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Erin Burnett Outfront

U.S.: Ukraine Pushed Russians Up To 35 KM From Kyiv In One Day, As They Regain Territory; Report: Longtime Putin Aide Resigns, Leaves Country; U.S. Formally Accuses Russia Of War Crimes, Citing Strikes On Maternity Hospital Theater; CNN: U.S. Officials Report Russian General Had "Outburst" At Meeting, Said He Was "Very Depressed" Over Ukraine; Zelenskyy Calls For Worldwide Demonstrations In Support Of Ukraine; Final Day Of Questioning Wraps For Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson; Madeleine Albright, First Female Secretary Of State, Dies At 84. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 23, 2022 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jessica Schneider reporting for us. Thank you very much, Jessica. I'll be back tomorrow here in Brussels for another special edition situation room. We'll be live from Brussels beginning at 5 pm Eastern.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, the United States says Ukrainian forces have pushed Russia back, the capital Kyiv regaining crucial ground as NATO estimates up to 15,000 Russian troops are dead. The governor in Ukraine calls on residents to help collect Russian corpses that are piling up.

And inside a rare face-to-face meeting between the U.S. and Russia. A Russian general 'flushed and agitated', according to U.S. officials saying he was depressed over what's happening in Ukraine, but wait to hear why, and what does it tell us about Putin's army.

Plus, he was once the richest man in all of Russia, the oligarch of oligarchs. But then he crossed Putin and spent 10 years in prison. Mikhail Khodorkovsky tells me why Biden has Putin all wrong. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, a big victory for Ukraine and a mass barrage of fire in Kyiv tonight. Senior U.S. official tells CNN that east of Kyiv, Ukrainian forces have pushed Russian forces back and significantly. They were about 20 kilometers from the center of Kyiv. They're now about 55 kilometers from the center.

And the battle for Kyiv continues through the night. Look at this striking new image. This is just northwest of Kyiv, where Ukrainians are trying to match their success in the east. This news comes as President Biden is now in Brussels for a high stakes summit with NATO allies. Tonight, NATO saying it will approve the deployment of battle groups

to four countries Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia. Now, this move would double NATO's presence in Eastern Europe. And it comes at the Pentagon tonight has provided Biden with options for moving additional U.S. troops to Eastern Europe. This is a potential new show of force and it comes as we learn of problems in Putin's inner circle.

Tonight, a longtime Putin official resigning from his post, according to Russian state media. Anatoly Chubais, who was Putin's climate envoy has now become the senior most Russian government official to quit over the war, a war that NATO estimates has now killed up to 15,000 Russian soldiers and their bodies are now piling up in Ukraine.

This is this disgusting. It's so bad that the governor of one southern city has called on residents there to help collect corpses and put them in bags. His message to the Ukrainian civilians who have been targeted and killed by the Russians is, "We are not beasts, are we?"

In fact, NATO tonight saying up to 40,000 Russians have either been killed, wounded or missing in the Ukraine war. That would mean at least one quarter of the troops that Putin had originally amassed on Ukraine's border are no longer fighting. That is a staggering thing if it is the case here and it's a massive toll, being felt now in cities and towns across Russia that are getting the news that they're 18, 19, 20-year-old sons are dead as families are now having to bury their fathers and sons.

So earlier, I spoke to a reporter for The Moscow Times. He attended a funeral for a 20-year-old Russian soldier in his home village. He said 50 to 70 people were there. The body was in a closed casket, too damaged to be seen. Now, he spoke to the soldiers family and other mourners and he says they were not angry at Putin, they were not frustrated, that they actually see this soldier as a hero.


KIRILL PONOMAREV, FREELANCE REPORTER, THE MOSCOW TIMES (through interpreter): The common feeling is that there is this threat from Ukraine in the face of NATO. So there is no hatred towards Ukraine, but there is this - that as if they are afraid they would have not Russia invaded Ukraine first then they would have done it. So for them Kirill is just a hero because he had gone there to protect them from this threat.


