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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Zelensky Calls For Calm & Unity As Invasion Warnings Intensify; Canada's Emergency Act; "Friends" Censored In China. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired February 14, 2022 - 17:00   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Christina Macfarlane, in for Bianca Nobilo.

Tonight, Ukraine's president declares a day of unity amid fears of an attack by Russia. We'll be live in Kyiv, Moscow, and Washington, D.C.

Then, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has just authorized rare emergency measures to end the Ottawa blockade.

And fans of the sitcom "Friends" are furious after a Chinese streaming platform censored episodes containing LGBTQ plotlines.

But we begin with a defiant address by Ukraine's president to his nation as warnings about a potentially imminent Russian invasion reach a fever witch.

Vladimir Zelensky says Ukraine remains calm and its resilience is only strengthening. He said the security of Europe depends on Ukraine and its

army. He called on all citizens to unite.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I address separately all state representatives, state officials, lawmakers of all

levels who left the country, or plan to do so in the near future. Ukrainian people entrusted you with governing the state as well as defending it. It

is your direct duty in such a situation to be with us, with the Ukrainian people. I suggest that you return to your homeland within 24 hours and

stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainian army, our diplomats, and our people.


MACFARLANE: Mr. Zelensky met earlier with Germany's chancellor in Kyiv, making clear Ukraine still seeks NATO membership. Chancellor Olaf Scholz

heads to Moscow next for talks with Vladimir Putin.

The Russian president today indicated the window for diplomacy is still open. In a carefully choreographs meeting with Mr. Putin, Russia's foreign

minister suggested pursuing negotiations. He said the possibilities are far from exhausted, that drew pointed remarks from the State Department.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: In order for diplomacy and dialogue to succeed, it has to take place in the context of de-escalation. We have not

seen anything resembling de-escalation. There is not that context yet. If Foreign Minister Lavrov's comments are followed up with concrete tangible

signs of de-escalation, we would certainly welcome that.


MACFARLANE: Well, the U.S. is stepping up warnings about Russia's troop buildup, saying new forces are still arriving and could attack with no

notice, citing the, quote, dramatic buildup, Washington decided today to close its embassy in Kyiv, stressing the move does not undermine the U.S.

commitment to Ukraine.

We will get to Kyiv in just a moment, but we begin with Kylie Atwood at the U.S. State Department and our Nic Robertson in Moscow.

Kylie, let's first go to you.

We have been hearing, of course, the White House is saying that the door to diplomacy with Russia remains open. We have been hearing the same message

for some weeks now. But are we beginning to see a slight change in tone, especially after that announcement about the embassy move?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're really not seeing a large change in tone when it comes to the Biden administration's

willingness to engage diplomatically with Russia. You heard from the White House today, you heard from the State Department today. That it remains the

case that the United States wants a diplomatic path out here.

But even as you have Foreign Minister Lavrov today saying to President Putin that he encourages them to remain engaged in a diplomatic effort

here, you have the State Department saying they're still not sure if Russia is serious about seeking a diplomatic path forward, and that's because of

Russia's actions, right? We have seen this massive troop buildup along the border that only continues to grow. So while they are saying words that

indicate that there may be some sort of diplomatic interest here, their actions don't reflect what they are saying.

So that is why the State Department has taken this action today to close the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, move some U.S. embassy

personnel to the western side of the country, to Lviv, a small city there, but this is a big action that they didn't want to take. They wanted to

maintain, of course, a diplomatic presence that is a robust diplomatic presence in the country, but because of Russia's actions, because of the

potential threats to U.S. diplomats, they had to move most of them out and move the remaining ones to the other side of the country.

So, you continue to see them saying they want to engage diplomatically, but they're also taking actions to prepare for the worst case scenario here.

MACFARLANE: Yeah, we'll get to the issue of diplomacy with our Nic in Moscow in a moment. I want to bring in Matthew Chance who is in Kyiv for us


And, Matthew, Ukraine's clarification that President Zelensky was being, quote, ironic in his reference to an imminent attack on February 16th, is

quite frankly baffling given what's currently at stake.


Is tonight the time for irony?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, I think it was baffling it was taken out of context. This was a speech

announcing a national holiday in the country, which if you read it in the fullness, made it quite clear that there have been repeated dates given,

repeated instances suggested to Ukraine that they could be facing some sort of massive imminent Russian strike. And it may have been misinterpreted to

some extent outside of the borders, but inside, President Zelensky was talking with a nudge and a wink to people who have already been hearing for

some time the constant bombardment of warnings coming from the United States, coming from other countries as well, that they face this massive

Russian onslaught in the words of U.S. officials.

