Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

As More Explosions Rock Kyiv, CNN Talks To Member Of Parliament; UN: 1.7 Plus Million Ukrainian Refugees Have Fled To Poland; Russian Forces Strike Key Targets In Western Ukraine. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 14, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: What is the stockpile situation?

OLEKSIY GONCHARENKO, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Army is that we -- but even army not enough equipped to with antitank especially antiaircraft. That's why we're asking for desperately the West to help us to defend our women and children and to defend the whole free world because Putin is not going to stop. Civilian guards, which I'm also a member of, yes, we just, we have tens of thousands of arms, we have weapons like these that I have now with me, it's automatic rifle. But we don't have vest, not enough helmets, and not enough antitank weapons, very fewer, I can say antitank weapons. So we need much, much more weapons. And we hope that our allies and the free world will provide us with this because we really need this. And that's the question of hundreds and hundreds of supplies.

KING: One, if you look at what the Russians are doing, especially to the west, the northwest of Kyiv, where you see the major highways, if you're trying to resupply you and your friends and your allies with arms coming across from Europe, through Lviv and through the highways. Is it harder now to get those supplies? Have the Russians been able to block off the city? Or so far when there are new supplies are they getting through?

GONCHARENKO: They are getting through. There are some places, for example, Mariupol, which is in the southeastern part of Ukraine, probably the most difficult situation is there. Now hundreds of thousands of people because it's half million people population is just blocked. And Russians not just bombing it from sunrise to sunset, I mean, every minute, and there are thousands of civilians already killed there. That place where they bombed maternity house, check in pregnant women and newborns. One of them just died yesterday, so that's absolutely awful.

Certainly to these places, we have problems to distribute weapons and everything else, humanitarian methods, everything. But in most parts of Ukraine, and in most our positions, we have all possibilities to distribute the weapons. The only thing is that we don't have enough of them and the supplies, they are, but they are not enough. That's absolutely true. It's not enough. KING: As you know, there have been conversations from the beginning that if the situation in Kyiv becomes very dire, and it sounds like that could be a day or two away. Should President Zelenskyy, should members of the government like yourself, go to Lviv or go someplace more safe? I know the President has said flatly he will not do that. I see from your example on the street. You have no intention at this moment to do that. Is that a possibility at all? Are you in Kyiv one way or the other?

GONCHARENKO: We'll still here until then, wherever the end will but we believe in our victory. But we will not leave our seat, our capital. I will not do this. And I'm sure that most of my colleagues and friends including President, they will not do this. And because we are fighting for our land and it is very important to show our people that we are shoulder to shoulder with them just to encourage them and to be with them. I think that's right.

KING: Oleksiy Goncharenko, member of Ukrainian parliament grateful for your time sir, in honor of your bravery at this moment.


KING: Thank you sir. Thank you.



KING: Coming up, the United Nations now estimates more than 2.8 million people have left Ukraine since the war began. Live on the ground looking at the sad refugee crisis, next.


KING: Breaking this hour, advances of Russian ground troops quote, remain stalled in Ukraine that according to a senior U.S. defense official. Russian forces moving on Kyiv, including that infamous convoy to the North have not made any appreciable progress over the weekend, that official saying. A missile strike this morning in the city of Donetsk in another cruel reminder of the impact of this war on Ukrainian civilians, a warning the video you're about to see here is extremely, extremely graphic these people in line for the ATM and at the bus stop when the rocket hit, according to authorities in Donetsk. Around 20 people were killed but officials expect that number to climb.

And another missile strike captured in this video shows the moments in explosion hit right outside an apartment building in Mykolaiv. You can see fire and smoke in the corner of that video. Ukraine's Prosecutor General now opening a treason investigation into the pro-Russian mayor installed in Melitopol. That Mayor is saying the local channels will broadcast quote Russian T.V. channels. Ukrainian authorities claim Russia kidnapped the elected mayor.

Also "The Wall Street Journal" reporting Russian prosecutors are threatening to arrest the leaders of Coke, McDonald's and IBM for criticizing the Russian government. The Russian Embassy here in the United States dismissing that report as quote pure fiction. The number of war refugees fleeing Ukraine jumped by more than 300,000 just over the weekend. More than 2.8 million Ukrainians have now left their homes amid Russia's invasion, that according to the United Nations. The biggest number, the majority of those refugees have fled to Poland. That's where we find CNN's Ed Lavandera, live for us on the ground. Ed, tell us what you're seeing.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John, we are at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, which is the first stop for Ukrainian refugees. And we just met Alex Voitenko, who is one of those people who's just gotten off a train here in Poland with her mother. Alex, talk to me about what that journey was like for you coming from Kyiv where you live and how dangerous was it?


ALEXANDRA VOITENKO, UKRAINIAN RESIDENT: It take us almost two days to travel to Przemysl. I, with my husband, we moved to the Western Ukraine first. I lived there for one week. And then I decided for my mother and that to continue treatments in Poland. We found the foundation in Poland, they treat breast cancer. So I agree with my mom and dad that my dad will bring my mom to me. And I will follow her to Burshtyn, and spent a couple of days here organized all the process. And we'll go back to my husband to Western Ukraine.