BURNETT: Kirill is the name of the soldier, 20 years old. He would have turned 21 in August. Every death here, of course, is an unnecessary tragedy. And the reporter there was very clear that from what he is hearing, this belief is widespread that if Putin hadn't invaded Ukraine, NATO would have actually gone in and invaded Russia that that is a widespread belief.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT live in Kyiv tonight. And Fred, what is the latest on the ground there? I know that in some directions there have been some significant successes for Ukrainian forces. FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It

certainly seems like it. And one of the things that we see here, Erin, is we do still see a lot of outgoing rocket artillery. Like for instance, the one that we saw on that picture that our Apruser Beck's (ph) right shot earlier today as there was one of those salvos of that outgoing artillery are being fired towards the Russian positions.


There's really something that even as we were going to air here, we kept hearing those outgoing thuds of what seemed to be artillery as well. And certainly, the Ukrainian authorities here, they're not really willing to tell us too much. I think they don't want to give away some of their military secrets. And also, quite frankly, they believe that some of these gains could still be reversed. They're still very fragile.

Nevertheless, they do believe that they have the Russians on the back foot, at least in the area around Ukraine's capital, Kyiv. One of the reasons why they're able to bring some of their artillery to bear, some of their force to bear is because the Russian Air Force can't really operate here above the Ukrainian Capitol unimpeded and one of the main reasons for that is because the Ukrainian Air Force is actually still able to fend them off in some places.

We were able to speak to a Ukrainian Air Force pilot who flies a fighter jet. Here's what he told us.


PLEITGEN (voice over): Counted out early in the war, but still going strong. Against all the odds, Russia has not managed to ground Ukraine's Air Force. We spoke to fighter pilot, Andriy (ph), who was in an undisclosed location and hiding his identity for safety reasons.


ANDRIY (through interpreter): At first, Russian pilots dominated in quantity of fighters and newer equipment. Now, they're starting to refuse to fly because we're shooting them down. We try to work with tactics.


PLEITGEN (voice over): Andriy says he flies an Su-27 Air Superiority Fighter. This is video provided by the Ukrainian military of the same model and older plane but one that's still effective.


ANDRIY (through interpreter): I shut down Russian planes, unfortunately, I cannot say which and how many and how exactly I shut them down. Air to air missiles, ground to air missiles were repeatedly fired at me. There was a flight when we flew three against 24, it means or three fighters repelled the attack of their 24 aircraft.


PLEITGEN (voice over): It's impossible for us to verify those claims, but during our interview, we heard what seemed to be a Ukrainian jet taking off.

Under he says the U.S. helped teach him and his fellow airmen how to beat the Russians.


ANDRIY (through interpreter): We have our tactics. We conducted the clear sky exercise with our American friends. We now are using some of the tactics we learned from the Americans.


PLEITGEN (voice over): The U.S. and its allies initially believed Russia would own the skies over Ukraine just days after their invasion. But the spokesman for Ukraine's Air Force says they were ready.


YURI IGNAT, UKRAIN AIR FORCE SPOKESMAN (through interpreter): We've been preparing for this scenario for eight years. It cannot be said that our military did not think this would not happen. We've destroyed 100 aircraft and 123 helicopters already.


PLEITGEN (voice over): A lot of Russian aircraft have been taken down by shoulder launch missiles supplied by Western allies. But the Ukrainians also still operate longer range systems like the S-300. The Air Force spokesman says Ukraine wants Western missiles and U.S. jets.


IGNAT (through interpreter): I'm talking about NATO integrated air defense systems, an F-15 Eagle, F 16 Fighting Falcon. They may be unused or decommissioned ones, but they could serve the Ukrainian military.


PLEITGEN (voice over): For Andriy, the battle for the skies over Ukraine is personal both his mother and his wife are helping in the effort to fend off the Russians, he says, and that he too is willing to sacrifice.


