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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Convoy of Mariupol Residents Arrive in Zaporizhzhia; How International Sanctions are Hitting Russia; Hungarian PM Seeks Fourth Term in Parliamentary Election. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 01, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

A convoy of Mariupol residents finally arrives in Zaporizhzhia. But aid for the besieged city is still being confiscated.

Then, are sanctions on Russia crippling the country's economy? We look at how much pain that already causing for everyday Russian citizens.

Plus, as Hungary heads to the polls this weekend, we'll debrief on how Prime Minister Orban's ties to Putin have impacted his campaign.

But we begin with the moment of extreme relief for civilians who've endured weeks of hell.

A convoy of residents evacuated from Mariupol has arrived to the relative safety of Zaporizhzhia. Dozens of buses pulled up an hour before midnight

on Friday. These civilians have endured a brutal siege by Russian forces who are surrounding the city.

Officials estimate that 100,000 people are still trap in Mariupol with no water, no power and no heat, and the Red Cross says that time is running

out to help them.

CNN's Ivan Watson is on the scene where the convoy arrived.

Ivan, tell us what you're seeing.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, there are only about a handful of these buses left, but they're all full of people

who have been traveling for 11, 12 hours from Russian occupied territory to Zaporizhzhia. And this is -- has been a positive development because there

has been a lot of talk about humanitarian corridors, letting groups of civilians escape from the fighting in Mariupol. But it hasn't really

materialized, not in this form.

Some civilians have escaped with their own cars. In many cases, cars that have been bashed up by the artillery, the air strikes that have largely

decimated most of this city.

And what wasn't happening was an organized attempt to evacuate people who did not have their own vehicles, who didn't have to means to get out. So,

there are estimates that there may have been about 2,000 people that came here today. They are met by Ukrainian officials, by Ukrainian police who

check documents.

And then they're going to be taken to a shelter for hopefully some warm meals and some peace and quiet, because I would have to say, Bianca, this

is the beginning. What we're seeing here, these are like the first steps in this incredible movement of humanity from the battlefield cities and towns

and villages of Ukraine deeper into the Ukrainian controlled safer territory and then west towards the Polish borders, the borders with

Hungary and Moldova where you have millions of people who have fled to other European countries.

Some of the people that I've spoken to here say they're going to head to western Ukraine, and then they're going to reassess because their homes

have been destroyed, their livelihoods have been destroyed. All of their possessions amount to what they're carrying on these buses here and they

have to begin thinking about how to rebuild.

The big question moving forward will be, can more of these kind of agreements be reached, these temporary cease-fires to help other civilians

escape from the war zone? And I might add, the hundreds of people that we've seen here had already gotten out to a much safer Russian occupied

city called Berdyansk.

But the Russian authorities had not let them leave on these buses for days. And that is what has finally happened today. But boy, the journey took so

long. It should have been a two and a half hour drive. It took these buses 11 hours to reach Ukraine. And you can see how quickly the Ukrainians are

processing them on to take them to shelters -- Bianca.

NOBILO: And, Ivan, as you mentioned, the big question next is whether or not more a these convoys will be able to reach places of relative safety.

How do you interpret the fact that these buses were finally allowed to leave by the Russians? Does that give a glimmer of hope about future

humanitarian corridors, or is it just far too early to make that kind of a statement?

WATSON: I think it's too early. I think it's a bit of one step forwards, one step backwards, because the International Committee of the Red Cross

tried to reach Mariupol today, the actual city where fighting is going on, where as you mentioned 100,000 civilians trapped right now. And the ICRC

had to put out a statement saying, we can't get in and turned back.


So, that is the reality. The city is encircled by the Russian military. There are Ukrainian forces still in part of it, still fighting back, but

the Red Cross was not allowed to enter, which tells you what an incredible obstacles that are still needed according to international law that people

trap there had should be allowed to leave.

And we have learned that that is a very difficult and dangerous proposition. And if people don't have their own vehicles, they can't make

it out or they have to walk. And if people are elderly, if they're invalids, if they've been wounded by the pounding that that city has taken

for a month, which has reduced much of it to rubble, that complicates trying to extricate the most vulnerable from a city that is a target of

this modern-day siege.

NOBILO: Ivan Watson in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, thanks so much for bringing us that glimmer of slightly better news for those people, which is a

staggering thought. Thank you.