And you know, it's been a consistent theme of the Ukrainian authorities, particularly of Vladimir Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, to sort of push

back on that and downplay the level of the threat that Ukraine faces. I mean, there genuinely is a big discrepancy between the level of threat the

United States, for instance, says Ukraine is facing and the threat level that Ukrainian intelligence and the Ukrainian leadership believe that the

country is, you know, looking at, staring at.

And so, you know, that was part of the consideration. But you know, look, yes, I mean, they did say that they had been warned, they had been told,

they said we have been told, President Zelensky said February 16th is the date for invasion. There have been other dates that have been mentioned


They wanted to make -- President Zelensky wanted to make this a day of unity. He's called this sort of national holiday. They're going to be

waving flags, singing the national anthem, putting ribbons to themselves, you know, as a sort of show of defiance in the face of what I think is

despite all the sort of calmness on the surface, there is, if you scratch the surface, some concern about the buildup obviously of Russian forces in

some instances a short distance from the Ukrainian capital.

MACFARLANE: Yeah, thanks, Matthew.

Let's get the view from Moscow with Nic Robertson.

Nic, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said there is still a chance for a diplomatic resolution. What do you make of that and how much can we

assume for Russia this is less about wanting to start a war and more about using perhaps the threat of war to squeeze diplomatic concessions from the


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, this may have come across this choreography of Foreign Minister Lavrov sitting at a very

long table with president Putin. The choreography of it may have looked a little awkward or a little ham fisted, but it appeared designed to

communicate that President Putin is still open to the possibility of diplomacy.

The foreign minister was giving a long list of all of the sort of different meetings that have been had with foreign ministers, with leaders that have

come to Moscow, and that was when president Putin asked him, is there a chance for diplomacy? This is how the foreign minister responded.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In your opinion, Sergey Viktorovich, is there a chance to reach an agreement with our

partners on key issues that are of concern to us? Or is it just an attempt to drag us into an endless negotiation process that has no logical


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We have already said more than once, and you have said and other representatives of

the Russian delegation have said that we are warning against the inadmissibility of endless discussions on issues that need to be resolved

today, but still being the head of the foreign ministry, I must say there is always a chance, and your last contacts with leaders of the USA, France,

the German chancellor, is arriving tomorrow. Our colleagues are contacting me tomorrow. The head of the polish foreign ministry is coming.

In two days the head of the Italian foreign ministry, other contacts are planned. After all, our commitment and explanatory work and commitment to

clarifying your rightness, if we're ready to listen to counterproposals, it seems to me that our possibilities are far from being exhausted. Of course,

this should not continue indefinitely, but at this stage, I would suggest that they be continued and increased.


ROBERTSON: So there you heard it at the end, there is an opportunity. And we have heard this evening, CNN's Fred Pleitgen heard from President

Putin's spokesman actually saying that, look, there is from President Putin very clear language here, a willingness to negotiate.


And the spokesman pointed out, look, it is Russia that has from the beginning made this an issue. It has brought up, put its security proposals

or demands out, and it wanted to use that as a basis for some diplomatic dialogue. Now, the spokesman didn't mention anything about the military

buildup, but he did say Ukraine is only part of the problem. There are bigger issues here as well.

So I think what, you know, appeared on television to be a bit ham-fisted is being followed up by a clearer message from the president's spokesman that

they are willing to negotiate. What precisely does that mean? It's not clear, and we do know when the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gets here

tomorrow, one of the things he'll be telling President Putin is if you do want to continue that diplomacy, if you want that dialogue, you have to de-

escalate your forces -- Christina.

MACFARLANE: And, Nic, the question of NATO membership was raised again today. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Zelensky claiming

Ukraine's membership was not on their agenda, and in fact was never the issue. It may not be on their agenda, but how much is it on Russia's?

ROBERTSON: Well, it's a big part of Russia's agenda, but it's not all of that. That's what we heard from the president's spokesman earlier on today.

He said look, if that's realistic, if what we have heard from Ukraine that was rolled back earlier today, but he said if that is accurate, then we're

going to want that legally binding. We're going to want that guaranteed and that could be part of a future package. It could be part of something that

could be built on.

