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CNN Live Event/Special

Zelenskyy Set To Depart U.S. After First Trip Away Since War Began; Top Russian Official Meets Chinese President, Talk Ukraine; January 6 Committee Releases Testimony Of 34 Witnesses In Investigation. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 21, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: As eloquent as President Zelenskyy's words were, tonight, there was a moment, toward the end of his remarks that also spoke powerfully.

He presented Ukrainian flag, to Speaker Pelosi, and Vice President Harris, yellow and blue, covered in signatures. It was the farthest thing from an ordinary souvenir. It came, just 24 hours earlier, from his visit, to the frontlines, in Bakhmut, the signatures, from the troops there, their way of saying, thank you, for this country's help.

It's a historic night. And, of course, CNN is going to continue to cover it, like no one else.

Erin Burnett picks it up, right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. And welcome to this special edition of CNN TONIGHT.

"Ukraine will never surrender." Those are the words of a defiant Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, preparing now to return, to his war-torn country, a country that until today, he had not left, for 10 months. This is the only time. And he did it, to meet with President Biden, and to deliver that passionate speech, before Congress.

We are standing by, now, for his departure, from Joint Base Andrews, in Maryland, a departure, just to be clear here, that comes with the highest security. I mean, Zelenskyy has a target on his back. And now, of course, they know where he's going. He's going home.

But he got the most of his mere hours in the United States, meeting for roughly four hours, with President Biden, at the White House. Then, side-by-side, with the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, as he headed to Capitol Hill. This is, by the way, the last time Pelosi will preside, as Speaker, over a joint meeting of Congress.

Zelenskyy received a rousing standing ovation, as he appeared in his olive green fatigues, his sweatshirt, with this trident on the front that is his wartime uniform, instead of a suit and a tie. The Ukrainian leader, thanking the American people, for standing with

Ukraine, asking for their continued support.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: And your support is crucial, not just to stand in such fight, but to get to the turning point to win on the battlefield. We have artillery, yes, thank you. We have it. Is it enough? Honestly, not really.


BURNETT: "Not really."

And then, he went on to talk about how Ukraine has defeated Russia, in the battlefield, for the minds of the world, and he congratulated America, for uniting the global community.

At the end of the speech, Zelenskyy presented Speaker Pelosi, with that Ukrainian flag, Anderson was just showing. And this flag, specifically signed by his forces, who are fighting, right now, in the completely devastated town of Bakhmut.


ZELENSKYY: We will win because we are united, Ukraine, America and the entire free world.




BURNETT: Today's consequential speech coming, as Zelenskyy is now getting some much needed support that he has been asking for. Today, the U.S. announcing it will deliver its Patriot missile systems, to Ukraine, part of a nearly $2 billion aid package.

And earlier, during a press conference, with President Biden, Zelenskyy and Biden were both asked whether Ukraine could receive the tools, and weaponry, needed, all -- the numbers, the amounts needed, to actually defeat Putin.






(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: You can hear the laughter, probably -- may have felt a little odd. It certainly did to me. It was in a sense an awkward laughter, right? It is no joking matter. But this is the reality, right? It is the U.S. that has been arming and providing Zelenskyy with what he needs to defeat, and to fight, Putin.

And today, Putin was adamant that Russia will not back down, insisting that he's just begun beefing up his Military.

Zelenskyy, of course, has said he's target number one, for Putin. And that is clear. And the trip that he made, it came with serious risks. Russian forces now will clearly track his every move, home, right? When he came out, nobody knew he was out, and coming to the U.S., till he was already out of Ukraine. But now, on the way back, the world knows where he's been, and Zelenskyy knows it.

Just today, the head of Ukraine's security services said the agency was now purging its ranks, rooting out traitors, who could be helping Putin.

We have so much to cover, over this next hour. I do want to begin though with Phil Mattingly, because he is live, at the White House.


And Phil, what more are you learning, here, as Zelenskyy is preparing to go home?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was a consequential and, two, a very dramatic day, when President Zelenskyy gave his remarks, to that joint meeting of Congress. And it was one, White House officials, here, were watching very closely. President Biden was watching the remarks, live.

Top national security officials were as well, in part because of just how keen -- their level of keen awareness, about how important those lawmakers that were gathered are, for the future of the U.S. support, when it comes to Ukraine, and also for the durability of the public support, in the U.S., for the war in Ukraine.

Now, President Biden has been unequivocal, for months and, once again, repeated it today, in public comments, standing next to President Zelenskyy. U.S. will support Ukraine, for as long as it takes, no matter how long it takes. But that is required to have congressional support as well. And congressmen and senators are very responsive to what their voters say and want.


MATTINGLY: And therefore, at the White House, as they watch these remarks, play out, some of the remarks weren't necessarily welcome, in terms of the areas, where they may have been slightly critical, of how the White House has offered its support, up to this point.

