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Kherson Mayor Indicates First Major Ukrainian City Has Fallen; Large Blast Heard In Kyiv On Seventh Night Of War; Sources Say, U.S. Delivering Hundreds Of Anti-Aircraft Missiles To Ukraine; Major Companies Cutting Ties with Russia Over Ukraine Invasion. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 02, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Abramovich says the money will pay for war victims' immediate needs as well as for the long-term recovery and rebuilding of Ukraine.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Tweeter and the TikTok @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn or listen to our podcast. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. The first major Ukrainian city appears to have fallen. The mayor of Kherson now indicating that the Russians have taken control of the southern city as Kremlin forces roll through the streets.

Also breaking, the Ukrainian capital is battered by airstrikes but still holding the line against Russian invader as a new explosion echoes on this seventh night of the war. U.S. officials warning that Moscow may be shifting to an ominous strategy of what U.S. officials are calling slow annihilation.

Our correspondents are covering this war from key locations across Ukraine, along with the reporters in Russia at Ukraine's border with Poland and here in the United States.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

All right, let's get right to the breaking news on the Russians appearing to overtake the strategic southern city of Kherson, a first in their brutal war on Ukraine. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Southern Ukraine for us. Nick, you were there in Kherson just a few days ago. What are you learning?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. I mean, it is quite clear that a significant change of control has now occurred in Kherson, predominantly because the mayor of that strategic city. Remember, we've been there to see a lot of fighting for an important bridge to the east.

The mayor of that city has said he had a meeting with what he referred to as armed men who came to his office building. That must be a reference to the Russian troops that we've seen on multiple videos inside the city.

And in those discussions, which he said were all about the politics he so hated, they essentially agreed on a number of rules that locals in the town would have to follow in order for, it seems, for the Russian flag -- so the Ukrainian flag to still fly over his administration building.

Essentially, what they seem to be laying out here is some form of martial law, an extensive curfew, people only being allowed in and out of the city during daylight hours and pedestrians being forced walk either on one or twos as groups and they have to obey the orders of armed forces on streets. That must be soldiers as well, Russian soldiers as well, Russian soldiers.

So, with a lot of kind of ways of trying to speak around it, this does essentially sound like the mayor on his Facebook post is admitting there is now a Russian military presence in that town that's essentially calling the shots on how people live their lives there.

This is important because it comes after two days worth of this videos emerging of Ukrainian civilians standing in front of Russian armor, waving the flags, a resident telling me they stood in front of the local administration building chanting, we are Ukraine, we are an independent country.

We've also seen some troubling videos too of Russian soldiers looting stores, walking around with large shopping carts full of what seemed like food, perhaps indictment of the supply line that U.S. officials have talked about not delivering what is needed where and when it is needed, and also troubling signs too of Russian soldiers marching off local men at gunpoint and shells landing in residential areas.

I think residents there must be hoping that the Facebook post perhaps marks some kind of bridge where the new Russian force has come to an accommodation with the old civilian administration there. But it is chilling, frankly, how it appears to have emerged simply in a social media post and it appears to lay out these rules for normal life proceeding in a very abnormal fashion going forward.

Many there, I'm sure, deeply concerned about how long these Russian forces intend to stay and exactly how they're going to interact with the old civil administration or if they have newer plans to install one of their own. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes. Let's not forget, Kherson has a population of about 300,000 people, 300,000 Ukrainians. All right, Nick Paton Walsh on the scene for us, thank you very much.

I want to bring in our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward. She's joining us from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Clarissa, the apparent fall of Kherson, a very serious blow to Ukrainian resistance, right?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Wolf. This is the first major city to fall since this war began one week ago. And despite the nothing short of heroic efforts of Ukrainian forces defending various towns and cities across the country, it appears that Kherson has now fallen.


That's also important strategically down on the south, on the Sea of Azov, potentially allowing the Russians to try to build a corridor potentially right up to Moldova.

We just don't know what their plan is yet, Wolf and that is what got so many people here in Kyiv, here in the capital, very much on edge, not knowing what Russia's endgame really is here.

It had been a quiet day earlier. Then a few hours ago, we heard a very loud explosion coming from not too far away. What we're hearing now is that that hit an area near the main railway station where thousands have been evacuating. But, apparently, that wasn't necessarily the target of the strike. It was some piece of the missile that fell off. It didn't hit the train station but it did hit and damaged a heating pipeline.

