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Erin Burnett Outfront

New Explosions Pound Ukraine As Civilians Brace For More Strikes; U.S. Official: Russian Military "Risk Averse;" Some "Units Are Surrendering, Sometimes Without A Fight;" Zelensky Calls On U.S., NATO To Form A No-FLy Zone Over Ukraine; Biden To Announce Ban On Russian Aircraft From U.S. Airspace; U.S. Intel Agencies Zeroing In On Putin's State Of Mind. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 01, 2022 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm going to see what his message to Putin is tonight, directly to Putin we'll see what he says. Guys, thank you very, very much.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the situation room. I'll be back with my CNN colleagues one hour from now for CNN State of the Union coverage.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, explosions in two major cities in Ukraine. The capital Kyiv bracing for an all out assault as President Biden tonight prepares to call out Vladimir Putin in a new way.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a rare interview, speaking to CNN from his hidden bunker in Kyiv as Russian forces attempt to close in on the capitol.

Plus, an American couple's premature twins each weighing just four pounds born via surrogate in Ukraine as Russia invaded. The desperate struggle to get those babies out of the country, let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, two major cities coming under attack in Ukraine as Russia intensifies its bombing campaign, targeting more and more civilian areas. In Kharkiv, the country's second largest city, this is the graphic aftermath, after a missile struck an apartment complex near hospital. Crews scouring the debris as the building burned. Bodies can be seen on the ground, everything is scorched.

And this is the moment a Russian missile struck carcass historic Freedom Square. That is one of the largest city squares in all of Europe and you can see what the Russians have just done to it. In the capital Kyiv today, at least five people were killed when Russian military strikes hit the area around a massive TV tower. The nearby Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial was also damaged. That memorial memorializes one of the worst mass killings during World

War II, nearly 34,000 Jews killed within 48 hours on that site. The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky tweeting, "To the world: what is the point of saying never again for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?" Well, at least five killed there today.

The atrocities taking place across Ukraine and they are looming large around the world, including in Washington where President Biden tonight will deliver his State of the Union address. We are learning that Biden will blast Vladimir Putin for a 'premeditated and unprovoked war'.

Those would be two accurate words to describe it and tonight we're also getting new information on that 48 mile long Russian convoy which is now just outside Kyiv. An official been telling CNN that that convoy had stalled, because frankly of pretty bad situation within the Russian military, fuel shortages, statement problems, food issues, disorganization, pretty embarrassing.

But that is not stopping the vicious air assault, in fact that could be making matters worse. The Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko now saying he warned Zelensky that if Russia's invasion continues to be slowed down by problems within the Russian military and the fierce Ukrainian resistance, Putin may resort to carpet bombing. A chilling warning given by the senior defense official tells CNN that Russia has already fired more than 400 missiles at Ukraine.

And tonight from his bunker in hard-hit Kyiv, Zelensky told our Matthew Chance that Russia's brutal invasion is bigger than just Ukraine. It's about the future of democracy around the world.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through interpreter): It's essentially the values in life for democracy, for freedom, therefore this war is for all the world.


BURNETT: Matthew Chance joins me OUTFRONT from Kyiv tonight, Phil Mattingly is live at the White House. I want to start with you though, Matthew, we're going to have much more on your interview with President Zelensky later in the show. I want everyone to know they're going to hear that.

But first, what is the latest on the fighting on the ground where you are? What are you seeing and hearing as, of course, it's now in those early hours of the morning when you still often have those onslaughts.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. But I can tell you that outside the window here, overlooking Kyiv right now it is dead quiet. I mean, there is not a sound in the air. And why that is? Well, it's unclear. But I can tell you about a couple of hours ago there were some enormous explosions to the north of the city in the direction where that giant convoy is making its approaches towards the city outskirts.

Earlier today, there was a strike, an air strike on the main television tower in that northern part of the city as well. Five people were killed in that attack. And also as you mentioned there, it struck a part of the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial. It's a sort of a memorial park in that part of the city.

