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The Situation Room

Russia Targets Civilians Amid Ominous New Threats By Putin; Zelensky Asks U.S. Lawmakers For No-Fly Zone, Ban On Russian Oil; 1.3 Million Flee Russian Invasion; Ukraine: Civilian Evacuations Halted After Russia Violates Ceasefire; Interview With Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL); Russia Squeezing Strategic Cities In Southern Ukraine. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 05, 2022 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now. Breaking News: More and more civilians in Ukraine are trapped right now. They are under attack desperate to escape Russia's escalating war of destruction.

This, as Vladimir Putin is unleashing dangerous new threats warning Ukrainians to stand down or see their statehood destroyed.

Tonight, Ukraine's President is urging his people to keep resisting as new video emerges of a Russian helicopter being shot down and of protesters defying Kremlin forces even as bullets fly.

CNN is in key locations across the warzone and indeed around the world as we cover this breaking story.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, and this is a Special Edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: Right now, we are hearing more from the President of Ukraine. Tonight, he is pleading with his people to keep fighting the good fight and vowing Ukrainians will not give their country away to an enemy.

My colleague and friend, Anderson Cooper is in Ukraine for us. He's joining us once again. He will be with us throughout this hour.

Anderson, as President Zelensky is trying to rally his people, tell our viewers what is happening on the ground tonight.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, obviously, Wolf, there is growing concern and fear, desperation, and widening destruction in and around key cities across Ukraine as civilians are increasingly under fire. CNN's Clarissa Ward is standing by with the latest on the dire situation outside of Kyiv. But first, Arlette Saenz has a wrap of the breaking news on this war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, new images emerging from the battlefront, Ukrainian Armed Forces releasing this video of the moment they say they shot down a Russian helicopter.

The fire-engulfed aircraft hurtling towards the ground.

Here another Russian aircraft, a fighter jet falls from the sky. The Ukrainian military says it took down the plane. Smoke billowing in its wake as it crashed into a residential neighborhood about 90 miles from Kyiv.

The Ukrainian Emergency Services says these are the remains of the jet, bombs undetonated mere steps from homes. The scenes of war, a war Ukrainians continue to fight with limited help from Western allies.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: (Speaking in foreign language.)

SAENZ (voice over): In a zoom call with U.S. lawmakers, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calling for greater military assistance, including the transfer of fighter jets from Eastern European countries and the establishment of a no-fly zone.

The U.S. and NATO still resisting such a move, warning it could prompt a full scale war in Europe.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): A no-fly zone might be just a bridge too far that I'm not willing to take right now.

The U.S. planes shooting down other Russian planes or vice versa is something that could really escalate to a nuclear war.

SAENZ (voice over): Russian President Vladimir Putin declaring that any country or organization implementing a no-fly zone would be considered participants in the conflict.

And as Ukraine pushes for more sanctions, Putin stating the sanctions already imposed on his country are equivalent to a declaration of war against Russia.

On the ground in Ukraine, a show of solidarity from the U.S., Secretary of State Antony Blinken side by side with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister on the Polish border.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: And as to the pressure on Russia, not only is it unprecedented, not only is it producing very, very concrete results in Russia, but that pressure, too, will not will not only continue, it will grow until this war -- this war of choice is brought to an end.

SAENZ (voice over): Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett today also speaking by phone with Zelensky after a face-to-face meeting with Putin in Moscow.

Meanwhile, one senior Western Intelligence official warns that Russia now seems prepared to bombard cities into submission, with the U.S. officials saying Russia is poised to deploy 1,000 more mercenaries in the near future.

But with the war in its 10th day, stories of Ukrainian bravery in the face of Russian aggression continue to spread. Watch as a man jumps on top of a Russian armored vehicle waving a Ukrainian flag.

And sounds of gunfire in a small town in northeastern Ukraine as unarmed protesters stood their ground. In this chilling video, a man in the front of the crowd appears to be shot in the street.

