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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo
Is the West United On Ukraine?; Church Abuse Report; Tonga Aid Arrives. Aired 5-5:30p ET
Aired January 20, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.
Tonight, is the West united on Ukraine? Fallout from the American president's comments about a Russian incursion as the secretary of state
prepares to meet the Russian foreign minister.
Then, a former pope is found to have failed to take action against priests accused of sexual abuse when he was the archbishop of Munich. Those details
And the first foreign aid planes arrive in volcano-ravaged Tonga as we begin to see the extent of the devastation.
Just hours from now, the world's eyes will be on Geneva where the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey
Lavrov will try to diffuse a crisis that has all of Europe on edge over the prospect of war. Blinken says if any Russian forces move into Ukraine, it
will trigger a swift, coordinated response from the West.
He landed in Geneva a short time after spending the day with German, French and British allies in Berlin. They projected an image of solidarity after
U.S. President Joe Biden suggested that the West may not agree on their response if Russia launches what he calls a minor incursion.
Mr. Biden later walked back that remarking but a U.S. senator who recently visited Kyiv told CNN that there are divisions that Mr. Biden is trying to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): He's got some persuasion to do in Europe. I mean, right now, it seems as if the Europeans don't take this threat as
seriously as the United States does. They've never taken the threat of Russian dominance in Ukraine as seriously as we have. He's going try to
make sure that NATO is unified, because that's really what Putin's end goal is here. In the sure term, he wants to get Ukraine back in his orbit, but
in the end, his biggest and most important goal is to smash NATO, and we can't let him do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: French President Emmanuel Macron says the security of Europe should rest in Europe's hands. He told the EU parliament the continent
should not have to be having to suffer the choices of others amid the escalating crisis.
As you might expect, Mr. Biden's earlier remark about a minor incursion didn't go over well in Ukraine.
Our Nic Robertson has more on the fallout and the damage control.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): On the brink of a possible invasion, new satellite images show Russian troops and
armor mast less than 10 miles from Ukraine's border President Joe Biden expecting an attack.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My guess is he will move in. He has to do something.
ROBERTSON: On what to do about Putin's anticipated move, Biden appearing less sure how the U.S. and allies would respond.
BIDEN: It depends on what it does. Its one thing if it's a minor incursion, and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do,
ROBERTSON: At NATO, Biden's comments causing concern. One diplomat telling CNN, there's some truth there, which didn't need to be said out loud.
A day later, Biden clarifying his press comments.
BIDEN: If any, any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion.
ROBERTSON: But not before Ukraine's president tweeted his frustration: there are no minor incursions, no minor casualties.
His foreign minister doubling down.
DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): One can't be half invaded or half aggressive. Aggression is either there or not.
ROBERTSON: Hard fought from talks with both the president and foreign minister of Ukraine the day earlier, Secretary of State Antony Blinken in
Berlin meeting German, French and British foreign ministry officials, trying to steady the slightly shaken diplomatic messaging and point up the
cost of diplomatic failure.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: And at its score, it's about Russia's rejection of a post-Cold War Europe that is whole, free, and at
ROBERTSON: In Moscow, where officials repeatedly insist they're not about to attack anyone, Biden's invasion comments not for the first time
triggering a rebuff.
MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): We are convinced that the purpose of this campaign is to create an information
cover for the preparation of their own large scale provocations, including military ones.
NOBILO: The State Department has cleared the way for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to transfer U.S.-made weapons in their arsenals to Ukraine, to
help bolster its defenses.
The Baltic nations like others in the region are gravely concerned about the growing threat from Russia.
I spoke before the show with Estonia's permanent secretary for the Ministry of Defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KUSTI SALM, PERMANENT SECRETARY, ESTONIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE: It's very, very serious and very dangerous, and when the situation has been depicted
that the Russian demands have catastrophic impact when treated as a package, then if you look carefully into this, then they're actually very,
very dangerous for the collective defense individually.
So everything that really hampers the security establishment that we have built here brick by brick for over last 70 years under the leadership of
U.S. and the European leaders, is something that has been put in danger and it is happening at the Ukrainians, at the convoy (ph), massive troops being
collected at their border, and clearly it's the most serious security situation in the last 30 years.
