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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Zelenskyy Addresses UNSC; Ukraine Fears High Civilian Casualties; Ukraine's Azov Battalion: Are Extremist Roots Present Today? Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 05, 2022 - 17:00:00   ET



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

The Ukrainian president questions the purpose of the United Nations Security Council, asking what security they guarantee.

Then, the U.N. human rights chief says images from Bucha show all signs that civilians were targeted. We have a report from a neighboring city

where the casualties are feared to be even higher.

And a debrief on Ukraine's Azov Battalion. We look at the extremists present today and how they play into Putin's rhetoric of denazification in


With each passing day, perhaps even hour, more civilians are slaughtered in his country while the world looks on, so Ukraine's president delivered a

blunt message to the U.N. Security Council Tuesday -- take action now to help insure peace, or, quote, dissolve yourself all together.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces are deliberately turning Ukrainian cities into ashes with brutality and air strikes, comparing their brutality

to ISIS. He says that the world has yet to learn the full truth of Russia's atrocities, warning that the massacres in Bucha are just the tip of the

iceberg. Graphic and disturbing video, like the one we're about to show you, is still emerging from that suburb of Kyiv.

Ukraine says that Russia indiscriminately killed civilians before its forces withdrew, murdering men, women, and children.

Mr. Zelenskyy describes the atrocities in heartbreaking detail.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Some of them were shot on the street. Others were thrown into wells, so they died

there in suffering. They were killed in their apartments, houses, blowing up, grenades. Civilians were crushed by tanks while sitting in their cars

in the middle of the road, just for their pleasure. They cut off limbs, cut their throats, slashed their throats, women were raped and killed in front

of their children. Their tongues were pulled out only because the aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them.

Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee? It's not there, although there is a Security Council. So where is the peace?


NOBILO: Mr. Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials warned the number of civilian casualties in Borodianka, another Kyiv suburb, maybe much higher

than in Bucha.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen visited the town and witnessed the destruction firsthand.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the war that Russia has unleashed against Ukraine, few places have suffered

more than Borodianka -- occupied by Putin's troops since late February, recently taken back by Ukraine's army.

Borodianka was held by the Russians for a very long time. And just to give you an idea about the scale of the destruction, you had houses like these

completely destroyed. But if we look over here, you can see even large residential buildings have been flattened. This entire building was

flattened. It was connected with this one before but now there's absolutely nothing left of it.

And the Russians made sure to show they owned this town, painting the letter "V" on occupied buildings, even defacing Borodianka's city

administration. V is the letter the Russians used to help identify their forces that invaded this part of Ukraine.

Oxana Kuchenchenko (ph) and her husband just returned here and found Russian soldiers had been staying in their house. She says they ransacked

the place.

Alcohol is everywhere, she says. Empty bottles in the hallway under things. They smoked a lot, put out cigarettes on the table.

They also showed us the corps of a man they found in their backyard. His hands and feet tied. Severe bruises on his body. A shell casing still


Russia claims its forces don't target civilians, calling reports of atrocities fake and provocations. But these body collectors are the ones

who have to remove the carnage Russia's military leaves in its wake.

In a span of less than an hour, they found a person gunned down while riding a bicycle, a body burned beyond recognition, and a man still stuck

in his car, gunned down with bullet holes in his head and chest. He was believed to be transporting medical supplies, now strewn near this road.

The most awful thing is those are not soldiers laying there. Just people. Innocent people, Gennadiy says.


For no reason, I ask. Yes, for no reason. Killed and tortured for no reason, he says.

The road from Kyiv to Borodianka is lined with villages heavily damaged after Russia's occupation. Destroyed tanks and armored vehicles left behind

but also indications of just how much firepower they unleashed on this area.

The Russians say this is a special operation, not a war, and that they don't harm civilians. But look how much ammunition they left behind simply

in this one single firing position here. This is ammunition for heavy weapons with devastating effects on civilian areas.

That devastation cuts through the towns and villages north of Kyiv where the number of dead continues to rise. Now that Vladimir Putin's armies have

withdrawn, Ukraine's leaders still believe many more bodies could be buried beneath the rubble.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Borodianka, Ukraine.


