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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

President Zelenskyy's Warning; Homes For Refugees; Impact Of French Election. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 11, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Russia won't stop unless forced. The Ukrainian president warning that tens of thousands of Russian troops amassing for a full scale assault on eastern


Then we meet the Jewish families in Poland opening their homes to Ukrainian refugees.

And what impact will the French elections have on the world? We'll debrief.

Ukraine's defense ministry says Russia almost finished preparations for a massive assault in the east, warning it could begin soon. Fighting is

already under way in the region, but Ukraine expects a major offensive targeted at seizing all of Donbas, which includes the devastated city of

Mariupol. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says tens of thousands of people have been killed there in a weeks long siege.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): there is no hope that Russia will simply stop on its own. There is no hope that reason

will prevail and the Russian leadership will simply refuse to continue this war. Russia can only be forced to do so.


NOBILO: A Russian general who's infamous for his brutal tactics is now in charge of Vladimir Putin's war. Russia's foreign minister says the goals go

far beyond Ukraine's borders.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Our special military operation is aimed at bringing an end to the reckless expansion

and the reckless striving for domination of the United States and other Western countries under their influence on a global stage.


NOBILO: Austria's chancellor says he's not optimistic after a trip to Moscow. Karl Nehammer is the first European leader to meet face-to-face

with Vladimir Putin since the war began. We called their talks direct, open, and tough, saying Putin is preparing the next offensive in Ukraine

with, quote, determination.

Let's go now to CNN's Ben Wedeman. He's in Kramatorsk in Ukraine.

Ben, so thousands of Russian troops now regrouping for an offensive on the Donbas. Now we have Alexander Dvornikov, known for brutal targeting of

civilians in Syria, in charge of operations, what are the expectations for this next stage?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you just take into account Alexander Dvornikov, the man who oversaw the Russian

campaign in Syria, it was not a campaign of great sophistication. It was merely a campaign of great brutality in which there were no -- there was no

great presence of Russian ground troops. It was really a case of Russian forces in Syria using air power, artillery, rockets, missiles to pound

civilian areas like the city of Aleppo into a moonscape. And they were aided not even so much by the Syrian army, which was by that point fairly

exhausted. They were aided by troops from Lebanon's Hezbollah and advisers from Iran.

If they're going to replicate that experience here, certainly we have already seen the Russians have no compunction about using their fire power

to its maximum effect regardless of the civilian casualties. But if they actually plan to take over the Donbas area, where we are in the middle of,

they will need combat troop as well. Many of the combat troops have been transferred from north central Ukraine, where they were mauled by the

Ukrainians, and for them to go directly from there into combat here is going to be quite a challenge.

Now, they have certain advantages in terms of just they have -- they're closer, the supply lines are shorter. But the troops are exhausted. Much of

their equipment is in bad shape, and we're already seen the Russian offensive around Kyiv was plagued by logistical shortcomings in addition to

shortages of food and fuel and basic equipment, poor maintenance of equipment.

And so, even though there's much talk about the Russian offensive, we'll have to wait and see how it actually unfolds to determine what it's going

to be like. But certainly if Syria is the template for this part of the Ukraine, it's going to be hard.


NOBILO: Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman for us, thanks so much.

The United Nations says it's hearing more reports of horrific sexual violence against Ukrainian women and children. The director of U.N. Women,

which is dedicated to advancing gender equity and women's empowerment addressed a U.N. Security Council today. She said there's a pressing need

for a gender sensitive humanitarian response, including services to protect vulnerable refugees from human trafficking and resources to address trauma

and other psychosocial needs. She says that the stories coming out of Ukraine are deeply disturbing.


SIMA BAHOUS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, U.N. WOMEN: Excellencies, we are increasingly hearing of rape and sexual violations. These allegations must

be independently investigated to ensure justice and accountability. The combination of mass displacement with a large presence conscripts and

mercenaries and the brutality displayed against Ukrainian civilians has raised all red flags. Young women who left their homes at night, families

who are separated, the constant fear of the future, this trauma risks destroying a generation.


NOBILO: Around Kyiv where Russian forces were pushed out, death and ruin are everywhere. In the western suburbs, shell shocked survivors are

mourning their dead, cleaning up their shatters cities and asking what was it all for.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen takes us there with a warning, many of the images we're about to show you are disturbing and graphic.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tour is a sad routine for the body collectors in the outskirts of Kyiv.

