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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Russia Intensifies Bombardment Of Multiple Cities Across Ukraine; WH: "Strong Indications" Russia Is Committing War Crimes In Ukraine; Many Russians Are Buying Putin's War Misinformation. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired March 11, 2022 - 21:00   ET




OLENA GNES, UKRAINIAN SHELTERING IN KYIV: And in every day, every morning, I, like, wake up, and I say thank you, for another night. Now, we have another day, and we take one day at a time. And each day can be the last. It's very hard feeling.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And you are still resolute to stay?

GNES: I stay. I still resolute to stay. I stay here, because this is my home. If you guys afraid to, then I have no option not to be afraid, yes.

If I leave, nobody else is going to come and protect my home and protect me. So, it should be me. It should be my husband. It should be my neighbors. We should protect ourselves. We should fight ourselves.

I don't want to sacrifice my children. I don't want to sacrifice myself. I don't want to be a martyr, or something. I want - don't want to be a part of a big show. I don't want to be a part of this tragedy.

I already can see these touching movies that you can do, after all this ends, like "Oh, once upon a time, there was Olena, a mother of three children. And she perished because she loves Ukraine," and this touching music, blah, blah, blah. I don't want this.

I want to live. I want my kids to go back to school and kindergarten. But, to be able to attend school and kindergarten, and have a normal childhood, again, we have to put a big effort into this. So, this is what we do. We face it. We do our best.

And I still hope - I still hope that the Western leaders will - will do something. Because, I have a feeling that it's possible to stop this war. It's possible to stop it now. It's not too late. I have a feeling. And I still believe it will happen.

COOPER: And, as you say, you're fighting for just a normal life.

GNES: Yes.

COOPER: Fighting to have your kids go to school, grow up like everyone else.

GNES: Yes. Yes. I don't want anything special. I just want my peaceful normal life back. I just want to go back to my bedroom. I want my husband back into my bed.

I want just to have normal, peaceful life that I had before. I want to continue doing videos, about Ukraine, in my YouTube channel, about how - about the history, of this country, about the culture of this country. And so, I just want to live.

COOPER: Olena Gnes, I appreciate you, taking the time, to talk to us. Thank you.

GNES: You're welcome.


COOPER: A mother and her three children, in a basement, in Kyiv, tonight.

There's still a lot to cover, in the hour ahead. As fears mount, that Russians may be considering the use of chemical or biological weapons, we'll check in with a former U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Also, a Russian journalist, with some insights, into perhaps the inner circle, of Vladimir Putin, and the thinking of them. He joins us, as our lives coverage, from Ukraine, continues.




COOPER: Today, Russia has been broadening, the war, in Ukraine, hitting cities, here, in the west of the country, closer to Lviv, closer to NATO territory, and trying to increase the pressure, around the capital, Kyiv. Just within the last hour there were repeated explosions have been heard there.

In our last hour, retired three-star General Mark Hertling, said the type of noise that Clarissa Ward was describing, indicated to him either tank battles, or the exchange of tank and anti-tank fire.

Short time ago, we got new satellite photos, with some of the artillery units, deployed, northwest of the city, Russian artillery units, part of that huge convoy we showed you redeploying, last night. Again, tonight, the photos are from the satellite imaging company, Maxar.

You can see some smoke, from some of the guns. And, as you can see, the patch of orange there, the satellite camera appears to have also captured the muzzle flash, from one of them. Not clear though, what the target is, or exactly what hour, those were taken.

Want to get right, to CNN's Matthew Chance, in Kyiv, for us. Matthew, in this - in the last 30 minutes or so, have you continued to hear shelling?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Here, in Kyiv, it's been quite noisy actually, over the past couple of hours, with big explosions that we've been hearing, on the outskirts, of the city, an indication of the fierce fighting that is still continuing, particularly, to the north of the city, where Russian forces are making a pretty concerted advance, towards the Ukrainian capital.

We've also seen quite a lot of outgoing fire, from inside Kyiv, as well, or just a short distance from here as well, surface-to-air missiles, presumably firing aircraft or missiles in the skies above.

And so, yes, I mean, it's a very tense evening, tonight. People of Kyiv, the defense forces, the officials, very anxious that we could be on the brink of a big push, by the Russians, to encircle the city, to tighten the stranglehold, around it and, of course, eventually, to take it, Anderson.