NOBILO: For those on the front lines of this war, any moment could bring devastating injury or worse.

Ivan Watson visited a military hospital in Eastern Ukraine to visit with soldiers severely injured in the fight for their country. Some of the

images in Ivan's story are disturbing and graphic, of course, the results of war.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Shattered bodies in the intensive care unit of a Ukraine hospital. Men and

women from the Ukraine military whose war wounds are so catastrophic, they need machines to breathe.

These deeply uncomfortable images, a glimpse of the physical toll this conflict is taking on both soldiers and civilians.

The general of the hospital said after the first couple days of this new war, at least 30 medical personnel resigned because of just the trauma of

seeing these kinds of injuries up close.

A soldier named Yuri wants to communicate.

He can't speak because he's still on a ventilator. He has regained consciousness after 11 days in a coma.

We won't identify him because doctors say his family does not yet know of his injuries. He has one child. A daughter, he signals, 13 years old.

Writing in my notebook, Yuri tells me he's been in the military for two years. The doctors say that he has a very good chance of surviving very

serious shrapnel injuries to his body.

We were given permission to film here provided we not name the hospital, nor the city that we're in. And that's because the Ukrainian authorities

fear that that information could lead to the Russian military directly targeting this hospital.

In every room here, there is a patient whose bones and tissues have been ripped apart by flying metal.

Vladimir is a volunteer. He signed up on the second day of this war in 2022.

This electrician turned volunteer soldier comes from the Russian-speaking city of Kharkiv. Three days ago, a battle left him with two broken arms and

wounds to his stomach.

Vladimir said his sister lives in Russia and he no longer communicates with her. I asked why. He said that she believes that the Ukrainians are


This is a family that is split apart by this war and different narratives of who started it.

Vladimir and the soldier with the fresh amputation lying next to him both insist that only force can stop Russia's war in this country.

Down the hall, I met a young civilian also horrifically wounded.

Dima (ph) is 21 years old. Where are you from?


WATSON: Dima is a recent university graduate photographed here with his mother, Natasha.

My mother died when this happened to me, he says. Adding, I've cried it off already. I'm calmer now.

He says on the night of March 9th, he and his mom were hiding in the bathroom of a two-story house in the center of Mariupol when they heard war

planes overhead bombing the neighborhood. Mother and son were hiding in the bathroom shortly before 1:00 a.m. when the bomb hit the house.

When he woke up, his legs were gone. He never saw his mother again. During my visit, a friend gives Dima a phone.

This is the first time. He's seeing the building where he and his mother were sheltering when they were hit. The red car here that is destroyed in

front of the ruined building was his mother's car.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Of course, I get angry, I get sad. I get depressed at times because I can't lose my cool, because those who

did this to me, they probably want me sitting here crying and weeping.

WATSON: Don't let the silence in these halls fool you. There is deep seething anger in this hospital, at the country that launched this

unprovoked war on Ukraine.

Ivan Watson, CNN, in Eastern Ukraine.


NOBILO: The Kremlin says any country choosing to expel Russian diplomats will pay a price, but that list of countries is growing. Many, such as

Spain, Italy, and Denmark, are citing national security issues and illegal intelligence operations, not to mention their revulsion at the brutal

killing in Ukraine. France, Portugal, Sweden, and Estonia are among the countries which join that list on Tuesday.

Estonia says that it's shutting down two Russian consulates and expelling 14 Russian diplomats. They have until the end of April to leave the


Earlier, I spoke to Estonia's foreign minister. I asked whether those expulsions are enough to send any kind of message to Russia.


EVA-MARIA LIIMETS, ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Indeed, but let me first recall that the why we develop diplomatic relations between our countries,

we develop diplomatic relations to have more cooperation between each other, to have better relations with each other. But in the current state,

we have seen that Russia has become an aggressor in the international arena. Of course, it is difficult to develop a relationship.

And therefore, it is from my perspective absolutely appropriate to reduce the number of diplomatic presence of Russia in Estonia. And therefore, we

have closed those consulates. But of course I would also like to say this is not enough to pressure Russia to stop the war and therefore we also work

with sanctions with the fifth package of sanctions within the European Union.