Another video shows protesters scattering as a barrage of gunfire rings out.

Tonight, Ukraine's Foreign Minister with a new message for Putin.

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Putin leave Ukraine alone. You will not win this war.

SAENZ (voice over): Arlette Saenz, CNN.



BLITZER: Arlette, thank you.

Let's go live right now to the Ukrainian capital. Our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward is doing amazing reporting for us.

Clarissa, the Russian bombardment, right on the outskirts of Kyiv, where you are has made it very difficult for Ukrainians to actually escape, and you've seen that firsthand.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, Wolf, firstly, President Volodymyr Zelensky has issued another plea to the Ukrainian people tonight thanking them for their incredible courage and begging them essentially to keep up the resistance. He says, "Go on the offensive. Go on the streets. We need to fight every time we have an opportunity."

He thanked them for their faith and for the protests that you've seen across the country. But make no mistake, Wolf. This war is having a huge impact on Ukrainian civilians as we saw for ourselves when we visited an area that has basically been cut off under heavy bombardment for seven days.


WARD (voice over): For seven days, the Kyiv suburb of Irpin' has been pummeled by Russian strikes, and you can see it in the faces of those leaving.

Exhaustion, fear, and gratitude to the soldiers helping them flee. This bridge was downed by the Ukrainians to prevent Russian forces from getting into the city center. Now, it's yet another hurdle people must cross.

WARD (on camera): There has been a steady barrage of artillery since we got here just over an hour ago and a never-ending stream of people just desperately trying to cross the safety with.

WARD (voice over): Natalya (ph) tells us she was injured just a couple of hours earlier.

"We tried to get some stuff out of our apartment," she says, "And a shell or something hit and I got hit by shrapnel." Still in shock, she dismisses the pain and walks away unaided.

Others need more assistance. Soldiers carry a makeshift stretcher to ferry an elderly woman to safety.

President Putin has said his Army is not targeting civilians, but the exodus from Irpin' tells a different story.

Everyone steps in where they can, including us. An elderly woman calls out for help, clearly confused by the chaotic situation.

I take one of her bags.

WARD (on camera): So people are obviously incredibly affected by the situation. They are frightened, they are exhausted, they're on edge.

WARD (voice over): They leave behind whatever they cannot carry with no sense of when they will return.

A woman approaches completely overwhelmed. "For what?" She cries. "For what?"

This is just one suburb in one city that has felt the wrath of Russia's onslaught. Artillery, missiles, and fighter jets.

"The planes were flying and I just covered my ears," Olga Kudlai (ph) tells us.

WARD (on camera): She is saying that now, she doesn't even know where she's going to go next.

WARD (voice over): She has lived in Irpin' for 45 years.

"It was so beautiful, and now it's destroyed," she says. "What are they trying to achieve? To bring us to our knees?"

But against all odds, 10 days into this war, Ukraine is still standing.

A woman waits to be evacuated, trembling, but resilient. "We will overcome everything," she says.

For the people of Irpin', the journey is just beginning. They are loaded onto buses to the train station. From there, they don't know where they will go.


WARD: And now, Wolf, up until yesterday, most of these people were being evacuated using trains, using the railways. This is the most effective and easiest method to move people in and out, but Ukrainian authorities told us that Russian saboteurs actually blew up one of the railway tracks making it impossible for them to any longer use trains to ferry people out to safety and that is why you're seeing this bottleneck at this bridge and others like it as people flee on foot desperately trying to protect their families and find something resembling safety -- Wolf.


WOLF: Yes, what Putin's troops are doing is sick. So sick indeed.

Clarissa, standby. I want Anderson to come back into this conversation.

Anderson, you've been on the ground down in Ukraine for about a week bearing witness to Ukrainian resolve, which is so impressive. What has stood out to you most of all, among the things that you've heard and seen?

COOPER: I mean, I think, you know, it's become almost a cliche to talk about the resolve, but you can't not talk about it. I've never been in a country at war that is so united by among itself, the civilian population in support of resistance and in the desire to do something, to band together to small acts, large acts, whatever people can do they're trying to do.

