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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Kyiv Under Curfew As Russia Steps Up Airstrikes In Capital; President Biden To Announce New Military Assistance For Ukraine; Satellite Images: Russian Helicopters Blown Up During Ukrainian Military Strike On Kherson Airport. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 15, 2022 - 21:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciated that a lot.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Ben, Adrian, and Matt, hope, when they leave, other combat veterans will come and continue their mission.

BEN BUSCH, U.S. VETERAN HELPING TRAIN UKRAINIANS: You don't have to come here as a combatant at all. You can come here, and do this, on a very basic level. And if you have a specialty, if you have an urge, this is how it's applied. It's not imaginary. It's not mythological. We're actually doing this. And you can see the effect.

ADRIAN BONENBERGER, U.S. VETERAN HELPING TRAIN UKRAINIANS: This is what the Germans and French did, for us, when we were in a similar situation. During the American Revolution, people came over, and helped us train.

MATT GALLAGHER, U.S. VETERAN HELPING TRAIN UKRAINIANS: It just reminds Americans, of all ideologies, all politics, however they feel about this war, you know, these are everyday people, who want the same things that you and I want, back home, right? Peace, some prosperity, opportunity, for a better life, for their children.


COOPER: I should point out that Matt, Ben, and Adrian, have left their - left the country, now. We wanted to wait until they were out of the country, to show this story, show the work that they were doing here.

But, as they said, they hope other responsible vets, will come here, with a desire to help train, those, using whatever skills that they learned, in combat.

Still a lot more, to bring you, from Ukraine, tonight. We'll have the latest, on the shelling, in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv. And we'll show you how one village, in central Ukraine, is already taking steps, to protect itself.


COOPER: Some air raid sirens, here, in Lviv, tonight and, obviously, in Kyiv, where there are ongoing attacks.

A remarkable and, potentially, pivotal moment, here, in Ukraine, as day 21, of the war begins. Russian forces though, apparently stalled, outside Kyiv, failing to meet objectives, according to a senior U.S. Defense official, are nonetheless within artillery range, and have been hitting the city and suburbs, relentlessly, including, tonight.

And, I should point out, there's a 35-hour curfew there, because of fear of what may lay ahead, in the next 24 hours to 48 hours.

Earlier today, there were missiles that struck four buildings, in the space of a single hour. However, at this point, they've been unable to encircle Kyiv. In cities, they have encircled, the devastation continues.

There's new video, from Mariupol, in the south, which was hit upwards of 100 times, yesterday, according to the Mayor. As another local lawmaker, put it, today, the situation there, is catastrophic.


MAXIM BORODIN, MARIUPOL CITY COUNCIL DEPUTY: It's not about military men. It's about terrorists, because they understand that they can get Mariupol with their troops. So, they use artillery - heavy artillery, and use explosive, bombing, to totally destroy the city. In the near, on last five days, they don't stop bombing, in a minute. They're bombing and shelling all the time. And this - our city is totally destroyed. Totally.


COOPER: Some 20,000 people were said to have made it, out of Mariupol, today, and through a sort of unofficial humanitarian corridor.

People of Kyiv have yet to face exactly what the people of Mariupol and Kharkiv, Mykolayiv, and other besieged cities are going through, right now. But they're - what they are experiencing is horrific. Life in the capital is incredibly dangerous, and getting more so, by the minute.

CNN's Sam Kiley, is there, for us, tonight, where air raid sirens have been going off.

Sam, talk about what you're hearing tonight.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, tonight, Anderson, over the last few hours, sporadically, but very heavily, there's been substantial explosions, out to the west of the city.

Now, this has been an area, where the Russians have concentrated, a lot of their firepower. Even, this morning, you mentioned there, four people, killed in an apartment building. That was in the west of the city that was struck with some kind of missile.

There is though a probability, I think, that it is the Ukrainians that are getting on the front foot now. Reportedly, from some government sources, speaking on social media, this is looking like a Ukrainian counterattack, potentially, against the Russian forces. We'll get more clarity, on that, in daylight.

And this is all - in all probability, if it is a counterattack, it's an attempt to focus Russian military efforts, on trying to defend themselves, rather than, on what had been anticipated, which was the Russians, reorganizing, and then trying themselves, to penetrate deeper, into the city, not just in the west, Anderson, but also in the east, and ultimately try to cut Kyiv off, in the way that we've seen in Mariupol and that we've seen them trying to do in Kharkiv.

