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Erin Burnett Outfront

Russia Unleashes On Ukraine With More Attacks, Airstrikes; Zelensky Says Russian Sabotage Groups Have Entered Kyiv: "The Enemy Marked Me As Target Number One;" Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) Discusses About The Briefing Of Ukraine's Dire Situation; Kremlin Says Putin Gave French President Macron An "Exhaustive Explanation" Of The Reasons To Invade Ukraine; Russian Stocks Plunge 33 Percent, Ruble Hit Record Low Amid Ukraine Invasion, Global Oil Prices Soar, Could Get Worse. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 24, 2022 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Gen. Joulwan, as usual, thanks to you as well.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll be back in two hours, 9 pm Eastern, with the latest on the war in Ukraine. Until then, thanks very much for watching.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett live in Ukraine tonight. And OUTFRONT tonight, we have breaking news, sabotage groups have entered Ukraine's capital. That is the warning tonight from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who in a video statement tonight said Putin has marked him as enemy number one, his family enemy number two.

But he says he is staying in Kyiv, the capital tonight under siege. That city tonight dark, streets deserted, comes as all men between the ages of 18 and 60 are now formally forbidden from leaving this country.

Ukraine bombarded with missiles today, more than 160 coming down on many military sites across this country. It was roughly seven o'clock this morning when we heard the booms of the explosions here. Then over the next hour or so at least six rounds of sirens rang out over this city.

Earlier we traveled to an attacked airbase, a muddy road to a wooded area where we saw very young Ukrainian troops standing guard. An officer told me that two rockets hit that base radio battalion base just hours before we were there. And just moments ago, the Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning that Putin is not backing down.


ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: Part of the Russian plan has been to put Kyiv in danger to assault the capital, to go after other major cities. We're seeing forces come in from the north, from the east, from the south and that's all part of the plan that we've laid out for the world in recent weeks. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: New video just coming in of a military school in eastern Ukraine now in flames. You can hear the heavy gunfire. You can see the explosions on your screen. It's the southeast of where I am tonight. Late tonight low flying jets, our team saw flying over the port city of Kherson. The sound of airstrikes soon followed.

Ukraine also says it has lost control the Chernobyl nuclear site after a fierce battle. And just outside the capital Kyiv, near the airport, our Matthew Chance was caught in the middle of a firefight involving Russian troops watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. Picture. Picture.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) the driver as well. Okay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's move down this way against the wall.


BURNETT: As of tonight, we believe tanks are still streaming across the border. They have been streaming across the border from Russia all day. So you've had all of these strikes across this country. Antony Blinken had warned missiles would come down across Ukraine, they did.

And then the tanks and they're coming, and coming, and coming and with each passing hour the human cost of Putin's invasion is growing. There is shock and fear here tonight.

We are in a state of martial law right now in this country. And as I mentioned, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry says that that means no men between the ages of 18 and 60 can leave this country. Now, the men that we've talked to in recent days are proud to stay. They plan to stay and I spoke to one of them tonight.

He says that right now, as I speak, he is with his newly formed military brigade. Not going to tell you where but they are together and he told me, "It's hundreds and hundreds of us army reservists who are ready to complete all of our orders. We aren't worried. We believe in victory!" Exclamation point.

We have reporters spread out across the region covering every angle of the story from Ukraine to Russia, to Poland where tonight Ukrainians are fleeing. I want to begin though with Matthew Chance. And Matthew President Zelensky, these things happen wee in the hours of the morning. I want people in the United States to understand this is happening well after midnight here local time, the President Zelensky, again, addressed his nation sharing some very dire warnings. What did he have to say?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're not sleeping. He's not sleeping either. And, in fact, within the past hour, there's been another public address on his social media platforms from the Ukrainian presidents, expressing his concerns about his own personal future and that of his family.

He said a number of things but the thing that really struck home is this, "According to our information," he said, "the enemy," and he's talking about the Russians at this point, "the enemy marked me as target number one." They've marked my family as target number two.


"They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state." That's him.

We have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv and it kind of talks to that deep seated alarm. And it's not just a concern, it is an alarm based on their intelligence assessments, that what Russia is planning to do now is encircle Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and enter into it and decapitate the government and to replace it with a pro-Moscow puppet regime.