COOPER: That is the concern that there would be some sort of stranglehold, around it, which in one would limit supplies coming in, food, medicine, things, like that, but also weaponry, which is still wanting to be sent, from European countries, from the United States.

And obviously, once encircled, or at least partially encircled, there could just be bombardment, into the city, to try to break the will, of people, before there's any kind of even Russian actual invasion of the city.

CHANCE: Yes, I mean, that's the concern, of course. I mean, I think that there's already a lot of weapons, inside the city. And Ukrainians, the armed forces, the citizenry that have decided to stay, have made it absolutely clear that they're not going to give up their capital city, without a ferocious fight.


And you've seen that taking place already. I mean, we visited the tank columns, the armored columns that have been hammered, destroyed, in an unexpectedly strong defense of this city. And that's likely to be the case, if there is a big push, by the Russians, into the city center. They're not going to give it up easily.

But resources are finite, for the Ukrainians.

Whereas, but the Russians, if the will is there, politically, at the Kremlin, could keep on piling up, and doubling up, on the other military pressure. And that's the big, I think, the big danger, the big concern, for this city, and other cities, around the country.

COOPER: Matthew Chance, in Kyiv. Matthew, thank you.

Want to go next to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, in Odessa, which is bracing to repel a Russian assault. Nick, you are in Odessa, tonight. There was heavy shelling, tonight, I understand, in another southern city, Mykolaiv. Are the Russian troops getting closer to Odessa?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: At this stage, it seems, the answer is no. Although, the dynamics around Mykolaiv do appear to be changing. And certainly, the intensity of the shelling that we've seen tonight, in Mykolaiv, is troubling, certainly, obviously for the residents there.

The images that have emerged are backed up by a statement by the Regional head. And it shows intense explosions. It has to be Grad rockets, to be honest, hitting near, what looks like a residential complex. The Regional head has been talking about a cafe, a car workshop, other residential areas, being hit.

Not new, of course, because Russian forces, frustrated by their inability, to get into Mykolaiv itself, have been shelling residential areas, over the past days. We've seen the impact of that ourselves. Cluster munitions, landing in vegetable patches, cars, extraordinary level of indiscriminate damage.

The question really is, given the Regional head also talked about, how they are seeing fierce clashes, to the north, does this mark a new bid, by Russian forces, to move in? Or are they again trying to encircle Mykolaiv, from the north, round to its west, potentially, to enact a sort of siege, we've seen, grotesquely play out, in Mariupol?

So, it's certainly an edgy city, in Mykolaiv, tonight. Anderson?

COOPER: Is Mykolaiv the city, which you talked about, I think, it was the Mayor, telling people, to bring tires, to intersections?

PATON WALSH: Yes, that's right. I mean, look, it's been an extraordinary thing, to observe, because it's played out, in plain sights.

The Regional head, of Mykolaiv, has this fantastic Telegram channel, in which he consistently, every hour, tells people, a brief update. In fact, when I met him, he said it was something that his wife had told him, to get into, and he never thought about doing himself, before that particular moment.

But it has been very effective, in terms of providing, live updates, to locals, about what's going on, and I presume, playing into that information war. I mean, tonight, his last post said, "Hey, it's boring. I'm going to sleep. Don't worry." Whether that really reflects the reality, given the volume of shells, we've seen, land around Mykolaiv? I don't know.

But it gives you a sort of snapshot, as to how basic tools are being used, by Ukrainians, here, to harness people, in their defense. Putting tires, on the street corners, and getting ready, for a potential Russian invasion, is certainly one of those moves, Anderson.

COOPER: I believe that's - we had General David Petraeus, on the program, last night. I think it was - and he - I think, it was Mykolaiv, he was pointing to, and saying that we'll watch that conflict there, and what the Regional head there is doing, has been really extraordinary.

Nick Paton Walsh, I appreciate you being in that region. It's so critical. Thank you so much. In Odessa, tonight.

Want to get perspective, on the American, and NATO effort, at supporting Ukraine, without its hope sparking a larger direct conflict, with Russia, and doing it, as concerns grow about chemical and biological warfare, on the part of the concerns, by the U.S. and European nations.

Joining us now, former Defense Secretary, William Cohen.

Secretary Cohen, the fact that Russia appears to be shifting focus, or at least widening the conflict, launching some attacks, in western Ukraine, an airfield, just 70 miles, from the border of NATO, of Poland, a NATO ally, what does it tell you about the future, of just where this is headed?


