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U.S. Defense Secretary to Speak after Meeting with Allies in Germany; U.S. Defense Secretary: Applauds International Military help for Ukraine; U.S. Defense Secretary: Russian Casualties are Substantial; Paramedics Dodge Shelling as they Search for the Wounded; Millions of Refugees Flee Ukraine for Poland; Elon Musk's $44B Twitter Deal Expected to Close this Year. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 26, 2022 - 11:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, Abu Dhabi. This is "Connect the World".

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World". I'm Eleni Giokos, I'm in for my colleague Becky

Anderson. Now working for an end game to Russia's war on Ukraine when there appears to be no end in sight. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should

be sitting down with Russian President Vladimir Putin any time now. Guterres met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier and called for

quick action.


ANTONIA GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: But it is my deep conviction that the sooner we end this war, the better for the people of Ukraine for the

people of the Russian Federation, and those far beyond.


GIOKOS: As talks go on every day brings new destruction on the ground. Ukraine says its Eastern Donbas region is under heavy attack although it's

managed to repel Russian forces in some areas. Mariupol's Mayor reports a third mass grave near the city.

We haven't confirmed that but to the west of Ukraine, explosions destroy two towers that broadcast Russian Radio in Moldova break away - region. Our

Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon and CNN Military Analyst Cedric Leighton joins me now from Washington.

Barbara, I want to start with you. Importantly, we're going to be hearing from the Defense Secretary who's currently in Germany. And the important

messaging from the U.S. on this visit to Ukraine was that they want to see Russian military weaken to the degree that they cannot do things like this

again. How important is what Lloyd Austin is going to say today to the overall direction of what the U.S. is going to be doing in this war?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is really heading up the effort to get heavy weapons into Ukraine for them to push back against

the Russians, both from the U.S. and from the allies. And that's what this meeting in Germany really has been all about meeting with several dozen

NATO and partner nations to talk about what and the Ukrainians are there as well, to talk about what Ukraine two weapons needs are, and how to best

fulfill those needs.

This is clearly turning into a long term situation, if you will weeks, if not months, because they do want to weaken Russia, they want the Russian

military not to be able to come out of this, to be able to ever do it again, their senses that is the way to ensure European security, make sure

that Russia would not have the capability to do this again, against a smaller neighbor.

So where I think we're likely to hear Lloyd Austin talk about all of that talk about the reasoning behind why they want to see a weaker Russia and

then maybe set the stage for the weeks ahead, what else could be coming down the road in terms of Western assistance to Ukraine Eleni?

GIOKOS: All right, Barbara, thank you so much for that insight great to have you on. Cedric Leighton great to have you on the show thanks so much

for joining us!

Again, you know, hearing what the U.S. stance is going to be as vital and one Ukrainian official said that a big sign that trouble was bring was when

the U.S. sent a message to all businesses and diplomats to leave Ukraine just before the war started. And now the U.S. says they want to send

diplomats back into Ukraine.

What is the stance is changing position by the U.S. tell you about their commitment and involvement in Ukraine at this point?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well Eleni, it is very clear that the U.S. is ramping up its commitment to Ukraine. They believe

that Ukraine can actually sustain this effort, and that it can ultimately win this conflict.

Of course, there's a lot of work that still has to be done. There are great dangers out in the eastern part of the country, as Barbara was mentioning,

for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And the danger really focuses on the ability of the Russians whether or not they can move forward quickly to

potentially surround the Ukrainian forces that are based in that those regions in the Donbas and in the other eastern regions of the country.

So that's going to be a critical element of this. The other thing, of course to watch for is what's happening in the south, particularly around

Kherson, and then from there to Odessa, and then of course, if there's going to be a renewed push into other areas of the country, those are all

critical components.

And that is something where if there's a U.S. presence in Kyiv, that of course helps manage the war effort and manage the support effort to the

Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian government.

GIOKOS: Cedric we also have live pictures coming through from Ramstein Air Base. We are waiting for the Defense Secretary to address the press. We are

waiting for that. But before we go to that I want you to take a listen to what General Mark Milley said a short time ago as well as some of the

messaging from the Defense Secretary. Let's listen in.


GIOKOS: OK, there we go. We're going to go live now to Ramstein Air Base for the Defense Secretary.

