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Hala Gorani Tonight

Russia Widens Attacks, Striking Cities In Western Ukraine; Ukraine Warns Russia Is Trying To Drag Belarus Into War; Central City Of Dnipro Hit For The First Time Since Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine; Mayor Of Melitopol Seen Being Led Away By Armed Men; NATO Surveillance Flight Detects Activity From Belarus; Russia Moves Its Assault On Ukraine Further West. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 11, 2022 - 14:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade at the CNN Center. Let's get straight to our breaking news. We are following major

developments in Russia's war on Ukraine this hour including new concerns that Belarus could soon join the fight. It comes as Russia has launched

blistering new attacks, widening its offensive to strike cities in the far west. A region which had been spared so far.

This attack in Lutsk hit an airfield killing several people. The central city of Dnipro was also hit for the first time. Officials there say a

kindergarten, eight apartment buildings and a shoe factory were damaged. And we've just learned that a city in the eastern Donetsk region has

apparently fallen to Russian-backed separatist. It had been surrounded for weeks and during heavy fighting.

Well, Ukrainian officials warn that Russia is trying to drag Belarus into the war possibly by a false flag provocation. The president of Belarus has

repeated some of Russia's unverified claims while meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow today.


ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, PRESIDENT, BELARUS (through translator): We didn't start this war. Our consciousness is clear. I'm glad it started. Biological

weapons, largest nuclear stations, all of these were ready to be exploded.


KINKADE: Ukraine's president appeared on the streets of Kyiv today. He is hitting back at claims that Ukraine is planning a chemical attack.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE (through translator): They accuse us, again, us, that we are allegedly developing biological weapons?

Allegedly we are preparing a chemical attack? This makes me really worried because we've been repeatedly convinced if you want to know Russia's plans,

look at what Russia accuses others of.


KINKADE: We want to get more now on the shifting targets on the battlefield. Take a look at this. You can see the locations attacked for

the first time today including two cities in the west near Poland's border and Dnipro in central Ukraine. Now, Dnipro had been considered a safe haven

of sorts, a hub for the coordination of humanitarian aid. Our Sam Kiley filed this report from Dnipro a short time ago.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here in Dnipro, I'm on the site or near the site of a shoe factory, a civilian target in this very

large city in the center of the country that was hit in some kind of missile or air strike. In the small hours of this morning, two other

locations in this city were hit as indeed were -- there were also air strikes in the far west of the country, three different air strikes against

an airport in Lutsk.

That makes a degree of military sense from the Russian perspective. They clearly want to knock out the capacity of the Ukrainian air force to get

into the air, but this doesn't make sense. It is a civilian shoe factory, indeed, a largely abandoned area. There was one fatality here, tragically,

the caretaker or guard was killed in this early morning air strike as sirens have been ringing out across this city for some time now.

Now, the nearest Russian ground forces are some distance away. They're south of Zaporizhzhia about 30 miles, which itself is about an hours' drive

south of here. But Dnipro does represent a strategic target, a significant feather in their military cap for the Russians if they could capture it.

There are no Russian forces close, but clearly, they are beginning, perhaps, to shift their emphasis to try to get into Dnipro, at least, break

the civilian will to resist.

And it's the attempts to break the civilian will in cities like Kharkiv, Kyiv, and of course, Mariupol where we've seen for several days deliberate

targeting of civilian areas by Russian forces as the Russian forces militarily have been held up by stiffer-than-expected Ukrainian resistance.

Sam Kiley, CNN in Dnipro.


KINKADE: Well, Ukraine's defense minister is accusing Moscow of planning some sort of terrorist attack at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It

claims Vladimir Putin is personally giving out orders for a false flag operation. An attack that Russia will try to blame on Ukraine. The

Chernobyl site was at the center of a nuclear disaster in 1986, and is now occupied by Russian forces. Take a listen to what one Ukrainian lawmaker

told us.


KIRA RUDYK, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: We have seen people suffering from the bombarding. We have seen people suffering from starvation, from

dehydration, from all the things.


So this just adds up as another threat. I am more concerned about the nuclear threat, honestly, because what we see is happening in Chernobyl

station where it was disconnected from the grid is more scary to me. I remember Chernobyl. I know what influence radiation has in people's lives.


KINKADE: Well, she also urged NATO to provide air support, saying that Ukraine doesn't have the resources to stop Russian planes from potentially

attacking the site. Well, Russia is accusing the U.S. and Ukraine without evidence of developing chemical and biological weapons. They called a

meeting at the U.N. Security Council about it. And it's a claim that's been debunked many times over and denied by the U.S. and Ukraine.

