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Erin Burnett Outfront

Russian Forces Nearing Kyiv, Zero In On Suburbs Amid Evacuations; Russia Using Belarus As Launch Point For Many Air Operations: NATO; Mariupol Mayor Accuses Russia Of "Genocide": 3 People Dead In Hospital Bombing, Including A Child; 6th Day Without Aid; Russia Using Belarus As Launch Point For Many Air Operations: NATO; Satellite Image: Massive Russian Convoy "Largely Dispersed." Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 10, 2022 - 19:00   ET


ANASTASIA PARASKEVOVA, KHARKIV RESIDENT: So I don't want to leave and I won't be leaving Ukraine. We will be moving to somewhere just farther away from Russian border.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: So heartbreaking, indeed. To our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Russian troops advancing making gains near Kyiv and in the south as the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. formally accuses Putin of war crimes.

Plus, the U.S. says Putin's forces have encircled city where Russian strike destroyed a maternity hospital. That city in utter ruins right now; no power, no heat, physical attacks between residents over food supplies.

And a Putin critic who was poisoned twice now telling the world what he thinks Putin is capable of. He's our guest, let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, Putin making gains in multiple Ukrainian cities. Tonight, the sound of shelling growing louder and more insistent as Russia bombards closer and closer into the suburbs of Kyiv. A senior U.S. defense official says the Russians are approaching Kyiv which was home to nearly 3 million people from all different directions. Russian forces overtaking nearby towns as they encircle the city.

Tonight it is in these towns that we are seeing the new and horrible images of the fierce fighting. Ukrainian forces in this image trying to free a town that is currently being occupied by Russian forces, the fighting intense.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language).


BURNETT: Just listen to that. No word on deaths or injuries in that fighting. Ukraine also releasing video that shows Russian tanks being attacked with missiles from multiple angles. Now, Ukraine is fighting, as the world knows, fighting fiercely, fighting well, but the numbers are not in their favor. And U.S. officials tonight now say they expect Russian forces to adapt to some of their failures in order to overcome the challenges they're facing. That includes a greater reliance on long range artillery.

Artillery, of course, is one of the crudest ways to conquer. It involves killing indiscriminately. It is a grim warning of what could be to come as Russian forces inch closer to the central part of Kyiv. Kyiv could soon face the same fighting and crisis as Mariupol, which is now quickly becoming home to one of the worst humanitarian crises of Putin's war.

The Red Cross now describing the situation there as 'increasingly dire and desperate'. Communication lines are down. No food and water coming in. In fact, according to the Red Cross, they say they observe people attacking each other for food.

Russian forces are not letting up their siege of the battered city. You can see that massive crater in the ground, apartments, offices, storefronts destroyed. We're going to have much more on the devastation in Mariupol coming up.

Biden's Director of National Intelligence coming out with a chilling warning about how the Russians are treating Ukrainian civilians.


AVRIL HAINES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Russian forces are at the very least operating with reckless disregard for the safety of non-combatants, as Russian units launch artillery and airstrikes into urban areas as they have done in cities across Ukraine.


BURNETT: All this as we're also learning that emergency crews in the city of Kharkiv are battling a fire near the city's Institute of Physics and Technology, which is something that could be alarming because that campus houses a crucial nuclear research facility. We have reporters across Ukraine tonight.

I want to begin though with Matthew Chance because he is OUTFRONT live in Kyiv. And Matthew, of course, we're hearing about those Russian forces getting closer and closer. We hear that fierce fighting. What is the latest tonight?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well that fierce fighting is indeed getting closer and that's causing a big upsurge in the number of people that are trying to escape towns and cities across the country to relative safety, particularly here in Kyiv.

There's been, according to the authorities, according to President Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian leader, more than a hundred thousand people that have escaped from those, the areas of fierce fighting over the past couple of days. Forty thousand just today, particularly in areas north of the Ukrainian capital where, just a few miles distance, again, there is that fierce fighting underway as Russian forces approach even closer to the Ukrainian capitla.


CHANCE (voice over): The aftermath of fierce fighting east of the Ukrainian capital.


"This is what you get when you invade Ukrainian land," the narrator says.

These Russian forces attempt to encircle Kyiv. Ukrainian military says it's defeated an entire regiment of Russian tanks and liquidated its commander.

