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Biden Meets With Refugees In Poland Ahead Of Major Speech; Biden On Putin: "He's A Butcher"; CNN Team At Site Of Explosions Near Lviv; Russian Hit Fuel Depot In Lviv Ahead Of Biden Speech In Nearby Poland. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired March 26, 2022 - 12:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST (on camera): Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me for this special CNN coverage. I want to -- I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta.

But however, I want to go straight to Warsaw, Poland, and my colleague, Wolf Blitzer is there for this highly anticipated major speech coming from the president of the United States.

Wolf were there in Poland, wrapping up his trip to Europe.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (on camera): Thanks very much. You know, Fred, this is going to be not just a major speech from the president of the United States. Very significant speech wrapping up what's going on from the U.S. perspective, involving the war in Ukraine, but it's going to be a rather lengthy speech could go as long as 35 or even 45 minutes, we're told by White House officials.

We have a team of correspondents covering this truly historic moment here in Poland. With me right now is Kaitlan Collins. She is our chief White House correspondent.

Kaitlan, you and I have been talking about this for a while. Finally, after the president of the United States has met with the Polish leadership, some of the Ukrainian leadership, not President Zelenskyy, but his defense minister, his minister of foreign affairs here in Poland.

We're going to hear the latest from the president on where this war stands from the U.S. perspective.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, what we're told is really, this speech from President Biden in a few moments is going to be kind of a culmination of this entire trip, which has had so many different aspects to it, all obviously, would this centered around this invasion of Ukraine and the response to it.

And if it started out meeting with world leaders and talking about what they are going to do to respond to it, it ended today with him going to a nearby soccer stadium where they are processing these Ukrainian refugees here in Warsaw.

And the president had some really, personal experiences with a lot of the families there who have been separated from their husbands, from their fathers, from brothers, and uncles, and of course, have come here with very little in their possession.

And President Biden earlier, was speaking to reporters, Wolf, after he met with these families and spoke with them and talk to them, including picking up one little girl. And a reporter asked how it changed his view or how it made him think about his view of President Putin, and listened to what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see this in your, you know, you're dealing every day with Vladimir Putin, when -- look at what he's done to these people, what does it make you think?



COLLINS: Pretty remarkable, you know. This is now President Biden has called Putin a killer. He's called him a war criminal. He's called him a pure thug. And now today, after meeting with the Ukrainians that Putin is pushed from their homes, he referred to him as a butcher.

And I think it just really sums up this experience for President Biden coming here and talking about efforts to punish Putin, to isolate him, and meeting with the people that he's pushed out of their homes.

And I think that will play a role in this speech today, which is going to cover a lot of the aspects, the same aspects that he has covered during this trip. Yes.

BLITZER: Also called him a ruthless dictator. The other day as well, he's branded him all these horrible, horrible names. It's hard to believe there's ever going to be another summit between these two leaders.


BLITZER: We were there in Geneva last June when there was the Putin- Biden summit. I suspect that's not going to happen. And as, you know, President Biden is already said, he doesn't want Putin ever again attending the G20 summit.


COLLINS: Right, but of course, that is not something that's up to President Biden by himself. That's a summit that has 20 nations in it. The world's leading economies. Indonesia is the chair this year, and they've actually not condemned Putin so far, and they have said that they don't believe the sanctions would be purpose or helped with the invasion of Ukraine. And so, if he is still there, and President Biden is also there, we'll make for this interesting moment when they are set to go to Indonesia later this year. Though President Biden did say, if Putin is still invited, if Russia still allowed to participate, he believes Ukraine should be invited, even though they are not part of the formal G20.

BLITZER: Yes, we're watching all of this unfold. The president is about to deliver what the White House calls a major speech over here, not too far from where we are at the Royal Castle here in Warsaw.

Phil Mattingly is already on the scene for us. First of all, Phil explain the significance of this location. Why did they decide to pick the Royal Castle?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, it's interesting. White House is not trying to lessen expectations for these remarks. As Kaitlan detailed, calling in major -- calling it significant. And anytime there is a moment like that, the backdrop they choose is intentional.

And the decision to pick the Royal Castle, I think it will be interesting to see how the president weaves and ties it into the history of this building. This kind of symbol of the Polish nation, and perhaps, most importantly, the symbol of the ability to rebuild.

This castle, which is so critical here in Warsaw was damaged terribly in 1939 by Nazi artillery and bombings, and it was completely demolished and torn to the ground and 1944 towards the end of the Warsaw uprising.

