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tv   CNN Tonight  CNN  February 23, 2022 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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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, and take
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cover. also asking people not to panic, a pretty tall order as what we're seeing unfold around this country continues. okay. now, an adviser to the interior minister is reporting missile strikes in the capital, kyiv. the shelling of airfields and military headquarters in car kyiv. cnn has obtained video from ukrainian border guards which also shows a column of military vehicles entering the country from belarus. that is to the north of the country and a pretty quick shot to kyiv from there. tens of thousands of russian troops have been conducting military drills in belarus, of course, for several weeks and just never left when those drills were over. cnn correspondents in kyiv and cities throughout ukraine are reporting multiple explosions. cnn's matthew chance was on-air just a few hours ago when this happened. >> reporter: oh, i tell you
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what. i just heard a big bang -- taking place in kyiv right now. i can't see where they're taking place from this vantage point here on top of the roof of the hotel in central kyiv. and i can't explain what they are, but i heard four or five explosions a few moments ago. i don't know whether our viewers or whether you in the studio there could hear. >> we could hear it, matthew. >> reporter: -- what i just heard. you could? i don't know what it is, but i will tell you that the united states has warned -- >> was that another one? >> reporter: -- that the ukrainians -- yeah, i mean i think it was. >> now, the russian president, vladimir putin, is calling this a, quote, special military operation to protect donbas. it is clearly bigger than that. now, he made a surprise appearance on state television, calling for the demilitarization
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of ukraine, blaming the government in kyiv for bloodshed, but said russian forces are not planning an occupation. >> translator: whoever tries to interfere with us and even more so to create threats for our country, our people should know that russia's response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences that you have never experienced in your history. >> now, ukraine's president, volodymyr zelenskyy, he went on facebook again to address the nation. he says he's imposing martial law but urged the country not to panic. >> translator: today, each of you should stay 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. >> all right. we are covering this from all
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angles. we've got cnn's fred pleitgen. he's in russia's bell belgorod region. kevin liptak in washington. let's start first of all with you, kevin. i want to hear what washington is saying about this and what they will say going forward. >> reporter: well, we've just heard that president biden has spoken to president zelenskyy. they got on the phone just before midnight washington time. the president calling him about 90 minutes after we first heard those explosions in kyiv. the president saying that zelenskyy reached out to him. the president saying he condemned this unprovoked and unjustified attack. and president biden saying that president zelenskyy asked him 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. and so this is sort of kicking off this wave of reaction from
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the united states. we do expect president biden to get on a virtual call with members of the g7 tomorrow mid-morning washington time. that is where the leaders, we expect, will discuss potential sanctions that they will impose on moscow for what it's doing tonight, what it has begun tonight. then we expect to hear from the president midday tomorrow washington time, and that is when we expect him to lay out these sanctions that the u.s. plans to impose. and we're hearing tonight from officials that this is going to be the full package. these are the swift and severe sanctions that the president has been promising for some time. we expect that to include export controls, restrictions on certain technologies that can be imported into russia. we also expect the president to announce sanctions on additional financial institutions and on additional members of vladimir putin's inner circle. and so this has been what the
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president has been warning about really for months. he applied those limited sanctions earlier in this week, but he promised at that point that if russia escalated, he would escalate as well. and so that is what we expect to hear from the president tomorrow. but tonight we're told that the president is huddling with members of his national security team, obviously keeping a very close eye on this. something we should note. the president, of course, had hoped that these sanctions would be a deterrent. it's clear tonight that the deterrent didn't work out. the president said in a statement that jill, the first lady jill biden and i are praying for the brave and proud people of ukraine. michael. >> kevin liptak, thanks so much. let's go to fred pleitgen in the belgorod region of russia and give us a sense of what's going on on the ground where you are, fred. >> reporter: hi there, michael. the belgorod region is right across the border from one of the main targets of some of the fire that's been coming from here, from the russian side.
