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Don Lemon Tonight

Russian Forces Targets Civilians Including Children; Vladimir Putin Is A War Criminal; Russia And Ukraine's Dispute May Lead To WW III; Ten People Died In Chernihiv; Putin Wants Traitors And Scums Eliminated; Ukrainian Moms Sew Flak Jackets; Russian Journalist Can't Hold On To Her Outrage. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 16, 2022 - 22:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Our coverage continues. I want to turn things over now to Jim Sciutto who's filling in for Don Lemon. Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Anderson, as you and I have covered this story, one sobering fact is just the increasing ruthlessness of Russian attacks deliberately, it seems, targeting civilians. In the last 24 hours we've had several instances of this. I think one that I'm sure you share with me the same shock.

And that is this attack on a theater in Mariupol that had become a shelter for families and even had a satellite picture showed, this is the shot of that theater after it was hit, but prior to it being struck, we can see that children were written on the ground there --


SCIUTTO: -- so that aircraft, Russian spotters would know that's who's inside. It's just remarkable to see this play out.

COOPER: Yes, and again, we don't know. You know, we've heard from officials. We know how many people had sheltered there. We don't know who was there at the time, nor exactly what the status of anyone who was in there is --


COOPER: -- according to Nick Paton Walsh was saying that the entrance had been blocked. But as you know, Jim, I mean, you were here month covering this, you know, people write the word children in vehicles when they're trying to go through kind of makeshift human humanitarian corridors. The hope that Russian forces won't shoot on a vehicle that says children. I don't think anybody, certainly after this has any hope that a sign saying children on a vehicle would make much of a difference.

SCIUTTO: No, same with press, right? Because there's been some concern the press are deliberately targeted. I remember, you know, back in Iraq and Afghanistan we used to think that at the beginning at least writing press might protect you when, in fact, we learned very quickly that that made you a target.


SCIUTTO: I just fear -- I fear that that's become the reality and press is a small number but for civilians today in Ukraine.

COOPER: Yes, the same we saw that in Sarajevo back in the early 90s.


COOPER: Press also, you know, there were stories about snipers being paid extra if they hit a reporter. But I mean the idea of, you know, a building which has been marked children and you can see it from, you know, space satellites, it's extraordinary that that would be a building that was directly hit.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and it appears and we'll confirm this as we continue to cover this with devastating consequences. Anderson Cooper, so good to have you there. Thanks so much.

This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. I'm Jim Sciutto in for Don tonight.

He's traveling in Eastern Europe to cover this story. President Joe Biden for the first time today has accused Vladimir Putin of war crimes.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Did you ask me what would I call him?

UNKNOWN: Is Putin a war criminal, sir? Are you ready to call him a war criminal?

BIDEN: I think he is a war criminal.


SCIUTTO: I think he is a war criminal he said. The White House said that was the president speaking from the heart, not making a formal designation. This as the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy says this to NBC tonight about concerns the war in Ukraine could turn into World War III.


LESTER HOLT, ANCHOR, NBC: President Biden has been very clear he's worried about provocations that could trigger World War III. Do you understand his concern there, and do you agree that it wouldn't take much to end up in World War III?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Well, nobody knows whether it may have already started and what is the possibility of this war if Ukraine will fall, in case Ukraine will fall. It's very hard to say.


SCIUTTO: Vladimir Putin calling some of his own people today traitors. Ominously threatening what he calls self-purification of society.


And meanwhile in Ukraine, we are seeing more and more brutal attacks as we were discussing with Anderson there directly targeting civilians. You saw those images of the attacks on a pool in Mariupol that was being used as a shelter.

The bombing of the theater we discussed where hundreds of people, including women and children were sheltering to save their lives. As we said, the word children were written deliberately in Russian outside in clear view. And the shelling as well of a bread line that killed ten people in Chernihiv just to the northwest, northeast rather of Kyiv.

But the destruction is widespread. A residential building in Kyiv hit earlier today. In Kharkiv in the northeast, a market on fire after shelling. Eleven thousand people reportedly fled Mariupol in the south were a nearby town today, but safety there really, it's relative. Because a train station in the town they fled to was then hit by a Russian bomb. It is hard to find safe places in this country.

