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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Russia, Belarus Begin Massive Military Drills; Local Elections In India; Truckers' Protests. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired February 10, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Tonight, as high stakes diplomacy between Russia and Western Europe seems to be going nowhere, Ukraine accuses Russia of blocking the Black Sea.

And we'll take a close look at India's local elections, a key test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity.

Then, Canadian truckers' protests spread to other countries across the Atlantic.

A dangerous moment. That's how NATO's secretary general is describing the standoff right now over Ukraine, with militaries on the move and

diplomacies struggling. Thousands of Russian forces opened joint military drills Thursday in Belarus. Russia calls it a defensive move against NATO,

and Russian warships are sailing into waters around Ukraine.

Moscow is advising all ships to stay out of the area for a week, bringing a stinging rebuke from Ukraine's defense minister and an assessment from

NATO's secretary general.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: This is a dangerous moment for European security. The number of Russian forces is going up. The warning

time for a possible attack is going down. NATO is not a threat to Russia. But we must be prepared for the worst.


NOBILO: Against that ominous backdrop, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss trying to find a way out of the crisis in Moscow's Thursday meeting with

Russia's foreign minister. But Sergey Lavrov described the talks as a dialogue of the deaf.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is in Eastern Ukraine.

Alex, the diplomatic efforts are obviously continuing without results, but they seem rather hollow when there's so much military activity continuing

to increase. So, what military movements are happening and what do they tell us?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca, that's absolutely right. As these NATO leaders try to desperately deescalate the

situation through diplomatic means, Russia is doing everything but that. In fact, they ratcheted up on a military level.

Today, they launched ten days worth of exercises with Belarus. These were long planned. Tens of thousands of Russian troops have poured into Belarus

in the past couple weeks and have also just announced that naval drills will be taking place next week on Ukraine's southern front and the Black

Sea and the Sea of Azov.

So, very soon, Ukraine is going to be facing Russian military activity on three different fronts. Those military exercises in Belarus are quite

large, and we have seen in satellite imagery that those Russian forces have been getting closer and closer to the border with Ukraine. That border is

just 50 miles away from Kyiv.

And over the course of the next week and a half or so, we're going to be seeing Russian military jets flying along that border. We're going to be

seeing anti-aircraft weaponry used. We know that the top Russian general is going to be joining those exercises, just to give you a sense of the

importance that Russia is placing in them, and Russia has not even guaranteed their troops will go home on February 20th or after February

20th when those exercises are slated to end.

So, all of this escalation is profoundly worrying Western leaders who do not want to see Russia invade Ukraine. We heard today from the secretary

general of NATO who, as you noted, said that the warning time for invasion has gone down, and Boris Johnson of the U.K. who said this is the most

dangerous moment in the biggest security crisis that Europe has faced in decades -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Alex Marquardt in Ukraine, thank you for bringing us the latest.

As I was saying, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in Poland Thursday in a show of NATO unity. Johnson met with Poland's president and

prime minister and with some 350 troops that U.K. sent there to beef up the country's defenses. He called Poland absolutely critical to European

security, a sentiment Poland's prime minister echoed.


MATEUSZ MORAWIECKI, POLISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The preliminary objective of Putin is to dismantle NATO. This is why we have to

be very determined in showing how cohesive the alliances and how we stand together.


NOBILO: Germany's chancellor held a similar meeting Thursday with the leaders of Baltic countries. And U.S. President Joe Biden plans to talk

with European allies on Friday.

Now, as I mentioned earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday described the diplomatic talks with NATO as, quote, dialogue of a

mute person with a deaf person, in other words, completely talking past each other.

Just a short time ago, I spoke with Peter Stano, the European Commission's lead spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy.

I began by asking him if the West needs to acknowledge and respond to some of Russia's security concerns.


PETER STANO, FOREIGN AFFAIRS & SECURITY POLICY SPOKESPERSON, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Well, it's very striking to hear Mr. Lavrov having all these

feelings and making all accusations against the European Union, or against the Western partners because actually if you look at it, it's not the E.U.

It's not the NATO, it's not the United States who are the aggressors.

I mean, Russia attacked Ukraine. In 2004, they invaded Ukraine and annexed illegally part of its territory. Subsequently, they sent soldiers to

support a separatist uprising in the east of Ukraine and they are fueling this conflict until today. So, it's really striking to see all these

accusations from the Russian side.

And when they come up for no reason, with constantly demands to guarantee their security, mean, what are the threats? They are making them illegally

part of their accusations from the Russian side. When they come up for no reason making demands to guarantee their security, I mean, what are

threats? What happened that they needed to send thousands of soldiers to Ukraine border?