And obviously, what President Zelensky feels, which is why he's made this public pronouncement now, he's in a bunker, we understand at the moment in a secret location, though, he says is in the sort of central part of Kyiv still. It just shows you how concerning and how dire the situation is tonight in the Ukrainian capital.

I'm looking at across the city now here, Erin, and it's very, very quiet. Most of the lights are out. There is a very spooky, eerie, calm, that is over the city right now. But we're all aware that at any moment, that could dramatically change.

BURNETT: That waiting, that exhaustion and that is that is part of what Putin, of course, is doing. I played a moment ago, I don't know if you heard Matthew, as you were getting ready to talk, but I played some of your encounter with Russian forces near Kyiv, and I just played sort of when you came under fire. But there's something so crucial about what happened to you there in light of what we're now learning, excuse me, about saboteurs in Kyiv. Tell me.

CHANCE: Yes. I mean, these could be the people that President Zelensky is talking about, I believe, the Russian special forces that have been sent there on helicopters, deployed at an airbase, sent to an airbase to capture an air base on the accidents of Kyiv. Look, we have this extraordinary encounter with them earlier today.

We didn't even know they were Russian forces at first, because we've gone to the airbase. Made that journey by car, we were told by Ukrainian officials there'd been a fight there for control of it, but the Ukrainians were in control and so we approached the gates and was stopped by these troops.

And I said, "Look, can we do a live shot here?" And they were like, "No, it's too dangerous." Remember, I'm speaking in broken Russian with them. And I said, "Look who's in charge? Is it the Ukrainians or is it the Russians? Who's in control of this region?" And they said, "It's the Russians that are in control."

Which I thought was really odd and I said, "Well, where are the Russians then?" And they said, "We are the Russians." And it was only at that moment that we all understood that we had encountered and come face-to-face with those Russian Special Forces, shop it in under heavy fire to that airbase just hours before and it baffled off Ukrainian security forces, Ukrainian military to take control of that region.

The firefight excerpt that you saw, which you played a few moments ago that followed that conversation and it may have been the start of a counter attack. The Ukrainian government say they've recaptured that area. I don't know whether that's the case or not, because I'm not there anymore. But it just shows (inaudible) which is all right now tonight in Ukraine (inaudible).

BURNETT: Yes. No, I understand that and, of course, if Ukrainian forces did retake it, I know that would be very significant. But as you point out that we have nothing to indicate that that's true or not true. We just don't know.

All right. Matthew Chance, thank you very much.

So when I mentioned that after the missile assault across the country, the tanks were coming in, they were coming in and they were coming in all day, steady stream. The reason we know that, and by the way, it was coming in, in multiple places. But the reason we know that specifically in one place was because Fred Pleitgen is there in Belgorod, Russia.

Fred, so tell me what you're seeing now. Obviously, now here we are, again, in the wee hours of the morning. What are you seeing from Russian forces now?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Erin. Well, certainly you're absolutely right, it was a steady stream of Russian forces going into Ukrainian territory from the position that we were in, in Belgorod. South of Belgorod, which is basically the area that leads to the town of Kharkiv, which we know there was some of the pretty heavy battles going on there throughout the day.

But specifically in the night hours in the past couple of hours that we've been there, at that final crossing before Ukrainian territory, the big thing that we heard there was missile launches. There were a massive barrage of missiles still going towards Ukrainian territory. I know that, for instance, the area that you're in was on the receiving end of some Russian missiles, certainly the town of Kharkiv as well.

A lot of the missiles that were launched towards Ukrainian territory were launched near the Belgorod area and it really is massive salvos that are being fired off some of the medium range, some of the short range, we also heard some longer range ones as well and they really are very big. Now, one of the things that we noticed is that the area from where the

missiles were launched towards Ukrainian territory seemed to be, itself, advancing towards Ukrainian territory.


Which leads us to believe that the front line was advancing as well, that Russian forces were advancing. But then also what happened is that more and more of that Russian armor came pouring into Ukraine. And at the beginning, we saw some howitzers that went through. Those themselves, of course, very powerful weapons, a howitzer shell can do a lot of damage.

Then also main battle tanks, which clearly had been dug in on the front line on Russian territory and then just simply took the main road into Ukrainian territory. Also, because it seemed to us as though the front line was advancing.