ANDRIY (through interpreter): Everyone's afraid of being killed. It's one thing to die with honor, another thing is to die without honor.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PLEITGEN (voice over): The U.S. has said Ukraine's Air Force remains

largely intact and combat ready. The battle for the skies, another area where this outgunned nation is persevering against all odds.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, of course, they are still very much outgunned in this battle, Erin. And as you know, the Ukrainian government has been calling for a no-fly zone over Ukraine and for the U.S. and its allies to enforce that. U.S. obviously saying that's something that's not going to happen, because they're afraid to get drawn further into all this and have a direct confrontation with the Russians.

But at the same time, you do see the Ukrainian Air Force still holding up and certainly the Ukrainian ground force is simply making those gains, especially in the area here around Kyiv. There's one neighborhood where they say they now control 80 percent of that, Erin.

BURNETT: No. All right. Thank you very much, Fred, for that report.

And on the back of that reporting, I want to go to retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, who's the former Commanding General of Europe and the 7th Army, spent a lot of time with Ukrainian forces, and Jill Dougherty, former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief who just returned to Russia to the United States. So thanks to both of you.

General Hertling, let me start with you on the back of that reporting. A senior US defense official says that Ukrainian forces have pushed Russian forces back on the front lines east of Kyiv.


And Fred, obviously, talking in that piece specifically about the success of a group that very few people thought would be fully prepared, the Ukrainian Air Force. You are not surprised at all by this performance and I know you trained with Ukrainian military. You've also observed exercises with Russian forces. So how do you think Ukraine is doing this?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I had a smile, Erin, when Fred mentioned, the clear sky exercises. That's really a partnership and an Ally partner exercise, it's conducted primarily by the U.S. forces, air forces in Europe at Ramstein.

What they do is not only teach air to air combat, fighter jets, the Top Gun kind of thing that we've seen in movies. But they also teach the pilots how to draw enemy aircraft into defensive zone, to ground air defense defensive zones. So the shoot downs of many of the Russian planes have been not only the air to air, but I would say primarily the ground air fights.

So this is the coordination between the ground and the air and it's what we haven't seen on the Russian side. Those clear sky exercises are complemented by other exercises that U.S. Army and Europe does called Rapid Trident, where you use your partnership with Ukrainians and other allies and partners to talk about how do you conduct large scale operations, bigger scale operations, things that the Russians have not done, probably have not done in the last 25 years.

Those are critically important. It's the training, it's the leadership, it's the will of the fighters, it's the ability to defend your own country to know what's going on. All of those things are playing on the side of the Ukrainians. The Russians have not had any of those things. They have soldiers who don't know what they're doing, poor leadership, no training, no exercises, no large scale maneuver, so it's apples and oranges.

BURNETT: Yes. Well, it's amazing. I mean, the U.S. is also saying they don't believe that there's one Commander for the entire Ukraine war for the Russians. You got all of these generals sort of operating on their own.

So Jill, Russian state media and I emphasize Russian state media, this isn't somebody figuring out what happened. This is actually what they're putting out themselves. Anatoly Chubais, a Russian government insider for decades is leaving. He's leaving his job as Putin special representative on the environment. And Reuters is reporting that Chubais left Russia and has no intention to return. How significant is this, obviously, seeming to return on Putin and to essentially defect.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR & FORMER MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Chubais is very well known, but he comes from that old time under Yeltsin and early Putin, when Putin, oddly enough, was considered kind of a reformer and yet he is associated by a lot of Russians with a lot of economic pain that they went through in the early '90s.

So, Erin, the question would be is this going to change Putin's mind? No, because he's not on the inside the way these strong man, the seal of the key (ph) as they're referred to, and members of the military and intelligence, who are really security services who are very tight with Putin, a very small group.

So I think Putin also has been using this word traitors, fifth column, people who eat foie gras in Europe and things like that. So, of course, I don't know what Putin would say if anything, but I think he'd probably say, good riddance. I mean, it's embarrassing, but it's not as embarrassing among the Russian public as it might seem.

