Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Zelenskyy: Russia Preparing To Bomb Odessa; CNN At Kyiv Train Station Where Civilians Rush To Escape Attacks; Blinken: Russia "Starving Out" Ukrainian Cities Like Mariupol. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 07, 2022 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Learning new details about a Russian attack that killed 13 civilians at a bakery west of Kyiv. We're going to have more on that in just a moment. But it is clear whose forces continue their attacks on innocent Ukrainian civilians. A warning, the video you're about to see is hard to watch. But it is important to see to understand what is happening there right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking of Foreign Language).


BOLDUAN: That Russian military strike killed eight, including two children as they were trying to flee a town west of Kyiv. Ukraine's president now calls it deliberate murder on the part of the Kremlin. And he's now warning of a new wave of Russian attacks coming. President Zelenskyy is also calling for stronger sanctions from the West including a boycott of Russian oil. Ukraine's Foreign Minister renewing his call for NATO to establish a no fly zone over the country. And then there's also this, Ukrainian officials rejecting a new proposal, if you call it that, from Moscow to open evacuation routes, because the proposed routes were set -- were to send evacuees through Russia and Belarus. Still Ukraine and Russian delegations are meeting this morning for a third round of talks. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Alex Marquardt live in Kyiv. Alex, there's so many moving parts right now, what's the very latest from there?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, there is a real focus in a sense that Russia is stepping up its attacks to cut off the city, we know that they've been pushing particularly hard from the north and the west, the assumption is that they're trying to loop around to cut it off to strangle it and then eventually to move really into downtown Kyiv. We have seen significant fighting this morning earlier in that north and the west. The west, you will remember a Kate is aware of that area, Irpin is, a suburb of Kyiv, where we've seen people streaming out of there to try to get to safety.

A checkpoint to where people were evacuating yesterday was hit by Russian forces. At least eight people were killed there according to the mayor. Now the Kyiv police say that 2,000 people from Irpin have been able to make it out. But we have also seen that the Russians are moving their tanks into downtown areas, we have video of Russian tanks, between residential buildings, which of course, is further evidence that Russia is targeting civilian areas.

Now we have also heard from the mayor of Kyiv, who says that the Russians are targeting four areas in particular, including that neighborhood of Irpin with what he calls extreme rage. And he says, just like the President, that they are deliberately targeting civilians, and that is something that we have seen ourselves, these growing examples of indiscriminate attacks by Russian forces against civilians.

Now, as you mentioned, that third round of talks is currently underway. The first two didn't yield very much. They are still quite far apart in their fundamental positions. The best hope now is that they are able to come to some sort of agreement on these humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to escape from these areas that are coming under attack. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Alex, thank you so much for that. So while the entire country is under threat, President Zelenskyy is issuing a specific warning now for the key southern city of Odessa, saying that it could be the next to be bombed by Russian forces. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in Odessa for us this hour. Nick, why would this city be on Putin's target list?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: It's the third largest in Ukraine and it's really the economic trade hub towards the Black Sea if you want to control trade and out of Ukraine, you want to control the large levers on its economy, you need Odessa. It's also Russian speaking predominantly. And therefore, culturally somewhere that Moscow and it's perhaps warped vision of where Ukraine wants to BGA politically would like to get its hands on. Today, though, sirens on two, three occasions. We've just heard a couple of bangs unclear in an urban environment exactly what they were.

It is edgy. It has been that way for quite some time. But not just because of the specific warning that President Vladimir Zelenskyy gave yesterday unclear where his intelligence for that came from. They've been threats against it for quite some time. Also edgy here because of the push from the east that Russia has been making. They first took the town of Kherson on the Black Sea inlets there which they've seemed to have had a lot of civilian resistance to their presence there over the past days. But more intense fighting around the port city of Mykolaiv, that's where we were over the weekend. We saw ourselves there, Russian tanks that was surrendered, farmers trying to get them to start, other armored vehicles damage, and a consistent feeling that the Russians are trying to move into that city on various occasions but keep being pushed back.


