tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN March 28, 2022 6:00am-7:00am PDT
powerful explosions strike a fuel depot in central ukraine. more attacks hit the western part of the country. ukrainian officials say that vladimir putin is trying to wipe ukraine, quote, off the face of the earth. good morning, i'm jim sciutto. overnight numerous explosions reported in the ukrainian capital kyiv. putin's invading army so far failing to overtake or even
surround the capital. an advisor to the ukrainian president volodymyr zelenskyy warns that russia is, in fact, ramping up its attacks. they say putin may try to split ukraine into two, somewhat like north and south korea. right now president zelenskyy says he is ready to accept neutral non-nuclear status for his country ahead of new talks between russia and ukraine. of course, the question is what is russia willing to give. those talks will begin tomorrow. also new this morning, ukraine is vowing to conduct an immediate investigation after a video surfaced of soldiers shooting russian prisoners in the legs. we are covering every angle of this story as only cnn can. our reporters and correspondents in the country throughout ukraine as well as back home. cnn's john berman reporting from lviv this morning. john, good morning. tell us what you're seeing there this morning.
>> reporter: jim, great to see you this morning. a fresh round of negotiations between russia and ukraine set to take place in istanbul. the ukrainian president, volodymyr zelenskyy, said peace and restoration of normal life, he says, are the, quote, obvious goals. that will be difficult. how do you get back normal life when a city is destroyed. he went on to say effective security for ukraine are mandatory and he would be willing to agree to a non-nuclear status as part of a deal. >> reporter: our priorities in the negotiations are known. ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity are beyond doubt. effective security guarantees for our state are mandatory. our goal is obvious. peace and the restoration of normal life in our native state as soon as possible. >> joining me here, cnn international correspondent phil black. phil, we have seen these strikes
overnight. jim sciutto was just reporting, across the country, particularly the infrastructure locations. >> that's right, john. russia is continuing to show it has the will and capability to launch cruise missile strikes anywhere across the country. the focus the last few days have been support, logistical infrastructure. once again another fuel depot was hit a short distance from where we are. that's what they struck here in lviv in saturday, too. we've seen that in mykolaiv in recent days. they've also been hitting weapons storage locations in different parts of the country as well. all of this is to disrupt the supplies to ukraine's fighting units. if you interrupt their supply of fuel and weapons, you put pressure on the defense and increase the likelihood that the defense will falter. >> there will be so much focus on the sit si of azov that's been under siege.
one of the things the president says, he acknowledge it is difficulty they're having in mariupol and the difficulty of the ukrainian troops there. he said to them, if you need to get out, get out, but so far they've refused. >> they've refused, he says, because they refuse to leave the wounded, refuse to leave the dead. he said they want to keep fighting. the bitter reality is perhaps they have no way of getting out. this is an encircled city, under siege for weeks. this is a place russians want to take and they would be unlikely to allow these soldiers to leave sa safely. the british ministry of defense assesses that this is a place where russia continues to make gains, more so than anywhere else. the rest of the battlefield is static. we've seen based upon what they've been prepared to do to the city over the last few weeks, it has been bombarded. it has been destroyed. it's largely a city without life now. that's why people are comparing
it to aleppo and other cities destroyed under bombardment. we know russia really wants to establish a land corridor from its border all the way to the crimean peninsula which it annexed in 2014. that can be considered a bare minimum of russia's goals here. we know they're going to keep pushing until they take that city. >> willing to destroy it in order to take it. phil black, thank you very much for that. jim? >> in the ukrainian capital kyiv, cnn teams reporting constant explosions as russia continues its bombardment of the city. president zelenskyy says there is new evidence that russia thought it would be holding a victory parade within days of the initial investigation. cnn senior international correspondent fred pleitgen in kyiv with more. >> reporter: hi there, jim. we're hearing massive shelling in kyiv, the ukrainian capital today. it's pretty constant. we heard it throughout the entire night, and in the morning hours had the air raid sirens
