Return to Transcripts main page

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Ukraine Urges Calm; Sweden Recommends Not Vaccinating Young Children; Scotland "Strut Stuff" Helpline. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired January 28, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Tonight, quote, the threat is constant, but we've learned to live with it. Ukraine's president urges Western allies to not so panic, adding he's ready

to talk to Russia's president.

Then, I speak to the cofounder of Strut Stuff, an Edinburgh helpline designed to make people feel safer when they're walking alone at night.

And, what went right in the world this week. Your good news wrap is up ahead.

A top U.S. general says the massing of Russian troops surround Ukrainian appears largely in scope and scale than anything seen since the Cold War,

but he stresses there is still time for diplomacy. As fears grow of a possible Russian invasion, Ukraine's president is urging the West to tone

down the talk of war, warning it not to stir up panic.

Volodymyr Zelensky said the worst threat to Ukraine is destabilization from within. He also pointed to remarks about the U.S. a day after his call with

President Joe Biden.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I'm the president of Ukraine. I'm based here, and I think I know the details much

deeper than any other president. The question is not about the U.S. president. We do understand what the risks are, and which of those risks

are priority.

We discussed a lot of issues. I would like to explain the situation. It's important the president should know what the situation is from me, not from



NOBILO: The Kremlin says Vladimir Putin is still studying the U.S. and NATO responses to Russia's security demands, but it said that he told French

President Emmanuel Macron that the documents do not address fundamental concerns over NATO expansion.

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has this blunt assessment.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Their position is based on forced arguments, direct misinterpretation of the

facts and our position is based on something everybody signed up to, so I don't see any room for compromise here.

If it is up to the Russian Federation, there will be no war. We don't want a war, but we will not allow our interests to be trampled on.


NOBILO: The Pentagon says conflict with Russia is not inevitable and it believes Mr. Putin has not yet decided to invade, but it warns he could be

considering exactly what Ukraine says it fears most, destabilizing the country through disinformation and provocative acts that could lead to



LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: And there are multiple options available to him, including the seizure of cities and significant

territories. But also coercive acts or provocative political acts like the recognition of breakaway territories. Indeed, we're seeing Russian state

media spouting off now about alleged activities in Eastern Ukraine. This is straight out of the Russian playbook, and they're not fooling us.


NOBILO: People in these breakaway territories just mention in the Ukraine have long-lived in the shadow of war as Russian-backed separatists fight

for independence from Kyiv.

CNN affiliate Expressen recently travelled to Ukraine, speaking with civilians close to the Russian border.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): She doesn't know what a peaceful life is like. I mean, she's heard about the concept, but I have two other

kids and they're grown and know what a peaceful life is like, but this one since she was born has never experienced that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We weren't living anymore. We're just existing. Whatever God decides, here today, gone tomorrow. People are

no longer afraid to be honest.

It's too difficult on our elders to keep going downstairs to seek shelter. If they start bombing, everyone will just remain at home whatever happens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They're telling us to get out while we can, run, but we won't. We're going sit right here. This is our

land, and we're going to stay right here.


NOBILO: Let's go now to Ric Robertson live in Moscow.

Nic, before we get to Russia, I want to ask you about this sort of inverse positioning we now see from Zelensky and Biden. When we think back a couple

of weeks or months ago, Zelensky was really sounding the alarm bells about what Russia was doing, the U.S. less so. Now, we see an opposite rhetoric

from both of them.


What do you make of that?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, I think on the one hand, Zelensky didn't quite understand once the West turns its

attention to supporting him and the escalation and presentation along the border of more Russian troops, what that was going to entail, and it was

going to entail a dynamic of NATO nations wanting more deterrent capacity on their borders close to Russia.

For Ukraine, the effect has been to sort of raise tensions. For embassies to do what they do in these situations, which is decide to draw down staff.

And I don't think he saw -- I don't think he saw that coming and now there's a real economic consequence with it. And as he says, he knows

perhaps better the details on the ground that they have been through this, you know, for eight years or so with Russia, with Russian troops in various

places around Ukraine, feeling that threat, living with the threat, but also sort of living through that threat to a degree.

You know, he talked about, I think, at one point, where Russians seemed to be based before, of intelligence services figuring out -- actually those

tents were empty. So, you know, he has that greater level of confidence because he feels he's got more granular detail and more experience of it,

and therefore this -- what's happening is a shock, but worse than that, it troubles the people, but worse than that it hurts the economy.

And he knows that means trouble ahead because Russia can exploit it.

