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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Russia Claims Special Military Operation In Ukraine Is Going To Plan; Biden Announces $1 Billion Humanitarian Aid For Ukrainians; Ukrainian Forces Make More Gains Near Kyiv; Intense Combat Reported North Of Kyiv In Irpin; Ukrainian Crew Member Tried To Sink Yacht Tied To Russian Oligarch; UN: At Least 78 Children Killed, 105 Injured In Ukraine. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 24, 2022 - 20:00   ET


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the wife of a Supreme Court Justice suggesting that Mike Pence, the Vice President should have stood in the way of the certification of the election results.

It is now part of the January 6 investigation -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Incredible stuff, though. Well, thank you very much, Ryan.

And thanks to all of you. AC 360 begins now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening at the end of a busy and highly consequential day in and around the worst military conflict in Europe since the Second World War, we begin tonight with the characterization of it, which is almost certainly not true. That said, it is important to show you because it illustrates what Russia wants the rest of the world to think about the war, which it refuses to even call a war or an invasion, and what it somehow expects the world to believe.

It's a tweet from Russia's Foreign Ministry quoting now: "Exactly one month since the start of the special military operation in Ukraine. It is going according to plan and all of the stated goals will be achieved. Life is returning to normal in the territories already liberated from nationalists."

Now, take a look. This is one of three Russian tanks and nine infantry fighting vehicles Ukrainian forces say they've destroyed or took in fighting today east of Kyiv, part of the larger counter offensive in the area.

Taking a look at that, it doesn't look like a Russian operation in the words of that tweet that went according to plan. Nor does this, a new drone video of Irpin to the northwest of Kyiv. The mayor says it has come under heavy rocket fire, telling CNN that 80 percent of the town is now controlled by the Ukrainian Army.

In southeastern Ukraine, this is one of the occupied cities where life is supposedly returning to normal according to Russia's Foreign Ministry. Russian forces took it just three days into the war, and that burning that you see is a Russian warship, one of three that Ukrainian Forces say they hit. An American Defense official confirms it tonight.

The Ukrainian say it's the Orsk and that it was delivering armored personnel carriers. Certainly hard to square the flames and secondary explosions with anyone's conception of things going according to plan.

Now, just a day ago, Russian television ran report on its arrival, the ship's arrival. In it, a Russian officer says quoting now, "Our arrival here is a milestone event. It opens up completely new opportunities for the Black Sea Fleet to use existing Ukrainian infrastructure for our logistics operations."

Until that is, it doesn't, so not according to plan, nor life returning to normal which is even crueler to suggest in and around Kharkiv, this is the aftermath of missile strike killing six at a shopping mall outside the city. The Regional Governor there saying 140 multiple launch rockets attacks, 44 tanks and artillery shells. "This is what we call a stable situation."

Life is certainly not returning to normal for the nearly four million Ukrainians who have had to leave the country or the children who now cannot leave. This is Milena (ph). Take a look at that picture. A little girl lying in a hospital bed with sandbags in the windows, so she doesn't get even more injured by a nearby blast.

She is 11 years old. She's at a children's hospital in Zaporizhzhia recovering from a gunshot to her jaw. At the same hospital, a little boy, Artam (ph) just three years old by another window with sandbags. He was hit in the stomach by shrapnel. Nothing about his wounds or the sandbags or anything in this picture in this window in any way says normal and it never should.

The U.N. says 105 children had been wounded since the war began and 78 killed, but those are just the numbers that they've managed to confirm. The likely death toll is much higher. The actual figures are much higher.

CNN's Ivan Watson visited that hospital today and we'll have a conversation with him about it just ahead.

Also to Russia's claim that all is going according to plan, there is this. President Biden today at an emergency NATO Summit. The President announcing more than a billion dollars humanitarian aid for Ukrainians, more slots for Ukrainian refugees, and tighter sanctions on Russia.

He was also asked about something that would not even be a topic for discussion, yet chillingly now is.


QUESTION: So you've warned about the real threat of chemical weapons being used. Have you gathered specific Intelligence that suggests that President Putin is deploying these weapons, moving in the position or considering their use? And would the U.S. or NATO respond with military action if he did use chemical weapons?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, on the first question, I can't answer that. I'm not going to give you Intelligence data, number one. Number two, we would respond. We will respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.


