tv CNN Newsroom With Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell CNN March 2, 2022 12:00pm-1:00pm PST
ambassador taylor, he me start with you. i'm wondering what stood out. >> he said the military assistance is getting in to where it needs to be. that tells me that ammunition is moving across the border from nato into ukraine. i think that's very important to hear. the ukrainian resistance is fierce. it's using its military very well. it has to have resupply. i was struck with his aexpeassuassurance, his confidence that it's getting in. >> that pipeline is essential in the days, weeks moving forward since no one else is coming to
ukraine's aids with actual military forces. >> that's exactly right. ukraine will continue to resist in any case. this will be ongoing. so far the ukrainians have blookblook -- blocked the russians from getting into their capital. they will continue to resist no matter what the outcome. we will continue to support that government in its current state or if it move, we'll continue that. >> nic robertson, as you listen to secretary blinken, what stood out to you?
>> reporter: that weapon supply was interesting. make 29 blinken leaving the door open that for conversations despite him speaking about defensive military equipment and these being potentially offensive, having that offensive capability that still potentially grew for discussion this week. russia needs to stop shooting, stop bombing, need to take its
planes out the air. i thought that was interesting because it creates a context there for russia. something the ukrainians have been pushing for. the assessment in moscow at the moment, not from the government, you putin is not minding for a compromise but if there is to be one, it's going to involve a third party. secretary blinken didn't talk about a third party there. >> it's not just the united states supplying weaponary. the european union has stepped up in the last several days.
sweep see den saying they will supply weapons as well. >> reporter: that's a reason they will be coming here in in a few days. what will that lethal assistance look like? the air space is precarious right now. he also said the u.s. will be expanding export restrictions on belarus. belarus has played a key role in this russian invasion.
two major things announced there. i think one of the things that stood out the most is when he addressed the russian people directly. this is a strategy and tactic we have seen repeatedly over the last several days, including from ukrainian president who had been appealing to the russian people to -- saying to them how does this war help you? how do o does this war actually help you in your day-to-day lives. appealing to the russian people to kind of protest this decision to attack ukraine and reit reiterating that america and the west are behind the people of russia and also reiterating that the sanctions that are being imposed by the u.s. and the west on the kremlin, on oligarchs are not aimed at the russian people. those sanctions will have significant collateral damage.
saying the u.s. is not trying to punish them but trying to foe meant this dissent against the leadership and the decision that the kremlin has made over the last several weeks. >> thank you so much. appreciate it. our kcorrespondents are deploye throughout ukraine and also in russia and poland. cnn national security k correspondent joins me now from near kyiv. russian military strikes hit a school in northern kharkiv and damaged in a missile strike. what more information is there on that? >> reporter: these are the two latest examples that russians claim they are not hitting, targeting, going after civilian infrastructure, residences is just not true.
they are killing civilians. in past few moments we heard about these two different instances in ukraine's two biggest cities. it was heard by our colleagues who are in downtown kyiv. this is one of the, if not the closest strike to the center of the city . earlier today i was about three miles from the city center. that was fairly central as far as the attacks go. this is right downtown next to the train station. many ukrainians have been trying
to get out of the country. many have been trying to get out of the country. many taking the train. we don't know what the intended target was. make no mistake, this hit a civilian target in form of a gas pipeline. over in kharkiv, which is tucked right up against the border with russia about 20 miles away, a school, school number 17 is its f name was also hit in a russian military shelling. we have seen attacks on residential buildings.
it's completely out of the question they would target civilians, target civilian infrastructure. day by day the civilian death toll is going up. they claim the civilian death toll is now more than 2,000. the united nations has a much lower number. they admit the toll could rise. we will be a week into this russian invasion . >> thank you. he believe vladmir putin is humiliated by the slow advances of his troop.