Kharkiv, of course, being another city that has been devastated, by very heavy attacks, indeed, particularly in the last 24 hours, against civilian targets.

But, here, in Kyiv, the combat continues, as diplomacy also gets underway. There are some glimmers of hopes, in terms of talks, with Russians, at least some optimism, coming from the Ukrainian side, Anderson.

COOPER: I want to ask you about that, in a second. Can you just talk a little bit about this 35-hour curfew?

Early on, in the war, there was a very long curfew. I think, it was a 24-hour one, if I'm not mistaken, and perhaps longer, in Kyiv. This is the first time this has happened again, since that time.

Is that because they - we talked to a member of parliament, who says that she's very worried about what may happen, in the next day or two. Are they expecting something, and that why - that's why they have this curfew?

KILEY: It's been very difficult, to get clarity, as you might imagine, from Defense sources here. But there are two kinds of analyses. The first is, which seems to be underway, is that the Ukrainians are going on their own counterattack.


But that doesn't mean that they didn't have Intelligence, about a potential Russian attack. And that's certainly the sort of Intelligence that they're being fed, externally, certainly from the United Kingdom and the United States.

And remember, they have a very substantial help that they can provide to the Ukrainians, in terms of signal Intelligence, intercepts the Ukrainians have got their own, too.

And indeed, the movement of Russian troops. You recall that very large convoy that was appeared to be stuck, north of Kyiv. That's now been dispersed. And there's concern that it has been partly dispersed, in order to be part of this regrouping operation, to come in, from the east. And that indeed was what your guest earlier on was referring to, Anderson.

COOPER: Sam Kiley, I appreciate it, in Ukraine, thank you - in Kyiv. Thanks.

Perspective now, from CNN Military Analyst, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

Also, retired Army Brigadier General Peter Zwack. He's a former Defense Attache to Russia, and currently, a Global Fellow, at the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute.

General Hertling, this 35-hour curfew, Sam was reporting, the fighting he's hearing, outside, in suburbs, outside Kyiv, tonight, what does it tell you that there is this lengthy curfew, which is something of an anomaly? Does it tell you something about what they're concerned about?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), U.S. ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It does, Anderson. And Sam's reporting was excellent, just now. Because this counterattack that the Ukrainian military has been wanting to do, for a very long time, is happening, just at the right moment.

You've had multiple analysts, on here that have talked about the culminating point, of the Russian attack. That means they can't attack any longer. So, they are in a bit of confusing - confusion, right now, trying to reorganize, trying to regain the initiative. And they can't.

So, the Russian commander - excuse me, the Ukrainian commanders, on the scene, is saying, "Hey, let's take advantage of this confusion. Let's take advantage of this stall. Let's take advantage of the dispersed logistics, and let's attack them." That's what good commanders do. They take advantage of the situation.

And I think the Ukraine - the Ukrainian announcement, of the overnight curfew is part of that, because they want civilians to stay indoors. They want them out of harm's way. Because, there are more than likely going to be some really tough fighting going on, in the suburbs of Kyiv.

COOPER: Yes. I should point out we have not been able to independently confirm a Ukrainian counterattack. But obviously that is something that has been talked about.

General Zwack, President Zelenskyy again called for no-fly zones. It's obvious, he wants the maximum he can get, obviously, from the West.

We also heard from White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said that, quote, "Adding aircraft to the Ukrainian inventory is not likely to significantly change the effectiveness of the Ukrainian Air Force," relative to Russian capabilities.

What Zelenskyy is - talks about repeatedly, is closing the sky, because they really have - are at the mercy, of missiles being fired, rockets hitting buildings. But would having closing the sky, in the sense of a no-fly zone, so-called, would that actually stop artillery, from firing, into cities? BRIG. GEN. PETER ZWACK (RET.), FORMER U.S. DEFENSE ATTACHE TO RUSSIA, U.S. ARMY: Anderson, I believe the decisive fight, is what we are watching and hearing about, right now.

It is - and I'm trying to visualize thousands and thousands of Ukrainian soldiers, home guard, partisan types, with rocket launchers, and Kalashnikovs, reported about, and grenades, just seizing on these Russian forces that are powerful.

But they've been fighting now for almost two - over two weeks, with no respite, no rest. They're powerful. But they've got to be worn out, and probably afraid.

