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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Russia Intensifies Bombardment of Multiple Cities Across Ukraine; Satellite Images Show Russian Artillery Units Firing Near Kyiv. The Search For A Mom In Hard Hit Irpin; WH: "Strong Indications: Russia Is Committing War Crimes In Ukraine; Shelling Head In Kyiv. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 11, 2022 - 20:00   ET


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What's different now is how Americans feel in 2022.

LEO FELER, SENIOR ECONOMIST, UCLA ANDERSON FORECAST: We're hitting up on exhaustion as human beings.

LAH: And so you're exhausted and you pull into the gas station and you see that.

FELER: And then you're more exhausted.

LAH: Right.

FELER: Ruben Ponce fears that uncertainty won't stop at his truck and will trickle down to the average consumer.

Is that coming to their house? Is that going to come to their bank account?

RUBEN PONCE, INDEPENDENT TRUCK DRIVER: I don't see how it's not. Food, clothes, whatever it is, it's going to go up, so we're all going to feel it.

LAH (voice over): Kyung Lah, CNN, Long Beach, California.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening from Lviv, Ukraine.

We come to you tonight with new signs that Russia is widening the geographic scope of the fighting and deepening concern that it could be laying the groundwork to possibly use chemical weapons.

Since we left you last night, Russia targeted two cities here in western Ukraine. You'll recall air raid sirens were sounding as we went off the air though the actual strikes were about 90 minutes from here in either direction.

Now this is video from Lutsk which is just 70 miles or so from the border of NATO ally, Poland.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in foreign language.).

TRANSLATION: (Expletive).


COOPER: According to the Regional Governor, the local airport was hit by four bomber fired missiles, doing substantial damage killing two people. A military airfield about 150 miles south was also hit, and north of Kyiv, those artillery units that we showed you last night which had redeployed from the big convoy have now apparently gone into action.

This is a new photo from the satellite imaging company, Maxar. You can see some smoke coming from a number of the artillery pieces and as you can see from the flash bombs, the satellite camera appears to have also captured the muzzle flash from one of those guns. However, it's unclear exactly what they are firing at.

There is also a new video as well, a fresh reminder of just how punishing Russian tactics have been. This it comes from Dnipro and it was provided by Ukrainian Emergency Services.


COOPER: Now, this is the first time in Russia's invasion that they had hit that city and it is significant beyond just that fact, because this is a city where people from further east had been fleeing to for safety, no longer safe.

According to authorities, there were three Russian airstrikes here. One near a preschool, an apartment building killing one. In Melitopol', the mayor was led away by armed gunmen.

Now, the prosecutor's office for the separatists Russia-backed Luhansk region now says they are weighing terrorism charges against him. That's a surveillance video, you can barely see him being led away. This is the first known instance of Ukrainian political official being detained and investigated by Russian or Russian-backed forces since the invasion began.

Now also today, President Biden warned Russia against using chemical weapons. At the same time, he again said the United States will not be taking a direct role in the fighting here.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to continue to stand together with our allies in Europe and send an unmistakable message. We will defend every single inch of NATO territory with the full might of the united and galvanized NATO.

We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine. A direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is World War Three, something we must strive to prevent.


COOPER: We'll talk more about the concerns about the widening conflict shortly with our military experts. We'll also check in with Olena Gnes, who has been living as you may know if you've watched this program over the last two weeks or so with her three young children in a shelter in Kyiv while her husband serves as a Defense volunteer.

Here is some of what she said earlier today to the question of leaving Ukraine.


OLENA GNES, UKRAINIAN SHELTERING IN KYIV: The main thing is just the feeling in my heart, and in my mind, in my soul, in my body -- I have the feelings that I'm needed here. I stay here and I do something useful so I'm the most useful here for my country, for my people.

And Katya just said a very good thing. She said, why are you asking us to be relocated? These are Russians that needs to be relocated from Ukraine. These are Russian troops that need to go away, not we, Ukrainians.


They invaded our land and they need to go back home.


COOPER: A mom with her three kids. A conversation with her shortly.

Also, reports from across the region and the Atlantic, CNN chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward is in Kyiv tonight and in Washington, CNN chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.