JOHN KIRBY, U.S. PRESS SECRETARY: Secretary Austin for just a couple of administrative remarks. The Secretary will have some opening comments, and

then we'll have time for a few questions. I will moderate those questions from here. I will call on the journalists and if you could limit your

follow ups, if possible so we've got - we've got a bit of a tight timeline this afternoon so with that, Mr. Secretary.

LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, thanks, John. Good afternoon, everybody - some great polling a lot of leaders. So let me thank all of the

- and you're going to - and achieve more than your team's for joining. French Minister Reznikov and his delegation it's great to see you.

We're all coming away with a transparent and shared understanding of the challenge that Ukrainians face. And I know that we're all determined to

help Ukraine win today and build strength for tomorrow.

The work that we've done together in record time has made a huge difference on the battlefield. President Zelenskyy made that clear when we met Sunday

in Kyiv. And countries all around the world had been stepping up to meet Ukraine's urgent needs.

And I wanted to especially welcome a major decision by our German host as Minister --announced just today that Germany will send Ukraine some 50,

cheetah anti-aircraft systems. And yesterday, of course, the British government announced that it would provide Ukraine with additional anti-

aircraft capabilities as well.

And today, Canada announced that it will send Ukraine 8 armored vehicles. And so that's important progress. We're seeing more every day. And I

applaud all the countries that have risen and are rising to meet this demand. But we don't have any time to waste.

The briefings, let today lay out clearly why the coming weeks will be so crucial for Ukraine? So we got to move at the speed of war. And I know that

all the leaders leave today, more resolved than ever to support Ukraine in his fight against Russian aggression, and atrocities.

And I know that we're all determined to do even more, to better coordinate our efforts. So I was especially glad to hear General Walter's encouraged

us all to make more determined use of - coordination mechanism.

Now that to ensure that we continue to build on our progress, we're going to extend this forum beyond today I'm proud to announce that today's

gathering will become a monthly contact group on Ukraine's self-defense. And the contact group will be a vehicle for nations of goodwill to

intensify our efforts, and coordinate our assistance, and focus on winning today's fight, and the struggles to come.

The monthly meetings may be in person, virtual or mixed. And they all extend the transparency, the integration and the dialogue that we saw

today. And let me underscore another key point. We held an important session today on the long term support for Ukraine's defenses, including

what that will take from our defense industrial bases.

And that means dealing with the tremendous demand that we're facing for munitions and weapons platforms, and giving our staunch support to Ukraine

while also meeting our own requirements, and those of our allies and partners. But it also means redoubling our common efforts to strengthen

Ukraine's military for the long haul.

And I look forward to our discussions in the contact group and elsewhere about a how to get that done right?


AUSTIN: Let me again thank all of the countries who came together today. They've done crucial work. And they sent a powerful signal. We're going to

build on today's progress, and continue to reach out to nations of goodwill to help Ukraine defend itself. And we'll continue working transparently and

urgently with our allies and partners.

And we'll continue pushing to support and strengthen the Ukrainian military for the battles ahead. So we leave tonight strengthen and so does Ukraine.

And thank you, and I'll be glad to take your questions.

KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Our first question today will come from Sylvia Mentone, AFP. Do you have a microphone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Mr. Secretary actually, I have a double question for you. Moldova is stepping up its security measures, after a

series of explosions in the separatist region of - do you think there is a risk of spillover of the conflict to Moldova?

And my second question is after this big meeting about arming Ukraine, are you - aren't you concerned that Putin may become restless and threatened

again, to use a nuclear weapon?

AUSTIN: Well, on the issue of spillover to Moldova, because of what we've seen here reporting of recent violence. We're still looking to the cause of

that, but still, you know, still doing an analysis there. So not really sure of what that's all about, but we'll get something that we'll stay

focused on it.

And certainly, we don't want to see any spillover. And again, it's important to make sure that we do everything that we can to ensure that

Ukraine is successful. And that's the best way to address that. And your second part of the question there - was?


AUSTIN: You heard us say a number of times that that kind of rhetoric is very dangerous and unhelpful. Nobody wants to see a nuclear war happened

happen. It's a war that you know, where all sides lose. And so, rattling of sabers and, and, you know, dangerous rhetoric is clearly unhelpful, and

something that we won't engage in.

KIRBY: Our next question goes to Suzanne - from ZDF.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Secretary, what military aid do you now expect from the German government? And do you think the delivery of jabbered tanks

is sufficient in your opinion?

AUSTIN: You mean, Cheetah, which is what that? Yes. Let me just say that, and I think you've probably heard me say this before, as I visited Germany.

