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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Interview With U.S. Representative To NATO; Leader Of ISIS Killed In Syria; Downing Street Resignation. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired February 03, 2022 - 17:00   ET


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

Tonight, NATO's secretary general warns that Russia's military deployment to Belarus is the biggest since the Cold War.


I speak to the U.S. permanent representative to NATO.

Then, the leader of ISIS has died during a U.S. military raid in Syria. Rescue workers say at least 13 people killed, including children, during

the event.

And the wheels coming off. Four senior staff at 10 Downing Street resign. We'll look at what that means for the prime minister ahead.

The United States has just revealed an alleged plot says it could provide Vladimir Putin the spark he needs to justify invading Ukraine. U.S.

officials believe Russia is planning to stage a fake attack on its own territory or against Russian speakers framing Ukrainian forces.

Moscow denied that today to CNN, but the U.S. says it wouldn't make the information public if it weren't confident on the details.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: As part of this fake attack, we believed that Russia could produce a graphic propaganda video which would

include corpses and actors that would be depicting mourners and images of destroyed locations as well as military equipment at the hands of Ukraine

or the West. Even to the point where some of this equipment would be made to look like it was Western supplied Ukrainian -- to Ukraine equipment.


NOBILO: Both the U.S. and NATO are also sounding the alarm about Russia's military buildup in Belarus north of Ukraine.

Russia's defense minister visit there today and met with President Lukashenko. NATO says that Russian forces have a wide range of modern

military capabilities.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Over the last days, we have seen a significant movement of Russian military forces into Belarus. This is the

biggest Russian deployment there since the Cold War.


NOBILO: Russia is accusing the U.S. of provocation by deploying more troops into NATO allies and Europe. It says the move is provoking, quote,

hot heads in Kyiv to proceed with a show of force of their own.

Just earlier, I spoke with Julianne Smith, a new U.S. permanent representative to NATO. I began by asking what further information she

could provide on that alleged video.


JULIANNE SMITH, U.S. PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO NATO: Well, as you heard today, we're seeing just another piece of the typical Russian playbook.

Essentially, Russians frequently turn to these types of tactics where you could call them a false flag, where they fabricate some sort of reason, and

that serves as a pretext for them to go in and take action.

We saw this in 2014. We've seen other efforts for them to use these types of tactics over the last ten years. And so, what you heard today was just

another piece of information where Russia is clearly laying the ground work to destabilize Ukraine from within and find a pretext to take action using

the military forces that it's built up around the border.

NOBILO: Now, the president of Turkey has offered to mediate between Putin and Zelensky. He's recently spoken to the president of Ukraine. Boris

Johnson in Britain has recently spoken to Putin, yesterday. Macron has spoken to him today.

Who do you think has the best chance of the creating a meaningful dialogue with Putin, somebody that the Russian president will listen to?

SMITH: Well, at this point, it's hard to say if Putin will really listen to anybody, but I think the United States, the president is comfortable

having other allies go out and send a very clear, crisp, united message. We've had a number of our partners and allies travelled both to Ukraine and

engaged with Putin directly.

What's great here is you see all of the allies coming together and delivering basically two very simple messages. One, we're open to dialogue

and happy to sit down again at the table any time. Two, if you opt for another course of action, if Russia decides to further invade Ukraine, it

will face massive consequences.

And I'm confident that that's the message that Putin is hearing from Boris Johnson, from Macron, from Erdogan, and certainly from President Biden as

well, and I think it's good to have that message come off from multiple corners of Europe in very clear terms to Moscow.

NOBILO: And President Putin is traveling to Beijing this evening before the trip. He released an open letter to the Chinese public, and he wrote --

I'm sure you've heard this -- foreign policy coordination with Russia and China is based on close and coinciding approaches to solving global and

regional issues.

It does seem that Russia and China are forging an ever closer partnership as their relations with the West deteriorate in some respects.


How concerned are you about that, particularly when it comes to the crisis in Ukraine?

SMITH: The relationship between China and Russia has been a marriage of convenience for a very, very long time, where they have supported each

other, particularly in multilateral institutions, like at the United Nations, where they will frequently vote with each other.

What we've seen recently, though, really in the last few years and months, is really that relationship evolving and those two countries getting even

closer to one another. They're learning from each other. I think China and Russia are sharing some of the tactics they both rely on. I think in the

disinformation space and in the cyberspace, we're seeing a lot of the similar approaches to dealing with the West, with a united West.

