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Biden Heads to Europe for Critical Meeting; CNN Speaks to Lithuanian Prime Minister; NATO Chief: Chemical Weapons Would Change Nature of Conflict; TASS: Long-Standing Russian Government Insider Quits; Taliban Postpone Return to School for Girls Above 6th Grade; Precious Possessions of Those Who Fled for their Lives. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 23, 2022 - 11:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, this hour we take a look at what is a high stakes NATO Summit this week where the United States and

its Western allies aim to ensure a united front against Russia. Can they do that?

Well, I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World". That is what we will discuss this hour from the UN to Brussels world

leaders are looking at ways to help Ukraine and punish Russia. U.S. President Joe Biden on his way to NATO Headquarters right now the NATO

Chief says the alliance will increase its forces in the region have a listen.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO's posture in all domains with major increases to our forces

in the eastern part of the alliance. The first step is the deployment of four new NATO battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.


ANDERSON: Well, the British Defense Ministry says Russian forces are now trying to surround Ukrainian troops in the East you can see there on that

map the Russians moving in from Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south.

And here's a look, a new look at Mariupol the landscape smoldering and battered. Meantime Russia claims it hit a military arsenal in northwestern

Ukraine, with missiles launched from the sea. This missile fired off the coast of Crimea.

The fighting was set to stop briefly in and around Luhansk to let people get out. Luhansk is in the disputed Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine. Well,

it's impossible to know right now just how many lives have been lost in this conflict so far. In one part of Ukraine, graves are being dug for

soldiers who haven't even died yet. CNN's Ivan Watson takes us there.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This military cemetery brings home the stark reality Ukraine has been living

with for years. All of these crosses, they marked the graves of Ukrainian servicemen who've died fighting against Russian backed separatists in the

Donbas region since 2014.

And on this side, we have new graves and they're devoted to casualties from Russia's invasion of Ukraine that was launched on February 24th of this

year. One of the Fallen is - born in 1997 just 25 years old.

And if you come over here, you see something else which is a reminder of how grim this conflict is. The authorities have dug dozens of additional

graves anticipating the likelihood of more casualties in this terrible conflict. This refrigerator truck represents another side of this war. It's

parked outside a city morgue.

And city officials say that it is partially filled with the bodies of some 350 Russian soldiers. There is another refrigerator truck they say that is

parked in another part of the city with around 400 Russian corpses. And when you come to this side here, you can smell the stench of cadavers.

Ukrainian officials say that they are conducting DNA tests of the Russian dead, and that they are then going to send these bodies to the Ukrainian

Capital to eventually be returned to Russia and to the families for proper burial. Ivan Watson, CNN Dnipro Ukraine.


ANDERSON: Natasha Bertrand, connecting us to Brussels now and I want to get on the ground in Ukraine with Phil Black shortly. But this week couldn't be

bigger as far as Europe, NATO the allies are concerned.

You know, we got two enormously high stakes meetings. I guess the question that everybody really wants to understand at this point is what do those

present or those attending believe that they can achieve next? Who is the ultimate this is about ending this war? And yet we see no sign of that on

the ground, do we?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: We don't Becky and we also don't necessarily see concrete signs by NATO that they're willing to impose

certain things on Ukraine like a no fly zone for example that you Ukraine says might hasten an end to the war right?


BERTRAND: What we heard today from Jens Stoltenberg who's the Chief of NATO is that tomorrow's discussion will primarily be about how the NATO alliance

can defend itself. And of course, there will be talk surrounding how the NATO members can send weaponry into Ukraine and what kind of weapons the

Ukrainians need in order to sustain their fight against the Russians?

But ultimately, this meeting is going to be about how they can shore up those defenses on the Eastern Flank of NATO. And Jens Stoltenberg did say

he did preview some pretty significant things that could be agreed upon tomorrow including major force increases on that Eastern flank and Eastern

NATO countries.

As well as providing them with additional defensive equipment such as surface to air missile systems things that could allow the Eastern Flank

countries to defend themselves if Russia did come dangerously close to their territory and even come into their territory with a missile attack,

for example.

So ultimately, this is going to be about reshaping NATO's, you know their defenses in the face of this brand new security environment. And, you know,

I did ask Jens Stoltenberg, whether there would be any discussion of red lines here? What if Russia used a chemical weapons attack against Ukraine?

