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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle, 3/17/22

Guests: Jeremy Bash, Alexander Vindman, Philip Rucker, Rose Gottemoeller, Alex Crawford, Asami Terajima


Russia ramps up attacks on civilian targets. Biden calls Putin a "murderous dictator." Arnold Schwarzenegger makes appeal to Russians. Biden to speak with China`s Xi Jinping tomorrow. U.S. warns China not to aid Russia. Civilians face "living hell" in Mariupol. Thousands race to escape Mariupol. Russian attacks target civilian areas.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: He destroys. Ukraine will never be a victory for him.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And tonight`s "LAST WORD" is Happy Birthday to Myrlie Evers, the widow of assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Myrlie Evers is now 89 years old. Happy Birthday Myrlie. That is tonight`s "LAST WORD." THE 11TH HOUR with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.

STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Despite the stepped up slaughter of civilians, survivors emerged from a destroyed theater of sheltering hundreds, a look at what Russian forces are targeting next.

As the U.S. labels have a war criminal, hopes for striking a diplomatic deal with Putin disappear. We`ll preview tomorrow`s high stakes phone call between the U.S. and China.

And new fears tonight for the women and children fleeing war. What`s being done to protect the vulnerable from sex traffickers at the border, as the 11th Hour gets underway on this Thursday night.

Good evening, once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. We are entering day 23 of the Russian invasion. The U.S. Secretary of State says we are seeing the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Russia is continuing its relentless assault on civilians, as refugees desperately flee for safety. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N, Linda Thomas-Greenfield made a plea directly to Putin during a meeting earlier today.


THOMAS-GREENFIELD: There`s only one way -- one way to end this madness. President Putin stop the killing, withdraw your forces, leave Ukraine once and for all.


RUHLE: The United Nations says more than 700 civilians have been killed, including 52 children, but the actual number is likely to be much, much higher. NBC`s Richard Engel has more on the dire situation in Ukraine tonight.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: In Mariupol, Ukraine`s military posting this video of hundreds of people who`ve been taking shelter in the basement of a theater, in front and in back were banners in Russian reading children, big enough to be visible from the sky. Yesterday, Russia bombed it anyway. But tonight officials say the shelter remained intact.

In Chernihiv, Russia struck an apartment building. Among the casualties was an American citizen. No indication the building was targeted. And didn`t Kyiv firefighters scrambled to rescue survivors after yet another apparently indiscriminate attack.

British intelligence reports Russia is using older, less precise weapons and is resorting to older cruder tactics including trying to starve out Kyiv.

(On camera): Russia has clearly resorted to siege warfare. This was one of the biggest food storage facilities in the entire country. 50,000 tons of food we`re here all burned. And it`s impossible that this was an accident because it was bombed twice. And then another food storage facility just about a mile from here was also attacked.


RUHLE: Our thanks to Richard Engel.

Earlier today, President Zelenskyy visited another hospital in Kyiv. He also spoke virtually in front of Germany`s government accusing them of failing to live up to their responsibility.

Meanwhile, after calling Vladimir Putin a war criminal on Wednesday, President Biden had even tougher words for the Russian leader today.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: You have Ireland and Great Britain and no other public standing together against a murderous dictator, a pure thug who is waging an immoral war against the people Ukraine.


RUHLE: Tomorrow, Biden is set to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping and it`s going to be a big one. According to U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, the White House is concerned that China may be considering assisting Russia with military equipment.

With that let`s bring in NBC`s Cal Perry live for us in Lviv. Cal, the sun is just coming up after 5 a.m. where you are. Tell us about these attacks on civilian targets. Is there a noticeable pattern in what`s getting hit?

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: There is -- there is. And in the last 24 hours that pattern is they`re hitting the lifelines that civilians rely on. Whether it`s medical facilities or food storage facilities, those have been the attacks. That`s been the thread that we`ve seen in the last 24 hours.

Starting in Mariupol, we know Russian soldiers are embedded inside the main hospital in that city. There are 400 patients in that hospital, as well as now 500 Russian soldiers who are using those patients as human shields. They are avoiding fire and they are denying people medical care.

If you go a little bit to the north, in the city of Kharkiv, there was a target today. That is the main marketplace, the last place in that city that is still functioning to sell food. That night place on your screen now almost completely and totally burned down.