But especially towards the evening hours, and then the night hours, which is where we are right now. It was really long convoys of Russian trucks that also went across some with armored vehicles, but some also without so it certainly seems as though the offensive that we're seeing from the Russians, the invasion is very much ongoing, is very much speeding up and certainly shows no signs of letting down.

It really is a very dangerous situation, but what you will clearly see that the Russians are pressing this offensive and they certainly have a lot of troops in that border area that are advancing, Erin?

BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much. It's just such crucial context, because you realize the manpower is coming in and coming in and coming in. It's filling up the balloon. And the question is, of course, where it's going to go.

There has been fighting, I want to emphasize, throughout the day in that region along the south, up in the north by Chernobyl, outside Kyiv. So you have seen that, but again, that onslaught of tanks continuing to come in and weaponry.

I want to go now to one of the members of Congress who was just briefed up moments ago, Democratic Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill. She sits on the House Armed Services Committee. She spent almost 10 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy, where she was a pilot for missions throughout Europe and a Russian policy officer.

So, Congresswoman, you know more about this than anyone and you just got this briefing. So given your knowledge and background, what did you learn in that briefing?

REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): Well, I think what we heard in that briefing was about the invasion, certainly about the missiles coming in, stuff that you have been reporting on at sea. We've heard that there are areas of heavy fighting. The Ukrainians are fighting back in certain areas. And then we heard about the strength of our NATO and EU alliances. I'll just give you some quotes, I know Secretary Austin said that we

take Article 5 seriously and we will 'defend every inch of NATO territory'. Secretary Blinken saying, "This will be a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering and Russia alone is responsible."

We also then went in with Secretary Yellen and Raimondo to talk about the current economic sanctions. And I think, as you see this, this is something our intelligence community has been saying since November that Putin was moving forward. And I think this is a completely unprovoked attack.

It's really shocking and appalling to see these tanks moving in not provoked in a fledgling democracy like Ukraine.

BURNETT: So, U.S. intelligence was right. When Secretary Blinken said that missiles would come down across Ukraine, that that was what he thought would happen, most people anywhere did not think that that actually was going to happen. Maybe there were a few, but most people did not and they certainly do not think that here. They did not think that here, okay. And then it happened to them.

So given that U.S. Intel was right, what does U.S. Intel say about Putin's next steps now? Because they're very unclear, sitting here.

SHERRILL: So Erin, part of the reason I went to Ukraine on the foreign affairs delegation, the bipartisan delegation that we took to Brussels and then Ukraine a couple weeks ago was to understand what was happening because we had been hearing from U.S. intelligence since November that this attack, this invasion was coming. We're seeing the troops massing on the border and yet hearing from Ukraine trying to quell the fears.

When we met with leadership, though I do believe they realized it, but the economic assaults were oncoming. So we have been working to get them what they need; stingers, javelins and we are hearing that some of those have been used today to, in effect, fight back ...

BURNETT: They were.

SHERRILL: ... against the Russians. And then Putin has come in, we've seen him taking over a larger swath of Ukraine quite frankly, further to the west than I would have predicted, but really taking over large swaths. We've seen the troops throughout Belarus and coming in from Belarus with some of the military from Belarus.

So it looks as if Putin is there, trying to take over Ukraine and quite frankly, this is what he said he was going to do.

BURNETT: Well, that - yes.

SHERRILL: He has without (inaudible) he believes this is part of the Russian territory.


He is trying to re-assert the sphere of influence. What I think he might not have expected is the unity of NATO is the

reassertion of our transatlantic alliances. And then, of course, he has said he did not want NATO troops in the region. Well, this has drawn an inordinate amount of new troops into the region.

BURNETT: Right, right. Which I know there's these questions about what that means for Putin himself as well. Thank you very much, Congressman, I appreciate your time.

And I want to go on the back of that now to James Clapper, who was the Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, and the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President George H.W. Bush, also retired Lieutenant General in the U.S. Air Force.

General, I appreciate your time. So we are now in the early hours of the new day here in Ukraine. President Zelensky just said the enemy has entered Kyiv. He says, "According to our information, the enemy marked me as target number one and my family - as target number two."

