tv CNN Newsroom With Jim Acosta CNN March 12, 2022 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
you are live in the "cnn newsroom." i'm jim acosta in washington and russia is intensifying strikes all around ukraine's capital city. british intelligence estimates are coming in saying the bulk of russia's ground forces are just about 15 miles outside of kyiv. this video shows a village about 30 miles west of kyiv completely devastated by air strikes. and watch this video from the port city as multiple strikes hit near a children's playground, forcing a man to duck for cover. much of the damage is called by russia's so-called dumb bombs, and officials worry russia could soon turn to something much more deadly. chemical weapons. president biden warning that russia could pay a severe price for that.
more than 2.5 million refugees have fled into neighboring countries in mariupol. mass graves have replaced proper funerals and doctors without borders calls this an extremely dire humanitarian crisis, saying people there can't survive much longer without food, water and heat. one of those people is mary ann. guess what. she gave birth to a baby girl named veronica last night. there's the baby girl right there. her family telling cnn they hope they can find what they need to keep veronica healthy. that will be a tall task where she is at right now. but matthew chance has the latest on russia's bombardment of ukrainian cities. >> this is a new front in russia's ukrainian war. emergency workers battling flames caused by air strikes on
the central city of de inipra. a kindergarten and shoe factory were targeted. 70 miles from poland, a strategic airfield also came under attack. the invasion now in its third week, russia appears to be widening its assault. there are concerns of escalation, too. fighters from syria said to be joining the fight on russia's side. the kremlin backs the regime of al assad. and told the security council that foreign fighters should be invited to join. >> translator: so if you see people who want voluntarily without payment to come and help people living in donbas, well, we need to meet their efforts and help them to reach the
combat zone. >> these are thugs from syria, said president zelenskyy of ukraine, of the country destroyed in the same way the ok piers are destroying us, he said. later at a kremlin beating with his belarusian ally, putin struck a different, upbeat down, saying he had been informed of certain positive shifts in recent negotiations with ukraine, though it remains unclear what those could be. they don't seem to be diverting russia from its invasion course. new satellite images suggest the massive russian military column north of kyiv has dispersed with some elements repositioned into forests and country side around the capital. and these are the latest images from a besieged town in the country's southeast. russian troops moving through the streets, which are now reported to be under their full control.
bit by bit, ukraine it seems is being overrun. matthew chance, cnn, kyiv. >> and joining us now is cnn military analyst and retired air force colonel, cedrick layton. thanks for being with us. you know, that closely watched russian convoy we've been following it for days. it has apparently dispersed and headed for cover. armored russian military trains were spotted inside ukraine i guess possibly for resupplying. strikes have been farther to the west than before. what is your sense of what's happening in terms of the latest activity on the ground here? is this new phase of, is this a new phase of the offensive based on the slow going advance of the russians? what are your thoughts? >> well, it is a new phase because phase one didn't quite work out unless putin wanted it
to. so you know, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again as the saying goes. i think in this particular case, what they're doing, they weren't greeted with open arms when they came into ukraine and they realized that this war of liberation or whatever they wanted to call it is not exactly that and in order to make their efforts work, they're going to go for basically what amount to a scorched earth policy. the column, the 40-mile column that is dispersed or moved its assets around, that could be the sign that they're moving some artillery into position. they're certainly protecting the assets that were in that column. and they're moving those like we said under other obstacles where they can't be seen as readily from the air. so that's part of it. then when you move west, you
look at some of the air strikes against some of the airfields like -- some of the others, those seem to be designed not only to perhaps interdict the areas of the nato alliance to bring supplies into ukraine, but they also seem to be used as a way to force the western ukrainian population into some degree of submission. at least that's a potential. depends on how far they'll go with those strikes but as of now, we're looking at them coming in and perhaps moving their forces a bit more westward than some people thought they would have. and then of course in the east, we have continued movement in the south. we have continued movement. so basically, the constrictor is moving and is attempting to tighten its grip on its prey and
the prey of course being ukraine. >> and today, we saw yet another civilian complex bombarded. we keep showing this because it's astounding. you see the blast going off by that playground and we don't know what kinds of munitions these are, but we know that russia has been relying on these so-called dumb bombs, which i suppose you know, they're not terribly precise. they may miss their target, but they have the effect of i suppose spreading fear. i mean, spreading devastation, no question about it. indiscriminately, no question about it, but i suppose the other intended affect is that they spread a lot of fear and terror. >> that's exactly right. when you go back to the whole philosophy of bombing and how to actually conduct an air campaign, that's part of it. even before world war ii, people theorized that what you'd have to do is terrorize a civilian population and that would bring
the opposition into submission. that's what was often tried during world war ii with the bombings of london and dres din and tokyo and some other places. that's one way of fighting war, but it's a horrible way of fighting war and it's also extremely imprecise in the psychological component of it that was designed to move people either away from the areas that they inhabit or to make them so fearful that they survrender right away. that's that kind of a philosophy that's guiding their movements. it is something that we've found actually does not work but that's something that they're trying and they will keep trying it i guess until they figure out it doesn't work for them as well. >> and colonel, i really want to get into this. russia has now baselessly accused ukraine of preparing to use chemical weapons. here's how zelenskyy responded.
