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At This Hour

Thousands Flee Kyiv as Heavy Fighting Rages Nearby; White House Warns of Potential Chemical Weapons Use in Ukraine; Vice President Harris Says Moral Outrage Compelling Nations to Help Ukraine; Three Killed in Bombing of Maternity Hospital in Mariupol; Russian War Enters Barbaric Phase in Third Week. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 10, 2022 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We begin with the growing outrage over Russia's horrific attacks on civilians in Ukraine.

Global leaders are united in condemning Russia's bombings on a maternity and children's hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine. The images of the attack are heartbreaking. Pregnant women, dazed, bloody, being brought out on stretchers.

Officials say the hospital attack killed at least three people, including one little girl. President Zelenskyy called the bombing proof of Russia's genocide of Ukrainians.

But the horrors don't stop there. The next video you're going to see is hard to watch but it's important to see.

So many people have been killed in Mariupol in the first two weeks of the Russian invasion, the residents are now forced to dig trenches for mass graves. Officials in Mariupol say 1,300 civilians have been killed in that city alone.

Russian forces are continuing to try to push to the capital, Kyiv, where heavy fighting is intensifying. Another round of talks between Ukraine and Russia ended today with no agreement on humanitarian corridors or a cease-fire.

Let's get to it. Nick Paton Walsh is live in Odessa with more detail on the deadly hospital attack. What is the latest you're learning right now, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: It has been referred to, as the foreign policy chief of European Union, Josep Borrell, as a heinous war crime. And clearly, from seeing the footage of the devastation there, this was, must have been some form of airstrike, a large explosion there.

And many of the injured have sadly lost their lives; three of the injured, in fact, have since subsequently died of their injuries, according to local officials.

The humanitarian situation inside of Mariupol, although President Zelenskyy suggested some success at humanitarian corridors, there hasn't been conclusive evidence that's had any positive effect inside of Mariupol.

In fact, the opposite; the International Committee of the Red Cross just referred to the humanitarian situation there as increasingly dire and desperate, reminding people that hundreds of thousands have been without food, water, heat, electricity.

And you referenced the mass graves there as well. It's the attack on the maternity hospital, frankly, that so many have seen as in keeping with Russia's form of military operations.

It sounds ridiculous, almost, to suggest that a hospital for people in the first moments of their life might possibly be considered to be a military target. But we have seen medical facilities targeted by Russia when they were involved in the Syrian conflict as well and elsewhere, too.

Utterly shocking but possibly a watermark for much of global opinion, already outraged by Russia's behavior but seeing this one specific attack as an extraordinary example of their callousness, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Nick. Thank you very much.

So the Ukrainian government says, despite no progress in talks, they are securing new humanitarian corridors in several parts of the country. But Russian forces are reportedly attacking at least one of those corridors, preventing civilians from evacuating.

CNN's Scott McLean is live in Lviv, Ukraine, with the very latest on this.

What are you learning about the corridor that's being bombed?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, Kate, even before the hospital was bombed in Mariupol, the need for these humanitarian corridors was especially dire. Conditions there are deteriorating rapidly, as you mentioned.

The Ukrainian president says that the government is working to secure these corridors out of several different cities -- and Mariupol is one of them. He says that an aid convoy is on the way to the city. And buses are on the way to pick people up; though, at last word,

there's no evidence the convoy has actually arrived. And it's not clear at this stage what exactly the Ukrainians and the Russians have agreed upon, in writing or otherwise.

Meanwhile, local officials in Mariupol say that the Russian bombing campaign continues. New video shows that there was an explosion, shows the aftermath of the explosion near a park and a theatre.

They say they are targeting roadways specifically to completely isolate Mariupol from the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, earlier today, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, pushed this completely baseless conspiracy theory, that the United States is trying to create biological weapons in Ukraine.

The U.S., the White House now pushing back, saying we should be on the lookout for Russia to potentially use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.

