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New Day Saturday

Ukraine Civilian Evacuation Halted After Russia Violates Ceasefire; Russian Forces Getting Closer to Second Nuclear Plant; Russian Accused of Violating Short Ceasefire, Shelling Civilian Corridor; U.S. And NATO Believe Russia Ready to Bombard Cities Into Submission; Mayor Of Russian Occupied City Joins New Day After Takeover; CNN At Site Of Destruction In Kyiv As Russians Close In; Russia Accused Of Violating Short Ceasefire, Shelling Civilian Corridor; New Video Inside Nuclear Plant Standoff: "Stop Shooting". Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 05, 2022 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Here in the United States and all around the world, it is Saturday, March 5th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. This is a special edition of NEW DAY and we do have breaking news. Ukraine is accusing Russia of violating a temporary ceasefire in two cities. Ukraine officials are telling people here in the port city of Mariupol to stay in their homes, claiming that Russia has breached the cease-fire after they had agreed to setup some kind of humanitarian corridor to let people leave. Ukrainians say the shelling from the Russians continues as those Russian troop movement. So, they say, go home, the Russians are not obeying the terms of this agreement.

In the meantime, western officials tell us that Russia's strategy moving forward is to bombard cities into submission. The U.S. also says that Russia is poised to send more than 1,000 mercenaries into Ukraine in the coming days. We also have new video from inside Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant. All right, it's not playing here. The Zaporizhzhya plant now under Russia control.

You could hear ultimately announcement over the public address system pleading with troops to stop firing at the plant. Authorities say, radiation levels do appear to normal despite the attack, but the Russians forces are now closing in on the second largest plant. You can see it there. Zaporizhzhya, the one they control right there, the second largest plant there, that's where the Russians are moving this morning.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging NATO to establish this no-fly zone over his country, but it's something that Secretary of State Tony Blinken and NATO's chief are just not willing to do and they remain consistent in this. They say that it would trigger a full-fledged war in Europe. Despite Russia's onslaught, the resolve of the Ukrainian people appears to be unwavering. Just take a look at this video from Luhansk, Ukrainian protesters shouting down Russian troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): You are not welcome here.

You only bring war with you. Go away from here. The war and death follow you. Put on your stuff and leave. Ukraine is above all.


KEILAR: Chants of Ukraine there. And according to the U.N., more than 1.3 million now refugees have left Ukraine. CNN's Scott McLean live for us from Lviv with the latest. Just a massive movement of people out towards the west and out of the country, Scott.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna, but far few people than expected moving out of those two cities in Easter Ukraine where the cease-fire had been agreed. The good news that people were going to be getting out of those regions only, well, it didn't last very long.

The window of time they had to get out where the cease-fire had been agreed in this humanitarian corridor had been agreed was only seven hours long. But now, we are getting word that it appears that that effort at least in the city of Mariupol where the Ukrainians expected 200,000 people to be fleeing has been postponed.

The governor of the Donetsk region says that Russia continues to shell that region. Shortly before he said that a separate Ukrainian minister said that Russia was using this opportunity to actually move their forces forward in violation of the agreement that had been worked out between Russia, Ukraine, and the Red Cross, which is sort of the coordinator, the Administrator on the ground that's trying to make this happen.

So, as John mentioned earlier, the city council in Mariupol is telling people to stay home, go back to your shelters, and they will tell you when there is news. They will announce it over the loudspeakers. This cannot come soon enough, though. The conditions in many of these places, Brianna, is absolutely miserable. (INAUDIBLE), doctors without borders say in Mariupol, there's no power, no water, no heat.

There isn't even a cell signal. Many grocery stores have been bombed out, and what's left of them has been looted, and it's very difficult to get water as well. Very long lineups for the water that they are handing out. This was always the difficulty in all of this, though, is trying to get the two sides to actually agree on something. And yesterday, one of the Ukrainian negotiators was asked about this specifically about how possibly they could trust the Russians.

