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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

NATO Members Put Forces On Standby As Crisis Deepens; Military Says It Has Taken Control Of Burkina Faso; Boris Johnson's Birthday Bash. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired January 24, 2022 - 17:00   ET


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

Tonight, NATO and the U.S. prepare new military plans as Russia amasses troops near Ukraine. We're live in Kiev and D.C.

Then, Burkina Faso's army announces they're in control of the country. The government now is dissolved. We look at how the nation got to this point.

Plus, a birthday bash? A Downing Street spokesperson admits the prime minister celebrated his birthday with a gathering while the nation was in

lockdown in 2020. Will it move the dial? We'll look at that question, ahead.

NATO says it's hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.


The alliance is now considering deploying more troops its eastern flank as a standoff with Russia deepens over the future of Ukraine. The U.S. has put

up to 8,500 troops on heightened alert, ready to contribute to that mission should NATO give the order.

President Joe Biden talked with European leaders Monday to shore up a unified response to Russia's military buildup near Ukraine. The White House

says it's always considering every option.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have always said we would reinforce our allies on the eastern flank, and those conversations and

discussions have certainly been part of what our national security officials have been discussing with their counterparts now for several

weeks. And, in fact, we never ruled out the option of providing assistance -- additional assistance in advance of an invasion.


NOBILO: In addition to possibly deploying troops, the head of NATO says it's sending more fighter jets and ships to Eastern Europe. Jens

Stoltenberg says it's a defensive measure only.

All of this happening as the Pentagon warns that Russia shows no signs of de-escalating, saying it's actually increasing its troop numbers along

Ukraine's border. The Kremlin is accusing the West of hysteria.

We'll get to Kylie Atwood at the U.S. State Department in just a moment, but let's start with Clarissa Ward in Kyiv on why Ukraine's president is

urging people not to panic.

Clarissa, the president might be urging people not to panic, but tensions are obviously sky high with discussions of further troop deployments,

Russian buildup of forces.

How are Ukrainians actually feeling right now?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Bianca. I think for most Ukrainians, the threat of Russian

aggression is not a new or recent phenomenon. It's something that they have been living with for eight years now, and so, I would say that people are

largely calm, concerned, anxious, making some possible preparations, yes, but largely calm.

And in fact, there's been quite a lot of rancor among Ukrainian officials over the U.S.'s decision to withdraw some of its embassy staff,

nonessential personnel, also family members of embassy workers. That was greeted pretty grimly by Ukrainian officials who see that as contributing

to the panic. The foreign ministry put out a statement saying there's 19 different consulates and embassies here, and so far, only four countries,

the U.S. and U.K. among them, have decided to withdraw some of their embassy personnel.

And really that sends a message that, you know, an invasion may be imminent, which is an image that they are really trying to avoid at the

moment. The prime minister also calling on people to say, do not panic. Their concern is that this is having a really negative effect on the

economy, on foreign investment. But even in defense quarters, we heard from the secretary for the defense council on national security who said listen,

it's not even possible right now for there to be a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. That's not even feasible.

And it's interesting to see, Bianca, that that language and that rhetoric and that clear division between Ukraine and the U.S. has already been

picked up on by Russia. We saw the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, come out and make comments to the effect of, you know,

look at the gap in the rhetoric between the U.S. and Ukraine. Who's telling the truth? What does this say about the situation? And that's exactly the

sort of meddling and exploitation of tensions that Russia likes to take advantage of.

NOBILO: It's curious as well, because obviously if we just go back a few months, it was Ukraine that had the more alarmist assessment of what was

going on, in comparison to the U.S.

Let's go to the U.S. and Kylie Atwood at the State Department.

What have we heard today from the Pentagon and what might that tell us about how the U.S. is planning to do with the situation?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, significant new military plans coming out from the Pentagon today, saying that the Biden

administration is putting 8,500 U.S. troops on short notice, essentially so they could be rapidly deployed to Europe if NATO were to trigger a response

or if there are other contingencies, not exactly saying what those other contingencies would be, but making it clear that the Biden administration

has troops at the ready if NATO says we need more traps in Europe to defend our posture against a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.

And I think that that's significant against a possible Russian invasion. This is something that the U.S. is considering doing, sending troops to

Europe as a deterrent, not just as a reaction when Russia does potentially invade Ukraine. So, this is a change in posture from the Biden

administration. It is a bit more forward leaning on the military side, not just the diplomatic front where we have seen them putting most of their

efforts thus far.