It does not appear that there were any casualties other than that. But we have heard the air raid sirens going at several points in the evening. It is extremely -- I don't know if you can see, probably not, it is extremely foggy here at the moment, very low-lying fog. That makes it much harder for Russian forces to bombard the city with particularly aerial bombardment but even missiles because visibility is so bad tonight. That may be why it is a little bit quieter.

But still everyone here very much on edge, seeing what is happening in Kherson, knowing about that convoy that continues to sit just outside the capital, Wolf.

BLITZER: And as you know, Clarissa, Russia also has been heavily targeting Ukraine's second largest city, we're talking about Kharkiv, where a police department and a school were hit by airstrikes today. What are you learning about the fight there?

WARD: Well, this has been some of the ugliest, most indiscriminate and indeed targeting of civilian structures that we've seen in the course of this war. This is a city of 1.4 million people, Kharkiv. What we know is that the university was hit earlier on today, according to Ukrainian authorities. Also a school, as you mentioned, in the northern part of the city was hit.

And it seems, and, again, it's difficult to extrapolate, right, because we don't have a good sense of exactly what the Russian strategy is, but in some ways, it appears that they are trying to make an example out of Kharkiv, upping the ante, hitting civilian targets, trying to instill fear in the Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainian government potentially ahead of some kind of an assault on Kyiv.

And one more point that I think is important to make, Wolf, is that those talks are supposed to be happening tomorrow. They were supposed to be happening today. Now, they should be happening tomorrow. Ukrainian delegation traveling to meet that Russian delegation, this is the second round, they'll be meeting in Belarus again. And the question becomes is there any possibility for some kind of a de- escalation, some kind of a diplomatic process. At moment, it does not appear so, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, the Russians clearly targeting civilian targets, whether apartment buildings or schools or hospitals, it is a horrible, horrible situation. Clarissa, stay safe over there and we'll be in touch, Clarissa Ward, reporting.

Meanwhile, U.S. military and intelligence officials, they are sharing new information right now about Russia's war strategy. Our Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto is following that from his position in Western Ukraine for us. Jim, I understand there is a large Russian military convoy still heading toward Kyiv. The Pentagon says at least right now it is stalled. What are you hearing?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I think we need to acknowledge big picture that Russian forces are making advances in this country, particularly in the south. They still maintain an overwhelming advantage. But that massive convoy we've been watching and the world has been watching because of the prevalence of satellite images over the last several days, some 40 miles long at its peak has not moved measurably, according to the Pentagon, in the last 24 to 36 hours, stalled.

Why is that, the Pentagon's best assessment is there's a few things, one, regrouping, getting supply lines in order, including fuel. There was some evidence that some of those vehicles just didn't have any gas left in the tank, so getting prepared for what they need to do to continue on with their strategy of surrounding Kyiv before -- and, again, this is the U.S. assessment, before continuing to attempt to take over the city, take over the capital.

But for now, that giant force, that massive force stalled on the highway there, though the Pentagon watching very closely.

BLITZER: I understand, Jim, you're also getting a rather grim assessment of how this war will ultimately play out. What can you tell us?

SCIUTTO: Well, let's start with the Pentagon's best assessment now of the losses on both sides, and I'm speaking here of equipment losses.


No one is doing a great job of counting the dead. But in terms of equipment, it is the U.S. intelligence assessments best guess that Russia has lost 3 percent to 5 percent of its military hardware. We're talking tanks, artillery, aircraft, armored personnel carriers. So, a significant blow, but that the Ukrainian military, which, by the way, is a fraction of the size of the Russian military, has lost about 10 percent.

So, the math on the battlefield did not favor the Ukrainians going in. And in terms of losses so far, it does not favor them either. So, that balance of power even more so in Russia's advantage at this point.

Now, as that is happening, the Pentagon believes that Russia's strategy has changed somewhat and that is less for a shock and awe- like campaign, more for what the Pentagon described as a slow annihilation. I mean, that's the word they're using here, but to slowly engulf this country and with force, Wolf, that is used more indiscriminately. So, that means not just military targets but civilian targets moving into cities, being comfortable with, one might say, but even deliberately targeting civilians as part of that campaign. That is the sad reality of the battlefield we're watching unfold here.

