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Hala Gorani Tonight

Defiant Ukrainian President Sends Tough Message To The West; U.S. President Biden Bans Russian Oil Imports; Mykolaiv Residents Gather Tires To Try To Stop Russian Advance; Russia Bombarding Numerous Ukrainian Cities; Poland Offers All Its MiG-29 Fighter Jets To Germany For Use By U.S.; Interview With Bogdan Aurescu, Romanian Foreign Minister, On Influx Of Tens Of Thousands Of Ukrainian Refugees; Racing To Protect Ukraine's Cultural Treasures; Preteen Travels 1,000 Kilometers To Safety. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 08, 2022 - 14:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Multiple breaking news headlines on

Ukraine. A defiant Ukrainian president addresses the British parliament today. His message? Western allies could be doing a whole lot more to save

civilian lives. Also this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas energy. That means Russian oil will no longer be

acceptable at U.S. ports, and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin's war machine.


GORANI: The United States bans all Russian energy imports. Will Moscow retaliate by cutting off gas to Europe? While 2 million refugees flee,

thousands more are trapped in besieged cities as Russia violates ceasefires on the ground. Ukraine's president is vowing to continue the fight for his

country's survival, saying they will not give up, quote, "whatever the cost". But with each passing day, the situation is growing more dire.

A lifeline out of the besieged city of Sumy is due to close right now after a very brief ceasefire allowed some civilians to escape through a

humanitarian corridor. Take a look.





GORANI: And here's what these civilians have to put up with. Officials say the truce was broken once by shooting near a check point. But some 3,500

Ukrainians and foreign students managed to evacuate safely. They are leaving behind devastating scenes like this. The aftermath of a Russian air

strike that officials say hit a residential building, killing 21 people.

And this is what's left of a hospital in eastern Ukraine after a shelling attack. A senior American official says much of the country is covered by

Russian surface-to-air missile capability. The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is renewing calls for the West to help protect

Ukrainian skies. This is in London. He received a standing ovation today when he addressed the British parliament via a video link.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE (through translator): We will not give up. And we will not lose. We will fight until the end at sea, in the

air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost. Please make sure that you do what needs to be done, and what is stipulated by the

greatness of your country. Best of all, to Ukraine and to the United Kingdom.



GORANI: Standing ovation there as I mentioned in the British parliament. Our Nick Paton Walsh is in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, tonight, where residents are

using tires to try to stop a Russian advance. What have you seen today, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, Hala, it's been a significant up and down, frankly, for Mykolaiv. Most recently as

yesterday evening, the original head was sounding very bullish, very confident, that they had managed to push back the Russian advances here,

retaking the international airport. But today, it was clear that, that balance had changed. As you drove into the town, we saw what we thought was

Ukrainian artillery shelling Russian positions, trying to move round on the north of the city.

And since dusk hit here, the regional head, Vitaliy came, he's been something of a galvanizing figure for locals here.




WALSH: Yes, so it's the first time, Hala, was about to tell you how incredibly quiet the city had been since night fell. And we just heard -- I

think that sounded like outgoing fire here. But this may be the start of what people were concerned was going to happen. What we've been seeing on

the streets here has been quite remarkable, frankly. There was that Telegram appeal from Vitaliy Kim, the regional governor, saying please,

locals, if you don't want to be involved in the civil guard fighting for the city, there's something you can do that's risk free, please, bring all

of your spare tires to any intersection that you can find and lay them down.

And then we saw across the city very quickly, almost in a random cars turning up any cross-section they could, dumping off tires, piling them up

and then at times also people leaving Molotov cocktails next to them.


An extraordinary sign frankly, of the grass roots level resistance that sort of seems to be beginning here in Mykolaiv. It's been essentially

behind its ability to hold off the Russians for well over a week now. But the fear I think was that we are seeing possibly a last Russian attempt to

move into the city. Again, it sounds a bit like it's outgoing, but yes, I mean, we're here about over a week ago and saw the skyline lit up by the

intensity of the artillery badges.

But since that, over that week, we've seen the Russians repeatedly attempt to move into the city, and they've being repelled. It's been frankly bad

for them. But --

GORANI: Yes --

WALSH: Yes, I mean, the scene we're seeing is that there may be --

GORANI: I was going to say, Nick --

WALSH: Those warnings were based on something -- sorry, Hala, yes --

GORANI: If you're -- I mean, hopefully, it is -- it is outgoing. How close are Russian forces to your position? Are you able to assess that at this


WALSH: I have to say it is difficult because despite the loquaciousness of Vitaliy Kim, the regional governor on Telegram, you don't get a lot of real

clear steer, which is the way the Russians have been. We certainly know that they haven't managed to move their way in towards the city over the

past days, towards Kyiv, roundabout, close to its center. And in fact, just a week ago, about two clicks down -- 2 kilometers down the road that way,

there was Ukrainian armor blown up clearly by fairly accurate Russian missile strike.