He did then say that he is in the government area of Kyiv. He was specific about where he was. He said he wasn't leaving. You heard Matthew Chance say that he is in an undisclosed bunker there somewhere. What is your reaction to what Zelensky is saying?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, it's heartrending on the first level, but I think it gets to what Putin's objective is, immediate objective is to decapitate the leadership of Ukraine and to install subsequently, puppets who will be more compliant and obedient to Moscow. So I think he's very realistic, very stark and in my mind, very heartrending.

BURNETT: Putin has threatened anyone, General, who supports Ukraine with 'consequences greater than any you have faced in history'. The word standout. President Biden answered a question about it. He was asked about what Putin meant today after his speech and here's the exchange.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he threatening a nuclear strike?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have no idea what he's threatening.


BURNETT: General, how likely is it that Russia would attack the United States as he's threatening to do and what could that attack look like?

CLAPPER: Well, first, I found a warning that Putin issued chilling. Coming on the heels of the theatrical nuclear exercise in which they drilled their version of the triad, their strategic nuclear forces. So what is potentially implied, of course, is almost incomprehensible, but the Russians - well, different attitude about the use of nuclear weapons than we do. I think what it would mean in practice, probably, at least initially

would be cyber attacks. So as the sanctions take hold and start to cause pain, I rather doubt Putin will sit still for that. And so he will retaliate with pain on us and that will take the form initially, I think of cyber attacks, for example, given sanctions against our financial sector or even portions of our critical infrastructure.

BURNETT: Right. Which, of course, be incredibly destabilizing and serious, but I'd say you said it so well, I think those words are chilling for anyone when they listen to them. I want to ask you one other thing, General, if I may, and that is the fierce fighting that we understood took place around Chernobyl, sort of in the north of this country, at the Chernobyl nuclear accident site, which is in Ukraine, about 80 miles from the capital.

So the agency that runs the plant confirmed to CNN that Russian forces have taken control of it. Again, we understand there was fierce fighting there. What do you think Putin is looking for there and do you have any concerns about that situation with the toxic waste that's their?

CLAPPER: I have very serious concerns about it. And I'm surprised there hasn't been more focus on this. I think reason the Russians feast on that as a primary target is they wanted to have control of it and not have to rely on the Ukrainian to protect it, particularly one Ukrainian who might be motivated to sabotage it, make it look like the Russian cause another disaster.

Moreover, there are some 15 active nuclear reactors in Ukraine spread across four complexes. And so the Russians who were not known for being discriminate about targeting.


If they either wittingly or unwitting attack one of these active nuclear facilities, we could have Chernobyl times two, which would be a disaster for the region to include ironically enough Russia. So I'm very concerned about the nuclear infrastructure, whether past or present in the Ukraine.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, General. I appreciate your thoughts, despite that very sobering assessment.

CLAPPER: Stay safe out there, Erin.

BURNETT: Next, we're going to take you to the Kharkiv region. Thank you so much, General. Ukrainian soldiers have blown up a bridge and a dam to try to prevent Russian troops from advancing.

Plus, as Russian forces move into Ukraine. We are seeing more Ukrainians leave and we're going to take you just across the border to Poland, where evacuees are now gathering. We understand some people here already leaving this country are waiting up to nine hours.

And we're live in Moscow where anti-war protesters took to the streets more than 1,700 reportedly arrested. And when you hear what they were threatened with, what they were told would be the consequences, would you think that they protested anyway. You will be amazed.



BURNETT: We continue to follow the breaking news in Ukraine amid Russia's invasion of this country. In Kharkiv, Ukraine's second biggest city, becoming a major target for Russia now. President Zelensky describing the fighting there is some of the most intense of the invasion so far.

Sam Kiley is OUTFRONT. He is in Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine which is near the Russian border. Scott McLean is in Medyka, Poland. We're going to talk to both of you, such important parts of this story. First, though, Sam, let me start with you.

I understand Ukrainian soldiers blowing up a bridge and a dam east of Kharkiv. The goal there to try to cut off access to Russian troops who had seized the nearby area to try to block them from coming in further, that's according to Ukrainian media. Tell me what you are seeing.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So we got these reports have been confirmed of these two destructions of bridges or bridges over dams out to the east. That is to try to prevent reinforcements being brought in for what is feared is going to be or could be an attack here on Kharkiv, the big the second biggest city in the whole country, population of at least a million and a half.

