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CNN TONIGHT: Zelenskyy: Already Day 36 And Ukraine Is "Standing"; Jared Kushner Appears Before January 6 Committee; Oscars Producer: LAPD Was Ready To Arrest Will Smith For Slap. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 31, 2022 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: And others called, saying they would help too.

Plus, the mother, Iryna, told Randi about today that, she and her family have been invited, to the Cooper City community meeting, next month. And a neighbor has set up a GoFundMe page, for Iryna, and her family. The link to that page, is right there, on the screen.

The news continues. So, let's hand it over to Wolf Blitzer, and CNN TONIGHT.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: John, thank you very much.

I am Wolf Blitzer. This is CNN TONIGHT. We want to welcome our viewers, here, in the United States, and around the world.

Is Vladimir Putin now, arresting, arresting some of his own aides, over frustration, with his faltering invasion? Are some of his own forces sabotaging, his efforts, to conquer Ukraine? There are more indications, tonight, of growing tensions, not only within the ranks, of Putin's army, but within Putin's own inner circle.

Here's President Biden, today, on what he's hearing.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: He seems to be - I'm not saying this with a certainty - he seems to be self-isolating. And there's some indication that he has fired or put under house arrest, some of his advisers. But I - I don't want to put too much stock in that, at this time, because we don't have that much hard evidence.


BLITZER: That followed a question about whether Putin's being misled by - about the war, by some of his own defense officials, something U.S. Intelligence, and the Pentagon, for that matter, seem to corroborate.

And as this barbaric invasion drags into its sixth week, British Intelligence now says some Russian forces are actually refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment, or accidentally shooting down their own planes, as morale keeps sinking, on the frontlines.

And, on those frontlines, Russian forces do remain in positions, around Kyiv. They are still bombing the capital, even though the Kremlin said, this week, it would dramatically scale back its offensive, there.

President Biden also addressed that.


BIDEN: Depending on your view of Putin - I'm a little skeptical. It's an open question, whether he's actually pulling back, and going to say, "I'm just going to focus on the Donbas, and I'm not worried about the rest of the country."

The idea he's pulling all of those troops out from around Kyiv, and moving south, there's no evidence that he's done that.


BLITZER: The northeastern region of Kharkiv is coming under a very heavy shelling, over the past 24 hours. There's also heavy shelling, in the Donbas region, of Eastern Ukraine, where Russia is now shifting much of its focus.

Talks between both sides are scheduled to resume, tomorrow.

But Ukraine's fight for freedom, goes on tonight, with some words of encouragement, from President Zelenskyy.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): They said three or five days. They thought that this would be enough for them to seize our entire state. And it's already 36. And we are standing. And we will continue to fight. Until the end.


BLITZER: All right, let's go live to CNN's Fred Pleitgen. He's joining us, from Kyiv, right now.

Fred, so what's happening there, tonight?


The battle for Kyiv, certainly continues tonight. There was a big missile strike that actually took place, fairly close to the center of Kyiv. But, at the same time, the main battles, for this city, took place, and are taking place, towards the northwest.

There's a district there called Irpin. And that's where the Russians tried to push through, all the way, to the center of the capital. And that's also where the Ukrainian forces, made a stand, and are now pushing Russian forces back.

That place is extremely dangerous. Residents can't go back there yet. However, we did make it into Irpin, today. And here's what we saw.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): There is no safe way, to get into Irpin. The only feasible route, is on the back, of a Police Special Forces pickup truck, on dirt paths. But even here, the earth is scorched, after Russian troops shelled the trail.

(on camera): Ukrainian forces, are taking us, into this area, on back roads, because they say taking the main roads, is simply much too dangerous. They want to show us the damage done, when Russian forces tried to enter Kyiv.

(voice-over): Ukrainian authorities say this is still one of the most dangerous places, in this war-torn country. And we immediately see why. We are driving, right towards an area, engulfed in smoke, from artillery shelling.

This is where Russian forces, tried to push, into Ukraine's capital, but were stopped, and beaten back, by the underdog Ukrainians.

