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Erin Burnett Outfront

New Images Shot Atrocities In Ukraine; Bodies Strewn On Streets, Some With Hands Bound, Some Shot Execution-Style; "Outrageous": Biden Calls For War Crimes Trial Against Putin; Mayor: 10 Civilians Killed, 46 Wounded By Russian Fire In Mykolaiv; U.S. Steel Mill Accused Of Potentially Supplying Steel To Russia; Senate Votes To Advance Judge Jackson's Nomination. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 04, 2022 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: A historic moment, indeed. All right. Lauren Fox, appreciate it.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll be back in half an hour on our new streaming service at CNN Plus with my new show called The Newscast.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, two reporters who just got back from Bucha, the site of unspeakable brutality, telling us what they saw as President Zelenskyy says the death toll in other towns may be higher.

Plus, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister says Russia is holding 11 Ukrainian mayors captive, another mayor along with her family brutally tortured and murdered. The Deputy Prime Minister is OUTFRONT.

And Gen. David Petraeus on how Ukraine would win the war. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, Putin's ruthless rampage. The White House warning tonight that Putin's forces will only become more aggressive when it comes to targeting civilians.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We should be under no illusions that Russia will adjust its tactics, which have included and will likely continue to include wanton and brazen attacks on civilian targets.


CATIE BECK: That after the world saw horrific images emerging from Bucha. And I'll warn you what you're about to see is extremely graphic and it is hard to watch. We believe though that it is important that we all have to see the inconceivable suffering, because this is happening right now. This video from our Fred Pleitgen, bodies strewn across the basement

floor, some with their hands down behind their backs. This is a video from another journalist, Paul Ronzheimer. You see a car riddled with bullet holes, inside two bodies, not soldiers, civilians hunched over.

In a moment we're going to speak to both men who witnessed these images.

Today, Ukraine's Foreign Minister says that the horrible acts the world is witnessing are just the 'tip of the iceberg', which is hard to imagine what more evil could be inflicted here. Here exclusive images from another town that a Ukrainian soldier shared with me today.

This is what the Volodymyr Demchenko saw. He went in to liberate Novyi Bykiv, a town Russian soldiers occupied east of Kyiv and you can see the destruction there. Here are some of the Russian tanks, destroyed by Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian soldier seeing what they thought could be salvageable or not.

In this video, you'll see what a Russian Grad multiple rocket launcher is, now in the possession of the Ukrainians. They have that as you can see with all of those holes.

Demchenko also sending me this image which he says is how the Russians are living while occupying Ukrainian towns. They found vomit all over the floor. One location, the unit found Russians had been living literally next to the open bowels of a dead pig. You can see garbage and human waste everywhere. It's despicable.

We understand and he tells me civilians and Novyi Bykiv were killed including they say 10 men executed. He says some women simply disappear. Now that is just one town, a town that we're hearing about just now, just now, Novyi Bykiv. There are many, many more.

And to be clear, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who today was in Bucha, said the number of civilian casualties in other liberated towns may be much higher than in Bucha. As President Biden called Putin a war criminal and called for a trial.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue the fight and we have to gather all the detail so this can be - actual have a war crime trial.


BURNETT: We have reporters across Ukraine tonight as well as in Poland. I want to begin with Fred Pleitgen OUTFRONT live in Kyiv. And Fred, you were in Bucha today, what did you see?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Erin. Well, I think there's two things that are becoming increasingly clear, we saw that in Bucha today. And one of them is that the Russians were beaten badly by the Ukrainians. There's still a lot of Russian armor standing around that's been destroyed, really on every corner that you go there to Russian vehicles that are completely destroyed, almost completely incinerated.

But the other main thing is that a lot more civilians have come to harm than many people would have thought. We saw the aftermath of that today. It is absolutely horrifying. I do want to warn our viewers what you're about to see is graphic and disturbing.


PLEITGEN (voice over): Ukrainian authorities in Bucha lead us into a basement they call a Russian execution chamber. It's a gruesome scene, five bodies, their hands tied behind their backs shot. The bullet casings collected by Ukrainian Police, pockmarks from bullets in the walls.

The Ukrainian say these men were killed when Russian forces use this compound as a military base while occupying Bucha.


An advisor to Ukraine's Interior Minister not even trying to conceal his anger.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language).


