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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Insight Into Putin's Inner Circle As Russian Forces Dig Near Kyiv; U.S. Defense Secretary Talks With CNN About Russia's War On Ukraine; Biden Warns Xi Jinping Of "Consequences" If China Aids Russia's War. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 18, 2022 - 21:00   ET



DR. ZEV NEUWIRTH, HEAD OF UNITED HATZALAH MEDICAL TEAM AT UKRAINIAN BORDER, AMERICAN TREATING PATIENTS FLEEING WAR ZONE: So, I think, it's important that, in life, and, we realize that life is really, really short, one is never too late. And two, always follow your dreams.

And just seeing what's going on, over here, the destruction, of this magnitude, of the dreams, just being ripped away, the loss, the sorrow, the pain, the suffering, you just can't sit by idly. I became a doctor, to help those, in need. I've had a calling, to always be there, to somehow help ease pain and suffering. It was a no-brainer.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. Well, I'm so glad you're there. And I appreciate you talking to us, tonight. And to be able to have the skills, and being able to save people's lives, and help people, is an extraordinary thing.

Thank you, Dr. Neuwirth. I appreciate it.

NEUWIRTH: Absolute honor, and thank you.

COOPER: What a wonderful person!

Coming up, a look at what we know, about Vladimir Putin's inner circle, who is advising him and, who, if anyone, he actually trusts.

Plus, a conversation, with Fareed Zakaria, about President Biden's conversation, with Chinese President Xi. That's ahead.



COOPER: We have an update, on the Russian airstrike, on a military base, in Mykolaiv. CNN has now identified two locations at that base that were hit.

A reporter there, for our Swedish affiliate, says that the bombs destroyed several barracks. Rescuers have been using shovels, and their bare hands, to try to free survivors, from the rubble. That soldier you see right there made it out alive. Already, however, dozens of troops have been reported killed, with one soldier saying that he believes as many as 90 percent of the troops, in his barracks, some 200 troops, in his barracks, or the barracks, across from him, I should say, did not survive. Now, again, that's his estimate, one person's estimate. It is not - it is not a fact.

This particular setback, for Ukrainian forces, though, is only part of the picture that includes a number of notable victories, though at a cost, over Russian forces, on the ground, and significant Russian casualties.

For more, on this, I'm joined here, by CNN's Fred Pleitgen.

The Ukrainians believe, they are - that they are doing well, against. But it has come, at a terrible price.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's come at a terrible price. But they do believe that they're turning the tide, in certain places. And, I think, one of the interesting things that we're seeing now, on this evening, is that it's happening in several locations.

First and foremost, what the Ukrainians are telling us, is Kyiv, for instance, they believe that they've halted the Russians, pushing them back, in certain areas there, as well. Actually also, Mykolaiv, they believe they're making some headway, also.

But then, also, in places, in the north, like Kharkiv, where they were having a lot of trouble, the Ukrainians think they're making significant headway, and causing some serious damage, to the Russians.

Here's what we're learning.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Another blow, to Vladimir Putin's military. Ukrainian forces, claiming they ambushed this convoy, of Russian airborne troops.

While CNN cannot independently verify the information, Russian state TV, for the first time, acknowledged that a senior airborne commander, and several soldiers, have been killed.

While, still outgunned, the Ukrainians feel they might slowly be turning the tide.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): "The Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to deliver devastating blows, at groups of enemy troops, who are trying to consolidate, and hold the capture defensive lines," a Ukrainian army spokesman says.

The Ukrainians say, they are launching counter attacks, against Russian troops. This video allegedly showing an anti-tank guided missile, taking out a Russian armored vehicle. They also claim, they've already killed more than 14,000 Russian troops, and shot down more than 110 combat choppers.

CNN can't confirm those numbers. But the Russians haven't updated their casualty figures, in more than two weeks. Instead claiming, what they call their, quote, "Military special operation is going as planned."

