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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Official Says 350K People Still Trapped In Mariupol; Zelenskyy Makes New Appeal To West, Close The Sky; FOX Cameraman And Ukrainian Journalist Killed In Ukraine; Biden To Announce New Military Assistance For Ukraine; Anti-War Protester Fined For Disrupting Russian TV Newscast; American Veterans Give Crash Course In Combat To Ukrainian Volunteers. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 15, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: The network says Hall remains hospitalized with very serious injuries.

It's tragic news and it underscores the danger of covering this conflict.

This past weekend, award-winning journalist American, Brent Renaud was killed by Russian forces outside Kyiv in Irpin.

AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening from Ukraine, a senior American Defense official said something remarkable today about the war going into Week Four.

Russian forces, this official said have made quote "limited to no progress in achieving their objectives." Limited to no progress, nearly 21 days in.

Now at the same time, nothing about that assessment in any way diminishes the kind of destruction, even a bogged down army can do or the threat it poses to human life. Both are considerable and could even be growing.

Four people were killed today that we know of according to Kyiv's mayor in the shelling of a 16-storey apartment building, one of at least four that were hit to the north, east, and west of the city center all within the space of an hour today.

The capital, Kyiv, is now under a nighttime curfew, which began earlier today. In Mariupol, new images of utter devastation. This video showing just a portion of the destruction from what the mayor said was upwards of a hundred bombs falling on the city just yesterday alone.

Listen to what a local lawmaker told CNN's Jake Tapper earlier tonight.


living in hell. The situation in Mariupol are catastrophic. Putin's men get all the Mariupol citizens like hostages. And when we tell about Russian military near Mariupol, it's not about military men, it's about terrorists, because they understand that they can't get Mariupol with their troops, so they heavy artillery and use explosive bombing to totally destroy the city.

In the last five days, they don't stop bombing in a minute. They are bombing and shelling all the time, and city is totally destroyed, totally.


COOPER: According to another local official, Russian forces are holding doctors and patients captive at a hospital in the city. He says, it was in his words, practically destroyed several days ago, but the staff continued to treat patients in the facility's basement.

Separately according to Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister, 20,000 evacuees managed to make it out of Mariupol today from Kharkiv, which was shelled 65 times yesterday alone, according to Ukrainian officials, which is a new and grim figure.

The head of the regional government there saying that 600 residential buildings have now been destroyed, 600. And from the United Nations, this new estimate, the number of refugees of the conflict now exceeds three million. That figure and all the rest tonight, testimony to the kind of tactics that Russian commanders first embraced when their forward momentum faltered and that they have been ramping up ever since.

None of it, though, could stop the Prime Ministers and NATO members -- Poland, Slovenia, and Czechoslovakia -- from actually visiting Kyiv today. It was a remarkable show support by those three countries, their leaders traveling by train into the heart of the war.

None of it could stop Ukraine's Parliament from meeting.


COOPER: More than 350 of the 425 members today singing the National Anthem before meeting in an emergency session. One lawmaker tweeting: "We aren't afraid because we're on our land, in our Ukraine."

Ukraine's President as you know, speaking via video to Congress tomorrow. Earlier today, he addressed the Canadian Parliament.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): So what I'm trying to say everyone needs to do more to stop Russia. More needs to be done to protect Ukraine, to protect Europe from this absolute evil. They're destroying everything. Memorial complexes, schools, hospitals, residential complexes. They've already killed 97 Ukrainian children. We're not asking for

much. We're asking for justice, for real support, which will help us to defend our people and the whole world.


COOPER: We should point out the support that the U.S. and European countries have given is enormous. However, it is not the no-fly zone that the President continues to ask for.

Also today, the White House said that President Biden will travel next week to Brussels for a NATO Summit on the 24th. Press Secretary Jen Psaki saying that the President is a big believer in face-to-face diplomacy with his European counterparts.

So we have a lot to cover tonight starting with CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in Odessa, who has been reporting from extremely dangerous territory along the route Russian forces have been taking in their push toward the city.

Nick, you've been in southern Ukraine now for weeks. What have you been seeing and how things changed?