And his answer was, look, we can't, but we will continue to push for these corridors because they are so, so desperately needed. And they're not just needed in those two cities, they're needed in many places: Chernihiv, Kherson, the list goes on and on that have these similar conditions of, you know, areas being shelled, power not on, no heat, and people going hungry. The World Food Program says that three to five million people in Ukraine are in need of food assistance right now, Brianna.

[07:05:20] KEILAR: Those are big numbers. Scott McLean, thank you so much for that. I want to bring in CNN Military Analyst, Major General James "Spider" Marks. He's here with us now to walk us through the latest. And the latest appears to be, look, we were hoping there were some good news here, that there were these humanitarian corridors to get people out of some of these areas in Eastern Ukraine that they've been struggling to get out of. But now, reports that these cease-fires are being violated, and you have Ukrainian officials saying you need to stay home, it's not safe to use these.

MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You know, Brianna, there is absolutely no way that to we would assume that the Russians would, in any way, facilitate the movement of the refugees in this incredible immigrant, you know, immigration movement. Let me, let me kind of walk you through where is that map? Right here, I think it's so incredibly important to look at the numbers that are involved here.

From the country of Ukraine, you've got this type of numbers that are taking place, movement into Slovakia as well as into Hungary and obviously into Romania. But what's really important is what's happening in Poland and the incredible outreach on the part of the Polish government, and the Polish people.

You know, refugees are hitting the border and there is simply a number of -- I mean there are innumerable families that are waiting to embrace these refugees and to bring them in. I mean, it's quite phenomenal what these NATO partners are doing to facilitate this incredible crisis that we're dealing with right now.

KEILAR: And we understand that Russia's going to be sending about a thousand mercenaries into Ukraine. What is the expectation there?

MARKS: Well, the expectation is they will be completely ill- disciplined. I mean what we've seen with what should have been trained military unit, Russian military units, have now become chaotic, rather mercenary-like in their own operations. We saw what was taking place at the -- right here, at the nuclear plant. Let's move this thing. Here we go. Right here.

We saw the activity that took place down here, absolutely unbelievable. Indiscriminate fire. It's a nuclear plant, six reactors. There's no discipline in the fire. There are no non-commission officers, you know, that backbone of those units that ensure that within this chaos, there's some form of discipline. None of that was taking place, and now you're going to inject into this fight mercenaries who are these just trying to get a paycheck or just trying to spill some blood, whatever their motivations are.

It's going to get that much more nasty. But I guarantee what we've seen with the Ukrainian people is absolutely unbelievable. Maybe we should believe it. And we're seeing it in front of us right now. It's phenomenal what they've been able to muster and how they've been able to come together. So, I'm saying one, that the mercenaries will be engaged, but the Ukrainians are going to do a good job of handling that new insertion of force. KEILAR: General, I fear what we're going to be seeing here in the days

to come. That what we've seen so far with civilian casualties is really just a touch of what we're expecting to see. There's a senior western intel official who is expecting that Moscow could bombard cities into submission. What is that going to look like?

MARKS: It's going to look like Aleppo, Syria. It's going to look Grozny. We've had examples of what the Russians do when they get off their pace. This invasion stumbled from the outset, mis -- a strategic miscalculation on the part of Putin. He listened to his military commanders who were lying to him. These are not ready forces.

You know, that, that convoy that we've seen, it's trying to get into Kyiv, those soldiers have been in their vehicles. It's freezing cold. I know exactly -- having been in those conditions, I know exactly what they're doing. They're leaving their vehicles on; they're running their fuel out. They have -- they're running out of fuel. They're running out of food.

They're now running out of patience for their leadership. You've got some significant problems that are taking place right now. Putin has made a tremendous miscalculation in terms of what he can try to achieve, and so now he's going to try to pick up the pacing and the way he picks up the pace, he does it with this incredible blunt instrument called the Russian military. There's no precision, there's no discipline. They're just going to start to try to level every objective they can.