But since then, we've seen a lot of very inaccurate Russian fire raining down, I say inaccurate, maybe it was intentional, raining down on civilian

residential areas here in Mykolaiv. And I think the fear is, when Vitaliy came in with his message today, when he told everyone to come out and put

tires out, he said that he felt the Russians were going to try and take this city at whatever the cost. And that might be a recognition of how

we've seen increasingly indiscriminate fire from the Russian military over the past days.

And that might be part of whatever the next move they have is. It is unclear whether strategically they feel they have to enter the city and

control it or whether they're happy to surround it or whether they're happy to simply go past it. Because I think most people feel that Odessa, their

main port, the third largest city in Ukraine, and also along the Black Sea coast as well, maybe their strategic goal here.

But Mykolaiv is very much in their way, and we would be seeing how they feel about that tonight. But Russian forces on the outskirts have not

really managed to make their presence felt inside. As they have been consistently repelled, their --

GORANI: Yes --

WALSH: Armor taken off them. And so, I think it is a fear for residents here, that it's going to be heavy weaponry, rockets, larger forms of

explosives being used --

GORANI: All right, Nick, we're going to --

WALSH: To try and make their problems felt --

GORANI: We're going to wrap it up --

WALSH: Hala?

GORANI: Yes, we're going to wrap it up and let you go. Thanks very much. Nick Paton Walsh live in Mykolaiv there. With hearing the sound there of

potentially Nick was saying, but sounded like outgoing fire there as Nick was saying, difficult to assess exactly how close or far the Russian troop

presence is. But obviously, on the way to Odessa if that is one of the big prizes for the Russian military there is, that city of Mykolaiv. We're

keeping close touch with our Nick Paton Walsh there, doing incredible reporting on the ground for us in Ukraine.

Well, it is tense, it is violent. Many people are dying, and as a result, even more people are fleeing. The U.N. Refugee Agency says 2 million

Ukrainians have now left their own country, and nearly all of those refugees are women, children or elderly. Our chief international

correspondent Clarissa Ward reports from a refugee staging area near Kyiv.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We're now here at this kind of staging ground. You can see there, soldiers

waiting around for people who are arriving. There has been still a steady stream of them coming in all day long. In fact, you can see just over here,

a group of people who have just arrived. A lot of these people are happy and relieved to be alive. They're reuniting with relatives. There are also

many of them confused, clearly in a state of shock.

Some of them distressed. They have been living now for more than a week under just complete hell. Constant bombardment. They described horrifying

scenes, not being able to talk to people, their loved ones cut off. No cell phones. Pinned down in basements. No electricity. No food. And just the

emotion that you're seeing as these people in a matter of 15 minutes have crossed over from an absolute hellscape into the relative security of this

staging ground.


You do hear some artillery here, but it's not as close as it has been on other days. And basically, what they're trying to do now, the authorities,

they've got ambulances. They've got a tent over there where they are taking some of the people, the more vulnerable. We've seen a lot of elderly people

being evacuated today. A lot of people in wheelchairs, and it's very cold here.

So some of them are being taken into that tent where there're heaters. They're being given some tea, trying to just calm them down. Get some

warmth into their bones. You can see over here as well, some volunteers, they've got water. They've got soup. They're making coffees for people who

might need that. And then they're basically loaded onto these yellow buses over there. Those yellow buses will be taking most of them to the Kyiv

central train station where we were yesterday.


GORANI: All right, that was Clarissa Ward reporting now. Obviously, there are many aspects to this story. There's the military aspect, the diplomatic

one, and then also, there is economic warfare. And that is what the West is waging on Russia right now. And NATO is not sending troops, but they are

implementing sanctions and there was a significant historic move from the White House today. The U.S. is banning all Russian energy imports as

Vladimir Putin continues his offensive in Ukraine.

That includes oil and natural gas and coal. They don't import much coal, but that's included in the package. The move is being made independent of

European nations, but President Biden says the West is united. Listen.


BIDEN: We made this decision in close consultation with our allies and our partners around the world, particularly in Europe, because a united

response to Putin's aggression has been my overriding focus to keep all NATO and all of the EU and our allies totally united.