What if they use weapons of mass destruction? And he would not go into that in detail, but he did say that any use of chemical weapons by Russia would

have severe consequences take a listen.


STOLTENBERG: Any use of chemical weapons with totally changed the nature of the conflict. And it will be a blatant violation of international law, and

will have far reaching consequences. And then I think that's the most important message to convey that any use of chemical weapons is absolutely

unacceptable, and will have far reaching consequences.


BERTRAND: So I think that's one of the biggest questions going into this is will those red lines be discussed and if Russia do cross some of those red

lines that the U.S. and the international community have said or just flatly unacceptable? Then what is NATO prepared to do about it? I think

that's still very much an open question Becky.

ANDERSON: Natasha Bertrand is in Brussels. There are a few places thank you, Natasha, where it does appear, Ukrainian forces are pushing back. I

want to get to the actual on the ground and bring in Phil Black at this point. Phil in and around Kyiv, Russia's efforts to encircle the capital

have been static for more than two weeks.

In the last few days, Ukrainian forces have regained control of the town of Makariv and are putting growing pressure on forward Russia positions there

in Bucha and - we just bring up two other maps before I get to you elsewhere in the east Russia's efforts to link up gains to the southeast of

Kharkiv with territories that they have held since 2014 in Ukraine's far East are focused on Izium there are reports of Russian setbacks there.

And in Kharkiv itself, the city has been massively damaged, but not yet captured. And in the south the area between Kherson and Mykolaiv remains a

focus of Ukrainian counter offensive, which has inflicted heavy losses on Ukrainian forces at the airport, just north of Kherson.

Phil, the story on the ground is mixed, isn't it? But let's be quite clear, this war is grinding on as we see and talk about this diplomatic effort to

ratchet up action against Russia and continue to provide deterrence for NATO allies. That's all well and good that's happening in Brussels, you're

on the ground. And we are seeing some wins as it were for Ukraine. What's the bottom line here? What's the bigger picture?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I guess, Becky, on one hand, it is an extraordinary development in a way. It's not something that anyone was

talking about four weeks ago when this war began the idea of Ukraine not only defending fiercely but actually rolling back Russian gains.

And that is what they say is happening around in particular to the west, the northwest of the Capital Kyiv and it's pretty significant because it

does at the very least slow down Russia's efforts to get close to the capital and encircle it on that side.

And if they can hold that ground, if they can consolidate those wins, perhaps push Russia back further, then indeed their efforts to get the

capital suffer further setbacks. And yes, there are talks - are there are talks we're hearing this from U.S. defense officials of further Ukrainian

counter attacks in the east around Izium as you touched on and also in the south Kherson, Mykolaiv as well.

So for the Ukrainian side, undoubtedly this is positive, but even they are talking about this in fairly sober terms because they are aware of what the

broader situation is.


BLACK: They're aware of the might of the invading force and Russia is adapting too when the fight up close isn't going so well for them they are

switching for the time being at least to a tactic which sees them lobbying munitions from a safer further distance, often still in an indiscriminate

way, sometimes in a much targeted precise way, too.

But they are adjusting it all the sense of realism here, I think, is that, yes, this progress by the Ukrainian side is welcome for them. But they are

also aware of the tough fight that is still very much yet to come Becky.

ANDERSON: Phil Black is on the ground. Thank you, Phil. Well, Lithuania is among the countries that will be attending Thursday's high stakes NATO

Summit and the Prime Minister said in a recent speech, quoting now.

Putin's aggression and Ukraine's push back stronger than many have expected has shown the world those dictators are oftentimes giants with feet of

clay. They are more vulnerable than they appear, or they want to appear.

Ingrida Simonyte is the Lithuanian Prime Minister, and she joins me now live from the Capital Vilnius. We spoke before this war began, we hope it

wouldn't happen. We are speaking again now 28 days in what is your assessment of the last 28 days and where this is going?

INGRIDA SIMONYTE, LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is days of the very hot fight by Ukrainian people who are fighting not only for their

sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also for the broader idea of liberal democracy and right of the nations to decide their fate.

And I think that it was everybody but Ukrainians who were quite surprised by the magnitude and by the strength of the nation to fight for their

freedom and for their right to choose. I was not that surprised, because I know the spirit of people but of course, the level of devastation and the

level of war crimes that been committed by Kremlin by Putin is devastating.