COOPER: Thankfully, that moment has not come. What is happening though appears to be new signs that the Ukrainian counteroffensive east of Kyiv is gaining ground.

Air raid sirens had been heard tonight in the capital city, CNN's Fred Pleitgen is there for us now.

So, we just got a new video showing heavy rocket attacks in Irpin. What more do we know?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Anderson. Well, this is something that was happening throughout the course of the day. We're actually in touch there with the mayor of Irpin and he was saying yes, those heavy rocket attacks were happening and they are happening just as Ukrainian forces are actually moving back into Irpin.


The National Police is back on the ground there, but as you can see there on those pictures, it is still far away from any sort of sense of normalcy there in Irpin.

And of course, the same is pretty much true here for Kyiv, as well. It still is very much a city that is very much on a war footing. And you know, the person who is in charge of really making the city still work and making the citizens here still have even the semblance of some sort of life is the city's mayor, which is Vitali Klitschko, the former boxing champ. He is working very closely with his brother, Wladimir Klitschko, of course who is also a World Heavyweight Champion, and actually got to visit the two in their -- in a secret location where they were running everything, and here is what they told me.


PLEITGEN (voice over): As Vladimir Putin continues his assault on Ukraine, the U.S. believes taking the capital Kyiv remains Russia's main goal.

But the city's mayor, former world boxing champ Vitali Klitschko vows, Putin's troops will not enter this town.

We met the mayor and his brother, Wladimir Klitschko, himself a former boxing champion, in a secret location in Kyiv. Do you think that you have what it takes to fend them off completely,

and that the city will not be taken by Russia?

VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE MAYOR: This is our hometown, we fight -- we never go to the knee. We don't want to be slaves. We don't want back to USSR to live in dictator, to live in terrorism. We see our country as modern European democratic country.

PLEITGEN (voice over): The Klitschko's are on the move 24/7 visiting residential areas shelled by the Russian Army, sometimes getting emotional when seeing the aftermath of Russian attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin says he is only targeting military targets.

V. KLITSCHKO: Bullshit. Sorry. Where is military target?

PLEITGEN (voice over): Comforting those affected by the war and overseeing the effort to train those looking to confront Russian forces.

PLEITGEN (on camera): You've really stepped up and really have organized the defense of the city. How did you manage to do that? Learn that so quickly, learning on the fly?

V. KLITSCHKO: We don't need to organize. I meet people in Blokpost (ph) with very peaceful profession -- artists, musician, doctors -- never ever have idea to take the uniform and take the weapons in their hand, but right now, they are in the street and ready to fight.

A few days ago, the apartment building destroyed from rocket. One man around 60 years old coming to me and ask: What am I doing? What I have to do right now?

I give him proposal to evacuate him to my safe zone, to west of Ukraine. He told, Mr. Klitschko, my mayor, I don't want to leave from my hometown. Please give me weapons. I am ready to defend my family. My lovely Kyiv.

Instead the panic, instead demoralization, the people motivate so much and have spirit to defend our future.

PLEITGEN (voice over): But they are up against a strong and better equipped foe. As President Biden visits Europe to meet NATO allies, the Klitschko's messages get tougher on Putin.

What are your demands? What do you guys need to continue this fight?

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO, KYIV BRIGADE OF UKRAINIAN DEFENSE POLICE: Our will is strong and it is better and stronger than any army and any weapon, but we definitely need to close our sky.

Our civilians, and our cities are getting destroyed and it is continuing while we're giving these interviews and speaking about it, the fights are still going on. We need supply of the defensive weapons. And you guys just need to stop any economical relationship with

Russia. This way, we will isolate him, make him weaker and just show that international law cannot be broken.

Oil, obviously, the world needs oil and gas, but it is better to pay higher price than to pay with lives for that oil.

PLEITGEN: And so you guys obviously, you want a no-fly zone, I gather, and aircraft -- anti-aircraft systems and the like to beat the Russians in the skies. That's one of the most important things, right?