GORANI: So this, the aim is for this to deal another blow to President Putin's war machine, his ability to fund this war. Let's bring in CNN's

business editor and anchor of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" Richard Quest. Let's talk about the significance of this. So, I was --


GORANI: Looking up, how much does the U.S. buy from Russia? It's about 8 percent of its liquid fuel imports, much --

QUEST: Right --

GORANI: Lower than Europe.

QUEST: Much lower, where the number is --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: Nearly 40 percent --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: In -- for gas and 30 percent for oil.


Excuse me, Hala. There's a significance to it, because it sends the strongest message. Remember until now, oil and gas had been carved out of

the sanctions.

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: And this was thought to be extremely self-serving of Europe. We will help Ukraine as long as it doesn't hinder our economies.

GORANI: Right.

QUEST: What Biden is saying is, there will be a cost to this, and we are prepared to pay it. The Germans, however, Germany does not enjoy the luxury

of being able to turn off Russian energy.

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: If it did, it would crater the economy and would cause great hardship within the German -- for German consumers.

GORANI: So, Russia is saying, well, we'll just turn off Nord Stream one. Then let's take a look at the pipeline network in Europe here. But if

Russia does that, is this just brinkmanship because this would absolutely demolish its own economy. There you have the network of pipelines that --

QUEST: Highly impossible -- highly possible.

GORANI: Right --

QUEST: Because remember Putin's view is, if you're going to annihilate Russia, a world without Russia isn't worth having. So if you're going to

destroy the Russian economy, I'm going to take yours down with me.

GORANI: Right --

QUEST: And that's the sort of mentality that will be --

GORANI: But presumably, closing down Nord Stream one would cause much more damage to the Russian economy than to the --

QUEST: Yes --

GORANI: Western economy.

QUEST: I think what you're looking at, the big question -- no, I mean, hindsight, should have, could have, would have --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: After Crimea, why didn't all these countries wean themselves off Russian energy as much as possible?

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: Instead, they weren't held for later, and built Nord Stream 2.

GORANI: Yes, right.

QUEST: The British however, they are now saying that we are going to wean themselves off Russian oil.

GORANI: They are, and -- but we're talking -- there's a difference between oil and gas. So, with --

QUEST: Sure --

GORANI: The U.K. saying banning oil imports but not gas. What's the difference here in terms of how much they rely, how dependent they are on

oil versus gas?

QUEST: Well, that's the point, isn't it?

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: You rely more on gas --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: Than oil. And the reality is --

GORANI: And you can get your oil from elsewhere.

QUEST: Well, you can, up to a point. The reality is, the world cannot produce enough to replace Russian capacity. Not yet. So this is a very

difficult situation where you're doing the best you can, but you can't do what you'd want to do, which is actually cut off Russia oil and gas.

GORANI: Let's take a look at how dependent European economies --

QUEST: More --

GORANI: Are on Russian oil. We have a graphic here that shows you various countries. So, we have Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova, Austria, Germany is at

14 percent estimated of energy from Russian gas.


It's actually higher if you take the percentage of total imports. This is the percentage of total consumption.

QUEST: Right --

GORANI: So you actually have a -- you actually have a much higher number if you look just at imports.

QUEST: Right. But where are you going to get all that stuff if it doesn't come --

GORANI: How do you bring it in from other --


GORANI: Algeria --


GORANI: Qatar --


GORANI: You can't load it up. This is -- we're talking about --


GORANI: Not liquefied gas. We're talking about gas that goes through these pipelines, right?

QUEST: But there's nothing of capacity.

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: And it does have to come -- in many cases, it does have to come via -- by tanker, by container ships. And there simply isn't the capacity to be

able to do it at the moment. They're working on it, but at the moment, you cannot physically replace --

GORANI: But so --

QUEST: That much. And there will be a cost to pay. And the other cost of course is, the moment Russia threatens to stop supply, you're going to see

an increase in -- I mean, the Russian deputy minister said you could see oil at $300 a barrel.

GORANI: Right --

QUEST: That's inflation for us.

GORANI: And that brings more money into the coffers of the --

QUEST: Right --

GORANI: Russian war machine. Europe is saying we'll cut by two-thirds this year our reliance on --

QUEST: Oh --

GORANI: Russian gas. How -- this year, they've got 9 -- 10, 9 --

QUEST: If the U.K. says it's going to completely within a year --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: This could be necessity being the mother of invention --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: You're going to do it because you have to --

GORANI: Is it realistic? Is it realistic?