And you may recall that Vladimir Putin was said to be a genius! So, we are watching a genius at work here. But in fact, it looks more like butchery, than a genius, or a world-class chess player.

Things are not going well, because, he, Putin, overestimated his abilities, with his military, and underestimated the fighting spirit, of the Ukrainian people. So, he is trying to widen it, to see if he can instill more fear, and spread the fear out, throughout the country.

But whatever he does, no matter, how many cities, he tries to level, it's clear that he can't conquer the hearts and minds, of the Ukrainian people.


So, at the end of all of this, you say how is this going to play out? And, I think, what we're watching, is the incredible shrinking, of the Russian President.

If you look at the President of Russia now, he's sitting at the end of that long table, which gets longer every day, and he's more alone every day, and he's basically saying, "Yes, I'm the Commander-in- Chief. I'm the chess player. I'm the genius, at work, here."

And I don't know what that says, for him, going forward, in the future. But he certainly has been diminished, in the eyes of the world, as being a first-class leader. Because the one who has emerged, as the first-class leader, is President Zelenskyy.

So, I think the - all of a talk about the use of chemical or biological weapons, I think, that is not without some validity. I don't think the Administration will be talking about that, if they didn't have some indication, either by precedent, in terms of how Putin has conducted wars, in the past, or murdered his citizens, or poisoned them, or supported people, like Assad, in Syria that dumped barrel bombs, and chemical weapons, on their people.

I think they would not be saying, unless, there's some indication that there is talk, within the Kremlin, of doing something, of this magnitude. So, I think we have to be concerned about it, and prepared for it, and call him out on it.

And I know you had a segment talking about this. This is an act or a war against - a crime against humanity. I think we're there. I don't think we need a whole lot more proof, even though some doubted, from a prosecutorial point of view.

COOPER: You heard President Biden say that Russia will pay severe price, if they use chemical weapons. Obviously, not doing what President Obama had done, regarding Syria, saying that there was a red line, it's always dangerous if you set a red line, if you don't actually mean to hold to that.

I'm not sure what a severe price is. And obviously, he left it open- ended. Do you think chemical weapons attack would - what kind of a price would - I mean, I don't even know, if it's worth kind of going down that road, trying to figure that.

Let me just ask you, what I really want to know, is what do you think is the endgame here, for Russia? I mean, if - I don't understand.

If they are able to somehow occupy Kyiv, and Odessa, and the towns, in the south, and get a land bridge, to Crimea, and they've destroyed the country? They then, are responsible, for the country, for having to rebuild it. That doesn't seem to be a task that they want to take on!

COHEN: They'd have to rebuild it, with the possibility of insurgency, being conducted, while they're trying to rebuild it, if they do at all. So, I think, President Putin is in a position now, where there should be a path, or a way, out of this.

I would hope - I still want to come back to the Chinese, and also the Indians, who maintain relations with Putin. And hopefully, they'll use their influence, to say, "This is not going well, for you. But you are also causing great," I would say, "discontent, throughout the economic economy, as such that this is going to have wide-ranging impact, not only in your country, but in ours, and potentially others as well."

So, I'm hoping that the Chinese, even though they're not saying it publicly, are working behind-the-scenes, to say, "Let's find a way out of this, that you can pound your chest, and say, 'You see how strong I am,' and President Zelenskyy can say, 'I'm still free, and we're still an independent country, not dominated by Russia.'"

There's a way to do this. And, I think, know what the ultimate goal should be. How we get there depends not on the U.S., specifically, but upon the Friends of Putin, who can talk to him, whereas he's not going to be talking to us. And certainly, no one in Russia, is going to come to Putin, and say, "Mr. President, I think we made a mistake here. I think you ought to call this off."


COHEN: That's a one way ticket to the gulag, for anyone, who wants to do that, from the Russian perspective.

COOPER: Yes. Secretary Cohen, it's always a pleasure, to talk to you. I appreciate it. Thanks for your - thanks.

COHEN: Good to talk to you, Anderson. Thanks.

COOPER: Coming up next, my conversation, with a Russian journalist, Mikhail Zygar, author of a remarkable book, about Vladimir Putin, and the people close to him, or as he memorably describes it, the people in the Court of Vladimir Putin.

And later, to Secretary Cohen's remarks, about whether Russia is now committing, war crimes, in Ukraine, we'll be joined by the International Criminal Court's first prosecutor, ahead.