In the 30 years after that moment, it really wasn't rebuilt at all, or going to be communist ruling party in the Soviet Union should no desire to rebuild it. And yet, here it is, and full rebuilt entirely in large part because of donations from friends and allies, Polish immigrants across the world.

And it is back and completely reformed. And as it was being destroyed by Nazi Germany back in the 1939 through 1944 period, Wolf, a number of the most important artefacts and historical items that needed to be preserved were actually snuck out and preserved, left at countries that now serve as Poland's allies.

So, I think that will be a key moment and a key backdrop here as the president tries to elevate his remarks at the end of this trip.

BLITZER: Yes, it's going to be a -- what the White House says a major address. We're going to get the latest from the president of the United States.

So, amidst all of this, there is been a horrible situation in western Ukraine unfolding not far from Lviv.

John Berman is on the scene for us. John, I want you to be safe over there. We're all very nervous. I see that reporters have already got it looks like Don Lemon is already there as well. John Berman, set the scene for us. What happened right outside of Lviv? It's supposed to be a relatively safe area in Ukraine where you are.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): All right, Wolf, I'll take this and I'm going to bring Don, and as soon as I can. Don, do me a favor, nod if you can hear us.

All right, we're going to wait to get Don's shot up here. But let me tell you what happened. I'm in Lviv, we're both in Lviv in western Ukraine. About an hour from the Polish border -- and there were three blasts -- three fairly loud bangs, and then we saw smoke rising from this hill behind me.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): Is this on? Can you hear me?

BERMON: The mayor confirmed that there was a Russian military strike there. And now, we do have -- you can see Don Lemon on the scene with the fire there raging behind him.

Let me just check. Don, can you hear me?

LEMON: I can hear you. Can you hear me? I can hear you.

BERMAN: Yes. OK, Don.

LEMON: Can you guys hear me?

BERMAN: We can hear you, you're on T.V. Why don't you tell us what's happening?

LEMON: You got it. Yes.

Well, you're right here just a short time ago, and John, we were in the same place where you were when those air raid sirens went off. It just about an hour ago, and you know they just going off.

Hadn't been gone out that much the past couple of days where we got one today. And this is right near the city about a 10-minute drive from where we are from downtown.

Apparently, according to the mayor that the he believes that is a Russian military strike on this facility. They said that the air raid sirens went off and then, there were three strikes that hit this facility. It is a fuel storage facility.

Here is the tricky thing. There are some tanks here and they are filled with diesel and other types of fuel. One of them they believe that was hit hasn't exploded yet. So, they're back away from the safely as we can't be away from the scene here.

But you see the smoke and the flame billowing out of this facility. Now, the facility that was hit last week was in the West, I believe this is in the north. Is that correct, (INAUDIBLE)? This is in the north? This is in the northeast.

So, it's not near the facility that was hit last week with that plane facility -- a repair facility.

But again, (INAUDIBLE) officials on the scene here, John. Well, I mean, both from fire departments all over. Police and neighbors, people around here were really just blasted from their home.


LEMON: And just a short time ago, they're on the streets here. Some of them leaving, we've been trying to talk to them and they're trying to get out of -- out of this place.

So, you can smell the smell of fuel in the air. But again, you see the raging flames like, coming out on this facility. And just black thick smoke pouring into the air, and it has been going out since those strikes happened a short time ago.

So, again, according to the mayor who put it out on Twitter, he's saying he believes it's a Russian military. Air raid sirens went off. Three strikes he believes possibly, probably some type of missile strike.

But again, that is what is happening here. And he was urging people to go to down to those bunkers, to those bomb shelters that we have. Where we're saying we have all over the city some of them they've dug out, they just dug up since World War II.

And you can now hear -- I'm going to let you hear if you can hear it this mumbling that's coming from this facility. And as we listen closer, I hope you can hear and you can feel the flame and the burning of that fuel in this fuel storage facility.

As you been saying, John, here on the air, not far from the Polish border --

BERMAN: You say, Don? Don.

LEMON: Yes, John.

BERMAN: All right. Don, if you can hear me, if you can hold your microphone close to your mouth or replace your microphone. Guys, everyone, this is live T.V. So, bear with us right now.

Don Lemon and his team raised to the scene where this explosion is giving us a live report. One of the first reporters on the scene there. An explosion at a fuel depot.

You can see the blaze, you can even for a moment here the blaze there. The force of the fires there behind Don.