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of course kyiv also as well. what we witnessed when this operation started, right around the time when we just saw matthew chance there started hearing those impacts in kyiv, is that we started hearing a lot of outgoing fire coming here from belgorod. we've been reporting about it for the past couple of weeks, that the russians have been amassing forces here. we saw a lot of armor pour into the region, but apparently also amassing artillery here and longer distance rockets as well. one of our producers actually saw some of those rocket salvos being fired towards ukrainian territory, and we heard it several times. we also heard what we believe were larger rockets that may have been launched as well. of course one of the things, michael, that we've been talking about is that the russians had also brought the iskander m medium-range missile system into this area and other areas close to ukraine as well. that has a very long range. it's a very powerful and also a very dangerous weapon as well. it certainly appears as though
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belgorod where i am right now is one of the main hubs that the russians are using to launch these attacks. on the other hand, it's boum clear throughout the night that this is an extremely widespread attack. you were talking about it. there was that cctv video of troops crossing the border, on a border crossing between ukraine and belarus. that was one of the things that had always been hanging in the air, whether or not russian forces would also invade belarus. i was actually at exercises last week in belarus with the russian and belarusian militaries where i asked belarusian strongman alexander lukashenko about the possibility of that happening, and he laughed it off. he said, do you really believe that we're going to invade ukraine from belarus? well, now it certainly appears as though that does seem to be happening. as far as some of those other possible ground invasions, we don't have confirmation yet about where russian forces may have also crossed the border. but one thing i can tell you,
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michael, from having been in this region and really having gone down from the south near donetsk, all the way up to hear to north of ukraine, to belgorod, we did see some encampments that appeared to be russian special forces, which would no doubt be the first ones that would go on if there was a larger ground invasion. certainly one of the other things that our jim sciutto is reporting. the u.s. believes that air strikes could be used to try and soften up the battlefield to make it easier for russian forces to invade. but by and large what we see is this is a large-scale operation, a widespread operation, and certainly one that's being carried out by a lot of russian forces with a lot of firepower, michael. >> yeah, it would indicate multiple points of entry according to reports. as you say, yet to get confirmation of that but very significant coming in from belarus there. it's not that far to kyiv if you're coming in from there. fred pleitgen, appreciate it. make peyton walsh, you're there in odessa, which is a very strategic port, a very important
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port for ukraine economically, but strategically important too. what have you been seeing and hearing there? >> reporter: michael, woken at about 5:00 this morning by three or four explosions, distant ones certainly. and this is the third largest city in ukraine. so a nightmare potentially for any sort of violence in the hours ahead. we don't know where those noises came from, and then subsequently about an hour or so later, there were two more, equally distant as well. the interior minister had suggested earlier that some sort of invasion was occurring here. we've anyone no evidence to that effect from where we're standing close to the port in the center of the city, and there's certainly no reports amongst locals about that at this stage. but the important thing here, michael, is that this clear evidence. we're talking about a countrywide event here. the fact we're hearing explosions in this predominantly
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russian-speaking, strategic port city that is essentially ukraine's maritime access to the outside world, that is deeply troubling. we've been talking about this for days as a possibility, and the fact we wake up to hear of a multiple-pronged move into the country, vladimir putin telling anybody who might think they want to interfere that they would risk getting consequences that they've not seen before in their history. it is just utterly startling that this war that's been so covert for eight years has now taken this new overt and terrifying form. we don't know how extensive the russian intervention will be, but we do certainly know they appear to have forces on ukraine's borders that could do terrifying things inside this country in the days ahead. but it is remarkable to stand here in this stage in this peaceful port city but to know blasts have extended around here to essentially show the reach of moscow's violence here.
