Return to Transcripts main page

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

U.S.-Russia Geneva Talks; Djokovic Visa Drama; Can Fish Drive? Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired January 10, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Tonight, would you not trust the other side? Russia says it needs ironclad guarantees as it meets with U.S. officials in Geneva. We look at the

progress or lack thereof from today's talks.

Then, everyone's still talking about Djokovic. An Australian a judge rules he can still stay in the country, but there's still a chance his visa could

get canceled. The latest live from Melbourne ahead.

And I'm not a great driver, the first to admit it, but I think I'm better than a fish. Israeli scientists are now proving me wrong as they put our

aquatic friends behind the wheel.

Now, face to face but hardly eye to eye. It was a frosty day in Geneva, and not just because of the weather. U.S. and Russian diplomats squared off at

the start of a busy week from Moscow in the world stage. Diplomacy and de- escalation framed today's discussions, but so, too, did doubt.

The U.S. says it doesn't know if Russia is prepared to pull back the ten of thousand of troops on its border with Ukraine, or really explain what

they're really doing there. Moscow said it has no plans to attack and laid out uncertainties of its own over Ukraine.


SERGEY RYABKOV, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: We do not trust the other side, so to say. We need ironclad, waterproof, bullet proof, legally

binding guarantees. Not assurances, not safeguards -- guarantees. With all the words shall everything be put in this. Never ever becoming a member of

NATO. It's a matter of Russia's security.


NOBILO: This as Russia looms over the situation in Kazakhstan. President Vladimir Putin has held the Russian-led military alliance sent to the

country after last week's riots. More on that in a few moments.

First, though, more on today's talks with Nic Robertson and Sam Kylie in Kiev.

Nick, first to you. What was the outcome of these talks? Was there any progress? We know both sides with trying to understand each other's

positions better, but actually the positions have already been made pretty clear.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They have. I think if we take a step back from the context of today's talks and then zero back in

on the talk, we can understand what's been said today. Russia has created the context and the desire to have these talks. It has put so many troops

close to the border of Ukraine that it has NATO and the United States concern about an invasion.

Today, they said there wouldn't be an invasion and pushed to have these talks, and they're putting pressure on the United States to talk first with

the United States and then with NATO because they believe that the United States is the biggest power inside NATO and can bring about the most

change, and also that the United States has singlehandedly been responsible for some of the key decisions that's expanded NATO over the years since the

Berlin wall came down toward what is they consider Russia's western frontier.

So, that's the sort of background. So, what did we hear from the Russian delegation today? They said they didn't believe the United States have

taken on board their concerns. You heard the deputy foreign minister saying that just a few minutes ago there. And from the U.S. position, they feel

that they're not entirely convinced Russia doesn't intend to invade Ukraine, because they have said that if Russia -- if Russia has no

intention to invade Ukraine, why not send these troops back to their base?

But what the Russian deputy foreign minister today said, because of where things stand at the talks today, which is really absent progress, that

maximum responsibility, maximum responsibility lies now with the United States because there is a risk that in the current environment, tensions

could get even higher. It's that threat -- it's the use of the threat that's brought about these talks, brought about the current situation, and

in the environment of these talks again -- or around the environment of the talks, the Russian side was again essentially repeating its threat again.

It is American responsibility, maximum responsibility right now. Again, it goes to the heart of this for the United States to take a key decision and

push NATO to make a change. Neither the U.S. nor NATO collectively say that they're going to do that.

NOBILO: Thanks, Nic.

Sam, to you in Kiev. Obviously, Russia's been downplaying the threat it poses to Ukraine, saying it has no plans of incursion. How seriously is

Ukraine continuing to take the threat of a possible Russian invasion, and also, what's the response in Ukraine to Russia doubling down on its

established position, that no more NATO expansion eastward in Europe?


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Ukrainians have bitter experience of what a potential Russia invasion look like,

Bianca, because they've experienced an actual Russian invasion where a few years ago, the legal annexation of Crimean peninsula and the occupation of

what's known as the Donbass region in the east of this country, which is normally under control of Russian speaking Ukrainian rebels, but heavily

infiltrated by large numbers of Russian federal troops.

They are surrounded in lodgings of territory in the east of this country by Russian troops. There is, as far as the deputy prime minster here -- who's

on a recent -- today's visit to meeting with Stoltenberg among others at NATO, and this is what she said.


OLGA STEFANISHYNA, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Still, we would all realize the danger that is a buildup in our country. Russia will amass

enough troops to launch an additional full scale invasion into Ukraine, so we need to do everything possible to prevent that.


