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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Ukraine: Survivors Emerging From Bombed Mariupol Theater; Biden To Speak With President Xi Amid Rising Concerns China Could Give Financial, Military Aid To Russia; Veteran War Photographer Captures Heartbreaking Images In Ukraine. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 17, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: There was, in all the other developments, today, a remarkable plea, from the son of a man, who had once been in the same position, as the Russian troops, now surrounding, and laying siege, to cities, here.

His father was in the Wehrmacht, fighting for the Hitler's Germany, taking part in the German siege, of Leningrad, which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Today, that soldier's son, former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, put out this message, to Russian citizens, and Russian troops, imploring them, not to do, what his father did, or be tormented by the memories of it, as he was, for the rest of his life.


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, (R) FORMER GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: And let me tell you, when my father arrived, in Leningrad, he was all pumped up, on the lies, of his government.

When he left Leningrad, he was broken, physically and mentally. He lived the rest of his life, in pain. Pain from a broken back, pain from the shrapnel that always reminded him, of those terrible years, and pain from the guilt that he felt.

To the Russian soldiers, listening to this broadcast, you already know much of the truth that I've been speaking. You've seen it with your own eyes. I don't want you to be broken, like my father.


COOPER: It's a really remarkable, and very personal message.

Today, Ukraine's President also referred back to the Second World War. He said the phrase that was birthed in the horrors of it, "Never again," is now, quote, in his words, "Worthless."

[21:05:00] The remarks came in a speech, to the German Parliament, on a day here that saw fresh horrors, all across the country, and in that city of Mariupol, at least some possible measure of hope.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is with me, here, in Lviv. What do we know about what's going on with the theater?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, there is that little glimmer of hope, as you put it. But, the same time, you have these rescue crews that are out there, and they can't actually get to the people, because there's so much rubble, on top of them.

And there's another really staggering number that I got today, is that in the three weeks that this conflict has been going on, 80 percent of the buildings, in Mariupol have been damaged, 30 percent, beyond any sort of repair.

And that's one of the reasons why it's so difficult to get people out of that building, or out of the cellar of that building, is because they still face so many attacks, by the Russian Military, between 50 and 100 attacks per day.


PLEITGEN: And it's not only in Mariupol. It's in other cities as well. Here's what we're learning.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): As Vladimir Putin's military rains bombs, rockets and artillery, on Ukraine, civilians are paying the highest price. Scores killed and maimed.

In Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, rescue workers dig out the bodies, of an entire family, killed, when a residential building was hit.

Dozens more civilians lost their lives, in attacks. The Ukrainian government now confirming that U.S. citizen James Whitney Hill was among those killed.

(on camera): (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

(voice-over): I asked Chernihiv's Mayor, to tell me, about the situation, in his city.

MAYOR VLADYSLAV ATROSHENKO, CHERNIHIV, UKRAINE (through translator): The intensity of the shelling has increased. It's been indiscriminate, apparently random. We're not talking about certain military infrastructure buildings being bombed. In reality, houses are being destroyed. Schools and kindergartens are being destroyed.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): This graphic video shows the gruesome aftermath, of an attack, on people, waiting in a breadline, in the same town. Witnesses say, at least 10 civilians were killed. Russia's military cynically claiming, it wasn't them. MAJ. GEN. IGOR KONASHENKOV, RUSSIAN ARMY (through translator): All units of the Russian Armed Forces, are outside Chernihiv, blocking the roads. And no offensive actions are being taken, against the city.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Other cities are getting shelled, as well. One of the hardest-hit, Mariupol, in the southeast. Several were killed, and wounded, mostly women and children, when a maternity ward, and children's hospital, were hit, last week.

And then, the main theater, where the U.S. believes hundreds of people had taken shelter, was bombed. A small miracle, the bomb shelter under the building, held up, helping some of those inside, survive. Though it's still unclear, how many.

Authorities say, efforts to pull people, from the rubble, are being hindered, by the total breakdown, of public services, and the threat of further Russian attacks.

Aerial images show the building was clearly marked as having children inside, leaving Ukraine's Defense Minister, irate.

OLEKSII REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: You can see from the maps, from the drones that are around this, there's a big letters of "Children," were written, so that the pilot of the plane which was throwing the bombs could see. And still, in spite of that, this monster has bombed the theater.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Russia has denied it was responsible for the attack. And the Russians claim, they only target military installations, sending out this video, of them, allegedly destroying Ukrainian howitzers.