going off again. as i'm speaking to you, we can hear those noises once again. we've been seeing plumes of smoke, especially over the northwestern districts over the ukrainian capital. the suburb called irpin where a lot of the fighting seems to be concentrated. the ukrainians are saying they control about 80% of that. however, they do say the russians heavily shelling that area. so obviously a big fight going on there. also quite interesting, the spokesman of ukraine's army, he came out and said the russians launched what appeared to be maybe some sort of counteroffensive where he said they were trying to take streets and smaller villages. he did say the ukrainian military is holding them up. the defense minister says the russians are trying to create corridors around the ukraine capital. once again, the ukrainians are saying at this point in time they have that under control and they've launched
countederoffensives as well. dress uniforms or ceremonial uniforms were found with russian soldiers which seemed to suggest that the russians were preparing for a victory parade in the ukrainian capital. obviously that's not something that's going to happen any time soon as the ukrainians are saying the defense is holding up. >> fred pleitgen, thank you. joining me retired lieutenant jent mark hertling. general, good to have you on. i wonder if you can begin with a big picture state of play in ukraine this morning. is the russian invasion effectively stalled at this point? >> i think what we've seen is the attacks, counterattacks, the ukrainian forces conducting these pointed counterattacks against the russian forces, i would say, yes, jim, it continues to be stalled. you're going to see some actions by russian forces, not only
north of kyiv. they're shelling the outskirts of the city, irpin, as fred just mentioned baugs thecause that's they can reach with their artillery. russia certainly has the advantage in the artillery, missiles and rockets category. what i think we're seeing, jim, if i may, we're seeing shifts in war aims, strategy and tactics within this entire fight. both sides are talking about what they might do, what they will do, but we're seeing also a culmination and really a testing of the battle of will and logistics. that's what we're going to see over the next several weeks. each force is going to adapt, and you're going to continue to have, while all this occurs, the conundrum of the horrors of the civilian attacks on the city. russia may be shifting their focus of attention.
ukraine is going to continue to fight to ensure the capital of kyiv is not overwhelmed. they're going to have limited counterattacks in other areas, but there's a lot going on in this very large country right now. >> no question. >> there's really some challenges. >> and to be clear, as we've been showing pictures there of civilians still under attacks. even if the advance is stalled, you make a good point that russia is unrelenting, arguably increasing attacks from afar on civilian areas. let me ask you this: there's been a lot of talk and speculation as to whether russia can somehow rejuvenate their assault. there's been talk of them moving in reenforcements from russia and elsewhere, the talk of the belarusian military. i know your opinion of the belarusian military as not being particularly formidable. given the state of the losses in personnel and equipment it's already encountered, is that possible as a practical matter,
that russia can reenforce to an extent that they can advance again? >> i don't think they can reenforce in the original axes of events, the six they started with. that gets to the adaptation of each force. will russia not only redeploy back into belarus and russia and reconstitute their force, that will be extremely difficult and i'll say why in a second. but then, will they take that reconstituted force and perhaps direct it in another direction where there's the potential for generating mass, something russians did not do in the original attack. in terms of the reconstitution, you can cluj together forces that aren't damaged that are at 70 or 60% and put two forces together. what you can't do in this type of fight is regenerate leadership, training, type of doctrine, senior officer leadership. there's still no nco core. it's difficult to reconstitute a
force that doesn't have the culture of what they're attempting to do. you can say, we need to change our axis of attack and do different things, but can you do it with the kind of force that russia has? i'm not sure you can. >> the lack of an nco corps which you highlighted is one of the reasons they have so many generals close to the front line and paying the price. before you go, ukrainian officials say what russia may want is to split ukraine, something along the lines of north and south korea, kind of a permanent line of assault there dividing the two armies. do you see that as a new potential goal for russia or perhaps a short-term goal, to retreat to that advance point and then hope for a better time later? >> that gets to my point of mask their forces. could they shift from attacking kyiv and the various ports in the south to perhaps going back to a focus on the donbas? that doesn't necessarily just mean a frontal assault into the