And I think it's just extraordinary to see. I've been in a number of countries at war over the last 25 years, and I've just never seen anything like the sense of determination, not just for the last week and this week, but the sense that even if this goes on a long time, and even if Russia occupies this country, there is that sense that there will still be resistance, even then.

BLITZER: And, I, a hundred percent, I think you're absolutely right.

Clarissa, Russia, once again, has broken yet another ceasefire agreement. I don't even know if you can call it that, to allow civilians to get out of some of the most hard hit cities and areas.

So what danger do civilians face as they are trying -- simply trying to get to safety?

WARD: Well, I mean, look at the example of the railway being blown up, Wolf. That's a classic indicator of some of the tactics that Russia is doing that clearly do not speak to any concern for the lives of civilians.

There is a sense when people are trying to flee, even if there is a cessation of hostilities or some temporary ceasefire, some humanitarian corridor that anything goes and that any target is legitimate in the eyes of Russian forces.

The other thing to keep in mind, Wolf, is that there isn't really a safe space for people to go to. I mean, we talk about crossing from Irpin' into central Kyiv, like that's reaching some safe haven, but it's far from it.

We know that there has been pretty consistent bombardment around the city, there is a huge column of Russian armory poised to enter the city potentially to encircle it. This is far from a safe space.

And so those people are being taken to another railway station on those buses. From there, they begin another arduous journey, with no sense that their security is going to be protected, and really no sense as well, Wolf, of where they're going to end up, where they're going to even sleep that night and what their future will bring, whether they'll ever be able to go back to their homes.

It's deeply frightening and deeply ominous for the people here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And so many of their homes have already been leveled, so many of their homes have been totally destroyed.

Anderson, I know you've spoken to Ukrainian officials. Do they feel this conflict right now maybe at some kind of inflection point?

COOPER: No one has used that term. I mean, look every day, there is the sense that this -- we may be on the cusp of the next phase of this, the next escalation.

I talked to an adviser to President Zelensky yesterday, and they continue to -- and we heard this from Congressman Himes earlier talking to you, Wolf, you know, they continue to push for some sort of no-fly zone. That's certainly a nonstarter as far as the U.S. and most of the NATO countries are concerned.

But look, the officials know that without controlling the skies or at least having -- stopping the Russians from being able to you know, get air superiority, it is going to be increasingly difficult to stop the bombardment of cities, the bombardment of residential communities, and the destruction of the country, you know, missile by missile, bomb by bomb, artillery shell by shell.

BLITZER: Yes, you're absolutely right. Anderson, standby.

Clarissa, as I say to you, every single day, stay safe over there. You're in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Just ahead. Very, very disturbing a new video of Ukrainian protesters defying Russian forces as the enemy troops simply open fire.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


[18:19:02] BLITZER: We're getting very disturbing new reports out of Ukraine right now that the Russians are using increasingly brutal tactics against civilians.

Ukrainian authorities say Kremlin forces opened fire during anti-war protests in a small town in eastern Ukraine. We have disturbing video capturing the gunfire. Watch this.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance who was in that town earlier today.

Matthew, at least one protester was shot during that confrontation and we have additional video capturing that moment. Tell us about it.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Actually, the local officials say that it was three people that were injured, but that video shows that one person clearly shot as he confronted those Russian forces.

I mean look, we've seen scenes like this across the country with unarmed Ukrainian civilians very angry at the fact their country has been invaded by Russian forces.


CHANCE: And really up until now, the Russians had been, it is almost, like, I want to say they were quite patient with them. They certainly haven't shot them. They've been sort of pushing them back and saying no, but yes, that mood appears to have changed.

Take a look at what happened to this individual as he shouted abuse at Russian forces.


CHANCE: Yes, so I mean, look, I mean, he is shot there. He is struggling. He has fallen to the floor. Russian forces shouting "Leave the area," telling people to do that.