Now let's take a further look on the ground. Russia is accusing Ukraine of tacking a fuel depot inside Russian borders. The governor of Belgorod

claims that two Ukrainian helicopters flew across the boarder and struck the storage facility, setting millions of gallon of fuel on fire.

Ukraine's ministry defense spokesperson has declined to comment. They said that Russia has falsely Ukraine of attacks before.

Ukraine's deputy defense minister says Russia is trying to concentrate missile systems in Belarus, despite their claims of de-escalation around

Kyiv. The minister says this shows that Russia is clearly using Belarus to carry out acts of aggression. Meanwhile, according to British military

intelligence, Russia is redeploying some of its troops from Georgia to begin fighting in Ukraine.

And there are no more Russian forces in Chernobyl. Ukrainian officials say Russians have handed control of the nuclear plant become to them on

Thursday. Chernobyl, of course, is the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster. Russia seized the destroyed plant and the surrounding territory

back in late February in the early days of the invasion.

Ukraine's president fired two of his top generals and stripped them of their rank. Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the two former officers are anti-

heroes and traitors. He didn't specify why exactly, but he said they violated their military oaths of allegiance and have no decided where their

homeland is.

While natural gas is still flowing across Europe, that's despite the Kremlin's threat to cut off supplies to, quote, unfriendly countries if

they didn't stop paying their bills in Russian rubles by Friday. That's something the European bloc flat-out refused to do. It comes as oil prices

have dropped slightly following a major release from U.S. oil reserves.

And from food to fuel, Russia's invasion is hitting global commodities hard. Inside Russia, residents are feeling the bite as the country is

increasingly cut off.

CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance was in Russia until recently and he takes a look at how the country's faring under

international sanctions.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Russia, they're calling it the sugar panic. As Western sanctions on the

country bite, ordinary people have been snapping up essential, they're jostling with each other in the Russian city of Saratov to buy sugar off

the back of a truck.

"God bless you," the voice says as a supermarket worker pushes a trolley of sugar towards anxious shoppers. Scramble to grab as much as they can before

supplies run out. Pleas from Russian officials for the public not to panic buy are going unheard.

But now a prominent Russian economist tells CNN, this economic pain is set to these.

We're seeing the shortages now and that's bad enough for some people in Russia, but what you're saying is that, that soon we could see a much

bigger, much more serious economic impact because of these sanctions.

RUBEN ENIKOLOPOV, PROF. OF ECONOMICS, NEW ECONOMIC SCHOOL: Yes. Most of the shortages are a temporary problem, so that will be solved and these

goods will appear. There will be a very acute phase and everything is fine. With the quality of life, actual real income, that is not that apparent

yet, but that will be -- this problem will be accumulating and becoming more and more apparent in the coming months.

CHANCE: In fact, that impact on quality of life is already being felt. These are the crowds that flocked to an IKEA superstore in Moscow the day

before it closed down last month.

Across Russia, Western brands have suspended production or simply pulled out over the invasion of Ukraine. Jobs may soon go permanently.


Even more seriously, there are concerns a shortage of Western medicines is starting to have a real impact on people's health. People like Anastasia in

Moscow and her father, who she says has been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm.

We asked, everywhere, but no one had his medicine, she says, now he feels sick.

Russian officials say they are aware of the shortages and are trying to address them. But if sanctions persist, Russia faces being cut off from

medical advances and other technologies that may send it back, even cause harm.

Many Russians accustomed to hardship remain unshaken by the economic doom threatening their nation.

I was born in Soviet times, says Larisa in the Russian town of Pokrov. She then speaks of the challenges since then like economic restructuring and

food stamps. We got over it all, she says.

Valentina, also in Pokrov, says she doesn't mind that prices have gone up at all. In a month, it will straighten out, she hopes. After years of

navigating Western sanctions, there is a belief -- perhaps misplaced -- things will work out this time, too.

ENIKOLOPOV: When Russians are seeing this, I mean, yes, psychologically, they are used to sanctions. But in terms of the effect on the economy, it

is much more damaging than the sanctions that were previously implemented.

CHANCE: Well, previously as well, the sanctions haven't really worked in terms of changing Russian policy, changing the Kremlin's policy. Do you

think there is a chance that these sanctions in that case will work and they will force the Kremlin to change course?

ENIKOLOPOV: Honestly, I doubt it. Just with the logic of the current regime in Russia. They -- it's a thing about Putin, that he doesn't give up

under pressure. It makes him even more persistent, at the expense of the country.