PLEITGEN (voice over): "After the liberation of Bucha, five corpses of civilians were found here," he says, "with their hands tied behind their backs. They were shot in the head and in the chest. They were tortured before."

Even the body collectors find it hard to keep their composure.


VLADISLAV MINCHENKO: (Foreign language).


PLEITGEN (voice over): Vladislav Minchenko (ph) is usually a painter. Now he collects the dead left behind after Russian forces retreated from Bucha.


MINCHENKO: (Foreign language).


PLEITGEN (voice over): "This is not what we learned in school," he says. "Do you see my hands? Hundreds, hundreds of dead. Hundreds, not dozens."

The Kremlin has denied Russia was behind any atrocities in Bucha.


PLEITGEN (on camera): Now, the Russian say the notion of their troops having killed civilians is all fake news and propaganda, but it does seem clear that they were here. That looks like a sort of foxhole position and over there, they seem to have dug in a tank.


PLEITGEN (voice over): On the outer wall, the letter V, a symbol that Russian forces painted on their vehicles before invading this part of Ukraine. Now, a lot of Russian military hardware lies destroyed in the streets of Bucha and other towns around Kyiv as the Ukrainians made a stand and prevented Vladimir Putin's army from entering the capital city.

Images published shortly after Russian forces left Bucha show many corpses lying in the streets. Some bodies had their hands tied behind their backs. President Biden calls what happened here a war crime.

While visiting Bucha, Ukraine's President vowed to bring those behind the violence against civilians to justice.




PLEITGEN (voice over): "These are crimes," he says, "and they will be recognized by the world as genocide. You are here and you can see what happened. We know that thousands of people were killed and tortured, tared limbs, raped women and killed children."

And still the dead keep piling up. Many lay in this mass grave behind the main church and Bucha. Local authorities tell us around 150 people are buried here but no one knows the exact number and here, too, the scenes are tragic.

Vladimir (ph) has been searching for his younger brother, Dimitri (ph). Now he's convinced Dimitri lies here, even though he can't be a hundred percent sure.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Foreign language).


PLEITGEN (voice over): The neighbor accompanying him has strong words for the Russians.



PLEITGEN (voice over): "Why do you hate Ukraine so much," she says, "since the 1930s, you've been abusing Ukraine. You just wanted to destroy us. You wanted us gone. But we will be - everything will be okay. I believe it."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Foreign language).


PLEITGEN (voice over): But more corpses are already on the way. At the end of the day, we meet Vladislav (ph) and the body collectors again. Another nine bodies found in this tour alone and it's unlikely there'll be the last.


BURNETT: Fred, obviously, I'm sure a life-changing for you to see that as well. And you here Zelenskyy tonight saying that there will be more towns like this that have even higher casualties and we were showing another town around Kyiv, Novyi Bykiv and there are so - there are going to be so many more. Is that what you're anticipating as well that there could be places where the civilian death toll is even higher?

PLEITGEN (on camera): Yes, Erin, I actually think that unfortunately, that is highly likely. It was interesting because the Foreign Minister of this country, he said today that he believes that this could just be the tip of the iceberg.

And one of the things that we did this weekend is actually we went to several other towns around the area of Kyiv, several villages, several towns there and we went to one, for instance, called Borodyanka that's also absolutely destroyed. The buildings there are destroyed, whole buildings that have just collapsed under so much rocket fire, gunfire and tank fire as well.

And in one of those towns, we ourselves actually found a corpse. We found someone - people there told us that it had been lying in their backyard, a person who got his hands tied and had a gunshot wound to the head, legs tied as well and bruises which could very well have been from being beaten.

And so it does stands to be the case or it could very well be the case that there could be more towns just like Bucha where similar things may have happened. And all the places that we go to, you always see a similar picture. You see a lot of destruction and you see a lot of destroyed Russian armor showing that the Russians when they were there, were then beaten back badly by the Ukrainian military, Erin.

BURNETT: Yes. Certainly, obviously, they're not expecting it. They're expecting to move through quickly and then ended up having to stay for weeks. So Fred, please stay with me. I want to also tell them we have some video from reporting team with the German reporting outlet, BILD, and I want to show everyone some of what that team saw in Bucha. Again, I warn you these images are extremely graphic.