BURNETT: Right, which is crucial context.

So Gen. Hertling, on that front, NATO officials say 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed and that there could be up to 40,000 soldiers either killed, wounded or missing altogether. So that would be about a quarter of Putin's initial force. Now, General, look, no one knows the numbers. We know that in one town, the Ukrainians are collecting the Russian corpses. How are these numbers even possible, General?

HERTLING: Well, as we've said several times and it's now coming to fruition, Erin, this is high intensity, conventional combat. This is not the kind of things we've seen over the last 20 years in Afghanistan and in Iraq, where it's an insurgency, a counterinsurgency. These are force on force operations, with a lot of big maneuver toys, if you will; tanks, artillery, personnel carriers, engineer vehicles. All of those things will carry multiple people inside.

So as you see, as you're showing this film right now, where they're shooting RPGs at probably a couple of tanks and BMPs, instead of just a rifle shot where you're killing one person, you're killing, potentially an entire crew in a tank, that's three people. In a BMP, a personnel carrier, that's up to 10 people. So you're talking about the type of equipment Russia has with fuel that explodes very rapidly in the backdoors of their personnel carriers.


And tanks that blow up very quickly because they don't protect the rounds on the inside.

You're seeing just unbelievable catastrophic death and your earlier report about the individual that was buried in a closed casket back in Russia, there's a reason for that. They are burned badly. They're mutilated in these kinds of fights. This isn't just a bullet wound. This is unbelievable death.

BURNETT: And Jill, that soldier, his name was Kirill, he was 20 years old turning 21. As I said, all of these deaths are unnecessary and tragic. But you heard the reporter who attended that soldier's funeral and he found out about it, actually, because he's from the same village. So he went home and went to this funeral.

He said the family wasn't angry, the family wasn't frustrated that they saw their son and brother, he has a sister who was there, as a hero. And the reporter says that from what he sees this sentiment is widespread. So Jill, what do you think? Do so many dead and injured soldiers strengthen or weaken Putin's popular support?

DOUGHERTY: Ultimately, I think it's going to be a problem for Putin, but that story really rings true to me, because people are watching, average people are watching TV and they're seeing that Ukraine is going to - this is all in quotes, of course, Ukraine is going to attack the eastern part, which is the breakaway region and then attack Russia.

And so there is a great level of fear that has been drummed up by the Russian government in their every single channel, every single newscast. So I'm not surprised that those people actually feel that, it's very sad.

BURNETT: Yes, it is. And as you say, when you use that word fear, he did use that word fear a couple of times in our conversation. That there was this literal fear that they would have been invaded. Thank you both so much.

HERTLING: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: Next, incredible new details tonight about a rare face-to- face meeting between U.S. and Russian officials. So U.S. officials describe an emotional outburst from a normally stoic Russian general. We're going to tell you exactly what happened.

Plus, he was once the richest man in Russia. That was before he crossed Putin. That public breakup sent him to a maximum security prison for 10 years. And tonight Mikhail Khodorkovsky tells me why he thinks Putin is showing 'signs of senile paranoia'.

And an emotional moment tonight as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wipes away a tear during her confirmation hearing.



BURNETT: Breaking news, the U.S. government formally declaring that Russia's military has committed war crimes during Putin's invasion of Ukraine. That announcement coming from the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and it comes as CNN obtains an exclusive inside look at a rare face-to-face meeting between U.S. and Russian military officials.

So U.S. officials say this meeting included a highly unusual and emotional outburst from a top Russian general, which they believe could be a sign of much larger morale issues among Russian forces. Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With Russia's war in Ukraine stalled and the U.S. say morale is a problem for Russian forces, CNN has learned of a rare meeting in Moscow between U.S. and Russian military officials, which according to a U.S. readout of the meeting contained a 'revealing moment' from Russian Major General Yevgeny Ilyin. A general with extensive experience dealing with Americans.

