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Ukrainian Commander: Troops Are Jumping Into Enemy Trenches To Fight; Russian Wives And Mothers Protest Against Putin, Demand He Stop Sending Their Men "To The Slaughter"; North Korea Claims To Fire Test Missiles Before U.S.-South Korea Drills; Kim Jong-Un's Sister Threatens U.S. Amid Military Drills; Texas Man Sues Women Accused Of Helping Ex-Wife Get Abortion Pills; How To Pick The Winning March Madness Bracket; "Everything Everywhere All At Once" Shines At Oscar Ceremony. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 13, 2023 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Ukraine's military commanders say the intense fighting in the city of Bakhmut is going yard by yard, and Ukrainian fighters are jumping into enemy trenches.

As Russian forces, led by the mercenary Wagner Group, continue to assault from multiple directions, more than 230 Russian soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours, according to both Ukrainian and Western sources.

In Russia, a group of wives and mothers are protesting President Vladimir Putin. They are demanding he stop sending their loved ones, quote, "to the slaughter."

I want to bring in Ambassador William Taylor. He's the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. He is now the vice president for Russia and Europe at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Ambassador, thank you for being with us.

And you know, we see here the U.S. and Western allies publicly saying that it would be wise of Ukraine to get out of Bakhmut, save the ammunition and other resources for other battles.

Clearly something is factoring in to President Zelenskyy's calculus here that isn't factoring into that advice. What is it?

AMB. WILLIAM TAYLOR, VICE PRESIDENT FOR RUSSIA AND EUROPE, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE & FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: What it is, Brianna, is the advice of President Zelenskyy's generals, for whom he has great respect.

Those generals have proven that their understanding, their ability to design tactics and strategy is amazing and successful. So President Zelenskyy's listening to them. And they have said very recently to him, to President Zelenskyy, that

they are winning the battle of attrition in Bakhmut. They are killing a lot of Russian soldiers.

You see the response you just showed about the Russian mothers and wives. We know that's happening.

And while that battle is taking place at Bakhmut, the Ukrainians, again, those two generals, General Zaluji (ph) and General Sersky (ph), they are putting together a counter offensive.

And the longer they can tie up the Russian military in Bakhmut, the better they have, the better chances they will have to succeed on this counteroffensive.

KEILAR: Do you worry that this shows some fracturing between Ukraine and the U.S.? And do you worry at all that that could feed into some differences between the Biden administration and Republicans on Capitol Hill?

TAYLOR: I don't. I don't. The question that our military, that General Milley and, indeed, the president, have all said, those decisions on the military application, the military decisions, tactics, those are Ukrainians. They're obviously the best place to make these decisions.


So I don't think there's any difference between the Ukrainians and the Americans. The Americans have been - we have been very supportive of all these weapons.

What is necessary for that counteroffensive to win, to succeed, is for these weapons to continue, indeed, even accelerate.

You mentioned the Republicans in Congress - I've been impressed at the bipartisan support for all of these weapons packages, all these assistance packages. There's been bipartisan over and over and over.

Yes, there are some voices from some parts of Congress but, by and large, you have the serious Republicans who are strongly supporting the Ukrainians, and I think that will continue.

KEILAR: What are you expecting here for the spring?

TAYLOR: I'm expecting the Russians to culminate, as they say. This is as much as they're going to get. Admiral Haines made this same point last week.

They don't have the ability - the Russians don't have the ability to push further. They've gone as far as they can. Now they're trying to hold it. They haven't even taken Bakhmut, as we just talked about. But they've got lines that they're trying to hold.

And what I would expect is that the Ukrainians, with these new weapons, these tanks that they're starting to be trained, they're - the tanks are showing up in Ukraine, showing up in the fight, well trained troops.

I'm expecting that counteroffensive that General Zaluji (ph) and General Sersky (ph), at the direction of Zelenskyy, are going to mount, I think that has the opportunity, the possibility to break the Russian military in Ukraine.

KEILAR: All right. We'll be seeing here in the months ahead.

Ambassador, always great to get your perspective. Thank you so much.

North Korea claims it has fired off two cruise missile tests from a submarine off of its coast. North Korea saying these flew about 900 miles before they hit a test target.

The test came just a few hours before the U.S. and South Korea kicked off their largest joint military exercises in five years.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is following these developments for us.

