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The Situation Room

Large Blasts In Kyiv As Mariupol Battle Rages; Senate Hearing For Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson; U.S. Says, Signs Ukraine Going More On The Offense Against Russia; U.N.: More Than 3.5 Million Refugees Have Fled Ukraine; Russia: Will Use Nuclear Arms If Facing "Existential" Threat. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 22, 2022 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Russia's aerial bombardment of Kyiv leaves a new trail of smoke and destruction as Ukrainian forces step up their ground defensive on the outskirts of the capital. The war raging right now in devastated cities, including Mariupol, where Kremlin forces have found a new way to unleash their relentless attacks.

The other big breaking story we're following, the truly historic confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. We have much more live coverage as her intense day-long questioning by senators continues.

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

This hour, we're following shifting tactics on both sides of Russia's war against Ukraine. Ukrainian forces are going more on the offense right now. They're making a concerted new push to try to retake territory from Russia. And as the battle for Mariupol rages, Kremlin troops are now firing on that ravaged city from the sea.

CNN's Sam Kiley is standing by live with a report from Ukraine. But, first, CNN's Alex Marquardt has more breaking news on the war.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The booms of Russian missiles landing near Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv, which has bore the brunt of so much of the Russian onslaught.

But few places have felt the wrath of Russia, like the port city of Mariupol, now facing an attack coming not just from land but from the water as well, Russian ships in the Sea of Azov now joining the relentless bombardment of this key city. The deputy mayor estimating 90 percent of the city's infrastructure is now destroyed.

SERGEI ORLOV, MARIUPOL DEPUTY MAYOR: The city does not receive any humanitarian aid, city is without food, electricity, water, energy supply. City is under continuous bombing and a lot of death, a lot of crying, a lot of awful war crimes.

MARQUARDT: The Ukrainian military says this explosion at a Mariupol industrial compound was caused by a Russian attack, as new satellite images show the city is crumbling, while Russian artillery units dig in around it.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Hard-working, honest city of Mariupol, which is being destroyed by the occupiers and being reduced to ashes, but it will survive.

MARQUARDT: In the capital Kyiv, loud explosions were heard after yet another curfew was imposed, this time until Wednesday morning. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry saying air defenses destroyed a Russian missile. Russia now claims Ukraine was hiding weapons in that Kyiv shopping center that Russia had previously bombed. Ukraine denies the allegation, and local officials say at least eight people were killed.

The U.S. believes these brutal attacks signify an increasingly desperate Russian military that is struggling to resupply and is facing mounting casualties. Almost 10,000 Russian troops dead, according to a report in a Russian tabloid, which the Kremlin denied. After the report was pulled down, the outlet claimed they were hacked. Asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin has achieved his aims in Ukraine, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said this.

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS SECRETARY: Look, first of all, not yet. It hasn't achieved yet. And we're speaking about special military operation that is going on. And it is going on strictly in accordance with the plans and with purposes that were established beforehand.

MARQUARDT: There are growing signs of Ukrainian troops on the offensive, fighting to take back lost territory, pushing Russian forces back around Kyiv and claiming to have retaken the nearby town of Makariv.

They're trying to do the same in the town of Izium, which Russia has pummeled. Ukraine's soldiers also pushing towards Kherson, near Crimea, which had been taken by Russian forces, which are now being forced to reposition.

And while they struggle, U.S. and NATO officials are now warning that key Russian ally Belarus could soon send its forces into the war zone to help Vladimir Putin. With the war raging on, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues his outreach to world leaders.

ZELENSKYY: This morning, I spoke to his holiness, Pope Francis. He said very important words. I understand that you long for peace. I understand that you need to defend yourselves.


MARQUARDT: Alex Marquardt, CNN at the State Department.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Alex, thank you very, very much.