And this also comes as just yesterday, the State Department announced that they are drawing down some of their embassy personnel in Ukraine.


And Clarissa was speaking to that. The State Department not saying that any specific thing had changed in the last 24 or 48 hours that triggered them

to make that decision to allow nonessential personnel to leave the embassy and to order all of the family members of all U.S. diplomats in Ukraine to

leave the country. But saying that it was the totality of the situation, this continued Russian aggression, this continued Russian military buildup

along Ukraine's borders that triggered them to do this now.

And we heard earlier from Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby also saying the Pentagon's rationale for putting these 8,500 U.S. troops on short notice

here was because Russia has been very clear that they are not de-escalating the situation here.

So, the Biden administration wants to be really prepared for what could turn into a really awful situation if Russia invades Ukraine.

NOBILO: Kylie Atwood in D.C. and Clarissa Ward in Kiev, thank you both.

Members of the Burkina Faso military say they've seized control of the government and suspended the Constitution. They also say the president has

been detained and is being held in a safe place. Video was shown of a car in the president's fleet shot up and bloodied in the country's capital.

Residents were seen celebrating in the streets following news of a coup. The president's faced protests in recent months. Critics say that he hasn't

done enough to stop attacks from civilians and soldiers by Islamic militants.

We can get more on this developing story from CNN's Stephanie Busari.


STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN DIGITAL SUPERVISING EDITOR, AFRICA: Around a dozen sole judges appeared on Burkina Faso state TV to state that they were now

in charge of this tiny West African nation. They announced that the government had been dissolved. They announced a curfew, and that land and

air borders were closed.

It's not clear where President Roch Kabore is, although he did post tweets from his verified Twitter account earlier. It's not clear if he was the one

posting those tweets.

But the military are saying it is time for him to go, that he has not adequately handled the jihadist violence which is linked to Islamic States

and al Qaeda and has ravaged this tiny country. They say their colleagues - - they and their colleagues are the ones who have born the brunt of this terrorism, and it must be said that the military takeover is popular on the

streets of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

Soon after the military announcement was made, residents took to the streets to cheer the military and honk their horns in support of the

decision. This decision has been criticized by the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, which call this a very grave act.

Stephanie Busari, CNN, Lagos.


NOBILO: Taiwan says China sent 13 war planes into the island's air defense zone on Monday, including fighter jets and two nuclear capable bombers.

Yesterday, more than 40 Chinese war planes flew by the same zone.

The incursions come after the U.S. and Japanese navies put on a show of force in the Philippine Sea on Saturday. The U.S. says it was a training

exercise to preserve and protect security in the region.

For the second time in a week, Houthi militants in Yemen say they were responsible for launches targeting the United Arab Emirates. Both missiles

were intercepted and there were no casualties. The Houthis say they were targeting Dubai and Abu Dhabi, including a military base where the U.S. Air

Force is stationed. UAE says it has destroyed the missile launcher used in the attack. For more than six years, the Houthis have been battling a

Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE. The UAE has designated the Houthis as a terror group.

At least 300 ISIS fighters have surrendered after raiding a prison in Syria, according to the Kurdish-led forces in the area. The facility in

northeastern Syria has been holding thousands of ISIS prisoners. The fighters seized part of the prison in an attempt to free them.

At least 180 inmates have died since the attack began last Thursday. According to some militants who were arrested, more than 200 ISIS members

were involved in the attack, which took six months to plan. The Syrian Democratic Forces say there are plans to clear the rest of the prison of

attackers who might be hiding in the complex.


Since forces began the raid, thousands of families have fled the area.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our situation has been dire the past couple of days. We couldn't go out. They're breaking the houses and

killing people. We miraculously managed to flee.


NOBILO: Benedict XVI now admits that he was at a meeting in 1980 discussing a case of sexual abuse. Back then, the former pope was serving

as the archbishop of Munich. An independent investigation commissioned by the archdiocese came out last week. It accuses Benedict of mishandled four

cases of abuse involving priests, but there's some confusion over his previous statements the about this meeting.

Benedict now says that he has mistakenly told the German investigators he wasn't at the meeting.

CNN's Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher joins me live.

Delia, what more are we hearing from the Vatican, and how concern ready they that this adds to the story undermining faith in the Catholic Church?