But they understood the importance of it. Maintaining that support, going forward, is essential, to delivering on what President Biden made clear, very clearly, today, throughout the course of the day that in his mind, there is no other option than to continue that support going forward out.

BURNETT: All right, Phil Mattingly, thank you.

And now let's go to Kyiv, and Will Ripley.

And Will, Zelenskyy is now on his way, to where you are, to Kyiv, home. How do people there, view this trip?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reality is, of course, this is a triumphant moment, and people will feel very proud, of their President, for giving that primetime speech, in English, and for securing billions of dollars, in additional aid, and weapons.

But Erin, the sad reality, on the ground, here, is the majority of people, even if they are up, at this very late hour, might not be able to watch it, because they don't have electricity. They don't have heat. A lot of people don't have water.

So, daily survival, and figuring out how to keep the kids warm, how to get them fed, how to function, in what was a very developed and, modern society, up until President Putin--


RIPLEY: --started trying to bomb them, into this Stone Age. I mean, these relentless Russian airstrikes, including air raid sirens, nationwide, just today, are a fact of life. And so, that is the pressing concern for people.

Yes, they want as many weapons as possible. Especially, we've talked to soldiers, or retired Military, who say they just need as many weapons as they can get. They want not just Patriots, for defense. They want offensive weapons.


RIPLEY: So, they can try to take back Crimea, which Putin seized, almost nine years ago.

They want to be able to regain ground, to the east and the south that right now, they're holding, they're holding the lines. But they're not able to regain, especially as Russia uses those Wagner Group mercenaries.

And there's also the concern, of course, of a potential new front, with Russian troops assembling to the north, in Belarus. You've covered that issue extensively on your program.

And this could be the huge challenge, facing the Ukrainian Military, perhaps weeks away, or months away, depending on when -- if and when Vladimir Putin decides to make his move, when he has those hundreds of thousands of mobilized conscripts, trained, and ready to go, even though they are ill-equipped, as you've reported about, extensively. There're still a huge numbers of them.

And so, the Ukrainian President, despite this hugely triumphant moment, and a historic speech, he comes back home, to the reality that this war, not even far from over. Some fear, here, it may just be beginning, Erin.

BURNETT: Yes. All right, thank you very much. Will Ripley, live, in Kyiv, tonight.

And I want to go now, to the retired Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt.

Along with, Doug London, a 34-year-veteran of the CIA's Clandestine Service, and the Author of "The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence".

So, thanks very much to both of you.

General Kimmitt, I just wanted to start with, watching this tonight, Zelenskyy just left the Capitol. He is preparing to go home.


BURNETT: He meets with Biden, earlier today. He just arrived this morning, right? So, he comes. He goes to the White House. He meets with the President of United States. He goes to the Capitol, and meets with Nancy Pelosi. He does the speech.

He, just yesterday, yesterday, was in Bakhmut, all right, getting the flag that he presented, to Nancy Pelosi.

And just to show everyone what Bakhmut looks like, OK, what he was seeing with his eyes, what he is seeing, every day, in a war zone that he has not left for 10 months.


BURNETT: He lives in a veritable bunker, right? He has not left one single day. He's got a target on his back.


BURNETT: This is what he's seeing, and living, the country filled with mines and rockets. And then, he lands. No sleep, at a train or a plane, and he lands in Washington, D.C.

General, how hard is this on a human level, for someone to do?

KIMMITT: Well, it's tremendously hard, especially for a leader, especially for a commander, who understands that he has the entire weight of his Military and, in this case, his entire nation, on his shoulders.

[21:10:00] That is one of my concerns. I don't see a lot of depth in the leadership, below President Zelenskyy. And one wonders, how long he can keep this up. But thank God, he is, because he's doing a marvelous job, both as a President, and as a Military commander.

BURNETT: Well, and you call it, keep it up.

I should emphasize. Yesterday, he was in Bakhmut.


BURNETT: I mean, just the actual math of the time, given what's going on, and what it's like, to travel through Ukraine. No one has any special powers there.


BURNETT: Right? To get from there to here, there was no sleeping anywhere, except for maybe in a train, briefly, or a Military plane. I mean, he is running -- running on less than empty, and continues to do it.

And, Doug, to that point, I want to play again, the moment that Zelenskyy walks into that joint meeting of Congress, right after we've contextualized this a bit. And let me just play it, and let everyone watch.




BURNETT: He seemed emotional, for an instant, or two, there.

Doug, what do you see, when you watch this, and you see this leader, but also this man, and this human being, coming into that moment?


What we see playing out here is the information battle, in this new war. And Zelenskyy's conscious effort to show himself as human, and even vulnerable, I think is good, for local politics. And politics is local.