ANDERSON: Cities destroyed, lives destroyed. Your president is heading to Brussels tomorrow for an exceptional NATO Summit. What will his message be

and what is Lithuania hoping will be achieved this week? What's left to discuss?

SIMONYTE: Well, it's not like what is left to discuss, but what we must discuss. And I think one thing that we must discuss, we must be discussing

that a couple of years ago, is how serious we are about the threat of Kremlin, and what should be the NATO response to this?

And of course, we've been discussing this after Crimea; there was some strengthening of the Eastern NATO Flank after Russia occupied Crimea and

parts of Eastern Ukraine. But that was definitely not enough.

So were the sanctions of course, this is a debate for European Union Council more than to NATO countries. But nonetheless, I think this joint

response by liberal democracies, like Western Community, if I may call what sort of one - will also be on the table, I think on both sides.

ANDERSON: You've heard today to Head Jens Stoltenberg echoing Joe Biden's position that the use of chemical weapons by the Russians would be

completely unacceptable and the consequences would be far reaching, do you fear an attack?

SIMONYTE: Well, I think that everybody fears, war and whatever use of weaponry, I think you cannot be less afraid of a regular war of the

conventional war, because, it is something that should not be happening first in the 21st century.

So basically, this is just a level of escalation. We are talking about the level of madness that one dictator can risk just to prove that what is

happening in his head is something that has the right to live first instance.

So I think the war against Ukraine was already a breach of international law, whatever rules you can imagine and was a very significant change in

sort of, say conventional wisdom that we will live in before where the consensus was that Putin is good and bluffing, but he's not doing things.


SIMONYTE: Now we see that he is doing things. So should we underestimate or overestimate his threats? It's complicated to say because in a number of

cases he proved us wrong.

ANDERSON: NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg says the alliances will double the number of deployed battle groups to send them to Hungary, Romania,

Bulgaria, and Slovakia. Is that enough from your assessment?

SIMONYTE: Well, I think the whole length of the eastern flank should be strengthened. Of course, it is for the military people first and to assess

the military first and the best means that should be used for the protection of particular regions and in the flank.

And then for politicians to follow the advice and agree on funds and headcount and equipment to be provided to the whole region as a matter of

fact, because and current situation where we see the war in Ukraine, the practical action on Ukrainian soil, of course, this is one thing but I

think we should not underestimate other changes that have happened throughout the period.

Namely, the fact that Belarus has become to a large extent, province of Russia, because it is just rented the soil, Lukashenko just rented

Belarusian soil for Russian attack and the presence of Russian troops and military equipment on Belarusian ground is enormous and never seen, I

think, since the Cold War.

ANDERSON: Clearly, all of this will be discussed as NATO Ministers meet in an extraordinary Summit. We also have the EU, of course meeting this week.

A senior Lithuanian official telling Reuters that a planned summit between China and the EU European Union should be cancelled until Beijing shows

whether it stands with Russia or the West over the conflict in Ukraine. Has the EU agreed to that? And is that something that you believe should


SIMONYTE: I think there are a couple of ways to see this. The other way is to see it as a clear opportunity to send the message to Chinese government

about its position vis-a-vis Russian Ukrainian war and Russian invasion in Ukraine.

And now, when the United States, United Kingdom and all the western countries have proved in Quad with their other partners like Australia,

Japan and others, also in Indo Pacific, that the reaction can be actually very swift and very strong I think this message is also an important

message to convey.

ANDERSON: So you agree with it. You believe that China shouldn't be invited?

SIMONYTE: It a chance to convey this message in person.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you on thank you very much indeed. It is an extremely busy week and extremely busy time. I appreciate your time here on

CNN. It's important for our viewers. Thank you.

Well, the U.S. President on his way to Europe for a high stakes NATO Summit in the midst of war. What can Joe Biden and other NATO leaders accomplish

in Brussels? We'll talk about that with our Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour up next. The effects of war taking a heavy mental toll

on those fleeing Ukraine more on what experts are saying about the growing problem.