>> it's an obvious objective. he's looking to establish the land corridor on the coast of d donbas. >> reporter: we sometimes see some of things that the russians are bringing toward the front line and the weapons we're seeing deployed on this side of the border and that plays out on the other side of the border. what we saw today was a lot more russian jets in the air circling above the area.
also flying towards kharkiv. you have that school that was hit later today but also the police station, the university also being hit as well. it's pretty heavy weapons being employed in all of that. it seems to us as on the board, the russians seem to be stepping up their offensive not just around kharkiv but you have the formal general saying you have the land corridor that he believes vladmir putin is trying to create. that's something a lot of people have been talking about for an extended period of time. if you look at crimea, that's been the engsxtended location fa
very long time. the water is quite treacherous there. they sort of went east ward and linked up with the army so the donbas republic. that does appear to show they seem to try to form the land corridor to crimea from russia and from the donbas republic to have it to resupply those areas. anderson. >> there's heavy snowfall expected across the eastern ukraine in the coming days. how might that upset russia's effort? >> reporter: i'm glad you mentioned that. we have seen a lot of major
snowfall throughout today. there's even more snowfall that's scheduled for tomorrow. we have been standing in that throughout the course of the day. the area has been known to be farm land. it's a very difficult place to operate in when the weather gets treacherous. the other big question is what about jet, russian jets operating seriously overcast and snow coming down. heavy snow which is something that's forecast. what about rocket troop. how accurate are they going to be. it could be a concern from having stood on the ground here today in some of that snowfall coming down. i could tell you it's very, very heavy and certainly something that could make a difference. whether or not it could hold the russians up, definitely very
hard to say from our vantage point here but one of the things we also have to point out is if you look at kharkiv, specifically, the russians thagt t -- thaug thought they were goi take kharkiv about six days ago, the first day. the whole offensive seems to be going a lot more difficult than the russian military had thought. with this weather, it doesn't stand to get any easier for invading army to take the city. >> appreciate the reporting along the border. i want to go do be pentagon now. >> you described the last few days of this russian convoy. i think you described it as bogged down or stalled.
can you explain, has it moved at all in the last day or so have the ukrainian forces begun attacking any part of it and as the second question, can you give a picture of what's going on in the south or the rushsian forces that made the amphibious landing. are they expanding or extending that part? thank you very much. >> on the convoy, we still assess that convoy but more broadly speaking the northern push by the russians down towards the south, towards kyiv remains stalled. they haven't from our best estimates have not made any progress geographically speaking in the last 24 to 36 hours. nothing very significant. it is difficult for us to know
with great specificity all that is going into this stall, if you will. in general, we believe that there's a couple of reasons for that. one, we believe the russians are deliberately, actually regrouping themselves and reassessing the progress that they have not made and how to make up the lost time. two, we do believe that they have experienced logistic and sustainability challenges. challenges that we don't believe they fully anticipated. three, they are getting resistance from the ukrainians. we have some indications that nothing that we can -- 100% independently verify but we have some indications that the ukrainians have tried to slow down that convoy. we have no reason to doubt those reports. we can't speak to it in great
specificity. in the south the russian forces appear to be experiencing, in general, less resistance than they are up in the north. that said, the town which we knew they were moving on towards the northwest, that still a very contested fight. the russians have claimed they got to town and we're not in a position to call it either way. we believe that advance is ongoing. we don't believe they are in
city center. >> any other been made to u.s. nuclear forces to put them on a high r alert readiness level and then secondly, while the convoy is stalled there are some that the window is closing to get aid into cities that may become under siege. what is the u.s. and nato partners doing to maybe maximize the amount of aid they can get while there's still a window open in. >> it will continue to flow not just from the united states but many of our allies and partners.
we are make ing every effort to get as much security assistance to the ukrainians as pafast as can. on the humanitarian side, we'll continue to work with international organizations and ngos to try to stem and assist in whatever way. not from a military perspective. i'm talking about administration perspective. we estimate or we have seen numbers coming out of the u.n. of more than 500,000 people now leave the country as well as perhaps 10 of thousands misplaced. putin is causing a humanitarian crisis as well. first i'd say this delay test is not affecting our strategic
nuclear posture. the deterrent posture that we have in place is up to the task of defending the homeland and our allies and our partners. >> what will the u.s. soldiers do if president putin kill or harm president zelensky? >> we know that mr. putin wants to topple the government and replace it with his own.