I consider Germany to be a great friend and an ally. And, you know, we've served - I've served in Germany as an officer and in work with German

forces. And I - it's always been a real pleasure to work alongside our German partners here.

Now, I think it's significant that, you know, Germany announced that it was going to provide 50 Cheetah Systems, I think those systems will provide

real capability for Ukraine. And in terms of what else Germany will do going forward.

Again, that's, that's a sovereign decision, one that the German leadership will make. And I don't want to speculate on that. I just believe that just

based upon everything that I've seen, in my interaction with the Minister of Defense, and how intently she's been focused on making sure that she can

do everything that she can to help and work alongside her partners and allies, that she'll continue to look for ways to be relevant and provide

good capability to the Ukrainians as they continue to prosecute this fight.

KIRBY: Next question goes to John - New York Times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Secretary, yesterday, you mentioned that one of the United States' goals in Ukraine now was to see Russia weakened. Can you

explain more fully what that means? And specifically what do you want to weekend and how you would measure success in that regard?


AUSTIN: Yes, John, so I think we've been pretty clear from the offset. We do want to make it harder for Russia to threaten his neighbors and, and

leave them less able to do that. Now, if you look at what's transpired here, in these 62 days or so that, that Ukraine and Russia have been

involved in this struggle here.

Russia has, in terms of its land forces, or land forces have been a treated in a very significant way casualties are, are pretty substantial. It

they've lost a lot of equipment.

They've used a lot of precision guided munitions, they've lost a major surface combat and, and so they are, in fact, in terms of military

capability, weaker than when it started.

And you know, John, it will be harder for them to replace some of this capability as they go forward, because of the sanctions and the trade

restrictions that have been placed on them.

And so we would like to make sure, again, that they don't have the same type of capability to bully their neighbors that we saw at the offset of

this conflict.

KIRBY: Next question goes to Ute Spangenberger from ARD.

UTE SPANGENBERGER, ARD JOURNALIST: Hello, how can we guarantee a safe and secure Ukraine in future is it possible that Ukraine becomes a member of


AUSTIN: Again, that'll be a sovereign decision; I think that NATO will always stand by his principles of maintaining an open door. So I don't want

to speculate on what could come.

I do believe that, that, you know, in the future, if the possibility exist, I think Ukraine will seek to, once again, apply to become a member of NATO.

But again, that's, that's probably a bit down the road and speculation at this point, is not very helpful.

I think the first step is to end this conflict. And I think that you know, what needs to happen to cause a conflict to come to an end is Mr. Putin

needs to make a decision to end this conflict. He's the person that started it, it was unjustified.

And, of course, it'll be his decision to de-escalate and then, and then go back to the negotiating table. And we really all would like to see that


KIRBY: OK, the last question today, mindful of our time, is goes to --.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Mr. Secretary, the Russian Foreign Minister, has warned that there's a danger of a Third World War. And there's a real

danger of nuclear weapons being used in the present situation. Are you not afraid that the conflict will somehow spin out of control and we'll have

this nuclear confrontation?

AUSTIN: Well, we certainly will do everything within our power and within Ukraine, Ukraine will to have the same approach do everything within their

power to make sure it doesn't spin out of the control, international communities focused on that, as well.

Again, I think this, any bluster about the use of nuclear, possibility of use of nuclear weapons is very dangerous and unhelpful. Nobody wants to see

a nuclear war, nobody can win that.

And as we do things, and as we, you know, take actions, we are always mindful of making sure that we have the right balance and we're taking the

right approach. So there's always a, you know, a possibility that a number of things can happen.

But, you know, again, I think it's unhelpful and dangerous to rattle sabers, and speculate about the use of nuclear weapons. Thanks.

KIRBY: Thank you all. That's all the time we have for today's press conference. We really appreciate you all coming. Thank you.

GIOKOS: All right. Live pictures there of the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, after meeting with leaders of

forum, he says will now be repeated every single month.

And it will send a very strong message in terms of its commitment in helping Ukraine. But also really giving some insight in terms of what the

U.S.'s stance will be and also how other countries are assisting Ukraine with much needed weaponry and importantly, the big message is that he says

the Russia's military has already been weakened.

And equipment loss that is not easily replaced because of the sanctions, but to discuss this and unpack this we've got our experts standing by.


GIOKOS: We've got Oren Liebermann is at Ramstein Air Base, International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is in Brussels for us. And we still have

CNN Military Analyst Cedric Leighton joining us from Washington.