BLITZER: We're talking about a lot of Ukrainian men, women and children, civilians either killed already or about to be killed in this war. CNN's Jim Sciutto in Lviv, in Ukraine for us, thank you very much, stay safe over there.

Just ahead, we'll have more on the breaking news, the United States delivering a crucial stash of anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine. We're learning new details about the weapons and what they potentially could mean for the fight against this Russian invasion.



BLITZER: There is more breaking news in the Russian invasion of Ukraine that is ongoing, sources are now telling CNN that, for the first time, the United States has delivered hundreds of stinger anti- aircraft missiles directly to Ukraine.

Let's go our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, you've got the latest. What are you learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is notable in and of itself just because the shear challenge of getting the security assistance from the United States into Ukraine right now as this Russian invasion is ongoing. But CNN has confirmed that the United States has delivered hundreds of these stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, including 200 on Monday alone.

This is notable because we saw last Friday President Biden approved that extra $350 million in aid to Ukraine. You could see these missiles there. They are so important and critical at a time like this because they can be used to shoot down aircraft.

And, Wolf, this comes as Germany has announced they are also reversing a longstanding policy sending some of this weaponry, these lethal weapons to Ukraine as well, all as President Biden today in Wisconsin was talking about this global efforts to isolate Putin.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: They're alone. And they did what they did, in my view, he did what he did because he thought he could split NATO, split Europe and split the United States. We're going to demonstrated to the whole world no one can split this country. Thank you all so very much. Thank you.


COLLINS: Of course, Wolf, those remarks coming after his state of union address last night and ahead of a cabinet meeting tomorrow that we are told is going to be much more heavily focused on foreign policy than it normally would be. There will be a large chunk of that dedicated to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, which has really spanned almost every part of the government here in the United States.

And President Biden made note on that in the latest developments at top and that comes as the Treasury Department, we are told, is working on more sanctions for these Russian oligarchs. We saw several of them were sanctioned last week. We are told that they are working on preparing more. Though, of course, a list has not been finalized yet, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kaitlan, Kaitlan Collins, at the White House for us, thank you.

Let's discuss what is going on with Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado. He's a key Member of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, which both received classified briefings today on Ukraine. He's also a former U.S. Army Ranger who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

First of all, what is your reaction to the news, very bitter news, I must say, that Kherson may be the first major Ukrainian city now to fall directly under Russian control?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Hi, Wolf. It is obviously disappointing to see the fall of the first major city, potentially. But let's not forget that there were cities that fell to the Russians and then were retaken by the Ukrainians over the last couple of days. So, let's not count the Ukrainians out.

There's a couple of thing we know to be true right now, that, one, the Russians continue to underperform. They're having logistical problems, resupply problems, fuel problems, their morale is extremely low, they're encountering desertion of their soldiers. Their soldiers actually -- many of whom did not even know they were being sent into combat.

The second thing we know is Ukrainians continue to be fierce and incredibly good fighters and they're fighting on their home turf.

The third thing we know is that arms and munitions, defensive weapons, stingers and other things are starting to flow in, in larger numbers, to the Ukrainians.

All of that said, the Russians still have an overwhelming combat advantage on paper. The odds are against the Ukrainians just on paper but we know that odds don't fight and win wars, people do. So, we have to continue to get the flow and weapons and equipment as fast as possible and get the things in the hands of the Ukrainians that they need to win this. BLITZER: Yes, every day is clearly critical. As I mentioned, you've been briefed on the situation in Ukraine. What more can you tell us, Congressman?


CROW: Well, I think this is going to be a long slog. I think if we expect Putin to take an off-ramp here or to de-escalate this because of the toll on his own army, I think we're not thinking about this in the way that Putin is thinking about this.

Just because they have underperformed and they appear to be bogged down does not mean that is changing Vladimir Putin calculus right now. I think he viewed this as an existential threat to him and his legacy and, frankly, he does not care about his own soldiers. So, he's willing to just throw as much combat power at the problem as he needs to do to win this.

