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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Helms Emergency Summits As Russian Forces Obliterate Ukraine; U.S. Defense Official: Russian Forces Pushed 30+ Miles East Of Kyiv; North Korea Launches First Suspected ICBM Since 2017; Biden Heads To Poland Friday, Says He Might Visit Ukrainian Refugees; DOJ: Four Russians Indicted After Hacks On Energy Facilities Around The World Between 2012-2018. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 24, 2022 - 16:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: President Biden says NATO has never been more united.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Biden claims the unified front is the exact opposite of what Putin was betting on when he invaded Ukraine. This as he warns there will be a response if Russia uses chemical weapons.

Plus, it is likely Putin's number one target, the capital city of Kyiv. But so far, Russia hasn't been able to break through. CNN got an exclusive interview with Kyiv's mayor.

And with all eyes on Russia an Ukraine, North Korea's Kim Jong-un just tested a missile that could reach the United States.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROWN: Hello and welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper.

And we begin with breaking news out of Brussels where the president is rallying world leaders at an emergency summit discussing new ways to punish Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. President Biden insists NATO has never been stronger, despite the Russian president's intentions.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Putin was banking on NATO being split. My early conversation with him in December and early January, it was clear to me that he didn't think we could sustain this cohesion. NATO has never, never been more united than it is today. Putin is getting exactly the opposite of what he intended to have as a consequence of going into Ukraine.


BROWN: President Biden also promised to respond if Putin were to use chemical weapons in Ukraine and he said it's time for the G-20 to show Russia the door.

Let's get right to our CNN team on the ground in Brussels. Nic Robertson and Kaitlan Collins join us live.

Kaitlan, let's start with you. This is the first time President Biden has come out and said he wants Russia out of the G-20. How significant is that?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's probably the biggest news to come out of his press deference, Pamela, where president Biden says yes, he does agree with the statement that the Australian prime minister has made, which is they don't believe Russia deserves a spot in the G20.

Of course, as you know, the G20 is the summit of leading economies across the globe. It's not something that's just made up of democracies, though, we should note. China is a member of the G20. Saudi Arabia is a member of the G20.

But given, of course, this bloody invasion that is happening where obviously civilians have died and have had to flee their country by the thousands and millions, this is a stance that President Biden took today, saying he does not believe Russia should be able to participate in the G20. They have a summit every year. This year, it's in Indonesia.

President Biden said if Russia is invited to the summit, he thinks the counterbalance to that should be inviting Ukraine and having them come. Now, whether or not that happens, remains to be seen.

This wouldn't be completely foreign to Russia if they were kicked out of the G20. They were kicked out of the G8 after what happened in 2014 with their illegal annexation of Crimea, it became the G7 which is a group that met today to talk about this invasion. But the president came out and said he does not believe Russia deserves to participate in that forum with those other world leaders at this point.

BROWN: And, Nic, he made it clear that the decision isn't just up to him. The other G-20 countries have to go along with that. How likely are those other countries to go along with removing Russia from the alliance?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Despite the warning to China today not to give economic or military support to Russia, we've heard from the Chinese saying they don't think Ukraine is a suitable topic in the sort of humanitarian military situation in Ukraine is a suitable topic for the G20. So they're already signaling that they don't see an objection to having Russia there at the moment. They have been backing Russia essentially, the United Nations Security Council on key votes there.

I think the Saudis were an interesting one. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has a very close relationship with President Putin. The Saudis have been very slow. You could almost say that they have been -- have decided not to ramp up oil production at the speed President Biden and other leaders would like to see them do to make up for the shortfall of oil and gas supplies that could be a result of any cut in supplies that Russia inflicts on the European Union and other nations.So, it's quite possible the Saudis would not stand with President Biden on that one.

And I'm thinking as well here, the Argentineans.


Alberto Fernandez, one of the recent presidents to go visit President Putin in Russia just a couple of weeks before the war began. He actually got a hug from President Putin. So, I don't think we'd see the Argentineans as well backing that vote. But the Europeans, we can expect the British, French and Germans to be quite strong about whether or not Russia should be in or out of the G20.

BROWN: All right. Kaitlan, I'm going to bring you back in because President Biden said that the U.S. will respond if Putin uses biological or chemical or nuclear weapons. Do we have any idea what that response would be?

COLLINS: No. That is something he did not detail or really get into. He did say it would kind of depend on the severity of a chemical weapons attack. That's the number one concern the White House has, certainly one of the highest ones if not the number one because they are concerned that Putin is preparing to do so. They have been saying Putin has been laying the groundwork to conduct a chemical weapons attack.

