Return to Transcripts main page

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Macron: "Firm Dialogue" With Russia The Only Path To Peace; Canadian Truckers' Protest; Croatia's Coin Controversy. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired February 08, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Tonight, President Macron says diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis have made headway, but could take months of persistence.

Then, truckers continue to paralyze Ottawa. We'll be live in the Canadian capital, where frustrations over the freedom convoy are mounting.

And plagiarism allegations over a new euro coin design. A Croatian designer now handing back his prize money.

After two days of intense shuttle diplomacy, French President Emmanuel Macron is back in Western Europe tonight, saying that firm dialogue with

Russia is the only path towards peace in Ukraine. He met in Berlin with the leaders of Germany and Poland a short time ago, briefing them on his

earlier talks with Ukraine's president in Kyiv and Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Mr. Macron had no breakthroughs to announce, but says he believes concrete, practical steps can be take to ensure the security and stability of Europe.

Amid all the diplomacy, NATO's secretary general told CNN today that Russia is still sending more forces toward Ukraine's border, saying, quote, the

warning time is going down and the risk for attack is going up.

Nic Robertson has a closer look now at the high level talks versus events from the ground.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Close to Ukraine, Russian troops -- a clear and present threat overshadowing

President Emmanuel Macron's high stakes diplomacy. Following a five-hour meeting, President Vladimir Putin's innuendo-laden language dampening hopes

further, demanding Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, submit to his will on the Minsk peace talks, intending to end fighting with pro-

Russian separatists.

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): Like it or don't like it, it's your duty, my beauty.

ROBERTSON: Barely 16 hours later as Macron met Zelensky, the Ukrainian President responded to Putin's apparent insult, parrying with diplomacy.

PRES. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINE (through translator): Ukraine is indeed a beauty as far as him saying my Ukraine is a slight overstatement. As far

as take it is concerned, I think Ukraine is very patient, because that's wisdom.

ROBERTSON: Even so, Macron claiming small victories on the latest Minsk talks to end tensions in eastern Ukraine.

PRES. EMMANUEL MACRON, FRANCE (through translator): I was able to obtain a very clear and explicit commitment from President Putin and Zelensky to the

strict basis of the Minsk agreement, and in particular, to strict compliance.

ROBERTSON: And appearing to think Putin agreeing to a military de- escalation, later scotch by the Kremlin. Reality is, Putin is giving up no ground, nor is he making clear what his next move will be, all the while

keeping up his demands.

PUTIN (through translator): We are categorically against the expansion of NATO.

ROBERTSON: The Russian leader seemingly waiting while diplomacy plays out to see what Western weaknesses appear.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be no longer a Nord Stream 2.

ROBERTSON: President Biden's insistence, Germany in lockstep with U.S. sanctions under scrutiny.

OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: The transatlantic partnership is key for peace in Europe. And this is what Putin also has to understand that he will

not be able to split European Union or to split NATO. We will act together.

ROBERTSON: Round three of Macron's diplomacy late Tuesday, meeting Scholz on his return from D.C., along with Poland's President Andrzej Duda, whose

NATO nation just received 1,700 troops for the U.S. 82nd Airborne.

PRES. ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLAND (through translator): We must find a solution to avoid war. This is our primary task. I believe we will do it. Today the

most important thing is unity and solidarity.


ROBERTSON (on camera): Putin likely watching every move, making few of his own, as U.S. officials warn, if there is an invasion, it could cost tens of

thousands of civilian lives and create a refugee crisis in Europe.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Moscow.

NOBILO: While the French president is taking a leading role in trying to end this crisis, critics are urging Germany's new chancellor to do more,

saying he has big shoes to fill after the departure of Angela Merkel.


Ukraine's ambassador to Berlin is calling on Germany to wake up, saying it cannot, quote, go on sleeping and enjoying a comfortable life.

Andrij Melnyk now joins us from Berlin.

Welcome to the program, Ambassador. It's good to have you with us.

ANDRIJ MELNYK, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO GERMANY: Thank you so much, Ms. Nobilo, for inviting me.

NOBILO: You're very welcome. Any time.

Let's first go to the press conference we heard last night. I'm curious to get your response to the remarks of Emmanuel Macron, particularly when he

was acknowledging Russia's potential requirement for security guarantees of its own, and also from analysts I have been speaking to, the quite telling

silences when he didn't push back on some of Putin's remarks about Ukraine.