In addition to that, I think he's willing to change his tactics, as we started so see, siege tactics, indiscriminate attacks on civilian population, violations of law of war, the things that we're continuing to see increase. So, this is going to get worse and worse for the Ukrainians, which is why it is more important than ever that we pass a supplemental here in D.C. to get humanitarian aid flowing, to continue the flow of weapons. And we continue to work diplomatically to keep the coalition together to increase the pressure of sanctions.

But time is on the Russian's side right now. That is why it's important that we continue to play a long game not just with the Ukrainians but also with the NATO alliance.

BLITZER: The president, President Biden, says, in his words, it is too early to say if Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine. Based on what you've seen, Congressman, do you believe Putin is guilty of war crimes?

CROW: Yes, based on what I've seen, the video evidence, the use of cluster ammunitions, the potential use or at least the deployment of thermobaric weapons, these are bombs that suck air from people around it, and also the indiscriminate shelling, we saw the use of multiple launch rocket systems on Kyiv and other types of weapons that are not being targeted that relate to military targets.

So, yes, I have seen based on the videos and stuff coming out of Ukraine what would constitute violations of the law of armed conflict, violations of the Geneva Convention, or, put bluntly, war crimes.

BLITZER: Yes. A lot of your colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, certainly agree. Congressman Jason Crow, thanks so much for joining us and thanks once again for your service.

Coming up, CNN is on the scene of a major Russian airstrike against a television tower in Kyiv. Is the Kremlin trying to shut down Ukraine's communications network?

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news out of Ukraine right now. The mayor of Kherson now indicating that the southern city with a population of about 300,000 Ukrainians has fallen in what appears to be the first major conquest by Russian forces, this as we're getting a very disturbing look at the war damage in and around Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

CNN's Alex Marquardt reports.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Russia has launched a new phase of this war on Ukraine's communication and information. This was the moment a Russian missile struck Kyiv's T.V. tower. Today, we walked through the rubble of buildings below it.

Shown around by Rostislav, who joined the civilian territorial defense forces just last week when Russia launched their invasion, the 38- year-old is normally a hot air balloon pilot whose wife and daughter have fled the country for safety. The Russian rockets on Tuesday landed all around Rostislav.

ROSTISLAV, CIVIL DEFENSE FIGHTER: There is two followed by two more. I saw them personally where they were coming from. I was standing next to the wall over there.

MARQUARDT: As Russia ramps up its bombardment of both military and civilian targets in Ukraine, it warned that Ukraine security services, communication facilities would be hit to, quote, suppress information attacks against Russia.

Russia can't help but see that it is losing the narrative, the information war with the world rallying to Ukraine's side and rejecting Russia and diplomacy, sports, business and on and on.

In the lead-up to this Russian invasion, there was a lot of speculation and fear that Russia would try to shut down communications, shut down power, impose a blackout over Ukraine. They have not been able to do that almost a week into this war. But in hitting this T.V. tower and announcing that they would be attacking other communications targets, that may be changing.

While Russia claims to not be targeting civilians, Tuesday's strike killed at least five, the government says, the deadliest in the city of Kyiv so far. Near the T.V. tower was a gym, a fire still smoldering. Smoke pouring out of the broken windows, the gym equipment covered in dust and debris.

At garage next door, staff stoically cleaned up glass, broken ceilings and threw out insulation, all of this steps from Babin Yar with its memorial for the massacre of over 30,000 Jews in the Holocaust, an area that has seen so much suffering for the Jewish people hit by a Russian leader who claims to be de-Nazifying Ukraine.

YAAKOV BLEICH, CHIEF RABBI OF KYIV AND UKRAINE: This fellow who says he's coming to fight the neo-fascists in Ukraine comes and bombs that place which is the memorial to the Jews who were killed by the fascists.

MARQUARDT: But the T.V. to you ser still up, now also as a symbol reinforcing Ukraine's resistance against this increasingly harsh Russian invasion and standing tall.


Alex Marquardt, CNN, in the Kyiv region.


BLITZER: All right. Let's take a closer look at the situation unfolding right now. Joining us, CNN military Analyst, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel Leighton, Russia clearly expanding its assaults right now in various parts of the country. What is the latest you're seeing?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: So, Wolf, yes, let's take a look at this because I think it is going to be very important to really see exactly how this all works in a larger context. So, of course, we have Kyiv right here. This is the center of gravity. This is the area where the Russians are concentrating a lot of their efforts, and we'll talk about that in just a little bit, but there are other areas as well. There is the city of Kharkiv and we just mentioned the city of Kherson, which apparently has fallen to the Russians.