KEILAR: Spider Marks, thank you so much, General. Really appreciate it. Berman?

BERMAN: Kherson was the first Ukrainian city to fall into Russian hands. And now, residents there are describing a developing crisis. Residents say, there's a chaos, panic, they're struggling to get basic necessities, and looting is a major problem. Joining me now is Igor Kolykhaiev, the Mayor of Kherson in Ukraine. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us right now. Can you give us a sense of what it's like in your city this morning?


IGOR KOLYKHAIEV, MAYOR OF KHERSON, UKRAINE (through translation): Life is going on, but the city is surrounded, and the Russian troops are everywhere, and they have stopped -- the normal services have stopped because the normal services have no way of operating and the production, critical infrastructure has been suspended.

The city is without power and without water. The normal utilities have no way of getting through. We need humanitarian assistance, humanitarian aid. However, it has no way of getting it into the city because the only way humanitarian aid can get into the city is through Crimea.

From Crimea, from the Russian side, so the Russians want to send their humanitarian aid, but the Kherson, the people of Kherson are refusing it because they're patriots and they don't want aid from Russians. They want aid from Ukrainians. So, we are not getting, receiving humanitarian aid at the moment.

We had a peaceful rally here today, yesterday, and about 2,000 people came out into the central square. And they wanted, they protested against the war. They wanted; they want to be Ukrainians. We don't want, people's republic of Kherson, we want Ukrainian Kherson, and we have a lot of people here in need. We have cancer patients, children who need medication, and this medication is not currently getting through to them.

BERMAN: You say that Kherson right now is completely controlled by the Russians. There are troops everywhere. Are you, are the Ukrainians resisting the Russian occupation?

KOLYKHAIEV: So, the people of Kherson are unarmed. We don't have weapons to resist, to put up armed resistance. They only come out as peaceful demonstrations. We don't have the army in the city. The army has been defeated, the Ukrainian army, and had to retreat. So, there is no arms, and they retreated toward Mykolaiv.

BERMAN: Do you fear for your own safety, mayor?

KOLYKHAIEV: I am a man of Kherson, born and bred. I was born here and raised here. My security, my safety depends on whether Kherson will remain in Ukraine because Kherson is a part of Ukraine. It is, it is Ukraine. My safety is the safety of the people of Kherson. I worry about the people of Kherson and about their safety from child to old person, and that's, that's my main concern.

BERMAN: How long do you think the Russians will control Kherson?

KOLYKHAIEV: The Russians will control Kherson for as long as the Ukrainian army can advance -- for as long as the Ukrainian army takes to advance on Kherson. For the time being, they're quite settled here.

BERMAN: How long before it is a full-scale humanitarian catastrophe inside Kherson?

KOLYKHAIEV: I think we have a maximum four, five days until a full- scale humanitarian disaster. However, at the moment, we have a number of problems. For example, we can't get power supply to the poultry farms. We have about three million poultry there. The feeds are running out. So, the birds will die. We also have about 300 people dead in the hostilities, so we currently have volunteers collecting the corpses.

And also, we have about 81 person who died as a result of unrest and looting. There's a lot of looting in town. And also, people who died as a result of heart attacks or a stroke or asthma, we have those people as well. So, that -- these are the kinds of problems we're having at the moment.

BERMAN: How confident are you that Ukraine will prevail in its struggle against Russia?

KOLYKHAIEV: You know, the spirits of Ukrainians, the spirit of each Ukrainian is very strong. Ukrainians are free people. It's impossible to defeat them spiritually. Even if there isn't a Ukraine de facto, there will be a Ukraine in every heart of Ukrainians here.

Ukraine will have a moral victory because it is impossible to defeat Ukrainians spiritually. This is our country. This is our land. We will remain. We are freedom-loving people and we shall always remain free, and we need to have -- we need to be able to decide our own future ourselves.