MELNYK: Well, we count on the unity of our Western partners and allies, Germany, France, of course, the United States, and we praise the visit of

Chancellor Scholz to Washington yesterday, because we need a strong transatlantic unit between the U.S. and Europeans, especially Germans, in

order to speak with one powerful voice vis-a-vis the Kremlin and to closely coordinate the sanctions policy towards aggressive Russia.

However, what we are missing is a common unwillingness of our Western partners to introduce preventive steps, preventive sanctions against the

Russian federation their respective of all the diplomatic talks that you just mentioned in the last two months, between Moscow and D.C. has been

continuing troop deployment across Ukrainian borders. Even now in Belarus.

So, we hope that our allies will reconsider this stance and would immediately confront the Russian leadership with harsh, preventive,

punitive measures. To wait and see until Russia attacks Ukraine again, and only then push for new sanctions against Moscow might be, according to our

understanding far too late.

And second point is that we could wish more clarity and more completeness from our partners in the West in terms of these new sanctions, just to say

all options are on the table may not be sufficient to persuade Mr. Putin to start a new big intervention against Ukraine.

So, we need is -- so what we need is clear commitment of our allies to announce at the very least a number of following painful measures like the

full stop of Nord Stream 2 pipeline, exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT payment system, complete embargo on Russian oil, gas, coal, and other raw

materials, but also tough personal sanctions. Only this in case, this robust policy can have a true deterrent effect for Mr. Putin.

And at the same time we urge our German partners, our American partners to stop looking for excuses and join our allies in the common endeavor to

strengthen Ukraine's defense capability. The Americans have been doing that for weeks. The Brits are doing this, Poles, our neighbors, and we hope that

also Germany would join this historical (ph) other allies to help strengthen our defense, and in this way, to prevent a new large scale

aggression in the middle of Europe.

NOBILO: And, Ambassador, what specifically do you think it would be helpful if Germany supplied Ukraine with, given what you know about their

economy, their military specialisms? And how do you understand the Germans reticence to provide that support so far?

MELNYK: To be honest, we cannot understand the arguments we hear in Berlin and excuses that have been made public not to allow sending defensive

weapon systems to Ukraine. Therefore, we will continue appealing to the new German government to reject and revisit its current stance. German position

is morally unjust, historically fully untenable and legally unfounded.

The current lacking policy of Berlin is a strategic mistake of Germany that will have consequences, not just for bilateral relations. According to the

charter of the United Nations, Ukraine has an inherent right of individual and collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs. Last week, we sent a

very complete list of defensive weapon systems to the German government, with an urgent request to deliver these weapons to Ukraine and help us

defend our statehood that Mr. Putin wants to demolish.

And this will be a litmus test for the real readiness of Germany, of our German partners to stand by, support Ukraine in this absolutely dramatic



NOBILO: How far do you think Germany's economic ties with Russia, I'm thinking particularly of Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2, are coloring their

response to the crisis and their support of Ukraine?

MELNYK: Of course, this dependency plays a very substantial role in the policy making. Germany depends to one-third on gas deliveries and 50

percent of coal is arriving from Russia. And the Nord Stream 2 is also one of the points which seems to be crucial.

You might have heard yesterday that Germany is trying to present itself as the main savior of the Ukrainian economy and allegedly the biggest

bilateral donor with over 2 billion euro aid since 2014.

But let me stress just a few important facts. To put this number into a right context, which shows that this reportedly huge German help is a bit

exaggerated and overstated. If we compare it with the losses that Ukraine is already suffering, because of the German government which continues

pursuing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, we can see that because Russia drastically reduced gas flows through Ukraine in the last two years, our

transit fees dropped from U.S. $2.7 billion in the year 2019 to $1.2 billion last year.

So, shall Nord Stream 2 become operational, as Germany is still strongly advocating this dangerous geopolitical project of Mr. Putin, the transit

flow via Ukraine will be stopped completely, and this will incur further losses with catastrophic consequences. Since we will be missing more than 2

percent of our GDP each year.

So if you hear from German -- from Berlin, this about U.S. $2 billion help for which we are, of course, thankful, you should not forget that at the

same time, Germany is pushing for a project bypassing Ukraine and taking away 8 percent of our budget expenditures without any real necessity.