First, I want to give a quick overview of the developments which we saw today from CNN's Oren Liebermann.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, the Russian military is expanding its invasion of Ukraine, increasing its attacks on the western part of the country. Fire and smoke seen in the aftermath of strikes on airfields near the Polish border. It's a scene that played out in cities all across the country, as Russia unleashed a barrage of attacks in the early morning hours.

In the central city of Dnipro, fire poured out of a destroyed factory, the rubble littering the ground, and another strike near a preschool and an apartment building.

In Chernihiv, an isolated city north of Kyiv, an explosion destroyed a soccer stadium and a nearby library. This crater shows the force of the impact. In Izyum, a city near the border with Russia, a strike destroyed a home for the disabled, many of whom are elderly, and there is growing evidence that the town of Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine has fallen to Russian forces and their separatist allies. Russian troops are seen running through the decimated streets.

Russia has falsely accused the U.S. of supporting experiments in Ukraine with biological and chemical weapons. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says it's a sign Russia itself intends to use such weapons.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This makes me really worried because we've been repeatedly convinced, if you want to know Russia's plans, look at what Russia accuses others of.

LIEBERMANN (voice over): President Joe Biden didn't go as far as drawing a red line on the use of chemical weapons by Russia, but he didn't issue this threat.

BIDEN: I'm not going to speak about the Intelligence, but Russia would pay a severe price if he used chemical weapons.

LIEBERMANN (voice over): The Russian advance is closing in on Kyiv. It is slow progress against a fierce Ukrainian resistance that has turned the capital city into a fortress.

Pentagon says one Russian approach to the city is about 10 miles outside the city center.

Oren Liebermann, CNN at the Pentagon.


COOPER: So with that, let's go straight to Clarissa Ward in Kyiv. What have you been seeing and hearing there tonight and throughout the day?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Anderson, I don't think the microphone will pick up on it because it's just inside the room, but right now we are hearing just a nonstop volley. It's been going on for at least three minutes at this stage, literally nonstop, no break of just heavy booms in the distance.

I do want to underscore that it is impossible for us to know whether those are Russian strikes coming in to some of those Kyiv suburbs or whether they are Ukrainian strikes going out because as you know, Ukrainians have been fighting back very hard and really pushing quite effectively the Russians from making an entrance into the city center.

We were out earlier, again, in that suburb of Irpin', we heard a similar sort of story, although not quite to this extent, a lot of artillery going back and forth, a lot of black smoke. Very few civilians left in that area, although there were still some people struggling to get out after more than 12 days pinned down.

But we heard today, Anderson, from the brother of the Mayor, Wladimir Klitschko, who basically said that Ukrainian officials now believe that Kyiv could be besieged, it could be encircled any day now, and he went on to say that if that does happen, it would only be about two weeks before food supplies started to run out.

And as I mentioned, last night, we talked about how there had been an uptick in fighting around Brovary, that eastern suburb, really showing that Russian forces are starting to make that arc, I don't know if you can hear that. Again, there's just a lot of a lot of explosions in the background there.

Whereas, I was saying, Russian forces, not just any longer occupying the sort of northwest and western side of Kyiv in the city center, but also squeezing in now from the east and so the worry becomes or frankly, the prognosis becomes that the intention is to fully surround the city, to starve the city, to bombard the city and then ultimately to try to overthrow Zelenskyy's government.

But as you know, as we have seen in videos and on the ground, Ukrainian forces are everywhere in this city now. They have dug up defensive positions along all the main thoroughfares leading into the city. They've put tank traps around. This is a heavily fortified city now, Anderson, and even if Russian forces are able to encircle it, it will still be an almighty battle for them to get to the heart of it -- Anderson.


COOPER: Kaitlan, President Biden -- well, actually, before I go back to you, Clarissa, let me just ask you, I mean, how -- you talked about the Russian forces in the northwest and in the east. I mean, how capable are they of actually surrounding Kyiv at this point? Because there were some who had raised questions about whether the Russian military would be even capable of actually surrounding Kyiv.

WARD: So I think that the prognosis for people who -- military analysts who are watching this closely is that it would be feasible for them to surround the city, although it's been a lot slower going than they had hoped it would be for a number of reasons. A., I don't think they had anticipated the fight they would get from the Ukrainians. B., they've run into all sorts of resupply issues.