A local official says that Russia is trying to, quote, "physically destroy Mariupol and the people of Mariupol." A senior U.S. defense official says that Russia has now launched more than 900 navy missiles against Ukraine just since the start of the invasion. We're only three weeks in.

I want to speak now to CNN military analyst General Wesley Clark. General Clark, it's good to have you on tonight.


SCIUTTO: General Clark, you watched President Zelenskyy's speech. It was powerful. It was emotional. It was impassioned. He was also making demands of the U.S. really. He wants a no-fly zone. He wants more weapons. He wants more economic sanctions against Russia.

Reading that room today, they gave him a standing ovation, but do you see them -- do you see Congress giving him more weapons and more penalties against Russia?

CLARK: Absolutely, I do, and I see the administration doing the same thing, Jim, because people are increasingly realizing that this is a fight that's about much more than Ukraine. At the one -- on the one hand, they recognize the incredibly stalwart defense of Ukraine, and on the other hand they recognize that Vladimir Putin's aims are not limited to the Ukraine and that the best place to stop World War III is to stop it here in Ukraine before it gets any momentum.

SCIUTTO: General Clark, I know you're in touch regularly with the Ukrainian forces to get updates on the situation on the battlefield. I know that you have been very public about pushing for further military assistance. To date, no no-fly zone, none of the MiGs that some have been pushing for, but additional surface-to-air missile systems including the S-300 which is a high-altitude missile system.

And earlier today I spoke to Republican Congressman Michael McCaul, he of course sits on the House committee on homeland security, and he told me the following. Have a listen.


REP. MIKE MCCAUL (R-TX): That's what they need is the anti-aircraft. Those are the planes that took the maternity hospital out, the Russian aircraft, and that's what President Zelenskyy asked for. So, but he needs a lot more too. And the lethal drones, we need more of those in country as well. You know, people talk about a no-fly zone, they can create their own if we give them the military equipment and weapons.


SCIUTTO: I wonder, do you agree with that that without a formally declared NATO no-fly zone with sufficient weapons including these surface-to-air systems, that Ukraine could in effect close its own skies, do you agree?

CLARK: I don't know if it can totally close its own skies, but it can sure contest it better. We should be giving them advance anti-aircraft systems and any other things we can give them. Whether we give them the MiGs or not, maybe that remains to be determined. Those MiGs are still there, and there's a certain advantage of manned aircraft in terms of contesting Russian flights and so I wouldn't rule it out.

Right now, the president has said no. That doesn't mean it's permanently no. I think it depends really on the situation. But Jim, we're at a -- sort of a crucial window here. We don't know how long the window is. It's three days, three weeks or whatever. It doesn't seem that Putin is going to give up unless he runs out of forces, ammunition, or fuel, and so we've got to make sure Ukraine can stay in that fight. That's critical.

SCIUTTO: You have commanded forces in Europe. You have been up against Russia before. I wonder what would be a step too far? I'm sure you understand the administration's concern and the concerns of other NATO leaders about coming into direct conflict with Russia having NATO planes in the sky shooting at Russian planes or vice versa. What in your view would provoke Russia to attack the U.S. or NATO allies?

CLARK: You know, I don't think I can answer that question. First of all, I don't have access to the special intelligence, maybe seeing. But secondly, if you look at what Putin's plans are, it's -- it's a false assumption to believe that what we do can prevent Vladimir Putin from using nuclear chemical weapons.


He's going to use them when he chooses to, when it seems to be an advantage, and so there's only so much we can do to prevent this. What we have to do is keep Ukraine in the fight. We've got to convince Vladimir Putin that he's not going to win no matter what weapon he uses and we've got to make him back down.

And then in terms of the diplomacy that will end this war, that's going to be determined by the facts on the ground. And so, what's going on right now, I'm not watching Wall Street go up and down as people say -- they're making this.

This is a game to force all western support, to raise and dash hopes and to isolate Zelenskyy. He knows he's not going to agree to any of these terms right now. We have to keep them in the fight to get the right conclusion to this conflict.