He came here with high expectations and high stakes. He has to challenge the messaging that the Russians are trying to use and amplify that "This isn't America's battle. We have more to lose by being in it," where what he's trying to convey, and which I believe to be the case, "This really is our war."

And Ukraine is just a part of what Putin seeks to do, which is much broader. And really, it's about coming after the West for his effort to try to reverse the fortunes that he believes the West took away from Russia

BURNETT: And General Kimmitt, I want to play a moment, from the press conference, earlier today, with President Biden, just in terms of when you're talking about, what his goals are here--


BURNETT: That he needs continued massive support, from the United States. Let me just play this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe I sound naive, but can we make long story short and give Ukraine all capabilities it needs and liberate all territories rather sooner than later? Thank you.

BIDEN: Well, the -- his answer is yes.





BURNETT: And General, that was that sort of awkward laughter.


BURNETT: Because, of course, it's not funny. But there was that moment when, the question was, "Why can't you just give everything to them? Why can't you just give Ukraine everything it needs and get this over with?" to Biden, and to the United States.

So tonight, Zelenskyy, in addition to this address, right, he met with some crucial people, one of whom was Kevin McCarthy, who is likely going to be the GOP Speaker of the House, in days. McCarthy's caucus is not united, on what they're going to do.

Will the U.S. continue, to fund, as it has been funding, right? There's a lot more Patriot missile systems that Ukraine is going to need and want. They are only getting one, right now.

KIMMITT: Right. Well, I think they will. I think once Republicans have the mantle of power, and that responsibility that comes with that power, they're going to recognize the importance of this mission.

But I also think that's why Zelenskyy came. He's worried about us. He's seen our support start to wane. He isn't stopping. His troops aren't stopping. But if he loses America, in this, he's going to lose his fight. So, he's here not only to demonstrate they're doing a good job, but also to tell Americans, "Hang in there with me."

BURNETT: And, in terms of the timing, right? We had 10 days warning on this.


BURNETT: That was when -- we understand only 10 days ago, to this event start. But this sort of sudden unexpected miss of it, obviously seems very purposeful, right?


BURNETT: Ahead of the transfer of power of Congress, and at Christmas.

KIMMITT: Oh, I think he couldn't have found a better time. This was not serendipitous.

He didn't just come up with this thought. He thought deeply, and his advisers thought deeply, about "Where are we? What's happening in America? If we lose America, we're going to lose this fight. I need to get over there and explain to the American people, and the American congress, what we need from them."

BURNETT: And Doug, Zelenskyy also said, today, that he is quote, here on the same podium, as the President of the United States. And he said that that sends a clear signal, to Putin, right? Very, very clear about that. What signal does it send?

LONDON: He's sending signals to different audiences. And one way, of course, he's sending a signal, to his domestic audience, which has great expectations, for him, to come back, with a shopping bag full of new toys and money and such.


And to Putin, showing that solidarity with the United States, I mean, this is really what Putin attacked Ukraine over in the first place.


LONDON: The belief that Ukraine was falling into the Western orbit, into the American orbit.

So, there's a whole lot of messaging going on here. And messaging, as the General said, is very critical, here, in solidifying the support, in the United States, but also the continued support, and union, of the European allies, and the West.

BURNETT: General, I want to ask one other thing about just sort of the optics here that are so much more than that, all right?

So today, what Zelenskyy wore? We just saw him on the screen, with the President and the first lady. He wore his green pants, and his green sweatshirt, with the Ukrainian trident.

This is what he wears every single day. Every single day of the war, and we have seen him that is what he has worn. This is not a shallow point about wardrobe, all right? His clothes now define his leadership to the world. They do define his leadership to the world, in a subtle but very powerful way. And there was that dramatic unfurling of the flag, at the end of the speech that he did.

But what do you make of this? It almost seems that he kind of stumbled into this uniform, as it may be, but it has become something that to the world, now, symbolizes him, and Ukraine.

KIMMITT: Yes. First of all, it shows solidarity with his soldiers, "I am wearing virtually the same uniform as you are."

But he understands, as Doug said, the power of message, the power of the narrative. It's iconic. And he realizes that he has as much responsibility, as a leader, to rally the world behind him, as his troops do, to killing Russians.

So, he is very intelligent. Obviously, his actor background, understands how to talk to an audience, and he's capitalizing that, and he's leveraging it to great, great fulfillment, in the mission that he has set out, for himself, and his people.

BURNETT: All right, General Kimmitt, Doug London, thank you both very much. I appreciate it.

And next, Zelenskyy says that American help is not charity. It is an investment. So, how much of an investment does Zelenskyy want the U.S. to make? I'm going to speak to an American, who has been advising the Commander-in-Chief, of the Ukrainian forces, General Zaluzhnyi.