But the U.K.'s Defense Ministry says the Russians are increasingly hitting cities, with heavy and less accurate weapons, because they're simply running out of precise munitions, as the war drags on.

Experts believe, it will only get worse.

MASON CLARK, LEAD RUSSIA ANALYST, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR: They're very intentionally targeting, water stations, and power supplies, and internet towers, and cell phone towers, and that sort of thing, in a very deliberate attempt, to make it more difficult, for the defenders, to hold out, and try and force them to capitulate.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But despite bringing massive firepower, on civilian areas, the U.S. and its Allies, say Russia's offensive in Ukraine has stalled, and recent territorial gains have been minimal.


PLEITGEN: And it's really interesting, because there's a new assessment, also, by the British Military today that the Russians still can't get their logistics going, have a lot of problems with that. Also, facing, of course, attacks, from the Ukrainian Military, that also diminishes their offensive power. So, you have these massive attacks on civilians. COOPER: Yes.

PLEITGEN: Very little gain, on the battlefield.

COOPER: Yes. Fred Pleitgen, I appreciate it. Thanks so much.

For a closer look, at all things military, three weeks into this war, we're joined now by William Cohen, who served as Defense Secretary, in the Clinton administration. Also, CNN Military analyst, retired Army General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark.

General Clark, the U.K. Ministry of Defence, said today, as Fred just mentioned that the invasion has largely stalled, on all fronts. If that's accurate, what is Russia's next move, then?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, SENIOR FELLOW, UCLA BURKLE CENTER: I think Russia's next move, is to rebuild its logistics, recruit a bunch of mercenaries, and continue the pressure, on Ukraine.


Don't be fooled, by the negotiations. The negotiations are a pause. It's an effort, to cover, what Russia is doing. They're going to rebuild, their logistics, bring in more shells, bring in more people, bring in more systems, and keep the pressure on, in an effort, to break Zelenskyy, and show that the West's support, for Ukraine, is inadequate.

COOPER: Secretary Cohen, what then does the Ukraine try to do? If that is the reality, if this is - if this is just at a time, when they're going to try to rebuild, from the rear, bring in more armaments, and recruit mercenaries, what does Ukraine do?

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY, CEO, THE COHEN GROUP: Well, Ukraine is going to continue to suffer hardship. We can be inspired by their courage, and their resilience, to date. But the fact is, the Russians will be even more brutal.

And that is why I still, maybe wishful thinking, on my part, but I still think the Chinese have an opportunity, to help solve this problem, before it gets any worse.

Again, maybe wishful thinking, but I think President Biden's going to have to ask the Chinese, is Russian oil thicker than Ukrainian blood? And their answer, maybe yes. If that's the case, I think, it will serve to, I guess, impact the Chinese, not immediately, but down the line.

Because, every year, there's a conference in China, called the China Development Forum, in which many of the top CEOs, of the major companies, in the world, meet. And, during that time, they're asking for Western investment. That's going to be harder to get now, if they do, in fact, turn away, from trying to help here. And then, secondly, they always ask for help, on the part of the United States, and other Western countries, to help the children, in the middle of China, the poor areas of China.

Again, it's going to be hard, for them, to ask the West, to help their children, if they're standing by, and watching the bloody massacre that's taking place, by their new best friend.

COOPER: General Clark, how does Ukraine fight against Russian artillery? I mean, we know they'd like to "Close the sky," is the term they're using. But a lot of the damage that's being done, to residential areas, to other sites, and militarily, as well, is from Russian artillery, long-range, ballistic missiles, and the like. How does Ukraine fight against that?

W. CLARK: They do have some counter-battery radars. But they're short- range radars. They do have some artillery that they can fire back in a counter-battery battle. But Anderson, the key thing is that Ukraine cannot stand out there, and wait, in a perimeter, and wait to be attacked.

Ukrainian soldiers have to take the offensive. They have to move out, from those cities, in small groups, hunt and killed the Russians that are closing in on them. This is a critical thing to be done. Now, they've got to consume that Russian Military, before it can be reinforced.

So, you have to look at it this way, where the Russians bring their military, in close, they make themselves targets. Ukrainians have the Javelins. They have the Stingers. They've got the courage. They've got the skill. They know the local area. They got to go out there, and dig them out. That's the only way they're going to win this.