And the point that the spokesman has made this evening, this is what he told our Fred Pleitgen, is Ukraine, yes, we need to resolve that and its

membership of NATO, but that is only part of the issue. It goes back to how Russia began to frame this all along, that its NATO's posture they find

worrying, that they want NATO to roll back to the 1997 levels.

So, you know, yes, they would take that, if Ukraine was to say it doesn't want to become a member of NATO, but they want it legally binding and they

want it over a long term.

MACFARLANE: Nic, thank you so much, there live from Moscow, and our Kylie Atwood from the State Department. Thank you both.

Okay, let's take a look at the other key stories making international impact today. Hong Kong is overwhelmed and turning to mainland China for

help amid a record surge of COVID infections. The city's so-called dynamic zero strategy is being put to test as hospital beds run short and isolation

facilities reach maximum capacity. Officials are also warning the food supply could even be disrupted after an outbreak among truckers.

Some schools in India are back open following a temporary shut down over head scarves. Students gathered for class just days after the court rules

against religious clothing in schools. Some institutions are still asking students to remove them before entering.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan traveled to the United Arab Emirates Monday in the hopes of boosting bilateral trade. It's his first visit to

the Gulf State in a decade and he was greeted by Abu Dhabi's crown prince. State media says the two country signed about a dozen agreements signaling

a warming in diplomatic relations.

And Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is in Bahrain, the first ever official visit from an Israeli head of state to a Gulf Nation. The two

countries normalized relations and the U.S. broke the deal back in 2020, and Bahrain is one of only four Arab states to recently recognize Israel.

Mr. Bennet says he hopes his visit sends a message of goodwill and cooperation.

The freedom convoy protests in Canada are entering week number three. Now, Canada's prime minister is invoking a rare law to put an end to them.

And can you handle "Baby Shark" on repeat? How police in New Zealand are using that song and others to try to break up the so-called freedom convoy




MACFARLANE: Canada's prime minister has just announced the federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act to put an end to the so-called

freedom convoy protests. The demonstrations in Ottawa, the capital, are entering their third week.

This move is incredibly rare. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it's about keeping Canadians safe and protecting the economy.

CNN's Paula Newton joins me live from Ottawa.

And, Paula, interestingly, I was reading about this, the last time the Emergency Act was used, it was by Justin Trudeau's father when he was prime

minister in 1970. Just explain to us what these measures are designed to do and how likely they are to work.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and I will say when his father used it in 1970, the law and what he did became so controversial that the law

was changed in 1988 and it gives rise to what his son did today, which that is enacting Emergencies Act, invoke it, and you'll appreciate all this

detail, Bianca, I know you will, it is more limited in scope.

And right now, Trudeau is saying it will not involve the military, the way his father had brought in the military in Quebec. What does it mean,

Bianca, though for the trucks behind me? It means although limited in scope, it allows for much more enforcement by the National Police Force,

that is the RCMP, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

It doesn't matter if it's a border blockade or the downtown gridlock we have here, they will have a command structure in place. They have the laws

now in place to make sure that they can deal with the situation when it comes to enforcement. The prime minister was blunt in his opinion, these

protests have not been peaceful. And that they are a threat to not just national security but in terms of the security of the economy that they

pose a real and present danger.

I also want to say, Bianca, that what is so interesting here is what Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland followed up with, the financial measures

beyond getting into the detail, the fact is they say they are following the money.

What does that mean, Bianca? It means any one of these truck drivers right now could have their insurance pulled at any moment, could have their

licensed pulled, could get fines, but more than that, they could actually be going to an ATM in the next few days and find that their bank accounts

are frozen.

That is an incredibly bold move on the part of this government, and it will be interesting to see if they're able to do that, if they're actually able

to enforce that, and what it will mean for governments around the world looking at this, because, Bianca, as we discussed before, this is now a

global movement in terms of being an anti-government, anti-authority, anti- institution movement.

And the point is, the government here is trying to adjust its parameters, take away some of those guardrails in law to be able to do some of this.

Now, Trudeau has cautioned, look, this is temporary. Right now, it's in for 30 days. It could be lifted before that. He said it's absolutely necessary.

I can tell you, Bianca. It doesn't matter what we ask the protesters behind us, they say no matter what, they are here to stay -- Bianca.

MACFARLANE: As you say, Paula, this has become a movement rather than a protest now.