Now, the U.N. disarmament chief is telling the council that they're not aware of any bio weapons program in Ukraine. The U.S. says Russia is simply



LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: We have serious concerns that Russia may be planning to use chemical or biological agents

against the Ukrainian people. Russia could use chemical or biological agents for assassinations as part of a staged or false flag incident or to

support tactical military operations.


KINKADE: Well, Richard Roth is at the United Nations. And Richard, you were listening to that meeting today. We heard from various ambassadors to

the U.N., outlying Russia's lies. The U.K. ambassador to the U.N., saying that Russia is sinking to new depths, and that this council must not get

dragged down with it. Just take us through that meeting.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: This is one of the more slightly bizarre Security Council sessions I've seen over the years. If a

major country at the United Nations is lying, are you supposed to report it? What do you say? The majority of the Security Council members pounced

quickly on Russia after it alleged that the U.S. was putting together and working with Ukraine on biological weapons operations inside Ukraine.

It's rare that a U.N. official before the countries start talking gave a briefing to say, I've heard media reports about biological weapons in

Ukraine. We have not found anything like this. Nevertheless, Russia spoke after her and plowed through a list of interesting and bizarre statements

that the U.S., U.K., France and others said as the French ambassador put it, a bunch of lies. The meeting included an exchange between Russia and

the U.S. again at the end.

But there's not going to be any vote or action certainly on this. And according to various ambassadors, Russia has no case as the British

ambassador said the facts are Russia invaded Ukraine, a sovereign member of the U.N. It's committed war crimes. It's attacking and killing refugees, a

whole host of so-called facts. U.S. ambassador at the end of the session telling reporters I've got nothing to say except Russia is the aggressor,

and we're not going to pay any attention to the lies.

A CNN investigation of this concluded that Russia was, indeed, fabricating stuff that is on the internet and is QAnon, is fond of spreading that there

are biological weapons that the U.S. and Ukraine are running an operation together which has been debunked.

KINKADE: Yes, Richard, we certainly heard especially in the last few days, a lot of propaganda from Russia, specifically excuses for attacks we've

seen on civilians in Ukraine. Russia claimed a pregnant woman injured in that attack on the hospital in Mariupol was staged. The council gave an

update on that today on her welfare and the welfare of her baby. What did they say?

ROTH: The Ukraine ambassador said she is OK. CNN has talked to the woman, it was a successful pregnancy. There was another part of the Russian

ambassador's remarks where he said a woman through makeup is posing as two different women. A Ukraine blogger who took video or photos of a major

attack on civilians. So, as I said, it was a somewhat bizarre session, and the Russian ambassador held up, I believe, photos of the maybe of the two

different women. I've never been a good expert on makeup and knowing which woman is which, but that's the story here at the U.N.


KINKADE: All right, Richard Roth for us at the U.N. Thanks so much. Well, amid Russia's intensifying assault on Ukraine, world leaders have also been

stepping up economic and diplomatic efforts to curb the Kremlin's advances. EU leaders today say they intend to cut the bloc's dependency on Russian

energy by 2027. And they announced a fourth round of sanctions targeting luxury goods and crypto assets.

Well, CNN correspondent, Melissa Bell joins me now from Paris for more on this. And Melissa, we had already heard that the U.S. and the U.K. had

agreed to ban Russian oil. The U.K. by the end of this year. The EU of course is highly dependent on Russian oil.


It's looking to slowly phase it out. But certainly a lot of discussion about that time frame.

MELISSA BELL, CNN REPORTER: That's right. Because of the hit that so many European countries, some more than others, Lynda, would take if they were

to enforce such a ban themselves. So, instead, what we've been hearing about over the two-day summit where the 27 met not very far from here in

Versailles was how they could lessen that dependency over the course of the coming years.

So that they are less dependent on Russia and looking more to renewable energy. That could take some time. But what they also made clear was their

determination to keep up their pressure on Russia by any means possible. Have a listen to what Mr. Macron had to say today.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT, FRANCE (through translator): We're ready to adopt other sanctions, all options are on the table. And the objective of

our discussions is to prepare for these sanctions if they were to stop the aggression, and also to prepare for all the consequences in the coming

weeks and months.


BELL: So this was about as a bloc coming together to try and weather the storm and prepare for the first time really to deal with all the macro-

economic outfall of all that's happening of this particular crisis, to prepare Europe to lessen its dependency by 2027. One of the dates that was

evoked today. But also then, we heard from Ursula von der Leyen; the president of the European Commission, Lynda, in the shape of that statement

about this new round of sanctions that will take effect from tomorrow, as you say, targeting luxury goods.

