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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

NATO Allies Increase Military Support To Ukraine; British PM Won't Resign; New Ending For "Fight Club." Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired January 26, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Tonight, Moscow's demand regarding Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO delivered written responses and called for diplomacy.

Then, "I won't resign". The British prime minister digging his heels in, as the nation waits for the Sue Gray report.

Plus, more than two decades after "Fight Club" was released, China is giving the classic film a new ending. And this time, the authorities win.

NATO and the U.S. have delivered their written responses to Russia outlining their proposed path to defusing the situation on Russia's border

with Ukraine. Now, they say it's Russia's turn. It comes as the U.S. and its allies are discussing sending thousands more troops to Eastern Europe,

to Baltic states, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria who are already hosting military personnel of their allies while Hungary is reportedly considering

accepting the move.

The U.K. is among those planning to send new troops to the area, on Russia's doorstep. But that's something that not all NATO members are

willing to do.

Meanwhile, the more senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine spoke to CNN after a shipment of U.S. weapons reached the country on Tuesday, talking to CNN's

Sam Kiley, Kristina Kvien said that the weapons are ready to be deployed at any time in the event of a Russian attack.


KRISTINA KVIEN, U.S. CHARGE D'AFFAIRES IN UKRAINE: We're trying to make it very clear to Russia now that if they go in, it will not be easy. I've been

here for over 2 1/2 years and I've been -- I've seen Ukrainian troops, Ukrainian national guard, Ukrainian border guards, where they work, I've

gone all around the country and I can tell you, Ukrainians will fight.

Ukrainians love their country. They're patriotic. They will stand. They will fight and the Russians will not have an easy time of it.


NOBILO: From France to the Baltic States, several members of NATO increased military support to Ukraine, but there is one notable country

that seems to be holding back, Europe's richest democracy, Germany. The country has so far resisted pressure from its allies to send weapons.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz insists that Germany stands with its NATO allies. Some analysts say that the German reluctance to send weapons may be a

reaction to the country's history of military aggression of the country in the 20th century, but Germany and Russia have shared energy supply

partnerships for decades. In fact, Germany relies on Russia about a third of its natural gas.

Meanwhile, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, told reporters that a threat against Ukraine is a threat against Europe. He

called for the use of diplomatic channels to deescalate the tensions.

Let's go now to CNN's Clarissa Ward in Kiev.

Clarissa, today, the U.S. and NATO have answered Russia's demands. What do we know about what they said and is that concern that Vladimir Putin could

use an unsatisfactory response to his maximalist demands as a pretext now for an invasion?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Bianca, we don't know the details of the substance of what's in the written agreement or

written response I should say. It's confidential, but we do know, according to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, that there were no concessions of

any type on the sort of issues that the U.S. has previously cast as nonstarters, mainly NATO's open-door policy and therefore, Ukraine's

potential to join the union at some point and also on this issue of withdrawing NATO troops and equipment from countries that have joined the

union since 1997.

But there do appear to be some areas that the U.S. is hopeful, at least, that there might be some room for diplomacy on, and that's in terms of

increased transparency, in terms of sort of military exercises and maneuvers, weapons control, we know that NATO as well in its written

response, which was also delivered today, talked about the possibility of reopening liaison offices between Moscow and also in Brussels to improve

that transparency. But so far, we have no sense of what the response will be from Russia.

We know the Russians acknowledged receiving it, but without a real understanding of what Putin's ultimate sort of ideal outcome is for the

situation, it's very difficult to know how they will react to these written documents -- whether there is, indeed, actually an opportunity for

diplomacy to play out or whether as you mentioned, which is certainly a possibility, that it was a delay tactic or will simply give them now a

pretext to say, okay, you haven't addressed our main concerns, therefore all bets are off.


NOBILO: Clarissa, speaking of opportunities for diplomacy, I see just in to CNN from a source saying there's been some success in the Normandy

format, what do we know about that, is there cause thinking that could be a pause in the ramping up of tensions?

WARD: Yeah, it's interesting. We're hearing slightly different perspectives from the actors involved in that. That's Ukraine, Russia,

Germany, and France.

The Russian representative said there hadn't been much substantial progress but they had all agreed on the necessity of continuing to go ahead any the

Minsk agreements and the continued necessity of forcing a complete cease fire or truce in the Donbas area. That is the sort of separatist controlled

area next to the Russian border. And they're going to meet again in two weeks in Berlin.

So, one can only assume that at least these efforts have not been a disaster. They have not resulted in a deadlock, but they are leading to

another round of talks. And as long as talks are followed by more talks, at least all parties are still talking.

