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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  March 9, 2022 6:30pm-7:00pm PST

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victims limping away ukraine's president saying children are trapped in the rubble. the stunning images. injured pregnant women evacuated. the city surrounded. hundreds of thousands civilians cut off from food and clean water also new concerns at the chernobyl plant. the power cut off after russians took control. and i go inside the resistance with civilians bracing to defend their neighborhoods. also, domestic gas prices hitting a new record high after president biden banned russian oil. russia accusing the u.s. of waging an economic war. and inside russia, more u.s. companies cutting ties the rush to get the last big mac before mcdonald's shutters nearly 850 restaurants in the country the trial under way for four men accused of plotting to kidnap michigan's governor. and after more than a century, one of the great mysteries of the sea has finally been solved.
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>> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt, reporting tonight from lviv, ukraine. good evening, everyone the horror and outrage grows here in ukraine and around the world tonight after a children's and maternity hospital came under attack in the southern port city of mariupol. ukraine's president accuses russian troops of shelling the hospitals, leaving children td over a dozen people injured. in a tweet, president zelenskyy suggested the world is an accomplice, ignoring terror by not imposing a no-fly zone. russia claims it doesn't fire on civilian targets, yet newly released before and after satellite photos taken prior to today's hospital attack appear to show heavy damage to homes, stores, and other civilian infrastructure in mariupol also the u.s. today closing the door on a transfer of polish fighter jets to ukraine. and there are new concerns about the condition of the chernobyl nuclear plant, now in russian hands. all this as u.s.
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officials tell nbc news they are concerned russia could potentially be preparing to use chemical or biological weapons in ukraine richard engel is far to the east of me in kyiv and starts our coverage >> reporter: vladimir putin says russians should be proud of what their soldiers are doing in ukraine, but where's the honor in bombing a children's and maternity hospital in a city that's surrounded? no patients were reported killed in this attack, but pregnant women were among those who were helped out of the building ukraine called it a war crime and says children are still trapped. >> i cannot realize why it's necessary for russian troops to destroy hospitals. >> reporter: russia denied it was responsible. the russian forces have been cutting off mariupol for days the city has run out of basic supplies "we don't have electricity.
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we don't have anything to eat we don't have medicine we have nothing," this woman says at an urgent care hospital in kyiv, medical officials accused russia of deliberately targeting civilians across the country. in every room, we saw civilians. this man having a bullet removed from his leg in an adjacent room, a man with a brain injury he'd been under his bombed home for two days before being dug out. how are you and the medical community handling this war >> there is a kind of duty we have to because we are doctors. >> reporter: this family was escaping a suburb north of kyiv. after russian troops bombed their house, the family hit the road and was quickly stopped by russian soldiers who waved them on but as soon as their car started moving, another group of russian troops sprayed the car with bullets 16-year-old katarina was shot in the back
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she collapsed unconscious on top of her 8-year-old brother, saving him. >> translator: i remember that we were driving, and the first thing i saw was my knee it was shot through to the bone and after that, i think i fainted. >> reporter: her mother, tatiana, was hit by 12 bullets down her legs while she was pleading with the russians to stop shooting >> translator: i started shouting, stop, there are children here, stop. but they didn't stop and kept shooting. three or four people were shooting just as close as you're sitting right now. >> reporter: her husband feels guilt for not having left sooner but russian media are not showing these images instead, russian tv described these special military operations as a heroic struggle against nazis. back in mariupol, the crater next to the hospital gives an idea of the sheer size of the bomb dropped in the center of the