QUEST: Yes, you -- is it realistic? It doesn't matter. They're going to try and do it.

GORANI: OK, well, all of that being said, the Russian economy is incredibly isolated.

QUEST: Exact -- it is difficult to describe.

GORANI: Does the -- I mean, how long can the Russians maintain this level of military engagement in Ukraine with an economy that is on the verge of

complete collapse? They can't raise money. They've got their gas revenue, sure. But that's it.

QUEST: Right, but they're printing their own money, so they can buy within their own domestic economy, but you're right. When it comes to --

GORANI: They're losing -- they're losing material, they're losing men. They have to --

QUEST: Well --

GORANI: They have to --

QUEST: When it comes to companies -- hang on. Hang on. It's a relatively small -- in terms of the totality --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: Of the --

GORANI: Yes --

QUEST: Russian military forces, Ukraine is what? A 200,000, and they've got over a million including reserves.


QUEST: The economy will just get worse. People will just get poorer. Inflation will get higher. The economy bumbles on in some hand-fisted,

awful way that creates hardship and poverty on a widening scale. But you're printing your own money, and, therefore, as long as your domestic economy

continues like that, but what happens afterwards is just wreckage --

GORANI: Well --

QUEST: Strewn everywhere -- to say nothing of the lost lives, please.

GORANI: Absolutely. And when you print your own money, hyper inflation --

QUEST: Banana republic --


GORANI: Thank you very much, Richard, and we'll see you at the top of the hour with more. This is a very important angle. And as Richard was saying,

of course, we focus on this one, on the human cost, on the refugee and humanitarian disaster just unfolding across Europe. We're going to be doing

that after a break. And when we come back, a single letter not even found in the Russian alphabet has become a potent symbol of the war in Ukraine.

What it is, this letter Z or Zed, and what it means to pro-war Russians next.

And then, what should we make of China? Xi Jinping walks a fine line in the Ukrainian conflict. How far is he really willing to go to support Russia?

We have a live report.



GORANI: Now, the Ukrainians say that a high-ranking Russian military official, a general, has died near Kharkiv. They say, Major General Vitaly

Gerasimov, was killed in battle along with a number of senior Russian army officers The statement offered no proof of death nor details of when he

died, and neither Russian state media nor Russia's Ministry of Defense has commented. This is what the Ukrainian side is saying.

Now, a new pro-war symbol has emerged in Russia, and it's a symbol of division between those who believe Russia is right in invading Ukraine and

most everyone else who sees it as pure aggression. Phil Black shows us.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's impossible not to notice. Many of the Russian vehicles invading Ukraine carry a distinctive mark.

Trucks, tanks, fighting engineering and logistical vehicles, they are advancing through Ukraine with the letter "Z", painted conspicuously in

white. The people being invaded have noticed. Here in the eastern Ukrainian town of Kup'yans'k, an angry crowd swarms after and attacks a single

vehicle. It's only obvious connection to the war, the letter "Z".

ARIC TOLER, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH & TRAINING, BELLINGCAT: It's almost certainly, some kind of tackle grouping. There's a million different

theories about what Z means, but I think it's just a marking, just easy to do. Easy thing to mark, it's like a square or a triangle.

BLACK: In a war where they want to be conquerors are not flying their national flag, that single character has taken on a special significance.


BLACK: At a recent gymnastics World Cup event, 20-year-old Russian competitor Ivan Kuliak accepted his bronze medal wearing a Z prominently on

his chest. He was standing next to a Ukrainian athlete. The sport's governing body described it as shocking behavior. But how do you describe

this? Terminally ill children and their carers formed a giant Z outside a hospice in the Russian city of Kazan.

BRIAN KLAAS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: It's disgusting that the state is co-opting young children to be propaganda

mechanisms for their war. It's dangerous when small little symbols become proxies for being a loyal citizen in an authoritarian regime during a time

of war because those who don't wear it, those who don't show the Z could be targeted by the state.