The real trouble, of course, starts when someone decides that a dead end or impasse has been reached that is simply impossible to broach or move past,

and then you are looking at a potential military option. But for now, it seems that diplomacy lives on to see at least one other day.

NOBILO: Well, that's some good news. Clarissa Ward in Kiev, thank you.

Anytime from tomorrow, we could hear the results of the official investigation into the so-called party gate scandal showering the British

prime minister for weeks. The reports by cabinet office official Sue Gray is looking into whether Boris Johnson broke COVID restrictions and the law

by attending several parties, while the rest of the country was in lock down. London police also investigating.

The prime minister facing questions and criticism in parliament today.


KEIR STARMER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: The reality is we now have a shameful spectacle of the prime minister of the United Kingdom the subject

of police investigation, unable to lead the country, and everyday his cabinet failed to speak out, they become more and more complicit.


NOBILO: But, Mr. Johnson is standing firm in his refusal to step down and, of course, he's trying to change the subject.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I want to reassure the House, Mr. Speaker, and the country that I and the whole government are focused 100

percent on dealing with the peoples' priorities, including the UK's leading role in protecting freedom around the world.


NOBILO: The apologies and excuses and anger in parliament for Britons is not really a political drama unfolding at Westminster, but a reminder of

the painful sacrifices they had to make during lockdown for the wellbeing of the country while their leader allegedly flouted the rules.

Salma Abdelaziz digs into this public anger.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Spring 2020, about two months into England's strict nationwide lockdown, the death toll mounting

so quickly, mass graves are dug on the outskirts of London.

The prime minister consistently urges the public to abide by COVID restrictions.

May 15th, this photo was snapped in the Downing Street garden. Johnson allegedly hosting a wine and cheese party for his team. Johnson's

government has denied wrongdoing, claiming this was a work meeting.

Bereaved mother, Emma Jones, says it's hypocrisy.

EMMA JONES, MOTHER OF 18-YEAR-OLD RUBY WHO DIES MAY 15TH, 2020: The date just jumped out at me. So the 15th of May 2020, which is an incredibly sad

day for us.

ABDELAZIZ: That day, her 18-year-old daughter Ruby died of blood cancer at home.

JONES: After Ruby died, we opened up our front garden and invited people to come by, but they had to do it in their household bubbles.

ABDELAZIZ: Because funeral attendance was severely limited, this is how loved one said goodbye to Ruby.

ABDELAZIZ: You made the sacrifice of not having a funeral for your daughter.

JONES: It was very, very hard. But we didn't begrudge that. But now to realize that the people who set the rules weren't following them is

absolutely infuriating.

ABDELAZIZ: May 20th 2020, police are out to enforce restrictions and break up illegal gatherings.

But in the prime minister's garden, a party is allegedly taking place after his top secretary invited more than 100 staffers to make the most of the

lovely weather and bring your own booze.

Johnson now admits to his attendance and has apologized, but says he believed the BYOB event was a work function.

JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to apologize.

ABDELAZIZ: That spring, Olufemi Akinnola followed the rules until his dying breath isolating at home. His son Lobby told us.

LOBBY AKINNOLA, LOST HIS FATHER TO COVID IN 2020: You have someone who is so dedicated to the people he loves. And then the prime minister just

doesn't care.

ABDELAZIZ: In the fall of 2020, Lobby met the prime minister with other bereaved families to share his story of grief.

AKINNOLA: I don't think the man can maintain his position as prime minister because I think he's betrayed us all so deeply.

ABDELAZIZ: For many, the accusation their government broke COVID rules to party is unforgivable. The inquiries into the alleged breaches first by the

cabinet office and now the police are set to make it unforgettable.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


NOBILO: Westminster Scottish National Party leader adding to those calls for accountability. Ian Blackford says that Boris Johnson is demeaning the

office of prime minister.


IAN BLACKFORD, WESTMINSTER LEADER, SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY: Every moment he stays he is dragging on the agony for families who are reminded of the

sacrifices he made and dragging his party further through the dirt. The public knows it, the House knows it, even his own MPs know it. When will

the prime minister cop on and go.


NOBILO: Ian Blackford joins me now live.

Welcome to the program, sir. It's great to have you.

BLACKFORD: Good evening. Pleasure to be with you.

NOBILO: How important is it that the Sue Gray report is published in full, ASAP?

BLACKFORD: We need to see details of that report. There was an expectation we'd see it today. Today has effectively passed and it's not here.

