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Erin Burnett Outfront

U.S. Hits Russia With Sanctions, Cancels Key Meeting As Biden Says "This Is The Beginning Of A Russian Invasion;" Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) Discusses About Putin's Push Of Russian Troops Into Ukraine's Breakaway Republics; New Images: More Troops Deployed To Ukrainian Border By Russia; Jury Finds Ahmaud Arbery's Killers Were Racially Motivated; Star Power, Money Flood GOP Primary For Key Senate Seat; U.S. Sanctions Target "Russia's Elites And Their Family Members." Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 22, 2022 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll be back in two hours later tonight 9 pm Eastern with the latest on the situation in Ukraine and other major news, until then. Thanks very much for watching.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Biden's called Putin's actions an invasion, hits Russia with severe sanctions targeting some of the country's banks and some Russians close to Putin. Who are they?

Plus, we're going to take you to the Russian side of the border tonight and you will see what is there; tanks artillery moving in.

And Ahmaud Arbery's killers now found guilty of federal hate crimes, Attorney General Merrick Garland emotional responding to the verdict. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett live from Ukraine tonight.

OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, the summit is off and Biden strikes with sanctions. The U.S. cancels a summit between Secretary of State Blinken and the Russian Foreign Minister as President Biden lashed out at Putin in what he calls the beginning of Putin's invasion of Ukraine.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Who in the Lord's name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors? This is a flagrant violation of international law.


BURNETT: The head of NATO says additional Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine's eastern territories in the Donbas region. And the Acting U.S. Ambassador right here in Ukraine told us today that there are now officially Russian troops there. She said whether they crossed over or were already there and simply put on uniforms.

Putin upping the ante late today, again, addressing the cameras and saying Russia recognizes the self-declared republics as much bigger than they currently are. Let me show you this on a map. The yellow and red area is currently controlled by separatists. That's who declared independence.

Putin now says he supports them taking the area that stretches all the way to the white border. More than double what they have well into Ukraine, pushing way farther into Ukraine. And Putin says Russian troops will go into that territory if called upon.

All day we've also seen images of more Russian military vehicles arriving at Ukraine's border. You can see truck after truck lined up, soldiers as well, just miles from the border of Donetsk, one of those self declared republics.

And in a moment, we're going to take you inside Russia to that region. Our Fred Pleitgen is there and he saw those images.

Now, Biden sanctions tonight are also meaningful and perhaps mostly, to be honest with you, because they show that he's willing to go where no U.S. president has gone before and he's willing to go further, halting trading in Russian debt as an example, government debt.

Now Russia is prepared for those sanctions and Biden can go a lot further. A senior Administration official telling CNN tonight that this is 'only the sharp edge of the pain we can inflict', suggesting Biden is giving himself even more room to go farther should the invasion escalate and there's plenty of room to do that.

Tonight, Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceling his meeting with a Russian Foreign Minister that was scheduled for Thursday, saying the invasion means Russia has ended diplomacy but, but, but, but he also said this.


ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: To the extent there's anything that we can do to avert an even worst case scenario, an all out assault on all of Ukraine, including its capital, that would inflict horrific costs on the Ukrainian people, we will always pursue that.


We will always pursue that. And amidst all this, we notice something that I felt was important to point out, we were starting to see signs of something, something off. Is it serious communication gaps? Is it, perhaps, disagreements among Putin's inner circle? It's unclear, but we're seeing something odd among those charged with representing him to the world.

Listen to what Russia's ambassador to the United States said the day before Putin said the Donbas regions are independent countries and part of Ukraine. Here's the day before. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANATOLY ANTONOV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: We are not trying to take any territory of a foreign countries. I would like to confirm that Donbas and Luhansk is a part of Ukraine.


BURNETT: A part of Ukraine? Well, then the next day it wasn't, according to Putin.

And then there was this, Putin's spy chief seemingly uncomfortable closing the door to negotiations with the West. And Putin then responded publicly on camera by belittling him, when Putin asked him if he supported recognizing these republics. Let me play the exchange for you.