Don is adjusting his microphone, so we can hear more from him. But I'm pretty confident, you heard what he was saying. You can see the firefighters on the scene there. You can see people, they are milling about three blasts. And now, this fuel storage facility on fire. The Regional Governor here says that he has heard reports of five people injured. They are still waiting for confirmation of that. So, what you have there is an official statement, though, not one with much certainty of injuries.

You could see -- look, this isn't far. I know this isn't far from the city, because I was walking, you know, a kilometer from it today. But it isn't in a residential area itself. Right?

Or it might be close to a residential area, but I don't know how close people would have been living to that facility there. Hey, Don, when you can hear me, when you're back up, let me know.

You there, Don?

All right, we're still -- we're still waiting. We're still -- Don, can you hear me? Don can hear me right now. And if you can talk, how close is this to a residential area?

OK, OK, Don. We can't hear Don's microphone, and it does appear like they're pushing people back from the fires right there, which is a reasonable thing to do. And we are seeing this right now as we are seeing these fires burning in leave. This is Lviv. This is in western Ukraine not far from the Polish border, an area that has been largely spared.

And we're going to keep this picture up. So, people can see this. The fire blazing. You can see our Don Lemon on the scene now, getting some reporting, and Don is going to -- going to chime in as soon as we get the communications equipment right.

I'm going to bring in Frederik Pleitgen who's in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv right now. And, Fred, obviously, we have a situation ongoing here. You've been in the capital where there's been a lot more activity, exponentially more activity over the last several days.

Ironically, you've been reporting that some people are starting to return to Kyiv, because they get the sense that, that it may be at least moderately safer day by day than it was a few days ago.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, that's absolutely right. And of course, that has to do with the fact that the Russian army is being pushed back by Ukrainian forces around the capital Kyiv.

But I think also the situation that -- what Don is in right now, and that fire that you're seeing there, certainly also plays into the situation that we have right here. Because one of the things that the U.S .has said, that the United Kingdom's defense ministry has also said, is that the Russians, while they can't project as much power here onto the capital and to other population centers as they were before, because they're being pushed back. The U.S. says that the Russians are increasingly using what's called standoff weapons. So, weapons that are fired from a distance at certain targets.

And I think that's one of the things that you're probably seeing right here right now. Is then, firing cruise missiles at strategic locations, areas that they believe are important to the Ukrainian war effort to try and disable those.


PLEITGEN: We've seen that in the past couple of days. For instance, yesterday, we had a very similar situation to what you're seeing there right now in Lviv, when the Russians actually hit a fuel depot to the south of Kyiv -- of the Ukrainian capital, which they said at the time -- the Russian said was the largest one that was still in operation by the Ukrainian military. And they said that they had taken that out.

Also yesterday, they also did hit the air force headquarters of the Ukrainian Air Force as well, John.

BERMAN: All right. Frederik Pleitgen for us in Kyiv.

I do believe we have Don Lemon back. And to our audience in the United States and around the world. Bear with us right now. Communications are difficult, but Don Lemon at the scene of a Russian airstrike, apparently at some kind of fuel storage facility in Lviv.

Don, give us a sense of what's going on behind you. How close this might be to a residential area? What you're seeing?

LEMON (voice-over): OK, John. Can you hear? I just want to make sure that you can hear me clearly now. You can hear me? Are we good?

BERMAN: Yes. Go ahead. Go ahead.

LEMON: Yes, OK, great.

So, we move back a little bit, because you could hear the flames roaring. And what they are concerned about is another one of these tanks exploding, so they're pushing people back, until they can get control of this blaze.

You are mentioning how close it is to neighborhood?

LEMON (on camera): It's really close to neighborhood, it's on the other side, there's a little valley in here and other side of a retention wall,

And Peter, if you can just go around, just a little bit and show them how close this is to neighborhood.

We'll quickly -- and then we'll get back in the flame. So it's really, really close. This is a neighborhood where everyone has gathered. All of the rescue people. And they've done this on a number of different streets.

So, if you'll come back here, so we're, you know, I guess within a 10th of a mile or so from where this is happening.

But again, look at those flames, they're just roaring. Black smoke coming out of there, and you can see them putting the fire retardant, spraying the fire retardant on this.

And but again, as you said, it is a chaotic scene, they're running fire hoses, through this residential neighborhood. The -- this retention wall, and into the other side of that valley and tanks.

Think of it as you will, you know, for those of you who live near a chemical plant, and you see these large, round storage facilities that carry either fuel or grain or what have you. That is what is happening here.