BLACK: And in this, highly produced propaganda video, Russian men wearing that letter declare their support for the invasion. Chanting for Russia,

for the president, for Russia, for Putin. An aerial shot shows a giant Z made from the orange and black of the Saint George's ribbon, a traditional

symbol of Russian military glory, usually associated with victory over Nazi, Germany. By accident or design, a character that doesn't feature in

Russia's alphabet has become an iconic symbol of Putin's invasion and the propaganda campaign to win support among his people. Phil Black, CNN,



GORANI: Let's talk more about those sanctions on Russia. Nina dos Santos is here with me in the studio. So, and we have an increasing number of

western companies pulling out of Russia. The latest is?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN REPORTER: Well, the latest two today are McDonald's and also Unilever. Now, officially, what's really important is that they

have said -- McDonald's has said they're going to carry on paying staff in the country. Now, this comes after repeated reports or suggestions by

government ministers in Russia that for businesses that don't pay their staff, and this also may include some businesses that can't pay their staff

because of the restrictions to access to the U.S. dollar that Russia is facing, they might nationalize their businesses.

So, officially, for McDonald's, it gets about 9 percent of its revenues from Russia, it's obviously a crucially important market. They're going to

carry on paying staff. But obviously, it just goes to the -- again, the toxicity of the -- from a reputational point of view of doing business in

Vladimir Putin's Russia at the moment with this Ukraine invasion.


Two hundred western firms --

GORANI: Yes --

DOS SANTOS: Already as per yesterday, they pulled out of Russia in the last 13 days --

GORANI: I find this number actually fascinating, 9 percent of McDonald's' total revenue?

DOS SANTOS: It is about 9 percent, I think it's about 9 percent last time I looked. And --

GORANI: Worldwide revenue --

DOS SANTOS: I have to have a look at that.

GORANI: Yes, because that's really --

DOS SANTOS: Clearly, a talk about general sanctions as well --

GORANI: In any case, it's significant.

DOS SANTOS: It is significant --

GORANI: Yes --

DOS SANTOS: It's a large part. But you know, this is -- this is typical with western businesses whose shareholders have repeatedly over the years

demanded growth. They haven't just said, oh, we were the solid business, you've got a footing in the United States. There's a McDonald's on every

street corner -- no, they want growth, which means entering new markets like for instance the emerging markets.

GORANI: Right.

DOS SANTOS: But there is a really painful symmetry with firms like McDonald's pulling out of their key flagship stores in Moscow, because it

comes obviously juxtapose against the times when we remember them opening up as a western symbol. There was a famous adage, wasn't there? The two

countries that share a McDonald's shouldn't go to war with each other. That's obviously no longer the case.


DOS SANTOS: Obviously, Unilever and there are other western firms that continue to pull out, H&M, Zara, so on and so forth. The objective of all

of this is to try and affect ordinary Russians' lives as much as --

GORANI: Yes --

DOS SANTOS: Affecting the oligarchs by seizing their --

GORANI: How is it --



GORANI: How is it affecting ordinary Russians?

DOS SANTOS: Well, if you take a look at the ruble, it's fallen about 30 percent, the stock market has had to be suspended multiple times, as that

has fallen again into double digits. And as we're now seeing, it's not just people's bank accounts that are getting stopped. Say for instance, they

have U.S. dollar bank accounts, it's getting increasingly difficult to try and trade in the U.S. dollar bank accounts if you're a Russian citizen.

Obviously, for the sanctioned oligarchs, it's a whole different dimension. And actually, I should point out it's going to be really complicated

getting at those sanctioned oligarchs' money. We're talking about a list of 400 people, 600 entities. A lot of those 400 people are very international.

They put their money in different countries and different shell companies - -

GORANI: Yes --

DOS SANTOS: That are often anonymous in locations where you can't necessarily track who is the beneficial owner of some of these assets. So,

this is going to be a complicated scenario for authorities to actually implement as well. But it is being felt on the ground in Russia in terms of

currencies and assets and access to western goods.

GORANI: All right, Nina dos Santos, thanks so much. The Chinese President Xi Jinping says China is, quote, "deeply grieved by the war in Europe", and

is offering to help mediate. He made the offer earlier today while speaking with the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the French President, Emmanuel

Macron. China though is trying to do a balancing act here obviously. It also has echoed Russia's claim that NATO's eastward expansion is at the

root of the conflict.

All right, we are going to connect now with our senior international correspondent Will Ripley, he's following China's reaction, he is in

Taipei. Let's first talk about this phone call and what we know about what was said, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was as you mentioned, with the Chinese president, the French president and the German

chancellor. And China was saying look, we can serve as a mediator. We can help negotiate a peace deal. This is the China that is believed to have met

with -- you know, Chinese president that met with Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Beijing Olympics, and possibly, according to U.S.

Intelligence had some sort of a deal, saying, hey, can you postpone your invasion until after the Olympics.