COOPER: Given the stakes, certainly, for Ukraine, but also for Russia, and the world, knowing what makes Vladimir Putin, tick, and the people around him, tick, to the extent that it can be known, matters. But even barring that, it also helps to identify, from whom he draws power, and who or what factors, might alter the way, he uses it.

Those questions are why we're talking tonight, to Russian journalist, Mikhail Zygar, Author of "All the Kremlin's Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin."

Mikhail, you have long-standing relationships, with high-level Russian businessmen, Kremlin insiders. I'm wondering what your sense, is of what Vladimir Putin, is doing, in Ukraine, and why - why do you think he's changed?

MIKHAIL ZYGAR, AUTHOR, "ALL THE KREMLIN'S MEN," RUSSIAN JOURNALIST: I think he's gone through a long way. And, according to his mindset, he's in the unique situation, when all of his enemies, or all of the forces, he consider - he considers, to be enemies, are in the weakest possible position.


And, during the last years, he was dreaming of some kind of revenge, for those years of humiliation, felt by Russia, in the beginning of 90s. And that's the point, when he thinks that he can - he thinks he can make it. COOPER: You wrote about something called the - you called the "Collective Putin," the idea that those in his inner circle, try to always anticipate his wants. Does that dynamic still exist?

ZYGAR: Oh, I think more than ever, because during all those years, only those people, who really can guess what he wants them to say, and say it exactly right, only those people, still have their access, to the - President Putin.

And those, for example, liberal advisers, who used to be close to him, in during the first two presidential terms, have completely lost any access. So, he's really much more isolated, when he used to be, especially after the COVID quarantine, when his inner circle has become really, really very, like several people, like five, four, or seven, or not more.

COOPER: So, there's nobody - he's not somebody, who likes to have a cabinet of rivals? He's not somebody, who likes to have differences of opinion, people coming to him, saying, "Sir, that's not correct?"

ZYGAR: Definitely. And, even more, he's absolutely sure that he's the first, he's the one and only, to save the country, and he's the only capable, to solve all the problems. And I guess that since he's returned to the presidency, in the year, 2012, he thinks that he knows the answers, to all the questions. He knows his barrier.

He really dislikes all of his advisers, in terms of what - in terms of, he thinks that they are not really brilliant politicians, and not really, bureaucrats. He believes that everything he does, he does better than ever. He's the most experienced politician. So, he doesn't see any rivals.

COOPER: Does the support of oligarchs, how important is that to him? Do you think the sanctions, will have any effect?

ZYGAR: I think that we have come to the new era, in Russian history. And oligarchs are no more important.

Because, obviously, those people, who used to be called oligarchs, who used to be very rich people, are not that rich, and definitely are not oligarchs, because they are not influential anymore. Most of them have lost everything, from the access, to Kremlin, to the large amount, of their money and property.

So probably, as Russia is going to be transformed, in some kind of North Korea, he will need to organize some showcase. I guess, that the trials of oligarchs are going to be seen very shortly.

COOPER: Everything comes to an end. How do you think this ends for Vladimir Putin?

ZYGAR: Personally, I don't believe in possibility of any kind of coup, because I think he has picked and chosen, his bodyguards, and his inner circle, by the criteria of loyalty. And probably, each of them understand that they are so dependent on him. He's the source of that prosperity. He's the source of that stability. So, I guess, he's safe so far.

COOPER: It's fascinating. Mikhail, thank you so much. Mikhail Zygar, thank you.

ZYGAR: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, just ahead, it is examples, like this, an airstrike, on a maternity hospital that has even the White House suggesting, the possibility of war crimes, committed by Russia.

We're going to talk to a former prosecutor, for the International Criminal Court, next, to discuss.




COOPER: As civilians, tonight, are under intense firing, on the suburbs of Ukraine's capital, the White House says, there are now, quote, "Strong indications," their words, Russia's committing war crimes, in Ukraine.

The Administration cited examples, including the Russian airstrike that hit a maternity hospital, in Mariupol. According to city officials, it killed three people, and injured 17.

President Biden also warned Russia that if it uses chemical weapons, it'll pay a, quote, "Severe price."

I'm joined now by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who was the first Prosecutor, for the International Criminal Court, back in 2003.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court says they are opening an investigation. Can you just walk us through what that process is?