So it is something that we're playing close attention to, and something that you increasingly see the Biden administration focused on, this

relationship between both China and Russia.

NOBILO: Ukraine's presidential adviser said today that the White House dropping the word imminent from its language in terms of how it refers to a

Russian invasion was an important diplomatic result, trying to de-escalate this crisis.

How significant do you think that change of wording is? And also, do you think that this heightened rhetoric and also hysteria in the media

potentially has been fueling this crisis?

SMITH: I really don't see any hysteria out there. I see a pretty consistent message coming from the White House and I see a very consistent

message coming from NATO headquarters. It's a simple message that Russia is in essence the aggressor here. Russia went into Ukraine in 2014, and Russia

is the one that has massed 127,000 troops on Ukraine's border.

So we could argue here and there about a word, but I think the message that's coming through -- I hope the message that's coming through loud and

clear is that Washington, the White House is very concerned by Russia's actions and here at NATO headquarters, all the 30 allies, all 30 member of

this alliance, we also are concerned and are taking the necessary steps to prepare for all contingencies.

NOBILO: Finally, you describe yourself as a NATO nerd, which I think is fabulous, but the role of the permanent representative to NATO has been

empty for a year. How would you describe the importance of NATO?

SMITH: This alliance is a critical part of the transatlantic relationship. It's really where the United States and Canada come together with their

closest European allies to deal with the most pressing challenges in and around the European continent.

And right now, as we deal with this crisis between Russia and Ukraine, this is really where it's at. This is the room where it happens. This is where

allies come together to debate, take action, and send a very consistent message back to Moscow.


NOBILO: That was the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith. And as you heard, she calls the partnership between Moscow and Beijing, a marriage of

convenience. Presidents Putin and Xi are supposed to meet in a few hours in Beijing, ahead of the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics.

David Culver dives deeper into the significant of that summit, and what we can expect in the day ahead.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A mesmerizing opening ceremony expected to be attended by two strongman leaders. Chinese

President Xi Jinping will soon be hosting his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, as their country stands shoulder to shoulder in defiance of the


Despite lingering disputes over issues such as economic interest in the Middle East, Beijing and Moscow managed to see past those differences, and

focus instead on one common adversary the United States, which has launched a diplomatic boycott of the games over Beijing's human rights record.

And as tensions rise between Russia and NATO over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, Beijing has publicly backed the Kremlin. In a recent

phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that Russia's reasonable security concerns should

be taken seriously and resolved.

This will be the 38th time that President Xi and President Putin have met face to face since President Xi took power here back in 2013.

These frequent interactions are a sign of increasingly close bilateral ties, despite how different the two leaders are. The images tell it all --

the pair in 2018 happily sampling together a traditional Chinese pancake.


A few months later, they made a Russian version of the dish, complete with caviar and vodka.

They visited with China's iconic pandas the following year, and took in an ice hockey game -- later basking in the sunset boat tour.

The cozy China Russia relationship, not stopping the U.S. from trying to sway China on the Ukraine crisis.

VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: We are calling on Beijing to use its influence with Moscow to urge diplomacy.

CULVER: But analysts say Beijing sees little benefit to side with the West.


is actually the desire to undercut U.S. credibility to drive a wedge between Washington and its allies.

CULVER: Other democracies and U.S. allies like Taiwan will be watching closely. As China stepped up its military activities across the Taiwan

Strait --

RUSSEL: If the people in Taiwan saw that, despite all of Washington's efforts, and all of NATO's tough talk that they didn't succeed in deterring

Putin, they're going to ask themselves, can we on Taiwan really count on the United States in a crisis?

CULVER: After the U.S. has disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan; Ukraine presents the latest test on the U.S. capability to maintain global peace

and security. And the outcome may further convince China and Russia of an emerging new world order that both have long sought.

David Culver, CNN, Beijing.


NOBILO: U.S. President Joe Biden sent a message to terrorists around the world saying, quote, we will find and we will kill you. He says the leader

of ISIS died in a U.S. Special Forces raid Wednesday night. The terrorist later died after detonating a bomb killing him and family members at this

house in northern Syria. Since ISIS was defeated nearly three years ago, the group continued waging attacks in the region.