Russia's Defense Ministry released this video, of helicopter gunships, allegedly attacking a Ukrainian airfield.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): Still, Vladimir Putin, clearly feels the need, to rally his nation, making a rare appearance, at a massive rally, at Moscow's main stadium, where a strange technical glitch, cut off his speech, but not before he praised Russian troops.

PUTIN (through translator): The best proof, is the way our boys are fighting, in this operation, shoulder-to-shoulder, supporting each other and, if need be, protecting each other, like brothers, shielding one another, with their bodies, on the battlefield. We haven't had this unity, for a long time.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): But the Russians appear to be so angry, at U.S., and allied weapons shipments, to Ukraine. They've vowed, to target, any deliveries, entering Ukrainian territory.

And they're hitting strategic targets, as well, firing several cruise missiles, at an airplane repair plant, near Lviv. While a Russian cruise missile, dropped on a residential building, in the capital, Kyiv, after being shot down, by Ukrainian air defenses.

Former world heavyweight boxing champ, and brother of Kyiv's Mayor, Wladimir Klitschko, pleading for more help.

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO, UKRAINIAN FORMER PROFESSIONAL BOXER: This is genocide, of the Ukrainian population. You have to act now. Stop passively observing, and stop doing business with Russia. Do it now.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Biden administration has said, more aid and weapons, are on the way, as Ukrainian forces continue to put up, a fierce fight, preventing Russia's troops, from further significant gains.


PLEITGEN: And the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, tonight, warning the Russians, to draw back, or face even more bloodshed. And we stand here, at the end, of three weeks, of this war.


PLEITGEN: And we've set it, through the entire course of this week, the Russians still have not managed, to take a single major population center. At the same time, of course, you do have those severe civilian casualties.

COOPER: Yes. Fred Pleitgen, appreciate the report. Thanks so much.

As you saw on the previous report, we saw Vladimir Putin, today, on a grandiose scale, at a stadium rally, in Moscow.


Whatever else it might have been, it certainly was in contrast, the way the world is accustomed, to seeing him, isolated, and distant, literally and figuratively, at the end of some very, very long desks, and tables, which brings us to what used to be called back, during the Cold War, Kremlinology, trying to determine, who influences whom, who has the leaders ear, who's on the outs, and what drives the decision- making.

CNN's Jim Sciutto joins us now, with some modern-day Kremlinology.

So, explain to us, who is in the inner circle, of Vladimir Putin.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, a couple qualities. One, it's a small circle. And it tends to favor the heads of the Military services and the Intelligence services.

So, let's begin with the rough equivalent of their Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That's Valery Gera - General Valery Gerasimov. He is the Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.

Long military history, under Putin's rule, going back to the war, in Chechnya. Also, to the first invasion of Ukraine, in 2014, of course, a warning sign there. He's been in charge of some of the most ruthless Russian military operations. And we've seen that, his fingerprints, on the operations, we're seeing now, underway, in Ukraine.

Also, in that tight circle, is the Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu. He, in fact, has been mentioned as a possible successor, to Putin, down the line, whenever Putin chooses to leave office, if he does.

He's also someone, who has a close personal relationship, at least in terms of how they traveled. They were recently, on a hunting trip, together. And those pictures shown publicly to show some of that personal closeness as well.

Then you go to two senior people, in the security services, both of whom have a history with Vladimir Putin, back to his KGB days, in Saint Petersburg, then known as Leningrad.

One of them is Nikolai Patrushev. His official title is the Chairman of the Russian Security Council, the Secretary of it. He's the rough equivalent of a National Security Advisor. He's the one, who spoke to Jake Sullivan, earlier this week.

He is a very hardline anti-Western leader. And in that famous meeting, just a couple of weeks ago, where you saw Putin, in effect, grilling his top security advisers, Patrushev was the one, who said that, in his view, the West's goal was to break up Russia. So, he shares this same kind of paranoid view, of the West, and America's intentions, as it comes to Russia. And then, a fourth person, in the circle, is the current head of the FSB, the successor to the KGB, Alexander Bortnikov. He also has a long past, with Putin, going back to his Saint Petersburg days. And again, a Head of the security services, Putin likes to talk to his Intelligence services, and he uses them, with a very heavy hand.