COOPER: Secretary Cohen, if - the other aspect, about China, is, I mean, if they do choose, to help Russia, militarily, economically, I mean, they would be in violation of these sanctions.

COHEN: The likelihood is that they would be receiving - would be on the receiving end of those sanctions, as well, which can hit their economy, fairly hard.

I think the Chinese share the same view, as the Russians do, of the United States, in particular, but the West in general, that the United States, is in a period of moral decay, from within, and on political dysfunctionality.

And so, what their goal now, is to split the European countries, away from the United States, and then think that the United States, will devour itself, with infighting, between the Democrats and Republicans, or right-wing and the left-wing.

So, I think, they're counting in the long run that the United States will no longer be the power that it once was, and they will be in a position, with Russia, to shape the international order, in ways that they design, rather than the West. COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's terrifying to hear, as you said, the Chinese assessment, of politics, in the U.S., and how those - that polarization, in their view, will lead to the downfall of the U.S.

Secretary Cohen, I appreciate it. General Clark, as well.

Next, to Secretary Cohen's point, more, on the China factor. A live report, from the White House, where the President's preparing, for tomorrow's, high-stakes phone call, with the Chinese President.

Later, my conversation, with acclaimed photographer, Heidi Levine, about what she has seen, in her time, here.



COOPER: Just a day after unveiling $800 million, in military assistance, to Ukraine, and with sanctions, tightening, on Russia, President Biden, tomorrow, will address the wild card. We spoke about it before the break, the one country that could blunt the effects, of those sanctions, and affect the military balance, if it chooses.

The country, of course, is China. The President speaks to Chinese President, tomorrow.

CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us now, from the White House, with the latest, on that.

What do we expect, from this call?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, White House officials know the stakes, and they know the President knows the stakes, and the preparation, behind-the-scenes, has certainly backed up the stakes, of this moment. But so have the public comments.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken becoming the highest-ranking official today, to make explicit U.S. concerns. Take a listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We believe China, in particular, has a responsibility, to use its influence, with President Putin, and to defend the international rules and principles that it professes to support.


Instead, it appears that China is moving in the opposite direction, by refusing to condemn this aggression, while seeking to portray itself, as a neutral arbiter. And we're concerned that they are considering, directly assisting Russia, with military equipment, to use in Ukraine.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTINGLY: And Anderson, those concerns have grown, more palpable, over the course of the last several days, due to both Intelligence that American officials have collected, and just general confusion, about the ambiguity, of the Chinese position.

The idea that China hasn't necessarily chosen, one side or the other, and that flies in the face, of long-stated China policy, related to the sovereignty of nations.

The President has made clear, he's had a relationship with President Xi Jinping, over the course of time, particularly when he was Vice President. And U.S. officials believe that a one-to-one call, is critical, to trying to move China, off the current fence, an unsustainable balancing act, one official told me, and trying to get some better sense, of where China actually stands.

The threats, at this point, are very real, of U.S. repercussions, should China start to move in, to assist Russia. But they still believe at this point that hasn't happened yet. President Biden will try and ensure that remains the case, Anderson.

COOPER: Is there any sense of what the consequences would be, if China did help Russia?

MATTINGLY: White House officials, Anderson, have been very tight- lipped, about what would actually be on the table.

But they have communicated, in the nearly seven-hour meeting, between President Biden's National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, and his Chinese counterpart, last week, in Rome, exactly what they would be.

And President Biden is expected to be direct and very clear, according to one official, when he speaks directly, to President Xi Jinping. But there's a broader issue here as well that I'm told President Biden will try to illustrate, in this phone call.

And that is that the geopolitical and economic repercussions, are much bigger, than passing one threshold, or a certain set of sanctions. They will largely define and dictate, the next several years, if not longer, in terms of the world order.

That is something the President wants to get across, particularly as China and the U.S. have been the kind of competing world powers. If that competition is to exist, and not move in a darker direction, the relationship needs to stay at least somewhat stable, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly, I appreciate it.

With that, on the table, and the geopolitical stakes, running high, I want to check in, with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

So Fareed, will this call - it'll be the first call, between President Biden, and his Chinese counterpart, since Russia invaded Ukraine. What do you think the President needs to convey? FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: It's a very consequential call. It's one of the highest stakes diplomacy - diplomatic issues that the President is dealing with.