They found civilians dead in bullet-ridden cars. This image that I showed you, civilians; young and old, found a toddler, a man lying dead on the street next to a bag of potatoes, someone shot dead next to their bicycle, another with hands tied behind his back. Those are just some of the horrifying images.

So let me bring in Paul Ronzheimer into the conversation. He is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of BILD and, obviously, there with Fred in Kyiv tonight. So Paul, I know you were in east Ukraine in 2014 when Russia invaded. You have reported from Syria where Russians took part in atrocities. Is there anything from all of that that prepared you for what you saw when you went to Bucha?

PAUL RONZHEIMER, DEPUTY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BILD; REPORTED FROM BUCHA: No. I think that was the worst. I've seen so far as a reporter. And when we were walking down the street there and we saw these cars and we looked into the car, and we saw a man and a teenager inside dead. Then we walked 500 meters, we saw the next car, all people dead and you could clearly see that these were civilians.

The same as with dead bodies all over the street we saw yesterday. And you can see this man with his potatoes and, I mean, it's clear that he wasn't in the military, that he wasn't fighting. He was a civilian.

BURNETT: Yes. And we know that with all the food shortages, some have told us, all they could get was potato. So sort of desperately trying to get any food you can and coming home with potatoes. The loss of humanity in that killing.

I mean, the Foreign Minister, Paul, Sergey Lavrov calls what happened in Bucha a fake attack as Fred was referring to. He said, "A staging was arranged there." A staging. You were there. How do you even respond to that?

RONZHEIMER: Yes. I mean, Fred and I, we were both there and many reporters were there. And when you see these dead bodies, when you see this distraction and you come back, I mean, in Bucha, you don't have internet connection, you don't have mobile connection. And when I came back, I saw the statement that Lavrov and this just makes you angry.

I mean, we were there. Fred was there, I was there, we saw all these dead civilians lying on the ground. It's blunt lie what Lavrov is saying.

BURNETT: Fred, you saw that, how do you even respond to such a thing? You go through and see it and perhaps you have been told, well, this is what you might see, but then you actually see it. You actually realize that this has been happening over the past weeks? PLEITGEN (voice over): Yes. I mean, it's absolutely awful. And I

think it ties in really to a wider lie that the Russian government is telling its population, and quite frankly, telling its military as well. I mean, one of the things that the Ukrainian troops that we meet, they keep telling us, the Russians really seem to believe they were going to waltz into this country and that everybody would greet them as liberated. And they were completely surprised, dumbfounded when that wasn't the case.

The Ukrainians are telling us that when they hit the Russian convoys that were coming through there and shooting up houses as they did so, that the Russians, a lot of them then took off their uniforms and ran away. So it seemed as though morale was not very high to begin with.

And then the Russian population is also being told that, this is a necessary war, that these Russian troops are there to liberate this country from Nazis. Then you have this, then you see the reality on the ground and you understand that it's just the complete opposite is true. And I think that's something where you really do realize the scope and the scale of the misinformation that's being told by the Russian government, when you really juxtapose, that you really see the situation on the ground, you see those civilians who were killed, you see people who've gotten in the crossfire who have been killed.

And the fact of the matter is, none of that was necessary. The Russian government is selling it as a necessary war. None of that is a necessary war. It's a war of choice from the Russian government and they're trying to sell it to their population as something very different.

BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible. And Fred just one other thing, talking to Ukrainian soldier, who was in another town and finding what you found as well, was the condition that the Russian soldiers were living in, he described it as like - that they were living like bombs, there was vomit all over the floor, defecation everywhere, animal entrails in the areas that they were sleeping. Have you ever, Fred, seen anything like that?

PLEITGEN (voice over): I mean, very, very seldom from a military with any sort of discipline. You're absolute right, we were in one house in that town of Borodyanka. And they told us, the people who came back after the town that was retaken by the Ukrainian military, that they had Russian soldiers in their house and that it was an absolute mess. When they came back all their clothes were strewn all over the floor. There was liquor all over the place, which they apparently had gotten from a store next door, so that's the one side.


I mean, there were a lot of places that were really messed up after the Russian soldiers were there. But on the other hand, the Russian soldiers themselves also seem to have lived under awful conditions as well. We were in one place where there was a Russian tank positions, that the Russians had dug in that tank partition and then dug a hole under the tank and slept under their tank for about a month, slept out in the open under their tank, because it was the only place that was shielded, but out in the elements.