Oren you're standing by. This is a forum, he says is going to be repeated monthly, talking about the commitments by the U.S. and also by allies. And

really tough questions, the big questions that were posed to him, the fact that Lavrov was talking about nuclear not being completely ruled out, you

know concerns about what's happening in Moldova. What did you make of some of the messaging and the fact that leaders are going to be discussing this

more frequently?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I think you're exactly right to point out that he said, this will be a monthly discussion, it gives you

a sense of, of how the U.S. views this unfolding. This is no longer talked about in terms of days or weeks.

This is talked about in terms of months. Now part of that was planned here. They meant to have a discussion about the short term and the medium term in

terms of what to provide Ukraine, the ammunition, the weaponry to stay in this fight and succeed in this fight.

But part of it was always about the long term. What weapons does Ukraine need, when this conflict is over, whenever that comes to make sure it's

able to defend its own sovereignty.

And that focused on how to transition them from the Soviet era weaponry that they already use, to the more modern weapons that NATO countries use,

not to guarantee that they would become a part of NATO. But those types of Western weapons, some of that we're already seeing the training on the

howitzers that are already arriving in country.

But it's clear now that the U.S., the UK and some of the other countries that have already provided weapons and others, right, there are more than

40 countries here, see this as a long term commitment, a long term obligation to Ukraine to make sure they have the equipment they need to

provide Ukraine, so they can defend themselves.

On the nuclear question, not only Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin here, but we've also heard from the Pentagon in the past that they have not adjusted

in any way their nuclear force posture in response to statements coming from Russia.

They made it clear they see this as unhelpful rhetoric that is saber rattling, and they simply won't go down that road. It's also worth noting

that over the course of the past two months, which is to say since this conflict has started, the U.S. postponed and canceled the test of an

intercontinental ballistic missile, while Russia went on and carried out that test regardless just a couple of weeks ago.

So it gives you a sense of the care being taken by the U.S. not to needlessly escalate this, the Russians apparently don't seem bothered by

that risk at all. But the shift in rhetoric is noticeable on the U. S. side and you heard it here as well outright stating that the goal here is for

Ukraine to win and to weaken Russia, while Ukraine weakens the Russian military by attrition and by their military successes on the battlefield.

It is the U.S. goal to weaken Russia's ability to rearm itself to weaken its economy to weaken its defense industrial base by sanctions not only

from the U.S., but from so many other countries. So some major points hit on here by the Secretary in his closing press reporting - back to the U.S.

GIOKOS: Absolutely. And importantly also that Russia is weakened to the point that it won't threatened its neighbors anymore. Nic Robertson you're

standing by for us. We spoke earlier about the fact that the U.N. Secretary General Guterres is currently meeting with Putin.

It's interesting that these conversations are happening concurrently. How do you think this is going to be taken by the Russians is very strong

messaging of the U.S. standing firm against Vladimir Putin?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: So specifically, today, we've heard from Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, saying that

the U.S. in essence was calling for the defeat of Russia and continues to stuff weapons into Ukraine.

And the very clear message coming from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and those other nations, 40 nations gathered around him was that there is

now as he said this, this ship clear, shared transparent understanding of what's happening.

But I think the real message to the Russians here is that all of these partners are giving Ukraine strength today, Lloyd Austin's word strength

today and build tomorrow.

Build tomorrow, tells Russia that its complaint that all these nations are stuffing Ukraine full of weapons, tells Russia that these nations are going

to continue to give that security support to Ukraine because they want it to be able to defend its sovereignty and repair its territorial integrity.

And that means also having an impact on Russia's forces which Lloyd Austin lay out there that has already been an impact on their forces on loss of

material on loss of men.

So if Russia, should the Kremlin had been listening across that press conference, to its direct message, they will they would therefore have

understood that this is going to be a long drawn out conflict. It's not going to be easy like it was in 2014 to overrun parts of Ukraine and they

may lose further men, they may lose further equipment.


ROBERTSON: And they may even lose territory that they think right now they've gained in Ukraine. This is the beginning of the next phase, the

longer phase here, the military forces are digging in on the ground and the equipment and the supplies are going to continue to come.

This is all about aligning for the future that was alignment, getting everyone on the same page, and pressing ahead to support Ukraine.

Eventually Moscow will recognize that this is something that is going to continue whatever their rhetoric.

