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Erin Burnett Outfront

Zelenskyy Claims 27,000 Russian Soldiers Have Been Killed; 21- Year-Old Russian Soldier On Trial In Ukraine's First Case Of War Crimes; White House Faces Growing Pressure To Fix Baby Formula Shortage; Senate Candidate's Rise Has GOP Scrambling To Prevent An Upset; GOP Candidate's Late Surge Sends Rivals Scrambling To Attack Her; Judge Will Rule On COVID Border Policy Before It Is Lifted In 10 Days; Putin's Rumored Girlfriend, Ex-Wife Sanctioned By UK; Elon Musk Says His Deal To Buy Twitter "Temporarily On Hold." Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 13, 2022 - 19:00   ET




The shocking toll of Putin's war, Ukraine's president just revealing how many Russian troops have been killed over the past 79 days, as we're getting new video of one of the devastating strikes forcing Russia to retreat in one region.

Plus, President Biden defensive tonight as parents struggle to find baby formula. How is the administration responding to the shortage?

And Republicans in amounts crumble and on attack in Pennsylvania as one candidate surges in the final days before this key primary.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, 27,000. That's how many Russian soldiers have been killed since Putin's invasion of Ukraine started nearly three months ago. Ukraine's President Zelenskyy declared that tonight, just as Russia suffers another dramatic setback.

Ukraine says new video shows a Russian battalion decimated as it tries to cross a series of bridges in northeastern Ukraine. You can see the river bank of just littered with Russian artillery -- artillery and tanks.

A U.S. official says attacks like this are, quote/unquote, frustrating Russian efforts to move troops into the Donbas region. According to the Pentagon, Ukraine has essentially stalled Putin's war plans.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: They have prevented the Russians from achieving virtually any of their strategic objectives thus far in the war. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: We are also getting new images from an outside Kharkiv, where Ukrainian forces have pushed back Russian troops from Ukraine's second largest city. Checkpoints and buildings once occupied by Putin's forces are now back in Ukrainian control.

Meanwhile, in the south, we are told difficult negotiations are still underway to get out some of these seriously injured Ukrainian soldiers that have been inside that sprawling steel plant. A top official saying Russia keeps changing the conditions for their release, while continuing to bombard and attack the plant.

Despite Ukraine's advances, one Ukrainian lawmaker today described the frontlines this way. It is hell, saying they cannot win without more weapons and more support from the United States, specifically, air defense systems and fighter jets.

Now, we have reporters across Ukraine this evening. I want to start with Sam Kiley. He's OUTFRONT live in Kramatorsk.

Sam, what's the latest on the ground right now?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if take -- Kate, if we take -- let's look at Mariupol. That extraordinary fight still going on with several hundred fighters from the Ukrainian side, holding out against the odds, most if not all civilians have been evacuated from Mariupol, but they continue to be pounded. They even claimed the Ukrainian side to launch a minor counterattack, trying to drive the Russian forces back from the perimeter of that steel plant.

That's been a very important draw a way of troops to be focused, that could have been focused where I am on Kramatorsk, which really is the strategic prize in the campaign now of the Russians, now that they've gone from effectively wanting to commit regime changes to capturing the Donbas. This is the biggest city remaining in Ukrainian hands in the Donbas region, in the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

And as you're rightly pointing out there in the introduction, Kate, there's been a significant battle with the -- over the pontoon bridge over the last couple of days with very significant losses inflicted on the Russians by the Ukrainians and their counterattack there, and another counterattack going on around Kharkiv, to the Northeast. They are pushing Russian forces back so far that they've actually destroyed bridges, being retreating indicating that they've given up entirely on every trying to get involved in the fight again for Kharkiv.

But I think the most significant kind of analysis does come from Oleksandra Ustinova saying they do need more weapons and they are running out of troops. Both of those issues I think are becoming more and more of a problem for the Ukrainians.

BOLDUAN: Yeah. Sam, it's great to see you. Thank you as always.