And, of course, it all kind of adds to the sense of fear and tension in Kyiv right now, because there is this great heightened sense of anticipation that something really bad is going to happen.


We've had those reports of that big long column of Russian armor heading in this direction. There are those threats that have been made to carpet bomb or to pound the Ukrainian capitol with massive artillery. And, of course, many of the residents are taking shelter and/or leaving the city in anticipation of what could be a major escalation here.

BURNETT: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you very much. I said we're going to be back with Matthew later this hour with that exclusive conversation he had with President Zelensky in his hidden bunker under the streets of Kyiv as President Zelensky has described it.

I want to go to Phil Mattingly who's OUTFRONT tonight at the White House. Phil, you are getting new information about how President Biden will address Ukraine and Putin during his State of the Union speech.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin. White House officials didn't envision a grave geopolitical crisis becoming a centerpiece of the President's first State of the Union. But that reality has taken place and the President will address it head on.

He will call on Congress to approve more lethal and humanitarian aid, but also address President Putin head on. As you noted, making very clear according to experts we've received from the White House that the attack was premeditated. There was no justification for it, but also underscoring the history of the Western alliances that have served as kind of the pillar of the globe over the course of the last 80 years and that is intentional.

The President, I'm told, wants to make it clear to the American people why it's a necessity at this moment in time for the Western alliance to come together. And that alliance itself has proven itself over the course of the last 72 hours, we have seen sanctions on a level that simply don't have precedent. The President will outline that and make that very clear underscoring why it's so important at this moment in time to address exactly what President Zelensky was telling Matthew.

This is bigger than just this moment. This is bigger than just this invasion. This is about democracy versus autocracy, which the President has brought up so many times. And Erin, if you want to understand the urgency of this moment, you just need to look above the House floor, sitting with the first lady in her viewing box will be the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States.

It really brings home the point that the administration is trying to make this a critical moment knowing the world is watching.

BURNETT: All right. Phil, thank you very much. And I want to go now to Alexander Bilkun because he fled Kyiv and his family - with his family and is now in a safe location. He was a translator for the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, who famously took on Putin and ended up poisoned.

He also knows the current President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. And I appreciate your time very much, Alexander. First, let me ask you, how are you and your family doing tonight?

ALEXANDER BILKUN, FMR. TRANSLATOR FOR FMR. UKRAINIAN PRES. YUSHCHENKO; FLED KYIV WITH FAMILY: Hi, Erin. Hi, everyone and thanks for asking. Well, my family, my extended family is luckily with me. We had to flee from Kyiv (inaudible) the older days are now a long one, I guess four days ago, and luckily we managed to do safely not quite however, because to my deepest regret, my mother-in-law had to stay behind because we just couldn't evacuate her. She resides in an area, very dangerously close to the most fierce combat operations that took place in the northwest to Kyiv.

So there was no absolutely physical possibility for us to reach her and to take her along. But fortunately, we are in contact with her neighbor, sharing the townhouse with her. And this is a manifestation of this great spirit of support.


BILKUN: And that all the citizens are - whether civil or military - are providing to each other because he kind of calmed us down, don't worry, guys, she's in good care, and we're looking after her. She'll be fine. And so that's a great relief (inaudible) ...

BURNETT: It is amazing being there and seeing what was obviously under great pressure and anxiety, but a functioning country, people going to work, people going to school and people going out to dinner and then all of a sudden like a switch, it completely and fundamentally changed in that horrific attack.

So much of the focus of the world right now is on President Zelensky and I know you watched an interview that CNN did with him today. We're going to be playing at this hour. I know you know him personally.


BURNETT: What do you think about him right now? He has risen to become one of the most admired people on the planet.