BERMAN: Mayor Igor Kolykhaiev, Mayor, please stay safe. We're thinking about you, we're thinking about your people. Thank you so much for being with us.

KOLYKHAIEV: Thank you and good luck.

BERMAN: U.S. officials now believe Russia is prepared to bomb Ukrainian cities or try to into submission. Coming up, the international response to this escalating violence.



KEILAR: This morning, U.S. officials are warning of possibility of significant civilian casualties, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine enters a second weekend. According to officials, Russians plan to bombard Ukrainian cities into submission.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand has more from E.U. headquarters in Brussels.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Brianna, NATO Secretary General and Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning here in Brussels yesterday that next phase of Russia's operation in Ukraine could be mush worse and mush bloodier.

A senior western intelligence official telling me yesterday as well that Russia's operations could move into a phase where they begin to bomb cities into submission, moving from targeting military targets primarily to civilian targets and infrastructure.

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky calling for a no-fly zone but both the Secretary General of NATO and Antony Blinken saying that that currently is not on the table.


BERMAN: All right. Joining us now is Garry Kasparov, a prominent Russian pro-democracy activist and Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation. Garry, it's always a pleasure to speak with you. I want to get your take on the breaking news first. There had been this promise of a cease-fire in Mariupol right here. The Russians had said they would stop shelling the city to let some civilians out. The Ukrainians are saying the Russians have broken their promise. What's your response to that? GARRY KASPAROV, CHAIRMAN, HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION: Unfortunately, I'm

not surprised. Putin broke every promise that he made in the past. He has a record. Lying is the main trait of his character. So, why should we be surprised about from Putin, for Putin's standards, minor violation. He reneged on every treaty, on every agreement he signed if he saw an opportunity to advance his agenda.

So, all these cease-fires is another opportunity for Putin's invading troops to regroup and to continue their advance in Ukraine. Putin's goal has been very clear from onto the operation even before. Ukraine as a sovereign state must be destroyed. And since his arm stumbled and they cannot win the war, the battlefield, he is now attacking civilians.

He he's going to bombard Ukraine to submission. He's going to destroy Ukraine and see this, and that's why they made a decision to wait and not to impose a no-fly zone. It's an open invitation for Putin's air force to ground Ukrainian citizens.

KEILAR: Then what is left in the end? And Ukrainians have made it very clear, this is just shifting them closer to the west?

KASPAROV: Look, it's literally shifting closer to the west because millions of them are running to the west now, trying to save their lives. Yes, when Ukraine prevails -- and I believe when, not if, so it will be a strong ally of the free world and hopefully Ukrainian victory in the war will lead to changes in my country and Russia get rid of Putin's fascist regime and also will become a member of the family of civilized nations.

But before it happens, how many hundreds of thousands and millions of lives we have to pay because the free world is still not ready to recognize the fact? Vladimir Putin is at war with the civilized world. This is World War III, and all these declarations that we had to avoid, with confrontations with Russia, they just, you know, it's in vain.

We're already imposing sanctions from Russia, economic sanctions, financial sanctions, technological sanctions. And why do we expect that the battlefield will -- military confrontation can be avoided since Putin made it very clear? He wants to demonstrate to the world that he's, he's in charge, he can do whatever he wants. He can subdue the neighboring country with the rest of the world watching.

BERMAN: Garry, talk a little more about that, because obviously what President Zelensky is calling for is a no-fly zone around Ukraine. We've heard from the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg saying it's not going to happen. NATO, they say, will not enforce a no-fly zone or put troops in Ukraine because as you just mentioned, they say that would invite World War III, but you don't invite that argument.

KASPAROV: Look, by the way, let's separate. Nobody's asking for boots on the ground. So, that's a typical, you know, trick when they want you to cover their weakness, they introduce another argument that was not there. We're talking about only no-fly zone. And if NATO is not ready to confront Russian military in the skies,

how are they going to defend eastern flank of, of its organization? Because I have no doubt that Vladimir Putin, if God-forbid he has temporary success in Ukraine, will test NATO in Lithuania, for example.