Plus, Biden says his meeting sends a critical message to Putin. So, will the Russian President retaliate, or is it all hot air?

And the January 6 committee, tonight, releasing dozens of transcripts, from witnesses, this actually, just happening, amidst the speech. They reveal what Mike Flynn, Roger Stone, and others, told the Committee.



BURNETT: Just in, the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is very pleased, with his visit, to the U.S., today. This is according to a source, close to Zelenskyy, who also told our Jake Tapper, that his meetings with President Biden, where Biden announced the U.S. would send Patriot missiles, to Ukraine, was sincere. The meeting with Congress was great. So, of course, that's the way that they are perceiving this, right now.

This, of course, is where he warned this.


ZELENSKYY: It is just a matter of time when they will strike against your other allies, if we do not stop them now. We must do it.



BURNETT: Something heard in Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, and other places.

Joining me now, Dan Rice, Special Adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces, one of the only Americans, to meet repeatedly, with both Ukrainian and U.S. generals, including the staff of the Joint Chiefs, just earlier this week.

So, Dan, you see this from so many perspectives. So, let's just start with the Patriot missile system that they have -- they're now going to get. OK, they've been asking about this.


BURNETT: Asking for this. I mean, this goes back years, OK?

RICE: Way back, yes.

BURNETT: And here we are. They're finally going to get one.

So, it's going to take months to train the Ukrainians how to use them, we understand. And, of course, this is -- they're getting one battery, as you call it, for the Patriot system.

RICE: Yes.

BURNETT: So, tell me what this means. What are they getting? How is it -- what is it really going to have, in terms of an impact? And what more are they going to need?

RICE: Yes, the Patriot system is a high-altitude long-range anti- aircraft missile. It's about $4 million a missile. So, it's very expensive system.

A battery is roughly 100 soldiers. So, we'll have to train 100 soldiers. I'm hoping we've already done this in parallel, and started training them prior, so that we could field these systems, more quickly. I don't have any knowledge of that. So, I'm just saying. I think we're getting better.

BURNETT: But you're saying 100 -- so this system that's coming in, right now, the one that they're getting, is going to be 100 people?

RICE: 100 people, 100 Ukrainian soldiers, will be trained, most likely in Poland or Germany, and then they will field the system. The system will most likely be to protect heave.

So, it's not going to have any effect on the battlefield. But what it will have effect on, is the soldiers in the field, whose families are under fire. So, when the Russians are attacking, right now, we're not getting all of their inbound rockets. And I was under fire, for the last month--

BURNETT: And you're going to keep needing missiles to come in?

RICE: You're going to --

BURNETT: Every time?

RICE: Yes, you're going to keep supplying.

BURNETT: So, you have -- if you're using a bunch a day, you got to get--

RICE: Yes.

BURNETT: --a bunch more, $4 million a pop every time?

RICE: Exactly, exactly.

BURNETT: And that's one battery?

RICE: One battery.

BURNETT: How many do they need?

RICE: Oh, I would say they need at least eight batteries, if they're going to protect the main population centers. But it's a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, we've been drip, drip, dripping this war.


RICE: So, we started with a few HIMARS, same thing.

I would prefer we go straight to a large number. We have them. We can give them. State Department's concerned about escalation, very valid claim. But this is a defensive weapon that's only going to attack inbound aircraft, and inbound rockets.


RICE: So, pilots, and the Russian pilots are not going to be able to hide anymore.

BURNETT: Well. And there's a certain point where it's like, if you're going to do it, and they say that it's the end of the world, if you do it, then just do it.

RICE: Exactly.

BURNETT: Don't like do one of them, and be like, "Well, there's a difference between one and two," I mean, right, so?

RICE: Exactly.

BURNETT: OK. Now, you've also been saying -- so, you're saying that they need at least eight of those. And that's just one thing we're talking about. There's a lot more that they need.

RICE: That's just one rocket system.

BURNETT: You talked a lot about cluster munition warheads.

RICE: Yes.

BURNETT: And why you believe that those make a lot of sense, even though they are frowned upon by much of the world. The U.S. has a lot of them.

RICE: Yes.

BURNETT: And you think that Ukraine should have them. You were on the show, six weeks ago, when they submitted the--

RICE: Yes. Thank you for me on.

BURNETT: --the actual request.

RICE: Yes.

BURNETT: So, where do things stand with that?

RICE: I've spoken to the Joint Chiefs about this. I'm constantly in touch with Ukraine about it. At this point, we have not given them any. We really need to. They will basically multiply the artillery shells by five to 10 times more lethal.

I've been in combat on the frontlines. I've seen the artillery that we're firing. It's high explosive. It's like throwing a dart at an ant. You want to throw a flame thrower at a bunch of ants. And so, this is how you increase the base lethality, and win the war. If we want to win it, we need to give them something, like that (ph).