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city bodies here are being laid to rest in mass graves, harkening back to wars europe thought were consigned to the past ukraine is also sounding the alarm after russian forces cut the power to the chernobyl nuclear disaster site, disrupting cooling and monitoring systems the iaea and u.s. officials say there's no immediate risk of a radiation leak lester >> those pictures and interviews absolutely horrifying, richard. thank you. here in the west of ukraine, people watch the destruction of cities on the other side of this country with dread and as i witnessed firsthand, also with bold determination they are preparing to defend their country one block at a time. this barricaded checkpoint being erected in a lviv suburb not by soldiers or police, but by civilian residents >> we joined to defend our city because we don't want russian troops to come here. we need to defend our families, our women,
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children we are not here militaries we are civilians we are doing everything how we know it, how we can >> reporter: bohdan shutka and his neighbors are stacking sandbags, cement walls, and steel barriers are also part of layered defenses to guard against vladimir putin's army and protect not just their homes but homeland too. do you think it's the duty of every ukrainian to fight or to support the war >> of course. >> reporter: checkpoints like this are being built with great urgency because there is full expectation the war will eventually come to this part of ukraine. the question is how soon those molotov cocktails, improvised bombs we saw citizens making at the start of the war now close at hand nobody here knows what battle on these streets would really look like or what might precede it are you worried about
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russian saboteurs and spies? >> yes, of course. >> reporter: as we shoot, we're startled by the sudden sound of an attack jet. a ukrainian plane racing from the camera's view. ukraine's air force still in the fight, and so are the ukrainian people does this send a message to the russians about the willingness of people here to fight and defend their homes >> for russians, i can tell just one. >> reporter: his answer in russian, a profane rallying cry among defiant ukrainians, telling mr. putin what he can do a growing grassroots defense effort here. also joining the war effort, some people known for their poise and grace. ballet dancers who perfected their art on the stages of kyiv now carrying rifles and working as paramedics on the front lines erin mclaughlin has their stories. ♪ >> reporter: they're
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the butterflies of kyiv performing for the final time in france back home, their country torn apart by war. now some of ukraine's premier ballet dancers have swapped their tutus and slippers for guns and fatigues, putting their life's work on hold to defend their country. "of course i'm scared," said alexey potemkin "i'm not a military person, but i couldn't just sit on the sidelines and observe. just days ago, alexey was a principal dancer in his prime now a military paramedic. his life as an artist a distant memory "i don't even think about ballet anymore," he says. "now it seems like another life." this dancer says art has prepared her for war. "ballet teaches you to have a strong spirit," she says in 2019, she says her husband died fighting on the front lines in eastern ukraine. she says she's armed herself to protect her
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son and country. "i'd love to perform onstage, to travel, to come back to ballet," she says "but the most important thing now is for the war to end with our victory." across ukraine, opera houses and theaters are closed. >> now it's not time for performance on a stage. now we have performance on our street we have blood. we have bombing. >> reporter: the last time olexander danced, it was the night before the war began now he's building anti-tank hedgehogs. do you think you're going to dance again >> yes 100% i go back again. >> reporter: tonight the artistic soul of ukraine is standing by until they secure their freedom. erin mclaughlin, nbc news, lviv, ukraine. and tonight more iconic american companies are suspending operations inside russia. keir simmons is in moscow, and a note here russia is cracking down on the media there, limiting what reporters can say
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under threat of imprisonment >> reporter: after one of america's most iconic brands announced a temporary closure of 850 restaurants, russians young and old packing into mcdonald's or grabbing a final takeout. >> we will miss it a lot. >> it was very delicious. my friends and i really like it >> hard time. >> hard times? >> yeah. >> hard times are coming. >> yes >> reporter: a growing list of western companies closing their russian businesses for now, though the full impact is yet to be felt. in moscow today, we counted five starbucks and seven mcdonald's still open, one with a line for lunch the kremlin tonight accusing the west of declaring economic war against russia >> the grand opening hype was as foreign to moscow as the hamburger. >> reporter: 30 years ago as the iron curtain fell, the
