Return to Transcripts main page

New Day Sunday

Ukraine: Russian Airstrikes Hit Military Base Near Lviv; Ukraine: Nine Killed, 57 Hurt In Airstrikes On Military Base Near Lviv; Zelenskyy: More Than 12,000 People Evacuated Saturday; Russia Intensifies Assault Near Kyiv; Scholz, Macron Urge Immediate Ceasefire In Call With Putin; Biden Directs Another $200 Million, Including Weapons, In Aid To Ukraine; China Doubles Down On Russian Disinformation About Ukraine; Romanian Family Hosts 31 Ukrainian Refugees Under One Roof; AAA: National Average Gas Price Climbs To $4.32 A Gallon; Small Business Owners Feel Pinch Of Surging Gas Prices. Aired 6-7a

Aired March 13, 2022 - 06:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. We're grateful to have you this Sunday, March 13th. I'm Boris Sanchez.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Jessica Dean in today for Christi Paul. We're so glad to have you with us this morning.

Explosions echo through the air on the outskirts of Lviv, Ukraine, as Russian forces carryout a relentless attack on the country. CNN crews there report hearing multiple explosions overnight.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Russian troops bombed an air base near Lviv as they inch closer to the capital of city of Kyiv. We're getting word from a regional government in the area that nine people were killed and more than 50 were wounded in the attack.

The Russian defense ministry released this video saying that it shows Russian paratroopers taking control of an airfield in Ukraine. It's unclear when or where this video was shot. CNN is still working to confirm if it accurately reflects the situation on the ground but this is what the Kremlin is putting out there.

DEAN: Meantime, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says humanitarian corridor set up to evacuate civilians are working this morning. He says more than 12,000 people were evacuated yesterday but the attacks do continue. According to the Ukrainian defense ministry, seven civilians including women and a child were killed by Russian troops as they tried to escape their village.

SANCHEZ: In a sobering assessment, President Zelenskyy says that some towns simply no longer exist. Images from the village of Makariv about 30 miles west of Kyiv shows significant damage to apartment buildings, a school and a medical building as well.

DEAN: And let's start this morning with what it looks like in Ukraine. Salma Abdelaziz is outside Lviv this morning with the latest on the overnight shelling there.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: We're just on the outskirts here, the perimeter of this base. Normally this road I'm on would be a public access road but there's already been a checkpoint set up down the way. You can, of course, sense that there is a bit of tension here, a bit of security concerns. Several missiles, air strikes, Ukrainian authorities say, landing in that base.

We do know that there are more than 50 people wounded, several people killed, according to Ukrainians authorities. We're still trying to determine whether there was any infrastructure damage on that base

But let me give you the back story of why this is so important. This is a sprawling complex. You can see it's a hugely wooded area and it's in these area that military exercises, training, education, troops, come to learn and practice. Not just on their own, but with a lot of their western allies, including, of course, American troops.

There was joint military exercises held on this base just a few months ago. Joint exercises between the Americans and Ukrainians. This is a vital point for the Ukrainian military.

So this is a strike, really, at the heart of an operating base that would be crucial. These are parts of the country that were largely spared. This -- the west of the country is where refugees were fleeing to because that was considered the safe haven. But over the last several days we have seen repeated attacks, according to Ukrainian authorities, on western sites.

These are attacks that land very close to the Polish border, 70 miles from the Polish border. Among them, of course, this base just behind me here. Another airport was also attacked. Yes, this is military infrastructure according to Russian troops. But also you have to remember there is many villages are around here.

Families woke up to the sounds of air raid sirens, communications on their phones telling them to go into bomb shelters. So this really begins to expand this offensive across the country, really, as President Zelenskyy said. There seems to be a front line everywhere in Ukraine.


SANCHEZ: Salma Abdelaziz, thank you for filing that report.

