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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Biden Appeals For Diplomacy, Warns Invasion Still Possible; Prince Andrew Settlement; Six Months On From Fall Of Kabul. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired February 15, 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, European leaders say they remain open to diplomacy to cool tensions between Russia and Ukraine, but they're skeptical over Russia's

latest claim that it's pulling back some forces.

Then, Prince Andrew settles a lawsuit brought by sexual abuse victim Virginia Giuffre.

And, six months have passed since the Taliban took over Afghanistan. I'll speak to one of the country's most famous artists.

And despite Russia's claim of a partial troop pull-back from Ukraine's borders, U.S. President Joe Biden warn in the no uncertain terms an

invasion is still possible. In a White House address, he said he wants diplomacy to succeed, but warned the U.S. will not sacrifice basic

principles to appease Russia. He also said 150,000 Russian troops are surrounding Ukraine, a number much higher than we've heard before.

Now, those remarks shortly after NATO said Ukraine is preparing for large scale emergencies, of various natures, that could affect civilians.


It says Ukraine is asking for assistance, including medical supplies, field camps and equipment for search for explosives.

Yet, Vladimir Putin says he doesn't want war, during talks with Germany's chancellor Tuesday. The Russian president said he's willing to stick with

negotiations but he stressed that implementation of Russia's core security concerns remains an unconditional priority.

Our Matthew Chance reports on the day's big developments.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To the citizens of Russia, you are not our enemy.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden with a powerful message for Russia. Amid fears it stands on

the brink of war with Ukraine. A war that would, he said, be a self- inflicted wound.

BIDEN: If Russia attacks Ukraine, it would be a war of choice or a war without cause or reason. If Russia does invade in the days and weeks ahead,

the human cost for Ukraine will be immense.

CHANCE: President Biden spoke as the crisis reaches a potential turning point, with these images of what Russia says a drawdown of some of its

forces near the Ukrainian border. Russian defense officials say these tanks and other armored vehicles that have been taking part in planned tactical

exercises are returning to their permanent bases. It's a possible Russian de-escalation that's been greeted in the Ukraine and elsewhere with


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ( through translator): We continuously hear different statements from Russia, so we have a rule, we

believe not what we hear, but what we see. If we see the pullout, we'll believe in de-escalation.

CHANCE: But it's not just a pullout. As the Russian and German leaders met in Moscow, signs from the Kremlin that Russia at the moment is looking to

talk, not go to war.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Do we want it or not? Of course not. That is why we have offered our proposals to start the

negotiation process, which should lead to an agreement of providing equal security for everybody, including our country.

But as ever, messages from Moscow are mixed, and while some Russian forces were drawn down, major military drills like these multiple rocket launches

in Crimea, stepped up. These images released by the Russian defense minister as President Putin spoke.

There's al new satellite imagery suggesting a major deployment of what analysts say are 60 Russian transport and attack helicopters at a

previously vacant Crimean base.

Amid encouraging signs that Russia is easing tensions over Ukraine, its capability to stage a devastating strike remains very much in place.


MACFARLANE: That was Matthew Chance reporting from Kyiv and adding to Russia's mixed messages about his intentions towards Ukraine, lawmakers in

Moscow are now formally asking Vladimir Putin to recognize two European separatist regions as independent nations, triggering alarm across the E.U.

France says such a move would amount to an attack on Ukraine without weapons.

Let's bring in our Alex Marquardt who's reporting for us tonight from the east of Ukraine.

Alex, we saw earlier, President Biden speaking to multiple audiences today, it seems, including a direct appeal to the people of Russia, also

clarifying on Russian troop withdrawals, saying that that has not yet been verified.

So, still a healthy dose of skepticism from the United States. How is this being felt where you are there in the east of the country?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think everybody is confused at the very least about these mixed messages, as you

say. You have encouraging sounds from Moscow saying this they're drawing down. At the same time a lot of skepticism fueled primarily by the west and

national security officials among NATO saying we don't quite trust this just yet. We're going to be needing to verify.