Also, tonight, the first war crimes trial in Ukraine against a Russian soldier is now underway. Melissa Bell is OUTFRONT in Kyiv with all the details for us tonight.

I do want to warn you, some of what you might see maybe disturbing.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Still at war with Russia, but already fighting for justice.

Ukraine has opened its first or crimes trial. A 21-year-old Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin accused of shooting an unarmed civilian on the fourth day of the war.


So far, Ukraine has identified 11,239 alleged war crimes according to the country's prosecutor. They include the massacre of 300 unarmed civilians in Bucha and the killing of many hundreds of civilians, mainly women and children in the more than two-month long siege of Kharkiv.

IRYNA VENEDIKTOVA, UKRAINE'S PROSECUTOR GENERAL: We have now some evidences that commanders give orders to shoot civilians. But from the other side, we understand that ordinary soldiers have their own responsibilities for these atrocities.

BELL: And that, says Iryna Venediktova, is a message that needs to be sent now. So the Russian soldiers understand there will be no impunity, even as the fighting in regions like Luhansk continues.

She says she's been held and gathering facts by the many foreign forensic teams working in towns like Bucha, evidence that will also be used by the International Criminal Court as it investigates both Russia's overall aggression in Ukraine and the individual or crimes allegedly committed by Russian soldiers, which Russia denies.

LUIS MORENO OCAMPO, FORMER PROSECUTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: They have to understand they cannot use the armies to invade another country and they cannot use the armies to kill civilians.

BELL: For now, though, it is in the small courthouse in Kyiv that Ukrainian justice will have its first say. But can a trial be fair during the war?

Shishimarin's Ukrainian lawyer says he has faith in the impartiality of the country's judiciary and under the court can be trusted to make a reasoned decision. He has yet to enter a plea.

The Kremlin spokesman says he has no information about the case, but the size of the media packed inside spoke to the interest and emotion involved on all sides. Shishimarin's court translator said she for her part felt no anger towards the 21-year-old who could face life in jail. After all, she told us, the tears of Russian mothers are salty, too.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BELL (on camera): Now, Kate, given the number of war crimes registered here in Ukraine by the Ukrainian prosecutors so far, there will be many more trials to come. Many of them will have in international courts, and what we've seen so far in the wars that those war crimes tend to be uncovered, registered and sifted through by forensic experts once Russian troops withdraw.

The trouble with international justice is that since it was set up in 1945 after the Second World War, it has come after the event, the war finishes and the teams get on the ground, they collect the evidence and, in the trials, begin and perpetrators are brought to justice. The point about what's happening in Ukraine now is that Ukrainian trials is to get there early, to start prosecuting people now so that is troops withdraw they think again about it is they might carry out as they look to try to gain or keep wet ground, they have in Ukraine so far, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It's a great point. Melissa, thank you so much.

And the prosecutor general saying they estimate 10,000 -- some 10,000 war crimes have been committed in this war so far.

OUTFRONT with us know, Evelyn Farkas, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and retired Brigadier General Peter Zwack. He's a former senior U.S. defense official and attache to Russia.

It's good to see both of you.

Evelyn, first with the war crimes trial, this, the world, cares about this trial and should care about this trial, of course. But do you think Putin cares about this trial? And the many that are likely to follow?

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE & EURASIA: Yeah, I mean, Kate, thanks for having me on. Putin doesn't care about this trial. We know that he has very little respect for Ukraine as a country. He doesn't respect President Zelenskyy and he certainly does not respect the government, including the judicial system.

But it's not really about would Vladimir Putin thinks. I think more importantly, and your correspondent touched on this, it really matters with the Russian military leadership hears and sees and, of course, the soldiers.

And we don't know how much of this they will see, but I suspect through Telegram and other social media means, they will hear about this, and hopefully, it will not be a deterrent for future crimes.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, it's going to be hard to avoid hearing about it, but you could be sure in Russia, they're going to try very hard to do just that.