And so you know, a very disturbing scene there when you look at the civilians coming face-to-face with the heavily armed Russian invasion force -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Matthew is truly stunning -- a stunning confrontation even more so because the crowd simply doesn't move when the Russians at least initially opened fire with their weapons.

CHANCE: Yes, that's absolutely right, and it is one of the most striking things about this. And it just shows you that the sort of depth of defiance that there is in this country when it comes to opposing Russian forces.

Yes, listen, the Russians, you know, firing their bullets in the air to try and disperse that crowd. But you know, they're not moving. And I think it talks to that idea that if the Kremlin felt that people were going to welcome Russian soldiers with open arms, if they thought they were going to back down and not resist the occupation and the invasion of their land, then they were very, very badly mistaken.

BLITZER: They certainly were. Matthew Chance, stay safe over there. We'll be in touch, for sure.

And there is more breaking news we're following in Europe.

Europe is now facing what's threatening to become its largest refugee crisis since World War Two as more than 1.3 million Ukrainians flee the Russian invasion. We're talking mostly women and children during these first 10 days of the Russian war against Ukraine.



COOPER: The Breaking News tonight: Russia's invasion of Ukraine sparking a refugee crisis that is growing by the hour with waves, mostly women and children fleeing the fighting, many of them winding up next door in Poland.

CNN senior national correspondent, Sara Sidner has been there for us now for days.

Sara, you're at a refugee shelter. If you can just walk us through what you have been seeing and hearing from those arriving today.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, this is a parking lot, by the way in what is basically a super center that has been defunct for a while now and people are going in there to try and sleep.

But out here throughout the night, you are seeing busloads of people coming through and we're seeing more people than we have been seeing in the past few days, and we understand that is because there have been new rules that have been lifted at the border. Those rules where that you had to be about six kilometers from the border, you cannot just drive up and drop people off right out the border, well, that's been relaxed.

So now you are seeing even more people, believe it or not, since the first few days when we got here.

But what you're seeing here is extraordinary, truly, I mean, people have come from all over the place. There are organizations, but they are just regular Polish citizens. There are citizens from other countries here as well in Europe who are just here because they saw the need for help.

Now, if I can have Jerry just turned to my right, another bus has just, I think picks people up there. And so you'll see, you know, children sleeping on the bus and these buses are taking people further into Poland, but they are also taking people sometimes into places like Germany. We've noticed a lot of Germans here offering their homes for people to sleep in and offering a ride as well.

And to my right, you are seeing a particular place for mothers and children. They have diapers inside, they have SIM cards that are specifically for the women and children who have come here over the border, and can I just mention one more thing. I'm going to I'm going to be quiet for just a second there are a lot of kids here. I have heard only one child cry this whole time.

There are children who are infants, there are children who are two and three and four and all the way up to teenage years and it is so interesting to me and almost unbelievable that in this terrible cold away from their homes in uncertainty with their parents --

COOPER: Yes, we've just lost Sarah's IFB -- or Sara's sound, so I'm sorry that was why I was knocking on my IFB, I thought it was my problem.

So what Sara was saying about, you don't hear it kids crying and stuff a lot which, you know, some trauma experts will point out that that is -- that can be a sign of kids who have been through traumatic experiences and difficult experiences, you actually see a reduction sometimes in that kind of a response, which is obviously a worrying thing.

But I mean, these kids have been through just to get to that border at that point on the Polish where Sara is, it has been, you know for many of them, it has taken days and days of extremely difficult travel -- Wolf.


BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Crying for little kids, that's normal. If they're not crying, you're absolutely right, that's a potential problem involving trauma in this particular case. Anderson, standby.

Right now I want to bring in the UNICEF Spokesman, James Elder. James, thank you so much for joining us here in Lviv in Ukraine. You're helping these kids. Ukraine is pausing evacuations as you know, James, along some humanitarian corridors due to this awful Russian shelling that's going on, targeting civilian areas. Is time running out for Ukrainian children to escape?

