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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Kramatorsk Train Station Attack; EU's New Round Of Sanctions; The Future Of ISS. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 08, 2022 - 17:00:00   ET



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

A Russian missile hits a train station packed with civilians trying to flee, as Moscow intensifies its offensive on Eastern Ukraine.

Then, the EU approves an embargo on Russian coal. We ask an adviser to President Zelenskyy what further action Ukraine wants from its allies.

And the Russian space agency threatens to end cooperation on the International Space Station. We'll debrief with the former commander of the

ISS about the impact that that will have.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia's evil has no limits after a train station crowded with civilians desperate to flee the war was

struck by a missile. At least 50 people were killed in the eastern town of Kramatorsk, including five children. A regional governor says Russia packed

the missile with cluster munitions to inflict maximum casualties.

Ukraine warns that Russia troops are almost ready to attempt a massive breakthrough of defense lines in the eastern Donbas region, and the U.K.

says that Russia is planning to reinforce its eastern battalions with troops that recently left northern Ukraine to regroup in Belarus and

Russia. But this may not be enough.

A senior officials say Russia is looking to recruit more than 60,000 new troops to join this war.

The horrific attack on the train station is adding pressure on western leaders to do more to help Ukraine. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba calls it

deliberate slaughter.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour has more and we have to warn you that her report is graphic and disturbing.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): You can hear the fear and the anguish. You can see the desperate efforts to rescue

civilians after an attack on this train station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk. A crowded platform hit by Russian missile strikes as people

tried to escape heavy fighting.

Russian forces also struck the station building itself. The head of the railway told CNN. Now, dozens are dead including children and many people

remain unaccounted for.

I asked Ukraine's chief of military intelligence for his reaction.

MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV, CHIEF, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE OF UKRAINE: What can I say? This is another example of criminal activity, of war criminal

dictator Putin. It is in our case that I hope that it would be added to the criminal investigation against him in the international courts. Conducting

the powerful missile strike against the civilian infrastructure during the evacuation of civilians is an act of terrorism.

AMANPOUR: In the hours and days before this attack, the station was crowded with thousands of refugees. Kramatorsk has been a hub for

internally displaced people in the Donetsk region. Families desperately boarding trains to escape the Russian assault.

Now, body bags and abandoned luggage are all that remain. The hundreds wounded are one step further from evacuation.

Painted on the side of this deadly rocket were the words, for the children. A chilling message the European Commission president tells me just

strengthens her resolve to say Vladimir Putin fails in Ukraine.

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: If you look at the attack today, at the train station. I was shown pictures where the shelling

had written on a, for our children, which means revenge for our children. So, they are building indeed this awful narrative, as if there would be

returning something. A nightmare.

AMANPOUR: Russia has denied responsibility for the strike, calling it provocation by Ukraine. But the brutality of this invasion is well-

documented, despite Russia's military consistently denying attacking civilians.

Kramatorsk was one of the first places attacked when the invasion was launched February 24th.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Why do they need this war against Ukraine? Why do they need to hit civilians with

missiles? Why the cruelty the world witness in the Bucha and other cities liberated by Ukrainian army?


AMANPOUR: On Friday, Ukraine announced ten humanitarian corridors, including one in the Donetsk region. But civilian casualties are increasing

every hour that Russia's bombardments continue.


NOBILO: That report was from Christiane Amanpour, who also got a chance to speak with the European Commission president, as you saw.

Ursula von der Leyen made a visit to Bucha on Thursday, where investigators are exhuming bodies from a mass grave. She also travelled to Kyiv to meet

with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and he told her the bloc's latest round of sanctions isn't enough. Because on one hand, Europe is

hitting the Kremlin with massive economic measures, but on the other hand, it's buying more than a billion dollars a day of Russian fuel.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: They call us out. We are diversifying away from Russian gas thanks to our American friends for

example. I have an agreement with President Biden that this year we can replace the Russian LNG by American LNG, and as of next year, one-third of

the Russian gas can be replaced by American LNG. We are looking into oil now.

AMANPOUR: Because that's the big one. It is the oil that finances him a lot.

VON DER LEYEN: And we are right now looking into that. Overall, if you look at the export, 70 percent of the export goods have been cut now, and

we keep ongoing.


NOBILO: I want to bring in Igor Zhovkva, the deputy ahead of President Zelenskyy's office who was at the meeting with von der Leyen on Friday.

Thank you for joining the program, sir, and making time for us this evening.