W. KLITSCHKO: If you supply us with different weapons we're going to close the skies on our own. We have enough men and women that are going to stand for the country and will defend it is as strong as much as possible. And we're going to close the sky on their own. We just need the defensive equipment for that.


PLEITGEN (voice over): Vitali Klitschko knows Joe Biden well. The two met both in Washington, D.C. and in Kyiv when Biden was Vice President and the U.S. front man for Ukraine policy in the Obama administration.

PLEITGEN (on camera): What's your message to Joe Biden as he comes to Europe?

V. KLITSCHKO: Stay with Ukraine. Thank you very much for support, support Ukraine, with our friends, we are stronger. It is our future, it is our freedom. We are ready to fight for that, but we need support from whole democratic world.

PLEITGEN (voice over): The Klitschko's are international celebrities with massive fan bases in both the U.S. and in Europe. And yet they say for them there is no other place they want to be but in Kyiv despite the dangers.

You're some of the prime targets for the Russians, you know. They're out to get you. Why do you do it? What motivates you?

V. KLITSCHKO: This is our homeland. Our parents are here. We've grown up. This is our country. This is our home.

And the simple answer, we have to be here.

W. KLITSCHKO: Do you know this expression of roots? Our roots are here. Our father that was one of the Chernobyl survivors and he was one of the liquidators they buried in Kyiv and he is Ukrainians as could be. Our relatives, or friends.

Every single street reminds us on some memories in life and that is something that gives you so much strength. Because the truth is on our side, this is pretty much reminds me like in the fairy tale, the fight between the good and the evil.


COOPER: It's so fascinating to see them and how they have risen up to this challenge?

PLEITGEN: Yes, but it really is after -- I was just going to say, I mean, they are really first of all, two really remarkable guys. And the way that they've stepped up in a short period of time, and I was watching them operate a little bit with some of their staff, with some of the people around them and they have really taken charge of the situation.

I think the other thing that's really important is in this situation, it's so difficult, Anderson, for the people here in the city. They comfort the people, they give them strength, and they really also tell them, you know, they are going to go on and they're going to be able to fend the Russians off.

And I think that the Klitschko's, too, they have become a lot more confident of that, as all of this has gone on, especially now that the Ukrainian Army seems to be making more gains -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Fred Pleitgen, appreciate it. Thank you. Be careful.

Next, to Brussels and CNN's Phil Mattingly traveling with President Biden. What more is the President saying about what the U.S. and NATO prepare to do?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The scale is significant. And I think it largely matches up with the elements of the sanctions regime, the humanitarian aid that we've seen rolled out over the course of the last several weeks, but they are continuing to ramp it up.

It's a point the President made today in his remarks to reporters making clear that so long as President Putin continues the invasion, continues the horrific attacks that we've seen over the course of the last month, the U.S. and its allies will continue to ramp up sanctions.

More than 400 new individual sanctions were applied today. The U.S. and its European allies making clear that sanctions also apply to the gold reserves in Russia's Central Bank, just another attack on the Central Bank and the ruble, which is now pricing out at less than one cent for every dollar.

The overall effort, though, has not changed the dynamic, Anderson, and I think that's the complication here and something that leaders have been trying to grapple with and due to the hit that the Russian economy has taken, it has also raised concern about what President Putin may do next.

One of the major points of discussion over the course of nearly three different Summits over 12 hours during the course of the day, the potential for chemical attacks, preparation for those attacks, both on the U.S. side, but also the NATO side as well.

There is no near term imminent sign that anything is coming, but the concern is palpable. It's real despite the sweeping scale of the response by the U.S. and its allies over the course of the last four weeks.

COOPER: Is it clear how the President thinks the current sanctions are working on Russia?

MATTINGLY: No, I think that the President and his top advisers believe it is working as it is designed to and perhaps better. It is certainly more significant and more impactful than they probably thought it was going to be in the weeks leading up to the invasion. I think that underscores both the unity with the U.S. and its more than 30 partners over the course of four continents what they've been able to put into place.

And if you look at the near term effects of the Russian economy, GDP expected to contract by 15 percent, inflation expected to spike by 15 percent. I already mentioned the ruble. You have more than 400 private companies that have left Russia.

