Return to Transcripts main page

New Day Sunday

Mariupol City Council: School Sheltering Hundreds Bombed; Russia Confirms It Used Hypersonic Missiles Against Ukraine; President Biden To Join NATO Leaders In Brussels Next Week; More Than Two Million Refugees Flee To Safety In Poland; Historic Senate Hearings Set On Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court Nomination. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 20, 2022 - 07:00   ET




KRISTIN FISHER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Sunday March 20. I'm Kristin Fisher in for Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Kristin. I'm Boris Sanchez. We appreciate you starting your Sunday with us. We begin with a situation in Eastern Europe and Russia raising the stakes, keeping up its brutal onslaught against Ukraine.

FISHER: Yeah, we're getting word of yet another attack on civilians. Local officials in the battered city of Mariupol say an art school being used as a shelter has been bombed by Russian forces. Official say 400 people were sheltering inside and there's no word yet on the number of casualties.

SANCHEZ: This latest attack comes as we're getting a new look at what remains of a theater in Mariupol. Please see it there on your left, what remains of it. You might recall desperate Ukrainians sheltered there several days ago as Russian bombs rained down. And this new satellite image shows what is left as rescue crews are still combing the rubble for survivors.

FISHER: And Russia is claiming that it launched a series of strikes on military targets including strikes using hypersonic missiles. U.S. officials confirmed to CNN that Russia launched the powerful new weapons against an ammunitions warehouse in western Ukraine. And the missiles travel at about five times the speed of sound or faster, which makes them very difficult to detect. And it is a big deal because this is the first known use of hypersonic missiles in combat.

SANCHEZ: No doubt it is a message to the west. Meantime, President Biden heads to Brussels this week to sit down with NATO allies. Notably Ukraine's former president is suggesting that Biden should visit Kyiv, Ukraine's capital as a show of strength and solidarity. Here's what Petro Poroshenko told CNN, Jim Acosta.


PETRO POROSHENKO, FORMER UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Well, maybe I know that President Biden plans to visit Europe next week. And I think that he analyzing the possibility to visit Poland. Why don't very good friend of mine, very good friend of Ukraine, Joe Biden, the leader of the global world who demonstrate now the leadership, why don't he can visit Kyiv next week, as a symbol of our solidarity. That would be extremely right step for demonstration, the whole world is together with us against Russia.


SANCHEZ: We want to take you live to Ukraine right now for an update on that Art School attack. We mentioned earlier, hundreds of people were taking shelter, and it was bombed by Russian forces.

FISHER: CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins us live from Lviv. Salma, you know, better than anyone that it's been so tough to get reliable information out of Mariupol, but have you learned anything else, anything new about how many people may have been injured or killed in this attack?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Yet another horrifying attack on innocent civilians, we're being told took place in the early hours of this morning in a place that's being described as how on earth Mariupol, of course, a besieged city, a place that's been overrun by Russian forces now for weeks there.

We understand in the early hours today, an art school that was being used a shelter by 400 people, I am talking 400 families, women, children, elderly people just trying to find refuge, trying to find safe haven in that city where we hear the sound of explosions continue all throughout the night. Still, this group of people just trying to find safety, Ukrainian officials tell us, were bombarded by Russian warplanes.

Now, it's extremely difficult, as you said, to get information out of the city. We don't know the number of casualties yet or the extent of damage to that art school but it comes just days after a very similar attack because there is a pattern of behavior that's emerging here from Russian forces, a very similar attack on a theater building there, at least 1300 people or up to 1300 people were sheltering so desperate they were to be spared from Russian bombardment that they wrote the word children as big as they could on the grounds of that theater. But still, of course, Russian forces saw them as a legitimate target apparently.


President Zelenskyy says that what's happening in Mariupol is an act of terrorism against the people of Mariupol. He says Russian forces are committing war crimes across this country. And what's concerning is that many Western intelligence sources say we're going to see more attacks like this, that this is part of the Russian military strategy here in Ukraine that as the Russian military increasingly feels cornered, it runs out of supplies, it's running out of troops, we understand there's been serious miscalculations on the battlefield.

