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New Day Sunday
Ukraine-Russia Talks To Resume Monday; Three Killed Including Children At Explosion Near Evacuation Crossing; Humanitarian Crisis Erupts As More Than 1.5 Million Refugees Flee Fighting; Ukrainian Leader Asks U.S. For Lethal Aid And No-Fly Zone; Blinken Meets With Moldovan Prime Minister As Refugees Flee Ukraine; Blinken: U.S. Looking At Option Of Poland Providing Jets To Ukraine; Putin Likens Sanctions To "Declaration Of War". Aired 6-7a ET
Aired March 06, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Buenos dias. Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kaitlan Collins in this morning for Christi Paul. Thank you for waking up and joining us on what is turning out to be a very busy Sunday morning, Boris, as we are following the latest from Ukraine.
SANCHEZ: Great to be with you, Kaitlan. Sadly we start with news that the Russian onslaught in Ukraine is continuing. And this morning we've learned that leaders from Ukraine and Russia are set to hold a third round of talks tomorrow. That's according to a Facebook post from a Ukrainian negotiator.
For now Russia's attacks have been relentless, amid allegations that the Kremlin is targeting civilians and committing war crimes. This is video from Ukrainian National Police that shows the aftermath of an air strike just about 50 miles from the capital of Kyiv.
COLLINS: And in the city of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, fighter jets were spotted overhead followed by a massive explosion and plumes of smoke. Ukrainian President Zelensky has reiterated his pleas for the United States and NATO to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, but the west has rejected those calls saying there's a concern it could turn into a broader war with Russian.
Now Zelensky is pleading for more fighter jets, and we are told by sources that the United States is in talks with Poland on the possibility of helping secure those. As the war is raging on, President Zelensky is encouraging Ukrainians to keep up the resistance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINE (through translator): Ukraine, which we know, love, protect, and will not give up to any enemy. When you don't have a firearm but they respond with gunshots and you don't run, this is the reason why occupation is temporary. Our people, Ukrainians, don't back down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Ukrainian and Russian officials say that humanitarian corridors in the city of Mariupol and Volnovakha were scheduled to reopen last hour to allow civilians to evacuate. But attempts to get civilians out yesterday screeched to a halt when Ukrainian officials say that Russian forces began shelling the area, violating the cease- fire.
COLLINS: And we learn this morning of shelling at an evacuation crossing point for civilians trying to escape the Irpin district near Kyiv. Media organizations at the scenes say at least three civilians have been killed including two children, though CNN has not been able to independently confirm those reports.
CNN is covering all angles of the Russian invasion of Ukraine from the growing refugee crisis underway to President Biden's latest call with President Zelensky. Russia's relentless attacks on civilians in Ukraine has led to allegations of war crimes. Though the United States has stopped short of saying that they believe that has happened yet, that Putin has committed those.
So I want to go to CNN's Alex Marquardt who is in Ukraine in a village that was shelled. Alex, we can see the devastation behind you and I just wonder what you've seen on the ground as people are there and trying to pick up the pieces of what was a normal life for them just days ago.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan, we're just about -- we're just southwest of the capital Kyiv. And throughout the morning we have heard some relentless shelling in the distance, just barrage after barrage. And here in this tiny little village of Markhalivka you really do get a sense of the horror that Ukrainians all across the country are facing as their cities, towns, and villages get bombed.
This -- this village was hit on Friday. Look at this. This is a car obviously that is now on its side, completely incinerated. The engine block is on the outside. It's right in front of a home that was destroyed. This license plate right here on the ground, it looks like it was thrown quite some distance.
The locals tell us that this strike happened on Friday afternoon just as kids were sitting down to do their homework. And just across the street here is the home of Igor (ph) who is 54 years old. We just met him. And he lost five of his family members. His wife and his mother- in-law and a wife's friend were in a car that was parked out front.