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>> yeah, absolutely. i mean, yeah, you're way west. we're way west. as i'm speaking to you, the air ride sirens are going off here in lviv. again, i also want to, before i go to jill dougherty in moscow, say that the ukrainian armed forces are claiming to have shot down five russian aircraft and an attack helicopter. so that's from the ukrainian armed forces. we'll get more information on that as we move along. jill dougherty in moscow, obviously when vladimir putin was saying, you know, he wasn't planning much, he was lying. >> reporter: you know, michael, if you look at what he said in this speech tonight, he begins by saying, well, it was the people of donbas. we had to go in and protect them. but in the very same speech, he broadens it, and you've been referring to this. broadens it enormously. for instance, he talks about nato, supporting neo-nazis, and
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that is the purpose, he says, for this operation. demilitarizing and denazi-ifying ukraine. and then he goes on to say that he is urging -- and this is quite extraordinary. he literally talks to the ukrainian military and urges them to run away. he says, you know, give up. lay down your arms and go home. and if you do, nothing will happen. and then that final really, i would say, blood-curdling note. and, again, the tone that he speaks in is really very much like this. now, a few important words for those who may be tempted to intervene. and then he says, if you try to intervene and create a threat for our country -- so, in other words, now he's talking about russia, not just the people in donbas. he says, you will have such
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consequences that you have never experienced in your history. so that could be a warning to any country. it could be a warning to nato, to the united states, not to even think about intervening. it's really an extraordinary and, i would say, very emotional and angry speech. and we've been hearing that this week from the president. there has been that tone that he is just fed up, and he's going to do what he wants to do. >> yeah, indeed. jill, appreciate that. jill dougherty there in moscow. atika schubert here in lviv with me in the west of the country. what sense are you getting from ukrainians here, how they're preparing for this? >> reporter: well, we do know that in the days leading up to this, the government had put out public brochures telling people what to do in the event of an emergency, asking them to make sure they had enough food, gas,
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an alternate source of heat and energy if those supplies should be cut off. make sure they have emergency bags and to know where their nearest shelters were if they needed to leave their home. a lot of churches, for example, have been designated as shelters. but the question is how seriously did many ukrainians take this? you know, so many people here have been living with the specter of war for the last eight years that they've kind of grown used to it. i think for many they didn't believe this day would actually happen. and to actually hear sirens here in lviv, in the western part of ukraine, which is just an hour from the polish border, that is extraordinary, michael. so i think many here are understandably nervous, trying to get on as normal, but they just don't know what's going to happen next. >> yeah. atika, thank you so much. i want to go back to fred pleitgen, who is on russian territory, and get more of a sense of what you've been seeing because the remarkable thing, fred, is despite what russia has said all the way along until
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this day, these are -- they are placed in multiple positions around the country, and it would appear from reports that they're operating. they're moving from multiple positions. what is your sense of the aim? >> reporter: i mean, i think that everybody or almost everybody really underestimated just how large-scale this invasion was going to be in the end. you know, there were these warnings of russia amassing forces around ukraine. there were some questions even raised by the ukrainian government whether or not even the forces that russia had amassed would be enough for a large-scale invasion. around 150,000 was the number the united states used. what they've actually done in the past maybe 24 hours or so, is we actually drove all the way from the south in donetsk all the way along the line to those two separatist republics that have now been recognized by vladimir putin, all the way up here to belgorod. so pretty much the entire border
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that russia has with those separatists or republics, which is of course ukrainian territory. and there certainly is a lot of russian military hardware, a lot of russian armor that is on the ground there. you see that. you see infantry fighting vehicles. you see tanks. you see large howitzers as well, mechanized artillery, all of that sort. so certainly everything that you would need for a brutal invasion. but then, you know, as i said, we also saw camps that seemed to have russian special forces inside them, russian aviation, russian helicopters. so they did put on -- they did put in the field a really, really big force that certainly can do a lot of damage and certainly drive well into ukrainian territory. now, how deep they will try to do that is really unclear, but i think that the most troubling thing that many probably governments around the world are seeing right now is that invasion from belarus because as you put it -- and it's an important point to make -- the fastest way to get to the
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ukrainian capital, kyiv, from the outside is via belarus, is that road via belarus. it's a road that's been upgraded in the past couple years to actually encourage trade between ukraine and belarus. so it's a very good road, an easy one to travel. i think that's going to cause a lot of people a lot of concern, michael. >> yeah, yeah. not too far to kyiv, the capital. fred pleitgen, nick paton walsh, jill dougherty, atika schubert, kevin liptak, our thanks to all of you. we will be checking back with you shortly. meanwhile, stay with us here on cnn. we have much more ahead on the major breaking news. russia's attack on ukraine and the world's response. we'll be right back. at liberty butchemel... cut. liberty mu... line? cut. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what youou need. cut. liberty m.m... am i allowed to riff? what if i come out of the water? liberty biberty...