BILKUN: I think he already has to be honest. And no person comes to my mind that could compare with him in terms of this charisma and fascination he is causing with - well, I wouldn't say the whole world, because there is a great territory to the north from where I'm saying that passionately hates him and one person who personally hates him. But other than that, I think he quite deservedly enjoys tremendous support and admiration.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, because your perspective on this is pretty phenomenal in the sense of you know Putin and what he is capable of in a way that few do. So you work for the former Ukrainian president, Yushchenko who was poisoned when he ran against a candidate that Putin backed.

Of course, Putin denied responsibility and people may remember the images of Yushchenko pre and post poisoning. They're some of the most disturbing images anyone can look at. But you know what Putin's capable of. How far do you think he'll go in this fight against Ukraine?

BILKUN: Erin, I think that at this point, it's not only me, who knows what Putin is capable of. And I'm so glad that so many eyes in the world have opened at this - I wouldn't even call him a person, that creature. And he's - well, what is a cornered rat capable of? Anything, as long as it's aggressive, scared and enraged, and that is exactly what's going on in the bunker where Putin is sitting at the moment. He's enraged, he is irritated and he's scared because he's cornered.

BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time and wish for your safety.

BILKUN: Just one if I'm ...


BILKUN: ... I wanted to say my best to all the Ukrainians and they will understand me, (foreign language), which is glory to Ukraine. We'll win. Thank you.

BURNETT: Thank you.

And incredible, that same sentiment that we heard from every single Ukrainian we were with on the ground.

OUTFRONT now retired Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, former Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs. And I really appreciate you taking the time to be with me. What do you make of what he says there that Putin is backed in a corner and he is aggressive, scared and enraged and he wouldn't put anything past him, do you agree?

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, again, I'm not here to talk about President Putin's mental state, but I think he is not looking at what's happening right now. He's looking at the days ahead and I think he is going to see the Russian forces turn the tide over what's happened over the last six days.

BURNETT: So you just think he's sticking with it and military might that this will turn and go Putin's way? KIMMITT: Oh, I think history will show that the Russian tactics for

combat in the cities is extraordinarily brutal. What we're seeing now with these missiles and artillery starting to land, it's just sort of a preparatory act in what we would expect to see if he decides to take Kyiv, Kharkiv and particularly Odessa, it will be brutal, he will be completely outnumbered in terms of his capability, Putin's capability to take these cities, because the defensive forces certainly have the advantage.

But this is going to be a Volkswagen facing a bulldozer in the Russian troops are a bulldozer. They will continue to pile on until they have either rumbled that city or taken that city. And that 40-mile convoy of vehicles should be indicative of what's to come.

BURNETT: So, obviously, I've met so many Ukrainians who are going to fight. They are there fighting. I didn't meet a single man who's trying to leave the country, not a single person. It's incredible, the will to fight, I think, people are starting to understand around the world that this is going to be long and horrific if Putin stays with it.

But I want to ask you, there's been all these reports about disarray in the Russia troops and that they didn't supply them well, that they're not communicating the way that any professional military should. They don't have enough food, they don't have enough fuel, the young soldiers didn't seem to know that this wasn't a drill. Some of them are surrendering. People have seen all of this. How much of it do you think is true and does he just power through it?


KIMMITT: Well, I think much of it could be true and I think that Putin will power through it. Russians think of war as calculus, the more that you put in, the more you will win and they are not using their troops right now because they're using missiles, they're using artillery and they're using rockets.

And if they get into the city, their troops are going to be fighting house to house, block to block, apartment building to apartment building and like we saw in Stalingrad, like we saw in Mosul and like what our Marines faced in Fallujah. This is ugly, brutal fighting and the winner is going to be the one that outlast the other.

BURNETT: All right. General, I appreciate your time. Thank you so very much.

KIMMITT: Sure, Erin.

BURNETT: I was thinking about how just 10 days ago with young men who were practicing going door to door with guns and shooting in their black outfits in case it came to this, they are ready.

