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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Fate Unknown Of Hundreds Sheltering In Bombed Theater In Mariupol; Biden Announces Additional $800 Million In Military Aid For Ukraine; Biden Now Says Vladimir Putin Is A War Criminal; International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Talks To CNN About His War Crimes Probe After Russia Invades Ukraine; Journalist Who Protested On Russian State TV Tells CNN She Wanted To Show The World That Russians Are Against The War; Hackers Try To Break Through Putin's Digital Iron Curtain; Ukrainian Civilians Making Homemade Body Armor For The Military. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 16, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
IRINA PEREDEREY, MARIUPOL CITY COUNCIL DEPARTMENT HEAD, FLED CITY (through translator): But if not, we'll rebuild them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: "We will rebuild them." We've heard this again and again, a powerful reminder again tonight of the strength, fortitude, and resolve of the people of Ukraine. Thanks for joining us.
AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Tonight, the fate of hundreds of people is unknown in what is described as Mariupol's bomb shelter. This was the Mariupol Drama Theater hit by a Russian airstrike according to local authorities. It was, they say, for civilians a place of comparative safety in a city under almost constant bombardment.
Here is a satellite image taken two days ago showing what would have been even more apparent from the air than from space, painted on both sides of the theater the word "deti," Russian for children.
Now as a warning or caution to avoid the very thing that happened. We will have a full report on this in just a moment. First, though, the consequential day surrounding it, starting with Ukraine's President and his speech to the Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Remember Pearl Harbor, terrible morning of December 7, 1941 when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Just remember it. Remember September the 11th? A terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to
turn your cities independent territories and battlefields, when innocent people were attacked -- attacked from air.
Yes. Just like no one else expected it, you could not stop it.
Our country experience the same every day right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He received a standing ovation and bipartisan praise from lawmakers. Afterwards President Biden announced an additional $800 million in military assistance for Ukraine, but not the no-fly zone that President Zelenskyy wants.
Two sources familiar with the matter tell CNN tonight the weaponry will include switchblade drones, which are small, portable, so-called Kamikaze or suicide drones to carry a warhead and detonate on impact.
Here are some of what the President said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This could be a long and difficult battle, but the American people will be steadfast in our support of the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin's immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations.
We are united in our abhorrence of Putin's depraved onslaught and we are going to continue to have their backs as they fight for their freedom, their democracy, and their very survival.
We're going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, when asked later at a separate event, the President said that he thinks Vladimir Putin is a war criminal, characterization he previously stopped short of saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President's remarks speak for themselves. He was speaking from his heart and speaking from what he had seen on television, which is barbaric actions by a brutal dictator through his invasion of a foreign country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As for some of those actions, they continued without let up again today.
[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]
COOPER: More residential neighborhoods said to be hit. This is an apartment building near central Kyiv.
In a moment, my conversation with Olena Gnes, who has been living with her three kids in a shelter since the war began, a basement really. Elsewhere regional authorities say more than 10 people died in Chernihiv. They were waiting on line for bread when Russian shells began landing.
New signs as well, the Ukrainian's success on the battlefield, a second strike at Kherson Airport destroying more Russian helicopters. The first which we reported on late last night destroyed at least three and produced a plume of smoke large enough to be seen from space and set off a NASA wildfire detection system.
Also tonight, the mayor of Melitopol seen at the top of the frame being abducted last Friday were told was freed in a prisoner swap exchange, according to Ukrainian authorities, for nine Russian soldiers.
As for the Russian-Ukrainian peace talks, both sides today expressed cautious hope but Vladimir Putin lashed out claiming the West was trying to quote "cancel Russia and calling pro-Western Russians quote "scum and traitors."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Obviously, the West will try to rely on the so-called death column on national traitors, on those who earn money here with us, but live there and I mean live there not even in a geographical sense of the word, but according to their thoughts, their slavish consciousness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Wow. More so than even most nights, there is a lot to cover.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Kyiv, Kaitlan Collins is at the White House and Ivan Watson is in the Vinnytsia with the story of a family that has turned their home into a makeshift factory sewing flak jackets for the troops.
We begin though with Nick Paton Walsh on the theater bombing.
Nick from Odessa. So you've been reporting on what happened at the theater as well as a swimming pool in Mariupol. What do we know at this point?