ANDERSON: Ukraine's President addressing two more governments today via video link Japan's Parliament earlier and lost our speech to the French

National Assembly. Volodymyr Zelenskyy receiving a standing ovation and asking French lawmakers to observe a moment of silence for Ukrainians

killed in the Russian invasion while again appealing for help.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Tomorrow, it'll be one month that the Ukraine had been fighting for their freedom; our army has been fighting

against the superior forces of Russia. We need help. More help more support so that freedom is not lost.


ANDERSON: Well President Zelenskyy is expected to appear by video at the emergency NATO summit in Brussels. He was President Joe Biden on his way

there. Now before leaving Washington he told reporters the risk of Russia conducting chemical warfare in Ukraine is a real threat.

We'll CNN's Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour joins me now from Brussels where that NATO Summit will be held on Thursday. And Joe

Biden clearly trying to ensure a united front with his allies in the west, under pressure, though to do more at this point, what is the expectations?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, yes, and the big thing is that it is united both the NATO alliance and also the EU Alliance,

along with the United States.

On the chemical weapons fear the U.S. has been putting that out, just to let everybody know that they're obviously picking this up by intelligence,

just as they did with their warnings of the invasion, which Russia denied over and again, they're very concerned, as we know, that some kind of false

flag operation might be underway.

And they're particularly concerned that this might happen as a tactic as Russia's ground operation is not going according to plan, at least

according to what it appeared to be at the beginning.

They have not taken Kyiv, they've not surrounded Kyiv. They've not taken you know, the leader from Kyiv, although now they deny that regime change

was ever in their plan. They are getting very, very close to their goals in the south.

And that is why Mariupol is being hammered. And it's a whole civilian infrastructure there that is being absolutely hammered. But if Russia seems

to be in a in a corner, so goes the U.S. thought it might use something else like chemical like they allowed the Syrian allies, Bashar Assad to do

in Syria during that war.

And I spoke to the Russian President Spokesperson, as you know, Dmitry Peskov. And I asked him about the nuclear option that President Putin keeps

in some way or another, you know, raising. And he didn't rule it out or didn't rule it in just said that we would never use it unless, you know, we

face an existential threat. But what constitutes an existential threat.

Meantime, the NATO summit will be one in which all the allies reaffirm the unity, but also, according to the Secretary General, talk about sort of re-

posturing NATO, not just for this crisis in Ukraine, but for potential future crises should for instance, a hostile Russia come out of the Ukraine

war with more expansionist aims.

So I think you'll see a lot of talk about that, and how to put more permanent NATO personnel and equipment in NATO countries surrounding, you

know, on Russia's western flank, so to speak.

ANDERSON: So I think it's absolutely clear that Joe Biden is going to call for continued coordination and a unified response to Russia. I guess the

question at this point is whether he will push allies to more directly confront Russia at this point. What's your sense?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's kind of unlikely I think given the way they've been talking about this up until now.


AMANPOUR: I mean it depends on what confront means, really. But they've ruled out any kind of military confrontation, any direct action, either on

the ground or in the air by NATO, because they think that would actually put them and pit them against Russia.

And that would then, in their view, make it more likely that the war would accelerate and escalate and expand. So they are not likely to do that. But

what they really do want to do and send an absolute message to Vladimir Putin, so they really does not miscalculate is that as they keep saying,

and this is their phrase, not one inch.

In other words, if one square inch of NATO territory was threatened by Russia, then all of NATO would enact Article Five and, and go to war

against Russia to stop Russia. That's 30 nations against one.

So that is what they want to do. Now, I did speak to the EU Council President Charles Michel, and he said, you know, one of the issues here is

that Vladimir Putin has been miss-reading and was mistaken about the way not just the Ukrainian resistance would show itself, but also what the west

would do here. Take a listen.


CHARLES MICHEL, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Probably the thought that the EU would be immediately divided and that we would not be able to take

united decisions. This was also a mistake, probably; they would have thought that the United States and the EU, we would not be able to be

exactly on the same page and to strengthen these alliances.

It means that what's important; we must make sure that Putin will be defeated. It must be the common goal. This is a question of security for

the future of Europe and for the future of the world.


AMANPOUR: So that is such an important statement, we must make sure that Putin is defeated for the security of Europe and the world. And we do know

that at least, it's been announced that elements of President Biden's promised new aid that he made, you know, after President Zelenskyy

addressed the Congress last week.