I think what he needs to convey, to the Chinese, are, is, look, your - China's main economic relations, are with Europe, and the United States. China trades 10 times as much, with Europe, and the United States, as it does with Russia.

It needs to recognize that in order to maintain that relationship, in order to maintain its integration, into the world, it has to get off the ball, and it has to recognize that the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is a violation of every norm that China has advocated.

And he should point out that the United States wants to have a good working relationship with China. China's a competitor, but it does not have to be an enemy. But if China were to choose? So, you have to convey, I think, there is an upside, for China, with all this. But the downside could be very substantial.

You were asking, Anderson. The United States still has two extraordinary powers. The power of the dollar. It could freeze Chinese banks, Chinese companies, out of the international payment system, using its ability, the power it has, with the dollar.

The second part, which I haven't seen people talk about, is the United States is also an energy superpower. China is the world's largest importer of liquefied natural gas. If China were to violate sanctions, by aiding Russia, they are then in violation, themselves.

The United States could well decide to sanction all the Chinese - all the natural gas that's going to China. So, then you have a China that doesn't have integration into international financial markets, the dollar, and it doesn't have energy. And that would trigger a recession, in China.

So, there is a very substantial weapon that the United States could use. Obviously, these things should be thought about carefully. But the stakes are very high.

We have joined this battle. Russia cannot win this struggle, against Ukraine. The United States has to be - and its allies, have to prevail. And if that means playing tough, with China, the President will have to play tough with China.


COOPER: China doesn't want, though, a resurgent unified NATO. Does it? I mean, that doesn't seem to be in China's playbook, or to their advantage, as they see it. And if the U.S. does, you know, if Russia is defeated, in Ukraine, doesn't NATO become more important, and more powerful?

ZAKARIA: So, China doesn't really have, very much to do, with NATO. All China's issues, in terms of security, geopolitics, the issues, they bring up, have to do with East Asia, Southeast Asia. It's not a large issue.

For them, what has happened, under Xi, China has decided that American hegemony, is both unsustainable and bad for China. And so anything that erodes that hegemony, anything that attacks American power, China has tended to either tacitly or openly support.

It's a very bad decision, by Xi Jinping. And it has not really served China's interests. China has alienated Australia, alienated Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, India, the European Union, over the last five years or six years. Xi's wolf warrior diplomacy has only ended up making China, this is the Pew survey's, the most distrusted and disliked large country in the world.

So, I don't think - I mean, the question is, do the Chinese realize, they have gotten in bed, with Vladimir Putin, a guy, who - first of all, a failing economy, I think it's about a tenth the size of China's, a declining nation, and a country that is getting them, into all kinds of geopolitical trouble?

China needs to maintain good relations with Europe and the United States. That's who invest in China. That's who buy Chinese products.

So, it's a very self-defeating kind of policy. But Xi seems to be one of these populist nationalists, who - for whom, the emotional content of his policy, has become more important, than the rational deliberation. This is a very far cry from the wise farseeing Chinese foreign policy we used to see, under Deng Xiaoping, and his successors.

COOPER: Yes. Fareed Zakaria, fascinating. I really appreciate it. Thank you, Fareed.

Coming up, the sorrow and determination, of the Ukrainian people, being documented, for the world, by a longtime photojournalist, who's seeing these moments, firsthand, up close, through her lens. She joins me, next.



COOPER: Tonight, with the war, in its fourth week, we are looking at the story, behind some of the most remarkable images that the world has been seeing.

Heidi Levine, is covering the war, for "The Washington Post." Her award-winning photography, capturing wars, and revolution, goes back 40 years, nearly.

She joined me earlier, from Kyiv.


COOPER: Heidi, thanks for joining us. I really so admire your work. Your photographs are so human, you know? I'm seeing that man, being carried on the back, of somebody else, and the look, in his face. I mean, you can imagine that man - the woman, in the wheelbarrow, being your grandfather, being your father, it's - they're just.

HEIDI LEVINE, PHOTOJOURNALIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, to be honest, I mean, people always ask me, what is, like, how do you do this kind of work? How does - how do you deal with what you see?

And that night, I mean, I'd literally like woken, at 3 o'clock, in the morning, with a nightmare. And I mean, I could not help, but to imagine, like, when I was filing my pictures, besides documenting, and witnessing what I'm witnessing at - in the moment, and coming back, and then looking at all these images, again, and editing, and writing captions, and it's just like, it really hit me like beyond description.

