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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  February 23, 2022 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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to the interior saying that russian troops have landed in odessa, they are crossing the border near kharkiv. president biden spoke to ukraine's president just tonight. and he'll also address the nation and the world at noon on russia's military action in ukraine. there's a lot going on. it's coming in in the moment. the u.s. and allies are planning to trigger the full scale of sanctions that have been discussed for weeks now. that's according to a senior administration official. and discussions about the final package expected to be on the agenda at the virtual g7 meeting scheduled in the morning. and as we have been saying, the worldwide resources of cnn are there. clarissa ward just said we have crews spread out throughout ukraine. you see some of them there up on your screen. that is just a small part of who we have there on our breaking news. frederik pleitgen is in belgorod. that is a region of russia. nick paton walsh is in odessa. that is in ukraine.
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clarissa ward also in ukraine, in kharkiv. kaitlan collins at the white house in washington, d.c. and matthew chance is live for us in kyiv. matthew was the first on the air when those series of explosions were happening live here on this very program. jim sciutto is in lviv, ukraine for us. and jill dougherty is in moscow. we appreciate you joining us. that is the very -- that is the very latest for now. excuse me, producers. where are we going to now? we want to get to matthew chance now live for us in kyiv. again, this is all happening in the moment. matthew, welcome back to the program here. you heard a series of explosions just moments before clarissa heard them where she is in kharkiv. you are m kyiv. you said you were also seeing helicopters. what is going on from your vantage point? >> well, all of that is still going on and we're still hearing periodic thuds as those explosions sort of send shock waves through this capital city of ukraine. there's also been an
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announcement from the ukrainian president. he's posted this within the past few minutes on social media. basically a statement, a video statement saying that he's introducing martial law to ukraine. he said he's had a conversation -- let me just read this. it says russia has conducted strikes on our military infrastructure and our border guards. so that's something new. we knew that the military infrastructure had been targeted. but the border guards as well. we didn't know that. now the president of ukraine is confirming that that's also -- those people have also been a target of these cruise missile attacks and other potential artillery attacks and things like that. their blasts have been heard in many cities. we're introducing martial law on the whole territory of the country. a minute ago he said, and this was like five minutes ago when he made this. "a minute ago i had a conversation with president
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biden. the u.s. has already started uniting international support. today each of you," and he turns now to the people of ukraine. "today each of you stay calm, stay at home if you can. we're working," he says. "the army is working. the whole sector of defense and security is working." he ends with this little simple message. "don't panic. we're strong. we're ready for everything. and we will win over everybody because we are ukraine." obviously that was a statement that was made in ukrainian. so it's been translated for me into english. again, that declaration of martial law, the fact that we are hearing multiple explosions in various parts of the ukrainian capital from the south to the east to the north specifically targeting apparently air defenses in the country, for what reason we don't know, presumably to take out those defenses so that russia has undisputed air
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superiority in the skies not just over kyiv but over the whole country. and all that points to along with the other reports we've had from around the country of more russian military activity taking place, whether it's in the east or in the south or elsewhere, points to the idea that this is just the start of a much broader russian military incursion if not full-scale invasion of this country. don? >> all right, matthew. i want you to stand by. if you start to hear any explosions or strikes, get back to us. we'll get to you immediately. as you heard matthew chance there saying that president zelenskyy has introduced martial law to ukraine. this is the full statement from volodymyr zelenskyy, the president of ukraine. he says, "dear ukrainian citizens. this morning president putin announced a special military operation in donbas. russia conducted airstrikes in our military infrastructure -- on our military infrastructure and our border guards. there were lasts heard in many
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cities of ukraine. we're introducing martial law on the whole territory of our country. a minute ago i had a conversation with president biden. the u.s. have already started uniting international support. today each of you should keep calm. stay at home if you can. we are working. the army is working. the whole sector of defense and security is working. no panic. we are strong. we are ready for everything. we will win over everybody because we are ukraine." the president of ukraine, volodymyr zelenskyy, also ending his phone call with the president of the united states, joe biden, just moments ago. we'll get to kaitlan in a minute with that. matthew chance, explosions. go on. >> hey, don. not explosions. there's been an air raid siren just suddenly -- oh, here it is. [ siren ]
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that's an air raid, an air raid siren. several of them going off here in the center of the ukrainian capital. now, whether that's them just testing it, i don't think so given the situation we currently find ourselves in, or whether ukrainian radar has picked up approaching aircraft or missile attack inside the center of the city, i don't know. but this adds another ominous, alarming feature to what has been an ominous and alarming day so far. now, in terms of the explosions we've been hearing, they've subsided for the past couple of minutes i would say. i don't know whether you can call a couple of minutes without explosions, you know, them subsiding. but you know, what is happening right now is unclear. but we are anticipating that this could be just start of something much bigger.