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I think, Anderson, the startling thing here is the frankly volume of Russian presence we've seen grow over the weeks where initially, the idea that they might try and move into the eastern town of Kherson, at the time seemed farfetched. They now have control up there and they are moving around the next city along the Black Sea coast where I'm standing in Odessa, the city of Mykolaiv.

On the outskirts of that city, this is what we saw earlier on today.


PATON WALSH (voice over): This is the road down which Russia's war of annihilation may lurch and its emptiness speaks only of what is to come from Russian held Kherson up here to the vital port of Mykolaiv.

They know what it is to be in Russia's way.

"Out of 18 homes, 10 are left in our village," she says. "No electricity, gas, water or heat."

"The only ones left those who can't leave," another adds.

They are young, edgy, guns raised, unsure of who we are. "Press" written on our vests and our "Press" card slowly calms them down and they apologize.

But this is not an Army in full control of its destiny. The trenches are where the rockets land every night. Some are from Odessa, Moscow's eventual target here. Others, from just down the road.

He is saying his house is just over there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in foreign language.).

PATON WALSH (voice over): It's important to see what tools Ukraine has been left with by a world that seems so concerned. They fight for their homes, but tell me they captured Russians who seemed unaware why they were even here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in foreign language.)

PATON WALSH (voice over): "They said they can't understand what's going on." He said, "They can't go back because back there, they are being shot for retreating, so they advanced or surrender."

Dusk in Mykolaiv has sounded this way for weeks. But unbroken morale takes different forms. And this is a Police Chief driving a birthday gift to the Governor with a captured Russian machine guns soldered onto it.

It does not distract from the seriousness of the twilight world in which his colleagues work.

Any drunk or man changing his car battery after curfew could be a Russian saboteur, they fear. There really is no way to check by looking at phones and in trunks.

The city is dark, bar their lights, and the flash of a distant enemy's bombs.

An urgent hospital call for blood has gone out. They rush to help.

The savagery of Russia's targeting measurable in how dark this four- floor hospital keeps itself at night. Invisible, not from a power cut, but to avoid Russian bombs.

Mykolaiv has been fearing encirclement for days. There is heartbreak for those who leave amid the shared agony, still a tussle to get on to buses to Moldova.

The men stay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my wife, Zenia and my daughter, Barbara.

PATON WALSH: And she goes to Poland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She goes to Poland Because I have to come back, of course, I have to come back.

PATON WALSH: And what will you do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I go to the -- this is my country. This is my country. What am I doing? Go to Poland, no Poland. This is my home.

PATON WALSH (voice over): And there is heartbreak for those who stay. Svetlana lost her husband in a rocket attack Sunday that killed nine outside a shop. SVETLANA: (Speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: In a moment, everyone gone.

PATON WALSH (voice over): The violence here is a chain of moments of blinding grief.

SVETLANA: (Speaking in foreign language.)

TRANSLATION: The rockets landed and my husband just exploded and the blood came out of from his head and he is still lying there in the blood.

And they took me here in pieces.


PATON WALSH (voice over): Pieces left, to wander alone.


COOPER: I mean, that woman, her husband lying there still, full of blood.

Were you surprised what the Ukrainians told you that the Russian soldiers had said to them about being shot if they go backwards, so they go forward, but they don't really know what they're doing.

PATON WALSH: Yes, Anderson, I'm going to have to say, we have to take with a degree of skepticism the things that we were told by one side about the other and bear in mind the Geneva Convention in all of that, about the treatment of prisoners of war, but the information we heard there from some of the Ukrainian soldiers is interesting because it possibly helps explain why we've seen these stilted advances by Russian troops here. These curious moments where vehicles appear to be entirely abandoned.

We've seen tanks here, completely left by the side of the road intact and then taken over by the Ukrainian military. It does seem as though the morale of the Russian troops as they advance is certainly compromised. They don't necessarily, at times seem to have a full advance ahead of them. It just seems to be, frankly, a mess at times.

And so that might possibly be explained by what we heard from that Ukrainian soldier suggesting that if they do move backwards, they face punishment; if not, possibly death from their own fellow soldiers. And of course, if they go forwards, they just simply lack the conviction to do that.