Because I can't - I mean, all I want to write, in my caption is like, what is - what if this was your grandmother? I mean, how would you feel? I mean, how do these people cope? I mean, and that, I want my audience to try to connect, to my work.

And imagine like, what if you just had an hour, or even less, to try to like, pack up what you can carry, including your children, your grandparents, or any other family members, and like, they don't even have time, to even pack their photo albums?

Can you imagine, just like fleeing, and leaving your whole family history behind, never understanding - not - never knowing that you may not even be able to return, to your own home, I mean.


LEVINE: That's what I want the audience to understand. I mean, this could be them. This could be me, you know?

The camera lens doesn't stop me from feeling, because I'm on the other side of the camera. I mean, I cannot prevent myself from, even crying, in the moment, or hugging people, or, stopping, to photograph, to help people. And I have to say that so many of my colleagues are doing that.

COOPER: But you also took pictures, of a guy named, Alex, who, this was extraordinary to me, he's volunteering - he's volunteering, in a morgue, in his community. He's not an experienced - I mean, this is not what he does for a living. He is volunteering.

LEVINE: This is someone, I met, earlier today, and outside the morgue. And you looked at him, and you could just see - I mean, you can smell death there. You can see death, just by what he's wearing, the expression on his face. This is not his job. He's volunteering. He's actually a marketing manager, in his real life.

And he's told me that, no - I mean, I, his quote, I mean, I can quote him, as saying, like, "Nobody can handle doing what I'm doing, for more than two or three days, because it's just too horrific," quote, unquote, "I've already seen more than 10 bodies today, and the day is not even over."

COOPER: Yes. You also document the new life. You document - you took photographs of an expectant mother, in the hallway of an underground makeshift maternity ward--


COOPER: --there, in Kyiv. I mean, to know what it's like, to be in a hospital, with somebody, about to give birth, I mean, in these conditions, it's just that - I just find that photograph extraordinary.


LEVINE: Well, thank you. First of all, I mean, these mothers, or even the women that have already given birth that I met, are frightened. They don't know where they're going, if they're going to have a home, to go back to, once they give birth, or their newborns are released from the hospital.

One mother said to me, "I was dreaming that when I gave birth, my whole family would be with me, with flowers and candy. And here, look at me," and she was just crying. And, I mean, it's just horrible. I mean, I'm a mother of three children. I know what it's like to give birth. And it is really scary, in normal life, let alone, under these horrific conditions.

COOPER: Some of the photographs, obviously, are extremely hard to look at, but so, I think, important, because it is the reality, of what's happening here.

LEVINE: Look, war is horrible. It's horrific. And is - you can't sugarcoat it. It is terrible.

And then, it's, I can't imagine, any family, on either side of this conflict, not suffering in some way. I don't know what the situation is, for these mothers, in Russia that know that their sons have been killed. Do they know? Will they know? Will their bodies ever be returned? I mean, these are all, really important questions.

But the bottom line is, a lot of people are dying, a lot of people, suffering. All of the attacks that I have covered, so far, during this war, have been on civilians. And it's really important, for the world, to know, the extent, and the impact, on civilian life, here on Ukraine.

COOPER: Yes. Heidi, I can't imagine how difficult it is, every day. But your work matters. And I appreciate you talking to us, about it.

LEVINE: Well, thank you very much. And first, and I really would like to also express, my condolences, to everyone, who has lost someone, or lost their home, and also to the families, of my colleagues, who were tragically killed, here, in Ukraine.

COOPER: Yes. Heidi Levine, thank you. Be careful.

LEVINE: Well, thank you very much.


COOPER: I think it's valuable, in a situation, like this, to look at a war, look at a situation, like this, from as many different angles, as possible, and talking to some of the photojournalists, over the last three weeks, as we have been.

The reason - one of the reasons we do it, is just to kind of give you a sense of how seriously, so many of the people, who are working, in this situation, take what they - what they do, and how they do it, and the respect that they show people, when they're taking photographs, when they're asking them questions. And I think you see that, in Heidi's work, and hopefully, in that conversation.

Just ahead, Ukrainian refugees, who now call Romania, home. Our Miguel Marquez shares, how one city is opening its arms, to those, who have lost, almost everything.