NOBILO: Speaking of not enough, Zelenskyy challenged the U.N. to act now or dissolve the Security Council. What is the point of the U.N. Security

Council if it doesn't act aggressively to protect the killing of innocent civilians in a barbarous unjustified war?

LIIMETS: The United Nations Security Council plays very important global role in peace and security globally, and of course it is very unfortunate,

you see, that among those permanent member states, there is also an aggressor and that aggressor has sabotaged the work of the United Nations

Security Council.

Therefore, of course, it is important to other member states need to work around the regulations of the Security Council to really adopt solutions,

which are so much needed in the current stage. And longer term, we also need to speak about the reform of the United Nations, the Security Council.

NOBILO: What reforms would you like to see?

LIIMETS: I would like to see that permanent members will not have -- the solutions and questions related to atrocities.

NOBILO: You mentioned sanctions. Other than that and toughening them and sending more weapons to Ukraine, what needs to be done to stop Putin?

Because so far, obviously, it's not working.

LIIMETS: Estonia has started to provide defensive equipment to Ukraine already before the war started, and it is very important that all countries

who have this opportunity to provide military assistance to Ukraine to do it now, because Ukraine, we need to support Ukraine in defending its

territory and its people. At the same time we must continue to politically and economically isolate Russia so that Russia would not have additional

finances to cover the costs of the war.

And these are the two elements or two track which we need to work with within international community.

NOBILO: And are you comfortable seeing the images that we are coming out of Ukraine with the red lines that NATO has set for military intervention

in Ukraine?

LIIMETS: I think that no one can be comfortable with these brutal killings which are so brutal killings that we see from Ukraine. And therefore, as I

just said, we must continue to put additional pressure to Russia to stop this unjustified war in Ukraine, and also help to restore sovereignty and

territorial integrity of Ukraine.


And here, definitely, Ukraine needs support of every member state of the United Nations.


NOBILO: Let's take a look at more of the global reaction. The first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, the E.U. is proposing a ban on Russian coal

imports. European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen says it's important to put pressure on Putin and the Russian government after the

atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere.

The E.U. is also working on sanctions that could target Russian oil

NATO secretary general is calling out China for being, quote, unwilling to condemn Russia's aggression in Ukraine. Jens Stoltenberg also accused

Beijing of joining Moscow in questioning the right of nations to choose their own path. China has refused to demand the invasion or sanction


Coming up, we'll take a look at the Azov Battalion and lingering questions about its connection with extremism.


NOBILO: Russian President Vladimir Putin says that he intends to denazify Ukraine, a claim perhaps better suited to propaganda than reality

considering Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish, and the Menorah center in Dnipro is among the largest Jewish community centers in


But within Ukrainian society, ultranationalist tendencies do exist, as they do in all European societies. Vladimir Putin has been at odds with these

elements for years in Ukraine.

In 2014, fighters with the Azov Battalion were active against Russian forces around Mariupol. They were largely integrated into the Ukrainian

National Guard and largely seen as moving on from their far-right origins.

But a political wing of the Azov movement, the national core party, continues to affiliate with neo-Nazis at home and abroad. The battalion has

been accused of harboring neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. Its emblem resembles the Nazi wolfsangel. Still,

Azov's leaders said the symbol standing for a national idea, and in a statement the CNN, the militia denied it's pro-fascist, pro-Nazi, or pro-



ANDRIY BILETSKY, AZOV BATTALION COMMANDER (through translator): We have only one goal and task now, to fight for our homeland until full



NOBILO: The battalion, which supplied this video, has been on the front lines fighting the Russians in Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Kyiv. And in a war

that calls for every fighter, concerns about lurking extremism have become a particularly sore spot.

Olga Lautman is a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and host of the podcast "Kremlin File", and she comes to us via Skype from

New York.

Welcome to the program, Olga.