It's hard to tell, but it has been equally complex to understand exactly why have we seen this sort of messy movements on behalf of Russian soldiers over the past weeks, and so much abandoned armor, and at times these moments when the Ukrainian simply don't seem to understand what the Russian logic behind their advances has been, too.

I should say, you know, that isn't necessarily the full picture because we haven't heard from those Russian soldiers ourselves. But it is still interesting to hear that that is what they're hearing in terms of Russian soldiers' morale -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nick Paton Walsh, appreciate it. Thank you.

As if a reminder was needed to the danger to civilians, we learned today of the death of another colleague here. FOX News photojournalist, Pierre Zakrzewski. He was with the correspondent, Benjamin Hall just outside Kyiv when according to FOX, their vehicle was hit by incoming fire. Hall survived and is hospitalized tonight.

According to a senior Ukrainian official, a Ukrainian journalist was also killed in the incident. This comes just days after documentary filmmaker, Brent Renaud was killed in Irpin.

Earlier tonight, I spoke with a friend of Pierre, CNN's chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, who has just left Kyiv.


COOPER: First of all, I want to ask you about your friend, Pierre, I'm sorry for your loss. What was he like?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, Anderson, every death in a war zone is a tragedy. But this one definitely hit really close to home. I first worked with Pierre in Gaza in 2006.

COOPER: Wow. That long ago.

WARD: I was a puppy, a very young producer and he is one of the most extraordinarily kind, generous, talented gracious people you could ever imagine working with. He really was the real deal here, he cared so much about these stories.

Every warzone you went to, Pierre was there. This was his life. This was his passion. He was dedicated to it.

He had this sort of shock of curls, and this bushy mustache and this sort of booming voice and this big smile, but he was also a deeply sensitive person, and deeply devoted to the subjects whose stories he was telling.

And so it is a devastating loss. And it's also a devastating loss, 24- year-old Sasha, the Ukrainian producer who was working with them, and I think sometimes it's easy to forget, when a loss hits so close to home that the producers we work with in Ukraine and other war zones, they're the ones who have the courage to stay when everybody else is fleeing to act as translators, to tell these stories, to explain the complexities and nuances of different cultures and conflicts to us and their bravery is frankly, staggering.

COOPER: We depend on local people in the local communities who know the terrain, who know the languages. I mean, we couldn't do our work without them. WARD: There is no way you could do it without them. There is no way,

and the courage it takes to do that work, when you're also dealing with trying to help your family, to make sure people are safe, dealing with all the logistics of having your life upended. It's really extraordinary.

And that's really what made Pierre a very special person as well because he understood that fundamentally. He never kind of glazed over when he was talking to people, he was engaged with everyone. He played with every kid he met, but he meant it and he had this tremendous joy in his heart that was infectious to be around.


We see him at breakfast every morning, always full of positivity, always so excited about the story. Never an unkind word to say about anyone.

COOPER: It also says something about the danger for everybody now in Kyiv. I mean, somebody who had the lifetime of experience that he had.

WARD: Hugely experienced, very cautious, very security conscious, always had all his communications with him, the proper body armor, knew how to handle himself in a war zone, and I think what it shows you is how random this has become.

Heavy weaponry is being used, civilians are being targeted. It's a total free for all. And what you see with Pierre is the story that so many Ukrainians are feeling every single day, and so it just gives us even more of a window into the heartache behind every single death.

COOPER: You did a story in Irpin with volunteers who were looking for people who were still holding out, people who hadn't wanted to leave and then might have changed their mind.

I mean, it was dangerous. You could see it was dangerous when you were there. But I mean, that seems to be a particularly dangerous area now. I mean, that's where the others have been killed.

WARD: That's where Brent Renaud was held, where Juan Arredondo was injured. The mayor of our Irpin has now said that journalists can't go into Irpin anymore because it's become so fluid and so difficult to know where exactly the frontlines are. And there are so many different risks.