So, Oren, the North Koreans issue a new warning to the U.S., and then this time that warning came from Kim Jong-Un's sister.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It's an open question as to what exactly North Korea carried out. They claim to have fired two submarine-launched cruise missiles that showed off a number of capabilities as part of their show of force.

But that's not definitive on the U.S. and South Korean side. The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said they're analyzing, along with the U.S., this launch of at least one unidentified missile.

And that's crucial. The South Koreans and the U.S. have not confirmed it was two missiles, let alone these cruise missiles that have the capability that the North Koreans claim they have.

So there is certainly an open question there as the U.S. and the South Koreans continue to look at this.

Also worth noting the cruise missiles are not a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, so from the U.S. and the international perspective, if they want to test fire cruise missiles, they are allowed to. Ballistic missiles, very different story.

And last week, North Korea fired off a short-range ballistic missile. That is definitely a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. And the U.S. and South Korea view that as escalatory.

Brianna, as you point out, it comes with the U.S. and South Korea launching these joint exercises. The Freedom Shield exercises, 11 days, some of the largest exercises in years.

And Kim Jong-Un as well as his sister have promised, and I quote, the "toughest counteraction" against these joint exercises. So it remains to be seen what he's going to do, and we'll watch this space closely.

It's worth noting that, at least in terms of what we've seen so far this year, it doesn't compare to the almost frenetic pace of ballistic missile launches and other missile launches we saw last year.

But we also know that the U.S. has been watching North Korea closely to see if they carry out their seventh nuke test at their facility in the north of the country. That's something they've been watching for a long time. And, Brianna, we'll keep watching that.

KEILAR: We sure will.

Oren, thank you so much.


Still to come, three women facing a wrongful death lawsuit for helping a friend get access to abortion pills. What a strict Texas law could mean in the new legal battle over abortion, just ahead.


KEILAR: A Texas man is suing three women over the death of his unborn child. The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by Marcus Silva, accuses the women of helping his then-wife get access to abortion pills.

It's one of the first major legal tests since the Supreme Court overturned Rose versus Wade.

CNN law enforcement correspondent, Whitney Wild, is with us now on this.

Whitney, walk us through the elements of the case and what the lawsuit's alleging.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: So what the lawsuit says is that these three women helped his then-ex-wife - excuse me, then-wife obtain a medically induced abortion, basically helped her obtain abortion pills in Texas.

That was in July of 2022 after Texas passed Senate Bill 8. They were married at the time. They have since divorced.

And basically, the quote of this lawsuit, what this all hinges on is this idea that all three of these women who helped her procure the abortion pills are civilly liable for the death of his unborn child.

Here's a quote from the lawsuit. I think we're going to pull it up here - if you guys can throw up the full screen for me and I can read that exact quote.

"Under the law in Texas, a person who assists a pregnant woman in attaining a self-managed abortion has committed the crime of murder and can be sued for wrongful death."


Again, this is a quote directly from that lawsuit.

And it hinges on this Texas law that is set up in such a way that people who are involved in the abortion - basically abortion process, can be held civilly liable.

Here are some of the main points from this Texas law, Senate Bill 8.

"Anyone who performs or induces an abortion, knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inductive of an abortion, and," Brianna, "intends to engage in the conduct described by Senate Bill 8 can be held civilly liable."

Damages in this case, Brianna, could be not less than $10,000 per abortion. This man is going after, again, the three friends of his then-wife. He is seeking $1 million in damages from each of these parties.

And notably, Brianna, he is also planning to go after the manufacturer of the abortion pills once it is found out through - assumingly discovery who that manufacturer is.

Basically, he's looking at all the people involved here and saying, look, you are all civilly liable under this Texas law for the death of my child.

Notably, the mother is excluded from the lawsuit because the Texas law exempts the mother from this civil liability.

But what's really going on here, Brianna, as you look forward into this post-Roe versus Wade era, is this is going to seek to answer the question of how broad the web of liability is when it comes to an abortion.

Who can actually, again, be held civilly liable, who is going to have to pay up for the death of a child or a fetus, rather, under this new law.

Back to you.

KEILAR: Yes. And I saw they could be liable for attorney's fees, as well. The damages here could be astronomical.

Whitney Wild, thank you so much.

We'll be right back.