NOBILO: And given the dangerous nature of the situation and how Estonia borders on Russia, what preparations are you taking to make sure that your
country remains safe and secure whatever might happen?
SALM: I think we have a fairly sober assessment of the situation. There are multiple avenues we are having -- clearly political, diplomatic, but
also domestic. Actually, today Estonian government decided to make an extra one-off investment, equivalent of 1 percent investment of GDP into defense.
It will mainly go into replenishing our ammunition stocks and improving early warning capabilities, and just to put the 1 percent of GDP into the
equivalent terms of U.K. or U.S.
In U.K., it would mean $30 billion, and in U.S., it would mean $200 billion. So, clearly, it's an unprecedented investment our government made
into defense, and it -- I think fairly accurately depicts our assessment of the situation.
What we're also doing, we are speaking with Ukrainians, and what they say is that they feel the support, they feel the unity, but what he need is
weapons and ammunition, and we will get it to them. There is some paperwork we need to go through, but we will get what they need.
And also when it comes to allied consultations that this is happening daily and the result of this is steadfast. We feel the support, we feel the
unity, and we feel that the establishment of security is unshakable.
NOBILO: From a strategic perspective, are you concerned that if Putin did make inroads in Ukraine and captured more territory, that Estonia or the
Baltic States would be next?
SALM: You know, when I started saying that we are facing the most serious situation in the last 30 years, then there is no way I can somehow assure
we are feeling somehow extremely safe here. No, we're not. It's clearly very dangerous.
And when it comes to the activities rolling out in Ukraine, then this is really a laboratory test also for Estonia and other Baltic States. And when
there are clearly many ways to assess the diplomatic rollout, but there are also some matters that can be measured very accurately, and one of these is
their ability to accumulate forces.
And it's not actually the first time. This is the second time in the last eight months. They have more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian borders.
And even more so -- and this is even more serious. Around one and a half month, they have managed to do a great narrative as Ukraine would want to
attack Russia. This is something that gets our alert signals, you know, very red, because if they would try to do something against NATO, then this
would probably happen at the same base and according to the same scenario.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: If Russia does decide to invade Ukraine, it's expected to face a unified front from NATO. This is something that NATO Secretary General Jens
Stoltenberg touched on earlier today when discussing the ongoing tension with Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The allies are united. The 30 allies have a very clear message, and that is that if Russia further
invades Ukraine, further uses military aggressive means against Ukraine, there will be a high price.
NATO allies will make sure that that happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: To understand NATO's role in this crisis, I want to take a step back and look at the history of NATO. It started as a Western-led military
alliance during the Cold War to protect against one threat, the Soviet Union. Today, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO as its known,
is also the most powerful defense alliance between the United States and Western Europe.
So let's go back to the beginning. NATO was set up in 1949 as the Cold War escalated. Its main aim was to counter the spread of post-war communism, as
the Soviet Union tried to expand its reach. The organization originally consisted of only 12 countries -- Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France,
Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the U.K., and, of course, the United States. Several other countries including Turkey
joined a few years later.
Perhaps the most central feature of NATO's mandate is spelled out in Article 5 of its founding treaty, which states that an attack against one
member is an attack against all. So, in theory, that means that the resources of all of its member states, which according to NATO is about 3.5
million people, can be deployed for NATO's missions. And since the U.S. military is the largest in the alliance, it effectively means that any
country under NATO's umbrella is under U.S. protection.
When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, NATO chose to adapt rather than resolve. And while the way it handles threats has evolved over time, the
principle of collective defense remains central, like peacekeepers in Bosnia in the 1990s and deploying air force personnel to Turkey during the
First Gulf War.
NATO is also being criticized for some more controversial moves, like its bombings of the former Yugoslavia in 1999, which included the bombing of
the Chinese embassy there.
The first and only time that Article 5 was invoked was in 2001, following the Sept 11th attack on U.S. Pentagon and Twin Towers in New York. NATO
countries joined the invasion of Afghanistan and alliance continued throughout the years of the war.