We know now from those Maxar images that that large convoy has sort of broken apart, which might indicate that some of those supplies got to where they needed to be. But now the question becomes -- sorry -- it's just a continuous round of explosions going on in the background -- can they encircle the city? It looks like they potentially can, particularly if they are moving in from different directions.

Can they take the city? That is a very different story, particularly because those Ukrainian defenses here in the capital are so strong? The question becomes, how far are they willing to go? Or I should say, how low are they willing to stoop rather, in terms of indiscriminate bombing, in terms of trying to starve people out and that will largely determine how effective or plausible it is for them to take the full capital of Kyiv -- Anderson. COOPER: I mean, that could be the entire -- that could be the strategy for Kyiv, just surround it and just obliterate it, just continually fire shells into it, drop bombs on it.

However they do it, just pound it, pound it into submission.

WARD: And squeeze. I mean, they could encircle it and just really start to squeeze. Exactly as you're saying with bombardment, but also Anderson, after two weeks, food supplies start running low, medicine start running low.

We've got a huge amount of people who have been evacuated into this city center. So even though roughly half the population of Kyiv have left, they've also had a massive influx of people coming in from the suburbs in some of those cities in the north that have been the hardest hit.

So it could become extremely difficult, challenging, and also even more dangerous for the civilians of this city in the days and weeks to come.

COOPER: Kaitlan, President Biden spoke with President Zelenskyy today. What have you learned about that call?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes. Can I just speak to something about what Clarissa is saying there, and the concern here at the White House when it comes to this plan that they believe Russia does have to encircle Kyiv is getting stuff into Kyiv once that happens, because that has already become much more challenging now than it was a month ago for the United States and other NATO allies to actually get the equipment that they are sending into Ukraine, to Ukraine.

Before, they were flying it directly into the capital. You were seeing these pictures posted on Twitter feeds from the Pentagon, from Ukrainian officials of these huge shipments that were going in. Now, they are having to find very different ways to get it in. And a concern that they do have is that once they do encircle the city, they are going to have a really tough time getting that in there, not just getting humanitarian assistance in there, but getting the defensive assistance that the Ukrainians need to try to push back on the Russians and that has helped them slow their advance into Ukraine so far.

And that's been a big concern at the White House, and I think they realize that time is closing here, because we've talked about this assistance package that Capitol Hill is working on to get to Ukraine. But of course, they've actually got to get it there once it does get passed by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

And today, when President Biden was speaking after he did have this 49-minute conversation with President Zelenskyy, which is a little bit longer than the typical conversations that the two of them have had since the invasion started, President Biden said they're going to make sure Ukraine has what it needs to fight back against Russia. Now, he made clear that is not going to involve U.S. forces on the ground, in the skies over Ukraine, but he did say when it comes to equipment, they want to make sure that they have what they believe is the most effective.

Now there has been disagreement over whether or not that involves those used jets that of course, Poland wanted to get to them to have the U.S. transfer. But I do think that is going to be the next challenge that the White House is watching very closely.

COOPER: Yes. Kaitlan Collins, thank you. Clarissa Ward, thank you. Be careful.

With new shelling her just now in Kyiv, our military experts join us next help make sense of that and today's many other developments, their take as well and what the day and the week add up to in the larger sweep of the war.

And later, we'll talk to Clarissa and see her reporting, the staggering human crisis in Irpin' and the people going to extraordinary lengths to help.



COOPER: With new shelling heard just now over the last several minutes in Kyiv, there are new satellite images that some of the nearby artillery is 18 miles northwest of central Kyiv as seen from space. Hence, you can see from that and from a blown up portion of the frame, the guns are firing though it's not clear what their targets are or exactly what time of day that was taken.

There's that, the strikes here in western Ukraine and the concerns about chemical biological warfare. Certainly, a lot to talk to.

Joining us now CNN military analyst and retired Army three-star General Mark Hertling, also retired Army Brigadier General Peter Zwack. He is currently a Global Fellow of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute.

So General Hertling, you heard Clarissa a moment ago talking about the shelling being heard in Kyiv just now, and the concerns about possible encirclement. I think you had raised some questions about the capabilities of Russian to actually encircle the city.