NOBILO: So, Olga, every country that I've studied in Europe has far right and militant nationalist supporters, so how does Ukraine stack up by


LAUTMAN: Well, the Azov battalion is a far right hard nationalist group, but it's about 900 members, which honestly compared to other European and

even -- countries and even in the U.S., it's a very minor -- you know, they play a very minor role, and the country is 44 million people.

So, I mean, they're very insignificant across the country, but Russia has latched on to them since their invasion and occupation of Crimea and

Eastern Europe and has kind of used them as justification for the eight- year war that we see and now this brutal assault across all of Ukraine.

NOBILO: You make an important point with the ratio, and obviously denazification is just propaganda and clearly doesn't justify the invasion

of Ukraine.

So, why has Putin chosen it? And is it effective for him?

LAUTMAN: And I actually wanted just to show how absurd -- add one more point. Over the weekend, Putin's installed puppet in Donetsk awarded a

fighter an award for this denazification of Ukraine for his role in killing of the Ukrainians. He was wearing a Nazi patch, so it just shows you it's

all propaganda.

And to your current question, the only accomplishment that the Soviet Union or Russia have ever had over the past century is the defeat of Nazis, and

since World War Two, it has become such an integral part of Russian society. I mean, pretty much every other month or some holiday celebrating

or commemorating the win.

So, you know, and on top of it, Putin has been rewriting history at home, and anyone who mentions Stalin and Hitler's collaboration can be jailed for

discussing anything like that.

So I think because it is so, you know, spoken about at home, it was very natural for Putin to use this denazification line and propaganda as means

to attack Ukraine.

NOBILO: Now, given that Putin has made eradicating Nazism as a false pretense of the attack on Ukraine, you would expect Russia would be free of

radical nationalist militants if that's Putin's justification, so is it?

LAUTMAN: Absolutely not. Russia has a lot of nationalist militants, and if anything, Putin recently just put a call for a cleansing of Russian

society. And this cleansing is basically anyone who is discussing the truth about the war or even calls it a war.

And, you know, so, now -- and they recently over the past week brought the Stalin version of practice of offering incentives and setting up hot lines

for neighbors and family members to report any of their coworkers or neighbors who are disagreeing with this war or even call it a war and not a

special operation.

So, no. You know, again, this is just more diversion that Russia uses while we clearly see what is happening inside Ukraine.

NOBILO: And how exactly has NATO and its ambitions been presented to Russians by Putin?

LAUTMAN: Well, they started in November, and it turned extremely dark with propaganda daily that NATO and U.S. were preparing nuclear strikes against

Russia, Russian territory. We're not even speaking of Russian occupied territory, in Ukraine, and they presented NATO as such a threat and U.S.,

and then by December, they shifted over that U.S. was preparing, you know, bringing in mercenaries to prepare chemical attacks inside of Ukraine.

And we saw this dangerous shift, and it, again, goes back to Soviet days of when they needed to have an external enemy for control at home.

NOBILO: Olga Lautman, thanks very much for joining us this evening.

LAUTMAN: Thank you.

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



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

The U.K., U.S., and Australia now say that they'll work together to develop hypersonic and counter-hypersonic weapons. The three countries are part of

a trilateral partnership which was recently formed in part to counter China. China has been testing hypersonic missiles and Russia said last

month they have used its own version of the weapon in Ukraine.

Kuwait's prime minister presented his government's resignation to the crown prince, avoiding a parliamentary no confidence vote. The prime minister has

been under mounting pressure from opposition MPs who accused his government of both corruption and mismanagement. Sheikh Sabah's cabinet had been

appointed in December.

Sri Lanka's temporary finance minister has announced his resignation just one day after being sworn in. He'd been appointed following the resignation

of 26 cabinet ministers over the weekend, 26. Sri Lanka is currently facing its worst economic crisis since its independence.

The Peruvian president imposed a curfew in the capital of Lima on Tuesday. It's part of an effort to control widespread protests over rising

fertilizer and fuel prices. Just a day earlier, farmers and truckers were blocking roads, sometimes clashing with police. Peru's inflation recently

hit its highest level in 26 years.

Thank you for watching.

For our viewers tuning in on CNN+ in the United States, our show will be available on demand. And for our viewers worldwide, we'll see you again