NOBILO: Nic, I want to play a sound bite from NATO secretary general today regarding Finland and Sweden potentially joining NATO. Let's take a listen.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: This has to be a political decision, but when you see the high level of improbability between NATO and

Finland and Sweden, when I know see to what degree they all meet NATO standards, it should be possible to allow them into our alliance quite



NOBILO: Nic, how is that going down in Moscow?

ROBERTSON: No reaction to it so far. Certainly, there's consternation. I mean, the idea that several thousand more NATO troops close their borders

could for them, you know, signal more of what they have been fearing, that unfriendly nations are getting closer. I mean, that in essence of it,

that's their argument and complaint.

So if Sweden and then Finland were to join NATO, then there's no doubt that Russia would feel the pressure of that. It's not -- doesn't seem that

Sweden and Finland are about to do that.

But it certainly, for the Kremlin, is not going to -- is not going to bring out perhaps better judgments, how they would handle it if it happens isn't


NOBILO: Nic Robertson in Moscow, thank you.

Sue Gray knows how to keep us political journalists keen. Her highly anticipated report into the extent of COVID rule breaking in Downing Street

during lockdown is still a mystery. However, Westminster journalists are reporting that it will be delivered to the prime minster imminently with

publication due next week when the House of Commons is sitting.

On Friday, the Met released a statement explaining they want minimal reference to the events that they're investigating to be contained in the

Sue Gray report. That's led to criticism that information related to the most potentially serious flagrant breaches will be redacted until the met

finish their investigation, or as I have been putting it today, equivalent to making a movie of "Titanic", going light on the iceberg.

Now, let's take a look at the other key stories making international impact today. The latest round of nuclear talks between Iran and Western powers

are on pause until next week, as negotiators in Vienna return to their capital for input. A statement from the so-called E3, which includes

France, Britain and Germany, says January has been an intensive period and talks are reaching the final stage.

The Economic Community of West African States has suspended Burkina Faso after days after the military coup there. The organization condemned the

coup as a step backwards for the country. Meanwhile, the head of the new military junta asked for international support.

Italy's presidential vote will resume on Saturday after the fifth round failed to produce a new head of state. Several party leaders said that they

are looking at picking a female president, Italy's first as they seek a compromised candidate.

Turning to Sweden, where the country's health agency has decided not to vaccinate children age 5 to 11.


BRITTA BJORKHOLM, SWEDISH HEALTH AGENCY REPRESENTATIVE: We don't see that we want to vaccinate the whole group of children for the sake of society.

So we want to see a clear benefit for the children themselves and for the individual child, so that's why we don't recommend it at the moment.



NOBILO: The agency said it could revisit the decision at a later stage of the pandemic. This comes as more and more countries around the world expand

their vaccine programs for kids.

Now I want to bring in CNN health correspondent Jacqueline Howard to talk about this.

Jacqueline, you obviously follow these things very closely. What are the pros and cons of vaccinating children at this stage of the pandemic?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Bianca, it sounds like that diagnosis in Sweden was partly based on how children, young children ages 5

to 11 are less likely to get severely ill and hospitalized compared with an adults. And the World Health Organization said in its guidance to

prioritize fully vaccinating adults first.

But, Bianca, there is a benefit to vaccinating young children. In several countries, here in the United States, have moved forward with vaccinating

kids ages 5 to 11. That benefit is based on how even though young children are less likely to become hospitalized, data suggests they are about as

likely as adults to become infected with the coronavirus, and that's what's driven many nations to move forward with vaccinating this age group.

Here in the United States where I live, back in late October, the U.S. authorized vaccinations for kids ages 5 to 11. The first shots were

administered starting in early November. And to this day, the U.S. CDC recommends vaccinating kids ages 5 to 11.

We do see kids becoming infected here in the U.S. Just this week, data has shown new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. topped 1 million. Last week for the

first time since the American Academy of Pediatrics started tracking these cases. So, that is where there's this benefit to vaccinating young

children. But again, it sounds like Sweden is basing its decision on the fact that we don't see as many hospitalizations. And the WHO still

recommends to prioritize older adults and older adolescents first.

But, Bianca, it will be interesting to see if Sweden does change its decision and if it does decide to move forward. Again, as we heard from

officials, this is something that could change in the future.

NOBILO: It will be interesting. We know you'll keep an eye on it for us.

HOWARD: Absolutely.

NOBILO: Jacqueline Howard in Atlanta, thank you.

The U.N. World Food Programme is sounding the alarm about hunger in Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray Region.


TOMSON PHIRI, U.N. WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME SPOKESPERSON: Severe hunger is tightening its grip on Northern Ethiopia. After 15 months of conflict,

almost 40 percent of Tigrayans are suffering an extreme lack of food.