The battles here are fierce. Authorities say 50 percent of the city has been destroyed. To us, that number seems like an understatement.

(on camera): We have to keep moving quickly, because this place can get shelled anytime.

(voice-over): Ukraine's National Police now patrols Irpin, again. But their forces frequently come under fire, the Chief tells me.



PLEITGEN (voice-over): "Just yesterday, our officers, who were searching for dead bodies, they were shot at, with mortars," he says. "They had to lay under the bridge, and wait for it to stop."


PLEITGEN (voice-over): But the grim task of finding and taking out the many dead, continues. More than two dozen, on this day, alone. Some have been laying in the streets, for weeks, and can only now be removed.

When Russian forces invaded Ukraine, they quickly advanced, on the capital, Kyiv, all the way to Irpin. Here, the Ukrainians, stood, and fought back. Vladimir Putin's army controlled large parts of Irpin, and the battle laid waste to much, of this formerly wealthy suburb.

And this was the epicenter, where we find burned-out Russian trucks, and armored vehicles.

PLEITGEN (on camera): So, this is the area where some of the heaviest fighting, took place, in Irpin. And, as you can see, that there was a Russian armored vehicle, which was completely annihilated. We do have to be very careful around here, because there still could be unexploded munitions, laying around.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): We meet Volodymyr Rudenko (ph), a local resident, who says he stayed, and took up arms, when the Russians invaded.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): "Always. There was not a single day, when I left town," he says, "even during the heaviest fighting."

"It must have been difficult," I ask.

"Just so you understand," he says, "once there were 348 impacts, in one area, in one single hour."


PLEITGEN (voice-over): And the battle here is not over. Suddenly, Irpin's Mayor shows up, with a group of Special Forces, saying they're looking for Russians, possibly still hiding, here.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): I ask him, how it's going. "We're working," he says. "There's information that there are two Russian soldiers, dressed in civilian clothes. And, with our group, we're going to clean them up."

Ukrainian forces say, they will continue the fight, and further push Russian forces away, from their capital. The Deputy Interior Minister saying, they need the U.S.'s support, to succeed.

PLEITGEN (on camera): What do you need from the United States?

YEVHEN YENIN, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY INTERIOR MINISTER: Everything. Military support, first of all.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Weapons, to help the Ukrainians, expel the invading army, they hope, and finally bring this suburb, out of the reach, of Vladimir Putin's cannons.


PLEITGEN: But, at this point in time, Wolf, that district is still, very much, in the reach, of Vladimir Putin's cannons. And certainly, there's still a lot of shelling, going on, in that area, and especially towards the northwest of Kyiv. Nevertheless, the troops that we found down there, the Ukrainian troops, their morale seemed to be very high. They were obviously very happy, about the fact that they were confronted with this Goliath army, the Russian military that was trying to blast through there, and thought they would just wipe them aside.

But they took a stand, and they managed to beat the Russians back. And, they say, they will continue to do so, Wolf.

BLITZER: Fred Pleitgen, stay safe over there. Appreciate it very, very much.

The Russian Ministry of Defense says that it will reopen, a humanitarian corridor, for Mariupol, tomorrow. French and German leaders asked for that corridor, to be reestablished.

Within the city, life for so many, who remained, is one without electricity, without water, a life where people are left to cook and eat out in the elements.

The heartbreaking reality is apparent, when you see one little boy, wounded, in Mariupol, in a hospital, more than 120 miles away, calling for his father. He is being treated in another part of the hospital.

I want to warn our viewers, right now, this hurts, to watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Where is my dad?

Is my dad coming?

Where is my dad? Is my dad coming?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes, yes, he will come. Just don't cry, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Will he come?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes he will, he will be here soon, like your mom told you.


BLITZER: It's so heartbreaking, to look at that. That's what's going on, in this horrible, horrible war that Putin started, for no reason, at all.

I'm joined now by the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Steven Pifer, and the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, retired General George Joulwan.