BURNETT: So, this is the game-changer you think?

RICE: That's the game-changer.

BURNETT: Above all else?

RICE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BURNETT: And where does the Biden administration, as you understand it, stand on it, right now?


RICE: At this point, the Biden administration does not want to go against the countries that have signed the cluster munitions, which is mostly West Europe.

Eastern Europe, virtually none of the countries signed it. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania. They did not sign it, because they knew if they were attacked by the Russians, they would need to use this weapon.

And so, Ukraine has not signed it. The Russians haven't signed it. The Russians are using cluster munitions, which doesn't mean we should use it. They use it against civilians. That's illegal. That's a war crime.

We would like to give it to the Ukrainians, to use against Military targets, and they will send in teams, to clean it up. So, as soon as they liberate a town, they'll clean it up.


RICE: That's the usual argument that there's unexploded ordnance.


RICE: They'll follow it up, and they'll get it.

We really need an armored force, tanks and fighting vehicles.


RICE: Ukraine, right now, has got a lot of good defensive weapons, like the Patriot. But they need to go on the offensive to get rid of the Russians out of the country. And that requires a lot of offensive weapons, which we're not giving them, the amount, to win the war.

BURNETT: All right. Well, that's a crucial thing, for everyone, to understand, what they have, and what they need.

Dan Rice, thank you very much.

RICE: Thank you.

BURNETT: And as Zelenskyy makes history, with this trip, to the United States, Putin's Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, is calling for an expansion of the Russian army.

And Breaking News, more records, just released by the January 6 committee, here, in these last minutes. We now have transcripts, transcripts from several crucial people. We're going to tell you who, and what they said, under oath.


BURNETT: President Zelenskyy, preparing to return to Ukraine, and the war zone, after his historic address, to Congress, sending this plea, to the people of Russia, telling them that Putin has lied to them about his invasion.



ZELENSKYY: The Russians will stand a chance to be free only when they defeat the Kremlin in their minds.



BURNETT: This comes, as Ukraine's Defense Intelligence, releases what it says is a new intercepted call. And this shows a Russian soldier, painting a dire picture, of the conditions, and morale. And I wanted you to hear it for yourself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Where is our so-called "new equipment," that, (bleep), they are advertising and talking about -- I don't have a (bleep) clue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Everyone is concentrating in the Kherson direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, of course. Literally everyone, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes, T-90 tanks, everything is heading there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have a lot of 500s. A whole lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): 500s? Those are the ones, (bleep), who throw down their weapons and say, "You can all go (bleep) yourselves, I am not going to fight anymore," and then they just (bleep) off. That's a 500 for you.


BURNETT: Joining me now, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former Army Commanding General for Europe and Seventh Army.

And Andrei Soldatov, the Russian investigative journalist, who's website focused on Russian security services, and has been blocked in Russia. Andrei is also the Author of "The Compatriots: The Russian Exiles Who Fought Against the Kremlin."

Thanks so much to both of you, as you have been, through covering all of this, for 10 months, here, all of us together.

And General Hertling, Putin now says he has no doubt that Russia's goals, in Ukraine, will be achieved, says it on the same day, of course, that Zelenskyy's in Washington.

But Sergei Shoigu, the Defense Minister of Russia, has announced a massive increase, in the size of the Russian Military, from 1 million to 1.5 million personnel. Now, obviously, 100,000 of them or so are already dead, in Ukraine. But they're announcing a mass increase.

Is this real? Is this? Could this really happen? Or is it just total bluster? What do you think, General?


The point is Mr. Putin continues to announce what he's going to do, in terms of mobilization of forces. In Las Vegas, Erin, this is called throwing good money after bad. He just continues to attempt to mobilize forces.

He's seen a great brain-drain, within Russia itself, of young 18-year- olds to 24-year-olds, leaving the country, trying to depart, to avoid this kind of stuff. He has proven decidedly that he does not have the equipment. There's no doctrine that their soldiers are following that's effective.

Their leaders are corrupt and immoral, and they are not -- they're actually contributing to the failure, as opposed to preventing it. There's a lack of ability to adapt to the battlefield conditions.

And the final thought is any modern army that performs well, on the battlefield, has trust, in their leaders, their equipment, their doctrine, and the support of the people. The Russian soldiers do not have that. So, it doesn't matter how many he's mobilizing. It just means that more of them are going to die on the battlefield.

BURNETT: So, Andrei the General talks about trust. We realize that does not exist, in many cases, between the Russian soldiers, themselves, between ones, who are already there, and new conscripts, and between any of them, and their commanders.

That latest intercepted phone call? And I know you and I have talked about so many of these, right?