One other point, I would add, Anderson, is that U.S. Intelligence officials have seen the decision-making, of Putin, change through the years.

He used to operate, something like a CEO, with a Board of Directors, listening, having them consult him, him consult them, and making the final decision. But more and more, they say the decision-making, falling, really on the shoulders of one man, Putin himself.

COOPER: I mean, are all these people - are any of these people, on the outs, given the way things have been going, on the ground, in Ukraine?

SCIUTTO: That is something that U.S. Intelligence agencies, and the Military, are watching very closely, because Putin is not someone, who takes responsibility, for his own failures. He will find fall guys.

And there's a tension now, on the FSB, in particular, that would bring up a guy like Bortnikov, because it was the FSB, who is presumed, told Putin, this was going to be an easy victory. It has not been. Their Intelligence was wrong, at least, to this point, three weeks into the conflict.

And then, of course, if you look at the Defense Minister, and then Gerasimov, the sort of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, their Military, advertised as quite strong, has proven, at least, again, in the first three weeks, to be something of a paper tiger.

So, U.S. agencies are watching, very closely, to see if they are drummed out, publicly berated, that kind of thing. Now, that may not happen, in the midst of the military, or the peak of the military conflict, but it's something they're watching very closely.

COOPER: Jim Sciutto, appreciate it, fascinating.

SCIUTTO: Thanks.

COOPER: Want to get some perspective, from CNN National Security Analyst, James Clapper, retired Air Force Lieutenant General, and former Director of National Intelligence.

Director Clapper, do you see any vulnerabilities, in the leadership structure that Putin has assembled, around him?

LT. GEN. JAMES CLAPPER (RET.), FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, vulnerability, in terms of their job security, I really don't. Although, Naryshkin, who was the Chief of the SVR, was the one, who was publicly humiliated, not too long ago, dressed down, in public, by Putin.

[21:15:00] But Jim gave a really good description of the inner circle. And the fact that Bortnikov and Patrushev, both whom I've met, have been with Putin, for at least, in their positions, at least since 2008. So, they are long entrenched.

And the other comment I would make is that the Intelligence officials, who were singled out, for house arrest, were subordinates, of Bortnikov. But Bortnikov himself seems to have skated through this, at least for now.

And, of course, conventional wisdom seems to be that if there is to be a change, in leadership, a coup of some sort that it would come somehow from this group. And frankly, right now, I don't see that, because, I think, these people have been, with Putin, for a long time. And they are in the same mindset, as he is.

COOPER: It was interesting, to see Vladimir Putin, holding this massive public rally today, at a stadium, in Moscow, given how isolated he has been. There was this large crowd. We learned the Russian authorities had bussed people in, according to a report, from a number of people, who were there, pressured people to attend.

What do you think Putin was trying to achieve with this rally? I mean, was this something that the people around him would put on, to like lift his spirits? Or is he trying to send a message of unity?

CLAPPER: I think you - I think you hit on it. That's my theory that the people around him arranged this. And, he made it - he had to - he was prevailed upon, to exercise his duty, by showing up.

This is so out of character, for the way he's been, the last couple of years, and physically isolated, as we've seen, at the meetings, at the end of the long table, and all that. So, I wonder, whether this was done, to boost his morale, more than anything else.

COOPER: President Biden had an almost two-hour conversation, today, with Chinese President Xi. He has said to have warned the Chinese that they would face significant consequences, if they were to offer any support to Russia.

We don't know, obviously, the details of what those consequences might be, or what the President said they would be.

How important are these kind of calls, in terms of actually influencing a leader, like Xi?

CLAPPER: Well, a lot of them are pro forma. This one, I think, it was probably a little different. This was a very substantive conversation - I'm sure is a very substantive conversation, frank and candid, as they say, and given the historical juncture, where we are, right now. So, I think, this was very substantive.