Today, NATO has 30 member countries and the organization says that each member has equal say in the decisions made for the organization. But
expansion has created tension. NATO's moved its weaponry on the borders close to Russia, which it says is all above board, but Russia, long
distrustful of this alliance, has asked for ironclad guarantees that NATO won't expand further east into countries like Ukraine or Finland.
As Russia amasses troops on the Ukrainian border now, the world is watching.
Now, let's take a look at the other key stories making international impact today.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says time is running out to revive the Iran nuclear deal. At a news conference after meeting with his German
counterpart, Blinken said that if an agreement with Tehran cannot be reached in the next few weeks, it would be impossible for the U.S. to
return to the deal.
Investigators say they think a massive explosion in Western Ghana on Thursday was caused by a simple traffic accident. They believe a vehicle
carrying explosives for a mining operation got into a collision with a motorcycle. Authorities haven't said how many people have been killed or
injured in the explosion.
Tonga has received its first aid deliveries from New Zealand and Australia. The planes brought shelter kits, sanitation supplies and drinking water,
all contactless to avoid the spread of COVID as the islands have managed to stay COVID free. Tongan leaders say they might soon face a food shortage
after ash fall and tsunami waves destroyed almost all of the country's agriculture.
A new report says Pope Benedict XVI didn't take action against four priests accused of sexually abusing children, and the former pontiff is now
responding. The independent investigation commissioned by the archdiocese of Munich found that he knew about the cases and did nothing. He was
archbishop there between 1977 and 1982.
Let's hear from one of the lawyers who worked on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN PUSCH, LAWYER (through translator): In our cases, Pope Emeritus Benedict 16th strictly rejects any misconduct on his part. Essentially, he
claims a lack of knowledge of the facts and a lack of relevance under canon law. In doing so, he continues to claim ignorance, even when in our opinion
it's difficult to reconcile this with the facts of the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: The former pope is replying through his private secretary, saying he expresses pain and shame for the abuse of children in the church. The
Vatican has put out a statement without naming him, saying it will carefully examine the report, which is more than 1,000 pages.
One of the victims is responding to the investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AGNES WITCH, VICTIM OF ABUSE (through translator): Of course, it touches me very much on an emotional level, and it is the area, the environment
where the abuse also happened in my childhood, about two hours by train from Munich in a small town. And, of course, it revives some things from
And I also ask myself, how can I protect myself, how can I keep my distance from the events in spite of everything, so they don't re-traumatize me?
That could separately be the case for many others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still in the hot seat. He is facing widespread criticism and calls to step down after he admitted to
attending a party at 10 Downing Street while the rest of the country followed tough lockdown restrictions. Now, one of his own conservative MPs
is accusing the government of intimidating those who don't support the prime minster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM WRAGG, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: Reports to me and others of members of staff at number 10 Downing Street, special advisers, governor
ministers and others encouraging the publication of stories in the press seeking to embarrass those who they suspect of lacking confidence in the
prime minster is similarly unacceptable. The intimidation of a member of parliament is a serious matter. Moreover, the reports of which I'm aware
would seem to constitute blackmail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Mr. Johnson says he's seen no evidence of intimidation and that he condemns all forms of bullying and harassment. We're going take a short
break, but we'll be back in a few minutes with some new reporting on Russia.
NOBILO: We're getting some new reporting right now from Ukraine on NATO's standoff with Russia, and U.S. President Biden's comments about it.
Our Matthew Chance is in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.
And, Matthew, I understand that you've been speaking to some Ukrainian officials. What have they told you?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's a continuation of this, you know, simmering frustrations that have lurked
behind the scenes in the relationship between the United States and Ukraine. They're very much come to the fore. Ukrainian official briefing me
tonight that he wanted to see -- the government here wanted to see the United States completely do a reversal on its strategy, or to really ramp
up its strategy of trying to deter Russia from attacking this country.
The idea of imposing crushing sanctions, the United States constantly insists it will do if Russia invades, is something that the Ukrainian
official I spoke a to said isn't working as a deterrent. Sanctions need to be imposed ahead of a Russian invasion. He suggested as many times in the
past, that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia's Germany be made -- you know, be taken offline and make sure it doesn't ever properly open.