So, arguably, Xi does have influence with Putin. But you have to question the credibility of this authoritarian country which has its eyes set on

another self-governing democracy, that, of course, Hala, is the island of Taiwan.

GORANI: Right, your shot is -- I'm sorry, your shot -- we're having a few technical problems here with you. Will, we'll try to reconnect and get back

to you. But unfortunately, your video link there has frozen at just the wrong time. Still to come tonight, Russia is relentlessly attacking

numerous cities in eastern, northern, and southern Ukraine. But it is facing stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces. We'll talk with a former

U.S. Air Force colonel about Russia's military strategy and the West's efforts to blunt it.

And a little later, I'll speak with the foreign minister of Romania where many Ukrainians are trying to find shelter. Stay with us.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

GORANI: The defense minister of Ukraine is accusing Russia of genocide, saying at least 38 Ukrainian children have been killed and 70 others

wounded in the war so far.

Now Russia has agreed to allow Ukraine to evacuate civilians from only one heavily attacked city. Buses did successfully carry thousands of evacuees

out of Sumy. Russia also declared a cease-fire in four other besieged cities, including Mariupol, which the U.S. says is surrounded by Russian


Ukraine attempted to send in a convoy to deliver supplies and evacuate civilians but then Russia apparently fired on that convoy.

Russian forces are relentlessly bombarding numerous cities in southern, eastern and northern Ukraine. You see it on the map. But a NATO official

says Russia seems to be making little progress on the ground. They're not taking any big cities.

Let's ask our next guest, CNN military analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton, who spent 26 years in military intelligence with the U.S. Air Force, why he

believes that's the case. He comes to us live from Washington.

So let's talk about why the Russian troops on the ground -- and notably, we're seeing that column of Russian military vehicles to the north of Kyiv

not making any advances. They are trying to go into big cities and repelled on the outskirts of those big cities.

And what the Russians are doing is pounding the surrounding areas and then, in a puzzling way, smaller, nonmilitary target villages around some of

those bigger metropolitan areas.

What's going on with the Russian military in your estimation?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the big issue with the Russian military is they're kind of stalled in front of these

cities, because of logistical problems. And one -- that's one aspect of it.

Another thing that's very interesting and we've just kind of gotten wind of this is the fact that their communications, their encryption with their

communications systems, appears to have failed them, because they took out a lot of the 3G cellular towers in and around Kyiv and other major cities.


LEIGHTON: So failure to communicate, failure to move their logistical supplies forward, possible issues with morale problems, the leadership

issues, all of these have contributed to the Russians' inability to move forward into the larger cities. And that is absolutely stalling their

advance right now.


So is there a concern therefore that Russia will use heavier weaponry, because they're frustrated in their attempt to take big cities without

having to resort to very destructive airstrikes?

LEIGHTON: That is absolutely a concern. And the Russian playbook, from places like Chechnya and Syria, is definitely one in which they have

leveled or highly damaged various cities that they've targeted without regard to the civilian populations in those areas.

So what that means concretely for people is that they can expect heavy bombardment, both through artillery and rocket fire as well as aerial

bombardment, in the next phase of the Russian operation. That's, I think, the biggest concern.

Whether or not that actually happens or is executed the way the Russians say they're going to execute it or have planned to execute is another

matter. But it looks like they're going to do it.

GORANI: Is it surprising that the Russian military, on day 13, seems to be -- I mean, they're killing many people; they're destroying big, big

portions of cities and surrounding areas around cities.

But wasn't the expectation, I mean, certainly on their end, that they would just breeze into Kyiv and subdue everybody and put their puppet government

in place?

And the Ukrainians are fighting back and they're fighting back very effectively. And they have more weapons now obviously than they did in

2014, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea.

And I mean, is this surprising to you how effective the Ukrainian resistance has been against the much, much larger military?

LEIGHTON: It is. Absolutely. When you look at the budgets for the two militaries, the preinvasion budgets, the Russian budget was basically 10

times larger than the Ukrainian budget.

And then you look at the elements that they have, a vast preponderance of tanks, fighter aircraft especially on the Russian side, compared to the

Ukrainian side, plus better weapons, much more modern weapons and, of course, a much larger military.

So all of these factors led analysts like myself and others and, of course, the Russians themselves, to believe that they were going to roll in, kind

of like the Soviet Union did into Czechoslovakia in 1968. It was a two-day affair basically.

This is very different. And then compare it to what happened in 2014, vastly different response from the Ukrainians and a much more cooperative

defense of the country, which is quite surprising but also shows the will of the people and their willingness to fight for their ideals and for their


GORANI: Our reporters have shown us they are really determined to defend their country and their democracy.