Let's go live to Ukraine right now. Our Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley is in Kyiv. Sam, Kyiv has been under assault big-time today. What's the latest?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we can hear just as we're coming to air, just as you were coming to me, there was again rumbles of distant shelling. It's not clear whether it's incoming or outgoing. Frankly, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are saying that they have been on an offensive. That has been, I think, largely connected to this 36-hour curfew in here in the capital, which is on until tomorrow morning.

They claim that they've captured the important town of Makariv, well to the west, down the main artery, out of town in the west. And certainly throughout the day, there were very heavy exchanges of artillery. It's not clear whether there was incoming or outgoing. But the horizon, particularly in the north and northwest of the city towards the areas of Irpin, Wolf, you'll recall that was where there was a catastrophic problem with refugees, but also Hostomel, where there is an important airfield. There has been a lot of fighting around there with Ukrainians saying that they're going on offensive.

This is the second time in about a week, or a little over a week, Wolf, that they've imposed these curfews, and then there has been this military campaign. It does seem to be at least from the Ukrainian claims bearing fruit.

But we also have to be careful about how we analyze this because this is very much a back and forth conflict. There is a lot of ground taken and lost in the course of one day in these major artillery that we're seeing going on in the periphery of the city. Wolf?

BLITZER: Sam, Russia, we understand, may be looking for some help right now in this fight, some help from Belarus. What are you learning?

KILEY: Well, this is coming -- a lot of concerns being raised in the west. British and American spokespeople and intelligence sources have said that they are seeing indications that there is a possibility that Belarus may come in to the fight.

Of course, the Russians came in when they came in to try to capture Kyiv, they did it from Belarus. They have the rear element, the rear bases there, the logistics chain is already established. It would be relatively separate forward for the Belarusians in military terms to come in. And that might help to tip the balance for the Russian assault against Kyiv, which is definitely stalled if not being reversed to some extent.

So, that is going to be something over the next few days, going to be a really critical issue. It will also be a critical issue for the Belarusians who can then anticipate the very painful sanctions that the rest of the world -- most of the rest of the world has imposed on Russia would be imposed on them. So, it's going to be very, very dangerous indeed, I think, for the Ukrainians who possibly do have the momentum on their side around Kyiv. But they certainly don't have numbers on their side, Wolf. And the Belarusians coming in really could tip the balance against them.

BLITZER: At the same time, Russia is clearly pounding and pounding and pounding the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and has now started firing on it from the sea. How much longer can it hold up?

KILEY: Well, it's been a miraculous defense of Mariupol already. There is still many tens -- many hundreds of thousands of people believed to be trapped in that city. It's been bombarded with the long-range cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, artillery mortars, and now being hit with those very big guns on battleships at sea on the Sea of Azov.

It's a critical, strategic target for the Russians, because if they can take it, even though in the words of President Zelenskyy, there will be precious little left of it to take over, it will mean that they're able to join up their Russian forces that are basically kept apart by Mariupol between the east and the west side on the Azov Sea.

But it is a remarkable effort being made in Mariupol, and also, of course, it's also critical there. And this is why Ukrainians may even reinforce their defense of it. They have a lot of troops in the east. There is a deep concern that if Mariupol fell, they could be cut off from the rest of the country, trapping some of their most seasoned, best equipped forces in the wrong part effectively of Ukraine. Wolf?

BLITZER: That entire city of Mariupol is being leveled right now. Sam Kiley in Kyiv for us, stay safe over there. We'll get back to you.

In this, the fourth week of the war, the casualty count is clearly rising for both Russian and Ukrainian forces, even if the exact numbers aren't clear. CNN's Ivan Watson is getting a close-up look at a graveyard and a makeshift morgue that underscores the lives being lost.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This military cemetery brings home the stark reality Ukraine has been living with for years. All of these crosses, they mark the graves of Ukrainian servicemen who have died fighting against Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region since 2014.


And on this side, we have new graves. And they're devoted to casualties from Russia's invasion of Ukraine that was launched on February 24th of this year. One of the fallen is Mikhail Zadiraka (ph) born in 1997, just 25 years old.

