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New Day Saturday
Russia Accused of Violating Short Ceasefire, Shelling Civilian Corridor; U.S. & NATO Believe Russia Ready To "Bombard Cities Into Submission"; New Video Inside Nuclear Plant Standoff: "Stop Shooting"; CNN At Site Of Destruction In Kyiv As Russians Close In; Ukraine Alleges "Welcome To Hell" Downing Of Russian Chopper. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired March 05, 2022 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Saturday, March 5th, and I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman. Welcome to a special edition of "New Day" where we are beginning with breaking news.
Ukrainian officials are telling people to stay in their homes in the area around Mariupol, they are accusing Russia of breaching a temporary ceasefire in two cities after agreeing to set up a humanitarian corridor so that Ukrainians could leave. The Ukrainian say the shelling and Russian troop movements are ongoing and 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 here in the coming days and weeks.
We also have some new video from inside Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant.
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KEILAR: So that is the plant in Zaporizhia now under Russian control, and you can hear that announcement there over the loudspeaker pleading with troops to stop firing on the plant. Authority say that radiation levels do appear to be normal despite that attack, but Russian forces are now closing in on Ukraine's second largest nuclear plant.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, pleading with NATO to establish a no-fly zone over his country. Something U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO's chief are not willing to do. They say it would trigger a full-fledged war in Europe.
Now, despite Russia's onslaught Ukrainian people, they're not breaking. This is brand new video just into "New Day," citizens of the town of Kherson taking to the streets. This is a city now that is essentially fallen to a Russian control. People in Kherson, chanting, marching, what they're saying is, Kherson is Ukraine and quote, Putin is in F word.
We'll go first to CNN's Scott McLean. He is live in Lviv in the western part of the country this morning.
Scott, I appreciate you being with us. I want to start with the situation in Mariupol over here on the Sea of Azov right there where there was supposed to be a ceasefire, a humanitarian corridor so people could get out. But now the Ukrainians are saying the Russians have violated that deal. What can you tell us?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, yes, we're getting new information on why exactly that deal, that humanitarian corridor has been put on pause for the moment. The mayor of Mariupol says that all of the cars and the vehicles in the convoy that were going to leave the city had begun to gather. But then they got word that there was shelling, there was fighting along the corridor where they had agreed to allow this convoy of evacuees to pass. It was between Mariupol and the city that they were headed Zaporizhia not to be confused with the nuclear power plant that is currently under control. So about midway between those there was fighting.
We also have new information on the situation in Volnovakha, this is a place where Ukrainian officials expected about 20,000 people to want to get out. Remember, John, there was only about a seven-hour window for these evacuees to get out and for all of these supplies, materials, food water to get in. The agreement only lasted about two hours and 45 minutes. Before it all broke down because of shelling in the city. This is all according to Ukrainian officials.
Remember that earlier as well, one Ukrainian minister in particular said that the word that they were getting from, from troops on the ground was that Russians were moving their positions forward in violation of that agreement. We're trying to get clarification on whether they're still moving or whether that was in fact still the case, because she said that she was trying to verify that that was in fact, the case on the ground.
This is all very complicated, John, because you have these two literally warring parties trying to coordinate something together in unison. And so, they're working through the Red Cross on the ground to try to coordinate this, but it is all of course very delicate. One of the negotiators who helped broker this agreement was asked yesterday very forcefully by Ukrainian journalists how on earth he could possibly trust the Russians given what they're doing in this country and he said, look I can't pretend to be able to trust them, but we have to try to get these people out just simply because of how dire the situation is.
You know, Mariupol for example, medicine, some frontier doctors without borders, says that there is no power, no heat, no water, no cell phone connection either. Grocery stores had been bombed out and what's left had been looted. There are long lineups for water as well. This is just one city, remember, John. There are many others that are getting bombarded right now by Russian bombs, Russian artillery, you name it. And they would also very much like to have these humanitarian corridors. But if it is not working with these two, it is not looking good for these many other cities that surely need these corridors. John.
BERMAN: No, not promising, especially for the people desperate to get out. Scott McLean. Please keep us posted. Thank you.
KEILAR: And joining us now from Kyiv is Alexander Khrebet, a Ukrainian journalist for ZN.UA. Alex, thank you so much for being with us.