Now, it's going to be very interesting, to see what the Chinese do. They don't like to be told what to do. And I'm sure that President Biden was pretty stark, in laying out, what the consequences would be. My own - I'm going to go out on a limb here. My own theory is that I think the Chinese are going to treat the Russians, somewhat analogously, to the way they treat the North Koreans. They will do some things, to help them. But they won't do everything that the Russians want.

And I can't conceive that Xi, and the leadership of China that surrounds him, his inner circle, want to see Chinese equipment, being used, against the Ukrainian people. I just don't think they'd be comfortable with that.

I do think they'll provide a non-lethal assistance, food for their troops, that sort of thing. Now, I could be wrong. But that's my theory, right now.

COOPER: Yes. It was interesting, fascinating detail, Ukrainian (ph) commander telling Ivan Watson that in some of the Russian troops that they have apprehended or killed, they found that the meals that they had, the prepackaged food, they had, was, in some cases, extremely old, years' old, which gives you a sense, of sort of the logistical problems that they're having, which is why they're asking, I guess, the Chinese, for MREs, according to U.S. officials.

Director Clapper, appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, Don Lemon joins me, to preview, his exclusive interview, with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, why Austin believes that Russia has made missteps, in the Ukraine invasion. He said that to Don. We'll talk to Don, in just a moment.

And later, we'll elaborate on Director Clapper's theory, on China. We'll talk about its role, and President Biden's attempt, to influence it, with Fareed Zakaria.



COOPER: Now, to Don Lemon's exclusive interview, with U.S. Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin.

President Biden will be, in Brussels, next week, for NATO Summit, and European Council meeting. Secretary Austin already stopped there, this week, one of three European countries, he visited trying to keep the Alliance strong, if Vladimir Putin decides to expand his war, beyond Ukraine.

Don Lemon spoke with the Secretary, at length, in Bulgaria, today. You'll be seeing the full interview, later this evening, on "DON LEMON TONIGHT."

Don joins us right now, with a preview.

So, what did he tell you, Don?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Anderson, we talked about a lot. And as you would - can imagine, the Secretary of Defense is, this is the busiest time, for him. There is an actual war going on.

And what he's trying to do, he's trying to assure our Allies, and the nations and states, in this area that NATO is with them, that the United States is with them, and that they will do anything, to defend those countries.

He is still - he still believes that there is an off-ramp, for Vladimir Putin, although Vladimir Putin doesn't seem to want an off- ramp, right now, and he seems to want to continue to do what he is doing.

But a very busy time for him. We followed him to two different countries. We were in Bulgaria. We were in Slovakia, as well.

And he sat down with us, actually, as he was meeting troops, just after meeting troops, and before getting back on the plane. Here it is.



LEMON: The U.S. has made it very clear that they don't want to be involved, in the process of giving jets, to Ukraine. Now, do you support other countries doing it, or either encourage - either encourage other countries, to do it, as long as there's no U.S. involvement?

LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Don, what other countries do, I mean, that's their choice. And the United States certainly does not stand in the way, of other countries, providing assistance.

But again, we're going to remain focused, on those things that we know are making a difference. And what's making a difference, in this fight, for the Ukrainians, is the provision of anti-aircraft systems, the provision of armored - anti-armored systems, and also things that - other things that have been effective, or the employment of drones.

And so, you've heard the President say, most recently, what we're - what we're doing, the kinds of things we're providing. He just - we just signed - just provided authorization, for us, to provide an additional billion dollars' worth of--

LEMON: Billion dollars.

AUSTIN: --security force assistance. That's remarkable.

LEMON: What is your assessment of Russian forces, now? Are they stalled? Are they regrouping, so that they can increase their assault, or increase their violence, on Ukraine? What's your assessment of the Russian military?

AUSTIN: Well, it's hard to tell, Don. I think, they have not progressed, as far - as quickly as they would have liked to. They, I think, they envisioned that they would move rapidly, and very quickly, seize the capital city. They've not been able to do that. They've struggled with logistics. So, we've seen a number of missteps, along the way. I don't see evidence of good employment, of tactical intelligence. I don't see integration of air capability, with the ground maneuver.