As the meeting ended, the readout says an attache on the U.S. side casually asked about Ilyin's family roots in Ukraine. According to the readout, the U.S. officials said that General's stoic demeanor suddenly became flushed and agitated. Ilyin replied he was born in Ukraine and went to school in Donetsk and then said, according to the readout, "The situation in Ukraine is tragic and I am very depressed over it," before walking out without shaking hands. The attache wrote in the readout, "The fire in his eyes and flustered demeanor left a chill down the spine."

Meetings with Russian officials are typically scripted, but the two attache said they had never witnessed such an outburst by Russian counterparts at an official meeting." The readout by the officials concludes, "At the very least, it is clear that morale problems among Russian forces are not limited to frontline troops."

The readout describes only the impressions of the U.S. officials and does not definitively explain Ilyin's behavior, such readouts are typically too sensitive to be made public.


type are important because they give us an insight, a potential insight into what the Russians are really thinking, but it also shows that there is some kind of a morale problem within the Russian hierarchy and it extends possibly all the way up to the top.


STARR (voice over): The Russian Ministry of Defense did not respond to a CNN request for comment on the meeting or the readout. But the Kremlin has denied reports of low morale among its forces in Ukraine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would probably have to doubt this information. You have to doubt it and you have to think twice whether it is true or not.


STARR (voice over): As Russia faces stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces, if the Americans are correct and morale was an issue, it's a challenge the Russians can ill afford.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We've seen increasing indications that morale and unit cohesion is a problem. And, yes, that absolutely translates into potential military effectiveness issues.


BURNETT: And Barbara, it's amazing just to get that information. How rare is it to get this inside information?

STARR (on camera): Well, this is really, by all accounts, very unusual. The Russians, as we say, are very scripted in their official meetings, especially with the U.S. military. They go by script. They don't deviate. And so to see a Russian general, flushed and agitated in the words of the U.S. attche's rare and now this will all be scrutinized, we understand, for any clues about what really may be going on behind Kremlin walls. Erin?

BURNETT: All right. Barbara, thank you very much for that reporting.

I want to go now to Andrei Soldatov. He's a Russian investigative journalist, the founder and editor of, a watchdog of the Russian secret service activities. It has now been blocked in Russia.


So Andrei, U.S. officials say Barbara stars reporting could point to larger problems or issues with morale and chaos inside the military. You know so much about the security services about the military in Moscow, what are you learning? ANDREI SOLDATOV, RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, I would say

that it's absolutely unprecedented and it is clear that even for generals in Moscow, the situation is getting really stressful. And we see that, even in public, as a Russian military now feels, they need to give some explanation to the public why the operations stalled.

And today, some general, top level former commander of Russian land troops provided some explanations to the program in the media, basically saying that, yes, we have some - well, it's not really quick, but we do not want to storm all these cities. We are a member of Stalingrad.

So actually, he compared himself to the German troops, which was quite astonishing. And he said, well, we just want to encircle the cities and to wait and then to cleanse the cities of the Nazis, which is again, it's quite astonishing that now they understand that we need to provide, at least, some explanations to the Russians.

BURNETT: It's incredible. And to use the word cleanse and cleanse of the Nazis, it is stunning. There is growing speculation, Andrei, about the whereabouts of another top official for Putin in the military and that is the Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu. The guy supposedly in charge, the Defense Minister. What have you been hearing about him?

SOLDATOV: Well, the official notion is that he has some heart problems, which is quite unusual, because Shoigu is a very healthy person. He's old and very fit. So everybody asking themselves with questions where he is, but the problem is for Putin that to replace Shoigu with someone right now presents a big challenge, because Shoigu is very popular and some years ago he got rid of other popular generals and to find a good replacement for him, to find another equally popular general right now, it's a big challenge.

BURNETT: Yes, it is right. And, of course, what it would signal. Well, it's pretty incredible. All right. Andrei, thank you so much. Always appreciate your insight.