all that blood is on his hands. anymore blood that shed is still going to be on mr. putin's hands. i don't speculate about particular outcomes here with respect to individuals. we have no reason to doubt them but we can't independently verify them. >> we heard a lot about false flags leading up to the invasion. are you seeing any indication of false dflags? one out there today is a local mayor who was kidnapped and killed. some speculation this might be another attempt at a russian false flag. i know it's difficult for you to
talk about specific cases like that. have you heard anything about that. >> i haven't heard anything about that. that's first i've heard of this particular report. we did see false flags. car bombings and that kind of thing before he launched his invasion. not to mention the ridiculous, ludicrous claims they were making in their own state run media about ukraine being a threat to their security and claims of being shelled by ukrainian forces and the joint operations area to the east. i'm not aware there's any false flag. hee he's decided he's going to go in. >> should we take anything from that whether it was some sort of
resciprocal action that you saw any indication that's what vladmir putin was planning is any kind of missile launch or anything like that? >> no. we would like to see moscow reciprocate by taking the temperature down on rhetoric about nuclear posture. we would like to see him deescalate by coming to a cease-fire and deescalating and moving the forces back home and geing out of ukraine. it was not tied to a specific action or inaction by mr. putin but rather a decision by the secretary to make it clear how
we would respond. >> russian forces have been described as risk averse. how does that translate on the battlefield? you said that russians are encountering less resistance in the south. is that the only reason for the fact that in the south they seem to still be making progress or is there something else about the southern -- >> yeah. you have to remember they started out on those two southern legs. they started out in crimea. the lines of supply and sustainment are short. they have been in crimea since 2014. they built up a pretty healthy and sophisticated architecture.
we need to be mindful of that. they have been surpassed by the stiff resistance that they are facing by the ukrainians and i don't believe that they fully factored that in. i'm certainly not going to be one to call it one way or another here. the ukrainians are fighting for their country and they are making a difference. jim. >> first, i second everything you said about bob barns. are you seeing the russians bring in reserves from outside the areas that they concentrated in before. are you seeing them bring in more aircraft, more troops to apply to the invasion and
ukra ukraine? >> no, jim, we haven't. we haven't seen any indications that mr. putin feels the need to bring in additional reenforcements from elsewhere in the country. he began to build up this combat power starting in the early fall and has at his disposal more than 150,000 troops. more than 120 battalion tactical groups and while we assess that the majority of that combat power is in ukraine, that doesn't mean he doesn't have stuff that's not committed and it doesn't mean what he has in ukraine has been diminished. they have -- they have lost a sense of momentum here but that doesn't mean that they still don't have the power at their disposal. the ukrainians also have retained a lot of their combat power. they fighting back. they're fighting back bravely.
>> on the nuclear issue of russia and the behavior, is there any context with the russian report on this new issue to bring it down. on ukraine, the pentagon said russian forces whether they have basically met any of the objective of the operations in the seven days. have they achieved anything they wanted to achieve based on the schedule they might have had? >> on the nuclear question i have no communication to speak to. i think the secretary's decision today speaks volumes.
on your second question, all i can do is tell you what we're seeing. they have not taken any of the major centers they have wanted to take. we think there's a variety of reasons for that. the bravery and the skill and the creativity of ukrainian fighters. in the back there. >> you said at the beginning about the situation in kyiv. there are many concerns about western ukraine. some people are doing right now, they believe it's safe there. what's your estimate about the rest of ukraine and any signs that russia is preparing to
attack or to capture wooestern ukraine or concentrate on kyiv only? >> i'm going to be careful not to anticipate russian moves. sgla we'r >> we're seeing a continued desire for kyiv and kharkiv. the effort appears to be to the north of kyiv. it's hard for me to predict. >> two questions. for the nuclear test, is there a date it's postponed to or postponed indefinitely?