Can you just respond a little bit to this news that we're getting word of which is these humanitarian corridors were supposed to be put in place to get people to safe -- safety. And now Ukrainian officials are saying, hey, don't use these because Russians are firing on Ukrainians.
ALEXANDER KHREBET, UKRAINIAN JOURNALIST, ZN.UA: Hi, thank you for having me. Yes, Ukrainian officials seem to stay to stay at home for those people who are living in Mariupol and in Volnovakha trying to evacuate from those cities and towns who are shelling from the up all of the sides. I don't want to blame anybody but this state classical, Russian static, they were shelling the civilian corridors in Syria, and also, they were shelling this civilians and the military corps corridors in 2014 in (INAUDIBLE) Donbas, the big battle after which was the Minsk Agreement II was signed. A lot of Ukrainian military died that time.
I was trying to reach Mariupol to talk to those people on the ground. It's almost no connection over there and all of them are saying it's a disaster over there that just but the connection is really, really poor over there.
KEILAR: You can't contact them as we understand right now. Most areas there without heat, without electricity, I mean, the situation is very dire in that area. I also want to ask you we've learned Ukraine says that it shut down another Russian plane in the city of Chernihiv. What does that indicate to you?
KHREBET: So it still -- it is confirmed by the general stuff of Ukraine and they are counting those helicopters and their fighter jets the shooting down, the Ukrainian military shooting down. We got the stinger this missile so we can Ukrainian army can like successfully shooting down those planes. But still, the numbers should be to be confirmed because general staff says it's around 40 planes and 40 (INAUDIBLE), 40 helicopters shoot it down, but still needed to be counted and confirmed on the ground.
KEILAR: All right, Alex, thank you so much. Please stay safe there in Kyiv and be in touch with us. We do appreciate you joining us this morning.
And let's talk about this more with CNN military analyst and head of Geopolitical Strategy at Academy Securities, retired Major General James "Spider" Marks is with us.
OK, General, I think we need to get a sense of what we should be prepared to see here. Because right now, U.S. officials, NATO officials are saying it looks like the Russian plan is to really just bombard cities. I mean, to blow them to hell is really what it seems like. What is this going to look like?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, unfortunately, this is going to only get worse as it has been described by some of the global leaders who are empowered to try to make sense of this or at least to try to arrest what we see going on. I think what's most troubling is obviously in Kyiv, that city right now with the supply line that's in place that is now ready to offload its ammunition, its fuel, its food is in a position to begin the assault really begin to what I would say the real block to block city, I mean, I'm sorry, block to block on a street-by-street fight that's going to take place in Kyiv. Also, we have forces coming in from this direction.
So, this truly is a city that's going to be surrounded and under siege. Obviously, bear in mind that you have a river that separates the city of Kyiv, which gives the Ukrainian some advantage makes it that much more difficult for the Russian forces to begin their assault. But if you were to think of images of Aleppo, this is probably what we're going to see in cities like this.
Also, Kharkiv understand that this might be the center of gravity for the Russian forces and it is upon which all success hinges. What's important about this is that this is the second largest city in Ukraine, but more importantly, it's a road and railroad network and so supplies coming in over the course of a long haul. Bear in mind, Putin has no, no incentive right now to stop this assault. So you can anticipate a long term engagement and occupation, the growth of an insurgency, and in order for him to support that, he's got to hold the city of Kharkiv, because supplies will come in here, he can either break in this direction, or he can break in this direction.
KEILAR: We --
MARKS: That's why that becomes very important. And clearly down here, he wants to make sure that he can control the entire coastline, from Odessa, up to Mariupol and then further. So he creates this land bridge right now into Russia. That's his objective. And it's going to get very, very ugly.
KEILAR: Yes, we look there's a lot of Russian troops, it's not still big enough to be an occupying force. If the Russian military gets into these cities, how tough is it for them to hold the cities?