That was some 800 million more dollars of lethal weaponry and other aid, including anti-tank missiles and the like, that has started to arrive,

we're told from Washington. So they are trying to build up Ukraine's resistance is defenses for as long as it's necessary.

ANDERSON: Yes, they must have real concerns about the humanitarian situation on the ground as agencies say.

AMANPOUR: That's for sure.

ANDERSON: The infrastructure is broken. I mean, you know, inside there is real concern. Thank you. Well, they are arriving by the train load. But

once in Poland, experts say hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees will need mental health report as support.

We're live near the Polish border with Ukraine for you. And heartbreak for girls in Afghanistan why the Taliban are not letting girls about the sixth

grade back into classrooms and what this means for Afghanistan's future.



ANDERSON: Well, we're getting word the longtime member of Vladimir Putin's inner circle is left his post the Russian state news agency tasks reporting

that Anatoly Chubais stepped down as the government's point person on the environment.

And Reuter says he has left Russia altogether. Chubais rose to prominence in Boris Yeltsin's cabinet in the 1990s. This resignation bit of a mystery

it has to be said. CNN's Nina dos Santos is live from London to help us unravel it.

And I know that you've interviewed Chubais a number of times in the past, we all remember his sort of rise to fame through the sort of late 1990s and

2000s. What's going on here? Who is he? And what's the significance of this departure, do you think?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think this is quite significant. It comes alongside other people who've risen to power during

Vladimir Putin's time and also predated him during the last years of Boris Yeltsin, Syria as well in the late 1990s, sort of disappearing from the

public frame.

Becky, I'm also thinking about somebody who ran a technology government technology outfit in Moscow, and then was also the President of the Russian

chess federation. We're seeing a few of these people starting to distance themselves from Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.

And particularly when it comes to somebody as influential as Anatoly Chubais, this is significant because he is somebody who spearheaded the

market reforms from the Soviet era at the end of the 1990s towards, obviously, the market that we see in Russia at the moment that meant plenty

of privatizations.

He was part of an influential group of economists that were both active during Boris Yeltsin's time. But also, Vladimir Putin ported with him

through the early 2000s Chubais at one point was leading the energy, electricity monopoly to make sure that Russia got paid for its electricity


Then he spearheaded - Rousse Nano, which was the high tech nanotechnology on before of course, taking on this brief for sustainable and environmental

causes, which he now stepped down from.

What's really interesting about this particular leak to a couple of news agencies and also now confirmed by Tass, the official news agency in Russia

as well, is that he appears to let it be known via sources close to him that he doesn't agree with what's going on in Ukraine, and he doesn't plan

to go back to Russia.

This comes just a few days after that rather menacing speech mid last week by Vladimir Putin where he said that people would figure out who the

traitors were, and spit them out like a fly that had accidentally flown into their mouths. Was he referring to people like Anatoly Chubais as well,

we'll have to see.

ANDERSON: Clearly the sanctions against Vladimir Putin and his and the elite around him, the sanctions against Russian businesses, banks, this is

all to put a squeeze on, on the infrastructure there and the west would say, encouraged people to sort of break rank as it were.

It looks as if to all intents and purposes, that is what Chubais has done. Just remind us briefly, you know, there is a core infrastructure, a core

set of men around Vladimir Putin who remain in place.

SANTOS: Yes, that's right. Although a lot of them are having their assets seized, and it's getting increasingly uncomfortable for them when Russia's

got half of its foreign reserves, frozen. So essentially, they're frozen out of the dollar system.

And they're also politically frozen out of Vladimir Putin's orbit as well, because some of them may not agree with what's going on in Ukraine. But not

all of them would have the temerity to actually voice it like Anatoly Chubais albeit through arm's distance if you like Becky.

Again, as you said that sort of vise like grip on the Russian economy, and on some of those oligarchs through sanctions is designed to try and

precipitate exactly this type of behavior that we're seeing with people starting to break rank. It hasn't happened in large number yet. And a lot

of people are close to this all but I've been speaking to over the last month or so - it could take quite some time. But it is significant.

You're starting to see people like Chubais start to through intermediaries indicate they don't agree with what's going on. I should caution though,

that we don't really know where he is yet and where his assets are.

So obviously people will be working the phones including myself to try and figure out whether we'll hear any more statements like this from some of

his contemporaries who work both Boris Yeltsin and also for Vladimir Putin as well in past, Becky?