donbas. the russians have been relatively successful in destroying the city of mariupol, and they've also had some huge success in kharkiv, but they've backed off that a little bit. look at that town in the middle of the map, dnipro? if russians can have a developing action north from kharkiv, south from mariupol and link up at dnipro, will they be in effect surrounding the donbas and destroying the ukrainian force? that's not necessarily a complete split in two along the dnipro river which runs north and south, but it certainly would be in line with putin's goal to take off a bite of ukraine. but it's not in line with mr. zelenskyy's goal of territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the ukrainian nation. >> to your point, even that lesser goal far from guaranteed given the pushback that russians have seen around a city like
kharkiv despite the punishing attacks. lieutenant general mark hertling, than, so much. >> thank you, jim. white house officials now are attempting to walk back president biden's comment that vladimir putin cannot remain in power. that remark off script apparently came at the end of the president's speech in poland on saturday. cnn's jeremy diamond at the white house now. jeremy, the president himself has also clarified his comments to say the u.s. is not calling for regime change here. tell us what the white house position is this morning. >> reporter: these remarks from the president came at the end of this speech in warsaw that was meant to be the capstone of president biden's trip to europe, one during which we saw the president try and rally the world against russia's war of aggression in ukraine and also remind the world of what is at stake here and steel the world for an onslaught, a war that did not take days as russia
expected, but instead is going on for weeks now and could go on for several weeks or month more. we saw white house officials immediately come out after president biden said putin cannot remain in power, saying putin cannot continue to exercise power over neighbors in the region but insisting he was not suggesting regime change. we heard the same from several u.s. officials. >> as you know and as we've said repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in russia or anywhere else for that matter. >> in that moment i think that was a principled human reaction to the stories we heard that day. no, as you heard from secretary blinken and others, the u.s. does not have a policy of regime change in russia, full stop. >> reporter: we also saw criticism from republican senator jim risch, top foreign relations committee in the senate and others. it was not the only unscripted remark by president biden that white house officials had to walk back. they had to walk back a comment
by president biden where they told u.s. troops they would see the heroism of ukrainian forces when you're there. u.s. officials making very clear that president biden's vow not to send u.s. troops to ukraine still remains in effect. jim. >> jeremy diamond at the white house, yes. i'll speak with a u.s. military veteran who has been working on rescues of injured ukrainians, what he's seeing on the front lines. a rare look for some of the folks making the biggest sacrifices. cnn rides along with ukrainian police on enforcing a daytime curfew, this with russian forces less than 20 minutes away. a shocking, embarrassing moment at the oscars that has so many folks talking this morning. will smith hits chris rock over a joke about his wife.
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nearly 4 million refugees have fled ukraine. that's about a tenth of the population in a little more than a month. officials say thousands of civilians, however, remain trapped in basements with no access to food or water as russian forces continue to bombard cities across ukraine with artillery, rockets, missile strikes every day. there are groups, however, working to rescue those civilians. among those groups, americans, many former service members. joining me is burke briem, founder and ceo of humanitarian aid and rescue profit, a non-profit organization that responds to disaster areas
around the world. burke, good to have you on this morning. >> thank you for having us. appreciate it. >> first, i wonder if you could explain to folks. you group a group of former military to help people in ukraine. tell us what kind of people you're helping and how many you've been able to get out safely. >> sure. right now i think we've got a total of roughly anywhere between 25 to 28. we are doing those evacs in extremely hard-to-get places, where most people don't want to go into. we receive those requests from different organizations that are still here as well as organizations in the states that are getting that information passed to them. our guys basically create an opinion plan and we do our best to find a route and we go in and receive these people, bring them back and get them to safety. >> we've been showing pictures as you've been speaking, a group