>> they accuse us. again, us, that we are allegedly developing biological weapons? allegedly, we are preparing a chemical attack? this makes me really worried because we've been repeatedly convinced, if you want to know russia's plans, look at what russia accuses others of. >> yeah, colonel, we have had years of analyzing the art of projection a little bit closer to home. when it comes to the russians, they have been known to do this. i wonder if it's a worrying sign to you that the russians are baselessly accusing the ukrainians of preparing to use some sort of chemical weaponry or weapons of mass destruction and whether or not that means we may see something like coming from the russians in the days to come? >> i think it's a very distinct
possibility. we know the russians have a chemical capability. we know they have not hesitated to use that in places like syria. and either through their own courses or through proxy courses that affected thousands of people in various towns and cities in that country. so they may very well be planning something in ukraine, which would either be viewed as a provocation that chemicals were used against allegedly used against a russian unit, therefore they have to go in with chemicals themselves. that could be one way of doing it or they could simply do it and blame it on the ukrainians and say they had an accident before they were employing those weapons against the russians. it is a distinct danger that it
could happen. it's a world war i-ish scenario and it would be a terrible thing because not only is it devastating, but it's also outlawed under international conventions. >> all right. colonel, thank you very much for that grim assessment. we'll keep watching. thank you, sir. appreciate it. zblnchs more than. more than 2.5 people have fled ukraine since russia invaded two weeks ago. that's an astounding number. miguel, what are you hearing from these families that were forced to flee their homes? it's got to be heartbreaking to listen to. >> when you say 2.5 million, every single one is a story. we were at a home south of bucharest, a romanian couple that's carrying about 34, 35
refugees over the last two weeks. they've cared for a little over 60 refugees. they have a network now set up where they're trying to do the same. the city is setting up refugee shelters so people can stay here. most move on. most are coming here with very, very little. we spoke to some of the folks in this household and they all believe that the war will be over and they will go back to ukraine, but they're not entirely sure what they'll go back to. >> we are free people. we have a beautiful country. beautiful cities. now that's all destroyed and we have no houses. we have no families. we will start over. i want and believe that we will, we'll be at home in my kharkiv,
it will be -- >> so what is stunning in talking to the people that we met over the last several days is that these were people who were teachers and doctors and psychologists an students and they had normal jobs and normal lives and they literally were changed in an instant and they were transformed into refugees. now they're coming to places like romania. the woman you saw there, olga, her daughter, olga's sister, they're all going to portugal to meet up with family there. we met people going to qatar to mote up with family there. everybody needs a few days here, a few days there. some people, we met a family of five kids, mom, dad, they were going to stay there for the entirety. they all believe they're going back. when you say when? they say, two weeks, three weeks. maybe a month. maybe four months. nobody's really sure when the end will come and what that end will look like.