And unless NATO is ready to, to recognize the fact that this confrontation is inevitable, so then we'll hear the same argument that, oh, maybe it's too dangerous, maybe we have to recognize that the Lithuanians should probably follow the demands of Moscow of changing their government.


So, weakness never stopped dictators. So, it's time to show resolve and strength. And let's not forget, NATO is the most powerful military alliance in the history. And if NATO imposes no-fly zone, I want to see how many Russian pilots will fly in the skies of Ukraine.

Putin can give any orders he wants, but it's, it's about those who will have to carry never he wants, but it's about those who will have to carry these orders and risk their lives. I'm not so sure that Russian, Russian air force has too many kamikazes.

BERMAN: Garry Kasparov, always an education getting to speak to you. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

KASPAROV: Thank you for inviting me.

BERMAN: So, CNN is on the ground witnessing the moment as dozens of Ukrainians are finally able to escape, hundreds actually, after being trapped for days by Russian shelling. The dramatic video from CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward coming up.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Russian forces intensifying their push toward the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Ukraine's defense chief says the Russians are bombing critical infrastructure. CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward, in a part north of the city where people who had been trapped for days by artillery shelling had been able to escape.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): All right. So, John, we are here on the northern western outskirts of Kyiv, at the entrance to a place called Irpin.

WARD (voice-over): And basically what you're seeing here is people who have been under heavy bombardment now for seven straight days, finally, managing to flee from this area of Irpin.

And if we pan over here, my cameraman Scott McWhinnie, can show you the bridge here that connects Irpin to central Kyiv has been destroyed. That was destroyed by Ukrainian forces to prevent Russian forces from moving on into central Kyiv.

WARD (on camera): But what you're seeing now is that people have to navigate and cross on foot, this destroyed bridge in order to get out safely. Now, since we've been here, we have heard nonstop heavy artillery coming from that direction. Also that direction.

You can imagine, John, how petrified these people are. Many of them have been pinned down for days on end. You can see them here. They've got their pets. They've got small carry-on bags.

We have seen a lot of people who are elderly, a lot of people who have difficulty walking. We're seeing a lot of people who are clearly visibly shaken, petrified, because they have been trapped in terrible bombardment for days on end, and are just now starting to get out.

And I've got to tell you, John, it just doesn't stop the steady stream of people that keep coming, trying to cross the bridge. You can see there's actually water flowing through it they have to walk across a sort of plank, when you could see the upturned car from when that bridge was originally downed.

But this, for the people of Irpin right now, John, is the only way to safety. And it is relative safety, of course, because even the city center is being encroached upon as the fighting gets closer and closer.

I don't know if my microphone is picking up on that artillery, but it is a steady stream of thuds that have been ongoing since we got here, John.

BERMAN: Constant shelling in the scene, Clarissa, I have to tell you, the imagery, it's hard to make sense of it looks like an Escher sketch, everything twisted there.

These people, where are they trying to go? And the people in uniform helping them, who are those people helping them?

WARD: So, the people helping them are primarily the Ukrainian military. And they're obviously wanting us to stay a little bit out of the way here because we don't want to obstruct in any way shape or form the passage -- the safe passage of people.

WARD (voice-over): It does look like they're bringing somebody or something out in some kind of a stretcher here. It may be a body, we're not entirely sure. We want to be mindful and respectful, and not show you anything that might be too graphic or too disturbing.

But listen, this is war, and this is -- this is the reality. It is always such a sort of truism. It's become a cliche, but it is so true of war that it is innocent people trying to live their normal lives who bear the brunt of it.

And I think as you see, these people trying to make their way through twisted metal, to escape to the relative safety of the city center.