He asked support, from States, because he can't go to the judges, to request authorization. But 41 States already requested him to do it. So now, he's already investigating. Apparently, he sent people there.

And yesterday, he did two important things. He - the Prosecutor, at International Criminal Court, is asking people to help, to collect evidence.

And the previous prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, indicted Libya general - Libya militia general, because people sent to her, videos, and social media, showing crimes. So, the prosecutor is open for that. And he even established a link, in his office, to receive this type of evidence, so people can help the prosecutor. [21:35:00]

And, of course, you start this conversation, mentioning the U.S. was saying, OK, U.S. normally is reluctant to provide evidence to Court. U.S. should find a way, to provide the evidence, to the Prosecutor, if the U.S. want really, to support justice, for Ukraine.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, is it complicated, by the fact that the United States, doesn't recognize the ICC, nor does Russia? Could that undermine, or muddy efforts, to hold Russia, accountable?

MORENO-OCAMPO: Well, the prosecutor has to collect the evidence. And, in fact, in my time, for instance, we investigated Gaddafi, in three months. And we indicted Gaddafi, and his son, and his indulgences (ph). And no, U.S. did not support that. But different countries provided information, helped us, and we collected.

So, the International Criminal Court, is equipped, to this type of job. In fact, it's not perfect. But it's the only institution, who can help this, to protect civilians, in Ukraine, today. That's a fact. So, U.S. should learn how to use better, the ICC, to providing evidence.

But also, for instance, where they are today, the prosecutor announced, the indictment of three generals, member, of the Ossetia state, who was independent from Georgia, in 2008. And now, he indicted three of them. U.S. can discuss how to do plan to arrest people.

You, the people, like CNN, like you, could present not just the crimes committed, you can present, who could be involved, in the crimes, who are the generals, involved in the crimes. Because, of course, if I'm a Russian general, I don't like to see my face, in CNN, as saying, "I ordered these bombing," no, and "I will be indicted." So, I don't like that.

So, we can use better, what they're - the only thing, we have, the International Criminal Court, because there is no other institution. U.S. is proposing economic sanction. But that's not - it's, we're not punishing the individuals, committing the crime, today.

COOPER: Yes. In the court, though, you have to find - do you have to find intent, as well, that is - I mean, yes, civilians are being killed that--


COOPER: --it has to be purposeful, yes?

MORENO-OCAMPO: Exactly. And it's not just that, because your, the goal is to investigate, the most responsible people. So, it's not the soldier, who commit what's in the video. So, you got to show the chain of command.

Who ordered the bombing? What was the perception of civilians, in the area? Why is through that hospitals targeted? Why the bombing was against hospitals? So, this information, you need, before to prosecuting them (ph). You cannot indict people without evidence. So, the court will not do that.

However, the problem is, I don't think Putin will be responsible, personally, involved in committing war crimes. Assad (ph), he was absolutely clearly responsible, for aggression crime, invading crime, invading a sovereign country. That's obvious.

The problem is, legally, that crime, require an approval, of the Security Council. And that's why, it's a failure by design, the Security Council has veto power. So, no one can stop U.S., when you invade Iraq. And today, no one can legally, at the Security Council, stop Russia, in Ukraine.

COOPER: Interesting!

MORENO-OCAMPO: That's a sad thing.


MORENO-OCAMPO: And that's why, the indicting people is much more complicated. And, in fact, the most serious crime, is the aggression crime. Because the what - the war, will have terrible consequence, for people in Ukraine, and for the world.


MORENO-OCAMPO: And that is a consequence of the launching a war. That was a - that was a biggest crime--

COOPER: That's - that's interesting.

MORENO-OCAMPO: --in a new limit (ph). Sorry?

COOPER: Yes. It's interesting, the aggression crime, versus the war crime distinction. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, I really appreciate your time, and your expertise, tonight. Thank you.

MORENO-OCAMPO: Thank you very much.

COOPER: Vladimir Putin hasn't been able to fool, the world, about his actions, in Ukraine. But he does have a tight grip on information flow, within his own country. So many Russians are buying their leader's propaganda, even those who have loved ones in Ukraine.

We'll talk to a Moscow-based reporter, for "The New York Times," who tells us, about how many Ukrainians, are hearing from their relatives, in Russia that they believe Vladimir Putin, and not their own family members.