The Regional Governor Vitaly came on telegram had two statements today suggesting that there was a bid by the Russians to get into the city center, and then later said they'd managed to push them back out of the international airport. Hard to verify extremely fluid, but it is fair to say that over the past days, the Russians clearly have made multiple attempts to get into that city including intense shelling on suburban civilian areas and they are not inside at this stage. So pressure certainly mounting on Odessa.

BOLDUAN: Remarkable resistance that Ukrainians are putting up. Thank you so much, Nick, as always. So the United Nations now is reporting that more than 1.7 million people have been forced to flee Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. CNN's Clarissa Ward has been reporting from a train station in Kyiv this morning where huge crowds rush to board trains out of the city before the Russians arrive. Take a look at this.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a train that is going to be taking people to the relative safety of the western city of Lviv. And it has just been a chaotic scene here. For the last few minutes people have been waiting some hours for this train. There's been a lot of arguing about who's able to get on it. You can see people are just packed in there. People were originally calling for it to be just women and children, a man tried to get on the train. People started screaming at that man. You can see over here, a number of people still just trying to pack onto this train. They've got their pets. They've got their family members.

These are scenes that we've seen playing out across the country, John, but we were at the train station about a week ago and it was nothing like this scene. There is definitely an intensification, an urgency, as people are trying to get out of the country, out of the city, as we're seeing this push on the northwest and western parts of Kyiv. These trains are now packed full of people who are desperately trying to get out of the city as the sense and the fear grows, that Russia is sort of tightening its noose moving down across the south and towards the southern western part of the city, which would then mean that this city is totally encircled. The fear is that they will lay siege to it.

These people, some of them are waiting here for hours. They've been pushing, shoving, desperately trying to get out. And it's just awful to see the fear in people's eyes. They're just frantically trying to get their loved ones out. We've seen a lot of families saying goodbye to each other. And they're hoping that they will be able to get to the safety of Lviv. But from there, as I've said so many times before, John, they just don't know where they're going to go. They don't know where they're going to sleep. They don't know where they're going to be able to come back. You can see that man saying goodbye to his family.

(Speaking of Foreign Language)

WARD: Volunteer. These guys are volunteers, they're explaining, trying to help people load onto the train, in an orderly fashion to stop the kind of chaotic scenes that we just saw here a few moments ago. We spoke to a family from Bucha where some of the heaviest shelling has been. And they're just completely shell shocked. They're devastated. They were evacuated early this morning. Their homes have been destroyed. Their lives have been destroyed. And they're waiting now to see when they can get on a train.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Clarissa we just saw --

WARD: And we're just going to try to walk down here now.

BERMAN: Go ahead.

WARD: Sorry, John. No, we're just trying to walk down here, you can see every single train carriage is absolutely rammed full. And a lot of men waiting on the platform, you can see this man --

(Speaking of Foreign Language)

WARD: This is his daughter.

(Speaking of Foreign Language)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you see here, what you can see here that very, very possible, you'll see that in couple months in Europe, believe me. The only way to stop model is another model.

WARD: So you can hear it from him, John, this man warning people that what happens in Ukraine will not stop in Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, never, never.

WARD: That this war will spill over into Europe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hitler wasn't stopped at West Germany, he wasn't stopped in Austria, he wasn't stopped in Czechoslovakia, he wasn't stopped in Poland. He only -- the only way, the only point when we stop it is bunker, bunker and sales talk.

WARD: Do you think President Putin is like Hitler?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's much worse. Because Hitler even he was an idiot, even if he was an idiot. He did it for -- he did it in his mind. He did it for German people. Putin do it only for itself, for power, for self power.

WARD: Is your family on this train?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, my wife and my mother.

WARD: And you stay here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course.

WARD: Why are you staying here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I can't leave my country.

WARD: What's your name, sir?


WARD: Uri (ph), it's nice to meet you.

And I think Uri (ph), John, speaks for so many people here. They're putting their wives, their daughters, their families on these trains, but they're going to stay here. And they're going to fight. And they view this as a fight for a way of life. This isn't just about Ukraine for the people here. They view this as an existential fight for liberal democracy, sovereignty, self determination, and that's why so many people here are willing to stay and risk their lives despite the odds, which are, unfortunately stacked against them.