And if you come over here, you see something else which is a reminder of how grim this conflict is. The authorities have dug dozens of additional graves, anticipating the likelihood of more casualties in this terrible conflict.

This refrigerator truck represents another side of this war. It's parked outside a city morgue. And city officials say that it is partially filled with the bodies of some 350 Russian soldiers. There is another refrigerator truck they say that is parked in another part of the city with around 400 Russian corpses. And when you come to this side here, you can smell the stench of cadavers.

Ukrainian officials say that they are conducting DNA tests of the Russian dead and that they are then going to send these bodies to the Ukrainian capital to eventually be returned to Russia and to the families for proper burial.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Dnipro, Ukraine.

BLITZER: Ivan, thank you very much for that report.

Just ahead, we're going to take you inside one Ukrainian family's escape to safe as our war coverage continues.

And we'll also take a close look at some of the flashpoints in the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing. The questioning of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, it continues tonight.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: President Biden is warning Americans to prepare for potential Russian cyberattacks against critical U.S. infrastructure. It comes as the president is about to depart on a crucial trip to meet with NATO allies.

CNN's M.J. Lee is joining us from the White House right now. M.J., the administration tonight is announcing there will soon be more sanctions coming out against Russia. Tell our viewers what you're learning.

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announcing tonight that the U.S. will be announcing a new round of sanctions aimed at Russia, and that this will be announced in conjunction with other U.S. allies. Thursday, of course, is significant because that is the day that President Biden will be attending this extraordinary NATO summit. He will also be meeting with leaders of the G7 and the European council.

Now, Jake Sullivan was asked at the White House press briefing a few hours ago for details on these sanctions. He said that he isn't going to get into the specifics, but he did signify that there were two ways of thinking about the new round of sanctions that will be announced on Thursday, that, one, they be new sanctions and a broadening of the sanctions that have already announced, and that, two, it will have a lot to do with enforcement of the sanctions. So, we are talking about countries that might want to evade sanctions, and then countries that might want to try to help Russia evade some of these sanctions. Take a listen to what he said.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: One of the key elements of that announcement will focus not just on adding new sanctions but on ensuring that there is joint effort to crack down on evasion, on sanctions busting, on any attempt on any country to help Russia basically undermine, weaken or get around the sanctions.


LEE: Sullivan said that these sanctions announced on Thursday will sort of mark the next phase of the global effort to try to contain Russia as it continues invading Ukraine.

Now, one country that, of course, the U.S. has been watching very closely in terms of what it does in this ongoing conflict is China. President Biden, of course, recently spoke with President Xi of China. Jake Sullivan himself spoke with his counterpart in China and had a very long conversation recently. And the warnings from the U.S. to China have been, they are going to be severe consequences if China is found to have aided Russia in its invasion.

Sullivan saying today that, so far, the U.S. assessment is that Russia -- China, rather, has not offered military assistance to Russia, but that is, of course, the current assessment. We don't know whether the U.S. will decide that that has changed and that intelligence will have changed in the coming weeks. Wolf?

BLITZER: M.J. Lee at the White House, thank you very much. An important note, I'll be in Brussels to anchor our special coverage tomorrow and Thursday. All 30 NATO leaders, including the president of the United States will be there, very important moment indeed in this continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine. What are these leaders going to decide? We'll have special coverage coming up tomorrow and Thursday from Brussels.

According to the United Nations, more than 3.5 million refugees have now fled Ukraine since the start of of Russia's totally unprovoked and brutal invasion, with millions more displaced from their homes within the war-torn country.

CNN's Ed Lavandera reports on the remarkable journey of one Ukrainian family's escape to safety.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tucked away in the back of the train station in Przemysl, Poland, we see the latest train from Ukraine arrive filled with families, escaping war.


And it's where we find Tatiana Trut and her husband, Vitalii, waving joyfully at one of the carriages. This train is carrying special cargo.