To both of you, thanks so much, for joining us. Heartbreaking, to see those images.

General, let me start with you. Tonight, President Zelenskyy is warning that Russia is preparing, for what he's calling, powerful strikes, in the east, and on Mariupol, in the south.

What are you watching, as this war enters, now, week six?

GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN (RET.), U.S. ARMY (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: I think it's very important that we not get too overenthusiastic, about that somehow the war is over. We've entered another phase. There's tremendous firepower left, within the Russian forces. And there's more coming.


I think it's very prudent, now, to stay alert. And I know that the Ukrainians are going to stay alert. I just hope that we, on the - and the West, will also stay alert, to what may happen next. And that may be a large attack, by artillery, by mortars, by all kinds of bombs and aircraft that could really do a lot of damage in Kyiv.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right.

Ambassador, the Intelligence now suggests that Putin is isolated that he's angry at his top advisers. How could that impact, this war, and any potential - if there is any potential, for negotiations?


Bear in mind, even before COVID, he worked in a very small inner circle, mainly consisted of people, like himself, from the Security Services. So, it was a group of people with a very similar worldview.

And so, I think, you have to ask questions, is he getting accurate information, about the true extent, of Russian casualties, and Russian material losses, in Ukraine?

Is he talking to people like the head of his central bank, who reportedly tried to resign, a couple of weeks ago? She's a very competent person. But has he had a chance, to talk to her, and get a sense of just how badly the Western sanctions are going to begin to bite, into the Russian economy?

And again, it's a Kremlin that, I would argue, probably didn't understand that much, about Ukraine. It's strange to say. But it really looks like, particularly with the initial assault on Kyiv that the Russians actually believed their own propaganda that they would be welcomed as liberators.


PIFER: And they're finding now just how hard the Ukrainians are prepared to resist.

BLITZER: They certainly are.

General, when you look at the maps, around Kyiv, and Kharkiv, for example, are we beginning to see Ukrainians, actually retaking territory?

JOULWAN: Yes. And they're going to do that all along the front.

But that should not fool us into thinking that there's not a heavy, heavy attack coming. I think there's a lot of firepower, a lot more conscript troops, were called up. And they have the advantage, in terms of artillery, and air, and could do a lot of damage.

That's why, I hope, we're looking not just, at the battlefield, but we're looking at the total space, between Ukraine and Russia, and what follow-on forces may be coming. That's how they operate.

BLITZER: Let me follow up, General, because, as you know, the U.K. Intelligence Chief says some Russian troops are actually refusing to carry out orders. Russia is also adding 135,000 new conscripts. What does that tell you?

JOULWAN: Well, I went through that. I've been watching the Russians, and the Soviets, since 1962. And they have very poor morale. The troops are not very well disciplined. They don't have - they have poor leadership. And the troops attack their officers. So, this is nothing new.

I just think you have to look at the potential that the Russians have. And that's still a lot of potential. And we've got to look at that, not just what's happening, with some of the soldiers.

BLITZER: Yes, they still have - they still have--

JOULWAN: Troops are--

BLITZER: They still have chemical weapons. They still have tactical nuclear weapons.


BLITZER: God forbid.

Ambassador, as you know, President Zelenskyy has now addressed 17 International Parliaments, including the U.S. Congress, as well as the European Council, the G7, NATO.

How effective, are his pleas, to the international community? Because he keeps repeating the same desperate requests.

PIFER: Well remember, Zelenskyy, before he became president, was a television and movie actor. And, I think, he knows very well, how to get a message, at his audience. So, my sense is that he's been very effective, when he addresses Western Parliaments, and when he addressed the Congress.

And what he's trying to do is build continuing support. There has been a burst of Western support, for Ukraine. So, I believe, now, something like 30 countries, around the world, are providing either defensive assistance, or military hardware, including lethal weapons to the Ukrainians. He needs to sustain that. The West needs to keep that flow of weapons, flowing to Ukraine, so that the Ukrainians can do, what they've been doing, for the past five weeks, which is defending their country. And they're defending their country, far more effectively, than the Russians believed, they would.