There is indirect fire, there's direct fire. There are small arms fire. And you're moving around often in soft skin vehicles, and it just becomes incredibly difficult as journalists to have the wherewithal to know at any given time when we're pushing the limits in a sensible way, and when we ultimately could pay a very heavy price for that.

COOPER: You've obviously been doing extraordinary work. I mean, as always. What was it like leaving Kyiv, physically just getting out, but also, the little I know leaving must be a difficult decision in many ways. WARD: It's agonizing. And actually my team, Brent Swails, Scott

McWhinnie, they kept saying, are you sure you want to leave because I know the second you leave, you're going to feel that tug, like I need to be back there. And I'd be lying if I said, I don't feel it already because there's a tremendous amount of guilt about walking away from a story like this, even if it's just for a temporary reset.

We woke up this morning at 5:00 AM to massive cruise missile slamming into another residential area and then we basically loaded up our vehicles made the 10-hour drive and it's only as you're starting to get further and further from Kyiv, and you can feel yourself breathing a little bit more easily and you finally take your body armor off and you see there's less tank traps and fortifications and fewer checkpoints that you understand, especially when you get here to Lviv, which is still very much part of a country at war.

But the difference in terms of how desolate and isolated the streets of Kyiv are, how eerie it is, the constant sound of bombardment, the constant sound of those air raid sirens and the constant feeling of desperation of people, not knowing when this insanity, when this madness when this utterly senseless war could possibly end.

COOPER: Yes, Clarissa Ward, thank you for you and your team. You are the best of us. Thank you.

WARD: Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: Coming up next, new explosions near the city of Kyiv and my conversation with the Ukrainian Member of Parliament who has been trying to fight to defend the city.

Later, we'll talk to Congressman Adam Kinzinger on President Zelenskyy's address to Congress tomorrow on what more he believes the United States may be able to do to help Ukraine.



COOPER: Just within the last several moments, we are told air raid sirens began going off again in Kyiv. While they are now a daily occurrence, our team on the ground says it has been a busy night of explosions in the suburbs. That follows a terribly destructive day, four buildings shelled in the space of an hour.

Russian forces apparently stalled outside Kyiv, but clearly within artillery range and civilians are, as always, paying the price. A 35- hour curfew is now in place, but people still trying to go about their lives and the government is still functioning, proudly so as you saw at the top the program.

Shortly before airtime with shelling in the background, I spoke with Kira Rudik. Not only does she represent Kyiv in Parliament, she is also preparing to defend it. Miss Rudik, what's the situation that you've been seeing and hearing

in Kyiv? It's currently under curfew.

KIRA RUDIK, UKRAINIAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: So right now, and for the last 24 hours, there has been a massive shelling in Kyiv, probably the most intensive that I have seen since the beginning of the war. So right now behind my back, I don't know if you can hear it on the recording, but there is constant explosions and bomb, bomb, bomb.

So it's in the air and it is on the outskirts of Kyiv and at the suburbs. This is what we see as a preparation to their next step.

COOPER: You said that that's a preparation for the next step, the next step of Russians attempt to invade.

RUDIK: Yes, of Russia's attempt to invade, Kyiv, so we think that they will attack today or tomorrow. And this is why people are advised not to go out on the streets. This is a law. And this is why our military is getting ready.

And the most upsetting point here right now is that we are ready to fight. We have been training and we have enough weapons and we are part of the resistance team. We are ready for a siege if it happens because we have enough supplies, food and water for like a two-week or three-week siege and there is nothing, absolutely nothing that we can do was there missiles going from the air and this is why we have been asking for help and support because everything that is our control, we have done.

We have done the preparation and we are willing to fight and we are willing to spill the blood. However, with what is happening right now behind my back, what is happening in Kyiv's skies right now, this is something that we cannot do anything with.

This is where we do need jets, we do need support, we do need additional air force protection, because I feel just helpless because it is out of my control, absolutely out of my control what is happening and what is about to happen.

And this is why we have been pleading, continuously pleading for no- fly zone and for additional support to get because there is nothing, there is no money in the world that could buy us the ability to resist Russians in the air right now.

COOPER: I'm wondering what you make of the meeting today between President Zelenskyy and the Czech and the Polish and the Slovenian Prime Ministers who came to Kyiv, obviously, probably largely symbolic, but the fact that they came to Kyiv, what does that say to you?

