Return to Transcripts main page

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Mariupol Surrender Refusal, Deadly at Strikes in Lviv; North Korea Diplomacy Plea. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 18, 2022 - 05:00:00   ET



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

Ukrainian forces in Mariupol refuse Russia's demand to surrender as the city's future hangs in the balance.

Then, at least 7 people die in strikes on the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Plus, fresh missile tests and joint military exercises could drown out pleas for diplomacy on the Korean peninsula.

After weeks of Russian troops regrouping and repositioning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the battle of Donbas in the east has now


Ukraine says Russian forces are trying to break through defenses across virtually the entirety of the front lines. A governor in the Luhansk said

there are no safe places left in that region, urging all civilians to evacuate.

One town in Luhansk, Kreminna, has fallen to Russian forces but others are still holding on. Some of the fiercest battles underway are in the

southeast in Mariupol. Russia is vowing to, quote, filter out all remaining fighters after they refused to surrender. The holdup in a steel plant is

that is coming under fierce attack but city officials say 1,000 civilians including women and children are sheltering in bunkers at that plant as


Even some cities have been relatively spared are being targeted. Russian missile strikes killed 7 people Monday in Lviv, a city that is right on

NATO's eastern doorstep.

And CNN's Matt Rivers joins us now from Lviv.

Matt, what has been the result of the strike on the city that has been considered relatively safe?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Bianca. I mean, I think this is kind of woken people back up to the reality of this war. Not that anyone here

would forget. I certainly don't mean to imply that. But when you look at Lviv and you compare it to a city like Kherson or Kharkiv or Kyiv or the

suburbs around there, of course this city has largely escaped the brunt of the violence that we've seen in so many other places around Ukraine.

It had been several weeks since a Russian missile struck in the Lviv region until this morning. We had four different Russian missiles hit across the

city of Lviv, and we got a midday briefing from Ukrainian officials and what we heard was that four missiles struck, three of them struck areas

with military infrastructure. The fourth struck an area that myself and my team managed to get to.

This is an auto body repair shop. We saw two buildings on fire and an impact crater where the missile had landed. It was five meters wide and a

large explosion that decimated the two buildings. What we did not see, Bianca, was a military base. We didn't see any target of strategic

importance that could be considered a legitimate military target.

We just saw more civilian infrastructure being hit by the Russians, whether it was on purpose or accidental, the result was that more civilians died.

So we spoke to the auto body repair shop owner and he said that about 15 of his workers had gotten to work that day. They were about to start their

shift, open their doors to the public around 9:00 a.m. but before they could do that, a missing struck that killed several employees at that auto

body shop and sent many other people to the hospital.

And I think this is the reality around Ukraine right now. We've seen stepped up Russian missiles isolated attacks all around the country in

addition to what you mentioned off the top there, which was this renewed offensive in the east where we see that consistent shelling in places like

Lviv, clearly not being spared.

NOBILO: No, sending a message that absolutely nowhere is safe.

Matt Rivers in Lviv, thank you.

And CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward is in Ukrainian city of Dnipro for us.

And, Clarissa, the Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol, they are still holding out, but the expectation is that it will fall shortly.

What would the significance of that be for Russian eastern offensive logistically and strategically?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that first ever all I would just say that U.S. personnel are watching this

closely, people in defense, are saying the city is still contested which is remarkable. But certainly Ukrainian officials have referred to the

situation as being absolutely dire and it is anticipated that city could fall in the next few days. That would free up a lot more Russian troops to

go and join the offensive in Donbas.

Now, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the last half hour has officially announced that they believe the offensive to take the Donbas region is now

underway. And certainly from what we have seen today, that appears to be the case.


The town of Kreminna in Luhansk region, along the front line with pro- Russian separatists areas, was breached by Russian forces and there was street to street fighting as Ukrainian forces tried to defend it. Russian

forces now appear to be in control of that town. It is a small town. However, it is still significant.

We also heard from Ukrainian officials that across that front line there were attempts by Russian forces to roll tanks across into Ukrainian held

territory. So this is a significant moment, I would say. It is not unexpected. It is been anticipated for some time.

I would also say that in the last few weeks we've really seen an intensification in the amount of shelling and sort of pummeling of these

areas as Russian forces appear to try to soften the ground before launching this type of a ground offensive. But it will be crucial to see what happens

in the coming days. We've seen Ukrainian forces putting up quite a fight in a number of areas, particularly in the northern city and around Izyum. They

have been taking back some villages. But there is a fear now that Russia is going to throw everything it has at trying to take this Donbas region,


NOBILO: And, Clarissa, Dnipro where you are right now was also hit. What can you tell us about that attack?