Drone video captured the armored column in the city of Brovary being attacked and destroyed. The latest battlefield win in what is proving for now to be a determined Ukrainian stand.

But on the diplomatic front, stalemate, despite the highest level talks since this Russia-Ukraine conflict began, foreign ministers meeting in the Turkish city of Antalya, Ukrainian officials tell CNN the Russian side appeared unwilling or unable to make a deal.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We also raised the issue of a ceasefire, 24-hour ceasefire to resolve the most pressing humanitarian issues. We did not make progress on this since it seems that there are other decision makers for this matter in Russia.


CHANCE (voice over): It's these gut wrenching scenes in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, provoking wide international scorn, maternity hospital devastated by Russian forces. According to Ukrainian officials, killing at least three people inside, including a child. Horrific images are circulating like this one of pregnant women blooded in the attack.

Still, the Russian Foreign Minister is insisting this was a legitimate strike on a far-right Ukrainian militia, the Azov Battalion, not a war crime.


SERGEY LAVROV, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION (through interpreter): At the meeting of the U.N. Security Council, our delegation presented facts about this maternity hospital, having long been seized by the Azov Battalion and other radicals and they have driven all the pregnant women and the nurses out of it.


CHANCE (voice over): But in cities across Ukraine, trapped civilians are desperately escaping the fighting. These, the latest scenes from Irpin, north of Kyiv, where the city's mayor says nearly half the population has already fled. With no peace in sight, Ukraine's capital is emptying as Russian forces advance.


CHANCE (on camera): And Erin, there's more concern tonight from the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city as emergency workers there battle of fire at the Institute for Physics in the city, which houses a nuclear research facility and the whole area has been set to fire by suspected Russian shelling. It's raising concerns again that this is going to be an environmental catastrophe as well as a humanitarian one. Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Matthew Chance.

So we talked about what's happening in Kyiv and the encircling there. The other place where the Russians have obviously made gains and have inflicted that horrible humanitarian toll is in the south. I want to go to Odessa in Ukraine, Nick Paton Walsh is OUTFRONT there. So, Nick, what is the latest where you are tonight?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, it's definitely quiet here but it has been a day of growing anxiety, Erin. We heard sirens going off in the early afternoon more persistent than we've heard them, frankly, for quite some time. And Ukrainian officials said that was because a Russian ship had appeared on the horizon and fired what they described as five shots aimed at, they said, at trying to work out quite what Ukraine's defensive response would be.

Now that has people on edge, of course, because for a long time, there's been a warning of an amphibious landing here possibly and this is sort of the first sign I think we've seen of ships genuinely probing the coastline here. And at dusk, we heard two, three bursts of what sounded like anti-aircraft gun fire over there on the coast behind me.

Then it felt significantly silent, but it feeds into a pattern of growing fears here because we have seen pressure mounting along the Black Sea coast to the east of where I'm standing. Let's start in Kherson, to the furthest eastward place. That's where Russian troops have essentially been in control loosely with all of civil disobedience for about a week now, but we now know that a second railway train has moved into that particular town from Crimea, it appears, carrying reinforcements. That's been witnessed by locals and video there as well which we've geo located.

And then, of course, the town of Mykolaiv, Erin. We've talked about that before. That's a vital port city, which has been under intensive Russian pressure, intensive bombardment of residential areas that often seems indiscriminate. Today, the regional head said that they had lost Ukrainian soldiers and its checkpoints but also said they had taken out a lot of Russian armor with airstrikes. He sounds relatively confident but it appears to always be in flux.


And regardless of what the immediate successes they have on the battlefield are, the shelling of Mykolaiv is inflicting a huge toll on the human there.

So the real issue, I think, is quite when Russia's military begins to build enough strength around that town. They seem to be moving to its north and then feel they can start to move on and pressure here at Odessa.

I have to tell you, I think most people here feel there's something inevitable about Odessa eventually being pressured or probed by the Russian military. It's the third largest city, the major port is the gateway to the Black Sea and maritime trade. Moscow can't really claim to pressure the whole country unless it has a go at here and we're seeing slowly momentum building along the Black Sea coast with an awful humanitarian toll. Erin?

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Nick.

I want to go now to retired Lieutenant General James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence under President Obama and retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, former Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs under President George W. Bush as well. Thanks to both of you.