LAVANDERA: How difficult has it been for you, you were telling me that you've heard the bombing, you've seen all of the violence in your home city, when you think about that now, what goes through your mind? What -- how do you think about that?

VOITENKO: It's a nightmare, I think, it's unreal for me. Like second life like not with me.

LAVANDERA: Do you think your life and your family's life will ever be the same in Kyiv?

VOITENKO: Absolutely not, absolutely not. We feel so proud of our people, of our Ukraine. We will be more happy every time, every second after all this horror.

LAVANDERA: And as you've seen how things are unfolding, what is the mood of your family and other people? Do you feel like Ukraine can win this?

VOITENKO: Absolutely, yes. Absolutely, yes. We deserve to win. We deserve to be a part of Europe. We are absolutely perfect people and nation.

LAVANDERA: You're 27 years old. You're bringing your mom to Poland to help get her cancer treatments. But you told me you're going right back to be with your husband and your father. Why?

VOITENKO: I've been with my husband because I don't want to leave when else of countries I need to be in Ukraine and after all this war in Kyiv. LAVANDERA: So after all of this, you plan on going right back?

VOITENKO: Right back as soon as possible.

LAVANDERA: Amazing. Thank you, Alex. Good luck to you. I wish your family peace. John, you know, that is the emotional decisions that so many families here in -- from the Ukraine are making. And they're bringing family members. They're doing everything they can to escape. And as you mentioned, as you heard her mentioned, there are many people who have immigrated to the western part of the country looking for safety.

The mayor here told me they've still receiving about 25,000 refugees a day and they're worried that if the violence escalates there in western Ukraine, they could see many more. And those numbers continue to increase here in Poland. John?

KING: Ed, thank Alex for us and appreciate that. What a line to remember, we deserve to win. We deserve to win. Remarkable spirit there. Ed Lavandera, grateful for that important live reporting.

Back here in Washington, the Biden administration is considering fast tracking the process to bring Ukrainian refugees to the United States, those with ties here. Moments ago, Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi adding his voice to pushing the administration on this issue, joined by Ukrainian Americans and family members were able to escape Ukraine to Italy, but so far, can't get to the United States.


JENYA, SISTER AND BROTHER-IN-LAW WHO ESCAPED UKRAINE DENIED VISA TO U.S.: We can continue to live our life normally, because of this week, and she cannot obviously continue her life normally because of the war. So it's just -- it's impossible situation. And we just really hope that the government will step up and do something for our family and for families like ours.


KING: We'll keep track of that story. And for more about how you can help humanitarian efforts in Ukraine go to


Coming up for us, Russian attacks are moving closer to Poland and NATO's border, we'll dig in and take a close look at Russia's military strategy, next.


KING: Let's get some important insights on the latest from the battlefield inside Ukraine. With me here in studio, retired Army Brigadier General Steven Anderson. General, grateful for your time. Let's start. Let's start. We know we're heading into almost week four. We know Putin's early target was the capital Kyiv. And we know he has been frustrated by that. U.S. officials saying they believe that convoy we have watched it scattered a little bit but they say it is not appreciably advanced. And one of the things we do know that happened, I know your challenge, your wheelhouse is logistics. How do you keep a military campaign going now as you're in three weeks heading into four weeks, the Ukrainians took out what they say here is a Russian pontoon bridge coming across the Irpin River, that's Irpin suburb Northwest of a Kyiv. If you're trying to bring tanks or ground forces in you would come across that river. What is the significance of this and other developments you see around the Capitol?

BRIG. GEN. STEVEN ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, this is I think very significant, John, it shows what the Ukrainians how successful they have been in interdicting the supply lines for the Russians. So I mean, the Russians and Vladimir Putin hoped for a blitzkrieg and what he got instead was a sitzkrieg. He's been only able to make very, very modest movements into the Ukraine area. He's coming down into Kyiv. He's probably setting up for a siege. But the incredible will of the Ukrainian people as manifested in their abilities to counteract and essentially cut off the supply lines and degrade their supply capabilities has stopped them from moving any faster. I mean, traditionally a blitzkrieg 25, 30, maybe 50 miles a day, it's not happened at all. And not even anything close. Now we're into a siege and it's going to get, I think, pretty ugly down here.

KING: If it's going to get pretty ugly, one of the challenges for those who support Ukraine, including the NATO countries to Ukraine's, West is to get in supplies. And we saw over the weekend that up until the weekend, most of the Russian missiles had been this way but over the weekend, Ivano-Frankivsk, Yavoriv, Lutsk, airbase, airbase, airbase, this 10, 12 miles from the Polish border. Do you see here Russia saying, OK, if U.S. and other NATO military supplies are coming into the country, this is where they would be staged so that you can get them here?


