tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC March 6, 2022 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
up next on "nightly news," lester holt reports on the ground in ukraine. the flood of refugees and fighting. tonight we're live inside ukraine as russia escalates its attacks and the rest of the world finds new ways to hit back the deadly bombardment of ukrainian cities striking more civilian areas. new video of people running for safety as bombs fall another attempt as a cease-fire in an attempt to evacuate one city shattered by fighting entire neighborhoods in some region destroyed. a massive exodus not seen since world war ii with refugees desperate to escape. the u.s. now racing to get more fighter jets to ukraine, and the new vow to work with europe to stop buying russian oil. back home the price of gas topped $4 a gallon
for the first time in 14 years how much higher could it go? crackdown inside russia mass arrests as people take to the streets to protest the war. and the wnba star detained there, accused of carrying drugs. the fear she could become a pawn in the larger conflict. deadly tornadoes in iowa. seven people killed, including children while in florida, two wildfires force the evacuation of 1,000 residents. and here at the border, the music of hope amid so much darkness ♪ >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt reporting tonight from ukraine. good evening from inside ukraine i arrived here late today as the fighting intensified in key cities in this sprawling country. and again hopes of
opening a window of safe passage for civilians trying to evacuate a major city in the east were shattered. ukrainians accusing russians of breaking a temporary cease-fire and more civilian casualties reported in and around kyiv, where the russians are waging a fierce offensive aimed at toppling ukraine's seat of government a senior u.s. official says russia has now committed 95% of its pre-invasion force to the fight for ukraine. a three-prong assault on ukraine's north, east and south, while here in the west we drove upstream today against a tide of refugees seeking safety and new lives in poland. tom llamas is also in ukraine and starts us off tonight. >> reporter: tonight in ukraine, another prospect of peace shattered. plans for a cease-fire to evacuate civilians collapsed for the second night in a row, amid intense shelling by russian forces in the besieged city of of mariupol, that according to ukrainian officials.
mariupol's mayor saying russians are trying to create a humanitarian crisis there civilians also caught in the crossfire outside of kyiv. video posted today appears to show people evacuating on foot, coming under fire as they try to escape ambulances and van rushing people to safety, as explosions can be seen in the background the mayor says at least eight civilians were killed, three from a single family it comes as russia steps up its assault on the 11th night of fighting entire neighborhoods decimated by air strikes. airports completely destroyed. ukraine also announcing today that the largest power plant in europe, which suffered heavy shelling friday night, is now officially under russian control. and now all eyes turn to odesa, ukraine's third largest city on the coast of the black sea, now preparing for an all-out assault ukrainian president volodymyr zelenskyy saying missiles targeting odesa will be a war crime
russian leader vladimir putin doubling down in a phone call with turkey's president saying the fighting will not stop until russian demands are met. inside russia, resistance is also growing. protesters east of moscow beaten by police thousands already arrested back in ukraine, acts of defiance. ukrainians boldly protesting near the coast against russian occupation the fighting in the east is leading to generosity in the west all over lviv we're starting to see signs like this one outside restaurants. they let people know who are fleeing the war zone, they can come inside, get a warm meal, and it's all for free at face's restaurant, the family is busy in the kitchen, even the 14-year-old. >> my family want to help >> reporter: for the next ten days they are serving anyone who needs help. >> i'm so proud of ukrainians and lviv people i would like to tell them thanks a lot.