So for them, it must have also been a very difficult thing. And then, of course, we heard those stories, that the Russian military just simply didn't seem to be able to get people are getting their own people in a food water and (inaudible) supplies that they needed. So for them, it was difficult, but then also, of course, the places that they when, it really isn't a pretty sight when you go in there afterwards.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. Fred, Paul, we very much appreciate it, both reporting live from Kyiv tonight.

And next, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, she says 11 mayors had been abducted by Russian forces, at least one brutally tortured and murdered and I'm going to speak to her next.

Plus, a steel mill in Colorado owned by a company accused of potentially supplying metal to the Russian military. That same company's largest shareholder is the oligarch Roman Abramovich. Our Drew Griffin investigates.

And the battle for Mariupol, neither Russia nor Ukraine can afford to lose it. Gen. David Petraeus is OUTFRONT to explain.



BURNETT: Russian missile strikes, killing at least 10 civilians in the town of Mykolaiv. The Mayor there saying Russian troops targeted to hospitals, dozens of schools as the U.S. confirms new airstrikes in nearby Odessa today. Russian missiles have been taking aim at crucial infrastructure in that port city, causing a series of explosions out at a fuel depot. Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT tonight in Odessa, where I know, Ed, you have been now for many days and the strikes were you are becoming more frequent and intense. Tell me what you're seeing and hearing.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, more frequent, more intense in this region and also people are scrambling to kind of make sense of what is the strategy behind the attacks. For example, here in Odessa, yesterday, we saw two different airstrikes in the morning and night targeted to a oil refinery and fuel storage facility.

And then about two hours east of where we are in Mykolaiv as you mentioned, there are bombs attacking civilian targets. And one official there in that city saying that the explosions and the attacks were designed to cause a harassment and panic among the public. So what is the strategy behind all of this and what does it mean in the bigger picture of what Russian forces are trying to accomplish here?

U.S. Defense Department official assesses the situation is that they're still trying to figure out exactly what all of this means, do Russian forces still have their eyes on taking over Odessa or are they sending attacks here to either like almost distract Ukrainian military forces, forcing them to have to use resources down here that would prevent them from protecting other parts of the country.

All of these scenarios are in play and it's not quite clear what it means. But it does cause a lot of confusion. It does cause a lot of havoc here in these areas as many people just waiting for more attacks to come in the days ahead.

BURNETT: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.

And there's also tonight this alarming pattern of Ukrainian mayors kidnapping, in some cases tortured and killed by Russian forces. The Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister's has 11 mayors from across the country have been abducted. One mayor who was kidnapped along with her family was brutally murdered while in Russian captivity.

And OUTFRONT now, Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister. Deputy Prime Minister, I really appreciate your time tonight. I want to ask you about this issue with Ukrainian mayors. You say Russians are holding 11 Ukrainian mayors captive that they kidnapped them, at least, one of them has been killed. Do you know where the rest of the mayors are and whether they're alive?

IRYNA VERESHCHUK, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF UKRAINE (through interpreter): Yes, this is absolutely true. We know that all of this city mayors, they are in captivity, they're held hostages by Russia and unfortunately they will not give them back to us. And you probably may remember that at the very beginning of the Russian invasion, we managed to free the city mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov.

And the only reason why he was captured was only because he was the city mayor elected by his community. But unfortunately, so far we have not been able to get in touch or to free any other city mayors and we don't even know - we think that some of them were killed. And in fact, just yesterday, we found out that in Kyiv region, a city mayor of Netishyn was killed.

BURNETT: So it's horrific to imagine that you could have more of them dead and not know and we may never know. But the mayor that you say was killed, you mentioned, there are reports that also her husband and son were killed by Russians as well, that all three of them were killed. Do you know more about that?

VERESHCHUK (through interpreter): What happened was just an absolutely brutal murder because they were shot in the head with their hands tied up behind their backs. And wife, the city mayor, was killed and the head of her son was just torn and was laying around there. And basically, that puts us in the situation that we have no choice. We either together with you, will put them behind the bars or we'll have to do it ourselves and we'll find them and we'll kill them and we'll punish everyone who killed our city mayors, our journalists, our priests, our activists, our volunteers, our civilians.