SERGEY YEVGENYEVICH NARYSHKIN, DIRECTOR OF THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE OF RUSSIA (through interpreter): I would agree that our Western partners can be given one last chance to offer them to force Kyiv to make peace and fulfill the Minsk agreements as soon as possible. Otherwise, we must make the decision we are talking about today.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through interpreter): What do you mean otherwise? Do you propose to start the negotiation process?

NARYSHKIN (through interpreter): No, I ...

PUTIN (through interpreter): Or recognize the sovereignty of the republics?

NARYSHKIN (through interpreter): I ...

PUTIN (through interpreter): Say it plainly.

NARYSHKIN (through interpreter): I'll supports the proposal on recognition.

PUTIN (through interpreter): You will support or you support? Speak directly, Sergey Yevgenyevich.

NARYSHKIN (through interpreter): I support the proposal to ...

PUTIN (through interpreter): Just say it, yes or no?

NARYSHKIN (through interpreter): So I'm saying I support the proposal to admit the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics into the Russian Federation.

PUTIN (through interpreter): We're not talking about it. We're not discussing it. We're talking about recognizing their independence or not.

NARYSHKIN (through interpreter): Yes, I support the proposal to recognize independence.

PUTIN (through interpreter): Good. Please take a seat. Thank you.


BURNETT: There isn't a person who wouldn't feel resentful of being treated that way. It just all stands out. Is it a sign of Putin state of mind, his isolation, his power, truthfully, nobody knows. But here on the ground in Ukraine, we did ask people how they feel about the situation and about Vladimir Putin. We spoke to some of them in Ukrainian and they were very generous and bold and also speaking in English.


KATE (PH): It makes me feel really sad and upset.

MALE: (Inaudible) ...


BURNETT: He went on to say their army is not as big as Russia's but they will fight to the end. Maya (ph), a young woman said the same. She believes Ukraine is powerful, believes Putin is an angry man.

Kate, a teenager from Kyiv added this thought, she said Russia is a big country why can't Putin be happy with what he has.


BURNETT: He says Ukraine and Russia used to be ...

KATE (PH): Is the same, yes.

BURNETT: ... one country - is the same. Yes. I mean, how do you feel when you said ...

KATE (PH): But it's different, because I speak in Russian and Ukrainian for one - yes, I really ...

BURNETT: You speak both, but you're a Ukrainian.

KATE (PH): ... yes, both. Yes, but I'm a Ukrainian.


BURNETT: And one woman tonight was blunt. "We all," and then she paused, and she looked at me, because she wanted me to hear the emphasis, she said, "We all think Putin is crazy. We are patriots." It reflects what we have heard from so many civilians here.

Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT tonight in the capitol of Kyiv. And Matthew, Ukraine's President announced he is calling up reservists for military training, but says he's still speaking a diplomatic solution. How optimistic is President Zelensky though?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, I mean, look first off, President Zelensky along with other Ukrainian officials that have been speaking out tonight have been really welcoming the sanctions that have been imposed by the United States and by other Western powers like Britain and particularly Germany, which went ahead and put a hold on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

It's a big strategic project that was causing a lot of concern and the Germans have gone out there and they've put a hold on it because of what Russia has done and recognize these two breakaway republics. So that's one thing that they've been doing so that's given the Ukrainians some confidence.

They are also stressing and Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, said this again tonight in a national address, stressing the diplomatic path. They're saying they're using every opportunity they have got to try and bring this crisis to an end through diplomatic means and actually President Zelensky thanked the Turkish government for suggesting that they could arrange a meeting between the Ukrainians and the Russians to try and find some sort of compromise solutions to try and find some diplomatic way forward on this.

But yes, you're right, there's also been that military preparedness as well. And the President of Ukraine saying that reservists have been called up for military training in the face of that Russian threat. I think the Ukrainian foreign minister speaking in Washington next to the Secretary of State Antony Blinken, earlier tonight, put it very succinctly and said, look, we've got two plans. The first plan is to pursue diplomacy as much as we can. The second plan is to defend every inch of Ukrainian territory if we have to. Erin?