COOPER: Earlier, I spoke, with Samantha Power, current head of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

She talks about the extreme difficulty, of getting refugees out, and that if you live in one of the besieged areas, it's excruciating. Little food, water, or medicine, even she said, reports of dehydration deaths, which we've heard about, in the city of Mariupol.

Our Miguel Marquez, met some of the fortunate Ukrainians, who were able to escape. They're now experiencing life, as refugees, in a Romanian city that has opened its arms, to them.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Who are all these people?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "Friends, fellow citizens, and colleagues," she says, "family too." All from Donbas, in eastern Ukraine. Refugees, after the war there, in 2014. Refugees, again.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "Some people cross the border, on foot," she says, "Two borders." Not everyone is lucky, as 86-year-old Antonina Mikhailova, who had arrived. She survived World War II. Now, she's in an apartment, in Central Romania, with her daughter, lots of friends, and her cat, named Lucia (ph).

MIKHAILOVA: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE). MARQUEZ (voice-over): "My childhood was spent, during the war," she says. "Now, in my old age, there is war again. And for what? In the name of all people, God, please stop the war."

The medieval city of Brasov, not far from Dracula's Castle, is preparing 1,000 beds, for Ukrainian refugees. Those beds, in a hotel, in its historic center, a business development center, and a brand-new apartment building, in the new part of town.

MAYOR ALLEN COLIBAN, BRASOV, ROMANIA: The main challenge is how to scale it up, because this is only the first wave of refugees.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Olga keeper, from Odessa, is here with her two daughters.

MARQUEZ (on camera): How do you feel being here?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "Other than perfect," she says, "they gave us medicine, and new beds. They fed us." Then added, "It's very, very, very good."

The city of Brasov, preparing for even more refugees, who the Mayor believes, will need even more support, and possibly stay, for a long time.

COLIBAN: If you're a mother, with a child, you can come to Brasov. We can - we can offer you a job. We can offer. And we are discussing about solutions for daycare, for children, how to integrate them, in the educational system.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The city, planning the future, but meeting basic needs, too, coordinating with local restaurants, providing thousands of meals. Today, on St. Patrick's Day, prepared by Deane's Irish Pub. Luck of the Irish!

ALINA COLCERU, DEANE'S IRISH PUB & GRILL: It's more than just providing meals. And we're kind of providing hope to them. And they do need that. And we can see that on their faces. And I think that's really important.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Tatiana Kiriukhina, and Natalya Zhivilka, mother and daughter, from Mykolaiv, got here, only three days ago.



MARQUEZ (voice-over): "If not for the help, here," she says, "I don't think our nerves could have taken it. There were air raids, day and night. We couldn't eat. We couldn't sleep."


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "In Mykolaiv," she says, "the planes were flying, right over our heads, flying, flying, flying. I can't find words to explain. It's very scary."


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Antonina Mikhailova has a simple wish.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): "In my old age, I only wanted peace, and prosperity," she says. Then added, "I like everything to be OK. But, for now, it's not."


COOPER: And Miguel joins us now.

I mean, it sounds like, they're preparing, for refugees, to be there, for a very long time. How long, in the future, are officials planning for? I mean, do they even know?

MARQUEZ: Yes. Look, we're planning sort of days, and weeks, at first. But now, at least here, in Brasov. In other areas, we've seen, here, in Romania, they are looking at weeks, or months, into years, at this point.

They're also looking at many more weeks, of waves of refugees, coming over, from Ukraine, as the Russians move west, and as that fire becomes more indiscriminate, in civilian areas. So, they are planning, for a long time. It's going to be a marathon, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Miguel Marquez, appreciate it, as always, thank you.

Coming up, a look into the difficult journey, one brother took, to rescue his sister, from the war, in Ukraine.



COOPER: So, we reported, earlier, after facing pressure, to boost support for Ukraine, the Biden administration, is now looking, at ways, to help reunite Ukrainian refugees, with their families, in the U.S.

Despite the President's promise, to welcome Ukrainians, with open arms, the journey to the U.S., can be incredibly difficult, especially for one man, who had to navigate multiple challenges, just to bring his sister, to the U.S.

Randi Kaye has their story.


ALEKSANDR MURGA, FLEW TO UKRAINE TO GET SISTER: I felt like being here, it's not really helpful. I got to go. I got to be there.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And, just like that, Aleksandr Murga, booked a ticket, from Florida, to Eastern Europe, to help get his sister, safely, out of Ukraine in the region.