And next Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to CNN from his bunker in Kyiv. You're going to hear what he has to say. And the question that made Zelensky emotional from our Matthew Chance. Plus, meet the American whose twins were born prematurely via

surrogate in Ukraine. They literally were born as those missiles ringed down Wednesday night, now the incredible challenge to get them to safety.

And we're going to go live to Ukraine's border where humanitarian crisis is unfolding. We've been showing it to you and tonight, our reporter there, which sees a mother collapsing from exhaustion, her daughter in tears.



BURNETT: President Volodymyr Zelensky warning that Russia will intensify its military campaign, urging Western nations to implement a no-fly zone to help Ukrainian forces. That, of course, would mean that Western forces could shoot down any Russian planes that go in that. It opens up a whole another conversation.

All of this coming during a very rare interview with CNN that was conducted by Matthew Chance inside a bunker in the besieged city of Kyiv. Matthew spoke was Zelensky and began by asking him what he wanted to hear from President Biden tonight in the State of the Union address.


ZELENSKY: What message? So many messages. I think that he has to give those message what will really work, that is very important to be very useful in this situation, in this war against Russia.

(Through interpreter): I think, first of all, he's a world leader and it's very important for people in the United States to understand that despite the fact that the war is taking place in Ukraine, it's essentially for values in life, for democracy, for freedom. Therefore, this war is for all the world and that message should be sent far and wide, from Ukraine to people in the United States. So they understand what it is like for us here, what we're fighting for and why support for Ukraine matters.

CHANCE: For a long time, you downplayed the U.S. intelligence assessments about the being an imminent Russian attack. Do you now regret that? And do you think the fact that you didn't act earlier has left the people of Ukraine unprepared?

ZELENSKY (through interpreter): The response you see today, how we work, how our army works and defenses is a testament that we're ready for anything, even though we were preparing in advance, it's important not to let your enemy anticipate your reaction. That's why I really did not like that situation where we put everything at risk and tell the world that we're preparing for war.

CHANCE: The United States has said that it will not enforce a no-fly zone over this country, and it won't put boots on the ground. Do you think it is now time for President Biden and other western countries to reconsider that and to help you not just with military aid, but with manpower?

ZELENSKY (through interpreter): I've already turned to some foreign leaders with this request. I believe that leaders must support democratic states of the world who are keen to defend some countries. The powerful issue of closing the airspace helps us tremendously. This does not mean dragging NATO into this war. We spoke many times with President Biden and I'm thankful for him for these opportunities and support, but they also did not hear me. I've been telling them that Ukraine will fight hardest of all, you will see that us alone against Russia, we would not be able to do it.

CHANCE: Your army has enjoyed some significant battlefield victories in the past week. I myself have been to see some of the Russian armored columns that have been totally hammered and destroyed by the weapons and the men that you've got fighting the Russian advance. Are you now concerned, though, that the Kremlin will double down on its military operations and hit Ukraine even harder.

ZELENSKY (through interpreter): Firstly, why are we winning or why are we defending ourselves? Because this is our home. Yes, Russia will double up, but take a look at them, why our men are stronger, more powerful and successful. Because as I said, we have what we need to protect and they do not even understand our state. They do not know these streets. They do not know our people, do not understand our philosophy, our aspirations, what type of people we are. They don't know anything here. They were just sent here to fight and to die.

CHANCE: You send your delegation to meet the Russians for talks. Did anything substantial come out of that? Is there any hope, as the world watches, for diplomacy?

ZELENSKY: They decided to begin to speak about the situation. And I wanted - I really wanted - and I (inaudible) everybody has to stop fighting and to go to that point from where it was beginning?


ZELENSKY: Yes. It began five, six - today, six, six days ago.


ZELENSKY: I think there are principal things, you can do it and that is very important moment. If you'll do these and if those site is ready, it means that they are ready for the peace. If they don't ready, it means that you're just - how ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wasting your time.

ZELENSKY: ... wasting time.


CHANCE: And do you think you're wasting your time or do you think they're ready?