GIOKOS: And Lloyd Austin said he wanted better coordinated efforts. In fact, Cedric Leighton you're standing by. I want to talk about the fact

that Lloyd Austin said 50, cheater systems given by Germany, British sending aircraft Canada sending eight armored vehicles. I guess the big

question was, you know, giving Ukraine superiority in there. What do you make of some of the commitments that you heard today from this meeting?

LEIGHTON: Well, Eleni, I think they're very significant. The German choleric an anti-tank anti-aircraft weapons system is a very significant

addition to this, this comes after a long debate in Germany about whether or not to actually arm Ukraine with substantial heavy weapons in this kind

of a weapon.

Plus the British anti-aircraft systems that are coming in and other systems that are coming in will make a significant difference on the battlefield as

long as they can get there quickly and can be used effectively.

So this does something that Ukrainians wanted to do in the form of giving them the capacity and the capability to shoot down more aircraft and

potentially more missiles than they otherwise would be able to do.

So that is a significant request that the Ukrainians have made. And it's a significant fulfillment of that request from the NATO side that which I

think is critically important. I think there was one other thing if I could, Eleni, that makes a big difference in response to a German TV

reporters question.

Secretary Austin made it very clear that he would welcome the possibility of Ukraine at some future point, joining NATO. And I think that is you

know, something, of course, that the Russians wanted to avoid at all costs.

That was one of the reasons, sensible reasons that they used to invade Ukraine. And now, the United States and NATO are signaling that Russia's

goals are not going to be met, as long as NATO fulfills its obligations to Ukraine and the line stands together. So I think those are very significant

points right there.

GIOKOS: Cedric Leighton, thank you very much for your time, Nic Robertson, and Oren Liebermann as well for your insights, great to have you on. We are

going to very short break. More "Connect the World" right after this, stay with us.



GIOKOS: Much of the international community relentlessly pursuing a diplomatic solution in the face of Russia's ruthless war on Ukraine. The

U.N. Secretary General is in Moscow to meet with Russia's president.

And earlier today, dozens of nations joined the U.S. Defense Secretary in Germany for talks on Ukraine. Last hour CNN spoke exclusively with the U.S.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.


MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: As you know, they struggled mightily with command and control fighting at night, establishing

air supremacy and air superiority. They had a real difficult time with logistical resupply, and a wide variety of other challenges and issue.

Most of that was caused by the bravery, the talent, the skill, the Ukrainians on the ground, and fighting in accordance with the training that

NATO and other allies have given them over many, many years.

So war is a two way street. There's action, reaction counteraction. And the first part of this operation, this strategic attempt to seize Kyiv and a

lightning strike the attempt to on top of a Zelenskyy government failed.

And now what the Russians are trying to do is essentially envelop and then crush about half of the Ukrainian army down around the line of contact. The

Ukrainians are set, they're ready for this fight. And our task here in NATO and in the West, is to continue to support Ukraine in their fight for



GIOKOS: Meanwhile, in Ukraine, a nighttime curfew is now in effect in Kyiv because of what authorities called Russian provocations. It comes as

Russian troops have now taken control of Kherson cities Council, weeks after they first occupied the city.

Now everyday healthcare workers in Ukraine put their lives at risk as they tried to help the wounded. CNN's Clarissa Ward and her team followed two

incredibly brave paramedics in Kharkiv as Russian shells fall all around them, and a warning her report contains some disturbing images.


CLARRISA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's the beginning of a 24 hour shift for Paramedic Alexandra Rudkovskaya and

Vladimir Venzel. They prepare their ambulance for the carnage that Kharkiv residents confront every day.

We have two --Vladimir says. Alexandra's mother stops by the dispatch center to give her daughter a hug. This is one of the most dangerous jobs

every moment together is precious.

Allowed stream of boom signals the day's work is beginning. That's incoming now this ambulance worker tells us. Alexandra and Vladimir answer the call.

- She says, the code used when someone has been wounded by shelling. Their flak jackets on they're ready to roll out.

WARD (on camera): So they've said that they forgot reports one person at least has been injured in the shelling and they're hearing some rockets as

well. So we're going to see what's going on.

WARD (voice over): The shells hit a residential apartment building. The paramedics need to act fast. Russian forces are increasingly hitting the

same target twice. It's called a double tap, a horrifying strategy to take out rescue workers as they respond.

We see for ourselves. Get in, Vladimir shouts, faster, faster, faster. We take cover under the stairwell. Alexandra is trying to find the wounded

person, but there's no signal.