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i want to point to some traffic over there because while we hear those sirens you can imagine how panicked the people of this city are, being shaken out of their beds at these thundering explosions that have been taking place all around us. i don't know whether we can see that traffic over there, the car headlights coming down that main road. can you see that? we can see that. well, that traffic is all heading in one direction, and it's absolutely packed, that main road is. and that direction is west. and so you can see the residents of kyiv seem to be getting in their cars, listening to those explosions accompanied by these air raid sirens now, and driving as fast as they can to the west towards the safer areas, if you like, of the country, perhaps toward poland, which is three or four, five hours' drive from here. but you can see it's almost a constant stream of traffic. the residents of this country
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moving out toward the west, the opposite direction of russia. it is an absolute -- an absolutely chaotic scene there on the road. and of course with that additional sort of alarm that is being -- additional alarm that's now blaring through the center of the city as well it does add an additional layer of, you know, tension i want to say. but it's more than that. it's fear. it's fear. people are frightened. i can see people down on the street on the square right by the hotel. we're not going to pan to it. but they're running across the square, running for cover as they listen to those sirens. there really is a great deal of, you know, cautious anticipation about what will come now. >> matthew, so no indication, no one has given reason for the air raid sirens that we have been listening to here on cnn for the past several minutes? >> no. no official reason has been
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given. but of course we have been experiencing for the past several hours airborne raids at various locations in the city. we're told they are cruise missile attacks. one of the reasons that those attacks seem to be targeting the air defenses may be to make sure that the russians keep or maintain strong air superiority. one of the reasons they might do that is because they might be intending to fly aerial, manned aerial aircraft, regular aircraft, to sort of more, you know, pinpoint target. particular buildings, particular air assets of the military or command and control assets in the city and also elsewhere as well. look, i don't know why those air raid sirens have been blaring out for the past couple of minutes. it was a surprise. it was a shock to us as i expect it was a shock to most other residents of this city. it may have just been a practice in case there are air raids in
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the future. but given what we're currently witnessing, i mean, we can't rule out the possibility that, you know, that the russian -- sorry, that the ukrainian authorities are warning the people right now about possible more air raids in the minutes or in the hours to come. >> i think the possibility you just said, you just read my mind, the possibility they want people to know how serious it is. and it is -- to see people driving on the highways or interstates there is quite a juxtaposition as to what we have been seeing and hearing earlier and the reporting from you, matthew. >> yeah. >> absolutely. and when you couple that with the state of emergency that was imposed from midnight last night, that's been now upgraded substantially to martial law that's been imposed. now, i don't know what the terms of that martial law are. but presumably it's a suspension
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of all regular sort of civil laws in this country, in this emergency that ukraine is currently finding itself in as it comes under a multipronged attack. from every official that has given a statement so far publicly they have said we will resist this. in fact, the ukrainian defense minister just put out a statement a few moments ago, just before those air raid sirens went off, saying that the military is fighting back against the enemy. they've always been insistent that they will be able to not just resist a russian invasion but also to push the russians back because they've been fighting russians, they say, for the past eight years in the trenches, in the streets of eastern ukraine where that brutal war which cost the lives of 14,000 people has been taking place. and has been continuing at a lower level right up until now. but clearly what ukraine is now facing is something very different. this is not trench warfare. this is not fighting against the proxy rebel force with a few
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russian officers perhaps in charge. this looks like the full might of one of the world's moffett powerful air forces or militaries at least in a multipronged attack on this country to overwhelm it as quickly as possible. >> and math yothew, it looks li what u.s. sources are saying, a full-scale russian invasion on ukraine. clarissa ward is with us now from kharkiv. you are witnessing something that is taking place right in front of your very eyes on the streets. take us -- tell us about it. >> yeah, i think this, don, really speaks to the sort of desperation of this moment. we just see a small group of people, and i'm hoping you can see them on our shot here. a small group of people have gathered in the main square and they are kneeling and praying because right now there is truly a sense of having no idea what is coming down the pipeline,
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what is in store for the people of ukraine in the coming hours and the coming days. and it's freezing cold here. so to see these people kneeling on the cold stone in prayer is honestly -- it's very moving, don. and i think it speaks to the state of ordinary ukrainians here who have done absolutely nothing to deserve this, who have no quarrel with russia, who have no desire for war or conflict, who are not engaged with the geopolitical underpinning all of this, and yet who will ultimately be the ones to bear the brunt of as what matthew called it, this multipronged major attack by one of the world's most sophisticated militaries on a sovereign, independent nation. we've heard from the mayor here, don, who's told people to stay
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at hom. it does feel very quiet on the streets. it's early. so it's a little difficult to call whether that's because people are heeding that directive to stay at home. schools are closed today according to the mayor's post. also people are being told not to go to work. they have been told that public transport is working, though. they've also opened this public bomb shelter that i think probably everyone here wishes they would never have to use. there's no sign that people are going there at the moment, but it is open. and there are police there. and so now the question becomes is this limited to the strikes or the nature of the strikes that we've been hearing for the last few hours? or do we start to see some kind of a ground incursion as well? because as we've seen, talking to my colleague fred pleitgen as we've seen from those satellite images, there is a massive build-up of weaponry, troops,