He also lost his daughter who was just 12 years old and was in a wheelchair. He and others from here have been picking through the wreckage for the last few hours looking for valuables. In just the past few moments he found another one of his cats. He's also been able to find, thankfully, his passport and wallet. But he said that he is feeling completely empty. You can see Igor (ph) right there on his phone in the gray beanie that obviously he's heartbroken and disoriented, not sure what he is going to do.
Now many people have left this village. Some of the -- hundreds of thousands who are fleeing their homes and trying to get out of the country, many are staying. Many are hoping that the army will, you know, win in the end and vanquish the Russians, but this is just a heartbreaking situation.
There is no military installation near here. There's absolutely no reason to be striking this village. And it just goes to show how indiscriminate the Russian shelling is. Igor (ph) and everyone we've spoken with really just wants one thing, they say, and that's peace. Boris.
SANCHEZ: Important to remember there are scenes like this playing out all over Ukraine and we can expect more of them as the Russians are expected to increase pressure on population centers in the coming days. Alex Marquardt, thank you for your reporting. Stay safe out there.
Russian's invasion of Ukraine is creating a humanitarian crisis. The United Nations says more than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine to escape the fighting. That's just in about 10 days.
CNN's Arwa Damon joins us now with the latest on this humanitarian crisis. She's at the border of Ukraine in Poland. Arwa, take us into what you're seeing and the conversations that you're hearing there.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so this is one of the reception centers. And we've been seeing them grow and expand and sort of take on their own rhythm to a certain degree. But if you look down there, inside this building, that's has now been converted into this massive space that just has cot after cot after cot. And this is where new arrivals who have not yet picked up their rides to go on to the next location can actually come and rest for as long as they need.
You have these makeshift medical stations. This one has been set up by Germans. And they are providing basic first aid, and they're getting requests from people for things like insulin. So, again, a lot of diabetes that's happening and people not able to get their medications and -- so they're coming to this point.
Inside now, we're actually not being allowed inside because understandably these are refugees who are absolutely exhausted and have right now not much of a desire to speak to the media. And so they wait outside. Those who are inside go inside and rest. And from here they're able to get their rides to go on elsewhere.
But as I was saying, there is a rhythm that starts to emerge in all of these situations. The way that people end up arriving here, the way that they're received, that they are being welcomed, that they are being moved on.
But one also really needs to remember that even for those who have managed to flee, there is such an emotional tornado that is taking place. And because of that, they carry with themselves an extraordinary amount of guilt, guilt at having left their homeland, guilt at having left their homes, guilt at having left everything behind even if it was just to keep themselves and their children safe.
COLLINS: Arwa Damon, it's remarkable to see what's happening on the ground. Thank you so much for showing us that this morning.
Ukrainian President Zelensky had an urgent message for the U.S. lawmakers that he met with on a video call yesterday making clear that Ukraine needs more assistance. President Biden also spoke with President Zelensky last night, at least the fifth time that they have spoken since Russia invaded.
SANCHEZ: Let's take you now to Wilmington, Delaware, where President Biden is spending the weekend and that is where our White House reporter Kevin Liptak has been reporting. Kevin, how is the White House responding to those calls from President Zelensky?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, it seems like he is getting a good reception so far. And just to set this up, these are Soviet air jets that Zelensky is asking for. They are sitting in countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and these are jets that the Ukrainian pilots are actually trained to fly.
So what Zelensky is saying essentially is if the U.S. and NATO aren't willing to enforce a no-fly zone, which at this point they are not, at least help Ukraine close the skies over its country itself. And so we did just hear in the last hour from the Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He said that the U.S. is looking actively at helping Poland facilitate these transfers of their Soviet air jets to Ukraine, and he said that the U.S. may be able to help backfill Poland on that. And what he means by that is essentially send American F-16s to Poland so Poland can send its Soviet air jets to Ukraine.
Now this is one of the major asks that Zelensky had on that sort of extraordinary Zoom call that he held yesterday morning with American lawmakers. He made this impassioned plea for the U.S. to do more. He asked for things like tougher economic sanctions, essentially to cut off Visa and Mastercard from operating in Russia. And in the hours after the call, Visa and Mastercard said that they were doing just that.