So in the coming days, we should start to get a better sense of whether this is true or not. The Russians certainly saying they are pulling out

from what they say are their western and southern military districts. And one of the key parts, they say, is from Crimea.

So we're in Mariupol, which is right on the Sea of Azov, and this is also where we find Crimea. It's really around this region, you see these -- you

know, these two different themes where Russians say they're pulling back but at the same time we know they're building up.

The Russians saying today they're pulling troops, tanks, artillery back from Crimea, which could have been used, still could be used to invade

Russia -- invade Ukraine from the south. The Russians said that they are getting on trains and they're going home. At the same time, that satellite

imagery you referenced, we know that some 60 Russian helicopters have arrived in Crimea in recent days. We know that some ten strike fighters are

just across the Sea of Azov in Russia, in Krasnodar.


So there's a lot of dust that needs to be settled. There's a lot of skepticism. But, of course, there's a lot of hope that what Russia is

saying is true and the tension will be eased a bit on the military front, giving a bit more room for diplomacy to prevail.

MACFARLANE: Yeah, and, Alex, we heard again President Biden saying he's open to diplomacy, but not at any cost or for any concession. We mentioned

earlier that the Russian lawmakers formally asked Putin to recognize two separatist regions of Ukraine as independent. This has sent alarm bells

ringing, rightly so.

What would be the consequences of such a move?

MARQUARDT: Well, it's very interesting, Christina. We're actually only about 25 kilometers away from that front here in eastern Ukraine where

Ukrainian soldiers have been fighting against Russian-backed separatists for the last eight years. That has been raging since Russia invaded Crimea

back in 2014.

There are two separatist enclaves, Donetsk and Luhansk. They are back by Russia, and today, we saw Russian lawmakers putting forward this bill and

sending it to President Putin saying we want Russia to recognize these breakaway enclaves. We also heard President Putin in his press conference

with the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz saying what has happening in those areas is tantamount to genocide. This is a word he uses often, but it is of

course a fraught and loaded term.

So it will and interesting to see what Putin does with that bill. If he were to recognize those two areas that would certainly be a blow to

diplomacy, a blow to peace, because one of the vehicles that countries like Germany and France are hoping to use to get Russia to de-escalate, to make

some progress on the diplomatic front, is to solve this fighting in the eastern part of the country through what's known as the Minsk agreements.

These were agreements that were put into place in 2014 and 2015.

And so, essentially, if Putin were to recognize these two breakaway areas, that means that the Minsk agreements would completely fall apart. That

means it would be very tough for diplomacy to progress, because a number of countries see progress on the Minsk agreements as absolutely key in this

much bigger picture of trying to get Russia to de-escalate and pull their troops away from Ukraine's border.

MACFARLANE: Alex, great to have your analysis there in East Ukraine. Thanks so much for being with us this evening.

Well, amid weeks of chaotic protests in Ottawa, Canada's capital city is now without a police chief. He's stepping down from the post-amid criticism

the police haven't done enough to end the disruption caused by anti-vaccine protesters in downtown Ottawa. On Monday, the Canadian prime minster evoked

the Emergencies Act. They can freeze accounts they believe are funding protests. So far this hasn't been enough to dissuade most of the

protesters. They say vaccine mandates and COVID rules put their lives at risk.



I've lost more friends in the last two years from suicide than I have in my whole entire life. My brothers have lost their jobs. I have friends that

lost their jobs. I'm here to stand together for peace and unity and scream out freedom as long as I can until they drop these darn mandates. Freedom!

I ain't going home.


MACFARLANE: Tennis star Novak Djokovic said he's willing to miss the French Open and Wimbledon rather than get vaccinated for the coronavirus.

His comments came during an interview with the BBC.

The world's number one tennis player missed the Australian Open last month after being deported in a dispute over his vaccination status. The 34-year-

old Serbian told the BBC his principles are more important than any title.


