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Death and Despair as More Civilians Die in Russian Attacks; Russian Missiles Hit Aircraft Facility in Western City of Lviv; Biden and Xi Holding Critical Call on Russian Invasion; Moscow Wages Parallel War of Disinformation; Russian Tech Exec Says Protesters Failed to Rein in Putin; Mounting Russian Casualties Suggest Flawed War Strategy. Aired 10-10:45a ET

Aired March 18, 2022 - 10:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, apologies for that. We got there a little late. I'll get you exactly what was said shortly.

You are watching CNN. Of course, we are trying to keep you bang up to date as ever here on CNN with exactly what is going on. I'm Becky Anderson in

Abu Dhabi. The time here is 6:00 p.m. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

This hour, we are waiting to hear the outcome of what could be a very consequential phone call between world leaders on Russia's invasion of

Ukraine. U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping started talking an hour ago. China may be the one country in the world that can

exert pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A lot more on these crucial diplomatic developments in a few minutes. But I want to start with a Russian airstrike that sent missiles very close to

NATO territory. This is smoke rising from an attack on Lviv in western Ukraine. An area that has so far been largely spared from the Russian

onslaught. Well, at least one missile hit close to Lviv's airport. The missiles falling, as I said, just 70 kilometers from the Polish border. No

reports of deaths or serious injuries there.

But in cities that have endured weeks of Russian shelling, more death and destruction. Plumes of black smoke rising over Kharkiv after Russian shells

hit a giant market there, sparking a huge fire. Emergency crews trying to put out flames themselves, facing Russian shelling. Officials say at least

one rescuer was killed.

And in Mariupol, we're still waiting to hear word of survivors of that heinous attack on a theater that was serving as a bomb shelter. The city

said to be enduring anywhere from 50 to 200 Russian attacks per day.

And disturbing video from the capital, Kyiv. A man scrying next to the body of his mother, killed by Russian shelling.

Even as Russia's aerial assault intensifies, U.S. and U.K. officials say it's offensive to capture Kyiv and other big cities has largely stalled,

but at an event today in Moscow to mark the eighth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea, Vladimir Putin gave no indication his self-proclaimed

special military operation is experiencing any problems, while praising Russian troops fighting in his unprovoked war.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): And for our own people above all, above all for our own people, and the best confirmation

of that is how our guys are fighting in the course of this military operation, shoulder-to-shoulder. Helping and supporting each other and if

the need comes, they will shield each other in the battlefield from the bullets as brothers.


ANDERSON: That's Vladimir Putin speaking in the last hour. Meantime, Russian forces are stepping up their bombardment of Chernihiv in northern

Ukraine near Belarus. Local officials there reporting at least 53 deaths since Wednesday.

My colleague, Fred Pleitgen, has more on the growing civilian toll. And I have to warn you his report contains some disturbing images.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): As Vladimir Putin's military rains bombs, rockets, and artillery on Ukraine,

civilians are paying the highest price. Scores killed and maimed.

In Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, rescue workers dig out the bodies of an entire family, killed when a residential building was hit. Dozens more civilians

lost their lives in attacks. The Ukrainian government now confirming that U.S. citizen James Whitney Hill was among those killed.

I asked Chernihiv's mayor to tell me about the situation in his city.

VLADYSLAV ATROSHENKO, CHERNIHIV, UKRAINE MAYOR (through translator): The intensity of the shelling has increased. It's been indiscriminate,

apparently random. We're not talking about certain military infrastructure buildings being bombed. In reality, houses are being destroyed. Schools and

kindergartens are being destroyed.

PLEITGEN: This graphic video shows the gruesome aftermath of an attack on people waiting in a bread line in the same town. Witnesses say at least 10

civilians were killed. Russia's military cynically claiming it wasn't them.


MAJ. GEN. IGOR KONASHENKOV, RUSSIAN ARMY (through translator): All units of the Russian armed forces are outside Chernihiv, blocking the roads, and no

offensive actions are being taken against the city.