He also asked the United States to ban oil imports from Russia. That is under active consideration at the White House right now. But really, the centerpiece of his pleas to these lawmakers had to do with the airspace, had to do with these more weapons and more fighter jets to Ukraine.
Now, yesterday we did hear from one of the lawmakers on that call, Raja Krishnamoorthi. He talked to Wolf Blitzer last night. Listen to how he described what Zelensky was asking for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): I believe that the next step is doing what President Zelensky has asked, which is trying to support his desire for fighter planes. He wants Russian made fighter planes because that's what Ukrainian pilots are trained on. But the only countries that can supply those are countries such as Poland on his western border. I believe that we should try to support some of our NATO allies like Poland in providing those fighter planes and just facilitating the ability to fight the Russians in the air.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIPTAK: Now, one of the things that many lawmakers were struck by from this call was when Zelensky told them that it may be the last time they see him alive. So certainly, a stark message from the Ukrainian president to the American lawmakers this weekend, guys.
SANCHEZ: An urgent plea and a blunt assessment from President Zelensky. Kevin Liptak, in Wilmington, Delaware, thank you so much.
As Kevin just noted Secretary of State Antony Blinken is crossing Europe meeting with U.S. allies.
COLLINS: CNN's Natasha Bertrand joins us live from Brussels. Natasha, war, of course, is quite literally on Moldova's doorstep. They are on that western border of Ukraine. We know they formally applied to join the European Union last week after the invasion.
What did Blinken say this morning after meeting with the Moldovan officials about U.S. support on that front and just overall what he's been seeing since he's been meeting with these European allies?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Kaitlan. So this morning in meeting with the Moldovan president and giving a press conference with her, he was asked whether the United States would be willing to support Moldova against any potential Russian aggression. Obviously, they are feeling very vulnerable right now and very threatened by the actions that we've seen Russia take in Ukraine. And he reiterated that the United States is fully supportive of Moldova and would support them against any kind of Russian attack.
Now, this has been a message that he has sought to project over the last several days in Poland as well, essentially reassuring these eastern flank NATO allies that the United States is behind them. That the U.S. and NATO is behind them. Hence, why we have seen NATO forces increase their presence on those -- on that eastern flank.
But he's also sending a message of support for the humanitarian situation that we're seeing. Of course, more than a million refugees have already fled the violence in Ukraine, including about 700,000 in Poland alone, and thousands upon thousands in Moldova. Of course, Moldova is a very small country, so it's been very difficult for them to support the massive influx of refugees into that country.
And so he expressed support for the humanitarian situation, said that the United States would provide financial assistance. But importantly much of his trip has been focused as well on figuring out how and what kind of weapons the United States and NATO are going to be -- NATO members, I should say, are going to be sending into Ukraine. He did confirm during that press conference this morning that the U.S. and Poland are in discussions to provide fighter jets to Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're in very active conversation with Ukrainian officials, with the government, President Zelensky, Foreign Minister Kuleba, who I saw yesterday, and others to get an up-to-the-minute assessment of their needs. And as we get that assessment we're working on seeing what we can -- we and allies and partners can deliver.
We are looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland decide to produce those -- to supply those planes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERTRAND: So as Kevin had mentioned earlier -- as Kevin had mentioned earlier these planes are on the top of Zelensky's wish list, of course, as the Russian onslaught inside Ukraine becomes more and more violent targeting civilian centers and populations over the coming days. Kaitlan, Boris.
COLLINS: Big questions on the timeline of when that's going to happen. Obviously, Ukraine would like to see that happen sooner rather than later. Natasha, thank you so much for joining us.
SANCHEZ: Now for some analysis, we have the former charge d'affaires and deputy chief of mission in Ukraine, Jon Gunderson. He joins us to share his perspective on the crisis. He actually opened the first U.S. mission in Kyiv in 1992 and served in Ukraine and Estonia. He was also assigned to both Russia and the United Nations.