General, a senior U.S. defense official said today that Ukrainian artillery is frustrating and that's the word they used, frustrating Russian efforts to gain ground in the Donbas in eastern part of the country. Slightly west of Donbas and Kharkiv, the Ukrainian military says that Russia is pulling back further still from there. When you add all of this together, and I kind of see this a little bit, I don't know if it's correct to see it this way, it's kind of the ebb and flow of the war right now. What do you think these moves mean for where the battle is headed?

BRIG. GEN. PETER ZWACK, U.S. ARMY (RET.): The Ukrainians with terrible losses have the initiative.


And the artillery is important. It looked like it was a fire strike that took out that pontoon bridge crossing at the Donets Siverskyi River, and wiped out a good chunk of the battalion tactical group, BTG as they're called, several hundred people. And the Ukrainians are reinforcing with artillery. We've read about that.

But the artillery take a lot of rounds and the pipeline needs to continue with shelves inordinate.

Overall, it looks like the Russians, again, while they may have numbers, they are wavering. You've got Ukrainian grit, determination, and they're going to stick with the fight, as difficult as it has been, and they are new and increasingly opened arms pipeline is making a difference, whether on the ground, more and more in the air, and indirect via artillery.


Evelyn, we also learned today that about an hour-long call happened between U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russia's defense minister, and it's the first time that they have spoken 84 days, since before the war began. Our reporting is that it caught -- this call came in at Austin's request, after Russia repeatedly refused to speak with U.S. officials.

After 84 days, why do you think Russia agreed to this call now?

FARKAS: Well, Kate, my sense is, and with interpretation, means probably about a half hour call. But would it tells me about the Russians felt they might learn something in this call. And I -- what I'm sensing across the board with the Russians, you know, Peter, my friend, the good general, said he senses wavering. I sense that the Russians are trying to figure out what to do next.

So it may be that the Defense Minister Shoigu decided that he wanted to have to say. That somehow he would gain some information that he could bring back to Putin about American resolve. Although it may be that we had a serious message to convey and there was enough pre- information granted that he got on the phone. It's hard to tell without a good readout of the phone call.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, of course.

And, also, General, add into this. I wanted to ask you about WNBA star Brittney Griner. She was arrested in Russia in February. Today, it was announced that the court has extended her arrest until at least June 18, for at least another month. The State Department we know has said that she's being wrongfully detained.

What do you think this adds into this conversation right now? What do you think President Putin could be wanting to do with her?

ZWACK: I believe that it is punitive and petulant on the Russian side. They are trying in their perspective to speak to us, and using Brittney as, if you will, a prop. However, I think it plays badly internationally, and maybe they're looking for a trade or some type of swap, but it shows ugly. I mean, it shows ugly and it doesn't seem to be particularly credible.

BOLDUAN: General, it's good to see you. Evelyn, thank you as always.

FARKAS: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, the close ally of Vladimir Putin is now being sanctioned by the West, someone rumored to be the Russian president's longtime girlfriend.

Plus, the White House scrambling to deal with the nationwide baby formula shortage that has new parents panicking.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is really anxiety provoking and it's really worrisome.


BOLDUAN: And it's Pence versus Trump. The one-time team, now split, as both men are throwing their support behind two different candidates in Georgia.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, President Biden pushing back against criticism his administration was caught flat-footed on the nationwide shortage of baby formula, a crisis that has been building for weeks. And a mounting question about what they're going to do about it.

Like this one from CNN's Jeremy Diamond.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Have you taken those steps soon or before parents got to these shelves and couldn't find formula?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we've been better mind readers, I guess we could have. But we move as quickly as the problem became apparent to us. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: MJ Lee is OUTFRONT now, live from the White House for us.

MJ, what is the administration doing about this?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we've certainly seen a serious scramble from the White House to respond to this national baby formula shortage, and it is talking about a number of actions that it has taken, and that it says it will take to try to deal with this issue. Among those actions, include working directly with companies to try to boost the production here in the U.S. It's also talking about importing more formula from other foreign countries. And also, just making it easier for families to use a federal nutrition assistance program to get access to more formula.