We know the European Union exports a bunch of those towards Russian markets. That will end, also trying to avoid cryptocurrencies being used

for people to find their way around sanctions. But you're quite right, the big problem for Europe remains for now, the fact that to really squeeze the

Russian economy, to really bring pressure to bear, energy markets would be the thing to target. They're limited in how far they can go.

We heard from the EU's Energy Commissioner early this week who pointed out that in 2019, refined oil had brought in 24 billion euros to the Russian

economy. That is a huge amount of money, and somehow, Europe is going to try and look at ways that it can lessen that dependency. In the meantime,

some of the sanctions that have been brought in already by the European Union, Lynda, will have an effect on that market. Things on refining

products, refining technologies, for instance.

Europe says it can weather a bit of the storm, it can take a hit with energy markets. It simply can't carry out an outright ban for the time

being, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, and even that 5-year time frame is still quite ambitious by the sounds of it. We did also hear from President Macron about the

possibility of more sanctions. He called them massive sanctions it could be considered. What else is on the table?

BELL: I think what we're likely to hear next, Lynda, is more likely to come at G7 level. We've had a statement today from the G7 talking about its

desire to look at further sanctions and how as a group they can target Russia. They will be meeting next week in the shape of their justice and

interior ministers to look at ways that they can make that happen. They'll be looking specifically, of course, at the energy market and how G7

countries can lessen their dependence to try and target that particular part of the Russian economy.

And what other measures they can bring in to support what they said were the actions of the companies of the G7 that have been leaving Russia in

droves. They said they supported those actions and they too, will be doing what they can to bring pressure to bear on the Russian economy. Again,

trying to keep that pressure on as much as they can, and trying to act together in as far as they can.

Another thing they're going to be looking at is that preferred nations staging(ph) that Russia enjoys, removing it essentially from the World

Trade Organization. Again, another coordinated blow to Moscow.

KINKADE: All right, we'll leave it there for now, Melissa Bell for us in Paris, good to have you with us. Well, I want to return now to the battle

within Ukraine. That massive Russian convoy that had essentially stalled around the capital has now dispersed and appears to be regrouping. Our Alex

Marquardt is following these developments and joins us now from Lviv, Ukraine. Alex, good to have you there for us.

So, the strategy from Russia seems to be shifting. This war is now in its third week, and Russia, it seems is becoming more brutal. The attacks more


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's true. And the reason that military experts and officials believe that, that is the case

is because they have run up against this stiff Ukrainian resistance. That the Ukrainians have far outperformed what was expected of them before this

invasion started. We're now more than two weeks into this war. Russia has not made the progress, certainly that they had hoped, and that was expected

of them.

And in particular, when it comes to the capital city of Kyiv, they are stepping up their efforts to try to encircle it, to try to cut it off. Of

course, the eventual goal is to get inside to decapitate the government.


So, we have seen them pushing towards Kyiv from more and more directions, most notably, most recently, in the east, but of great interest is that

convoy coming from the north which we had already reported had stalled, but we didn't know much about its shape because of cloud cover, and we weren't

able to get satellite imagery. Now we know that it has dispersed. That means it has spread out around the outside of Kyiv along tree lines.

It appears that many of the vehicles there are trying to -- trying to take cover. That is in large part because the Ukrainians, as it was in that 40-

mile long stretch, you know, basically lined up, that Ukrainian forces were able to do a fairly good job at picking off a number of vehicles. Those

Russians also coming into significant logistical issues in terms of fuel and food.

But the Pentagon and others are careful to say that, you know, that this is all a done deal. Those -- that convoy is still potentially a significant

threat. The British Ministry of Defense warning earlier today that they are regrouping. We have to remember the sheer volume of weaponry, of troops, of

tanks and armored vehicles that Russia can throw at Ukraine. And so, if they are regrouping, that is going to give, you know, Ukrainians a moment

to pause and regroup themselves.

But by no means does anyone think that Kyiv is out of the woods. Everyone knows that they are still the number one target for these Russian forces.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. And Alex, I want to ask you about the fact that another of Russian general, a third Russian general has been killed by

Ukrainian forces. We've learned that just in the last couple of hours.

MARQUARDT: It is quite remarkable. This is the third general that we've learned about being killed here in Ukraine in Russia's war on Ukraine in

just the past week. His name is Major General Andrei Kolesnikov, he is the same rank as the two others who were killed. The two others we understand

had significant battlefield experience in Chechnya and in Syria. And the tactics in those two places are now being compared to what we are starting

to see in Ukraine in terms of this scorched earth, you know, attacks against residential areas and on civilians.