In the city of Chernihiv, yesterday we have (inaudible) line for bread in an actual bread line, including in the last 24 hours, the death of a U.S. citizen in that city from we think shelling and also again, the targeting of civilians, as they`re leaving these areas, and the targeting of these food networks.

The situation is so bad in some of these cities that we continue to talk about the inability for civilians to even go above ground. Here`s a little bit more of what the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. said today on that. Take a listen.


THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Local officials have told families to leave their dead relatives lying outside on the streets, exposed to the world, because it is simply too dangerous with the bombs and shellings to hold funerals.


PERRY: And so what you have is a military invasion that is slowing, that is stalled, that is in many ways ineffectual. And so they are taking it out on these civilian populations in the most brutal ways denying people food, denying them water, denying them the ability to bury their loved one. Stephanie.

RUHLE: I mean, this is devastating for Ukrainians, but tell us about Russian losses because the Ukrainian army is standing strong.

PERRY: Yeah, absolutely. We heard just a few hours ago from the Deputy Prime Minister here in Ukraine, who said she was working with the Red Cross to organize the transfer of 14,000 dead Russian soldiers. We thought that could be a bit high. The New York Times was saying it`s around 7000, maybe somewhere between the two. But then in the last three hours, we had that new address from the president here in Ukraine, saying that he is wondering what he is supposed to be doing with 13,000 dead bodies of Russian soldiers.

The video on the left part of your screen, this is that column, that 40 mile long column that was stalled outside Kyiv, and what you`re seeing there are drones, Turkish drones strafing those columns, causing heavy losses, that were supposed to be prevented by simple jamming techniques that the Russians don`t seem to be carrying out.

The other thing that we`re noticing in places like Kharkiv, Stephanie, is that dead Russian soldiers, their bodies are remaining in the streets. That`s another pretty good indication, not just that they`re taking heavy losses, but that they no longer have the command and control structure in some of these places to recover the bodies of those fallen service members. Stephanie.

RUHLE: But just think about that, Ukrainians are being told leave your dead family members outside in the street, it`s not safe to do anything else. Well, Ukraine and the Red Cross are working to send the bodies of Russian members of the military at home. Just think about that. Cal, thank you so much for your reporting tonight and every day.

With that I want to bring in our experts this evening, Phil Rucker, Pulitzer Prize Winning Deputy National Editor at the Washington Post, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, he`s the former director for European Affairs for the U.S. National Security Council with his expertise in Ukraine and Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff at the CIA and the Pentagon.

Jeremy, I turn to you first. Russian forces thought they would crush Ukraine`s military within a week. But Russia has clearly stalled. And now there`s a billion dollars in new U.S. military aid coming to Ukraine any day now. Can you speak to what`s next in this fight?

JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Absolutely, Stephanie, I think the battle for Kyiv is shaping up to be not only one of the most consequential battles of the 21st century, but maybe the most consequential fight since the Battle of Britain during World War II in 1940. Because what Ukraine is having to contend with are Russian aircraft trying to bomb and strafe civilian targets across the city, lay siege as Richard and Cal reported to the city, cutting off key lifelines.

And if Zelenskyy government can hold on and stay in power and continue to operate from a command and control position in its own capital city, I think that will create essentially a long standing war of attrition, a standoff between Russian forces and Ukrainian forces.

And I think what this is shaping up to be, Stephanie, is World War II and a half, not yet World War III, not yet all out nuclear confrontation between Russia and the West, but something that probably will not be contained just to the borders of Ukraine. And we`re looking at a conflict across Europe that will last for a very long time.

RUHLE: Well, let`s talk about what`s happening in Russia, Colonel Vindman, because Putin is framing it to his people that Russia is just protecting itself. But how can they believe that when the attacks aren`t even happening on Russian soil?

ALEXANDER VINDMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS FOR THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, I think part of this is cognitive dissonance, this idea that they bought into Putin, they`ve been backing him for about 20 plus years, and they`re not going to turn their back on him when the country`s at war. They`ve been propagandized so heavily that large swaths of the population believe this is a righteous justified war, one of Russia`s good wars or the Soviet Union`s good wars, where they`re unprovoked or they were dragged in, reluctantly. Of course, we know that`s not true but that`s what the Putin regime has sold the population on.