According to U.S. officials this morning, we're hearing a fifth general killed according to Ukrainian officials, what they're going to do, we're told is turning -- turned to these barbaric tactics, and essentially try to bomb cities into submission.

FISHER: First, a theater, now a school, what will they -- the Russians hit next? Salma, thank you.

SANCHEZ: So Russia is confirming they launched a series of strikes on military targets with hypersonic missiles. They focused on a military ammunitions warehouse in Ukraine, that strike came Friday. And according to U.S. officials, the U.S. was able to track that specific launch in real time.

FISHER: Yeah, sources say the launches were likely intended to test the weapons and send a message to the west about Russian capabilities. CNN's Kylie Atwood has more from the State Department.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Russia used hypersonic missiles against Ukraine last week, according to U.S. officials, and this is the first known instance of these types of missiles being used in combat. And it's significant, of course, because hypersonic missiles travel at five times the speed of sound, or faster, that obviously makes defense incredibly challenging to stand up.

Now, according to U.S. officials, the United States was able to track these are occurring in real time. And the U.S. officials said that they believe that Russia was doing this to demonstrate their capabilities, their military capabilities, but of course, concerning to introduce these new types of missiles to this war that is ongoing in Ukraine with all the death and destruction that have already occurred.

Now, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that these missiles destroyed structures in western Ukraine. And we should know that the United States has it as a top priority to develop their own hypersonic missiles because both China and Russia are developing their own Kristin and Boris.

FISHER: Kylie, thank you. So this week, President Biden is set to travel to Europe to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine. And first, he's going to head to Brussels to meet with NATO leaders. And that's being called just an extraordinary gathering, followed by a special session of the European Council.

SANCHEZ: Let's get you out now to Delaware where President Biden is spending the weekend and CNN White House Reporter Jasmine Wright is tracking the very latest. Jasmine, what are we anticipating will come from this trip to Europe for President Biden?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Boris, deterrence and defense are going to be on top of President Biden's agenda when he has to Europe next week. And these -- their pin plus world leaders are going to have a three pronged mission here, agreeing and then unveiling new measures, sanctions, to punish Russia, trying to unveil new measures to support Ukraine and also doing all of these things in a real show of unity, trying to present a united front amount among Western allies.

And, of course, this all comes as a response to President Putin's continued aggression in Russia. And so first, he will go to that extraordinary NATO summit in Brussels. And it's something that in addition to those new measures that are particularly be unveiled, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that President Biden will reaffirm his commitment to defending every inch of NATO territory.

Next, he heads to the European Council summit. And I want to read you a line from the White House readout that was issued when announcing this trip because it summed up exactly what's going to happen there pretty well, is that they will discuss our shared concerns about Ukraine, including transatlantic efforts to impose economic costs on Russia, provide humanitarian support to those affected by the violence, and address other challenges related to the conflict.

And then later he attends a G7 meeting called by Germany to further discuss consequences for Russia. And these could include new sanctions on oligarchy, as well as other isolating measures, trying to really isolate them financially, as well as potentially new bans on imports for Russian energy projects, as well as other things to really support Ukraine in their fight for sovereignty. So all these things are on the table when the President has to Europe next week. We'll likely hear more about that trip and just the coming days. Kristin, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Jasmine Wright traveling with the President in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, thank you.


SANCHEZ: Joining me now is Michael O'Hanlon, a Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution and Thomas Graham, a Distinguished Fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations.

General -- Gentlemen, thank you so much for getting up early and being with us this Sunday morning.



FISHER: So, Michael, let's start with you. And this news that Russia has confirmed that it used hypersonic missiles against Ukraine, the very first known use of such weapons in combat, how significant of a development do you think this is?