NOVAK DJOKOVIC, WORLD NUMBER 1 TENNIS PLAYER: Not being vaccinated today, I -- you know, I'm unable to travel to most of the tournaments at the


REPORTER: And that's a price you're willing to pay.

DJOKOVIC: That is the price I'm willing to pay.

REPORTER: Are you prepared to forego the chance to be the greatest player that ever picked up a racket, statistically, because you feel so strongly

about this jab?



MACFARLANE: You remember missing the Australian Open meant Djokovic did not get a chance to win his 21st title. He remains one slam behind that

record now held by Rafael Nadal after his Australian Open win.

OK. Let's take a look at the key stories making international impact today. In India, the fight over female students' rights to wear hijab in school is

growing. Some schools in the southern state where hijabi students were banned from entering have been re-opened but parents say their daughters

are being segregated from other students. The dispute is spreading now to India's most populous state where a group of students have college to ban

the head covering.


South Korea's presidential candidates have officially begun campaigning. More than a dozen candidates are running. The race is expected to be the

tightest between the two main parties in 20 years. With Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party facing off against Yoon Suk-yeol of the

conservative People Power Party.

One of the few remaining countries without COVID-19, the small Pacific nation of Cook Islands has confirmed its first case of the virus. The case

arrived on a flight from New Zealand on Thursday. Authorities expect more cases after learning that another traveler tested positive after visiting

the country a couple of weeks ago.

And Prince Andrew has agreed to settle Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit against him. She claimed he sexually abused her when she was a teenager and says

Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who died in prison in 2019 had trafficked her to the British royal. So far, Buckingham palace is declining

to comment on the settlement.

Our royal correspondent Max Foster joins me live now.

And, Max, any idea what this settlement included?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORREPONDENT: We don't. I mean, it's going to be quite a large figure, isn't it? That was -- that's what you could assume.

The British newspapers are bandying around certain figures, but from what we've seen and in statements brought to court, the out of court settlement

is an undisclosed sum. And the lawyers on both sides don't want to reveal it. And, you know, that's for their various reasons.

It's quite a U-turn, though, because just a couple of weeks ago, both sides were suggesting they wanted this to go to trial and they were happy to have

their day in court. And now we have this out of court settlement, a very carefully worded statement came out of it. All the lawyers referring us

back to it.

Prince Andrew doesn't accept any guilt, doesn't accept any of the accusations laid towards him, but he does accept some of the criticisms of

the way he's handled the trial. You'll remember that he talked about Giuffre wanting a payday from him. That was a reason for carrying out this

prosecution, if you like.

And also the idea that he didn't express enough sympathy for Epstein's victims. He's trying to address all that, it seems in this statement. It

says here that Prince Andrew never intended to align Ms. Giuffre's character. She clearly has an issue with the way she was characterized.

Prince Andrew also regrets his association with Epstein, it says in a statement, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in

standing up for themselves and others.

MACFARLANE: Yeah, Max, what is going to happen next? This is unlikely to be the end of the matter, isn't it?

FOSTER: Well, it's difficult to see how Prince Andrew can come back to a public role in any way. First of all, the queen stripped him of his public

titles. He doesn't have a royal position anymore, and we're told at the time those titles wouldn't be going back to him.

So, therefore, he has to take up some position in the private sector in order to pay for his lifestyle, because he doesn't have an income apart

from a small military income. He could sell, you know, property. There's talk of him selling his ski chalet.

But it's very difficult to see him coming back to a public role having had such a damage to reputation. But there's a suggestion here in a statement,

he pledges to demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein by supporting to fight against the evils of sex trafficking and its victims.

That's potentially a way forward in terms of public work, some penance people would see it as for the way he's handled the whole case, although,

of course, he hasn't been found guilty of anything.

MACFARLANE: All right. Max Foster, thank you very much.

You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Coming up after the break, it's been six months since the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan. We debrief on how the country has changed and what it

means for women in the country.