This is a fuel storage facility, northeast of the city. Again, we're told it's not anywhere near where that those -- that blast went off just a couple of weeks ago when they hit that airplane repair facility.

But again, I believe that this is owned by the government, you said, (INAUDIBLE)?

It's not really not sure, or maybe possibly the Chamber of Commerce. But again, it is a storage facility. And John, those flames are just roaring out of, I think at least two of these tanks.

And again, the concern -- the concern is, is that another one will go up.

I just want you to hear this. If you can hear this, John, let me know if you can hear these flames.

BERMAN: We can hear it.

LEMON: And it was -- yes, it was a loud, loud sizzle just a moment ago when you were -- just before you were talking to Frederik Pleitgen there. But you can hear it just roaring.

And considering the amount of hoses that I'm seeing from here, I'm sure there is some in other areas or some that are closer, it's going to be quite a while before they really get a hold and get this under control.

They -- what they're probably trying to do, and what they will try to do is do have some sort of control burn or at least keep it from going to other tanks. But right now, you can see the firefighters and the rescue people racing in, and now to where this fire that really the center of this fire to try to get a hold on it.

But yes, it is chaos. We're in a situation obviously not the United States, communications aren't great, we're in the middle of a war zone. So, there are some communication issues and technical issues. But this is what you're seeing here. And I just really want you to hear the roar of these chemical flames.

And as I said earlier, John, you could smell the smell of chemicals and smoke in the air. We are downwind of it. And so, the flames are blowing in the other direction. So, we're able to get a very clear picture. If we were in the other direction, we would not be able to get a clearer picture of this. But I mean, from my vantage point of view, you can see it because our photographer Peter is probably pushing on that fire.

I mean it is unbelievable. A spectacular chemical fire happening here.

Again, the mayor and the military -- the minister of the military said they believe that it is three airstrikes on this facility. And we don't know when we're in these situations. That's why we're wearing this gear.

If there will be another -- when there might possibly be another, if this is, you know, just to terrorize people, or we're not sure exactly what the strategy was.


LEMON: But as we heard yesterday from a Russian official, they were saying that they were going to pull back on this mission and just concentrate on Donbas area. This is nowhere near that.

And so, I'm not quite sure what the strategy is here. And as I was speaking to people yesterday, after the Russian official said that they said, they don't believe anything that Putin says or any Putin's lackeys, because they are ministers of disinformation or misinformation. So, they will take a wait and see approach. And here's what we waited for, and here is what we're seeing right now, John.

BERMAN: No, no question about that. This is nowhere near the eastern part of the country, the Donbas region. This is about as far west as you can get. In fact, Don, it is worth noting to people that the city of Lviv, where you and I have both been has, hasn't been touched by the war directly. Barely. There was one strike just outside the city last week, one at a military base before that.

This is by far, the closest to the downtown area. Very close, as you just showed us to a residential area. This is city that is teeming with people.


BERMAN: You go out on the streets during the day and people are going about their everyday lives. They're shopping, there are street festivals, practically it seems.

I saw wedding party being photographed a few hours ago. And now, just a short distance from that, this fire blazing right behind you, Don.


And John, just in the week that you and I had been here -- we got here together. John and I arrived together. I saw the city as you did, people trying to get back to normal. When I got here, it was darker during our live shots at night. It was darker, they had a restriction on lighting I am told. And then, every night, it seemed to be more people out. And every day more people out, it seemed to be getting back to normal.

And when I spoke to the mayor and other city officials earlier, I said, you know, with the airstrikes sirens going off, and people are you concerned that they go off so much on that nothing happens that people will become immune to them. And then if it was real, possibly real that they would not take shelter in those bomb shelters, in those follow up facilities. And they said, yes, that was a concern.

And then a couple of days after that, as we had been here, we've heard those air raid sirens going off with fewer frequency. There was one yesterday and then there was this one this afternoon or this evening was actually the real thing.

So, the mayor is urging people to take shelter. This one is real. He is saying they're urging people to stay in their homes, and if you're in this neighborhood, to get out of this neighborhood, but you're exactly right.

This had been seen as a relative, relatively -- relative safe haven. And now, you have this in a city, you know, with, with almost a million people, according to the mayor. About 720,000 officially from the census.


LEMON: This is almost a million people with 200,000 plus displaced people on top of that, and they're trying to figure out where to put in -- they're putting up a -- tape to keep everyone safe --


BERMAN: Yes, Don. I don't know if you see the police line is at your head right now. I don't know if you need to move.

LEMON: Yes. Yes, it is. Yes. No, no, I'm fine. I'm fine.