NOBILO: Obviously, evidence of Russian war crimes is mounting. We've seen the deliberate killing of civilians in Bucha, this dreadful strike at a

train station, killing people desperate to flee, hospitals. What can you tell us about new report of atrocities Russia has committed in your


ZHOVKVA: Well, unfortunately, every day we find out the new atrocities Russia was having or is having. Unfortunately we cannot exclude that Russia

will be having. As far as the war -- besieged by Russia, most likely, we will find the atrocities they made when capturing the cities. That's what

we found in Bucha. But Mariupol, which is temporarily besieged by Russia, population much bigger than Bucha, we might find another examples of awful,

barbaric that Russia doing.

But today's bombing of a train station, a train station intended to evacuation from the territory of Donbas, and we're now awaiting a severe

offensive of Russia in the Donbas. So people were just evacuating. There were no soldiers there, no armed forces of Ukraine, all civilians, children

and women and civilians.

And 52 are already confirmed, 5 children among them. So this is absolutely awful. So unfortunately, yes, we are awaiting such new acts of atrocities

from Russia.

NOBILO: And you talk about what atrocity atrocities might be to come, which I'm sure is painful for you to discuss and imagine. The foreign

minister said we've yet to see the maximum scale of the war in Ukraine. So what weapons and maneuvers are preparing for Russia to inflict on you next?

ZHOVKA: Russia is now managing to withdraw some part of the troops from territories of Ukraine, so withdrawing now from the territory around Kyiv,

around Chernihiv and Sumy, but this is not a withdrawal, it's a regrouping. So temporarily, they might be withdrawn out of the borders of Ukraine, but

later on, they can be infiltrated into a territory.

Ukraine, they have battle -- we call it a battle over Donbas, because you have to understand, they wanted to achieve victories over major cities such

as Kyiv, such as Odessa, such as Kharkiv. They failed now as if we're heading 44th day of war.

But they still have to explain to them public why this so-called special operation was going -- was intended to. So, now, they will be concentrating

in the Donbas. They'll be forming more and more forces in Donbas. They want to have a major offensive there.

We are prepared. Our armed forces are well-prepared and well-equipped. The only thing is that equipment on the ground and in disguise, and that's what

my president is asking, desperately, unfortunately, from the western states. We need to defend our skies. And we need more ammunition and

weaponry on the ground.

So, we are helped by the international community, we will survive, and we will succeed and we will win.

NOBILO: So, you need ammunition and you need more weaponry.


And President Zelenskyy has also said this latest round of sanctions from the EU isn't enough. What else do you need from the EU?

ZHOVKVA: We are thankful for the EU on this fifth package of sanctions, and my president thanked today, President von der Leyen personally for

having this fifth package. But again, it's far from being enough, it's far too slow, and you know we need more.

And even this package is with exclusions. You know, we're talk about coal, yes, the coal is sanctioned, but only to be enforced within four months.

We're talking about closing of ports. Yes, closing the ports for Russian vessels, but why not closing every Russian port for European vessels not to

come to Russian ports?

So, we need more. We need disconnect for all the banks from SWIFT. We need personal sanctions against all political persons in Russia. It's up to 2

million people in Russia who will be on different levels of government. We need issuing of Ukrainian citizens for any European country.

We need sanctions which matter immediately for Russia, immediate influence on Russia. This economic front, we need weaken Russia. We need to weaken

ability of Russia to produce more arms and to kill more Ukrainians.

NOBILO: And just lastly and briefly to you, sir, what's the current status of the peace talks? Is it possible to make progress right now as the

magnitude of these atrocities is revealed?

ZHOVKVA: You're putting the right question. You know, every day brings such witnesses and pictures of atrocities makes it psychologically harder

and difficult for our delegation to sit at the same table with Russian officials.

Every of them is responsible. It's not only president Putin responsible for the atrocities. It's every member who supports and makes everything

possible to happen when it comes to atrocities.

But unfortunately, with all this, we have to negotiate. We have to sit with them at the negotiating table, because these are negotiates which also help

to bring Russia to the end of war. We are doing more on the ground. We are beating them on the ground.

As far as, you know, a diplomatic concern, we were serious from the first time. They are not serious about negotiations. They want to drag on. They

want this war to continue in order to kill more Ukrainians, because they simply hate Ukrainians as a nation, as a people.