We also reported earlier today that the White House is strongly considering using the Defense Production Act to make more formula, and make it more readily available but. There's a recognition that this is more of a longer term solution, and not an immediate solution that's going to lead to formula, literally being on store shelves tomorrow.

Now, we heard the president saying there to our colleague, that he believes that the White House moved as quickly as possible, but that doesn't mean he's not confronting a barrage of questions, and even a lot of criticism about this crisis, because the Abbott recall, as you recall, goes back to February.

Now, one other thing I want to quickly note is that, yesterday, when we asked the White House whether there's any kind of federal guidance, where parents are unable to find formula, we didn't get a good answer, and just this afternoon, the White House has rolled out a new website. It is It has information, contacting different manufacturers, basic sort of safety tips for parents.

So, we'll see if that helps alleviate these concerns, but this is a very, very serious headache and a problem that is confronting the White House right now, Kate.


BOLDUAN: And it's not going away, that's for sure anytime soon.

LEE: Yeah.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, MJ, thank you.

So, while the White House is trying to do something about the shortage, parents tell CNN that they don't need help in weeks. They need help now.

Adrienne Broaddus is OUTFRONT.


COLLEEN HAFENCHER, MOTHER SEARCH FOR FORMULA: Like I don't care if they say they'll have it in stock --

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's another full- time job --

HAFENCHER: I'm up with him at 2:00 in the morning, and looking for formula.

BROADDUS: Searching ten hours every week.

HAFENCHER: I start with the Similac website, and then after that, I go to Target. After that, I go to Mariano's, Jewel, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS.

BRAODDUS: Colleen Hafencher is one of many parents on the hunt for baby formula across the nation.

HAFENCHER: This is really anxiety provoking, and it's really worrisome. When I get to work in the morning, I look for formula. When we're finally sitting on the couch for an hour at night, we are looking for formula.

So I haven't found any in about three weeks.

BROADDUS: She has applied for three weeks, thanks to a friend and her aunt. But the shortage is affecting parents coast to coast, including those who can't, and choose not to breastfeed, and other children who need specialty formula.

ANGELA KONCZAK, MOTHER SEARCH FOR FORMULA: I spy with my little my eye something brown.

BROADDUS: Angela Koncak's (ph) daughter depends on specialty formula, and is tube fed.

KONCZAK: So her body can't break down animal fats and proteins, and the Neocate Jr. is amino acid based, and it's been the only formal that she has been able to tolerate, and actually gained weight and thrive on. And the fact that it's not available anywhere is very scary.

BROADDUS: Nationwide, 43 percent of baby formula was out of stock for the weekend of May 8th and in these eight states, that number and more than 50 percent according to figures provided to CNN by Datasembly, the problem caused by several factors including a recall, inflation and the supply chain snag.

The Biden administration says it's working 24/7 to help ease the shortage, including importing formula from overseas. The Defense Production Act could be an option too, but the government doesn't know when it will get better.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I'm not going to stand here and tell your audience that I can give you a hard time line that I can't give you. We are being candid about moving as quickly as possible and relentlessly focused on this.

BROADDUS: However, Republicans say the Biden administration should have acted sooner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is sadly Joe Biden's America.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): This is not a third world country. This should never happen in the United States of America.

BROADDUS: While politicians play the blame game, parents are the ones left worried.

KONCZAK: My daughter, actually, so with her disease, she was just on life support two weeks ago. She had gotten a cold and collapsed both of her lungs. So we just got out of the hospital and to have her go back to the hospital just for nutrition -- her grandmother, it was $349. Normally a case of four is $168, so finding it is a necessity even if that means not paying my bills.

BROADDUS: Not paying your bills.

KONCZAK: Yep. It's what that means.