BERMAN: Yes. You need to move, go ahead and move. Let me just bring you to --

LEMON: They are just -- they put it where we are. So, we're good.


LEMON: We're good.

BERMAN: One point that I do think is worth noting here --

LEMON: We're good.

BERMAN: Is this was a day light attack? A day light attack in this city, this western hub of activity near the Polish border, within a few hours of when President Biden is in Poland set to deliver what the White House is billing as a major address.

It's hard to imagine it's a coincidence, Don, that a strike in this city is about as far west as you can get in Ukraine happening --


BERMAN: -- so close to the president speech. It may be that, that was part of the message.

LEMON: I'm not -- I don't know if that is, I mean, look, certainly it is closer -- all right, you saying this is as far west. Almost is far west as far as a major city that you can get? And something that a city that had been a relatively safe haven, as you said.

But I mean, you have to take note, the president is in Poland, near -- very near the Polish border, and we are not far from that.

So, you know, one must take note of that. And it would -- it would make sense, but I'm not exactly sure that, that was it since we have had a couple of strikes here in one on the airplane facility here.

So, I'm not sure. But then, this is really far west for airstrikes to be happening. And you have to remember, I mean, it -- I'm not sure if there was some strategic reason that they did this. Maybe it is just fear. Maybe it's just to terrorized people.

But you have to remember the people who had been coming from the eastern part of the country, John, they had been coming to the Lviv because it's a relatively safe haven. And they'd been coming here because they said well, there's no reason for the rockets to go this far.

But we -- what they have been noticing is, is that when they had the strike before, people got nervous. So, what they do is they head further east. They go further west, I should say, towards the Polish border and on into Slovakia and Romania, and Poland. And just to get out of here because they don't know.


There's a difference though in the folks who are here who have been citizens of Lviv and have lived here for some time. When they hear the airstrike sirens going off, they take it with a grain of salt, maybe they go to the shelter, may be they don't.

But for the people who have been displaced and have come from the eastern part of the country closer to Russia, they don't, they go into those bomb shelters. They head into those facilities for safety. They take cover because they have been traumatized by this bombardment and by Russian terror before. If not this time, from previous wars.

So, here we are in there so putting up this night -- it's going to, you know, nightfall is going to happen shortly, John.


LEMON: John, you still at the -- at our facility, right? Where we are doing our live shots, right. So, you can see from your vantage point, what is happening here. BERMAN: Oh, yes.

LEMON: I can't see you how much smoke is in the air because there's a -- there's a building here. But I can definitely see the flames here and see the fire retardant that they're spraying on this chemical fire. Yes.

BERMAN: Yes. There is a lot of smoke, Don. A lot of smoke filling the sky. And if that is a fuel depot, which it is behind you burning, it will burn all night.

Don, you and your team, stay safe. We're going to let you do some reporting. Find out more information on the ground there for a few minutes.

Much more coming up. We're going to take a quick break.

We're waiting to hear from President Biden over the border in Poland, about to deliver a major address. This is CNN special live coverage. Stay with us.



BERMAN: All right, welcome back to CNN special live coverage. I'm John Berman in Lviv in western Ukraine. Behind me it's about 6:30 at night here, you can see the smoke still rising from behind that hill, a Russian military strike on what appears to be a fuel depot, a fuel storage area, we heard three blasts. And now CNN's Don Lemon is on the ground there on the scene. Don, give us a sense of what you're seeing.

LEMON: I'm just trying to get some information here as to what we're seeing John. And at first according to the mayor and the ministry, the military minister here, they said it was three strikes, we're being told now at least two missile struck Lviv on Saturday, reports of at least five people injured, that is according to the governor. The governor added they're still threats of more missile strikes, and said that he's posting information on social media to make sure, information about what was involved in a residential building or other infrastructure objects. That was not confirmed.

But again, the flames are pouring out of this building, there are more people showing up, more emergency workers and media. But just to show you, these flames are still going. And as you said, John, rightly so being from -- I grew up in Louisiana, and there are fuel refineries up and down the river really close to where I live, and there were fires. Sadly, that would happen occasionally. And it would take some time, days for them to burn out. And what they would do is have a -- they would set a control and just let the fires burn out.

Environmentally, it's not good, but it's the best that you can do in this situation. But what they're doing now, I would -- I can only imagine and, not imagine, I'm sure what they're doing now is trying to keep it off of the other tanks and keep this fire from spreading not only further into that facility, but into this residential neighborhood. Pete, I don't know if can you see through there, you can see the, some of the firefighters on the scene there, right, to the right of this building, just to the corner of that building.