And I should add, John, as you pointed out, nobody knows how long that relative safety will last. The fighting has been encroaching on all sides. We saw a village in the southwest of Kyiv, or southwest of Kyiv, was attacked yesterday.

That's potentially a very ominous sign, indeed, because it means that potentially they're getting closer to trying to encircle the city.

And you can see now all these soldiers trying to lift this person or this body. It is very difficult to tell. It looks like a person who can't walk, it's a sort of makeshift stretcher to try to get this person out to safety.


WARD: Just an extraordinary scene of bravery, of people in this community rallying together, trying to help this poor woman who is obviously having difficulty walking with whatever resources they possibly can, John.

BERMAN: Clarissa, if you can -- If you're safe, I would like you to stay with us a little longer. And I did just hear some thuds in the background. I can hear the artillery there.

And to our audience, I do want to say I do understand that these images are disturbing. But I think it's a disservice to try to sanitize the horror of war here. This is what is happening to the people of Ukraine now. They are suffering so badly. And I do think it is important to see that.

Clarissa, just from a military standpoint, we know there had been this idea of a humanitarian corridor in the south and Mariupol. We know that Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president is saying, well, he wants the elderly -- the children to get out of cities that may be targeted.

He's urging people who can to stay in fight. Is there a concern, as more people flee to safety, it only makes the cities even more of a target?

WARD (on camera): Well, of course, the more people you have flooding into the center of Kyiv, a lot of them, I should say, John are really heading straight to the train station.

We were at the train station in Kyiv a week ago, it was already crowded, some pretty hectic scenes as people were desperately trying to get on trains. Now, it is much more congestion, a lot more traffic.

For people who are fleeing battle zones like Irpin behind me. The train station trying to get further west is the next port of call.

But what's extraordinary, John, and I think you're seeing that borne out here by the number of people still flooding in after seven days of straight bombardment is that a lot of people are not leaving their homes yet.

A lot of people can't get their head around the idea of simply deserting their lives, their families, their homes, their pets, their houses, everything they've worked so hard for.

And so, it's extraordinary to see what a high threshold many Ukrainians have. It takes a lot before they're willing to leave their homes. These people have been under bombardment for seven straight days and are only just leaving their homes.

And they're leaving them reluctantly. And they're leaving them with the knowledge that they might not be able to go back to them. And you can see many of these people are elderly.

You see them, people are so exhausted. They can barely walk. They're having to climb this sort of twisted metal. Many of them, as you can see are elderly, they're visibly distressed.

It's just an awful, awful scene. And these people are the lucky ones.

I'm just going to help her carry this bag a second excuse me, John, while we try to --

So, people are obviously, incredibly affected by the situation. They're frightened, they're exhausted. They're on edge. They've got their pets. They've grabbed whatever they can.

And you're right, John, you know, you asked me before about them going to the city. A lot of these people have no idea where they're going to go once they cross this bridge.

They know that they're in relative safety once they do it. But they don't have any idea where they're going to go. They don't have any idea where they're going to sleep tonight. They don't have any idea when they can get all their belongings from back home.

We're still hearing the steady thud of artillery in the distance. And the fear is, John, it's just going to keep getting closer.

BERMAN: You see the faces of courage, the faces of suffering, the faces of war, Clarissa. And as we watch this, this exodus -- this steady flow of people in the rubble behind you, is there a sense -- do you have a sense that the Russians are getting closer? Is the circle closing in on Kyiv?


WARD: So, I would say this. There's no question from what we're seeing and hearing from U.S. officials and others that the push has not gone the way that the Russians had hoped.

They had really hoped to take control of this Gostomel airbase, to be able to fly transport planes in, link up with ground troops, and launch this major offensive on the city center.

