Only peace." No translation needed.


COOPER: Miguel, I think that young boy has a future in television, as well. I like how he grabbed the microphone, repeatedly, and spoke right into it.

MARQUEZ: He was, as his teacher said, he's a superstar. Every time, I'd ask him a question, he would grab the mic and talk. He - we all wanted to adopt that kid. Sasha is a superstar.

COOPER: Yes. Yes.

How long are the Romanians prepared to care for these kids?

MARQUEZ: Look, they said they will go the distance. Romania is not the wealthiest country in the European Union. But they say that they will care for them, as long as they can.

Talking to Ukrainian or Romanian officials, in recent days, they say, look, they have never felt more supported, and coordinated, by the European Union, by NATO, and by the U.S.

If anything that Vladimir Putin has done, it has brought the West, together, like they never have, before. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes. Miguel Marquez, thank you so much, for telling those kids' stories. I really appreciate it.

Russia has been isolated, by much of the world, since this invasion began, but not by China. Beijing is actively helping Moscow, spread Putin's propaganda. The question is why?

Come up next, we'll shine a light, on the disinformation war, next.




COOPER: The West is united, against this war, in Ukraine.

But Russia does have one major ally in China. Beijing could help try to end the invasion of Ukraine. Instead, it seems to have joined Vladimir Putin's propaganda war.

CNN's David Culver has the latest on that.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China's national broadcaster, CCTV, looking increasingly like Russian state television, these days, its anchors parroting the Kremlin, calling the invasion of Ukraine, a special military operation.


CULVER (voice-over): Its stories? Highlighting Moscow's grievances, against Kyiv, and its Western allies, along with Russia's military progress, on the battlefield. They rarely mention the fierce resistance, and growing suffering, in war-torn Ukraine.

Publicly, Beijing stresses its impartiality, in the conflict, even indicating its willingness, to be a mediator. Coverage in its strictly-controlled state and social media tells a very different story.

CNN combing through Chinese TV and digital news reports, in the first eight days, of the Russian attack, along with thousands of social media posts from the outlets.

CULVER (on camera): Our findings? China has largely adopted Russia's talking points, actively helping the Kremlin, disseminate its version, of the bloody war, to millions here, and beyond.

CULVER (voice-over): The Chinese Foreign Ministry has yet to respond to our request for comment.

But remember, Russian President Vladimir Putin's last foreign visit, before he launched the invasion, was here, to China.

Following the 38th meeting, between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, since 2013, and just hours before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, the two governments declared a partnership, with no limits.

China and Russia's increasingly close ties had included coordinating their message, on the global stage. Such coordination, it now appears, has drawn Beijing, into playing an important role, in the Kremlin's disinformation campaign.

On February 26, after two nights, of Russian bombardment, Zelenskyy shared a video, of himself, on the streets of Kyiv. Russian officials quickly alleged that Zelenskyy had fled the country, and the video was pre-recorded.

Less than 15 minutes later, CCTV flashed a news alert, claiming Zelenskyy has left Kyiv, initially without any attribution. More than 160 Chinese state media outlets reposted the CCTV alert. A hashtag, "RussiaSaysZelenskyyHasLeftKyiv" later got more than 510 million views, on Chinese social media, Weibo. And yet, it was not true.

Perhaps most damning, an internal memo, purportedly from state-run publication, Beijing News, surfaced online, two days before the Russian invasion even started. The memo directed staff not to publish anything negative about Russia, or pro-West. It was mistakenly posted on the outlet's social media account, before being set to private, and eventually deleted.

CNN research has found that China's major state media outlets appear to be following that playbook. Of the most retweeted post, on Weibo, from February 24, through March 3, more than 46 percent contained pro- Russia comments, compared to less than 5 percent, with pro-Ukraine statements. Roughly 35 percent of the post included attacks on the U.S. and its allies.