Finding cops have become eerily normal here. A house destroyed by an artillery strike, a body burned beyond recognition. A mangled car wreck,

two bodies burned beyond recognition.

A house that was occupied by Russian troops, an elderly dead in the bedroom.

These bodies evidence of a brutal Russian occupation and then a fierce fight by the underdog Ukrainians to drive them out.

A fight 81-year-old Kateryna Bareshvolets witnessed up close in her village

There were explosions, explosions from all sides. It was scary, she tells me. I am in my house. I cross myself and lie down, and then I hear how it

thunders and all the windows in the house were broken.

The Ukrainians tell us the Russian troops didn't even bother collecting most of their own dead. More than a week after Vladimir Putin's army was

pushed out of here, they show us a the body of what they say was a Russian soldier still laying in the woods. That's not all they left behind them.

This demining unit says they found hundreds of ton of unexploded ordinance in just a matter of days, including cluster munitions with this boomlet,

even though the Russians deny using them. These weapons are extremely dangerous for civilians who might excellently touch them, the commander

says, designed just to kill people. They blow up the cluster bomblet on the spot and then move the heavier bombs to a different location for a massive

controlled explosion.

The body collecting, mine sweeping and clearing wreckage are just starting and yet this pile of demolished vehicles already towers in the key suburb

of Irpin.

If you have to picture Russia's attempt to try and take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, it would probably look a lot like this -- destruction on a

massive scale and absolutely nothing to show for it. Russia's military was humiliated by the Ukrainians and caused a lot of harm in the process.

And they've devastated score of families. At Irpin cemetery, the newly widowed weep at funerals. Ala Krotky (ph), her husband Ihor fought

alongside their 21-year-old son in Irpin and died in his arms on the battlefield. Yulia Skutina, wife of Dmitrio Pasko (ph), killed by a Russian

mortar shell. And Tetyana Lytkina (ph), her husband Alexander promised he would come back in a few hours but died defending his neighborhood.

I'm very proud of him, Tetyana says. He's a hero. We have many people in Ukraine who have not fled and are defending their homes. Sasha died just

hours from where we live.

Laying to lay the dead to rest another task they have become far too efficient at performing in this area. Close by, the next funeral is already

under way.



NOBILO: That was CNN's Fred Pleitgen, reporting from Irpin.

The impact of this war is being felt far beyond Ukraine's borders. So, I want to take a deeper dive on the ramifications in other countries. We

begin in Georgia, a former Soviet state that faced its own war with Russia 14 years ago.

CNN's Matt Rivers is in Tbilisi, where Georgians spoke with him about how Russia still cast a threatening shadow there today.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gia was born in Georgia. He just did not think he would be back here quite yet.

His family moved to Russia 30 years ago fleeing the Georgian civil war. It was in Moscow they built a life, where he met his wife Anya (ph) and where

his kids were born. He has told them the truth about the horrors of the current war in Ukraine and says he worried what would happen if one of

their teachers and Russia echoed Putin's propaganda that this war is just.

GIA, RECENTLY LEFT RUSSIA WITH HIS FAMILY: You know what is really going.


GIA: And he will say, no, you are not right, and it could be problems for him.

RIVERS: You are worried that your son will have problems.

GIA: Yes, yes.


So, the family left for Georgia just a few days after the war began. Though, Anya isn't completely convinced that they will be safe here either.

If no one stops Putin, she says, he can easily go both to Georgia and to the West.

And she is not alone in her fears. Georgians have a long, brutal history with Russia. Russian troops invaded in 2008 and thousands of troops remain

in two breakaway provinces of Georgia. And in 1989, in the capital of Tbilisi, nearly two dozen protesters were killed and hundreds were injured

by Soviet troops as they advocated for independence.

People gathered over the weekend outside the parliament building of Tbilisi, to mark the anniversary of that massacre. Georgian flags this year

joined by those from Ukraine, for what's now called National Unity Day.

It's a big day each year in Georgia, but this year it's made more important, given what we are seeing Russian troops do in Ukraine.

Decades of Russian aggression here have left deep scars and many now see parallels between Putin's invasion of Ukraine and what they fear could

happen in Georgia.

IRAKLI PAVLENISHVILI, GEORGIAN POLITICAL ANALYST: Russia posed threat for Georgian independence, for our sovereignty, for our territorial integrity.