Marisha (ph) Murga was living in Zhytomyr, about 90 miles, from Kyiv, when the Russian bombs, started to fall.

KAYE (on camera): How worried were you about her?

MURGA: You stay shake - kind of shaken, all the time, because it's you want to be there. You want to support her. You want to hug her. You want to somehow protect her.

KAYE (voice-over): Aleksandr made a plan, with Marisha (ph), to meet her in Poland. He left his home, outside Orlando, around the same time, she left hers, in Ukraine.

Marisha (ph) drove 14 hours, to a border crossing, then waited another 14 hours, to cross over, into Poland. Her husband stayed to fight. But finally, she managed to get to Poland's Rzeszow (ph) airport. And that's where she reunited, with her brother.

Without Aleksandr's help getting her a visa, Marisha (ph) would be stuck in Poland. It wasn't easy. First, he tried the U.S. Embassy, in Warsaw.

MURGA: I'm standing, right now, in front of the United States Embassy. Doesn't really matter, if you're from United States or not, all they do is pretty much get pushed away from the door.

KAYE (voice-over): But Aleksandr kept trying, all the while, helping others, at the Polish border, at Rava-Ruska. These are pictures of other family members, Aleksandr helped find safety, 12 in all. He says he also helped at least 30 strangers, get aid, and somewhere to stay. It was all very emotional, for him, even though he left Ukraine, 17 years ago.

(on camera): What did you see on the ground there?

MURGA: Things that none of us should ever see. It's all those people coming out and crying. I saw people here, not - not being able to hold on, like they do. It's really emotional. I know I'm not able to go there now, help them from inside, and fight. But seeing them - give me a minute.

KAYE (on camera): OK.

MURGA: Seeing all them, out there, being so strong, and it's just heartbreaking. I didn't expect to see my country.

KAYE (voice-over): Despite the emotional toll, Aleksandr wasn't leaving Poland, without his sister. So, he tried another embassy, in Krakow, and was finally able to get his sister, a visa. They landed, last night, in Orlando. The first time, Marisha (ph) stepped foot, on U.S. soil.

(on camera): Will you go back?

Absolutely. The first thing, that I'm going to do, I'm just going to go back. We have to - we have to go back. They need us. They need support. All those houses, infrastructure, everything has to be rebuilt. Has been destroyed.

(on camera): How grateful are the two of you to be sitting here together?

MURGA: The best - the best feeling, the best thing in the world, is being able to hug my sister.

KAYE (voice-over): And while Marisha (ph) didn't speak much English, in our interview, she surprised us with this message of thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks for all people, all country, who help my country, and my people.


COOPER: How many other family members does Aleksandr still having in Ukraine?

KAYE: Anderson, he figures, at least 20 family members, are still there. Mostly men, including Marisha's (ph) husband. Also, her mother- in-law's there. She's a pharmacist, and chose to stay behind, so she could dole out medicine to those in need.

But unfortunately, Aleksandr told me that they can't locate one of his sisters. She has a 16-year-old son. They live in Mariupol, and they haven't been able to reach them, in a couple of weeks. So, they're very concerned about that.


But on a bright note, Anderson, he did bring his sister back, to the United States, yesterday, last night. It happened to be his parents' wedding anniversary. And he said it was the greatest gift he could have given them, Anderson.

COOPER: Randi, appreciate it. What a lovely report! Thank you.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: You can see the QR code, on the bottom of the screen, right now. You could take out your phone, and scan it, and that'll take you to a podcast that I've been doing, while I've been here. It's called "Tug of War."

In the latest episode, I talk with CNN's Sara Sidner, about her reporting, on the border, or the refugee crisis, and what she has been seeing, throughout Poland and Ukraine.

And Sara sees, what makes her such a great reporter, are these moments that others might miss. She has this really unique ability to capture them, and weave them into the story that she's been telling. We talked about that, how she does that, and why those moments are so important, in detailing the struggle, of the people, caught in this conflict.

I also have a conversation, with Clarissa Ward, in another podcast, and Nick Paton Walsh.

Again, if you want to listen, scan the camera, on your phone, over the QR code. Right now, on the screen, you can find it. Or you can just go and find it on your favorite podcast. It's called "Tug of War."

Stay with CNN, for the latest, from Ukraine. The news continues, right now. Want to turn things over to Don, who is in Slovakia, tonight.