>> we don't have a reschedule date. >> it sounds like you were parsing a bit of the attack on kyiv. seems like you consider making a distinction between convoy and everything you're seeing. is there a second portion of what russia is doing toward kyiv that you're seeing? just because the attention is focused on the convoy. seemed like you were parsing bit in your language. >> i assure you i never parse. what i was trying to make the point -- the point i was trying to make and i know there's a lot of interest in this convoy . we don't have perfect visibility to every vehicle in this convoy.
it appears to be a chance to advance to kyiv. i was trying to do was to broaden this out a little bit and rather than stay focused on a convoy, try to look at it in perspective here. it's of a piece of what we believe their desire, which is to take kyiv. we're limited in our ability know and understand everything. we still believe it's mr. putin's desire to topple the government. in order to do that, he believes he has to take kyiv. he continues to want to advance on kyiv. the advance has been stalled. they are working through that right now.
>> you outlined the targets is there anything you're seeing to connect the dots. the potential purchasing of the country but between the population centers, efforts to connect the dots basically. the second thing, you mentioned how ukrainians are resisting, slowing things down with the convoy. tactically speaking would you define those as defensive maneuvers or offensive as they are moving against part of the russian military whether it's convoy or other vehicles you're seeing in the country? are they waiting to be fired on or taking more drastic measures? >> you ukrainians? >> yeah. >> they are defending their country. every shot they take, every
maneuver they execute is designed to defend the sovereignty of their country it's about defense. they are fighting a strong defense. on your other question, i have to confess to not having perfect knowledge of mr. putin's planning here. it appears they are moving on three axis. one avenue through belarus and one through russia. there's also a southern advance that we talked about.
then we see a push from the northeastern group that's moving on kharkiv. it's valuable because it's such a big city. it's a major population center. it also could goive mr. putin a avenue of approach towards kyiv if the plan was to advance on kyiv from multiple directions then that drirection might be oe credible one they could use. we can see an effort to move on the capital. it's difficult to know what other moves inside ukraine mr. putin might be trying to
achieve. it's al possible what they are doing in the east is o could be an effort to fix ukrainian forces in the eastern region so they can't come through. they have not achieved success in the major population centers to date that we see them trying to move on. >> the international treasure centers, what are demonstrating seamless combined capability by the russians? >> i don't want to speak too much on russian operations,
tony. when you look at -- when you look at what's happening, i would just say it doesn't appear that ground and air operations need to be very well connected based on what we're seeing happening. >> the richest man in the world, elon musk brought in star link internet communication into ukraine. the ukraine vice president showed a picture of this. the pentagon will help in the transport of these starlink internet terminals and are you seeing any impact in terms of either helping the ukrainians with tactical military operations or keeping the population connected as the russians attack information? >> no help from us that i'm aware of. i'm not sure i understand your second question there. >> they're being installed. are you seeing any impact with helping the ukrainians with tactical military? >> you mean from the star link.
>> that's for the you k-- ukrainians to speak to and not the u.s. no involvement in that with respect to that. >> president biden said the u.s. will join allies to close the u.s. air space to russian planes. it was more about civilian av aviation and u.s. air force. we know u.s. military has part of air space under its control and russian military cargo planes cross into the air space from time to time. any way they plan to limit russian military assets in northern northeast syria where the u.s. air force controls? >> i'm not aware of any such plans. as you know in -- we are in syria for one purpose and one purpose only. that's the counter isis fight. that remains an active fight .
i'm going to go to the phones here. s >> u.s. ambassador said what she called vacuum bombs are banned under the geneva conventions. i assume she meant fuel air explosives and other forms of weapons. i was hoping you can tell me about the pentagon's status of the review and whether the pentagon believe they are banned under the geneva conventions. thanks. >> doints i don't have updates
respect to cluster munitions. aisle have to take your question on the geneva convention. i'm not an expert on that. rather than spit ball it, i'll take the question and we'll get back to you. abr abraham. >> is the u.s. continuing to fly over the black sea and if not, why not? >> i'm not going to talk about flight profiles. we don't have any aircraft man or unmanned flying in ukrainian air space. the question about specific coordination or communication with the youukrainiukrainian, i put to nato.