BURNETT: I mean, just amazing to watch that. Matthew, just to emphasize to people, he has been offered by the United States to be airlifted out of the country. He has stayed, he has fought, he has been firm, he has been resolved and he is living in that bunker and leading his country from there and he has been in that bunker for days.

He says Russia's marked him target number one, his family target number two, he watched him there as a leader and you watch him there as a human being. Where was his mind?

CHANCE: Yes. He was, obviously, under a lot of strain. I mean, you could see he look very pale, you may have noticed he hadn't shaved for a few days, it looked like. He was wearing khaki military fatigues, which have become characteristic of him during this conflict.

And he, obviously, is feeling a lot of pressure, as you might expect as a sort of war leader in this very tense, tense moment. He was asked at one point when was last time you saw your family and he thought about it and he said, look, I haven't seen them since the beginning of the war, since the war started.

And he seemed very upset about that quite emotional about it, particularly when you consider that he knows or that he thinks that his family are targets for the Russian military. And so this is a man who is under a lot of pressure, a lot of stress, but he's also trying and succeeding, I think, in many ways to step up to this kind of role of being the sort of strong man of Ukraine, standing up to this like massive Russian threat that the country is facing, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Matthew, thank you very much and thank you so much for that. It's just amazing to watch that. I do think as the world looks at presidents Zelensky, you do have to realize that he is a human being and he's separate from his family and he knows that if there's one person Putin will kill, if he can kill it's him.

So he's (inaudible) everyday not seeing his family, knowing full well that that may have been the last time we ever saw them and he's still willing to stay and lead and do that. It is incredible. And you heard him urging President Biden to send a strong message in his State of the Union speech tonight. We have special coverage of Biden's speech, join us, of course, at the top of the hour.

And next breaking news, we're learning President Biden is about to make an announcement tonight that targets Russian aircraft. You'll hear exactly what we're learning about that.

Plus, an American pleading for help after his surrogate gives birth to twins in Ukraine. They were born seven weeks premature as the missiles range down, desperate struggle tonight to get those twins to safety.


[19:31:41] BURNETT: Breaking news: CNN learning that President Biden is set to announce that the U.S. is banning Russian aircraft from U.S. airspace. Sources say this will happen during his State of the Union Address which is set to happen in the next two hours.

It comes as Russia escalates the attack of Kyiv. The threat incredibly terrifying not for just people in Kyiv but also for -- well, if there are personal ties there, including an American whose newborn twins are in Kyiv. The babies were born prematurely five days ago via surrogate as missiles were coming down. They now need intensive medical care.

OUTFRONT now, Alex Spektor, he is the father of these twin boys.

Alex, gosh, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine the stress and the anxiety and fear. Lenny and Moishe, I know they've -- they're there. They're named. They're alive. They're in a hospital in Kyiv right now where Russian forces are going more aggressive, deadly strikes, the convoy. I mean, it's terrifying. How worried are you?

ALEXANDER SPEKTOR, FATHER OF TWIN PREMATURE BABIES BORN TO SURROGATE IN UKRAINE: Incredibly worried. Just worried, tired but most incredibly hopeful. Today, they were transferred from one hospital where there was no shelter. There was no basement. So, from that hospital when the air raids would start, they would have to run across the street into a church where there was a basement. Like you said, these are 32 1/2 weeks old babies. But today, they were transferred by a team, by an ambulance and accompanied to a safe place, to a hospital which has proper equipments and, yeah, they are in good space and in good company.

BURNETT: Which is a miracle. I mean, your surrogate went into labor just hours after Putin announced the invasion.


BURNETT: I can only imagine the role the stress and fear played that night. The trip to the hospital a daunting journey, terrifying journey, taking hours. That hospital where your surrogate was first taken, where she gave birth was attacked today I understand.

Hospital officials say this. They posted photos of significant damage to the facility. This is the hospital where your children were born. It's terrifying. It's terrifying for you and your surrogate. I mean, gosh, how is she doing?