And next, he was once the richest man in Russia, the richest of all the oligarchs, but he crossed Putin, went to the opposition and was stripped of all his wealth, put in prison for a decade. Mikhail Khodorkovsky tells me what he says Biden must do to stop Putin.

Plus, a woman's escaped out of Ukraine with her baby. Why she could no longer stay in the country she loves.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was too much for my babies, too much, because she can't sleep when it's all the time alone and there's bombarding.



[19:32:13] BURNETT: President Zelenskyy tonight calling for worldwide demonstrations in support of Ukraine to mark a full month since Putin invaded his country.


PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINE: Come to your squares, your streets, make yourselves visible and heard, say that people matter, freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, he was at one point the top oligarch, the richest man in Russia. And then took Putin on, championing the opposition. He ended up in prison for ten years. And he obviously is not in Russia now.

Mikhail, thank you so much for being with me.

You know, one month into Putin's invasion, American officials say that the Russian military doesn't have enough food. It doesn't have enough fuel. They have all kinds of logistical problems. Soldiers don't even have gloves. They're suffering from frostbite.

Did you ever imagine this situation?

MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY, PUTIN CRITIC (through translator): Truly, I'm not surprised. But on the other hand, I would have to say that the level of their unpreparedness has come as a great surprise to me. In fact, I will say in the words of the Ukrainians is that they are heavily helped by their corruption.

BURNETT: Western officials, you know, they say Putin is frustrated, obviously, but the stall of his military and that he has been lashing out. I know, Mikhail, you have spoken about Putin displaying what you called signs of senile paranoia but you didn't think he was, you know, crazy in any traditional sense. How dangerous is he right now?

KHODORKOVSKY: We have to understand that Putin is sufficiently dangerous and yet he's not suicidal. He can use mass destruction weapons but only if he knows that he'll go unpunished.

BURNETT: When you mentioned President Biden, you know, he has talked about the threats. He doesn't want World War III. He says it's a real threat Putin could use chemical weapons in Ukraine. Obviously, there are fears of what he could do with the nuclear arsenal.

So far, obviously, he has not even used tactical nuclear weapon, but there are these fears out there.

Do you think that they're real fears because they are what's holding NATO and the West back.

KHODORKOVSKY: Well, I believe that actually what we are seeing now is that western leaders are repeating the same mistake that their predecessors committed years ago with Hitler when Hitler was very vulnerable back then when he -- when he tried to invade Europe.


And that's what his accomplices did admit during the Neuberger tribunal.

However, what we know is that Western leaders kept saying they were afraid to aggravate Hitler and they thought, well, if you're not showing any resistance, and eventually he'll stop. However, that mistake has cost hundred of millions of human lives. Hundreds of millions of human lives were lost and the same mistake is being committed now.

But he'll never use nuclear unless he knows he's in safety, and once he's been convinced that yes, we're safe, then obviously that just, that just triggers him towards that.

BURNETT: So the Wall Street reports that President Biden was ready to sanction Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. He ultimately did not because President Zelenskyy said hold on. Zelenskyy thought that he could help broker some sort of a peace deal here.

Obviously, I know you and Abramovich know each other. I've got a picture of you on the day your companies announced that mega merger. There you are on the screen, you and Roman Abramovich.

Do you think he is the kind of key person that Zelenskyy thinks he is in terms of negotiating a peace settlement?

KHODORKOVSKY: Well, I believe that actually this negotiation are, so far, fake and damage (ph). And they can only be real when Putin can feel that he might either lose in Ukraine or if Ukraine capitulates. And obviously, this may not be possible so far because of Ukraine's courage and support from the West and also if the no-fly zone is provided.

But as of now -- but for sure, this cannot be facilitated with the help of Abramovich's efforts.

BURNETT: Do you think Abramovich or anyone else, Mikhail, at this point, any other oligarch, deserves to not be sanctioned by the West?