ANDERSON: Absolutely, John. John, this is a race of logistics, OK, the NATO and the West ability to push the supplies into the people of Ukraine, so they can fight the Russians versus the Russians fight their race and logistics to try to resupply their own lines and prepare for the coming siege of Kyiv. What they're trying to do now on the West is obviously interconnect those supply lines. And we're trying to do everything we can to push forward as fast as we can.

Remember, the United States is a national power when it comes to logistics, perhaps our greatest -- the greatest logistic power in the world, we need to leverage that power to enable NATO to push supplies as quickly as he possibly can and help the poor Ukrainian people and ensure that their will to fight continues.

KING: You mentioned the importance, whether it's military supplies, whether it's food supply lines, or the like, if you come back out to look at this, yes, the Russian assault on Kyiv has been plotting where Russia has had some successes down here in the southern part, you see Russian troops coming out of Crimea, they've been Russian troops in the disputed areas for a long time. But you do see here, Russia controlling most of the southern coast now, obviously, Odessa remains, what would the significance be from whether it's food, whether it's military supplies, psychologically, if the Russians take the entire southern strip?

ANDERSON: Well, that would be a significant loss. Odessa is a major port to the Black Sea, warm water port, obviously, the Russians wanted to take that away from the Ukrainians, a lot of their wheat, a lot of their iron ore, all comes out, other exports come out of that port of Odessa. So they want to be able to cut that off and essentially try to starve the Ukrainian people. But, you know, they're still working very close to Crimea, very short lines of communication, short supply lines, the farther they get into Kyiv, the more difficult it's going to be.

Don't forget Kyiv, 3 million people, the size of Chicago, you're talking 300,000 buildings. I mean, John, you probably remember in 2004, in Fallujah, it took us three weeks to take that out, 36,000 buildings, this is 10 times that many buildings, it's going to be incredible fight. You've got the will of the Ukrainian people is just been phenomenal. And I don't -- I do not think that they're bombing in the in the West, or they're attacking the humanitarian targets has done anything but to anger them to be even more aggressive towards them.

KING: Anger them certainly and outrage the world. But one of the things you do look at is if Putin is not able to move as quickly as he would, this is what happens then, you get residential areas that get bombed, you see the buildings here, bombed. This is a residential area, you see that apartment building, this is a shopping mall, where people would go and you see there it is and one, and boom, bombed, that is the flip side of this. Putin not moving as quickly as he likes, you would, on the one hand, that's a victory for the Ukrainians, on the other hand, the Russian harshness?

ANDERSON: Yes, I mean, that's the Russian playbook. I mean, they come in like a bulldozers, as my colleague Mark Kimmitt says. They just tried to blow through everything. They're using dumb bombs, and they're trying to essentially intimidate the people. It's not going to work. It's going to take an awful lot of time. I mean, for them to do this kind of a siege in Kyiv that they've done in Mariupol, now they've been there for three weeks and you see the success they had or lack thereof, it's going to take six, eight months at least to try to overcome that. And I just don't think that 3 million people are going to be coattail that easily in Kyiv.

KING: General, grateful for your important insights. We'll continue the conversation as this plays up.


When we come back today's other big headlines including the latest celebrity going to space.


KING: A quick look at some of these days other big news now, the New York Mayor Eric Adams and the D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will speak tonight on shootings targeting homeless men in both of their cities. The mayors issued a joint statement Sunday saying a quote cold blooded killer was on the loose and urged homeless residents to seek shelter. Police say the same suspect carried out five shootings over a nine-day period killing two men.

Pfizer CEO says people will need a fourth COVID shot. The company is currently working on a new vaccine designed to provide COVID protection for at least a year. The average number of new cases and hospitalizations in the United States at their lowest point in about eight months, on Sunday, Barack Obama announcing he tested positive for COVID. The 60-year-old former President says he has a scratchy throat but otherwise feels fine. Michelle Obama has tested negative. Separately at least four Democratic lawmakers tested positive for COVID over the last few days, that after retreat of House Democrats in Philadelphia Congressman Kim Schrier, Zoe Lofgren, Madeleine Dean, and Rosa DeLauro, all testing positive but all say they are experiencing just mild symptoms.

The Goat is unretiring. Mark me down, it's not a surprise. Tom Brady announcing on Twitter, he will return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next season that less than six weeks after Brady announced he would step away from the game. Seven times Super Bowl winner said Sunday, he realizes his place is still on the field and that he's coming back to Tampa Bay for what he called quote, unfinished business.

And Pete Davidson headed to outer space or at least the edge of space, the SNL star managed to grab a seat with Jeff Bezos rocket company, Blue Origin. The launch is set for later this month. Davidson will be joined by five other space tourists. It's been a big month for Davidson, his new girlfriend Kim Kardashian recently made their relationship Instagram official. She has 292 million followers.


Thanks for your time today on Inside Politics. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Don't forget you can also listen to our podcast. Download Inside Politics wherever you get your podcast. Don't go away, busy day, Ana Cabrera, Anderson Cooper pick up coverage right now.