And so, there are a number of things that we would expect to have seen that we just haven't seen. And the Russians really have had some - has presented them (ph) some problems. So, many other assumptions, if not proven to be true, as they entered the fight, so.

LEMON: The President is speaking, with Xi Jinping. And we are getting reporting that Russia has been asking China, for drones, and for help. What happens? Do you think China will stay out of this? And what happens if they don't?

AUSTIN: Well, again, don't want to speculate, or get involved, in hypotheticals. I would - I would hope that China would not support this despicable act, by Putin.

I would hope that they would - they would recognize a need, to respect sovereign territory. And so, hard to say, what they will do. But we've been clear that if they do that, we think that's a bad choice.


COOPER: You also asked Secretary Austin, about the potential of Russian forces, using chemical or nuclear weapons.

LEMON: Yes. The Intelligence shows that the U.S. and NATO believe that Vladimir Putin will use nuclear weapons, and then try to falsely blame the Ukrainians. The Secretary of Defense, say there will be a strong - a very strong international response, if that does happen.

And Anderson, as you know, there's Article 5. NATO has Article 5. And an attack on one NATO nation is an attack on all.

The U.S. does not want to be involved, in a direct confrontation, with Russia. But if they do use chemical weapons, or nuclear weapons, so small nuclear weapons that they believe that they're going to use, or that they would use, I think that that could possibly lead to an escalation and, quite frankly, a direct involvement, in this conflict.

COOPER: Don, appreciate it. Thanks so much. Look forward to the interview. That will be on, right after 360.

LEMON: Thank you.

COOPER: Remember, you can watch the full interview, with Secretary Austin, as I said, on "DON LEMON TONIGHT." Starts at 10 P.M. Eastern, of course, right here, in just a couple minutes.

We'll be right back, with just ahead, on the day of a very important video call, between President Biden, and China's leader, about the Russian war effort. We'll have an in-depth look, at the close relationship, between Xi Jinping, and Russia's Vladimir Putin, and the details, on that call. [21:30:00]


COOPER: With the death toll, rising in the Ukraine, President Biden, today, held a video call, with China's President. He warned the Chinese President Xi Jinping of, quote, consequences, should he assist Vladimir Putin.

CNN's David Culver, is in Shanghai, with a report, on the friendly relationship, between these two leaders that the U.S. hopes to try to upend.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A friendship, on full display, China's Xi Jinping, hosting his northern neighbor, and fellow autocrat, Vladimir Putin, in 2018.

The pair happily sampling together, a traditional Chinese pancake. A few months later, they made a Russian version of the dish, complete with caviar and vodka. They have visited what's China's iconic pandas together, and have taken in an ice hockey game.

The cozy China-Russia relationship, resulting in 38 face-to-face meetings, since Xi took power, in 2013. State media says the pair has communicated more than 100 times, including phone calls, and letters.

PRESIDENT XI JINPING, CHINA (through translator): Putin is also my best and dearest friend.

For me, he has a good partner and a good friend that I can count on.

CULVER (voice-over): Both men, nearing 70, but showing no desire, to step aside. Xi and Putin have worked, to eradicate collective leadership, in their countries, consolidating power, and changing laws, so that they might rule for life.

They've aligned their countries closer to one another, conducting joint military exercises, and sharing a common adversary, the U.S.

DANIEL RUSSEL, VP, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY & DIPLOMACY, ASIA SOCIETY POLICY INSTITUTE: What Putin and Xi Jinping have in common here is actually the desire to undercut U.S. credibility, to drive a wedge between Washington, and its allies.

CULVER (voice-over): But Russia's messy invasion of Ukraine has President Joe Biden, turning to China, hoping Xi may be able to help, end Russia's war.


According to Chinese state media, CCTV, Xi told Biden, in a virtual meeting, Friday that China and the U.S., have a responsibility, to work for peace, saying "The world is neither peaceful nor tranquil. The Ukraine crisis is something we don't want to see." U.S. officials say Moscow has asked Beijing for help. And the U.S. worries that any economic or military support, China sends, to Russia, has the potential, to change the balance, on the battlefield, and could take the sting, out of the Western sanctions, currently crippling Russia's economy.