This was an important clarification this morning from Benedict, because it was one of the more glaring inconsistencies between his testimony and the

findings of the German law firm that conducted this independent investigation. Mainly he initially said he was not at this meeting and they

said that was not credible because they had minutes that suggested he was there. The former pope says that this mistake was that due to an editing

error in his initial testimony. He apologized for that mistake. He said it was not made in bad faith, but that it was a mistake in editing his


Now, the meeting is important, Bianca, because at that meeting the case of one priest was discussed and Benedict in his statement today said what they

discussed was allowing that priest to stay in Munich for psychological help. The priest was subsequently put back into active ministry, and then

in 1986, convicted of sexual abuse.

So, obviously, the outstanding question is who sign off on putting him back into active ministry? Benedict also said in his statement today that held

would provide fuller details on that case and the other cases he's accused of mishandling at a future state. He was asking for understanding while he

goes through the almost 1,900 pages of this report.

So, there are still quite a few details to work through to understand what kind of responsibility the pope emeritus had while he was archbishop, which

of course was the whole purpose of this report. It was a report commissioned by the archdiocese in Munich to cover 75 years of what

happened with sex abuse cases there.

He's not the only one who's come under fire from this report. There's the current archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Marx, who is an adviser to Pope

Francis who's been accuse of mishandling two cases. He says he will respond on Thursday to the findings of the report -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Delia Gallagher in Rome, thank you.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is once again under fire for allegedly attending not one, but two parties on his birthday while the U.K. was

lockdown last year. A spokesperson admitted today that staff members gathered at Number 10 to wish Johnson happy birthday on the 19th of June

2020, and that the prime minister left the party after less than ten minutes.

According to British broadcaster ITN, the prime minister's wife Carrie arranged the party. Also that evening, Johnson allegedly attended a second

party at his residence with family and friends. Downing Street has denied any rules were breached.

In June 2020, indoor gatherings in England were not allowed. People could on the meet outside in groups of six. And that date, the 19th of June,

2020, the prime minister's birthday, was two months after the prime minister had been in hospital with COVID-19 and experienced a, quote, brush

with death. So the danger the virus posed could not fail to be at the front of his mind.

When reports of one party become two, and then they become four, and now they blur in double digits, the shock and surprise lessens. It almost seems

oddly ordinary. These party allegations now demonstrate an established pattern of behavior.

I spoke to a former adviser of Boris Johnson's last week, who revealingly said the Number 10 staff were working so hard. Well, as were the doctors,

nurses and cleaners who are not partying in Number 10.

So, now, the inquiry awaits the results of this Sue Gray inquiry, into whether or not the lockdown rules were broken and if Johnson misled

parliament. Rumors continue to swell of more letters being sent to the 22 committee. If that threshold is reached, a no confidence vote could be


Johnson faces political life or death challenges on several fronts but he's forged a political brand out of defying political expectations.


But now, the very attributes that created Johnson's highly successful, historic election-winning brand, mischief, frivolity, rule breaking, are

the architects of his deepest global crisis.

You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. Coming up after the break, quote: We are one people, an essay written by the Russian president is providing a window

into the thinking of Vladimir Putin on Ukraine. After the break, a deep dive into his strategy and possible parts come ahead, coming up next.


NOBILO: Returning to our top story this hour -- the U.S. and NATO preparing military plans for all scenarios as Russia amasses troops near

Ukraine. But when it comes to the path ahead, no one knows what Putin is thinking is often the common refrain. Western officials have long

speculated about the Russian president's end game with Ukraine.

However, we do have a little window into Vladimir Putin's thinking on this. Last July, he published an extensive essay on his beliefs regarding the

link between Russia and Ukraine, writing in small part, the war that emerge in the recent years between Russia and Ukraine to my mind is to our great

misfortune and tragedy.

Our next guest joins me now to discuss further what Putin could be thinking, Anton Fedyashin, a professor of American University, is an expert

in Russian and Soviet affairs, and he says he does not see a full invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Welcome to the program, Anton. Good to have you.


NOBILO: As I mentioned, everyone's trying to see into Putin's mind, which is an impossible feat, but what can you tell us about his experience and

psychology that might indicate how he's approaching this?

FEDYASHIN: Well, Putin is a statist. He believes that the state is the surest way to preserve stability and to create wealth and the standard of

living in Russia. So, for him, the security of the state is important, and in that, I suppose that Putin is really no -- not profoundly different from

any other world leader.

So, what the west sees currently as an issue about Russia and Ukraine, for the Russians is really an issue of bare, vital national security concerns

and a broader, and I dare say, philosophical issue of European and Euro Atlantic security.