RIVERS: Do you think there's a chance that Russia could invade Georgia again?

PAVLENISHVILI: Yes. This threat is always -- every country across Europe, not only Georgia, is under threat.

RIVERS: Back in their apartment, Gia and his family wholeheartedly agree. They told us they don't want their children and grandchildren to grow up in

what they call North Korea 2.0.

And for that, grandmother Galina says people must understand a crucial point. She says, the whole world must understand that Ukraine is not only

fighting for itself, it is fighting for everyone, and the whole world must unite and stop Putin because he won't stop with Ukraine.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Tbilisi, Georgia.


NOBILO: That was Matt Rivers for us in Georgia.

Now moving to Poland, where at least 2.5 million Ukrainians have sought refuge. Some are being housed by Jewish families, who as CNN's Kyung Lah

reports have their own haunting memories of the war.



KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is more than Jan Gebert's Warsaw neighborhood.

GEBERT: The white one.

LAH: Oh, the white one.

It's a path to his family history.

GEBERT: That's the building where my grandma was born and raised.

LAH: Gebert lives a block away from where his Jewish grandparents lived before the Holocaust.

GEBERT: That's my grand mom and her mom.

LAH: In the chaos of World War II, Sofia Poznanski (ph) was separated from her husband and child. The Nazis executed her at a Treblinka death camp.

Of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, around half were killed in the Poland's concentration camps.

But Gebert's great grandfather Julian Poznanski escaped the horror, sheltered by a non-Jewish family.

GEBERT: We are alive because someone helped us, and thanks to that, I can help other people.

The apartment is one-bedroom apartment.

LAH: Gebert's home has little space.

GEBERT: We are sleeping over here, and that used to be our bed. And we gave this bed to our Ukrainian guests.

LAH: But it's enough to share with a Ukrainian mother and child, the third family Gebert has taken in since the war began.

GEBERT: I just felt it's part of me. And I don't know if it's faith or tradition, it's just part of me. I have to do it.

MICHAEL SCHUDRICH, CHIEF RABBI OF POLAND: It's our time to do what we needed to have done for us 80 years ago.

LAH: Michael Schudrich is chief rabbi of Poland.

In Warsaw, the Jewish community has plunged in to help in this humanitarian crisis, offering everything from child care to food and housing,

counseling, and Polish lessons.


Schudrich says Jewish philanthropies, mostly American, have donated about $100 million to help Ukrainian refugees no matter where they are or what

faith they practice. The effort is centering on Poland, where in World War II, the majority did not help.

SCHUDRICH: Half of the Jews killed during the Shoah, the Holocaust, were from Poland.

LAH: So, given that complicated history, how does that motivate the Jewish community today?

SCHUDRICH: It clearly has an added meaning for those who are Jewish, understanding that this is what my grandparents needed. And if we still

have somewhere in our hearts a sadness that more people didn't help, it needs them to push us to do more to help now.

LAH: You're volunteering here.

For Jan Gebert, he feels his country changing as Poland welcomes almost 2.5 million Ukrainians. His great grandmother's home is now a shelter for


Do you think about what would have happened if more of your family had been protected, had been taken in?

GEBERT: Yeah, it's a great question. I would hope that there would be someone like me letting my grandparents and my cousins during the

Holocaust. Yeah, I would be -- that would be wonderful. I would have much greater family next to me. To have the great big family in Warsaw, Jewish

family, and we survive the war, that would be most beautiful, beautiful thing. Definitely.


NOBILO: That was CNN's Kyung Lah reporting from Poland.

Coming up, Europe and the U.S. are closely watching the final round of the French presidential election. We'll debrief on why the outcome could impact

the war in Ukraine.



NOBILO: French President Emmanuel Macron and far right candidate Marine Le Pen are facing each other once again for the second and final round of this

year's presidential election. France is choosing between the centrist incumbent, the man who's led the country during the pandemic and officially

join the race at the very last moment, claiming to be waging diplomacy with Russian Vladimir Putin amid the crisis in European Europe. And Marine Le

Pen, who promised to tackle the current rise and cost of living, which is according to the polls a top issue with the French public understandably.

I'm joined from Paris by Thierry Arnaud, the chief political correspondent for French broadcaster BFMTV.