Jon, we appreciate your time this morning. I want to ask you about the question of providing Ukraine with these old Soviet jets. Is this a good idea? What's your cost-benefit analysis of that kind of move?
JON GUNDERSON, FORMER CHARGE D'AFFAIRES AND DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION UKRAINE: Thank you. Yes, of course, we should. I believe we should do everything we can economic, diplomatic, and military to support Ukraine. These jets, they know how to fly them. These are MiGs that are all Soviet air jets. And anything we can do -- send the signal to Putin that we're there for the long run. NATO is resolute, united, and I think this surprised Putin.
SANCHEZ: Jon, I want to specifically ask you about Vladimir Putin because you've watched him closely now for decades. You argue that most westerners have a hard time understanding and processing his decision-making because -- quote -- "he doesn't think like we do." Help us understanding. What does that mean?
GUNDERSON: Well, I think it's important to understand where he came from. You know, in 1989 when the Berlin wall fell and we were celebrating, he was in East Germany, a KGB operative, and he was literally destroying KGB files. A little later he called the fall of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.
Now, think of this. This is the 20th century. Tens of millions of people died in World War II, the holocaust happened, and he called the demise of the Soviet Union the greatest tragedy. He has never accepted the fact that Ukraine is an independent country. He calls Ukrainians little Russians. He wants to re-create the Russian empire, he wants to split NATO, and he wants to be the czar. And I think that's what we should remember.
SANCHEZ: In your view, Jon, given his recent comments about economic sanctions being a declaration of war, his repeated invoking of the fact that Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, to what level of escalation do you believe him capable? Do you think it's just bluster when he touts the nuclear arsenal?
GUNDERSON: It's a dangerous time and unfortunately Putin is increasingly isolated. You know, we see these scenes of him sitting in his gilded palace 50-feet away from him are his lackeys listening to him. It's a scene out of the "Godfather." So it's hard to predict what he's going to do.
We have to be very careful about it and very rational about it. But we shouldn't fear him and we shouldn't fear in the long run Russia. We need to be aware that we don't want to escalate obviously to a nuclear level. But we have to assume that in the long run, this country, which is largely a poor country. It does not have a long term economic future, especially if you have a totalitarian country like they have today.
So I think it's very important for NATO to be there in the long run, to support the Ukrainian people. And even if there are some military victories -- and you can conquer land but you can't conquer the will of the Ukrainian people.
SANCHEZ: Jon, we noted earlier that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been traveling Europe meeting with allies of the United States including this morning in Moldova. Give us your assessment for nations like Moldova who are now essentially face-to-face with war at their border. Do you think Putin is eyeing past Ukraine?
Should they be concerned about further incursions into Eastern Europe?
GUNDERSON: Well, of course, we never -- many didn't expect him to try to invade Ukraine. There were those apologists for Putin who said, well, the west is somewhat responsible. Well, no, the west is not responsible. It was the unprovoked act of one man sitting in the Kremlin.
Regarding the countries around Ukraine -- and there are four NATO countries that border Ukraine. We need to make it clear that we will defend them. Article 5 of the NATO creating document says we will defend everyone and Putin has to understand that. His military has to understand that. And there are still rational people in Russia.
I mean, this tragedy is, of course, affecting the Ukrainian people, but it is also affecting the Russian people. And they have suffered greatly, and they have great Russians. I've lived there. They're good people. Think of Navalny, this opposition leader, risking his life to go back to Russia to save his country. So it's in everyone's interest that we defend Ukraine, we defend Moldova, we defend all countries against Russian aggression.
SANCHEZ: The implication that you made saying there are still rational actors in Russia being that Vladimir Putin is not one. Jon Gunderson, thank you so much for the time this morning.
GUNDERSON: My pleasure.
COLLINS: And still to come this morning, explosions are rocking an evacuation checkpoint near Kyiv as Ukrainians are trying to escape the destruction. We'll show you the lengths that some people are going through to leave not knowing if or when they can return.