JAMES ELDER, UNICEF SPOKESMAN: Yes, absolutely. And it's already run out for those children who have been killed in these bombardments. Getting that humanitarian access in is fundamentally critical, but opening up those corridors, so those people can leave, the people you've seen or your viewers have seen, mothers and children fundamentally have to leave.

I mean, they do everything they can in a bunker, as you know moms, to keep a child safe. But talking to moms who spent nights lying on top of the children, not just to keep them warm because they think that's an extra layer of protection in this madness, they have to be given safe passage out of there. But, of course, for all those others who can't leave, the conflict has to stop, the missiles have to stop. BLITZER: They do but it doesn't look like they're about to stop anytime soon. I want to get your reaction James to this truly heartbreaking account from one Ukrainian mother fleeing the country with her sick child on a train, evacuating other extremely sick children as well as she carried her child for three days just to get on the train and then found out her hometown was bombed. And now she can't get in touch with any of her family back home. Listen and watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband, my mom, sister, everyone. My dad. Nobody is picking up the phone. There are just the beeps, and that's it.


BLITZER: What goes through your mind, James, when you hear - see stories like that?

ELDER: I shiver, Wolf. It hurts, it breaks, maybe we're all running on empty here, and then just kicking the gear behind to find solutions. I mean, I talked to those experts in my organization UNICEF and elsewhere, one thing for that woman's kind of story on the route as people leave we have a thing called blue dots safe spaces. It's all about tracking and tracing children here. Track them, trace them and reunify them, so these spaces where people can get critical information will link with social workers, municipal governments, so it's one thing that we do for people like that whose story is, as you know, repeated across the country.

BLITZER: UNICEF Spokesman James Elder, thanks so much for joining us and thanks for all that UNICEF is doing. And to our viewers, for more information about how you can help humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, go to and help impact your world. It so, so important.

The breaking news continues next with new details of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's desperate plea to U.S. lawmakers for a no-fly zone to help save his country from Russia's brutal invasion. We're going to speak to one of the congressmen who was in that remote meeting. That's next.



BLITZER: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is turning to U.S. lawmakers for help, as he tries desperately to persuade the Biden administration to do more to punish Vladimir Putin for his aggression. We're joined now by Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, one of the lawmakers who heard from Zelensky today. He's a key member of the Intelligence Committee as well.

Congressman, I want to start with that meeting you and these other lawmakers had with Zelensky today. What message did he deliver to the United States? REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): He basically said I appreciate what you've done, but we need more. And I have to say that there is a unity of spirit among Democrats and Republicans in wanting to do more and listening to him. I got to say it was a surreal Zoom call. The most surreal that I've ever had, where you have this man in a bunker, who's basically the face of freedom and fighting for his country.

BLITZER: What kind of additional military assistance, military aid, do you believe the United States should actually offer the Ukrainians?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: So far the President has offered almost and now delivering almost $1 billion worth of military aid, just in the last six months, and delivering it as we speak. I believe that the next step is doing what President Zelensky has asked, which is trying to support his desire for fighter planes.

He wants Russian-made fighter planes because that's what Ukrainian pilots are trained on. But the only countries that can supply those are countries such as Poland on his western border. And so we want to try to - I believe, that we should try to support some of our NATO allies like Poland in providing those fighter planes and just facilitating the ability to fight the Russians in the air.

BLITZER: As you know, speaking of the air, the U.S. and the NATO allies have at least so far dismissed President Zelensky's pleas for what's called a no-fly zone. Is it possible to establish a no-fly zone without inviting a direct conflict like with Russia?


KRISHNAMOORTHI: No. That would absolutely to a direct conflict. The American people don't want that and it would be dangerously escalatory.