I think those blinders that some of that rationalization is going to start falling by the wayside as the cost of the sanctions start to be felt by the population, those are going to start to unfold over the course of the coming weeks and months. And that`s going to cause socio economic protests, not these small scale political protests, anti-war protests.

And then, of course, these 14,000 -- potentially 14,000 dead Russian servicemen coming back, that is a catastrophic number. I do believe that the U.S. estimates of 7000 are low. I think we`ve reported those as the lower end of the spectrum. The Ukrainians might be a little bit heavy, but I think it`s probably much closer to what they`re reporting than the low end. And that`s a devastating number of casualties pouring in ,something that`s going to be hard to contend with, because these are military bases, with lots of servicemember, families around them. Next up urban centers, these are not kind of remote locations in the middle of nowhere in most cases.

So I think those binders are going to eventually come off and create some significant pressures on Vladimir Putin, who was a callous individual. He doesn`t care about Ukrainian life. He doesn`t care about his Russian soldiers lives, but he does care about his own personal well-being and these things are going to start to weigh down on him.

RUHLE: Well, his own personal wellbeing or at least his ego has been hit this week, Phil, President Biden speaking out calling Putin a war criminal and a murderous dictator. What`s the White House saying about that?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Stephanie, they`re saying that that was sort of a visceral reaction by President Biden, yesterday. But he reiterated, he doubled down on that characterization today. And we also saw Secretary of State Antony Blinken today, saying that he agrees with Biden`s characterization of Putin as a war criminal.

And what this has done is it`s personalized this war and this conflict between these two leaders here, Biden from the U.S., of course, and Putin and it frames, what`s happening, the atrocities that are happening to civilians all across Ukraine as a personal act of President Putin in a way that that in some ways, cases at least rhetorically, escalates the criticism from the U.S. and from Biden. And so we`ll see where that develops tomorrow when Biden speaks with President Xi of China on the phone, a very consequential conversation in the geopolitics here. But clearly, Biden has had enough with what he`s seen in terms of the images of the losses of life.

RUHLE: Let`s stay on those very specific atrocities. Jeremy, because I said before the U.N. is estimated that more than 700 civilians have been killed, including 52 children. And the truth is, the number is likely a whole lot higher. What does the military need to do specifically to fight back against these attacks on homes, hospitals, schools?

BASH: Two things, Stephanie, shoot down Russian aircraft. And second is take out Russian artillery, mortar and rocket positions that are showing these civilian locations. And to do that the Ukrainians need precision targeting, that means that they need intelligence. That also means that they need a surface to air missiles and air defenses, the likes of which Biden -- President Biden alluded to yesterday and Pentagon officials talking on background explicitly stated that the U.S. and NATO forces would be providing the Ukrainians. This is absolutely critical for the Ukrainians, to deny Russia, the ability to dominate from the air.

RUHLE: Colonel, Arnold Schwarzenegger released an emotional video urging Russians to tell Putin to stop the war, specifically Russian soldiers, many of whom don`t even know why they`re there and what they`re fighting for. I know, you fact check this call to action. And you said he`s got some pretty convincing arguments. I want to share a bit of it.


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR: To the soldiers who are listening to this, remember that the 11 million Russians have family connections to Ukraine. So every bullet you shoot, you shoot a brother or sister, every bomb or every shell, that force is falling not on an enemy but on a school, what hospital or home.


RUHLE: What do you think of that message and how important is a celebrity, specifically one like Arnold Schwarzenegger to Russians?

VINDMAN: He`s not just any celebrity. He`s frankly one of the most respected celebrities in the world. And he`s somebody that has had -- has long ties with, with the Russian people going back many years as a movie maker as a bodybuilder. So he has a unique kind of cachet with the Russian people. And he`s speaking from a place of concern for this population.

Of course, he has a deep concern for the Ukrainian population. Also that suffering but he`s -- this is all about persuading the Russian people to take the blinders off, to the reality of the situation to -- for Vladimir Putin to recognize that it`s his war to end, is the one that started and, of course, there`s the component of this, his remarks that are geared towards the Russian soldiers operating as the belligerents, conducting these offensive operations, telling them that they`re the ones that are giving up their lives for Putin`s war.