And could Israel be the key to bringing Ukrainian and Russian leaders together? We have more on the prime minister's surprise talks with Vladimir Putin and President Zelensky up next.
SANCHEZ: Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Russia's president Vladimir Putin in Moscow yesterday to discuss the war in Ukraine. The unannounced meeting took place with the blessing of the U.S. administration and it comes at a critical time as Russian forces are encircling major cities in Ukraine and they are facing a humanitarian crisis.
COLLINS: After meeting with Putin, Bennett later spoke with Ukraine's President Zelensky on the phone. They offered just a brief readout of how that conversation went. CNN's Hadas Gold is live from Jerusalem. And, Hadas, coming out of this meeting, the prime minister doesn't sound that optimistic about how things are going, saying that if things continue on this trajectory, he said -- quote -- "the human suffering is great and may be much greater." What else are you hearing from officials about how this three-hour conversation with Putin went?
HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan. This was a completely surprise unannounced trip to Moscow that Naftali Bennett took. As you noted it was taken with the blessing of the United States and the Israelis also say in coordination with France and Germany.
I also spoke with the Ukrainian ambassador to Israel who told me that the Ukrainians were also given a heads up ahead of this trip and they were supportive of the idea. He took off for Moscow Saturday morning, met with Putin in the Kremlin for three hours. Afterward he went directly to Berlin where he met with the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
We also know from the Israelis that Naftali Bennett has been in close contact with Ukrainian President Zelensky speaking to him three times in the last 24 hours. Also, I believe twice after that meeting with Putin.
Not many details are coming out on exactly what Putin and Bennett discussed in terms of concrete steps that could potentially bring some sort of cease-fire, some sort of calm to the people of Ukraine. But as you noted, in comments he made just in the last couple of hours or so Naftali Bennett didn't sound entirely optimistic. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Even if the chance is not great, as soon as there is even a small opening and we have access to all sides and to capability, I see this as our moral obligation to make every effort. As long as a candle is burning we must make an effort and perhaps it will yet be possible to act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: So even though -- even though this visit was a surprise, Israel has been trying to act as a mediator for some time. Naftali Bennett has been having a series of calls with both Zelensky and Putin over the past several weeks. And even though Bennett did not seem particularly optimistic after this most recent visit they said that they will continue to try to assist in any way they can. Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Hadas Gold, thank you.
SANCHEZ: We've been hearing from leaders in Ukraine saying that their cities are without basic necessities, food, water, electricity. Coming up, we're going to hear from one of the groups that's working to deliver those necessary supplies to people still stuck in Ukraine.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
COLLINS (on camera): As the refugee crisis in Ukraine grows, aid units are mobilizing to help thousands of people who have had their lives upended by the Russian invasion.
My next guest is forming a coalition of those aid groups to Ukraine. And the coalition has already launched operation Ukraine airlift which is helping shipping and donating medical supplies to Poland and transporting them to Ukrainian hospitals that so desperately need them.
Joining us is Nadya McConnell, the president of the U.S.-Ukraine foundation. And Nadia, thank you so much for getting up with us this morning. I understand your first shipment took off on Wednesday. What can you tell us on what you're sending and how it's getting there?
NADIA MCCONNELL, PRESIDENT, U.S.-UKRAINE FOUNDATION: Well, Kaitlan, first, thank you for the opportunity to talk about our efforts but also to take this opportunity to thank everybody that is volunteering and donating. I've been on the phone every day. I'm listening to individuals, organizations, and companies.
So, there's this outpouring of support for people of Ukraine. It's truly humbling I would say and gratifying. I guess i only wish that the governments would match that level of support.
We are -- there was -- our first effort was in partnership with Afya. They had various medical supplies that they had ready to go, so we got them airlifted. The other thing we're actually looking for -- because we have this coalition to organize ourselves on this side of the issue and then likewise we're doing the same thing in Ukraine to assure distribution and also trying to keeping up with the changing environment. But one of the bigger pieces is the transport.