Because let's recall, the current military buildup is not something that happened in the last three months, it's been happening since March last

year, provoked by whom? By what? Nothing.

Ukraine is not a threat to Russia, and the European Union, the West are not a threat to Russia. We deal with many other problems.

NOBILO: Do you feel like it would be helpful, though, to engage with Russia's concern about NATO expansion over the last decade, the fact that

it has moved so far east? Do you feel like given the diplomacy isn't moving anything in the right direction right now. Could that be where E.U. needs

to go?

STANO: Today, higher representatives of the European Union, Josep Borrell, sent a letter to Minister Lavrov, responding to his written message to

European states, asking to define such an issue of security in Europe. In the letter, coordinating by higher representative on behalf of the whole

E.U., the E.U. said very clearly, we are committed to continue the dialogue to address your concerns in an appropriate forum. One of these fora, for

example, organization for security and cooperation in Europe, which was created exactly in order to deal with security issues in Europe. Another

platform is NATO Russia Council. So, let's use these platforms, instead of intimidate and threaten the (INAUDIBLE).

NOBILO: Finally, Peter, Nord Stream 2. How could it be responsible for Germany or the E.U. to make plans to further rely on Russian gas supplies,

even if this crisis doesn't escalate further? What we've seen in several months in the relationship with Russia is surely enough to think that that

is not a strategic irresponsible decision to go ahead with Nord Stream 2?

STANO: Nord Stream 2 is not a project of European interest. We are not interested in the European Union to have it. It's a private undertaking

with some participation of a German company. In the end, the decision is in the hands of German regulator and then the European commissioner is also

making judgment. If something is done against Ukraine, then Nord Stream 2 can be also affected, reset already before everything is on the table. So,

all the possible restrictive measures are on the table, including, let me think, of Nord Stream 2.

But in general, last week, joint energy council between the European Union and the United States discussing exactly the issues of energy security and

how to approach first in the context of the green transition and second, in the context of having gas and other resources used as geopolitical weapons.

So, of course, this is something we're working on. We are working on this with our partners, and the currently crisis only underlines the need for

the European Union to detach itself from Russia, and this is what we're thinking about and what we're going to do (INAUDIBLE).


NOBILO: That was Peter Stano, the European Commission's lead spokesperson to foreign affairs and security policy.

Staying on that story, I want to take a closer look at Nord Stream 2. It made lots of headlines described as a gun in the hands of Putin. So what

exactly is it?

Nord stream 1 is a gas pipeline running from western Russia all the way to Germany under the Baltic Sea. It was completed in 2012 and has an annual

capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Meaning that it can power around 26 million homes.

Nord Stream 2, owned by Gazprom, runs parallel to Nord Stream 1. The $11 billion project was completed in 2021, but German regulators haven't issued

the final signoff that's needed for it to start operations.

Now, this has huge geostrategic implications. It works for Russia because Russia can send gas directly to its biggest European customer, Germany,

bypassing all these transit countries, saving itself a lot of money.


Plus, the more European countries get gas from Russia, the more they rely on Russia. And that's leverage.

When it comes to Germany, the new coalition government has a range of views on Nord Stream. But the country needs reliable and affordable gas supplies

as gas prices soar and renewables are just not generating enough yet.

But the U.S. sees potential for exploitation. That concern is that Russia will seek to undermine energy and national security all over Europe. As for

Ukraine, President Zelensky has called Nord Stream a dangerous geopolitical weapon.

Nord stream 1 already bypasses Ukraine. Add another pipeline and Ukraine stands to loss hundreds of millions, if not billions of remaining gas

transit fees that it used to get when Russia transported to its territory to other countries. And amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Nord

Stream 2 has been identified by the U.S. and U.K. governments among others as a key bargaining chip, and a point of pressure to deter Russia from

invading Ukraine. At least until the gas tops turn on.

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

Libya's eastern-based parliament has named a new prime minister, but the current interim premier is refusing to step aside. Abdul Hamid al-Dbeibah

says that he will not allow another transitional government and will only hand off the power after a national election.

The U.S. Senate has passed a sweeping overhaul of workplace sexual misconduct laws. It would end the use of force arbitration clauses with

sexual harassment and assault claims, and give people the option of seeking justice in court. A bipartisan bill was sparked by the #metoo movement back

in 2017. It now heads to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature.

Protests over hijab bans have spread beyond India. Dozens of people gathered in Pakistan's largest city showing solidarity with female Muslim

students in India's Karnataka state. Last week, several schools there denied entry to Muslim students wearing the hijab.

Residents of India's largest state arguing to polls today, kicking off regional elections around the country. The results of the vote in Uttar

Pradesh may show us how India feels about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Voters are now deciding how well his party has dealt with the coronavirus

pandemic, the economy and religious issues.