RUDIK: That NATO countries are looking at the ways to support Ukraine. I truly believe in my heart that at some point, we will be given all the means that we do need right now and I am super afraid that at some point, it will be too late. This is why the meeting today and the visit is very symbolic. But it also a way to figure out things for NATO to be able to do fast. This is the main thing that I'm talking to about with my fellow MPs

from all over the world, especially from NATO countries. I'm asking like, what can you do now? Because we need the protection now.

I'm sure that the right decisions will be made but they will be like in two weeks, in three weeks. And I don't know if we have those two weeks, three weeks.

I honestly don't know, every time when I am hearing that at some point, we will get this aid, I'm saying am I going to be here for this aid? So this is why we are pushing for all the measures, all the means to have them now because our people are dying now.

COOPER: I've heard that you have some 30 people or so in your house and another place nearby that you train hours a day with your resistance team. I just want to show one of your recent tweets. You said: "After 16 days of training, I still feel awkward doing this." That is you assembling or disassembling a rifle. Are you prepared to defend Kyiv, if it came to that? Do you feel ready?

RUDIK: Well, I'm much more ready than I was 20 days ago when the war started and I don't think I'm good as a soldier, but I'm very sure that I'm good as a resistance and I will be able to protect and I will be able to -- these hands who will be sending bullets to our enemies and the bullets don't really care like which hands are sending them, right?

So this is how I plan to serve my country. This is how I plan to fulfill my duties. So, I am training and every single day, the Russians don't attack and I don't have to fire, I am becoming a little bit better with the hope that I will be able to act on it when the time will come.

COOPER: Kira Rudik, I hope that time does not come. I hope there is some solution. I hope this ends. Please stay safe. Thank you.

RUDIK: Thank you and glory to Ukraine.


COOPER: Coming up, more breaking news. We are just learning details of President Biden's expected announcement on Ukraine, what it means for military assistance.

President Zelenskyy prepares to address the U.S. Congress.

I'll speak with Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger who served in two wars, that's next.



COOPER: There's breaking news right now, President Biden will unveil we've learned a new package of military assistance for Ukraine. That is according to officials familiar with the plans they include anti- tank missiles but leave out the no-fly zone or fighter jets that President Zelenskyy has been asking for. The aid would include more of the defensive weapons the U.S. has already provided like javelins and stingers. That announcement could come just hours after President Zelenskyy speaks to the U.S. Congress tomorrow.

Meanwhile, air raid sirens were heard again moments ago in Kyiv also explosions in the suburbs. Chilling video shows the unforgiving fury of the Russian assault from above on Ukrainians. Take a look at this rescue of a woman in Kharkiv and then as she's being helped see what happens.




COOPER: The rescue effort then goes on despite a nearby hit. A closer look shows people diving for cover not knowing when the next artillery fire or bomb will fall. President Zelenskyy appeals to Canada's parliament today to as he put it close the sky after his meeting in Kyiv this afternoon with the Polish, Czech and Slovenian Prime Minister, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine truly trust its partners. But tonight what Ukraine wants and what the U.S. is willing to give remain apart.

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee. He's also an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's currently a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard.

Congressman, thanks for being with us. The Biden administration, as we just mentioned, is expected to lay out more military aid a new military aid package for Ukraine focused on the anti-tank, anti- aircraft missile systems that we've been seeing that they have been sending to great effect. Is-- I assume you support that -- you've talked about a no-fly zone in the past. Where are you at on this in terms of what the scope of USAID has been?


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Well, look, it's been. I mean, it's been good. Obviously, we're seeing the devastating effects to the Russian military from it. Ukraine is significantly outnumber. Russia has made it clear, Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he will not lose, which is why we're worried about an escalation in the weapons of mass destruction. So I, you know, I do commend the administration for all they've done so far.