It's really important that we get to the bottom of all the behavior that Downing Street, there are reports of 16 parties of one kind or another held

through lockdown. It's the whole culture and the heartrending stories we heard in your report there which are replicated by families up and down

these islands that made the sacrifices that they did, they weren't able to be with the loved ones when they were dying, weren't able to be with the

loved ones in care homes, couldn't grieve properly, couldn't hold funerals, birthday parties, weddings canceled and for the prime minister, it's been

one rule for everyone else but not for him.

He set the rules, but his administration, those that worked in his office and of course his home as well, carried on party. He hasn't lost that right

to be prime minister as a consequence of these behaviors.

And we shouldn't be asking Tory MPs, the prime minister should recognize the importance of honor and dignity in public life, and he should recognize

that for him, this really should be over.

NOBILO: Can you imagine this prime minister ever resigning on his own accord?

BLACKFORD: I have to say at the moment, that seems to be unlikely, and that the why conservative MPs have got to look at themselves. You know,

this is pretty damning and when you consider what happened yesterday, the police in London, Metropolitan Police open up a crime, the prospect of the

prime minister interviewed under caution, this is unprecedented.

But it's not just about the behavior, everything we've seen from the prime minister over the course of the last two and a half years and that's what I

raised in the House of Commons because if you recall in a few years ago, the term which was used in the United Kingdom, of proroguing parliament, of

shutting down parliament, but he had to go to the queen to ask authority to do that. And, of course, that was overturned by the highest court in the


The situation where those give a magical figure of 3 million pounds to the Conservative Party end up unelected members of the House of Lords, the

whole scandal of the refurbishment of the flat, when he went around touting for people to give donations to, this is a man that has demeaned the

office, no prime minister in our history has behaved in this way and before he does further damage, he ought to be removed but one thing's important.

You just had the story on Ukraine. We're all deeply concerned on the peace between Russia and Ukraine. This is a prime minister in office, and not in

power, it's a prime minister that is making sure that what we're focusing on, his behavior, not dealing with the situations we need to be dealing

with, dealing with Ukraine, dealing with the situation in Bosnia, dealing with the domestic crisis we have at home over inflation increase.

And just as we're seeing, of course, in the United States as well, the cost of living issue that we face, a rise in gas prices and the prime minister

is only focused on one thing, and that's on saving his own skin.


NOBILO: Now, you're a very well known and fierce critic of the prime minister and the current government. I've been watching you closely since

you become SNP leader in 2017 and I've spoken to you many times outside parliament during shows. But you do have friends obviously across the

house. How would you characterize the mood at the moment among conservative MPs? And given what you've said about this prime minister managing to

survive so many scandals, why do you think this time, it's different, it's the death knell for the premiership.

BLACKFORD: Yeah, and, of course, there are decent people across the House that come into the House to do their best for people, people have political

differences, that's natural. But I think many people have a sense of shock at the way this prime minister has been.

And I understand, if you're a conservative MP, to ask you to go against your leader, to write a letter to the 1922 committee, a motion of no

confidence, is a big thing to do. But I'm asking each and every one of them to look at their own souls, to consider their conscience, to look at the

letters they have had from constituents and recognize that they have a moral responsibility to say to this man, if you won't go of their own

volition, that they have to do the right thing.

They have to make sure that this man is removed, that we can get back to normal politics, with a prime minister I might not agree with but a prime

minister we can have a degree of respect for and maintenance of that office that they should be dealing with, the Office of the Prime Minister, because

this man certainly is not fit for purpose, he has betrayed that trust for the people of the United Kingdom and quite simply has to go and his

concerted MPs have that responsibility.

You know, we have a situation in Scotland, you know the Scottish situation very well, the Scottish members of our parliament, (INAUDIBLE) come out and

said this man has to go. They recognize that the public have gone against this prime minister. Conservative MPs in London have got to come to the

same conclusion.

NOBILO: Ian Blackford, thank you for joining us on the show tonight.

BLACKFORD: Thank you.

NOBILO: And Mr. Johnson is facing some new allegations of being economical with the truth. Leaked emails suggest he may have authorized the evacuation

of animals from Afghanistan last year, a claim that Johnson previously denied, calling it nonsense. The pets were rescued during the chaotic

evacuation of vulnerable citizens from Kabul when the Taliban took control.

One email from the foreign office said the PM approved helping staff and animals from the charity which his run by an ex-royal marine. Johnson's

spokesman said he had not seen the emails but repeated prime minister was not involved.

Prince Andrew is now asking for a jury trial in Virginia Giuffre sexual abuse lawsuit against him. He's also formally denying her accusations in a

new court filing. Giuffre alleges that Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex encounter with the British royal when she

was underage in the United States. Andrew does admit to meeting Epstein in 1999, though, through Maxwell, and staying at Epstein's New York mansion at


Two weeks ago, a judge in New York denied the prince's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit and he was stripped of his military titles and charities soon

after that.