So Gen. Clapper, let me start with you. Emergency services in Kharkiv say they're tackling that fire. You heard Matthew Chance talk about it in the entire area around the Institute of Physics, which is home to a nuclear research facility. Ukraine also says it's doing everything possible to restore electricity to the Chernobyl nuclear plant, which is currently in its second day apparently, of operating with diesel generators.

You have been, General, ringing the alarm about a nuclear crisis happening. How concerned are you now?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I'm even more concerned, particularly watching the - what for me is just a reckless, irresponsible, incompetent or all the above behavior of the Russians with respect to the 15 active nuclear reactors in Ukraine. And if one of these is attacked, damaged or if there's no power for cooling, this could be a disaster of biblical proportions, not just for Ukraine, but for the whole region. So I'm very concerned about it, particularly given the Russians cavalier attitude apparently about protecting them.

BURNETT: Gen. Kimmitt, a senior U.S. defense official said today that the U.S. has seen an increase sort of a shift in some of the Russian strategy. We know that it had been at best blundering, but that there's been a shift to long range fires, bombardment, missile launches from aircraft and mobile missile launchers, long range artillery, what does this tell you about their strategy and how it may be shifting?

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE UNDER PRESIDENT GW BUSH: Well, I don't think their strategy is shifting at all simply because they blundered in the initial phase doesn't mean they're off their strategy. Their strategy is, and we've seen this in Mariupol, we've seen this in Kharkiv and we will see this in Kyiv, is that they will encircle a city, they will then shell the city, they will start to then starve the city, cutting off access to water, cutting off access to medicine, cutting off access to resupply for the fighters. And then when they've reduced the city to a level that they think they can take it, then they will send in the troops.

BURNETT: It's unbelievable, Director Clapper, the U.S. today - the White House wouldn't say how the U.S. would respond if Russia used chemical weapons in Ukraine as part of this. They've warned that Russia - it's very possible that they would do so. Of course, they have done so in Syria.

Do you think it is likely, Gen. Clapper, that Russia will use chemical weapons?

CLAPPER: Yes, I do. I think we need to be prepared for that, particularly in Kyiv. I think they will use chemical weapons, if they run into - incur a lot of casualties in a very dense urban warfare environment. And so yeah, I think it's very probable that Russians will use chemical weapons.

BURNETT: Gen. Clapper, what should the U.S. do about it then? I mean, we all understand the possible costs of involvement, our nuclear war. Does that mean that there is nothing that would cause a U.S. response?

CLAPPER: Well, first, I think, it unlikely that this administration will issue a red line in advance. President Obama did that with Syria and it didn't turn out so well and President Biden, then-Vice President Biden lived through that. And the administration is going to have to make a policy call on the use of chemical weapons. To me that is a red line. I can say it because I'm not responsible.

But to me, we cannot sit still, we the west, we NATO, we the United States cannot sit still if the Russians use chemical weapons particularly against innocent civilians.


BURNETT: Gen. Kimmitt, we have been watching Kyiv in Ukraine in the first days, it was it Kyiv would fall within four days of the invasion. Right and here we are now weeks in, is the fight for Kyiv going to be - I mean, how much longer do you think this goes?

KIMMITT: Oh, goodness, if you take a look at sieges in modern day warfare, you take a look at Stalingrad, that was half a year. You take a look at Mosul, how long that took. Aleppo continues to be seized. It's all going to depend on the capability of the forces, the Ukrainian forces, their ability to maintain sufficient ammo stocks and candidly more than anything else, the will of the fighters to continue to fight. It could go on for months. It could go on candidly for years if the Ukrainians decide to fight to the last man.

BURNETT: Certainly there's every indication right now there has been no relenting, no weakening of their will and resolve. Thank you both very much, Generals. I appreciate you.

And next, U.S. officials say Putin's forces have encircled the city of Mariupol, that's the city that would give them that lamb bridge between the Donbas and Crimea. The Russians bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol. So what exactly do we now know about that attack? An OUTFRONT special report coming up.

And he's a Russian opposition politician who survived two poisoning attacks. And tonight he'll talk about what Putin is really capable of.

Plus, the First Lady of Ukraine, what is she saying about Putin's invasion tonight?



BURNETT: Breaking news, the mayor of Mariupol accusing Vladimir Putin and the Russian army of genocide. The city entering its sixth day without access to aid as senior U.S. defense official warns that Russian forces have now encircled the key city.