BLITZER: Putin says the economic sanctions introduced by the U.S. and its NATO allies are equivalent to what Putin calls a declaration of war. Do you think he's bluffing or are all of us in serious danger of a direct conflict with Russia?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I don't know, but based on my impressions of what the Russians have been doing with regard to their strategic forces and so forth, I don't think that they are changing their status. He engaged in some nuclear saber rattling, but it seems to be more rhetoric than anything else.

All that being said, Wolf, I think that we should continue to impose the sanctions, increase the pressure. The President has done so in a united way with our allies and partners around the world. And we should continue to practice deescalatory rhetoric when it comes to nuclear and other strategic forces, so that we don't engage in any kind of spiraling of our rhetoric and our other measures, military measures out of control.

BLITZER: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, thanks, as usual for joining us.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you so much.

BLITZER: All right. There's more breaking news that's coming into our special edition of the situation room. Up next, with the latest coming in from southern Ukraine, where Russian forces are now squeezing strategic cities raising enormous fears that their next target will be the key port of Odessa.



COOPER: Russian forces are claiming some of their biggest gains in the southern part of Ukraine along the Black Sea. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has been traveling throughout that region now for this past week. He filed this report that includes - we should warn you - some graphic video.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Significant developments along the Black Sea Coast where I'm standing. Now, specifically to the east in Kherson, that is a city that Russia first claimed to have control of. But they didn't look that the case today when we saw significant numbers of protesters on the street demanding that the Russians leave.

Now, this is important because we had imagined according to Ukrainian official statements that we might see some sort of bid by Russia to create a synthetic counter narrative where they'll get locals out on the streets to support their presence and provide them with aid.

Instead, today we've seen a large number of locals coming out and asking the Russians to not be there. That's difficult, frankly, for Moscow going forwards because they had, it seemed, believed that they would be able to encourage the locals to be on their side when they moved in.

A very different story in Mykolaiv, the next port city to the West. We were there today. We spoke to the regional head. And he said that they didn't need anything apart - from the west apart from weapons. They want to continue the fight. And they felt very convinced that despite the fact they were facing a Russian force that was technically superior, they had better motivation and they would never let those forces take the important bridges in that city.

All the same, though, civilian casualties very visible for us at a nearby hospital. The elderly, it seemed, brought in a lot of them with head injuries, result of some shelling that had hit part of the civilian areas there. Just part of the clear evidence we see all the time that Russia's promise it's not targeting civilians is essentially nonsense.

And still here in Odessa, the broad widening fear that all this activity military along the Black Sea coast by Russia is essentially going to lead the pressure in Odessa which results in some sort of broad military move. Again, this is the third largest city in Ukraine and the most important port that it has. COOPER: Nick Paton Walsh, appreciate that. We are joined right now by Kira Rudik, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament joining us from Kyiv. Ms. Rudik, appreciate you joining us. What is the situation that you are seeing on the ground today in Kyiv?

KIRA RUDIK, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: Hello, good evening. Thank you for having me. So the situation haven't changed much in Kyiv. We as usually getting ready for a siege and there was a pretty moderate shelling this night. So right now, I don't have to go to the bomb shelter, which is a rare case for this time.

We do prepare to have a Russian forces come here like within the next three to five days. There has been attempts to attack the entrance and exit to the city. However, it didn't work very well for Russians. So that's why I would say the situation is still the same and we are getting more and more time to be ready, to get ready to any kind of the events. So either that would be a siege or it will be a direct attack or it would be some shelling.

Though, for the shelling, I'm sure that you know that there is no way for us to prepare. We just need to work all the possible solutions with our NATO partners, that they would help us and protect the city from the sky.


And right now we see that's not happening and you need to push harder and you need to ask for it.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, obviously, President Zelensky every Ukrainian official we have talked to has been pushing for a no-fly zone, which as of now is clearly from the U.S. standpoint, U.S. officials and most EU officials that is - it seems to be off the table, just something that they are not willing to consider at this point.

Without a no-fly zone without the ability to stop Russia from using missiles, artillery shells, firing into civilian areas how long - I mean, the inability to control the skies, how hard is that for Ukraine to defend against? How dangerous is that for Ukraine?