NOBILO: The report says around 9 million people need food, aide across Tigray and neighboring regions infected by the war. It's the first major

assessment that the World Food Programme has made since the conflict began. Tigray has seen more than a year of war, and that's left thousands of dead

and millions displaced, and aid groups are struggling to reach some places.

Fifty years have passed since the Bloody Sunday massacre, one of the defining days of the Northern Ireland conflict. That's when British

soldiers should unarmed, killing 13. While a judicial inquiry conclude in 2010 that the killings were unjustified, officials announced last year that

the only British soldier charged with murder would not face trial.

British authorities have said that they would end prosecution of militants in an effort to draw a line under the 30-year conflict between Catholic

nationalists and Protestant loyalists. That angered family of the victims who say they're still looking for justice.


GLEANN DOHERTY, SON OF BLOODY SUNDAY VICTIM: It's fairly difficult to get any sort of reconciliation or anything in that direction when you have the

British government trying to close to door on any possibility of anything, with their sort of blanket immunity for British forces.


NOBILO: Several memorial events will take place over the weekend, including a play remembering Edward Daly. He was a priest photographed waving a

blood-stained white flag which became a symbol of the massacre.

Sarah Everard's death last year led to a global movement. But all these months later, many women still don't feel safe in public spaces. I'll speak

with a co-organizer of one group trying to change that.



NOBILO: Sarah Everard is a name the world knows, the London woman who was abducted and found dead last year. A police officer was sentenced to life

in prison for her murder. And her death sparked anger around the world.

Her story unfortunately is not unique, with many women facing the same fate. As the case captured international headlines, women shared online how

they changed their behaviors to feel safe. But as we said on this program before, the onus should never be on the woman. Yet until the conversation

chains and action is taken, people are going to look for ways to feel comfortable while alone or at night.

And that's why a group of young people in Edinburgh decided to act and create Strut Safe. It's a help line that people can call if they're walking

home alone. A volunteer will answer, ready to call the police or an ambulance if needed. And even though the helpline was initially a response

to gender-based violence, it's grown far beyond that. Both women and men are now calling on weekends.


CALLER: Hi, my friend gave your number. I'm just walking home and normally, it's fine, but I got catcalled just now and I'm feeling a bit nervous. It

was just right around the corner from where I live.

VOLUNTEER: I'm sorry that happened. Would you like to put you in touch with support or resources or just stay on the phone until you get home?

CALLER: Just staying on the phone is fine. It's my first time calling.

CALLER: Yeah, I'm just out. Do you guys take calls from men?

VOLUNTEER: Yes. We're here for anyone who needs us. I'd be happy to stay on the phone with you while you walk.

CALLER: That's great. Thanks. Normally I wouldn't, but my mate got mugged on the way home last weekend, and it's got me nervous.

VOLUNTEER: I'm sorry to hear that. I'm glad you found our number.


NOBILO: Twenty-two-year-old Alice Jackson, a co-organizer of Strut Safe, joins me now live.

Alice, a very warm welcome to the program. This is an amazing thing that you're doing. Why did you start Strut Safe?

ALICE JACKSON, CO-ORGANIZER, STRUT SAFE: Hello, Bianca. Thank you so much for having me.

So, Rachel, my cofounder and I, we started Strut Safe after the death of Sarah Everard back in March of 2021. We were looking to do something local

in our community to ensure this people had a safe way to get home, and for us, that meant, you know, going out and meeting a friend or meeting anyone

who needed us. When we put the word out on social media about what our organization was and what we were hoping to do, it spread so quickly and

grew so quickly, and soon we were taking calls from far outside of Edinburgh, across the U.K., and people calling and just wanting someone to

stay on the phone with them.

And we got (INAUDIBLE) every weekend since the past nine months and now we're across the U.K.

NOBILO: And how exactly does this system work, and what responses have you had from people who use it?

JACKSON: So, the idea is that you can call our number during operating hours and someone will stay on the phone with you in live time and talk you

through that. In that moment, we just want to be, you know, whatever that person needs us to be.

So, that can be support, resources, advice, or it can just be a talk about your day, or a gossip about something at work. It can be in that moment

what you become in that moment what that person needs you to be. The response has been amazing.

Some -- you know, obviously, you were talk at how there's such fundamental issues the way that we see -- we see violence and the way that our culture

contributes to it.


But at the moment, something that exists that didn't exist before, and we just want to be there for people in that moment of vulnerability and

support them as best we can.

NOBILO: And we touch on it in the introduction, Alice, but could you tell us about the processes that are in place if for someone reason somebody on

the phone with one of your volunteers encounters somebody that makes them uncomfortable or you think there might be trouble, what happens then?

JACKSON: So, we always want to ensure that our priority is the caller, so we train our volunteers to prepare for the easiest of scenarios, which

could just be a chat on the way home to perhaps something more sinister and severe. So in that moment, we can offer advice for how to deal with the

situation, but also things which escalate.

Then we, with the caller's permission, are able to contact emergency services, and that's something we remain committed to, that we will do what

we can to ensure the safety of our callers.

NOBILO: And do you think that helping somebody talk on the phone when they're walking home at night and it's dark actually has a deterrent effect

on would be attackers? Because it is something a lot of women I know -- that I do on the rare occasions I'm walking home late, you sometimes fake

talking on the phone. I fake talk about all the martial arts I do to add a deterrent as well.

But is there any suggestion -- or from experience, what have you learned about people feeling more safe because they're having engagement with

somebody else?

JACKSON: Well, I think something that is so important to us about strut safe is being there for people when they need us in the fact that there's

such a culture there. I mean, I have it among my friends. I'll call you on your way home. A lot of people will call a partner or a parent or a friend.

But in perhaps a moment when you can't get through to anybody, the idea is that Strut Safe is there for you. We're going a professional friend,


But also, we hope that by being there with someone in live time that we are able to help them in live time and also reassure them in live time. So if

something were to happen, there's someone who knows immediately that's going to happen, there's not a notification from an app that goes, you

know, 10 minutes after someone doesn't check in. It's not someone waiting for a text that perhaps doesn't come.

And we hope that by being a very obvious, you know, resource, that that will deter people. But, you know, we just want to reassure people with

Strut Safe and ensure that people have someone to go and talk to. And we hope that we really does make a difference.

NOBILO: And there's often justifiably a lot of focus on women walking home late at night, but this hot line isn't just for women. It's for everyone,

for others that might feel particularly vulnerable.

JACKSON: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the way misogyny and violence intersect, the way that homophobia and violence intersect, for example, and racism and

violence intersect, usual such specific things. And, yeah, violence doesn't just affect women. It affects, you know, many marginalized groups and men

as well.

And so, we our -- service is free. It's nonjudgmental, and we take calls from all kinds of people, from all walks of life, doing all different jobs

and taking all different walks home. And, yeah, it's important to us that we're there for everybody because, yeah, this isn't just something that

affects women. And it's important that because we start as a community group to look after our community, and in our eyes, that community has just

grown to nationwide.

NOBILO: Alice Jackson, thank you so much for coming on the program, it's good to talk to you, and congratulations for what you've already achieved.

And it does sound like it has the capacity as well to grow and reinforce people's safety.

JACKSON: Thank you so much. Have a good evening.

NOBILO: Last year, we asked women around the world what they do everyday to feel safe. Their responses were eerily similar, showing just how much

conversation needs to change. You can watch that report on

The World Health Organization says an increase in allegations of sexual abuse within the agency shows that its reform programs are working. The

reform programs were instituted after a report last year which found at least 83 aid workers, some of them employed by the WHO, involved in the

cases of sexual abuse during an Ebola pandemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The head of the agency says that thanks to the reforms, more and

more victims and witnesses are feeling able to come forward to report alleged cases.

But more than 50 countries are calling on the WHO to do more to strengthen its response, adding that the ongoing cases undermine the work of the


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



NOBILO: It's time for your likely dose of good news.

We start with the kindness of strangers. A simple callout on TikTok by a father in Tennessee has prompted an online movement. Dan Blevins offered to

attend the wedding of anyone in the LGBTQ family who needs a stand-in father to celebrate their wedding. He says no one should be alone or not

feel accepted on their big day.

His callout prompted the creation of a Facebook group called TikTok stand- in wedding which now has grown to more than 34,000 them this week.

Up next, an incredible woman in London is showing us that you're never too old to give back to our community. Beryl Carr just celebrated her 100th

birthday and she's still an active volunteer at a London hospital. She's been giving her time there for 18 years. Doctors say that they're inspired

by her smile and her swagger.

And finally, we already know that animals play, but they may also know how to love. Researchers from UCLA have found that dozens of species, including

seals, cows and foxes have exhibited vocal play behavior or sounds that might be thought of as laughter. The new research could give us insight

into how humans developed our expressions of humor and joy.

And with that, it's time for our own humor and joy of the weekend. Good night, everyone. I'll see you on Monday.