of world war ii vets from kharkiv, one of the hardest-hit parts of the country. tell us how you got them out. >> that was a coordinated effort. we had a couple people -- we were able to get into that area, and from there we organized meeting up with those people and getting them to a line that we could potentially cross or cross over safely to some degree to where the handoff was possible. then we rallied them back to our pass-off team, and they made it across. very wonderful family. we're very happy that worked out the way it did. >> you and your team, you face risks there. you have at times been very close to the front lines. the front lines of this war i always explain to people because rockets, missiles, they travel a long way. tell us about some of those chosen counters you have and how have you managed to stay safe. >> yes, sir. we've spent a great deal of time
in those areas. just yesterday we were under heavy artillery fire. there's no roes it seems in this war. the russians are taking aim at anyone in a vehicle to demoral lies as well as impede any type of aid or rescue operations going on. the area we went into yesterday, we got under heavy artillery fire. we had to take cover for about two hours. just a barrage of morters and gunfire at that point. i'm happy to say that appointment we were on was succ successful. we reached our goal and were able to get ous safely. >> roes, rules of engagement. no rules of engagement apparently in this war. you're a former u.s. navy operator, working with former u. sc u.s. why this war? why are you taking the risk
you're taking right now? >> our team consists of delta guys, ex-navy s.e.a.l.s, really great team of guys. all of them are doing this based upon the experience they have. these are the guys who stepped up and said let's do this. the ones who said there's nothing more rewarding in this world than someone walking up and thanking you for saving their lives as opposed to doing it for a paycheck. we're really fortunate to have those guys on our side that are working with us, that are part of our team and things like that. yeah, i can't say enough good things. it takes an entire army to go up against an entire army. i'm happy to say the guys we have i stand next to in the battle any day of the week. wonderful, wonderful people. >> i've met ukrainians who appreciate the work and sacrifice folks like you are doing there. in my experience, i know it's severe. burke bryant, from our team to yours as well, we wish you safety. >> thank you, sir. thank you for having us on. folks, i'm going to share on
social media a way you can donate to programs like burke's and others, because they do depend on our help. still ahead, officials are imposing emergency curfews in parts of ukraine. next cnn joins police as they enforce a daytime curfew with russian forces less than 20 miles away. we are moments away from the opening bell on wall street. stock futures are slightly higher as bond yields are ticking down. investors preparing for a busy week rife with key economic data that could force the federal reserve to raise interest rates in the coming raweeks and month. wewe'll stay on top of all of i. ♪ ♪ nice suits, you guys blend right in. the world needs you back. i'm retired greg, you know this. peop are taking financial advice from memes. [baby spits out milk] i'll get my onesies®. ♪ “baby one more time” by briey spears ♪
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the eastern ukrainian city of zapor zaporizhzhya. this is an unusual day. the government has imposed a city-wide daytime curfew. traffic is not being allowed in or out, and we're getting a look with the local police force at how they're enforcing this emergency curfew. i'm getting a tour of the city with two local police inspectors. we have passed many deployed ukrainian soldiers. we cannot show them or film them for their safety given that there's a full-fledged war taking place in this country. what is striking about this daytime curfew is that a city of nearly a million inhabitants is now a complete ghost town. >> i am ukrainian. i serve police for six years.
i like my work. i'm proud of my work. in the city is only policemen and some military. every car which goes to the city is checked. >> reporter: the police say it's easier to maintain security and search for suspected russian collaborators when the city is locked down. >> how far away is the russian army from where we are? >> russian army is several fronts, but the nearest place where russian tanks is located is maybe 13 kilometers from this place. >> a half hour by car. >> yes, you're right. >> would you defend zaporizhzhya if the russian army comes here? you're not soldiers. you're police. would you fight?
>> i'm a man. i'm a man. i am ukrainian man. for me it's very ashamed for man not to protect his family, not to protect his house, not to protect his life. >> reporter: the people here know what happened to other ukrainian cities and towns that have been attacked by the russian military. they don't want that to happen here, but they say, if it does, they're ready. >> ivan watson in zaporizhzhya, ukraine. former ukrainian president viktor yushchenko is speaking out about president biden's comment that vladimir putin cannot remain in power. yushchenko has his own brutal experience with russia. john, as you and i know, he was poisoned, right? yushchenko was poisoned. what did he have to say about biden's comments with russia?