Through the metal barricades, Tatiana sees her son, two sisters and their three children walking off the train. She's waited three excruciating weeks for this moment.

You have a very big smile on your face. I imagine you're very happy right now.

Yes, he says. It's very scary there and we have been waiting for them for a very long time. Tatiana also tells us they could not leaf for a very long time.

The family tells us their journey to get to Poland was a path through death and destruction. They live in a small village south of Kyiv. They say the only road Ukrainian civilians could use to escape was constantly attacked by Russian forces.

He says there was shelling from both sides. Everyone who wanted the leave by car was simply shot. We were afraid that if our family decided to leave, we would lose them. We waited a long time for the military to allow it. We waited for the Russian troops to be removed so that our family could leave, and we succeeded. We immediately told them to go.

This was the escape route. The sisters' father drove them in his car from their village to the city of Mykolaiv. From there, they jumped in a mini bus helping families escape to Odessa. That's where they boarded the train that brought them to Poland.

The area this family escaped has seen brutal warfare the last three weeks. Tatiana was in Poland working and couldn't return home in time when the war broke out. She says, her son often told her about hearing military planes flying over their home and missiles exploding.

Finally, the family is reunited outside the train station. In the moment, it seemed unnecessary to ask Tatiana what this moment meant to her. Sometimes hugs and kisses speak far louder than words.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Przemysl, Poland.


BLITZER: Thank you for that report, Ed. I appreciate it very much.

For information about how you, our viewers, can help humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, go to and help impact your world.

There is more breaking news just ahead on the war in Ukraine and the changing military tactics unfolding right now on both sides.

And stay right here for more live coverage of the historic confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.



BLITZER: Much more of our special coverage on the Russia-led war in Ukraine. That's coming up in few moments. But we're also standing by to rejoin the historic Senate confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. It's been a very long, very intense day of questioning and it is not over yet.

Let's go to our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid. Paula, you have been following every moment of this historic hearing. Bring our viewers up to speed.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Today was the first chance for lawmakers to actually question Judge Jackson. And right out of the gate, she preemptively defended herself against these GOP claims that she was soft on crime, specifically child porn offenses, insisting that claim could not be further from the truth.


REID (voice over): On the second day of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson forcefully pushing back against GOP attacks accusing her of being lenient in sentencing child porn offenders.

JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: As a mother and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth. The statute says calculate the guidelines, but also look at various aspects of this offense and impose a sentence that is, quote, sufficient but not greater than necessary, to promote the purposes of punishment.

REID: Those guidelines she says are out of date as they suggest tougher sentences based on the number of photographs received in the mail.

JACKSON: And that made total sense before when we didn't have the internet, when we didn't have distribution. But the way that the guideline is now structured based on that set of circumstances is leading to extreme disparities in the system.

REID: Today was the first chance lawmakers had to question Jackson with a big focus on her previous representation of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

JACKSON: Federal public defenders don't get to pick their clients. They have to represent whoever comes in, and it's a service.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): Why in the world would you call Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and George W. Bush war criminals in a legal filing?

JACKSON: Well, Senator, I don't remember that particular reference, and I was representing my clients and making arguments.


I'd have to take a look at what you meant. I did not intend disparage the president or the secretary of defense.

REID: The issue touched off this tense exchange.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): -- suggest a president of your own party released --

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I'm suggesting the system failed miserably and advocates to change the system, like she was advocating would destroy our ability of our country to protect this country. We're at war. We're fighting our crime.

REID: Senator Ted Cruz zeroed in on critical race theory, the idea that systems are inherently racist, using charts and books.

JACKSON: Senator --

REID: It was one of the few times Jackson appeared visibly annoyed.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Do you agree with this book being taught with kids that babies are racist?

JACKSON: Senator, I have not reviewed any of those books, any of those ideas. They don't come up in my work as a judge, which I am respectfully here to address.