CHANCE: Economic pain it seems is a price the Kremlin is willing to let's own people pay.

Matthew Chance, CNN.


NOBILO: Chinese President Xi Jinping is urging the EU to forge its own policies toward China, in a clear reference to America's influence and the

war in Ukraine. His comments came during a virtual summit Friday with the EU's top officials. Mr. Xi said that China will work toward peace in

Ukraine, quote, its own way.

But EU Commission President Ursula Vander Leyen cautioned China against interfering with Western sanctions against Russia.

And straight off his visit to China, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov travelled to India, which is trying to stay neutral in the Ukraine war. He

met with the foreign minister and Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was expected to call for a cease-fire and point out the importance of national

sovereignty. Still, Lavrov praised India for not taking a side in the conflict.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: This day, our Western colleagues would like to reduce any meaningful international issue to the crisis in

Ukraine. You know our position. We do not fight anything, and we appreciate that India is taking the situation in the entirety, not just in a one-sided



NOBILO: I want to take a look at some of the countries siding with Russia and some trying to balance ties between Russia and the West. Belarus has

been in lock step with the Kremlin this whole time, that Russia is its more powerful economic and military partner, and closest. They share a border.

Belarus supported Russia before the invasion began by facilitating Russian military exercises of thousand of troops on its board we are northern


Now, analysts are monitoring if Belarusian troops will end up supplementing Russian forces, because even if small numbers they could distract and

create more fronts for Ukraine to defend.

Putin intervened in Syria seven years ago to prop up the regime of Bashar al Assad in a brutal campaign which killed thousands of people. Now,

according to Syria's official SANA news agency, Assad told Putin that Syria stands with Russia and the war in Ukraine was a correction of history and a

restoration of balance after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

North Korea has said that the West's abuse of power and hegemonic policy are responsible for the war in Ukraine and has called Russia's demands

reasonable and just. North Korea and Russia share an 11-mile border as well as anti-Western, anti-NATO world views. They have been allies since the

Soviet era. Both have nuclear weapons.

Relations between China and Russia are better than they have been in decades with similar views on democracy and self-determination.


China was one of a handful of countries which abstained from voting on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Russia's invasion. U.S.

officials also reported that Russia had asked China for military assistance, which China denied.

Myanmar's government also undergoing an authoritarian backslide with close military ties to Russia has supported Putin's invasion and accused the U.S.

and NATO allies of pitting Russia and Ukraine against each other. A spokesperson for the regime said Russia had acted to consolidate its

sovereignty and show the world that it is a world power.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan was actually in Moscow to meet Putin on the day that Russia invaded Ukraine. Khan expressed concern but didn't

condemn and it later signed a new trade deal with Russia.

Brazil has close ties to Russia by the group of emerging economies. And the far right president, Bolsonaro, made demeaning comments about Zelenskyy and

said he was in solidarity with Russia prior to the invasion. Despite his view, Brazil eventually voted to denounce the invasion at the U.N.

We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: With war raging next door, Hungary will head to the polls this Sunday to vote in a parliamentary election. Prime Minister Viktor Orban

faces a coalition of six parties and he's concentrated his political campaign on accusing his opponents of wanting to drag Hungary into the war

in Ukraine.


VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The left thinks that Ukraine fights our war. This is what the leader of our

opponents said word by word, that Ukraine fights our war. This is a mistake. This is not our war. And this war we cannot gain anything but can

lose everything.


NOBILO: During the war, Mr. Orban agreed on some of the rounds of sanctions on Russia in line with the European Union and he's allowed NATO

to deploy troops in western Hungary, but refused to let weapons for Ukraine cross Hungarian territory, a move that's enraged Ukrainian President

Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In many European countries, the prime minister's stance might mean the end of a political career, but not so in Hungary.

Reporter for "Politico Europe", Lili Bayer, who joins me now live from Budapest.

Welcome to the program, Lili.


NOBILO: So, is Viktor Orban set to win this election? And is it likely to be entirely free and fair?

BAYER: So, it's very interesting, because Viktor Orban has spent years developing a very close relationship with the Kremlin. But when Russia

invaded Hungary's neighbor, Ukraine, he has had to do a pivot just a few weeks before the election. Now he is presenting the election as a choice

between war and peace.