Therefore, we appeal. We appeal to our American friends and partners, to the Congress, not to wait until Russia again invades Ukraine -- God forbid

-- but to immediately act, immediately sanction this maligned and dangerous Russian project intended to weaken and also destroy Ukraine.

NOBILO: Yes, I do agree it is of huge advantage to Russia financially, economically, and a huge did it detriment in both regards to Ukraine.


Ambassador Andrij Melnyk, thank very much for joining us.

MELNYK: Thank you so much, Ms. Nobilo, for inviting me. Good evening.

NOBILO: The Ukrainian city of Kharkiv is staring down the possibility of a Russian invasion with defiance. The city is very close to the Russian

border and although it has a deep history with Russia and the former Soviet Union, many in the city are preparing to defend themselves and their

identity as Ukrainians, using whatever tools it takes.

Sam Kiley shows us how.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kharkiv is Ukraine, glory to Ukraine. Russian troops in ships, on land and at sea, and

few places in Ukraine feel more vulnerable than Kharkiv.

It's only 30 miles from the Russian border, a city of about 1.5 million people. At least 75 percent of them speak Russian as a mother tongue.

Demonstrations like this are important, because this city could be one of the first to get attacked in the event of an invasion.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the president, has warned as much. Officials are saying Vladimir Putin could order an attack at any time.

ANNA ZYABLIKOVA, KHARKIV RESIDENT: Every day I'm try to be calm, and I'm trying to go through my daily routine. But I'm trying to have the thought,

okay, where are my documents? Where is food? Where is my mom? Do I have enough money?

KILEY: In a city that's been identified as a potential Russian target by the Ukrainian president, there are attempts to carry on as normal. But for

many, this is the new normal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to flee, so I need to protect city, my country, my family.

KILEY: Ukraine has expanded its military, but it's a long way behind Russia in military might.


So it's taking these wrecked T-64 tanks from the 1960s and rebuilding them from the chassis up, to rush to the front lines. Much like Ukraine is

trying to build and defend a democracy in a landscape much haunted by the Russian-dominated Soviet Union.

Sam Kiley, CNN, Kharkiv.


NOBILO: Russian President Putin told his French counterpart that Kremlin has nothing to do with Russian military contractors in Mali, but Emmanuel

Macron isn't saying whether or not he believes that. The two leaders discussed the situation in Mali in addition to Ukraine when they met in

Moscow on Monday.

France's influence in the West African country has taken a huge hit in recent weeks with Mali now accusing French soldier of espionage and

deliberately dividing the country. French troops have been fighting Islamist militants there for the last nine years and Paris' concern that

Russian missionaries are now making the country even more politically unstable.

Now let's take a look at the other key stories making international impact today.

A southern Indian state is shutting its schools for three days because of protests. The demonstrations started because some schools refused to let in

schools wearing hijabs. At least one student has filed a case, saying that wearing the hijab is a right guaranteed by India's constitution.

Cyclone Batsirai devastated the east coast of Madagascar. It's the island's second major storm in as many weeks. The United Nations says rescue

operations are under way. The country was already struggling with food shortages and a major drought. And now, even more people are in need of


Pope Benedict is apologizing to survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Still, he's continuing to deny allegations that he knew a priest

urn his command decades ago was a child abuser. The former pope admits again he was any way meeting about that priest back in 1980, but insists he

had no knowledge of the abuse.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is apologizing to a political staffer who says she was raped in a minister's office. A review found half

of parliamentary staff have experienced harassment, bullying or sexual assault. Morrison is now pledging to lead a changed culture in the



SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: I want this building to be a place where young Australians and young women in particular can follow

their dreams and can live out their believes and not have them crushed by brutality and the misuse of power. That's what I'm dedicated to. We will

come back to this work many, many times in the years ahead, because this work will take many years. It will be ongoing. But we must not backslide.


NOBILO: Coming up next, Canada's capital city remains under siege from truckers, and now they've all but shut down a bridge that carries one-

fourth of all trade with the U.S. We'll go live to Ottawa in just a moment.



NOBILO: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the massive truckers protest that's paralyzing cities and border posts across Canada have got to

stop. Right now, you can't get into Canada from the U.S. through North America's busiest border crossing. Truckers blocked part of that bridge

linking Detroit with Ontario.