PATON WALSH: You've got to remember, Anderson, this is a city already under siege with hundreds of thousands of people according to the Red Cross, at times forced to fight over what little food remains in there under persistent bombardment by Russian forces encircling the city whose defenders refuse to give it up.
But within that, too, greater horror, frankly, that a bomb shelter inside a drama theater where women and children have been known to be hiding themselves was in fact hit by an airstrike.
Here are the scenes.
PATON WALSH (voice over): The flicker of flame here were Russia's barbarism peaked, and an air strike hit a bomb shelter hiding hundreds beneath a theater said local officials. The damage so complete, the entrance was reduced to rubble.
This satellite image from two days earlier showing the building standing with children written large outside. In case you're still thinking, nobody knew who was here, videos had been circulating for days of the hell inside.
How over a week of siege and shelling had forced those still living into a space so tight and dark, it must have felt like a tomb.
"Here" he says, "Is where we give out food to children and women and elderly first." This is the converted cloakroom of the theater.
If this looks like how you imagined the end of the world, for these children packed in, that may have been the case when the bombs struck.
Russia claimed Ukrainian radicals caused the blast.
"In this room, 15 people," the narrator says. Little comfort any parent can give by the light, this will be over soon.
And below this store, there are yet more, an entire city forced underground. Little aid allowed in and few allowed out.
"People hear us, here are our children," he says. His appeal is for, food, help. Perhaps unaware, it may have led Russian bombs straight to them.
The swimming pool was also hit, a place where this narrator says a pregnant woman was trapped under the rubble and where only expectant mothers and those with under threes hid.
The Kremlin wants to break or flatten this port, but its defenders still exact a cost, still keep them out.
This drone video shows the moment Ukrainian fighters hit a Russian tank. The shots come again and again, removing one of the tanks tracks.
The crew were later seen hit as they try to flee.
No room for mercy in a city that has little space left for life itself.
COOPER: Nick, at this point, are there any confirmed death tolls of -- I mean, is it known exactly what happened to the people inside that theater?
PATON WALSH: No, I'll be honest, I mean, obviously information coming out of Mariupol has been sparse at the best of times. And this is clearly not that. What we do know is that the entrance according to local city officials of that bomb shelter was destroyed, leading many to be concerned that obviously that would result in deaths inside.
But rubble, too, owing to the intense shelling has been hard, frankly, for those remaining able to rescue those inside to begin to think about clearing and then of course, it's just why this is such an utterly ghastly moment for the people of Mariupol. This is exactly where the most vulnerable there, in the most vulnerable city in the country were trying to find some kind of solace. Yet still, that was considered to be a target.
And you can just see there, Anderson, the volume of social media material. The things you could see from space written on the courtyard outside saying this was a vulnerable target to be left alone.
It's hard to imagine that this didn't occur with some degree of forethought by the Russian authorities -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, it is sickening.
I want to bring in Kaitlan Collins at the White House. The fact, Kaitlan that President Biden called Vladimir Putin a war criminal today. It's obviously a change in language. Will it change at all what the President is willing to provide the Ukrainians?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't seem like it because, of course, he called that, labeled that for the first time since this invasion started, just after he laid out what new assistance the U.S. is going to provide to Ukraine in the form of that $800 million that he authorized today, signing it there in front of us, which of course, came just hours after Zelenskyy himself spoke calling for a no-fly zone, though Zelenskyy seem to indicate today, he understands that it's not something they're going to get certainly not from the United States, given the positions there.
But President Biden saying that President Putin is a war criminal is a big shift from where he was even just about two weeks ago, he said it was too early to say if he had committed war crimes. But since then, as we have seen, things like what we just saw there with this bombing of this theater where people were sheltering, bombings of maternity wards of hospitals, of apartment buildings, where it's pretty hard to try and make the argument that Putin is not targeting civilians.
You've seen officials shift in this direction and President Biden getting there today saying that, yes, he does believe he is a war criminal, though we should be realistic about what that means because the White House says that's him speaking from the heart.
Of course, an investigation would require a couple cooperation from Russian officials. If Russians accused of crimes aren't traveling abroad, it would be very hard for there to be any repercussions for them. Though, you could make the argument that it's important to have the narrative here to make sure you are telling the truth of what has been going on and documenting what's been happening on the ground there in Ukraine.
