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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Mariupol Under Siege; Will Finland Join NATO; UK's Role In Ukraine War. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 13, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Officials in the Eastern Ukraine warn that Russian forces are killing and terrorizing civilians as Russia claims advances in the besieged city of


And the Finnish prime minister says that within weeks, her country will decide whether to apply for NATO membership.

And then we'll debrief with the British minister for the armed forces, what's the role of UK in the war in Ukraine and discuss part of it.

Now, Russian forces appear closer than ever to capturing the first ever major city in Ukraine since the war began. The commanders inside Mariupol

say they're holding out and will fight on. They issued a statement Wednesday confirming that the last remaining defenders have joined forces.

Russia says they are blocked and there's no escape. It also says that more than 1,000 Ukrainian marines in Mariupol have surrendered. CNN is not the

city but we're seeing videos like this, showing Russian troops patrolling the streets.

Mariupol's mayor says that as many as 180,000 people still awaiting evacuation. Ukraine's president says Russia is trying to terrorize the

civilian population.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Residential compounds were decimated by all sorts of rockets and bombs in particular

the phosphorus bombs and other deadly shells banned by international law. This is obvious terror against the civilian population.


NOBILO: Our Matt Rivers has more on the fight for Mariupol.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Weeks after Russia began an offensive bombardment to take the city and still, Ukraine's government says

Mariupol has not yet fallen. The key port on the southeast port of Ukraine increasingly a symbol of both Ukrainian resistance and Russian military


Ukrainian officials are holding up the city as a symbol of a heroic fight, with an aide to President Zelenskyy saying on Facebook that two different

units defending Mariupol have managed to link up and continue their fight. One of those units releasing a message saying, they, quote, did not give up

their positions.

And now, there are accusations from the Ukrainians that Russia has used chemical weapons here.

MAYOR VADYM BOICHENKO, MARIUPOL, UKRAINE (through translator): The day before yesterday, the Russian troops attempted to strike our city with a

so-called chemical attack. They tried to drop a chemical agent on our defenders. The agent did affect our defenders and there's evidence of the

number of people living in the settlements on the outskirts in Mariupol were also affected.

RIVERS: President Zelenskyy accusing Russia of using, quote, "phosphorus bombs and other munitions prohibited by international law".

The U.S. as well as CNN teams on the ground have not yet verified that such an attack did indeed occur. No conclusive imagery has surfaced and Russia

denies even having chemical weapons, but chemical weapons or not, the destruction in Mariupol has been devastating. The mayor said more than 90

percent of the city's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, and officials say Russian forces have cut off crucial supplies, including water

and food.

PAVLO KYRYLENKO, MILITARY GOVERNOR OF DONETSK REGION: We are currently discussing 20,000 to 22,000 people dead in Mariupol.

RIVERS: Meanwhile, Russia is engaged in an intense propaganda campaign, saying it is close to what would be its first major Ukrainian city since

the war began.

IGOR KONASHENKOV, RUSSIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE (through translator): As a result of the successful offensive actions of the Russian armed forces and

the police units of the DPR, 1,026 Ukrainian military personnel of the 36th marine brigade laid down their arms and surrendered.

RIVERS: The Russian military also taking some reporters on a tour of the now destroyed theater where hundreds of people had been sheltering when it

was hit by a Russian air strike last month, according to Ukrainian officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You can see for yourself what the situation in the city is. There are a lot of dead people.

RIVERS: For those still alive, a hellish landscape persists. Ukraine's government says about 180,000 people in and around the city still need to

be evacuated. So far, many have not been able to do so.


NOBILO: Matt Rivers reporting for us.

The French military says Russia could begin a major offensive to conquer parts of eastern Ukraine in the next few days. Mayor of Kharkiv says Russia

is already escalating attacks on residential areas there.

Nima Elbagir takes us into one hard hit area.



NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Desolate, bear, lifeless. This is what it looks like after weeks of relentless Russian shelling.

Soldivka (ph), the most densely populated district in Kharkiv, it's been bombed a day after day, night after night.

There are very few people left, the elderly mostly. One man stayed behind to keep his mother safe.

Igor says that he lives on the 16th floor of one of these buildings, with his mother. He says his mother is deeply religious and deeply committed to

staying here, even though they are almost entirely surrounded. She won't leave, so he won't leave.

But this is a front line under renewed pressure. The Russians are pushing hard.