CNN's Arwa Damon has reported extensively from Syria and shares with us the latest information on the casualties from the raid, and I want to warn you

that some images in this report are disturbing.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A small body is carried down the dark stairs. The rescue workers speak in thick


Wait, wait, wait, one warns. It's stuck.

They gently coax a tiny child's corpse out from under a large slab of concrete. It's a little girl.

Another small body, a boy, is carefully wrapped in a blanket.

This is what is left behind after U.S. Special Forces conducted an overnight raid in Syria.

Later, the White House announced that they had, quote, removed the leader of ISIS, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.

But the reality of what happened is uglier than that simple statement, and the fog of war is filled with questions.

The owner of the building says that two families lived here. One man, his wife and three children. And his sister lived upstairs with her daughter,

he says. Seven bodies were found here.

President Biden says it was al Qurayshi who detonated a bomb killing himself and his family. But were there more people in the house that night?

We don't know yet. But in all, at least 13 people were dead in the raid's aftermath, including six children.

Eyewitnesses described helicopter gunships hovering overhead for hours, warnings to evacuate the house and surrender, intense gunfire, hearing

multiple explosions.

Clashes occurred and then the helicopter struck with machine guns this man remembers. One of the strikes was here, and the rest were striking the

targeted house.

Did the U.S. forces fire on other buildings?

Footage from the scene and the surrounding areas show damage to multiple other buildings as well.

This child's body, green socks on tiny feet, was ripped in half.

Taking out ISIS' leader may be a win for America. It may put a temporary damper on ISIS' abilities. But ISIS will rise again, and the war on terror

will leave more innocents in its wake.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.


NOBILO: Four senior members of Boris Johnson's Downing Street team are gone. All of them resigned Thursday. His chief of staff, director of

communications, principal private secretary, and head of policy.

They were not all unexpected but the timing adds to the feeling of a Number 10 derailed.

Munira Mirza, his policy chief, landed the biggest blow when she resigned, citing the prime minster's remarks on Monday, where he implied that

opposition leader Keir Starmer was personally responsible for allowing the notorious Jimmy pedophile Savile to escape justice.


She wrote: This was not the normal cut and thrust. It was an inappropriate reference to a horrendous case of child sexual abuse. The prime minster did

tell his MPs that he would make changes to Number 10 in the wake of party- gate, but you can't question that the optics of this are chaotic. Four senior resignations on the same day, following several public declarations

of his own MPs that they've sent letters of no confidence in him, all this against a backdrop of open condemnation and his party putting him on


Coming up in the program, a new study shows that 48 percent of parents in England are not aware of the dangerous consequences of measles. We'll speak

to an expert, coming up.


NOBILO: Health officials here in the U.K. are urging parents to come forward and vaccinate their children against one of the world's most

contagious diseases, measles. Rates of MMR vaccinations covering measles, mumps and rubella have dropped to their lowest level in a decade. Despite

the coronavirus pandemic, the National Health Service always made it clear that routine children's immunizations remain a priority.

But studies from British Health agencies show that 48 percent of parents don't know that measles could cause pneumonia, brain inflammation, and

sometimes death. We hear talk about vaccines every day now, so why are around 1 in 10 children at risk of measles before starting school?

To answer this question and hopefully more, Stephen Baker, professor of microbiology at Cambridge, joins me right now.

Welcome to the program, sir.


NOBILO: So, how much do you think the pandemic is to blame for the drop of routine children's vaccination rates, and what are the consequences of this


BAKER: I think there's been a trend over the recent years. There has been a drop-off in recent vaccination rates and I think the COVID pandemic has

kind of accentuated it. The consequences are that we're at a fairly dangerous point, and we've learned a lot about herd immunity or heard a lot

about herd immunity, and it's important to keep the vaccination rates to make sure we maintain that herd immunity so we don't get outbreaks.

NOBILO: When you say prior to the pandemic, you noticed a downward trend in uptake of the MMR vaccination among children, why is that do you think?

BAKER: I think it's been a range of different things. There was some bad press in the late 1990, which was debunked, but also, we got kind of sloppy

when it comes to immunization rates generally and we don't really see the long-term benefit of vaccines because they work. It's only when we start

removing vaccination and we start to get back to some of these older problems it starts to realize how important now.

NOBILO: You make a good point about what there is in the press and with conspiracy theories and discussions about MMR vaccines, which have been

firmly debunked.