What do you think is going on now?


HERTLING: Well, first Anderson, Clarissa's report was very good when she was saying she heard repeated booms, having been in a tanker all my life, living close to tank range on various forts in the United States and in Europe, those were probably tank battles, truthfully, or tanks against antitank weapon systems, which we have repeatedly seen evidence of. She then talked about the siege. And I geeked out on you a little bit tonight, Anderson, and looked up our doctrinal definition of the siege and it is a military blockade of a city or a fortified place to compel forces within to surrender due to persistent or serious attacks.

Now, let's talk a little bit about Kyiv itself. There is a 30-mile circumference around the city of Kyiv. It is an absolutely beautiful city with a river, the Dnieper right down the middle, and a population of three million people at the start of the campaign. They probably have two million there now.

What we have seen is that the Russian forces have repeatedly attempted to close on the city, in other words, approach the city. But we have now been reporting for three days that they are 10 miles away. That tells me they are either taking an operational pause to get resupplied, which I doubt because the Ukrainian forces are talking about how they are continually attacking those forces and those are the booms you hear in the background.

I've seen pictures of Ukrainian soldiers today, films of them, every single one of them has an antitank weapon system strapped across their back. So they are conducting operations against a column that has been somewhat dysfunctional and incompetent in terms of getting the last 10 miles to a city with a supply line that is nonexistent right now.

So I think from what I'm seeing, they are coming from the northeast, the northwest, and potentially the east where they haven't -- the Russian forces have not driven that far. So they are not going to be able to encircle that 30-mile perimeter anytime soon.

COOPER: General Zwack, do you think it likely that given the now fortifications that are said to be in Kyiv and because of the bravery and the hard fight that that the Ukrainians had been putting up that it has given time for forces inside Kyiv to build up defenses. Do you think the Russians will try to enter the city or just spend some time, I guess, in their term, softening it up, just pounding it, destroying buildings, making life as miserable as possible and trying to kill as many people and deprive as many people from airstrikes or artillery strikes?

BRIG. GEN. PETER ZWACK (RET), U.S. ARMY: Yes, Anderson, let me try to draw a picture. I'm trying to see the Russian set. Yes, they have been -- again, they have begun to unravel if you will, their column, their long supply line. By the way, those soldiers were frozen. They've been out there in their trucks and vehicles for the last eight days. So they have to disperse just to get to a place and maybe fight for a village to get some warmth.

Okay, the siege. As I see it, the Russians are working their tentacles around the city and it is bloody. It has been bloodier than they thought. But while they are besieging inward, they've also now got to cover their backside to clearly Ukrainian light fighting units stay behind units, even partisans who are going to be ravaging the backside of the siege as it looks into Kyiv.

So the Russians are actually finding themselves in the unenviable position of having to fight both sides. I think that this is too big a mission that if they sit out there for a week or two trying to besiege, they're going to be death from a thousand cuts and it's already happening and they don't have the forces it seems to in a muscular way, mount a major effort into the city and the troops are exhausted and they are cold and they are miserable and their morale is probably down even if they've been stiffened by Rosgvardiya, the National Guard units and mercenaries.

COOPER: So General Hertling, what did they do?

HERTLING: Well, they will do exactly as you say, Anderson, they will continue to attempt to encircle the city. I don't believe they'll be successful in doing that, so they may begin the bombardment with missiles, artillery, and rockets.

They have not -- the Russians have not been able to fly their Air Force as much as they would have liked to. The Ukrainian Air Force is putting up a great fight as well. They are doing a much better job than I anticipated and I'll summarize the way I see this, I thought the Ukraine Army and their territorial forces were going to do very well. They've done much better than I anticipated they would.


I thought the Russians were going to suck. They suck even more than I anticipated. They are not doing well at all. They just had another Commander killed today, a-two star General, the head of the 29th Combined Arms Army. That tells me they are trying to get their leadership to the front to unscrew their convoys, to unscrew their tactics and they are exposing themselves to fire.

So you've seen not only the repeated killing and destruction and abandonment of equipment, and the killing of Russian soldiers, I would guess that the casualty rate is much higher than any report has come in and the desertion rates and the capture rates of the Russian Army are much higher.