Also, frustration expressed by this Ukrainian official at the pace -- slow pace of what they call a slow pace of military aid from the United States.
Even that's been stepped up in recent months quite significantly. They want more equipment to bolster their air defenses and anti-missile defenses, in
summary, we want Patriots, anti-missile batteries, we want Patriots, the official said. If we get Patriots, we stand a chance of holding back a
Russian invasion, but without Patriots, the official told me, we stand no chance at all -- Bianca.
NOBILO: Matthew Chance in Kiev, thank you.
Austria has become the first European Country to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all adults. The law takes effect on February 1st. It applies
to all Austrians with just a few exceptions. Starting in March, unvaccinated people could face a penalty of up to $4,000.
Turning to China now, where Beijing is hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics in just three weeks' time. But how is the Chinese capital which has some of
the world's strictest COVID policies preparing to welcome thousands of international athletes as global infections rise?
CNN correspondent David Culver shows how China plans to keep residents and Olympians apart.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Traveling into Beijing may prove to be a tougher race than an Olympic competition. These winter games
taking place in a capital city that increasingly feels like a fortress. China determined to keep out any new cases of COVID-19, starting at the
This is the terminal that's going to be used by athletes, some of the Olympic personnel and media arriving in Beijing. They've got a wall up that
keeps the general population apart from everyone who's part of the Olympic arrivals.
Those coming in required to download this official app to monitor their health, inputting their information 14 days before arriving in Beijing.
While health surveillance and strict contact tracing is part of life for everyone living in China, it's making visitors uneasy. Cybersecurity
researchers warn the app has serious encryption laws, potentially compromises health data.
China dismisses concerns but Team USA and athletes from other countries are being advised to bring disposable burner phones instead of their personal
ones. From the airport, athletes and personnel will be taken into what organizers call the closed loop system. Not one giant bubble so much as
multiple bubbles connected by dedicated shuttles.
Within the capital city, there are several hotels and venues, plus the Olympic village that are only for credentialed participants.
The dedicated transport buses will be bringing the athletes, the personnel, the media through these gates. But for those of us who are residents
outside, this is as close as we can get.
Then there are the mountain venues. On the outskirts of Beijing, connected by high speed train and highways. All of them newly built for the Winter
Games. So, as to maintain the separation, even the rail cars are divided, and the close loop buses given specially marked lanes.
It is so strict that officials told residents, if they see one of the vehicles that's part of the Olympic convoys get into a crash to stay away.
They've actually got a specialize unit of medics to respond to those incidents. It's all to keep the virus from potentially spreading.
It also keeps visiting journalists from leaving to capital city to other regions like Xinjiang or Tibet, to explore controversial topics. With the
world's attention, the Olympic allows China to showcase its perceived superiority in containing the virus, especially compared with countries
like the U.S.
But this will in many ways also be a tale of two cities, one curated for the Olympic arrivals and preselected group of spectators, another that is
the real Beijing, though some local Beijing residents are now in a bubble of their own. Communities locked down after cases surfaced in the city
outside the Olympic boundaries -- a mounting challenge for a country that's trying to keep COVID out and yet still stage a global sporting spectacle to
wow the world.
David Culver, CNN, Beijing.
NOBILO: You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back after this.
NOBILO: A record breaking dream has come true for a British Belgian teenager. Zara Rutherford has just become the youngest woman to fly solo
around the world. Her journey took her to more than 30 different countries, across five continents, traveling more than 50,000 kilometers, all alone in
the cockpit. As you might expect, there was some turbulence along the way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZARA RUTHERFORD, YOUNGEST WOMAN TO FLY SOLO AROUND THE WORLD: Overtime, fatigue does kick in, especially when I'm flying over multiple different
time zones within a few days, and mentally, it was a huge challenge especially flying over, for example, Siberia where it's just extremely
remote and very cold, so minus 35-degree Celsius. And if the engine quits then, I am hours away from rescue, and I don't know how long I can survive
in minus 35 degrees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Zara made the journey in a specially designed micro light aircraft and she says that she hopes some day to become an astronaut. Amazing.
Well, thanks for joining us. We will see you again tomorrow.
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