COOPER: New shelling, tonight, around Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, big explosions heard, on the outskirts of the city. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been cracking down, on any reporting, accurately calling this, an invasion or war. And the wave of disinformation is seeping into so many people's minds.

Some Ukrainians, have encountered backlash, from family members. In fact, a lot of Ukrainians, who have loved ones, in Russia, family members, brothers, sisters, parents, have - their folks, in Russia, have bought into the Kremlin's propaganda, and deny, to their loved ones, what is actually happening, to them.

More now on this, with Valerie Hopkins, a Moscow-based correspondent, for "The New York Times." I spoke to her earlier.


COOPER: You've just done an article, about how many people, in Russia, do not believe what is happening, here. And for Ukrainians, it's not just strangers. It's their brothers and sisters, their parents, don't believe, what is happening, in this country.


Yes, it's pretty shocking, actually, you know? I was just going around, doing my normal reporting, speaking with displaced people. And one after another, they all told me that, they were experiencing so much trauma, from the bombing, from fleeing their homes, from fleeing.

And there was this other trauma, going on, which is that they were trying to tell their family, what's going on, begging their family, to do something, to stop this, trying to under - trying to process, trying to understand, why this war started.

And their family members were simply like, "No, there's no bombing going on. Just read the news. Civilians are not going to be affected. Putin was very clear. This is a very limited military operation, being conducted, by the local militias, of these two breakaway republics."


It's very clear that the majority of Russians don't seem to know the extent of what's happening here. And certainly, some of them, don't want to know.

COOPER: Yes. I mean that was - that's always my question. I talked to a composer, yesterday, who has a cousin, who didn't even call him, or his mother, to see, how they were doing, after the invasion. In fact, didn't call for three days. And when he did call, the invasion was not, on his mind. He was just calling, and doesn't believe what is going on here.

HOPKINS: Well, I mean, Putin and the Russian government have been preparing the ground, for this, for such a long time.

They've been preparing the ground for, media control, and media domination that was more or less completely, almost completely, achieved, last Friday, when the last remaining independent media, were taken off the air, the websites taken down, banned.

And those that are still operating, have decided not to report, on the war, so that they don't go to jail, for up to 15 years, right?

But what was shocking to me was that, it's one thing, if there are people, watching the news, and believing what they see. But it was so shocking to me that this propaganda could be thicker than blood.


You talked to somebody in Mariupol, which is a city, under siege. What was their experience, in talking to their relatives?

HOPKINS: This was - this was absolutely shocking, for me. I was just trying to find out what's happening, in Mariupol, because, there's no water, there's no food, there's no cell service. It's very difficult to get hold of people, who are there, even though it's a city of almost half a million people.

And I spoke to a woman, who had finally made it out, a few days ago. And she was explaining to me her ordeal. She was explaining what happened to her, the dead bodies that she saw, her family stuck behind.

And then, she said, "You know, it's really shocking for me that my brother, Misha (ph), who left Mariupol, in 2014, when it first came under attack, by the Russian" - well, by Russia-backed forces. And decided, he wasn't interested in the war. Went to Russia. Wasn't a fighter. Normal guy.

She's been in touch with him, to say, "Our mom is under bombing. Our mom may not survive. This is what's happening."

And he's telling her, "Sis," he's like, he's the older brother, "You clearly haven't been reading enough news," like "Just look at the news. It's very clear that, this is a - this is just a limited operation. No civilians are being affected."

And it's very--

COOPER: His own mother, is in the siege, of Mariupol, and he doesn't believe that his mother's life is in danger?

HOPKINS: No. No. You know? And it's just it's - it boggles the mind. But what's also become more frustrating, I met this woman actually, here, today, in Mariupol.

She's trying to figure out whether she's going to stay in Ukraine. She's left her husband and parents behind. She doesn't know, if she's going to Riga. She has no money. Somebody wrote to her, on Facebook, like "Do you 100 percent believe that the maternity clinic was bombed? I think those are crisis actors. It looks staged."

And it's quite shocking, this Russian playbook. I'm based, in Moscow, although I haven't been there, for a while. And I was receiving invitations, to seminars, and press conferences that are being held, by government officials, and officials, from the internet regulatory agency, on how to spot fake news.

COOPER: That term "Fake news" has been grabbed, by autocrats, and their henchmen, all around the world, now. And they use that, as a weapon. And whenever they use it, it is, they are lying, usually.

