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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Could Russia Be Prosecuted On War Crimes Charges?; Ukraine's Internally Displaced Rely On Aid And Scant Hope; EU Working To Cut Russian Energy Imports? Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 06, 2022 - 04:00:00   ET



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

Can the international community hold President Putin accountable for war crimes? I speak to a special adviser to the ICC about the realities of a


Then, more than 7 million people are now internally displaced in Ukraine. We look at the challenges of getting humanitarian aid to those who are

still within the country's borders.

And it wouldn't take a flip of a switch to turn off Europe's reliance on Russian oil and gas. So, what is the path forward? Our report from

Brussels, ahead.

Evacuate now or risk death, Ukraine's deputy prime minister has issued that warning to residents in three eastern regions as Russian attacks intensify.

Officials fear that Russia is preparing an all-out assault in Luhansk, Donetsk, and Kharkiv. Heavy fighting is reported across those areas, with

dozens of strikes hitting Kharkiv. Russia says that a railway station during foreign supplied military equipment was among the targets. And to

the south, the mayor of Mariupol say weeks of bombardment turned that entire city into a death camp. He calls it a new Auschwitz.

A senior defense official says that Russian forces completely withdrawn from areas near Kyiv and Chernihiv, but the horrors that they left behind

are still unfolding. Countries around the world are condemning the killing of civilians in Bucha, even several that have been reluctant to take sides

so far in this war. Israel's foreign minister is accusing Russia of war crimes. And India is now calling for an independent investigation.

Poland, which is one of Vladimir Putin's fiercest critics taking a stronger line. President Andrzej Duda told CNN that what happens in Bucha amounts to



ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLISH PRESIDENT: The fact that civilian inhabitants of Ukraine are being killed shows to what the Russian invasion is, the goal of

that invasion is simply to extinguish the Ukrainian nation.


NOBILO: It's not just Bucha. Towns all around Kyiv that managed to block Russian forces from storming the capital have paid a heavy price in

civilian lives.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour visited Borodianka and shows how some of the makeshift shelters have been turned into graves.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to Sasha's restaurant, it says, only Sasha's is no more, nor are any of the

apartments in this block above. A dining table and chairs, a jacket blowing in the wind, still intact -- the only visible reminders of the families who

lived here.

The crows caw above this city of Borodianka, perhaps they sense the death here.

It is clear that the heavy destruction is mostly along the main streets. It appears the Russian armored columns simply opened up with heavy machine

guns and artillery as they rumble through town.

Brick by brick, today, the digging starts, trying to find civilians, or their bodies, buried beneath the rubble when even their basement shelters

were turned into graveyards. On this corner, they're looking for at least four missing from this block alone, says Victoria Ruvan (ph) who's with the

rescue team.

We have never seen anything like this. It is very difficult for us, she says, and not only for us, but for the residents of Borodianka. It is a

great tragedy because of an ill-disciplined force with a license to kill.

So this is Vladimir Putin's idea of liberating a fraternal brotherly nation. So, I think he's doing all this because he loves Ukrainians or as

many believe, he is motivated by a rising hatred and anger at their westward loving democracy, at their resistance, and at their refusal to

come under Russia control.

And as an afterthought, a bullet to the head of Ukraine's cultural here, the great poet Taras Shevchenko, not even statues are immune.

Amid all this distraction, the summary executions, Ukrainian flag flies proudly in the central square. For good measure, these Ukrainian soldiers

are pulling out a captured Russian tank that was dug in. They say they'll use this and anything else the invaders have left behind to fight them in

the villages, in the towns, in the fields, and all the way back to the Russian border.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Borodianka.


NOBILO: President Zelenskyy is accusing Russia of using hunger as a weapon against civilians. He accuses Russian forces of blocking food and

humanitarian aid from reaching civilians trapped in besieged areas and destroying agricultural equipment.


The need for humanitarian aid inside Ukraine is becoming desperate, with more than 7 million people now internally displaced. They lack protection

under international treaties and laws as they're considered under the protection of their home state.

So, as Matt Rivers reports, it's all the more crucial to ensure the international aid is arriving.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The convoy gets loaded up several times a week. Workers with Hungarian Baptist aid making the 7-mile

drive from Budapest, destination, western Ukraine.

Today, they're headed to Berehove, a quaint town just across the border than become a magnet for Ukrainians fleeing the war. Upon arrival, supplies

unloaded by some of the kids staying at this shelter, what used to be a school.