That is so close. Those are Russian positions, shelling towards us. We are just over a mile away from the Russian forces. This is that route into

Kharkiv, and on into Ukraine.

For now, this is the front line. That could change at any moment now. They are trying as hard as they can to push that frontline inwards.

The soldiers want to show us more evidence of the heavy bombardment.

The soldiers want us to move very quickly, because Russian snipers are operating in this area. We've got to move.

The rumble you here is the constant shelling.

The shelling has just been absolutely relentless. From the moment we've arrived, we have been hearing it. We have to be careful where we step

because the Russians are also dispersing minds from the rockets that they are sending over into here.

The shelling has intensified over the last few days. Regional officials told CNN this is evidence of the renewed Russian military push.

Yeah, let's go. So, from where we are, we are pretty much surrounded by Russian troops on three sides. Tens of thousands of Russian troops are

believed to be amassing to come into Kharkiv, to come into Ukraine, from this direction. We've got to move.

The soldiers wanted us out of there. It was becoming too intense.

Just 30 minutes later, we saw why. This warehouse was in the south of Soldivka (ph). It took a direct hit. This is an area that after the initial

aborted invasion has been beyond the reach of troops. But now, once again, nowhere is safe.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Kharkiv.


NOBILO: The view of what's happening in Ukraine has dramatically changed inside the White House. Just days ago, President Biden said a genocide was

not under way, this is what he's saying now.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I called it genocide. The evidence is mounting. Different than it was last week, more evidence is

coming out of literally the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine.


NOBILO: It's a major rhetorical escalation that didn't go unnoticed. It's getting praise from the Ukrainian president while the Kremlin calls it

unacceptable. French president macron avoiding the term, saying Wednesday it could hurt the effort to find peace.

Baltic leaders are showing their support for Kyiv. The presidents of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia met with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, who

sat down with Poland's president as well.

Germany's president says he offered to join them but Kyiv turned them down, this causing a bit of an up roar in Germany.

Mr. Zelenskyy said he was not officially approached about this visit but Ukraine has been critical of the German president's history as an advocate

for closer ties with Russia.

Right now, the prospects for a negotiated end to this war seem more remote than ever.

Alexander Rodnyansky is a professor of economics at University of Cambridge and economic adviser to President Zelenskyy, and he joins us this evening

from Berlin.

Thank you for joining the program, sir.


NOBILO: What can you tell us about why you are in Germany on behalf of the president?

RODNYANSKY: Well, we're still keeping and pushing for our priorities, which is military aid. So we're talking about that in detail and also for

more sanctions on Russia. Russia is still selling oil and gas and we're asking for at least an oil embargo or some crippling tax on oil sales to

Europe and Russia, such that Russian profits would be eroded and therefore their ability to finance the war, war effort would also be eroded.

NOBILO: And do you detect a growing openness or flexibility on the behalf of the Germans to consider that oil embargo?


RODNYANSKY: Well, there's certainly hope and in the media run, there's no doubt that this will happen, that Europe and Germany want to move away from

Russian fossil fuels but we need action now because the war is obviously escalating, as you just reported in the East, and the intentions have not

changed in the part of the Russian regime. They still want to control and conquer all of Ukraine.

So we need to make sure they don't have the revenue to conduct the war and that means an embargo now or at least a crippling tax on these oil and gas

sales to Europe now.

NOBILO: And why was the offer of the visit from the German president turned down? Is there still a frustration with the speed and scope of the

German response?

RODNYANSKY: Well, I have to say in principle, of course, we are very grateful to our allies and to the German allies in particular for their

support and in particular for the humanitarian aid in this crisis, but, of course, there's also frustration over the years that has built up over the

years with the German policy which was blind towards Russia, delusional towards Russia and which has allowed Russia to build this war chest such

that we now have this war.

And, you know, there is frustration about this but of course, in general, we're hoping that all the top leadership will come and visit us, will come

and support us just like the Baltic states have done recently and that also counts for our German friends as well, of course.

NOBILO: And now, we're just mentioning the fact there really doesn't seem to be any diplomatic opportunity at all in the moment that the talks Russia

and Ukraine are having. Is the biggest problem in these peace talks that Russia doesn't actually want a diplomatic off-ramp to this invasion?

RODNYANSKY: Look, I've been saying this throughout as, you know, western media and diplomats and politicians have been asking me. This was always a

trick on the part of the Russians. They were never interested in peace. They haven't started this war to negotiate some peace just a couple of

weeks in. They are looking for and seeking a military solution.