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armor, personnel just beyond that border. that border is just over 20 miles from here. satellite images showing troops 10 miles beyond that. so there's a very real fear here that there could be even more coming along for these people. and i think that's why you're seeing those people just behind me getting to their knees and praying as they wait to see what today will bring, don. >> yeah, let's hope they don't have to use those shelters as you've said, clarissa. i want you to stand by. i want to get to the white house now and cnn's kaitlan collins. kaitlan, earlier the president releasing a statement calling it an unprovoked and unjustified attack, that it was premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of human suffering. he spoke moments ago to the president of ukraine, volodymyr zelenskyy. i understand that call is over and you have a readout on it. what do you have? >> yeah, don, they just got off the phone. and this is a readout that we should note is in the words of president biden himself. often we get these readouts from
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a national security council spokesman when he has a call with another world leader. these are the words of president biden. so i'm going to read them in full. he says, "president zelenskyy just reached out to me tonight and we just finished speaking. i condemned this unprovoked and unjustified attack by russian military forces. i briefed him on the steps that we are taking to rally international condemnation including tonight at the united nations security council." president biden says that "president zelenskyy asked me to call on the leaders of the world to speak out clearly against president putin's flagrant aggression and to stand with the people of ukraine. tomorrow i will be meeting with the leaders of the g7 and the united states and our allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on russia. we will continue to provide support and assistance to ukraine and the ukrainian people." of course, don, we wait to see what those sanctions are exactly. we have been talking about them for weeks with white house officials. we know that they are seeking to go after russian banks, financial institutions, export controls are an option, going after president putin himself is an option according to president
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biden. it remains to be seen exactly what is spelled out in these sanctions when president biden addresses the country tomorrow at noon on what we are seeing happening in ukraine right now. but obviously a grave situation. and obviously this call coming as president zelenskyy is dealing with a city that is under attack, as matthew chance was just reporting. he was on the fon with president biden tonight. so we will see president biden tomorrow in person speaking about what has happened overnight. >> kaitlan collins at the white house, two presidents, the president of ukraine, president of the united states on the phone talking late into the evening here and the early morning hours of ukraine. kaitlan, thank you very much. stand by. we'll get back to kaitlan. i want to get to cnn's jim sciutto. jim is live for us in lviv, ukraine. he has been listening to kaitlan. jim, i'm not sure if you heard, i read the response -- the address i should say by vladimir putin to the people of ukraine urging them to stay strong, do not panic, we are strong, ready for everything, we will win over
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everybody because we are ukraine. again, that's from volodymyr zelenskyy. the president of the united states talking about the call saying that they will continue -- we will continue, the united states, to provide support and assistance to ukraine and the ukrainian people. the two gentlemen just got off the phone a short time ago. we heard kaitlan's readout on it. what do you say? >> well, let me give you what the latest u.s. intelligence assessment is of what we're seeing here, seeing and hearing now on the ground in ukraine. first of all, the u.s. assessment is that those explosions we have heard in kyiv and in odessa are the result of missile strikes by russia. the explosions that we're hearing in kharkiv in the northeastern part of the country, which is a bit closer to the russian border, those part of an artillery barrage. and prior to tonight we had seen those artillery -- mobile artillery units lining up there on the russian side of the border. the u.s. assessment remains that
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an air missile campaign would be followed by, would soften the battlefield for a ground invasion with the intention of crippling this country, a good half to 2/3 of the country based on, again, the u.s. assessment that that is what is being looked for right now. right? the ground forces coming across. just one note about those sirens we've been hearing in kyiv. the u.s. assessment has been that the targets of the russian aerial campaign, a shock and awe campaign it's been described to me by u.s. military officials, the targets would largely be military targets, things like air fields, aircraft. and as matthew chance was noting there's an air field quite close to the capital which is a ukrainian military air field. but also the possibility of hitting infrastructure. it was the u.s. assessment that russia would not attempt to bomb cities indiscriminately. however, with this important caveat, that from the u.s. perspective russian targeting is
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not perfect and therefore if the target is x, is a military field, but those bombs from the air or missiles from afar or shells from artillery don't hit that target, they might strike civilian targets as well. that's been told in terms of everyone's own safety here is the u.s. does not have great confidence in russian targeting and that may help explain the air sirens you are seeing in kyiv right now as a precaution, even if the bulk of the targets are -- are military or -- or the possibility of infrastructure. i do have what we were talking -- kaitlan was talking about the intention of making sanctions and condemnation of this invasion a -- uh -- ally-wide response. we do now have a statement from the british prime minister and just a short time ago, which says, quote, i am appalled by the horrific events in ukraine and i have spoken to president
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zelenskyy to discuss next steps. president putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on ukraine. the uk and our allies will respond decisively. i will told that, in conjunction with the u.s., with the uk, will announce its own round of sanctions today, as well, to punish. the question of deterrence, don, is gone, right? this is starting so these are now punitive sanctions so the expectation, as the plan had been, allies act together on this in response. >> i want you to stand by. very important, you said, so far -- correct me if i am wrong -- you said no sighting of ground forces, russian ground forces yet, correct? >> to -- to this point, from -- from at least the people i talked to, i have not heard confirmation of that. but of course, we also have a lot of eyes on the ground here, who are watching as well. at the moment, i have confirmation, i am going to bring it to you, don. >> thank you very much, jim sciutto. i want to get back to matthew chance in kyiv.