O'HANLON: Hi Kristin, I think your correspondence got it about right, it has probably more symbolic value than anything else. These missiles are fairly exquisite. They're expensive, they're not going to be used in that widespread of a way, and they can't solve the targeting problem. If you don't know what you're trying to hit, or you don't know where the most important assets or, you know, concentrations of enemy forces may be, being able to fly fast and maneuver on your way down doesn't really make that much of a difference. So by the way, just to underscore these weapons are fast, but there are a lot of weapons that are fast, a lot of ballistic missiles go the same speed or faster, but the new generation of hypersonics, they maneuver on the way down. Meaning that they can't be intercepted very easily. But Ukraine doesn't have good intercepting capability to begin with. It's not like a modern American missile defense system, is it Tom? So, in that regard, I don't see it as a game changer. I see it as just one more incremental step.

FISHER: Understood. So Tom, is President Biden, he's set to travel to Europe this week to meet with our allies at NATO. And, you know, Ukraine's former president is now calling on President Biden to visit Kyiv amid this ongoing fighting. I mean, in your view, should President Biden make that trip? That kind of trip to Kyiv right now?

GRAHAM: Well, I think the White House is going to decide that this is much too dangerous for the President of the United States to travel at Kyiv at this point, particularly given the methods that the -- that Russia is using and attacking the city.

What the President wants to do is underscore his support for Ukraine. And he's going to do that at the -- up in NATO summit in Brussels, not only they -- are the allies going to talk about deterrence in defense of NATO territory, but certainly on the agenda, there's going to be the question of how much and what more they should do, in terms of supplying the Ukrainians with the -- with the weapons systems that they need, in order to push back against the Russians.

I would imagine that the Polish leaders will raise once again, the issue of MiGs, Soviet era planes that they say they're prepared to deliver to the Ukrainian so that they have more air power, and they have it the present, the United States has been opposed to that. But I would imagine this is an issue that's going to be on the table and discuss quite thoroughly at the NATO summit.

FISHER: Well, Michael, I mean, President Biden, he has pledged about an additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, and that includes things like switchblade drones, do you see things like that making much of a difference?

O'HANLON: You know, the Ukrainian forces are already doing pretty well at bottling up the movement of Russian armored columns and other kinds of vehicle movements. So this will be one more capability. You know, the problem is, they can't push Russian forces off their territory, and they can't prevent them from doing various kinds of bombardment. So I don't see the 800 million package is changing those realities. And therefore, I think what we're doing is reinforcing the probability of a prolonged fight, which has its own advantages, but isn't really a strategy for ending the war.

So the big piece that I'm hoping to see more discussion about is the idea of some kind of a compromise peace plan. And right now, President Zelenskyy is sometimes issuing ideas on what that could look like, the Russians sometimes seems to reply, but I can't gauge the seriousness. That's where I hope President Biden will make an additional push. And I think the obvious trade space is Ukraine is not going to be a NATO. But are there other ways to protect it in exchange for Russia ending the violence? That's the basic kind of deal we should be trying to encourage. And I hope that will happen this week.

FISHER: Yeah, well, let's talk about this possible peace plan that is, Thomas, in a phone call with Turkish President Erdogan, Putin has laid out his demands for a ceasefire, and it includes Ukraine's neutrality and revoking NATO membership, disarmament, and claims that the country must do denazify. What do you make of those requirements from Putin?

GRAHAM: Well, I think it's clear that Putin at this point hopes to gain at the negotiating table, what he hasn't been -- what he hasn't been able to achieve on the battlefield. You know, the terms that have been laid out are ones that he mentioned before Russia launch this invasion back in February, they would amount to the capitulation on the part of the Ukrainian government.

Now, all that said, I agree with Michael that we need to look for a diplomatic solution to this problem. It is going to involve some form of non-alignment neutrality for Ukraine but a neutrality that provides the Ukrainians with some sort of guarantee for their security in the future.


We're not at that point yet. I don't think the Russians are prepared to negotiate this. Certainly, President Putin isn't. But as this conflict drags on, as the casualties mount on both sides, but particularly on the Russian side, I think you'll find that the Russians will be much more favorably inclined to real negotiations, talking about the real issues and compromises that are needed to bring this conflict to an end.

FISHER: Yeah, and you take a look at what British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is saying, he says that Russian President Vladimir Putin is in a, "total panic" over the prospect of a revolution in Russia itself. Listen to the soundbite. Now, get your take on the other side.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: He has been terrified of the effect of that Ukrainian model on him and on Russia. And he has been in total panic about the so-called color revolution in Moscow itself. And that's why he's trying so brutally, to snuff out the flame of freedom in Ukraine. And that's why it is so vital that he fails.