So, this is obviously a major blow for Russia to lose three -- you know, not the highest ranking generals, but of course, they are generals. We have

not heard from the Ministry of Defense admitting that these generals had been lost. But it just goes to show how well these Ukrainian forces are

doing. How deeply involved in the fight these Russian generals are. We do have a new estimate from the U.S. side in terms of the Russian losses.

The Pentagon believes that around 5,000 to 6,000 Russian troops have been killed, but it's very hard to say. There's very little transparency in

terms of what the Russians are saying. The U.S. is saying that with some low confidence. But it does appear that thousands of Russian troops have

been lost in this fight. And, of course, there are going to be many wounded. Many multiples of that 5,000 to 6,000 figure, as many as three

times that number could be wounded.

KINKADE: Wow, all right. Alex Marquardt, good to have you there, staying across all those developments for us from Lviv, Ukraine. Thanks very much.

Well, still to come tonight, a new round of sanctions on Russia. We'll tell you what U.S. President Biden is planning now, and we'll hear what the

Russian president is saying about them.



KINKADE: Well, as Russia widens its war against Ukraine, the U.S. says it's escalating its sanctions, and the EU and the G7 say they'll do the

same. The U.S. President Joe Biden outlined the new penalties today at the White House. They include asking Congress to revoke Russia's most favored

nation trade status, banning U.S. exports of luxury goods to Russia. And banning Russian imports of seafood, Vodka and diamonds.

The G7 also says it will work to ban Russia from borrowing money from the World Bank as well as the IMF. The president says western sanctions are

crushing the Russian economy.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Putin is an aggressor. He's the aggressor, and Putin must pay the price. He cannot pursue a war that

threatens the very foundations -- which he's doing -- the very foundations of international peace and stability. And then ask for financial help from

the international community.


KINKADE: Our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is standing by for us at the White House. So, good to have you with us, Collins. So,

Kaitlan, so U.S. President Biden, again, was asked about whether U.S. troops should be sent into Ukraine. He again pushed back on that.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he was quite emphatic, saying that there's not going to be a scenario where that

happens. Because in his mind, he believes that would equate to World War III. If American planes, American pilots, American forces went into

Ukraine, they would be fighting World War III, and not just defending Ukraine as you have seen. Some lawmakers and certainly Ukrainian officials

calling the United States to either help get planes and more aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force or to develop a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Which, something the Pentagon and President Biden himself has flatly ruled out. And he made that comment today after being asked earlier in the day

what the response would be if Russia does move ahead with what the U.S. is preparing people that they may very well be preparing to do, which is

conduct a chemical weapons attack on Ukrainians.

And so, President Biden is saying earlier that yes, Russia would pay a severe price if they do that, but it seems to be saying, based on these

conversations he later made to Democrats, saying that there is not going to be a situation where U.S. forces are fighting Russian forces in Ukraine.

That it would not warrant a military response in that sense, at least. Drawing those two connections there, and, of course, yes, this did come as

he was also taking these other efforts to punish Putin by moving to revoke their status.

This permanent normal relationship, trade status, therefore allowing other countries to up the tariffs on Russian goods, and of course, it's not just

the United States because that is a symbolic step, but also with the European Union doing this as well, which President Biden said today, they

will be. That makes it a bigger step than it would be with just the United States.

KINKADE: And so, Kaitlan, can you explain what that means, the fact that Biden said we're going to revoke its most favored nation status. What

exactly would that entail?

COLLINS: It basically allows them to increase tariffs on Russian goods. It allows them to block Russia from borrowing money from the International

Monetary Fund. It takes steps like that and basically frame Russia as more of this pariah state, something that you would envision for the

relationship that the United States has with North Korea or Cuba when it comes to trade. And so, noting that this of course, is something that

requires an act of Congress.

This is not something President Biden himself can do on his own, and we do expect lawmakers to move on this as soon as next week, because they were

preparing on their own to take this step if President Biden wasn't going to. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today they do expect to move on

this hopefully as soon as next week, and of course, it would just be another thing that you're still seeing, another step that the United States

is taking to punish Russia for this ongoing invasion.

KINKADE: All right, Kaitlan Collins for us outside the White House. Good to have you with us, thanks very much.


Well, Russia's economy is struggling under the western sanctions, and Moscow's stock market remains closed. Russian President Vladimir Putin is

trying to put the best face on it. He says he views the sanctions as an opportunity to re-orient Russia's economy to become more self-sufficient.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): I am sure that we will get through these difficulties and conversely we'll acquire more

competences, more opportunities to feel independent, self-sufficient, and ultimately benefit as it was in previous years.