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matthew, i understand you have some new video for us, new pictures. >> stand by. >> that's right, don, couple break things actually. let me just get to those images that -- that -- that i know we have got still pictures of. these are attacks that the explosions that took place at the airport a short dits taps from here just to the east here on the outskirts of kyiv. it is the main international airport. couple still photographs sent to me by the president's office saying there were five explosions at least at that airport. obviously, targeting command and control, um, systems. and, um, you know, various other things. surface-threat missile battery that is there as well, which may also have been attacked. there is also another airport that's been attacked to -- to the north of the city. um, which is a military airbase where fighter zwrets are based. that seems to have pounded, as well, by multiple volleys of cruise missiles fired from russia but within the past-few seconds, we have just had a statement from the border force
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of ukraine. and they have posted this officially now. the border force of ukraine say that their forces on the ukrainian border, obviously, to the north of the country -- so bordering belarus -- have come under attack. the border forces of ukraine have come under attack. this is according to -- to them. their official posting. um, by russian troops and by belarusian troops, as well. troops from belarus, as well. so, a combined, um, force of russian and belarusian troops have apparently attacked, according to the border forces of this country, those border at post that control the northern border of the country. that is obviously massively significant because it is not just russia, it seems, according to this statement, that is involved in this assault on ukraine but it may, also, be if this is accurate and this is what the border forces in this
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country say, it may be belarus that has also joined with its ally in russia to take part in this assault -- this attack on -- on ukraine. it is also significant for another reason, as well. which is, that that northern border with ukraine and belarus is not far from here. it is a very short distance from kyiv. and of course, over the past couple of weeks, there have been extremely big-joint military exercises between the russians and the belarusians inside belarus. now, our fred pleitgen actually went there to see those military drills take place between those -- those two -- those two allied countries and the big concern, of course, is that these weren't really military drills. they were just preparations for a grand assault on kyiv. and the fact -- i am not saying that is happening -- but the fact that, you know, that has now been apparently an attack on ukrainian border gafrds by a joint russian and belarusian
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force, it again opens up that possibility and is another sort of -- uh -- concern that we have to now have about what exactly is going on in ukraine right now. what russia is playing out, what their objectives are, and what will be the next step? you know, we do seem to be looking at a general-broad assault on all frontals in a multi-pronged way from the air, from the sea, on the land by one of the most sophist dated militaries in the world on this -- on this country. and this latest event, once again, is another worrying and ominous sign of what may be to come, don. >> all right. i want you to stand by because we are getting some new information in. um, video that will come in shortly so stand by. but i just want you to take us through the newest information that we have. those still pictures that we have from you, matthew. this is at the airport. explain -- take us through
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these -- these image that we are seeing now. it's from the ukrainian president's office. >> yeah. well i mean, it's just something the office sent these. but the pictures on top the president's office, of course, they are of boris pill airport, according to the person that sent me them -- sent them to me. i am hooking at them now on my telephone because they were texted to me and little mushroom clouds, aren't they, on the horizon? obviously, that is the aftermath of what we now know are cruise-missile attacks. at least five explosions, we are told, by ukrainian officials at that main international airport. but five is a very small number, when you consider how many explosions we've seen around this city. and of course, you know, i think i have counted more, like, 20. we've been -- we've been hearing big, loud bangs in various locations in the city. and we have heard air-raid sirens, um, air-raid sirens going off repeatedly. you know, apparently, warning of
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a -- um -- of some kind of, you know, further air attack as well. but obviously, extremely tense. the ukrainian leader, ukrainian president volodymyr zelenskyy has declared martial law but he's also urged ukrainian citizens not to panic at this stage. the defense minister of the country has issued a statement as well, saying that the military is fighting back effectively against the -- been handed something that might be a bit more information. um, yeah. so that's the -- that's the same thing as i was just talking to you about, about troops apparently and military vehicles entering ukraine from belarus. cnn has now witnessed, through live-streamed video, troops in a column of military vehicles entering ukraine from a border crossing with ukraine. the live-stream video and i am reading this alert. >> we want to get to that video, um, matthew, so if you will stand by. and the person we want to go to
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for that -- thank you, matthew -- close to the situation is our fred pleitgen. fredrick, thank you joining us this evening. frederick, listen. matthew said partially what we had here through live-stream, troops atop a column of military vehicles entering ukraine from a border crossing with belarus. it was taken in ukraine crossing the border to belarus. column seen entering ukraine around 6:48 this morning. you have video. you have the information on this. take us through it, please. frederick? okay. apparently, we don't have frederick but let me read to you what we have here and i will read it again. what you are looking at on your screen -- this is through livestream. if you can put the video up. are you there, frederick?