Diplomatic efforts to end the Russian onslaught in Ukraine are still ongoing even as Russians troops intensify their attacks. Among the latest efforts a phone call between Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Let's go to CNN's Melissa Bell now. She joins us live from Paris. Melissa, what was in the readout of that phone call between these three leaders? MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not much hope coming from the French presidential palace after that phone call that lasted for a fair amount of time but that yielded at least an idea of the state of mind of Vladimir Putin.


Determined is what one source inside the Elysee said afterwards. Determined to achieve his objectives in Ukraine which of course does not bode well. Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, and Emmanuel Macron, the French president, pushed Vladimir Putin again for a ceasefire -- a ceasefire that the source says is, of course, necessary before any discussions can continue, can begin, really, in terms of what political settlement might be found.

Now, parallel we've been hearing about the direct negotiations that are taking place between Russia and Ukraine by video link for the time being. And what we've been hearing from an adviser to President Zelenskyy is there may be a fourth round of negotiations next week, the week we're going into, between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations.

And we had heard over the course of the weekend, Boris, some signs of hope from President Zelenskyy himself saying, look, those conversations that are going on between the two sides do seem to have seized being just about the trading of ultimatums and have began to be about the contours of a ceasefire and a political settlement that might then be discussed. And that appears to be making some headway. But, of course, in the end here, Boris, what counts is what's happening in the mind of Vladimir Putin, how determined he is to go to the end of his aim to bring Ukraine under Russian control.

And from that phone call with the two western leaders, the last two really to have any contact with him, Scholz and Macron, yesterday there's really very little in the way of hope in terms of how much the sanctions that have been already announced and enforced, how much that pressure has led to any change of mind. For the time being that doesn't seem to be the case.

And so what you're going to see this week as Europeans looking again at fresh sanctions that they might impose and the United States also looking -- we know there's that bill in Congress about the potential to introduce secondary sanctions that would make it difficult for any American company to either transact with Russia. Those gold reserves it has were, indeed, to help Russia move them. Some $130 billion worth of gold being held by Russia's central bank. That could be the next target of American sanctions.

All of those western partners looking, Boris, at how they can continue to ratchet up the pressure until Vladimir Putin shows some sign that he's willing to think again. The French president he says, there will be more phone calls. They just haven't set a time or a date for when, Boris and Jessica.

SANCHEZ: We will keep watching and see when they happen. Melissa Bell from Paris, thank you. DEAN: President Biden is now directing another $200 million in military assistance to Ukraine. CNN's Jasmine Wright is at the White House this morning. Jasmine, what's included in the aid?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Jessica, look the president has continuously promise that he would support Ukraine sending military aid, humanitarian assistance as they face Russia's aggression really in these heightened times. And so this release from basically a State Department stockpile of $200 million, as you said, is really another example of that. And, of course, that comes as Ukrainians continually ask -- say that they need more and more equipment.

So an official says that basically included in this new release is anti-armor, anti-aircraft systems and small arms in support of Ukraine's front line defenders. And they say this is going to be immediate military assistance to Ukraine. And now this is just the second release in a couple of months. We know that just earlier this year they released about $350 million from that same stockpile what officials told reporters at the time was the largest presidential drawdown in history. Again, that went to Ukraine.

As one official told me that that last one plus this new one of $200 million, Jessica, brings the total to about $1.2 billion of the stockpile released from the State Department to Ukraine in just the past year. And, Jessica and Boris, we know that, of course, this release on Saturday came after a Friday phone call with Ukraine's President Zelenskyy and President Biden. Something that lasted nearly an hour, officials told us yesterday. And that they went over a bevy of different topics including the battleground assessment and Ukraine's Zelenskyy offered it to President Biden he said later on in some tweets.

And so, of course, as Zelenskyy really tries to pressure the U.S. to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine, something that U.S. officials have say this is not tenable because it would essentially create another world war when it comes to enforcement. No doubt U.S. officials are looking at this latest release as something that is going to aid Ukraine in the face of Russia's aggressions as it tries to fight for its sovereignty. Boris.

SANCHEZ: Jasmine Wright reporting from the White House, thank you so much.