BURNETT: The Kremlin has responded, Deputy Prime Minister, to these horrific stories to the horrible pictures that we're getting of dead civilians lying face down on the streets of Bucha and other cities and towns. They called the whole thing a fake attack. They said it was orchestrated by Ukraine and they said they have nothing to do with it, that it's just fake.


Do you think what we're seeing in Bucha is just the beginning of some of these horrific, horrific atrocities committed by the Russians?

VERESHCHUK (through interpreter): Now, unfortunately, my answer to your question, Erin, is yes. If we do not stop Putin today, together, this is only the beginning of those atrocities that we will reveal later on. Because as we are talking now with you, there are hundred thousand even more than hundred thousand civilians; women, children, elderly, who are dying in the city of Mariupol at the moment, because there have not been any open humanitarian corridors.

And as you know, I'm responsible for the humanitarian corridors and I say this to you, with all authority that there hasn't been a single day that there was a working humanitarian corridor. People are dying. They're dying of hunger, thirst, severe wounds, air strikes, thousands of them are being killed. It is a genocide against the Ukrainian civilians.

And Putin, he realized that he can actually - he cannot stop the Ukrainian army and that's why he has another tactic. He's torturing and raping Ukrainian civilians, women, and this is what his so-called Second Army is doing. They're fighting against the civilians and we seem to be just watching powerless against them.

BURNETT: Deputy Prime Minister Vereshchuk, I really appreciate your time. Thank you so very much.

VERESHCHUK: Thank you very much. Good night.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, a steel mill in Colorado, but the biggest shareholder of its parent company is Putin ally Roman Abramovich, the oligarch. Our Drew Griffin has a special report.

Plus, former CIA Director, Gen. David Petraeus is my guest, why he's calling the port city of Mariupol the 'Ukrainian Alamo'.



BURNETT: The U.S. seizing a 255-foot superyacht owned by a Russian oligarch close to Putin. The FBI boarding the $90 million yacht called Tango off the coast of Mallorca, Spain. The yacht belongs to billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who has been sanctioned by the U.S.

One oligarch that the U.S. has so far though not sanctioned, Putin ally Roman Abramovich, whose role in the U.S. steel mills parent company is raising serious questions tonight.

Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It is an impressive sight. Americans deal being forged by 1,200 proud U.S. workers, in a steel mill that is operated in Pueblo, Colorado, for nearly 150 years.

EVRAZ Steel could not be a better symbol of American industrial resurgence, except for one now gut-wrenching problem. It's Russian.

CHUCK PERKO, PRESIDENT, STEELWORKERS LOCAL 3267: We have that stigma of being a Russian owned company.

GRIFFIN: Two thirds of all shares are owned by Kremlin connected Russians, and its biggest shareholder is the oligarch Roman Abramovich, who is closely aligned with Vladimir Putin and has been sanctioned by the U.K., E.U., and Canada.

The British claim Abramovich is or has been involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including potentially supplying steel to the Russian military, which may have been used in the production of tanks.

The company denies it. But when Russia invaded Ukraine, U.S. steelworkers here in Pueblo, woke up to a distasteful possibility, that somehow they are supporting Vladimir Putin in this.

DANIEL DURAN, STEELWORKERS LOCAL 3267: Hearing all the stuff, it is heartbreaking. And you know, I have my own kids, and that makes it tough to sit there and see all of the stuff going on.

GRIFFIN: Steelworkers Daniel Duran, Rique Lucero and Chuck Perko are afraid of what might happen if Abramovich is sanctioned by the U.S.

RIQUE LUCERO, STEELWORKERS LOCAL 3267: The uncertainty is scary. It's so scary.

GRIFFIN: Uncertain for your jobs?

LUCERO: For the jobs, yes.

PERKO: I disdain what is going on over there, but my company is not Abramovich's country in my eyes.

GRIFFIN: David Ferryman is senior vice president of EVRAZ North America.

Do you consider this a Russian company?

DAVID FERRYMAN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, EVRAZ NORTH AMERICA: I don't. We are headquartered, independent operation in Chicago. We have our own CEO. We have our own board of directors. We are based in London. The parent company has a large footprint in Russia.

GRIFFIN: That footprint includes a massive Russian business. EVRAZ 2021 report shows revenue of over $14 billion dollars, and that 16 percent of the parent company's revenue is derived from the North American plants. Abramovich himself made 500 and $22 million from every as dividends last year. Ferryman insists that the revenues generated across North America are

reinvested in the company in North America.