KILEY: Now, for NATO members, particularly the Baltic states, but others particularly from the former eastern block nations, this Russian potential

invasion of Ukraine present a clear and present danger to them, too, and that's the view of the European Union members or European members, rather

of NATO with Denmark reinforcing positions with extra aircraft in the Baltic states, signaling they're going to reinforce NATO's presence on what

the Russians would -- what Nic was referring to there as the Russian Western Flank, the Eastern Flank of NATO.

And that is precisely the opposite of what the Russian president has been calling for, which he wants to reset the entire geostrategic picture here

back to 1997 when there were no NATO troops in the former Eastern Bloc country as those countries started to join the European Union and break

away from what was then the Soviet Union -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Nic -- thanks, Sam. Nic, as Sam was saying, some options are the complete opposite of what Putin was expressing that he wants to see. What

is the potential for de-escalation here? Any diplomatic off-ramps that you can see that would help calm the tensions and build trust between Russia

and the West at this point?

ROBERTSON: At the moment, it's very hard to see. The discussion would be around the possibility of arms control agreements reciprocated by both


But Russia saying it's not ready for that at the moment, and what we heard the deputy foreign minister say is they had this meeting today, will have a

meeting on Wednesday with NATO, and Thursday with the OSCE. Perhaps after that, they would reflect at the end of the week and take the positions and

what they've heard back to President Putin for some kind of decision.

I wouldn't be surprised if president Putin over the next couple of weeks or so calls for another phone conversation with President Biden to try to

shift the ball a little bit here. But the clock is ticking.

If Russia really does want to I chief something by force in Ukraine, then there's perhaps only a few months window for many reasons to be able to do

that. But the diplomatic off-ramp, for Russia, it does not appear from what they're saying to be an attractive one at this stage, and it's hard given

their language reiterated so strongly today.

Never, ever was the language used that Ukraine should become part of the NATO. It's hard to see that they even recognize the off ramp for perhaps

what it could offer them.

NOBILO: Nic Robertson in Geneva, Sam Kiley in Kiev, thank you both.

An attempted coup. That's how Kazakhstan's president is now describing the violent protests that ripped through the country last week. So far, he

hasn't offered any evidence for that. The burned city center of Almaty is all but deserted now. The country's security forced already arrested some

8,000 suspected protesters, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sent thousand of troops to help crush the protests, is also offering a harsh


CNN's Fred Pleitgen is near the border with Kazakhstan, in Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek.

Fred, thanks for joining us.

And tell us what you know about the situation on the ground at the moment in Kazakhstan. We snow that the Collective Security Treaty Organization has

been activated. Russian troops are there. What do we know about deaths, detentions and the overall violence?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, those Russian troops were on the ground quickly, as were a lot of other forces

from the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The latest on the ground, and we have been monitoring the situation throughout the day, is that

things have somewhat calmed down, especially they're in Almaty.

Today was a day of mourning there. Also, the internet appears to have been restored for a little while. But, of course, things are still fragile and

the situation there is still very fast moving. You were talking there just about the Kazakhstani president saying that he believed all this was a


He also said, Bianca, at the same time that he believed a lot of this was induced from the outside. There were outside forces that were at play, and

again, he also did not provide any evidence, however he did say that evidence would be provided in the future.

Of course, there has been a lot of international criticism about what many perceive to be a heavy handed approach by the Kazakhstani authorities. A

senior Kazakhstani official justified that in an interview earlier today with our own Christiane Amanpour.

Let's listen to some of what he had to say.


ERZHAN KAZYKHANOV, KAZAKHSTANI SPECIAL REP. FOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The problem started with the fact that the peaceful protest

unfortunately has been hijacked by perpetrators, terrorist groups, both domestic and foreign. And that created a big problem for the country so

that the president announced the emergency situation, and he assumed to office of the chair of the National Security Council.


PLEITGEN: And certainly seems as though that line is not anywhere near changing. The latest numbers we have out of Kazakhstan is apparently almost

8,000 people have been detained in the wake of the protests that took place, the death toll shooting up over the past day or day and a half or

so. The Kazakh authorities now saying that 164 people have been killed, 103 of those in Almaty alone, the hardest hit city that you were talking about

before, and, of course, that's also where a lot of troubling videos came from of troops moving through the streets and apparently also firing at

civilians as well, Bianca.

NOBILO: Thanks, Nic. I look forward to more of your reporting on this from the border and about how the region is being affected now that the CSTO has

been activated. Thanks so much -- Fred Pleitgen for us in Bishkek.