BROADDUS: And, Kate, the CEO of one formula company told "Reuters" he expects to see a shortage until the end of the year. Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents purchase no more than a two-week supply to help ease the strain on the shortage and doctors say it's never okay to add additional water to your baby's formula and parents should avoid making their own -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Living two weeks by two weeks when it comes to formula, it's an impossible ask to make a family.

It's good to see you, Adrianne. Thank you so much.

OUTFRONT next, just days until Pennsylvania's key primary election and the knives are out for one Senate candidate with a sudden late surge in the polls.


DAVE MCCORMICK (R), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE IN PA: She's been tested once before, the last two years when she ran for Congress and lost by 20 points.


BOLDUAN: Plus, Elon Musk says his takeover of Twitter is on hold. So, is this a $44 billion case of buyer's remorse?



BOLDUAN: Tonight, Pennsylvanian Republican Senate candidate Dave McCormick is warning the sudden rise of his opponent Kathy Barnette could spell doom for Republicans come the general election. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MCCORMICK: She's been tested once before in the last two years when she ran for Congress and lost by 20 points, the stakes could not be higher.


BOLDUAN: And a super PAC backing McCormick is now attacking Barnette really for the first time in a new ad saying voters can't trust her, this as Republicans like former President Donald Trump are basically stunned and panicking that Barnette is now in a statistical tie with Trump's preferred candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and also with Dave McCormick.

OUTFRONT now, Scott Jennings, former senior adviser to Mitch McConnell and also former assistant to President George W. Bush, and Jonathan Tamari, national political reporter for "The Philadelphia Inquirer", who's been following this very closely.

Jonathan, so the primary is Tuesday. It is clear Republicans in the commonwealth were caught off-guard by Barnette's late surge. So, how nervous is this making them, though?

JONATHAN TAMARI, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Well, it's making the two leading campaigns of Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick very nervous, because in a position to pass them after they spent tens and tens of millions of dollars.

But nationally, it's a little less certain. The national Republican Party is not stepping in here to try to stop her. They're not picking favorites. They don't know, I don't think, how strong or weak a candidate should be, because as you just referred to, nobody has really vetted her really closely, including her opponents, including national figures. I talked listened to a Washington Republican speak describe her as a giant question mark.

So, right now, they're kind of watch and it's so late, they don't really have much choice but to let the process play out and see where things fall on Tuesday.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, I mean, it really couldn't get later, Scott. I mean, one question Republicans have about Barnette, which is basically all questions. I mean, it's amazing how unvetted they have left her through this campaign.

One question is just how deep and real her ties are even to Pennsylvania. She was asked about that today by a conservative -- yesterday, by a conservative radio host and here's how she responded.


KATHY BARNETTE (R), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE IN PA: Did they vet the guy from Connecticut, McCormick, coming in? Did they vet the New Jersey Oz coming in? These people have high negatives, why would you take people with the very high negatives in the Republican primary into the general and think you're going to win?


BURNETT: Scott, what do you think of that? And just this whole thing?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's a total mess. I talked to a lot of Republicans who are involved over there, and really, nobody knows what's going to happen. I will tell you as an all political operative, I've seen a lot of races, though, where you have two people who are considered to be front runners, and you have that in this race, beating the crap out of each other for months and months, and it opens up a lane, because people get tired of the negativity. You know, they hate with a here about everybody. And somebody can surge late, and it's really too late to do anything about it.

You mentioned that the National Republicans have let it go. But what could they do, you know?


JENNINGS: It's a few days away.

And so, no one is really quite sure how this is going to turn out. And for Donald Trump, by the way, who is backing Dr. Oz, he's even hedging in his statements, he put out a statement saying she probably could win in November, but he said nice things about her and now, there's reporting tonight that he may be considering endorsing the gubernatorial candidate that she's been kind of palling around with.