>> reporter: you did come here and they helped you >> yes, yes. >> reporter: and on the battlefield, this touching moment when soldiers lay down their arms to celebrate a wedding, vowing to fight until the end. >> and tom joins me here in ukraine right now. the president of this country out with another fiery speech, really outraged over civilian casualties. >> yeah, lester, and growing impatient with the west, u.s. and nato at one point seeming to say that the west was hiding during this war. as for the russians, he is vowing revenge he even said this to the russians directly. you will not find a single peaceful place on this earth except a grave. >> tom, thanks good to be with you tonight. the scope of the refugee crisis unfolding in ukraine is enormous. already more than a million and a half have fled the country. the u.n. today calling it the fastest-growing refugee crisis since world war ii we saw this firsthand as we made our way into the country, as so many were desperately trying to get out. our direct journey to
ukraine begins in a town in poland it's about an hour drive to the border itself and we'll press on for another hour or more to get to lviv. we don't know quite know what to expect but here we go a sunday morning drive in the polish countryside proves uneventful until we arrive at a town and come face to face with the crisis. all the relief agencies have set up and we see families who are just making their way across now we cross from a stable and secure poland into an unstable country at war. we transfer our gear into a ukrainian van that will carry us the rest of the way. most of the other cars are going the opposite direction. we pull off to hear some of the refugees' stories. >> they have to leave their house again. >> this woman displaced after the russian offensive in donbas in 2014 now she's fleeing her current home near kyiv. can you feel saf anywhere again >> i don't know. but i know for sure that i will be safe only in my country.
>> this is a long line of cars heading toward poland some of these cars will simply drop people off, go back and bring more it's important to understand here in the western part of the country we don't hear bombs or missiles or gunfire. what there is here is hope some people who live in this part of the country are hopeful that the war will pass them by. a schoolteacher and her husband were forced to leave their home near kyiv, but they hope to stay in the western part of the country if they can >> we decided to stay here and try to help other people we don't want to leave our country. >> back on the road, we saw fortified fighting positions outside hamlets along the way. russian saboteurs are a real fear here there are checkpoints to avoid
misunderstandings. we turn off the camera as we approach one after we clear -- all right, we pulled the camera back out. we passed that check point. we were in fact asked to stop. a soldier, a civilian and a police officer all armed approached our vehicle. they wanted to see our press credentials. they searched the back of the vehicle all very politely and then sent us on our way. i'll describe only generally what i saw formidable defenses being erected right now along the main road leading into lviv they are clearly preparing for an invasion finally in lviv, we see a city that at a casual glance seems far removed from the war. many of its stores and eateries appear busy a safe place today, but for how long, many wonder >> i fear that it might end up bad for ukraine, for this city being captured by russians i fear for my kids, you know, for the whole country.
>> of course it's the middle of the night here, but there are fewer lights burning in this city than normal, as some apparently observe an unofficial blackout in hopes of confusing enemy targeting. ukraine's president zelenskyy has been desperately pleading with the u.s. and europe to provide more fighter planes and to stop buying russian oil. today there were major advancements on both fronts kelly o'donnell is at the white house with more. >> reporter: tonight, the u.s. and poland on a new course to help ukraine defend its skies. a plan that could give zelenskyy's forces the kind of russian-made fighter planes they are trained to fly, from poland's military, and the u.s. would pledge to replace them >> we're talking very actively about this, looking at what we could do to backfill poland if it chooses to send the migs and planes that it has to ukraine. >> reporter: but buying replacement jets takes time, and
the u.s. says poland cannot be left vulnerable by giving up any of its defenses still, lawmakers say zelenskyy's request for aircraft is compelling. >> we don't need you to fly our planes or fly your planes into our war zone we need the planes that we can fly ourself. >> reporter: from aiding ukraine to cutting off putin's oil sales, today the clearest sign that the u.s. position is changing >> we are now in very active discussions with our european partners about banning the import of russian oil to our countries, while of course at the same time maintaining a steady global supply of oil. >> reporter: the white house is wary of any step that would trigger a further spike in gas prices. but political pressure from both parties is growing. >> i think there's very strong bipartisan support to cut off russian oil and gas sales to the united states. >> we should not allow vladimir putin to have the power at any moment to raise gas prices on americans by cutting us off at some point now or in the future
so we should cut them off now and replace it with american oil. >> and kelly joins me now live from the white house. what do u.s. officials say about the impact of the steps they have already taken against russia is it making a difference >> reporter: lester, they point out in a matter of days the russian economy is headed into a deep recession. the ruble tumbled in value and russians are being cut off from even basic financial transactions like credit cards but secretary blinken also warned that putin is doubling down and americans should be prepared for this war to go on for a while lester >> all right, kelly o'donnell, thank you cutting off russia's oil supply will most likely push gas prices higher already today the national average for a gallon of gas in the u.s. topped $4 for the first time in 14 years. so how high could prices go? gadi schwartz reports. >> reporter: tonight shock at gas pumps showing prices most drivers have never seen.