Let me ask you about this idea, because President Zelensky is thankful that he's getting weaponry sent to him and help in that way. But what he wants

and what many Ukrainians are calling for is a no-fly zone.

And Western countries have resisted this idea, because that would mean potentially shooting down Russian planes and that would lead to a direct

confrontation between NATO countries and Russia and a much bigger possibly conflict.

There are foreign policy experts in the United States with vast experience, who have authored a letter, saying that more needs to be done to prevent a

bloodbath. This is a portion of the letter.

A U.S.-NATO enforced no-fly zone to protect humanitarian corridors and additional military means for Ukraine's self-defense are desperately needed

and needed now.

What is your opinion about a limited no-fly zone?

LEIGHTON: So no-fly zones are very hard to implement. You basically need air supremacy to achieve those. I know that from our experience in Iraq. I

was involved in intelligence support. I too (ph) those no-fly zones. It is not an easy thing to do if you don't have the requisite air supremacy.

It basically means you control the skies. And now, there are certain things that can be done, certain things that can be made to happen. But we have to

be willing to take certain risks.


LEIGHTON: Those risks would include the potential for an aerial engagement with Russian aircraft. Whether or not that would cause World War III, of

course, I think depends on the nature of the engagement and other factors.

But those are the risks involved. So a no-fly zone by itself would not do very much in the aggregate, because the other thing that you would need is

a no-shooting zone, basically a cease-fire, no artillery or rocket fire, no ground fire of any type in addition to no aerial bombardment.

That's the kind of thing that would have to happen if we're going to help the people of Ukraine avoid further catastrophe.

GORANI: And Russia certainly could see this as an act of war. Thank you very much, Cedric Leighton for joining us. As always, great to have your


Still to come tonight, the U.N. Refugee Agency says there soon could be a second wave of people leaving Ukraine. Romania's foreign minister, whose

country has hosted thousands of Ukrainian refugees, will join me live next.




GORANI: The speed at which people are leaving Ukraine has been unheard of since World War II. The U.N. says most of the 2 million people that have

already left have gone to Poland and other countries in the region, where they may have family or friends.

Officials in Romania say they have taken over 290,000 refugees since the Russian invasion started but that the majority have already left. They may

be passing through Romania to go to third countries.

Romania's foreign minister, Bogdan Aurescu, joins me now live with more.

Thank you, Minister, for being with us.

Is that number correct, about 290,000 Ukrainian refugees have passed through your country?

BOGDAN AURESCU, ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Good evening and thank you for having me.

I think the number is already higher than that. I think more than 300,000 refugees from Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens, actually, because we are not

counting here the citizens of other countries, which also crossed the border in Romania.

So more than 300,000 Ukrainian citizens have crossed Romania either through the Romania-Ukrainian border or through the Republic of Moldova. And as we

speak, more than 83,000 of them have stayed in Romania. They are staying now in our country.


AURESCU: And we are now trying to help also our neighbor, the Republic of Moldova, which is a very small country and with a very limited capacity to

deal with such a burden.

And we are creating together with them a green corridor from the Republic of Moldova-Ukraine border to the Romania-Republic of Moldova border in

order to help the transfer of a lot of refugees to do go directly to Romania.

So we are helping everybody who is coming to the Romanian soil. Most of them are mothers and children. And more than one-third of those who are

staying here are children. And there's a huge effort --


GORANI: What happens -- sorry to jump in but what happens to them long- term?

Because kids obviously can't stay idle too long. They might need to go to school. They have to find housing, they need a routine.

What's the plan for them?

And are you asking for help from other countries to -- financial help to try to deal with the influx?

AURESCU: Well, for the time being, we are coping with the crisis. But the numbers will grow, certainly, because, even if the fights will stop in

Ukraine, the country is basically destroyed by the war. And nothing works there. And the numbers will definitely grow.

And the estimates of the International Organization for Migration are that another wave of refugees are coming. As far as those who are staying in

Romania, we have already taken a lot of domestic measures.

And we're preparing for arranging school, schools for children. We have already provided free medical assistance for all who are staying in

Romania. We are trying to facilitate their integration into the job market.

So we are trying to do our best to create the best conditions for them, for those who are staying, for them to be safe in Romania and to feel more

comfortable, if possible, of course.

GORANI: Sure. Let me ask you about the idea of a no-fly zone. You know President Zelensky is asking NATO countries to enforce a no-fly zone over

his country.