This as Russia's Ministry of Defense falsely claims that it's horrific bombing of a maternity hospital was a 'completely orchestrated provocation'. Phil Black is OUTFRONT with more. I do warn you before you watch this that some of the images in his reporting are graphic and disturbing.


PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When you hear Ukrainian city is under siege, cut off and under bombardment by Russian forces, this is what that means. No one knows how many people have been killed in Mariupol, but it's too many to allow the care and dignity that usually comes with death.

Relatively few images have escaped Mariupol since the siege began. These were captured by AP photo journalist Evgeniy Maloletka, who says he saw around 70 bodies buried in this trench over two days. They arrived wrapped in whatever people could find and use; plastic bags, even carpet.

And this shows why it's likely there are many more. Mariupol suffering from above, before and after satellite images reveal extraordinary devastation in commercial and shopping areas, residential neighborhoods too.

Russian munitions are steadily wiping out this city. It's already unlivable. There is no food, water or power.




BLACK (voice over): Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says a child in Mariupol has died of dehydration, probably for the first time since the Nazi invasion.

During a meeting in Turkey, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister says he asked his Russian counterpart for a humanitarian corridor to allow people to leave Mariupol.


KULEBA: Unfortunately, Minister Lavrov was not in a position to commit himself to it, but he will correspond with respective authorities.

LAVROV: (Foreign language).


BLACK (voice over): That means Sergey Lavrov has to ask his boss, but Russia's top diplomat was comfortable repeating Russia's explanation for bombing a maternity hospital in Mariupol on Wednesday. The Russian version says there were no patients or staff in these buildings, just soldiers. This was the reality captured in the moments immediately after the blast. An obviously pregnant woman is stretchered from the side, another hurt, bleeding walks out carrying what she can.

Russians often honor the bravery and determination shown by their own citizens who were besieged by Nazi forces in the Second World War. Now, Russia is inflicting that same suffering on the people of Mariupol.

Phil Black, CNN, London.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now Dmytro Gurin, a member of Ukraine's parliament. He grew up in Mariupol and his parents are there now. I really appreciate your time. I know this is hard, because your parents are there and I want to ask you about them. First though when you look at your city and the attacks that are happening there, that maternity hospital that was bombed by the Russians, the Russians saying that that's a completely orchestrated provocation that somehow they were provoked to bomb the hospital. What is your response to that?

DMYTRO GURIN, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I just want to add that Russians several hours before said that it was Nazis' nets - nests, sorry - and the same day they said that we are developing chemical weapons against ethnical groups and are going to spread it through birds. BURNETT: Right.

GURIN: So we're really discussing what Russia says and what not they're doing. And now, we didn't have any military in the majority of hospitals and we don't have such tradition out of hospitals military. Of course, we have a big - it's a new hospital, it was reconstructed during last year and like everybody has - everybody has seen all the world seen this pregnant women if this woman is Nazism, I don't know. It doesn't look like this.

BURNETT: You are from Mariupol. I mean, these are images of the place you grew up and it's destroyed.


We're hearing horror things about what is happening there; dehydration, no food coming in, no water coming in, the Red Cross says that people started to attack each other for food. I mean, what we are hearing about Mariupol is horrific. Dmytro, this isn't just a place that you're from, that's got to break your heart, your parents are still there. Have you been able to talk to them? Do you know if they're okay? What their situation is?

GURIN: Four days ago, last time when I heard them it was four days ago. As for yesterday, I know that they were alive. I didn't know what's going on now, because there is no heating, no water, no gas, no electricity in Mariupol. There is no mobile network on several spots in the city where there are the spots of mobile network.

So people just living in basements and melting snow for - to have water and preparing food and open fire and that's reality, not that Mr. Lavrov says. That is reality what Russians do. And yes, my heart is breaking when I think about my 67 years old mother and my 69 years old father who is now in this minus five Celsius temperature like scouts preparing food in an open fire because somebody just wanted them to do so.

BURNETT: Dmytro, I'm so sorry. I do not even know if they're alive. I think it is hard for people to understand that fear and that pain. Do you think Mariupol hold given the humanitarian disaster that is unfolding there?