>> it really hurts the people that have to drive 20 and 30 miles every day to and from work. >> reporter: with the biden administration now considering direct sanctions on the kremlin's crude oil, prices will likely climb higher than they ever have before. >> the oil market reacts much like the stock market it gets very jittery when it comes to volatility, and we're seeing a lot of volatility right now unfortunately, drivers are paying for that at the gas pump. >> reporter: across the country the national average has rocketed past the $4 mark in california, where drivers are shelling out as much as $7 a gallon, some are onboard with the sanctions but say they still want to see washington try and bring relief >> send a message, send all the messages. but i think we have oil here, we don't need to be buying their oil. >> reporter: and experts say there are options. more domestic production and further tapping into the national oil research, lowering gas taxes, and a nuclea deal with iran could potentially release enough oil into the market to ease disruption
but tensions with russia might throw that deal into question those who track gas prices say there are even more factors at play than the war in ukraine like refineries switching to more expensive summer blends, the country emerging from the pandemic with more people planning on traveling, and all on top of rising inflation. >> i think i'm going to start walking when it hits 6. i think i'm going to max out there. >> reporter: lester, the experts we spoke to today say there is a chance that other states may start seeing some of these high prices too. $5 a gallon, $6 a gallon all in the upcoming months. if the price of gas goes up another 11 cents, we will officially be in uncharted territory. lester. >> gadi schwartz in los angeles tonight, thanks. coming up, we're on the ground in iowa after a string of tornadoes killed seven.
there. >> reporter: tonight, iowans retracing the steps of a deadly tornado that carved a nearly 14-mile path of utter destruction near des moines dozens sorting through rubble, hoping to find something familiar amid the now unrecognizable all that remains of this home is a basement. >> we came out here and that's when it sunk in like, all right, we got hit with something. >> reporter: the governor issuing a disaster proclamation for hard-hit madison county where families suffered devastating loss six people died there, including two children 5 and under. another person was killed in nearby lucas county and more injured. >> it's unimaginable the destruction that we were able to witness on the brief tour that we just went through. >> reporter: iowa saw more than 40 reports of tornadoes, according to the national weather service saturday flashes of lightning revealing the eerie silhouette of this one. residents watched in horror as a tower of fury closed in. >> it's a life-threatening situation.
>> reporter: sending thousands running for cover underground, even at the des moines airport. this is really what most of your property looks like. >> yeah. just sheer destruction. >> reporter: the o'neals' home thankfully withstanding the ef-3 tornado and winds topping 130 miles per hour, but the rest of their property a mangled mess >> i couldn't hold it together i had an emotional moment it's hard to see everything that you've worked for, for over a decade, wiped out in 60 seconds. >> reporter: we're just over a half hour outside of des moines. you can imagine had the tornado struck just northeast of here where it's more densely populated, the extent of the damage could have been that much worse lester >> thank you there's a wildfire emergency unfolding in florida tonight. at least a thousand people have been evacuated in the panhandle west of
we're back from inside ukraine as tensions are rising between the u.s. and russia, as it escalates its war here, a new wrinkle. an american wnba superstar has been detained in russia and her arrest may have larger implications. kathy park explains. >> reporter: tonight growing concerns over wnba star and two-time olympic gold medalist, brittney griner. arrested by russian federal customs officials on drug charges.