They're also blocking lanes near a crossing near Alberta and Montana. And downtown Ottawa remains jammed with trucks and protesters. The

demonstration against COVID mandates has been going on now for more than ten days. A judge ordered the truckers to stop blowing their horns, but

it's not clear how all this is going to end.

CNN's Paula Newton is right in the middle of it right now in downtown Ottawa.

Paula, it's so great to have you on the show. This is your first appearance, and it's lovely to see you. Please take us through this story

kind of from the beginning because our viewers haven't been introduced to it yet.

So, tell us everything you know. What's going to happen?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you said, I'm in the thick of it here.

I just want to give you an indication of what you can see here, OK? So, this is the truckers protest. And they're literally in the middle of an

intersection. Bianca, I can tell you, this is not a parking lot. This is a major intersection in the nation's capital just a few hundred feet from the

national parliament buildings.

And as you can see here, truckers have blocked off the road literally for seven to eight large city blocks in this direction and also runs about five

or six city blocks deep. The issue here is that, Bianca, these protesters say they're not moving. This became -- started about the vaccine mandate,

but now it's about everything. They want to mask mandates dropped. They want all of those COVID-19 measures dropped.

You know, Bianca, the protesters I've spoken to here, some tell me they are vaccinated, but what they say they want is freedom, freedom from these

restrictions and they say it's time.

You brought up the issue of the bridge. That could not be more serious right now, Bianca. You know, when I spoke to truckers earlier today and

they heard overnight what happened at the bridge, it really boosted their morale, because they do feel like they are insisting to be heard and they

will be heard with these measures in the streets here.

Justin Trudeau is saying, look, this has to stop. He disagrees there's anyone to talk to. He says that at this point in time, Canadians are united

in the fact that they just have to continue with these measures for a little bit longer, stay united. He calls them angry crowds. He had called

them in early days a fringe minority.

At this point, while he says this has to stop, the issue is it's not clear how they can get through this turmoil. Here in this city, the police chief

has been incredibly blunt about saying that he needs more resources. He says this is a city under siege. In these past days, Bianca, I have also

heard from residents saying it's difficult to get around. Some schools have had to close for a period of time.

The restaurants, ironically, were allowed to open, but could not, for security concerns and the fact that there isn't any clientele. This will go

on the truckers tell me, for days and weeks to come. They say they have the food, fuel and resources to stay.

NOBILO: Wow. OK, then. We'll see you in a couple of days, Paula, with more updates on the truckers protest. Thanks so much for bringing us the latest.

In New Zealand, protesters demonstrating against vaccine mandates saw inspiration from the Canadian tactics. Looking streets surrounding

parliament with trucks and camper vans, protesters are largely unmasked. They're pledging to camp outside the building until COVID-19 restrictions

are lifted.


STU MAIN, PROTESTER: I'm not against vaccination. I am actually vaccinated. I'm against mandating people to be vaccinated. I think it's

disgraceful and forcing vaccination on people who don't want it.


NOBILO: The protests game ahead of the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's first speech of the year. Ardern says the demonstrations do not represent

the majority of people in New Zealand. The prime minster's approval ratings plummeted of late. Many residents disagree with her hard stance on


You're, of course, watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. And we'll be right back after this.



NOBILO: The nominations are in for what's called Hollywood's biggest night. We learned Tuesday which films and performers will have a chance to

win at next month's Academy Awards ceremony.

Leading the pack "The Power of the Dog" with 12 nominations. One of those is a milestone. Jane Campion was nominated for best director for the film.

She's the first woman ever to be nominated twice in that category. The film is also up for awards in the best picture and best actor competitions among

several others.

And controversy in Croatia is leading a competition winner penniless. A designer who won the bid last week to create the image for Croatia's first

one euro coin has withdrawn his entry and returned his $11,000 prize after allegations of plagiarism. The design featured an image of a pine marten.

The Croatian kuna is named after the creature whose pelts were once valuable as a trading commodity.

However, social media users were quick to pinpoint similarities between the winner's design and a photograph of a pine marten by a Scottish author.

Croatia is set to adopt the euro next year, strengthening its integration into the E.U. The transition is sparking fears of inflation, though.

According to a poll last year, Croatia has seen a spike in confidence from the public about the benefits of the euro, but there's still a lot of

concern about what turbulence it might cause.


Thanks for watching. We'll see you all tomorrow.