You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Coming up, inexplicable symptoms with one thing in common, who's affected. When we come back, we'll break down Havana syndrome and the response from

the CIA.



NOBILO: It's like a plot from a mystery novel, a string of unsolved illnesses plaguing U.S. officials across the globe. But many say it's real

and it's called Havana syndrome. For five years, U.S. spies and diplomats have reported an obscure set of symptoms like vertigo and a piercing

directional noise. In some cases, officials even diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.

The symptoms were first reported in Havana, Cuba, hence the name. But it occurred since in other countries, and roughly in around 1,000 cases. Some

analysts think the illnesses could come from microwave weapons causing sonic conclusions and brain damage but recently, a CIA report found the

symptoms were likely not a result of targeting from foreign powers. Still, the intelligence community is continuing to investigate the episodes and

hasn't ruled out the idea that these could be attacks.

In response to the initial cases, the U.S. reduced its staff in the embassy in Cuba and closed the consulate in Havana.

And joining me now is CNN's Patrick Oppmann in Havana, who spoke with Cuba's foreign ministry about reopening the embassy.

Patrick, what did they tell you?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unusual, if not unprecedented to hear a Cuba official say they agree with their long-time

nemesis, the CIA. But Cuban officials are speaking with me today, really showing the CIA report which they say vindicates them. It shows that, at

least with the lack of evidence, so far, that there is no sign of concentrated foreign government attack. Remember Cuba was blamed by some in

the Trump administration, other officials said Cuba had to know because the alleged attacks were happening on their territory, a place they have very

well covered, but today speaking with the high ranking official from the foreign ministry says the CIA report shows they were right all along, there

is no evidence of attacks and now is the time to reset the relationship between the Biden administration and Cuba.


CARLOS FERNANDEZ DE COSSIO, VICE MINISTER, CUBAN FOREIGN MINISTRY: The logical step by the U.S. government with this evidence, with what they know

now would be to put aside the excuse used at the time about attacks and then normalize the function, the operation of their embassy in Havana.


OPPMANN: And as you mentioned, Bianca, the consulate here at the U.S. embassy in Havana has been closed now for years. That has created a back

log of 100,000 Cubans,100,000 that have not been able to receive their visas that have been granted to them because this consulate has closed. So,

this is what Cuban officials are talking about.

And certainly, there will be some that says that -- any improvement in relations to U.S. and Cuba would be a gift to a government that represses

its own people. But you talk to some of these people who waited for years to see their family and they say that despite being caught between this

Cold War animosity between these two governments, that whatever happened to the U.S. diplomats here should not impact their ability to reconnect with

family in the U.S.

They are hopeful, though, that this report will clear the way to at least reestablishing some of those services at the U.S. embassy in Havana,

they're hopeful U.S. diplomats will now feel it's safe to return here.

NOBILO: Patrick Oppmann in Havana, thank you.

Officials in China saying they're cracking down on what they call illegal content online. The country right now is cleaning up its internet ahead of

the lunar New Year and Winter Games in Beijing, China's online regulators say it will clamp down on online rumors. It also says that obscene, vulgar

or violent information should be eradicated to create a positive online atmosphere and that home pages of key media sites should present positive

information. The cyber space administration says this, quote, purification, will create a happy, healthy and peaceful online environment.


And speaking of China purifying what people see, Chinese sensors have made some big changes to the popular film, "Fight Club". The movie famously ends

with Ed Norton and Helena Bonham Carter watching as a plan to blow up banks and credit companies comes to fruition. But China's not too keen on the

anti-establishment with that ending. So, its edited version cuts off right before then, instead showing a message saying police stopped the plot and

the main character was taken to a psychiatric hospital.

It's not the first time China tried to clean up movies or TV shows. It's been joked that China's versions of "Game of Thrones" is merely a

documentary about medieval castles.

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


NOBILO: My team and I put you a few stories about fish, so I think I should be an aquatic correspondent at this rate, but did you know that

small round fish bowls are actually not good for underwater pets? A leading French aquarium vendor to stop selling fish bowls that are round

and less than 15 liters, the fish tanks drive fish crazy due to a lack of oxygenation and filtration, according to the CEO of a pet care company.

Many compare it to a form of animal abuse.

Goldfish can actually live for 30 years, but when living in a round fish bowl, they can die after just days or weeks. Several other European

countries have long banned fish bowls for this very reason, but France is yet to enforce a ban.

Thanks for watching us tonight. We will see you all again, tomorrow.