>> it's interesting. such a unique figure, controversy surrounding his election, which led to the orange revolution, one of the first times ukraine tried to separate from russia. he was poisoned. he's blamed russian connections for that. he's unique, but his feeling about president biden saying vladimir putin cannot remain in power, the feeling expressed by the former president is actually very common in ukraine. listen to what he says. >> translator: i think ukraine and ukrainians were waiting for a long time for such a statement. i think this statement is absolutely correct as to the challenges of our times. i will repeat myself again, this war will end with one thing or another.
it's either when the last russian soldier will be killed in ukraine or when the last ukrainian defender will be killed in ukraine. >> so obviously, jim, as you know, in foreign policy circles, the president's comments would seem to advocate regime change even though the white house walked it back. those comments hugely controversial in foreign policy circles, not controversial here in ukraine where everybody feels basically, what took so long? why haven't you been saying that vladimir putin should be removed from power? >> the difference between beltway reaction to the comments and folks currently having bombs drop on their head is remarkable. yushchenko's experience goes back 18 years, right? if folks think russia's attacks on ukraine started just last month, history shows differently. did yushchenko say anything about the possibility of putin resorting to weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons in ukraine? >> first of all, jim, you're
absolutely right about ukrainians in general thinking this is more of a one-month war. they think this war has been going on for well over a decade. as forceps, it's a question i asked him. he's got a unique experience with that himself. listen to what he said. >> translator: if you asked me ten days ago i would say no, he wouldn't do that. today when his situation is deteriorating day by day, i would say today he's panicking. h he's his whole range of henchmen around him. and i wouldn't be surprised if he will actually command the use that type of weaponry against
ukraine. >> so you hear it right there. he and others here worried about the consequences of having a cornered, somewhat weakened vladimir putin. he worries what putin might end up doing, jim. >> that is the worry. folks, if you haven't seen what happened to yushchenko in 2004, google the pictures. it's amazing he survived. john berman in lviv, thanks so much. back here in the u.s. and still ahead in the "newsroom," many folks talking about will smith's behavior during the academy award. what prompted him to hit chris rock in the face on stage at the oscars? we'll have that story coming up.
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♪ at northwestern mutual, our version of financial planning helps you live your dreams today. find a northwestern mutual advisor at nm.com just an embarrassing moment at last night's academy awards when the actor will smith walked on stage and hit chris rock in the face. this is just moments after the comedian made a joke about his wife's hair. here is that moment. >> jada, i love yeah. g.i. jane 2, can't wait to see it. [ laughter ]. >> oh, wow. wow. will smith just smacked the [ bleep ] out of me.
>> get my wife's name out your [ bleep ] mouth. >> wow, dude. it was a g.i. jane joke. >> keep my wife's name out of your [ bleep ] mouth. >> i'm going to. okay? okay. that was the greatest night in the history of television. >> i don't know about greatest. just 45 minutes later smith won best actor for his role as venn news and serene yeah williams's father "king richard." stephanie elam was in the room when it happened. i didn't see it live. when i see it, it's almost disbelief. he hit him in the face and the comments afterwards. you said you heard him making contact? >> you could hear it. that's when everybody in the doll by theater realized this was not a bit, not part of a staged little act.