At that moment another barrage goes on. Brace for the impact. Is everybody OK, Alexandra asks. Our team member - has cut up her hands on broken glass.

Vladimir treats her injuries. As Alexandra calls the dispatch again to find where the wounded are.

I've got no connection or sitting in the entrance, she says and they're shelling the shit out of those. The connection keeps dropping. Finally, she

gets through to the person who called for the ambulance.


WARD (voice over): Tell me your damn house number, she says, I repeat, 12 G, I've told you thousands times, he replies the man is dying. We decide to

try to make a run for it.

WARD (on camera): OK, so we were just in an apartment building.

They were looking for an injured man. A bunch of rounds came in and hit the next door building. So now we are getting out as fast as we can.

WARD (voice over): While we run out, Vladimir and Alexandra run back in. We find them treating the injured man on the side of the road. The back window

has been blown out by the blasts. She has shrapnel injuries and head trauma. Once they've stabilized him, they rushed him to the hospital.

Vladimir asks about his pain. The man has been deafened by the blast. Arriving at the hospital, they've done their part. It's up to others now to

save him.

WARD (on camera): I have to say I think you guys are like the bravest people I have ever met.

WARD (voice over): Back at base we ask them why they continue to do this work with all the danger it entails. It's normal, this is our work. Of

course, it's scary like for everyone, Alexandra says. Today, you were with us in the hottest place in the oven. But we're still alive. Thank God. You

feel it's your duty or obligation, Vladimir tells us to help the people who are still here.

WARD (on camera): And what are your parents say? What is your family say? Aren't they wanting you to stop this work?

VLADIMIR VENZEL, PARAMEDIC: No. No, go. It's very difficult.

WARD (on camera): You must be scared.


WARD (on camera): Wow, that's scared.

VENZEL: --all day, all night.

WARD (on camera): We saw your mother.

WARD (voice over): She's worried to the point of hysteria, Alexandra tells us. She says you need to leave. You need to go to some safe place. Why are

you doing this? I have only one child, stop it.

WARD (on camera): And what do you say?

WARD (voice over): I have to do it, she says simply. And with that they go back to cleaning their ambulance, their shift only halfway through.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, Kharkiv.


GIOKOS: Life is becoming increasingly more difficult for Ukrainians who have stayed behind as Russian troops spread across the country. Our Sam

Kiley spoke with one woman putting her life on the line trying to convince others to leave and doing what she can to help people who say leaving isn't

an option.


SAM KILEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A 21 Maria Shtern is a war veteran. She's been a volunteer on Ukraine's frontlines in the Donbas for

five years. Today, she's delivering medicine and food to villages within range of Russian artillery. A new phase in Vladimir Putin's invasion of

Ukraine is underway. And it's sometimes hard to understand why people stay in frontline villages.

MARIA SHTERN, UKRAINIAN VOLUNTEER: I'm asking people a specific question. Are you ready to hear children crying and say Mom, I'm scared to die. It

gives me the creeps to hear them say that myself.

KILEY (voice over): Russian forces of captured Izium, a few miles to the north, pounding nearby towns with artillery and rockets. They're slowly

advancing south towards Sloviansk and the city of Kramatorsk. Russia's aim is to capture this territory.

To do so it needs to overrun this landscape. Maria is heading towards them about three miles from the latest reported Russian forces and heavy

shelling. She ignores air raid sirens.

Families who've become friends are hanging on in their home and she's bringing them food. On arrival, good news, they've agreed to pull out, a

last run in the springtime garden for - and Alexandra who ignore the town sirens.


NATALIA MALIGON, MYKOLAIVKA RESIDENT: My sister woke up this morning and said we have to leave. So we packed up. We didn't want to leave until the

last minute. But then something made you want to. So we had to.

KILEY (on camera): It's an emotional wrench, but it's a relief. The importance of groups like Maria, part of a volunteer army, right across

Ukraine, here in the frontline villages is not just humanitarian. It's political. It's about trying to hold on to as much Ukrainian government

territory as possible for as long as it's possible.

KILEY (voice over): The lessons from Bucha and other towns captured by Russia is that many civilians may not survive occupation. A neighbor

herself frightened and confused, still refuses to go. She's got a job at the local power plant, joining Ukraine's millions of refugees, risks a life

of deeper poverty.