FISHER: So Michael, Boris Johnson says Putin is in a total panic. Do you agree?

O'HANLON: Not quite. I think that Putin is taking extreme measures to make sure that there is no color revolution. As we see and as your correspondents covered a few minutes ago, he's arresting a lot of people. He's trying to suppress the media. He's been doing this, of course, for the better part of his presidency now in Russia over two decades, and he's taken his game up a level. I don't think he's in a panic. He certainly is concerned. And his

popularity now is at the abysmally low level of six feet, or 55%, which is low for Russia. But it also is pretty high by Western standards, and he has security forces that are willing to be pretty tough, even with their own people, the rule of law is not substantial, or, you know, notable inside of Russia today.

So I think he's got a repression mechanism that he's perfected, and it's almost Soviet liking some of its characteristics that he will continue to employ. That's not the same thing as panic. He certainly is focused on the issue of internal politics, but he's going to be more proactive and go after this consistently, rather than wait until a crisis when he has to.

FISHER: Thomas, what do you think? Do you think Putin is in panic mode as Boris Johnson claims?

GRAHAM: No, I agree with Michael on this. Over the past year and a half in particular, Russia really has cracked down and dissent, they even increased intensified the campaign as this military operation as it unfolded. You know, the polls show that the upwards of 70% of the Russian population do support the Kremlin at this point, the Kremlin has controlled the narrative to make sure that the Russian population sees only what it wants to. And it's a much different view from what we see in the West as far as the conflict is concerned.

Finally, you've seen President Putin try to compare this this conflict implicitly to the struggle that the -- that the Russians, the Soviet Union, fought against Nazi Germany 80 years ago as a way of bolstering popular support for this operation. So the short answer is no. Putin is concerned obviously about popular opinion. He's concerned about his position at the head of the Russian state, but he's certainly not panicking at this moment.

FISHER: All right. Well, we will end the segment in total agreement between you two. Michael Thomas, thank you both so much.

GRAHAM: You're certainly welcome.

O'HANLON: Thanks, Kristin.

SANCHEZ: Still to come this morning, more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war, many of them heading across the border to Poland. We'll take you there for a close up look at a humanitarian crisis.

Plus, she lost her father in prudence first invasion and now she's once again seeing the horrors of war in Ukraine. Later, how one young woman is helping families like her own. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: The United Nations estimates that more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion and of those refugees, UNICEF reports that 1.5 million are kids, and they're now at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking.

FISHER: Yeah, CNN's Melissa Bell is in Poland where a majority of Ukrainians have migrated. And, Melissa, I know you were at a train station earlier, now you're outside. What are you seeing? And can you kind of explain this concern with human trafficking?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, of course, what you're talking about Kristin is 2 million Ukrainian refugees more than 2 million who have crossed the Polish border so far. At train stations like this in Przemysl, and they are 90% women and children because of course what's happened is that the fighting age men have stayed behind. So for instance, just next to us here, there are a couple of elderly ladies who were crying just now thanking the aid workers who helped them off the train with their bag. So you will find elderly people, but otherwise, young women, mainly traveling alone, carrying one or several children, an extremely vulnerable population.

So what they get when they arrive and show their passports is a leaflet, put inside their passport to explain to them not to just jump into anyone's cards, be very careful about who they go to. Because amidst all this chaos, and with all these numbers, clearly there are concerns of whose hands they might end up in people aiming to harm them, rather than to help them.

So outside the station, you have policemen who are regularly checking the identities of people who are offering their help. And of course, you have huge amounts of genuine volunteers who have come to try and make a difference. People from the town of Przemysl itself but people from much further afield.

A little while ago, we saw an Italian bus that had come all the way from Turin. Now, part of its -- part of what he was carrying was being loaded straight into a minivan that was going to cross into Lviv, it was bringing medical supplies to hospitals the rest of what was in the bus was going to be brought inside this train station because several rooms have been laid out so that women can sit there.


