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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Massacres In Bucha, Kosovo Wants To Join NATO; Orban Re-Elected. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 04, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

The world condemns Russia for apparent war crimes in Ukraine. CNN is on the ground in Bucha, where we're witnessing horrifying images of civilian


Then, the prime minister of Kosovo tells me that his country wants to join NATO, urging the alliance to also support Ukraine a little better. That

ahead -- that interview ahead.

And we'll debrief on Hungary's election, unpacking what Viktor Orban's win means for the country's collision course with the European Union.

But we begin with international outrage over atrocities in a suburb of Kyiv that Ukraine's president calls genocide. Leaders across the Western world

are promising tougher sanctions against Russia, and U.S. President Joe Biden is now calling for a war crimes trial.

We have to warn you, the pictures we're about to show are graphic and disturbing. These are the scenes that emerged after Russian forces were

pushed out of Bucha. Bodies in the streets. Some with their hands tied, others showing signs of torture. Dozens were buried in a mass grave.

Bucha's mayor says Russian forces murdered indiscriminately and this image appears to support that, a man killed while riding his bicycle.

President Zelenskyy visited Bucha Monday, saying that he wants every mother of every Russian soldier to see this carnage.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It is very important to us that the press is here, the journalists are here, and that

is the main thing. We want to you show the world what happened here, what the Russian military did, what the Russian federation did in peaceful

Ukraine. It was important for you to see that these were civilians.


NOBILO: The European Union says it's urgently discussing a new round of sanctions and French President Emmanuel Macron says he wants to see a total

block on Russian exports of coal and oil to the E.U. this week.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen visited Bucha to see these atrocities firsthand. Another warning, his report contains very disturbing and graphic images.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukrainian authorities in Bucha lead us into a basement they call a Russian

execution chamber. It is a gruesome scene, five bodies, their hands tied behind their backs, shot.

The bullet casings collected by Ukrainian police. Pockmarks from bullets in the walls.

The Ukrainians say these men were killed when Russian forces used this compound as a military base while occupying Bucha.

An adviser to Ukraine's interior minister not even trying to conceal his anger. After the liberation of Bucha, five corpses of civilians were found

here, he says, with their hands tied behind their back's they were shot in the head and chest. They were tortured before.

Even the body collectors find it hard to keep their composure. Vladislav Minchenko is usually a painter. Now he collects the dead after Russian

forces retreated from Bucha.

This is not what we learn in the school, he says. Do you see my hands? Hundreds, hundreds of dead, hundreds, not dozens.

The Kremlin has denied that Russia was behind any atrocities in Bucha.

Now, the Russians say the notion that their troops have been killed civilians is all fake news and propaganda, but it does seem clear that they

were here. That looks like sort of a foxhole position, and over there, they seem to have dug in a tank.

On the outer wall, a letter "V," a symbol Russian forces painted on their vehicles before invading this part of Ukraine.

Now, a lot of Russian military hardware lays destroyed in Bucha and other towns around Kyiv as Ukrainians made a stand and prevented Vladimir Putin's

army from entering the city.

Images published shortly after Russian forces left Bucha show many corpses lying in the streets. Some bodies had their hands tied behind their backs.

President Biden calls what happened here a war crime.

While visiting Bucha, Ukraine's president vowed to bring those behind the violence against civilians to justice.

These are war crimes, he says, and they will be recognized by the world as genocide. You are here and you can see what happened. We know thousands of

people were killed and tortured, teared limbs, raped women and killed children.

And still, the dead keep piling up. Many lay in this mass grave behind the main church in Bucha. Local authorities tell us around 150 people are

buried here, but no one knows the exact number. Here too, the scenes are tragic.

Vladimir has been searching for his brother. He believes he lies here, although he can't be 100 percent sure.

The neighbor accompanying him has strong words for the Russians.

Why do you hate Ukraine so much?, she says. Since the 1930s, you have been abusing Ukraine. You just wanted to destroy us. You wanted us gone.