But importantly, 75 percent of them speak Russian as a mother tongue. That does not mean, of course, that they are natural sympathizers with this unprovoked invasion indeed. The city is now mostly dark. All the public lighting has been switched off. Earlier today, though, Erin, the city was struck with missiles or military installations in and near the city were stuck with missiles from the early hours of the morning until well after dusk, not nonstop, but in sporadic and quite heavy bombardments from time to time.

We now understand that from Fred Pleitgen that they're seeing where he is, which is only 50 miles or less from where I'm standing on the other side of the Russian border, significant movements of armor now both main battle tanks and 155 mobile howitzer units. These are formidable ground invasion straight out of the Soviet playbook, the very big heavy muscle moves that the Soviets used to like to do.

Clearly the Russians have inherited that. They do offer up a degree of vulnerability too to the infantries here in Ukraine if they are going to be deployed with the javelin and NLAW or shoulder-launched missiles. So there is an opportunity for the Ukrainian military to consolidate and no doubt that is what is going on, because there have not yet been sufficient momentum and the Russians to actually come into the city.

They may not decide to try to do that. They certainly don't have enough troops to take over and control a city of a million and a half people but they are potentially being blocked by the Ukrainians. We anticipate some pretty bloody days ahead.

BURNETT: Yes. Sam, thank you very much.

And breaking now, the White House says the United States will accept Ukrainian refugees and is prepared to help European countries; Poland, obviously first among them, where there is now a large number of Ukrainians coming to the border. Scott McLean is OUTFRONT live from Poland's border with Ukraine.

And Scott, I just want to ask you, of course, what you're seeing there and also the context that we're learning now that you have in this martial law that no man between the ages of 18 and 60 is allowed to leave the country. So I'm curious what you're seeing and, also, obviously, that means a lot of families will be separated.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You are seeing a lot of families, Erin, and what virtually everyone has told us is that they expect to go back. People are coming here, nobody expects to live in Poland for the rest of their life and claim refugee status here.

Everyone expects that their stay here will be maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe longer. But everybody expects to go back. I just want to give you a quick lay of the land here. When you arrived here, just in the last couple of hours, they've been handing out these leaflets. And essentially they're printed in four languages. They explained that if you're fleeing conflict in Ukraine, you will be allowed in and then they list these reception centers that you can go to if you have no other place to go and pull them (inaudible) where they will find a place for you and your family to sleep.

Let me just swing the camera around for you, if I can, and you can see some of the people who have fled across the border. This is a pedestrian crossing. And you'll see a lot of women, you'll see a lot of children. We have seen a few men as well between the ages of 18 and 60, but some of them whom we spoke to seem to have second passports that they were going on.

This is one of the buses that will take people to one of these reception centers and then they will fan out across the country from there. Virtually everybody coming across this border Erin has gotten to the other side on taxi, train, bus, however they could and then walked across. The reason that you're not seeing more people here though is because there is a huge back log on the other side where you have to get an exit stamp from the Ukrainians.


We are hearing reports there was one gentleman actually who's waiting for his wife who's been here for hours.

When I spoke to him about two or three hours, she had been waiting for four hours already and she was about a half a mile away from getting her passport actually stamped.

Here's another account of someone who woke up this morning and realized there was war. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was very scary because we woke in the morning and received a call that a war with Russia had started. So we immediately packed our things. Items, necessities and financial means and immediately left for the border. At the border, we had to wait for nine hours to cross the border.


MCLEAN: And, Erin, one of the things you will not see here is any kind of presence from, UNHCR. In Europe, each country that is responsible for the refugees who are coming in. The UNHCR only has ten employees in Poland and they'll only help if asked by the government. And so far, they haven't been.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I really appreciate that, Scott. I think it's fascinating.

You see so many women and children, but the men between the ages of 18 and 60 that he's seen seem to have been traveling on a second passport. Obviously this is a significant development.

Last night, we told you re-service had the stay. Now, it's all men have to remain in the country.

Next, we are learning new details tonight about what Putin is thinking as he wages this unbelievable, unprovoked and stunning war on Ukraine.

Plus, we're live in Russia where more than 1,000 anti-war protesters have been arrested despite a direct, personal and chilling threat from Putin's authorities.