And so we are actually calling for planes, private planes, cargo companies, to help us deliver this wonderful opportunity of supplies that are being donated. The medical supplies really are the gamut.
COLLINS: Has anyone -- you say you're reaching out to people who have private planes, companies with cargo planes, have you -- what's the reception been like so far?
MCCONNELL: We've -- we haven't yet nailed down any specific than that. I've talked to people and we're still building that. So, that -- in the meantime, we are using companies like NIST and Nova Poshtawho have been delivering supplies, things to Ukraine for many, many years. And that's what we used for this first shipment.
COLLINS: And with these reports of Russians -- Russian forces preventing humanitarian assistance from actually getting delivered, what's your concern here about the timing and the possibility of a time crunch of a window of when you can make this happen?
MCCONNELL: Well, thank you for bringing this up. Because one issue, of course, is the gathering of these much needed supplies, and the other is -- and transporting, and then I should be able to distribute them on the ground.
And that is why I know that people are talking -- and I know President Zelenskyy has asked for a no-fly zone. Well, we are hoping that at least there would be what we would call a humanitarian no-fly zone, so that we could deliver these things, because we're all getting reports already that people -- civilians are being hit as they're trying to want to evacuate or trying to go after some needed medical -- medicines for their children.
So this is very, very crucial to be able to secure the distribution on the ground. And we -- there's little hope that it's going to happen without some kind of real serious effort with a at least, like I say, a humanitarian no fly zone.
COLLINS: Yes, I think that's something that people can understand. But you're saying, you know, as you noted, these corridors for people to escape, they're still continuing the shelling there. And so, I know, Nadia, you've made this appeal, if you've got a private plane, if you're a company with cargo planes, they can help and you're making that appeal very clear.
If you're someone else, and you're watching this -- and people really want to know --- the outreach has been just astounding of how they can help. And so, what would you say to those people who are watching right now and themselves they also want to be able to help?
MCCONNELL: Well, if you go to our website, US-Ukraine.org, we have not only information about the work that we're doing, but we have also listed of vetted organizations, so people can decide, you know, where they would like to put their support.
If I might make a personal appeal, I've been trying to reach the Lord Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines because he's been engaged in humanitarian assistance for many, many years. And of course, that would be a wonderful way to solve part of this transportation problem.
COLLINS: Well, hopefully Sir Richard Branson is watching and heard your appeal right here. Nadia McConnell, thank you so much for what you're doing. And thank you for joining us this morning to shed some light on that.
MCCONNELL: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Still ahead, Ukrainian families forced to flee their homes. Up next, their emotional struggle essentially running for their lives. NEW DAY weekend is back after a quick break. Stay with us.
COLLINS: In an alarming new warning, the UN's Children's Fund tell CNN time is running out for Ukrainian children to escape. A spokesperson for UNICEF says humanitarian access is increasingly becoming a matter of life and death and that the situation is getting worse with every passing moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES ELDER, SPOKESPERSON, UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN'S FUND: Yes, absolutely. And it's already run out for those children who have been killed in these bombardments. You know, getting that humanitarian access in is fundamentally critical. But opening up those corridors so those people can leave -- the people you've seen, your viewers have seen, mothers and children fundamentally have to leave.
I mean, they do everything they can in a bunker, as you know, moms to keep a child safe. But I'm talking to moms who spent nights lying on top of the children, not just to keep them warm because I think that's an extra layer of protection. In this madness, they have to be given safe passage out of there. But of course for all those others who can't leave, the conflict has to stop, the missiles have to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: And in the day since Russia invaded, more than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have fled into neighboring countries in just 10 days. On the outskirts of Kyiv, residents of Irpin are crossing a damaged bridge to escape heavy bombardment.
SANCHEZ: Each one of them carrying what few belongings they can and the overwhelming weight of an uncertain future. CNN's Clarissa Ward brings us their stories.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): For seven days, the Kyiv suburb of Irpin has been pummeled by Russian strikes, and you can see it in the faces of those leaving. Exhaustion, fear, and gratitude to the soldiers helping them flee.