SCIUTTO: Can you give us a sense based on your conversations with Ukrainian officials of where that fight stands? The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reporting tonight that the Ukraine not just holding ground but planning counter offenses now in effect to push Russian forces further back. Do they have that capability? Do you see the battle on the ground turning in their favor?

CLARK: Well, I don't see it turning right now, although they seem -- they're very determined and very capable, but they're going to have to reach out to those Russian forces that are attempting to besiege them, push them back by destroying vehicles so more drones are needed. More of those Turkish drones, although there's the new drones that might be sent in, longer range artillery better target acquisition of Russian artillery, and they've got to spread that out around Kyiv.

Somehow, they've got to hold in the east, hold to Dnipro, not get isolated there and eventually they're going to march up to Kharkiv and push the Russians away from Kharkiv. At that point you're going to see some negotiations.


CLARK: Real negotiations.

SCIUTTO: It's remarkable to think that's even possible at this particular time given the enormous advantages that Russia had coming into this. General Wesley Clark, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

CLARK: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: I want to speak now to Maxim Borodin, he's a member of the city council, deputy of the besieged city of Mariupol, one of the hardest hit cities in this war so far.

Maxim, thanks so much for joining us.

I know that you have witnessed so much there that it's probably hard for a lot of folks watching tonight to imagine, hundreds of people said to have sought shelter at this theater in Mariupol, we were describing it earlier in the broadcast. Bomb sustaining heavy damage despite the fact it was marked with children clearly written on the ground so that it could be seen from the air. Do you have any update tonight on casualties in that attack?

MAXIM BORODIN, DEPUTY, MARIUPOL CITY COUNCIL: The problem is there are no hundreds of people, there are thousands of people, and the Russians know it exactly because about five days ago there was a video when people show that there are children in this theater --


BORODIN: -- and there are elder people. So, they exactly know what they are doing, and so they exactly know when they're bombing hospitals and maternity hospitals. They aim not to fight with our military in Mariupol. They aim to totally destroy the city, to get it anyway.

They need a picture of Mariupol in their hands, and they don't know any humanity in them because not only Putin is a terrorist and criminal. Every man who acts his orders, criminal orders, he's war criminal and terrorist. And in Mariupol today, all the people, it's about 300,000 hostages of Putin regiment.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask you this. Because I know that you, that President Zelenskyy in his speech this morning to Congress, they have thanked the U.S. and NATO for military support so far, they want more, no question, but they have thank -- thanked the U.S. and its allies.

That said, just in the last 24 hours, we've seen three major and many other, frankly, minor Russian attacks directly targeting civilians. Does the fact that they're still happening, those kinds of attacks, that Russian can still carry them out and kill civilians with impunity, does that indicate to you that the west is not helping enough, not doing enough to save lives in Ukraine?


BORODIN: I think I want to say thank you to our partners, but the need -- why the world needs to wait for thousands, thousands of deaths before they give us real help. Why we need so many people to die if we understand whole situation. Putin made this situation every time, and Ukraine is not the first.

So, when we ask to help, we need it now, and in Mariupol, if we don't, the blockade in (Inaudible) days with help of our allies, and don't know how many deaths it will be. For now, we don't know real -- real count of dead people, and these people not military most of all. They're civilians.

SCIUTTO: I've often learned in many years of covering Vladimir Putin and his Russia to listen to what he says because often what he says will tell you exactly what he's going to do, and President Putin's speech today, in it, he spoke of traitors in his words and the need to cleanse them from Russia. Again, in his words. Did you hear in that speech a Russian leader capable of making peace with your country?

BORODIN: No, I don't think any agreements with Putin or with Russians for now is not working because they always lie, and but I think that Putin is truly when he said that there are no Ukraine for him and no Ukrainian people, so he only stops when he gets into his face when he get into Syria from American army for his Wagner. There are no answer for this. Putin can war -- make war only with weaker -- weaker country, and when he gets for his (Inaudible), he stops.