COOPER: Yes. I'm going to be talking later on an interview I did earlier today with the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court who was on the ground here in Lviv already starting his investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. We'll have that interview throughout the night tonight.
Nick, you went on the air earlier today during a live shot, there sounded like a sustained battle taking place. You're in Odessa. What was happening there?
PATON WALSH: Yes, anti-aircraft definitely behind us, Anderson, for 20 to 30 minutes, the longest burst, frankly, we've heard since we got here almost three weeks ago now when the invasion began.
Clearly, there is increased military activity around here, the third largest city, the key port that most people think Russia has to make some move against if it wishes to feel it might have a chance to claim control over all of Ukraine.
Now, that has resulted in two planes being taken down, Russian planes, according to Ukrainian officials in the last 24 hours and shelling of the coastline.
Statement, the last one that is backed up by senior U.S. Defense officials who say that there is military activity out there in the Black Sea behind me. The longer term fear has been some sort of amphibious assault against this enormous Russian speaking, cultural hearth of Ukraine. It's still almost preposterous when you say it, but it is still hanging there as a potential threat.
The real activity is happening to the east of Odessa around the city of Mykolaiv. We've talked about that many times, the civilian toll inside that city, but also the Russian military's bid to go around over its north to its west to try and cut it off and it seems also now, push up from the southeast to -- if Mykolaiv becomes containable to Russian forces, or perhaps they manage to encircle it like the awful scenes we have seen in Mariupol.
Then the argument is, Russia can focus Odessa here. I have to tell you, though, we've seen them very heavily stretched along this Black Sea coast. It doesn't seem like they're really they're in big enough numbers, as far as we know, to exact pressure on Mykolaiv, where they're not doing brilliantly at the moment, and also this enormous city of Odessa, too. That doesn't stop bombardment, that doesn't stop something foolish possibly happening from the sea behind me. Still, though, Odessa very much on edge and the anti-aircraft gunfire, an absolute symbol of that.
COOPER: Kaitlan, I'm going to speak with Ukraine's Foreign Minister tonight on the program. You hear both the Russian Foreign Minister and President Zelenskyy indicating that talks between the countries may be improving, how much confidence does the White House have on that front?
COLLINS: I think, they are hopeful. Obviously, they would like to see something come out of those, but I think they're also realistic about it. And they've seen this indication from some officials, some top Russian officials about what could potentially be coming out of this. But then you listen to the speech that Putin gave today and it is horrifying what he is talking about and the way he is framing this, the way he is talking about pro-Western Russians and the way that the framing of their thinking is and what he believes should happen in response, talking about purifying Russia.
And so I think that they are realistic as well, as they are continuing to see these bombardments continue, the difficulties in getting humanitarian assistance into Ukraine.
And so President Biden said today after talking about the new assistance that the United States is sending to Ukraine, he said he wanted to be honest that this is expected to go on for a long time and it has already been just three weeks tonight since this invasion started, but you saw the video that President Zelenskyy played for Congress today.
Look how much Ukraine is changed in just those three weeks because of this Russian invasion and so I think that's a concern that the White House has, the concern is Ukrainian forces running out of supplies, not just a military equipment, but also food and drinking water as well, as we know that that's been an issue for the civilian population as well.
And so I think getting that assistance in is going to be difficult, only it grows more difficult by the day as you're seeing the Russian invasion continue. And also on those defense systems that we've been talking about, the S-300s that Zelenskyy was saying he wanted today that you know, our reporting shows that they're trying to get that into Ukraine with other countries.
The White House has been very quiet about it. I think that's because they know it could potentially be a target for Russia. It's a much more sophisticated system than what the Ukrainians have and I think all of that is top of mind for them tonight -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Nick, when you see Ukrainian forces, I mean, you've been traveling around so much. What is the -- what are their capabilities? Obviously, we know about javelins, we know about stingers. But not all troops have those. Are their weapons up to date? Are there their guns? Do they have ammunition?
PATON WALSH: I have to be honest with you, we do get a very partial limited picture of what Ukraine's military capabilities are. A lot of that is quite deliberate, where we are certainly and they don't want us to know their positions, their full capabilities.