Again, we are ready for the negotiations. We are serious. We made our demands. We have the security guarantees which we want to be established in

Europe in order for this to happen. So we are ready and we are hoping for this.

NOBILO: Igor Zhovkva, thank you so much for joining us.

ZHOVKVA: Thank you.

NOBILO: It's been just more than a week since Russian forces withdrew from the Chernobyl nuclear plant. They had taken it over in early February,

endangering the destroyed radioactive facility and the workers charged with keeping it safe.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen gives us an exclusive look at the damage the Russians left behind.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Simply getting to the Chernobyl exclusion zone is a treacherous journey.

Many streets and bridges destroyed, we had to go off-road, crossing rivers on pontoon bridges.

Finally, we reached the confinement dome of the power plant that blew up in 1986, the worse nuclear accident ever. Russian troops invaded this area on

the very first day of their war against Ukraine and took Chernobyl without much of a fight.

Now that the Russians have left, Ukraine's interior minister, Denys Monastyrsky, took us to Chernobyl, and what we found was troubling.

The Russians imprisoned the security staff inside the plant's own bomb shelter, the minister told us. No natural light, no fresh air, no


So, the Russians kept 169 Ukrainians prisoner here the entire time they held this place, and then when the Russians left, they looted and ransacked

the place.

Among the prisoners, police officers, national guard members, and soldiers. Ukraine's interior minister tells me the Russians have now taken them to

Russia and they don't know how they're doing.

When I arrived here I was shocked, he says, but only once again realize there are no good Russians and nothing good comes of Russians. It is always

a story associated with victims, with blood, but with violence. What we see here is a vivid example of outrageous behavior at a nuclear facility.

While the plant's technical staff was allowed to keep working, the Ukrainians say Russian troops were lax with nuclear safety. And as we enter

the area Russian troops stayed and worked in, suddenly the meter's alarm goes off, increased radiation levels.

They went to the red forest and brought the radiation here on their shoes this national guardsman says. Everything else here is normal, only this

floor is radioactive. I ask, everywhere here is okay but this is not normal? Yes, he says. The radiation is increased here because they lived

here and went everywhere.

On their shoes and clothes, I ask? Yes, and now they took the radiation with them. Let's get out of here, I say.

The so-called red forest is one of the most contaminated areas in the world, especially the soil. The Ukrainian government released this drone

footage showing the Russians dug combat operation there is. Those Russian soldiers could have been exposed to significant amounts of radiation.

We went to the edge of the red forest zone and found a Russian military food ration on the ground. When we hold the meter close, the radiation

skyrockets to around 50 times above natural levels.

Ukraine says Russia's conduct in this war is a throat nuclear safety in Europe.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant hasn't been in operation for years. But, of course, this confinement needs to be monitored 24/7 and also, there's

spent nuclear fuel in this compound as well.

It's not only in Chernobyl. Russian troops also fired rockets at Europe's largest nuclear power plant near Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine and are

now occupying it. Ukraine's energy minister tells me the international community must step in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's dramatically impact. That is really the act of nuclear terrorism, what they are doing.

PLEITGEN: Chernobyl is close to the Belarusian border. The army used this road as one of its main routes to attack Ukraine's capital. The interior

minister says his country needs more weapons to defend this border.

Today, the border between to totalitarianism and democracy passes behind our backs, he says. The border between freedom and oppression, we are ready

to fight for it.

And Ukrainians fear they may have to fight here again soon as Russian President Vladimir Putin replenishes his forces, continuing to put this

nation and nuclear safety in Europe at risk.


NOBILO: Thanks to Fred Pleitgen for that report.

Coming up after the break, we'll debrief on how Russia's threat to leave the international space station is changing international space




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Together, a new chapter begins.


NOBILO: SpaceX launched a first of its kind mission on Friday, taking three commercial passengers and a former NASA astronaut, all private

citizens, on a ten-day trip to the incredible space station. The journey was brokers by a Texas based startup with each seat on the rocket costing

tens of millions of dollars.


International cooperation in space has largely withstood geopolitical tensions, but that according to the European Space Agency's director

general is now drastically changing amid Russia's war on Ukraine.

His comments come just days after Russia threatened to withdraw from the international space station by 2024, if all sanctions in response to the

war are not dropped.

This move would leave NASA responsible for keeping the ISS physically in orbit for at least the next decade, which is currently Russia's


My next guest is a former International Space Station commander. Leroy Chiao is a retired NASA astronaut and an expert on Russian space


Welcome to the program, Leroy.

LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Thank you. Good to be here.

NOBILO: So, even during the Cold War, the Soviet Union and Western nations did continue in joint space partnerships, so how likely is it that Russia

will withdrawal from the ISS?

CHIAO: I think it's pretty unlikely that Russia will withdraw from the ISS early. The reason being they really have nothing else. Frankly, the

Russians have more to lose than any other partner. If Russia withdraws from ISS, then basically the program would be over. The international space

station has been built such that it requires both control centers in Russia and in the U.S. to be operating in sync to be able to maintain the orbital

outposts in the laboratory.

So for them to withdraw would leave them with nothing, so they must be prepared to walk away from their human space flight program. What I mean by

that is that we at NASA and the Europeans and our other partners, Japanese and Canadians, we're working on other things in space, including an

exploration program. Russia doesn't really have to infrastructure and funding to do anything else.

All this talk about building their own station is just that. They barely have the funding now to keep their infrastructure going to do what they're

doing. Without the ISS, they basically would have a mission to nowhere.

NOBILO: So, you touched on it there. Looking beyond the ISS, what other global space partnerships could be at risk?

CHIAO: Well, really, the ones the Russians are most involved in is the ISS. Of course, we have seen the Europeans withdraw from a joint Mars

program, an unmanned Mars program they were working on. So, you know, there have been consequences because of this invasion of the Ukraine.

So, you know, space is just one avenue of course where it's being affected by this act of aggression.

NOBILO: Now, the Atlantic Council says Russia is already faking GPS signals in Ukraine, which can conceal Russian troop movements, disrupt

aircraft operations. What do you think is the most immediate threat when it comes to Russia's military capability of support of them in space?

CHIAO: Well, of course, global positioning is very important to modern militaries in the world. That's why you see countries with their own


So, United States and the West, of course, rely on GPS, but Europe at their own Galileo system, Russia has their own GLONASS system, and even China has

their own Beidou system. Everybody realizes the importance of satellite but don't trust each other, probably with good reason. That's why every major

country or groups of countries have their own systems they rely upon.

Of course you can spoof or kind of trick these systems into thinking that you're vehicles are somewhere they're not. But, you know, there are active

measures and countermeasures on all sides to take care of this kind of thin. So I don't know specifically what is happening in the Ukraine, but I

know that these signals can be confused.

NOBILO: And just lastly to you, we don't have much time, but at the end of the March, the world's largest science magazines, publishers paused all

sales and services to Russian research organizations and Russia's state news agency says the move will make 97 percent of scientific information

unavailable to Russian researchers.

So what impact will Russian isolation from the world have on the field of science for broadly?

CHIAO: Well, of course science and especially academic institutions rely on collaboration and communication to share information, to share

discoveries, to peer-review each others' work. To be isolated this way is something unprecedented for Russia since the Soviet times.

But even during the Soviet times, there were still open -- there was still a degree of open communications between academic institutions, science

institutes, research institutes and other research organizations and research arms. And so, for this isolation to happen is somewhat


Russia will be -- that's going to cripple or hurt their ability to do peer- reviewed world accepted scientific analyses and results.


NOBILO: Leroy Chiao, thanks so much for joining us.

CHIAO: My pleasure.

NOBILO: We'll be right back after this.


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

A third victim from Thursday's Tel Aviv shooting attack has died. The gunman was also killed during an exchange of gunfire with security forces

on Friday morning. The attack has been claimed by the military group, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who also took responsibility for a shooting attack

last month.

Sri Lanka's central bank is doubling its interest rates in an attempt to tame soaring inflation. An economic crisis has left the nation with little

money to pay imports of fuel, medicine, its government in turmoil. The EU issues a statement Friday urging Sri Lankan authorities to get things back

on track.

And the first round of the French presidential election is on Sunday. President Emmanuel Macron, who calls himself a centrist is ahead in local

opinion polls but far right candidate Marine Le Pen is making a sold comeback. Twelve candidates are running and only two will make a runoff

vote later in the month.

And actor Will Smith has been banned from all film academy events, including the Academy Awards for ten years after he slapped comedian Chris

Rock on stage, but apparently, he could still be nominated for an Oscar. Smith already resigned from the academy and why should a statement saying

he respects and accepts the Academy's decision.

Well, thank you all for watching. For our viewers tuning on CNN+ in the U.S., our who is on demand. For our viewers around the world, have a great

weekend and I will see you on Monday.