But we will be. Everything will be okay. I believe it.

But more corpses are already on the way. At the end of the day, we meet Vladislav and the body collectors again. Another nine bodies found in this

tour alone, and it's unlikely they will be the last.


NOBILO: That was Fred Pleitgen reporting from Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv.

Despite the world's horror over Bucha, attacks on civilians are not abating where Russia is ramping up its offensive. Its attention is now focused on

Eastern Ukraine, but Ukrainian officials say Russian troops are regrouping to capture the country's second largest city, Kharkiv.

And in the southern part of the country on the strategy, Black Sea, where CNN's Ben Wedeman and his team witnessed the ongoing Russian assault


Take a watch.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is an area where there's been a fair amount of outgoing as well as incoming artillery. Down

the road is a town that has been fought over for several days by Russian and Ukrainian forces.

(voice-over): In these vast open spaces, the Russians seem far away. They're not.

Down here, John, down here. Keep on rolling. You see it over there?

We hug the earth. Two more artillery rounds.

Cameraman John Torigowe (ph) keeps rolling.

All right. So we have had two incoming rounds responding to artillery that's been firing in the Russian directions. Those shells came pretty

close to us.

No one has been injured. The officer tells the translator Valaria Dobustka (ph) we beneath need to go now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go away. Hit a run.

WEDEMAN: Okay, okay.

And so we run with full body armor to the cars.

We're losing petrol.

No time to lose. Throw it in the back. Driver Igor Dyagno (ph) razor- focused on getting us to safety, his car also hit.

Go, go, go, go, go!

Right now, we're trying to get out of this area as quickly as possible. Our other car completely destroyed.

Crammed into the small car, we approach safer ground.

Producer Karim Hadar (ph) checks the damage to the car. The soldiers we left behind are still out there. We could leave. They can't.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, outside Mykolaiv, Ukraine.


NOBILO: Incredible reporting from Ben and his team there.

Now, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is undermining one of its main goals -- weakening NATO. Its brutal war appears to be pushing more countries into

the embrace of NATO's unmatched military capabilities.


The alliance is composed of 30 countries which you can see here in white -- sorry, blue. I'm color blind. Blue for you. And now, pro-NATO sentiment is

building in Finland, Sweden and Kosovo.

Finland shares a land board we are Russia, the largest in the EU and it's hard to remain friendly with Moscow because of that. Now for the first

time, opinion polling shows the majority of Finns want the join NATO. Its president asked the secretary detail on steps for accepting new members and

its foreign minister tells us where it, that it will submit a review to parliament in a few weeks.

And in neighboring Sweden, a country known for its neutrality, at least for the last 200 years, NATO membership is also gaining popular support. But

those countries' leaders remain cautious as Russia has won both against joining the alliance. Kosovo, however, wants to act quickly. Its president

is asking the U.S. to help expedite its NATO membership. Kosovo's leaders worry that Russia is trying to destabilize the Western Balkans through its

ally, Serbia.

Now, Kosovo has seen enough conflict to last lifetimes and is now looking to NATO membership as a way to protect itself against the kind of war that

we're seeing in Ukraine.

I spoke with Kosovo's prime minster, Albin Kurti, and began by asking him if Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes.


ALBIN KURTI, KOSOVO PRIME MINISTER: These horrible crimes that we all see happening in Eastern Ukraine are definitely war crimes, and it is up to

investigators to also prove crimes against humanity and genocide. So I believe that Kremlin has been ordering all of this war machinery into these

crimes against unarmed civilians, and at the same time, he should be facing sooner or later tribunal, international tribunal.

NOBILO: And Kosovo like Ukraine has not been granted NATO membership. Do you agree with Zelenskyy's comments that NATO appeasement of Russia or

indecision over membership countries have left Ukraine unprotected? And do you fear the same for your own country?

KURTI: Ukraine needs some more help from NATO and from the very beginning we have supported Ukrainian people in their liberation struggle. And we

have expressed our admiration and solidarity with the resilience of the Ukrainian people and leadership of President Zelenskyy.