REID: Democrats, though, often used their time to highlight the historic significance of her nomination and provide a reprieve for Jackson during the grueling day-long hearing.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): I think you're doing very well. And as you can see, this is a bit of a tough place.


REID (on camera): Those questions will continue well into this evening. Interestingly, Senator Graham, who voted less than a year ago to confirm Jackson to be a circuit judge said today, after he stormed out of the hearing, that he now see reds red flags, but she does not appear to actually need his vote as no Democratic senators have opposed her nomination. And in a 50-50 Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris could break a tie if needed. Wolf?

BLITZER: Indeed, she could. Paula Reid reporting for us, thanks very much.

Let's discuss with our Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, our Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates and our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

Gloria, how do you think that Judge Jackson is navigating this first very intense day of questioning?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: She is doing a phenomenal job. Remember, of course, this is her fourth time doing this, navigating the Senate Judiciary Committee. Obviously, she has been a trial judge, she has been a public defender, she has been somebody who has been in policy as well and a circuit court judge. So, she is very well versed in the art of trying to ensure that everyone is heard and giving herself a meaningful opportunity to be heard.

But I will say there were moments where she was frankly asked questions that have nothing whatsoever to do with the nature of what she would do if confirm confirmed as a Supreme Court nominee. They were really using the opportunity to suggest and conflate issues of critical race theory and beyond, as if this is under the purview of the Supreme Court. And using it not as the audience of one as it's intended for a Supreme Court nominee, but the audience of an electorate that is salivating to have some way to use this hearing process as a way to destroy or undermine the notions that we're hearing about so often.

And I think she did a phenomenal job navigating it. But there were moments that she had to answer for her particular record, explain her methodology and, of course, this talking about that has been lashed out against her about whether she indeed is lenient against those who engage in the most perverse and despicable behavior, as child predators. And I think to that end, especially, she was so eloquent, so dynamic, so persuasive and so adamant that nothing could be further from the truth.

And, Wolf, let me just --

BLITZER: Go ahead, Gloria.

BORGER: Let me just add that some Democratic senators, particularly Mazie Hirono, pointed out that Hawley himself, Senator Hawley, who is making this case about her being soft on crime and soft on these offenders voted for Trump judges who had also sentenced below the guidelines. So, what is this? This -- as Laura was saying, this is just a way to appeal to the political base and say the Democrats are soft on crime. And, by the way, look at her, she is just a representative of all of that.

BLITZER: What stands out, Jeffrey, to you from these exchanges, pretty dramatic exchanges so far today?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, that the judge knows a great deal more about the law than anyone who is asking questions today. But specifically, this struck me as the beginning of the 2024 presidential campaign.

And you had Josh Hawley really pitching the QAnon vote, talking about pedophilia over and over again, trying to appeal to the part of the Republican Party that thinks Democrats have pedophilia dens in pizza places' basements in Washington, I mean, really going through graphic details that, you know, had no relevance to a Supreme Court nomination fight.

Same thing with Ted Cruz in a different way, trying to play on the resentments of critical race theory, which was so effective for Republicans in the governor's race in Virginia, he got to bring out coloring books and kid books from the Georgetown Day School where Judge Jackson is on the board. [18:35:09]

She had nothing to do with picking those books. She had nothing to do with assigning those books. But he got to associate her with what he thinks is an unpopular cause with the Republican electorate. That's what this was about, not about whether Judge Jackson is qualified to be on the Supreme Court.

BORGER: And, Wolf, just to add to that, I kind of had to smile here, because the Republicans before the hearing said, oh, we're not going to denigrate her at all. This isn't going to be like what the Democrats did to Justice Kavanaugh. These are going to be polite hearings. And here, you have Senators Hawley and Cruz just saying to her, okay, why are you soft on these porn criminals? Why do you believe in critical race theory and kind of spread it around through your legal doctrine? I mean, it was just so transparently political.


LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not to mention, of course, they were forgetting that during the night and before the hearing, but before Senator Lindsey Graham stormed off in a huff because he was called to task about of the history and the facts he was talking about, he made it very clear about his disdain for double standards.

And let's forgive for a moment the irony of Senator Lindsey Graham speaking about double standards and trying to educate the first black woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court about double standards in the United States of America. But in doing so, he spoke about the idea of how dare people associate because you are a member of a particular organization that you are then assigned and imputed the beliefs of the controversial figures that you invite there. He was very adamant about that not being appropriate with Justice Alito and the like. And then his colleague, left hand and right hand, not knowing what they're doing, did the very thing next to the actual Supreme Court nominee.

So, in terms of consistency, they didn't have it. But who was consistent, the Supreme Court nominee who might just have the votes to be the next Supreme Court justice.

BLITZER: Guys, thank you very, very much, excellent analysis, as usual.

An important programming note for our viewers, Laura will be anchoring CNN later tonight, CNN Tonight, 9:00 P.M. Eastern. We will be watching.

Just ahead, more breaking news out of Ukraine, Putin's chief spokesperson, get this, speaking with CNN in an exclusive interview, he has got a chilling message, his chilling message about the potential use of nuclear weapons.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, Ukrainian forces is now fighting and take back key territory from the invading Russian troops. Let's get the latest. CNN's Brian Todd is joining us together with CNN Military Analyst, retired U.S. Army Major General Spider Marks.

All right, Brian, walk us through what you know.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. In Ukraine now, it's Wednesday morning, day 28 of this war, and by every account, every assessment from U.S. officials and others, General, it is not going the Russians' way. We just talked about a British intelligence report implying, suggesting that the Russians are going to redouble their efforts to capture the capital city. What do you make of that report?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES SPIDER MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I don't have the raw intelligence but the analysis is such that I would push back on that assessment because the Russians are failing in Kyiv and you don't -- as a military leader, you don't reinforce failure. You go to where you're achieving success, which really draws my attention down to the south.

TODD: Okay. We're going to talk about the south now because we have gotten an assessment from a senior U.S. defense official today saying that the Ukrainians may be making some gains back into some cities that they would have lost. They're fighting again to try to retake Kherson. According to this defense official, they are pushing toward Mykolaiv from the northeast, trying to -- Russian forces have been forced to reposition themselves to the south and to the southeast of Mykolaiv. What do you make of those pushes back into those cities?

MARKS: Yes, very important. As we all understand, the key objective is to create this land bridge that gives Russia access to Crimea and not exclusively across the Straits of Azov.

This is really important, because the Ukrainians must control -- I'm sorry, the Russians must control that city if their objective is ultimately to get to Odessa, which it is. It's the largest port.

TODD: And they have not gotten there yet.

MARKS: Absolutely not.

TODD: They've positioned naval forces. They have not gotten there.

MARKS: Incredibly important that the Ukrainians continue to push in this area, denying this opportunity to the Russians.

TODD: Okay. A quick look at the weapons, General, we have had the latest assess assessment from Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby today. The Russians did use on at least, one occasion, possibly more, but at least one, he says, the hypersonic missile, the kinzhal, meaning dagger. What do you make of their use of that missile?

MARKS: Yes. This -- I'm sorry. Yes, this hypersonic -- there we go.

TODD: Good ahead.

MARKS: Yes. The hypersonic is right here on the bottom of this MiG. What that gives them is incredible capabilities. The fact that they used one simply was a demonstration in my mind, which is we, the Russians, own it, and you, NATO and the United States, don't own it. But it seems odd to me that they would use this type of precision munition that is Mach 5, nap-of-earth, very close to the earth and incredibly maneuverable to go after stationary targets. You don't need to do that.