We spoke to one of the volunteers, a young Russian man who joined the organization just a couple of days ago. And he explained why he'd wanted to take part in this effort.


ARTUR SAFONOW, NGO LA MEMORIA VIVA: I'm Russian, and I'm studying in Turin for the last two years and a half.

BELL: Why did you want to get involved in this effort?

SAFONOW: I care about it. I think my states like, like, doing a huge mistake. It's like going to be a tragedy for the -- for the rest of like, generations of Russians and I feel responsible for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BELL: There are also, of course, all the volunteers working inside the train station, day and night. They're here until 1 a.m. They get back here from 5 a.m. They just get a few hour sleep or rest. They work in shifts, of course, and we're just expecting in the next few minutes, of course, the next train again, loaded with 1000 to 1500 refugees, each carrying their own trauma and their own uncertainty about the future. Boris and Kristin.

FISHER: Yeah, just amazing that volunteer that you interviewed. He's volunteering, helping Ukrainians and yet he still feels so much responsibility because he is a Russian citizen. Melissa Bell, thank you so much.

And preparing for history on Capitol Hill, confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, set to begin tomorrow, and Republicans are already on the attack. The questions they're raising as Democrats push back, next.



SANCHEZ: A history making moment set to unfold on Capitol Hill this week as confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson begin tomorrow.

FISHER: If confirmed, she'll be the first black woman on the nation's highest court. CNN's Daniella Diaz joins us from Capitol Hill. Daniella so how is this all going to play out tomorrow?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Kristin, Boris, Ketanji Brown Jackson has been preparing behind the scenes just like most Supreme Court nominees before her she has been participating in behind closed doors in, quote, moot court sessions. And the way this is going to work is these hearings will start tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, she will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee where she is expected to face a lot of questioning from Republicans about, you know, allegations they've already begun floating that in her past, she's been soft on crime.

Republicans plan to ask a different question that will be twofold. The first of course, being questions about her experience as a judge, a public defender of her time spent on a federal commission that ultimately slashed drug sentences. And then the other side of this is going to look like Republicans asking her about the Biden administration policies and where she stands on those policies.

But look, Republican minority leader -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged in an interview last week that it is likely she is going to be confirmed to the Supreme Court with Democratic support and likely few Republican support of, excuse me, Republican votes. Take a listen to what he said in an interview Thursday morning with Hugh Hewitt.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) MINORITY LEADER: I think Jackson will be treated respectfully. I think the questions will be appropriate. And I think you're right. I think she's highly likely to be confirmed with very few Republican votes. Because her philosophy, not anything else.


DIAZ: If confirmed, Ketanji Brown Jackson will actually follow in the footsteps of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, John Roberts, because she will replace her former boss Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court bench. But I do want to know today this week's going to be incredibly busy at these as these Supreme Court hearings begin tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Eastern and they're expected to go for a few days. Boris, Kristin.

SANCHEZ: Daniella Diaz live from Capitol Hill. Thank you so much. Of course, you won't want to miss this historic moment. CNN is going to have special coverage of Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearing. It all begins tomorrow at 11:00 am right here on CNN.

Meantime, our coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine continues after a quick break. We're going to take you to an unlikely place in Dnipro. That's now housing refugees fleeing violence in Mariupol. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: We want to share some captivating images out of Ukraine with you that help highlight what innocent civilians are going through daily as Russia invades their country. 71 children that have been evacuated safely from an orphanage in the southern city, rather in the northeastern city of Sumy.

Officials say that children are all four or younger, many of them disabled and needing medical attention. They spent nearly two weeks in a basement sheltering from Russian attacks before they were taken out of the combat zone through a humanitarian corridor.

Here's an image that shows how far Ukrainians have to go to protect their loved ones during the war. This is Olga. She's nursing her one- month old baby while she recovers in the hospital. Olga shielded her newborn with her body after their home in Kyiv came under fire. Olga sustained multiple injuries and had to undergo surgery but thankfully, her and her baby appear to be OK.