this weekend they released a video showing a traveler believed to be griner, going through airport security, followed by a closer inspection of her suitcase the customs saying they found vape cartridges containing hash oil, an offense which could carry a 10-year prison sentence so how worried should we be about britney's well-being right now >> i think real worried. once they figured out who she was, given the timing and everything that's happening right now, it's undeniable that she's now being held as part of a pawn in this geopolitical standoff and in the war in ukraine >> reporter: her arrest comes amid heightened tensions amid the u.s. and russia as the war in ukraine enters another week secretary of state antony blinken when asked about griner said -- >> whenever an american is detained anywhere in the world, we of course stand ready to provide every possible assistance. and that includes in russia. >> reporter: the 31-year-old center with the phoenix mercury has played in
russia during the last seven years during the nba off-season her team tweeting our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health. with reports griner has been detained for weeks, griner's wife posted this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life. we continue to work on getting my wife home safely a spokesperson for the wnba said other than griner all players for the league are now out of russia and ukraine. lester. >> kathy park, thank you. some 130 miles from where i am now is a city of rivne that's close to the belarus border and in the path of invading russian forces it's a deeply religious city and today their faith like so much else is being tested matt bradley is there. >> reporter: tonight the small city of rivne is praying for peace, but preparing for war. just two hours from belarus, a russian ally
the people here are returning to church this sunday. what did you come to pray for today >> translator: i come to pray for our soldiers, our army, my brother who's fighting in the east, and of course for ukraine. >> reporter: olga's son slava is only a few years shy of conscription age. >> translator: of course i'm afraid of joining the army, because i know i might not return but i know as a man i need to fight for my country. >> reporter: the ukrainian military has impressed the world with its stalwart defense against overwhelming force many here in ukraine's bible belt see this as a blessing from god. >> i always say for my people we have two guns we have a real gun and we have a prayer as a gun. >> reporter: for many in ukraine, war is hard to forget >> sometime we will forgive them we will fight and we will protect our country, and everybody who break our borders will be killed. >> reporter: the whole town involved in the
war effort the grand ole opera house is staging a very different kind of production the actors have new roles as volunteers. the cloakroom now hosts donated clothing for displaced families and the theater's manager directs a sprawling donation effort ukraine is a strong country, ukraine cannot lose, he said ukraine is always a peaceful place and of course we will win with the world's support. like much of ukraine, rivne runs on faith and community. matt bradley, nbc news, rivne, ukraine when we come back, the music bringing hope to ukrainians fleeing battered cities
if refugees make it to the border with poland, they are leaving the lives they knew behind. but even in their darkest moments, there are signs of hope. they come by the thousands. the weary, desperate to escape russia's relentless attacks, pouring into this city outside the train station, finding this. a young woman at the piano, playing a song whose lyrics are a defiant expression of hope amid so much horror. "what a wonderful world. ♪ and tonight at dusk, ukrainians uniting to
sing folk songs in the lviv city square while at the border crossing in poland, parents and children listen in. perhaps imagining a time when this all might be over. and that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday a program reminder for tonight, my exclusive interview with former attorney general bill barr in his first tv interview since resigning from the trump administration that's at 9:00 p.m. eastern. i'll be back here with you tomorrow from ukraine. please take care of yourself and each other. good night, everyone ♪
and then, we made this. introducing the new mcplant. made with the first plant-based patty worthy of being called a mcdonald's burger. ♪ ba da ba ba bah ♪ right now at 6:00, ukraine asking for more firepower as russia threatens a new attack. we continue to follow the latest developments on the invasion and how people in the bay area are stepping up to help. plus, the pain will likely get worse at the pump. markets react to increasing sanctions on russia. the red flag that says oil prices could hit a record high. it's not easy making it in the bay. not even for a longtime restaurant. we talk to the former owners who are now in texas. why they say they had to make the move. >> the news at 6:00 starts now. i'm audrey asistio. >> i'm terry