BLITZER: You got to give the Ukrainians a lot of credit.

Ambassador Pifer, General Joulwan, thanks to both of you, very much, for joining us, tonight.


Coming up, we're going to take you live, to Odessa. And I'll be joined by one of the few Ukrainian parliament members, who can travel abroad, while her country fights, back home. She just met, with key lawmakers, here, in Washington, on Capitol Hill.

Is Ukraine's plea, for more help, getting anywhere though, with Washington? We'll have much more of that, when we come back.


BLITZER: Tonight, the Pentagon believes, a, quote, "Small number" of Russian troops are beginning to reposition, as they maintain pressure, on Kyiv, and other cities. That movement, by the way, comes, as Ukrainian officials announced, there are no more Russian forces, on the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Our Ed Lavandera is joining us, right now, from Odessa, in Ukraine.

So Ed, what's the latest? What do we know?


Well, as people are closely monitoring, what is happening, with the troop movements, in the north of Kyiv, the airstrikes throughout most of the day also continued.


But the real question and the belief now is that Russia for - Russian forces are regrouping, retreating back, toward Belarus, to regroup, and refit, their forces, and will begin focusing, on that Donbas region, in Eastern Ukraine, and also along the southern part of Ukraine.

And the concern is that it would begin moving along the northern coast of the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov, and start making its way down, from Mariupol, and continuing southward, toward Odessa.

The U.K. Minister of Defense said, tonight that there're about 2,000 troops, in the Georgia region that are being redeployed, to be moved into Eastern Ukraine. So, that's where all of the focus is.

And what Ukraine is bracing for, now, is a renewed push, into that Eastern contested area. And what all of that means for the Ukrainian forces is still very much in the air. President Zelenskyy was saying tonight, that they will continue to defend as hard as they can, in all of these regions. This is what they are bracing for.

I think, one of the questions that really remains out - up in the air, as well, at this time, is just the timing of all of this. How long will it take, for those Russian forces, to make their way, and reposition themselves, to renew that focus, on Eastern Ukraine?

BLITZER: You're just west of Mariupol, in Odessa, where the people there have been bracing, bracing, for Russian attacks. How are the people preparing, right now? What are you seeing, Ed?

LAVANDERA: Well, this is a key port city, for Ukraine, on the Black Sea. Losing Odessa would be devastating. It would essentially mean that Ukraine becomes a landlocked country.

Much of the city center has been fortified, into a lockdown situation. We toured that area, earlier today. And it is void of life. It is just all fortified, military presence, heavy.

There are some people living there, still. They have permission, to kind of come in and out. But businesses are closed, and it is all shut down. There are other parts of the city, where life is going on, as normal though, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Ed, be careful over there. Ed Lavandera, in Odessa, for us, watching what's going on.

Members of the House, today, introduced a bill, to hold Vladimir Putin, accountable, for potential war crimes. The legislation focuses in on strengthening U.S. efforts, to collect evidence, of those alleged crimes. And that comes amid the growing calls, from Republican lawmakers, for the White House, to speed up weapons transfers, to Ukraine.

Joining us right now, is a key member of Ukraine's parliament. Yevheniia Kravchuk is joining us. She met with members of the U.S. Congress, and others, in the U.S. government, on Wednesday.

Yevheniia, thank you so much, for joining us. Thanks for all you're doing. What is your message, to your American counterparts, in the U.S. Congress, during the course of these meetings?


So, our messages were really, straightforward and simple. We do need more weapons, to be brought, to Ukraine. Because your previous speakers, the General were, speaking the truth. I mean, the Russians are repositioning. And actually, the situation, on the battlefield, will decide, how it will proceed.

So, by the time, they are regrouping, we understand their plans. We're not naive. We totally understand what they do. We do need to give additional strength, to our army, because we really are standing, for 36 days. But this bravity (ph) cannot be with bare hands.