TODD: Okay. We're going see if they do it again, and what other kind of weapons the Russians bring to bear. The Ukrainians have been very successful with the Javelins and the Stinger missiles, Wolf. Again, the weaponry here so critical as we enter the next phase of this war.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. CNN's Brian Todd, retired Army Major General Spider Marks, guys, thank you very much.

Coming up, more on the breaking news. We're going live to the Polish- Ukrainian border for the latest on the fast-growing refugee crisis. The U.N. estimate more than 3.5 million Ukrainians have now fled Putin's forces.



BLITZER: We just got some stunning video from the battlefield in Ukraine, unlike anything we've seen so far. It captures a rather intense firefight on the outskirts of Kyiv around a train station. We want to show it to you right now, but a warning. It is up close and it's very graphic. It's a depiction of this war.




CNN, by the way, has verified the authenticity of that video that first appeared on social media.

There's more breaking news we're following, Ukrainian refugees are arriving by the millions to neighboring Poland, and according to the United Nations more than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of Russia's unprovoked invasion.

CNN's Melissa Bell is joining us live from the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Melissa, what, at least 2 million Ukrainians have crossed that border into Poland where you are? What are you hearing from some of these refugees?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, all of the trauma, Wolf, that they carry with them from the kind of scenes you've just been watching and the kind of scenes that it's hard to get access to, but the refugees crossing this border are fleeing. This is what they have often in their phones and it's certainly what they're carrying with them as they come across and think, as you see here -- women, their children, a couple of bags and that's what they arrive with. They head to the end of this road here. A bus picks them up and on to a very uncertain future and not a great amount of coordination and nearly one month into this conflict.

What we're seeing is that those scenes that you've just seen in Kyiv and have been repeated in places like Irpin and Sumy, as you see those moments of heavy fighting and the people fleeing have arrived and deeply traumatized.

What you're talking about is the people arriving here in Medyka where there's more organization than there was to receive them as they first arrived, but a lot less further on, they're arriving with all of that.

These are the people who stayed as long as they could and are arriving very reluctantly, leaving their fighting age men behind and again, carrying all of that trauma and heading to the most uncertain futures from here at Medyka crossing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Melisa Bell, at the Polish-Ukrainian border for us, thank you very much. We'll be right back.



HANNITY: Breaking news tonight, a chilling message from Vladimir Putin's chief spokesman. Listen to his exclusive interview with CNN's chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCOHR: Can I quickly ask you, though. I need to ask you this because the world is afraid and I want to know whether Putin intends the world to be afraid of the nuclear option. Would he use it?

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESPERSON: President Putin intends to -- intends to make the world listen to and understand our concerns. We've been trying to convey our concerns to the world, to Europe, to the United States for a couple of decades, but no one would listen to us. And before it is too late, it was a decision to start to launch a special operation, military operation to get rid of entire Russia that was created next to our borders.

AMANPOUR: What, to get rid of Russia?

PESKOV: And to Russia because Ukraine -- Ukraine started to be -- it was formed by the Western countries and to Russia.


PESKOV: This is the problem. AMANPOUR: OK, look, Ukraine is a country, sovereign. It's recognized

by the United Nations. It's been around for a very, very long time, but I just want to know -- I want to ask you again, is President Putin, because again, the Finnish president said to me that when he asked Putin directly about this because President Putin has laid that card on the table, President Putin said that if anybody tries to stop him, very bad things will happen.

And I want to know whether you are convinced or confident that your boss will not use that option?

PESKOV: Well, we have a concept of domestic security, and -- well, it's public. You can read all of the reasons for nuclear arms to be used. So, if it is an existential threat to our country, then it can be used in accordance with our concept.


PESKOV: There are no other reasons that were mentioned in that text.

AMANPOUR: So, you are basically saying only in existential threat to your country. I still don't know if I got a full answer from you, and I'm just going to assume that President Putin wants to scare the world and keep the world on tenterhooks.


BLITZER: Be sure to join me tomorrow for a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll be live from Brussels where we'll be covering the historic NATO summit this week.

Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.