Vedika Sud tells us what Mr. Modi is up against.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A lifeless body is tiered to the banks of the river Sarayu in Ayodhya, a holy city in India's northern

state of Uttar Pradesh.

It's one of the 217 body social worker Ritesh Mishra says he cremated in four months, during the peak of the second wave of the COVID epidemic in

2021 when the Delta variant swept India. Some unclaimed, others abandoned.

Many families either too poor to perform the final rites of COVID-19 victims are just too scared of contracting the virus.

Last year, mass funeral pyres in the state indicated there were more COVID- 19 deaths in Uttar Pradesh than numbers released by the state government.

I asked him which political party he'll be voting for in the upcoming state election, Mishra supports the ruling dispensation.

RITESH MISHRA, SOCIAL WORKER (through translator): I'm compelled to vote for the BJP. They're constructing the Ram temple in Ayodhya. That was their

main agenda.

SUD: Uttar Pradesh is currently governed by Yogi Adityanath a firebrand monk and trusted aide of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also the

champion of the BJP's Hindu nationalist agenda.

In 2019, a verdict by India Supreme Court vindicated Modi and his party stand on a decade's long legal battle. A holy site in Ayodhya considered to

be the birthplace of the revered Hindu deity Ram was handed over to the Hindus, a mosque once to their before being demolished by a Hindu mob in

the early 1990s.

As millions watch Modi said the ceremonial cornerstone for a temple in the midst of the pandemic.

Right Wing supporters like Seer, Pawan Kumar Das Shastri see this happening elsewhere.

PAWAN KUMAR DAS SHASTRI, SEER (through translator): Our next mission is constructing grand temples for our gods in other holy cities.

SUD: In the state capital Lucknow, an emotional Harshit Shrivastava wipes away his tears. He talks to us about his father who died of COVID 19 in

April last year. Despite all efforts, Shrivastava failed to find a hospital that would take his father in. The family was staunch supporters of BJP,

but not anymore.

HARSHIT SHRIVASTAVA, FATHER DIED OF COVID-19 (through translator): In the name of religion, this government is taking advantage of the poor and


SUD: Yogi and his lieutenants have repeatedly rejected allegations of polarizing communities or mishandling the pandemic.


DR. DINESH SHARMA, DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER, UTTAR PRADESH (through translator): BJP's poll agenda was is and will always be development.

SUD: How do voters here look at the government's performance to the value development or the assertion of religious identity?

The answer might determine what happens in the 2024 national elections.

Vedika Sud, Uttar Pradesh, India.


NOBILO: Coming up after the break, anti-mandate protests in Canada hit the two-week mark. CNN is on the ground as authorities warn they're going to

increase their response. Protesters warned they're not going anywhere.


NOBILO: The mayor of one Canadian city said authorities could forcibly remove vaccine mandate protesters who are blocking a vital trade route with

the U.S. And elsewhere officials are offering stepped-up measures to end protests after four nights of gridlock. What started was a contained

protest in Ottawa has expanded into thousands of people rallying around the world.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan looks at why the protests have gained so much momentum.


DYLAN FRIESEN, PROTESTER: I want all these mandates gone. And I'm not leaving until all the mandates are gone.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What is this stuff that you can't do right now as a non-vaccinated person?

SAMUEL GAUTHIER, SUPPORTING TRUCKERS PROTESTIING IN CANADA: I live in Quebec. It is a bit more intense than other places in Canada. But, look, I

can't go skiing. I can't go to Walmart. I can't go to Canadian tire.

I can't go to Home Depot. I can't go to restaurants. I can't go to bars. I can't go to the gym.

O'SULLIVAN: Truckers have brought part of the country's capital to a standstill, right outside the national parliament.

FRIESEN: I was hired on at a job not too long ago for a transport company out of Ontario. I was let go due to not willing to get the vaccines for my

job and, I mean, that's not right for companies to be able to decide that. And take away our right to earn money and support our livelihood.

O'SULLIVAN: Now this is all happening despite the protesters representing a small minority of Canadians. More than 80 percent of eligible Canadians

are fully vaccinated and the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the primary advocacy group for Canadian truckers, which has condemned these protests,

have said about 85 percent of Canadian truckers who regularly cross the U.S. border are vaccinated.

For you, why is it important for you to be here today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, because -- because like your --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't talk to them. This is fake news.

O'SULLIVAN: Despite the fact the people may be part of a minority in Canada, they are receiving a lot of support from conservatives and other

right wing figures in the United States.

CHIEF PETER SLOLY, OTTAWA POLICE SERVICE: We are now aware of the significant element from the United States, that have been involved in the

funding, the organizing, and the demonstrating.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): The Canadian truckers are heroes. They are patriots. And they are marching for your freedom and for my freedom.