ANDERSON: Nina, thank you. Well, more than 2 million refugees who have entered Poland from Ukraine, the World Health Organization says about a

half a million will need support for mental health disorders due to the war.

And that number will grow day by day, hour by hour. More people are pouring across the border grappling with a new reality and an uncertain future. Our

Melissa Bell is live near the Polish Ukrainian border as the Russian onslaught in Ukraine exacerbates the refugee crisis. What is it that people

have been telling you about their stories, Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is those stories that grow more and more horrific. Since what we're talking about is that the people who arrive

at centers like this one that is popped up on the edges of Przemysl to receive them is that as the time has worn on, as humanitarian quarters have

sprung up, as it is from these besieged cities that they come it is of course, with worse and worse trauma that they arrive.

I just want to give you an idea of this extraordinary humanitarian operation Becky that's been set up here within the space of a month. This

is a disused supermarket, that's now being used as a first stop for the refugees as they arrive either at Przemysl station or the lander bland

border crossing at - not far away.

They're put onto buses and brought first of all out here where they sleep. They have they can have food, there's hot food cooked for them, well

central kitchen here doing that preparing food. But it gives you an idea first of all the precariousness of the setup, because it is in this

location that they're kept for a few days and then taken on further.

What's extraordinary is that this has been set up this quickly at all, when you consider the sheer volume of people that have been coming through this


Going through this, this first place where they can see this first shelter would have been some 80,000 people in the first few days of the war, every

single day that would have been arriving across the border. And that suddenly had to be helped to find a place to sleep, a place to eat, and

then to be moved on to more permanent accommodation. And really that is the fear now.

The coordination or the lack of coordination that there is and that's been able to be created sufficiently quickly to ensure that the people who

arrive here and are given immediate shelter and found some hot food and a hot drink and given a bed are then brought somewhere to safety that is


Amnesty International's warning about that the danger longer term of the fact that greater coordination of efforts has not yet taken place simply

because it takes structures like the European Union longer to organize themselves, then it has taken ordinary people NGOs to step into that


And of course, as you said, what we're seeing now at places like Przemysl station from where the people are brought here, for their first night of

sleep across the border, are the psychological support people who are at the station to deal with some of that trauma that they're carrying and that

they've been telling us about.

These are profoundly vulnerable populations begin with since we're talking about women traveling with their small children, Becky. And they're coming

from greater and greater scenes of violence across a border that has very little to offer them in terms of where they might resettle, longer term

shelter for the beginning, not much more clarity beyond that.

ANDERSON: Yes, goodwill will only go so far vented at this point. Thank you, Melissa bell on the critical story of those who are fleeing this

horrible war. Well as thousands, one thousands of people do flee the unspeakable violence in Ukraine; there are unmistakable reminders of how

families have been torn apart by war.

Exhausted mums alone with confused children, grandparents are too frail to make the miserable journey to an uncertain future. Every hour of every day

since this horror began a month ago loved ones have been forced apart, often in a frenzied rush to safety. But then amid the heartache and loss,

there are some moments of hope. Ed Lavandera has this report.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tucked away in the back of the train station in Przemysl, Poland, we see the latest train from Ukraine

arrive, filled with families escaping war, and it's where we find Tatiana Truitt and her husband Vitaly, waving joyfully at one of the carriages.

This train is carrying special cargo. Through the metal barricades Tatiana sees her son, two sisters and their three children walking off the train.

She's waited three excruciating weeks for this moment.

LAVANDERA (on camera): You have a very big smile on your face. I imagine you're very happy right now.

LAVANDERA (voice over): Yes, he says, it's very scary there and we have been waiting for them for a very long time. Tatiana also tells us they

could not leave for a long time.


LAVANDERA (voice over): The family tells us their journey to get to Poland was a path through death and destruction. They live in a small village

south of Kyiv. They say the only road Ukrainian civilians could use to escape was constantly attacked by Russian forces.

He says there was shelling from both sides. Everyone who wanted to leave by car was simply shot. We were afraid that if our family decided to leave, we

would lose them. We waited a long time for the military to allow it.

We waited for the Russian troops to be removed so that our family could leave and we succeeded. We immediately told them to go. This was the escape

route. The sister's father drove them in his car from their village to the city of Mykolaiv.