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yeah he. >> can you hear me? >> i can hear you. so we have these images up. >> okay. perfect. >> take us through what we are seeing. >> yeah. so -- yeah, so, it's live-streamed video. what you can see on that live-stream video, don, is you can see several tanks and armored vehicles across the border, really, of -- through a large amount of time for at least a minute or minute and a half of those vehicles going across the border. then, we have that information that is that very border crossing, um, between ukraine and belarus, and that these troops are now coming in from belarus. and it really is remarkable because i was with those very troops just last week when they were conducting large-scale exercises, together, with russian forces inside belarus. and the possibility of an invasion from belarus was always something that the u.s. had warned about and i asked that very question, don, to the belarusian strongman alexander lukashenko, just to give you an idea of some of the lies and misinformation that have been spread ahead of this and he
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laughed at me. he said, hlook do you really believe we are going to invade ukraine? obviously now, only about a week, or little more later, we are seeing that apparently is exactly what is going on. still unclear, at this point in time, whether these are russian and belarusian forces. it could very well be the case because these two militaries work very closely with one another. and they have been practicing with one another for -- for a large amount of time. and just to give you an idea, don, about the possible size of the force that we are talking about. there were about 30,000 just lugz troops inside belarus, allegedly for those drills and then of course you have the entire belarusian army, as well. so certainly, this is an extremely dangerous development that we are looking at, and certainly broadens, also, the assault that is going on against ukraine at this point in time because, of course, these are two very formidable forces. belarus, small country but nefrlts, very powerful military that now seem to be crossing the border as we can see there on
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that -- on that video into ukraine and as matthew was pointing out, the fastest way for an invasion force to get to the ukrainian capital of kyiv is exactly from belarus. there is a pretty new road actually ukrainians built to try -- try and increase traffic, try and increase trade with belarus when the relations were still better. it really is a very quick way to get to the capital of kyiv. so this is definitely a very worrying development we are seeing here, and of course on top of that we have to keep in mind there is this large russian force on russian territory where there are obviously a lot of people who believe, as jim sciutto was pointing out. >> that some of these air strikes we have been seeing, missile strikes where we have heard them launch from here, from this very location, those are there to soften up the -- the battlefield for a possible ground invasion that could come and you know one of the things that we saw in the past couple of days as we have been roaming around the border here between ukraine and russia is we -- we
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saw forces that certainly looked like russian-special forces. and those, in many cases, would be the first to go into an area to then set the stage for a larger invasion of ground forces, of some of the many armored forces that we have also seen here. so certainly, some worrying developments. and the -- and the cctv video definitely, remarkable to see that apparently there are, on audio large scale now, foreign forces invading ukraine. don. >> frederick, i want you to respond to this because we are getting information that russian president vladimir putin and belarusian president alexander lukashenko spoke by phone thursday. belarusian state news agency belta reported the morning russia launched military strikes against ukraine at about 5:00 a.m. today. a telephone conversation took place between the presidents of belarus and russia, during which vladimir putin informed his belarusian counterpart about the situation on the border with ukraine and donbas. cited the presidential press service as saying.