So I think this is a unique message that`s gone out through multiple different channels, including telegram. It started reverberating somewhat through the Russian speaking world. Of course, the Russians are trying to knock it down with their censorship, but it -- it`s one of those things where it`s picked up enough traction aware it`s getting repeated consistently. And it`s going to be hard to kind of prevent this viral message from reaching the intended audience. Some people will listen to it. Some people will not see there -- there`s enough there. They`ll dismiss it as Arnold being kind of manipulated or something of that nature. But I think it`s going to have some sort of effect.

RUHLE: It`s hard to ignore Arnold.

Before we go, Phil, just take us back to the White House. How concerned are they about China potentially helping Russia`s military?

RUCKER: Very concerned, there was a warning from the Secretary of State Blinken today that if China were to help Russia to either provide military aid or some other form of assistance, financial or in terms of other assets, that the U.S. would seek to punish China for that.

You can expect, I would imagine President Biden to reiterate that message when he speaks with President Xi tomorrow morning, Washington time. But look, China has been -- or has tried to position itself as a neutral arbiter here in this war, not taking sides against Russia, trying to preserve that trade relationship that it has with Russia. And the U.S. obviously would like to see China apply some more force to try to convince Putin to back down and to convince Russia to back away from Ukraine.

We`ll see if Biden successful in that endeavor tomorrow. But clearly, the U.S. is trying to put some pressure on China not to take any steps further, to assist Russia, to provide any kind of military aid or other financial assistance.

RUHLE: Gentlemen, thank you all so much for sharing a bit of your expertise with us this evening, Phil Rucker, Alexander Vindman, and Jeremy Bash. Thanks again.

Coming up, what to expect in tomorrow`s high stakes call between President Biden and Xi Jinping. As the U.S. issues a warning to China on Ukraine.

And later, the war on mothers and children, fears the humanitarian crisis at the border could get worse. Some are concerned the chaos could lead to human trafficking. We`ll ask an expert who works to protect refugees about the dangers facing those fleeing Ukraine. THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on a Thursday night.




ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: From where I sit, diplomacy requires both sides engaging in good faith to deescalate and I don`t see signs right now that Putin is prepared to stop. On the contrary, if you listen to just for example, his most recent remarks yesterday that suggests that he is moving in the opposite direction.


RUHLE: So far diplomatic efforts to end Russia`s invasion of Ukraine have failed. As we mentioned earlier, President Biden will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping tomorrow after the U.S. warned China against helping Russia and Ukraine.

With us tonight to discuss, former NATO Deputy Secretary General, Rose Gottemoeller. She is the highest ranking civilian woman in NATO`s history. She was also a Chief U.S. Negotiator of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

Rose, I really appreciate you joining us tonight. We know that Putin and Xi Jinping have a close relationship. But what matters more to China, the U.S., which is the largest trading partner for the whole country, followed by the European Union, or a relationship with Putin?

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER, FORMER NATO DEPUTY SECURITY GENERAL: Yeah, she has a tough balancing act. He`s really walking a tightrope right now, because the bore of Russia with Ukraine is not a winner for China. And I think she is trying to figure out exactly how to continue to balance between what he`s pledged to Russia not so very long ago. He and Putin had a great meeting right before the Beijing Winter Olympics started where they pledged strategic partnerships. So he`s pledged Putin. But at the end of the day, he wants those trading relationships with the European Union with the United States. And he doesn`t want the sanctions against Russia to impinge on those trading relationships. So he`s in a tough spot right now.

RUHLE: Let`s say China does decide to back Russia up militarily, how much stronger does that make Putin`s hand?

GOTTEMOELLER: You know, honestly, I really don`t think Xi`s going to dive into a big time military project to support Putin`s adventure in Ukraine. It just doesn`t make sense for China, where they put their emphasis is on Taiwan and seeking the independence of Taiwan, if anything now, the strong Western sanctions action against Putin and against Russia, for this invasion of Ukraine is probably giving the Chinese as she himself some second thoughts about an early invasion of Taiwan. So I just don`t see, really a big time a military relationship right now between China and Russia.

RUHLE: Why is that? Because Xi looks at what we`ve done to Russia and realizes if he makes a move on Taiwan, similar sanctions are coming his way?