And we can tell because Mr. Putin is trying to get Syrian mercenaries to come in, and he is mobilizing some of his guard as replacements. So all of those things point to me that this continues to be bad, and it is going to be worse for the Russians.

The key point is, can the Ukrainian forces hold out? Are the people going to be killed, the civilian population with continued war crimes by Mr. Putin and his forces? Those are the key factors that will determine the outcome.

COOPER: General Mark Hertling and General Peter Zwack, I appreciate your perspectives. Thank you.

When we return, we're going to go back to our Clarissa Ward. She has a report from Irpin' just outside Kyiv. She is going to bring us some scenes of what is happening there, the destruction. She tries to help a woman in America find her mother trapped in the fighting outside Ukraine's capital.

It's a remarkable story we want you to see just ahead.



COOPER: Intense firing going on in this moment around the capital of Kyiv somewhere in the suburbs according to our Clarissa Ward. That's one reason that Ukrainian officials are having limited success evacuating citizens from the approaching Russian forces. Kyiv, is obviously Ukraine's largest city by population and only about 22,000 people have been safely evacuated the past three days. Many of these places have suffered repeated shellings and are without power and water. That didn't make rescue efforts complicated enough.

Clarissa Ward encountered a woman online who lives in America and was desperate to find her mother who lived just outside Kyiv. Clarissa has the details of what she found. Clarissa joins us again from Kyiv. So --


NATALIA LARSON: My name is Natalia Larson. I'm from Ukraine. But last five years I live in United States. My mom (INAUDIBLE) she is still Irpin --

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And a passion please sent to us on Twitter by a daughter desperately trying to track down her mother.

LARSON: My mama doesn't have connection. I cannot call her. I didn't hear from her a few days. She is by herself in our apartment. Please. I beg you Clarissa, you are my last hope.

WARD (voice-over): That message brought us back to this spot, the destroyed bridge, where brave volunteers continue to ferry out civilians who have been trapped in European for more than 10 days. We've been told they may be able to help find Natalia's mother. On our way to meet them, we hear a familiar accent.


WARD (voice-over): Dwight Crow has flown here from San Francisco to help in any way he can. Less than a week after arriving he is embedded with Ukrainian volunteers, and now spends his days helping Irpin's most vulnerable escape.

CROW: When I saw the invasion, I honestly bought a plane ticket and got here as quick as I could. This feels like the biggest fight for freedom I've seen in my lifetime.

WARD (on-camera): Have you ever been in a war zone before?

CROW: Not like this.

WARD (on-camera): For most Americans, this would be a little out of their comfort zone. CROW: This is a little out of my comfort zone. It's scary when you hear the bombs going off at the same time, you just there's people a lot closer to it than us and they're really the ones in harm's way and we're just doing our part to get him out of here.

WARD (voice-over): Lawyer, Daria and her team risked their lives every day to do just that. She speeds through the deserted streets, looking for those who are stranded and need help. She's agreed to add Natalia's mother to the list.

(on-camera): So Daria, are you not afraid to do this?

DARIA PISARENKO, VOLUNTEER: I'm afraid of course. I don't have a child yet. And I understand that I can help people.

WARD (voice-over): They reach the first stop. Shelling can be heard in the distance, and they need to move quickly.

(on-camera): You can feel how this place is completely deserted. It's like a ghost town.

(voice-over): Is the owner here they shout? The team consults their list to check the address.


WARD (voice-over): No one answers and it's time to move on. In less than two weeks, Daria has seen the pleasant suburb of Kyiv where she lives turned into a warzone.

(on-camera): Does it make you angry?

PISARENKO: Yes, I'm angry. And I think it's OK. I'm angry to all the Russian people to all Russian people. Because silence it's also violence now. You are with Ukraine or with Russia.

WARD (voice-over): We recognize the next stop. It's the address we've been searching for. But the first glance is troubling.

(on-camera): So this is the apartment complex where Natalia has told us that her mother lives. I'm just a little bit concerned because I can see there's some damage up there, presumably from artillery.

(voice-over): Team member Anton enters one of the buildings, who is waiting for evacuation, he shouts. But there is no reply. And Natalia's mother is no way to be seen.