KINKADE: Well, it isn't just Russia that is feeling the heat of those sanctions. Western economies too are feeling it as prices soar particularly

for oil, and that of course is putting the pinch on U.S. equity markets with the Dow headed for its fifth straight losing week. CNN's Matt Egan is

covering the markets for us from New York. Good to have you with us, Matt. So, how are the markets looking right now?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Lynda, investors continue to really hang on every single development out of Ukraine. What we've seen as you mentioned,

U.S. markets on track for their fifth straight losing week. The Dow is down by about 8 percent so far this year. As you can see, starting the year off

at nearly 37,000. And today, it's down 33,000. The Nasdaq, the S&P are down even more. Now, today, we've seen U.S. markets actually open the day

sharply higher.

At one point, the Dow was up more than 300 points, but those gains have all faded away. Markets are barely positive on the day. The Nasdaq is actually

down. It was sort of curious to see U.S. markets opening so sharply higher. A lot of it was about optimism around Vladimir Putin talking about how

there had been some, quote, "positive advances in negotiations with Ukraine." Which was a little curious, given the source.

Paul Hickey at Bespoke Investment Group put it best, he said, you know, markets are going to take any news, any positive news that they can get at

this point. But he also said, keep in mind, Putin is also the one who said Russia wouldn't invade Ukraine. And so, as the day has gone by, markets

have headed further down. And this crisis in Ukraine is really clouding the economic outlook in the United States and around the world.

Goldman Sachs cutting its GDP outlook for the United States, specifically because of this war, and the sharp increase in prices that we've seen on

commodities, including, of course, energy. Now, if there's some good news here, I think it's actually on the energy front. Because some of the

concerns about an energy-fueled recession have probably gone down. Oil prices are higher today, but they're off their recent highs.

As you can see, Brent trading at $112 a barrel, up almost 3 percent. U.S. oil up 3 percent. But remember, that this week started off with Brent

hitting nearly $140 a barrel, touching levels unseen since 2008. Right now, it's down to $112. That's not cheap, but it is a big improvement. In fact,

Brent is down 5 percent on the week. It's on track for its worst week since late November when Omicron fears were running rampant.

And we do need to keep a very close eye on what happens in the oil market, Lynda, because every time oil prices go up, alarm bells are ringing among

investors, economists, and certainly in capitals around the world.

KINKADE: Yes, exactly. All right, good to have you staying on it of course for us. Matt Egan for us from New York, thanks very much.

EGAN: Thank you.

KINKADE: Still to come tonight, CNN joined a NATO surveillance mission in eastern Europe. And it looks like Russia has been using Belarus to launch

many of its air operations into Ukraine. We'll explain next.



KINKADE: We've got some video just in to us from social media out of Ukraine which shows a shocking moment, the mayor of Melitopol in the

separatist Luhansk region is seen being led away from a government building by armed men. The prosecutor's office in the region now says they are

weighing terrorism charges against Mayor Ivan Fedorov. His detention is the first time, that we know of during this invasion, when a Ukrainian

politician has been detained by Russian or Russian-backed forces. We are working on getting that video for you.

When NATO is flying surveillance planes over the Polish-Ukrainian border to see what's happening in Ukraine's airspace, CNN's Natasha Bertrand was on

board one of those planes and notice some Russian-made aircraft over Ukraine that didn't come from Russia. Natasha joins me now from Brussels.

Good to have you with us, Natasha. So you were on that plane. And it looked like these planes were coming from Belarus, entering Ukraine. What can you

tell us?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So we were aboard this NATO surveillance mission that was flying kind of up and down

the Polish Ukrainian border for about 13 hours yesterday. And what they saw, according to the radar, and according to the NATO airmen that we spoke

to, is that Russian-made planes were actually taking off from Belarusian airspace, and then entering Ukrainian airspace. And what they said was that

it was difficult, actually, to tell whether or not those were actually Belarusian forces or Russian forces in those aircraft because the Russians

and the Belarusians actually use the same kind of plane.

But what they did say was clear is that those military aircraft were taking off, entering Ukrainian airspace clearly as part of an attempt to support

that Russian military operation in Ukraine. Now take a listen to what one NATO airmen told me on board that plane yesterday.


NATO AIRMAN: You will see activity coming from Belarus going into the Ukraine, but we cannot distinguish whether it is a Russian aircraft or a

Belarusian -- or Belarusian aircraft.


NATO AIRMAN: Sometimes, there are some -- certain periods on a day, which are not on a regular basis, where we do have a lot of activity getting in

like a larger package with 10 to perhaps 20 aircraft coming in from the Belarusian airspace into Ukraine.