Now, let's dive in deeper to Kherson and take a look here at what exactly is happening. Kherson is on the Black Sea. It is really close to this city right here, which is Odessa. Odessa is a major port. It is actually Ukraine's major port. And it is the one area that can really make a difference. Because what is happening here, if we go back about to the big map, we can take a look and see that the Russians are actually constricting all around Ukraine. This is a boa constrictor that is biting on one piece at a time and is trying to choke the entire country.

BLITZER: One U.S. official, as you know, Colonel Leighton, described the current situation, the current Russian strategy, in the words of this official, a slow annihilation. Are Putin's tactics shifting a bit?

LEIGHTON: Yes, Wolf, I think they are. And here is one of the things that they're doing. They're using systems that include the TOS-1 vacuum bomb. This is basically the launch vehicle that is used for the vacuum bomb. What this does is it actually launches a bomb that will take out air from the surrounding atmosphere. And when it does this, it actually destroys people's lungs and it makes it extremely difficult for anybody to survive an attack like that. This is particularly dangerous for enclosed spaces. Now, if we go to Kharkiv itself, we see some of the destruction that we have here. This is -- these are tactics that are designed very specifically to affect the civilian population. So, this is a war against civilians. This is not a war against the military. And these are pictures that prove that very fact.

BLITZER: Go ahead, finish your thought.

LEIGHTON: Yes, sir. Basically, the idea here now with the convoy that we have, is that this is, of course, the thing that we've been talking about. What are the Russians doing as they are going into Kyiv? Well, one of the big areas that they're looking at is the airport right here. This is a staging area. The Antonov Airport is a staging area for the Russian forces. Their 40-mile long convoy is supposed to use this as kind of a bridge head.

But what they're supposed to do is they're supposed to go in this way and possibly encircle the city like this from here and possibly from here. And if they get really lucky, they may do it this way. But if they can't do that, then what we're looking at is a major siege for the city of Kyiv and that is going to be a major problem.

BLITZER: Colonel Leighton, thank you for joining us. Excellent explanation, indeed.

And just ahead, we're going live to the Polish border for an update on the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Nearly 900,000 people have now fled from this Russian attack.



BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, the refugee crisis sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine is growing and growing by the hour. The United Nations now saying more than 874,000 people have now fled Ukraine. That is more than 100,000 a day.

CNN's Senior National Correspondent Sara Sidner is covering this part of the story for us. Sara, you're there on the border as Ukrainian refugees are crossing into Poland where you are. Tell us what you're seeing.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're in Medyka, Poland, which is right on the border with Ukraine. We were able to walk all the way up to exactly where Ukraine begins and Poland ends. And we watched as mostly women and children carrying one bag each, sometimes a dog, would come across in small groups, as they are being led across by the border control. We have been seeing lots and lots people.

But if you look there, you can see people right now just kind of walking over. At this border, you can drive over and you can walk over. It used to be the only border where you could actually walk over the border. Now, Poland as opened all its borders, saying you can walk over, drive over, however you can get over the border, you are allowed to do that. So, they've relaxed a lot of the rules when it comes to leaving Ukraine because, of course, Ukraine is incredibly dangerous in many places and people are just trying to save their lives, save their children's lives.

But one thing I would you like to express is that not everyone, most people, the vast majority, are coming out of Ukraine and into Poland to safety where they are finding all sorts of things, like jobs, they're finding places to live, they are having people open up doors and giving them a temporary place to stay. But you're also seeing a few -- a select few men who are going back into Ukraine, who are Ukrainians living in Poland, who have decided they cannot stand here and watch what is happening to their country. And so they are going back into Ukraine to fight for their country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Ukrainian, going to find against Russia. They shall not pass.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he your friend?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not afraid to fight for my homeland.


SIDNER: This is a story that you're going to hear more and more where people have just decided they can't sit back and watch any more.


We know that there have been a lot of Ukrainian students who were here in Poland who have been volunteering day and night, instead of studying, instead getting ready for upcoming finals because they feel it is important to do something for their people.