It obviously raises the question of not just how the United States would respond but how NATO would respond. Would they view it as something that crosses the line and makes them change their stance on military involvement in Ukraine? That is something the president has said isn't going to happen. You're not going to see U.S. forces going into Ukraine. Whether or not that changes this calculus, he also didn't say.

Today, he said it would be in response according to the severity of that attack. And so, that remains to be seen. One of the things leaders wrestled with is whether or not he does conduct a biological attack, radioactive attack and that affects a NATO country nearby, obviously a lot of them share a border with Ukraine, would they consider that an attack on a NATO ally? Because, obviously, the president has said they would defend every inch of NATO territory. That is quite specific for the president of the United States to say that.

And so I think this raises so many questions that you have not seen these leaders have to grapple with in a way we saw today in this extraordinary session where they had these very abruptly scheduled meetings with world leaders, something, Pam, that normally takes months to organize, they put it together within days. You saw, of course, this and the concern about a chemical weapons attack was a major factor in their conversations.

BROWN: You can really sense the urgency there for good reason. And also, Nic, NATO plans to enforce its own chemical, biological and nuclear defense systems. What does that entail?

ROBERTSON: Well, they have talked about supplying Ukraine with the wherewithal to detect and mitigate in terms of medical environment that would be supply medicines suitable for treating chemical weapons. The concern does exist certainly in the European Union. I was speaking with the Greek prime minister today, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, about his concerns about the chemical, biological and nuclear threat that's coming from Russia right now. He feels there's an element of saber- rattling coming but it's something that he cannot begin to countenance if those sorts of weapons were being used.

We don't have details on precisely what NATO would do, but we do understand that it would be proportionate and it would be dependent on what Russia does, how it uses it, where it uses it, and the impact very likely if there was across the border into NATO countries.

BROWN: All right. Nic Robertson, Kaitlan Collins reporting live in Brussels, thank you.

And let's discuss now with our panel.

Retired Air Force general and former NATO supreme allied commander, Philip Breedlove, I want to start with you on the heels of what we just heard from Nic and Kaitlan. President Biden promised to respond if Russia deploys chemical, biological or nuclear weapons on Ukraine. He wouldn't say exactly what that should be.

But what do you think? What should NATO's response be if that happens?

GEN. PHILIP BREEDLOVE (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER EUROPE: Well, thanks for having me. And what we've heard not only from the president today but from Congress yesterday were words like a more forceful response. And so I think what we've left Mr. Putin wondering, is this that tripwire that would bring more direct involvement of NATO troops, but it wasn't described in public, so that is left for him to worry about.

BROWN: Susan Glasser, there is a huge focus this week on the threat of Russia using weapons of mass destruction against Ukraine or NATO. And also what Kaitlan pointed out, the possibility if Russia were to use chemical weapons in Ukraine and some of it made its way over into a NATO ally, into Poland on the border there. Should that possibility be keeping us up at night?

GLASSER: Look, absolutely. This isn't even an academic conversation. Remember that Russia has done this before. Russia has used polonium, a radioactive substance, to carry out a hit job in the United Kingdom, done it again with a former spy, Sergei Skripal.


It has supported its partner and ally, the Assad regime in Syria through use -- with multiple uses of chemical weapons against their own people. And so, you know, this is something that is in, unfortunately, the playbook of Vladimir Putin and the Russian military. So I think it is a very real, unfortunately, possibility. And I also think we should calculate the enormous political pressure

that will be brought to bear on President Biden and European leaders if there is a chemical weapons attack inside Ukraine. Already populations are clamoring to do more to support the Ukrainians.

And I just -- I think it would just -- the volume would be dialed up so intensely. It would be very hard for them not to take some sort of military action in response.

BROWN: I think that that's really important context there.

Gloria Borger, to bring you in, president Biden kept stressing the unity of NATO today. That clearly was a big theme for him, big through line for this trip. "The Financial Times" has an op-ed from its chief columnist. And let's listen to this, it says, quote, America risks being seduced by its own public relations. The world's reaction to Russia's invasion of Ukraine is far more complex than that.

Since February 24th, the West has been galvanized into showing more unity than it has in years. Yet most of the world is on the sidelines waiting to see where it goes. Not for the first time, the West is mistaking its own unity for a global consensus.