KHODORKOVSKY: Well, the way I see it is quite simple. Oligarchs are not true oligarchs in that sense that they actually do not influence Putin. That's just an -- a preposterous idea if I may say so. Yet they are Putin's instruments of influence.

And to see for real who has broken their relations with Putin would be when they actually denounce him and when they admit that he is a war criminal. And if that doesn't happen, that means that they still depend on him and they're still dangerous.

BURNETT: Mikhail, thank you very much. I'm grateful to you for your time and look forward to speaking with you again soon. Thank you.

KHODORKOVSKY: Thank you very much. And next, a mother torn as she's forced to flee with her child while

still wanting to defend her country.

Plus, the confirmation for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson turning even more contentious today.



SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): That's exactly what you said.




BURNETT: Sobering new figures tonight from Kharkiv where nearly 1,000 residential buildings now have been destroyed. That's according to the mayor of Ukraine's second largest city. The people who once lived in those buildings, many of them forced to flee to neighboring countries.

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT tonight from Bucharest, Romania.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This pianist Tetiana Shababaieva from Odessa. Tonight, she's playing for Ukrainian refugees like herself.

TETIANA SHABABAIEVA, FLED ODESSA: It's very important, I think, because it's a concert that I want to play for people and to give my energy.

MARQUEZ: Shababaieva fled with her 13-year-old nephew, Nikita, who she's helping raise, her mother, and her 5-month-old daughter, Monique Amali (ph).

SHABABAIEVA: It was too much for my babies. Too much. Because she can't sleep when it's all the time and there's bombarding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very scary. When you (INAUDIBLE), it's very scary.

MARQUEZ: They left in a hurry leaving everything back home in Odessa, an historical and strategically important city on the Black Sea.

SHABABAIEVA: Just take some luggage, put -- how I can put all my library that I keep all my life. I have a big library in my apartment.

MARQUEZ: In Bucharest, nearly two weeks now, Monique Amali, already doing better.

SHABABAIEVA: I have everything I need for life. My baby start to sleep. My baby start to eat.

MARQUEZ: But if not for her baby --

SHABABAIEVA: But you know, inside of me is fighting because if I would not have a baby, I would be for sure go and fighting.

MARQUEZ: Torn between family and fighting for her country. For now, they're staying in what was the Romanian office for Greenpeace.

What is it today?

CRISTIAN NEAGOE, GREENPEACE ROMANIA: Today, it's a place for refugee moms and their kids and so, I don't know, a place where they can feel safe.

MARQUEZ: Several organizations help manage about 100 refugees in 60, 6-0, different locations. The Greenpeace refugee center is the hub. Putin's war of choice, the motivation.




MATAAESCU: How can we not be here with open arms and doors?

MARQUEZ: It strengthens your resolve to help.

MATAAESCU: Yes, it's motivating us of course from angriness to kindness somehow.

MARQUEZ: Shababaieva only had a few days to prepare. Still each note struck emotion.

SHABABAIEVA: Thank you for everyone who come and felt for my country, me, my family and the many families like mine. Thank you very much.

MARQUEZ: Shababaieva discovered her hometown came under rocket attack while she played, making the music more emotional and the support here all the sweeter.


MARQUEZ (on camera): Now, interestingly, in the last few weeks that we've been here, we've seen the number of Ukrainian refugees crossing into Romania decline, but the number that are staying here seeking shelter, that's actually rising. So, Shababaieva and her nephew are looking for long-term housing here. It is interesting that sense of Ukrainian nationalism, that 13-year-old Nikita, he wants to be an engineer, go back to Ukraine and help rebuild it after the war.

Back to you.

BURNETT: Miguel, thank you very much. Next, the moment that brought Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to tears

during her confirmation hearing today.

Plus, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright dead at the age of 84, just before her death. She had a message for Vladimir Putin.



BURNETT: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden's nominee to the Supreme Court, facing stiffer Republican opposition on the final day of questioning in of her marathon confirmation hearings. Republicans repeatedly questioning her on some of these now repetitive issues, child porn, critical race theory, gender identity.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson facing questions from increasingly hostile lawmakers.