BURNETT: Matthew, thank you. And now I want to go to Democratic Congressman Anthony Brown of Maryland. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a 30-year Army veteran who served in Germany during the end of the Cold War. I very much appreciate your time and I know you've been briefed many times on the situation, Congressman.


The White House says it's the beginning of a Russian invasion in Ukraine. I know you received an update from the White House today, how far do you think Putin is going?

REP. ANTHONY BROWN (D-MD): First of all, I think he's going further than international war law or the respect for the sovereignty of Ukraine and its people would warrant. Russia has invaded Ukraine. They've increased their presence. Putin has received authorization from his parliament to use military forces outside of Russia. This is an invasion in Ukraine. And I think the President's responses today imposing sanctions, his first tranche was appropriate. But I think we need to be prepared to impose even more onerous sanctions in the days and weeks to come. BURNETT: Yes. And as we've pointed out for the bank example, they did

a bank and it was something important, but obviously there are many, many more draconian things you could do if you chose to on that front. What are you learning, though, about Russia's forces around the rest of Ukraine that are still there encircling this country as we speak?

BROWN: Look, we've seen a gradual build up of Russian forces over the last several weeks, if not months. In fact, the number today, about 190,000 or so is almost twice as much as what we had anticipated. But when you look at the types of units, the support in logistical trains that they put in place, Russia is certainly preparing for, I think, a larger invasion than what we've seen and that's why I think these next rounds of sanctions are going to be very important.

The further that Putin wants to move Russian forces into Ukraine and towards the west, the more stringent and painful these sanctions really need to be to send a clear message not only to Putin, but to the Russian people, that this is going to be a painful operation or decision by President Putin.

BURNETT: So part of, of course, what's happening here is just a rise in militarization in general because of this. Russia has upped, obviously, militarizing and putting these troops in the border, more weapons and munitions flow come into Ukraine, Hungary is mobilizing troops on the border of Ukraine. You've got NATO sending in more troops. President Biden is saying forces are going to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Now, look, he's clearly speaking to Putin when he does that, though, and says this. Let me play it for you.


BIDEN: Let me be clear, these are totally defensive moves on our part. We have no intention of fighting Russia.


BURNETT: Do you fear Congressman that more U.S. troops, as it escalates the perception Putin may have could pressure him to invade further?

BROWN: Well, first of all, let me say this, I mean, Putin is sort of brought this upon himself. I mean, his long-term interest is for a smaller NATO footprint in Eastern Europe for a smaller sort of exchange or sale of Western weapons to Ukraine and he's going to get quite the opposite.

I think it is important and I certainly support the president to move forces from Germany to Eastern Europe, to deploy forces from bases in the United States to Europe, to send a very clear message that any attack on a NATO country will be met with a response from all NATO countries, including the United States. And that's why I think it's important that we put forces in the Baltic, in Poland to send that very clear message to Vladimir Putin that there is a line over which he crosses where - well, we're far from it now, I think - where U.S. forces would be engaged. BURNETT: Yes. Well, it's an unimaginable situation. You just heard

the Russian ambassador to the United States. He said the exact opposite thing that Putin said the day before. I mean, the exact opposite. He wasn't even being really pressured on the question. I mean, it was just black and white opposite. And then you saw Putin humiliate his intelligence chief on camera and publicly and purposefully.

Are you getting any briefings on what the U.S. government or U.S. intelligence believes about Putin's inner circle or his state of mind?

BROWN: Well, we're right now, the House, is in district work week, so we haven't been in Washington for a number of days, so I haven't received an updated briefing, a classified briefing from the intelligence community or the Defense Department on that issue.

But look, what we know about Vladimir Putin is that he is manipulative, given his background in intelligence. He knows how to move people in the direction to get what he wants and we saw that on the clip that you just showed. There are reservations. There are doubts within his, if not his immediate leadership team, but certainly within the larger leadership team perhaps in the parliament.


But at the end of the day, President Putin is going to get what he wants. That's who he is. And he's willing to use force to get it both in Russia and in Ukraine.