You can see some of the firefighters on the scene and they're putting the fire retardant on there. No water on the situation, not on the chemical fire. They're not using water on that. But John, I was surprised, you talked about this being, you know, relatively safe, as safe as you can be in a war in the city, far west from where the rockets and bombs had been happening in Kyiv and Kherson and in the eastern Donbass area.

This is far -- this is probably the biggest city west of that, and it was thought to be safe. But I am surprised as you are that this is as close to downtown the city as it is. You know, at first we were told we thought it was in a, you know, a neighborhood a little bit further and that was a valley and that we'd have to travel some distance. But we hopped in our van with our security people with our reminders and our fixers and translators. And we were here in no time.

This is really, really close to downtown Lviv. And, again, we don't know if this is a signal that they're sending to the President. It's sending to NATO and the allies who were meeting in Poland, with President Biden, or if there is indeed some sort of, I don't know precision, strategy, something to -- as to why they hit this particular facility. But it is frightening. It is strange. And there doesn't appear to be any strategy. And it's the exact opposite of what the Russian officials were saying yesterday that they were going to somehow limit what they were doing in this country.

BERMAN: Yes, the context here, Don, is that this comes within 24 hours of Russian military officials saying they were going to enter the second phase of their operation. They were going to reorient their attack to the far east of this country. Well, this is the opposite of that. This is as far west as you can get. And just so people can see -- go ahead.

LEMON: I just want you to listen because that, you can hear that fire. It's roaring up a little bit. Just take a listen every once in a while. Can you hear that, John, it roars and then it resides. And then it up and roars -- roar and then it -- yes.


BERMAN: Yes, you can hear it for sure. And you can also see the heroic work being done by the firefighters. They are trying to limit the damage that's done and what I was talking about, which is the context of this coming so soon from when the Russians were claiming they were going to reorient the attack to the entire other side of the country. Well, this is as far away as you can get from the east.

And also, this was a daylight attack a daylight attack within a few hours of when President Biden is scheduled to deliver what the White House is calling a major address, just across the border in Poland. The target here in this western city of Lviv, Lviv is the hub, the transit hub for many of the 3.7 million refugees leaving the country and, you know, thousands of others relocating. Go ahead Don. LEMON: Yes. Yes, so John, there's and you're right on about that, like what is it, 10 million people who have left at least their home so far, I think it's like 3.5 or 3.8 million people who have left the country. But I'm just -- I just wanted to point out that some of the supplies that they're bringing in because, you know, we both have noted that this is going to take some time for them to get this under control. They're bringing in water and other supplies now. This has not been going on very long. But they're bringing in supplies, water and other supplies for the firefighters here.

And if you can see I'm not sure what you can see because I can't see what we're airing. But there are people there in hazmat suits, those silver looking spacesuits. We've been -- we've noticed that firefighters have been dawning as they get closer into this fire. And look at the glow, it's just a orange glow that happens and then, look how close the firefighters are to this fire. You can see them in the smoke covers them.

So look, this is a job of firefighters having to run now to get back from this fire from my vantage point. I can see, it looks like a wild hose that for them trying to get back. But this -- it seems to be spreading closer to them. Look, these are people who run towards danger, our firefighters. And this is probably some of the most dangerous work that you can do, fighting a fire, John, in the middle of a war zone, definitely heroic work and not easy to do. It was tough work.

But this fire again glowing, the fire at least glowing orange, the smoke, black smoke billowing off of this fire, and we know when it's black smoke that is -- that's the stuff that is a danger here. That's a chemical smoke. And it is still going and will be going for some time.

BERMAN: It was remarkable Don how close those firefighters were to the blaze. They seemed to have backed off a moment ago to get to a safer vantage point because they were right there battling that blaze. As you've noted, trying to make sure that it doesn't spread even further.

Not that far, as you also noted, from people's homes, this is just, you know, half a block away it looks like from residences, from homes and apartment buildings there. Hey, Don, what we're going to do, again, if you can get some more information about the situation there, that's terrific. We're going to take a quick break.

LEMON: Hey, John.

BERMAN: We're also waiting on President Biden, go ahead Don.