You're seeing younger people in Russia leave by the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands to that point, all of that shows that they are having a dramatic effect and yet they have not shifted President Putin's calculation.


I think that's the concern right now is that they know it didn't deter. Will it actually shift his calculation?

One thing to keep an eye on, Anderson, is the way these sanctions are designed, particularly on export controls, cutting off Russia, to very critical technology to major industrial sectors.

Over time, the bite will get more dramatic, and I think U.S. officials know that as the weeks go on, and they expect this to be a long term crisis, a long term battle, the sanctions will only have a harsher effect. And they've also acknowledged they will continue to ramp up those sanctions, which will continue to take a major chunk out of Vladimir Putin's economy.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, one woman's story and how she and her family finally made it out of Mariupol and all that they endured in the siege.

And later, CNN investigates what happened when a Ukrainian crew member tried to sink a yacht tied to a powerful Russian oligarch.



COOPER: It is hard even with nearly ubiquitous sometimes real time video to convey in human terms the horror of what Russia's war in Ukraine and its way of fighting it had done.

This is what remains of an apartment building in Mariupol on a street filled with rubble just behind the toppled utility tower. You can see straight through the skeleton of that building and so much of the city looks just like it.

Yulia Karpenko and her family endured weeks of bombardment when their building was hit. Now they decided it was finally time to flee. There is some video with their living arrangements were like up to that point, no heat, no running water as they took shelter from the strikes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE and UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Speaking in foreign language.)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you filming a video?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. This is us. Yes, this is -- oh, but we have video. You can see us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you turning your butt to us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's okay. Here you go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, this is ours. For now, we are here alone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, for now. We're here alone, but that's is for now. Right here is my husband sleeping with the dog.


COOPER: Tonight, Yulia and her family are safe, most of them. I spoke with her just before air time.


COOPER: Yulia, thanks so much for talking to us. What was it like when the bombing began in Mariupol?

YULIA KARPENKO, 17-YEAR-OLD WHO ESCAPED MARIUPOL: It was -- well, for the first few days, we didn't realize how bad it was. I didn't realize because it was far away. It was in another part of the city.

And for such moments, I thought that my district was safe. But later, they came there and they surrounded the city. So my district which is also at the edge of the city, it was pretty much damaged.

COOPER: I understand there was a direct hit near your building, on I think was March 12th.

KARPENKO: Yes, it was March 12th and there was a direct hit at the third floor of my building. And today, I even got to see a video of my house how it looks now. Not my video, but someone's and it has burned down so badly. Like nothing is left.

COOPER: Where was your apartment?

KARPENKO: My apartment was on the second floor, which is quite great when you have to run really quickly. But it's quite dangerous when there are strict fights, but we left before this happened.

COOPER: How long were you living without heat without hot water in that apartment? We have some video of you and your family in the apartment.

KARPENKO: Oh, yes, it was since the second of March and the second of March they turned off everything, but gas, and they turned off gas a few days later.

COOPER: It looks -- I mean, it must have been just miserable. It is freezing cold at this time of year.

KARPENKO: Oh yes, it was minus seven on the streets. And in my flat it was for five to seven degrees. We had to slip in our jackets and like we had like five sweaters and t-shirts on and we slept under all the bunks we have, but I was cold anyway.

COOPER: Can you talk a little bit about what it's like to be living in a place that is being repeatedly bombed and which is clearly just being bombed to total destruction? To be on the receiving end of that, to not know where the next shell is going to land? How do you cope with that?

KARPENKO: I actually couldn't cope with that anyway, because I couldn't connect with my friends. I couldn't talk to them. I couldn't talk to my family. And it's a feeling of helplessness. And it's the feeling that you don't know when it ends because when you have news, you can have like your ups and downs.

And when you didn't have anything, but the sound of bombing, you only have downs and you're only feeling the more and more miserable and you know that nowhere is safe.

COOPER: In Mariupol, we've seen images of people being buried in mass graves. People -- there are reports of neighbors burying their neighbors in their backyards because there is nowhere else to put them. What did you do for water?