And, I think, part of the reordering that we're hearing about, reorganization - reorganizing, is just trying to reconstitute their forces. Because what they've lost? They've lost momentum. They have lost their morale. And, I think, they've lost their will to fight. And so, they're increasingly trying to dump in artillery and make up.

The airpower is important, especially for high-level bombers, and all that. They've been able - the Ukrainians have been able to take down the low-fliers, somewhat. But the fight is on the ground, with ground weapons. And it looks like that something really militarily extraordinary, is this happening - is happening. Too early to tell.

COOPER: General Hertling, the same question to you. I mean, when Zelenskyy talks about, stopping the bombing, of buildings, the shells that are hitting buildings, it's - correct me if I'm wrong. Most of those shells are not coming from planes firing them. They're coming from long-range artillery tanks. You tell me.


HERTLING: Yes. That's correct, Anderson. I don't know the direct percentage. But I know it's probably greater than 60 percent or perhaps even 70 percent, are artillery, rocket and missile fire. So, the aircraft that are actually dropping bombs, are certainly a percentage of it. But it's not a significant percentage.

And it's those that, you know, Mr. - President Zelenskyy is attempting to close the sky, with a no-fly zone? You wouldn't be able to do that. Because the majority of things that are devastating the cities, and are causing, so much chaos and destruction, are these artillery pieces.

Russia has always been known, for their long-range fires. That is part of their doctrine. So, their aircraft have not been able to fly.

The Russian aircraft have not been able to fly, significantly. They are dropping some bombs. They are dropping some caliber missiles, cruise missiles, from high-altitude aircraft, as Peter said. But it's not a lot. And they are quickly running out of those kinds of precision weapons. And they're using most of those, to go against military targets.

What you're seeing, in terms of the catastrophe, within the Ukrainian cities, are primarily being caused, by missiles and artillery shells. And it's hard to stop those, just by - you can't close the sky to them. I mean, what you have to do is counter battery artillery fire. That requires radar to find out where it's coming from.

You need some type of high-level air defense, to knock cruise missiles, out of the sky. The Ukrainians don't have that. So, they don't have the high-med (ph) artillery - the high-altitude air defense.

The Ukrainians have very small numbers, of counter battery radars, where they can pick up, where artillery is being fired from. So unfortunately, those long-range fires are going to continue to rain on the cities.

But, as Peter said, it's a conventional fight, right now. It's defending the cities, while they're getting bombed, which is a tough thing to do. Mr. Zelenskyy wants all of--


HERTLING: --this to stop. He's trying to pull other nations in. And unfortunately, there's not a whole lot that other nations can do, about this, just right now.

COOPER: Yes. General Hertling, General Zwack, I appreciate your expertise. Thank you.

More now on something you see across the country.

HERTLING: Thank you.

COOPER: Ordinary people taking up arms, mixing Molotov cocktails, training, to defend their country, by defending their cities, and towns, and neighborhoods.

CNN's Ivan Watson, reports.



IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dawn breaks, over the City of Vinnytsia, with an air raid siren. The ground war has yet to reach this city, in central Ukraine. But locals aren't taking any chances.

This is the entrance to a village, on the outskirts, of the city. A checkpoint protected by volunteers, an ex-cop, a fireman, and an electrician.

WATSON (on camera): Looking how this village is protecting itself, homemade tank traps, which the locals call hedgehogs. They've sewn netting, and put up sandbags. And around the wall here, of this checkpoint, they've got boxes of Molotov cocktails, ready. This is all locally-made. These are improvised defenses. And this is just one Ukrainian village. WATSON (voice-over): Just down the road, I meet, Nina Chataluuk, who seems like a sweet 71-year-old grandmother.


WATSON (on camera): (FOREIGN LANGUAGE). By the way, Nina says that if she saw Vladimir Putin, she would strangle him with her own hands, right now.


WATSON (voice-over): "I'm ready," she says. "If by God, the Russians come here, I'll shoot them all, and my hands won't even shake."


WATSON (voice-over): "I'll thrown grenades at them."


WATSON (voice-over): There is seething anger, here, at Moscow's invasion, and, at the same time, examples of tremendous generosity.

Stacked inside a garage, humanitarian assistance, trucked in, from Europe, personal donations, of clothes, and food, for the struggling people, of Ukraine, aid that will then be shipped off to frontline cities.

VLADYSLAV KRYVESHKO, DISTRICT HEAD OF VINNYTSIA CITY TERRITORIAL COMMUNITY: I want to say thank you for the rest of the world. For the world. I want to say that we need help. We need, and we will need help.