We can also tell that you about 98,000 people crossed over the border on Tuesday alone. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, huge, huge numbers. You have got to give those men who are going into Ukraine a lot of credit, indeed. Sara Sidner on the border between Poland and Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Russian military has released its first casualty figures from this war in Ukraine. Let's go to our Contributor for Russian Affairs, Jill Dougherty, she is formerly CNN's Moscow Bureau Chief. She has got some details for us.

Is the suspicion -- there is a suspicion, I understand, that Russia is underestimating these numbers to try to help shore up support for Putin, is that right?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, RUSSIAN AFFAIRS: Well, that certainly could be, Wolf. And, you know, many countries, when they go to war, kind of do the same thing. But, obviously, if you look at these numbers, 498 killed, officially according to the Ministry of Defense of Russia, and more than 1,500 wounded. And the Ukrainians are claiming that that is far higher. They're saying 6,000.

Now, there are some other independent western views that it might be about 5,000. It is very hard at this point to say. But there is no question that the Russians want this to be a small number as possible.

This is a very sensitive subject, Wolf, here in Russia. You go back to wars previously, like Dur Chechnya, and the Soldiers' Mother Committee, I remember dealing with them during the Chechnya wars, and they would always fight for information about how many people had been killed, how many of those sons had been killed and often that information was not given out by the government. So, President Putin obviously wanted this to be over as quickly as possible, and it is not.

BLITZER: I know, Jill, you've been talking to some young Russians in Moscow where you are who are protesting this war. What are they telling you?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, let's start with the numbers, first of all, because there is an organization that is clocking the numbers here on people arrested. So far, since the conflict began, which is really like a week, 7,608, they are saying, have been arrested. And today, there were 763 people arrested on the streets for protesting.

And when I talk to them, these are both some young people who have protested and some who have been thinking about it but have not done it. And I have to say that one of the strongest feelings, they feel very powerless to stop this, that they feel -- and I've been told by several people, we just feel that the only thing we could do is go on to the streets and protest. They don't really think that it is going to change much. But they don't feel that there is any way that they can have any influence.

And also, interestingly, a number of them mentioned the word, shame, that they feel shame that Russia is doing this. And then, finally, they say it is going to affect their entire lives. One woman I spoke to said, we talk about before the war, and it is only about a week ago.

BLITZER: Jill Dougherty in Moscow for us, Jill, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, importantly, for more information about how you could help humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, go to and help impact your world.

Coming up, we'll have more on the breaking news. What will the battlefield look like if that 40-mile Russian military convoy finally rolls into Kyiv? Up next, I'll ask a leading urban warfare expert about the tactics Ukrainian civilians potentially could use to fight back.



BLITZER: Right now, we want to get a new look of what the battle potentially could look like inside Ukraine's cities and we're just learning that the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson apparently has fallen, a city of some 300,000 people.

We're joined by an urban warfare expert, retired Major John Spencer.

Major, thanks for joining us.

How hard will it be to say whether Russians control Kherson or if they take other major cities amid this complex urban warfare?

MAJOR JOHN SPENCER (RET.), CHAIR OF URBAN WARFARE STUDIES, MADISON POLICY FORUM: Yeah, Wolf, I think it will be extremely hard for somebody to say that a certain piece of terrain or urban area is under control. I've seen the messages. It is hard.

But the way that the Ukrainian people are fighting, that could -- the aggressions could -- the Russians could be fighting an insurgency on one urban area and still have a major battle for Kyiv an that is great because that is going to cause them to have to apply, you know, soldiers to one area and not be able to move them around. I don't think they could say that that is what we call a permissive environment for them.

BLITZER: I know you say Ukrainians have advantage when it comes to urban warfare but they need to make their cities, and I'm quoting you now, a maze of hell. What does that look like?

SPENCER: So, another way I form it as a porcupine, I mean, San Tzu said the worse thing a military could do is besiege a walled city. Cities are death traps for militaries, and especially ones that don't perform well.


So, a maze a hell means every road, every alley, every door is blocked with something and you don't -- and the soldiers won't know if it's a sniper and a window, it doesn't have to be a sniper, a rifle. From personal experience, fighting in urban terrain is the worst thing a military wants to do and I think Russia is going to experience that real soon.

BLITZER: Yeah, a lot of are developing or building these Molotov cocktails, just to getting ready to kind of You often write, you write about wish lists. What should be on the Ukrainian wish list right now? What do they need from the U.S., for example, when it comes to urban warfare which is anticipated?