SCIUTTO: Folks watching right now might not know that you had to make the difficult decision to leave your city with your family. You have young children. Tell us where they are now. Can they be safe?

BORODIN: Yes. We have air alarm in the west Ukraine, so there are no safe place in Ukraine at all.

SCIUTTO: So, you had to make the difficult decision, the difficult decision to get them to a safe place. Tell us what kind of decision that is for you, to be separated from them.

BORODIN: It's very hard decision to any citizen of Mariupol who get away from the city today or earlier. Because even if we are in most safer place like Mariupol today but our souls and our brains stay with Mariupol. We want to do anything to help people go out to the peaceful places and we tried to do this.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, we wish you, we wish your family safety. We know that's a difficult thing to make work where you are. Please do stay safe, and thanks so much for joining us tonight.

BORODIN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, three leaders, three speeches, three very different messages. What Biden, Zelenskyy, and Putin had to say, and what it means for the future of this war, the future of Europe and the world. The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine weighs in.



SCIUTTO: Three very different speeches today displaying this extraordinary moment in history. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy pleading for help for his country, President Biden promising more help. Vladimir Putin warning his own citizens not to dare to defy him. You may see in those speeches the ingredients for war.

Now former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor joins us. Ambassador, thanks for taking the time tonight.


SCIUTTO: The contrast, the deep contrast in messages from these three leaders struck me today and basically, the intersection of them as well and what it means going forward. I do want to start with President Zelenskyy giving that highly unusual address to U.S. Congress today. Have a listen and I want to get your reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ZELENSKYY (through translator): Remember Pearl Harbor, terrible

morning of December 7, 1941 when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Just remember it. Remember September the 11th, a terrible day in 20 -- 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories in battlefields, when innocent people were attacked -- attacked from air, yes. Just like nobody else expected it, you could not stop it. Our country experienced the same every day right now.


SCIUTTO: He's been very smart in terms of customizing his message as he, for instance, in the U.K. he evoked the words of Winston Churchill, and of course here he now invokes 9/11, Pearl Harbor, attacks from the skies like Ukraine is now facing from Russia. I wonder with that message in your view did he move? Will he move, the U.S., the Congress, the president to further action?

TAYLOR: I think so, Jim. I think you're right. He is a great speaker. He's a gifted orator. He's a great actor. He could really put himself into it and rise to the occasion. He's been doing this over and over as you pointed out in different contexts, and he's tailored his message, as you said, to the people that he's talking to.


I was very glad that all Americans got to see it.


TAYLOR: To tune in and see this man. And they're supporting him. They, the Americans, they, the Congress, they, the leaders of the international community. He has mobilized them. And so, yes, I think he will have continued effect, he's already had an effect clearly.

It was not -- President Biden knew exactly what he had to do when he came on after that --


TAYLOR: -- to announce another 800 million in -- he knew, President Biden knew what was coming from President Zelenskyy. He was ready for it, a good response. President Zelenskyy is very powerful when he speaks, and he's very kind of emotional in a controlled way. So yes, I think so, Jim. I think he got some results.

SCIUTTO: If he was inspiring, I found -- and I'm curious if you did as well -- Vladimir Putin's words, frankly, terrifying. He was speaking it struck me, the language of genocide. Have a listen. I want to get a sense if you agree.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): But any people, the Russian people especially are able to distinguish true patriots from bastards and traitors and will spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths.

I am certain that this necessary and natural self-cleaning of our society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, togetherness, and our readiness to answer any calls to action.


SCIUTTO: Bastards and traitors, natural self-cleaning. It evokes 1939. What did you hear there from the Russian president?

TAYLOR: Hatred, Jim. Just hatred of his own people. We heard this before. He -- you remember in one of those -- one of those national security council meetings that he turned to the camera and looked into the camera and it was a face of hatred. That -- at that time it was hatred for Ukrainians. This time it's hatred for Russians.

So, this man is pulled into himself. He's been so isolated and he's so angry and so full of venom that the comparison you're doing exactly the right thing to compare. Who would you rather follow? Who is inspiring, it's clearly President Zelenskyy and it's not President Putin?