BURNETT: But the one that we just heard, talking about people pulling a 500, right, and just "F-bomb, I'm not fighting anymore, I'm just walking off," this is in line with so many calls and videos that we have heard, and seen, that show a dire situation, among the Russian troops, major equipment issues.

Putin knows about all this. Doesn't he, Andrei? Or does he not know about all this? Is he in the dark, and doesn't have any idea how bad things are? What's the reality?

SOLDATOV: Well, to be honest, today, when he decided to speak, to his Military commanders, he looked a bit delusional. It looks like he still believes that he is in total control, of the whole situation.

He constantly was talking about the new objectives, for the war, that "We have this conflict for centuries, we're going to win. We're going to increase our army." And he constantly addressed his generals, as the only audience, who completely understood him.

And the problem is that by that moment, about some kind of dissent, we had, in public opinion, in Russian social media, we are suppressed by the Kremlin and by the Russian Security Services. So, the only picture Putin actually sees is completed billions (ph), and that is why he still believes that he is in control.

[21:35:00] BURNETT: General, today, Putin said, quote, we need to continue to support and improve the readiness, of Russia's nuclear weapons. What do you think Putin's next move will be here? He's been so clear that there would be one, in response to the Patriots. So what does he do?

HERTLING: Well, he's not going to have much of an effect, on the Patriots, to be honest with you, Erin. And, as you talked to some of your last guests, about the size of that force? That's a relatively small battery. It's going to have probably six launchers, around Ukraine, or I'm sorry, around Kyiv.


HERTLING: They're going to be heavily guarded. And he doesn't have the capability to attack them.

What we've seen Mr. Putin, and his Military, do is attack more of the civilian population than he has Ukraine's Military. So, the comment about continuing to polish his nuclear capability is something he's been saying, and threatening, since the beginning of this war. And he has made a lot of bad mistakes, both operationally, tactically and strategically, this would be a huge misstep, on his part.

And I think he knows that the repercussions, for the use of any kind of nuclear weapons, would be catastrophic, because that's what President Biden, and others, within the administration, has told him, and his administration. So, this is just more threats, more bluster, by Mr. Putin.

And I sure hope his nuclear force is a lot better than his conventional force, because his conventional force has not shown any capability, whatsoever.

BURNETT: General Hertling, Andrei Soldatov, thanks to both of you, this evening.

And next, there was another major meeting, between world powers, in the past 24 hours. And this one was really important. It was between Russia and China. And it was the same day that Zelenskyy met Biden.

And Breaking News, we now know who said what, to the January 6 committee. Dozens of transcripts just released, here, in this past hour, as this breaking Zelenskyy news has happened. We have some major developments, on that. And we will have that for you, after this.



BURNETT: Tonight, a united front, President Zelenskyy speaking, to how crucial, United States' support has been, and it's been incredibly bipartisan, for Ukraine, in his historic speech to Congress.


ZELENSKYY: Our two nations are allies in this battle. You have succeeded in uniting the global community to protect freedom and international law.


BURNETT: Zelenskyy's words coming, as the Russians made a point, today, to, well, publicly meet with China.

On the same day, Zelenskyy visited Washington, the former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the same person who, by the way, said if the U.S. provides patriots to Ukraine, it's a legitimate target, for all NATO, Medvedev met with Xi Jinping, in Beijing. They talked about the war, in Ukraine. Of course, they don't use that word. China, following Russia's lead, does not call the invasion, a war at all.

Joining me now, Democratic Senator, Chris Coons, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee.

And Senator, I do want to ask you about that meeting, in a moment.

But first, you were there, in that room, tonight, where Zelenskyy -- President Zelenskyy came in, that emotional entrance. He referenced a peace plan that he discussed with President Biden. And do you know any details about what this is?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Do I know any details about his discussion with President Biden? No.

But I know that he gave an electrifying speech. There were, as your screen is showing, rounds and rounds of standing ovations. He reminded us, about the courage, the determination, and the sacrifice, of the Ukrainian people. He thanked us. He thanked the American people. He thanked President Biden.

And, as you know, we are working tonight, to pass the FY23, the upcoming year spending bill that would provide an additional $45 billion, in humanitarian, economic and Military support, for the brave Ukrainians, who continue to fight, to expel the Russian occupiers from their nation.

BURNETT: Senator Coons, do you think that $45 billion will get them through next year, in terms of the Military needs that they will have?

I mean, just referring to the Patriots, right? They're getting one battery. They're going to want more than that. They're going to want, who knows, right, six, seven, eight, whatever they're going to want. They're going to want more.

Does the $45 billion cover what they need? Or is Congress going to have to pass more money, when you're dealing with a Republican House?

COONS: Erin, I'm optimistic that the $45 billion will meet Ukraine's needs, for the coming year, both for economic support and Military support.