PLEITGEN: Other cities are getting shelled, as well. One of the hardest hit, Mariupol in the southeast. Several were killed and wounded, mostly

women and children, when a maternity ward and children's hospital were hit last week. And then the main theater, where the U.S. believes hundreds of

people have taken shelter, was bombed. A small miracle: the bomb shelter under the building held up, helping some of those inside survive, though

it's still unclear how many.

Authorities say efforts to pull people from the rubble are being hindered by the total breakdown of public services and the threat of further Russian

attacks. Aerial images show the building was clearly marked as having children inside, leaving Ukraine's defense minister irate.

OLEKSII REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: You can see from the maps, from the drones that are around this theater, big letters of "children"

were written so that the pilot of the plane which was throwing the bombs could see. And still, in spite of that, this monster has bombed the


PLEITGEN: Russia has denied it was responsible for the attack, and the Russians claim they only target military installations, sending out this

video of them allegedly destroying Ukrainian howitzers. But the U.K.'s Defense Ministry says the Russians are increasingly hitting cities with

heavy and less accurate weapons, because they're simply running out of precise munitions as the war drags on. Experts believe it will only get


MASON CLARK, LEAD RUSSIA ANALYST, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR: They're very intentionally targeting water stations, and power supplies, and

Internet towers, and cell phone towers, and that sort of thing, in a very deliberate attempt to make it more difficult for the defenders to hold out

and try and force them to capitulate.

PLEITGEN: But, despite bringing massive firepower on civilian areas, the U.S. and its allies say Russia's offensive in Ukraine has stalled, and

recent territorial gains have been minimal.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


ANDERSON: OK. Well, we are on the ground and covering the diplomacy in all of this. Let me get you to our team of reporters. Scott McLean is in Lviv,

where Russian missiles fell earlier today, crucially very close to its NATO neighbor. David Culver is in Shanghai, and Arlette Saenz is in Washington.

Both Arlette and David will speak to the call that is ongoing at present between the Chinese leader and the U.S. president.

Before we get to you, Scott, on the ground, in Lviv, a Russian air strike that sent missiles close to NATO territory. What do we know at this point?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the bigger worry here is that was the first time that bombs have fallen within the city limits of Lviv. This

is a city that has gotten used to hearing air raid sirens. They go off almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and people have been

largely desensitized by them because so far, the closest bomb to hit Lviv has been about 25 miles away. That is, until today.

The air raid sirens went off shortly after 6:00 in the morning. Shortly thereafter, a large explosion, several of them, could be heard even from

the city center. Shortly after that, dark black smoke was seen on the horizon.

We headed out to the airport shortly after those bombs had fallen. We managed to get a vantage point from a bridge there where you could see the

airport runway and you could see a building just beyond it that was on fire and smoke was pouring out of that building, even a few hours later.

That, we understand, was an aircraft repair facility. As you mentioned, Becky, the Ukrainian Defense Forces say six missiles were fired. Four of

them landed. Two of them were shot down, and it is not even risk-free when those missiles are shot down, as we've seen in Kyiv for the last two days,

those can come with deadly consequences as well. The last two days, those missiles struck down and hit apartment complexes in both cases deadly.

Here in Lviv, it is still very much a normal day here. You can imagine this scene in any European city. If you look over here, you can see children

playing with bubbles. Nobody seems afraid here. Nobody really wants to leave. This has been a city, though, that has become very much a safe haven

for hundreds of thousands of people who have been fleeing violence elsewhere, and the question that a lot of people are asking in light of

this bombing is, how long will it remain for that way?

The people who put these strollers here are trying to send a message that they would like Lviv to remain this safe haven. Each one of these strollers

represents one child killed since the invasion began. There are more than 100 of them, and if you have your own children, of course, it's difficult

not to imagine this being your own kids' stroller.