MARKS: Yes, control is one thing trying to convince the population is another. What we see is this incredible strategic miscalculation on the part of Putin where he thought this would be a very facilitated very quick decapitation, the Ukrainians would say I'm done. Yes, we're willing to negotiate. None of that has occurred. The fighting in cities, our experience with urban combat, is that it just sucks up manpower, you drop troops into an urban terrain. Maneuver is difficult. Supporting fire is difficult. Rubble is everywhere. And the defender has a tremendous advantage, just not those in uniform that are trying to defend, but the local population, and we've seen the demonstration of the patriotism and the legitimate support, it's more than just will, its will with a capacity to make a difference. It will make this incredibly hard for the Russians to achieve success.
So they might be able to go through the political ramifications of planting a new flag, putting in a puppet leader trying to establish a new government. But that is going to be resisted every step along the way. And the fighting in the city in the cities will continue quite aggressively, because the Ukrainians have demonstrated that they are not going to give this up with any amount of ease.
KEILAR: Yes, and that is what it appears to be ahead for Ukraine. General Marks, thank you so much for walking us through that.
MARKS: You bet.
KEILAR: We are getting word that the Russians are now closing in on Ukraine's second largest nuclear plant after capturing the largest nuclear plant and forcing crews there to work at gunpoint.
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BERMAN: We have new video from inside a nuclear power plant as it was under fire from the Russians. We told you about the fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that broke out after this Russian attack. This is now a look inside the plant as though shots were being fired. Employees using a public address system to try to stop the Russian troops watch.
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BERMAN: You're endangering the security of the entire world, they said. That was at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant right here. There was word this morning that the Russians are moving ever closer to the second largest nuclear plant in Ukraine just 20 miles away from that at this point.
Joining us that was Ernest Moniz, Energy Secretary under President Obama and co-chair and Chief Executive Officer at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. He's also a physicist. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for being with us this morning. I guess the good news is we are continuously told here, regularly told that there's not an elevated level of radiation coming from this. No serious damage to the reactors. That's the good news. But the good news might stop there. I mean, still the threat to these plants it is immense. What do you see?
ERNEST MONIZ, ENERGY SECRETSRY UNDER PRES. OBAMA: Yes, I think you're absolutely right. There's no evidence of reactor core damage up to the moment. But the issue is there are so many collateral systems, if you like, that are much more exposed, for example, backup power generation would be absolutely essential if the grid electricity were cut off. You have the fuel supply for that. So these systems are much less hardened. And in the chaos, and the fog of war, as troops are coming in. Those are the systems that are particularly vulnerable.
But of course, there's always the option as well, the possibility of a stray, you know, artillery shell or something coming into the spent fuel pool. These could be real, real catastrophes.
BERMAN: What about the human toll? I mean, these are human beings that run these plants. And we were told that when the Russians took over Chernobyl, that the Ukrainians running were working under duress, we were told literally yesterday, that the station managers at Zaporizhzhia were working at gunpoint. Is that a safe situation and the nuclear plants?
MONIZ: Well, of course not. I mean, the obviously the operators are absolutely central to the operation of the plant. And if particularly, if the operators are under that kind of difficulty, shall we say, while one of these other systems that I mentioned like backup power goes out, or something trips with regard to the reactor, those people have to perform. And this is not the -- these are not the conditions, obviously, in which one would expect, you know, top of the line performance.
BERMAN: You can't just leave it be, right? If the Ukrainians don't show up to work at these plants, what happens?
MONIZ: Well, the reactors really need to be shut down as much as possible. That of course then turns off a lot of electricity in Ukraine. I think it's something like 50% of their electricity comes from nuclear power plants. So there are all kinds of interacting difficulties here and certainly maintaining power to the nuclear power plant itself is absolutely essential. You have to keep cooling the core, you have to keep cooling the ponds where the where the spent fuel is stored.
And as I said, you have to keep the backup systems operating the fuel, there's a lot of fuel there to keep the backup systems going. If a stray, again shell hits that you'd have a catastrophe.
BERMAN: You know, in your professional life, even in the Secretary, you dealt a lot with the Russians. How much do you trust Vladimir Putin at this point to respect the safety and integrity of these plants?
MONIZ: Well, I don't think anyone sensibly could say that we're going to undermine a nuclear power plant and causing major accident. But what I'm hearing, but what I'm concerned about is that, again, it's the fog of war. You have military units out there, we have no idea how reliable their communications channels are. We have no idea what they know about a nuclear power plant, and what to avoid. So it's really the -- it's this idea of an accident, a miscalculation could happen at any time, and have catastrophic consequences.