The White House said Friday's discussion included the two leaders, agreeing, to maintain open lines of communication. China may see this as an opportunity, to burnish its credentials, as a major global player, capable of stepping in, and solving a geopolitical crisis.

YUN SUN, DIRECTOR OF THE CHINA PROGRAM, THE STIMSON CENTER: So, neither are leaning towards Russia, nor leaning towards Ukraine, and instead, try to present itself as a neutral third-party.

CULVER (voice-over): American officials have warned that China will pay a price, if it does circumvent sanctions, to do business, with Russia, or helps Putin, militarily.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: China has to make a decision, for themselves, about where they want to stand, and how they want the history books, to look at them, and view their actions.


COOPER: That was David Culver, reporting.

Want to get perspective now, from CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

Fareed, you've heard that President Biden told Xi, what the consequences, of helping Russia could be. And yet, post meeting, the White House says it is still concerned that Russia - is that China could help Russia. Do you think a call, like this, makes any difference, in China's calculation?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: Oh, I think it makes an enormous difference. It was a very important call. I'm glad the President made it. And I think he seems to have laid out exactly what he needed to, which was, quite explicitly, how the United States would view this, as an act of collaboration, and would punish China, accordingly.

And, as we talked about, yesterday, Anderson, the United States has very lethal weapons, it can use. It has the dollar, the financial system, all of that that China really relies on, and it has energy. China is the largest importer of liquefied natural gas in the world. The U.S. is the world's largest producer, of hydrocarbons. These are all powerful, powerful weapons.

The fundamental question, China has to decide is, it has always argued that what it is seeking, is a peaceful, tranquil world, a world with civility, a world, in which people can trade, can integrate themselves, into the world economy.

This is a huge challenge, the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There are some hints, in some of the language that David mentioned. "This is not a peaceful and tranquil world. The U.S. and China must work together." The Foreign Affairs Ministry talked about similar things about the U.S. and China maybe helping to solve this crisis.

I don't want to read - this is reading tea leaves too much. But I do think that the Chinese have inched a little bit away, from the kind of hostile attitude, towards the U.S., where they were blaming the U.S., for everything, and more toward one that says, "Let's try to find a way out of this crisis."

COOPER: Director Clapper, in our last segment, was saying, he thought it possible that China might try to provide non-lethal assistance, to Vladimir Putin. One of the requests was for Meals Ready-to-Eat, which clearly showed the logistical problems, the Russian forces are having, on the ground, in Ukraine.

He thought it less likely that they would provide military weaponry, not wanting to have, Chinese vehicles, being seen, taking part in a war, against Ukrainian civilians.

ZAKARIA: Yes. I think that it's most likely, the Chinese have tried to basically be the world's great free rider, in international affairs. They want the peace and security that they have massively benefited from. But they don't want to get too involved in anything.

So, they don't want to help Russia too much. They don't want to help solve the problem, and help Ukraine, too much. So likely, what you're going to see is something like that.

People, who think China is going to be the country that will pressure Russia or broker peace talks? That's very unlike the Chinese style. They haven't done that. That would be a real leap. Real military into Russia? Again, that would be a real leap.

Possible they could do something, under the guise of humanitarian support. Even the MREs, because that goes directly, to the Russian army? I would be surprised, if they do that.

I think they are going to try to continue to maintain this very awkward balancing act. But I do think it comes at a price, for them, Anderson. Their reputation is not, to start off, has not been very good, in the last two years. And this only adds to it. But David's report pointed to a very central part here. We often talk about the relations between countries.


This is a relationship, between two people, two roughly 70-year-old dictators, who seem to rather like each other, and like the way, in which they can rely on the other. It's very easy to deal with a country, where one guy has all the power. And this seems to be there's a personal bond element here, and that makes this slightly unpredictable.