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so, um, this sort of bolsters what you were saying about those troops and whether they are belarusian and what exactly is going on. the two men spoke not long ago. >> yeah, absolutely. i think it certainly bolsters that, and one of the things we have to keep in mind is that, um, both putin and lukashenko -- they are very, very close to one another. definitely, alexander lukashenko, after some of the protests that happened in belarus, in 2020, is pretty much dependent on vladimir putin to actually stay in office. and one of the other questions actually i asked lukashenko last week when we were at those large-scale military drills whether he show upd is whether or not he would actually support a move by vladimir putin to invade ukraine. the very question -- the very scenario that we are seeing right now. and he simply said, um, that the two countries are obviously are very close to one another, and that he would support vladimir putin in pretty much anything that he does. that the two count are is would support one another because they are in a military union. >> as he put it. now, whether or not belarusian
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forces are also among that invasion force that is currently apparently moving into ukraine, that is something that we have yet to confirm. but certainly, the russians would not be able to do that if they didn't have the permission of alexander lukashenko, which in any days, they would get because he is dependent on vladimir putin but also the aid of the belarusian military as well to use staging areas, to use military bases in belarus, and also to use transport within belarus as well. so, you know, one of the things the biden administration said um a couple weeks ago -- they said that belarus would pay a very heavy price if it were to aid russia in invading ukraine or if -- and if an invasion were launched from belarusian' territory. certainly, that seems to be the case. and -- and i think, also, don, the other thing is that it -- it's coming to light, as we are reporting here, just how big this invasion is. just how widespread it is. if you look at the amount of -- of -- of of kilometers, of miles, that ukrainian forces now need to defend against what
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appear to be two armies right now, thousands of miles of border. i traveled part of that just today. and it was a very, very big distance that you need to travel. this is something that -- where you really see ukraine essentially getting bullied by -- by russia and -- and -- and with belarus, obviously, in many ways, being the comaccompl here. it is certainly hard to overstate just what difficult a position ukraine is in with that extra caveat now of forces moving from belarus, don. >> thank you, frederik pleitgen. appreciate that. i want someone who can help us sort of get a synopsis of everything here, steve hall joining us, former chief of russian operations for the cia. just as you have been sitting here very patiently for the last couple minutes, you have seen, um, the -- the live stream of troops arriving through the border of belarus. the president of belarus. vladimir putin speaking. zelenskyy and biden speaking. there is a lot -- blasts at the
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airport. there is a lot going on. >> yeah. >> what is your assessment of what you are seeing? is this -- is this a bigger-scale operation than anticipated? >> well, don, where we are right now i think is sort of literally in the fog of war. i mean, we're -- we're hours into this, so there is a lot that remains clear but i think there is a lot of things that are actually unclear but there are a lot of things becoming more clear very quickly. i think there may have been a question, initially, as to whether or not putin was gonna go basically simply into the donbas region. or into parts of the donbas region, which are controlled by his pr proxies, that, of course, has begun to happen. we have seen softening of military targets in ukraine in preparation for that. but the thing that got my attention most was what's happening further north and west in the belarusian border because it could have been a scenario, whereby putin may have gone into the donbas region and said, okay, i have got what president biden is referring to the beginning of sanctions. so, if i just go as far as the donbas and then stop, will it
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end well for me? will there just be light sanctions? or just beginnings of sanctions? but it is very difficult to maintain that position and say i am only going into donbas when you see not only the forces that are surrounding ukraine but now you have got actual -- we have reporting of forces coming from belarus into ukraine. so this is no longer just the donbas. this is something much larger now and i think that is also what's triggered the more robust we would hope economic and other type savgzs against russia. there may have been initial thought it was going to be limit perhaps but now that it is happening all over ukraine, i think it's become more and more clear it is more of a worst-case scenario. he is actually going in from multiple different angles. >> do you think this galvanize -- galvanizes -- um -- nato or u.s., our allies, or people around the country who are opposed to what is happening in ukraine? i am not sure, you know, beyond very heavy sanctions, what can be done. but does this at least help, on that front? that it brings people together
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in order to try at least limit what's happening? >> i think at least psychologically. you know, there was -- i think, in the best, we had this tendency to be always optimistic and always thinking -- i mean, you hear it from our poll tigdss. we are not closing the door on diplomacy, despite the fact that vladimir putin is -- it's really not speeches he is making. et cetera ranting about how ukraine shouldn't even exist. and yet, in sipite of that, we have a loft people saying maybe it will work out in the end. now we see it is probably not going to work out in the end and stronger action needs to be take be. one of the issues, however, is that i think vladimir putin learned very early on, and figured out early on by the words of the president of our country and other nato nations, there are going to be no boots on the ground in ukraine. so what does that leaves us with? it only leaves us with essentially the strongest of sanctions that we can come up with and we don't know whether putin is going to react to that or not, yet. >> we have had former secretaries staft, former defense secretaries on, who
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really alluded to -- um decrease to putin's stand of mind, especially after the pandemic and so on and so forth. in his speech where he says he was conducting special-military operation and its goal was to protect the people that had been subject to abuse and genocide in kyiv regime for eight years. also, saying this was a special-military operation just for don but he has been repeating baseless claims of genocide in the donbas region and then also saying he wants to demilitarize and de-nazify ukraine. even earlier in the week, giving justification for an invasion by using using a history that does not exist of russia and the soviet union. >> again, don, i think this is -- this is sort of one of the problems that bef here in the west is looking through a western lens and trying to make sense out of what vladimir putin does. >> it doesn't make sense. >> it doesn't. it does to him, though, and in some sense, to the russians that