BERMAN: You know, just one last question. It was a couple nights ago, this was all going down. And we saw the pictures of this plant on fire. I'm just curious what was going through your mind as you were watching this?
MONIZ: Well, it was harrowing. We were terrified, again, that particularly through a miscalculation, a stray shell, hitting a critical system, that we could have had a substantial radioactive release. I do want to emphasize one thing, though, that, of course, this is the country where Chernobyl occurred. I just do want to say that the Chernobyl reactors were of a very old and not very safe design, from the Soviet times. These reactors, all the other reactors now operating in Ukraine, or at least have a more modern design with bet with better safety systems. So that is at least some comfort, but not sufficient comfort, to make us stop worrying about a terrible accident.
BERMAN: Yes, indeed, not sufficient comfort at all. Secretary Ernest Moniz, thank you so much for being with us.
BERMAN: All right, CNN is on the ground outside Kyiv were scores of Ukrainians trying to escape after being trapped for days by Russian artillery. Clarissa Ward joins us from the scene, next.
BERMAN: Russian forces intensifying their push toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Ukraine's defense chief says the Russians are bombing critical infrastructure. A short time ago we spoke to CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward in a town just north of Kyiv where civilians are trying to escape days of bombardment.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): All right, so John, we're here on the northern western outskirts of Kiv at the entrance to a place called Irpin. 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 McWhinney (ph) 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. 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 carryon 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 have to tell you, John, it just doesn't stop, the steady stream of people. They 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 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. 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 the reality. It is always such a, 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's 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. 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 thoughts 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 horrors 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 in 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 and fight. Is there a concern as more people flee to safety? It only makes the cities even more of a target.
WARD: 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.
(Speaking Foreign Language)
WARD: You can 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.
(Speaking Foreign Language)
I'm just going to help her carry this bag a second, excuse me, John. Well, we try to -- (Speaking Foreign Language).
So people are obviously incredibly affected by this 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: These are the faces of courage, the faces of suffering, the faces of war, Clarissa. And as we watch 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 Hostomel airbase to be able to fly transport planes in, link up with ground troops and launch this major offensive on the city center. Hostomel, that airbase, is still contested. There are still skirmishes back and forth everyday.
The Ukrainian authorities are now saying that the Russians are so pin 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 5 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: All right, we do have some breaking news. Just in, new video for Ukraine claims to be the shoot down of a Russian helicopter, posting the video with a caption, "Welcome to hell." Standby.
BERMAN: Well, we do have breaking news. Brand new video from the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Watch this. That's something, you can see that right there that shows what appears to be a Russian helicopter being shot down. Now the Ukrainian Defense Ministry just posted this video on their official Twitter account.
This area just north of Kyiv includes a base where the Russians had been running helicopter operations and which has also been under attack by Ukrainian forces for at least a day. We should say we haven't been able to independently verify when this happened or any more details about this.
BERMAN: Ukraine says Russia is shelling in the same region where they'd agreed to a temporary ceasefire. You know what? Forget that. Let me talk about this helicopter video right now. Because Steve Hall is with me. Steve, what do you see there?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, this is something that's going to ring very true to Vladimir Putin. He's going to remember Afghanistan, because this is precisely what happened to Soviet forces when they were there. You had small groups of guys on the ground with Stinger missiles in that case, and this may have been a Stinger missile, or something very much like it.
Shooting down in this case, it looks like it might be a Hind helicopter, unclear exactly from this video. But again, this is stuff that happened all the time in Afghanistan. And it's something the sort of guerrilla-type of tactics when you're facing a much larger force, like the Ukrainians are, this is something that they're going to be able to continue to do, as long as they are armed properly with Stinger types of weapons.
BERMAN: And that is something that the United States and NATO and European nations do continue to arm them with. So this is what the Russians face for the long haul.
HALL: Yes, this is no longer -- you know, we're no longer in the days of these conventional warfare where you have, you know, two big armies sort of, you know, look at each other across fields and then sync tanks against each other. This is much more insurgency guerrilla-type warfare. And I think what's going to happen is, although I think it's likely that the Russians are going to eventually end up controlling most of the major Ukrainian cities, outside of those cities, this is what's going to be happening and it's going to happen over a long period of time.