And we are really thankful for those weapons that were already shipped, to Ukraine. And our fighters are doing a very good job with Javelins, with Stingers. I mean, they shot a missile. Was a Stinger. That's probably first time, in ever, it was done. But we do need some more heavy weapons, to de-block the cities, like Mariupol.

We would have the air defense systems. Because they're sending missiles, from the Black Sea, from very, very long distance. And we do not have enough of that air system, in Ukraine. So, we would need that, and would need, also, the fighter jets, to do our job, of closer - to closing this skies, for ourselves.


KRAVCHUK: And we don't need any other armies, boots, on the ground. We're doing that ourselves. I mean, there are queues, to go to military, to join the defense units, in different cities. And we have proven that we can fight, and we can counterattack.


And what's been happening, in Kyiv region? And you showed this piece about - was the policeman, in Kyiv region, and it just breaks my heart. Because my husband is in Kyiv region. He is head of one of the police departments. And I hadn't seen him for more than a month, because he has to stay there, all the time.

And he sent me, a message today, was the numbers of small villages that were liberated by our army. And you should have seen how this Russian tanks are, leaving, fleeing. They put even puppets on this. So they're bunch of murderers, killers, and war criminals and rapists.

BLITZER: Today, it's interesting, Yevheniia, House lawmakers, here, in Washington, introduced formal legislation, to hold Putin accountable, for potential war crimes. You said, you presented a file, on Ukrainian children, who have been killed in this war.

Can you tell us more about the contents of that file?

KRAVCHUK: This is the most horrible file, I've ever read, in my life. And every time, I go, every day, I go, to another meeting, I have to cross the number. Why? Because the number are growing.

Right now, it's 148 children killed. But the number is much higher. We do not have these numbers, for example, from Mariupol. And it can just go, rapidly, in two or three or five times more, because we cannot, get that. And this file contains pictures. And this too is how these kids were killed.

And I totally don't understand, what is the difference, between kids, in Mariupol, in Kharkiv, in Kyiv, and kids, in other countries, in different capitals, in Washington, Berlin, in Paris? No. The morality does not have to end with not borders.

And we're, right now, not fighting a war between Ukraine and Russia. We are fighting a war, for democracy, for all these pillars, that the United States, as a country, states.

I mean, I've been a foreign exchange student, in the United States, when I was 15-years-old. I know the values. And I've seen how you chased the terrorists, after 9/11. I was here during 9/11. I saw what you did with terrorists.

Well guess what? Russia, is country, terrorist. Putin is war criminal, and he needs to be stopped. Unless, you know, if he is not stopped, he will go further, and we will lose the whole security architecture.

We have - the world have been building, after the World War II. It's very essential with - there's everything, at stake, for us. That's why, we fight, so fiercely.


KRAVCHUK: And we will fight, till the end, until the victory.

BLITZER: Yevheniia Kravchuk, thank you so much, for all you are doing. Thanks so much, for joining us.

KRAVCHUK: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Good luck to you. Good luck to all the people, in Ukraine.

KRAVCHUK: And thank you, for American people, for supporting us. That's very, very precious for us.

BLITZER: I know. It's you're grateful, to all the support, you're getting, from around the world.

We're going to have much more coming up, on the fight, for Ukraine, just ahead.

But there's also - this has been an also a very important day, for the January 6 select committee, here, in Washington. The panel got to hear directly from Jared Kushner, the son-in-law, of the former President Trump. He's the first member of the Trump family to testify. And there's now word, he volunteered information.

We have a committee member. A key committee member will join us. There she is, Zoe Lofgren. We'll discuss, when we get back.



BLITZER: We'll have more, on the fight, for Ukraine, tonight. That's coming up.

But a busy day, a very busy day, in the January 6 investigations. For the first time, a member of the former President's family, speaks with congressional investigators. We're talking about Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, who spent more than six hours, talking to members of the House select committee.

One of those committee members is joining us right now, Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us. Were you surprised at how much information the former President's son-in-law actually volunteered?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, as you know, Wolf, our committee rules don't allow us, to discuss the substance, of interviews, without a vote of that committee, which has not occurred.