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or the places we didn't go. ♪ ♪ did i tell you i bought our car from carvana? yeah, ma. it was so easy! i found the perfect car, under budget too! and i get seven days to love it or my money back... i love it! i thought online meant no one to help me, but susan from carvana had all the answers. she didn't try to upsell me. not once, because they're not salespeople! what are you...? guess who just checked in on me? mom... susan from carvana! [laughs] we'll drive you happy at carvana. russia's attack on ukraine is tantamount to an attack on the u.n. and every member state in the chamber tonight.
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>> america's u.n. ambassador there condemning russia's military moves on ukraine. ukrainian officials say the invasion is under way, and that includes missile strikes on kyiv. now, i just want to update you. we reported earlier ukrainian armed forces are saying that they shot down five russian aircraft and a helicopter. i want to update you on that. the russian defense ministry is saying that is not true. obviously we are in a fog of war situation here, and there will be claim and counterclaim. meanwhile, let's show you images of blasts near the capital, kyiv. our correspondents on the ground there have heard explosions in multiple cities, including kyiv, kharkiv, and odessa. i can tell you the air raid sirens here in lviv have started up again. that's the fourth time over the last hour or so. ukrainian president volodymyr zelenskyy is urging calm. he has announced that martial law is being introduced
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nationwide. all right. cnn military analyst, retired general wesley clark joins me now from little rock, arkansas. he's a former nato supreme allied commander and a senior fellow at the ucla berkele center. great to have your expertise at this momentous time. what are the tactics you see as most likely to be employed as these russian operations get under way? what would you think is the big plan from what you've seen so far? >> well, first of all, i want to say contrary to what one of your people said, all of us saw this coming from multiple directions, and that's what it looks like. now, this is a very logical unfolding of this attack. you've got precision strike ordinance hitting anti-aircraft sites and command and control centers. we don't know precisely what they are, and the ukrainians obviously don't want to disclose that and reveal their losses or whatever has happened to the public because they don't want
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the russians to know it. so we won't know that. but those strikes will continue during the day and maybe into the night. at the same time, the russians have launched from the north ground assaults into the direction of kyiv. now, kyiv is so close that it's time for -- and i hope president zelenskyy now he's declared martial law, get those barricades up. get the civil defense out there. be prepared to fight every street, every block in kyiv because if you don't, once those russian troops get in there, you won't be able to organize that defense. i'm hopeful that the ukrainian forces will prevent the russians from ever getting to kyiv. but any sensible military planner would tell you that you might have defense in depth. and the final ring of that defense is the defense of kyiv itself. i believe the russians are going to kyiv. they want a regime change. they're targeting mr. zelenskyy, president zelenskyy and his top people.