GOTTEMOELLER: Absolutely. That`s one of the aspects of it, but it`s just not a winner for him to support Putin. The Russians are losing right now, why would they want to support the losing side. And they are very opportunistic, the Chinese , they`re all about, you know, seeking their own national advantage.


Every country seeks their own national advantage. But in the Chinese case, they are really looking to maximize their trade and economic relationships. So why would they want to back the losing side right now, and I think that`s very much part of Xi Jinping`s thinking, as he contemplates this call tomorrow with President Biden.

RUHLE: Is there any shot he could help us? Does China have the power to pressure Russia to end this war?

GOTTEMOELLER: You know, I really hope so. I really think that if anybody can get through to President Vladimir Putin right now to say, hey, start negotiating seriously, drop some of your egregious demands, begin to pull back and get a ceasefire in place with the Ukrainians. It`s Xi Jinping who could exercise that kind of influence on the Kremlin and on Putin himself. I`m not sure he`ll be willing to do that. Because normally the Chinese are -- you know, they`re not really great leaders internationally, in terms of trying to take those big steps to deter or to engage in diplomatic activity. So I`m afraid he`s going to waffle with Vladimir Putin. But that`s really what needs to be done right now. Somebody needs to say to Putin, you need to take the steps to pull back from Ukraine right now.

RUHLE: But is there anyone who would listen? Before we go, if Xi Jinping decided to turn his back on Putin to not stand up and fulfill this strategic partnership that he said he would, what could Putin do? Is there anything he could do to hurt China?

GOTTEMOELLER: Oh, well, you know, in a macro sense, I don`t think so. In a micro sense, yes. Because China does import a huge amount of gas and oil from Russia. And so and, you know, the near term, they could have a profound effect on China`s economy. But at the end of the day, I think it is Xi and the Chinese government who are in the driver`s seat right now.

RUHLE: All right, Rose, thank you so much for joining us this evening. I really appreciate it, Rose Gottemoeller. Thank you.

Coming up, an update on the 1000s of Ukrainians living in war torn cities, what they`re doing to stay alive when the 11th Hour continues.


RUHLE: As Russian forces continued to bombard Ukraine`s capital, the city`s tiniest and most vulnerable residents are sheltering in a basement turned bomb shelter. Sky News, Alex Crawford is reporting from Kyiv.


ALEX CRAWFORD, SKY NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: The capital skyline is very different now. Kyiv`s 18th Century St. Andrew`s Church, but with a backdrop of battle which is getting closer.

Amongst those at risk of being trapped in the capital or scores of surrogate babies. There are so many, the nursery is a constant hubbub of crying demands for attention. The babies are being cared for in a basement which has been turned into an underground shelter by a very small team of babysitters. These women have left their families to look after these little ones after the baby`s actual parents couldn`t reach them because of all the fighting.

You have to understand this is war, this babysitter says. Not everyone is able to come. The airports are all close. So their parents just can`t pick them up.

We love all the babies, another says, as she explains they become part of our hearts, our family. And when the parents do take them away, we cry. She tells us.

With heavy fighting around the Capital, it`s meant the women looking after the babies here are also all that stands between them and the bombings. There are so many acts of defiance being played out on the streets. One soldier and his flute in the national anthem, we won`t be ruled by others, it goes. In so many ways he speaks for his country. Alex Crawford, Sky News, Kyiv.


RUHLE: Resilience in the face of horror has become the daily reality for millions of Ukrainians. Joining us now live from Western Ukraine, Asami Terajima, she`s a journalist with the Kyiv Independent. Thank you for joining us again.

The headline on your most recent article is why I wanted to see you tonight. You call the southern -- the southeastern city of Mariupol a living hell. Hundreds of 1000s of people trapped there, describe what they`re facing?

ASAMI TERAJIMA, THE KYIV INDEPENDENT REPORTER: So for over two weeks, people -- the southeastern city of Mariupol has been siege. People have been hiding in freezing shelters because Russia continues to shell the cities and they`re cut off from electricity, heat, water, those cut off from mobile connections as well, and they cannot access medical equipment as well. So people who are resentful right, who are in need of like a cancer medicine or who have diabetes, they are still struggling to get this medicine. And also children are also dying because they`re dehydrated and children are especially vulnerable to dehydration.