But you can imagine, the interview went on all day long, which it did that there was - it was a useful exchange. And we appreciate that Mr. Kushner, came in voluntarily, and spent this time, answering questions. It's important.

BLITZER: Yes, I assume - you don't have to give us the substance. But I assume, he answered all your questions, right?

LOFGREN: Well, what he could remember, he responded to.

BLITZER: The length of today's interview, more than six hours, would seem to cover a lot of ground, a lot of territory. Do you expect to cover that same amount of information, for example, with his wife, Ivanka? Should she meet with you as well?

LOFGREN: Well, we're still engaging with her counsel. And we do hope that she will come in and talk to the committee. It just depends on, you know, there is a lengthy process, going through the events, leading up to January 6.

Obviously, we're interested on what happened the day itself. It's a terrible day, for the United States. But it didn't just happen randomly, on January 6, that thousands of people came and brutalized the police, and tried to stop the transfer of power. So, there were steps leading up to it. And we need to uncover all of those steps.

And not every person, who talks to us, was part of the plot. But people heard things, people saw things. So, it's understandable that the media attention goes to those few, who have defied the committee, and wrongfully so.

But meanwhile, hundreds and hundreds of people, including individuals, who are part of the former President's inner circle, have come in, and talked to the committee, at great length. And so, we've learned quite a bit.


BLITZER: Let me play something for you, from Monday, when you and several members, of the Select Committee, were calling for more action, from the Department of Justice. Listen to this.


LOFGREN: This committee is doing its job. The Department of Justice needs to do theirs.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We are upholding our responsibility. The Department of Justice must do the same.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Attorney General Garland, do your job, so that we can do ours.


BLITZER: So, Congressman, what's your response, today, to the news that the Department's criminal probe, is actually gathering information, about the planning, of the January 6, the rally and the effort to subvert the 2020 Electoral College vote?

LOFGREN: Well, it's obviously quite interesting, although, as you know, they're the prosecutors, and we're just the legislative committee. But, I think, those comments, made, by myself, and other members, were really directed, at the lack of action, on these referrals, we've made, for scofflaws.

Mark Meadows (ph) was the Chief of Staff. And he asserted some kind of executive privileges, refused to come in. You can't do that. That's not what the law provides. If you think you have some privilege, you have to come in, and assert that question-by-question.

And clearly, there were questions we had for him that we let him know about, that had nothing to do with his discussions, with the President. His discussions with state legislators? That wasn't privileged. And certainly, he's published a book, where he talks about things, and he's waived the privilege.

So really, it's very frustrating. I mean, the Department has to do, what it thinks is right. We all understand that. We're not getting any action. And his behavior was in violation of the law. So, there's some degree of frustration, yes.

BLITZER: I'm sure that will continue, at least for a while.

Congresswoman Lofgren, thanks so much, for joining us.

LOFGREN: You bet.

BLITZER: New information, also coming in tonight, on the chaos at the Oscars. So, what happened immediately, after the actor, Will Smith, stormed the stage, and slapped comedian, Chris Rock? We're learning more, right now, about the role of police that night.

Brand-new information, from a top producer, of the awards show. That's coming up, next.



BLITZER: We'll have more, for you, on the war, in Ukraine, coming up shortly.

But first, we're learning more tonight, about what happened behind- the-scenes, after that infamous slap, at the Oscars. The Ceremony's producer, Will Packer, spoke to ABC News, earlier this evening. He revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department told Chris Rock, it was prepared to arrest Will Smith, for battery.


WILLIAM PACKER, OSCARS PRODUCER: They were saying, you know, this is battery, was the word, they used, in that moment. They said, "We will go get him. We are prepared. We're prepared to get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him. You have," they were laying out the options.

And, as they were talking, Chris was - he was being very dismissive, of those options. He was like, "No, I'm fine." He was like, "No, no, no." And even to the point, where I said, I said, "Rock, let them - let them finish."

The LAPD officers finished laying out what his options were. And they said, you know, "Would you like us to take any action?" And he said, "No." He said "No."