So it's a powerful representation of the impact of war and the impact that war has had on this country. I asked one woman earlier what it would take

for her to leave, and she said, look, this is her home. She doesn't want to leave. She would only leave as a very last resort. Every time a bomb drops,

she feels like leaving but then once the air clears, and she can gather her thoughts, she says she thinks, well, why should I leave? This is home --


ANDERSON: Yes. Very, very powerful imagery there behind you, Scott. Thank you.

Well, while the call between Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, has been ongoing over the past hour or so, President Putin

addressing a massive rally near Moscow. No indication from the Russian president that his self-proclaimed special military operation is

experiencing any problems. He praised Russian troops fighting in what is this unprovoked war.

So, is there any sign that this war will be over any time soon? Let me bring in Arlette and David. And let me start with you, with the White

House. As you understand it, what do officials there believe can be achieved during this call between the leaders of the world's two super


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, White House officials say that President Biden will be direct and candid in this call

that is under way right now with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Biden's goals here are really twofold. One, that he wants to try to deter China

from becoming involved from aiding Russia amid their invasion of Ukraine, whether that be militarily or economically.

And secondly, it's also giving Biden a chance to decipher for himself, gain more insight into what China is exactly thinking. So far, they have not

denounced Russia for its actions. Now, this call has been under way for a little over an hour in the situation room, and it comes as U.S. officials

have really had growing concern about China's approach to Russia. One area that the U.S. is particularly concerned about is whether China will provide

military aid to Russia as Russia has requested recently, according to U.S. officials.

And listen to this assessment from Secretary of State Antony Blinken about that very matter.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: It appears that China is moving in the opposite direction. By refusing to condemn this aggression while seeking to

portray itself as a neutral arbiter and we're concerned that they're considering directly assisting Russia with military equipment to use in



SAENZ: Now, in addition to a military assistance, the U.S. is also watching to see if China might help Russia economically to evade sanctions that have

been implemented on Russia from Western countries. Now, Blinken also said that if China does get involved, they would bear responsibility for that

and that the U.S. would not hesitate to impose cost on China. But what's unclear right now is what exactly those costs will be.

Officials say that Biden will make clear in this call to Xi that there will be consequences if they do attempt to aid Russia in any way, but bottom

line here, this call is consequential not just for the status of the situation regarding Russia and Ukraine but also those ties between the U.S.

and China, two competing global powers whose relations in recent months have really been quite tense.

ANDERSON: Let's be clear, David, that the hard work and preparation for this call would have come during the, what, seven-hour meeting recently

between Jake Sullivan, the National Security advisor for the Biden administration, and his Chinese counterpart. That meeting, of course, was

in Rome, and you and I discussed the importance of that.

Is it clear, at present, what the view is from China and whether there has or is any potential change in what is or certainly has been advertised as a

very robust alignment between Russia and China?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Becky, it's funny that you go back to Monday and that meeting between Yang Jiechi, who, by the way, is a

key advisor to President Xi, so somebody who can pick up the phone and get right to Beijing and relay what was discussed with Jake Sullivan, and it

seems that perhaps the biggest indicator that that was a successful meeting, despite it being intense and seven hours long, is the phone call

that's happening right now.

And I should stress it's a video call. And right now I'm just looking at state media because they're flashing some lines from this. It's interesting

how much attention they're putting on this video call with President Xi.


It might suggest that there could be something coming out of this, that they want broadcast here domestically. One of the things that has come is

this quote from President Xi, I'll read it to you briefly, quote, "State to state relations cannot go to the stage of military confrontation,"

President Xi says. "Conflict and confrontation are not in the interest of anyone. Peace and security are the most treasured wealth of the

international community."

Again, there is no pointing the finger at Russia. He's been very careful in his wording of that. And the longer this war goes on, Becky, the more

difficult position President Xi finds himself in because they're trying to play neutral here, and China's frequent target in all of this really has

been one country, and that's not Russia, not the Ukraine, not anyone but the U.S. and they've repeatedly acknowledged Russia's so-called legitimate

security concerns.