And the whole idea about this peace talk was just to make sure that the West is somewhat tricked into thinking that a deal might be around the

corner and therefore further sanctions are unnecessary, and therefore, further pressure is unnecessary, and therefore, also, further weapons to

Ukraine are unnecessary. So that's the whole game.

But, of course, now, we've seen what's happening in Bucha and other cities, they are just slaughtering our civilians. The U.S. president called it a

genocide, I think that's the right word to use. And of course there's no intention of having a peace and of course this makes any sort of

negotiation now virtually impossible.

NOBILO: So from the Ukrainian perspective, from your perspective, you don't see any chance for success in the peace talks, it will be settled on

the battle field?

RODNYANSKY: Look, we were trying to find a peaceful solution throughout and still hoping there is some scope for a peaceful solution and for these

negotiations. We have been doing everything we can. We were even, before the war, days and hours before the war, our president was reaching out to

the Russian leader to make sure, to try to find some compromise, avert the escalation.

But when we have a side across the table that denies the fact there was a massacre in Bucha and tells us it's all staged somehow or conducted or

orchestrated by the CIA or whatever explanation they use, how can we -- how can we negotiate? How can we find common ground when that's the reality

we're facing?

NOBILO: Yeah, I mean, absolutely, that's a very justifiable perspective. What can you tell us about the reconstruction plan of around $270 billion

in aid you've been working on?

RODNYANSKY: Yes, so there are many plans and efforts working now being discussed with partners with the EUI, with international organizations, the

IMF, World Bank, with U.S. it's not just these $270 billion.

I mean, the numbers are staggering. We will need hundreds of billions to restore the country, just to give you an example. From 2014 until 2020, the

U.S. granted us for the construction of infrastructure, roads and bridges, granted us about $103 billion.

Now, more than double that amount already been destroyed just by moderate estimates and the war is continuing. Now, it's not just about

infrastructure, of course, it's also for investment, for development that's beyond reconstruction, for reforms. We will need a lot of money and a lot

of funds and currently working on that so we will need a proper Marshall Plan for Ukraine.

NOBILO: Alexander Rodnyansky, thank you very much for joining us this evening.

RODNYANKSY: Thank you for having me.

NOBILO: Coming up on the show, we'll debrief with the British minister for the armed forces, what's the role of U.K. in the war in Ukraine and we'll

discuss part of it.



NOBILO: One of Russia's main demands is that NATO curb expansion to the east, but that demand seems to have backfired. Sweden and Finland are

edging closer to the alliance. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin says her country's decision on membership application will come within weeks. While

the Swedish Prime Minister says a decision will be made after a serious analysis of what's in best interest of the country. Both countries say

membership in NATO could enhance the stability of their region.


SANNA MARIN, FINNISH PRIME MINISTER: We have deepened our NATO partnership until now hand in hand with Sweden ever since Russia illegally annexed

Crimea. The difference between being a partner and a member is very clear any will remain so. There's no other way to have security guarantees than

under NATO's deterrence and common defense as guaranteed by NATO's Article Five.


NOBILO: The UK is sanctioning 178 separatist leaders in Ukraine's break- away regions. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says it's a response to rocket attack on civilians in eastern Ukraine. She calls the targets of the

sanctions Russian separatists and accuse them of being complicit in atrocities against the Ukrainian people.

Meanwhile, starting Thursday, the UK is banning the import of Russian iron, steal and other materials, and British officials are investigating reports

that Russia may have used chemical weapons in Mariupol. If they have, Liz Truss says, the U.K. will hold Putin and his regime to account.

Earlier today, I spoke with UK minister for the armed forces, member of Parliament, James Heappey, and asked if his government has made any

progress in that chemical weapons investigation.


JAMES HEAPPEY, BRITISH ARMED FORCES MINISTER: We've still not been able to verify and in fact, the Ukrainians, it's worth noting, have not themselves

reported it at the government level. So don't know what happened on Monday night. We'll continue to look for evidence that they were used, but in any

case, it's an important opportunity to state, I think, collectively, around the west what our view on the use of chemical weapons would be and make

sure that President Putin knows that all options are on the table in response should he choose to use them in the future.

NOBILO: Now, Britain has been probably the fiercest European critic of Vladimir Putin and his regime, but on the other hand, it has been well-

documented for some years, that the conservative's party, the prime minister's party, your party, has taken large donations from Russians who

have links to the Kremlin. This has been denied by the conservatives, but warrants further investigation.