SCIUTTO: Zelenskyy directly challenged, you might say, President Biden by saying Biden and, frankly, the country by saying if you're the leader of the free world, you have to answer to this threat right now, this Russian threat to Ukraine. I want to play a section of President Biden's response and get your sense of his message today. Have a listen.


BIDEN: This could be a long and difficult battle, but the American people will be steadfast in our support of the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin's immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations. We are united in our abhorrence of Putin's depraved onslaught, and we're going to continue to have their backs as they fight for freedom, their democracy, and their very survival. And we're going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead.


SCIUTTO: Biden like Zelenskyy has often described this moment as an inflection point between democratic and autocratic governments. In his speech today, in the military support, in the economic sanctions, is he delivering?

TAYLOR: So, I think he is delivering, certainly on a flow of weapons, a billion dollars this week, and this -- we recall that this is a flow. This is not just a billion dollars that's coming -- no, this actually started in 2014 when the Russians first invaded and then it gradually grew up. It gradually increased in lethality.

Finally, we provided the lethal weapons, but even after that it got larger and larger and now that spigot, the size of the hose is very large, and it needs to continue. It probably needs to get bigger yet, continue to grow. Because exactly you had General Clark on before, General Clark is exactly right.

This is the time. The Ukrainians need to be able to stop the Russians. They need to be able to continue the fight, and it's only when they continue that fight, when you talked earlier -- you talked earlier about kind of pushing them back.


President Putin, if he -- once he sees that his troops are stalled, once he sees that his military effort is failing, in particular around Kyiv, but other cities as well, once he sees that the logistics are not there, that he's already running out of men, out of soldiers, he's looking to the Chinese for military help. He's looking to the Syrians for people. He hasn't gotten the Belarusians.

He is -- President Putin might be in trouble, and the army might be in trouble. And then General Clark is right. That's when the negotiation might be able to take place. So, I think -- where I was going with that is I think President Biden has maintained that unity, that solidarity with NATO, that solidarity within the United States. I mean, the bipartisan support for --


TAYLOR: -- for that man who gave that speech today was pretty impressive.

SCIUTTO: It should not be discounted, to see that standing ovation equally fervent from Republicans and Democrats, unusual in today's -- in today's America. Ambassador Bill Taylor, thank you so much for joining us.

TAYLOR: Unusual. Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, Ukrainian civilians, and I met many in a month in Ukraine, are doing what they can do to support soldiers fighting Russian troops every day. A family making body armor, even their grandmother selling flak jackets. We'll tell you their stories. It's coming up.



SCIUTTO: The $800 million package of new military aid that the U.S. is now sending to Ukraine includes antiaircraft and antiarmor systems, grenade launchers, machine guns, as well as body armor. But Ukrainians want to make sure their soldiers are fully protected battling Russian forces, so industrious are making extra sets of body armor themselves, including flak jackets.

We have more from CNN's Ivan Watson.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A melody in a time of deep uncertainty, a family hard at work turning their living room into a makeshift workshop producing locally made armor for the Ukrainian military.

She says this is heavy. This is a flak jacket.

These flak jackets are the work of this grandmother and former seamstress. Russia's invasion of Ukraine pulled 68-year-old Irina Protchenko out of retirement to work as a volunteer sewing flak jackets for Ukrainian soldiers.

Irina says she sews these flak jackets with love, and it's with that love that she hopes it will help protect defenders. Help save their lives.

In the kitchen, Irina's son, a lawyer, crafts the blue and yellow arm bands that security forces wear on their arms to identify themselves.

How many do you make in one day?


WATSON: 200?


WATSON: This family workshop, part of a larger improvised production chain that sprouted up in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, it's the brainchild of Vitaly Golovenko, he takes orders from soldiers and members of the territorial defense requesting armor before they head to the front lines.

Before the war, Vitaly was a lawyer and an amateur reenactor of scenes from the First World War when Ukrainian nationalists fought against Russian Bolsheviks.

Several days into this modern war, Vitaly asked his mother-in-law Irina to help sew armor, when his son's godfather couldn't find a flak jacket before heading off to combat. This operation relies on donations and improvisation.