From there, they jumped in a minibus helping families escaped to Odesa. That's where they boarded the train that brought them to Poland. The area

this family escaped has seen brutal warfare the last three weeks.

Tatiana was in Poland working and couldn't return home in time when the war broke out. She says her son often told her about hearing military planes

flying over their home and missiles exploding.

Finally, the family is reunited outside the train station. In the moment, it seemed unnecessary to ask Tatiana what this moment meant to her.

Sometimes hugs and kisses speak far louder than words, Ed Lavandera, CNN, Przemysl, Poland.


ANDERSON: Well, you're watching "Connect the World". We're live from Abu Dhabi for you. Still ahead the Taliban persona returned to school for girls

above the sixth grade ahead. We'll speak to the founder of learn Afghanistan whose family fled the Taliban in the 1990s.


ANDERSON: Remember this scene? Well, it's one that is difficult to forget, isn't it? Thousands of Afghans stranded at the airport in Kabul, trying to

leave the country after the Taliban's takeover last August.

Well, the United Nations data shows more than 170,000 Afghans have fled into neighboring countries since the start of 2021. That's on top of more

than 3 million people displaced within the country because of years of fighting, just like what we are now seeing play out unfortunately in


Well, Afghans who stayed behind are witnessing the withering away of human rights. This week, the Taliban postponed the return to school of girls

above the sixth grade. Taliban news agency says the delay is so that uniforms can be designed according to Sharia and Afghan customs, well since

their takeover in August last year.


ANDERSON: The Taliban have repeatedly insisted that they would not go back to how things were in the late 1990s and early 2000s when women and girls

were banned from going to school or in going to work. This decision came just hours after schools were due to open many girls had arrived back only

to find out they wouldn't be let inside. Listen to one, what one student told reporters.


PASHTANA DURRANI, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LEARN: Why are they playing with our future? We have rights; they are humans from this country. We want

to be free. We just want to continue our education. Is there a sin that we are girls?


ANDERSON: Pashtana Durrani and her family fled Afghanistan in the 1990s. And she was born a refugee in Pakistan. She later established learn

Afghanistan, an organization that focuses on innovation in education and women's rights.

And I'm absolutely delighted to say that you joined me tonight live from Wellesley in Massachusetts. Thank you. And these kids saying it's sorry,

the Taliban saying this is about uniforms. But what is really behind this postponement, do you believe?

DURRANI: Thank you, Becky, for having me. And the first thing we have to understand is the fact that it's just a political move. I think it's also

the fact that once this did closing the schools, because their own leadership is not uniform, they are just grabbing for whatever excuse they

can find.

And I think this was the least problematic and the easiest to find, so that they just went for the uniforms. Because what is easier than just too like,

you know, attack the uniforms on school code.

ANDERSON: As an educator yourself, how does this make you feel?

DURRANI: I find it absurd that they went for the uniforms, because there are provinces in Afghanistan, where girls not only wear hijab, but also

burqa - and then school uniforms to go to school. That's the first thing and that school uniform is perfectly fine.

Because if it was not culturally contextual and not accepted, where people wouldn't be wearing it, and the girls wouldn't be wearing it for the past

two decades, or from the 80s and 70s to the schools. If that was acceptable back in the day, how is it not acceptable today? It's just an excuse and a

political --.

ANDERSON: And so what sort of impact is this going to have on these young girls in Afghanistan? After all, the Taliban - it was August last year. I

mean, we're not yet a year. But we're trundling towards a year in, in leadership there, what's the impact for these kids?

DURRANI: That it's simple. A whole one academic year is just wasted for only girl from grade seven till grade twelve. There are schools that are

closed in southern Afghanistan that were never even supposed to open. Well, I knew this even a month ago.

And we have been in talks about it when our administration, and the schools and the staff members that we work with that. The schools were never

intended to open in the southern region and in regions that were supposed to open and there, this is the excuse they come up with. This is just a

political move.

They want more attention just because of the Ukraine crisis. They are making a political move, and what's easier to target than young girls,

teenage girls.

ANDERSON: Taliban leaders have repeatedly said they support women's rights to work and indeed to get educated, do you trust them?