BURNETT: Congressman, thanks so much for your time tonight.

BROWN: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, we traveled to the Russian side of this crisis. An area overflowing with Russian soldiers and heavy armor, so what do people there think about Putin's order to invade Ukraine? They're seeing all of the tanks come through in real time going to those two breakaway republics.

Plus, Biden interviewing possible nominees for the Supreme Court as The Washington Post reports the President may have already made his decision, so who is she?

And the race for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate seat, it has star power, a lot of money, but there is one man tonight who could make all the difference.



BURNETT: Breaking news, satellite images just into CNN show the massive military buildup in southern Belarus near the Ukrainian border. Dozens of tents and vehicles less than 25 miles from the border appeared in recent days. I'm going to show them to you in just a moment. Literally we're getting them in, so we're going to show them to you in a moment.


First, I want to go to Fred Pleitgen. He's OUTFRONT live from the Russian side of the Ukrainian border. And on this border, obviously, Fred I want to be clear, we're talking about the border of these breakaway separatists, self-declared republics that Putin has recognized now and then he said troops will go if called upon, so you are aware those troops would come through. Tell me what you're seeing where they are.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Erin. This is really the first time that we were able to see those large Russian forces on Russian territory in the field, but right at the border with Ukraine, as you put it, with those breakaway republics of Luhansk and of Donetsk.

What we saw on the ground there were, first of all, Russian soldiers pretty much in every town, but also a lot of military vehicles as well. And the posture of those forces appear to be that first of all, they were very strong, but also ready to go at any time. Here's what we saw.


PLEITGEN (voice over): Russian forces the near Rostov advancing towards Ukraine's border, moving columns of artillery pieces and tanks towards the separatists-controlled areas called the Donbas recently recognized by Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader coy when asked if his forces had already crossed the border and just how far they might advance.

"Firstly, I didn't say that the troops would go there right after our meeting with you here," that's the first thing he says. "Secondly, it's impossible to predict any specific outline of possible actions at all. It depends on the specific situation that is developing on the spot."

We travel to the Russian region bordering Donbas and saw soldiers all around, including long columns of troop carriers and heavy armor standing ready.


PLEITGEN (on camera): The area close to the border with Ukraine on the Russian side is teeming with military equipment. We've seen armor. We've also seen self-propelled artillery as well. The U.S. says it believes that this could be a sign that a larger offensive could be looming, even as Moscow says it has no such plans.


PLEITGEN (voice over): "Russia has greenlighted troop deployments to the separatist areas, a clear breach of international law," NATO says.


covert attempts to destabilize Ukraine to overturn military action. This is a serious escalation by Russia.


PLEITGEN (voice over): Russian authorities say 10s of thousands of Donbas residents have been evacuated to this area in Russia. Some we talked to praised Vladimir Putin for intervening in Ukraine.

"Putin, we are very grateful that this happened. If he helps us now, we will live normally and free," this woman says. And she says, "Of course we are happy. The entire camp didn't sleep all night. We watched it live, everyone was happy and we even had a celebratory tea party in one of the camp buildings."

But the enthusiasm could be short lived as the U.S. says Putin's moves to infringe on Ukrainian territory could be the prelude to a bloody devastating war.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And Erin, you saw those people in that report who had fled the Donetsk republic and there certainly was some bad blood between them they said and the Ukrainian authorities and certainly the Ukrainian military, but I didn't speak to a single one of those people who fled that area who said that they wanted a wider war with Ukraine. They said the opposite is true. They want peace, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much. Amazing to see those images and for the first time from that Russian side is that right near that border where they would approach to enter as more troops go in, and as Putin said they would be peacekeeping.

OUTFRONT now Steve Hall, CNN National Security Analyst and former CIA Chief of Russia Operations and retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, author of Hunting the Caliphate.

So Maj. Gen. Pittard, let me start with you. You just heard Fred Pleitgen on the ground in Russia right over the border from those two breakaway republics. I hope you could see the images that he had, just the massive tanks and all those tanks along those dirt muddy roads. He saw the massive military presence along that border. What do you think when you see his report?