HOPKINS: Yes. And they're trying to prime their whole populations, who, now, in Russia, have almost no access, to independent information. They're priming their populations, to just dismiss everything that makes them uncomfortable--


HOPKINS: --as fake. And it's very terrifying.

COOPER: So many people, here, have family, in Russia. And to see how families, are divided, over this, and divided, in their willingness, to accept the reality? It's just stunning.

Valerie, thank you so much for your reporting.

HOPKINS: Thank you very much, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, an estimated 1 million children, among the flood of refugees, who've escaped Ukraine, their lives will never be the same.

But we're going to show you how some are still managing to remain connected, to their old ways of life that's giving them a little slice of home, amid the hardship. That's next.




COOPER: Russians still have the goal, it seems, to encircle Kyiv. There were big explosions, heard there, tonight. Around the capital, life will never be the same, of course, for those, who've managed, to escape this widening war, in Ukraine.

Families have been separated, torn apart. Refugees have flooded, to different countries, many of them children. Some are still managing, to stay connected, to their schooling, though, and their classmates, and even their teachers, who are also displaced.

CNN's Ivan Watson, has more on that, from Moldova.



IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An all too familiar scene, for parents, who lived through the COVID pandemic. NADIA PAVLENKO, TEACHER WHO FLED UKRAINE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

WATSON (voice-over): Children fidgeting through a Zoom class about the solar system.


WATSON (voice-over): The difference here, most of these Ukrainian school kids, are refugees, reconnecting, with their classmates, and teacher, online. In the last two weeks, the students, and their teacher, fled to different countries, to escape, Russia's invasion, of Ukraine.

WATSON (on camera): How old are your students?

PAVLENKO: Seven, eight.

WATSON (voice-over): From Poland, Nadia Pavlenko, teaches, her students, online classes, even though the school stopped, paying her salary.


WATSON (voice-over): "None of us know what will happen next," she says. "But these classes, with my children, are like a bridge, to my past life, in Ukraine. They help us feel connected."

War-time distance learning, there's a lot of this going on, right now.

WATSON (on camera): Do you think the online classes are helping these kids?

ALEXANDER PARCALAB, TEACHER WHO FLED UKRAINE: Very much. It's helping them, and mental helping, to feel the routine that the life is still going on that it's not - it's not the end of the world.

WATSON (voice-over): Alexander Parcalab, is a school teacher, who fled the Ukrainian city of Odessa, to neighboring Moldova. In the morning, he teaches students, from his Ukrainian school, online.

PARCALAB: Children ask me, if I'm safe, where I am, with who I am. They were asking me, before me asking them.


WATSON (voice-over): In the afternoon, he comes here, a makeshift school, for Ukrainian children, in the Moldovan capital.

PARCALAB: Parents asked me to make a place to feel very safety, and maybe just emotionally for two hours, three hours or more, just feel--

WATSON (on camera): To escape?

PARCALAB: --yes, to escape all this.

WATSON (voice-over): Half of his online students fled across borders. The other half are still in Ukraine.

PARCALAB: The first lesson, in Zoom, I said that you should be this first domino, to help somebody. Maybe your mother need help. Maybe mother's friends need help. And this is - what can I do? I cannot change the world. But I can change me, and change, like, the mood of my mother, and it will be like a domino.

WATSON (voice-over): These girls say, they're looking forward, to starting online classes, with their Ukrainian classmates, on Monday.

WATSON (on camera): Nana (ph) says she wants to find out where her classmates traveled to, and to make sure that they're healthy right now.

WATSON (voice-over): 8-year-old Timor (ph) Zhdanov, and his father, Artem, stayed behind, in Ukraine.

WATSON (on camera): Were you surprised when Timor's (ph) teacher said "Hey, we're going to continue online learning?"

ARTEM ZHDANOV, SON CONTINUES REMOTE LEARNING IN UKRAINE: Honestly, yes. I think that they're feeling this strong connection, with Ukraine, and then want to support us, as much as they can. And also, a new generation of Ukrainian people.

WATSON (voice-over): A new generation that may grow up in exile, relying on technology, to stay connected, to their homeland.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Chisinau, Moldova.


COOPER: Amazing, a teacher still teaching, even though the school, is no longer paying her.

That's CNN's Ivan Watson, reporting, from Moldova.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, stay with CNN, for the latest, from Ukraine.

The news continues. We want to turn things over to "DON LEMON TONIGHT."