KARPENKO: Water was the main question actually. There was melted snow. We melted snow for -- we did it a few times, but we don't have much snow in Mariupol, that's the thing. When we didn't have snow, we used the water from the like tap water -- running waters that we had saved because we could save a whole vase and like a few more bottles because we knew there would be problems with water.


And the thing is that our water -- running water isn't that good to drink. So it has this like, not very good taste, and it can damage your health if you drink it for too long. But it's not that bad actually, like it's better than nothing. And mountain snow was quite okay. There was also a heat in the pipe with heating water near our house.

But you couldn't drink this water. We only like -- we got some of this water to flush the toilet and to wash the floors.

COOPER: And you've made it now to Berlin. What happens now?

KARPENKO: I'll find a school where I can graduate and pass exams and so on. And I really want to come back Ukraine, but if nothing changed, I will strive to get higher education here. And I try to continue working.

I work a little bit as a private teacher for kids like German language. So I try to keep up with everything.

COOPER: I know your mom is with you. Have you heard from your stepfather? Your grandparents? They didn't want to leave.

KARPENKO: My stepfather is in western Ukraine now with my dogs. So they're doing okay. And I actually got some fresh news from my grandparents today. They've been evacuated to Donetsk and their flat has also burned like there was a fire.

And since we know of their house and it's really, really bad, like the whole entry has burned from the first floor to the lines and they were damaged. So they're alive and even like some things, not so many, and they're now in Donetsk and they are like deciding what should they do next.

COOPER: Yulia, I'm so sorry for what is happening to your country, but to you and your family, I wish you the best.

KARPENKO: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, NATO may be more united than ever and the show of force in Brussels today perhaps underscored that. But that isn't stopping the bombs from dropping in Ukraine tonight.

Ahead, how former C.I.A. Director and retired four star General David Petraeus thinks this conflict could possibly end.



COOPER: Back now, a dramatic new video in the fight for the capital of Kyiv. Ukrainian officials have reported heavy rocket attacks by Russian forces against the contested town of Irpin, north of Kyiv drone footage geolocated there by CNN shows widespread devastation and fires raging and a jumble of abandoned vehicles.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces appear to have retaken territory to the east of the capital reversing previous Russian games. Footage shows destroyed Russian tanks infantry vehicles and some captured Russian armor in the small settlement of Lukyanovka. One soldier can be heard and telling his troops the occupiers have left behind their tanks will take the guns. Exactly one month now into the war world leaders including President Biden were formulating plans together in Brussels today on how to respond to Russia's next moves and put an end to this.

Some insight now and how this may end, if it can end by former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, retired Army Four Star General and former CIA Director David Petraeus.

General Petraeus, appreciate you joining us. What do you think is the most important thing to come out of this NATO Summit? And particularly, what do you think the U.S. and NATO will do in the days ahead to try to reinforce its eastern borders?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, FMR CIA DIRECTOR: But I think there are a number of takeaways Anderson really, an important one is, of course, that the NATO Secretary General has been extended for a year. But yes, Stoltenberg, former prime minister has been a terrific leader of NATO. And it was great to see that he'll stay at the helm of that organization rather than leave and go to his country's central bank. But beyond that, of course, the additional sanctions that were announced, these are very important because this keeps tightening the noose on Moscow on the financial system, the economy, the oligarchs around Putin, and so forth. And then the commitment to the battlefield, to provide additional arms, ammunition, weapon systems, and even humanitarian assistance and economic support.

All of that, I think, if you put it together, is very important, and particularly the peace on the battlefield and Moscow, it starts to perhaps show away that there could be the kind of pressure on Putin that could lead him to accept a negotiated outcome. That includes some conditions that he would not have agreed to prior to the invasion.

COOPER: Do you have a sense of how this conflict in Ukraine ends? Is it -- I mean, given the successes, Ukrainian forces on the ground have had in the stalled Russian offensive, at least around Kyiv, maybe Kharkiv. How does this come to end?