BURNETT: Breaking news, Secretary of State Antony Blinken responding to Putin's threat that anyone who supports Ukraine will face, and I quote, consequences greater than any in history.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I can't begin to get into his head and to say exactly what he means by those kinds of words, that kind of bluster, but again, we've been prepared for whatever course he chooses to take.


BURNETT: This comes as the Kremlin says Putin held a, quote, serious and frank phone call with the French President Emmanuel Macron today, as he wages war with Ukraine.

OUTFRONT now, John Sipher and Andrea Kendall Taylor, the former deputy national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Counsel.

Thanks so much to both.

John, I want to start with you. The Kremlin says Macron initiated this call with Putin. I'm always careful in these things. A call initiated by a French president, but it said Putin gave an exhaustive explanation for his decision to carry out this -- he calls it military operation.

So it's extensive. He goes on and on. He defends himself. You get that information from macron, who's the only one sort of still having these conversations with Putin.

Do you think it's important Macron keep having them?

JOHN SIPHER, FORMER CIA DEPUTY CHIEF OF RUSSIAN OPERATIONS: No, I don't think it's important that Macron keep having them. In fact, Macron must be sort of embarrassed because he's talked to Putin several times now and Putin's lied to his face several times now. It wasn't but a week ago where Macron was told the Russian leader had no plans whatsoever to enter Ukraine.

So, I think this is about Macron trying to show his importance in Europe before the election. I give him credit for trying, but at this point, we know who Vladimir Putin is. He lies to your face. He just invaded an innocent country. That's essentially he's murdering innocent citizens.

So, I'm not sure Macron's up to it, but I don't put much stock in it.

BURNETT: Andrea, Macron holding the calls. President Biden, though, today was very clear when asked if he would speak with the Russian leader, definitive, he said no. Obviously, that's a very different approach. Not saying it would get anywhere, but do you think that Biden is doing the right thing by closing down any lines of communication directly?

ANDREA KENDALL-TAYLOR, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, RUSSIA & EURASIA AT NATIONAL INTEL COUNCIL: Yeah, I think at this point, the dialogue doesn't make a lot of sense because the thing to remember is that the United States and Europe spent the last two months engaged in intense dialogue with Russia and the tanks rolling over the border now show that Russia had little genuine interest in that dialogue. I don't think they do now.

So at this point, you know, normally I would say I'm a strong proponent of dialogue including with Putin. He shouldn't think of it as reward, but something that countries do to try to avoid miscommunication. But at this phase in the conflict, unless Putin does something to show he actually is serious and genuine this time, I think that's a good call from President Biden.

BURNETT: So, John, stark words today from Bernard Guetta. He's a member of the European parliament from France. He told France Inter Radio and I quote him, I think Vladimir Putin is losing touch with reality. He was then directly asked whether Putin has gone mad and he replied definitively, yes.

Do you agree?

SIPHER: I don't think Putin's gone mad. I think he's doing what he said he was going to do.

It's really incumbent on leaders like President Biden and others and these leaders in NATO to message their own people. To make it clear to them why this is important so if they're feeling pain at the pump or whatever, we understand why it's important, but also to message the Russians.

If there's anyone that's suffering here, not as much as Ukrainians, it's the Russian people. In the great tradition of the Russian czars and communist party bosses, Putin's treating his people like animals. He's throwing them under the bus. The economy's going to be ruined for maybe a decade.

He's going to be supplicant to China. Russia is going to be a pariah in the international stage. It's going to be hard for Russians to travel. There's increased repression in Russia and body bags are going to be coming home.

So, really, we need to have some sort of communication with the Russian people because it's clear their leader doesn't care a whiff about them.


BURNETT: So, Andrea, let me ask you. You know, where do you think is goes next? In the sense that you've got these tanks coming over that Fred is talking about that is pouring into this country. And you have Antony Blinken tonight saying he thinks that Putin is looking at some sort of massive human rights violation of the Ukrainian people.

Do you think that civilians will be purposely in the crosshairs? That has not happened yet.

KENDALL TAYLOR: I think, you know, when thinking about the Russians and their way of warfare, it is entirely possible. You think about how Russia has fought wars in Chechnya. There's not a strong regard for human life.