LEMON: There is -- real quickly, which will try to get as much information as possible. But I think that quite honestly the folks here have their hands full with the firefighters and also trying to make sure that the neighbors are safe or whatever. So we'll try to get some more information. But this is the best you're going to get. This -- and this is as close to the flames and the action that you're going to get. This is the best vantage point. We -- before we got on the air, we drove around for a little bit trying to find the best vantage point and obviously they were blocking off some areas because they didn't -- they wanted to make sure that people were safe. But this is as close as you're going to get and I'll try to get some more information from you. But this is CNN. This is as close as you're going to get to this.

BERMAN: All right, standby, standby for us, Don. I want to bring in CNN's Sam Kiley, who honestly has just been on a several week reporting odyssey through this entire country. Sam, you just arrived in Lviv, drove in literally right now, as the smoke is rising in the sky behind us, Don Lemon on the scene of this fire. But you have seen so much of the rest of this war, firsthand, the fighting, the close contact fighting in some places. Just give us a sense of what you seen and put what we're now looking at in context there.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think I mean on the strategic level what we're seeing behind us is entirely predictable and indeed has happened here in the West, not quite so close to our cameras. But there has been attacks on the training base for more than 35 trainees and trainers were killed in that base that has been attacked on at least two airfields here in the West.

Funnily enough, I passed an airfield where there was an oil depot flame very similar to this on my way out of Kyiv today. And what the Russians are doing, notwithstanding the fact that the Pentagon believes that maybe they're running low on their precision guided missiles is that they are now using them to some effect, they are very deliberately picking away at the ability of the Ukrainians to sustain their effort.

Because the Russians have run into the mud, if you'll excuse the pun, I mean, quite literally, they are now able only to drive down roads with their tanked vehicles, which means that they're very vulnerable to the Ukrainian attacks, something that the Ukrainians at an infantry level of being able to do with the javelins and laws, these anti-tank missiles.

So they've held them up around Kyiv, they're counter attacking around Kharkiv. So the Russians are hitting back longer range with these precision weapons that they can, at least they believe, undermine the Ukrainian ability to sustain themselves. So whilst they talk, the big talk about shifting their whole operation to focusing on the east, that's just a way of window dressing, the fact that that's where they may fall back to because they have overextended elsewhere.

BERMAN: Just to remind people have what they're looking at, right, big people up to speed, these are pictures, live pictures of a fuel storage center in Lviv, the western most major city in Ukraine, the fuel stores that are on fire right now, the apparent target of a Russian airstrike. We heard three explosions there, we're told at least two missiles hit there, and it is now very much on fire.

And sitting here with me, with the smoke rising behind us I should note is CNN Sam Kiley, who has been all over Ukraine just arrived here in what was thought to be a relatively safe city. But it's interesting because even as this fire burns, it's not inconsistent with the notion that as you say, the Russians are actually having trouble in their overall strategic mission.

KILEY: They are. I mean, let's not get over into excited about this, in the sense that there's -- the Ukraine is not winning. Well, the Ukrainians are doing is putting up an unexpectedly successful defense. So they've saved their capital city. They're keeping the war in the east.

They're draining Russian resources and putting the most amazing fight in the southeast, forcing the Russians to use these long-range weapons because you're always going to be out of range of army weapons of shorter range missiles, surface to surface missiles are the sort that you were dragged behind the truck. These are long range missiles fired probably from the Black Sea cruise type missiles.

And that's where you get the precision so they can dive straight in. That's a very deliberate attack, as opposed to the wholesale massacre that is going on in Mariupol especially Kharkiv, where you see the whole city being -- having rains of -- and it's actually called hail, the grand missile is an explosive hail that comes down on people's heads. The idea then was to break the will of the Ukrainians to defend themselves.

This kind of attack is a more strategic one is to try to remove the ability of the Ukrainians to sustain their operations. But if you look at the black smoke there, and you look at where Don is on the ground, you can see the first of all that, yes, the fires really, really intense. But this is not refined petroleum that's going up or it would have been a terrifically big bang, and we'd all have singed here.

What you've got there probably is crude oil, unrefined or semi refined fuel, which is -- that's the only good news. The bad news is that the Russians know every inch of this country. They've got infiltrators. They've got spies on the ground. They've had satellite imagery.

They've been planning this for a long time. There are at least two major ammunition dumps in the pre -- between 2014 and this year that were blown up in the interior of the country, steadily removing, they hoped, the ability of the Ukrainians to defend themselves.

What the Russians haven't factored in to their planning is the response from Ukraine's friends and particularly the ability of the Ukrainians to put that modern weaponry to good use on the ground, forcing the Russians to conduct these kinds of air attacks that we're watching unfold, the results of which we're watching unfold now, John.