SPEKTOR: You know, she's there with the children and she's amazing. As far as we are concerned right now, she -- it's also her son who was waiting for his mom at home. Both of them are part of our family right now. So, we're in constant touch with her.

She goes out to the pharmacy to buy the necessary supplies and sends us pictures, videos. And, yeah, she seems to be -- she seems to be doing well and strong in health and spirit.

BURNETT: What a magnificent woman. She has her 6-year-old boy. I know the doctor says they might need hospital care for two weeks. That is an unimaginable amount of time. You don't know what Kyiv is going to look like by then.

And, obviously, I'm sure you are watching horrific headlines and speculation about what he might be planning.


Do you have any sense of when you will be able to see your babies and to hold them?

SPEKTOR: We're hoping every day that this moment will come soon and, you know, every day, we're faced with seemingly impossible task, and each day brings a new task.

So, yesterday, it was about moving them from the hospital to another hospital. Today, it's about delivering supplies to them and organizing their effort.

Long-term, we're, of course, seeking for medical transfer, those with safe passage for the babies. We're thinking, at least I'm thinking of going into Ukraine and just being with the babies. Who knows, you know? We are constantly working minute after minute, 24/7 we're taking shifts also because of the amount of support that is coming and we have to keep coordinating different ends.

BURNETT: All of our thoughts and just wishes for their safety and care to you and of course also to your surrogate, as I said, just hearing about the love and care she is giving to them. It is magnificent. I know you must feel lucky for that.

Thank you. You're in my thoughts.

SPEKTOR: Thanks so much.

BURNETT: And next, CNN learning the U.S. intelligence community is focusing on Putin's mind as his actions seemed to become more erratic. Plus, the U.N. warning this could lead to the biggest refugee crisis for Europe this century.

We're going to take you to Ukraine's border, where families are being torn apart. Every family that goes to that border, right, the man has to stand one side and the others can cross. They're not t sure if they'll see each other again.



BURNETT: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says there are some heads of state who believe Putin is suffering from physical or mental health issues during his invasion of Ukraine.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Some people say he has cancer and some people say he has brain fog from COVID. Other people just think he is a complete raging bully. Whatever it is, the people of Ukraine are paying the price for it.


BURNETT: Two sources tell CNN that evaluating Putin's state of mind is now the top priority for the U.S. intelligence community. I think we can all agree that it should be a top priority.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Kenneth Dekleva. He was the regional medical officer and psychiatrist with the State Department in Moscow.

So, Doctor, I really appreciate your time. You have extensive experience on this and you have studied Putin extensively. That was among your roles.

So, when you look at all of the appearances you have had if there is some in the very obvious to you. Or is this same Putin you're familiar with?

DR. KENNETH DEKLEVA, FORMER PSYCHIATRIST, U.S. EMBASSY IN MOSCOW: Yes and no. Let me explain the no part in grows any, in 2008 and Syria in 2015, 2016. This is the same Putin that has directed the horrific attacks in Grozny, in Georgia in 2008, in Crimea in 2014, and in Syria in 2015 and 2016.

This is the same Putin who killed -- had Litvinenko killed with Polonium 210, a nuclear weapon, in London in 2006, and who attempted to poison Sergei Skripal in 2018, with Novichok, a chemical weapon. So, in that sense, no.

But yes part, there's a tragic tale here, Erin. If you frame two speeches, one given 20 years ago when President Putin spoke to the Bundestag in Germany, a beautiful speech where he got a standing ovation. He talked about how he saw Russia as part of Europe, as integrated with Europe and European culture and history, and then you compare that to a speech last Monday after meeting with his security council.

There's a sobering and very tragic difference in those speeches, tragic for President Putin who would have perhaps before this been recognized as one of the greatest leaders in Russian history, certainly tragic for the people of Ukraine and for the courageous President Zelensky, for the West, for NATO, and for the world.