So, even he's hedging a little bit, wondering how to maintain his won- loss record ratio as the Pennsylvania primary approaches. A total mess. And not a lot of answers right now.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, his statement was, like a classic, like maybe if I have to like her later, you can count on it, I guess. It was a pretty classic one.

Jonathan, speaking of endorsements, Senator Ted Cruz came to campaign with Dave McCormick today, which is interesting, because again, he's not the first Trump ally to kind of break with the former president and throwing their support behind a different candidate than Trump is backing.

Is it clear to you yet how big of a factor Donald Trump is with Republican voters in Pennsylvania for this race?

JONATHAN TAMARI, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: It's not clear. It's really mixed, because as you said, he's endorsement and Oz has spent a lot of money, yet he's not been able to pull away with this thing. It certainly hasn't been decisive. It hasn't been powerful enough to suddenly seal the deal, or else we would not be here talking about Kathy Barnette.

The question is, in a race that could come down to a couple of percentage points, is this endorsement worth that? Is it worth one, two, three percentage points? And that's what I think we are all waiting to see.

But, you know, there are a lot of questions about Mehmet Oz. In fact, there were a lot of negatives built up on him before Trump came in. So, it was unclear how much it would be able to move the dial once a lot of people already had a negative impression of him.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and a similar thing-ish is playing out in Georgia as well. You've got Mike Pence who will be campaigning alongside Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in his reelection bid, right before that state's Republican primary.

And Trump essentially at this point hates him, because he certified Trump's 2020 election loss. We've seen that criticism over and over. Trump is backing the other candidate, former Senator David Perdue in that governor's race.

What do you make of this Pence versus Trump dynamic there?

JENNINGS: Well, it makes a lot of sense for Pence to show up here and try to take a victory lap with Brian Kemp. They have the same position on the 2020 election, which displeased Donald Trump, so it makes sense for Pence to be in for Kemp. And, by the way, you know, it's not like it's a close race like we had in Pennsylvania. Kemp is obviously running circles around Purdue, and avoiding a runoff altogether, which when this race started out, it wasn't quite sure how it was going to go.

So, smart move by Pence to get in and take a victory lap there with Brian Kemp. This is going to be one of the primaries where Trump certainly has egg on his face. There will be many, but this is going to be one of them.

If you're Mike Pence and you're looking at running against possibly Donald Trump for president in 2024, you need to be able to show people that hey, there is a way to run as a Republican in this country, not go down Trump's road on the 2020 election, still maintain your conservative credentials, still maintain your ability to influence Republican voters. This is a good way to do it in Georgia standing next to Brian Kemp.

BOLDUAN: And you know Mike Pence knows that, right? Of course, right? He knows -- he knows the move he's making. And he's very clearly okay with making that break, making that statement, and he's playing the odds pretty really well on this.

It's good to see you, Scott. It's good to see you, Jonathan. Thank you very much.

JENNINGS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, Biden's plan to lift immigration restrictions at the border being challenged in court, but could a huge surge of migrants be days away?

Plus, she made headlines after she held up a sign that said "no war" during a live Russian broadcast. [19:35:01]

Will other Russian journalists be following her lead?

The Russian journalist that you see there is OUTFRONT.


BOLDUAN: Tonight, awaiting a ruling of the faith of Title 42. A federal judge in Louisiana today hearing arguments in a lawsuit seeking to stop the Biden administration from lifting this Trump era pandemic policy, allowing border officials to turn migrants away almost immediately.

Well, the judge hasn't yet ruled. Border states are preparing now for a surge of migrants, when Title 42 expires in 10 days.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Arizona is divided. The border wall closest to Tucson looks like the spine of a giant beast, resting on the rolling hills of the city of Nogales and rest in armor.

In Yuma, the wall is porous, broken, allowing migrants to walk into the U.S. Like this man, who for his safety, asked to be called Claudio.


So, you're a systems engineer in Venezuela and you are earning $5 a month? Can you live out of $5 a month?