COOPER: If China truly wanted, to try to persuade Putin, to end this invasion, I mean, does anyone actually have that kind of power, with Vladimir Putin? ZAKARIA: I don't think so. Putin has gone too far. In this case, I think, he realizes that the cost, for him, of a humiliating fiasco, is very high. And so, I doubt very much that he would be influenced, by a China, or anybody else.

Look, on the margin, it could make a difference, if there was a - if there was a gap, in the negotiation, and there were serious about it, and you were trying to - you're getting down to, a few technicalities, maybe.

But basically, the problem that Putin faces, right now, is the goals that he wanted - that he had outlined that he was going to achieve, the fantasy of a Ukraine that would become a little brother, to Russia, have been completely exploded.

Ukraine has shown itself to be proudly, defiantly, independent, free, democratic, and increasingly, deeply anti-Russia. Vladimir Putin has created an independent nationalist proud Ukraine. And the problem is that was that is the opposite, of what he was trying to do. He was trying to create a dependent--


ZAKARIA: --subordinate pro-Russian Ukraine. That feels like a--


ZAKARIA: --a war, he has lost, no matter what happens, on the battlefield.

COOPER: Yes. Fareed Zakaria, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Coming up, a live update, on the refugee situation, in eastern Poland. We'll be right back.



COOPER: According to Polish authorities, today, at least 2 million Ukrainians, escaping the war, have now crossed into Poland.

This week - weekend, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is leading a bipartisan delegation, of nine senators, to visit Poland, and Germany, to meet with U.S. Military leaders, NGOs, and Ukrainian refugees.

Joining us, from Poland, tonight, is CNN's Ed Lavandera.

What are you hearing, today, from refugees, crossing the border, into Poland?


Well, what has struck me, here, today, is hearing the stories. We've spoken with many refugees, who have been arriving. And they're coming from the eastern part of Ukraine, some of the most decimated areas, some of the cities that have seen some of the worst warfare, now, for three weeks.

And what we hear over and over again, is that many of the people, who are arriving here, have endured all of this, and they had hoped that they could wait it out that things would come to an end, and that they wouldn't have to flee, their country.

We spoke, with two women, who arrived, tonight. One of them was traveling with her 6-year-old girl. She told us that, her daughter doesn't understand war. She was trying to sanitize this as much as possible, for her, as to not to scare her.

They said - they told her that they were going to take a trip, to Poland, just like so many of her other friends, have been doing, in recent days. And that's how they managed, to keep a smile, on the young girl's face.

But when we talk to them, we're seeing these refugees, who have seen the very worst parts of this war, so far.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We hoped that everything would work out. We didn't want to leave our home. But we couldn't wait anymore. Four rockets, right? Four rockets, hit our area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Every day, every minute, every second. It's just terrible, for everyone, ourselves, for our children, for our families, and loved ones. We still have relatives, back home. Our grandmother, who is 100-years-old, was too feeble to be physically removed.


LAVANDERA: And Anderson, one of the thing that has struck us is, is that the amount of time, and the path that these people, have to go through, to get to safety, here, in Poland, is becoming more and more treacherous.

Early on, it might be they - people have been traveling, for 24 hours or so. But now, we're starting to hear stories, of people, taking several days, to get across the country, and that really speaks to just how dangerous and treacherous that path is, right now.

COOPER: Ed Lavandera, appreciate it.

Some of the most remarkable images, we have seen, from this conflict, come from photojournalists. Coming up next, you're going to see some photos, from one of the world's great photojournalists, about what he saw, through his lens, here in Lviv, and with refugees, leaving the country.



COOPER: We believe it's important to show you exactly what's happening on the ground, here. Not just the explosions, the shootings, the sickening aftermath. But the human moments that rarely make headlines.

A friend of this program, David Turnley, who's one of the best photographers, in the world, tonight, he's been kind enough, to share some of what he has captured, documenting what is largest movement, of refugees, in the European continent, since World War II.






COOPER: It's remarkable what he can capture, through his lens. David Turnley, thank you for that.

We'll be right back.


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

The news continues. Want to turn things over now, to Don, who is in Bulgaria, tonight.