Let's dig deeper now with CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin. Josh, appreciate you getting up bright and early for us. Let's start with the talks over the last 24 hours between Vladimir Putin, Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz. No new ceasefire agreement there. Meantime, Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel.


Clearly so far diplomacy hasn't worked. So what do you make of this continuing effort to hold talks? JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Boris, every war ends in diplomacy and there's no reason not to continue to diplomacy while the fighting continues. I've talked to -- Israeli officials very upset that this was portrayed as a failed effort by the Israeli government to pressure Zelenskyy into making concessions to Russia. What they told me is that, no. In fact, what they're trying to do find the common ground and they point out the fact that actually there has been some movement on both sides. The Russians seem to be moving off of their maximalist demands that the Zelenskyy government totally disappear. And Zelenskyy has publicly said that he no longer is focusing on joining NATO because NATO doesn't want them right now anyway.

So there is some movement but they are a very, very long way away from anything that could be called progress towards a ceasefire. So for now the fighting will definitely continue.

SANCHEZ: I want to ask you about a piece that you published in the "Washington Post" this week. You essentially called Chinese President Xi Jinping a co-conspirator of Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

ROGIN: Directly called him that.

SANCHEZ: Make the case. Why?

ROGIN: Yes. There's a lot of crazy talk in Washington about how China might be very helpful in solving the Ukraine crisis, about they might be very conflicted about this whole thing. Well, I'm sure there are some Chinese officials telling some reporters that they're not too happy with Putin's moves here for a number of reasons. What I argue in the "Washington Post," I think, very convincingly but you'd be the judge is that actually if you look what the Chinese government is telling its own people and what their actions are it's very clear that they're on Russia's side, but they have been and they will continue to be.

This is their internal propaganda. These are -- their moves in embedding troops -- media and media with the Russian troops. This is -- even when the Russian government accused the U.S. of having bioweapons labs. Accusation the State Department called preposterous. The Chinese government just jumped in on that and echoed it.

So it's pretty clear that Xi Jinping has cast his lot with his good friend Putin. They met at the Olympics. They signed a 5,000-word statement of never ending and enduring friendship. And then the day after the Olympics Putin started the invasion.

So I think the timeline speaks for itself. I think the west just has to realize that these dictators are going to stick together because that's what dictators do. And these crazy notions about, you know, flipping China against Putin are just a fantasy. Fantasies that the Chinese government fuels in order to deceive us not inform us.

SANCHEZ: And in many ways the ability of the Chinese government to offer the Kremlin some relief from sanctions, some relief from a worldwide condemnation of what Vladimir Putin is doing gives him an out. Now some lawmakers are pushing legislation that would punish the Chinese for steps that would alleviate the sting of those western sanctions. Is there a way that that could backfire, though, on the United States?

ROGIN: Well, all sanctions have costs. There's always second and third-degree effects. But I think what these lawmakers are saying is that if we look at what the Chinese government and Chinese industries are doing they haven't totally bailed out Putin from the sanctions yet but they are looking for ways to do that. They're in that phase where they're wondering, if we take the Russian energy that the rest of the world won't take, will we be punished? If we use our banks and our financial mechanisms to bail out the Russian economy, will the west actually take action to make that a cost for us?

And the truth is, we don't know and they don't know. So I think there's a big drive in Congress to have those secondary sanctions that you were talking about earlier. They don't exist right now. So if we don't have them then you can be sure that the Chinese will bail out the Russians and help their economy, undermine our sanctions and underwrite the war. Because the longer that the Russians have enough money to kill Ukrainians they're going to continue to spend that money to kill Ukrainians.

So what I argue and a lot of people in both parties on Capitol Hill argue is, let's make it clear now. Let's make sure the Chinese government knows now that if they bail out Russian President Vladimir Putin as he continues to kill Ukrainians, there'll be price to pay. Right now I don't think they've gotten that message yet.

SANCHEZ: And looking further along the map, is there something that you think the United States could do perhaps in India or Turkey to sway those powers into perhaps ratcheting up the pressure on the Kremlin?