Gostomel, that airbase, is still contested. There are still skirmishes back and forth every day. The Ukrainian authorities are now saying that the Russians are so pinned down that they've taken 40 civilian hostages, and are holding them in a basement to try to stop Ukrainian authorities from shelling and attacking them. So, there's no question that the Russians have been slowed down significantly. That said, they're still making progress. They're still pushing in along the edges. And as I mentioned before, this attack yesterday on a village five kilometers southwest of Kyiv, is not a great sign, because it would seem to portend that there is progress in terms of trying to encircle.

Now, I should say this was a sort of artillery. This wasn't ground forces attacking this village in the southwest, it was artillery. But that's how it usually starts. You try to soften the ground, take out as many targets as you can before you move your ground troops in.

And there is a realization, I think, as well for the Russians, that, that large convoy outside of Kyiv cannot sit there forever. At some point, they're going to have to try to push on in. And even beyond that, John, at some point, strategically, for the Russians to be able to achieve the objectives that they have set out for themselves, they have to take Kyiv.

And that is why you are hearing so many sort of foreboding warnings from officials, from military analysts, that the situation in the capital city is only going to get worse. And that what these people have been living through in Irpin for the last seven days could soon become the reality of people in the city center as well, John.

BERMAN: I want to bring in retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the former assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs. And General, as we digest that scene that Clarissa was describing up near Kyiv, we know that civilians are suffering all over Ukraine, including Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, where there were supposed to be this ceasefire, and a humanitarian corridor for a few hours to let people, some civilians get out.

But the Ukrainians are saying the Russians have broken that agreement. And they continue to shell, they continue to advance toward the city center. So, now, the Ukrainians are telling people to go back home. What does that tell you about Russian intentions, General?

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, STATE FOR POLITICAL-MILLITARY AFFAIRS: Well, earlier you said it looked like an Escher print. I actually think those pictures look more like Guernica the great Picasso print.

But what I'm seeing inside Mariupol right now, in that area is that the Russians are not moving forward. What they are doing is sitting back, and shelling the city, surrounding it, trying to cause as much suffering as possible.

They're not in a hurry to get into that city. They're in a hurry to create panic, but they don't want to put their troops in just now.

BERMAN: And the idea of this pause -- the idea that they ever were going to pause to let civilians out. Do you feel that was disingenuous?

KIMMITT: Oh, absolutely. There hasn't been a ceasefire that's held with Russian. There hasn't been a humanitarian corridor that they haven't closed off eventually.

BERMAN: How long do you think the Russians can keep up this slow push, as one official was telling Jim Sciutto the other day, the goal of this slow annihilation of cities like Mariupol and Kyiv?

You know, they inch ever closer. Can they do that indefinitely?

KIMMITT: Sure. As long as their food holds out, as long as their ammunition holds out, they can sit back and do this indefinitely. What they're trying to do is create panic inside the city. What they're trying to do is reduce the number of troops that the Ukrainians can put against them.

And candidly, they're trying to starve the city the way they did in Stalingrad. That's the quickest way to end this siege, and also the way that reduces the number of their own soldiers that they're going to have to get killed going into the city.

BERMAN: How do Ukrainians counter that?

KIMMITT: What the Ukrainians do is they attack the rear of the columns. They try to the greatest extent possible to become partisans at the back of that encirclement. And -- but, when the Russians put a siege around you when they encircle you, that's a pretty tough fight.


BERMAN: General, I think I first met you 15, 16 years ago in Iraq. You probably don't remember because I was a young punk reporter there, but obviously you were part of the coalition when the U.S. and others were interact.

And I do wonder, what lessons you learned -- I was speaking to the mayor of Kherson, the Ukrainian city that is now occupied by the Russians.

As the Russians occupy or try to occupy some of these cities. What are the troubles they'll face?

KIMMITT: Well, it's a good example of what happened in Iraq. That -- about that time, we were conducting operations in Fallujah. What we learned is what we've always known about urban combat. It is door to door, house to house, street to street. It is a slow, methodical process. The defender has the advantage by about a factor of 10 to one, and you better have good troops that are willing to keep pushing, keep pushing until the job is done.