PETRAEUS: Well, I think the combined pressure and that's what's really crucial here, Anderson. I think, if the Ukrainians can really demonstrate that the Russians not only can't achieve their battlefield objectives, as they clearly are not, they're not going to take control of Kyiv, they're not going to topple the government replace President Zelenskyy with a pro Russian figure, they're not going to achieve most of their other objectives, perhaps they will in the south. And we might talk about that in a moment because that's where the situation is most fraught for the Ukrainians. But if they can continue the local counter attacks, if they can be augmented with anti-ship systems, more air defense systems that are being provided to them reportedly that reach above the altitude, the range of the stinger missile system, which has done very, very well but only goes up to roughly 10,000 feet or so. If they can get more of the switchblade drones, the silent but deadly kamikaze loitering ammunition, and so forth. If all of that can be brought together, there can be a realization in Moscow that this is not going well. And not only are we halted and we're showing an incredible inability to logistically support our forces to command and control them to replace losses and so forth. But then, of course, the pressure that's taking place in Moscow, and finally perhaps there will be enough pressure on Putin to realize he just can't tough this out and he just destroys enough of Ukraine that finally he can achieve his objectives. And I think that's perhaps but again, there's an awful lot of ifs there. And one of those I probably should address is obviously, the tightening noose around Mariupol, the important Ukrainians, port city in the southeast, where the Russians are really approaching the city center.


But the Ukrainians are just literally fighting to the last soldier and making it very, very costly. And it's not still certain that the Russians will indeed be able to take that over, although it appears, pretty doom, given that they're running out of not just water and power, but food and ammunition.

COOPER: Ukraine reportedly used a ballistic missile or ballistic missiles to sink a Russian landing ship that was reportedly carrying weapons and supplies to Russian troops surrounding Mariupol. I mean, the fight in the South for Russians is particularly critical. In the event that there is some sort of negotiated settlement, they would want to clearly try to control as much land as they can have a land bridge from Crimea.

PETRAEUS: That's correct. And Mariupol is what stands in the way of that, of course, and again, the reason these ships were they were docked at a Ukrainian port, by the way, it is one yes, that is controlled by the Russians, but very close to Mariupol. And obviously vulnerable to anti-ship fires from the shore that the Ukrainians could achieve. And again, it highlights they're trying to get supplies in there. And it's very, very difficult for them to do that. But the South is the place where they have had a modicum of success, although they've been blocked completely from getting to Odessa, just halfway there, by the extraordinary defense of the city, Mykolaiv as you know.

So it's really around Mariupol that they have achieved success and will want to retain it. And at some point, it'll be important for the Ukrainians to react to that if they can, noting that if Mariupol falls, Russian forces will be freed up that could conduct operations against Ukrainian forces who are focused on other areas.

COOPER: If you are a Russian general, or command -- Russian commander and you cannot occupy Kyiv, you cannot occupy the cities that you want except perhaps in the South. If you can't occupy Kyiv, if you can't decapitate the leadership, what do you do? I mean, what do you just bomb it to smithereens?

PETRAEUS: Yes, yes, sadly, I think that you have to back off, you do what they have done, which is which must be just extraordinarily difficult for them which is to acknowledge that the Ukrainians are better than they are, even though they don't have many of the benefits that the Russians have. And that they have fought them to a standstill, and they're counter attacking.

So all you have left are bombs, missiles, and rockets, even the artillery is being pushed out of range around Kyiv, that's one of the reason for the local counter attacks and why they're so important. So you just keep bombing it. And the hope, presumably, must be at the high command that at some point, President Zelenskyy will buckle and he will put forward some kind of compromise that they can hold out as a real success.

That doesn't appear to be the case to me. My sense is that he is unbelievably determined, and his people are unbelievably determined. He's led them brilliantly inspire them set a wonderful example of provided energy. And they're completely committed to this fight. And by the way, he's also wisely put forward that when he does reach some kind of agreement, he's going to submit it to the people for a referendum, so that they have buy in on this.

So again, I think the hope has to be that again, in Moscow, there's a realization that this could get even worse, that they could actually be defeated in parts of the battlefield, if not all of it, and that perhaps the time to cut a deal is now before the rest of their economy is destroyed. Noting that, of course, yes, they are unbelievably blessed when it comes to gas, oil and coal. And they'll continue to generate revenue with that, despite the efforts of countries around the world to try to reduce their reliance on it.