At the same time, we have condemned Russian invasion and military aggression. But we are well aware that NATO represents security for every

of its members. Kosovo is still not a member of NATO, but we have NATO within Kosovo.

Towards NATO membership, our goal is to first get into partnership for peace program. NATO turned 73 years old today, and I remember very well, 23

years ago when NATO turned 50 was amidst a bombardment of Milosevic Yugoslavia and Serbia, whose forces, military, police and paramilitary

forces were committing genocide against the Albanian people.

Back then, 860,000 Albanians expelled from Kosovo. Over 80 percent of population were expelled from their homes. We have 20,000 women and girls

being raped. Over 12,000 unarmed civilians being killed, and 120,000 houses have been destroyed or burned down.

So NATO intervened to stop the genocide, and part of the history of Kosovo is NATO. But at the same time, Kosovo is history of NATO. We want to join

NATO, and the sooner the better.

NOBILO: Are you concerned that fear of Russian retaliation will essentially block Kosovo from joining NATO in the short to medium term?

KURTI: I don't think Russia can block us. Yet within NATO, we have four non-recognizers of our independence, Spain, Slovakia, Romania, and Greece,

and I hope they are going to change their mind and join the rest of 26 members of NATO who recognize the independent of Kosovo and in this way,

enable us to become members of NATO, too.

NOBILO: Are you preparing for a scenario whereby Syria sees the conflict as an opportunity, perhaps backed by Russia, to stoke conflict in your

region or perhaps even an excuse to attack your country?

KURTI: Serbia wants European money, Russian guns, Chinese investments, and American providence. But Serbia is not neutral. Serbia is on the side of

Russian Federation. That's why we have to be vigilant.

They have 42 forward operating bases around Kosovo. We're not afraid. We have added 52 percent of the budget for our defense. But at the same time,

we have to be very careful because they might play the role of a proxy in the Western Balkans of the Russian Federation.

At the same time, we never forget that in 2008 when he declared independence on the 17th of February, three weeks before that, Gazprom

bought majority of shares were oil industry of Serbia, and on the other hand, only six months after in the same year, 2008, Russian Federation

annexed South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Ministry of defense of Russian Federation has a special office within the ministry of defense of Serbia. So now after Russian blitzkrieg in Ukraine

failing, we are worried that they might try to spread, expand the conflict, and western Balkans could be a place where new Russian battlegrounds can

develop by their proxies, be that Serbia or Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

NOBILO: Do you feel that your government and your position is secure from Russian inference? Because you are a country that would like to join NATO.

I think of Montenegro in 2016. Are you concerned about government interference?

KURTI: We have hybrid war in western Balkans because there is a Russian humanitarian center in Nis. In Serbia, only 100 miles away from Pristina.

At the same time, we have seen that hybrid war is no substitution for war. It is just its preparatory phase. That's why we are worried and vigilant.

But again, we are not afraid because with our partners in NATO, especially with United States, Germany, U.K., France, and Italy, we know that in

Kosovo, you do not defend only people of Kosovo, but at the same time you defend NATO since NATO is well integrated within architecture of security


NOBILO: And what are you doing to buttress your defenses against hybrid warfare or actual warfare in the even of a spillover conflict?

KURTI: We are increasing capacities of our army. The budget for our defense has been increased by 52 percent for 2022. At the same time, we are

increasing capacities of our police and our intelligence and cooperation with NATO countries.


NOBILO: Hungary's Viktor Orban has been re-elected in a landslide, and he's now heading for a fourth consecutive term. His critics say this is

going to embolden him. We'll discuss.


NOBILO: Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, has been re-elected in a landslide. During the campaign, Mr. Orban told voters that gas bills would

stay low, thanks to his warm relationship with Russia's Vladimir Putin, who was quick to congratulate him on his re-election.