Some high-level academics and policy experts in the United States are saying that we need a no-fly zone over humanitarian corridors. Of course,

there is a reluctance to do this, because it could be interpreted by Russia as an act of war and could lead to confrontations in the air between NATO

fighter jets and Russian jets.

Do you support the idea of a no-fly zone?

AURESCU: Well, indeed we have discussed this matter during the NATO foreign ministerial meeting on Friday in Brussels. I have taken part in

that meeting and, as secretary general of NATO, Mr. Stoltenberg stated after the meeting, unfortunately, we cannot enforce such a no-fly zone over

Ukrainian airspace.

If we do so, that means, as you said earlier in the conversation with one of your guests, well, this would mean that NATO might get into direct

conflict with Russia. And since Ukraine is not a member state of NATO, NATO cannot do that, cannot enforce that, unfortunately.

GORANI: But the problem then is what people will say is, we're just all helpless, watching fighter jets flatten entire apartment blocks, villages

that don't seem to have any military value whatsoever and hundreds, if not thousands, of people dying every single day.

So what is the solution?

AURESCU: Well, NATO has already provided a lot of support to Ukraine. There are years and years of support for Ukraine, for its defense

capacities. Ukraine has enhanced opportunities, part of NATO for quite some time.

So there's a lot of support which was already provided by NATO to Ukraine. Unfortunately, a no-fly zone cannot be enforced by NATO because of the

reasons I've stated --


GORANI: So what can be done?

Because they need more -- do they need more surface to air missiles?

Do they need more anti-tank weaponry?

Do they need more training?

Because the Russian military is 10 times the size of the Ukrainian military.

AURESCU: Yes, indeed. And I think a lot of support has been provided by NATO member states individually, by the E.U. member states. As you

remember, the E.U. already adopted the decision to finance the (INAUDIBLE) of weapons to Ukraine. And well, this is happening. But a no-fly zone,

again, it's something that NATO cannot provide.

GORANI: Sure, got it. OK, thank you very much. Bogdan Aurescu is the Romanian foreign minister, for joining us live from Bucharest.

We'll be right back.





GORANI: Well, it's clear there's a dwindling number of safe places to take refuge in Ukraine. While civilians consider their options for escaping the

attacks, there's a separate effort to protect what is left behind. Atika Shubert reports on the rush to safeguard the country's heritage.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Racing against time to save Ukraine's cultural treasures. Among them, a 1,000-

year-old Bible. Ancient manuscripts hastily stored in boxes meant for supermarket bananas, the fastest way to save them from the threat of

Russian bombardment.

When Russian missiles hit the historic Holocaust memorial in the capital of Kyiv, national museum director of Lviv, Ihor Kozhan, realized no place was

safe. From his now empty museum, he tells us why he ordered the emergency storage of the city's entire collection.

"We see how Russia is shelling residential areas, even people that are evacuating," he tells us.

"They guaranteed they wouldn't but now we can't trust them and we need to take care of our heritage because this is our national treasure," he says.

SHUBERT: It's not just about saving priceless works of art. This is the country's spiritual heritage. These are from the 17th century. And they're

here in the hallway, because the museum has run out of space in the basement.


SHUBERT (voice-over): Even religious sites fear the worst. This mass at Lviv's cathedral Basilica of the Assumption was one of the last before its

giant stained-glass windows were boarded up with steel plates.

Praying for protection in a war where, it seems, no place is sacred from attack -- Atika Shubert for CNN in Lviv, Ukraine.


GORANI: And we end with a story of remarkable resilience. It's an 11-year- old boy, who traveled over 1,000 kilometers all by himself, from Ukraine to Slovakia with only a passport and a plastic bag. That's according to

Slovakia's interior ministry.

And this photo posted to the ministry's Facebook page shows that he traveled with a phone number written on his hand, the phone number of an

acquaintance, a family member or a relation in the country.


GORANI: Slovakia says border staff used the number to unite the boy with relatives awaiting his arrival there. His mother said she had to stay

behind to care for her own elderly mother. Listen to her heartfelt thank you to the people who took care of her child.


YULIA PISECKA, MOTHER: I got my son on a train, send him to the Slovakian border, where he was welcomed by people with a big heart. People with big

hearts live in your small country. Save our children, please. Protect our Ukrainian children.


GORANI: That's just -- yes, so much misery, so much misery across the country because of this war. An emotional plea from a mother, who really

was left with no other option, to protect her son than to send him alone on that train to safety.

Thank you for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.