So your position is that these are completely separate entities?

FERRYMAN: I'm not saying they're completely centered separate. Those earnings stay here in North America, and they're invested into these facilities.

GRIFFIN: Technically, that may make sense to you. But when we watch what is happening, there are a lot of people wondering, how a Russian oligarch can invest in a U.S. steel mill, and be making some money here, while also playing footsie with Vladimir Putin.

FERRYMAN: I can't speak to that. But I can tell you is we're about as American as it gets here in Pueblo, we have been here longer than Colorado has been a state. We are critical to our nation's infrastructure.

CASEY MICHEL, AUTHOR: The thing to remember is this is all connected.

GRIFFIN: Oligarch expert and author Casey Michel says that there is no doubt that Abramovich money helps Putin.


The EU said Abramovich is providing a substantial source of revenue for the Russian federation.

MICHEL: There is no such thing as an independent or a political oligarch. These parasitic figures that extracted wealth in Russia, and they are now doing the same thing in United States of America, on behalf of a dictator in the Kremlin.

GRIFFIN: Exactly, says Ukrainians for Colorado president Marina Dubrova.

MARINA DUBROVA, PRESIDENT, UKRAINIANS OF COLORADO: It doesn't matter how many -- what's the stakes he owns in that country. Any stakes, half percent, even one tenth of a percent, that portion has to be sold.

GRIFFIN: Union President Chuck Perko agrees, Abramovich should sell. To him, it's personal.

PERKO: I am the grandson of war refugees, the Russians came into my grandparents' farm in 1945 and told them you have one hour to leave. It hurts a little bit, but there is enough of a disconnect for me that I can go to the work, and know that we are not finding that war effort. We are completely separate.

GRIFFIN: Despite UK, EU, and Canadian sanctions against him, so far, the United States has not touched Roman Abramovich.

DUBROVA: The United States is still ignoring the fact that civilians are being killed, look at Mariupol. I mean, how much more evidence does the United States need to have in order to make a decision?


GRIFFIN (on camera): And, Erin, especially after the horrors that we have recently found in Ukraine, the question is, why hasn't the Biden administration also already sanctioned Abramovich. Sources are telling CNN's Phil Mattingly at the White House, the sanctions are ready to go, but treasuries are trying to figure out how to sanction the oligarch without hurting the U.S. plants, and obviously hurting the U.S. American steelworker jobs that are in those plants. They just have not figured out yet -- Erin.

BURNETT: It's much easier to talk about sanctions, than do them. It's really, really hard and complicated.

All right. Drew, thank you so much. Just such important reporting.

Next, Ukrainians are wiping out Russian military equipment, they say they have destroyed more than 150 Russian tanks. Just look at this video that a Russian defender sent to out front. What does all of this mean for Ukraine? Whether it can actually win?

General David Petraeus is next.

Plus, Polish teachers using Google translate to teach Ukrainian sheltering who left their countries and their fathers behind.


REPORTER: Your mom is here.


REPORTER: Your father?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: No, he's staying in Ukraine.




BURNETT: Tonight, Putin's key objective, the UK's Ministry of Defense says that the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol is seeing increasing airstrikes, as Russian forces try to take control of the city. It comes as the mayor of Mariupol, and you just heard the deputy prime minister tell me, that there are still 100,000 people stuck in that city, 100,000 people.

The mayor says the city is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

OUTFRONT now, retired four-star Army general and former director of the CIA, David Petraeus.

And, General Petraeus, I appreciate your time. I want to talk to you about Mariupol, but first, as you see the

Ukrainians in a sense winning the battle of Kyiv, for the lack of a better term, and all of those horrific things that we are seeing coming out of towns around Kyiv now, where are we in the war right now?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: We're at a pivotal moment.

And great to be with you, Erin. Thanks for your reporting from Ukraine when you were out there.

This is a moment where -- celebrate, certainly, they've won the battle of Kyiv. The Russians are withdrawing without achieving their main objective, which was to take the capital, topple the government, and replace it with a pro-Russian president. They're winning to two other major battles in the north, Chernihiv and Sumy, forces are withdrawing from there as well.