So what do you think, is President Biden misreading the room or the world? What's your reaction to that?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, first of all, it's kind of remarkable that there is even NATO unity in the first place. And I think that given the invasion of Ukraine, NATO looked at what was going on and I think administration sources that I've spoken with were kind of stunned a little bit at NATO saying, yeah, let's do this, let's do that, let's do this. So NATO is unified and that came about because of Ukraine.

They're completely aware of China's issues. They're completely aware of India's issues. These are state leaders. They know what's going on in the world.

But this is about values of our nation and their nations. This is about history. And I think they also understand that as well. And President Biden has made it clear that he understands those other nations. For example, he said today, well, maybe Indonesia is not going to want Russia to be excommunicated from the G20.

So it's not as if President Biden doesn't understand this. It's just that they are doing what they believe they have to do as leaders of nations who have values.

BROWN: General Breedlove, to bring you back in, this week, CNN reported that an official with the supreme headquarters of the allied powers of Europe said Putin's war in Ukraine has put the NATO alliance and its member nations absolutely at risk. You also have President Biden saying NATO is as strong as ever.

How does that square? BREEDLOVE: Well, clearly there is a risk. And we've talked about it

today. If one of these chemical attacks or something went across a border, now we have an issue.

But what -- I think what the good news is, is we are now more ready than we've ever been. We've readied some of the NRF, some of our NATO response force. We have battle groups forward now we didn't have before and we're building four more battle groups forward. And the United States has moved additional troops to Europe.

So there is risk, but the good news is we are getting ready for that risk.

BROWN: Susan, quickly, President Biden got a little testy today when he was asked about why sanctions haven't been a deterrent. What did you make to his answer to that and the pushback that he gave saying that was never the intent?

GLASSER: Look, when you impose sanctions after the war has already begun, you know, I do think there's an enormous effort to go ahead and essentially try to shut the Russian economy down, the military industrial complex, but that's going to take time. That may have an impact on the war but not a short-term impact. You know, the tragedy is that the war began.

There were sanctions that could have been ratcheted up over the years since 2014, but a final point to remind you that we had a president of the United States before Joe Biden who contemplated lifting sanctions at one point, who wanted Russia to be part of the G20 and but to rejoin the G7 as recently as the summer of 2020 he was proposing that.

So, obviously, there was a lot of steps along the way to this tragedy unfolding.

BROWN: What did you think of that moment, Gloria, when it got a little touchy there?

BORGER: Well, we've seen Joe Biden get touchy before. I think, look, this has been a political issue. When do you invoke sanctions and when do they start to work and how long should they last?

And, you know, there were some saying you should have done it sooner and some saying that you did it at the right time. And he clearly is thinking and believing, as do other NATO leaders, that they did it at the right time. And as we'd like to say in politics, only time will tell, and so, he is a little touchy about it because people are saying, well, if you had done that sooner, perhaps Russia wouldn't have behaved the way it did. And that is not his playbook.

BROWN: All right. Thank you all so much.

Well, coming up, an exclusive interview with the man in charge of running Kyiv. The Ukrainian capital is believed to be Putin's top target.

Plus, how Ukraine is fighting back in the southern part of the country where Russian ships docked in one port.



BROWN: Today marks one month into Vladimir Putin's deadly, unprovoked invasion. And as Russian forces apply pressure, Ukrainians are fighting back, pushing Putin's army more than 30 miles away from the capital city, according to a U.S. defense official.

And then there is this dramatic image. Images like this, backing up the Ukrainian navy's claim it destroyed a Russian ship loaded with military equipment. We're going to take you live to that region ahead.

But first, a CNN exclusive. CNN's Fred Pleitgen caught up with the mayor of Ukraine's capital city and his celebrity brother. The two had a specific request of President Biden and NATO allies, and they also had choice words for Vladimir Putin and his war that the U.N. now estimates has killed more than 1,000 civilians.



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (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 this city will not be taken by Russia?

MAYOR VITALY KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: It's our hometown. We fight. We never go to knee (ph). We don't want to be slaves. We don't want back to the USSR to live in a dictator -- to live in authoritarianism. We see our country as modern, European, democratic country.

PLEITGEN: The Klitschkos 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's only targeting military targets.

V. KLITSCHKO: Bullshit. Sorry. Where's military target?

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

You've really stepped up and really organized the defense of the city. How did you manage to do that, learn that so quickly, learn on the fly? V. KLITSCHKO: We don't need to organize. I meet people in (INAUDIBLE)

with very peaceful profession -- artist, musician, doctors. Never, ever have idea to take the uniform and take the weapons in their hand. But right now, they in the street and ready to fight.