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new satellite images show the extensive damage as the port city continues to be hit by russian military strikes. before and after images show just how much of the city has been devastated by this war. these show that the childrens and maternity hospital in that city have been hit by russian strikes on wednesday. this is an industrial area, a large fire there still ablaze. it was was taken this morning. this shows a strike near a gas stat station. the city is surrounded by
russian troops and the escalating assault on ukraine is sparking growing concerns for a wnba star and two others being detained by the regime. brian todd has that part of our coverage. >> new concerns over the fate of basketball star, brittney griner, has been held for three weeks, since february 17th according to her hometown congressman. she's had no access to anyone from the u.s. government, he says, it's and not clear where greiner is being held. >> she should be allowed to come home as soon as possible and not become swept up in this larger context that's happening. >> she was arrested at a moscow airport with what russiaenn rus authorities said cannabis oil. members of congress and veteran diplomats that the two-time olympic gold medalist status as a star athlete might work
against her, as her sexual orientation. she is guy and married. russia that has strict lgbtq laws. >> they could use the fact her wife is making public statements and these are being reported in media as propagandaization of lgbtq plus rights, which would be another crime they could hold against her. >> the parents of a marine, trevor reed, describe themselves as panicked over his condition. followed a phone call with him on thursday, they said his physical condition has taken a turn for the worst. >> coughing constantly. coughing up blood throughout the day. has fever on and off over 100 degrees and pain in his chest. just all the signs of tuberculosis. >> his parents said he would be sent to a prison hospital, but when they were on the phone with him, he was summon today a
disciplinary condition and fear he might be sent back to solitary. paul wheeland -- and have been detained in russia since before the invasion of ukraine. his sister gave cnn a fresh clue of his condition. >> he is doing as well as can be expected in a forced labor camp in russia. >> expert s are now openly concerned about the future of these three americans given the tensions with putin are only intensifying. how difficult will it be to get them out at this point? is it even possible? >> we're at such a different level of confrontation with russia right now. they really are being used as pawns by russia. he's not going to harm these three, but he's not going to let them out of jail either. >> congressman alred has been in touch with her russian lawyer who has been in touch with her agent and family back home and they know she's okay. cnn has reached out to the
russian foreign ministry about her where abouts and condition. we haven't heard back. cnn, washington. and with me now is democratic congresswoman sheila jackson lee of texas. congressman, thank you so much for being with us. we know you've been working with the biden administration on the case of brittney griner and you've also been in contact with her family. how much information do we have about brittney griner and how she's been doing these last three weeks? as i've been watching this, it is just outrageous. it is outrageous what the russians are doing holding this wnba star who, you know, is an athlete. who should have rights. it's unbelievable. i shouldn't say it's unbelievable, it is believable, but it's just outrageous. >> jim, let me thank you for having me and let me associate myself with your outrage.
she grew up here in houston. i represent the family. family member rs still here. i've spoke within the family members. we claim brittney griner all the way. that's houston, texas. and we are praying for her family, her wife, and i take issue with any family members who want to make a prayerful comment should be allow and the very fact that brittney's wife wants to speak for her. i support it in the way it's done and the way she wants to do it. we live in a democracy and we're fighting against autocracy. we're fighting against a vile, inhumane and immoral leader. a terrorist. that is what i call putin. so unfortunately, the timing couldn't be worse. i believe all this may have even been orchestrated. i want to make sure her legal
representation is able to do so in the most appropriate way possible, but jim, i frankly believe that this is going to have to be a combination of legal good work. lawyer was hired by her russian team. a team that loves her dearly. but it's also going to have to be, even in these difficult times, the work of a sovereign nation. she's a united states citizen. that's why i demanded for her release immediately and that's why i've provided the president a letter asking for his help and the help of our state department. >> is brittney griner a hostage at this point? >> there is no legal system that anyone could even comprehend here in the united states. we could not comprehend what is called a legal detained or incarceration in russia. you've already heard about trevor reed and others. you get deadly ill, you're in
solitary confinement. it's cruel. it's, i use the term inhumane, but it is, it is killing to a certain extent. you don't know if you're going to live. you're incarcerated, but it looks like you've been given a death sentence. i only want to say that we have a magnificent young woman, a young woman who would give you the shirt off her back, a very kind person. the second most famous and second most outstanding player in the wnba. and she has continued that as an olympian and as a wnba player. she is strong by nature, but i would only say that the quicker she is released, the better. because you cannot count on the kinds of conditions that she would be subjected to. she shouldn't have been in, i don't believe, in any guilt. these are items it seems that if it was even true, could have been confiscated and she could
have been sent on her way. renowned as she is. >> exactly. >> renowned as she is, famous in russia, the team loving her. russians loving her. enjoying the game. and so we know that they think they had a prize. only thing i can say is it's important for families to know this sovereign nation is not going to abandon their citizens and that's what my job is. to make sure we continue to work together. the administration, the state department because you cannot count on the conditions except for the strength of this young woman. she is strong, but we're going to make sure she and the others if you will, are not retained. we haven't classified her, jim, as a hostage. she's been in, it will be a month coming up this coming week. but we don't want to classify her as that. but we want to say that she is unjustly being detained, unfairly being detained and should be released immediately.