Inside classrooms, bunk beds replaced desks and photos of former students hang on the wall above the tiny shoes of the kids staying in the room

today. Like little Yeva (ph) and her mom, Diana. They fled Kyiv weeks ago, leaving behind her husband to fight the Russians.

She says, we stood there and cried at the train station. My daughter was so mad at him, she thought he was leaving us. He said, Yeva, come give me a

kiss, but she wouldn't.

Yeva just too young to understand the sacrifice her dad is making like so many other children here scarred by the war. Even in this safe place, air

raid sirens still go off.

So down here in the school's basement, they're using this as a bomb shelter and school's director says they're coming down here on average a couple

dozen times every week. Even though no bombs have fallen in this area, when the children come down here, the director says, so many of them are still


So, for instance, the other day, it was raining outside, there was a clap of thunder, and a lot of the children screamed, the director said, because

they thought it was a bomb.

Aid continues to flow into Berehove, in the beginning of war. It was largely just a stop for refugees fleeing to other countries. Now, they're

staying put.

BELA SZILAGYI, PRESIDENT, HUNGARIAN BAPTIST AID: Those who are arriving, they want to stay for the long term. And it certainly requires different

kind of hosting.

RIVERS: For the Hungarian Baptist aid, more refugees means more needs for everything else, including helping hands.

DANIEL NAGRUDNY, PHARMACIST & HUNGARIAN BAPTIST AID VOLUNTEER: It's not really like a war. For me, I feel like it's a genocide of Ukrainians.

RIVERS: Pharmacist Daniel Nagrudny came to help from Philadelphia, the son of Ukrainian immigrants.

NAGRUDNY: As people come together and come to the country and try to help out, then something actually gets done.

RIVERS: It's definitely the spirit at a nearby church where a tiny volunteer operation has ramped up to hundreds of meals served every day as

refugees decide to stay long term. The reasons can vary -- everything from hope that the Ukrainian army will prevail to simply not wanting to live in

a foreign country.

For Diana, back at the school, the reason to not flee to neighboring Hungary was simple.

She says, we feel like we're closer, somehow closer to my husband. I will go back the moment it is safe for my children.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Berehove, Ukraine.


NOBILO: The Biden administration says it's taking a number of new measures against Russia. They include sanctions on Vladimir Putin's adult daughters,

Maria Putina and Katerina Tikhonova. European diplomats are also working to approve new sanctions.

This latest package includes an import ban on Russian coal but not oil and not gas, European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen says the next

round of sanctions, we'll have to look into that, citing the massive revenues that Russia gets from fossil fuels. The EU's high representative

for foreign affairs puts a number on those revenues, more than $1 billion a day.


JOSEP BORRELL, HIGH REP., EU FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & SECURITY POLICY (through translator): We have given Ukraine one billion euros, it might seem a lot,

but one billion euros is what we pay Putin everyday for the energy he provides us. Since the beginning of the war, we have given him 35 billion

euros. Compare that to the 1 billion euros that we have given to Ukraine in arms and weapons.


NOBILO: International diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is following all of this from Brussels.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Bianca, yes, it was probably the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell who gave

us the best understanding of why it's so important for the EU to cut down on its consumption of Russian gas, Russian oil, and Russian coal. He put it

this way, that the Ukrainians have been given by the European unions about 1 billion euros. He said that's what the European Union spends on Russian

energy everyday.


But it's difficult for the European union to come to a consensus on how to cut down. They've said the next round of sanctions, round five, will target

coal, will ban Russian coal. This, for oil and gas where the really big money is being spent and given to Russia. What we can see there is a

picture of differences, a patchwork if you will, across Europe. The Lithuanians, for example, who developed their own liquefied natural gas

facilities on their coast, that they can and have now, said that they don't need Russian gas. They're cutting themselves off from Russian gas.

But the neighboring Baltic ally, Latvia, is in an entirely different position and cannot back out at the moment with the gas they're getting

from Russia.

Then you have, for example, Hungarians, Viktor Orban who joust won an election on the weekend saying they'll go against EU policy and he's

prepared to buy gas from President Putin in rubles, which president Putin is demanding, and the EU saying it won't do that. Put into that equation,

just after the war began, Orban was meeting with Putin in Moscow, Putin pointing out how cheap Hungary was getting its gas from Russia. So there's

manipulation there. There's differences of political opinion and political posturing.

And then there's a huge practicalities that Germany, for example, faces, the economic powerhouse of northern Europe, a hugely important economy and

driver throughout the whole of the European Union. They really rely on Russian gas, particularly for their industrial production. They cannot cut

themselves off of it. We heard from their finance minister, saying if they do, the country would go into recession.