BLITZER: Chloe Melas is in Boston, where Rock continues his comedy tour, this evening.

Chloe, you've got some new reporting, on Will Smith, meeting with Academy leadership, earlier this week. What can you tell us about that?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes, so I learned this afternoon, from a source, who told me that, on Tuesday, Will had a 30- minute Zoom meeting, with Academy leadership, Wolf.

And he apologized to them once again, the first time, during his Academy Awards acceptance speech, Sunday, for best actor, after he slapped Chris Rock.

And the source said that "Look, the Academy leaders, they heard him out. They listened to him. And then they told him, 'There are going to be repercussions, for what you've done.'"

Now, The Academy released a statement, yesterday, saying that they have given Will Smith 15 days' notice. And then, on April 18, that is the day that they will announce what their internal investigation has revealed, what they've decided, to do next.

BLITZER: Who would have been the final decision-maker, on whether Will Smith should stay or go? Was it the Oscar producer, Will Packer?

MELAS: Look, I mean, we're going to learn more, tomorrow morning, on "Good Morning America," when we get to hear the full interview, with Will Packer.

I mean, it is fascinating. We know that Academy leadership was seated, all over the Dolby Theatre. But we do know that they did come to some sort of a consensus, at least the top-top brass that Will needed to leave. They told his publicist, a source told me, to tell him.

And we have seen photos, behind-the-scenes, of Denzel Washington, on one side, and a team member of Will, on the other. Perhaps, it was in that moment that was photographed, telling him firmly that they asked him to leave. And that's when Will said "No, I'm not going to leave."

And, according to this source, they simply ran out of time, before the Best Actor category was announced. But, in their statement, yesterday, they said, look, in hindsight, Wolf, they wish they could have done something differently.

We've heard Wanda Sykes, one of the Oscars' hosts, from last weekend, come out and say, he should not have been allowed to stay. She agrees with the consensus that it was wrong, and he should not have been able to stay, and accept the award.

BLITZER: Do we know if Smith and Rock have been in touch since the incident?

MELAS: According to Chris Rock, no.

During his 10 P.M. show, last night, after I spoke to you, he told the audience, "Despite what you've heard, no discussions have taken place." That's in reference to Diddy saying that they had squashed things, after the award show, last weekend.

BLITZER: All right, Chloe Melas, excellent reporting. Thank you very, very much.


We turn back, to Vladimir Putin's war, on Ukraine. Just ahead, the most innocent refugees, babies, like this one, not even born, when the invasion began. You're going to learn about the heroic efforts of one mother.

Plus, the sounds of solidarity, the music that is as powerful as any tank or missile.



BLITZER: The U.N. now says more than 4 million people, have fled Ukraine, over the past six weeks. That's nearly 10 percent of the country's pre-war population.

Most of the refugees are women and children. And some are women, who escaped Ukraine, to give birth, in a land that is free of war. CNN's Kyung Lah follows their stories, at a hospital in Poland that's offering free medical care, to all Ukrainian women.



KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Born just hours ago, in Poland, Baby Adelina is already a survivor, of the war, in Ukraine.

LAH (on camera): Is it - is it hard to be happy?


LAH (voice-over): "It is," she says. Adelina is Khrystyna Pavluchenko's first child.


LAH (on camera): You feel guilty? Why?


LAH (voice-over): "Because, I left," she says, left her home, in Western Ukraine.

The war had begun. The bombing neared their city. Pavluchenko escaped by bus, then walked on foot, across the border. Paramedics rushed her to the hospital. She delivered Adelina, a month early, separated from her family.


LAH (voice-over): "My mother, sister, grandparents, still in Ukraine."


LAH (voice-over): "He's killing our people," she says, of Vladimir Putin. "How could anyone be so cruel?"

DR. MAGDA DUTSCH, INFLANCKA SPECIALIST HOSPITAL: I'm terrified. I'm terrified that something like this can happen that you can lead your everyday life and, all of a sudden, because of decisions that you have no influence upon, there is a war, and you have to flee. It's unbelievable. It's terrifying.