BERMAN: Look, you can see why the Ukrainians wanted to get this out. It certainly boosts morale when you see them taking on Russian equipment like this. Steve Hall, thank you very much for being with us.
So more on the other unfolding situation as Russia is accused of violating a temporary ceasefire to allow civilians to leave to cities. We're getting word of dire situations on the ground there, standby.
KEILAR: Just in, Doctors Without Borders is reporting a dire situation that is unfolding in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol where Russian forces are surrounding the area after power and water was shut off.
Joining us now from Kyiv is Anders Ostlund, he's a contributor to the Center for European Policy Analysis. I do want to ask you just about this humanitarian crisis that is unfolding there, Andres. But first, as I understand it, there have been some sirens going off, is that right? What's happening in Kyiv?
ANDERS OSTLUND, CONTRIBUTOR, THE CENTER FOR EUROPEAN POLICY ANALYSIS: Well, yes, before I went in, the sirens went off here. I think it's another missile attack, probably.
KEILAR: And is that usual this time of day?
OSTLUND: No, typically, they have been firing them off, starting in the morning for a few hours, and then starting at 9:00 in the evening, or 8:00, 9:00 in the evening, and then during the night, randomly. And so, typically, in the middle of the day, we have it's almost 4:00 in the afternoon here. It's been typically quiet.
KEILAR: Are you worried? Are you expecting that there is going to be more of this happening at times where previously it wasn't?
OSTLUND: Well, I'm not afraid, I such. I quote the famous man and saying there's nothing to fear but fear itself. And the best we can do now is to stay calm. And a lot of people talk about this huge encirclement of Kyiv and that there will be more artillery barrages, et cetera, et cetera. I do believe that might be the case.
I do not believe, however, that Russia will win the battle of Kyiv. I don't think so. They are underperforming on all levels now.
KEILAR: You know what, Anders --
OSTLUND: Ukraine is a huge -- it's a huge city.
KEILAR: It is a huge city. Anders, look, we want you to stay safe. We're going to make sure that you are staying safe there and we'll be checking in with you here in the coming days. Really appreciate you being with us. Thank you.
OSTLUND: Thank you very much.
KEILAR: So some new video just in to CNN of what Ukraine claims to be the shoot down of a Russian helicopter, posting the video with the caption, "Welcome to hell."
KEILAR: This morning, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken in Poland, where more than half of the refugees fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, have migrated to. Now, right now, the U.N. reports over 1.3 million people have left Ukraine to neighboring countries, including Romania and Moldova. And they warn that number could potentially rise to 1.5 million by the end of this weekend.
CNN's Ivan Watson is live for us in Moldova with more. This is the great exodus from Ukraine that you're witnessing, Ivan.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are the world's newest refugees, Brianna. And I've traveled across four countries that border Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and now Moldova. And I see these Ukrainian on the run everywhere there and I can spot them usually because most of the time, the refugee will be a woman pulling a single rolling suitcase and then usually pulling at least one child because almost all of the people coming across the border are women. The men of fighting age. They have to stay behind to help defend their country.
And you see these people in the guest houses, in cafes, in train stations and in airports trying to make their way out further into Europe. Here in Moldova, there is an additional complicating factor and that is that this is a small former Soviet republic, one of the poorest countries in Europe, with a population of about 2.5 million people. And many people here are spooked by the war next door and are joining the flow of Ukrainians moving west, leaving their own homes because they're afraid of what might happen to them.
On the first day of the invasion, the Moldovan government actually closed down its airspace to protect commercial planes from the risk of being caught up in the war. One final observation, Brianna, all of the people I talk to, I'm usually speaking Russian to these Ukrainians. Vladimir Putin has justified his invasion, alleging that Ukrainians were committing genocide against Russian speakers in Ukraine. Instead, I'm talking to Russian speaking Ukrainians who are fleeing their home, leaving their husbands, fathers and sons behind, don't know where they will go next. Brianna?
KEILAR: Yes. It appears he is the one attacking Russian speakers. Ivan Watson, thank you so much live for us from Moldova.
And CNN's coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues right now.