BERMAN: Do you think the Russians have the resources to do that and as many cities as they try to be closing in on right, they appear to be trying to close in on?

KIMMITT: I think they do. This is the Russian way of war. This is straight out of the military academy playbooks for the Russians. That's why they have 40-mile convoys to bring in the logistics, to bring in the food and water, to conduct these types of operations.

BERMAN: Retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, thank you so much for being with us. Nice to see you again.

KIMMITT: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right. We have newly released footage from inside the control room at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The video shows an announcement bringing out on a P.A. system aimed at Russian forces that are firing at the facility. They're pleading with the Russians, stop shooting.

We have much more on this coming up.




BERMAN: Ukrainian authorities have released video from inside the control room at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, which has now effectively been taken over by Russian forces. Watch.



Stop shooting immediately! You threaten the security of the whole world! The vital system of the Zaporizhzhia station may be damaged.


BERMAN: Stop shooting, you threatened the whole world. Now, currently, there's no change in the radiation levels in the region that have been detected.

Joining me now is Kate Brown. She is the author of Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future, and a professor of Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professor, thanks so much for being with us. This is the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Now, essentially, we are told under Russian control. We're also told that the station managers are operating under gunpoint.

How long do you think they can do that? What are the risks of something like that?

KATE BROWN, PROFESSOR OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: Well, it's not very good, psychologically, to be working at gunpoint. We have the same situation in the Chernobyl zone too that was taken over February 24th.

And to my understanding, the same shift that was there when they took it over is still there on the job, keeping that station safe. So, we have a really precarious situation. You know, if you watch the shots the other night when the Russians first attacked, you notice that the big sort of fireworks were really to light up the place. They did not send missiles right at the plant or artillery. What they did is they sent these big, you know, players, basically, lit up the courtyard, and then started shooting.

And that's what you see from the control room. They're just horrified that they're getting shot at. But it wasn't the big heavy gun. And I think the Russians understand, as well as the Ukrainian the risk of having one of those nuclear power plants or the basins filled with 40 years, you know, at least 20 years of a radiated fuel. Really dirty stuff.

If those basins get drained of water, if they lose electricity going to them, the pumps going to them. Then, we can have the self-ignition of these fuel, and a big radioactive fallout cloud storms, noxious fumes. Everybody nearby would be in danger.

So, I think the Russians are trying to be careful. That's what I took away from that footage.

BERMAN: Yes, look, I just put up an image of the overall Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, several acres big. And everyone was focusing on the reactors there.

But I think you rightfully bring up the idea of these ponds, which have spent fuel rods. And yes, I know, the Russians may have been being careful or trying to be relatively careful. But still, you know, some kind of accidental fire that were to hit one of these ponds, storing the spent fuel rods, what would happen?

BROWN: Well, that's what keeps me up at night. You know, if you think of the Chernobyl accident, that plant had been running for just three years when it exploded. That's the good news.

These plants now in Zaporizhzhia are 20 to 30 years old, they were -- if it had like many power plants today in the world, they've had their licenses extended. And we don't, you know -- many of these countries like the United States, we don't know what to do with our radioactive waste. So, we put them in places that are zoned nuclear, which is right next to nuclear power plant.


BROWN: So, those that's stored -- nuclear fuel waste, the radiated fuel rods are searingly radioactive. You know, depending on how old they are, when they were last taken out of the reactor.

So, that's many times more radioactivity than when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant blew.

And that's why the Ukrainian foreign minister said the other night, if something were to happen at this plant, it'd be 10,000 times worse than Chernobyl.

BERMAN: Look, It's chilling to even think about it. Professor Kate Brown, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

BROWN: Yes. Bye-bye.

BERMAN: Ukrainian officials are accusing Russians of breaking a ceasefire agreement. And now, the Ukrainians postponing evacuations from some cities because they say the routes are not safe.

We're going to have much more what's going on, on the scene, next.