It's clear from what we've seen in terms of Ukrainian progress that there are special forces units, there are capable units out there, taking on Russian armored columns doing excessive amounts of damage, far frankly, beyond I think many expectations of what Ukraine's army would do, but two, also, we have seen quite makeshift units at times taking up transpositions around key cities, nervous even to be filmed even there, because of the intense grad rocketing they often get.
A lot of the movement we seem to see of troops are not enormously sophisticated in terms of the vehicles they have and how they move around. So, it's definitely a mixed picture, the Ukrainian military.
I think you always hear morale, certainly when you talk to them, because it's clear for them that they are fighting for their homes. We spoke to some troops outside of Mykolaiv. One guy pointed to his house, just down the road and said, "I'm fighting for that."
So that's a complete sea change to the Russian troops that they say they're fighting, that they say they've captured, who often don't even really know why they're there and don't feel they can go back without being persecuted by their own side. And if they go forwards, potentially might end up surrendering.
So Ukraine's military, I think, selling a narrative now of being on the counter offensive of pushing forwards. It's always hard on the ground to be sure that's exactly what you're seeing.
You mentioned the Kherson Airport that's further down the road we've traveled on. Well, we certainly saw a mixed picture in terms of the damage being done by Russian forces to key habitations, key villages along that road.
But at this stage, I think the key point to remember, Anderson, is that the absence of Russian control over major cities shows they are simply not doing the thing they thought they were able to do. They're being slowed down. It's proving tough, and the real issue now is how long can they go on for -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Nick Paton Walsh, Kaitlan Collins, thank you both. Appreciate it.
Coming up next, if you've been watching the program over the last three weeks, you know who Olena Gnes is. She and her three kids have been sheltering in a basement in a building since the war began in Kyiv. We'll talk to her again tonight to see how they are doing.
And later with Vladimir Putin lashing out again and President Biden calling him a war criminal, an exclusive conversation as I said with the International Criminal Court's Chief Prosecutor, who is here, already starting to gather evidence.
COOPER: Twenty one days into this invasion, we have been seeing continued bombardment, much of it hitting in residential areas. We are witnessing a kind of warfare that we've certainly seen before, but on a far greater scale this time. Trying to survive through all of it, some 40 million Ukrainians. It is
hard to imagine what their life must be like on a moment by moment basis; harder still to think about doing it with three young children as Olena Gnes is doing.
We've been talking to her throughout the war, always marveling at her strength and her resilience and her grace. We spoke again earlier this evening.
COOPER: Olena, it's so lovely to see you with your family. You look well. How are you holding up?
OLENA GNES, MOTHER OF THREE CHILDREN STILL IN KYIV: Hello, Anderson. Very happy to see you again. We are still alive. Yes, we are like fine. But today is one of the most difficult days for me personally.
We are like in 35 hours curfew. So today, we were not allowed to go outside. So we stayed all the time in the basement, and most of the time, I was just reading following the news. And the news is pretty bad. Especially what happened in Mariupol, and now, it just hurts.
My heart is just really bleeding when I'm reading this news and I really feel like my sisters and my brothers, my children are being killed in Mariupol and in other places and it's really hard. It's really hard.
COOPER: Yes, we're still waiting for more information on exactly what has happened at that theater. Can you just introduce who you have with you?
GNES: Oh, yes, sure. So these are my children. Daryna (ph). She is four months old, soon she will be five months old, basically already. This is Katyakashin (ph), seven years and she shows how angry she is, all the time and this is Taraz (ph). He is five years old.
COOPER: I can't imagine what has been like with this curfew, as you said for 35 hours to be in one room or in that underground with your children. That's a lot.
GNES: Oh, yes, they are full of energy and they don't know where to give this energy especially, we ask them all the time to be quiet and we are in the closed room without any sunlight. And yes, for children, it is pretty, pretty hard and they feel how stressed we are adults, and they hear what we are talking about. So, yes, they are pretty stressed, but they are coping with the situation pretty well.
I mean, as we still have --
COOPER: Oh they're scary. They are scary tigers. They are fierce.
GNES: They want to fight.
BOY: (Speaking in foreign language.).
GNES: They keep asking all the time about Putin? Why is he such a bad person? Why is he destroying Ukraine? Why is he killing people?
And when daddy will come back home and when we will come back home?