There is just a handful of people still living here with Mila and her husband tell us they chop wood in the forest and burn it to stay warm.


WARD (on-camera): So she's saying that there's no water. There's no gas, there's no electricity. They cook their meals out here on an open fire.

(voice-over): Yet they refuse to leave. Where would we go, we don't have anywhere to go, she says. Whether they kill us here or there doesn't matter. When will these monsters leave?

Across the road, Daria urges another couple to evacuate. But it's another, no. They've made it this far and are willing to see it through. The team has found one man Olay (ph) who wants to get out. He bundles into the improvised rescue vehicle and sets off beyond the smash windscreen that lies the relative safety of Kyiv center.

Back at the bridge, he tells us about his ordeal. It was an awful frightening situation there, he says. They shelled us 24 hours a day. The rest of his family is in a city now held by Russian forces in the South. I don't know where I live anymore, he says before bidding us goodbye.

It's time to head back our mission unfulfilled. We haven't found Natalia's mother. But as we get closer to the city center, our cell phone signal returns. So we've just had some great news from Natalia, she tells me that a few hours ago her mother was successfully evacuated from Irpin by one of the volunteers. Yet another family saved by ordinary citizens doing extraordinary work.


COOPER: And Clarissa join us, again from Kyiv. I mean, these people who, whether it's people who have come from abroad who are here, or people who have, you know, just risen up to help it just -- the selflessness you see in a situation like this is extraordinary. What did you see on your journey to Irpin? Were you surprised? I mean, that that, it just be the fact that it's like a ghost town is really just kind of stunning.

WARD: Yes, it's like a ghost town. I think the other surprise Anderson is that the few areas that you can still move around in and there are still a lot of risks associated with that, they're not as badly damaged as other parts are of the suburb, but you can't get to those parts because they are under Russian control. So you're sort of driving around, it's incredibly, eerily quiet. The streets are basically deserted. You can hear a lot of artillery, going back and forth, a lot of fighting, particularly just to the north in a place called (INAUDIBLE) of that area.

And I think the most striking thing, though, honestly, was spending time with Daria, who's a lawyer, Anton, who's a scientist, and the other member of the team is a personal fitness trainer. And you're just thinking to yourself, how is it possible, the two and a half weeks ago, you were going into an office every day, and working in law, and now you're risking your life every day, to go and try to help people where you can? And I really pressed Daria on that I'm like, I want to try to understand how you're doing this. And what she told me was that her husband had basically joined the military to join the fight. And she was like, I couldn't sit at home all day. Because obviously, there's no option to do a regular job anymore. I couldn't sit at home all day, I knew I had to be out there. And I knew I had to contribute in some way. And the other thing that just stayed with me, as you heard in the story, she was like, I don't have children yet. So this is what I had to do.

It's that kind of selflessness honestly, that you encounter a lot in conflict zones, but here in Ukraine it's really just been staggering to see so many people coming together putting everything on the line to defend their country and their values, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. And it's not as if they don't know the risks they know all too well, how tenuous their situation is there. Clarissa Ward, thank you so much for that. Appreciate it.

The White House has voiced support for war crimes investigation of a Russia strikes in civilian area. The question is Russia -- is Russia intentionally targeting civilians in Ukraine from a legal standpoint? That's what will be looked at. To help put these atrocities in the context with other wars past is someone who's witnessed many up close veteran war correspondent Christiane Amanpour, her perspective next.



COOPER: Welcome back, there's been a continued shelling in around Kyiv. Clarissa Ward heard of bombardment of explosions live on our air a short while ago. General Mark Hertling said he thought it was likely tank fire. Throughout Ukraine reported Russian attacks have hidden maternity hospital, a kindergarten apartment and buildings with families killed while seeking safety. We've seen mortars land on an area by a bridge people evacuating from Irpin. The question is do Russia's actions in Ukraine so far amount to war crimes? The White House said today there are quote, strong indications Russia's committing them but stopped short of declaring it as fact because such a declaration legally requires an investigation.

We get perspective now from CNN's chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour is reporting from the frontlines of the Bosnian war of course in the 1990s helping expose the atrocities of that war, including the deliberate slaughter of civilians, many leaders were later held accountable for war crimes.