BERMAN: Just a huge firefighting effort you're looking at right now on the ground in Lviv, a fuel storage depot hit by a Russian airstrike, three explosions. We're getting more information from the scene. This is CNN special live coverage. We'll be right back.


BERMAN: Right, John Berman on the scene in Lviv in western Ukraine. This is CNN special live coverage. There was an airstrike here just moments ago. You can still see as the sunsets here, the smoke rising behind me, three explosions here. And we did just get a statement from the mayor. He said as a result of the shelling, they probably were missiles, not shells, but one of the industrial facilities burns, it is fuel storage, the mayor says.

The mayor added, habitable infrastructure was not injured, habitable infrastructure was not injured, so residential areas, so say the mayor, not hit. Five people though we are told reportedly injured. We're waiting for more information from the scene. You can see CNN's crew is where they're able to get pictures with just an incredible blaze at this fuel storage facility that is going to burn for some time.


Now we're waiting for President Biden to give a major address next hour over the border in Poland, he did meet, held critical meetings with Poland's President earlier today. I want to bring in Halyna Yanchenko. She's a deputy majority leader of Ukraine's parliament, and she joins us from Western Ukraine. It's so nice to have you on. Thank you very much. I have you on and you, of course, are seeing what's happening behind us as well this missile strike at this fuel storage facility. What do you think the significance of this is?

HALYNA YANCHENKO, MEMBER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: I should tell you that I just arrived to Western Ukraine, but this night I spent in Kyiv. And it's actually not, you know, the best night and the best experience that you can go through. Because in Kyiv, I've heard shelling, like for half night, I've heard shelling every 15 or 20 minutes. And you can't really sleep, especially when it hits like really near your house or near your neighborhood. This is something that you can't really get used to it, despite the fact that we are already in this huge Russian aggression against Ukraine for a month.

This is really horrible. And I'm adult and I still like shock and I'm still afraid when Russian missile hits somewhere in the neighborhood. And I can only imagine what children are going through. And I want to talk about children today because this is something that children do not deserve.

As of today, we have 121 Ukrainian children killed by Russian occupants, and about 490 children who had serious injuries and they had either leg or hands cut off, amputated. Basically, this children needs serious treatment. And I can't even count how many children received psychological traumas because when you being a child of three of five years old, are spending weeks invasive basements during all this shelling moving through humanitarian corridor, which are also attacked by Russian occupants.

This is the memories that our Ukrainian children will carry throughout their lives. And this is really unfair. This is a horrible, bloody war that Russians doing against civilians, Ukrainian civilians. Thousands of Ukrainian civilians were killed and injured. And I really worry for children, I really worry. And I really don't want Ukrainian children to keep this memories from their childhood.

And to stop this nightmare, to stop all these horrible things that Russian occupants are doing in Ukraine, nowadays, all the civilized countries, all our Western partners should really think what else they can do. We received a huge help from U.S., from European Union, from United Kingdom. We appreciate it. Both military support both but also economic sanctions.

But we see the Russian army keeps this horrible war in Ukraine. They keep killing people. They keep bombing and like shelling peaceful cities. And it means that these actions that Western countries are doing to help Ukraine and the steps that Western countries are doing to stop Putin and stop Russian army should be increased.

So I appeal to all American citizens and also to American politicians to impose even more severe sanctions, economic sanctions against Russia, on one hand. And on another hand, to increase military support to Ukraine. We still need more air defense. We need anti-tanks weapon and we need heavy weapon because, well, we have really, really courage and really brave men and woman joining Ukrainian army and territory defense and they need more equipment and more weapon to stop the enemy and to stop, well, basically, Russian Nazis. That's the only word that I can find because what goes through is even worse than what Europe went through during the World War II.


BERMAN: Halyna Yanchenko, we thank you so much for being with us. As you know there are so many brave women and men here and we just saw some of them running toward the blaze from this fuel storage facility that's been hit by a Russian airstrike in Lviv. So many people going to fight that blaze right now. Halyna, thank you very much for being with us.

And as Halyna also noted, one out of every two children, half the children in this country now have been displaced. Ukrainian children are now children of war, and they will carry that with them for their entire lives.

Again, the breaking news, an airstrike in the western city of Lviv where I am, a fuel storage facility on fire not far from the border of Poland. And we are waiting for what is being billed as a major speech by President Biden coming up very shortly in Poland.

He just had a dramatic meeting with Ukrainian refugees. This speech scheduled to begin in a few minutes. You're looking at live pictures from the scene there. Much more on our breaking news coverage, ahead.