What I worry about Anderson is, as Russia begins to escalate, God forbid, and I hope I'm wrong. But there may be a moment where we realize we do have to close the skies. And let's keep in mind, Vladimir Putin has no right to contest the skies over Ukraine in the first place. And Ukraine has a right to defend their skies, even if that involves partner. But I'd also like to see, you know, better missile defense or better anti-air missiles that go higher range, anti-shipping missiles, as we're seeing the potential for an amphibious landing, for instance, obstacles to Odessa. So there's a lot more to do, but I do commend what we've done so far.

COOPER: One of the things that President Zelenskyy has repeatedly said is that that the shelling of buildings, some of which may come from aircraft, firing, firing rockets, firing missiles. But a lot of that also comes from tanks or artillery on the ground or even great -- at great distances, even potentially, from Belarus or from Russian soil. If there was an attempt to shut down the skies and Presidents Zelenskyy's words, wouldn't that actually entail trying having to try to take out all of those, you know, missiles being fired from artillery from long range artillery?

KINZINGER: Well, it can certainly include, for instance, it depends what kind of enough flies on humanitarian corridors, of Western Ukraine or all of Ukraine. Obviously, you have to watch when artillery is fired. Because the altitude you don't want to fly over it. I don't think that would be a huge problem was shutting down the skies. But I think the reality is, is we're kind of allowing right now, Vladimir Putin to set the battle tempo, we're allowing him to threaten escalation, and we're more eager to say what we won't do. And that's what my fear is, is that we're actually doing a better job of deterring ourselves and NATO than we are Russia.

Again, I don't want to say this as a point to say we're not doing anything significantly. We are and Ukrainians with their fighting spirit have shown that. But, man, I do worry what happens when this goes into chemical weapons. And I think the president should make it very clear that weapons of mass destruction are a very, very bright red line that NATO will enforce.

COOPER: Do you think it likely I mean, obviously, you know, we've seen in Syria the use of chemical weapons, we've obviously seen Russia use them, one on one against individuals that have spoken out against Vladimir Putin or in some way angered him, both in Russia and in Europe. Do you think it a very real possibility chemical weapons could be used here?

KINZINGER: Yes, I do. I think it's a very real possibility. I think Vladimir Putin has made it clear he doesn't want to lose, he can't lose. And his military's trying their best to lose it for him. And given the logistics and everything. And I think, Anderson, that brings up another point in another area the administration should certainly be looking is there are Russian proxy wars everywhere around the world. Look into Syria. There are Russians in Syria, Libya, you name it. Maybe it's time for us to start, you know, we're not going to engage Russia directly in Ukraine, and I understand that decision. Maybe we ought to look at supporting some of our allies, fighting Russians and other areas as well.

COOPER: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, I appreciate your time. Thank you.


COOPER: Up next, I'm going to speak with the editor in chief of Russia's few independent news outlets following the court hearing for Russian state TV journalists who protested the war during a live broadcast.



COOPER: The Russian state TV journalist who protested the war in Ukraine on a live news broadcast Monday when the most popular broadcast in Russia was found guilty of organizing an unauthorized public event by a Moscow court today, was fine 30,000 rubles or $280. The journalist whose name is Marina Ovsyannikova interrupted the broadcast standing behind a news anchor with a sign that read, no war, stop the war do not believe propaganda. They tell you lies here, Russians against war.

She spoke out again today about her experiencing -- experience following her court hearing.


MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA, EDITOR, CHANNEL 1 (through translation): These were indeed very difficult days of my life. I literally spent two days with no sleep. The questioning lasted over 14 hours. I wasn't allowed to contact my relatives or friends. I wasn't provided with any legal assistance. So I am in quite a difficult position.


COOPER: According to an attorney who had formerly been representing her the administrative charge was based solely on a video that she posted prior to the live TV protest, where she blamed Russia for the war. Here some of that message from Monday.


OVSYANNIKOVA (through translation): This happening now in Ukraine is a crime and Russia is their grasp the country and the responsibility for this aggression lies in the conscious of only one person. This man is Vladimir Putin. Go to the rallies and do not be afraid they cannot arrest us all.