WATSON (on camera): Is Vinnytsia ready, if the Russian military--


WATSON (on camera): --comes to the city?

KRYVESHKO: Yes. Another cities give us the time. We have two weeks, to make good defense. Today, we're ready.

But we don't want this.

WATSON (voice-over): The war effort extends to Vassily Solskiy, and his farm, where workers labor, listening, to news, of the war. Vassily donates free food to Self Defense Forces.



WATSON (on camera): Vassily Solskiy (ph) says he's doing his parts, to help with the war effort. He says, he's planting more crops, and he's going to try to grow more food, to feed Ukrainians, who may be in need, in the weeks and months ahead. WATSON (voice-over): One of Vladimir Putin's stated objectives, for his war, on Ukraine, was to demilitarize the country. Instead, he has mobilized farmers, grandmothers, and electricians, to form a grassroots resistance, against the Russian invasion.


COOPER: And Ivan Watson joins us now.

I got to say, Nina - if there is a Nina, in every village, in Ukraine, the Russians really better watch out! I mean, she was amazing!

WATSON: Yes. She actually was, in Afghanistan, with the Soviet occupation, in the 80s, and carried a rifle, and grenades, and was involved in firefights there, she told me. And she's not the only Nina.

My team has talked to another grandmother, previous day, who said the same exact line. And I think it gets to - that line being, "If I had Putin, in front of me, I'd strangle him, with my own hands," which is, shocking to hear, coming from a babushka, a grandmother, here. But, I think, it gets to that moral indignation that so many Ukrainians share this line--


WATSON: --that people repeat it again, and again. "This is our land. This is our country. And Russia is an invading force." And that just drives people crazy, as you could probably understand, from almost any other country, in the world that was invaded, by a foreign army.

COOPER: Yes. There's a lot of Ninas, here, in Lviv, who are watching, what's going on, and preparing, as well.

Ivan Watson, a great report. Appreciate it.

A preview coming up, of President Biden's NATO summit, next week, and President Zelenskyy's address, to Congress, tomorrow. We'll have live report, from the White House.

Also ahead, "New York Times" columnist, Thomas Friedman, in his words of warning, about expecting the unexpected here.



COOPER: Ukraine's President addresses Congress, tomorrow.

President Biden is expected to unveil a new military aid package, for Ukraine. And next week, he'll be traveling, to Brussels, for NATO summit meeting.

A lot to talk about, with CNN Chief White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, who joins us now.

So, what do we know about President Biden's expectations, for this kind of sudden trip, to Europe, next week?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They say, really, he just wants to meet face-to-face, with these leaders that he has been coordinating this response, to Russia's invasion with.

He will have that chance, next Thursday, Anderson, in Brussels, when he has this NATO meeting, which is pretty extraordinary, how quickly, they have put this together, where it's going to be President Biden, 30 other world leaders, talking about what this response, is going to look like.

And, of course, you've seen just how coordinated they have, trying to be, over the last several weeks, in response to the punishment, for the Kremlin. Whether its international attempts, to cut them off, from international trade, personal sanctions, on Putin, himself, and his inner circle, they've really tried to be coordinated here.

And the White House says that's not by accident. And that is part of why President Biden is going to this trip, next week, where he'll be at the NATO summit. He's going to go to a previously-scheduled European Council meeting, as well.

One big question, is still whether or not he's going to go to Poland. We have told - we've been told that White House officials are working on that. So, of course, that is where they've seen the vast majority of refugees, enter in, from Ukraine, into Poland. So, whether or not he goes, and meets with them, speaks with them, that remains to be seen, though it is likely, Anderson.

The White House also hasn't said whether or not President Biden would try to meet with President Zelenskyy, while he's there. Obviously, that would come with a lot of challenges, given Zelenskyy is still in Kyiv, as the Russians are attempting to encircle it. But it is something that the White House says they are considering.

COOPER: Both, President Biden, and President Zelenskyy, are giving significant speeches, tomorrow. President Zelenskyy to the U.S. Congress. He was critical, on a speech, today, essentially pushing European leaders, to do more. He, obviously, he wants some sort of a no-fly zone.

What's anticipated for what they're going to say tomorrow?

COLLINS: Yes. So, we'll hear, from President Zelenskyy, to Congress, about 9 A.M. Eastern, tomorrow. And then, just about three hours later, you'll see President Biden come out, and speak.