This bridge was downed by the Ukrainians to prevent Russian forces from getting into the city center. Now, it's yet another hurdle people must cross.
There has been a steady barrage of artillery since we got here just over an hour ago and a neverending stream of people just desperately trying to cross to safety.
Tatalia (PH) tells us she was injured just a couple of hours earlier. We trying to get some stuff out of our apartment, she says, and a shell or something hit and I got hit by shrapnel. Still in shock, she dismisses the pain and walks away unaided.
Others need more assistance. Soldiers carry a makeshift stretcher to ferry an elderly woman to safety. President Putin has said his army is not targeting civilians, but the exodus from Irpin tells a different story. Everyone steps in where they can, including us. And the elderly woman calls out for help, clearly confused by the chaotic situation. We take one of her bags.
So, people are obviously incredibly affected by the situation. They're frightened, they're exhausted, they're on edge.
They leave behind whatever they cannot carry with no sense of when they will return. A woman approaches completely overcome.
She said, I'm afraid.
For what, she cries, for what?
This is just one suburb in one city that has felt the wrath of rushes onslaught, artillery, missiles, and fighter jets.
The planes were flying and I just covered my ears, Olga tells us.
She's saying that now she doesn't even know where she's going to go next.
She has lived in Irpin for 45 years. It was so beautiful, and now it's destroyed, she says. What are they trying to achieve, to bring us to our knees? But against all odds, 10 days into this war Ukraine is still standing. A woman waits to be evacuated, trembling, resilient.
We will overcome everything, she says.
For the people of Irpin, the journey is just beginning. They're loaded onto buses to the train station. From there, they don't know where they will go. Clarissa Ward, CNN Irpin.
SANCHEZ: The tension between the U.S. and Russia getting an added layer of complexity following the arrest of basketball store Brittney Griner.
COLLINS: The two-time Olympic champion was detained at a Moscow airport after Russian customs officials claim they found cannabis oil in her luggage. Coy Wire joins us for more. Coy, what can you tell us about how this arrest happened? We can see on video, you can see Britney going through security there. You see them going through her belongings. And so, what is the latest on what we've heard about what's her situation?
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, Kaitlan, Boris, well, like so many WNBA players, Brittney Griner plays overseas during the offseason to supplement income. And Russia has one of the top foreign leagues in the world in terms of competition and compensation. Grinders, one of the biggest stars in the game, NCAA and WNBA champ, seven-time all-star with the Phoenix Mercury. She's played in the Russian league since 2015.
Now, the Mercury say they love and support Griner and "At this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home." Now, the WNBA, the players union, Team USA echoing those sentiments in their statements.
Now, just this morning, on a visit to Moldova, Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed Griner's arrest. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: With regard to the individual you mentioned, there's only so much I can say given privacy considerations at this point. Let me just say more generally, whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we of course stand ready to provide every possible assistance. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: We will continue to follow this story in the hours to come.
Now, some inspiration for you. The Legend of Team USA's Ukrainian born Oksana Masters continues to grow. The 32-year-old Summer and Winter Paralympic star just won silver this morning in sitting long distance cross country. And that adds to her gold yesterday in sitting sprint biathlon.
She now has 12 Paralympic medals, five of them are gold. Born in Ukraine, both legs damage and eventually amputated as a child due to radiation poisoning from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor incident. Oksana bounced around orphanages for seven years before she was adopted by Gay Masters and raised in Louisville, Kentucky.
Oksana admits that it was difficult to find her passion for these games because of the war but Kaitlan, Boris, her mom said that she's always told her that her Ukrainian heart makes her a fighter. She posted that she's proud to raise her two countries that make her whole, and it's the stars and stripes that keep her Ukrainian heart beating.
COLLINS: Coy Wire, thank you so much.
SANCHEZ: Thanks, Coy.
COLLINS: Still ahead, as we monitor the situation in Ukraine, we are also watching how the world is responding and how countries and private companies are taking aim at Putin and working to isolate him from the global economy.