This is some padding for the flak jackets to go around the armor plates, and they're made from the material that you use for floor mats for cars.

The armor plates come from scrap metal scavenged from old cars, welded and reworked by volunteer mechanics, and field tested.

So, Oleg has taken out plates to a firing range, because it's this. This is six millimeters in width, and they tried different kinds of firearms and rounds, and it was able to block some rifles, but a sniper's rifle punched right through as did a machine gun. They're not using this width for their flak jackets.

The team settled on a width of eight millimeters. Vitali says this newest model will go to a new fighter within the hour.

UNKNOWN (through translator): My normal work is to defend people in a court of law. But now we have to defend people's lives from the enemy, from the killers who for some reason want to kill me, my little daughter, my grandmother, and so on.

WATSON: This is just one example of the collective war effort that has sprung up here. Ordinary Ukrainians doing their part to protect their homeland.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Ukraine.

SCIUTTO: So many folks standing up in Ukraine, Ivan Watson, thank you so much.


Well, Ukraine's president rallying the world to his country's defense. I'm going to speak with one of his former top advisers right after this.


SCIUTTO: The Ukrainian capital Kyiv still under curfew tonight. Why? Because Russian forces continue to deliberately strike civilian targets. You're looking there at a residential building hit in the capital in the last 24 hours.

Joining me now from Kyiv is Igor Novikov, he's a former adviser to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Igor, thank you for joining us tonight.


SCIUTTO: Tell me about the morning there. This is often the time of night during my experience there recently when Russian strikes would come. Is it safe tonight? Have you been hearing new attacks?


NOVIKOV: We've had two air raid alerts. One is currently active. I'm hearing artillery in the background, but quite far away. So far, no missiles, at least that I'm aware of, so it means they haven't landed anywhere near me. But you know, the young is night -- the night is young. So you know from experience, usually they come at about 6 in the morning.


NOVIKOV: I mean, we wake up to the news, I mean, if we have the luxury to actually sleep.

SCIUTTO: Keep your head down. I know you've been in touch with President Zelenskyy.


SCIUTTO: He's become an inspiration, right, to certainly people here in the U.S. and around the world. How is he standing up? Because he is very much the number one target of Russian forces. NOVIKOV: Well, I would argue that every Ukrainian at the moment is

the number one target for the Russian forces. I mean, the sheer violence and, you know, the scale of this operation, war, genocide, call it whatever you like --


NOVIKOV: -- is just unbelievable, and you know, he's holding up really well. I mean, he's the leader we need, so you know, I keep describing him as a human being amongst politicians, and that's exactly true. And you know, it's really important at this day and age to have a leader like that because if you noticed, like, you know, the entire global security architecture and political architecture is actually crumbling.

I mean, we had that decision from ICG from International Court of Justice just yesterday in Kyiv time, and you know, it didn't work. I'm still hearing live rounds, and we're expecting ballistic missiles to fly into Kyiv. You know, the U.N. Security Council is another example, so you know, you have Russia, you know, the perpetrator and the aggressor sitting with a veto power.


NOVIKOV: So it's like -- it's like Hitler having, you know, the opportunity to appoint judges to the Nuremberg trials. I mean, it's just unbelievable.


NOVIKOV: And you know, to kind of reinvent that I think we need a new breed of politician and we're lucky to have President Zelenskyy.

SCIUTTO: It was a particularly shocking moment a week ago when Russia used that forum to spread false claims false claims to spread disinformation.

Listening to Zelenskyy's speech this morning at the capitol, it struck me that he was certainly thankful. He wanted to make it clear he was thankful for U.S. and NATO support so far, but he wants more and that he feels that his country is really hanging in the balance. Is it your view, is it his view that the west is, in effect, letting Ukraine down?

NOVIKOV: Well, I think it'd be very hypocritical of me to say that, you know, that the west is letting us down. Because you know, if it weren't for the west, I don't think we technically wouldn't be able to hold on as long as we did. So, you know, there's antitank munitions and Stingers actually doing -- making a lot of difference at the moment.