Now the European Union has made a commitment to try to cut down by the end of the year, 2/3 of its energy consumption, its LNG, gas consumption from

Russia, but that's a very tough target to make and that's why when they're trying to agree sanctions right now with all these differences, it's just

very difficult to do, Bianca.


NOBILO: Thanks, Nic.

The president of the European Commission also sent a strong warning to China on Wednesday. Ursula van der Leyen says that China has a, quote,

special responsibility to uphold international peace and must not undermine European sanctions against Russia.

The growing global condemnation against war crimes in Bucha is raising the stakes for China's position in the conflict. China's media has been echoing

Russian propaganda and Beijing has refused to condemn the war. State media is even supporting Moscow's claim that the casualties in Bucha was staged.

One television report on Bucha used a caption citing Russia, with the words, Ukrainians directed a good show.

Coming up on the program, we'll speak about the evidence pointing to Russian soldiers allegedly breaking the rules of war and we'll debrief on

what it would take to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges.



NOBILO: This is Pope Francis as he unfurled a Ukrainian flag that he says came from the martyred city of Bucha. The pope has condemned the atrocities

committed in the Kyiv suburb and he deplored the United Nations for failing to end the war in Ukraine. He's also criticized what he called the old

story of competition between countries that he says overtakes the effort to find peace.

The U.N. says mass graves and corpses discovered in Bucha after Russian troops pulled out show all the signs that civilians were directly targeted

and killed there. Such attacks constitute a war crime and Russia accused of breaking these international rules of warfare.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the U.N. Security Council to prosecute Russia. But as CNN's David McKenzie reports, bringing the

Russian president to trial would be far from simple and we have before, we have to caution that David's report contains disturbing images.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The scattered aftermath of a Russian occupation in Bucha, a war with already so

much horror, exposing new depths of brutality and possible war crimes.

My husband had been shot in the head, mutilated and tortured says Tatyana. He was buried a meter deep so the dogs wouldn't eat him. That was it.

For weeks, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been calling for justice.

Those calls are growing louder.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You may remember I got criticized for calling Putin a criminal. We have to gather all the detail

so this could be actual -- have a war-crime trial.

MCKENZIE: Brutal actions of Russian forces in Ukraine are being investigated by international prosecutors.

But Putin faced these accusations before. In Chechnya, Russian forces leveled Grozny. In Syria, they bombed hospitals and schools with cluster

munitions say multiple reports, and no one in Russia was punished.

Russia, like the U.S., isn't a party to the treaty governing the International Criminal Court at The Hague, making it harder to prosecute.

And investigations at the ICC can take years.

GORDON BROWN, FORMER U.K. PRIME MINISTER: We've got to send a message to all those in Putin's inner circle that they cannot act with impunity.

MCKENZIE: Speaking to CNN, former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that at the request of Ukrainian officials, he's lobbying for a special

tribunal, modeled on the Nuremberg trials of Nazi criminals and the tribunal investigating atrocities in the former Yugoslavia. Like the murder

of thousands of men and boys in Srebrenica.

How can you realistically get senior Russian officials, including Vladimir Putin into a courtroom?

GORDON: They said it was impossible in 1942 when the Allies said they were going to try Hitler and his accomplices for crimes, what we call crimes

against peace, but that happened in Nuremberg.

MCKENZIE: A tribunal creates a legal loophole to prosecute Putin and senior officials for the act of invading Ukraine itself, a crime of

aggression. With the right resources, Brown says an indictment could come in months.

Russia has repeatedly denied responsibility for any crime.

And U.S. officials believe that Vladimir Putin will wield absolute power inside Russia, so an indictment could be an empty threat.

BROWN: We have got to set the pace for saying that whenever Putin leaves the country, whenever he is accessible, he could be arrested. The only

thing that he understands is strength.

MCKENZIE: For these atrocities in Bucha and for Mariupol, for the crimes not yet revealed.

David McKenzie, CNN, London.


NOBILO: To debrief this, I'm joined by Leila Sadat via Skype. And she's special adviser on crimes against humanity to the International Criminal

Court prosecutor.

Welcome to the program, Leila.


NOBILO: So neither Ukraine nor Russia signed up to the Rome statutes, but Ukraine granted jurisdiction to the ICC -- meaning the ICC doesn't have

jurisdiction in Russia. So, that being said, what is the likelihood of Putin ending up before the International Criminal Court?