BURNETT: So it is necessary, we have started to hear this drum beat. He's changed, or that there's something deeply wrong. A lot of people are saying it. It doesn't mean they know, but a lot of people who have a lot of credibility are saying it, and here's a few.


CONDOLEEZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: This is a different Putin. He was always calculating and cold but this is different. He seems erratic.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: For me, this significant difference in the way he has historically behaved. ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This behavior is different than in the past. This all seems to me like in some respect he's gone off the rails.


BURNETT: Off the rails, erratic. Are you comfortable with either of those descriptions, Doctor?

DEKLEVA: No. With all due respect to my senior colleagues, I think what we have here is an intelligence failure on the part of Putin's intelligence agencies and Putin must be very, very angry and disappointed.

BURNETT: Meaning they told him he would be welcome with open arms?

DEKLEVA: That this would be over in 48 hours and the courageous Ukrainian people have -- and the courage of President Zelensky, they've fought back.

Putin is an eighth degree in judo and what we have here is the young judo master, President Zelensky, has choked him out. That's a wonderful thing for the world to see, especially in a time after COVID.

The other thing is I would say I don't think he's erratic or changed but he certainly is in more of a hurry, and that's a very important question, which is why now? Why not wait? Why not play out his brilliant strategy that was working short of full invasion.


The saddest thing here, the most tragic thing, is Putin's gone from being a respected world leader when he first came to power to he's now looking more and more like Russia's Slobodan Milosevic.

BURNETT: Well, I appreciate your time, Doctor. Thank you so much.

DEKLEVA: Thank you very much.

BURNETT: So, on Sunday in Hungary, I saw families at rest stops and you knew exactly who the Ukrainians were because they were white, exhausted, their face the, you could see it. When you talked to them and asked where they were going, some didn't know.

Even on the airplane you see the Ukraine passports filling up the planes, where they're going. Well, you know, kind of try to go to Germany, or trying to go to here. They wait days to get out of the country and figure out where the next steps are, the complete unknown.

Where are they going to go? What are they going to do for jobs? What in the world is going to happen to these people who's been so horrifically impacted?

Tonight, we're going to take you live to a border crossing and a translator moved to tears during an address by Ukraine's president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are fighting just for our land and for our freedom.




BURNETT: Breaking news, Russian military strike has just torn through two blocks of apartments in a small town roughly 30 miles outside Kyiv. We'll show you the new video just coming in where you can see entire blocks. We don't have it yet, but when we do, we'll show you. We have literally just confirmed this, via our geolocate.

It comes as the United Nations is warning the situation in Ukraine could become the largest refugee crisis in Europe so far this century. They estimate 677,000 refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion.

I just want to remind you, I remember talking to Pamela Brown on Saturday night when I was in Ukraine near the border and it was 150,000. So, we're up to nearly 700,000. This just gives you a sense of the scale of number of people who are surging toward the western borders of Ukraine. It comes as they have indicated Russian forces have amped up air and artillery strikes designed to destroy and blast people over large areas in very populous parts of Ukraine.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT near the Poland/Ukraine border where so many hundreds of thousands of families frankly have sought refuge from the violence.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 15-year-old's desperate tears. She says she has just walked across the border to meet her mother, but her mother has just fainted. She has no pulse, she is not breathing.

Volunteer medics from Israel rush in. They get her breathing, but she remains unconscious. She needs a hospital. It takes 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.


SIDNER: You saved her life.

This is life on the Polish side of the border with Ukraine.

LEVY: It's only woman and children. They come alone after three days in the cold.

SIDNER: In Poland, hope and heartbreak are everywhere, as refugees pack into the country.

Olga fled the country with her 9-year-old daughter, Angelina. Olga had to leave her husband behind so he could fight with whatever he could find.

OLGA SHEVCHENKO, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE: So difficult. I cannot tell you how this difficulty is, the feeling you lose your life, you know. And here, we don't know what to do.