So we so far with this -- the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine said that there`s been 2500 deaths in Mariupol but the real number is definitely higher because the bodies are still left on the streets. The workers haven`t been able to pick up because Russia continues hitting streets as well.

RUHLE: No power. You mentioned cell service being cut off, you also have been reporting, just in general, how hard it is to get information out of Mariupol. I know we often complain about social media, but right now, how important is it?

TERAJIMA: It`s very important because right now, many families who have, you know, relatives in Mariupol, right.? They haven`t heard anything from relatives for over a week. So they`re very worried because for example, today, the deputy mayor -- Deputy Mayor of Mariupol said that about 80% to 90% of the buildings in Mariupol are either destroyed or damaged. So and he said -- he also said that 30% of them are damaged completely, so they cannot, they have to be rebuilt, or otherwise, you know, it`s gone.

So, imagine hearing that, and not, you know, not knowing anything about your relatives. So people are desperate. There are many Facebook groups and telegram chats where people try to, you know, there`s hundreds of requests as to, you know, where their relatives are, or, you know, the streets. They also mentioned the streets where they live, and ask others, like, did you hear anything about the street? Because, I mean, sometimes we hear good news that oh, yeah, so they`re cooking food. But other times people say, oh, the students no longer there, meaning that the street is completely destroyed by Russian. So it`s very difficult. People, I -- when I talk to them, on phone, I could hear -- I could physically feel the pain that you`re going through, it`s very difficult and really worried about it.

RUHLE: You also sent us images of where you are now in Lviv, is where 1000s of refugees have fled. You fled there, you`re normally living in Kyiv, you relocated for safety. What are people telling you? What`s it like for you?

TERAJIMA: It`s very difficult, because I`ve been covering like -- I`ve been covering what`s happening in Mariupol and so much, you can see the video, it`s a very sharp contrast with what`s happening in Lviv, because in Lviv, streets are packed with people. There`s many people like dining in cafes and restaurants, you know, people have smiles on their face, even though, you know, in Mariupol people are -- people are starving, they haven`t -- many of them haven`t been able to eat for a long time, normal foods that because some people do have stocks, but most people don`t anymore, because, you know, they`ve been under the basement for so long.

And even if they do quick rounds, I mean, they have a chance, you know, they have a high chance that, you know, Russia could shell or shoot at the people. So it`s -- Russia is attacking people indiscriminately and people are just, you know, trying to stay safe and hiding the shelter. So it`s a very sharp contrast. And it`s difficult -- it`s it feels uncomfortable for me as well. Because, you know, what I mean, Lviv like, it feels like I`m -- I feel guilty as well for, you know, for example, having a warm cup of soup, or one bowl of soup, because you know, people are suffering so much in Mariupol but what I`m focusing on right now is reporting as much as I can, so that, you know, the whole world witnesses all the war crimes that Russia is committing in Ukraine.

RUHLE: And you`re doing an incredible job. This is personal for you in so many ways. Earlier today, the Kyiv Independent reported on an attack that was very close to a school where you went to. You were there four years ago as a high school student. What is it like for you to report on all of this?

TERAJIMA: It`s tough because for example, right, this is also -- with this was within 10 kilometers away from my school, because it`s the same district. And I`ve also seen photos and videos of, for example, apartments or streets where I recognize because I lived in Ukraine for 12 years. So Kyiv has been my home for like, most of my life. So it`s difficult for me to, you know, take this in. But at the same time, I want the world to know about this, because we need the world`s support. We cannot do this on our own. So this is why we continue reporting because we want Ukraine to win. And we also believe that Ukraine can win, I have no doubt of that.

RUHLE: Tonight, like every night since this war began, we are so grateful for great journalists on the ground. Asami Terajima, thanks so much.

Coming up, they have already escaped the Russians, but mothers and children are facing a new risk increase borders.


Meet the world renowned warrior fighting to keep them safe when the 11th Hour continues.


RUHLE: The city of Mariupol is one of the epicenters in Russia`s punishing assault on civilians, and 1000s of people remain trapped there. But those who manage to escape shared their experiences with NBC`s Molly Hunter.