Thanks for joining the program this evening, sir.


So, how close is this runoff likely to be, and where might the vote in the first round for other candidates be redistributed?

ARNAUD: Well, if you look at the figure, take them at face value, you might think President Macron came out on top with 28 percent of the votes.

He did better than he did five years ago, which is exceptional for a French sitting president. He's 1.5 million votes or so ahead of Marine Le Pen, and

several of the candidates who were eliminated last night either -- called for support of President Macron said that no single vote should go to

Marine Le Pen.

So, you might look at this, put it all together and think the election is in the bag and he's going to win it easily in a couple of weeks. You would

be wrong if you did that. He has his work cut out for him. It's going to be a difficult two weeks. He's coming to the end of a difficult term.

He's been successful in some areas but he's also had difficult times in many areas as well. He's perceived as a good president for the wealthy. He

has been supported by the wealthy in this first round, but for those who are not doing so well, and as you were saying, for those who need more

money to make it to the end of the month, they are looking more and more to Marine Le Pen.

President Macron needs eight to ten million additional votes to make it to the finish line in a couple weeks, if he wants to win it again, and it's

going to be a tough campaign for him.

NOBILO: And presumably, the re-election of Macron would represent continuity in almost every area, but what impact could the impact of this

election have on the world when we think about NATO, Ukraine, and the E.U.?

ARNAUD: Well, President Macron has been trying hard to play a major part in bringing this conflict to an end or at least trying to keep an open line

with President Putin. He's had to come to the conclusion that that approach was not successful, although he wants to keep trying to talk to the Russian

president and he's clearly a key European player in finding a solution to the crisis.

So, what he's trying to do is two things at one time. On the one hand, applying as much pressure as he can on the Russian president by economic

sanctions essentially to try to force him into the negotiation table. But also not to back him completely into a corner which might need the

president to take drastic military action.

NOBILO: Now, Marine Le Pen modified her position to have broader appeal, and also learning from her failure last time, but far right is still an

accurate description if we look at her manifesto and how she would approach those issues.

ARNAUD: It absolutely is the case. And, you know, she lost badly five years ago, and she lost for two reasons. The first is you're right, is that

she was carrying with her this label as a far right politician.

And reason number two was that she simply did not come across as competent, as having what it takes to be president. And specifically that happened

when she literally self-destructed during the debate she had with Emmanuel Macron during the second round of the election five years ago. That's the

monkey she's been carrying on her back.

And everything she's been doing over the past five years is consistent to doing those two things, getting rid of this label of being a far right

politician on the one hand, putting together a very serious platform, working very hard to come across as a competent politician, because she

knew she had to improve drastically on those two fronts in order to have any shot at winning this election. And you have to say that she's been

working quite hard and quite successfully on those two fronts over the past five years.


NOBILO: It will be interesting to see if that political adaptation continues and brings her discuss as the weeks go on.

Thierry Arnaud, thanks so much for joining us. We'll have you on again to unpack more of the French election drama. Thank you.

ARNAUD: My pleasure.

NOBILO: Let's take a look at the other political stories that are making impact around the world today.

In the United Kingdom, a man described as a fanatical Islamist was found guilty of murdering lawmaker David Amess. Amess was meeting voters in a

church when Ali Harbi Ali repeatedly stabbed him last October. Ali said the attack was revenge for the lawmakers' support for airstrikes on Syria. The

attacks sent shockwaves through Westminster and led to calls for better security for British MPs.

Pakistan's Shehbaz Sharif has been sworn in as the country's prime minister. He officially takes over from Imran Khan, who was ousted in a no-

confidence vote. More than 100 lawmakers loyal to Khan resigned on Monday. Elections will have to take place soon to replace them.

And Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has kicked off his election campaign and polls show that he is government is trailing. But remember,

Mr. Morrison won the last election even though most polls then predicted the opposite. The federal election is set for May 21st.

And the Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is celebrating a landslide win. More than 90 percent of those who voted in the country's

first ever recall election say they want him to stay in office. He's also accusing electoral authorities of trying to undermine the vote. Less than

20 percent of voters actually cast a ballot, which is well below the threshold of 40 percent, for the result to be binding.

Thanks for watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF this evening. For our viewers tuning in on CNN plus in the U.S., our show as on demand, and for our viewers

worldwide, we'll see you again tomorrow.