COOPER: Yes. General David Petraeus. I always appreciate it. Thank you.

PETRAEUS: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Just ahead, a CNN exclusive. The story of how one man tried to sink a luxury yacht linked to a Russian oligarch. Drew Griffin spoke the man now fighting in Ukraine and shares his story, next.



COOPER: More mysteries surrounding $700 million super yacht that U.S. officials say could be owned by Vladimir Putin. The New York Times cites local workers and union leaders who say the ship's Russian crew left the Italian town where the yacht is docked a couple of weeks ago. Earlier this week, researchers working for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny argued a dozen of the crew worked or had a connection to Russia's Federal Protective Service. They concluded that the art may belong to Putin or close aide.

And that's just one of many yachts draw global scrutiny since the war began. And as Drew Griffin discovered, in a CNN exclusive one was nearly sunk because the Ukrainian now fighting for his country.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taras Ostapchuk, a 55-year-old nautical engineer says he spent the best 10 ears serving on the Lady Anastasia an ageing luxury yacht sailing the Mediterranean.

TARAS OSTAPCHUK, UKRAINIAN CREWMAN (through translation): We had a crew of nine people, including a chef and a waiter.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): He says the yacht's current owner and only user is Alexander Mikheev, a sanctioned Putin connected oligarch and the CEO of a major Russian state run company that rakes in tens of billions of dollars selling munitions, everything from weapons to ammo to aircraft. Yacht engineer Ostapchuk went from cruising an oligarch luxury to a bunker in Ukraine.

Our interview just began stopped by an alert of an incoming Russian attack.

OSTAPCHUK: OK, sorry. See you next time. Bye, bye.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): His life changed in late February when the yacht was docked in Spain and Russia invaded his home country.

(on-camera): Welcome back. Thank you.

OSTAPCHUK: Nice to meet you again.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): So good to see you, my friend.

OSTAPCHUK: Yes. I'm safe.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Safe once again.

(voice-over): Ostapchuk explained he was spurred to action when he saw this image of a Russian military strike in an apartment building in his hometown of Kyiv.


OSTAPCHUK: My war started. Yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): At that moment he knew he had to do something to retaliate sink the Lady Anastasia.

OSTAPCHUK (through translation): Water began to fill up the engine room and the crew space. After that there were three crew members left on board. I announced that the boat was sinking and that they should leave the ship. I did this on my own,

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The other crew members also Ukrainian didn't want to risk their own jobs he said instead, they sounded the alarm called authorities. He was arrested and the Anastasia staved, although damaged. In court, Ostapchuk denied nothing. Instead declaring he would return to Ukraine, where he picked up arms and joined the military.

OSTAPCHUK (through translation): Now a war has begun, a total war between Russia and Ukraine. And you have to choose either you are with Ukraine or not. You have to choose will there be Ukraine or will you have a job. I made a choice. I don't need a job if I don't have Ukraine.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Back in Spain, Spain's Ministry of Transport has agreed to the provisional detention of the Lady Anastasia. While it confirms its real ownership and determines if it falls under European Union sanctions and can be seized. It's one of a long list of suspected Russian oligarch yachts now frozen in European ports in an effort to apply pressure on Putin through his inner circle of oligarchs to stop this war.

Taras Ostapchuk says others working for oligarchs around the world should expose them and their assets, his effort to make the profit tiers of Vladimir Putin's regime pay for what they are doing.

OSTAPCHUK (through translation): I think what I did is absolutely 100% correct. I tried to sink the boat as a political protest of Russian aggression. Because its owner is connected to the production of Russian weapons. They should be held responsible because they who with their behavior with their lifestyle, but their unquenchable greed, they precisely led to this. In order to distract the people from the real plunder of Russia by these rulers. They arranged diversionary wars with other countries that are innocent.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): Is there any message that you would like the people of the United States to know right now?

OSTAPCHUK: Help us please. Send guns to Ukraine, please. We must stop at this war. We must win.


COOPER: And Drew Griffin joins us now. What does he say about being back in Ukraine and fighting?