MOLLY HUNTER, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 16 days the Russians have besieged starved out this city of Mariupol from above it`s unrecognizable, 80% to 90% of the buildings destroyed according to city officials, 350,000 residents trapped inside.

On the southeast corner of the country on the Black Sea, the strategic port is on the Russian land route to Crimea. Now survivors, Mariupol residents at 17 year old Yulia (ph) and her mother, also Yulia are part of the first group of civilians to make it out alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you know that any, any moment you can be killed. And you can choose to be killed moving from this town or to be killed sitting in a room.


HUNTER: They had no heat, no electricity, no water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We together cooked borscht. And it was, I was scared.

HUNTER: The windows and doors on their apartment blew out on March 4.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bombs were falling, and they were falling from the airplanes their --

HUNTER: Their home completely destroyed on March 12.

At age 17, Yulia can distinguish the different sounds of Russian aerial attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can hear the minds when they`re falling, and when they`re close, because it`s like this "shooo" sound.

HUNTER: In the last few days, the City Council says 30,000 people have escaped the city, but not on humanitarian corridors. Convoys of private cars 6500 in recent days, leaving from what was thought to be a safe meeting point that now destroyed drama theater.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Driving together is safer. Like if someone hits one car, another would help and like, with everything like together, it`s safer.

HUNTER: And for them as terrifying as it was, it was the safer option. Now, Yulia says racing out of Mariupol they went through more than a dozen Russian checkpoints. She says that Russian troops that stopped them, took their phones, went through their phones and deleted all of the photos that she had taken of the destruction in her hometown. Molly Hunter, NBC News, Lviv, Ukraine.


RUHLE: And even for those who are able to escape Ukraine, a new set of dangers lies ahead. The chaotic refugee crisis on the border is creating another danger for those fleeing the Russians.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: For predators and human traffickers, war is not a tragedy, it is an opportunity. And women and children are the targets.


RUHLE: Which is why our next guest Tatiana Kotlyarenko, a leading expert on trafficking is working with her team at Alliance for Children, Ukraine, to protect 1000s of women and children, Tatiana, a war against mothers and children, an opportunity for predators. Is that how you see this?

TATIANA KOTLYARENKO, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ALLIANCE 4 CHILDREN UKRAINE: It definitely seems like this. The majority of those that are fleeing are women and children. They are fleeing without knowing where they`re going, and what is going on, and what is going to happen to them. While the initial flows are people who have some sort of contacts on the ground, family, friends. The next close that came were a women and children who are just getting on whatever train, whatever transportation, getting across the border and what they`re finding, there is not always people who are willing to help them. But people who are looking to exploit them.

On the international market, you know, Ukrainian women, or white, considered to be very beautiful, as well as children are, are a lucrative item. And you have predators who are scheming and or meeting them with offers of help taking away their passports, and then trafficking them onwards to fill the different spots and demands of the sex industry around the world.

RUHLE: Is this a potential risk, or you`re seeing it happen?

KOTLYARENKO: I`ve been hearing reports of that happening actually on the ground. So it is a risk. And it is a vulnerability for every woman and child passing through borders. But from the accounts have been hearing on the ground from different NGOs and government officials, this is actually happening.

RUHLE: Three million refugees have already left the country. Are they being tracked in any way? How do we know many aren`t lost? Maybe last forever?

KOTLYARENKO: There have been reports of buses of children disappearing and the initial stages, there were very little controls. There were NGOs who are coming to help. There are potentially others who are not NGOs who are coming to help but exploit children and women in the process.

RUHLE: We keep hearing about -- excuse me, yes?

KOTLYARENKO: I said the full scope of this issue will be seen later on. Not necessarily now, now there are reports here and there. But this is happening and this is as the Secretary General Guterres said a real issue in terms of conflict and war where people come in to exploit the most vulnerable and generally women and children.

RUHLE: Well, if we don`t get the full scope until later on, later on, we`ll be too late. I realize we`re in war time. But are these different countries Poland, Romania, Ukraine are the government`s trying to work together to address this?

KOTLYARENKO: There needs to be I think more unity across the E.U. since most of the flows are going into E.U. to create comprehensive and unified child protection systems, as well as protection systems for vulnerable populations, women and children.