BROWN: That's not what I said, Senator.

REID: The hearing was often contentious.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): To answer a question. You can bang it as loud as you want.

REID: Republican senators used significant portions of their allotted time to focus on Jackson's judicial record in child pornography cases.

GRAHAM: You're a mother. You seem to be a very nice person. Are you aware of how many images are out there on the internet involving children in sexually compromising positions?

REID: Senator Graham repeatedly interrupted Jackson's attempts to explain previous sentencing decisions.

JACKSON: No, Senator, I didn't say verses (ph).

GRAHAM: That's exactly what you said, to put their ass in jail, not supervise their computer usage.

JACKSON: Senator, I wasn't talking about verses (ph).

GRAHAM: You just said you thought it was a deterrent to supervise them. I don't think it's a deterrent.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Senator, would you let her respond?


JACKSON: Senator, every person in all of these charts and documents I sent to jail because I know how serious this crime is.

REID: Senator Hawley's questions revealed Jackson's fatigue, with an issue that was relevant only to a handful of cases in her career.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): You gave him three months. My question is do you regret it my question is do you regret it or not?

JACKSON: Senator, what I regret is that in a hearing about my qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court, we've spent a lot of time focusing on this small subset of my sentences.

REID: Committee Chairman Dick Durbin admonished them for their talking points appearing to appeal to movements like QAnon which peddles false conspiracies about Democrats and pedophiles.

DURBIN: Your nomination turned out to be a testing ground for conspiracy theories and culture war theories.

CRUZ: And videos.

REID: Cruz, Jackson's Harvard Law School classmate, made news with his question about the upcoming affirmative action case going before the justices next term where Harvard is a defendant.

CRUZ: You're on the board of overseers of Harvard. If you're confirmed, do you intend to recuse from this lawsuit?

JACKSON: That is my plan, Senator.

REID: Democratic lawmakers again using much of their time to allow Jackson to talk about her record and the historic nature of her nomination.

JACKSON: I do consider myself having been born in 1970 to be the first generation to benefit from the civil rights movement.

REID: She wiped away tears as she listened to Senator Booker.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): When that final vote happens and you are sent onto the highest court in the land, I'm going to rejoice and I'm going to tell you right now, the greatest country in the world, the United States of America, will be better because of you.


REID (on camera): This could be the closest Supreme Court confirmation vote in U.S. history because as of right now, it's not clear Jackson will receive any support from Republicans. As of now, Senator Cornyn says he's not inclined to support her nomination. Senator Graham also appears to be a likely no vote, even though a year ago he confirmed Jackson to be a circuit judge.

As for other potential Republican support, those lawmakers either say they're reviewing her record or they won't say anything at all. Right now, the committee is scheduled to vote on April 4th -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you very much.

And next, from a child refugee to the first female secretary of state for the United States. Tonight, we remember Madeleine Albright.



BURNETT: Tonight, the world remembering a groundbreaking diplomat. Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. secretary of state, has died. She was tapped to be America's top diplomat by then-President Clinton. That was in 1997. Four years later, she was the first senior U.S. official to meet with then acting President Vladimir Putin of Russia in early 2000.

After that meeting, Albright in an op-ed published just last month she wrote down her impressions. She said, quote, Putin is small and pale, so cold as to be almost reptilian. Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.

Those were notes she took 22 years ago. And now, the world sees what she saw. Like the millions of Ukrainian refugees now, Albright and her family had to leave their home when Czechoslovakia -- then Czechoslovakia fell in 1949. She arrived in America as a refugee. It's something she spoke about when she received the Medal of Freedom in 2012.


MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I was not born in the United States and so for a naturalized citizen to have the opportunity to represent this amazing country abroad and to be a part of history is unbelievably moving for me specifically.


BURNETT: Albright was 84.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" begins now.