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MCLEAN: The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, tweeted, "Now that Russia has made these false claims and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine or to create a false flag operation using them. It's a clear pattern."

Now the U.S. does have biolabs in Ukraine. But it says it's, of course, not to create biological weapons but to secure old Soviet-era weapons. The U.S. says it doesn't have any weapons at all.

In fact, Psaki pointed to the Russian poisoning of Alexei Navalny to show that the Russians are the ones who are using these kinds of weapons, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Thank you for laying it out. Really appreciate it.

Now to Kyiv, where Russian forces continue their push. They are trying to encircle the capital but the Ukrainian military is putting up a fierce fight.

Look at this video, even repelling their advances. CNN's Matthew Chance is live in Kyiv for us.

Matthew, what is happening on the ground there now?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, these images are another stark reminder that, even though the Russians have this strategy of trying to encircle the Ukrainian capital, to put it into a stranglehold and to get it to submit, that's not working out very well for them.

Because the Ukrainian defenses are strong and they are pushing back much harder than could have been anticipated in the Kremlin. This is the latest example of that. These are scenes from the town of Brovary, about 10 miles to the east of the city. It's an armored Russian column, trying to work its way down the east side of the Ukrainian capital.

But there are images taken from a drone from the air. And you can see the moment at which the column comes under the ferocious attack from anti-tank missiles in a sort of ambush, as Ukrainian forces really pounding those armored vehicles.

And then from the ground level as well, you can see people have gone up to the tank column after it's been destroyed. One of the narrators of one of those clips, saying, "Look, come to Ukraine. You come to this land and this is what you get."

And so it underlines just how defiant and how effective the Ukrainians are being at the moment in pushing back those Russian armored columns, as they attempt to encircle their city.

How long they can keep up that defense is the big question, along with, what will the Kremlin do as it continually faces these battlefield defeats? Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, as the battlefield defeats mount, how does he escalate further?

Great to see you, Matthew, thank you so much.

Let's go to Poland now, where Vice President Kamala Harris is at this hour. She's accusing, while there, Russia of committing atrocities of unimaginable proportions in Ukraine. The vice president just wrapped meetings with Polish leaders, which became all the more urgent after a dispute over sending fighter jets over to Ukraine.

CNN's Kevin Liptak joins us now live in Warsaw.

What has come out of these meetings so far?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there have been a few announcements so far. The vice president announced that the U.S. had fulfilled delivery of a Patriot missile system to Poland.

And she also announced $53 million in humanitarian assistance. But really the point of this trip was largely symbolic. For the United States vice president to show up here on NATO's eastern flank and demonstrate this unity and cooperation among the NATO allies.

That was somewhat undercut by that sort of dust-up over the Soviet era jets that the U.S. had said it wanted to provide to Ukraine. The vice president sought to smooth that over in her meeting today.

She didn't address it directly when we asked her about it. The Polish president was a little more straightforward and said he wanted NATO unity in all of this.

Ultimately, the issue is really moot because the Pentagon came out yesterday to say it doesn't support providing Ukraine with these fighter jets in any fashion. There are really two reasons for that. One is logistical: how do you get these planes from Poland to

Ukraine?

And it's not as easy as just flying them. Of course, the pilots have to get out of Ukraine and then the planes have to get in to Ukraine.

And then there's the question of escalation. No country wants to escalate this crisis beyond where it is right now. U.S. intelligence has found that Vladimir Putin may find that providing these planes would be considered an escalation.

Of course, that's a very real concern here in Warsaw, only 700 miles or so from Moscow.

The other major issue that came up today was humanitarian assistance. The vice president spoke to that a little bit. Listen to what she had to say.

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KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As it relates to the people of Ukraine, they have suffered immensely. When we talk about humanitarian aid, it is because, yes, the assistance is necessary.