And domestically, we've seen propaganda here has essentially been the Chinese version of what the Kremlin has been putting out. So they're

helping each other with disinformation, but what China's now navigating very carefully is feeling the economic pressure from sanctions put on

Russia, and that might explain why some recent actions taken by China may not be sitting well with Putin right now, including China's doubling the

ruble trading range against the Chinese yuan which it allows the ruble to continue plummeting.

China also reportedly refused to send aircraft parts to Russia and Beijing- based investment banks have halted programs in Russia and Belarus but Washington and the E.U. they want to see more. And how they engage is going

to be crucial here because, Becky, we know China does not want to be told what to do. They don't respond well to that. So perhaps there will be a

dialogue of mutual understanding as the Chinese like to say, and perhaps that could lead to defusing this conflict.

ANDERSON: Fascinating times. David, stay on it for us. This, as you have both described, could be an extremely consequential call. As soon as we get

some sense of what has been discussed and the outcome, our viewers will get that first here on CNN. Thank you both.

One of the most shocking attacks in this war so far, the deadly strike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol. Ahead, a CNN investigation dismantles

Russia's claims that the attack was legitimate. That after this.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. It's 20 past 6:00 here in the UAE. I'm Becky Anderson. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Well, part of Russia's offensive on Ukraine is its parallel war of disinformation. Russia is essentially gaslighting the public, making claims

that are at odds with military intelligence.

On March 9th, images like these circulated around the world after a Russian airstrike hit a maternity hospital in Mariupol. At least five people died

and more than a dozen were hurt. Yet, Russia claimed the attack was perfectly legitimate.


Well, CNN investigation found no evidence to support that claim. Katie (INAUDIBLE) reports.


KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE RESEARCHER (voice-over): Kharkiv, Irpin, Melitopol, now Mariupol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated text): It happened on March 9 in Hospital Number 3 in Mariupol.

POLGLASE: Despite being an apparent war crime, medical facilities have been repeatedly hit by Russia since its invasion of Ukraine. And with each hit,

a new justification. For Mariupol, Russia set the stage days before the attack happened.

VASILY NEBENZYA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. (through translator): The armed forces of Ukraine have set up a fire position there.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Expel the staff and patients from the maternity hospital and

equipped combat positions in it.

POLGLASE: CNN has found zero evidence such military positions were present at Mariupol's maternity and children's hospital on the afternoon of March

9th and it was civilians that emerged from the buildings. Pregnant women injured and distressed. City officials say 17 people, including children,

women, and doctors were injured. Since then, at least five people have died.

CNN built a model that revealed many signs that civilians were still using this hospital and therefore it was not a justifiable military target. This

satellite image taken just hours before the attack shows cars parked outside. This is the crater left behind. War crime investigator Truth

Hounds told CNN it is consistent with a 500- kilogram high-explosive bomb dropped from an aircraft.

Just meters away, this sign reads, "Children's Diagnostic Consultancy Unit." According to the hospital Web site, it housed children with immune

diseases, among other illnesses. Over here is where people began emerging after the strike. Women heavily pregnant, being carried with arms draped

over the shoulders of others, helping them get out of the chaos. And here, firemen can be seen running inside, assisting people to escape.

The internal devastation is significant. The voice you're hearing is of one of the survivor speaking to Associated Press, who gave birth shortly after.

MARIANA VISHEGIRSKAYA, SURVIVOR (translated text): We were lying in wards when glass, frames, windows and walls fell apart. We don't know how it

happened. We were in our wards and some had to cover themselves, some didn't.

POLGLASE: Another seen here being stretchered out later died alongside her newborn baby. These women's stories have epitomized the tragedy unfolding

in Ukraine, and yet even their suffering has been questioned, with Russian officials claiming on Twitter and in news programs that they must be


ALEXANDER VASILIEVICH SHULGIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO NETHERLANDS: This is only one woman, rushing down the stairwell. Here she changed clothes and

she's been brought on the stretcher.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you're showing this to me, but if you have any real evidence --

VASILIEVICH: Yes, this is real evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That it's not as been stated. Why did you show to me? I'm just a journalist in the Netherlands. Why don't you show it to the

United Nations?