GURIN: They're holding and we are preparing, because we are mobilizing our army and I think that all the world has seen during the last two weeks that we resist and we will fight, we will continue to fight and we will finish this war with a win. And the Mariupol, of course, is the most problematic place in this world now and its humanitarian catastrophe, that's true. They have, as a hostages 350,000 people got no supply of medicine, no supply of water or food and will have food for several days more and the hunger can break out in the center of Europe.

And I think that all of us have to understand that if the first part of this war, the first week was the ordinary war, army against army. Then when Russia and Putin understood they cannot beat us on the battlefield, they just decided to kill all our children and our parents. And they are just blocking cities and start bombing them.

In Mariupol, every 30 minutes bomb drops on the residential areas. The residential district where I grew up is totally destroyed and every building around my school, my university, my building where I grew up, all the buildings around it, all of them were hit and universities destroyed.

And it's something like somebody is killing your past a little bit, but the problem is, it's not just your past in your imagination, it's 350,000 people as hostages and that is a strategy of Putin, to take these hostages and to behaved himself like a state terrorist. And all of us, we have to understand, where is our line or this line is 350,000 people in Mariupol with hunger or maybe this line is tactical view or maybe this line is bombs from airplane to the maternity hospital in Borsho (ph) or Posnai (ph).

We have to decide at what time we will join this World War III that's already started two weeks ago and on which side. And it's not enough just to say that we are like Churchill when the war (inaudible) the war - it's not the state of war anymore, it's a state of mass murdering. And when it's mass murdering, you have to decide not to just say that you are Churchill but being one.

BURNETT: Yes. Dmytro, thank you very much. I really appreciate your time, sharing that with us and hope that your parents are going to be okay.

GURIN: Thank you.

BURNETT: Thank you.

Well, next the U.S. says Putin could be on the verge of using chemical weapons, so will he? We're going to talk to a Russian opposition politician who has survived two poison attacks.

And the powerful images of children fleeing Ukraine.


We have been showing you these now for weeks. These pictures that you look at here were taken by Sara Sidner. You have seen her with us talking about the crisis there. These children now among the 2.3 million Ukrainians who have already left Ukraine.


BURNETT: Russia has been using Belarus as a launching point for the, quote, vast majority of its fighter jets that have entered Ukraine's air force -- air space, I'm sorry. That's according to the latest intel out of NATO.

It comes as the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, issued a stunningly brazen lie. Two weeks after Putin ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine with missiles across the country, Lavrov says this today.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We do not plan to attack other countries. We did not attack Ukraine.


BURNETT: Lavrov making that claim, I mean, you know, in front of the cameras and the world. Russia launched an invasion in the early hours of the morning with missile attacks across Ukraine and has bombarded it with artillery, bombed hospitals, schools -- the country completely under attack by Russia.


OUTFRONT, Vladimir Kara-Murza, the Russian opposition politician who survived two poisoning attempts on his life in 2015 and 2017. He traveled from Moscow to Washington where he met today with members of Congress about Ukraine.

And, Vladimir, I appreciate your time.

So, you heard Lavrov literally say, we do not plan to attack other countries and we did not attack Ukraine. It is even for Putin's inner circle, even for his foreign minister, an incredibly brazen lie. What does it suggest to you that he says that?

VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN: Well, we have George Orwell's "1984" come to life in Vladimir Putin's Russia. Remember, war, peace, freedom, slavery, ignorance and strength -- this is what we are living in our country. We have been for a long time.

I mean, the astonishing fact is most Russians don't know that the Putin regime launched this criminal military aggression against Ukraine because if you watch television, you are presented with this alternative reality, this made-up world where it's actually the West and some imaginary Ukrainian neo-Nazis as they call them who are to blame for this. There is, in fact, no large-scale war. There's a so- called targeted special operation that has not harmed civilians.

Well, I think our viewers can decide for themselves after watching the images you have been showing them. Just a week ago, the Russian so- called parliament, the rubber stamp legislature unanimously passed a new law criminalizing not j opposition to the war in Russia, but even saying there is a war.


KARA-MURZA: You can now get up to 15 years in prison if you say that what Putin's military forces are doing is an aggressive war. Just today, a Russian orthodox priest in the region was fined under this administrative offense introduced a week for speaking out against matters, for speaking out against the war in his sermon. This is an Orwellian reality that we are living with in Russia today.

BURNETT: There is concern the U.S. and other western intelligence services have raised that Russia may use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, either directly or through a false flag operation. They have been saying there's bio-weapons labs, you know, perhaps try to blame somebody else when they do it.