SADAT: Well, the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over all activities taken place on the territory of Ukraine since 2014 and that

includes both prior activities on its territory in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea as well as the current conflict. It obviously is going to take some

time, because there's a hot war right now, to talk about arresting somebody not physically on the territory.


If you think about other examples like the Nuremburg trials, the allies won the war before any arrests were made or if you think of the former

Yugoslavia, which is a closer analogy to what we have now, we couldn't indict President Slobodan Milosevic right away. It took time to get the

evidence and even when the indictment was issued and it was made public, then it took time eventually for him to be surrendered to The Hague.

But it did happen. So it's happening on a different track than dealing with the conflict itself, which is the on going crisis, but I can assure you

that the International Criminal Court is working very, very diligently and carefully to make sure that justice can be served in this case.

NOBILO: What kind of timelines might we be talking about given the magnitude of these atrocities and the fact that it's an active warzone? As

you say, Milosevic was indicted and then seven years on he died. So what kind of timeframe?

SADAT: What I can say, we're not realistically in a position to comment on when specific indictments from this particular conflict will be issued.

What we can see is that the prosecutor acted immediately to open the investigation which was then referred to him by 41 states. He's already

dispatched an advance team to Ukraine and interestingly requested arrest warrants a couple weeks ago and the situation in Georgia which named two

Russian individuals as potential indictees of all the court, as well as in the press release, announcing the investigation shows a very troubling

similarity to the pattern of atrocities in Ukraine.

So, the ICC is moving quickly, the ICC is moving carefully because the worst thing is to go too fast and have acquittals or have cases fall apart.

NOBILO: Exactly, so what are you looking for specifically to link the atrocities to the leadership at the very top? And what kind of evidence to

avoid just the mid-level generals that were involved getting done, and then accountability not being delivered?

SADAT: Yeah, no, it's a really difficult problem. So, typically, in a successful war crimes prosecution, and I should say, we need to add the

problems of crimes against humanity here because the pattern and practice, what we're seeing, 80 strikes on hospitals, 1,500 civilians dead, apartment

buildings bombed, schools destroyed, this looks very much like these are attacks on a civilian population which would be also a crime against


We don't typically start at the top just because it is difficult, as you just pointed out, to make the linkage evidence. You want absolute proof

that the individuals at the top had the intent for these things to happen. Because we can't just show that they happened, that, we understand and can

see violations of the laws and customs of war.

But to win the criminal case, we actually have to show that these activities were undertaken with criminal intent. And to get that, typically

in other conflicts such as the former Yugoslavia, we've had access for example, to cell phone intercepts, we've had access to communications.

We've seen a pattern but the pattern in the photographs are not quite enough. We need either the eye witness testimony or the actual records of

where meetings were held and these kinds of activities were discussed.

NOBILO: Leila Sadat, thank you so much for joining us this evening. Appreciate it.

SADAT: Thank you so much. It's an honor to be here.

NOBILO: And 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.


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has lost his parliamentary majority after one of his key lawmakers quit. Chairwoman Idit Silman resigns, citing

ideological grounds.

After years of political instability which saw four elections in just three years, her resignation could threaten the delicate alliance holding the

Israeli government together.

And in Peru, at least 11 people have been injured in clashes between police and protesters. Hundreds took to the streets in the country's capital,

Lima, Tuesday, on rising inflation and fuel costs. And the anger boiled over into violence after President announced Castillo announced a 24-hour

curfew, a curfew that he was forced to cut short.

Shanghai is amending its separation policy for children who test positive for COVID-19, after videos emerged on social media showing children and

infants being isolated away from their parents. China's current policy requires isolation regardless how old you are, new rule allows parent to

apply to stay with their COVID positive children.

Australia announced it will spend $2.5 billion to upgrade its defensive missiles. That will significantly increase the range of its missiles on its

warships and war planes. Australia's defense minister said the upgrade is designed to counter China, as Beijing becomes more assertive with its

military activity in the Indo-Pacific Region.

And in the world of music, Ed Sheeran has won a plagiarism case over his 2017 song, "Shape of You". Grime artist Sami Switch had alleged that

Sheeran copied his 2015 song "Oh Why". In his verdict Wednesday, the judge ruled that Sheeran had not deliberately or consciously copied any elements

of Switch's song.

Thank you for watching. For our viewers tuning in on CNN+ in the U.S., our show will be available on demand. And for viewers worldwide, you can find

me on all the usual social platforms, and I'll see you again tomorrow.