POLGLASE: While Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov returned to the original line, this attack was justified.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): This maternity hospital had already been seized by the Azov battalion and other

radicals. All the pregnant women, all the nurses, all the service personnel were already expelled from there.

POLGLASE: As these attacks on hospitals, clinics, even ambulances continue, CNN is tracking each one. In total, we have verified 14 incidents across

Ukraine. The World Health Organization has now confirmed 44. And with each hit, the ability of people in Ukraine to get medical help during this

conflict is made more and more difficult.

Katie Polglase, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Well, much of Russia's war on Ukraine is being hidden from the Russian public. Early this month, Moscow passed a law that essentially

makes it impossible for Russian journalists to report on the war. Many have been forced to flee the country. But the Russian and English language news

site Medusa is trying to be the provider of truth, keeping up its independent reporting from Riga, in Latvia.

My next guest is the site's former publisher. He says he primarily blames the war lies squarely at Vladimir Putin's feet. But even the Russian

protesters who failed to rein him in, he says, share some blame. In an op- ed for the "New York Times," he writes that accepting responsibility could be, quote, "The first step towards a new Russian nation, a nation that

could talk to the world in a language other than wars and threats, a nation that others will learn not to fear. It is towards creating this Russia that

we outcast and exiled and persecuted should bend our efforts."


That is Ilia Krasilshchik, tech executive, blogger, and as we mentioned the former publisher of Medusa.

I just want you to expand a little bit more on what you wrote there and how you are feeling from your base, as I understand it now, in Georgia.

ILIA KRASILSHCHIK, TECH EXECUTIVE AND BLOGGER: Yes, hi. Nice to meet you again. Yes, let me explain why I wrote it. First of all, actually, I

started with a different article. I wanted to explain for Western audience that the Russians, so there are different Russians. Yes, there are war

criminals who are -- who started this war. There are a lot of people who helped to do it, but there are a lot of --

ANDERSON: OK. We're going to come back to Ilia because I think it's so important that we hear what he has said or is wanting to say. Have we got

Ilia back? I think we have. Ilia, can you hear me?

KRASILSHCHIK: Yes. Yes. Sorry. Yes.

ANDERSON: Carry on.

KRASILSHCHIK: The connection --

ANDERSON: Carry on.

KRASILSHCHIK: Yes, so, there are millions of average Russians who are against the war, totally against the war, and who are criminals for the

Russian government just in their minds or maybe because they want to go -- to say no to war, and this is done by law right now in Russia. So I want to

say this. And when I started to write it, I understood that there is no way to just explain that we are -- so we are against the war, and we are --

aren't the people who started it.

We need to understand how we as citizens of the country, how we --


KRASILSHCHIK: How we come to this situation where our country invades another and kills so many civilians and actually to kill many of our

friends. We have a lot of friends in Ukraine.


KRASILSHCHIK: I have a lot of relatives in Ukraine. So, how this catastrophe --

ANDERSON: Ilia, you've fled from Russia after the invasion. You went to Dubai before getting to Georgia. I just wonder, why did you decide on

Georgia? And how are you feeling at present?

KRASILSHCHIK: So, firstly, I need to say that there are not so many ways to escape Russia right now. There is -- if you have some visas and Pfizer

shots, which is impossible to get in Russia, actually, you can go to Europe and other ways is to come to Tel Aviv, to Dubai, to Istanbul, Azerbaijan,

Armenia and Georgia. There is not so many places where we can come right now. So then you need to decide.

You need to decide, do you have enough money to live in the wealth cities? Do you have many friends? And actually, I'm not sure that this is quite a

decision. Right now, we are in the middle of something and we have no plans yet. So I think there is dozens of thousands of Russians here in Tbilisi

right now and I'm not sure that a lot of them can say that they will live here. So we have no plans.


KRASILSHCHIK: But we don't know what will be in a month, in half a year. Yes.