RUDIK: You wanted to ask how much longer we are going to stand? Well, we will stand to up until the last person. Yes, well, we will. The no- fly zone would give us a chance to win this war, because you see how good we are doing on the ground. And we are doing good with our citizens going out on the streets and saying Russians go home, we are doing very good with our soldiers who are fighting as real heroes and we are doing great with our resistance teams who are helping to bite Russian army here and there, here and there.

So no matter that at the very beginning of this war, everybody whom might talk to said you guys are not standing a chance. You have like maybe 24 or 48 hours to lose all your cities. As of right now, we are still standing. But the no-fly zone will allow us to actually win and without it, just help us with the attacks that are coming from the sky. We are helpless.

COOPER: Ukrainian Parliament member Kira Rudik, I appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.

RUDIK: Thank you.

BLITZER: The breaking news continues next, there are growing calls tonight for Vladimir Putin to be prosecuted for war crimes as Russian forces use increasingly brutal tactics in Ukraine.



BLITZER: Tonight, there are growing allegations of war crimes by Russia raising the possibility of charges against Vladimir Putin himself. CNN's Brian Todd is has said joining us. Once again, Brian some of Russia's increasingly brutal tactics in Ukraine are clearly illegal under international law.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf, and the International Criminal Court is now investigating whether the use of some munitions by the Russians constitute war crimes. Veterans of war crimes cases tell us these allegations don't stem from a belief that commanders on the ground went rogue, they believe responsibility for this goes all the way to the top.


TODD (voice over): Demand is growing tonight for the Russian president and former KGB colonel in the Kremlin to be prosecuted for war crimes.


ARSENIY YATSENYUK, FORMER UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Putin is a war criminal. He has to sit behind the bars in International Criminal Court.


TODD (voice over): The International Criminal Court is now investigating possible war crimes by the Russians in Ukraine.


KARIM KHAN, CHIEF PROSECUTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: The whole world is watching and the whole world is concerned about the events that are unfolding in this horrible conflict.

TODD (voice over): While the Biden administration is for now not saying whether Vladimir Putin has committed war crimes in Ukraine, one of America's closest allies isn't mincing words.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin's regime in the use of the munitions that they have they've been dropping on innocent civilians, Mr. Speaker, in my view already fully qualifies as a war crime. TODD (voice over): The munitions in question which would point to war crimes, cluster bombs in a crowded densely populated area. NATO Secretary General confirms Russia is using them. Amnesty International says one fell on a Ukrainian kindergarten. They're considered indiscriminate. A missile explodes thousands of feet in the air, releasing smaller bombs that detonate when they fall to the ground. And a horrific weapon called the vacuum bomb, which America's ambassador to the UN says Russia is preparing to use.


RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT: These bombs are thought of as bombs that can basically vaporize people. And they can suck the oxygen out of an area that's never supposed to be used in civilian area. That's why it's so alarming.


TODD (voice over): Experts say in some previous cases where war crimes have been alleged, arguments could be made that the head of state might not have known about them or that a commander on the ground went rogue. But one veteran of war crimes cases believes that's not what's happening in Ukraine.


STEPHEN J. RAPP, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE, WAR CRIMES ISSUES: This is a situation that goes exactly to the top, no question that this is Putin's decision making, that he has full knowledge of what's going on there and that he's in control. I predict in a few months they'll be an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin.

TODD (voice over): But actually bringing Putin to justice is another matter. Only a few convictions have ever been won in the International Criminal Court. As for apprehending Putin --


GOODMAN: It's very difficult to imagine a scenario in which Putin will actually be in the dock as a head of state, as somebody that - nobody's going to be able to go into Russia and apprehend him.


TODD (voice over): But an indictment for war crimes experts say could weaken Putin in other ways.


RAPP: No more summits, no more hope of visiting his 10s of billions of dollars property and I think in the end, it'll make him quite dispensable as a leader of Russians.