A few days ago, that building destroyed. One man around 60 years old come to me and ask what I have to do right now? I give him proposal to elevate him 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 the demoralization, people motivate so much and have spirit to defend our future.

PLEITGEN: But they're up against a strong and better equipped foe, as President Biden visits Europe to meet NATO allies, the Klitchkos' message is get tougher on Putin.

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

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO, KYIV BRIGADE OF UKRAINIAN DEFENSE FORCE: Our will is strong, and it's 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's continuing while we're giving this interview speaking about it, the fights are still going on.

We need supply of the defensive weapons. And you guys just need to stop any economic 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's 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 defensive 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 as strong as much as possible and we're going to close the sky on our own, we just need the defense equipment for that.

PLEITGEN: 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.

What's your message to Joe Biden as he comes to Europe?

V. KLITSCHKO: Stay with Ukraine. Thank you very much for your support, support Ukraine with our friends. We are much stronger.

It's our future. It's our freedom. We are ready to fight for that, but we need support for whole democratic world.

PLEITGEN: The Klitschkos are international celebrities with massive fan bases in both the U.S. and Europe, and yet they say for them there is no other place they want to be than 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: It's our homeland. It's our parents here, we grow up. It's our country, it's 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, he was one of the liquidators, our relatives, our friends, every single street reminds us on some memories in life and that's something that gives you so much strength because the truth is on our side. This pretty much reminds me like in the fairy tale, the fight between the good and the evil.


PLEITGEN (on camera): So there you hear it very clear. The Klitschko brothers vowing to stay in the fight and that they aren't going anywhere. You know, one of the senses or the sense we got here is that the two are extremely motivated and certainly also bolstered by the fact that right now, the Ukrainian military does seem to be making some gains, especially around here, around the Kyiv area.

In fact, as I'm speaking to you right now, Pamela, we are once again hearing what appears to be outgoing artillery as the battle goes on. And Ukrainian forces have been saying at least in some areas around here, they have managed to push the Russians back and they vow to continue to do that, Pamela.

BROWN: Fred Pleitgen, what an interview that was. Thank you for bringing that to us.

And now we want to go to Ukraine's southeast region for what may be a small victory for the Ukrainian military. Not only does the Ukraine navy claim to have destroyed a major Russian warship but also took out two other Russian vessels.

CNN's Ivan Watson is in that region, just north of the Ukrainian port.

Hi, Ivan.

So Russia once touted this as the first ship docked at that port. Now this attack. How crippling might this be to Russian naval resources?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's certainly got to be an embarrassing setback. And we do know, because the port of Berdyansk is occupied by Russian forces, there's an awful lot of social media video that has come out, long, unedited sequences that show just this terrible fire burning in the port, consuming the bow of a large Russian warship, and then seeing two other -- at least two other warships moving as quickly as they can to try to leave the port that they were tied up against right next to this ship. And those ships themselves were burning as well.

And part of what is so dramatic about this is just a couple of days ago, Russian state television, several channels, had different reporters on the bow of this Russian warship, called the Orsk, which is kind of a marine cargo ship. It can bring in, according to one of those reporters, dozens of tanks, around 20 tanks or 40 armored personnel carriers. They may have actually alerted the Ukrainians to the location of this warship which was then pummeled by some kind of Ukrainian weapon with catastrophic results.

A Ukrainian official in charge of the customs border service kind of made a joke about this on Facebook saying, hey, that Russian state TV reporter is the best Russian propagandist for us, his favorite.

Back to you.

BROWN: And we've seen some of the worst of this invasion there in Ukraine's southeast region. Parts of Mariupol just south of you were reduced to rubble. We've seen those images coming in. Yet so many people tried to stay.

Is there still an organized people to get people out if they want to leave?

WATSON: There are still efforts and they're halting.


There are efforts to try to get buses to transport people out and those have been stopped on various days. The Ukrainian government accusing the Russian military of kidnapping the emergency workers who were trying to take those buses to Mariupol.

Meanwhile, the defenders inside, they are facing a very dire situation. They are surrounded by far more Russian troops than they have, they concede that, but they say they are going to fight.

Take a listen.


ELI SAMOILENKO, MARIUPOL DEFENSE STAFF OFFICER: It's urban combat. So yeah, that's street-to-street, building-to-building. They are trying to block us in the city blocks. We are pushing them back.

The enemies -- the enemy have very, very serious casualties. We -- basically we're not counting them anymore.