COOPER: Encouraging people to go to rallies that is what she got charged with. This comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a censorship bill earlier this month criminalizing quote, fake information about the invasion of Ukraine, with a penalty of up to 15 years if convicted. A criminal spokesperson dismissed the protest calling it hooliganism. Joining me tonight is Yevgenia Albats, editor- in-chief and CEO of The New Times, the liberal and independent Russian news outlet.

Yevgenia, what was your reaction when you saw the protests on the Russian newscast?

[20:45:02] YEVGENIA ALBATS, EDITOR IN CHIEF & CEO, THE NEW TIMES: (INAUIDBLE) to you I was very pleased and I was in a waste time because Marina (INAUDIBLE) out with this sighing the thread no war, stop war, don't believe in propaganda. They're lying to you here, on the main propaganda show in Channel 1 and Channel 1 is a bit propaganda channel, which covers 90% of Russian households all across 11 time zone. So it's very important that Russians all across the country, get to know us get this message through, how many of them are going to believe it's hard to say, given that, listen, Anderson, it's really hard for us, I am a Russian citizen. And I feel very shamed or what is happening in Ukraine right now.

But at the same time, I understand when people say that they are loyal to the flag, and I am loyal to the flag, and I feel terrible, that this is my (INAUDIBLE) and my voice, people, you know, I'm paying my taxes, too. And this I'm in now is killing Ukrainians using my taxpayers' money.

COOPER: Has there been any weakening of Vladimir Putin's ability to suppress dissent and accurate reporting or things as locked down as they have been?

ALBATS: Oh, no, it's pretty harsh here. Listen, you know, it's a very tough regime, about 14,000 Russians who protested the war got arrested, detained, some of them go up to the 15 or 30 days in jail, and many of them were fined. Today, Alexei Navalny, you know, in his case, which is called inside his penal colony, and procurator state procreator request of 13 years and in strict pedantry of confinement for Navalny. It's getting tough here, it's a very, you know, it's a very strict authoritarian regime, which is getting into dictatorship of not to say despotism. So, now it's hard here.

COOPER: Why are you still willing to speak out? I mean, you are taking a great risk.

ALBATS: Anderson, this is my job. I've been doing this job for the last 45 years of my life. And that's my job. And that's what I do. And I think that, you know, my fellow citizens, they have constitutional right, for the information. So if I'm capable to provide the information, that propaganda doesn't allow them to know, I have to do this. That's very simple.

COOPER: In terms of -- I mean, I know, they don't show this on Russian television, are people, they're widely aware that there was a maternity hospital that was bombed that civilians, residential buildings are being routinely hit, almost every day, every -- in places all over Ukraine.

ALBATS: I'm switching the propaganda is quite successful here, especially when there are so few alternatives left. In the last few weeks, 16 independent outlets were closed. Each and every electronic media independent or semi independent, intermediate were shut down. So there are a fair few terms of left. by the way, CNN unfortunately, stopped broadcasting a Russia, so I was deprived from news that you guys provided me from Ukraine. So unfortunately, propaganda is machine is very effective. And this propaganda machine tells Russians that it's Ukrainians themselves, Ukrainian nationals, they bring in Nazi who bombed their towns and could destroy the infrastructure and apartment buildings. So I think, you know, it's pretty difficult to say it's true. You know, there are no independent pollsters in Russia, so it's hard to say, but I think it's probably 50/50.

However, yes, when you get to Russian CDS or to the stores and you hear people are saying all those nuts in Ukrainians, you know, they're backed up by the United States they don't want to agree for peaceful talks and therefore our boys are dying there and you know, they destroying their own cities. Yes. That's what you hear when you get out.

COOPER: Yevgenia Albats, I appreciate you talking to us. Thank you so much. Be careful.

ALBATS: Thank you.

COOPER: Well still to come tonight, I want to introduce you to some smart, patriotic American veterans who decided on their own to come here and not fight but to train those Ukrainians who are volunteering to fight for their country.



COOPER: Welcome back to our coverage from Lviv, Ukraine. You can hear air raid sirens going off. It's the middle of the night here. This is the least the fourth time we've heard air raid sirens on this day alone.

For the past few days, I've spent time with some American veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, three Americans who have come here on their own dime, wanting to help train volunteers so that they can fight alongside the city defense force if and when Lviv is attacked.