Meantime in Lviv, these kids are taking art lessons. It seems normal enough, but they're actually huddled together in a bomb shelter. One instructor in the class is a Chinese student who lives in Ukraine and has chosen to remain. She says this is a way to create a sense of normalcy for the kids, adding that children should not have to live through this sort of trauma. They are unlikely places that are now becoming safe havens for people fleeing violence in cities across Ukraine. FISHER: Yes, and that's the case for a kid's laser tag center in Dnipro. That's where we find CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson. Ivan.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kristin and Boris. Yes, normally on a Sunday, if Russia had not launched this deadly invasion of Ukraine, this would be full of kids, perhaps celebrating birthday parties. Instead, the owners of this business have opened it up to displace Ukrainian families.

As of now, there are about 40 people staying in here, lots of kids, as you can see. And most of these people have come from the city of Mariupol, which has been under siege for weeks now, and according to the residents, is being bombed and shelled by Russian forces daily, and at night as well. And we've heard harrowing accounts from people.

I'm just going to show you how strange some of this. So, people are living here where kids used to run around and play laser tag, they've been given kind of mattresses, and a quiet place to rest of -- these are people who have literally been hiding in their basements, from Russian artillery and gunfire and rockets for days without electricity, without heat, without running water.

So it's a bit surreal to be in an environment like this, though, I have to say the kids who have endured this kind of ordeal have adapted very quickly. And I think that this should underscore how improvised and ad hoc the volunteer effort is to help the millions of Ukrainians who are now homeless because their homes have been destroyed. They've been pushed from their homes by this terrible conflict.

Now, I will show one other little thing and I'm sorry, I got a cold. A little girl minutes before we went on air seconds gave me a bracelet she sewed with the colors of the Ukrainian flag. I'd like to introduce you to one survivor of the Mariupol siege who escaped on Thursday with his wife and stepdaughter.

This is Dmitri Shetz (ph) and thank you for agreeing to talk to me. You look clean and put together and healthy and safe right now. But we were speaking earlier and you and your family have lived through hell.

DMITRI SHETZ (ph), MARIUPOL RESIDENT: Yes. Finally, we could escaped this hell. We could live -- we could leave the Mariupol because they're left nothing there. No houses, no people. Just some people left like the aged people the age of our parents there because they told happened, what happened. We are going to stay until the end. You are young. You should leave the city. You should continue your life.

WATSON: So what are the conditions that your family was living in up until Thursday?

SHETZ (ph): So all the apartments, all the buildings are completely destroyed. There is no even parts of the building because of the air bombs, they just completely destroyed the building. So our parents and people who left in the city they are living in their cellars, under the houses. There is no provision, no food supply in our water supplies.

WATSON: Where were you getting water?

SHETZ (ph): We were getting water and special mine. This water is was horrible. We could boil it on the fire. We took the wood from the parks just to make and arrange the fire and things by the way, things gotten better. This amazing voluntary people who provide the volunteer activity gave us the dwelling, gave us a place to sleep, gave us the food and the space by the way, the first Legion before it was entertaining center of laser tag.

WATSON: Can I interrupt you and ask?

SHETZ (ph): Yes, sure.

WATSON: You told me you buried some of your neighbors next to your building? What happened?

SHETZ (ph): Yes, when the bombs or missiles are falling inside the gardens or the buildings, there's strong wave it's like kill the people who was inside the pictures (ph). So we were burying our neighbors because it was killed young guy, 23 years old in Primorsky (ph) District. We were digging their graves even in front of their houses and putting the cross like two wooden sticks because there is no other option to save the -- where to put we can put the bodies. It was horrible.

WATSON: I'm just grateful that you're safe, your family, your immediate family for now and thank you for sharing this things traumatic experience.

SHETZ (ph): Thank you for comoing.

WATSON: This is what ordinary people have lived through. Dimitri (ph) is he used to work on cruise ships, OK. So, I cannot stress enough the horrors that ordinary people are living through and that he left his parents and grandmother behind in that city that is under siege and under bombardment on a daily basis.