And, of course, we know what President Zelenskyy is expected to say. A lot of it has to do with what he has said, to other governments, as he spoke to the Canadian Parliament, today, asking for more assistance, from the West, praising what they've done, so far, we should be clear, but also saying, "We need more."

And, of course, one of his number one request has been to create a no- fly zone, over Ukraine. And that has been something the White House has said, a pretty firm no to. They've repeated it, again, today. And so, you'll see President Zelenskyy speak.

And then President Biden himself will speak at about 11:45 A.M., tomorrow, according to the White House schedule, that just came out, Anderson. And he's going to talk about what the White House has done, so far, for Ukraine, and what they plan to do going forward.

And we are told by sources tonight that will include $800 million more dollars, in security assistance, for Ukraine. That is new money that they are spending, to try to get this military equipment, this lethal assistance, to Ukraine. Of course, the question, of how they get that there, President Biden said today, has become exceedingly difficult that they haven't still been able to do that.

And he will get specific, we're told tomorrow, on what exactly this $800 million, is going to go to. We know Zelenskyy is likely going to ask, for armed drones, these easy mobile air defense systems. We'll wait to see, if President Biden mentions that.

Though, Anderson, we do - we are told by officials, he is not expected to say yes, he'll do a no-fly zone, because they say that that would get the United States, into World War III.

And he is also not expected to say that they are sending more fighter jets, to the Ukrainian Air Force, because the White House and the Pentagon has said that they've analyzed that, and they believe it's too high risk, of a situation, to follow through with, at this time.

COOPER: Yes. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it, from the White House.

Just ahead, I'll be joined by Tom Friedman, to discuss the state of the war, and his new column, where he writes, this is a war, where you must expect the unexpected.



COOPER: During his remarks, visiting leaders, from three European countries, which we mentioned earlier, President Zelenskyy was exceedingly optimistic, about his country's chance, for survival. He said that with, quote, "Friends like this," Ukraine "can win."

I'm joined now by "New York Times" columnist, Tom Friedman, whose latest column underscores Ukraine's successes, and Russia's setbacks. "In the War Over Ukraine," he writes, "Expect the Unexpected." He's also the author of a number of best-selling books, including "The World Is Flat."

Tom, I really enjoyed your column. And it raises a lot of really interesting ideas. You write in the column, how every war brings surprises, and that for you, the three biggest ones, so far, are, quote, the extraordinary acts of cruelty, courage and kindness that this war is revealing, and inspiring.

Talk about that a little bit, about what you've taken, from this. THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, NEW YORK TIMES FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, AUTHOR, "THE WORLD IS FLAT": Well, thanks, Anderson. And again, hats off, to all the reporters, over there.

Well, the cruelty refers, basically, to Putin's old strategy now, which is just to ravage this country, just to simply ravage it.

Because his whole thesis, for the war, obviously, has just blown up. The idea that he was going to come there, and decapitate the Nazi, the quote, unquote, "Nazi leadership," and then, "This country would simply fall back into the lap of Mother Russia," it's completely blown up.


And his strategy, now, is obviously, just to bomb the place, to smithereens, and then strut around, the ruins, like a peacock. But one wonders, what he's going to do the morning after that?

Think about how weird this is. He told, his own people, and the world, for months, that Ukraine was part of the very soul, fabric and culture of Russia. And now that it's resisted that, and proven that's not the case, he's just going to smash the place, to bits, but never explaining, how it went from one to the other. So, that's the cruelty, the mindless cruelty.

The courage, is the Russian woman journalist, who went on the evening news, basically, like someone, who stood behind Walter Cronkite, during the Vietnam War--


L. FRIEDMAN: --and held up a sign, on the most popular news show.

COOPER: Marina Ovsyannikova.

L. FRIEDMAN: That - yes, that this war is all lie. Anderson, we're both in the news business. You know the courage that took, to do that, in an authoritarian state, like Russia?

And, I think, one of most interesting things, Anderson, was she was immediately arrested. We thought we'd never see her again. And she was just fine. And then let go.

And you know what, I think? That's a huge sign of weakness. If that remains the case, by Putin, as I think he was terrified, she would become an international martyr, and an example for other journalists.