ROGIN: I do. And I do think the Biden administration is thinking about that and doing that. But they're focused on Russia's friends, right, Venezuela. And then they're focused on Saudi Arabia to try to get oil production off.

I'm not saying that doesn't make some sense but what I'm saying is that why not focus on the -- our allies first. You know, Turkey is our NATO ally. India is part of the Quad. These are countries that see their long-term future as with the west, and I don't think Venezuela sees it that way. So it's worth doing.


But in the end, I think, we're going to have to realize that, you know, what we've got here is a battle between free countries and dictatorships. And the dictatorships are going to stick together so the free countries should stick together. And that's increasingly how it's looking and that's going to be important not just for the Ukrainian war but for the coming Chinese attempt to exert control over Taiwan. Whatever alliances that the Russians are able to muster right now you can be sure that that's going to have a lot of relevance next year when Xi Jinping looks at Taiwan and wonders if the west has the will to save democracies at that point.

SANCHEZ: Yes. He is facing essentially an election in November that he's all but certain to win, and the focus should be on the future. What comes after that election and his aspiration to as you say take Taiwan.

ROGIN: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: Josh Rogin, as always, appreciate the perspective.

ROGIN: Any time.

DEAN: More than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia began its invasion. After making the long and dangerous journey, some are being greeted with open arms and open homes by complete strangers. That story after a quick break.



DEAN: At least 2.5 million people have left Ukraine for neighboring countries since Russia's invasion began, and many important nations including Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

SANCHEZ: After a long and dangerous escape, some refugees are experiencing something unexpected after they cross the border, an abundance of kindness from strangers. CNN's Miguel Marquez has the story of one Romanian family that's hosting 31 Ukrainians all under one roof.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thirty-one refugees from Ukraine under one Romanian roof. All different ages, all nationalities all staying free of charge.

(on camera): I want to show people this first. What -- this says so much. What is this?

ALINA GREAVU, HOSTING UKRAINIAN REFUGEES: This is the shoes of our refugees and volunteers. For the moment, I think some of them are out in the city so there might be even more shoes.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): It's a lot of everything. From laundry to home- cooked borscht. Alina Greavu and her husband, Adi Campurean (ph) and a whole bunch of volunteers in their rural Romanian home, so far, have hosted more than 60 refugees from Ukraine. Yelena Petrunina from Kharkiv has cancer.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): I was diagnosed with cancer, she says. I was supposed to have the operation and was prepared to have it on February 24th. The day the war started. Her surgery in Ukraine canceled. She now has it planned for Romania and is getting the support she needs from her new Romanian host.

Nineteen year old Nigerian Iman Odejobi was studying medicine and playing soccer in Ukraine. He's here waiting for a flight to reunite with his family in Qatar.

IMAN ODEJOBI, NIGERIAN STUDENT WHO FLED UKRAINE: I didn't expect people like this especially Europeans. I don't see anything like contradicting but like I didn't expect them to be this like welcoming to like --

MARQUEZ (on camera): Because you're African?

ODEJOBI: Yes, that is one. That is one.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Look, we've all heard the stories of Africans and Indians being treated differently on the border, but you're --

ODEJOBI: This is all completely different, all completely new. And like -- I'm very, like, proud of them and I'm very appreciative for what they've done.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Olga Batochka and her daughter Alona (ph) from Kharkiv are here waiting for a flight to Portugal to stay with relatives. Their town being pummeled by Russian rockets and artillery. Some of her Russian friends don't believe it.

OLGA BATOCHKA, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE FROM KHARKIV: I know him from four years old, and he called me, and, what has happened? I say, I am underground now. I can't tell you. It's awful. We have bombs on our houses. Oh, it can't be. Go home.

GREAVU: Hello.

MARQUEZ: From Kyiv, Sasha Nichmilov, his wife and five kids have nowhere else to go.

(on camera): How do you explain the war to your children?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): The older kids understand what's happening, he says. The younger ones don't but even when our windows broke from the bombing, I told them it was an earthquake. He says the war will end but can't say when or what that end will look like.