And now, the family may be safe, immediate family and now they're trying to find an apartment here in Dnipro. And that's just one story. Dnipro had a pop -- sorry, Mariupol had a population of more than 400,000 people before this war began, back to you.

FISHER: And Ivan, just the contrast of going from hell in Mariupol to a Laser Tag Center where you are, I think you said it best, it just has to be so surreal for all of those refugees. And thank you so much for bringing us this story, Ivan. And I hope you feel better with that cold.

WATSON: We'll leave you a shot. And this is an entirely volunteer effort to help traumatize people just get a couple days, rest and calm and safety after what they've endured. Back to you.

FISHER: Ivan Watson, thank you so much for that reporting.

Well, on the frontlines of the war in Ukraine, one humanitarian aid group is going beyond their mission to help the Ukrainian army defend their country and for the past four years, U.S. based TAPS has been in Ukraine providing resources for Gold Star families, grieving the loss of their military loved ones.

But since Putin's invasion, they've been forced to expand their efforts and are on the ground assisting with aid and evacuating citizens. So, here with me now is Olha Shakhnyk with TAPS Ukraine. Olha, thank you so much for talking to us and sharing your story because you lost your father during the war in Ukraine in 2014, when Putin invaded Crimea. I can't even imagine how you must feel watching history repeat itself, just eight years later.

OLHA SHAKHNYK, WORKING WITH TAPS INTERNATIONAL IN UKRAINE: It's continuing right now. So for eight years, the war has been continuing to happen, not only in Crimea, but in Luhansk and Donetsk region. And now the organization where my (INAUDIBLE) TAPS Ukraine's there, they're dealing with like thousands and thousands of refugees who have to call, had to flee from cities like Mariupol if they are lucky enough to have the opportunity to do so because like, it's -- there no way to set a corridor with Russians.

So TAPS Ukraine is helping to organize shelters, temporary ones or more, or some or find the hosts who can help with people had to flee from their homes, and they're doing it for almost a month now. And like the flow of refugees in Dnipro is enormous because it's one of the first big cities in East legs, it's not involved in frontline violence right now. Because people go there from Kharkiv, they go from Mariupol, from some smaller cities that are also almost destroyed right now.

And at the same time, TAPS Ukraine is gathering humanitarian help to send to frontlines soldiers so like there's a lot of work to do and all people, like ordinary people who just volunteer and want to defend once they put them off and they don't want to leave it.



FISHER: Olha, currently your organization TAPS, they're serving between 5,000, 10,000 meals it's an enormous undertaking that you guys are trying to pull off. Are you worried about running out of resources soon? What do you need?

SHAKHNYK: Yes, we need like or sources each day, it's just luck that we still have safe enough roads to have the humanitarian aids to come to Dnipro, but we need more everyday. So verily, we're grateful to all people who send money, who sent help, who help in any way they can from all over the world. We see you, we see each of you are grateful because of this is an opportunity to help people who need it most right now.

FISHER: Olha, I am -- I'm so sorry for your loss of your father eight years ago and I am so sorry for what your people are going through today. Olha Shakhnyk. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: 54 minutes past the hour. Here's a look at some of the other stories we've been following this morning.

FISHER: Arkansas State Troopers are investigating a mass shooting outside a car show Saturday Night. It happened in the town of Dumas which is about 80 miles southeast of Little Rock. Authority say as many as 10 people may have been wounded or working to learn the condition of the victims along with who may be responsible.

SANCHEZ: Meantime in Wisconsin residents and for Waukee woke up Saturday to the sound of screeching metal as a cargo train derailed. According to CNN affiliate WDJT, eight box cars and tanker went off the tracks. One of them as you can see rolling down the embankment and into a pond. Luckily no one was injured. The boxcars were mostly empty.


FISHER: And that does it for us. Thank you so much for starting your morning with us. And Boris, it has been an absolute pleasure to work with you this weekend.

SANCHEZ: Great to have you, Kristin. Come back anytime but folks at home don't go anywhere Inside Politics Sunday with Abby Phillip is up next. And don't forget, a historic day tomorrow. CNN is going to have special coverage of Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court confirmation hearing. It all starts tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. right here on CNN.