Christiane, you know, we, you and I have talked about the kind of the similarities the echoes of what happened in Bosnia in Sarajevo to what is going on here. Talk about the trajectory of come of Serbian generals, Serbian leaders ultimately being charged with war crimes on the ground. How long did it take for that designation to come to pass


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well it took a few years Anderson before they were actually indicted and the leaders whether it was Ratko Mladic who was a so-called general commander of the Bosnian Serb separatists forces. And Radovan Karadzic who was the political leader of this experiment to create zones that they wanted to keep by killing and removing civilians. So those are classic definitions of war crimes. Remember, war crimes is a broad term, under which comes crimes against humanity and other such things right up to the highest, which is genocide.

And then thereafter, it took a while to actually find them after the war, they went into hiding. And then they were finally brought in. The Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, who was considered the godfather of this project, and who supported the separatists with arms and with political cover, he was found earlier was taken to the Hague, he actually died in the dock. But nonetheless, there was a very, very strong case against him. You do have to prove that this was intentional, you have to prove all the way up the chain of command that these orders were given, or the due consideration for civilians was not given. And certainly in Sarajevo, in Srebrenica, in those areas that was adjudicated, and these people were convicted of crimes against humanity and genocide, and other war crimes. So they were sentenced to life in prison.

And in terms of what's happening in Ukraine, you've heard the United States, Europe, many, many country, many leaders, accusing the Putin and his generals and officers of the same. And actually, an investigation is beginning the ICC, the International Criminal Court with Russia does not belong to has actually started an investigation because it was asked by 39 nations to do that.

COOPER: Not only does Russia not belong to, the United States doesn't belong to and I think if my memory serves me correctly, Ukraine doesn't belong to it. I think, though they had talked about possibly changing that. Does that matter in terms of an investigation?

AMANPOUR: Well, yes, and no, it matters because as you say, those don't belong to it. However, for instance, in the case of Bosnia, Rwanda, they did create a special tribunal for those wars and for those war crimes. So, it's possible that that might happen. And there are also other ways to, you know, produce and proceed with a forensic investigation, and then with the legal ramifications in court. Now, the thing is, the ICC does not have the power to deter. In other words, it does not have arrest power.

So all of these are complicated. But similar to the Ukraine, or sorry, the Yugoslavia tribunal, they did manage to get, for instance, local agents, local police on the ground to do it. Again, it took a long time. But I do think it's important what you mentioned that the U.S. administration has not yet fully accused the Russians. And I would assume this is because of the all important matter, which is to figure out how to get President Putin to stop. In other words, they still have to figure out a way to get him to stop in a political way, because it's unlikely this is going to be sold on the battlefield.

COOPER: Yes. And that obviously has proved -- I mean, at this point, there doesn't seem to be. I guess what diplomats would call an off ramp. At this stage, there had been some hope that the meeting of the two foreign ministers yesterday would perhaps kind of work out some sort of least initial ideas about what some sort of a ceasefire would look like, but that didn't happen.

AMANPOUR: No, and you know, we're looking at all this imagery from around Ukraine, and all we see is civilian infrastructure being attacked and civilians being killed. We don't see images to that extent of military infrastructure being attacked. So that's one issue. The other issue is that there have been subtle shifts in positions. In an interview, President Zelenskyy said quite clearly, although he framed it in a very interesting way, he said when asked about NATO, well, I've cooled off on that idea now that I know NATO does not want us in at the moment, I cooled off. So he publicly put that aside for the moment.

And people who are meeting with Vladimir Putin say that they've detected a slight shift in the maximalist demands. This is just according to people who've been meeting with him. And some say and they look at the fact that he is no longer calling for a fully demilitarized Ukraine, that he is no longer calling for the removal of the chief government. But that some kind of neutrality is what they're after. And very importantly, this you know, this is the difficult part is the territorial part over Crimea and the eastern part of Ukraine that they already occupied.