SHTERN: It's simply genocide of the Ukrainian people. I don't know how else this came to you. Let me just ask for what? We're not planning to leave

here. This is my homeland. And my relatives are here, I cannot leave anyone here. My elderly grandmother is 80 and can hardly walk. I can't leave her,

do you understand?

KILEY (voice over): There's no escape for grandmother leaving. Not anyone in this family. Tens of thousands of people are staying on in their homes

across this region. In a nearby church, Orthodox Easter services are dominated by prayers for peace. But the unholy ghost of war looms heavily

here. Sam Kiley, CNN, in Mykolaiv.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GIOKOS: More "Connect the World" right after the short break, stay with CNN.


GIOKOS: The United Nations expects 8.3 million refugees to flee Ukraine before the end of this war. More than 5 million have already made the

decision to leave. And the U.N. Refugee Agency is looking for close to $2 billion to support those refugees who are in desperate need of help.

I'm now joined by CNNs Erica Hill. Erica, you have met some of these refugees in Poland. Tell me about how they're being received.

ERICA HILL, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we do here across the board is that the refugees are incredibly grateful for the generosity

of Poland and the generosity that have been shown by the Polish people.


HILL: But what we're also hearing from those who are fleeing the war in Ukraine is that the experience could be much different if you come across

that border as a Ukrainian versus a foreigner who was in Ukraine, but is also looking for refuge.


HILL (voice over): After fleeing the war in Ukraine, a chance to just be a kid. She says he or she is grateful. Poland has welcomed nearly 3 million

people since the war started. Yet not everyone is greeted with open arms.

KAMILA DEMBINSKA, MANAGER, HOSTEL FOR NON-UKRAINIAN REFUGEES: It's clear that we are more open for you know those Slavic people actually close.

HILL (voice over): While Ukrainians arriving in Poland can stay for 18 months work legally and have access to health care and social services,

non-Ukrainians can't. These three women knew they could help.

MAGDA WRONISZEWSKA, MANAGER, HOSTEL FOR NON-UKRAINIAN REFUGEES: They have only two weeks to think about next steps. I can't imagine actually how to

do it when you're a war refugee.

HILL (voice over): Overnight, they started a shelter for non-Ukrainian refugees run by - a Catholic NGO in Poland. With space for 70 guests,

they're turning people away daily.

WRONISZEWSKA: And from the beginning, it's full.

HILL (voice over): Joel and Daniel, students from Nigeria, were studying management in Kyiv, when the war broke out and were reluctant to leave.

OYEBANJI "JOEL" TOLUWALASE, NIGERIAN WHO WAS STUDYING IN UKRAINE: It's - for me, and I would rather look to go back to Ukraine - like the very good


HILL (on camera): You told me when you were looking to leave, that it was harder for you because of the way you look because of the color of your


TOLUWALASE: Yes, to be honest, yes, this is a challenge.

HILL (voice over): They finally left two weeks ago, and are now trying to figure out what's next.

DEMBINSKA: We also try to support our guests in organizing the next steps. So sometimes it's a trip to other countries. But also we try to find flats

or apartments, places to stay.

HILL (voice over): Volunteers at least a dozen a day, keep the shelter running and help connect refugees to essential services, among them, 27

year old Khaled, an IT professional who fled Afghanistan seven months ago.

ABDUL KHALED MOHEBI, AFGHAN REFUGEE AND VOLUNTEER: I do anything that I can do, it's very good for me because I don't have any other job. And it's been

an idea to spend time here.

HILL (voice over): This effort relies on donations from clothing and toiletries to food and flowers. Even the space which has now welcomed more

than 500 people from 36 countries is donated, a generous offer the runs out at the end of May. They're hoping to move before that to ensure these

refugees have somewhere to go.

HILL (on camera): How long do you think your help will be needed?

DEMBINSKA: So we should be ready to invite new refugees till the end of the next year.

HILL (voice over): A challenge that this team is determined to meet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a feeling that we are really helping those people who are here, we cannot, you know, solve our problems. But this is a

small part that we can do.


HILL: So as I mentioned, that space, which was donated to them offered up to them for three months away, they lose that at the end of May. So they're

actively looking for a new space that can house this shelter for non- Ukrainian refugees.

The current one has 19 rooms can house about 70 people, they're actually hoping to double that space and be able to accommodate as many as 150


GIOKOS: Yes, Erica, it's really great to have you on the ground and telling these important stories. What is your sense in terms of how many people

that are not Ukrainian or left destitute and in an absolute desperate situation?