For now, refugees, volunteers, strangers.

GREAVU: We help each other no matter our race, sex, sexual orientation, color of the skin and so on.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Trying to make an uncertain world a little less strange.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MARQUEZ: And the dynamic that we are seeing now that as the Russians continue to push west as they move into cities and they are using indiscriminate force, both rockets and shells into civilian areas, people are having to move much faster. People who don't have the same means that maybe they did early on they are coming to places like Romania, to the border here, with less of everything, food, water, clothing, documents. All the stuff that you need to do, that you need, if you are on the run. The need in places like Romania is only growing. Boris, Jessica.

SANCHEZ: Miguel Marquez, thank you so much for that report.

Here in the United States, the effects of the war in Ukraine are being felt. And rising gas prices are not just a problem for drivers. Small businesses, like food truck operators, are also suffering and they say that just raising their prices isn't going to compensate. It's not a solution. You'll hear directly from them after a quick break. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: The pain at the pump is real and it is widespread. There are now 40 states plus Washington, D.C. where the price of regular gas has hit at least $4.00 a gallon. The national average now stands at $4.32, that's according to AAA's latest survey.

DEAN: And for small business owners across the United States this price increase has forced many to pass those rising costs on to you, the consumer. CNN's Paul Vercammen has more on this.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, Jessica, California's gasoline prices absolutely hammering small businesses that includes here in the food truck business. They say there are some 2,700 licensed trucks in southern California, that's according to the mobile vendors' association. And the problem is they can't charge astronomical amounts for a burrito or a let's say a Diet Coke. And so the margins are so thin and with gasoline more than $5.70 a gallon in California every trip to the pump is just pure agony.



HAMILTON PINTO, FOOD TRUCK OWNER: Well, right now, like yesterday instead of being $100, it was $130. It used to be 100, now it's 130. So if I do that twice a week, I'm not standing around most all day, usually, all these trucks are moving around.


VERCAMMEN: So Hamilton Pinto, if you add it up, that's about nine trips to the gas station per month and that means he's paying almost $300 more per month. And a big problem here in California is this gas tax. What can they do about it? It's the second-highest in the nation at 51 cents per gallon, only Pennsylvania is higher.

Well, this has caught the attention of California Governor Gavin Newsom, and he's talking about some possible tax rebates for Californians. He's trying to work with legislators on this something to keep a close eye on. We'll see if other states follow. Back to you now, Borris, Jessica.

DEAN: All right, Paul, thanks. And here with me now is Washington Post opinion columnist and CNN economics commentator, Catherine Rampell. Catherine, it's always great to see you. Good morning to you. Thanks for being here.


DEAN: Good morning. We've got a lot of numbers, a lot of superlatives about inflation out there, so much news buzzing around. We know inflation is spiking. That's a fact. But help us get a bird's eye view of what we're seeing and what Americans are experiencing right now.

RAMPELL: Well, overall, inflation right now is at about a 40-year high. So that is we haven't seen numbers like this -- year over year numbers, I should say, since the Reagan era. And it's not just gas prices, as we just heard, it's pretty broad-based so almost every category of consumer goods that a household, might buy, whether it's groceries, fuel, shelter, airline tickets, etcetera. All of those things have gone up.

And the real worry is that they will continue to go up in the months ahead, particularly because of new shocks created by this war -- this Russian invasion in Ukraine that has disrupted global oil and gas markets.

DEAN: And that's what I did want to ask you about next, is what effect might what Russia's doing in Ukraine have on the economy globally, and then here at home for people that are sitting at home and wondering how they might be affected?

RAMPELL: Well, Europe is a much -- is much more dependent on Russian oil and natural gas than is the United States, so Europe will by far feel the brunt of the price increases that result from the disrupted supply, from sanctions, meaning that countries may decide that they're no longer going to purchase oil and gas from Russia or they're going to make it harder for energy transactions to occur by disrupting, you know, the banking transactions essentially related to energy, etcetera. So Europe is going to feel the brunt of this, but the United States will as well.