you are our support is in the form of security system and gets into their hands. sdp you've been listening to john kirby at the pentagon. let's bring in our guests because we have a lot of questions for them. we have barbara starr, retired u.s. army major mike lyons. major, i want to start with you. sounds like what john kirby was describing, it's been a tougher slog than the russians thought it was going to be.
we hear there's more bombings happening in more cities. what does that tell you about what russia's next strategy would be ? >> i think he's understating how poorly they are doing because we don't want to give them ideas of things to do. they are not acting tactically, for example. that convoy is all in a row. they are easy targets. people can line up and shoot at them. i think they will ratchet up the strategic weapons and try to inflict as much damage as they can and try to make places like kyiv burn. they don't have any predictability of success.
area and be loaded into a military vehicle. whether or not it might be food shortages among the troops and also the front is unclear from our vantage point but it's something that did stick out. those are some of the things that could be difficult. the other thing, victor, that we have seen here is some of the russian gear seems to be breaking down before it gets to the area of combat. we have seen vehicles here on russian territory that need to be towed or that need to be repaired on the side of the road. that could be an issue as well, victor. >> john, you were the cia deputy chief of russian operations. can you give us the 30,000 foot view. what is vladmir putin's end game? when we look at the video of the destruction and the damage that's happened, he wants to take over a country of burned out, bombed out cities of 44 million people who don't want him there, who are going to revolt? that's what he wants? >> no, i don't think that's what
he wants. i think his end game has to change all the time. he's a dictator. a dictator has to wake up every morning hoping they don't die getting dragged into a gutter somewhere. he thought he needed to show strength and he thought this would be easier. we're seeing that now. kirby's comments make it clear that they thought this would be easier and it wasn't eedsier. vladmir putin, his skill is playing the opponent. the chess champion is says he doesn't play the situation on the chess board. he plays the opponent. it's using intimidation and bullying to try to get splits between people and get his way. this is the kind of thing he's done all the way up there. now he's stuck. now he's gone in trying to bully the west. it's not going to help him anymore. he has to succeed. his military has to succeed and
it doesn't look like they doing it so far. >> barbara starr at the pentagon, to you. we heard from admiral kirby that the russians have made mistakes but they are learning from them. any estimate that we heard from john kirby of how quickly this will ramp up and what they expect to see next? >> i think they already are beginning to see that initial second danger by the russians, increase missile attacks. long range artillery as they can get it closer to the targets in the city centers, these population centers that they want to hit. the thing that we keep hearing is, you know, his first idea didn't work and now he is going towards annihilation. t this is the heavy handed, just disasterous tactics they did back to the old outdated soviet era.
the question is how long can they hold out when that full onslaught begins. >> yes, that is the question. major, what's the answer? if russia moves this to an air fight. if they use more of the force of their air force and we know that ukraine's is woe any inadd kwat compared to -- inadequate compared to russia's. how does ukraine fight back against them? >> they will just have to survive. if the ground forces can continue to bloody the nose and punch them in places where they are weak. if the russians continue to not take the risks that admiral kirby was talking about by getting out of that convoy formation, becoming a little more tactical, they will absorb a pretty large pounding. the question is how also will the russian soldier on the ground act towards what's going
on here a at some point does the rest of the world say enough is enough and try to find a better off ramp for this and for this situation. get back to g minus zero. what's a boundary of ukraine that allows russia to keep crimea with a land bridge there as well. if the russians decide to go that route, the ukraine air force will be all will have its hands full 7cory rule control control room if you can. rack that up. i want people to see what it is. this is a school that was hit in kharkiv. you can see a huge hole in that wall when the russians say they're not targeting civilian locations, we heard from the secretary of state that buses, cars, schools, hospitals all
hit. john, to you on the intel of this. how much is putin typically involved in the military strategy in calling the shots? is he likely to micromanage the generals? make some of these decisions or is he watching and calling big picture? >> it is interesting that you bring that up. and barbara is right about the russian way of war. we have to worry about what they've done in syria and chechnya and these other places. it could be really, really nasty. he's created a system, essentially, of people around him who have a means to steal. a corrupt government is one where rewards don't go to the best people. they go to the best connected people. you can imagine the minister of defense when he goes for weapons and supply, he has to give it to people so they can steal money off it rather than to the best