ANDERSON: And we spoke to the president the other day who said there are 20,000 Russians in Georgia at present. There are many who have come here to

Dubai and we know that there are young Russians who have, you know, when they can, have moved to other countries.

What about, Ilia, for those who can't? Who don't have the opportunity to leave? You know, how worried are you about the sort of propaganda that they

are getting fed at this point, and what life will be like for those who stay?

KRASILSHCHIK: I'm very worried about it, and I'm worried in different ways. First of all, I understand that leaving is a privilege right now. I lost my

home. I want to -- I was in Moscow, actually. This is my hometown. I want to be there. But still, it's a privilege. I know some people who decided to

stay. I think that millions can't just go abroad. They don't have any money for this. They have no plans for what to do there.

And I think that these people, they understand what's happening right now. They are not brainwashed. Yes, there are people who really understand that

we have a war with a neighbor and we're killing people there. But what I'm worried about, not only about the laws in Russia, not about -- not only

about repression, which is really dangerous, and our future is really dangerous. Their future is really dangerous.

What I'm worried about that we will lose contact between us. We are here. So we are safe. And we can -- we are much safer than they.



KRASILSHCHIK: And what I'm word about there will be two nations, actually. The immigrants nation, as we had, actually, in the beginning of the 20th

century and a nation inside the Russia who are hostages of this regime.

ANDERSON: Yes. Ilia, I'm going to have to wind it up there but it has been fantastic to have you on. I worry about the connection so I'm just going to

leave it there, but it's good to have you on. Stay in touch with us, and good luck. Thank you.


ANDERSON: New signs Russian forces are losing their edge. From abandoning military vehicles to losing thousands of soldiers in battle, just how

effective is Russia's war strategy? That is up next.


ANDERSON: Well, you're watching CNN, and I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi.

We are starting to hear some of what has been said on a high-stakes call between the presidents of the U.S. and China on Ukraine. Now, Chinese state

media quotes Xi Jinping as telling Joe Biden that conflict is, quote, "not in anyone's interest," and both countries have a responsibility to ensure

peace. China, of course, has growing relations with Russia.

Meantime, Vladimir Putin got a rousing welcome earlier at a rally near Moscow where he praised Russian soldiers fighting, quote, "shoulder-to-

shoulder." In Ukraine, smoke today over the skyline of Lviv after a Russian military missile strike there. That western Ukrainian city just 70

kilometers from Poland. Many civilians have gone to Lviv, of course, for safety.

And another apartment building, the latest target in Kyiv. Officials say 60 people have been killed and hundreds injured in the capital since the war


Well, thousands of Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine since this invasion began just three weeks ago or just a little more so. On top of

that, U.S. officials say Russian troops are simply abandoning tanks and armored vehicles in the field, a sign that morale could be waning within

their ranks. That and the mounting casualties are raising new questions about the Kremlin's military strategy and its readiness in the face of

strong Ukrainian opposition.

Let's get you straight to Natasha Bertrand, who is live in the Belgian capital of Brussels.

And a true count of Russian casualties, of course, is difficult to establish. What are you hearing now, Natasha?


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Becky, so what U.S. and NATO intelligence officials are telling us is that they

believe that the number of Russian soldiers that have been killed over the last month in Ukraine is at least in the thousands. That about 7,000 right

now is roughly the estimate that they have, and those estimates vary because it has just been difficult to get that exact number of troops that

have been killed in combat because, of course, they're extrapolating data from the number of Russian tanks that have been destroyed and guessing, you

know, kind of how many troops would be in those vehicles.

They are relying on intercepted communications between Russian military officials, discussing the number of casualties that they've taken on, and

they're also relying a lot on open source intelligence like satellite imagery and information from nongovernmental organizations on the ground

there. So it has been difficult to determine exactly the, you know, the precise number of the Russian losses here, but the bottom line, they say,

is that it is remarkable just how many Russian soldiers have died in just under a month of war.