>> and as you know, congresswoman, russia has very strict lgbtq laws. you know, do you think that griner is perhaps in even more danger because of her sexual orientation? >> if there's any shame that could be felt in russia, they should feel shame on targeting human beings. human beings, lgbtq persons, their children, transgender. they are human beings. and the one thing she did courageously was to stand up as she is as a human being and to have her wife be at her side. but i do know that it is a shameless posture that russia has treated its lgbtq community. they're in jeopardy.
and there's no doubt that she is both a woman of color. she is a celebrity. and she's an lgbtq community. and that's why i think, jim, that the american power sovereignty, i know we're in a vicious war. our relations are poor, but we also have the ability to let russia know that these individuals are under our protection and we're just going to have to stand with her as the legal process proceeds. it is important for the family to know that the sovereign nation, united states, democracy, is going to stand with her as well. >> no question about it, congresswoman. and we know how much putin prizes international athletics because of the emphasis that's placed in the russian olympic program and so on. they had an embarrassing situation in beijing and to think that they would snatch one of our athletes at the airport
with something just as trumped up as you know, this ridiculous charge they're holding her on, it seems very deliberate and she is being used as a pawn. congresswoman, thank you so much for your time. thank you for your work. appreciate it. >> jim, thank you for your concern and we are going to get her out. thank you. >> all right. best of luck. thank you. coming up, cnn goes into a ukrainian city where a food warehouse was destroyed, hospitals are packed, and small children are crying out for help. ♪ got my heart ♪ ♪ got my soul ♪ ♪ got my mouth ♪ ♪ i got life ♪
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we want to take you now to the heart-hit city of nicolav where despite their injuries, they are the lucky ones. >> this is probably when russian forced tried to cut off mykolav. ukrainian shells here not holding them back. the governor told locals to bring tires to the streets, which they did, fast. and in the dark, russia's punishment of just about everyone here did not let up. an air strike flattened this warehouse. and if you needed proof the kremlin seeks to reduce all life here, 1500 tons of onions and
pumpkins were an apparent target for a military jet. they were in a back bedroom when the missile hit. he built this home himself 43 years ago and knows he lacks the strength to do so again. she says she doesn't even have her slippers now. the hospitals are steeped in pain. corridor running underground. she lost three friends tuesday when russian shells hit the car that were traveling in to change shift and a disabled children's home. when she ducked, she saved her life. she names her three dead friends.
nikolai was badly burned by a missile in his yard. moscow targets hospitals and so they perversely need their own bomb shelters where sick children wait for the sirens to end. stas is 12 and alone, but doesn't know the reason his father is not here just now is because he is burying stas' mother and sister.
outside, it is cold and loud. >> coming up, they have absolutely no connection to putin's war, but some small business owners in the united states are facing anti-russian backlash and bigoted attacks. we'll explain, next. - [female narrator] five billion people lack access to safe surgery. thousands of children are suffering
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russian caviar, vodka or diamonds allowed into the u.s. arlette, president biden is also moving to strip russia of its trade benefits, status, to ramp up pressure on putin and u.s. allies are looking to do the same. what's the latest? >> yeah, jim. this is the latest u.s. and ally coordinated effort to try to make russia pay for its attack on ukraine. the u.s., e.u. and g-7 countries all calling for revoking russia's most favored nation status. that would essential will allow these countries to enact and impose tariffs on russian imports. additionally, taking additional steps lieks banning caviar as well as high-end luxury items like jewelry, cars and clothing. hoping they can hit those
creature comforts that oligarchs and wealthy individuals have to put a squeeze on putin. this comes as there are concerns among u.s. officials about the possibility of russia using chemical weapons in ukraine. i had the chance to ask president biden about that yesterday, asking what evidence he's seen and whether there would be a u.s. military response. take a listen to what he had to tell me. >> not going to speak about the sb intelligence, but russia will pay a severe price if they use chemical weapons. >> it's unclear what that severe price would entail, but hours later, president biden was adamant he would not send american troops into ukraine on the ground or in the skies, warning a direct conflict between the u.s., nato, and russia would lead to world war iii. jim. >> arlette saenz, great work. thank you very much. here in the u.s., restaurants that once proudly displayed the