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HARRIS: But what compels us also is the moral outrage that all civilized nations feel when we look at what is happening to innocent men, women, children, grandmothers, grandfathers, who are fleeing everything they've known.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIPTAK: Now this issue of refugees is really ever-present here in Warsaw. The bus station right next to the hotel where the vice president is staying is now kind of a receiving center. So it's really kind of put this into perspective for the vice president here in Poland, Kate?

BOLDUAN: In full focus. Kevin, good to see you, thank you very much.

Coming up,, Russian troops attacking hospitals; doctors and nurses trying to treat the most vulnerable in the midst of a bloody, bloody deadly war. I'll talk to the head of Doctors without Borders next.

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BOLDUAN: Breaking news: Russian forces continue to bomb the besieged city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine. The first images of the horrific attack on a maternity and children's hospital there unfolded on this show yesterday, tragically.

Authorities report at least three people were killed, including a little girl; more than a dozen others, including women, children and medical professionals, the doctors, were injured.

The World Health Organization also tells CNN they have verified attacks on 2 dozen health care facilities in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion. Some perspective there.

Joining me now is Avril Benoit. She's the executive director of Doctors without Borders.

Thank you for being here.

First and foremost what are you hearing from your teams and staff in Mariupol?

I heard you had lost contact with some.

Have you been able to reconnect?

AVRIL BENOIT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: Yes. It's really patchy and it's very worrisome. Obviously, there is difficulty, even to charge up telephones, to be able to make calls in addition to everything else they're missing.

So we're desperately trying to reach all of our staff. We had Ukrainian staff that were already working in the country and who now find themselves trapped in Mariupol, facing the same horrific conditions as all the other civilians trapped in the city.

BOLDUAN: I was looking at a statement from your organization.

"Depriving people of much needed health care is a violation of the laws of war."

It's also just also evil. That's me saying that.

What do you want to see from the rest of the world now, after this attack, to try to make sure that another like it doesn't happen, with the unfortunate knowledge that there have been a dozen other attacks on health care facilities?

BENOIT: The message has to be absolutely clear that any civilian target is just not on in a war. It's just not acceptable, whether it's a clinic, an ambulance, a school, a place where people are sheltering. Any sort of targets like that are a violation of international humanitarian law.

And the message has to be so clear that it is condemned every time it happens. You just mentioned about the World Health Organization and already, starting the ticker of how high it's gone so far.

We certainly have had the experience in Syria and seen the devastating effect. When you attack a hospital, when you attack a clinic or a facility, you're cutting people off from that one little island of preserved safety that they are supposed to be able to have to regain their dignity, regain their health, save their lives.

And so for our teams that are struggling to mobilize the operations and reach different parts of the country that are most likely to be affected, even in the future in this war, it makes it extremely risky even to set up a rear base, even to set up a coordination office, even to set up a place where you're going to bring in and start sorting the supplies before they get dispatched to various hospitals and medical facilities around the country.

Even the word on the street is Lviv (ph) is not even a safe place necessarily over time. Today it is.

But tomorrow, who knows?

So this is one of the critical things that is impeding the distribution of aid and the immediate response to the life-saving needs that are there.

BOLDUAN: And add to that, I want to play for everyone your organization released some audio from one of your staffers in Mariupol, I believe it was from two days ago, on what he calls a humanitarian disaster unfolding. Here it is.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): People collecting wood to cook their food now. There is no drinking water at all. People are collecting water from the roof, when the snow melts.

And especially there it's a very bad situation, with elderly people, with people with disabilities or lonely (sic) people. They cannot find even food and they cannot create a fire for themselves to cook their food. And there's a very, very bad condition with the people with children because the need much, much more different supplies and hygiene. And they cannot find it anywhere now.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And I imagine it has only gotten worse since then.

How desperate is the situation turning in parts of Ukraine, are you hearing?

BENOIT: Well, we certainly heard from that colleague in Mariupol and others that not only is there a shortage of water and food, it's also very cold, -10 degrees Celsius, around 14 Fahrenheit. This is going to put people's health at risk, obviously.