Putin has a pattern here, as you know. He falsely accused the U.S. of developing bio-weapons in Georgia as he invaded there.

Vladimir, do you think he is going to launch a chemical or biological attack in Ukraine at this point?

KARA-MURZA: There are absolutely no limits to what Vladimir Putin can do. The world has seen this loud and clear as we are witnessing this large-scale land war, this large-scale war crime happening right at the heart of Europe. The tragedy is that this was predictable. So many people for years and years warned the world about just who Vladimir Putin is and what this will lead to.

One of the loudest and clearest voices that provided those warnings was a Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered on Vladimir Putin's order seven years ago, in February 2015.


KARA-MURZA: He said all those years ago, that, you know, Vladimir Putin is not just authoritarian, he's not just corrupt but he's increasingly psychologically deranged. And I think it's very evident for all the world to see. For years and years, Western democracies and Western leaders -- this includes American presidents of both parties, have opted for what can only be described as a policy of appeasement toward Vladimir Putin when it was already clear -- I mean, let's not forget, this is not Putin's first war.

BURNETT: I am curious --

KARA-MURZA: He had so many different wars before. Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, you name it, but also the war in Russian civil society and the war on those Russians who believe in democracy. Those warnings were simply not heeded and here we are today placing this war crime in the middle of Europe.

BURNETT: I wonder though when you say psychologically deranged -- there are many who believe that. I wonder if what you think about those who say that he is actually not. He is a rational actor. The majority of the Russian people blame the west for the pain they are suffering as a result of sanctions, therefore, giving him more power to move further.

Do you think it's possible that that is true?

KARA-MURZA: It's not. In fact, when you said the majority of Russian people support what he is doing, that is not accurate because in an authoritarian state you cannot measure public opinion.

BURNETT: My point is, how do you know? How do you know they would rise up if they could?

KARA-MURZA: First of all, what we know for a fact, that thousands of people across Russia have been going out to demonstrate against this war at great personal peril, at great personal risk. According to the latest count by human right groups, more than 10,000 arrests were made in the last week across Russia as people went out into the streets to say this is not our war, this is not being done on our behalf.


And, frankly, you know, just walking on the streets, riding in public transportation, I hear what people are saying. This is not at all 2014 when the majority of Russians did, as much as I don't like to admit that is a fact that in 2014, most Russians were on board with Putin an annexing of Crimea. This is not the case today.

There's growing certainty among many people in Russia not only on our side, on the opposition side, but on the pro-regime side that this is the last war that Vladimir Putin launches. He overstepped this time. There's not a way back for him and his regime.

What is important now is that as Western democracies rightly prioritize supporting Ukraine and providing the help and assistance to Ukraine to be able to withstand this criminal aggression by Putin's regime. But Western democracies says also help provide the truth to Russian people. Just don't forget, in the last two weeks, just as Putin has been launching a war against Ukraine, he launched a successful blitzkrieg against what remain of independent media outlets in Russia, essentially shutting down every single one, radio stations, television channels, media outlets and so on.

So, what is important just like in Soviet days when the west would beam radio signal to provide the truth, to provide the objective information to millions of people behind the iron curtain, so today Western democracies I believe it's important that they step up to provide objective truth, objective information in the Russian language for Russian citizens to open their eyes to what the Putin regime is doing.

At the end of the day, the only solution to this will be when Putin is out of power and only Russians in Russia will be able to do that.

BURNETT: All right. Vladimir, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.

KARA-MURZA: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: And next, we are getting new details here, some breaking news on the 40-mile long Russian convoy you have been hearing about for weeks. There's been a big shift in that just outside Kyiv. We are monitoring that. We will have that for you in just a moment.

Ukraine's first lady stepping into the spotlight tonight.



BURNETT: Breaking news. New satellite images that we just had a chance to look at. Let me show you them, so I can explain. That they show what was the 40-mile-long Russian military convoy near Kyiv.

You have heard about it for weeks, right? That it was stuck. They were slow. They couldn't move.

Well, now, we can see that it has largely dispersed and we redeployed. Okay? These images from Maxar show elements of the convoy have been repositioned into forests and into tree-lined areas in the city. This comes as Ukraine's president says 100,000 people have been evacuated via humanitarian corridors within the past two days. That's a small percentage of the 2.3 million that have fled Ukraine.