WARD: So this was during the course of a series of missile strikes across the country to hit the out outskirts of Dnipro. Some kind of infrastructure

installation. Authorities not giving exact details as to what it was.

But basically no one was killed, fortunately. A couple ever people were injures. Dnipro is a city of nearly a million people and it's good three

and a half or four hour drive from these sort of Donbas areas that are being the hardest hit. But it is also the place where people are being

evacuated to.

So there is now some sense of anxiety and anticipation as this offensive gets underway that you could see more strikes potentially on various

targets in Dnipro and around and potentially more strikes on people trying to flee the violence.

We heard reports from Ukrainian military officials in that Kreminna area today that a civilian vehicle with people trying to evacuate from the town

did come under fire and there were casualties as a result, Bianca.

NOBILO: Clarissa Ward in Dnipro, Ukraine, thank you.

From constant bombardment, fear and hunger and cold, in Mariupol, to the calm and quiet of Estonia. Two Ukrainian refugees tell Scott McLean about

their harrowing journey to safety and the unexpected twists and turns along the way.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been two weeks since these suitcases were first packed. Two weeks since Evgeny and

Ludmila escaped the hell of Mariupol to Russia, and then finally to safety in Estonia.

LUDMILA, FLED FROM UKRAINIE TO ESTONIA (through translator): For now it was just stress.

EVGENY, FLED FROM UKRAINIE TO ESTONIA (through translator): Stress.

LUDMILA: Here, we are able to really relax. I feel that we are safe here.

MCLEAN: They lived across the hall from each other in an apartment building on the northern edge of Mariupol.

EVGENY: For 14 days, from the beginning of the war, somehow all the shelling was all past us.

MCLEAN: But their luck would soon run out. In the relentless bombardment of the city, their building was eventually hit. The damage though was

limited enough for them to stay, even without power, water, heat, or a cell signal.

LUDMILA: When you hear these explosions, you have an idea the direction they are coming from, and you know what you have to do. Lay on the ground,

run, or sit down. But silence is horrifying.

MCLEAN: On day 38, the building was hit again. It was time to leave.

EVGENY: It was impossible to go further into Ukraine. We lived in a different part of the city. There were two encirclement surround us. As I

understand, if we went in that direction, well -- the only way to leave was through the Russian federation. And the only one thing we were concerned

with at the time was leaving this ring of fire. We didn't have a choice.

MCLEAN: They made it to a school in Mariupol where Russian-backed soldiers were evacuating people east to the village of Sertana.

Then, a week later, so-called filtration in Bezimenn, where at a site like this one, they were searched, fingerprinted, and questioned by Russian

soldiers before crossing the border into Russia, the city of Taganrog, likely to this shelter shown here.

EVGENY: It was the first time we took a shower in over roughly 50 days, right?


LUDMILA: Forty-one or 40.

MCLEAN: With the help of ordinary Russians, they made it to St. Petersburg, then on to Estonia.

Their story is part of a larger trend. Most of the 200, sometimes 300 Ukrainian refugees arriving in Estonia every day are entering the country

through Russia.

MEELIS PILLE, SENIOR COMMISSIONER, NARVA BORDER CROSSING (through translator): Most of them are coming from Mariupol after having passed the

humanitarian corridor. But there are also those who have said they have been deported to Russia and managed to come here. And we accept them all.

MCLEAN: On this day, they are catching a train to the Estonian capital after staying at a hospital run by volunteers.

SERGEY TSVETKOV, VOLUNTEER HELPING REFUGEES (through translator): Some were taken by Russians by force from Mariupol to Russia. Later, they fly

from camps on the territory of Russia, but others left voluntarily

MCLEAN: From Tallinn, they're not sure where they will go but they are optimistic.

LUDMILA: We will have some difficulties along the way, but if you compare what we went through, everything will be just fine. The future must be

better. We don't have another option.

MCLEAN: Scott McLean, CNN, Narva, Estonia.


NOBILO: Video and photos are emerging from last week. They're said to show Russia's Moskva war ship on fire and listing in the Black Sea shortly

before it sank on Thursday. Analysts tell CNN the warship in the images looks like the Moskva. Ukraine says it hit the flagship of Russia's Black

Sea fleet with missiles and U.S. officials say Washington's assessment backs that up. Russia has only said that there was a fire on board.

Coming up next, a U.S. envoy is meeting with South Korea officials and he said Washington has not closed the door on diplomacy with Pyongyang despite

recent missile launches.

And highly troubled waters. Could the war in Ukraine encourage Beijing to take military action in the East China Sea? We hear exclusively from

Japan's military.