The U.S. does import some of its oil from Russia or did in any event before the sanctions went into place. And beyond that, we are affected by global energy markets. So yes, this will continue to drive energy prices here in the United States higher, people are going to feel that. There's relatively little that a lot of households can do to adapt, of course.

I mean, if the price of beef goes up, maybe you can substitute for chicken, for example. But if we're talking about gas prices, your commute is your commute, and so it's very difficult for households to cut back on how much energy they consume, and they're just going to feel poorer as a result.

DEAN: And you have a new op-ed in the Washington Post, it's called Americans are unhappy with the economy, many on the left don't want to hear it. And you write with concern that Democrats are in denial about inflation. Now, when I'm on Capitol Hill covering lawmakers there, Democrats will say, well, we're talking about it, and here's what we think we should do about it, we're acknowledging it. But you don't think they have a handle on this?

RAMPELL: Well, to be fair, there's relatively little they can do at this point to get prices down. This is predominantly the domain of the Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates starting this week, in a few days, which is the key tool available to deal with inflation.

But my concern is that a lot on the left are either in denial of how much pain this is causing households, whether or not Democrats can really do very much about it, I think it feels tone-deaf to be like, you know what you should be -- you should be fine, you know, the job market is hot, so what if gas prices are high? And I think there's a little bit of that messaging coming out from at least some not all, of course, Democrats and commentators on the left.

And the other thing that I'm generally concerned about is when they are proposing remedies to deal with inflation. In some cases you know, I think that they're either off base or potentially detrimental. So you hear a lot of talks right now about, for example, a windfall profits tax on the oil industry that if the real cause behind high gas prices is that companies are "profiteering" or price gouging or whatever you want to you know like get a handle on that corporate greed and force them to lower prices.


RAMPELL: However, the last time we implemented a similar type of policy, a windfall profits tax, it actually reduced oil consumption, which is the opposite -- excuse me, the oil production rather, which is the opposite of what you want to happen now. The problem right now is that demand is really strong, supply is constrained.

If you create a new policy incentive that reduces supply further then that does the opposite of what you intend. So my concern is essential that on the one hand, there's this denial that this is a problem and then, on the other hand, there's the acceptance that there's a problem, but there are these like, I don't know, very unhelpful solutions that are being proposed.

DEAN: Right.

RAMPELL: That could have the opposite of their intended effect.

DEAN: All right, well, Catherine Rampell, we'll leave it there. Thanks so much for joining us always great to see you. RAMPELL: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Up next, there's a doctor in Ohio who says he's not working 18 hours a day to send medical supplies to Ukraine.


DR. TARAS MAHLAY, SENDING HOSPITAL-GRADE MEDICAL SUPPLIES TO UKRAINE: I'm usually going to be, like, around 12 then they get up at five as they can't sleep.


MAHLAY: People are dying.


SANCHEZ: And it's not just hospital supplies, Ukrainian-Americans are working to send food, clothing, and money to their homeland. Their stories, after a quick break.



SANCHEZ: We've got an update for you now on some of the top stories that we are following this morning. In New York City, police are looking for a man they say stabbed two employees multiple times on Saturday at the iconic Museum of Modern Art, MoMA. The suspect is a 60-year-old man who was a regular visitor at the museum.

He was denied entry though because of two incidents recently of disorderly conduct. Authorities say the man became angry, jumped over the reception desk, and stabbed the employees. There is some surveillance footage of him. The two victims were rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, they are expected to be OK.

DEAN: At least 10 people were injured after a massive pile-up along the Pennsylvania interstate Saturday. Heavy snow, strong winds, and low visibility likely contributed to that pile-up. A Winter Weather Advisory had been issued for all state highways earlier in the day. Everyone who was injured was taken to hospitals. Officials say none of the injuries were fatal.