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we know they've got the hit lists out there. so this is the start of it. now, the video that was shown earlier on cnn, which i'm sure you've shown on international, is one of the battalion tactical groups crossing into ukraine. they're moving on the roads. it is soft. the ground's not frozen, but got to block those roads. those tanks were moving 25 miles an hour or more. so in just a day's drive, they could be in kyiv if they're not stopped. so this is a desperate time for ukraine. all the world is watching and pulling for ukraine. one other thing. i do hope we provide assistance to ukraine to help them stay in the fight. they say they don't need any fighters, but they're certainly going to need support, and the west needs to give them that support. the nations of nato, the united states must do this. i hear mr. putin's statement, and i will tell you that in his previous exercises, russia always anticipates a nato
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involvement, and russia plans to use some unconventional weapons, including a nuclear weapon if necessary to frighten off nato. so this is no joke. this is a real confrontation, and you heard what the ambassador said at the united nations. this is an attack on the world order by mr. putin. it can't be answered by just standing aside. i hope america's european allies and our many friends in europe who are listening to this broadcast understand that this attack on ukraine is directed at them and their nations. their leadership must respond now. the sanctions were a good plan. mr. putin's not too concerned about finance obviously, and so he wants to rule by force. we can't permit that. >> yeah. a couple of things. you say that ukrainians should stand and fight and defend kyiv, and certainly they will. i want your thoughts on
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capability. and secondary to that, you say the world shouldn't just, you know, stand by and let this happen. what are they going to do about it? >> well, first of all, i think the ukrainians have an excellent defense capacity. they've got a large army, the largest army in europe outside of turkey. they're trained. their officers are pretty good. what they haven't done they haven't had the opportunity to practice command and control as we would say, maneuvering forces over large areas. this will be challenging for them, and that's the one thing that i'm concerned about, and that's why i think it's important for the ukrainians to mobilize their defenses right away in the urban areas. don't wait and take a chance that the russians will penetrate that area. and the second thing that's very important is that we provide the logistics sustainment.
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one of the russian tactics if this battle drags on is they want to exhaust the ukrainian military. well, the ukrainian military, this is not counterinsurgency. this is main force operations. so they're going to need artillery, especially artillery ammunition. they're going to need spares. they're going to need spare barrels for their artillery. that's what they needed in 2015. our nato allies have that equipment, and it needs to be provided. >> all right. general wesley clark, great to have your expertise at this moment. i appreciate it. thanks so much. well, explosions ringing out in ukraine amid global condemnation and a very ominous threat from vladimir putin. we're covering all of this live from ukraine. stay with us. we'll be right back.
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i'm michael holmes live in lviv, ukraine, with the breaking news. after so many weeks of waiting and wondering whether russia would attack ukraine, that long-feared invasion has truly begun. a few hours ago, the russian president announcing what he called a special military operation in the donbas region of eastern ukraine, but insisted his plans do not include occupation. and yet we are getting new images of troops entering ukraine from the north, from belarus, nowhere near the donbas. and ukraine says that's just one of the fronts from which it was attacked. explosions have been ringing out around several ukrainian cities. the russian military claims that it is not targeting the cities but, rather, ukraine's military infrastructure. but air raid sirens have been ringing out in kyiv and also here in lviv in the west, and the prime minister has imposed
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martial law. ukraine's foreign minister tweeting this. quote, putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of ukraine. peaceful ukrainian cities are under strikes. this is a war of aggression. ukraine will defend itself, and we will win. the world can and must stop putin. the time to act is now. however, president vladimir putin bluntly threatening those who might be tempted to intervene, saying this. quote, you should know that russia's response will be immediate and lead to such consequences as you have never experienced in your history. dire to say the least. we also want to share with you a powerful moment from the ukrainian border city of kharkiv, where the mayor has warned people not to leave their homes. but not long ago, this small group were seen kneeling on the cold stones of the square and praying. we presume for their country, for their loved ones.