Plus, the Winter Games put China's treatment of LGBTQ citizens under a global spotlight. We'll take a closer look.


MACFARLANE: Welcome back.

Six months ago, the Taliban took control in Afghanistan after U.S. troops pulled out and ended a decades-long war. Since the takeover, women's rights

have drastically deteriorated. Women have been prevented from traveling certain distances without a male relative, and most are still not allowed

to attend private school.

However, some private universities in recent weeks have started re-opening for women, but even those classes are segregated by gender and many jobs

will not be available to women once they graduate.

Our next guest is Aryana Sayeed, an Afghan singer and song writer. She's one of the country's most famous artists and a strong advocate for Afghan

women's rights. She's urging the EU not to abandon them and reject the Taliban as a government.

She joins me now live from Istanbul where she fled last August when the Taliban regained power.

Aryana, it's great to have you with us. It is hard to believe it's been six months since Kabul fell and the world witnessed those harrowing scenes of

Afghans trying to flee the Taliban. You were, of course, one of them.

What are your reflections of how life has changed in Afghanistan since then, for women especially?

ARYANA SAYEED, AFGHAN SINGER, SONGWRITER AND ACTIVIST: Oh, it absolutely feels like a nightmare. Women have no life anymore in that country, to be

honest with you. And they don't have any access to even their basic rights.

They're not allowed to work. Girls are not allowed to go to school anymore after sixth grade. Women are not allowed to go to offices or work or --

they have basically -- they have no life, and they have nothing to live for.

And it's so heartbreaking, and it's so sad that day by day getting worse and worse and worse. And most of them -- women -- by the way, women are not

even allowed to go outside without a male's presence, which is really crazy, because so many women, they don't even have -- for example, they

don't have husbands. If they need to go outside or do shopping or buy food for children, how are they going to go out? So the situation is quite bad,

and it's really heartbreaking and sad.

MACFARLANE: It's absolutely appalling, and you are in a unique position of being able to use your platform. I know a few weeks ago at the Afghan

women's days in Brussels, you entered the European parliament accompanied by the recorded sound of a woman crying.

Why did you decide to do that?

SAYEED: Well, I decided to perform this song because this song was written for the rights of Afghan women and how the situation is in Afghanistan. And

right now, this is the perfect platform for me to once again perform this song to raise awareness about the situation of women in Afghanistan they

don't have a voice of their own, they don't have a identity, and basic rights.

And this song has some extremely powerful wordings as well. And I wanted to raise awareness about the women's situation and ask the world, the

international community, not to recognize Taliban as a government until and unless they give Afghan women their full basic rights or human rights.

MACFARLANE: Yeah, and it's bittersweet, isn't it? Because you can use your voice to sing outside of Afghanistan, but so many cannot use their voices

inside the country.


Does the music industry as you knew it even exist anymore?

SAYEED: No, not at all. We do not have a music industry anymore because music is completely banned in the Afghanistan. I am only able to raise my

voice, as you said, because I'm out of the country. Inside the country, all the singers and musicians that I know, they're actually hiding inside their

houses. The musicians that I know, they have actually even broken their instruments because they're so scared of being caught with their

instruments by Taliban and being beaten up or imprisoned or whatever.

And so many singers that I know right now, they don't have food to eat because they used to earn the bread, or livelihood from their skill and

from their art, and right now since they're not lied to sing anymore and there's no parties and no concerts, they don't even have food for the


MACFARLANE: Aryana, you have some -- I was saying earlier, 1.5 million followers on Instagram. You're, of courses, world famous, used to traveling

globally. But for the vast number of Afghan refugees, it has not been that easy, leaving their country, resettling somewhere new, and they have not

always been that welcome.

How important is it for people to open their minds and their hearts to Afghan refugees at this time?

SAYEED: It's extremely important. The one thing they need to understand is all the Afghan people, they love their country, and if they have a choice,

they would actually live in Afghanistan and not abroad. But because they have been, you know, at war for so long, and right now living in

Afghanistan is absolutely impossible for a human being.