We've heard reporting that Russia has put together kill lists -- people that they will go after. In Putin's own speeches, we've heard him talk about he wants to find justice, to do justice, thinking back to what happened in 2014.

So, I think it's entirely possible that they will not have a lot of a lot of reservations in targeting civilians if it achieves Putin's ends.

BURNETT: Thank you both. I really appreciate your time tonight.

And our breaking news coverage continues with sobering new numbers coming out tonight on the deadly tool Putin's invasion is already having on the Ukrainian military.

Plus, the fighting affecting markets around the world. So the crucial question, how big will it impact be on the world economy? The U.S. economy?



BURNETT: Breaking news. It comes as Ukrainian President Zelensky is announcing 137 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in day one of Russia's devastating invasion. The attacks are escalating with sabotage groups entering Ukraine's capital.

OUTFRONT now, Michael Kofman. He is director of Russia Study at CNA. He is closely tracking the movements of Russian forces. He's been doing it for weeks, especially over the last 24 hours.

These are the crucial questions, Michael. So, Ukrainian officials believe Putin's plan right now is to circle Kyiv, overthrow the Ukrainian government. What do you see when you look at Russian military forces as they take the capital?

You saw those Russian special forces nearby as an example. What do you see when you look at everything you've been able to video in Kyiv?

MICHAEL KOFMAN, DIRECTOR, RUSSIA STUDIES PROGRAM AT CNA: I think you are seeing a full scale invasion of Ukraine. The first is a series of movements toward the capital from the north. There was at the beginning of the operation a heli-born assault to basically seize airport by Russian airborne unit. It seems like they were repelled. If anything, they were probably stalling for the main body of advance, which is still coming towards the capital.

Then, at an attempt at a very large conservative attacks from the northeast and the very large breakout of forces from the south and Crimea.

BURNETT: So we have new video just in that shows a dramatic fire involving a military school in northeastern Ukraine. What kind of destruction are you seeing from Russian forces across the country, right? We hear the artillery fire. We hear the thuds around this country.

What is the destruction that all of this has wrought thus far?

KOFMAN: So there's been a lot of fighting at night, heard little warfare protecting around towns like Sumy. The Russian military had opened up with very large barrages of multiple launch rocket systems, although the initial campaign sort of starting off with cruise missiles and precision strikes, the Russian military is a very fire power heavy military. It's an artillery army with mortal rifle and uses that artillery to decisive effect.

So, you've seen a tremendous amount of shelling and use of different type of rocket systems. BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, short range, long range, cruise missiles,

midrange. I mean, all of them.

Today, we took some video of Ukrainian tanks leaving the military base that had been hit by two rockets and that's why we were out there. So, one of these convoys that were going on with some equipment, this one you can see the tank. The tank appears to be sort of soviet era. What do you know about the capabilities of Ukraine's military and their ability to fight back right now?

KOFMAN: So, they have sizable conventional military and definitely has been fighting back. The reality is that military is outmatched by that of Russia's in many of these attacks, pretty sizable invasion. Just on the ground, in terms of numbers, the Ukrainian military is likely to be outnumbered, 2 or 3 to 1. And that's not counting all the advantages and sort of multipliers that Russian air power brings to the table.

So, the military has been fighting back, but you definitely see a number of areas where Russian military has broken through. There's just far more Russian forces arrayed with a much greater amount of support in this fight.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much.

And next, anti-war protesters taking to the streets in Russia in spite of Putin's very serious threat.

Plus, an inside look at the toll this invasion could have on t U.S. economy.



BURNETT: We are continuing to cover the breaking news following Russia emphasis invasion of Ukraine and its wider impact. The Russian economy today did take a hit. In fact, the Russian currency, the ruble, dropped to its absolute lowest level in history against the U.S. dollar. Markets opened down 50 percent. Now, they actually only closed the day -- only down 33 percent.

President Putin warning Russian business leaders, the richest and wealthiest, the oligarchs, that there would be further economic restrictions, referring to sanctions, calling on them to work, quote, in solidarity with their government.

Nic Robertson is OUTFRONT in Moscow tonight.

And, Nic, you and I were talking through the day today. Protests broke out across Russia. You witnessed one in Moscow. You saw police detaining people, literally putting them in the van but not before you had a chance to talk to protesters.