L. FRIEDMAN: And then, the amazing creativity inventiveness, of people, going onto Airbnbs platform, on their own, with no one - wasn't like Airbnb ordered this. And in an emergent way, suddenly renting rooms, now over 490,000 nights of rooms, from people, in Ukraine, for the sole purpose, not of obviously visiting those rooms, or sleeping in them, but simply to transfer money to them. So, it's like their own autonomous People-to-People foreign aid policy, that's transferred millions of dollars now, to help Ukrainians, who may be hiding, in their basement, get through this crisis, or at least have some resources, when it comes out of it - when they come out of this. Just amazing creativity of people.


L. FRIEDMAN: And you have to salute all of it.

COOPER: I want to put that picture back up, of Marina - I want to make sure I always get her name right, Ovsyannikova.


COOPER: Because not only for what her bravery. You mentioned that she - the anchor's like, the Russian, Walter Cronkite. I don't know that Walter Cronkite was ever so dead-eyed on the air. Because that Russian anchor is.


COOPER: She looks--


COOPER: --quite dead behind the eyes. But one of the things--

L. FRIEDMAN: Absolutely.

COOPER: --you write about, which I thought was fascinating, is that there's a lot of talk, in the last years, about the end of kind of the global community, the death of globalism. The Airbnb is one example. But this has shown sort of the interconnectedness, of things, in an interesting way, you write about.

L. FRIEDMAN: Well, after every big global crisis, 9/11, 2008, the pandemic, you can set your watch by, if someone writes that globalization is over.

Well, globalization, gets slowed down sometimes. It got slowed down, by World War II, OK? But people's desire to connect, OK, and the technology enabling it, is not going away, OK?

And, one of the most interesting, unexpected twists, of this, again, expecting the unexpected, is China has its own vaccine. Turns out its vaccine is not very effective, against Omicron, or not effective at all. They've now got a huge outbreak there.

They operated on a quarantine policy, over the years, of just zero tolerance. So, they never, during the past few years, built up much herd immunity. They've got a spread of Omicron now, that's forcing them to close, basically close down cities, like Shanghai, stopping manufacturing. And guess what? Not using much oil.

So, this morning, the price of oil, that one thing that Vladimir Putin can sell, and get money with, crashed, basically, fell from $130, down to $100. And there is China, because of how it dealt with COVID, affecting Putin, and how he's going to be able to manage his economy. And so, everything's still connected.

I would say another thing, Anderson. One of the oldest saws, in foreign policy, is China and Russia, they play chess. But we play checkers. We, Americans, we don't get it all. We just play - we're plotting. We play checkers.

Well, you know what? Old Sleepy Joe, playing checkers, just moving from red to black, down the board, meat and potatoes, putting together an Alliance, I'd say he's done pretty darn well!

And the people who have played chess, right, the Russians, old Vladimir, he's - he's been playing Russian roulette. He just blew his brains out.


And the Chinese, I think, are really flummoxed, because they get wheat, they get corn, they get fertilizer, they get oil, from Russia. All these are rising, in price. And how - how's that going to affect their lower and middle classes?

So, they're sitting there, thinking, "Wait, I really, I'd like to see the Americans fail there. But holy mackerel! This war is causing real inflation, in commodities, in my own country."


L. FRIEDMAN: And that's not good, for old Xi Jinping.

COOPER: You write that there will be more surprises, and they won't all be pleasant. Do you think there's any hope, of this ending anytime soon, in your view?

L. FRIEDMAN: I think the real wildcard, in this, Anderson, is what we can't see. The West, the Alliance, dropped the equivalent, as I said before, of an economic nuclear bomb, on Russia. But the blast radius of that bomb moves out rather slowly.

So, right now, Russia is heading to a situation, where it will have no domestic or international airlines, because its airlines are actually owned by Irish leasing companies.

You can't take a bus, from Moscow to Vladivostok. Its currency has been crushed, basically, in relation to the dollar, and other Western currencies. They're not going to be able to get microchips, to do manufacturing.

So, this is going to slowly build up. In 30 days, their economy is going to be in a very, very perilous state. And, I think, that's when Putin is going to be sitting there, thinking, "I'm bogged down here. My economy is being crushed."

And guess what? Maybe tomorrow, five journalists will come out, and then maybe 10. So, I wouldn't - I wouldn't want to be, in his shoes, right now. I don't think it's a simple matter.


L. FRIEDMAN: But the bomb we dropped, on his economy, it will very slowly build an explosion, and it's going to be a huge, huge problem, for him.

COOPER: Yes. Tom Friedman, always fascinating. Thank you so much.