But it's a pivotal moment because the Russians are shifting their focus down to the southeast. This includes Mariupol, but it's that area called the Donbas, the separatist-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, those oblasts or provinces. And then south of Kharkiv, in between there and the Donbas, they're pushing in from the east. And you can see slight progress there that could be worrisome.

And so, the Ukrainians are having to pivot, literally, they're shifting their main effort, which was the defense of these cities in the north, down to the southeast, and as the Mariupol defenders are this Ukrainian Alamo, as we have called it, because they are fighting to the last defender, and tying down a lot of Russian forces as they do that. But once it falls, and tragically, inevitably it appears it will at some point. Those Russian forces are free to move north, and reinforce the efforts around the Donbas.

And then, finally, you are discussing earlier with the deputy prime minister and others, there is a bit of a developing Srebrenica moment here. This will be an aggregate. There won't be any one Srebrenica location, that horrific, you know, well over 5,000 Muslims killed in that city in Bosnia, that really precipitated our involvement there. But it's going to grow.

And I think in aggregate, that is what is going to become, it is going to galvanize the world even more than it already is. But we've got to do right now in the short term, is get everything we can as quickly as we can, especially that he's switchblade drones, and some other capabilities --


PETRAEUS: -- that they don't have huge numbers of just yet, to enable them to hold off that Russian push from the east, and up from the Donbas, and then eventually from Mariupol and the southeast.

BURNETT: I want to ask you about those drones in a moment, but, first, Mariupol, as you referred to it as the Ukrainian Alamo. Obviously, the Russian see it as a must win, because it connects the Donbas oblast to Crimea. But neither side can afford to lose it. Ukraine won't give it up, and if the Russians don't win it, then they are back to where they were before they even started this war.

How much is the war won or lost on Mariupol, General?


PETRAEUS: I don't think it's won or lost there. And I think even the Ukrainians have publicly admitted that it is going to fall at some point. I think that it's just beyond their capacity to shift enough forces down there that they could literally drive a rescue column in.

You know, this is the best stone (ph) of this particular war. There is no Paton coming to the rescue in this particular case I don't think.

It would be wonderful if they could, and never rule that out, because what the Ukrainians have done is almost miraculous. I mean, they have shown, not just resolve and heart, but they have shown resourcefulness, real professional capability. It's literally the opposite of what the Russians have shown, in almost every single category.

So, I wouldn't rule it out. I'm sure that their general staff has been trying to figure out how they could relieve the siege of Mariupol. But that's probably a bridge too far.

But what they need to do is stop the Russian advance from the east, which could, if it goes far enough, actually encircle some of the Ukrainian forces that are defending against the push out of the Donbas. And that would be catastrophic for a good part of that country. Russia could then take the whole southeast.

BURNETT: So, the Ukrainians have -- you know, we've seen this now, in town, after town. We're actually seeing the destroyed tanks and equipment. So much Russian equipments have been destroyed since the start of the invasion.

I got new images today, General, from Ukrainian defender, east of Kyiv, where they were liberating towns. So many tanks destroyed. Ukraine says that more than 450 of them have been destroyed since the start of the invasion, certainly the images we see support numbers like that.

And these Ukrainian soldiers that are in the north, that have been fighting up there since the beginning, right, they are now given the break of a day, or so, and moving straight to Donbas.

So, the question for you, General, is what is Russia's backup capacity for a new start, both from equipment, and manpower when they're competing with an incredibly motivated and passionate, but tired Ukrainian force?

PETRAEUS: I think in a word, it is limited. But, we don't know how limited. I mean, we're hearing all kinds of reports that have not been confirmed, but we certainly know -- we do know that Russia has been scraping for forces everywhere. The eastern military district, Georgia, Syria, the Wagner -- these paramilitary's, these security companies that they have, essentially, mercenaries. They're hiring off the battlefields in Syria. They are trying to scrape everywhere, which is an indicator that they don't have much, in the way of reinforcements.

And, of course, keep in mind that about a quarter of their forces, conscript, which is supposed to end their tours in April, with a new batch of conscripts coming on who won't be trained. He's extended, Putin has, the current conscripts.

But you can imagine the blow to morale. There are reports of two battalions that were brought from Georgia to fight, said, they don't want to fight in Ukraine. Again, not confirmed, but you're hearing it in enough places that, perhaps, there is something to that. And certainly to the rumors that those who have withdrawn from Kyiv, up into Belarus, to be reconstituted, those units to get their people who were lost, replaced, and all these tanks and so forth, lost and replaced as well, they're just not keen on going down to the east.