The U.S. and European Union are imposing new sanctions on officials in Nicaragua after an election they say was rigged to give President Daniel

Ortega a fourth term. The EU targeted seven people, including Mr. Ortega's daughter and son who are both working as presidential advisers. The U.S.

sanctioned six government officials, including the defense minister.

Israel says it will not be bound by any international agreement on Iran's nuclear program. Prime Minister Bennett made the statement as Iran said

talks in Vienna were making good progress in reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.


NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In regards to nuclear talks in Vienna, we are definitely concerned. It's important for

me to say and clarify, Israel is not aside to the agreement. Israel is not bound by what will be written in the agreements. If they are signed and

Israel will continue to reserve full freedom of action anywhere, any time with no constraints.


NOBILO: Myanmar's deposed leader has been sentenced to four more years in prison. A court controlled by the military regime convicted Aung Suu Kyi of

several charges Monday, including possessing illegal walkie-talkies. This is the second round of verdicts against Sue Kyi since she was detained in a

coup last year. The Nobel laureate faces even more charges and could get up to 100 years in prison.

Let's take a look at the other international stories making impact today. At least 58 people are dead in northwestern Nigeria in a series of attacks

by local criminal gangs riding on motorcycles and gunning down civilians. Authorities deny reports the death toll could be as high as 200. These

attacks come after the Nigerian military launched strike on the bandits last week, killing more than 100.

Medics in Sudan now say two people died in protests Sunday against the October military takeover of their country. Both demonstrators were hit by

tear gas canisters fired by police. In a statement, Sudanese police said that they dealt with security breaches with the appropriate amount of


Tigrayan rebels in Northern Utopia say they've come under attack by Eritrean troops. The Eritrean government hasn't commented on the

accusations. Eritrea's president said on Saturday that his troops would strive to prevent Tigrayan forces from attacking his country or

destabilizing Ethiopia.

Fifteen West African states are breaking off all ties with Mali and closing borders to punish its military leaders for refusing to stage new elections.

The West African bloc wants elections next month. Mali's military ruler Assimi Goita suggested holding them in 2025 instead. Goita has been in

charge since a coup last May.

We know that global temperatures are rising quickly with dangerous consequences. A new report from the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service

shows us just how fast that's happening. The numbers show the past seven years have been the warmest on record.


2021 was the fifth warmest year ever, and Copernicus finds that the U.S. average temperature is now 1.1 degree Celsius, above preindustrial levels.

That's already 73 percent of the way to the 1.5 degree limit scientists warn the planet must stay under to avoid catastrophic effects.

The numbers might seem impossible to change, but Copernicus scientists hope their report will remind policy lawmakers that we can choose to limit

fossil fuel emissions that are the main course of warming temperatures. And by doing so, we can potentially cool the planet in the second half of the

century. Fingers crossed.

Tennis star Novak Djokovic may have won his court battle in Australia, but now there are pictures of him in public without a mask from when he says he

tested positive for COVID-19. How his family is handling this next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, so, this press conference is adjourned.



NOBILO: A judge in Australia has ruled that Novak Djokovic can stay in the country, but the saga isn't necessarily over yet. The immigration minister

can still technically cancel the tennis star's visa. That didn't stop Djokovic from celebrating in Melbourne Park, where the Australian Open will

kick off next week. He won nine of his 20 grand slam there is. And if he wins again this year, it will make him the most successful male tennis

player of all time.

The judge says that Djokovic had not been given enough time to speak with his lawyers when border police revoked his visa over COVID-19 vaccine

requirements last week.

CNN's Phil Black is there in Melbourne for us.

Phil, there's still a loft of talk that this decision could potentially be reversed by the immigration minister. What are you hearing?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bianca, that's right. So despite the fact that Djokovic's lawyers won the case, through essentially arguing on

technicalities and process, the procedures that were followed once he was pulled aside at the airport and questioned, that's what the judge found to

be unfair and unreasonable. He did not form a few on whether Djokovic was right in thinking that he should be allowed to enter the country exempted

because he had recovered from a recent COVID-19 infection.

As you say, he is free, but that could change. And because the immigration minister here is yet to determine or announce publicly whether or not the

Australian government accepts this verdict -- Bianca.


BLACK (voice-over): A big win for tennis star Novak Djokovic, this time in a court of law, tweeting Monday he's pleased and grateful that a judge

overturned the Australian government's decision to cancel his visa and he still wants to compete in the upcoming open.


His supporters celebrating the judge's decision. Some blocking traffic in Melbourne. Others scuffling with police who used pepper spray on

overzealous fans.

Djokovic's Australian drama started fueling strong emotions last week when the unvaccinated player announced he'd been granted an exemption to play in

the tournament.