COOPER: I know, you also, right before the 35-hour curfew, you went to the supermarket and understand the lines were very, very long. Were there supplies there?
GNES: Yes. I don't know, because I could not stand such a long line. The lines are very long, because this was after the local authorities declared the long curfew. So people just rushed into the supermarket to buy what they need. Like for some days in advance. There was like a wave of panic.
Other people started to you know, drive away from here as well. These days and night, the shelling of Kyiv intensified. So there were more bombs flying on the residential areas, on the buildings here.
(Speaking in foreign language.).
GNES: So yes, that makes people feel more scared than before.
One of these bombs -- very close.
COOPER: I understand --
GNES: From our -- like, in our neighborhoods very close from our basement.
COOPER: Really? There was a bomb close to the basement? You could hear it?
GNES: Yes, basically, we hear many explosions, even if they are quite far away. But they are so loud that we can hear it in the basement. But the one that fell just two kilometers away, it was really loud. Yes, and the building was destroyed. And it was pretty, pretty close.
COOPER: That must be obviously very scary for the kids.
GNES: It is, it is
COOPER: I mean, do they get used to it in any way?
GNES: I think they kind of -- on one hand, they get used to it, so they are not surprised to hear the explosions anymore. Recently, just yesterday, we were outside to take some water and like, we just went outside of the basement with empty bottles. Then we heard explosions like one, then the second and the third. And each one was more loud than the previous.
And I said, well, okay, if we're going to have another explosion, we'll go back into the basement and Katya said, Mommy, if there will be another explosion, it will be just here. So we'd better come back right now. And then another explosion happens and they just ran back into the
basement. So they kind of now understand the danger. That it's real. I think the stress is accumulated little by little. I feel it. So they are like coping with the situation. But it's really too much for children. It's too much for them.
COOPER: There have been some reports about Russian and Ukrainian negotiators, maybe perhaps making some kind of progress, do you trust that? Do you have hope for some sort of settlement?
GNES: No, I have no trust, no hope, because I mean, how can you trust someone who keeps lying all the time? I mean, in negotiations. Putin says he will not attack, then he attacked. He said this was just military training. Yes. Then he said he will not kill civilians. Now, he is killing civilians.
I mean, look what happens in Mariupol, he is just bombing places filled with the civilian people. What changes if he will say right now if he promises, okay, I will not kill anymore.
Officially by Russian TV, he is not killing anyone. It's not even the war. Russia did not attack us. It's just a military operation for the de-Nazification of Ukraine. So what is the base of negotiations?
I mean, he just needs to take away all his Russian troops from Ukraine, from all of Ukraine, and I don't know. We need a really big wall between us and Russia. We need some crocodiles between us and Russia to stop it from happening.
GIRL: (Speaking in foreign language.)
GNES: Personally, you know, even if there will be some agreements and Russians will go away because they will understand that they are defeated, that they cannot really take control of Ukraine, I will not feel safe in this country until Putin, you know, the politician is a President.
I mean, he is a terrorist. He killed more people than I think any previous terrorist. I don't know. So he needs to be just punished. He needs to be imprisoned.
I can't understand how you can deal with this person, which is continuous killing thousands of civilians.
COOPER (on-camera): Olena, you're in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you.
GNES: Same to all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Olena Gnes, the three kids 35 hours in a basement just waiting. Coming up, the man whose job it is to investigate the crimes the Russian president, any war crimes that may have been committed here. It's his job he's on the ground, was on the ground today and Lviv my exclusive and in depth interview with the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court. That's next.
COOPER: We reported earlier the President Biden is now calling Vladimir Putin a war criminal. Jen Psaki made clear to point out that's his opinion Based on what he's seen on television.
Today however the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court was in Ukraine for the first time to start gathering the facts. And we spoke with him at length and CNN exclusive interview. As I said, is the first time the prosecutors been to Ukraine, he met virtually with President Zelenskyy today and others. Karim Khan is his name. And tonight, he takes us beyond the accusations the belief that we've all seen war crimes on the television, which Russia denies. But he's the one who has to try to build a monumental case to actually prove them to follow the chain of command to find out the people who are responsible for any alleged war crimes. Here's the first part of our conversation earlier.
COOPER (on-camera): You're here on the ground? You're -- it seems you're moving very fast on this.