But frankly, that's in part because we're counting on our European allies, to continue to be strong supporters, of the Ukrainian people, both in taking in and supporting Ukrainian refugees, and in continuing to provide Military and economic support.

The United States is not carrying this burden alone. It's the Ukrainian people, who are doing the fighting. And it's our European partners, in NATO, and in other places, around the world, who are also contributing to the cost.

Yes, the United States is the single biggest contributor. And depending on the turn of the war, in the next couple of months, it is possible we would need to provide more. But I think the significant appropriation, Erin, would send a very strong signal, to Putin, that the United States, stands united, in bipartisan support, of Ukraine, going forward.

BURNETT: And, obviously. But it's significant that you say, look, Europe needs to do more. And I think we all know that. In part, the U.S. has been kind of drip-drip because Europe has. U.S. -- this has all been part and parcel of the same issue.

The meeting, today, with Zelenskyy and, of course, his appearance, in front of the joint meeting of Congress came, Senator, as Dmitry Medvedev, right, who has issued so many threats, nuclear and otherwise, but also threats about the Patriot system, specifically, met with Xi Jinping.

What's your understanding of that meeting of what happened there, and what it was about?

COONS: Well, public reporting on this meeting suggests that President Xi cautioned Russian leadership to not be more aggressive, on Ukraine.


Look, for a long time, China's position, globally, has been that they respect national sovereignty. And they have been put in a very difficult position, by having aligned themselves, with Putin, and Putin having now carried out a brutal invasion, of Ukraine. As you said, in your introduction, to this piece, they don't call it a war. They don't call it an invasion. And they keep calling, for negotiations, and for peace.


COONS: But this puts them in a tough spot, internationally, because China's long commitment, to territorial sovereignty, is something that is clearly being crossed, by Russia's ongoing aggression, and occupation, and intended annexation, of portions of Ukraine.

BURNETT: Senator Coons, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

COONS: Thank you.

BURNETT: Mr. Senator is still in Washington, along with the rest of the Senate, waiting to pass that omnibus, and seeing if they can indeed do that, and get home for Christmas. Thank you. And next, the Breaking News, those new records, I referenced, released by the January 6 committee, coming out now. We have 34 transcripts, right now, 34 transcripts. Trying to go through them, we're going to give you the information, who said what, when and how.

And Ukrainians are making do with just a few hours of power a day.


BURNETT: Wait till you see this image. I really want to play it for you. This is a teacher in Kyiv, and I'm going to show it to you, in a minute.



BURNETT: Breaking News, from the January 6 committee.

We have just gotten 34 transcripts, 34 transcripts, of interviews, with key witnesses. This includes the former President Trump's National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, former Trump lawyer, John Eastman, longtime Republican operative, Roger Stone, as well as far- right conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones.

OK, so we've got 34. Now, keep in mind, there were like 1,000 people, who testified. So, we're going to get a lot more. But 34 is a lot, and some of these are important, big ones.

And we are also learning, just in these past minutes that the Committee's highly-anticipated final report, which had been expected, today, will now be released, tomorrow. Perhaps they decided to wait, because the eyes of the world, of course, were on President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Let's go to Sara Murray, now, who has been going through these transcripts.

All right, Sara, there's a lot, 34 transcripts. But some of them are quite terse, shall I say? What can you tell us?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think "Terse" is a good way of putting it.

This batch of transcripts, what they really have in common, is these are witnesses, who did not want to answer the Committee's questions and, in many of these cases, invokes their Fifth Amendment right, against self-incrimination.

So, when you look at the Eastman transcript, he's asked about legal memos that he wrote. He invokes the Fifth Amendment.

Roger Stone, remember, he was convicted of lying to Congress, in the Russia investigation, and later pardoned by Trump. He pled the Fifth to every question that he was asked. And Jeffrey Clark, the former DOJ official, he had a pretty combative set of two depositions, with the Committee. In the first one, his lawyer presented the Committee, with 12 pages of their objections. And, in his second deposition, with the Committee, he pleaded the Fifth, roughly 120 times.

So, it gives you a look at how investigators were not able to maybe get all of the answers they wanted. But you learn a lot from their questions, even for these witnesses, that were not willing to answer investigators' questions.

In the questions they asked, you can tell that they have been able to obtain emails, these people are involved in, text threads these people are involved in. So, it gives you an idea of the volume of evidence the Committee has, even when they're dealing with witnesses, who are not interested, in answering the Committee's questions, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Sara Murray, thank you very much.

And now, let's go to Ryan Goodman, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Just Security legal blog, former Special Counsel at the Department of Defense.

OK. So, you also have had a chance to go through these. What stands out to you, when you go through the 34 that we have thus far?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: So, part of what stands out to me are the kinds of key questions that the witnesses refuse to answer, and claim the Fifth.