For example, in Poland, they have set up a center called (foreign language) for unaccompanied minors, which is doing an excellent job and which I had honor of visiting and the mayor himself is really controlling who can come and pick up any children and everybody is vetted before any children are moved on.


RUHLE: That`s what I want to ask you about, because we keep hearing about all of these orphanages all over Ukraine, and children are now being transported out. Well, a former U.S. politician is trying to get Ukrainian kids to the United States to eventually be adopted. And for a lot of civilians who don`t know the country, don`t know the rules, they think, well, that sounds good. These are orphans, we`re trying to bring them to a safe place. But it is not that simple. Can you explain?

KOTLYARENKO: No, it`s definitely not that simple. You know, although there are a lot of people who really want to help Ukrainian children, there`s specific procedures that need to be followed, there are specific adoption procedures. Ukraine just recently also passed a new piece of legislation to ensure that child protection systems are in place. It needs to be gone down government to government with particular agreements in place, and procedures followed for adoption for each particular family.

RUHLE: You have been working on human trafficking, sex trafficking all over the world in the most dangerous areas during war times and crises. How do you compare what you`re seeing right now in Ukraine?

KOTLYARENKO: The situation is massive, as I said, you know, Ukrainian women and children are particularly valued on the sex trafficking market. And the flows are just so huge. And although the response systems are there, to some degree, in terms of everybody trying, there needs to be a more comprehensive approach set up all across.

If you look at the border, there are no particular billboards, hotlines present, I know that people are handing out flyers, I know there are NGOs really trying. But there needs to be a registration system and a follow through system to see children but also women from point A to final destination.

RUHLE: That`s what the governments there need to do most right now, for those of us watching here in the United States, what do you want us to know? What does your organization and other organizations like you need?

KOTLYARENKO: What we need is a comprehensive setup where there`s a partnership between government and civil society to not one only create awareness of the issue, but a concrete response system to the issue. There needs to be a hotline that is united across all of Europe, that is available to all of those traveling in Ukrainian, Russian and local languages. And there needs to be a strengthened response in terms of -- in terms of law enforcement and anti-trafficking units, which will continue following up leads and information on the ground at all times, because the flows are happening at all times.

RUHLE: Tatiana, thank you for joining us tonight. Thank you for the work that you are doing. Tatiana Kotlyarenko, Co-founder of Alliance for Children, Ukraine.

Coming up, 61 million Twitter followers, including the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin himself, the American movie star using his celebrity for good, when the 11th Hour continues.




SCHWARZENEGGER: I`m sending this message through various different channels to reach my dear Russian friends and the Russian soldiers serving in Ukraine. I`m speaking to you today because there are things that are going on in the world that have been kept from you, terrible things that you should know about.


RUHLE: He`s sending a message tonight and we are sharing it. The last thing before we go, Arnold`s appeal, as we mentioned at the beginning of the program, international movie star and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is going viral this evening with an impassioned video that he is hoping will break through the Kremlin`s lies and propaganda, and reach the Russian people.

Arnold may have more pull than most, the actor is one of just `22 Twitter accounts followed by Vladimir Putin himself. And on this nine minute long video, he talks about the truth of the harsh realities on the ground in Ukraine. And he revealed his personal connection to senseless war.

Schwarzenegger says his father was forced to fight in Leningrad with the Nazi army. He says his father was forever traumatized by the experience. Here`s just a portion of his message.


SCHWARZENEGGER: I know that your government has told you that this is a war to denazify Ukraine. Denazify Ukraine? This is not true. Three million Ukrainian refugees, mainly women, children and the elderly, fled the country and many more trying to seek to get out. You`re also not being told the truth about the consequences of this war on Russia itself.

I regret to tell you that 1000s of Russian soldiers that have been killed, that the Russian soldiers listening to this broadcast, you already know much of the truth that I`ve been speaking, you`ve seen it with your own eyes. I don`t want you to be broken like my father. This is not the war to defend Russia, that your grandfather so your great grandfather`s fought. This is an illegal war.

To President Putin, I say you started this war. You`re leading this war. You can stop this war.



RUHLE: Arnold Schwarzenegger, a private citizen now and the terminator forever doing his part for peace this evening.

And on that note, I wish you a good night. Thanks for staying up late. I`ll see you at the end of tomorrow.