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these are the civilians who face a terrifying future. they don't know what's coming down the pipeline, and they certainly don't deserve to live in this fear. let's bring in cnn's nick paton walsh in the ukrainian port city of odessa. earlier reports were around that russians may have come into odessa. there were explosions. what are you hearing? what do you see with your own eyes there, nick? >> reporter: yeah. truth be told, michael, where we are in the center of the port city, it is quiet. just a burst of sirens there, police sirens on motor vehicles. but we heard explosions at about 5:00 this morning. three or four, followed at 6:00 by two more. since then, it has been wquiet. those blasts as far as we can tell were not in the city center, possibly further out. but they certainly suggest that part of the military operation russia is undertaking here has odessa or odessa's defenses or
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its outskirts in their crosshairs. the fear had been that because this is such a vital strategic port city, essentially ukraine's access to the maritime world, that it might come under some sort of amphibious landing, but there is no sign of this as far as we can tell here at the moment. but it is startling to see the breadth and scale of what we are observing at the moment. suggestions of troops entering from various parts around the border and troublingly, too, how that tallies with the gravest warnings from western officials about what russia might be willing to undertake here. these plans that seem themselves so extraordinary, almost farfetched or preposterous, that seem to lack any strategic gain or logic from the kremlin head if he undertook something as extensive as it appears to be beginning at the this stage. but still nonetheless, that is under way with that dark, strident warning from the
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kremlin head. a man who delivered a 57-minute speech of what seemed like mostly personal grievances about how the soviet union collapsed, about how nato has been behaving. they say in ukraine that spoke to a mind-set that may have decided to order an invasion like this despite the fact that it is likely to lead both russia and ukraine into a very dark place of loss in the months ahead. >> nick, you've lived in moscow. you covered the early years of vladimir putin. what is your take on his state of mind? >> reporter: it's deeply troubling. i mean even people who i've spoken to, western officials who have looked at the intelligence coming in, all of it, and seen what it shows, that an invasion was highly likely in a catastrophic way, still we're asking the question, why would anybody do this? what is the strategic gain for
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vladimir putin? yes, he could march in here and put 100,000-plus troops in various cities, but he can't keep them there forever because ukrainians don't want them there. that decision was made after 2014, 2015, when the kind of more pro-russian, russian-speaking part of the country was hived off into those separatist territories. so the investment of russian military hardware is likely to lead to some kind of russian loss, which does speak to the state of mind question, which was what was so terrifying to see in his 57-minute speech. he was not talking to the russian population that had dealt with the pandemic in the same way that he has, with essentially isolating himself, it seems. it was a man still obsessed with stuff that happened early on in his career when he was a kgb officer in berlin, obsessed with the breakup of the soviet union, which he called the greatest
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geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. obsessed, it seems, with how ukraine didn't really have a right to exist as a country and how it had come into fruition flew mistakes of the soviets. and obsessed with this fictitious narrative that nato is somehow seeking to attack russia, that ukraine was a platform. he said that the nato missions here that have been about trying to teach ukrainian military personnel here how to better defend the country were essentially nato-based and that nato would be a platform to attack russia. that's the narrative. and even today this notion that somehow there are neofascists in the midst of the ukrainian military that needs to be attacked so russia can defend itself. that's something absurd that we've heard after all this time. ribbons worn on separatist uniforms, harking back to the valiant work of, in stalin's times, of russian citizens fighting against the nazis here, echoing back on that into this day's context, when it's russia
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that's the invading force, russia that has the lone authoritarian calling the shots, it seems, in isolation, often even from his own security officials. it's a deeply troubling morning, michael, one that i fear is going to echo in the years of european security for the next decade. quite -- quite terrifying. >> yeah. great analysis there, nick. and, yes, the mood of his high echelon during that security meeting, meek, subservient, really basically sucking up to the boss if we can put it that way, was really telling. terrific to have your analysis, nick. appreciate it there in odessa, ukraine. all right. we're going to have much more from ukraine ahead this hour. for now let's go back to john vause in atlanta, john. >> michael, thank you. cnn's breaking news coverage will continue in a moment. we're leave from the pentagon. you're watching cnn. back in a moment.