Nearly 1.5 million have gone to Poland alone. Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT near one of the Poland-Ukraine border crossings.

Sara, I know that you have been struck by the children and so many children that you have seen crossing the border. You know, it struck us, too. It's haunting and harrowing.

Tell me about what you are seeing and experiencing with the children you are seeing.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it is -- it is so disturbing I think is the best way to put it, to see the number of children that we are seeing who will at this age -- some are infants and unable to understand what is going on and being held tightly in their mother's arms. And some of them are teenagers. It goes the gamut.

And they understand exactly what's going on. We have talked to some of them. They told us that they were frightened, that they heard bombings, that they heard car alarms going off because the bombs were so close. And the fear they experienced.

We see small children who, as you know, often are resilient. They try to play with toys. And there are lots of agencies and people volunteering to try and cheer them up, giving them toys, giving them chocolates as they stand in line, sometimes for hours on either side of the border.

And then they are all bussed to this place. We're in Przemysl, Poland. This has changed a lot since we first got here. It used to be all the refugees were outside. There were lots of tents set up to help feed them and clothe them and give them what they need and offer them rides.

Now, they opened this old what used to be sort of a mall, and now it is inside. People can keep warm. Mind you, the temperature has dropped to minus six degrees. It's just getting colder and colder, even though with are getting closer to spring. It really feels frigid here. These families are trying to weather all of this -- Erin.

BURNETT: Sara, thank you very much.

And Ukraine's first lady speaking out, condemning Putin's invasion. You will see her. And victims of the opioid crisis and their families, tonight

confronting the family behind OxyContin. You will want to hear what they said to the family in court today.



BURNETT: Tonight, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba posting a disturbing video of sick orphans being evacuated and ambulances from a town north of Kyiv. One of the children clearly unconscious. This is Ukraine's first lady from an undisclosed location also speaking out, condemning Russia for the refugee crisis.

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska not mincing words, saying Russia is conducting the mass murder of Ukrainians, giving what she calls her own testimony from Ukraine in a lengthy open letter posted in several languages.

When Russia says that it is not waging war against civilians, I call out the names of these murders children first, Zelenska says, addressing some of the youngest victims of the war by name.

Since the start of the invasion, the 44-year-old has weaponized her social media, sharing real-time pictures and videos to reflect the reality of the war.

This is how Ukraine looks right now, she wrote last week, the whole world look.

Zelenska's path to her perch in this global crisis started out reluctantly. I was not too happy when I realized that those were the plans, she has said of her husband running for president, famously first learning of his run on social media. When I asked, why didn't you tell me? He answered, I forgot.

In the three years since, she has settled into her role as the first lady, taking on women's rights and children's issues in featured in a glossy spread on the cover of "Vogue Ukraine". Zelenska first met the future president in college.


Their relationship growing into love years later.

Like her husband, she, too, worked in entertainment as a script writer, writing comedy behind the scenes at the same studio as her husband. I am a nonpublic person, she has said of herself. I prefer staying backstage. My husband is always on the forefront while I feel more comfortable in the shade.

Their two young children, Sasha and Cyril, she is fiercely protective of. The family of four now, like so many, at the epicenter of war.

PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINE (through translator): The enemy has marked me as target number one. My family is target number two.

SERFATY: The first lady vowing to remain calm and confident as her own children and so many others are looking to her for strength in this moment.

Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.


BURNETT: And next, a major development on a story we have been following. A powerful day in court as victims of the opioid crisis confront the family who made billions on OxyContin.


BURNETT: And finally, tonight, an emotional and powerful day in court. Today, victims and the families of the highly addictive drug OxyContin of the people who died from it confronted the family who made billions selling the painkiller.

Family members of addicts, including Ryan Hampton (ph), who has been fighting addiction for seven years. He said to the Sackler family, I quote him: You poisoned our lives and have the audacity to blame us for dying. I hope you hear our names in your dreams. I hope you hear the screams of the families who find their loved ones dead on the bathroom floor. I hope you hear the sirens. I hope you hear the heart monitor as it beats along with a failing pulse.

Today's hearing coming after a bankruptcy judge approved a settlement in which the Sacklers must pay up to $6 billion to settle OxyContin lawsuits. Half a million Americans have died from overdoses.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.