NOBILO: And we were just referring to an excerpt from his essay on Ukraine, and how -- how genuine do you think his sentiment reflected in

that essay is about the historic unity and the cultural commonality between Ukraine and Russia? Is that just genuine sentiment, or is that being

employed for political and military ends?

FEDYASHIN: Well, it's a genuine sentiment on his part. It's also, of course, historically accurate. Anyone who's bothered to read a basic book

on Eastern European history will read that what is today Russia, Ukraine and Belarus came out of one state with Kiev centered as its chief city.

People didn't think of capitals back then.

And so, in that sense, the three peoples did come out of the same historical experience, and they have been living in the same state in one

form or another for give-or-take 1,000 years. Now, whether this is an argument for some conquest of Ukraine is a different issue. I read that

essay carefully in the Russian language and I didn't see any calls for a reunification or absorption of Ukraine.

As a matter of fact Putin ends that essay with a phrase, a sovereign and successful Ukraine can only be so in partnership with Russia. In other

words, not as part of Russia, but as a state with stable and predictable relations with its huge neighbor.

NOBILO: Yeah, it did strike me, though -- you make a good point -- that he does in many instances point to the sovereignty of Ukraine, and how it's

not necessary that there's any kind of infringement upon that, but it does seem so long as it's in the sphere of Russian influence and not elsewhere.

And you've hinted at it a couple of times --

FEDYASHIN: Bianca, wait a second. Let me jump in there. This is a popular talking point about the spheres of influence, but one of the things that

the Russians have suggested in terms of the written proposals they have submitted to the U.S. is sort of what's called a Finlandization, a

neutralization of Ukraine. In other words, it will not be within Russia's sphere influence but it won't be within the sphere of influence of the

West, of NATO, specifically. That's what they're really concerned about.

So, the Russians seem to be holding the option of a non-committed neutral Ukraine open, which is a more complicated and seems to me like a more

conciliatory way of seeing the future of Ukraine that simply denying the West any influence of it and sort of bringing it into a sphere of influence

of Moscow.

NOBILO: Okay. So, that being said, what do you think Putin is trying to accomplish with the activity on Ukraine's borders at the moment?

FEDYASHIN: So, the Russians have been sort of appealing to NATO about its expansion and the fact that it threatens what the Russians see as their

vital security interests for about 20 years on and off. And those concerns so far have been dismissed. And so, the Russians decided, I think, they'll

flex their military in order to attract the attention of the West in order to sort of force a diplomatic negotiation and compromise.

It's not very nice. It's a fairly cynical move. But it looks like Moscow feels like this was the last thing that was in their power, NATO moving

towards their borders, and coming right up against them, by moving into Ukraine without admit it as a member. That seems to be the calculation so


NOBILO: Anton Fedyashin, thanks for joining us.

FEDYASHIN: Thank you.

NOBILO: Let's take a look at the other key stories making international impact today. A 23-year-old woman has died and three other people are

wounded after a gunman opened fire in a university auditorium in Heidelberg, Germany. Police say the shooter is also dead. Investigators are

searching his home. He did not have a gun license and brought his weapons abroad.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has won the right to try to appeal his extradition from the U.K. to the U.S. Judges at the high court in London

handed down a ruling, meaning Assange can ask Britain's Supreme Court to take up the appeal. Assange is facing 18 criminal charges in the U.S.,

breaking a spying law is one of them.

Lawmakers gathered in Rome today to elect Italy's new president, with current Prime Minister Mario Draghi, one of the most prominent candidates.

The secret parliamentary electoral process could take days. The winner needs a two-thirds majority in any of the first three rounds and, that

would be an absolute majority would be enough for them to be elected.


We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: Here's some advice you probably heard many times -- you can't trust everything you see on the Internet. A woman from Florida learned that

lesson the hard way.

Olivia Garcia saw this gorgeous video on TikTok that was labeled Gastonia, North Carolina. Her family was taking a long car trip and she said it would

be worth going an hour out of way to see this kind of mountainous beauty. But the video wasn't from Gastonia. It was from Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland,

some 7,000 kilometers away.

Garcia posted a video of what she found in rural Gastonia, instead, with the caption her family was going to kill her for the unnecessary detour.

The video of Switzerland is part of a series of TikToks posted by Zachary Keesee where he takes images of beautiful places he's visited and then

jokingly labels them as being in North Carolina.

One of his most popular videos shows the cathedral in Milan, Italy, but it's labeled as being the Concord Hills Shopping Mall instead.

Well, thank you for watching, whether you're in Switzerland, or Gastonia. We'll see you again tomorrow.