So, I think it's a big question, right now, whether Russia can, actually, reconstitute enough forces and actually get them to push in from the east to capitalize on this very modest progress that they have made there.

But, you've got to prepare for the worst, that's what militaries do. That's what the Ukrainians are doing. That is where you have forces, who have about 24 hours to get a shower, and celebrate a bit, then they're going to be pushed down to the east.

And, but, again, they are fighting for their country's survival, the entire nation is with them, and behind them, and they -- it's on their home field. And they have the advantage of knowing that turf.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much, General Petraeus.

PETRAEUS: Pleasure, Erin. Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, a 13-year-old, able to escape Ukraine with his mother. Now, the only semblance of any kind of normal, for a lack of a better word, even though it is far from that, but is going to school.


REPORTER: Your favorite subject is?


REPORTER: Math. You like math?



BURNETT: Plus, breaking news, Mitt Romney says he will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, cementing her history-making Supreme Court confirmation.



BURNETT: New satellite images show the bodies laying in the streets of Bucha for weeks, for weeks, while the town was under Russian control. The images are proof that Russia's claims of a fake attack in Bucha is, obviously, a lie. This comes as half of all Ukrainian refugees crossing into the EU, our children.

Many of them are settling in Poland where Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT tonight.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT; To learn the full scope of war, take a seat in Ms. Magdos (ph) classroom.

She is a Polish teacher using Google translate to communicate in Ukrainian with her new foreign students.

Her class, growing by 40 percent this month. New children, who have just fled the only home they have ever known.

You are translating, on the Internet, as you teach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, because I only know polish.

LAH: How important for you, as a teacher, is it to help these kids?


LAH: Primary school 157 with bilingual classes has welcomed every new refugee. Classes are more cramped, but these public school students don't complain, because they feel they already know the strangers sitting next to them.

EDWARD CZYZEWSKI, POLISH STUDENT: Well, a lot of kids have come to our school, and some of them have told us stories about what happened.


They've left people that they love behind.

LAH: Edward Krzyzewski is 13 years old, a Polish student, seeing the influx of war survivors come through his school doors.

CZYZEWSKI: The more we take, the better we are doing.

LAH: The better?


LAH: So, you don't mind that the rooms are crowded?

CZYZEWSKI: No. No. It's for a good cause.

LAH: So, these are all Polish kids.

Eva Reskonat (ph) is the vice director.

She fears for every child in the building, and only wishes she could do more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Especially when I see people helping. And I don't know, we can help only small part.

LAH: Warsaw's mayor tells us the strain on his city schools is enormous. The 100,000 additional refugee children in Poland's capital need an education. It is an increase of 30 percent, just this last month.

Nazar Samodenko is 13, and from Kyiv.

Your mom is here?


LAH: Your father?

SAMODENKO: No. He's staying in Ukraine.

LAH: Nazar's father is a minister, helping fight in the war. It took a week for Nazar to escape Ukraine with his mother. School offers a structure of a life he's lost.

Your favorite subject is?


LAH: Math. You like math?


LAH: Is it easier being around other Ukrainian kids?

Yes, he says. We can talk. They understand.

LAH: Of the 4 million refugees fleeing Ukraine, half are children, paying the price of adult since.

How hard is it for kids your age to live through this?

CZYZEWSKI: I think it's practically impossible to go through this. It's just mind-boggling how this could happen to someone that young.


LAH (on camera): The school told us, they are not experts in dealing with war trauma. They're really in uncharted territory here, Erin. They say, despite the challenges, despite that strain, they do not turn away a single student -- Erin. BURNETT: It's unbelievable. Thank you so much, Kyung.

And next, breaking news, a pivotal vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson's historic nomination, tonight.


BURNETT: Breaking news: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson now expected to be confirmed as the first Black female Supreme Court justice. It will be a historic confirmation and it comes after the Senate just wrapped up a crucial vote. Just moments ago, the Senate voting 53, to 47, to advance her nomination, out of the Senate judiciary committee. Senators Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Lisa Murkowski all supported Jackson. They were the only three Republicans to do so.

The full Senate vote to confirm Jackson will be later this week.

Thanks so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.