NOBILO: The U.S. special representative for North Korea is calling on Pyongyang to pursue the path of diplomacy ahead of this weekend's -- after

this weekend's missile launches. The envoy arrived in Seoul for a five-day visit on Monday, the same day that a drill by South Korea and U.S. troops

got underway.

On Saturday, North Korea test fired what it calls a new tactical guided weapon that is a nuclear capable.

Senior international correspondent Will Ripley is in Taipei for us.

Will, thanks for joining the program. Always great to talk to you.

So these talks are about de-escalation. What are they hoping to achieve and is the timing significant when we're quite close to North Korea's military


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Bianca yeah, these are one-sided discussions unfortunately between the U.S. special

representative and South Korea, two allied countries.


The U.S. Special Representative Soon Kim certainly wants to work with South Korea to put on a united front against North Korea as they are continuing

to escalate their missile testing, Saturday was the 12th missile launch this year and there is growing concern there will be a nuclear test coming

up possibly next week for the military foundation day as you mentioned. So what the U.S. and South Korea are hoping to achieve is a united front to

present the strongest possible joint deterrent in the United States towards to North Korea's escalatory testing is to let them know this is not normal,

to get the cooperation of the United Nations security response to respond and decisively to provocative behavior on behalf of North Korea.

But, Bianca, of course, North Korea itself continues to dismiss all of these diplomatic overtures by the United States, including the offer of

talks without conditions, saying that they are disingenuine and they consider the fact that U.S. and South Korea are engaging in joints military

exercises this week is a dress rehearsal for war and as an excuse, they often use and they have for years to conduct these highly provocative

tests, including a potential nuclear test, Bianca.

NOBILO: And what will you and other analysts specifically be looking for when that parade does take place marking the birthday of the founder later

this month?

RIPLEY: Well, could be a kind of an unusual late night parade. We've seen rehearsals happening late into the evening. So instead of the normal

morning parade, you might have night time images of the square in Pyongyang which adds a tone of drama to it.

But, of course, what we're looking for is the weapons on display. Will the Hwasong-17, that North Korea claims it launched, the intercontinental

missile they claimed they launched last month be on display, or will be other new weapons will they display the tactical guided weapon that north

says they launched on Saturday that is nuclear capable delivering potentially a nuclear warhead to U.S. forces in South Korea or Japan, a

weapon that could travel so low in altitude that it could not be detected by radar that it is actually incoming.

These are the kind of things that military analysts will be watching closely. The hardware that they put on display and the nuclear test site

which I was at that site about five years ago in which North Korea said it was destroyed permanently. But now images have shown there are crews there

digging new tunnels which potentially could mean according to the United States new nuclear tests. It would be North Korea's seventh nuclear test in

the coming days and weeks ahead.

NOBILO: Will Ripley, thank you so much. We'll be back in touch with you to find out all about that when it happens.

Between the nuclear threat from North Korea to fears that the war in Ukraine to inspire military action by Ukraine, Japan is now boosting

defense of the southernmost islands.

In a CNN exclusive, Blake Essig sat down with the chief of staff of Japan's ground self-defense force who feels the sovereignty of Japanese soil may

soon be breached.


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surround by nature and a coastline and seemingly endless beauty, right here on Japan's western most

island is simple. But with each new day, the future of this quiet island paradise where fishing is life becomes more uncertain.

From where I'm walking on the shores of Japan's Yonaguni Island, the east coast of Taiwan is only 110 kilometers away. It's so close that on a clear

day, you could actually see it. It's this stretch of water that has been viewed as a potential battleground if China invades Taiwan.

For the past 25 years, Kazushi Kinjo has made a living fishing the water surrounding Japan's Nansei Islands. That includes the uninhabited group of

islands known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

When he started, Kinjo says he never saw Chinese ships, but in the last few years, dangerous encounters specifically around the contested Senkaku

Islands the Kinjo says are guaranteed.

KAZUSHI KINJO, JAPANESE FISHERMAN (through translator): You can see it in the video. The bow of one of their ships was pointed straight at us and

they were chasing us.

ESSIG: This video, he says, is from his first confrontation with the Chinese coast guard back in 2018.

KINJO: I don't know for sure. But I also saw what looked like cannons. Looking back, they definitely could have shot at us if they'd wanted to. I

felt that fear.

ESSIG: In response to CNN, China's ministry of foreign affairs says it's carrying out law enforcement duties in its territory.

But it's not just the Chinese coast guard trolling these contested waters.