In terms of on the ground, with these protests entering their third week, how much of a hit has Ottawa taken financially with this, the economic

impact on shops and restaurants in the capital?

NEWTON: Yeah, apologies, Christine. Welcome back. It is good to see you. I could not see Christina which is why I kept saying Bianca.

MACFARLANE: I wish I was Bianca some days, I'll tell you.



NEWTON: It is good to see you, Christina.

I think the issue here is you hit on a very important issue. I'm here in what they call the parliamentary precinct, very close to it if not on it.

There are residents in street after street behind me.

The mayor, very controversial here in Ottawa, decided he would try to negotiate with the protesters and get them to try and move some of their

trucks closer to the national parliament. He says, look, the situation for these residents is dire.

But you have also had rhetorical combat. We have seen it with our own eyes on the streets, between the residents and the protesters. In some cases,

there have been counter-protests. People -- residents stepping in front of some of these trucks prevent them from entering the downtown core.

Things are clearly incredibly heated and many, even though right now there have been no reports of injuries, people are obviously afraid things could

escalate. And so, we continue here, and a reminder again, this city, the province that it's in, is already in a state of emergency and still you

have this.

MACFARLANE: Yeah, we will continue to watch this closely. This is far from over, Paula.

Thanks so much, Paula, and you stay warm out there. It's great to see you.

All right, protests against vaccine mandates are spreading well beyond Canada's borders. Demonstrators mirroring the Ottawa freedom convoy have

sprung up in Jerusalem, New Zealand, Belgium, and Greece, and some protests have been disruptive. Police in Brussels have arrested 30 people, some of

whom they say were carrying weapons and other dangerous objects.

New Zealand police are using a different tactic to disperse so-called freedom convoy protesters -- music. They are playing songs that are

considered annoying on repeat. The playlist includes "Let It Go" from Disney's "Frozen", "The Macarena", some Barry Manilow songs and an out of

tune recorder rendition of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On".

Singer James Blunt tweeted at the New Zealand police offering up his own song, "You're Beautiful". They took him up on the offer with Radio New

Zealand reporting that it's being played so often, protesters have begun singing along.


MACFARLANE: Who doesn't love that song? Come on.

They also responded to their repetitive playlist by singing "We're Not Going to Take It" by the Twisted Sisters, all the hits.

Police have been weaponizing music for years, of course. In the U.S., some police play songs such as "Baby Shark" on a loop, oh my goodness, to deter

homeless people from sleeping in certain areas. That really is torture.

Okay, this is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be back after this short break.


MCFARLANE: A new -- well, old tool is giving scientists days of advance notice when it comes to tracking COVID spike. It's about testing what we


And our Ben Wedeman did the dirty work so you don't have to.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Modern cities churn out a lot of sewage. Rome has been doing it longer than most.

And as unpleasant as this murky sludge may seem, there's much more to it than meets the nose.

This is the exit of the Cloaca Maxima, ancient Rome's massive sewer. Archeologists have been able to learn a lot about the diet of ancient

Romans by studying residue of sewage from back then. Modern scientists are now studying sewage to get an early warning of diseases like COVID-19.

Standard data about the spread of COVID-19 is based on the results of clinical tests.


But wastewater providing a much clearer picture of just how widespread the disease actually is. Not everyone is tested, not everyone has symptoms,

everyone or almost everyone however goes to the toilet.

In the bowels or rather the basement of Italy's national institute of health, researchers spend their days analyzing fresh sewage from around the

country. Such research has revealed that COVID-19 was already circulating here in November 2019, months before the first cases were reported.

The field of waste water epidemiology, the monitoring of sewage for traces of disease, is emerging as a critical tool for public health.

It allows us to say in advance that the virus is present, in this case specifically, omicron, says the researcher Elisabetta Suffredini. And in

addition to an early warning, it allows us to understand how the virus is distributed and how it's spreading.

That early warning is hidden in human feces, which carry genetic traces of COVID-19 days before they can appear in clinical tests.

The institute's doctor, Giuseppina La Rosa, is spearheading a soon-to-be launched nationwide wastewater monitoring system.

We can consider sewage treatment plants like eyes across the whole territory, she says, telling us what is really circulating in the


It might not be pretty, but for researchers in this pandemic, this is gold.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.


MACFARLANE: Delightful.

Well, thank you for watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. Stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is up next.