A suspect is in custody after five West Point cadets overdosed on fentanyl while they were on spring break, that incident happening late last week at a vacation rental house in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. According to CNN affiliate, WPLG, a 21-year-old man was arrested in connection to the sale of a powder substance laced with fentanyl that allegedly triggered those overdoses. Four of the five cadets involved were hospitalized. The suspect is currently being held at Broward County Jail in lieu of a $50,000 bond.

SANCHEZ: So, Russia's war in Ukraine may be unfolding a continent away but for places like Parma, Ohio with a Ukrainian-American community of 4000, towns like Kyiv and Mariupol are much more than just names on a map.

DEAN: They are the home so many people there remember from their childhood and for them this war is personal. CNN's Evan McMorris- Santoro went to Ohio to hear their stories.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE1: My husband's entire family is there right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE2: We have a family that's in eastern Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE1: I have two friends who are in their 60s who said we're taking up arms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE3: and brother his family, my nieces, my nephew.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE2: My girlfriend's that she's actually in Lviv right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE3: I'm calling mom almost daily and sometimes you actually hear the bombs.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Cleveland is nearly 5000 miles from Kyiv but in these suburbs, the war feels close.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Dr. Taras Mahlay is an internist, not a logistics expert. But these days, he's running a frantic effort to send planeloads of medical supplies to Ukraine.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): In your daily life how much of your time you're spending on this now?

MAHLAY: 18 hours. I mean, I'm usually going to be, like around 12, and then they get up at five because they can sleep.


MAHLAY: Well, people are dying.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): His fluent Ukrainian is put to use taking supply requests directly from the embattled nations Ministry of Health.

MAHLAY: These oncological needs that they sent me.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: And translating them into donations from local hospitals.

MAHLAY: They're already asking for wound vacs. I don't know if you know what a wound vacs.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): No. What is wound vacs? MAHLAY: And so you know, once you have a gigantic wound and it's draining and if it gets infected, you put this -- you put this apparatus on there and it keeps it clean and helps to heal. Well --

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, if I were like shatter hit by shrapnel.

MAHLAY: Correct. Yes, and more like scrap metal. Then now they're just saying this -- they need hundreds of them. And it's only been two weeks.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): There's an urgency to every facet of life here now.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: At Lydia Polatajko Trempe's family bakery, buying Pierogies is now a way to do your part.

TREMPE: There's that gentleman who's waiting for a dozen. Dozen pierogies? From 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and everything that we sold here on that day, all revenues are going straight to PLAST through Ukraine.


TREMPE: If you want to help to buy them ammunition --

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: She's in constant communication with a cousin, who's five months pregnant and fled Ukraine for Poland, leaving her husband behind to fight.

TREMPE: It was them just directly after the war.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: There are thousands of homes here like this one.

TREMPE: That's my mom. That's my dad.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Where connections to Ukraine run deep.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): What is it like to grow up as a Ukrainian-American in this part of Ohio?

TREMPE: I mean, it's funny, I don't know any other way. We went to Ukrainian school every Saturday from age five to 17. You know, I didn't speak English until kindergarten. Cousins were not blood relatives but, you know, the people you went to church with, the people, you were in organizations with, the people that lived up the street that spoke the language, they knew the traditions.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): How is it that there are so many Ukrainians right in this part of Ohio?

ANDY FEDYNSKY, DIRECTOR, UKRAINIAN MUSEUM-ARCHIVES IN CLEVELAND: Well, the first Ukrainians came here during the Industrial Revolution, so a lot of people came here figuring, we'll save some money, go back and buy land. But inevitably, you know, you're here. What do you need? You need a church, you need a bakery, you need a butcher shop, you need a bar and so these -- there was infrastructure. Collection, down here.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: In these stacks, a feeling for the history of this place, and these days, something else too, Deja Vu.

FEDYNSKY: So they were in the field from 1942 to about 1950.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): So this is the history of the last insurgency. And then maybe there are the other ones around.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): With each conflict, another wave of Ukrainian families came to Ohio. The mayor of Parma is already working with state and federal officials to once again make his city a home for the newly displaced.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): Why would this be the right place for refugees?