In a jury with a criminal trial, you're not supposed to draw any negative inference. But, in a civil case, you're allowed to do so. And the Committee itself could have done so.

So, for example, Roger Stone is asked, "Did you have any communications with President Trump, on January 5, or January 6?" Pleads the Fifth.

The DOJ official, Jeffrey Clark, "Did you meet with President Trump, without telling your supervisors," which is against policies in the White House and Justice Department, pleads the -- takes the Fifth.

So, I think that we can -- the American public, as in the "We," can draw inferences, and understand this is a pretty strong indication, of some form of guilt. They are trying to hide something, and it's probably something incriminating.

BURNETT: Right. And I know, as you said, of course, the former President Trump famously said, "Plead the Fifth, if you're innocent."

But to your point, right, you're not supposed to infer, in criminal cases. But it's pretty clear. If Jeffrey Clark could have said, "No," he should have said -- he should have said "No, I had no -- I had no meetings that my boss didn't authorize." Easy question, easy question, except for, if the answer is, "Yes."


BURNETT: OK. So, what other ones are -- let's just say, you look through this, and you look at Fifth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, right, fast reading in some senses?


BURNETT: Can the DOJ overcome that?


BURNETT: If these are referred to the DOJ, can they get answers to this?

GOODMAN: It's a great question. So, it is a roadblock for the Committee. But it's not necessarily a roadblock for the Department of Justice.

What Special Counsel Smith has to face is a choice, he can immunize these people. So, he can say, "Look, I'm giving you immunity. You're no longer in legal jeopardy. Now, you have to testify," and they have no choice. But his choice is whether or not to immunize somebody, like Roger Stone, or Jeffrey Clark, rather than prosecute them. And that's the choice that's really his to make, because he can overcome the Fifth, if he wants to.

BURNETT: All right, so he has to make those decisions now. Tomorrow, like, as I said, right, they had about 1,000 interviews. They're going to be releasing a lot of transcripts. We've got 34, some of these very crucial.

What are some of the other ones that you're going to be looking for? Because we do anticipate a big dump of these tomorrow.

GOODMAN: I think the Bill Barr one is an important one. He was a right-hand person, for Donald Trump, but he seems to have provided really compelling evidence and, I think, for the American public, and some of Trumps base, even that--


GOODMAN: --that he's a kind of a person that might change people's views, understanding what really went on. Pat Cipollone is actually seemingly much more forthcoming than anybody ever knew.


GOODMAN: And I'd like to see much more about what was in his testimony.


BURNETT: And the Committee was very clear, to applaud him, for his honesty, and integrity, in terms of speaking to them.

Now, just to be clear, we looked through the Executive summary that was again, depending which printout you had, anywhere between 90 and 161 pages, but with footnotes, a very, very big document for the word, "Summary," to be attached to it.

You're also saying tomorrow you anticipate more that in those referrals, we saw four charges that we could get referrals that are much more detailed. Why is that important? What are you looking for?

GOODMAN: So, we have two types of referrals that -- put it in like two tiers. Tier one is referrals that people should be charged with crimes. That's where they have Donald Trump, under four different criminal statutes. Then we have a second tier, which is there's criminal evidence of wrong -- well, there's evidence of criminal wrongdoing that should be investigated.


GOODMAN: That's the ones, where it's like the lawyers, who are trying to coach witnesses to lie, or witness tampering and intimidation. Those people are so far unnamed. It'd be very interesting to know if they're actually named in the report, tomorrow.

BURNETT: Right, and it could be serious criminal liability, of course, for those attorneys.

Ryan Goodman, thank you very much.

A big night, for that committee, and obviously, going to be a huge day, tomorrow.

Well, next, the Ukrainian teacher, committed to teaching, and just we're going to play this for you. It is a pretty amazing moment.



BURNETT: And finally, tonight, President Zelenskyy says Putin's invasion, won't stop Christmas.


ZELENSKYY: We'll celebrate Christmas, celebrate Christmas. And even if there is no electricity, the light of our faith in ourselves will not be put out.


BURNETT: The power in Ukraine growing more dire. An expert on Ukraine's power grid says the capital will at best have no more than 10 hours of electricity a day, in January, the coldest month, in Kyiv.

The lack of power, because of Russia's strikes, on civilian infrastructure, those attacks taking out power, heat and the internet, which leaves kids, unable to even attend classes, virtually, unless they go outside.

And one extremely resourceful teacher has found a way to teach no matter what.


BURNETT: Look at her. She's on the street, right? No WiFi inside, goes outside in the freezing cold, set up shop, in a parking lot, at a supermarket. That's where she is. According to Ukraine's Defense Ministry, this is an area that has still has some electricity.


BURNETT: Well, look at that! I don't know. There's something about that I just found to be so powerful.

Thanks for joining us. "CNN TONIGHT" with John Berman, starts now.