And he's trying to tell his voters that a vote for him is a vote for stability. He says that Hungary should be neither pro-Ukrainian nor pro-

Russian but pro-Hungarian. So for example he has refused to bilaterally provide weapon to Ukraine.

NOBILO: And so, how is that messaging resonating with the Hungarian public? Is there an appetite to support Ukraine? Is there fraternal feeling

with Russia? And what campaign promises that the other side making of six opposition parties?

BAYER: So, I think the Hungarian society is incredibly polarized right now. Today, Orban held a rally in a town called Szekesfehervar. I was

speaking to some of his supporters who came out to hear his speech. They are convinced he has the right ideas when it comes to Ukraine. They're even

criticizing President Zelenskyy for being so critical of the Hungarian prime minister.

But on the other side of the political spectrum, we have opposition politicians who are criticizing Orban for not being tougher on the Kremlin.

They want to Hungarian government to do more and they're trying to present this election as a choice between the West and Russia.

And I think that for some Hungarian voters, that message is resonating. So I think society is pretty split on this question. Polls do show, however,

that Orban's Fidesz party, which has been in power for 12 years, is leading. But opposition politicians have been saying this week that they

still believe victory is possible, despite what they describe as a very uneven playing field.

NOBILO: Now, Orban has been one of the leading voices in Europe against migration. Now hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to Hungary from

Ukraine. How is he reacting to that?

BAYER: It's very interesting, because I think there's a lot of sympathy across the political spectrum in Hungary for Ukrainian refugees. And Orban

himself has said that Hungary is helping refugees coming from Ukraine that Hungary wants to be welcoming and to be of assistance for those in need. So

it is quite a striking difference from how he has handled previous migration crises.

NOBILO: So, overall, would you say this war in Ukraine from a political perspective strengthened Viktor Orban's hand? Because he's trying to

exploit the fears that Hungarians might have that they could be drawn into this conflict?

BAYER: He's definitely trying to use the situation to his advantage. I think it's a bit early to tell. We'll be able to tell on Sunday when we see

the results, of course. But I do think that his messaging on staying out of the conflict is resonating, especially with some of his core base of voters

who are scared of getting drawn into a conflict.

And it has helped him that his ruling Fidesz party directly and indirectly controls a large swath of the Hungarian media landscape, and they have used

this access to the media to really underscore the prime minster's message, even spreading some notions about the opposition, which are factually

incorrect. So for example, arguing the opposition wants to draw Hungary into the war in Ukraine, something which the opposition has denied that it

wants to do. So it will be very interesting to see how this place out on Sunday.

NOBILO: Absolutely. We'll be watching. Lili Bayer, thanks so much.

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


NOBILO: You can follow Russia's war in Ukraine at, but for now, let's take a look at other key stories that are making international impact


The World Food Programme says 20 trucks carrying food aid have entered Ethiopia's Tigray Region.


It's the first time that aids entered the rebel-controlled area by road since mid-December. The government declared a cease-fire last month to help

improve aid access.

And Pakistani Prime Minister Imran khan is refusing calls to resign. Opponents will try to remove him from power in a no confidence vote Sunday

after had he lost his majority in parliament on Wednesday. Mr. Khan says he isn't going to quit and accused the opposition of being under foreign


Pope Francis has apologized to Canada's indigenous people for Catholic Church's role in residential schools. A landmark report revealed in the

2015, that 150,000 indigenous children were forced to attend schools where many suffered abuse and were buried in the unmarked schools. The schools

are operated for more than a century and were run by Christian denominations on behalf of the government.

And, lastly, a moment to remember from an eventful week, an award for uncommon valor. A Ukrainian border guard got this medal this week for this

blunt reply to a Russian warship that demanded his company surrender.


UKRAINIAN GUARD: Russian warship, go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself.


NOBILO: You remember that from the start of the war. At first, it was thought that he and his company were killed, but it turns out they weren't.

They were captured, and he was just released in a prisoner swap. He had praise for all his countrymen and women for resisting Russia.


UKRAINIAN GUARD (through translator): I'd like to say many thanks to the Ukrainian people for their support. We feel the support. We are inspired by



NOBILO: And he followed that by saying, we have strength, we have truth, we will win.

Thank you for watching today. For our viewers tuning in on CNN+ in the United States, our show is now available on demand. And for viewers

worldwide, you can find me on the usual social platforms. And I'll see you again on Monday.

Have a good weekend.