LAH (voice-over): Dr. Magda Dutsch is a psychiatrist, at Inflancka Specialist Hospital, in Warsaw. The hospital, focused on treating women, has seen 80 Ukrainian patients, this month, delivered 11 babies, and treated cancer patients, like 58-year-old Tatiana Mikhailuk (ph).


LAH (voice-over): "I ran, with my granddaughter, in my arm," she says. Missiles had already blown out the windows in their building. As they fled, something exploded next to their car. Her city is now occupied by Russians.

She's grateful for her doctors at the hospital, and the free health care, in Poland that's treating her cervical cancer.

Khrystyna is one of the doctors. We're not using her last name, because she herself is also a refugee, from Ukraine, a mother of a 5- year-old, and the wife, of a Ukrainian military man. LAH (on camera): Your husband?


LAH (voice-over): "My husband has been in the military, since 2014. At the moment, he's in Lviv."

LAH (on camera): So, you had to leave your husband behind?


LAH (voice-over): "Yes," she says. "Now, in Warsaw, I can't sit and do nothing," she says. "I have this opportunity here, to help women, who fled the country."

With each breath, Baby Adelina offers her mother a respite from the war.

LAH (on camera): What will you tell your daughter about her birth?


LAH (voice-over): "The truth," she says. "We will tell her everything as it was. She should know the truth."


LAH: All the Ukrainian patients, you've seen in the story, their health care is being covered, by the government of Poland, including all the care, once they leave the hospital. And they're not alone. 197 Ukrainian children have been born in Poland, since this war began.


BLITZER: Our thanks to Kyung Lah. Kyung, thank you very much. Kyung's in Poland.

Despite all the hardship, in Ukraine, there are glimmers and sounds of hope. Here are just a few of those moments, for my new show, on CNN+, "THE NEWSCAST."




BLITZER (voice-over): Not all sounds, coming out of Ukraine, are those of explosions and gunfire.


BLITZER (voice-over): There also sounds of strength, voices of determination.


BLITZER (voice-over): The resilience in the ruins.


BLITZER (voice-over): Home video of a Ukrainian woman playing the piano in her bomb-damaged apartment, viewed nearly a million times.



BLITZER (voice-over): A concert, given in a subway station, in Kharkiv, that's now serving as a makeshift shelter. One woman, who listens, says the music is like a ray of hope, in this dark kingdom of war.


BLITZER (voice-over): Refugees, crossing into Poland, greeted by a piano man, for peace. That man, who traveled, from Germany, to be there, said, maybe he could soften Vladimir Putin's heart, with music.



BLITZER (voice-over): Throughout the war, when the attacks have paused, ordinary Ukrainians have gathered, to sing their national anthem.


BLITZER (voice-over): So, as the fighting stretches, into a second month, they hope the rest of the world, will continue to hear, their defiant.


BLITZER (voice-over): And resilient tone.



BLITZER: And we'll be right back.



BLITZER: Again, that very story piece, you just saw, in our last segment, with the musicians, in Ukraine, is just one example of the unique storytelling, you'll find, on our new CNN+ program, "THE NEWSCAST WITH WOLF BLITZER." You can stream it, weeknights, at 7:30 P.M. Eastern, or watch it anytime, on-demand. Learn more at

Also, join me, in "THE SITUATION ROOM," tomorrow, 6 P.M. Eastern.

I'll see you right here, once again, tomorrow night, as well.

I am Wolf Blitzer. Thanks very much for watching.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT," live from Ukraine, starts right now.

Don, how are you doing, as I always ask you.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Yes, I'm wearing a hat. It's raining, and a little misty out, and it's very cold, But, Wolf, I'm OK. Especially considering what the people here are dealing with, this is nothing to deal with.

Speaking of reporting, I am so proud, of the reporters, here, on CNN, our CNN International reporters, who are intrepid, and they travel, all over the world, and do this kind of work, all the time, and they don't always get the recognition, for it.