SIDNER: She is still shell-shocked but at least has friend to take her in.

SHEVCHENKO: We heard bombs, like explosion. And of course, we watched the news and watched that Russian soldiers are there in Kyiv, in Kharkiv, in Odessa, Mykolaiv, and we saw tanks, yes, and it was panic.

SIDNER: As night falls in the bitter cold, more heartbreak. But the Polish people are offering refugees a warm welcome, warm clothes, a warm place to stay, a warm meal, even diapers and toys for children, a grassroots effort smack in the middle of a supermarket parking lot just a few kilometers from the border.

Victoria Bunik is a college student in Poland but she's from Ukraine. She is skipping studying for finals and spending her time volunteering while her family fights for Ukraine.

VICTORIA BUNIK, UKRAINIAN VOLUNTEER: My father is actually like helping the city to hold the ground and just like that. And I'm trying to help as much as I can because I can't just stand there and watch it happen and just be like, oh, yeah. No, it's actually kind of very, very hard for me.

SIDNER: At the nearest polish train station, refugees stuff themselves inside, looking for help. Many get just that. But not everyone is treated equally. This Cameroonian woman doesn't want any more trouble so she hides her face. In Ukraine, she says she was shoved from the free train while trying to escape with her child, while white Ukrainians were helped out and black men, she says, were treated worse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the black guys, no, no, no. There was one inside the train, they went in the train and showed him a gun.

SIDNER: They put a gun to a black man's face.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They said walk out and he walked out.

SIDNER: So, you're telling me there is discrimination by the Ukrainians against black people?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seriously discrimination about black people entering the train, the free train. They help the people, they do not want to help blacks.

SIDNER: She said discrimination was rearing its ugly head at the most terrifying moment. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: Sara joins me now.

You know, I did notice on the Ukrainian side of the border, especially going to the Polish area where you are, more people of color than I saw anywhere else in the country, heading specifically to the Polish border where you are. And the incredible agony that people went through to get there. Days, days of suffering, and all women and children, except for some people of color, because those would be people who perhaps were not Ukrainian citizens, might have been students studying in the country, getting PhDs or others, right?


So, those will be some of the only men who were able to come over.

Where are you now? And what are you seeing of the people who are just coming through -- and just to make sure people understand -- 24 hours a day?

SIDNER: Yeah, I mean, it gets quiet and all of a sudden you have a mass of people. You saw that bus that just passed us. Usually, they come in in buses.

Now, this is about seven kilometers or so, so we're talking three or so miles from the actual border between Poland and Ukraine. We're in Przemysl. And this is an area that has been set up to literally help in any way possible.

When people get here from Ukraine, they actually come and get food, they get diapers and they get warmth. They are trying to make sure that people are warm, but it just doesn't stop throughout the night -- Erin.

BURNETT: Sara, thank you so much.

Sara mentioned the cold. I hope everyone understands, it is a biting cold. You have all these children there, and they're sort of sleeping in piles with their coats just to try to keep them warm. It takes days to get to the border.

OUTFRONT next, President Volodymyr Zelensky's powerful speech to the world and how it brought his translator to tears.


BURNETT: And finally tonight, the emotional toll of Putin's invasion. You feel it. You feel it in Ukraine. You feel it in the face of every person there.

Today, we heard it on the world's stage through the voice of an interpreter for the European parliament as the Ukrainian president addressed the E.U. You can hear the interpreter trying not to cry, as Zelensky said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENSKY (through translator): We're fighting just for our land and for our freedom, despite the fact that all of the cities of our country are now blocked. Nobody is going to enter and intervene with our freedom and country. Believe you me.


BURNETT: Zelensky went on to talk about the lives lost, children killed by Putin's air strikes, and when he finished, a standing ovation. As so many around this world we live in are so deeply moved by what is unfolding in Ukraine.

Our special coverage of President Biden's State of the Union Address begins now with Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper.