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Erin Burnett Outfront

Russia Steps Up Assault On Cities Across Ukraine; White House Says Biden Was Not Calling For Regime Change In Russia; Russia Confirms Strike On Ukrainian Military Fuel Depot; Russian Woman Speaks Out After Her Dad Appeared At Putin Rally; Zelenskyy: Russia Is Using Energy To "Blackmail" World; E.U. Nations Continue To Buy Oil From Russia Amid War; 10-Year-Old Boy Makes Journey Out Of Ukraine Alone. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 27, 2022 - 22:00   ET




ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett in our special breaking news coverage continues.

OUTFRONT tonight, Russia accused of trying to wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth and that accusation coming from an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who tonight is tweeting, "there are more and more missiles every day," adding that Russia is, in their words "carpet bombing," at Mariupol. That advisor also accusing Russia of targeting cities and towns now west of Kyiv, including Lutsk, Zhytomyr and Rivne. And in the East Kharkiv.

Also tonight, Ukraine's top military intelligence official now claiming that Putin's gameplan is to carve Ukraine into two, no longer focused on seizing control of the entire country, but to focus on the south of the east where Russia has focused many of its attacks. And as the war moves into its second month, the civilian toll continues to mount as President Biden tonight tries to clean up comments that he made in Poland, when he said that Putin cannot remain in power.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, were you calling for regime change?



BURNETT: Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT tonight live in Kyiv. And Fred also tonight Zelenskyy giving his first interview to Russian journalists since the start of the war. Now, of course, these were independent journalists, we're not talking about state media out of Moscow or anything like that. But what more are you learning?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Either Erin, yeah, they were indeed independent journalists. And one of the things that we have to keep in mind is that all the publications that he spoke to, as for publications in total, very few of them are actually still operating in Russia or could actually be seen by Russians.

In fact, that Kommersant Daily is the only one that I think actually slows journalistic operations at all in Russia. But the other media that he spoke to have left the country, are banned from operating there. And basically can't be seen by many people.

It was interesting, though, some of the comments that he made, I think the most important one was that he said he's not going to talk to the Russians. If they keep talking about this denazification that they're allegedly demanding from the Ukrainians and demilitarization, he says that those are simply concepts that are completely alien to him. They have nothing to do with the reality on the ground here in Ukraine. And so those are certainly things that he does not wants to talk about at all, and will not talk about with the Russians.

You can see from that interview, I think I was actually watching it, it's on Ukrainian TV here as well, is that he does seem to be quite confident at the moment with some of the gains the Ukrainian military has been making on the ground and clearly telling the Russians look, there's things we can talk about. But there's other things that are absolutely off limits.

The other thing that he also did, and this is something that's been really a theme with Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also ripped into that siege of Mariupol. That's going on saying that Mariupol is being carpet bombed, that there's no aid, obviously getting in there, civilian suffering on the ground there. And that is certainly something that could resonate with Russians. It is obviously one of those towns, very close to the Russian border that does have a substantial Russian speaking population, and has had that for a very long time.

And is also one I can tell you from having been in Russia for a very long time, a town that's really valued by Russians as well, where especially older Russians, you know, they were on vacation in that place in the past. So Zelenskyy clearly making some very important points. But of course, the big question is, are people going to see it and hear it?

And I was talking to some folks that I know, in Russia and they were telling me right now, it is almost impossible to get any sort of independent information in Russia. It's not just the fact that state TV obviously won't broadcast any of this especially since the regulating authority there in Russia has warned outlets from publishing any of it.

It's also telegram channels by the Russian government that also just don't allow people to get independent information there.

BURNETT: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much. And so important there to get that context with Fred's eyes. So many contacts after so much time spent in Moscow.

OUTFRONT now, a member of Ukraine's parliament, Sviatoslav Yurash. He's also now a soldier fighting in the war. And I really appreciate your time, Sviat. So explosions tonight in Kyiv, where you are military intelligence, though, the head of Ukraine's military intelligence says that Russia's operations around Kyiv have failed. Do you think the fight for Kyiv is over now in favor of the Ukrainians?

SVIATOSLAV YURASH, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Well, the reality is that the fighting is happening has been happening for weeks now all around Kyiv and the battle is happening about 30, 40 minutes from when I talk to you right now. So it's close enough to be concerned always but we create Kyiv all the current in Russian, sending in the first week is the question of security supply lines and the battle line about around the room to the western border.

BURNETT: So Ukraine's military intelligence head says Putin is looking to carve Ukraine into two and it sounds like that two is as from this report sort of the Russian occupied or impart territories of Donbass somehow combining with Crimea and obviously Mariupol would be an important part of that. Do you think that Ukraine should let that happen, if it means an end to the war?


YURASH: We are not going to humor any of the (inaudible) by Mr. Putin in any of the battle plans and calling up plans that he might have. I mean, (inaudible) idea, the idea of carving up Ukrainian to several parts actually is not new. The whole idea of destroying statehood relies on trying to take a state and coming up in smaller pieces, trying to declare independence of different regions in Ukraine, again, we did not allow that to happen in 2014. So we'll not allow that to happen right now. And basically, no matter what Putin has in his battle plan, we are going to fight against it and win.

BURNETT: So I want to play something Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said today in an interview with independent Russian journalist. Here he is.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translation): We won't sit down at the table at all, if all we talk about is some demilitarization or some denazification. For me, these are absolutely in comprehensible things.


BURNETT: I'm sure obviously, you would agree with that. Are there any conditions Ukraine should set on talks with Russia, there'll be on that?

YURASH: It's very clear that no matter the peace, we must be focused on the fact that Ukraine should remain sovereign independent integral in every way. The whole idea with the sacrifice that people are making day in day out, night day and night out all around Ukraine, is the upkeep and maintenance of our statehood and resistance against all the Russians, trying to impose on the idea that Ukrainians should be an independent nation to save its own future. So the point here is that Russia has mythical concepts such as the

unification for a country led by Russia -- by a Russian speaking Jewish, Ukrainian, or the fact of demilitarization when we just saw and see it every day. The need for strong military, the national defense against Russia is something that cannot be on the table at all because again, there was mythical as they're mad, these claims on to our statehood.

BURNETT: So, Sviat, I want to ask you about the video, I'm sure you've heard about it. It shows what appears to be Ukrainian soldiers shooting men who are apparently Russian prisoners of war in the knees during an operation in the Kharkiv region. We're not going to show it the video.

It's six minutes long, we haven't been able to verify it, but Ukrainian officials say that there will be an investigation into it. And at least two of the Russian soldiers in the video are bleeding heavily. One man cries out in Russian, my leg, my leg and the apparent Ukrainian soldier replies, it's because you f'ing attacked Kharkiv. Do, you know anything about this video or have anything to say about it?

YURASH: No, the reality that Geneva Convention is something we must abide by we are, again, integrating the Western world. And the comment of investigation is the right one. We obviously are maintaining thousands of POWs all across Ukraine, and we'll be capturing them since day one of the invasion. And the point is that in our pursuit of the West, we must not allow (ph) incidents. If that isn't is true, there must be consequences for those involved, obviously.

BURNETT: All right, well, Sviatoslav. I appreciate your time. Thank you.

YURASH: Thank you, everyone.

BURNETT: And I want to bring in Colonel Cedric Leighton, Military Analyst and retired Air Force. Colonel, and I really appreciate your time. So let's just start right in Sviatoslav, you know, he's very clear, right? We want to be part of the West and the Geneva Conventions.

And if this is real, there should be consequences, referring to the video right of what appear to be Ukrainian soldiers shooting men who apparently are Russian prisoners of war. Again, I'll emphasize we haven't been able to confirm, it's real. But the Ukrainians have said they are investigating it. If it is real. How concerning is it?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (ret.), FORMER MEMBER, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Well, it is it is concerning, certainly. I mean, Sviatoslav made all the right statements here. He was he, in essence, spoke almost like an American would speak in a situation like that, you know, an American in his position.

And I think it's very important that if it is something that Ukrainian soldiers did, I -- against these Russian prisoners, and if it's borne out by the fact, then there should be consequences and those consequences should be made public by as quickly as possible. The Ukrainians arguing very well not only on the battlefield but also in the PR world and use something like this would be a blemish on the record for sure.


BURNETT: So according to Zelenskyy advisor, Russia is continuing missile strikes throughout Ukraine. They actually say, you know, the missile -- number missile strikes continues to increase, and they're now talking about cities being targeted, including Rivne and Lutsk which have not seen anywhere near the volume of attacks as other places that are also seeing a continued surge like Kharkiv, what does it tell you about the Russian strategy when you look at Rivne, Lutsk and Zhytomyr there, there they are obviously, all west of Kyiv.

LEIGHTON: Yes, so what that tells me is that the Russians are at least keeping their options open, potentially trying to soften up targets in the West. I -- you know, right now, it doesn't look as if they have the armed forces in terms of the quantity that they would need in order to have offensive operations in the West, you know, say toward Lutsk or even further down towards the Lviv.

But the Ukrainians have to be prepared for that. And if that, you know, if that doesn't materialize, they have to figure out, you know, how to defend those areas, because, of course, that would affect their supply lines. And that's the other part of this. The Russians, you know, there there's two aspects to this. There's the intimidation aspect. And then there's the actual aspect of going after supply lines from countries like Poland and that, of course, would be a key lifeline for the Ukrainians.

BURNETT: And President Zelenskyy says Ukraine will accept neutral and non-nuclear status. Obviously, that's important, right? Any kind of, you know, acquiescence on anything from either side is significant. But it doesn't touch the issue of territory, which the Ukrainians have, you know, said that they want.

They want to keep the Donbass and they want Crimea back, red lines for Russia. And obviously, demilitarization, Russia demands it. And obviously, why would Ukraine do any such thing when, you know, look what's happening to them? So, do you see progress being made here?

LEIGHTON: I don't think so. I, you know, now it's, of course, you know, as these sites start to talk, they will be incremental aspects that come out where there might be some degree of agreement that's possible, but I think one of the big non-starters, include the Russian demands, you know, for territory.

And, you know, whether it's the Donbass, which they already have, or Crimea, or even more territories, such as extending their frontlines into East, all of Eastern Ukraine, all of the Donbass region that they currently don't have. That, you know, is certainly a significant loss for Ukraine. And given the way they have conducted themselves I don't think either the Ukrainian government or the Ukrainian population would be willing to give up that kind of territory.

BURNETT: Colonel, thank you so much, I appreciate you.

LEIGHTON: You bet, you bet, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And next, I'll speak to two former CIA officials who are based in Russia, and have deep insight into Putin. How is Putin likely to respond to Biden saying he shouldn't be in power? Plus, I'll speak to a Russian actress who is speaking out against Putin and against her own father, an incredibly world famous Putin supporter. And for some families fleeing Ukraine, this is not the first time they've been forced to leave everything they own behind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): They brought new clothes with us, to Ukraine from Afghanistan.




BURNETT: Breaking news, President Biden denying that he called for regime change in Russia during unscripted remarks in Poland. Here's the initial comment and then what he just said a few hours ago.


BIDEN: For God's sake, this man cannot remain power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you want Putin removed? Mr. President, were you calling for regime change?



BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, two CIA experts who know a lot about Putin and Russia, spent a lot of time there. Steve Hall, former CIA Chief of Russia Operations and Ronald Marks, who oversaw CIA actions against Russian spying operations.

Thanks to both of you. Ronald, let me start with you. How does Putin view President Biden saying what he said and then saying that he didn't say what many thoughts that he did say, just how does Putin see this?

RONALD MARKS, FMR. CIA OFFICIAL OVERSAW ACTIONS AGAINST RUSSIAN SPYING OPERATIONS: I don't think Putin gives a damn frankly. I think it's useful to him. You know, read me up this bishop is not foreign policy. It's a mistake. And I think everybody understands, and they're trying to walk it back.

But, you know, from Putin standpoint, I mean, think about it. This is now a Western leader, once again, interfering in Russian politics.


MARKS: This is somebody the United States president saying, and it plays for the Chinese too, saying, well, you know, we know better about your politics than you do. This guy needs to go. It allows him to crack down in the country. We've seen a number of arrests this afternoon. We're mounting right now, they've already been going on, but it's really ramping up now. Anybody who's on the phone, anybody who's staying in the emails at this point could be subject to some form of arrest.

So I'm afraid to say, you know, one ill-considered remark, and you can't unring that bell, I think has done a lot of damage. Is it irreparable? No, but you know, why give him -- why give him a weapon.

BURNETT: Steve, what do you make of that? And especially, we're talking about mounting arrests?

STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Yeah, I come at it a little bit differently, Erin. First of all, Putin has been arresting, repressing and killing people inside of Russia. You know, ever since he took over certainly for a number of decades. I mean, you can go through the number of, you know, journalists who have been shot in the head for doing nothing more than being against Putin, the guys that have gone away for, you know, tens of, you know, decades, you know, in tuberculosis ridden (ph) prisons.

So, that's basic Putin behavior, regardless of what you say about him. I mean, he does believe he has a lot of conspiracy theories. For example, he did believe that Hillary Clinton was the one who was responsible for colored revolutions in the attempt to do that --


HALL: -- inside of Russia. But yeah, it's -- I really don't see that it's that big of a deal.

BURNETT: So Ronald, this comes as Russia's Ministry of Defense has released what it says is new video that appears to show the defense minister Sergei Shoigu, at a meeting over the weekend in his military uniform, obviously, he had been missing in action, if not seen in public for at least a week amid widespread assessments, that Russia's military has underperformed in Ukraine.

What do you make of the timing of Russia putting this video out? And I should note that it was after there was a, you know, a video meeting right where he appeared clearly taped with Putin that when you actually went and rewound it, you could actually see the video rack up at the front, and maybe they didn't realize people would see that but they did. And now we see Shoigu in public end, how do you see it?

MARKS: I'm sure for Steve as well as for myself, it brings up some good old memories from the 80s in particular. Yeah, I think they want him back out front and center even if it's -- even if it's just a video of him at this point. You know, we've all heard the rumors, we've all seen the results of the Intel replacements, the military replacements generals being killed in the field. You know, I personally think they're taking a deep breath right now. This is hardly over in terms of the battle that's going on here.


And I think, to have your defense minister nod around while you're getting ready for round two of this thing. And that's such a good idea, you need to show strength right now, you need to show some unity. Whether or not he's still there or not, I don't know. But you certainly need to show him physically there. And a delightful old KGB trick of perhaps putting out the video. But nevertheless, that's least that's what I'm thinking at this point.

BURNETT: And it's interesting, as you say, before round two, as you put it, right, that if that's what this is, then we don't know what inning we're in, as many people try to sort of push it at, we're sort of entering the eighth or ninth inning, that may not at all be the case.

Steve, you say you're learning some very interesting details about just how bad communications are on the ground now for Russian troops in Ukraine who have, you know, actually been speaking about a lot of things on open channels, which would ordinarily not occur in a military situation, what are you hearing?

HALL: You know, it's fascinating as you just see this come out, because I think what used to be, you know, highly classified information, intercom intercepts, that sort of thing is now sort of like, you know, it's out there on the internet, you everybody's got one of these cell phones with them. So they're all videoing this stuff, and they're listening to it live, why the Russians are not communicating and encrypted comms, I think primarily results, is a result of the fact that they're under pressure.

They're badly trained. And, you know, when you're panicking as a young as a young military person, and you can't get your comms to work, the first thing you're going to do is you're going to reach for your phone, the Ukrainians are taking great advantage of this by being able to geolocate these phones, find out where people are, where units are, and then going after them.

So the same thing happened in Georgia in 2008. But we thought that the Russians were going to get better at this. And apparently, they have it and again, the Ukrainians are taking great advantage of it.

BURNETT: Yeah, it is incredible to see it, not at all what you'd expect. And it was months and months at this giant menacing, incredible military power along the border. That's certainly not what we've seen.

But Ronald, I do take your comments, is obviously significant for everyone to think about, right? You don't know anything you're in. Thank you both.

HALL: Sure.

MARKS: Thank you. BURNETT: And next, I'll speak to two former CIA, actually, no, we just did that. We'll take a brief break. We'll be back in just a moment. We're going to talk to an actress who has turned against both Putin and her father, and it's an incredible story.

Plus, will take you live to Poland where there tens of thousands -- hundreds of thousands of refugees tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, Ukraine confirms a Russian missile is it a fuel base in Lviv increased strikes and multiple explosions, of course, across the country are pushing more people still to cross the border to Poland.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT tonight in Warsaw. And Kyung obviously it is the very early hour of the morning now, almost 4:30 in the morning in Warsaw, where you have been throughout the day and night. So tell me about what you've seen?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just a little bit of context here because we haven't spent a lot of time in Warsaw. We spend a lot of time in the border towns. And then what happens to all of those lives of 2 million people who are coming into Poland. A lot of them transit through this very place that I'm standing in.

This is one of the main train stations here in Warsaw. And after arriving here, what these refugees will arrive to is information about how to get the equivalent of a social security number here, how to get health care, where to go to find a job, a place to stay, how to connect with your families at home?

And those who choose to travel throughout Poland or to other parts of the E.U., they might stay in a room like the one you see over here. You can't see inside that white wall that has been erected there. That is to provide privacy for Ukrainian mothers and children only.

This area that I'm standing in up here is known as a silent zone, not everybody up here is a refugee, but there are some who we've been able to talk to and wander around and chat with. And in our time and talking here, the stories that we've heard.

One of them is Demo Lusanko (ph) who's travelling here, who arrived here with his coach just tonight leaving his parents alone, behind and in a place that is in -- has been shelled, seem shelling is closest to hours away. And what he says a 15-year-old boy who is managing to leave his country because he's an athlete says that he's simply been astonished just to have a place for safety.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel more safety here. And I feel a help from the Polish people. They help us very well. It's hard, but we believe what -- we will back to Ukraine. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: And that's someone who, Erin, is on the national team, you know someone who probably would be looking at heading to the Olympics, just one of many stories that we're hearing as we talk to people transiting to a new life.

BURNETT: Wow. Kyung, thank you very much, live in Warsaw.

And this week, a Russian actress living in the United States spoke out against Putin's invasion of Ukraine and against her own very famous father's support of Putin. Vladimir Mashkov is a very popular actor in Russia. He spoke at Putin's propaganda rally a week ago. Now, you may also recognize him from movies like behind animi lines and Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol. Well, here's part of what Mashkov said at that pro-war rally.


VLADIMIR MASHKOV, RUSSIA ACTOR (through translation): Lucky's are they who can pose lampoons behind our armies back, those who seek to be politically correct in the eyes of Europe and America, wallowing in hatred. We are Russian people. We love our country. We offer the world without Nazism. We are for our army, for our president.


BURNETT: Now. his daughter, Masha Mashkova, an actress who has lived in the United States for six years, opposes the war and she is speaking out. She responded to his speech in part, "Today my dad spoke, I really wished that all that he had said was true." The next words unsaid, but they aren't. And so I spoke to Masha and asked her about her relationship with her father.


BURNETT: Let me start with this question, Masha, what was it like to see your father standing there and to hear him speak like that?


MASHA MASHKOVA, RUSSIAN ACTRESS WHO SUPPORTS UKRAINE; FATHER SPOKE AT PUTIN RALLY: What's happening right now, that's just unthinkable and surreal. And the fact that so many Russian people, including my dad, believe that this violence is somehow justified, breaks my heart. But, well, it's nothing compared to what Ukrainian people experienced now, dying.

BURNETT: So, Masha, I want to talk to you about you and your father, but first, what's your -- you have this perspective on, why he believes this? Everyone wants to understand, why do you think that your father and obviously millions, other -- many millions of others in Russia, believe what he's saying?

MASHKOVA: I don't want to talk for him. I just I can talk for myself. I just (INAUDIBLE) reality. I was privileged to travel around the world and to see the world with my own eyes. I worked a lot in Russia and Ukraine. And less than a year ago, I was in Kyiv, and I saw beautiful, kind Ukrainian people.

I have many friends and colleagues there. None of them hated me for being Russian. And none of them asked to be saved by Mr. Putin. That's what I saw.

BURNETT: So what do you want Russians who support Putin's invasion of Ukraine to hear the most right now, Masha? What do you want them to know?

MASHKOVA: I know that there are a lot of Russians, my friends and colleagues who are in absolute agony right now in Ukrainian people suffering. And I just hope that we can someday find friends who transform Russia into country of compassion and progress, not lies and violence. I know that it's easy for me to speak because I'm in another country now. And I'm not sure that I'll be able to come back.

BURNETT: You mentioned your ties to Ukraine, and I know they're deep. You've spent a lot of time there. You've film movies there. You've got a lot of friends there. Your husband is half Ukrainian. You know, when you stop for a moment and think, can you believe that so many millions of Russians truly do not know what is happening, what we are seeing the reality of this human suffering that Putin's invasion is causing Ukrainians?

MASHKOVA: I talked to my phone -- I talked on the phone with my dad yesterday.


MASHKOVA: And now I do believe that, unfortunately, yes. I told him that I am going to take you guys to see -- and asked if I can tell what he told me. And he said, yes. And so I'm -- he asked me to come back to Russia immediately to take my daughters with me, and to be a good Russian, to ask for forgiveness for betrayal. And to be with Russian people, with my people to help fight Ukrainian Nazis (ph).

BURNETT: I mean, Masha, I understand, you know, you are -- you're right. And you're -- and it's important to make the point, right, that what you're going through is obviously nothing in comparison to what's happening in Ukraine. But yours is yet another family that is now breaking because of this. I mean, it's got to be difficult, right? Your father, you love your father, you call him to have this conversation and that's the conversation. That's got to be really hard.

MASHKOVA: It was very hard decision to -- but, you know, I'm not only a daughter, I'm a mother. I have two beautiful daughters. And during the pandemic, one of my daughters found a dance teacher, Danya (ph) online, in Kyiv, of all places. And during all pandemic, they were dancing like five or six times a week and they became friends.

And when last spring I went to Kyiv, I took staff with me to meet her best friend, her teacher, Danya (ph), and we had such a great time in Kyiv. So probably because of their friendship, I decided to share my position on this war because when the bombing started, my daughter was terrified. And we were with Danya (ph) on the phone back and forth constantly.


And because of Danya (ph), I speak now because I know what it means to humans bombs have fallen and because of what it would mean to my daughter later in life.

BURNETT: And do you think, Masha, do you want to ever go back to Russia?

MASHKOVA: I love my father very much. He is one of the greatest actors live in today. And I love my grandmother, my mom's mom, who raised me. She is in Russia now and she also believes Putin's version of reality. But I was shooting in Russian TV projects on Russian TV, so I'm part of this system.

My grandmother was watching me in those TV shows about good vet or investigator and after that, she was watching propaganda. I didn't think that I do any harm, but it turns out, I also did.

BURNETT: Masha, I am grateful to you for speaking out. Thank you very much.

MASHKOVA: Thank you.

BURNETT: In OUTFRONT next, for some Ukrainian refugees, this is not the first time they've had to leave everything behind to escape the brutality of war. Plus, India, the biggest democracy in the world, while it's happy to talk about peace, it still refuses to condemn Putin's invasion. Why?



BURNETT: For some of the families fleeing Ukraine, it's not their first time becoming refugees nor their second or their third. Our Josh Campbell spoke to a family whose life has been constantly uprooted by war.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A nation under siege, brutal shelling of civilian targets, families fractured, and now a humanitarian crisis as millions desperately leave Ukraine. Their fate uncertain.

FATEMA HOSSEINI, AFGHAN REFUGEE: It happens so quick. And my parents, my mom especially, she was so worried and she kept crying.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Among those fleeing Putin's war, families who are no stranger to conflict. Fatema Hosseini is an Afghan refugee now in the United States. She has been desperately trying to get her parents out of Poland after fleeing the invasion. Siad (ph) and Masuma now find themselves escaping possible death for a fourth time. And it isn't their first time evading Russia's regime.

MASUMA HOSSEINI, AFGHAN REFUGEE (through translation): I was very young when the war erupted in Afghanistan. When the Soviet Union fought in Afghanistan, then we went to Iran as refugees.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The 1979 Soviet invasion would last a decade.

M. HOSSEINI (through translation): When it became calm, we returned to Afghanistan. Then when we were there, for a few years, the Taliban came to power. Then we became refugees again.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Once again refugees in a foreign land, but eventually returning home to their native country after U.S. forces overthrew the Taliban. But after America's chaotic withdrawal in 2021, the family feared Siads' (ph) job in the Afghan army would put them in the crosshairs of the resurgent Taliban regime.

ABDULFAZL HOSSEINI, AFGHAN REFUGEE (through translation): I was not worried about myself at all, I was more worried about my family. For example, my mother and father. God forbid if something happens to them.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): As thousands desperately sought to leave Afghanistan, it was the Ukrainian military that came to their rescue, launching a transport plane to exfiltrate the Hosseinis and countless others.

A. HOSSEINI (through translation): We brought no clothes with us to Ukraine from Afghanistan.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): They resettled in Kyiv. But soon came the familiar sounds of war.

M. HOSSEINI (through translation): At first, we had no intention to leave at all because we had witnessed so much war. We suddenly heard a siren. It was very terrifying.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): With little money, few possessions and unable to speak the local language, traveling to neighboring Poland was marked by constant challenge and heartache.

M. HOSSEINI (through translation): The most difficult thing was the train station, that I really did not know how to get on the train.

CAMPBELL (on-camera): So your mom is standing there in front of a packed train talking to you. She's got the baby.

F. HOSSEINI: Exactly.

CAMPBELL (on-camera): And you're pleading with them to get on that train?

F. HOSSEINI: Yes, because I thought that's the only option for them.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Fatema says her family's grueling journey out of Ukraine was only made possible due to random acts of kindness by Ukrainians they met along the way.

F. HOSSEINI: People they are beautiful. I mean, they're kind and they don't hesitate to approach you and help you.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Now in Warsaw, their struggle is far from over. The Hosseinis hope to find refuge in Canada. But with no funds to buy the expensive plane tickets, they wait. Despite their own endless hardship, the Hosseinis are grateful to be alive.

M. HOSSEINI (through translation): I pray that no one, no other country, no person on the face of earth become a refugee that all lives in peace.

CAMPBELL (on-camera): Can you imagine a day when members of your family are no longer refugees fleeing conflict?

F. HOSSEINI: Hopefully, they won't have to, again, move to another country because of war and the safety issues. That's what I'm hopeful. That's what I'm praying for.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Josh Campbell, CNN.


BURNETT: And next, the surprising number of countries that are still propping up Putin's invasion, paying for Russian oil and weapons. Plus, a 10-year-old boy forced to flee Ukraine by himself. No parents, no family. There's an incredible story tonight, though, of how he made it to safety.



BURNETT: President Zelenskyy warning of Putin's, quote, blackmail when it comes to oil, pleading with oil producing countries to increase their output now. But even as the U.S. and its allies take steps to punish Russia, some countries including France and Germany, are still paying Putin for oil. Gabe Cohen is OUTFRONT.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Putin's international support shrinks, India is showing they're still a freight reportedly buying up 3 million barrels of discounted Russian oil, spurning pressure from Western nations like the U.S. to isolate the Kremlin and crush their economy with sanctions. Since the war started, the two nations have kept trading with Russian oil exports to India up six fold. That cheap oil is just a drop in the bucket for India, which imports far more from other countries. But it reflects the strategic partnership neither nation wants to lose.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): India is one of Russia's key partners. The relationship between our states is strategic and especially privileged nature. COHEN (voice-over): It's a bond built on defense spending. India buy somewhere between 60 percent and 85 percent of their weapons from Russia, key to containing Pakistan and China along their border. While India is slowly diversifying that spending, they're still under contract to buy a $5.4 billion air defense system from Russia, along with a $3.1 billion line of tanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you can't certainly break that relationship. The Indian defense preparedness, as it were, going to be very, very seriously hampered.

COHEN (voice-over): So India's response to Russia's atrocities in Ukraine has been careful and calculated. On a call last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to Putin to end the violence. But at the U.N., India was one of 35 countries that abstained from a vote to condemn Russia for the invasion. Several nations are taking a similar approach to Russia, balancing pressure from the west and their own political and economic interests, remaining neutral enough to keep trading with both sides.


China is buying up more Russian oil and has vowed to keep their normal trade relationship. Complicating that, the Kremlin's asked China for military and economic support, according to U.S. officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is something we are monitoring closely.

COHEN (voice-over): Brazil voted to condemn Russia at the U.N., but still plans to buy Russian fertilizer, which makes up about 20 percent of their imported supply as their massive agriculture industry faces a shortage. But the key export protecting Putin's economy is energy, and a huge portions still goes to Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is providing a sufficient lifeline for the Russian economy to keep it afloat.

COHEN (voice-over): Countries like Germany, France and Italy have pushed back against calls to cut off that supply immediately. Though the E.U. says it will slash gas imports by 66 percent this year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But to do that from one day to the next would mean plunging our country and the whole of Europe into a recession.

COHEN (voice-over): The U.S. could sanction nations for doing business with Russia. In India's case, the White House says they haven't crossed the line. Though it's unclear where that line actually is.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The rest of the world is watching where you're going to stand as it relates to this conflict.


COHEN: Now Erin, some experts think as this war escalates, it'll get harder for countries to stay neutral. And yet there was a U.N. vote on Thursday to call for Russia to stop its invasion and 38 countries abstain. They stayed neutral.