SPENCER: Well, they're the ones in the fight so they're the ones who know what they need. If you took me, I've been studying urban warfare for over a decade, I've had my own experiences. It might not make common sense, the kind of stuff that I want to turn my city into a fortress. I'm talking things like hand grenades, things like mines.

Of course, they need from anybody the high end stuff like the javelin, which is one of the most lethal anti-tank things in the world. They also need things to turn every street into a living hell. Like, you know, from even experiences in Iraq -- mines, claymores, wire.

I've had this long list of how to turn my city into a fortress, because really, that's what that convoy is doing. That convoy is the siege convoy. And that siege, they won't circle and wait. They'll circle and attempt to find a weakness. Once they find that weakness, they'll punch in through that one direction.

So every hour they can't get there, that's more time. And we're seeing that which is great in photos. They're blocking the streets with cars and buses. They're preparing innovative ways to turn it into an ugly situation.

BLITZER: Colonel John Spencer, thank you for joining us and thank you for your service.

Coming up, Russia is facing unprecedented economic difficulty. Will the big business blowback force Putin's hand? Stand by.



BLITZER: More now on the breaking news, some of the world's largest companies are taking swift action to isolate Russia over its invention of Ukraine.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us with details.

Right now, Brian, Vladimir Putin may not necessarily have anticipated this amazing global corporate reaction to his war of choice.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He very well may not have anticipated that, Wolf.

You know, more and more companies are either severing or at least severely cutting their ties with Moscow tonight, and observers are anxiously watching to see if it will bring Vladimir Putin any real brushback from his own people. Now, one of the ways average Russians are starting to feel it, soon, no amount of waiting in line will get you a coveted new iPhone in Russia.


TODD (voice-over): Apple has announced it has stopped selling its products in Russia, and has moved to limit Russians' access to digital services like Apple Pay.

SUSAN GLASSER, CO-AUTHOR, "KREMLINE RISING": Huge lines of people in the metro who were used to using apple pay or a credit card now have to find cash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm so used to having my Apple laptop, phone, ear buds and watch. If I lose it all, I will be very disappointed.

TODD: Apple is joining a growing roster of major companies who are either pulling out of Russia completely or scaling back operations, seeking to punish Vladimir Putin and list country far beyond the battlefield.

GLASSER: Essentially, a new Iron Curtain is going up around Russia right now and it is becoming more isolated than at any moment since the Soviet Union collapsed.

TODD: The Ford Motor Company said it is winding down operations in Russia. ExxonMobil is pulling out of its last oil and gas project in Russia and pledging not to invest in new developments there.

BP and shell say they'll get out of their Russian businesses, taking hits of billions of dollars to their balance sheets.

American express is ending its deal in Russia. The world's biggest container ship operators, Maersk and MSC Mediterranean are halting their cargo bookings to Russian ports.

Which is the most devastating to the average Russia.

MARTIN CHORZEMPA, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: Maybe the most is actually Maersk and the shipping companies, which has stopped shipping just by anything. That's not just iPhones. That's any consumer goods from abroad. In the short term, that will be a significant impact.

TODD: In the media and entertainment space, RT, the Kremlin-backed TV network known for putting up Putin's propaganda is being dropped by providers like DirecTV. Netflix has paused all future projects in Russia.

Disney and CNN parent company Warner Media have stopped releasing movies there.

While the moral component is a strong motivation for these companies, are they also pulling out of Russia to avoid PR headaches?

CHORZEMPA: Well, it's pretty easy to have it be both. There is so much risk, not only reputationally but also from a legal perspective.

TODD: Another move that will hurt the average Russian psyche, all Russian soccer team have been banned from competing internationally until further notice which means Russia may not play in this year's world cup.

GLASSER: I think Russians will be defense stated being cut off from international sport. The World Cup in particular. Just a few years ago, Russia was hosting the World Cup in Moscow.


TODD (on camera): Ukraine's government is even pressing for Russia to be cut off from the global internet. Analysts say that may not be such a good idea since cutting Russians off from the rest of the world will cut them off from legitimate information from the war and may limit them to only getting propaganda -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Brian, thank you very much. Brian Todd reporting.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.