person who can come through. now they're facing this, how this comes through. so i think putin thought he could just bully those around him and he assumed competence. and now he's finding out that the system he created that is so corrupt, there is a consequence to that. and so i think we've seen some of these meetings where he's smacking on his own people and he will try to use that intimidation but it won't work. >> all right. to all of you, thank you very much. we're just hearing from president biden about what is happening in ukraine, issuing a rallying cry during a speech in wisconsin today. he is reiterating his support for the country, as of course, this invasion intensifies. watch. >> together we send an unmistakable signal to ukraine and the world that we, the united states of america, stand
with the ukrainian people. we stand with them. vladimir putin's latest attack on ukraine, premeditated and provoked. he's rejected, repeated efforts of diplomacy. he thought the west and nato wouldn't respond. he thought they could divide us at home but he was wrong. we're ready. we sent countless hours unifying the european allies. we counted russia's lies and truth. we countered them by letting them know what was being planned and now the free world is holding him accountable. putin is now isolated from the world more than ever, and will continue, we will continue to aid the ukrainian people and ease their suffering in the process. when the history of this era is written, ukraine will have left russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger. >> joining us now is a journalist who has covered joe biden for nearly a decade and
accompanied him on a trip to ukraine in 2014 when he was vice president. this is new yorker staff writer, evan, great to have you. when the president says, when the history of this is written, you have written the first draft, actually, of history in terms of joe biden's relationship with ukraine and putin. so how do you describe what you're seeing now in his approach to this crisis? >> it is really interesting to see, i think a lot of americans don't fully recognize that this country, that ukraine has been a big part of joe biden's life for a long time. arguably there hasn't been a u.s. president who has spent more time working on it. almost by coincidence that it is now the moment when he's in the presidency. you have to go back to 2014 after russia, of course, annexed crimea, went into ukraine. then vice president biden was tasked by the president to be the point person on that relationship. so he made six trips to the country. and then he started talking to
the leaders of ukraine, really every week. it was about 80 times in total. and he came to see the struggle of ukraine against russia as something much larger. which as he put it, it was a bellwether for the future of eastern europe and central europe. this went back to his experience in the senate. he worked on the issues when he was a senator. he had been to the soviet union and he had a very distinct sense that there was this threat of authoritarianism emanating from the soviet union and then russia and that carried over into his relationship with ukraine. >> he was overruled in 2014 about more extreme sanctions and arming the ukrainians. does it appear that because of what the european partners will accept and won't accept, that that is happening again? >> well, i think there's a difference between today and 2014. at the time, joe biden was one of a group of american officials
who believed the u.s. and its allies could be doing more. particularly they wanted to make sure that there were javelin anti-tank missiles sent to ukraine. and according to one account, there was a plenty when then vice president biden said to president obama that vladimir putin has to pay with blood and money for what he's done. the judgment at the time was, it was too risky to risk an escalation, and therefore, they did hold things in check. the president at the time told the vice president, it's not as if we'll send in the 82nd airborne. we don't want to overpromise to the ukrainians. today you see this stronger, more allied response. part of it was he didn't know if the europeans would be on board. there is been this concert of action among other countries and that's a measure, i think, of the recognition that there has been this steady accretion of oppressive acts by the russians. >> we heard from the president
when he announced the first sanctions, that this goes far beyond what happened in 2014. evan osnos. thank you. "the lead" with jake tapper starts after this short break. do your eyes bother you? my eyes feel like a combo of stressed, dry and sandpaper. strypaper? luckily, there's biotrue hydration ost eye drops. biotrue uses naturally inspired ingredients. and no preservatives. try biotrue! at fidelity, your dedicated advisor will help you create a comprehensive wealth plan for your full financial picture. with the right balance of risk and reward. so you can enjoy more of...this.
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welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. the pentagon said the russian push toward kyiv and the russian military's massive 40-mile long military convoy are currently stalled, due to a combination of logistics issues and unexpected resistance from the ukrainian people. but the pentagon press secretary john kirby also said the u.s. do
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