Viktor Orban is the Russian president's closest ally within the E.U., and NATO. And the Hungarian prime minster has had to perform a balancing act

between the Moscow and Brussels. But he went one step further during his victory speech, calling Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy an opponent.


VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Now we have to battle the biggest forces. The left wing at home, the international left

wing, the Brussels bureaucrats, all the organizations of the Soros empire, the international mainstream media, and finally, the Ukrainian president as

well. We never had so many opponents.


NOBILO: That stance is now presenting a critical challenge to the E.U. in an already fractious relationship.

CNN's Matt Rivers is in Budapest, Hungary.

And, Matt, thanks for joining us.

What is the immediate impact of this going to be for the E.U. and NATO being re-elected in the position of strength? Is that kind of like the

political snake in the grass for them?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think there's no question about, that Bianca. I mean, just look at the kind of leader Viktor Orban is. I

mean, stop me if you heard this one before just based on listening to that, a populist leader basically lists off everybody in the world that isn't a

direct supporter or obvious supporter of Orban as enemies and yet they overcome to win a glorious victory. That's what he heard Orban in his

victory speech, including talking about Volodymyr Zelenskyy who called out Viktor Orban for what Zelenskyy called a lack of support in Ukraine's fight

for its own existence, but specifically talking about the E.U.

I think you have to look at it in two different ways. In the short-term, specifically as it relates to the Ukraine war, it means the E.U. is going

to have a difficult time ramping up sanctions against Russia. We've seen Orban draw a line in the sand. Despite going on with initial sanctions

against Russia right after the invasion began, Orban has said that he's not going to support a ban on energy imports to Hungary, a lucrative market for

Russia. He said that could make life harder for Hungarians, making life more expensive, which is true, but it also very conveniently allows Putin

and Russian oil companies, natural gas companies to continue to have access to this market.

In the long-term, what you're going to see is a kind of continuation of the issues that most of the E.U. has had with Hungary recently, which is

attacking LGBTQ people, which is basically saying he's the ruler of an ill- liberal state and it really flies in the face of a lot of other things that other E.U. states are trying to accomplish, makes their lives of people

like Macron in France a lot harder.

NOBILO: And, Matt, there was also a referendum which took place in Hungary. What is on the ballot and what did the results tell us?

RIVERS: Yeah, basically, this was a referendum put on the ballot by Orban and his ruling party really going to the culture wars issues, basically

saying about LGBTQ issues here in Hungary, basically saying -- there were four different questions. Basically the theme of it all was, do you want

your children to be taught, you know, homosexual ideas, or transgender issues, or you know, basically similar to these culture wars issues?

And we've seen Orban basically lean into that and put these kind of slanted questions on the ballot to see if people would vote for that. This

referendum actually did not -- was not legally binding because it didn't actually have enough ballots submitted within this referendum for it to be

legally binding but Orban it's claiming it's a win, that people did vote for it, that it was overwhelmingly in favor of people saying, no, we don't

want that for our children.

But these questions were very slanted and it's just Orban leaning into the traditional families concept here in Hungary that he thinks will drive

turnout and enhance support among ordinary Hungarians.


NOBILO: Matt Rivers in Budapest, thank you.

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


NOBILO: Let's take a look at the other key stories making international impact today.

In Sri Lanka, the government is temporarily being one by just four ministers after 26 cabinet members designed over the weekend. The country

is struggling with a failing economy, and the president declared a nationwide public emergency a few days ago following violent protests

outside his home.

In China, where COVID-19 cases are rising, state media says more than 10,000 medical workers from around the country have been called to

Shanghai. That's because each of the city's 25 million residents have now got to be tested for the virus. It's part of the government's zero COVID


Tesla's CEO Elon Musk has become Twitter's largest individual shareholder. He purchased a little more than 9 percent of the social media company's

stock. The news sent twitter shares soaring. Musk previously criticized the platform saying it doesn't allow for free speech.

Thank you for watching. For our viewers tuning in on CNN+ in the United States, our show's available on demand. And for our viewers around the

world, we'll see you again tomorrow.