O'SULLIVAN: This is very much a 21st century protest, playing out as much on the internet as it is on the street. Viral memes and sometimes false and

highly offensive historical comparisons that circulate online are being repeated verbatim here, like this.

Because you're not vaccinated, have you -- is there businesses, stuff you can't do in Canada now?

LAURIE BUNCH, SUPPORTING TRUCKERS PROTESTING IN CANADA: Yeah, I'm, like, basically if you want to compare Canada to anything, it is like Hitler's

Germany, and we're like the Jews. One of the goals is to simply -- is to get a group of people you can get everybody angry with, and in this case,

it is the unvaccinated.

O'SULLIVAN: There is a lot of people here streaming live online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just going to follow you guys, make sure you tell the truth.

O'SULLIVAN: That's all right. Good.

Documenting every moment on social media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take those cans off of that truck! Is that your property?

O'SULLIVAN: In an effort to clear the protesters, police have begun confiscating gas canisters resulting in encounters like this, that clock up

thousands of views online.

JIM KERR, SUPPORTING TRUCKERS PROTESTING IN CANADA: My name is Jim Kerr and I give a shit about Canadians.

How do you feel? Hi, my name is Jim Kerr and I care about human beings, especially ones trying to keep themselves warm in their trucks while

fighting for the freedoms of Canadians. How do you feel?

RYAN, PROTESTING VACCINE MANDATES IN CANADA: The main problem I have is the censorship going on. It is everywhere. People's accounts get taken

down, even Facebook, if you don't say the right thing, even this convoy, a lot of groups started and people are even live streaming and all of a

sudden, I heard yesterday in the restaurant my feed was cut. My feed was cut.

O'SULLIVAN: Facebook shut down some groups on its platform supporting the truckers after the online outlet Grid News found that they were being

administered by a hacked account that belonged to a woman in Missouri. So, whoever was really running the groups wanted to hide their identity.

And GoFundMe shut down a fund-raiser for the truckers after police told them the protests had become an occupation. But organizers here have still

been able to raise millions of dollars through an alternative service, a self-described Christian fund-raising platform. Organizers said the money

will help keep the truckers on the street.

FRANCOIS, PROTESTING VACCINE MANDATES IN CANADA: The last time I saw my wife was on January 28. I have not seen her since. I am here of my own

volition, 100 percent. There are some groups with resources trying to help us, sending us money, helping us so we don't go bankrupt.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We want those great Canadian truckers to know that we are with them all the way.

O'SULLIVAN: Trump indicating he's supportive of truckers descending on Washington, D.C., other American right wing figures goading their audiences

to act.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The question is how long before protests like this come here?

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Will we need our own trucker rally to end all of this insanity once and for all?

O'SULLIVAN: What is the main goal, the main objective of the truckers here?


O'SULLIVAN: Donie O'Sullivan, CNN, Ottawa.


NOBILO: Amazing, Donie.

This freedom convoy is having a snowball effect, sparking similar anti- mandate protests globally, from France to the Netherlands to New Zealand, and authorities in many of those countries now attempting to shut them

down. In Paris, demonstrations linked to the convoy have been banned. Police are now preparing for a potential standoff with protesters, who say

that the French government's mandate pass infringes on their freedom.


NICOLAS BOURRAT, TRUCK DRIVER: I didn't get vaccinated, but I got the COVID, so I have a pass. However, everywhere I go, I don't show it. If I

get asked for it, I leave. If everyone did this, it would have been here a long time ago.


NOBILO: Police in Brussels are also following suit, setting up a city-wide perimeter as a similar group plans to block by NATO's headquarters.

And people in the U.S. and U.K. are planning their own protests that could strain transportation and law enforcement there.

Prince Charles is in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. The heir to the British throne made the announcement on his official Twitter

account on Thursday. This is the second time that Prince Charles is tested positive. He also got it back in March 2020, in the early days of pandemic.

A royal source tells CNN that he recently met with his mother, the Queen. The source says that her majesty is not displaying symptoms and will

continue to be monitored.

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



NOBILO: A single tooth from a cave in France upending what we know about our ancestors. A new study published in Science Advances says a child's

molar was found with hundreds of stone tools that are around 54,000 years old. That suggests that modern human could have been in Europe around

10,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Plus, the tooth was sandwiched between layers of Neanderthal remains. That's further evidence to theory that modern humans and Neanderthals, a

close relative to humans but a distinct species, co-existed for thousands of year. The theory which is developed over the last years or so, in

response to archeological findings, completely rewrote the existing story of human history.

Well, thank you for joining us. You can find me on social media, all the channels. Send me your favorite species or primate and we'll see you