The mayors of Tucson and Yuma are also divided. They have opposite takes on Title 42, the pandemic era public health order used by federal agents to expel migrants to Mexico more than 1.8 million times in just two years.

He says that he has, he's worried about Title 42 being applied in his case.

Title 42 is caught in a court battle, when the order is scheduled to lift later this month, the Department of Homeland Security expects up to 18,000 migrants will attempt to cross the border every day, some asking for asylum.

MAYOR DOUGLAS NICHOLLS (R), YUMA, ARIZONA: It's definitely an impending disaster.

FLORES: Yuma Mayor Douglas Nichols is that Republican. His city is right on the border, and he wants Title 42 to remain in place.

NICHOLLS: There's 52 gaps and seven miles of uncompleted fence.

FLORES: What does that do? NICHOLLS: It creates a very porous border. It creates convenient

locations for people to cross.

FLORES: Tucson Mayor Regina Romero is a Democrat. Her city is about 65 miles from the border, and she'd like to get rid of Title 42.

MAYOR REGINA ROMERO (D), TUCSON, ARIZONA: Title 42 is not an immigration tool, and should not be used as a long term approach to a broken immigration system.

FLORES: Nicholls says it's not about politics.

NICHOLLS: It's not Republican or Democrat.

FLORES: And shows of how migrants used a dam to cross into Yuma, and then, turn themselves into Border Patrol. Back in December, he issued a disaster declaration because he says Border Patrol's capacity was overwhelmed.

NICHOLLS: You would have hundreds of people waiting. They were sleeping here. And they were creating little makeshift camps, in order to survive.

FLORES: For you, is it about politics?

ROMERO: I'm the daughter of immigrants. I am from Arizona. I have seen politicians here using immigrants as a red meat for their base, and that is the wrong thing to do. And I'm tired of it.

FLORES: Of Yuma's nearly 150,000 migrant encounters this fiscal year, only 11 percent have been expelled to Mexico under Title 42. Of Tucson's nearly one of 123,000 migrant encounters, 82 percent have been expelled. When Title 42 lifts, all migrants will have to get processed.

Are you concerned about that?

ROMERO: Only if the Department of Homeland Security plan presented by Secretary Mayorkas is not put into effect.

FLORES: Nicholls drives us into town to show us why he declared a disaster last year.

NICHOLLS: You see families with their luggage, walking down these sidewalks. They would be in our parks, looking for resources, coming to a fire station.

FLORES: And he says he's afraid it will happen again when Title 42 ends.

Your message to President Biden?

NICHOLLS: The president needs to come up with a policy that prohibits releases to communities less than 1 million people. We don't have the social infrastructure. FLORES: So, so long as the Biden administration steps up and provides

resources to local communities like yours, you think Tucson will be okay?

ROMERO: Yes, I do.

FLORES: As for Claudio, and thousands of other migrants -- he describes being in Venezuela as living hell -- their chances of asylum rests on the spine of America's broken immigration system.


FLORES (on camera): Title 42 doesn't just split politicians down party lines, quite the opposite. Arizona's both Democratic senators, along with vulnerable Democrats who were up for reelection around the country, are bucking their party and pressing the Biden administration for a more complete plan on Title 42. One of their biggest concerns is the impact on local communities -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Rosa, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT for us next, the Russian journalist who protested against Putin's war on Russian state TV is OUTFRONT. Does she believe that her anti-war message, though, is breaking through?

Plus, Elon Musk says his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter is on hold. What's the problem now?



BOLDUAN: New tonight, the U.K. hitting a dozen members of Putin's inner circle with new sanctions, including Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast who is rumored to be Putin's longtime girlfriend. The group facing these fresh sanctions also includes Putin's ex-wife. This group the UK calls key to his wealth.

And this week, two Russian journalists revealed that they published dozens of anti-war and anti-Putin articles on a pro-Kremlin website because, in their words, it was simply impossible to ignore the suffering in Ukraine. This is just weeks after then Russian state TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova interrupted a live broadcast holding a sign saying "no war".