In that vote a month ago to condemn Russia, only 35 nations abstains. So based on that, it doesn't look like more countries are necessarily hitting that pressure to pick aside. Erin?

BURNETT: Gabe, thank you very much.

And next, an older Ukrainian couple, one of whom had cancer, when days without food or water. That is until someone helps get them to safety, and you're going to see who he is, next.



BURNETT: Russian President Vladimir Putin's war has uprooted thousands of Ukrainian Jews, including approximately 5,000 refugees who have reportedly flooded into neighboring Moldova. And now volunteers from Israel chartering at least seven flights out of Moldova, reuniting families and helping refugees receive much needed medical attention.

Andrew Kimmel is an American TV producer who is working on an upcoming documentary and he's been helping with this effort. So I spoke to Kimmel earlier this week about what he has been witnessing and doing.


BURNETT: So I know you met a 10-year-old boy named Misha (ph) who had made the journey all by himself. And we'll show him there he is smiling. I mean, just to imagine 10 years old and you're all alone. And yet, still had that smile. Tell me about Misha.

ANDREW KIMMEL, AMERICAN TV PRODUCER IN EUROPE TO HELP UKRAINE REFUGEES: So Misha has his mother and father. Well, his father has to stay behind in Ukraine to fight because of the conscription, as does his 18-year-old brother. And he has a 21-year-old sister who is in Israel. And his mother decided to stay with her husband and Misha agreed to do the journey alone.

And it took him several days to get across the border and safely into Chisinau, where he was met with volunteers at a synagogue called the Agudath Israel Synagogue here in Chisinau. And with United Hatzalah, they were able to arrange for chartered flight from Chisinau airport to Israel, where I think they've had over seven or eight flights now, which is truly remarkable because the airspace over all of Moldova is closed as is the airport so this was a huge operation, but he's now safely in Israel with his sister.

BURNETT: Oh, wow. What to feel, I mean, you know, just to be with his family. Another story, I know, a couple weeks ago, you transported an older couple, one of whom had cancer to the Chisinau airport, I believe again to -- so they could try to go to Israel. So tell me about that, and are you seeing because of those aid flights, are there more Ukrainians, you know, with ties to Israel sort of coming through the Moldova border? Is there an awareness of that now? KIMMEL: So I believe there was a large population of Ukrainian Jews in Odessa. And where I'm positioned, which is in Moldova, the Palanca border crossing is one hour from Odessa.


KIMMEL: So this city made sense for a lot of Ukrainian Jews, although that particular couple did come from Kyiv. And because they didn't have a lot of funds, for some reason they were put onto a bus went all the way south through Ukraine and ended up coming back up through Palanca in Moldova. And when I went to pick them up, they were in some small village where they hadn't been given food or water for two days. And one of the people within this couple has cancer, so they were looking very frail, when I picked them up.


KIMMEL: And I was told, after I picked them up, that I was actually bringing them to the airport, because they were going to be put onto a flight to Israel to get medical attention. So that was a really powerful, powerful day.

BURNETT: So you've captured so many things already. You know, while they're in Moldova, you kind of, I guess, found, you stumbled on these clowns, bringing, you know, smiles to children. I mean, it's sort of something you don't think about, but a clown, you know, these children who have gone through so much loss and tragedy. You know, one point, I was seeing kids 30 miles from the border, walking.

And then when they actually get over to see this, to see this kind of humor and joy for a child, tell me about it.

KIMMEL: To be honest, I was a bit nervous, because I wasn't sure how kids would react. Literally, the first people any of these refugees would see crossing the border was clowns. And I'm the first one to tell you that I originally was scared of clowns. And after seeing the look on kids' faces and adults faces I was like, this is the greatest thing I think I've ever seen in my life.

It was really re-instilling a sense of humanity and hope to hear the laughter of these families that were crossing the border, who might have just said goodbye to a father or a husband, who might have been sleeping out in the cold for 24 to 48 hours. It's not an easy journey and to see those smiles and laugh, it was just remarkable.

BURNETT: Thank you so much, Andrew.

KIMMEL: Thank you so much. I really appreciate the time.


BURNETT: And thanks to all of you for being with us. Don't forget you can watch OUTFRONT anytime. We just have to go to CNNgo. Our coverage continues.