TIM DEGEETER, MAYOR OF PARMA, OHIO: Because Ukraine is part of our fabric here. Our primary job here is to plow snow off the streets, fix chuckholes, but this international event that's happening is unfolding and because of that deep-rooted connection with Ukraine, it's the right thing to do and we're stepping up.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): In the sanctuary of this church, people gather each night to pray for a quick end to this war. But in the same building, they're planning for a long fight, packing thousands of pounds of supplies to send to the motherland.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): Why do you come here every night?

SOLOMIA BIDA, VOLUNTEER SENDING SUPPLIES TO UKRAINE: So I don't cry. I'm not watching the news when I'm here, I'm packaging, I'm running, I'm doing something.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): For these Americans, daily life has been changed by an ongoing war half a world away.

BIDA: So we don't go to sleep until like, 2:00 in the morning because that's when the sun goes up in Ukraine. Sun goes up, OK, we can get to catch a couple of hours of sleep and keep on going so.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): Because they made it through another night.

BIDA: Yes.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voiceover): Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, Northeast Ohio.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to Evan for that report. Many of you watching want to know how you might be able to help those in need in Ukraine. For information about organizations that help with humanitarian aid, you can find them at

DEAN: Ukrainians are also being inspired by their athletes. The country's Paralympic team has put on a record-setting performance in China even as some found out their homes have been destroyed. Their story is just ahead.



DEAN: The people of Ukraine have inspired the world with their bravery and determination in defending their homeland from Russia. And the same can be said of their athletes.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Team Ukraine has dominated the podium in China finishing with their best-ever performance at the Winter Paralympics. Coy Wire joins us now with more. Good morning, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Good morning, Boris and Jessica. The mental fortitude of these athletes is incomprehensible. Imagine what they're going through. Their prime example is the power we all possess when our why becomes bigger than our what.

The Ukrainian Paralympic Committee's president said that the team's presence there was a sign that Ukraine is and will remain a country. They've made history finishing second in the medal count with 29 medals overall. That's their best ever haul at a Paralympic Winter Games, their final medal in Beijing.

Look at this perfect depiction of the nation's heart. Down nearly 90 seconds headed into the final leg of the men's 4 by 2.5 km. open relay, 31-year-old Anatolii Kovalevskyi taking the lead as Ukraine upsets reigning champs France to capture their 11th gold of the Games. Team Ukraine has used this stage to strengthen cries to stop the war.

Coach Andriy Nesterenko says that some of their athletes don't have a home to return to because they've been destroyed but there they are competing for their moms, dads, daughters, sons, and their entire country that's currently under attack.

Let's go to hoops, ACC championship game. Top-seeded Duke hoping to send Coach K out when the 16th conference title in his illustrious career but for the first time ever, Virginia Tech are your ACC Men's hoops champs. Junior, Hunter Cattoor came out with his hair on fire, hitting seven three-pointers, a career-high 31 points.

They had to go through two seed Notre Dame, then three seed UNC, and now their biggest win over Duke, Hunter Cattoor hugging mom afterward. The Hokies have now secured an automatic bid to the dance.


WIRE: March Madness begins in just two days. Listen to this.


CROWD: Cheering.


WIRE: And check out those Lady Jacks celebrating back-to-back big dances after 15 straight seasons of missing the NCAA tournament. Stephen F. Austin University going back, blowing out Grand Canyon by 17 in the WAC championship. Happy Selection Sunday, Boris and Jessica, the women's field announced at 8 p.m. Eastern, men's selection show is at 6:00, is that time of year.

SANCHEZ: Get excited to get your brackets busted. I know mine should already be doing the trash. I'm terrible at picking March Madness. Coy Wire, thanks so much, man.

WIRE: You got it.

SANCHEZ: Back to our top stories now. Air raid sirens have been sounding across Ukraine this morning as Russian forces launch air and missile attacks on Ukrainian targets. We're going to take you live to the region after a short break. The next hour of NEW DAY, just minutes away.