But at the same time, like this conflict goes way deeper than just a simple Ukraine/Russia war. I think it's the fight between democracy freedom and liberty, and you know, evil, you know, authoritarian evil that's kind of trying to do land grabs and, you know, kill civilians. And I think it's important for us to be united with the west to

actually stop Putin in his tracks here in Ukraine because, you know, just imagine let's do this mind exercise here, what happens if this conflict extends to our western borders?

I mean, do you seriously believe he's not going to be tempted to try and provoke and see what happens if he crosses article 5 of NATO and then threatens you with nuclear weapons? Do you really think, you know, for example, Kim Jongs of this world are just going to sit there and watch, you know, if Putin is winning, so that's incredibly important for us to do.

Plus, I mean, there are a couple more dimensions to this war nobody's paying attention to. You know, we're only now noticing that the economic war, part of the hybrid warfare is incredibly important. So, the sanctions are working, but we need more of those, and we need to get multinational business out of Russia, and it's incredibly important for a number of reasons.

Plus, there's an information war which is kind of my realm of expertise. You know, Putin is winning the information war, and you know, that's -- that's a no-brainer to anyone who understands had that his target audience is not in the west. It's in Russia.

SCIUTTO: I'm not sure Putin is winning the information war given that the hold that Zelenskyy has had on the world and how the message is getting out.

I do want to ask you this. There are peace talks going on between Ukrainian and Russian officials. Given the way Putin talks about Ukraine, as you say, he denies Ukraine is a country. He looks at it as an extension of Russia.


Do you believe that peace is possible with him? And would you -- would Zelenskyy trust a peace agreement made by Vladimir Putin?

NOVIKOV: Did you just hear an explosion, by the way. Look, I think President Putin is not going to accept, you know, and take any talks productively until, you know, he sees a suitable off-ramp. And that's why I mentioned the information war. Because you know, you have -- you need to pay attention to what the Russian people are thinking.

Because you know, those atrocities we're seeing here on the ground aren't committed directly by President Putin. You know, he's not the one dropping bombs. He's the one giving orders. So those are human being, brainwashed human beings who are actually committing war crimes.

So, you know, if he wants to keep that level of propaganda going, you know, current off -- I don't see a current off ramp for him, so I think negotiations for him at the moment is a chance to regroup and strike us again. And judging by the explosion that I've just heard, you'll be -- you'll be reading about it in the news like in a couple hours. SCIUTTO: I'm sure we will. Well, it's the second time tonight we

spoke to someone in Ukraine and we hear explosions and air raid sirens in the background. Please, Igor Novikov, please stay safe.

NOVIKOV: Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: I say that and I say it with sincerity.

NOVIKOV: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, she says it was impossible to stay silent. The Russian editor who protested on primetime television speaking out to CNN. You'll want to hear this. That's coming up.



SCIUTTO: The Russian journalists who courageously protested the invasion of Ukraine during a live broadcast on Russian state TV, and trust me, this is a courageous thing to do in Russia, tonight tells CNN she could not keep quiet any longer.

Marina Ovsyannikova also saying that many Russian journalists are just like her feeling a disconnect between what's real and the state propaganda that they have to push.


MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA, HELD ANTI-WAR SIGN ON RUSSIA CHANNEL ONE (through translator): I have been feeling a cognitive distance more and more between my believes and what we say on air. It was a growing sense of dissatisfaction that kept increasing every year and the war was the point of no return. When it was simply impossible to stay silent.


SCIUTTO: Marina Ovsyannikova says she was questioned by authorities after that protest for more than 14 hours and that she could end up facing big trouble for her anti-war protests down the line. Russian investigators are looking to see if she broke the harsh new censorship laws Russia which carry heavy prison sentences, up to 15 years in prison just for criticizing the military or the war in Ukraine. We will continue to follow her story.

Coming up next, a theater sheltering hundreds including children, a line of people waiting for bread, a pool turned into a shelter all hit with Russian attacks in the last 24 hours. We're going to be on the ground in Ukraine with the latest right after this break.