And it is something that they say Vladimir Putin probably was not anticipating. He was expecting to just go in and out, have Kyiv be taken in

a matter of days, and the losses, they believe, the intelligence officials we spoke to, believe have contributed to sagging morale among these Russian

troops. We've seen images of them looting grocery stores, for example. They are asking China for meals ready to eat because they don't have enough food

for their troops.

And all of this, according to these Western officials we speak to, has contributed to the fact that we're seeing the Russian operations stall in

many places on the ground and Ukraine. Now, of course, this is not only a ground operation. This is an air operation as well, and we have seen

Russian strikes from air take, you know, really damage a lot of civilian infrastructure and kill many, many civilians inside Ukraine as well as, of

course, the missiles that are being launched in the country.

So whether or not the ground operation is definitive in terms of the Russian advances remains to be seen, but it is really remarkable what we

are told from these officials to see that the Russians really have not advanced in the way that was expected, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. It isn't, though, clear, is it, yet, what this Russian strategy might be at this point and what happens next.

Natasha, thank you.

Well, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, known internationally as a body builder and an actor, has a message for Russians.

He posted a social media video with Russian subtitles telling Vladimir Putin to stop the war he started, and he warned the Russian people about

being misled by their leaders, invoking his Austrian father, who fought for the Nazis in World War II and was left crushed by their lies.


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, FORMER CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: I don't want you to be broken like my father. This is not the war to defend Russia that your

grandfathers and your great grandfathers fought. This is an illegal war. Your lives, your limbs, your futures are being sacrificed for a senseless

war condemned by the entire world.


ANDERSON: We are into the 23rd day of what Arnold Schwarzenegger describes as this senseless war.

Up next, the deadline looming if you want to bid for Chelsea Football Club in what could be one of the most closely watched bidding wars in global


Plus, a Ukrainian West Ham player made the fans both cheer and cry. We'll have the details on both those stories up next.



ANDERSON: An American basketball player, a star, arrested at Moscow's airport last month is set to spend even longer behind bars. According to

Russian state media, a court has extended Brittney Griner's detention until May 19th. No trial date has been set.

Now this two-time Olympic champ, who plays for a Russian team during the WNBA off season was detained on drug smuggling charges. A source tells CNN

that Griner's legal team has seen her several times a week and says she is well.

Well, time running out if you want to get your bid in for Chelsea Football Club. That window closes in a matter of hours. 9:00 p.m. London Time, to be

exact. Now this London-based club is one of the best known in the Premier League, much loved by its fans but with Roman Abramovich under sanctions,

the reigning Champions League title holders are now looking for a new owner. And reports say that there is plenty of international interest.

CNN has learned the owners of Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs, the Rickets family, will be among those making a formal offer, backed by hedge

fund billionaire Ken Griffin.

Well, fans of English football club West Ham have a lot to celebrate as that team booked a place in their first European quarter final since 1981.

But apart from winning the game against Sevila in the Europa League Competition, there was another reason why the evening left the fans

emotional, and it had to do with one man, a West Ham forward from Ukraine.

Alex Thomas, "WORLD SPORT" anchor, joins me now with the details. Raw emotion both on and off the pitch, Alex. Explain.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Yes, Becky, because this would have been an astonishing football match, plenty of excitement anyway. They'd

lost the first leg 1-0, got a goal in the second leg, 1-1 after the 90 minutes, they went extra time to decide who would go through and that's

when Andre Yarmolenko, the Ukraine winger, who's been on compassionate leave because the trauma of Russia's invasion of his home country where he

still has relatives there that he's deeply concerned about, scored the goal despite everything going on in his head and in the background of his life,

celebrating with a fan who had been waving Ukrainian colors throughout the game.

Not a dry eye in the house and rightly congratulated by teammates and managers afterwards for his pass and his ability to come on as a sub and

score the winner in such circumstances.

ANDERSON: Yes. Absolutely amazing scenes. Remarkable. Good for him. Wonderful for that young fan as well. What a story.

"World Sports" up next. Alex has got that. I'm back with CONNECT THE WORLD, top of the hour for you.