BERTRAND: So the bottom line here is the importance of Belarus to this Russian military operation. Of course, we had known that Belarus had

allowed Russia to use its country as kind of a staging ground for these ground troops to enter Ukraine, get into Kiev from that northern part of --

the southern part of Belarus and into northern Ukraine. But now we know, according to this radar, that those aircraft are also taking off from


KINKADE: Wow. It was great. You were onboard that aircraft. Good to have you with us, Natasha Bertrand.

Russia's assault in Ukraine is getting more indiscriminate and more deadly. Today, Russia is attacking Ukraine further west than we've seen before

edging closer to Poland and Slovakia, all NATO countries.


The U.S. says Russia is relying on heavy, less sophisticated bombs that end up killing more civilians. Our CNN Military Analyst Lieutenant General Mark

Hertling joins us now. Good to have you with us. So Ukraine, I just want to start off on the news we learned just in the last couple of hours, Ukraine

has now killed a third Russian general, what does that tell you about how this is playing out right now?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Lynda, it's good to be with you. It tells me a lot of things that we're seeing that are

all now accumulating in kind of a momentum against the Russian forces. What I've said repeatedly from the beginning, having seen Russian exercising and

training events, their military is not strong at all. In fact, it's much weaker than even I thought it was.

The Ukrainian forces are doing an excellent job. When you have general officers being killed three within a two week period, it tells you that

they are attempting to be in a situation or in a position where they're directing movements. That's something that you associate or something that

I would associate with the Russian army. They have very little ability at the lower level, at the junior officer level, to make decisions and to do

the kinds of things they would need to do on a battlefield. Therefore, you see generals going down to frontline forces, and directing them.

If you have generals within the front of a column being killed, that tells you that no one is running the overall execution of the operation. When you

have to place yourself at the tank platoon or Motorized Rifle Regiment level to direct things to happen, it means someone's not commanding the

Combined Arms army. So those are just -- it's another indicator of how bad the Russian force is.

KINKADE: And I want to look at the capital because the combat units, Russian combat units, have got much closer to Kiev. Do they have the

capability to take it anytime soon, from what you've seen?

HERTLING: Yes, I'm going to refute your proposition, Lynda. They have not gotten that much closer. They are -- they're moving at a snail's pace.

Their columns in three different directions are moving very slowly, some more slowly than others. In fact, one of them is completely stalled over

the last 24 to 48 hours.

Russian units are being badly damaged. The attack out of (INAUDIBLE) from the east received an extensive damage by Russian art -- or excuse me,

Ukrainian artillery, javelin missile strikes, the swarm of drones that they've been using, even though they don't have many, many of them, they're

using them to great advantage. And that main effort to surround Kiev is just taking an extreme amount of time, because the forces aren't

maneuvering well, the combat forces and the support forces have not been able to get in position.

There's been a lot of talk about this so called 40-mile convoy, and how they've now dispersed from the roads to the woods, that tells me they're

still not moving forward, they're still not getting in a position to logistically support the operation and they're putting themselves in even

worse position in the wood lines where they can't see one another because they've been hit very hard from the roads.

So, I'm not willing to accept the premise that Russia is moving at all very well toward their main objective of Kiev. They are succeeding in other

areas. They have placed a lot of forces in Kherson. They are doing some very good things in the southern approach, the southern axis, but the other

ones are not doing as well as they had hoped.

Remember, we're three -- we're almost three weeks into this now. And we're talking about a force that has not moved significantly. And when we look at

the maps with the big red blobs on it, that is not an indicator of where the Russian forces control. They are on some of the roads, but they have

not been able to set their logistics base, which is critical for a force this size.

KINKADE: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, always good to get your expertise. We'll have to leave it there for now. Plenty more to discuss,

I'm sure, in the coming days. Thanks so much.

HERTLING: Thank you, Lynda.

KINKADE: Well, still to come tonight. 2 1/2 million people have now fled Ukraine. We're going to take you to Romania where thousands are crossing

over the border every day.



KINKADE: Welcome back. 2 1/2 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. That's according to the United Nations. It's the

fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II. CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Bucharest speaking to people opening their homes.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But there are many normal everyday Romanians who have stepped up to the call. We are in a house south of

Bucharest. They've taken in -- right now, they have 31 people living here. I just want to give you -- this is a good example of how many people --

these are the shoes, for some, most of the people that are here, many of them are out doing other things right now. They have cared for about 61

people in all over the last few weeks. They have three more refugees coming tonight.

And it's Alina Greavu who is a sort of an organizer here in Bucharest. You are doing this? What -- tell us where we're standing. This is the entryway

to this house with the coats, all these donations. What are we looking at here?