BOLDUAN: Just unbelievable moments, playing out on a daily basis there in Kyiv, around Kyiv, and all parts of Ukraine, as Ukrainian people continue to fight stand up, but some so many are forced to flee. Clarissa, thank you so much for that.

The U.S. military is continuing to step up its support of Ukrainian forces. A senior Pentagon official telling CNN, the U.S. and NATO have so far sent the Ukrainian military thousands of antitank and antiaircraft missiles. CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon for us this hour. And Barbara, you have brand new reporting on what the United States is considering now to do to help NATO allies.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, those antitank, those anti air missiles have gone into Ukraine for those forces to try and challenge the Russian forces and push them back. But now, a question arising at the Pentagon what do they do about air defense for the NATO allies on the eastern flank think Poland, Romania, the Baltics and what we are being told here at CNN is they are considering nothing official, no formal proposal, but considering sending air defense equipment to those countries on NATO's eastern flank those NATO allies. Because the airspace is so close to concern, the Russians have already fired some 600 or more missiles of various categories, many of them ballistic missiles, if any of those missiles go straight across the border into a NATO country, or if the Russians calculate they want to strike inside NATO, there needs to be some additional kind of air defense capability, some kind of system that could potentially shoot those missiles down. So they're looking obviously at things like the Patriot missile. This is something the U.S. has relied on successfully for many years, and it could be one of the next weapon systems to go into Eastern Europe if a decision is made. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Barbara, thank you so much, great reporting. I really appreciate it.

So Secretary of State Tony Blinken, he's in Eastern Europe this morning with a message of unwavering support from the United States in face of a growing Russian threat. Secretary Blinken just met with leaders in Latvia, where he accused Russia of quote starving out Ukrainian cities. CNN's Natasha Bertrand is live in Brussels for us with more on this. Natasha what more is Secretary Blinken saying today?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Kate, well, the real purpose of Secretary Blinken's visit across Eastern Europe over the last several days has been to express United States support for those eastern flank NATO allies who are feeling very, very vulnerable in the face of this Russian aggression towards Ukraine. Of course he's in Latvia today. Latvia does share a border with Russia much like Ukraine, and they are feeling very threatened by Russia's actions there.

Of course, Blinken did reiterate that the U.S. now has about 1000 soldiers inside Latvia who are training alongside NATO forces and that they will continue to rotate forces into Latvia to help them prepare for anything that might come their way. Now all of this comes as Russia kind of ups its operation in Ukraine, increases it dramatically with bombardment of cities. Because of that escalation, the United States and its European allies have been weighing ways to get President Zelenskyy of Ukraine and some of his government officials out of Ukraine if necessary in order to set up a government in exile potentially in Poland.


All options are really on the table at this point as they tried to figure out how to maintain that continuity of government in Ukraine, which of course will allow them to continue to send weapons and assistance to Ukraine to fend off the Russians. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Huge questions there. Natasha, thank you so much.

Coming up for us, Russian strikes hitting more civilian targets killing innocent Ukrainians just trying to escape the violence, what world leaders are considering now to help that's next.



BOLDUAN: And breaking news, Russia force -- Russian forces turning their targets from military installations to civilians in Ukraine. This new video into CNN shows Russian tanks just rolling into neighborhoods into residential neighborhoods west of Kyiv. CNN has also obtained really this truly horrible video in the city of Irpin. A Russian mortar hitting a street while civilians were trying to evacuate to safety, a family of four, including two children were killed in this attack.

Joining me now to discuss this right now is retired brigadier general Mark Kimmitt. Thank you for being here, General. Also with us is CNN national security analyst David Sanger. He is a correspondent with "The New York Times" of course, David, thank you for being here. Let's start with this sickening video, though general that we've been seeing from Irpin, this mortar attack of family truly just trying to make it to safety along a known evacuation route, which is important for people to understand. When you saw this video, what does it say to you about where things are in this moment, the direction that Putin is giving to his forces on the ground? What does it say about the state of things?