MAJ. GEN. DANA PITTARD, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Good evening, Erin. It's very concerning. It's pretty obvious that the Russians are going to reinforce the two breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk. They have the capability for a number of options. They have the option of connecting Crimea with those breakaway provinces along the shore of the Sea of Azov, but that's certainly an option, given option of taking all of Eastern Ukraine, now also have the option of encircling Kyiv.

[19:25:03] But the bigger deal with President Putin is that he has let us know

that he doesn't respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. He also has no respect for the military strength of Europe and he has no respect for the will of America and Europe to stop him. The sanctions aren't going to stop him. He's done a cost benefit analysis with his folks and he realizes that he can move forward. And only sanctions and he believes that sanctions will cannot stop him and even if sanctions are actually agreed upon, that the Russian people are tough enough to weather it.

BURNETT: So Steve, those breaking images I have them now, those satellite images that we just obtained from Maxar Technologies. So what they basically show, this is a different border. This is a new field hospital in western Russia, along with additional troops, vehicles and logistics infrastructure in Belarus, so you're looking at the northern part.

What do you make of these images? And I should say we don't know exactly when these were added. We do know that they were not there, we understand, on February 4th. Now these images are coming out and you can see all this infrastructure in place.

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think what we need to start with is the premise that we were just discussing, which is that it's extremely doubtful as to whether or not sanctions are actually in and of themselves, regardless of how strong they are, are actually going to work. I mean, let's just look at the recent past.

We have sanctioned Russia - the United States and other of our Western allies have sanctioned Russia continuously. Now, admittedly, these sanctions are much stronger and yet even the threat of those much stronger sanctions really hasn't done that much. So what you're seeing is you're seeing an increase in these troop formations as far away as Belarus.

So when you recognize these two little tiny states that Putin decided he was going to confer upon them the status of countries after putting his own people in there, so they would ask for it, that's a long way away from where you are in Lviv, which is a lot closer to Belarus which is where those pictures are coming from.

So he's got forces all over the place. I don't know that he's going to simply stop at the Donbas region, because we really haven't given him reason to. As a matter of fact, we've said we're not going to put forces on the ground. So really, what's stopping him? He doesn't care if the Russian people suffer, he'll hang in there with those sanctions, I believe.

BURNETT: So Major General, let me ask you, President Zelensky here in Ukraine announced today that he's calling up reservists for military training. And we've met young men here signing up for the new territorial defenses that they established a whole lot of new battalions at the beginning of the year and even the men that I've talked to who aren't signing up themselves have friends who are.

So there's a lot of passionate enthusiasm for this, but they're new, they're still untrained, a lot of haven't even started any training yet. And the military, just to be to be frank, Major General, they haven't welcomed us to come on to their bases and see any preparations. Maybe it's just bureaucracy, but certainly not, hey, come look at what we're ready to do. So let me ask you, is Ukraine prepared for a full invasion?

PITTARD: Simple answer is no. President Zelensky who came across as cool, calm and collected did not want to provoke Russia, did not want to get his people excited, but now they haven't prepared. So their defenses are woefully inadequate. They already have troops that are from ages of 20 to their 50s, young privates who barely have the training necessary. So their ability to stop a Russian invasion is limited.

BURNETT: So Steve, as we see the military buildup, two U.S. officials tell CNN that the U.S. believes Putin could still be planning a full invasion. But again, President Zelensky said today, "We understand there will be no war. There will not be an all-out war against Ukraine, and there will not be abroad escalation from Russia."

And Steve, that is a belief and sentiment still shared widely across this country despite an increase in anxiety and concern and some people from Kyiv may be moving west. That is true, but there's still a disbelief. Why is there still such a divide between what we're hearing from President Zelensky and U.S. officials?

HALL: Well, Erin, I don't envy the president Zelensky, his position. I mean, he's right there in the shadow of the bear. They're in the process of invading his country. He's trying, I think, probably to keep his nation together and trying to make it so that people aren't terrified, which is perhaps what you're seeing on the streets there in Ukraine, especially in the western portion.