So, will more Russian journalists follow suit?

Here's Erin's conversation with Marina just before she left Ukraine.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Marina, Egor Polyakov and Alexandra Miroshnikova, the two Russian journalists who published dozens of f anti-war articles on a pro-Kremlin website have talked about you. They told us what you did was amazing and brave. And that your acts were both so important, obviously, different things that you did, but both standing up to Putin's regime.

What do you think of what they did?

MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA, CORRESPONDENT, DIE WELT (through translator): These two guys from are very brave and I'm proud of what they have done. I have found their phone number and I'm in contact with them at the moment. I'm very grateful to them that they were brave enough to do this.

I know for them, it was very -- not very easy.


They are under the threat of some administrative or even criminal charges for this. I hope that it will end well for them, but it is very important in the circumstances of total dictatorship to bring people alternative point of view and objective information in the situation where there are no independent media in Russia. They have been shut down, most of them, and there is actual vacuum of information, and very few people could use the VPN, and therefore, there is almost total blockade of information. So, it's very important to do what they are doing.

BURNETT: It's been three months since the start of the war here, and here in Ukraine, he just see everywhere, it hasn't gone anywhere near what Putin thought it would or wanted to. But how much of the truth, Marina, do you think is getting out in Russia due to Putin's efforts to silence any criticism? Are people finding out the truth at all?

OVSYANNIKOVA: I think that whoever wants to find independent information has their ways to find it, because as I have already said, people can use VPN. And I have been receiving letters from many journalists. I have started to investigate the work of this propaganda machine during the war times, and many journalists are writing to me that they would gladly resign from their jobs, because it is impossible to work in these conditions, that they have become hostages of this regime.

They can't do it because they need to feed their families. So -- but still, a lot of journalists are leaving the media -- media jobs, especially in the state channels and RT, and the likes of them. I think this process has already started.

BURNETT: Obviously, you're in Germany now working for German newspaper. You were arrested for the statement that you wrote in Russia before you -- you know, you recorded before your protest on television. That's when you urged Russians to protest the war.

And then, Marina, you went through questioning for more than 14 hours. They find you about $300, but, obviously, it was intimidation. Do you have -- would you still do things exactly the same?

OVSYANNIKOVA: Yes, I have been feeling this intimidation all the time. It is constant. I feel bullied in social media. People were calling me British spy or FSB agent. They were trying to discredit me in all possible ways. They were saying all sorts of lies about me, finding all kinds of information about me and posting it on the media.

They are trying to spoil my reputation, to make sure that neither the people from both sides don't trust me. So they are trying to make sure people do not understand who I am in reality. And especially, when I was in Germany, I started working for the German newspaper. Ukrainians started protesting. They were saying that you can't -- you can't employ a reputable newspaper from a propaganda person.

But, I think that it is better if a person admits their mistakes in time. And the more people like me, and like these guys from, the better. So, people like us, they need to be supported rather than put in some obstructions.


BURNETT: Marina, thank you so very much. I really appreciate your time.


BOLDUAN: For programming note as well, two Russian journalists we mentioned who published anti-Putin articles will be joining Anderson Cooper tonight.

OUTFRONT for us still, is Elon Musk already backing away from his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter?


BOLDUAN: And tonight, confusion reigns over one of the most unusual corporate takeovers. Early this morning, Elon Musk tweeted that his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter is now on hold.

Here's what he wrote: Twitter deal temporarily on hold, pending details, supporting, calculation that spam fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5 percent of users.

But about two hours later, this tweet: Still committed to acquisition.

These confusing messages sent Twitter stock on a wild ride, down more than 20 percent in pre-market trading before rebounding slightly.

And now, if Musk were to simply walk away, he'd be hit with a one billion dollar breakup fee. But he could also be hit with a lawsuit from Twitter, which could cost the world's wealthiest person many more billions of dollars, potentially. So stay tuned.

Thanks for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.