L. FRIEDMAN: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Up next, we have breaking news, on a report, over Ukrainian offensive.

Also, the U.N. says more than 3 million people have now left Ukraine, as Russian forces continue their assault. But some brave Ukrainians have decided to come back, and help defend the country. And it's not just men, jumping into the war zone. Details on that, ahead.



COOPER: We've just got new satellite photos. They're from Kherson. And they show the results of a Ukrainian strike, today, on the Kherson airport.


COOPER: You could see large plumes of smoke, from burning Russian helicopters, at least three of them. This is the most destructive strike, military strike, the Ukrainian military has conducted, against Russian helicopters that we know about, since the war began.

Another image, taken by a drone, hovering above, a nearby village, also shows the large plume of smoke, rising from the airport.

The strike was significant enough that it was detected by a NASA system, which is used to track large fires, around the world. According to the NASA Data, it happened at around 1:42 P.M. local time.

The breaking news comes at the end of a day that saw the number of people, fleeing Ukraine, top 3 million, according to the United Nations.

Now, in addition, though, a growing number of people, are returning to the country, to help fight. And it's not just men, who are going back into the war.

Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The rail line, from Ukraine, ends at Platform Five, at the train station, in Przemysl, Poland. After refugees walk off, this same train will go back.

For weeks, it's mostly been men, returning to join the Ukrainian fight, against Russia. But, in front of the sign, reading "Train for Ukraine," women are waiting hours, for a ride, back into the war zone.

Near the front of the line, we found Tatiyana Veremychenko. She came to Poland, three days ago, to bring her two adult daughters, to safety. Now, the 40-year-old, is going home, to a town, in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): "Ukraine is equally important for men and women," she says. "We're the real Ukrainians. Women have the strength, and will, and the heart, as well."

By our count, women accounted for about half of the passengers, in this line, waiting to cross the border, back to Ukraine.

Irina Orel brought her grandchildren to Poland. She's returning now, to be with her family, in Odessa.

LAVANDERA (on camera): How worried are you, about your safety?


LAVANDERA (voice-over): "I'm anxious," she says. "But the feeling has become dull, over time. I just want to be next to my family."

Standing with several women, we met Maria Halligan (ph). She's going to Kyiv, to be with her husband, and family, to fight, in her words, Russian terrorists.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you know what you need to do, it's impossible, feel nervous, for something that exists. If I have to do this, I can do it, for my contrary, for my relatives, for my friends.

LAVANDERA (on camera): And what stands out to me in this line of people going back to Ukraine is that there are so many women. Why do you think that is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not man. I can't kill. I'm woman. And my work? Keep balance, and help, and be kind, and care about relatives, family, friends, and all again. But now, I feel that all Ukrainians, my relatives.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Before she leaves, Maria (ph) shows us a heart-shaped Ukrainian flag, given to her, by Polish children, to protect her.

Those returning, walk past a carriage that reads "Safety above all." But the train leaving Platform Five, disappears, into a war zone, where safety is a dream.


COOPER: Ed, I'm wondering what struck you about, talking with all these people, going back, into Ukraine?

LAVANDERA: Well, so many of them had just come over, into Poland, several days ago. And they said that that feeling of it was almost too peaceful, too serene, on this side of the border. And they felt kind of helpless. And they wanted to go back, to help in whatever way they could.


The reasons varied, as you saw, from our reporting, there. But, I think, the one thing that connected through all of the women that we spoke to, in that line, is that they felt a sense that their return was a symbol of solidarity, a symbolism of resistance, for the Russian forces that are in their country.


COOPER: Yes. Ed Lavandera, we've heard that a lot. And it's an incredible sentiment. Thanks a lot, for the reporting, from Poland, tonight.

Up next, an unforgettable moment, for some kids, at a new school. The children are Ukrainian. And the school is far from home.


COOPER: With all the horrors, of this war, and its toll on children, we want to share a moment of tremendous humanity, for some young refugees.

Take a look, as two Ukrainian kids, an 8-year-old girl, and a 10-year- old boy, walk into a school, in Italy. It's their first day. This is the reception, they get, from other kids, they had never met.






COOPER: I mean, the first day of school, is hard, for any child. But, to be a child, whose left Ukraine, left a warzone, come to a country?

The children's grandmother, lives in Italy, which is why they're there. She was visiting her village, not far from Lviv, when the war began. She was able to bring the two grandkids, and her daughter, back with her. And this is their first day, at school. We wish them well.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

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