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he is speaking to. i think the largest target for that ranting speech he gave the other night was the russian people, to sort of prepare them for this. in the west, we see this as a france parent mechanism by which he is going to set up a provocation in the donbas, and then say i have got to go save those poor russians that i, myself, by the way, issued a bunch of passports to not too many years ago to make them russians but now i got to go in and save them. the thimg that concerns me the most is not the demilitarization part of it, but it is the de-naziization part of it and whenever vladimir putin or anybody in the kremlin talks about how kyiv is run by nazis, he is talking about the government. he is not just talking about the donbas. he is not just talking about trying to help these make-believe countries that he helped create in donetsk and luhansk. what he talks about when he talks about nazis is he is talking about kyiv and that could sort of foretell a decapitation type operation where you get a lot of military stuff going on and he sends folks in to basically take care
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of the government. >> quickly because i want to get to other stuff but i want to ask as you were listening to the air strike sirens going off in kyiv. i heard you, you know -- i saw you sit up and take notice and mm, wow, what were you thinking when you heard that? >> what i was thinking was there have beeso many places that i h served overseas close to russia where things like this have happened. and a loftt of times right aftea huge, massive force, that is certainly larger than anything that the country that is being attacked can respond to, which is the situation ukraine finds itself in. sometimes, the only thing that is left is for the emergency personnel to hit the air-siren button. it is almost an act -- i am not going to say it is an act of surrender and they are doing their jobs, trying to help protect civilians. but really, when you have got the russian military crushing down on you, what else can you do but hit that button and hope for the best? >> yeah. former chief of russian operations for the cia, steve
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hall, thank you. we appreciate it. steve, stick around. you stick around as well. do we have a live picture of what is happening in ukraine? i would imagine, kyiv is somewhere up there. and this is what is happening now. um, it is 7:41 in the morning in kyiv, ukraine. we have heard some -- we have heard air-strike sirens. we have heard explosions. some of them are saying that it is -- it is, indeed air strikes. some of our folks on the ground. and it is a full-scale -- according to the u.s. and as you can see, one would surmise -- a full-scale invasion of russia by ukraine and possibly belarus at least the -- we see military forces crossing the bofrder belarus. strask on the streets. peemt are waking up to what is a full-kale invasion of their country. we'll be right back.
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invasion of ukraine. jim sciutto hive for us in lviv. jim, i understand you heard air sirens just moments ago? >> that's right. just for the last several minutes, and they faded now. but they were sustained for several minutes here in lviv. so this would be just the latest city, potentially under air attack now. we heard those, of course, earlier in kyiv. the capital. and this would be truly remarkable, don, because lviv here, in the western part of the country, there had been some expectation that russian -- the russian invasion would be concentrated in the east, perhaps in the -- in the north where the capital is, the central part of the country, and central-south down in odessa where we saw the first strikes in the last couple of hours. missile strikes, artillery strikes. this is the first time we have heard those air-raid sirens here, and that would speak to what, again, the latest-u.s. military assessment is, intelligence assessment that russia's plan is for a n
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full-scale invasion and that what we are seeing this morning in the early-morning hours here in ukraine are the first steps in that full-scale invasion. so again, just in the last few minutes here, air-raid sirens, sustain air-raid sirens in lviv. and i will tell you as i have been watching from the balcony down in the central part of the old city, folks are walking to work. the cars are still going: buses are still going here. remarkably calm. given this seems to be, yet, one more ukrainian city potentially under attack this morning here. >> one quick point. when last we left you, when last we spoke, jim, we talked about troops on the ground. we have gotten the report, and we saw the -- the live-stream of the troops entering through belarus. the u.s. department of bdefense is tracking the incursion of troops in belarus according to reporting here into ukraine. u.s. defense official said
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thursday it was not clear if troops were only russian or also belarusian. the importance of that, jim? >> it would mean that ukraine's under attack from two countries now. remarkable, really. now, we should note belarus is essentially under moscow's sway, has been for months now. since it's been alleged they stole an election there to keep their man -- lukashenko -- in power. but it also speaks to these big-military drills, as they were called, exercises that russian-belarusian forces bury do were doing jointly in the last week. there had been suspicion on the u.s. side those drills were not really drills or exercises but preparation, amassing of forces, to enter ukraine. and if it is, indeed, confirmed that it is both russian and belarusian forces comes kroog from the north, that would seem to indicate ukraine is now under attack by two countries. um, and as we -- we look at that picture if you put it up again there, don, of those tanks
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coming down across the northern border. the -- note this. you know, there had been a lot of discussion about timing and the shortness timing for russia. it's cold here now. that the frozen ground in the east and to the north was important so that those russian tanks don't get bogged down in the mud. but to see russian tanks, armor just rolling in on the highways, shows you just how massive a force this is and perhaps that entering the country, those forces entering the country was easier than expected. >> yeah. jim sciutto in lviv. i want to get to odessa and our nick paton walsh on the ground there with the very latest. nick. >> reporter: don, i mean it is extraordinary here. we were woken at about 5:00 a.m. by three or four explosions, and subsequently about an hour ago, heard another two. but at this stage, this strategic port city is still quiet.