DURRANI: I mean, walk the talk, if they really support girls education, open the schools, let the women work, let them be the first class exam that

they are supposed to be let them be Afghans, that they're supposed to be why are they treated as if they are not Afghans and the Taliban are the

sole owner of Afghanistan.

ANDERSON: What happens next in the country?

DURRANI: A whole academic year is wasted. And I cannot stress on this enough. Our whole academic year for girls has have been wasted. And there

is no solution in place. The international community is not looking for alternatives.

They are just looking for the way to stand in solidarity with us. I don't want their solidarity. I don't want them to be standing up for us. They

should be making sure that there are real spaces for alternative learning and learning spaces.

Stop giving the Taliban the power that they don't have actually, they don't know how to run schools, let the alternatives be the alternatives that

could be accessed by the girls to get educated. And the next thing is to open schools for girls. That's the first and foremost need for girls. But

if that's not possible, at least there should be a space that educates girls in the long run.

ANDERSON: It's fantastic to have you on. As we clearly continue to headline the story out of Ukraine, does it worry you that what is going on in

Afghanistan, which rightly stole the headlines back in August and in September of 2021has sort of lost it's lost its power as a message?


DURRANI: I think one thing it was expected of it, but then at the same time that when the world is not watching the human rights abuses that are

happening in Afghanistan, the fact that schools are not open that the international community's attention is not yet there. And the way it used

to be is giving a free hand to the Taliban with any stance that they want. Because nobody's watching nobody's listening, and nobody's taking the --

keeping the record.

ANDERSON: We're going to leave it there. We thank you very much indeed, for making your time to talk to us this evening. It's good to have you on.

Well, if you suddenly had to flee your home, what would you take with you? Well, for millions of people seeking safety in Ukraine, they had to think

fast and take what matters most, will show you the things that they took with them, up next.


ANDERSON: --says roughly one in four Ukrainians has been forced out of their homes by Russia's unprovoked invasion. Many had just moments to pack,

my colleague Salma Abdelaziz, some of the displaced people in Lviv, what they took with them? Have a look at this.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voice over): Life changed in an instant for these families forced to flee their homes as Russian troops invaded. But

what do you take with you as you run? What is your most precious possession for 11 year old Victoria? It's her beloved teddy bear. She's outgrown him,

but he's just the right size for her little sister.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Oh, it's for Valaria this is her favorite toy is her bear.

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): It was mine and now it's hers, she tells me. When she's crying a lot, she cuddles him at night. Tatiana pact is the sound of

explosions grew closer and closer to her family's home in Kyiv.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): What is the most precious thing you took?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is me and my father.

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): When I was gathering my stuff, I knew I needed to take this, she tells me. It's the only album with my dad's pictures in it.

Her father died when she was six but pictures of his smile bring comfort.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew the photo album would make me feel calmer.

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): Seven year old Milana rushes to grab her favorite thing. It's easy to see why she loves it, because there are animals in it

and dogs and you can count here, six, here is four. Denise was given just 10 minutes to leave his university dorm, but he knew what to grab. My

sunglasses I adore them he tells me, they make me look cool like Kurt Cobain.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Put on the sunglasses for me please. How do you feel now that you have the sunglasses on?

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): It makes me feel like everything is going to be fine; he says that we will win. And I will walk on the streets of Kyiv

under a peaceful sky again. A dream shared by the many victims of this senseless war. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, Lviv.


ANDERSON: Well sports clubs in the Balkans are welcoming Ukrainians who've escaped from the war are now offering them another kind of refuge, a taste

of normal life. A volleyball club in Bosnia and a tennis club in Bulgaria have welcomed the families of Ukrainian athletes. They're giving the

refugees a chance to train compete and live in safety.



MIHAIL MINCHEV, TENNIS COACH SHELTERING FAMILIES: I could not just be an indifferent spectator and watch what is going on TV from my couch as if it

is some reality show. That is why I decided I had to do something. I did not hesitate when I got the first call and responded immediately.


ANDERSON: Well for the athletes who fled their country even a warm welcome hasn't made leaving Ukraine of course any easier.


SASHA GROZA, REFUGEE FROM ODESA: We come to Bulgaria with the two families and our father stay in Ukraine. Our grandmothers, grandfathers stay in

Ukraine, it's very sad and to my old friends, it's very sad.


ANDERSON: Thank you for joining us. CNN's coverage continues after this.