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BENOIT: And when you have the situation of the hospitals, where they are desperately in need of medical supplies, they are in a situation right now, where they are crying out, saying, look, if we have the direct consequences of war, so war wounded, we are unable to conduct the surgery unless we have surgical supplies. But you also have the knock-on effect of just a situation, where people cannot flee to safety, where they will be disrupted in their access to chronic disease medication, the kinds of medications that keep one alive.

There are, of course, babies being born in unsafe conditions. You've got young children, who are going to suffer the consequences of unhygienic conditions; maybe the drinking water is not that they managed to melt from the snow on the roof, it's not going to be clean enough to maintain the health of everybody.

So the conditions, really, from a purely medical circumstance, are absolutely dire, not to mention what it's doing to people's mental health. Just imagine the anxiety, the trauma, the depression of the unknowing, the sense of loss, lost contact with family members. These are all the things that really need to be attended to.

BOLDUAN: For the patients, for the civilians, for the doctors alike, that are trying to survive this --

BENOIT: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- and offer life-saving care at the very same time. Avril, thank you for coming on. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, Russia's war on Ukraine entering a new, even more barbaric phase, as we have just been discussing, hitting and killing innocent civilians.

What can the world do to stop these atrocities?

And what will the world do?

That's next.

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BOLDUAN: As Russia's invasion of Ukraine enters its third week now, we appear to be looking also at a new phase of this conflict, a hospital and a university building both bombed by Russian airstrikes.

As the U.S. says it is working with many countries to try and bolster Ukraine's air defenses and on the ground, as the Russian army tries to move on Kyiv, the city's mayor said half of the people are now gone, refugees. And the city left behind, now a fortress. Joining me for more on this, CNN military analyst Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling and CNN national security analyst Beth Sanner.

Thank you for being here. General, I want to start with this tank video we have coming in. The

Ukrainian military says from this tank video that we're seeing that it has defeated a regiment of Russian troops and eliminated its commander.

The video, shared by the Ukrainian defense ministry, shows the Russian military column in a northeast portion of Kyiv, coming under attack and retreating.

It's really amazing to see. Apparently this came from a drone.

What do you see here when you see this video?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I see about a thousand things in this video, Kate.

The first thing is, it's the Russian way of war. They travel in large columns with a lot of quantity. But their quality is awful. So when they get struck with artillery, they're bunched up, they're what we call nose to butt. They aren't spaced.

So a couple of artillery rounds will destroy a lot of tanks. There will be a lot of casualties. The United States is used to watching Iraq and Afghanistan fights where there is small unit activity. This is large maneuver conventional units.

And it creates the requirement for treating these individuals, who are hurting these attacks, with medical aid. They're not getting that.

So you compound the factors of warfare when you have lethal weapons fired on closed-in targets, causing a lot of damage. And I think this is going to be the downfall of the way the Russians have approached this campaign.

BOLDUAN: That's really interesting.

Beth, as the Russians appear to be making this real push into Kyiv, into the capital, as we've been looking at this play out, I want to play for you a really terrifying assessment from a Ukrainian member of parliament and what he said about this.

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ANDRII OSADCHUK, UKRAINIAN MP: They want to keep all people inside of the cities, because as more people inside of the cities, as more resources they consume, I mean, food, medicine, fuel and so on, so forth. And by consumption of all resources, civilians, they are making the army weaker.

So they, by doing this, they reduce that ability of Ukrainian military to resist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That really stuck with me when he said that, Beth.

Is that a Russian tactic?

BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. A lot of people call it surrender or starve, surrender or die. I think that, in this case, these kinds of tactics, we're going to see more and more.

Putin started this war as a war of choice. And it has now become a war of necessity for him. He has to make gains, either to win outright or to force the Ukrainians to capitulate at the negotiating table. So we are seeing this now, this kind of siege operation, going on across Ukraine and no willingness --