He's also got some domestic politics that are involved in this. He's got to be careful with what he says, because there's a lot of folks that are sniping about his handling of this.


So, it's a tough position to be in. It doesn't surprise me he is trying to downplay it to say there is military in the face of a much, much larger Russian force.

BURNETT: Yeah. Thank you both.

Also, one other thing stand out here, it is amazing, people believe in their military. They do it's very open and they do believe in it. Thank you both so much.

And next, the wealthy Russian now being targeted by the United States, only actually three of them are. The rest, the ones that would need to be on the next list. Wait until you see how they live, the yacht, the mansion, the luxury bank accounts. This could bring it all down.

Who are they? And what do they stand to lose?

Plus, new guilty verdicts today fror the three white men convicted of chasing down and killing Ahmaud Aubrey.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: No one should feel if they go out for a run they will be targeted and killed because of the color of their skin.




BURNETT: New tonight, three white then convicted of federal hate crimes in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. The men were found guilty of interference of right, which is a federal hate crime and attempted kidnapping. They now could face life in prison in addition to the life sentences they received from their state trial.

It could be significant, though, because if those sentences at state trial are cut in anyway, they still get life because of these charges, so this is crucial.

Attorney General Merrick Garland growing emotional today while he addressed the verdict.


GARLAND: No one should fear that if they go out for a run, they will be targeted and killed because of the color of their skin. I cannot imagine the pain that a mother feels to have her son run down and then gunned down while taking a jog on a public street.


BURNETT: The verdict coming nearly two years after the three men chased Arbery through the streets of a Georgia neighborhood and killed him.

OUTFRONT now, Van Jones, former special adviser to President Obama and our political commentator.

Van, I want to start with this story. The attorney general was very emotional, really broke up there. I watched that several times here today. It's just so kind of -- I don't know, it just catches you. Were you surprised by his emotion?

VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: I really was. He is a poker player. He was going to be on the Supreme Court under president Obama because he was a calm president. I have never seen that level of emotion from him. But it came out.

This was a lynching. This was a lynching that the people who did the lynching were so proud of what they did, they videotaped it, themselves, because they were so minded by their racial hatred. They saw an innocent guy on a jog and such a threat that they thought it was great to run them down, gun him down, but film it, themselves. And that lets you know the depraved set of mind or mindset is so important for the federal government to step in and ensure civilian rights are protected for everyone.

BURNETT: So that's the point I mentioned in the introduction. The federal conviction makes it certain that they're going to face incredibly long prison sentence, right, even if state convictions are reduced or overturned, no matter what happens there, right, this ensures the punishment.

And here is Ahmaud Arbery's mother reacting.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: What we got today, we would have gotten today if it wasn't for the fight that the family had fought. We got a victory today. But if so many families out there who don't get victories, because of people that we have fighting for us.


BURNETT: Van how significant is the ruling? Has anything changed because of what's happened here?

JONES: Well, I think what's significant is that she's not wrong. It takes a tremendous fight. This case is the exception.

Had they not videotaped themselves doing it, the local police weren't going to accept the charges. They were saying they were going to shoot him. It was almost like a self-defense thing. There were to charges brought.

So every step along the way, this family and their advocates have done a tremendous job of keeping this before the public eye and get to where they've gone. So I think it's a significant ruling. I think when people think about hate crimes and that kind of stuff, they don't understand often the federal government for a long time was missing in action on these kind of cases and it's really I think to see the federal government stepping in on egregious cases making sure in case, the state does the wrong thing, the federal government is ensuring civil rights, you can't be so small to the federal level you can get away with hate crimes.

BURNETT: Van, I want to talk about the Supreme Court for a moment, because there's development there. President Biden we understand met with three potential nominees. Three of them, Federal Judges Ketanji Brown Jackson, J. Michelle Childs, and the California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.

Now, Jackson was long considered to be the front-runner. She would be the first federal public defender to reach the high court. But obviously, he's talking to multiple people. We know at least three. Where do you think we are?