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golden arches arrived in the heart of the communist soviet union. it felt like a new chapter. now that era may be over at the same restaurant today, it was easy to find supporters of president putin. "everything is going the way it should be," this woman told us, though this man disagrees. tonight outside mcdonald's, signs of a city on edge, while inside a simple burger and fries is becoming a last supper. mcdonald's, like many of these western companies, says it will keep paying its 62,000 russian employees, but it's not clear when it will reopen lester >> keir simmons in moscow, thank you. let's turn now to the impact at home after the u.s. ban on russian oil. gas prices are still surging along with many other items as the white house blames russia there are growing calls to suspend the gas tax. here's miguel almaguer >> reporter: as americans feel the squeeze at gas stations across the country, the national average for a gallon of gas has never
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climbed faster, spiking another 8 cents overnight and surging 13 cents in california >> usually i don't even look, and now it kind of blows my mind. >> reporter: to put the new price for a gallon of gas into perspective, the average price today, a record $4.25, is approaching $2 more than a year ago. and even as soaring crude prices finally dipped wednesday, there won't be immediate or perhaps any relief at the pump >> it's really just going to slow the increases as opposed to just looking at outright cuts. >> reporter: with president biden blaming rising costs on putin's price hike, the white house is trying to remind americans who they say is responsible, believing most are willing to pay more for gas as war intensifies. it comes as six democratic governors call for a suspension of the gas tax, which is 18 cents a gallon as inflation, which started before the
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ukraine conflict, hits a 40-year high, the pain at the pump will trickle down to sticker shock beyond gas stations >> beyond filling your tank up, your next visit to the grocery store, the hardware store, your next flight are all going to have significantly impacted fuel prices. >> reporter: with the writing on the wall, many americans say they'll drive less and cut back on extra expenses the reality here, the highest prices are still to come. lester >> all right miguel, thank you. in just 60 seconds, are chess moves in the global oil game behind the sudden release of americans freed by the venezuelan government? and the trial of the men accused of plotting to kidnap michigan's governor.
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two americans detained in venezuela are free tonight days after a u.s. delegation visited the country. but as the war here in ukraine sends gas prices soaring, the timing is raising some questions.
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here's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: tonight, two americans detained in venezuela are home in the u.s. after a high-stakes meeting in caracas. >> they've been wrongfully detained. >> reporter: among those released, gustavo cardenas, one of the citgo 6, executives from citgo petroleum who were arrested during a business trip to venezuela in november of 2017 and later charged with corruption their families have been pleading for their release for years. >> this is horrible to us. >> we spoke to them in 2019. >> life for us is like a war because every day is a battle to bring them back. >> reporter: today, maria elena cardenas told nbc news of her husband's homecoming, we are so happy. it doesn't seem real the other man released is jorge alberto fernandez, a cuban american tourist who was arrested last year for bringing a drone into venezuela and accused of terrorism a source within the venezuelan government called the release a good-faith gesture by president nicolas maduro
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it's a rare thaw in relations now that the u.s. is no longer getting oil from russia >> we have an interest globally in maintaining a steady supply of energy, including through our diplomatic efforts. >> reporter: but critics argue the u.s. should not be cozying >> he uses negotiations the way putin does habitually, to divide and demoralize his opposition. >> reporter: technically the u.s. still recognizes maduro's opponent as the legitimate leader of venezuela tonight no word on the status of the other detained americans lester >> gabe gutierrez, thank you. in michigan, a trial began today for four men accused of plotting to kidnap the governor amid heightened covid restrictions pete williams joins us now with more. pete, good evening >> reporter: lester, six men were originally charged in this plot. now four are standing trial. prosecutors say they targeted governor gretchen whitmer because of her covid restrictions and planned to kidnap her from her summer home and blow up a bridge leading to it to slow the police response.