There are about 160 troops based at this costal surveillance station inside Camp Yonaguni with an eye sight of Taiwan. And since last summer, what

they've likely seen -- are Chinese warships patrolling Japanese territorial waters in the waters north and east of Taiwan. That's according to Japanese

and senior U.S. defense officials.

It's a presence that the Japanese government said has steadily increased every year for more than two decades.


And it's not just at sea. In roughly past two years, the number of times Japan has been forced to scramble fighter jets because of China threatening

its air space has nearly doubled. An escalation in the air and at sea that one of the men in charge with defending Japan says is increasing tensions.

GEN. YOSHIHIDE YOSHIDA, CHIEF OF STAFF, JAPAN'S GROUND SELF-DEFENSE FORCE (through translator): We cannot easily speculate over their intention. But

we are concerned about it, as it is a very provocative act.

ESSIG: Well, China's ministry of foreign affairs responded to CNN saying those comments are wholly fabricated and malicious hype, general Yoshihide

Yoshida says it's that increased activity, the ongoing nuclear threat posed by North Korea, and a growing fear that China may try to take control of

land that the Japanese government claims is inherently theirs. That makes defending the strategically important Nansei islands a top priority.

YOSHIDA: Japan's territorial sovereignty extends to the Nansei Islands and I'm afraid that may be infringed in the future.

ESSIG: The Nansei Islands consist of these 198 islands stretching about 1M200 kilometers. Since 2016, in a clear departure from Japan's post-World

War II passivism, Japan's self defense force has increased its footprint. Building bases on Amami Oshima, Miyakojima and Yonaguni. Ishigaki is next.

Around this time next year, hundreds of troops and several missile defense systems will be deployed here on Ishigaki, and when that happens, this will

become Japan's fourth missile armed island located in the East China Sea.

Despite Japan's increased spending on defense and continued militarization of the Nansei Islands, some security experts say Japan remains vulnerable

and in part because it currently has no long range strike capability.

How confident are you in Japan Japan's ability to defend itself?

YOSHIDA: We are enhancing our capabilities but our competitors are also enhancing their capabilities at an extremely fast pace. It would be very

difficult to maintain our deterrence and response capabilities unless we further increase our military capacity.

ESSIG: There are drills like that that self-defense forces are constantly preparing to respond to hostile forces whether it is during the day, or at

night. That includes threats from China, North Korea, and Russia that military officials say has created one of the most alarming security

environments surrounding Japan since shortly after the end of World War II.

Back on Yonaguni, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is sparking fears that China could be emboldened to act off of Japan's shores.

KINJO: The people are terrified of the situation that is happening. I think that the Senkaku issue and the Taiwan contingency are similar to the

Ukrainian issue. I have a strong sense of crisis that this island will eventually cease to be Japan.

ESSIG: But in the face of geopolitical concerns well out of his control, Kinjo and his crew do what they know, they prepare for another day at sea.


ESSIG (on camera): Conflict here in Yonaguni isn't necessarily imminent, but China's constant presence off the coast and the possibility of war has

many people living here worried, wondering about their future.

Blake Essig, CNN, Yonaguni, Japan.

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


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

Shanghai health officials on Sunday reported its first COVID-19 death since the city's latest outbreak began. It said the three deaths were

unvaccinated senior citizens.


China's health director reiterated enforcing a zero COVID policy calling living with COVID the wrong idea.

Sri Lanka's president expanded his cabinet with 17 new ministers as protests and calls for his resignation continue. The president didn't

include several members of his family who had previously had positions but kept his brother on as prime minister.

In a speech to the cabinet, the president promised solutions for Sri Lanka's problems including the country's economic crisis.

And a far right group burning of the Koran caused a weekend of protests in Sweden and outrage in Arab countries. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan

and Egypt all denounced the burning, calling on the Swedish government to stop, quote, provocative actions.

And a team has begun to check for oil leakage after a merchant ship sunk off Tunisia. The ship was carrying as much as 1,000 tons of oil. Other

countries have offered to help Tunisia prevent environmental damage. An environmental organization says that the coast where the sinking occurred

had suffered major pollution for years.

Finally, for the first time in more than 30 years, the Easter weekend and Passover and Ramadan all took place at the same time. These were the

celebrations in Cairo where hundreds attended mass. And in Vatican City, around 100,000 people turned out for the pope's Easter service.

Pope Francis called for peace in Ukraine, denouncing the war as cruel and senseless.

This is as Israeli celebrated Passover amid tight security following violence in Jerusalem. Jews celebrate Passover in the memory of the exodus

of the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt.

Meanwhile, muslins are continuing to observe Ramadan, which marks the month they believe the Koran began to revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

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

the world, I'll see you again tomorrow.