So, you know, the Israeli Prime Minister has been there, Israeli officials tell me that they're trying their best with Putin and with Zelenskyy to see whether there's a way to, to negotiate because this is in the end and negotiation. What you've heard all along from your military experts that it's going to be really difficult, if not impossible, for the Russians to completely take either Kyiv or Ukraine. It is just unlikely that they're ever going to be able to do that. And the pain that's going to come in the interim, is what's going to be the cost of trying to figure out a way to negotiate an end of this.

COOPER: Yes. Christiane Amanpour, appreciate it from London. Thank you so much.

Just ahead, someone who is experiencing the shelling firsthand, a mom of three who has been on this broadcast several times since the war began. We talked to her again today about her family's life inside Ukraine's capitol inside the basement where she and her three beautiful children had been living.



COOPER: Ongoing firing around the capital of Kyiv tonight heard by our Clarissa Ward, we wanted to check back in with someone we've been talking to quite a bit since the invasion. Olena Gnes, a former journalist who now posts videos to her what is Ukraine YouTube channel. It's basically a video diary of her and her family's life there. As you may know if you've watched us over the last couple of weeks, we've been talking to her she's currently hiding from the shelling in a basement, not even a bomb shelter, really just a basement in a building with her three children, the youngest of whom is four months old. She's only occasionally gotten to see her husband who's volunteered to fight. I spoke with Olena earlier tonight about the fighting happening near there and she and her family are doing.


COOPER (on-camera): Olena, how are you and your kids doing today?

OLENA GNES, UKRAINIAN SHELTERING IN KYIV: We are doing -- kids are doing fine. A little bit tired and stressed. Me I'm doing bad, because we are in a bad situation.

COOPER (on-camera): Has something changed about the situation? Do you -- I understand I heard you say that you've heard more gunshots and that you feel the Russian forces are close.

GNES: I'm not sure what exactly it was. But we were like, we went outside and kids were playing at the playground and all of a sudden we like heard these guns shooting very close to us. And we just ran into the bomb shelter. Maybe this was someone I didn't know what was it but it was very close. And in the daytime, we heard the very loud explosion. Maybe that was air defense that worked and hit (INAUDIBLE) or something. Yes, from time to time we hear explosions and we hear the guns. And like we are in the northwest of Kyiv, in Abilene (ph) region. So what do you know about is, you know, tanks coming. We are very close to the position of Russians who are coming in position of the Ukrainian army who are protecting us. So we hear lots of exposure. Yes.

And --

COOPER (on-camera): You're in the northwest. You feel that if Russia invaded, that is the direction they would invade from.

GNES: Yes. Oh, of course they. Yes, because here we have this main road. Yes, they are coming from the Northwest. And we are here.

COOPER (on-camera): I understand that Darina (ph) had a big milestone that she was able to grab her feet and put them in her mouth.

GNES: Yes. That was the case. She's growing and the more and more --

COOPER (on-camera): That's a big deal.

GNES: Yes. Yesterday, my husband said he was able to come back home for a little bit and we had the whole hour together at home in our apartment. That was so cool. And he was very surprised to see how much bigger Martha (ph), Darina (ph) became in this two weeks. And yes, and we changed this two weeks a lot.

COOPER (on-camera): I feel like she's bigger than in the two weeks that you and I have spoken. She -- I feel like she's grown we're showing a picture of your husband. Was that back -- was that in the shelter? Or were you back at the apartment with him?

GNES: That was yesterday, we were back into the apartment and we had one hour at home together. And finally he had his shower for the first time in two weeks.

COOPER (on-camera): That's the longest you've been able to spend with him, isn't it? GNES: Yes, yes. That was the longest one hour. Yes. That was the second time when I saw him when I met him.

COOPER (on-camera): I saw you post posting something that you said to your kids when you were at the apartment you said it's time to go home and you meant go back to the to the basement to the shelter. That feels like home now?

GNES: Yes, that's we -- we feel safer in the basement like psychological safe we're like under the ground. We say explosions are not that loud and then under the ground it will stay for then on the eighth floor in our apartment in the old (INAUDIBLE) building. Yes. And we already have here many toys and many blankets and some food more food here than at home, like in our apartments. So yes, it's now like our home too.

And it's such a pity because we have created here some comfort. And I see -- I realized may -- it's not forever this shelter cannot be this nice and perfect forever. And that the danger is very close and it can change this, you know, feeling of safety can be illusion.