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signs of police on the streets and concern here. definitely people sort of staying at home. but it's remarkable that we are so far away from the east, from the north, where we've seen these troop movements, heard and felt the likelihood of the threat for days now. but still explosions have been heard here this morning in this key port city. it shows possibly the breadth of the ambition here behind what russian president vladimir putin is possibly getting under way here. and one thing i think it's important to remind our viewers about is his comments in the last hours or so. he says, now, a few important words for those who may be tempted to intervene in ongoing events from the outside. that may be a reference towards nato or the united states, who he has long falsely used as the justification. their threat, he says, to russia for possibly moving in here. whoever tries to interfere with us and even more so create threats to our country, to our people, should know that
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russia's response should be immediate and will lead you to such consequences as you have never experienced in your history. we are ready for any development of events, all necessary decisions in this regard have been made. i hope that i will be heard. now, that is extraordinary. i mean for eight years we've seen this conflict in ukraine on the sort of slower, lower-level boil. we've seen denied reports of russian troops going into crimea. separatists who clearly were being run by moscow making their own regions in the east. but today we are seeing an overt invasion by russia across borders with troops, possibly with the assistance of belarus as well, on a scale of which i think anybody who has been observing this conflict thought was utterly unimaginable. and then these comments from vladimir putin, essentially threatening consequences that nobody e seen in history before. utterly chilling and a different day for european and global security this morning. don. >> nick paton walsh, joining us
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from odessa, ukraine. thank you very much for that. back with me now, cnn national security analyst steve hall. former nato supreme allied commander general wesley clark with me as well. general, we spoke earlier, and the situation is a quite different situation now than what we spoke earlier. there was no confirmation of an invasion, and yet here we are. we've heard from all parties involved. >> yeah. this is pretty much what we expected. first there's going to be the takeout of the air defense, and that's what it looks like has been done so far. there's sabotage and other things probably going on that we don't know about yet. the first troops have come across the border. we know that. we don't know what's happened in donbas. coming in from the north is the most direct way to get into kyiv. you saw on the video a battalion tactical group moving right down the road. unless the roads are blocked by ukrainian forces, they'll be in kyiv in a few hours, and then, you know, we'll see what
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happens. i assume that the ukrainians have defenses out there. it's going to be hard for cnn to capture that. hopefully we'll get social media of it or something. but they've got to stop this force coming in, or it will -- it will be over very, very quickly except for whatever fighting might be coming out in the cities. two other things. the leadership is saying for people to stay in their homes, so they haven't mobilized civil defense yet. and if they don't do that pretty quickly given the pace of the advance, it's going to be too late. and secondly, you heard the warning to nato or to the united states not to interfere. so depending on what happens, there's going to be a lot of pressure on the united states and nato to interfere. ukraine is the largest force in europe other than turkey, and so that's the toughest nut for russia to crack. they take it like this, the rest of nato, despite the fact that it's nato, is in a much less defensible position, and
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especially the baltic states. so there's a lot riding on this operation right now. >> steve, in the short time we have left, sum it up for us. we have heard that they promise a bloodshed from some leaders. the president of the united states saying that all of this is on russia's hands, and we will hold russia accountable. >> absolutely. we always have to remember how this all started, whether it was georgia in 2008 or whether it was the annexation of crimea. this is all something that russia started, and it is indeed on vladimir putin's hands. i do think it's something that he would very proudly say, yes, it is. and this is part of my plan geopolitically. i am going to protect my borders by taking over these countries, which is now being, you know, made very clear by the images we're seeing coming out of ukraine. >> general wesley clark, steve hall, gentlemen, thank you both. i appreciate it. and thank you, everyone, for watching on a very momentous here on cnn for the country and for the world. our live coverage of the attack on ukraine continues with
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michael holmes in just a moment. i'm don lemon in new york. what if you could have the perspective to see more? at morgan stanley, a global collective of thought leaders offers investors a broader view. ♪ weee companies protecting the bottom line by pting people first. we see a bright future, still hungry for the ingenuity of those ready for the next challenge. today, we are translating decades of experience into strategies for the road ahead. we are morgan stanley.
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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. hello and welcome to cnn. i'm michael holmes coming to you live from lviv, ukraine. major breaking news this hour as ukrainian government leaders say the russian invasion has begun. and just a few minutes ago for the second time this hour, we have heard air raid sirens, loud sirens here in lviv. this is in the west of the country. they persisted for some time and from multiple parts of the city. they've only just ended. that's twice this hour. and one of our local producers messaged me just now and said that on the local television, government officials are asking people to turn off the lights, gather their documents,