Do you think there is integrity in that position if the party is receiving money from Russians with links to Putin?

HEAPPEY: Well, I mean I think that this is, has been an attack line from political opponents in the UK for some time. But the UK has really quite

strict campaign finance rules whereby all donations have to be declared and you can only receive donations from registered voters or businesses from

within the UK.


So the idea that the conservative party received money directly from Russia and Russians is simply not true. In fact, a number of the -- of the Russian

donors who are UK registered voters are passionately opposed to the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin.

NOBILO: I believe one of the routes in which you can become a UK registered voter is if you invest large amounts in the country, somewhere I

think between 2 million or 3 million pounds which obviously isn't particularly difficult if you're a Russian oligarch or a millionaire,

billionaire with links to the Kremlin.

But are you 100 percent confident in the donations the conservative party received, they're all are aboveboard?

HEAPPEY: Yeah. Look, not particularly confident they're all aboveboard, but you don't need to rely on my word on that because all donations to any

political party in the United Kingdom are recorded with the Electoral Commission and therefore a matter of public record.

NOBILO: There has been annexation of Crimea, the war in Eastern Ukraine, the poisoning of the Skripals, Litvinenko, Navalny -- why do you think

Western leaders maintained a position of naivety, or was it all just cynical because they relied on Russia economically too much?

HEAPPEY: Well, I mean, I think the back-end of your question, you know, is the answer. There was a an uneasy reality that there was an energy

dependence and an economic connection that from a security perspective, you might regard the problem in one way, and you would be critical of the

annexation of Crimea. You would be critical of the situation in the Donbas. But the -- you know, you weren't confronted by the requirements to take


What matters is that since the invasion, the West has come together in a way that Putin did not think that they would.

NOBILO: Changing gears slightly, the prime minister has lost all creditability in terms of asking the public to follow coronavirus rules,

perhaps your rules. How would your government handle it if those rules had to be imposed again?

HEAPPEY: Well, I mean I don't think that COVID restrictions will come back in the UK, to be honest.

NOBILO: Are you concerned, though, given that analysts and politicians for many years now have been talking about a lack of trust in political figures

and an apathy towards politics that party-gate and that scandal is going to have a pernicious, long-term effect on voters relationship with those who

they elect?

HEAPPEY: Maybe, but I think that there is a, a long-term trend to around, sort of, being evermore contemptuous in figures in public office and I

think that's a good thing. In the past, there was too much deference to people in public office and that meant that they avoided a lot of the

scrutiny people now live by. I don't accept that there's a sort of erosion of trust as a consequence of this particular episode, I just think there's

a changing trend over time in the way people view politicians and what they demand of politicians.

NOBILO: Minister, thank you very much for your time today.

HEAPPEY: Thank you very much, indeed.

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


NOBILO: Shanghai police are promising to punish anyone violating lockdown as the city attempts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Shanghai's

government said that nearly 19 percent of the city is living under eased lockdown restrictions, but the harsh measures have prompted from companies

and foreign governments, like iPhone maker, Pegatron. The company has halted production in the city, citing that those restrictions.


And the U.S. ordered staff to leave the city. Beijing says that's weaponizing the city's lockdown and accuses the U.S. of smearing China.

Now, let's take a look at other key stories making international impact today.

Officials in the West Bank say a 34-year-old Palestinian man was killed by Israeli forces during clashes in Nablus. Five Palestinians killed since the

weekend as Israeli forces step up raids in the West Bank. And those raids come after at least 14 Israelis killed in a series of terror attacks during

the past month.

Hundreds of people are dead in South Africa in heavy flooding and mudslides have damaged numerous communities. The slow-moving drenching storm dumped

as much rain in a single day on South Africa's eastern coast as it normally gets in months. More than 300 millimeters of rain poured down on the city

of Durban.

And tens of thousands of people are displaced after tropical storm Megi hit the Philippines. The storm was first to make landfall in the country this

year. Authorities are struggling to distribute aid and say the main concern is drinking water.

Protesters in Sri Lanka say they won't meet with the prime minister, repeating their calls for his resignation. It comes after the prime

minister said that he's willing to hold talks with the protesters who have gathered outside his office for days. Sri Lanka is facing its worst

economic crisis in decades.

Thank you all for watching this evening. For our viewers tuning in on CNN+ in the United States, our show is available on demand. And for our viewers

worldwide, you find me on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram, and I will see you again tomorrow.