But when he arrived in Australia Wednesday, officials said his visa had been canceled for failing to meet entry requirements.

Authorities moved him to his Melbourne hotel turned temporary immigration detention center where he waited for days, while his lawyers went to work.

Finally, Monday, a Melbourne judge ordered Djokovic's release and overturned his visa cancellation, ruling border officials haven't treated

him fairly.

Djokovic's father hailed the ruling.

SARJDJNA DJOKOVIC, NOVAK DJOKOVIC'S FATHER (through translator): They waited for him at the airport. They had no right. They just took away all

of his rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This press conference is adjourned.

BLACK: His brother dodged questions about Djokovic's public appearances after testing positive for COVID in December. Social media photos from the

day and day after show him at three events, maskless, and surrounded by people.

A court affidavit reveals Djokovic knew he was infected when he attended.

It's that positive test result, his lawyers say, is the basis for a medical exemption he was granted to play in Australia.

But the Australian government maintains a previous COVID infection isn't grounds for any exemption from its entry vaccine requirements.

Now, the saga may continue. Australia's immigration minister still has the power to cancel Djokovic's visa.

As Serbia's tennis star fights to play for a record 21st grand slam, his legacy on and off the court hangs in the balance.


BLACK (on camera): So, Bianca, Djokovic is free to train, prepare, get ready to play here at center court next week, but he can't relax, not until

the government announces it accepts this decision, because until then, the immigration minister could at any time use his own personal power to cancel

his visa once more. If he does that, it's not just being deported from the country, there's an additional penalty -- he would also be banned from

entering Australia for three years -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Hmm. Yes, I recognize that from watching border force programs.

Phil, there's a federal election coming up in a couple months in Australia. Politics well known for being cutthroat. How far do you think domestic

political concerns are driving decision-making by the minister and the government?

BLACK: There is a strong belief here among many political watchers that yes, this is a heavily politicized issue, being seen to be strong on border

security is a core pillar of politics, especially for the center right of the liberal party, and yes, especially when you consider that very

important context of a federal election just around the corner.

The other important context, of course, is the pandemic. This election is going to be a referendum on the government's handling of the pandemic up

until now. There have been stumbles along the way, and this is seen by some to be perhaps a useful diversion from some of those pandemic-type problems,

particularly given cases here are soaring as they have -- as they are in many countries around the world.

So, because of all that, it has been observed here that perhaps a calculation has been made by the Australian government, which essentially

says they don't risk losing too many votes by seeming to be very tough and uncompromising in their handling, particularly in their comments and the

support for the canceling of Novak Djokovic's visa -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Phil, thank you. Phil Black for us in Melbourne. I hope it's nice to be home in Australia for a little bit.

Now a stunning piece of video that you won't soon forget, but be warned some viewer may find it disturbing. This is bodycam footage from Los

Angeles police officers as they pulled a pilot out of the wreckage of his private plane. The plane had crash-landed on plane tracks and this pilot

was rescued only second before an oncoming train hit it.

Two passers also caught the incident on camera. Thankfully no one on the train was hurt, and the pilot was the only occupant of the plane.

You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: My producer Jessie gave me one job today, to bring my fossil kit to work. Naturally, I forgot. So, instead, here is a little toothbrush

which can be used in a pinch when fossil hunting. I used to be an archaeological assistant. So don't say you don't learn things on this show.

But then again, heftier tools are probably needed for this find, a 10 meter long ichthyosaur that's been instinct for 90 million years. It's been

discovered at Rutland Reservoir here in the U.K.

The paleontologist leading the excavation effort called it one of the greatest finds in British paleontological history and Anglian Water, which

manages the reservoirs, is now looking for funding to preserve the fossil and allow the public to visit it.

Finally tonight, I'm not the best driver in the world, I'm slightly spatially challenged and now I'm a little depressed because Israeli

scientists have taught fish drive. The team conducted a study with six goldfish, teaching them how to navigate on land with this so-called FOV or

fish operated vehicle.

The robotic car is equipped with a computer, camera, electric motors and the sensor that moves the car base on the fish's location in the tank.

Scientist says it further proves humans aren't the only very special, very smart creatures on the earth.


SHACHAR GIVON, RESEARCHER, BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV: Surprisingly, it doesn't take the fish a long time to learn how the drive

the vehicle. They're very confused at first, don't know what's going on, but they're very quick to realize there's a correlation between their

movement and the movement of the machine that they're in, so it's something they learn quite quickly.


NOBILO: They'll be ready for the F-1 track in no time.

Speaking of which, "WORLD SPORT" is up next. Thanks for joining us. Good night.