We need the heavy anti-air systems first. We need aircrafts. We need artillery pieces and we need anti-tank guided missiles.


WATSON: The fact of the matter, this is a modern day siege. The battleground is a city or what's left of it, and we just don't know how many civilians are trapped in the middle of this terrible battle -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Ivan Watson, keep up the excellent reporting there. Thank you.

Coming up, while the world is focused on Ukraine, the North Koreans just tested something that they have not tried since 2017.



BROWN: In our world lead, North Korea's most powerful missile test in almost five years. That's what officials are calling the latest launch of what is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile. Analysts say the test could be the longest range missile yet fired by North Korea.

CNN's Will Ripley joins us live from Taiwan with more on this.

Will, we've seen a recent increase in missile tests by North Korea, but officials say this one could be the most significant. Tell us why.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some analysts, Pam, have called this a monster missile. We got our first look at it actually back in October at North Korea's military parade. This thing is huge. Some analysts believe it could actually be capable of carrying multiple warheads at the same time, nuclear-tipped warheads by the way.

It is the largest missile in North Korea's arsenal that we know of. It could travel theoretically up to 15,000 kilometers, which means it could target 95 percent of the world's population. But yeah, any city in the mainland U.S. potentially in the striking range of this, New York, Washington, Los Angeles.

And the North Koreans have tested at a time that there is a lot going on around the world, Pam. And so, therefore, this major, major launch, while it is drawing condemnation is not getting the kind of response that you might typically see from a North Korean provocation like this.

BROWN: Right, because the launch is coming as President Biden and other world leaders are gathering for a series of meetings in Brussels. How are they reacting to this latest provocation from Kim Jong-un?

RIPLEY: You know, President Biden met earlier with the Japanese prime minister who said this is reckless, unacceptable, and he, of course, has good reason because it landed right off the waters of Japan. Japan is inside Japan's exclusive economic zone, just off the shoreline of Hokkaido where this went down. It flew so high, you're talking about 3,800 miles up and back down just to prove that it has this really long distance. It's really frightening for a lot of people, certainly for the South

Koreans and their outgoing president, Moon Jae-in, he's leaving office in May. He's dedicated his political career to trying to make peace with North Korea. And now, just weeks before he leaves office, they have this major launch.

South Korea for the first time in almost five years, Pam, they launched missiles in response to this. So, it's a really disturbing trending for those who wanted to see things quieting down on the Korean Peninsula.

BROWN: It is, very big deal.

Will Ripley in Taiwan, thank you.

Coming up, desperate journeys. What the refugee situation looks like across Ukraine's borders one month after Putin's invasion.



BROWN: As President Biden wraps up a full day of emergency meetings with allies, tomorrow, he'll head to Poland. And Biden revealed part of his plans with reporters today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those who have made it across the border, I plan on attempting to see those folks as well as I hope I'm going to be able to see -- I guess I'm not supposed to say where I'm going, am I? Anyway, I hope I get to see a lot of people.


BROWN: Oops. All jokes aside, Poland has taken most of the 3.6 million refugees who have made it out of Ukraine.

CNN's Melissa Bell is just across the border in Poland where many of these refugees have made their way.

Melissa, Biden says the U.S. will welcome 100,000 refugees from Ukraine.

Are there early plans on how that might work?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We do have an idea, Pamela, of how the scheme would work. It is that humanitarian parole that was used for the Afghan refugees fleeing after the U.S. withdrawal in August of last year. So, we have an idea of the way the scheme will work.

We understand what's going to happen is people are given priority. So, for instance, first of all, those with family in the United States would be given priority. Then those communities considered most vulnerable, so LGBTQ, journalists, dissidents, those fleeing who have the greatest concern for their safety. But I'd like to give you an idea of what's happening here at medical

crossing. Day and night, Pamela, they continue to arrive here, the women and children, and it is women and children who arrive day and night, 90 percent of these refugees are women and children since the fighting age men have stayed behind.

They're given a hot drink and further down this line will be taken to somewhere where they can be given a night's sleep.


And really, it never ceases to amaze us the amounts of people that amounts of people that continue to cross this border, and something troubling about seeing all these women and children crossing on their own. But I think it's important to stress that however generous that American scheme is to try and get these refugees to the United States and give them the possibility of settling there, you're unlikely to see many of them taking that up simply because these refugees have left their husbands, fathers on the other side of the border.