KARIM ASAD AHMAD KHAN, ICC CHIEF PROSECUTOR: I think we have to, I think we see on our TV screens understand the attacks against civilian objects, the attacks regarding civilians, and we just get to the truth. And to get to the truth we need to be here. And separate facts from fiction.
COOPER (on-camera): There's not enough to know that war crimes are being committed. You have to prove who is responsible?
KHAN: Absolutely. We have a duty to investigate ex co-patreon (ph) incriminating evidence equally. And we have a burden of proof, which is the criminal law standard of proving it beyond reasonable doubt. And that's an arduous standard it should be. But if we're to fulfill our obligation, we have to conduct those independent investigations.
COOPER (on-camera): Do you have to have the chain of command, you have to have a document that that -- I mean what do you look for, for evidence?
KHAN: Well, the truth. And the truth can take many forms. It can be testimonial evidence, it can be intercepts, it can be satellite, it can be radar, it can be insiders, it's whole variety of it, but it's the evidence that is reliable, that is authentic, that is verified, and that judges can take it not just from me, but when they assess it, and hear what the defense have to say, they can say, well, that is the truth. And we say that these conclusions are warranted beyond reasonable doubt.
COOPER (on-camera): So even things like cell phone videos that we're seeing.
COOPER (on-camera): That's important.
COOPER (on-camera): It's going to be hard to find the truth in a time of disinformation.
KHAN: I think it's never as easy as people think, to get to the truth. But at the same time, we've seen time and time again, from Nuremberg onwards, the truth will out, and that gives me confidence.
COOPER (on-camera): You're confident you can find the truth.
KHAN: I'm comfortable to our job. We have very good men and women in the office. There's an international solidarity building up, 41 states unprecedented, have referred this matter.
COOPER (on-camera): Even 41 countries refer the matter to --
COOPER (on-camera): -- to the criminal court.
KHAN: Hopefully, it would be great.
COOPER (on-camera): You've obviously been doing this a long time working in international law and international justice, you know, how long, you know, in the past, getting people to, in the past, getting justice has taken years and years decades, sometimes what is the timeframe you think this may take?
KHAN: I think it's the test for us, international justice has been it's done remarkable things since Nuremberg, but it's not been an easy road. It's been criticized in parts for being slow, for being ineffective and not making a real difference to people's lives. This is a test for the court. It's a test for me, it's a test for the office that we see, the whole world is holding his breath.
COOPER (on-camera): Because the world is watching what is happening here, the stakes are high for not only for finding justice here, but for the international order of law.
KHAN: I think this is why we need to learn more than ever, we have to value the law, restrain ourselves individually when we have the upper hand and realize for our collective survival and for the collective progression of, of civilization, humanity, this law is worth fighting for and protecting and supporting. And what I'm really keen about is it's not a burden of me as prosecutor, it's not a burden of the Office of the Prosecutor. It's not a burden just of Ukraine or a states. These red lines, the demark (ph) basic norms of acceptable conduct a prohibition against genocide and crimes against humanity and war crimes. These red lines need to be policed by all of us.
COOPER (on-camera): It's interesting in the world of politics and international, you know, international diplomacy, political leaders are often wary of drawing red lines. You're not weary of drawing a red line when it comes to the law.
KHAN: Well, you know, these red lines, and these are the basic minimum standards. This is an opportunity to mobilize the law and send the law into battle, to protect and to deter, and to insist on accountability. Because if we don't do this, we're going to keep on having the sweet nothings of never again, of wringing our hands. And knowing what is coming tomorrow because we saw it yesterday.
COOPER (on-camera): We've seen video of maternity hospital being attacked, we've seen, you know, a pregnant woman being brought out who ultimately died as did her baby. And on the face of it, that would seem to be a war crime. Is that enough from a legal standpoint?
KHAN: What is the start I mean clearly I'm here for a reason and we have reasonable grounds to believe crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed.
COOPER (on-camera): You have reasonable grounds to believe that alleged war crimes alleged crimes against humanity --
COOPER (on-camera): -- have been committed.
KHAN: Absolutely. And, you know, one when sees. One thing is clear and the law is clear on this, it is a crime to intentionally target civilians, it is a crime to intentionally target civilian objects. Now, of course, there's has to be further investigation, whether civilian objects being used to launch attacks that made them legitimate targets. But even then it's no license to use cluster bombs or use disproportionate attacks in, you know, concentrated civilian areas.