JONES: I think Ketanji is still the front runner. She should be. Look, I think having a former federal prosecutor but former public

defender on the bench is important. It really when you go to law school, everybody knows this, you have two bunches of people, you have the people who want to be prosecutors, people that want to be defenders.

And they're different. They have a different perspective. They spend more time with -- the prosecutors spend more time with the police, often the public defenders with the community people. There is a different perspective.

And again, if you're talking about diversity, it's not the in fact that she is female, the fact that she's African-American, she also has done things different with her law degree. I think that can be a very, very different Supreme Court.


BURNETT: You know, I think it's really an amazing point, right? Diversity comes in all different ways and the resume is one of them.

All right. Thank you so much, Van.

JONES: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, a pivotal Senate race that could determine who controls the Senate. The attack among the public candidates are getting personal.

Plus, the West says they have it out, the billionaires that Putin's oligarchs.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Russian elites and their family members are on.


BURNETT: Okay, so who are they? Who are the richest of the rich Russians that can bring it all down on Putin?


BURNETT: New tonight, a celebrity doctor, a hedge fund CEO, ties to Donald Trump and former ambassador in the Trump administration. They all have something in common. They're fighting to represent the Republican Party in a crucial election that could decide which party controls the Senate.

Jessica Dean is OUTFRONT.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The GOP primary for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat has it all -- star power, high stakes and a lot of money.


With three months left to go, it's already shaping up to be the most expensive Senate contest in Pennsylvania's history, with wealthy candidates and outside groups all pouring money into the race.

DAVE MCCORMICK (R), PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Now I'm running for the U.S. Senate to fight the wolf mob, hijacking America's future.

AD ANNOUNCER: Dr. Oz is a conservative outsider, who will take on the Washington establishment.

CARLA SANDS (R), PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATE CANIDDATE: I'm Carla Sands, and I'm a MAGA conservative.

DEAN: On the Republican side, some $35 million has already been spent to flood the airwaves. The two candidates leading the way are celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz --

DR. MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: How many think Washington got it wrong with COVID?

DEAN: And Army veteran and former hedge fund CEO, Dave McCormick.

MCCORMICK: I will fight for the people of Pennsylvania.

DEAN: Both of whom are running for office for the first time and already hitting each other hard in attack ads.

AD ANNOUNCER: First, China sent us COVID, then David McCormick's hedge fund gave Chinese companies billions.

MCCORMICK: When Mehmet Oz questions my patriotism, he's crossed the line.

DEAN: As a swing state that voted for Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020, Pennsylvania could be the key to who controls the senate.

Former Pennsylvania congressman and CNN contributor Charlie Dent says Republicans will need independent voters and potentially even some Democrats to win.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Republicans have to be concerned they do not nominate somebody seen well outside the main stream. If they do, Pennsylvania could easily go Democrat.

DEAN: But first, the candidates must win the Republican primary, which means appealing to the former president's base.

McCormick aired this ad during I during the Super Bowl. He is married to former Trump White House official Dina Powell and a number of Trump White House alumni are a part of his campaign.

Carla Sands has emphasized her ties to the Trump administration. She served as ambassador to Denmark.

SANDS: I am the only candidate in this race in the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania who actually worked in the Trump administration.

DEAN: Meantime, Oz is on a non-traditional campaign path, recently taking time off to accept a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and using his celebrity and name ID to pull people into his campaign stops.

OZ: One, two, three, Oz.

DEAN: Oz, McCormick and Sands skipped the debate Monday night and have been called out by the rival Jeff Bartos, the 2018 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.

JEFF BARTOS (R), PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I don't understand how these political tourists, these out-of-staters don't show up for debates.

DEAN: McCormick was born and raised in Pennsylvania, while Oz went to medical school here. But both men have lived out of state until recently.

MCCORMICK: With these guys, I will always remember where I came from.

DEAN: Now, both are playing up their Pennsylvania pedigrees.

OZ: The values we have to have to make wise decisions are found in places like Erie, Pennsylvania.


DEAN: Sources tell me as of right now, they do not anticipate former President Donald Trump will be weighing in with an endorsement. That can always change. That's the thinking right now.