HILL: So you know, it's hard, I would say it's hard to put an exact number on it. Part of it, too, is the way that numbers are recorded as people

cross the border. And then what happens to them as they make their way through Poland.

The reality is for a lot of the folks that we talked to, and specifically the women who were running their shelter, what I've learned from them is

that a lot of these folks really just they need a place to sit and to rest for a few days while they try to figure out what those next steps are.

So it may not be that they want to stay in Poland. They're grateful they can arrive here and have a place where they can take a couple of days to

gather their thoughts and figure out what to do.

Some of them do want to go to their home country. There were just an incredible number of foreign students who were studying in Ukraine when

this war broke out. So a number of these folks are students, they can't go back to Ukraine; they want to figure out how to finish their studies.

So one of the things that they told me is that they're actually looking at other universities in Western Europe, and whether that's something they

could do. So short answer is, we don't have an exact number. But it's a lot.

GIOKOS: Yes, and it's such an important part of the story. Thank you so very much Erica, great to have you on the show. And just ahead tech big

shots have been talking about free speech. Now Elon Musk is said to buy Twitter.


GIOKOS: What could that mean for one of the world's most influential social media platforms? Our live a bit is next.


GIOKOS: The world's richest person is said to take charge of one of the most influential social networks. Twitter says it will sell itself to Tesla

CEO Elon Musk pending approval from regulators and shareholders.

The roughly $44 billion deal would take Twitter private. Musk is a controversial user of the platform spreading misleading claims about COVID-

19 at one point making offensive remarks about the transgender community as well.

The billionaire says his goal is to bolster free speech on Twitter calling it the digital Town Square where matters vital to the future of humanity

are debated. Let's go to CNN's Rahel Solomon, who's in New York for us.

Look for that price, that premium, I've got two questions. Why would Elon Musk want to pay so much? And it's really difficult for shareholders to say

no to that kind of valuation.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In fact, that 38 percent premium, Eleni, yes and that's the question. What does Elon Musk perhaps see that? Some

others don't. Unclear at this point, we'll see how it all plays out.

But here's what we expect from a Twitter owned by Elon Musk, who as you pointed out is a controversial figure. New features perhaps the possibility

of editing your tweets, he also wants to ban spam bots, I think a lot of us could appreciate that.

Also, he has to figure out how to monetize Twitter, how to make money off of Twitter, he pledged quite a bit of his own money $21 billion and borrow

even more for major Wall Street Bank, so how to monetize Twitter and how to make good on this bet is going to be very important in terms of its


Now in terms of what happens next we asked Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities, what to expect. And he says if you are a Twitter user, you might want to be

prepared to have to pay for it, take a listen.


DAN IVES, MANAGING DIRECTOR, WEDBUSH SECURITIES: I think for Twitter's probably turning into a subscription platform two, three dollars a month,

they'll lose significant amount of users, but probably those that would stay on now would significantly increase revenue.

I think advertising is something subscription service that could lead to other areas in terms of content. But let's just be clear, I mean Twitter

has challenges as a growth platform. That's why there's no second bitter looking at this.


SOLOMON: And Eleni, it's a bold bet and a lot of Wall Street wants to know now will it pay off?

GIOKOS: Yes, interesting. I mean, the edit button sounds interesting, subscription fees don't sound that fascinating to me. But look, there's a

lot of scrutiny about this. And it comes with warnings from EU officials about the rules and regulations that Elon Musk will have to comply with.


SOLOMON: Yes EU commissioner Thierry Breton saying, it's more of a reality check to Elon Musk and his plans to perhaps do away with some content

moderation, these comments coming from the Financial Times. But take a look.

Say we welcome everyone we are open, but on our conditions at least we know what to tell him. Elon, there are rules, you are welcome. But these are our

rules. It's not your rules, which will apply here.

Here's what we know Twitter has roughly about 330 million monthly active users globally. The EU makes up about 45 million of those monthly but those

comments also saying that Twitter and Elon Musk could find themselves at the end of sanctions if they violate those rules, and Eleni possibly even

one day being banned if they violate the rules.

GIOKOS: Interesting times, Elon Musk doesn't respond very well to rules some time. So Rahel, thank you very much. I'm sure we'll be talking about

this a lot in the next few weeks. Thank you so much.

All right and thank you so much for joining us, that was "Connect the World". CNN's coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues after the

short break. I'm Eleni Giokos, take care.