COOPER: When he uses the term civilian objects, he's talking obviously about buildings, churches, schools, theater, perhaps. Much more from our exclusive conversation coming up, in our next hour. The chief prosecutor talks about what happens if Vladimir Putin or anyone else is found guilty, what are actually the chances of him ending up or somebody ending up in a courtroom?
Plus, establishing proof that strikes on residential buildings are deliberate that is in our next hour.
Just ahead right now, the Russian journalist who interrupted a lobbying newscast with an anti-war protest speaks to CNN. Let you hear in her own words, why she felt she had to do that.
Also new reporting on how she's not alone, trying to tell Russians about the war.
COOPER: Earlier today my colleague Christiane Amanpour spoke with Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova. And you may remember the video for protests on a major Russian evening newscast earlier this week holding an anti-war sign, an incredibly brave act. She was later fined for her actions. Not only (INAUDIBLE) network interview, she opened up about why she did it and how this decision while spontaneous had actually been brewing for a long time. She said part of her motivation was what state television had done to her mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA, RUSSIAN JOURNALIST WHO PROTESTED ON STATE TV (through translation): I'm watching my elderly mom who watches and listens to this propaganda from morning till night, and she is so brainwashed that I can't, I can't talk to her for five minutes. Because these phrases, she keeps repeating the phrases she hears on TV. The phrases that are propagandists created, and I think 50% of our society are like my mom. But I wanted to show to the world that Russians are against the war, the majority of Russians are against the war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Marina Ovsyannikova also called the war quote, a point of no return, when it was simply impossible to stay silent.
Now she's not the only one trying to break through Russian censorship as Donie O'Sullivan reports, hackers are trying to use their skills as well to reach the Russian people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you should be here in Poland. You should see all these people, refugees from Ukraine, people like you and me.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hackers fighting against Russia's information war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew that there are people all around the world who would like to do something. But since they can't buy a gun and fight against Russia, we decided to let them use their smartphones instead.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): This man part of so called squad303 online activists in Poland who have built a tool that allows anyone to send text messages and e-mails to Russians to give them information about the war in Ukraine, an attempt to get around Vladimir Putin's growing digital iron curtain. Russia recently cut off access to Facebook and Twitter.
TITAN CRAWFORD, ONLINE ACTIVIST: There's a new group that just came out with a website to allow you to text Russian cell phones.
O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): So how many text messages do you think you've sent to Russians over the past few weeks?
CRAWFORD: Three, four, five, 6,000, I couldn't even count. It just keeps going.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Titan Crawford, a truck salesman in Oregon has spent hours messaging Russians. He says most of his texts don't get a response. And some people tell him to go away, but others engage.
CRAWFORD: It's been a mixed bag. I had a gentleman pretty early on that reached out to me and sent me a picture of where he's working. And then I sent him we found out we like to travel. So I sent him pictures of my travels, he sent me pictures of his travel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm from a generation of Radio Free Europe. And we all remember how hard it is to live in enslaved country, where you don't have proper information, real information about the world. I can remember the time when we used to listen to Radio Free Europe. The only voice from the free world for enslaved people in Poland.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Thomas Kent is the former CEO of Radio Free Europe and an expert in Russian disinformation.
(on-camera): Do you think some people in Russia will be receptive to these messages? Or will they say, why is there an American sending me a text message?
THOMAS KENT, FMR CEO, RADIO FREE EUROPE: Well, certain number of people are going to say, yes, absolutely. This is hostile propaganda. This is spam. This is an attempt to psychological warfare against us. But many others will be grateful for some information that they're having trouble to get, and maybe be affected by the fact that there's someone out at the end of the communication who really would like to hear from them.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Other so-called hacktivist, taking a different approach on the Telegram app, a group called the Ukraine IT Army has amassed 300,000 members, it sends out lists of Russian websites to attack.
(on-camera): You're a coder, not a not a gunner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's true.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): We spoke to an organizer of the group over the phone. He said he is in Ukraine.