BRIGADIER GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY (RET.): What it says about the state of things, I'm looking at Soviet tactical operations right out of their doctrinal manuals. This is how they fight. They see civilians, they see infrastructure as just part of the battlefield. Yes, it's intentional. But to them, it's also incidental. This is just part of the way the bulldozer moves closer and closer to their target. And if anything's in the way, they're going to blow it out of the way, without any consideration of the rules of land warfare, the Geneva Conventions.

BOLDUAN: It's disgusting and despicable, as is to see when it's caught on camera. It's right out of the pudding playbook, you've said.

KIMMITT: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: So David, you were forced to report that the United States and NATO that they pushed almost 20,000 antitank and antiaircraft weapons into Ukraine, what more are you hearing about this effort and where it's headed?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, they've pushed this 20,000 in the past six days, which is really, really remarkable, just to give you a sense of how the timescale has been compressed, when President Biden did a $60 million arms package for Ukraine back last summer in August, it took until November to get everything set there. They did a $350 million one last Saturday. And it was mostly dispensed with in the course of five or six days. So there's a big rush.

And there's a reason for the rush, Kate, and it is that this is a real race against time. They're moving this in from the west, largely from those borders that were -- that you've been reporting from, in Poland, Romania, and so forth. And so far, the Russians have not cut that off. But they know that their ability to get this material in is going to get restricted sooner or later. There are two other big elements to this. One is a cyber component, U.S. Cyber Command has dispatched mission teams out there, presumably to go after the Russian communications and their ability to operate. And then of course, this this debate about whether or not Poland could lend or give Ukraine, these MiG fighters. And the related issue of whether the Russians would then view NATO as having fully entered the conflict, which is something President Biden's been trying to avoid.

BOLDUAN: So, in general, on David's reporting about the 20,000, antitank, antiaircraft, weapons that have been pushed in on top of this conversation now about potentially having Poland sending fighter jets, what does that level of firepower and just military strength, what does it mean to this fight? Where do you think in this map that we've all become so familiar with, that this is needed most right now? Where should it be, it'll be heading?

KIMMITT: Well, first, David, exactly right about how well the Biden administration has done. I mean, this is an enormous number of Javelin missiles and Stinger missiles. It's unprecedented. And that's what's needed. They need to knock out any Russian helicopters or aircraft that are flying with those Stingers. And those 26,000 Javelins are going to make a difference. We've already seen by some reports, as many as a thousand armored vehicles in the Russian army destroyed by Javelins. That's great. They've got about 10 times that number. And we have about 10 times that number of Javelin.

I've got a little question though, about the MiG aircraft. I am not certain that that's the best thing to do. First of all, David is exactly right. It may indicate that we are entering the conflict and then it could spiral considerably. But as important, we've got to remember that the Russians will probably bring in their S400 antiaircraft defense systems. This is the system that we didn't want Turkey buy. It's most advanced in the world and it would make it very, very difficult for those MiGs being flown by Ukrainian pilots to make a difference.


BOLDUAN: I'm going to put up one more map if we could about the 40- mile long Russian convoy that's been stalled outside of Kyiv. I've heard you talking about this in terms of the approach that the Ukrainians have why it's been stalled, because Ukraine has had some success. And you talk about attacking the soft underbelly of the Russian military. What does that mean? Tell me what that means for their success?

KIMMITT: Well, I was an artillery man. I was part of that soft underbelly. My job was to deliver fires, but I didn't have tanks surrounding my units. Ours were lightly defended. You've got supply depots in the back. You've got convoys like this. That's the targets that the Ukrainians can attack and really wreak havoc. If you can cut their supply lines, that's going to make a big difference for their ability to bring in artillery rounds, bring in missile rounds, perhaps slow the upcoming urban fighting and can really make a difference and that's what those Javelins can do. That's what those Stingers can do. And that's what those brave Ukrainians are focused on now.

BOLDUAN: Might be the key to success for them at this point. It's great to see you. KIMMITT: One of many.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, General. It's great to see you. David, thank you so much as always, and for your continued great reporting.

Coming up for us, Ukrainians desperately trying to flee Russia's Putin -- Russia's brutal and callous bombardment, a live report on this massive exodus that continues day by day that's next.