Erin, he had previously endorsed a candidate named Sean Parnell who ended up dropping out in November when a judge ordered primary custody of his children to his estranged wife -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jessica, thank you very much. It's an incredible race to watch.

And next, the U.S. and the West taking on some of Putin's wealthy friend, sending a very clear message to others, to Russia's richest oligarchs. We'll see them next.

Plus, more of our reporting from here in Ukraine. You will see the steps they are forced to make because of the risk of a Russian invasion.



BURNETT: New tonight, a few Russian elites getting hit with sanctions over Putin's moves in Ukraine, but it's a warning. Russia's richest could be targeted soon. It's a warning to oligarchs like Roman Abramovich, the owner of a soccer team and a whole lot of other things. You may remember, he docked his massive yacht in New York City in 2013, waiting for his then wife to give birth to their daughter in America. \

So who is getting hit with sanctions? And who needs to worry?

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The West is hunting rich Russians -- their yachts, homes, and hidden bank accounts, all the assets of Vladimir Putin's billionaire boys club.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll also impose sanctions on Russia's elites and their family members. They share in the corrupt games of the Kremlin policies and should share in the pain as well.

FOREMAN: Many Russian oligarchs who often spend a lot of time outside Russia at their foreign properties have deep ties to Putin. Newly named to the U.S. sanctions list, Denis Bortnikov, an official at a Russian bank and son of the director of the Federal Security Service, the modern KGB. Petr Fradkov, a banking official with ties to Russia's defense industry. Vladimir Kirienko, son of Sergey Kirienko, the former prime minister who oversees Putin's domestic policy, who has also been sanctioned. And the list could grow.

BLINKEN: Other Russian elites and their family members are on notice that additional actions could be taken against them.

FOREMAN: The Brits have names too.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And we are sanctioning three very high worth individuals, Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg.

FOREMAN: Timchenko is one of the richest people in Russia with "Forbes" estimating his worth at $24 billion. His business deals integrated the illegally seized Crimea into the Russian financial system. The Rotenbergs have strong interest in gas and energy companies, and plenty of Russian banks and businesses are also on the list.

Edward Fishman was formerly with the U.S. State Department.

EDWARD FISHMAN, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE: T individuals have kind of a tacit agreement with the state.


They support Putin politically. As a result, they're allowed to benefit from kleptocratic practices.

FOREMAN: Some of Putin's pals were hit with sanctions when Crimea fell in 2014.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: All this to change his calculus.

FOREMAN: Analysts believe that did slow Russia's roll into Ukraine. And this time, many say the economic consequences for Putin should be steep, and for the oligarchs, their wives and mistresses, and their assets that they shelter abroad.

FISHMAN: They're not going to turn a Russian billionaire into a pauper, but what they will do is create substantial frustration and annoyance in their lives.


FOREMAN (on camera): These sanctions could freeze accounts for these rich Russians, it could limit their travel, stop investments. Even keep their grown kids from attending universities in the West.

What we don't know is if all this rocking the yachts will make any difference to Vladimir Putin. Right now, the smart money says maybe -- Erin.

BURNETT: Yeah. Certainly would be an unprecedented step to strike at these individuals. Really would be something different.

Tom, thank you very much.

And next, here in Ukraine, this city about to take a new step to protect people in case of an invasion.


BURNETT: It is 3:00 a.m. here in Lviv. The U.S. embassy may have relocated to Poland for the night because of a potential Russian attack, but tonight is another silent one in the city.

Remember last week, we showed you this map of the bomb shelters left over from the Cold War here. Well, finding them wasn't easy, and using them seemed unthinkable then and now. But the city is now preparing the public over a potential Russian invasion, they want to be prepared.

So, in a few hours, the city will test their public emergency system. So, we're told it's going to go like this, the sirens are going to start going off across the city, then emergency officials are going to address the public over a loud speaker. They're testing that part, too, in case there's no Internet, television, or radio -- a scenario that could happen, of course, but still seems at odds with the reality here.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.