Fighting age men are not allowed to cross that border. So that means these women and children are looking for temporary shelter to get back to a country they really hope they'll get back to as soon as they can, Pamela.

BROWN: Understandable they're holding out that hope.

Melissa, Biden mentioned $2 billion already helping Ukraine and another $1 billion on the way. Have you seen evidence of what exactly that money pays for?

BELL: Well, we know that for the last few months the United States like some of its NATO allies, including the United Kingdom, has already been getting weaponry over to Ukraine. To begin with, those kinds of weapons, I'll show you if I can, through land routes, land arteries like the road crossing that is here next to where I'm standing, the kinds of weapons that were being sent were really more for the kind of guerrilla defensive warfare that they were expecting.

Now across those land arteries and the air base that's not very far from here, what we understand is that they're going to be trying to understand the kind of weapons that Ukrainians say they now need and that is much more the offensive weapons that they're looking for. We know they're running out of munitions. We know that they're going to be wanting more anti-tank weaponry that has proven so efficient so far.

Now, across those same arteries what's been happening is all the humanitarian aid that's been heading as well into Ukraine, and that so much of the country is depending on. The U.N. managed to get its first truckloads, its first convoy of humanitarian aid up to the besieged town of Sumy over the weekend, the first time it had done so. It is some 3 million people inside the country that the World Food Programme is now trying to get access to, Pamela.

BROWN: Melissa Bell right there on the border of Poland/Ukraine, thank you.

Well, how the past might signal a warning for the present. Moments ago, Russian intelligence officers were indicted for hacking into energy systems around the globe. What it tells us about the current cyber threats to the U.S.



BROWN: Breaking news in the tech lead. The Justice Department says four Russians have just been indicted, accused of hacking energy companies dating back to 2012. Three of the four Russians are intelligence officers.

I'm going to bring in CNN's Alex Marquardt.

And, look, Alex, while these reported attempts hacks -- attempted hacks go back years, it does give us a window into what the Russians are capable of.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It reflects their intent. It reflects what they've done in the past and what they may do in the future. So, three of these hackers that have been indicted by the Department of Justice are from Russia's FSB, their internal security office, which is like our FBI.

And they are accused of hacking into hundreds of energy companies around the world, including some here in the United States, between 2012 and 2018. The fourth person was someone working for the Russian ministry of defense, a research institute. They were helping with a hack in Saudi Arabia.

So what this does is really raise the fears of what could happen now, because it's clear that they have targeted critical infrastructure in the past. They know that. Now we're getting these extremely stark warnings from the Biden administration, from the very top, from President Biden himself, who said that the magnitude of Russia's cyber capacity is fairly consequential and it's coming. The president saying that Russian cyberattacks are coming.

Now, there's a difference when it comes to hacking in terms of espionage like the SolarWinds hack where we saw Russians going after government systems to spy, and then there are hacks that are designed to be destructive. What the FBI has warned is they have seen what's called scanning, where these hackers scan for vulnerabilities. This warning came out last week that they were scanning at least five U.S. energy companies.

And what Jen Easterly has said, and she's the head of the U.S. cyber agency, CISA, is that the activity that we have seen so far is not in the espionage category, it's what she says in, it looks like disruptive and destructive activity that could be coming soon.

BROWN: Yeah, Jen Easterly, you mentioned, I'm going to be doing an exclusive sit-down interview with her tomorrow to talk about the cyber threat and the concern here domestically. Part of this will air on this show tomorrow.

You mentioned this employee of the Russian ministry of defense charged with hacking a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia. This raises concerns because it targets safety systems at power plants, right?

MARQUARDT: Right. So, that's the last thing you want to hear that the safety systems at some of the most vulnerable, most dangerous places could be at risk. So this one Russian employee of the ministry of defense helping other hackers get into this petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia.

But what they're afraid of is that there were also attempts for a similar facility here in the United States where the security systems were at risk. And it just goes to show that these Russian hackers are going after some of the most vulnerable facilities, not just in the United States but around the world.


BROWN: All right. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much. We'll be right back.


BROWN: In our money lead, a long but enthusiastic gas lines around Chicago as a businessman offered up to $50,000 worth of free gas to the first 400 cars at each of 48 locations in the city and suburbs. The businessman, Willie Wilson, has run for Chicago mayor before and there just happens to be an election for that office again next year.

He certainly generated gallons of publicity by donating a million dollars worth of gas to help people deal with surging prices. He paid for a similar giveaway of $200,000 worth of gas last week.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer and "THE SITUATION ROOM" in Brussels.