(on-camera): So I think I saw over the weekend you took down some food delivery services, like for takeout in Russia. I think I saw you guys targeted some banking services in Russia. I mean, what you're doing is targeting right Russian citizens, people in Russia. Do you think that's fair?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh that's exactly the point that I wanted to convey, right. We want those people feel that the war has started. And not only Ukraine involved on that, because there many people in Russia they don't feel that the war is there. And we want them to feel that.
COOPER: Donie joins us now. Is that kind of cyber attacks? Is that legal?
O'SULLIVAN: Yes, Anderson. I mean, this is a difficult one in that the Ukrainian government is pushing people. Its ministers are tweeting about that IT Army which is telling people to go attack these Russian websites, but certainly is illegal. We asked a U.S. State Department spokesperson about all of this because some Americans there are 300,000 members of this so called IT Army some of them may be Americans. The U.S. State Department treaded that needle carefully as saying that the Ukraine is entitled to defend itself in cyberspace, but condone anything illegal by U.S. persons here in the United States.
COOPER: Fascinating report. Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it.
The Ukrainian military isn't the only ones working to defend their homeland, ordinary civilians including some of Ukraine's babushkas, as they're probably known are helping to make armor and gear for those on the frontlines. Their story, next.
COOPER: As we reported earlier, President Biden today announced an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine after President Zelenskyy addressed Congress, calling for more support against Russia's invasion. The new security assistance will provide Ukraine with military equipment including weapons anti-aircraft systems, drones and armor. Some of the people decided to remain here in Ukraine have been using their skills to assist the war efforts behind the scenes helping to make gear for those in the frontlines, the conflict.
CNN's Ivan Watson has their story.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A melody in a time of deep uncertainty. A family hard at work turning their living room into a makeshift workshop, producing locally made armor for the Ukrainian military.
(on-camera): So this is heavy. This is a flak jacket.
(voice-over): These flak jackets are the work of this grandmother and former seamstress. Russia's invasion of Ukraine pulled 68-year-old Irina Protchenko out of retirement to work as a volunteer sewing flak jackets for Ukrainian soldiers.
(on-camera): Irina says she sews these flak jackets with love and is without love that she hopes it'll help protect defenders have saved their life.
(voice-over): In the kitchen Irina's son, a lawyer crafts the blue and yellow armbands that security forces were on their arms to identify themselves.
(on-camera): How many do you make in one day?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two hundred.
WATSON (on-camera): Two hundred. Yes.
(voice-over): This family workshop part of a larger improvised production chain that sprouted up in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia. It's the brainchild of Vitaly Gallovinca (ph). He takes orders from soldiers and members of the Territorial Defense requesting armor before they head to the front lines. Before the Vitaly was a lawyer and an amateur reenactor of scenes from the First World War when Ukrainian nationalists fought against Russian Bolsheviks.
Several days into this modern war, Vitaly says he asked his mother-in- law Irina to help so armor when his son's godfather couldn't find a flak jacket before heading off to combat.
This operation relies on donations and improvisation.
(on-camera): This is some padding for the flak jackets to go around the armor plates. And they're made from the material that used for floor mats for cars.
(voice-over): The armor plates come from scrap metal scavenged from old cars, welded and reworked by volunteer mechanics and field testing.
(on-camera): So Elyak (ph) is taken out plates to a firing range, because he's this and this is six millimeters in width. And they tried different kinds of firearms and rounds, and it was able to block some rifles but a sniper's rifle punched right through, as did a machine gun. They're not using this width for their flak jackets.
(voice-over): the team settled on a width of eight millimeters. Vitaly (ph) says this newest model will go to a new fighter within the hour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): My normal work is to defend people in a court of law. But now we have to defend people's lives from the enemy, from the killers who for some reason want to kill me, my little daughter, my grandmother, and so on.
WATSON (voice-over): This is just one example of the collective war effort that has sprung up here. Ordinary Ukrainians doing their part to protect their homeland.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Ivan, it seems like I mean, the needs for body armor, for ammunition for guns is really enormous, in part because there's so many volunteers who have now joined the fight, people in territorial defense forces in city defenses as well as people who are obviously going to the military.
WATSON: That's true and they're calling people up and -- but part of this program, this grassroots program was organized at the very beginning of the conflict. When some of the frontline people didn't have armor. So, I think this underscores some of the challenges that the Ukrainian Armed Forces face.