ALINA GREAVU, ROMANIAN HOSTING REFUGESS: You're looking at our house that my husband and I decided to sell last year. We moved to Bucharest to be

closer to the kindergarten and it was empty. And when everything started in Ukraine, we said why don't we use the house that's empty to host people

during this crisis?

MARQUEZ: So now you have 31 people here right now. You have a -- you have volunteers, how many volunteers does it take? How much effort does it take

to keep 31 people, 31 refugees kind of up and going?

GREAVU: We have over 80 young people on our WhatsApp group. Yeah, some of them come here every day. Some of them sleep here at night. Some of them

just help us online. And I don't know, it's a huge effort, mostly because we don't speak Russian so we need a couple of people who can help us with

that. Some of them have -- need special attention. They have certain issues with their papers, they -- their diseases and stuff like that.

MARQUEZ: There's one woman who has cancer who now you're helping sort out a surgery for her here.

GREAVU: Yes, one of the volunteers who also speaks Russian is helping her in medical controls because she -- I think she might get a surgery in

Romania because in Kiev, it couldn't happen.

MARQUEZ: And how concerned are -- you are Romanian, how concerned are you, your husband? You see what's happening right across the border. You're

hearing -- they're hearing some of the firepower now on the west side of Ukraine. How concerned are you about what's happening at your doorstep?

GREAVU: You know that old saying like carpe diem, which is like just live in the moment?

MARQUEZ: Seize the day.

GREAVU: Or seize the day? Yes. We don't want to be to be thinking about what could happen in Romania so we'd rather keep ourselves busy that's

helping these people. We know that it's a very fragile moment and anything can happen. We would rather not think about --

MARQUEZ: And try and not think -- focus on the positive. How long is this sustainable?

GREAVU: Maybe for like half a year, considering our donations and the fact that we don't have to pay rent. We just have to pay the utilities and

people keep helping us with food.


And they donated us medicine and clothing and diapers and everything we need.

MARQUEZ: Amazing. an ALUZIVA is the name of the organization, A-L-U-Z-I-V- A. You can find them if you search them, correct?


MARQUEZ: Very good luck to you. You have your work cut out for you. And they're still coming. Three more refugees coming this evening? No end to

it. This is all free as well to them, correct?

GREAVU: We have a lot of mattresses. And we can --

MARQUEZ: Are you --

GREAVU: -- put even more.

MARQUEZ: Are you considering bunk beds?

GREAVU: But we just -- yes, we just didn't want to crowd people. We still wanted them to have a bit of privacy and like a square meter around their

beds. Not to feel very crowded.

MARQUEZ: Thank you very much. And this is happening here. It's happening in homes throughout Romania, hotels. It is happening in homes all over Europe

right now.


KINKADE: Our Miguel Marquez there. Well, as people flee their homes, they have to decide whether to leave their pets or bring them along on a

difficult journey. CNN's Sara Sidner has the story from an animal rescue center in Poland.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Moon. She is a survivor of war.


SIDNER: Medically, what are -- what is wrong with her? Is she sick?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, she's sick. She is in bad condition.


SIDNER: She's dehydrated.




SIDNER: She's scared.


SIDNER: She has lots of problems. Pancreatitis, maybe worms.


SIDNER: She also has a tumor that needs to be removed. But at least she's alive. Rescued from a shelter in Ukraine after the war began.


SIDNER: She's not aggressive or she's --


SIDNER: -- just letting you do what she needs for you to do. It's OK, sweetie.


SIDNER: This veterinarian must poke and prod her to find out just how sick she really is.


SIDNER: Everything is in this dog's ear. Dirt. Wax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You -- we must clean this ear --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- for seven days.

SIDNER: Seven days?


SIDNER: You have to keep doing this?


SIDNER: The staff at the ADA foundation treats these dogs as their own. It is a no-kill animal shelter in Przemysl, Poland. Hundreds of animals from

war-torn Ukraine are being cared for here.

The humans have not slept much since the war began in neighboring Ukraine. They are just a few miles from the Polish-Ukrainian border. The staff has

been driving into war torn Ukraine to save truckloads of shelter animals and pets people simply couldn't carry across the border. In another room,

more animals, different war stories.


SIDNER: This is Sasha. Oh. And she is from Ukraine.


SIDNER: A baby goat brought from Ukraine with legs that needed mending.


SIDNER: Who's going to be a good boy? Who's it going to be, baby?


SIDNER: Sasha is a newborn just seven days old. You can tell because he tries to nurse on my ear lobe biting down when no milk comes out. The

doctors say without the care he got here, he would have starved to death if left alone in Ukraine.


SIDNER: She would've died if she wasn't here basically.