KEILAR: It's every college basketball fan's favorite time of year, of course, March Madness. And the men's field is set. Alabama, Houston, Kansas, and Purdue earning the NCAA tournament's number one seeds.

For the women, reigning national champion, South Carolina, who are a perfect 32 and zero this season, are the overall top seed.

Now it's time to fill out those brackets.

And CNN's Andy Scholes is joining us with some tips to help you bring up those office pool bragging rights.

I really need some tips so I'm going to take am notes here.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Pay attention, Brianna. We all love trying to pick that upset in the first round, second round, find that Cinderella we can brag. I picked them and they won two or three games.

But if you really want to win your bracket, it's all about the game, right? It's all about the champion game and trying to get those two teams.

And, in reality, you've got to pick the winner. More often than not, the person who wins your bracket pool or competition they'll would have picked the winner.

And there's a stack that really will help you pick who is going to win March Madness. It measures the team's offensive and defensive efficiency. And every single champion since 2002 has been top 40 in offense and top 22 in defense.

And right now, you've got these seven teams right here. They already qualify. Those are seven good picks to win your bracket if you're filling it out right now.

These four teams over here, they're close. By the end of the tournament, they could qualify. So not bad picks there as well.

Two teams you don't see here that are in the mix, Ganzaga and Arizona. According to Ganzaga, they're not going to win the tournament this year. Ganzaga is like in the 70s in defense, Arizona in the 40s. So they might not be a good pick in your bracket.

And furthermore, check out this map. Since 1997, every single champion has been east of that line right there. Ganzaga, USLA, Arizona. Texas even on the wrong side of the line. It's been a long time since a west coast team has won the NCAA tournament.

So who should you pick? Well, if you want to go with the safest pick, the most probable since 1979, the one seeds. A one seed has won it 26 times. Who are the one seeds this year? You've got Alabama, Houston, Kansas, and Purdue.

Kansas won last year. So keep that in mind. Since 1974, only Duke and Florida have been able to repeat as champions. It's very hard to repeat.

The final scores in Houston this year, Houston are the favorites, Brianna. You've got going to back to 1988 to find a champion that has won near campus. So that also hasn't happened in a very long time.

It's all about having fun. Me, personally, Brianna, I went to the University of Houston. So it's going to be easy for me to fill this thing out.

KEILAR: We know where you're going. We know where you're going with your bracket. SCHOLES: Yes.

KEILAR: All right, Andy, thank you so much. I am ready to do this thing. I'm ready to win it all.

SCHOLES: Hope I helped you.

KEILAR: A big night for Hollywood and big wins for the film "Everything Everywhere All at Once."

But before the awards were handed out, host Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at last year's Oscar slap.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": We know this is a special night for you. We want you to have fun. We want you to feel safe. And most importantly, we want me to feel safe.


KIMMEL: So we have strict policies in place. If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for best actor -


KIMMEL: - and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.



KEILAR: CNN correspondent, Stephanie Elam, joining us with more on last night's Academy Awards.

Stephanie, how else did the slap effect this year's ceremony?


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the big things, Brianna, is we had to figure out who was going to hand out the best actress award because that should have been Will Smith since he won best actor last year.

So they found a new way to do it. They had Jessica Chastain, who won best actress last year, but joined by Halle Berry, who won best actress in 2003 and was, up until last night, the only woman of color to win best actress.

So you saw Michelle Yeoh winning, making history as the first actress of Asian descent to win in this category. She spoke to that.

But overall, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" had a fantastic night walking away with seven Academy Awards. One of those awards also going to Keu v Quan. And it was a really

touching moment. He really got his start in "RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK," INDIANA JONES, played by Harrison Ford.

He gave out the award for best picture, which the movie did win. So you saw a nice moment of them hugging it out. You saw how happy he was for him to have won his best supporting actor.

And Jamie Lee Curtis beat out Angela Bassett also for "Everything Everywhere All at Once." That was also a stunning moment to see that. But the film showing a lot of love for some veteran actors.

And lastly, Brendan Frazier winning best actor, beating out Austin Butler.

And also just really quickly, CNN films "Navalny" won for best documentary feature - Brianna?

KEILAR: Yes, big night for everyone, including CNN.

Stephanie, thank you so much.

And that does it for me. But don't go anywhere. We have much more news still ahead.