country's heritage are feeling the wrath of bigotry. some business owners who fled oppressive regimes themselves for a safer life in the united states are seeing their store fronts vandalized and now they're wondering whether it's time to rebrand their businesses. jason carroll reports. >> i'm going to show you the table. this is the special table. there are people that actually call it -- at this table. >> but not these days. russia's invasion of ukraine increasing worries about empty tables and fewer bookings at this restaurant in new york's theatre district. >> 60% of business is down. overnight, just wake up one day and the business is gone. nobody's here. >> she is co-owner of russian sam var with her son. it's been in the family for three generations. her family defected from what was then the soviet union to new york when she was a child. her stepfather cofounded the
restaurant with a russian ballet dancer and poet. >> they all found it here. >> but now this little piece of heaven is facing the wrath of hell on earth half a world away. >> calling us nazis. fascists. people leaving messages on our machine. it's never nice. our sign's been kicked in. >> never mind she's married to a ukrainian. she says all people see is the word russian and lash out. in washington, d.c., the famous russia house vandalized. threatening messages left in san diego. >> you killed my -- and aunt and family! you disgusting! >> the restaurant's owner is armenian and most of the staff ukrainian. similar messages sent to
chicago's russian tea time restaurant where just like the others, some of the employees are ukrainian. >> we really feel pain. we have a waitress whose mother is hiding in bomb shelters in kyiv. >> some wisconsin supermarkets have discontinued sales of russian vodka. in los angeles, a bar owner is dumping russian made vodka and in new york, no more mcputin's. they changed the name of the takeout restaurant and delivery business. >> i believe they're calling it chi chi chicken. >> but they say they will never change the name, russian samovar. you think you can change this? >> with the help of our friends, yes. >> time will tell. >> coming up, the symbol popping up on tanks, billboards and t-shirts, but how did the letter z come to signify the invasion
of ukraine? we'll take a look at t that nex. life... doesn't stop for diabetes. be ready for every moment, with glucerna. it's the number one doctor recommend brand that is scientifically designed to help mane your blood sugar. live every moment. glucerna. to see my ancestors' photos was just breathtaking. wow, look at all those! what'd you find? lorraine banks, look, county of macomb, michigan? oh my goodness... this whole journey has been such a huge gift for our family. at jp morgan, the only definition of wealth that matters is yours. it can be a smaller house, but a bigger nest egg. a goal to work toward, or the freedom to walk away. with 200 years of experience, personalized advice,
many of the russian vehicles invading ukraine carry a distijtive mark. trucks, tanks, logistical vehicles. the they are advancing through ukraine with the letter z painted in white. the people being invaded have noticed. here in the eastern ukrainian town, an angry crowd swarms after and attacks a single vehicle. it's only obvious connection to the war, the letter z. >> it's almost certainly some kind of tactical group. there's a million different theories about what it means, but i think it's a marking. easy to mark. like a square or triangle. >> in a war where the want to be conquerers are not flying their national flag, that single character has taken on special significance. at a recent gymnastics world cup event, a 20-year-old competitor accepted his bronze medal wearing a z on his chest. he was standing next to a ukrainian athlete.
the sports governing body described it as shocking behavior, but how do you describe this? terminally ill children and their carers formed a giant z outside a hospice in the russian city. >> it's disgusting that the state is coopting young children to be propaganda mechanisms for their war. it is dangerous when small, little symbols become proxies for being a loyal citizen because those who don't wear it, show the z, could be targeted by the state. >> and in this highly produced propaganda video, russian men wearing that letter declare their support for the invasion, chanting for russia, for the president, for russia, for putin. an ariel shot shows a giant z made from the orange and black of the st. george's river. a traditional symbol of russian military glory usually
associated with victory over nazi germany. by accident or design, a character that doesn't feature in russia's alphabet has become an iconic symbol of putin's invasion and the propaganda campaign to win support among his people. phil black, cnn, london. >> that's the news reporting from washington. i'll see you back here tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. up next, a special edition of "the situation room" with wolf blitzer. have a good night. do your eyes bother you? my eyes feel like a combo of stressed, dry and sandpaper. ststrypaper? luckily, there's biotrue hydration boost eye drops. biotrue uses naturally inspspired ingredients. and no preservatives. try biotrue!
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happening now, breaking news, ukrainians showing defiance as russian forces creep closer and closer to kyiv. putin's troops suffering setbacks but their offensive has not stopped. now just miles from the center of the capital and as bombs continue to fall on cities across ukraine, more civilians are being forced to make incredibly tough decisions. take up arms to fight the russians or flee to safety across the border. the number of refugees now exceeds 2.5 million. and we're getting a brand-new look at the extent of th
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