then it was followed up by the expletives that will smith was shouting. that's when everyone was like, oh, this is real. i keep pointing to lupita's face, she's sitting directly behind will smith in that shot. it was loud and i was not sitting by the stage. that tells you it was a hard hit. you can also tell by the way will's body moves and chris cease. and then afterwards just hearing how loud he was yelling. now, what we don't know is whether or not chris rock knows that jada pinkett smith has been battling alopecia and her hair has been falling out. when you have it, you don't know if it's coming back. it's extremely stressful. she's been public about it. that's why she's been wearing her hair short. you can imagine will smith knows his wife has been struggling with this. still, there are a lot of people who have a lot of thoughts about how he handled this in a very public arena on a night that everyone knew will smith was going to walk away with a best
actor oscar for his portrayal in "king richard." less than an hour later, he won. take a listen to how he handled that and also his win. >> richard williams was a fierce defender of his family. i want to apologize to the academy. i want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. art imitates life. i look like the crazy father just like they said. i looked like crazy father just like they said about richard williams. but love will make you do crazy things. um -- >> it's worth noting, you notice he did not apologize to chris
rock. we also know after reaching out to the los angeles police department, without naming names, the victim had declined to press charges. we don't see anything happening legally against will smith. but we do know that in 2016 chris rock was the host of the oscars and had pretty sharp jokes for will and jada then. so who knows if this is built up plaque and anger overall these jokes. you can see it in the auditorium. denzel immediately was on his feet talking to will. you can see him then talking to jada. you heard p. diddy coming out and talking about it as well, saying they were going to get them together to resolve this. you could see there was a lot going on in those breaks as they were trying to figure out how they were going to move on from this moment. a lot of people very divided about how it played out. i also feel like his fellow philly brother quest love deserves a little love, too. he won a oscar right after that for best documentary. almost no one could focus
because everyone was stunned by what happened. you could hear a pin drop when will was speaking. >> an adult hit someone on stage on international television. coming up ahead, fleeing ukraine. i'll speak to a journalist covering the millions of refugees attempting to escape the war. why she says the kremlin is purposely targeting killing reporters on the ground as well. e your favorite footlong, set a pickup time, and jump the line! oh, here she goes! ugh, i thoughtht she was actually gonna jump. just usese this code and order on the subway app!
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since russia invaded just over a month ago. that's about a tenth of the population. millions more have been displaced internally from their homes, though remaining in ukraine. my next guest is ukrainian journalist who has also been forced to leave her home. she does continue to cover the war and the atrocities in her country. editor in chief of ukrainian media outlet. thanks so much for joining us, katerina. >> thank you, jim. >> first of all, i want to talk about what you witness and are reporting on now. is it clear to you that russia's invasion is not just accidentally hitting civilians but targeting civilians is part of plan here? >> yeah, i can say that for sure because we see that they plan
we have a part of ukraine that's temp temporary. shooting those cities, but they tried to establish russian laws and everything and they kidnapped activists. secure dominance. we want to report from those. i know some journalists that were kidnapped because of their reporting and russians try to punish them, and they asked them to stop reporting.
one journal ist in ukraine, kidnapped by russian. they wanted her to stop reporting. so it's crazy, it's very dangerous. >> question. you know 12 journalists have been killed now covering this war. given russia's deliberate attacks on civilians, journalists as well, do you believe russia's willing to make peace here? there were talks under way. they're going to start tomorrow in istanbul this time, brokered by turkish leaders. is there possible peaceful solution to this war? >> i don't see a peaceful solution in terms of what russia wants from ukraine. russia started the war.
>> it's hard to see how that happens so easily. katerina sergetzkova, we know you had to give up a lot to leave your country. thank you for joining us this morning. >> thank you. this update to cnn. mariupol in the south, the mayor said the city is in the hands of the occupiers. in ukraine live next with an update. allergieies don't have to be scary. spraying flonase daily s stos your body from overreacting to allergenens al season long. psst! psst! flonase all good. [yawn] bro trip! if you book with priceline, you'll save more, so you can “broooo” more. [impressed] broooooo. broooo!!!! broooo!!!! broooo!!!! [in unison] brobrooooooooo!!!! [splash] [disappointed] broooo... good thing you saved on t trip! priceline. every trip is a big deal. [sound of helicopter blades] ugh... they found me. ♪ ♪ nice suits, you guys blend right in. the world needs you back. i'm retired greg, you know this. people have their money just sitting around doing nothing...
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