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more now on the breaking news from ukraine where government officials say a russian invasion has begun. cnn reporters have reported explosions near the capital of kyiv. president volodymyr zelenskyy is introducing martial law and urging ukrainians not to panic. russian president vladimir putin announced a special operation in the donbas region in eastern ukraine. dramatic military escalation by vladimir putin has been swiftly condemned by many world leaders, including the u.s. president, who said it was an unprovoked and unjustified attack. live to the pentagon now and cnn reporter. what's the latest assessment from the pentagon on the extent of the russian troop mobilization? >> reporter: talking to my sources both in washington and in the region, at this point we understand it is still very much the fog of war. the defense department and the u.s. intelligence community are
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working, are watching closely, are working to understand how this campaign is unfolding. certainly at this point all signs seem to point to the beginning of the ground element of this campaign. we know the defense department is closely tracking a reported incursion of russian troops from belarus that cnn has obviously seen footage showing these troops moving across the border. the ukrainians, of course, are claiming there have also been incursions from the south and from the east. intelligence officials are particularly closely watching this reported incursion from the north, from belarus, because of course those officials tell us those troops are particularly well positioned to march on kyiv. and we've heard from one u.s. senator who has been briefed on the intelligence community's understanding of russian planning here that they believe that one of the things russia may be trying to achieve here is to cut kyiv off from its own troops operating on the eastern flank of the country, butting up against these separatist regions. >> thank you, katie, live at the
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pentagon. i'm john vause in atlanta. michael holmes returns from lviv after the break with more on our breaking news coverage of the russian attack on ukraine. you're watching cnn. it listens, learns, adapts and anticipates your every need. with intelligence... that feels anything but artificial. the eqs from mercedes-benz. it's the car electric has been waiting for.
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hello, everyone. i am michael holmes coming to you live in lviv, ukraine, as air raid siren surrounding in lviv for probably the sixth time in the last hour and a half. officials say attacks from russian troops have come from russia, they have come from belarus, and also from crimea in the south. ukraine's border service, quote, did not provide any resistance to russian' units invading ukrainian territory, and claimed to have quote suppressed ukraine's air defenses. again, we should emphasize, we have not been able to verify either of those claims.
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now, i am going to show you some video of a military vehicles entering ukraine from a border crossing with belarus. this is to the north of ukraine. and coming from belarus there because it is a fairly straight shot to the capital kyiv from there on good-quality roads. cnn correspondents have been hearing explosions in cities across ukraine, including near kyiv, kharkiv, and odessa, in the west of the country where we are. ukrainian president volodymyr zelenskyy says strikes were launched on the country's military infrastructure and border guards. joining me from moscow, alexander is a senior fellow -- fellow and editor in chief at great to have your voice here. vladimir putin says he doesn't plan to occupy the country. he says he wants to demilitarize ukraine. do you buy that? what do you see unfolding? >> it's hard to believe for what vladimir putin is saying because
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what we see, we see the situation -- everything -- everything was made in the logical special operation. the question was for me, even yesterday, whether the recognition of the republics in the east of ukraine was a sort of special operation to carve out a future -- possible future invasion. or it was their concentration of the troops and military buildup around -- around ukraine, a cover operation, a special operation, to cover this certain region of separatist republics. unfochtly, the first option prevailed. >> yeah. i wanted to ask you this. vladimir putin -- he -- he's spoken of the close cultural and familial ties between russia and ukraine. yet, an invasion would cause thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands of deaths -- of people in ukraine related to people in russia. what about that calculus? >> that's exactly the reason why so few people, here in moscow,
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really believed that invasion can start, minor fightings on the line it happen every -- every time. but this invasion, exactly for this reason. first [ inaudible ] between russians and ukrainians which used to live in one country and moved freely from, like, moscow to kyiv even before 2015 for weekends not just family ties but friendships. laughs, and other things. and the second -- second thing -- why people here believe so little in this possibility is that while their russian mindset -- generally, the mindset of the people who are -- live in this region in the east of europe and for this people, the -- the worst historical event, the worst that happened
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during the century was the german invasion in 19 -- 1941. and the memory of this invasion or memory of massive bombing without declaring war was the worst thing in -- in the minds of -- of people here. so, that's why it was unimaginable, basically. >> yeah. important analysis. we are up against the top of the hour. hopefully, we can get you back soon. alexander, in moscow, always appreciate your analysis. thank you so much. now, live from ukraine, i am michael holmes. our breaking-news coverage continues, after the break. they replaced the glass anand recalibrated my safety system. that's service i can trust. >> singers: ♪ safafelite repai, safelite replace. ♪ your recorord label is taking off. but so is your sound engineer. you need to hire. i need indeed. indeed you do.
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