COOPER (on-camera): In Lviv, men who've never fought now trained for war. They practice clearing rooms and a stack formation, using hand signals to move in silence. It's a two-week crash course in combat the bare essentials to stay alive.



MATT GALLAGHER, .U.S. VETERAN HELPING TRAIN UKRAINIANS: (INAUDIBLE) as always, just getting clear that doorway, right?

COOPER (voice-over): Matt Gallagher served in Iraq, Adrian Bonenberger did two tours in Afghanistan. Both American army vets who've come here to help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One person in the back.

GALLAGHER: Exactly, exactly right. Yes, it's good.


GALLAGHER: Think about where you were to go.

COOPER (voice-over): Outside, Ben Busch prepares another group of volunteers. He served two tours in Iraq as a Marine.

BEN BUSCH, U.S. VETERAN HELPING TRAIN UKRAINIANS: There's a suspected patrol in the area of one or two people we're not sure.


BUSCH: Squad leader any questions?


COOPER (voice-over): Ben, Matt and Adrian are not working for the U.S. military or government, they're not being paid by anyone. They bought their own tickets here and are doing this for free.

(on-camera): What made you want to be?

BONENBERGER: I came to this country for the first time in 2015, I fell in love with the country. I met my wife here. So it was a personal connection.

BUSCH: And our personal connection was to him, and to the overall effort of a democracy fighting to be a democracy.

GALLAGHER: I kind of landed on a, an old line from For Whom the Bell Tolls for what are we born if not to aid one another. And looking at my two young sons and thinking of that line. I just felt like this was a unique opportunity to help show them how to be men and grown up adults I aspire for them to be.

COOPER (voice-over): Two weeks ago, the volunteers they train had no idea how to clear a building or move as a unit. Most have never fired a gun before.

GALLAGHER: These are teachers, bus drivers --

BONENBERGER: Carpenters, welders.

GALLAGHER: Who want to protect their neighborhoods, protect their homes, many of whom never thought they'd be in this position.

BONENBERGER: We've been doing everything we can to give them the tools that they need to survive, because they're going to defend their city one way or another.

COOPER (voice-over): Some have modern rifles, but others trained with antique ones loaned by a local gun collector.

(on-camera): I think I saw is that a Tommy Gun? I mean, it had a --

BUSCH: That would be from the collection.

COOPER (on-camera): That I mean, that's -- is that literally like a Tommy Gun from the 1930s?




BONENBERGER: They're rousers, they've got some kind of weird machine gun, I think I've seen in movies before.

GALLAGHER: All the new weapons are being sent to the front. This is what they have here now. And if the war comes here, that's arguably what they're going to have to fight with.

BUSCH: And they're here every day dutifully working as diligently as any Marines I've ever trained. And I've trained a lot. And they don't complain. They continue to move. They are at the point now we've worked professionally, to make the leaders emerge, because leadership is going to be necessary for coordination, for anything, and they have emerged. We now know that there is there's bone to this organization. And that gives me a great deal of confidence because I -- I'm not going to be here forever. And that's, that's hard for me the closer I get to them.

We'll do it again differently later, right.


BUSCH: Always differently.


BUSCH: Well done.


COOPER (on-camera): The volunteers cover their faces for their own safety. They know what Russia is capable of. But they also want Vladimir Putin to know they are ready.



COOPER (on-camera): On the last day of the training course, volunteers get the chance to fire a weapon. They're given just 10 rounds for target practice. There's not enough ammo to spare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Already on the firing line. You're clear to fire. COOPER (on-camera): They're practicing an AK-47, but most in tears haven't been issued AK-47 with their own or simply not enough for them to get round. They've had to buy whatever guns they can find on the open market and even then it's hard for them to find ammunition.

(voice-over): This 20-year-old volunteer says firing the AK-47 was something of a wake up call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I'm glad now today I understand that there could be the person who wants to shoot me.

COOPER (on-camera): What do you think the American guys who come to help train?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're really cool. They're their maximal cool, like I really --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I thank them that they came here (INAUDIBLE). I appreciate that a lot.