So, tell me what they told you. And, obviously, they were protesting knowing the repercussions could be lifelong. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah. The

government made that really clear, telling protesters it wasn't authorized, that you could be arrested, that you could be convicted. If you get convicted, then that could be on your record forever and that could damage your future employment prospects.

So a lot of people heard that, and they know in this country if you go out and protest on the streets, the police could bundle you up, take you off, and that the repercussions can be really harsh, really serious.

And despite that, a lot of people came out. There was a scattered protest. More than 900 arrested in Moscow, but we went to some of the quieter side streets, found some people there I talked to, and it's heart wrenching listening to people.

They really feel the pain of a government that's not acting in their name. That they're shocked at what it's doing, that they really feel for the people in Ukraine. And they don't know what they can do. Protest is all they have. This is what some of the things that they told me.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cannot express how much pain we feel now. It hurts because they're all our friends, our relatives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just scared, shocked. I don't believe our government.


ROBERTSON: You know, there's big graffiti being participated on the walls on some of those side streets as well, no to the war.

That's not going to make Putin feel any better about the situation he's in, but he's trying to crush these protests because he doesn't want them to grow. This was a relatively large protest for Moscow across the country given the fact people really had zero time to prepare for it, Erin.

BURNETT: They have zero time. They woke up to war just like we woke up to war here. No one knew it was exactly coming that night, the citizens. Thank you so much.

And I want to bring in Jim Bianco, economic analyst, president of Bianco Research.

So, Jim, over so many years, you and I have talked about economic crises, and here we are talking about a war, a different type of crisis. U.S. markets obviously plunged at the open. They did rally by the end of the day, but this is day one of what's going to be a long military invasion. It's day one of a different world in terms of war in Europe.

[19:55:02] And frankly, nobody has any idea what way it's going to go. So how badly could this work with the U.S. economy?

JIM BIANCO, ECONOMIC ANALYST, BIANCO RESEARCH PRESIDENT: Well, you've got to put it into context where the economy was. We were worried about inflation. The markets had been correcting because of higher prices.

Now, nothing I see in this war is going to produce lower prices. We're probably going to see higher prices for energy and grains between the Ukraine and Russia. This 20 percent of world grain exports right there. If nothing else, there's going to be supply problem. They're going to have like personnel or broken equipment.

So you're looking at even higher prices. So when the Federal Reserve and people start worrying about high prices and inflation, what happened in the last 24 hours probably going to make that a little bit worse.

BURNETT: Yeah, I think it's so important you point out people think of energy, and that's accurate, of course, the food. And that is a really crucial thing that comes from Ukraine.

Now, the other thing of course is energy, and you saw energy surge to $100 a barrel. This at 7, 8-year highs now. President Biden vowing to ease some of the pain at the pump.

But, look, this is not good when it comes to energy, right? That's just the reality of it when you look at oil and gas and Russia being impacted by these severe sanctions. So what happens to gas prices in the U.S.?

BIANCO: Yeah, Russia is the second largest producer -- exporter in the world behind Saudi Arabia. So it's most likely going to be some sort of restriction in world oil.

Remember, oil is fungible, and what that means is it doesn't matter if they ship it to us or Europe or anywhere else. That means whoever receives it then doesn't have to receive it from another source we get it from, so it all works together.

So if there's going to be some sort of restriction in oil production, it means higher prices. We're probably going to see higher prices from what we've seen in the run up with oil over the last week or two. And unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the oil prices are going to start going down anytime soon. They may moderate, but that just means they're going to hold the high prices.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim.

And next we're going to take you outside to what we saw through the day. But we also walked around to see what regular people were doing, civilians. And you're going to see what gripped the city today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BURNETT: Today across Ukraine, shock, utter disbelief, fear and then a odd calm. The only places we saw groups of people were ATM lines, every single ATM. Some ran out of money, although we did see some still had money early this evening.

Then there were gas lines. This one was outside the city. We did see a few stations ran out, but the lines were incredibly calm.

I spoke to some people and one woman told me as her voice broke she had a plan to leave for Poland when the unimaginable happened, but when it did, she decided to stay. She says she's staying, quote, until the end.

There's so much we don't know tonight, but we do know the people we have met here over the past couple of weeks have all had an incredible, powerful reservoir of strength.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.