It doesn't matter who it is. Even for men, especially for women. It's not a country, it's a hell. Like, you are in prison.

You're a prisoner of the government -- I don't recognize them as a government of course, but Taliban. So if they had a choice, believe me,

they would stay in Afghanistan and not travel to other countries, but now that they have been forced to leave the country, I hope that

internationally, people would try to understand them and understand that they don't have a choice but to get out of Afghanistan right now.

MACFARLANE: And I hope that people will pay attention to what you're saying.

Aryana, thank you so much for joining us, and the best of luck --

SAYEED: Thanks for having me.

MACFARLANE: -- for continuing your message. No problem.

SAYEED: Thank you very much.

MACFARLANE: Thank you.

SAYEED: Okay, a Pakistani appeals court has acquitted the brother of a social media star of murdering her. Qandeel Baloch's killing in 2016

sparked national outrage. Her brother, Waseem Baloch, was arrested within days and confessed on video. In court he pleaded not guilty and was

convicted three year ago for, quote, bringing dishonor to the country.

The case brought major changes to the country's honor killing laws. He later appealed and on Monday, a court struck down the conviction. A defense

lawyer said his mother had pardoned him, but it's not clear if the court considered this.

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


MACFARLANE: Dozens of athletes in this year's Winter Olympic Games are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. But the country where

they're competing right now, China, has been actively silencing LGBTQ voices in the recent years.

CNN's David Culver is going to show us why.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Together for a shared future, that's how Chinese organizers have branded these Beijing 2022

Winter Games, promoting themselves in being welcoming to all.


I am confident that our athlete's commission will actually work with the diverse athletes to support their display of diversity, the commissioner's

chairwoman told CNN, a message that in words appears to build on the Tokyo Games, which had the most LGBTQ representation of any Olympics so far.

But outside the so-called Olympic Bubble in Beijing, that shared future is less inclusive. Many on Chinese social media furious over the censorship of

the wildly popular TV show "Friends". As the show officially released on streaming platforms late last week, Chinese noticed missing plot lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, here's the deal.

CULVER: Starting with the first episode. Discussions of the character Ross' ex-wife being a lesbian scrubbed entirely. There's been a consistent

targeting of China's LGBTQ community in recent years.

Last summer, dozens of LGBTQ organizations say their we chat pages were banned overnight. That sudden closing of a relatively safe social space in

China's cyberspace follow the abrupt end in the 2020 to China's longest running annual celebration of sexual minorities, Shanghai Pride.

One source telling CNN, the organizers were under pressure from local authorities.

Here we are Beijing 2022. What do you see?

We spoke with one of the organizers behind the now canceled Shanghai Pride. He asked us to conceal his identity, fearing retaliation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's obviously no clear line or clear turning point, and then things started to clamp down at some point, too.

CULVER: That clamping down happening online and in movie theaters. Gay content is regularly deleted, denounced as about normal relationships.

As Beijing tightens its grip other society, Chinese public television now even prohibits showing men viewed as an effeminate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In general, they just don't want this to be a topic, or any influence that doesn't fit socially and culturally.

CULVER: Some online have pushed baseless claims that LGBTQ groups in China have been infiltrated by foreign forces to corrupt young minds and

destabilize society. Some now worry that foreign heats' calls might give more to the backlash.

GUS KENWORTHY, OLYMPIC SKIER & LGBTQ ADVOCATE: I want to be a sign of hope for somebody struggling in the closet to know they are worthy and that they

can exist as their true authentic selves in the world and in sports.

CULVER: But official embrace of that authenticity might just be confined to the Olympic bubble, as Chinese sensors work overtime to erase any trace

of LGBTQ existence in public.

David Culver, CNN, Beijing.


MACFARLANE: All right. That will to it for this edition of THE GLOBAL BRIEF. Thanks for joining us.

Stay tuned. "WORLD SPORT" is up next.