SIDNER: Oh, he would die. He would die if he wasn't here.



SIDNER: The son of ADA Foundation's founder tells us Sasha was dropped off here by a woman after she escaped from Ukraine into Poland, but had nowhere

to take him. But she left one instruction. She will be back to get him. She loves him. He's family. These are just two animal war stories of hundreds

and more arrive every week. And every week, these animals get topnotch care. To the staff here, these war refugees are as important to care for as

the humankind.


KINKADE: Well, still to come. Russia faces a return to its Soviet era isolation after the sanctions leveled against it. How much life has changed

there in just two weeks?



KINKADE: Welcome back to CNN. I'm Lynda Kinkade. I want to show you some video that I mentioned earlier about a shocking moment from the separatists

Luhansk region in Eastern Ukraine. Take a look at this. At the top of your screen, you can see the Mayor of Melitopol being led away by government --

from a government building by armed men.

Now the regional prosecutor's office says it's weighing terrorism charges against the Mayor, Ivan Fedorov. Now this is the first time that we know

of, during this invasion, that a Ukrainian politician has been detained by a Russian or Russian backed forces.

Well, in Russia, Western sanctions have hit the economy pretty hard. Ordinary people are fleeing as popular Western businesses shut up shop. And

for those who lived through the Soviet era, it is a reminder of the past that they probably thought they'd left behind. CNN Russian Affairs

Contributor, Jill Dougherty, has spent decades reporting from the country and joins us now live. Good to have you with us, Jill.


DOUGHERTY: So Russia is constantly trying to spin the narrative, push its own propaganda. And we hear from the Russian president now claiming that

these sanctions, which are crippling Russia, he claims will help the economy because it will force the country to adapt. Will the Russian people

buy that?

DOUGHERTY: You know, Lynda, what he was trying to do is remind people of what happened basically back in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. And so

there were a lot of sanctions put in place by the United States, by Europe. And at that point, Russia decided that it would have what they called

countersanctions. And they began to help local industry, especially in the agricultural field. And that did work to a certain extent.

I mean, their, you know, the agricultural business is doing better than it did. And I think President Putin is trying to say, well, it's going to be

just like that, we can go back to, you know, countersanctions, and it actually will spur domestic industry, and we will be just fine. But this is

a very different situation.


DOUGHERTY: These are much more serious sanctions, affecting many more parts of the Russian economy.

KINKADE: And we are seeing what looks to be the Russian economy in freefall. You've got the ruble tumbling, the Russian stock market

suspended, major banks are leaving the country, major global organizations, companies completely pulling out. Others saying they're no longer going to

sell their products to Russia. For many people, especially young people in the country, this must come as quite a shock.

DOUGHERTY: You know, I think it is. I mean, I know it is because I've been talking to them. I came back early this week to DC from Moscow. And I was

talking with people. I was there right after the beginning of the conflict. And you could see what was happening. People were -- their credit cards

aren't working. Their access to cash in banks isn't working, for the most part. They can sometimes get money out, sometimes not.

And then also, when you mentioned young people, these are the ones who are buying Western products like phones, and you know, computers and other

electronic devices. And those are things that Russia doesn't manufacture. So all of a sudden, for young people who kind of lived in this

international world of, you know, devices and all of that, are left with the fact that this could be drying up. I think it would be very frightening

for them probably. I know a lot of them were very, very concerned.

Now for the older people who are not on their devices or not on the internet tend to support President Putin.


They may say, look, we've been through this before, you know, in World War II where we went through it in 1998. We got through it, and we'll do it

again. But for younger people, I think it's going to be much more disorienting and worrying.

KINKADE: Yes. We'll have to leave it there for now, Jill, but I do want to point out to our viewers that you did write a fascinating piece on

about how Russia is killing the free press, the reason why you've left Moscow. We will leave it there for now there. Jill Dougherty, good to have

you with us.

DOUGHERTY: Thank you, Lynda.

KINKADE: Well, I want to close with a glimmer of hope amid the horror. A pregnant woman who survived the Mariupol Hospital bombing has given birth.

We showed you an image, this image earlier this week of a woman, bloodied and injured, being evacuated after the blast.

Now this photo and others illustrate the horror of the war in Ukraine. She was one of more than a dozen people injured in that attack. Three people,

including a young child, were killed. Well, this morning, we learned that she has given birth to a baby girl.

And in this newly published photo, you can see her in her hospital bed, her husband holding their new baby. Well, the Ukrainian Ambassador announced

the baby's name to the United Nations Security Council a short time ago. It's Veronica. Well done. Good to see her safe arrival.

Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Stay with CNN. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS is coming up next.