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the government says the four were closely monitored by two undercover fbi agents and at least five informants who watched them set off explosives, carry out surveillance of the governor's summer home, and conduct exercises to practice using weapons. but defense lawyers say all those undercover agents and informants were egging the men on, pushing them deeper into the plot two other men originally charged in this plot have already pleaded guilty they will now testify for the government, lester. >> pete williams, thank you. up next, more than a century later, one of the most fabled expeditions in history discovered in the waters of antarctica
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♪♪ ahhh! oh my! okay it's my turn, i'm going to drive. ♪ you've been, you've been ♪ ♪ running through my mind ♪ ♪ and i've been thinking that it's just about time ♪ ♪ we get together, together ♪ ♪ i've been, i've been ♪ ♪ doing just fine ♪ ♪ and you've been, you've been doing alright ♪
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♪ let's get together, ♪ ♪ together ♪ ♪ so come on ♪ it was more than a century ago that a pioneering expedition tried and failed to cross antarctica their ship "endurance" was lost, but the men survived tonight, at last the amazing discovery of the ship that lives up to its name. here's anne thompson >> reporter: the ghostly "endurance" discovered in antarctica's frigid waters nearly two miles deep when you saw the name "endurance," what went through your heart >> it was a jaw-dropping moment. the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. i was stunned. >> reporter: the ship crushed by sea ice and sunk in 1915 it is a symbol of sir ernest shackleton's legendary leadership all 28 men onboard survived, camping on ice floes for five months, then escaping in small boats. >> ernest shackleton
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is a hero. he rescued his men from almost certain death. he survived against all the odds, and he did so with compassion, leadership, bravery. >> reporter: the search site in the weddell sea follows the ship captain's notes from when the "endurance" sunk 106 years ago. it took 34 dives by underwater robots in today's ice-clogged waters to find the shop it is in remarkably good condition. >> that's right. it is. it is. partly that's because of the very cold waters that it sits in it's a bit like a refrigerator, so it preserves everything onboard. >> reporter: protected by an international treaty, the ship must not be disturbed there the "endurance" will remain, a haunting testament to man's will to survive. anne thompson, nbc news >> pretty remarkable. up next, the lens of war i'll speak with some photographers who risk their lives to bring us these searing images
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for those watching this war through a camera lens, the grim and poignant images never leave them we met some of the photojournalists telling this story in ways only a still camera can do. they are the indelible images of a country at war. moments in time seared into our collective memories, captured by veteran war photographers like marcus yam, chris mcgrath, and brendan hoffman. he calls kyiv home and
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has been documenting the tense relationship between ukraine and russia since 2014. what has it been like to experience this and cover this at the same time >> i won't lie it's been really hard. i've lived in kyiv for eight years. i left my home on the second day of the war, but i had to take some time off just to sort of process it and deal with my own personal stuff. >> capturing the destruction, the devastation, and the raw human suffering takes a toll. >> you can't be human without doing this job and being affected by it families being torn apart, pointless death. it's just, you know -- it just gets you so angry that i stand there sometimes just shaking my head. it's more like disbelief that this is continuing on. >> there is a certain power in a still image, one moment in time that conveys emotion, fear, or the heartbreak to the rest of the world. >> the first thing i try to get them to
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realize is they are so lucky that they are not in this mess they are so lucky that their lives have not turned upside down. >> and behind every one of those moments we see in a photo is a story photojournalists never forget, a memory that sticks with them. >> from the desperation of leaving and fleeing and saving one's families to, you know, the heroism of the men who refused to leave and want to stay behind. >> like this couple with a border between them. >> that last kiss before they were separated, it was a moving moment and something that just really says to me what the situation is about. >> every picture a story. that's "nightly news" for this wednesday thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night
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. i'm raj mathai. next on nbc bay area news, volodymyr zelenskyy is mastering social media. why he's so he effective. the russian invasion's impact on travel. our consumer investigator has things to think about if you're planning on flying overseas. plus -- >> we know about the vaccine. >> reporter: my interview with the ceo of pfizer and the new time line for vaccines for kids under the age of 5 and why this company had to delay the rele good evening, i'm raj mathai. a lot of late developing stories, including the resurrection of san francisco. can it happen? we'll hear from


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