With reports by Russia's state media outlets being banned, in many Western nations, and Moscow enacting its own great firewall, to censor dissenting voices, domestically, Chinese state media is spreading, and amplifying, Putin's narrative, on air, and online, around the clock, and across the globe.



COOPER: David Culver, joins me now, live, from Shanghai.

Given how heavily censored China's media content is, is it clear how most people there feel about the Russian invasion? What's the sentiment?

CULVER: Yes. If you go through Chinese social media, Anderson, and then you see folks scrolling through, and thumbing through, all the different pages? You see a lot of pictures of Putin.

You don't see many pictures and images, from where you are, in Ukraine, to show the realities of the crisis. That said, it's not fair to say that folks here are totally ignorant, of what's going on. They have access to even CNN. Through VPNs, they can see Western social media.

And so, little by little, as this war is continuing to go on, as the fighting is pursuing, they're starting to see more of the realities trickle in. And you see questions are starting to be raised, as to "Hey, what are Russia's intentions in all of this?"

That said, it puts Beijing in a really difficult position, because they're in the midst of this balancing act, trying to still appease their best friend, at least that's how President Xi has described President Putin, and their northern neighbors, and at the same time, trying to portray themselves, as global peacemakers and, potentially, mediators, in all of this. It doesn't seem to be something they can sustain for much longer, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. David Culver, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Just ahead, one of the world's best-known photojournalist, who's chronicled war zones, for decades, throughout his award-winning career, shares his thoughts, on those he's met, and documented, since arriving, in Ukraine, and what other battle zones, this reminds him of.




COOPER: We've just gotten some disturbing photographs that give you a sense just of the human cost of this war, in the City of Mariupol, which has been under siege, by Russian forces.

This is the same city, where the hospital was attacked, a maternity ward. These are - this is a mass grave, in Mariupol that's been dug by Ukrainian officials, to bury their dead. We told you about the attacks there, and the difficulties of getting refugees, out.

The mayor there says there were - the dead were numbered in the dozens. And then, it was the hundreds. Quote, he now says, quote, "We are already talking about thousands." That's why they dig mass graves like this. There's no time for individual graves that it's too dangerous, too difficult.

It's photographs, like that, that have defined this war. Earlier today, I spoke with a photographer, David Turnley. He's a legendary photojournalist, one of the best photojournalists working. He's documented many wars, in his award-winning career.

He's now here, in Lviv, just got here the other day. And he's shared with me some of his thoughts, about what he has seen thus far, and how it compares to other assignments, he's had, around the world.


COOPER: You have seen in the Russian way of war up close. You were in Grozny, in 1996, I believe. Is that right?

DAVID TURNLEY, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING PHOTOGRAPHER: Yes, mid-90s. And certainly did. And it was overwhelming.

COOPER: The level of just brutality and sheer force against the civilian population?

TURNLEY: Absolutely. It was a time when the Russian army surrounded the capital of Chechnya, Grozny, and effectively decimated the city, with non-stop day and night bombing, shelling.

COOPER: Artillery and aircraft?

TURNLEY: Exactly. And it effectively rendered the reality, for people, in the city, a kind of suicide, to be there.

COOPER: And the city was really - was really leveled. And, I mean, there was not much distinction, between, or any distinction, between civilians and combatants.

TURNLEY: No. It was - the intent was to raze the city, and to drive people, out of the capital, effectively, to make it inhabitable and, I think, thus, to be able to take over the Republic.

COOPER: I keep trying to think of other places, where I've seen a population as kind of unified, to oppose, an aggressor. And, I think, about Sarajevo. And I was just in and out, very briefly, here and there, in the '93, '94 range.

You spent a lot of time in Sarajevo. Your photographs from there are extraordinary. Do you have memories of Sarajevo, when you come here?

TURNLEY: Yes, I do. I remember very distinctly, again, in the mid-90s, being in Bosnia, coming down a country road, and suddenly coming upon hundreds of women and children that had been routed, from their - the villages of Srebrenik (ph) and Zepa, and dumped into a field.