But do you think that all of the anti-vax rhetoric that surrounds the COVID-19 vaccine might be having a negative impact on other vaccines, too,

because most of the time, the average person isn't going engage with that debate prior to the pandemic?

BAKER: Yeah, I think that's partly true. I think that also, that arguably, COVID has done a lot for vaccine publicity. It's a bit of give and take on

both sides. I think the main thing in the U.K. is the hesitancy for people to visit health-care service. I think people assume that the health care

service is overwhelmed and don't want to take their children to get immunized, which is probably been the biggest reason to the drop-off.

NOBILO: So, what can be done to encourage parents who are skeptical to make sure they get their kids vaccinated?

BAKER: I think that one of the failings, one of the potential many failings of the health service during the pandemic is advertising they are

open for business. And I think now, we're coming through the back end of the pandemic, hopefully, that it's time to then go out in advertising

campaigns trying to get vaccinate rates up for other infections we may have forgotten about.

NOBILO: Now, the data that I was just referring to looked specifically at the U.K. How concerning is the situation with regard to MMR vaccines

globally right now?

BAKER: Yeah. I think this is a big problem internationally. Measles epidemics are popular, mainly because of lack of vaccination. I think

there's been a downward trend in vaccination rates globally for measles. It becomes a big problem.

Measles remains a big killer, with some very serious side effects, and it's important that we not only try to catch it in the U.K., but also get the

message out there that vaccines are important. It's important we got our children immunized because they are serious infections and they can kill.

NOBILO: So what is the plan? Is there going to be renewed effort for an information campaign? How else in terms of public health are you planning

to try to encourage people to get their kids vaccinated?

BAKER: I think the plan would be -- yeah, I think a greater advertising campaign. I think also potentially catch-up programs through schools. So,

you can have to vaccine at other ages. It's better to have younger children, but there are catch-up campaigns.

So, probably some advertising and also, then probably, yeah, going to schools and trying to -- and make sure that kids have been immunized

received their vaccines.

NOBILO: Stephen Baker, thanks for joining us on the program.

BAKER: Thank you very much, Bianca.

NOBILO: Now, let's take a look at the key COVID-19 stories making international impact today.

Despite 12 million new COVID cases in Europe and last week, a top World Health Organization director says the pandemic may be reaching its end

across the continent. Hans Kluge says vaccines seasonal pause and the relative mildness of the omicron variant could give Europe a chance to

finally take control of the virus.

Still, Russia is struggling against the omicron variant, posting more than 155,000 cases on Thursday. That's almost 14,000 more than it did the day

before, and it reported 667 deaths from COVID in just the past day.

New Zealand is inching its way towards re-opening its borders. The country says vaccinated citizens and visa holders traveling from Australia will be

welcomed without quarantine starting at the end of this month and from anywhere starting in March. But foreign travelers from outside the region

will have to wait until October.

The Indonesian resort island of Bali is welcoming back international tourists on a direct flight for the first time in almost two years. A plane

from Tokyo carrying six foreigners and six Indonesians arrived on Thursday. But the fun in the sun will have to wait a bit. They're all going to be in

COVID quarantine for the next several days.

Up ahead, what connects a billionaire and a bridge? The answer, a super yacht. We'll tell you why after the break.


NOBILO: Today, we saw a selloff on Wall Street. It was triggered by Meta. The company formally known as Facebook, which closed down more than 25

percent after reporting a rare drop in profits. Meta losing nearly $240 billion in market value, the highest ever single day loss for a U.S.


The top it off, the value of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's stake in the company dropped more than $30 million. Facebook's misfortune dragged the rest of

the market down, with all three major indices closing in the red.

The De Hef Bridge in the Dutch city of Rotterdam has stood since the 19th century, but now, it's making way for one of the world's richest men. The

historic bridge will be partially dismantled to allow the passage of a super yacht reportedly belonging to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. When it

launches the boat will be the largest sailing yacht in the world, 127 meters long, 40 meters high, and consequently it won't fit through the

bridge. The bridge was originally built in the 1800s and then updated in the 1927, then rebuilt after being bombed by the Nazis during World War II.

The decision to take it apart has upset some of residents. Several years ago, the local council promised the bridge would never be dismantled. But

the mayor promises it will be rebuilt to its current form.

And with that, it is time to sail away for the evening. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you tomorrow.