GRIFFIN: Anderson, he has no doubt that the military equipment made by that defense firm tied to his former boss is right now killing civilians in Ukraine where he is. That's why he did what he did. And that's why he went back there and join the fight. As for the yacht and its ownership, that Russian defense firm they sent us a little terse comments saying it doesn't really comment on the personal lives of its employees or their property. I guess even if that property is an oligarch yacht. Anderson.

COOPER: Drew Griffin, appreciate it. Thanks. Fascinating stuff.

I mean dozens of injured children babies from war torn areas across Ukraine are being treated in this rugged hospital in Zaporizhzhia, it's fortified with sandbags with the constant sound of air raid sirens throughout the day. Oftentimes children's treatment has to be stopped in order to get them into safety.

CNN's Ivan Watson visited the hospital he's going to bring us his report, next.



COOPER: The war in Ukraine has had a heavy human cost obviously with the UN today saying more than 1,000 civilians have been killed in at least another 1,600 injured . Again CNN cannot independently verify those numbers and then UN warns of course, that the actual figure could be much higher.

Earlier in the broadcast, I mentioned a hospital in Zaporizhzhia where many of the injured including children had fled its cities in the region face constant attack from Russian forces. Our Ivan Watson visited the hospital today and joins me now.

COOPER: Ivan you got to speak with not only some of the patients, but also doctors who are working there. Can you just talk a little bit about what your visit was like?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's pretty surreal because it's a children's hospital. And it's been fortified all around it and around all the ground level windows with sandbags, piles of sandbags, around a children's hospital. And while we were visiting, a, an air raid siren went off. And we were brought down to the basement and I watched the parade of nurses and mothers bringing in newborns into this basement room full of cots that's being used as the makeshift bomb shelter as well as other children and talk to some of the nurses who said that this basically happens six to seven times a day at night to where they have to kind of all troops down there with, you know, babies two weeks old.

I spoke with an anesthesiologist who is helping taking care of these little children. Listen to what he had to say.


IVAN ANKIN, ZAPORIZHZHIA REGIONAL CLINICAL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Sometimes it's not a long time, but we can give an oxygen for children for newborns during transportation from bottom to up.

WATSON: Right.

ANKIN: What kind of complication. I don't know. I worry all the time, because it's abnormal.


WATSON: And I should add that the newborns are babies that have medical complications after birth. And that's why they're in the hospital in the first place. So you just try to imagine these types of conditions and the city is not on the front line. But this is a reality that affects even little two week old babies.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, we showed these photos of two children from this hospitals in Zaporizhzhia earlier in the program. To me it's so just emblematic of what is happening there. You see these little kids in beds, you know, hooked up to machines and tubes and things helping them breathe and these walls -- you know, windows are completely sandbagged. It's just, it's so horrific. I understand you actually got a chance to speak with both of these children.

[20:55:20] WATSON: I did and I can report that they are recovering. The doctors say that their conditions have improved. But the wounds that they've suffered are catastrophic and difficult even to just talk about. In particular, this 11 year old girl, Milen Oralava (ph), she was fleeing the port city of Mariupol on the 16th of March with her mother and grandmother and sister and I think their cats and they were in the back of some stranger's car and they went through a number of Russian checkpoints and came around a curve and came across they say some Russian soldiers who opened fire on the car, and a bullet tore through this 11 year old girl's face and neck to the point that her tongue is damaged and she came very, very close to having her carotid artery severed.

She is able to kind of walk now and I spoke to her. She's an incredible gymnast. She loves her cats named Musa and Boucher (ph) who have gotten to (INAUDIBLE) with her older sister to be with her father. But she is gravely, gravely wounded. And the doctors say that they've had nine children come into their hospital basically in the last two weeks with shrapnel wounds and bullet wounds. And it is just -- it is very, very difficult to see children this badly wounded to the point that some of these kids have needed amputations.

COOPER: And there is no end in sight. Ivan Watson, thank you.

Ukrainians are putting up a very tough fight claiming they've destroyed the ship in a Russian controlled port. They also say some cities are back under their control. We'll have a live report from Kyiv, next.