And certainly, I've seen, since I've arrived, in the Ukraine, and on the Polish border, the same look, you see, in people's eyes.

COOPER: That same sense of dislocation?

TURNLEY: Dislocation, not knowing what comes next, having to find a way to, to feel rooted, when there is nothing to be rooted with, except those that you're with. And the same element that we're seeing here, is that the refugees we're seeing are really mostly women and children. The real victims of war, are refugees--


TURNLEY: --people, who, everyday human beings, who, are, as you say, from one minute to the next, uprooted.

COOPER: Oftentimes, in this job, one is never sure, if anything makes a difference, what you're doing, what images you're showing. But no one can say, you know, in - there were very few - I was too scared to go to Grozny, in 1996 - 1995--


COOPER: --when you were there. It terrified me--


COOPER: --as a young correspondent. And, Aleppo, Syria, there weren't enough people there, watching, around the world, watching, what was going on.


COOPER: And so, Russia was able to do, whatever they want, drop barrel bombs, from the sky, torture civilians, whatever they wanted. Here, at least, no one can say they have not seen what is happening. They don't know--


COOPER: --of what is happening here.

TURNLEY: No. I so agree. I was thinking on the way over to talk together that, I've never - I've been covering wars, over the last 25 years, 30 years.


And I've never received the kind of hourly feedback, and support, and encouragement, for my work that I'm receiving now, over social media, because my work is being seen by lots of people that way.


TURNLEY: But that's not so much the point. I think the real point is that what we are experiencing, is the tragedy that human beings and people, we, most of us can relate to, for all kinds of reasons, I was also thinking about that, that this is the first time that I've witnessed, not just the breadth of this kind of refugee exodus, but also it spans the entire socioeconomic spectrum, of a modern European society.

COOPER: Yes. Well, also to see a 1.5 million, or 2 million refugees, pick up, or people, who've become refugees, pick up and move, often with one bag, maybe two bags, within a 12-day period, or however many days, it's been, I mean, there hasn't been a mass migration of people like this--


COOPER: --this quickly, since World War II. It's extraordinary. I mean, there were - there was a mass - I remember, in Rwanda, during the genocide--


COOPER: --there was a mass migration of people.


COOPER: And, at the time, I remember it being called, the biggest mass migration of people, perhaps in history. TURNLEY: Yes.

COOPER: And this dwarfs anything we have seen.

TURNLEY: No, I so agree. And I was thinking also about that, that what we're witnessing are people patiently, and orderly, in lines, waiting for what they have to do, to move forward, whatever that might mean.

We don't hear - and I'm trying to find the most polite way to say this, we see real support. The other feature here, obviously, is that men and women and children have been separated from - women and children have been separated from men, because the men are meant to stay back and fight. You don't - never hear anyone complaining about that.

COOPER: Yes. David Turnley, it's so lovely to see you. Thank you.

TURNLEY: Great to see you, Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks for what you do.

TURNLEY: Thank you.


COOPER: He's such a remarkable man. His career is incredible. You can follow him, on Instagram, by the way, @davidturnley. I follow him. His account's great.

We'll be right back.



COOPER: I recently had a very personal conversation with CNN's Clarissa Ward, about the personal side of covering this conflict, for CNN. It's a CNN podcast, called "Tug of War."

You can open your camera, on your phone, right now, and scan the QR code, in the bottom of your screen, for a link, to listen to it. Or, you can find it, in your favorite podcast app, wherever you listen to podcast.

We talked a lot about the importance of bearing witness, to all that's happening here, and what it's like, for her, doing this, week-after- week, month-after-month, year-after-year, the horror of it. But also, the moments of kindness that she has witnessed, the extraordinary perseverance of people here, and what it's like, to be a war correspondent.

It's a fascinating conversation. I hope you can listen to it.

Stay with CNN, for the latest, from Ukraine. The news continues. Want to turn things over to Don, for "DON LEMON TONIGHT."