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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Russia Hits Eastern Ukraine Hard; Aid On Its Way To Front Lines; Prime Minister Faces Parliament. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 19, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Russia pounds Eastern Ukraine, what we're seeing in the first full day of the new phase of this war.

And the U.S. says military assistance is making its way to the front lines, and it includes crucial aircraft parts.

Plus, the U.K. prime minister faces parliament for the first time since being fined for breaking his own COVID rules.

Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are attacking on all sides as they press ahead with a fierce new phase in the war. But according to the UK

ministry of defense, Ukraine has been able to repel numerous attempted advances. Towns and cities across Donbas are coming under fire Tuesday, as

Russia battles to capture the entire region.

Ukraine says Russia has been dropping super powerful bombs on a steel factory in Mariupol. The city's last remaining fighters are trapped there.

But Ukraine says hundreds of civilians are also sheltering in that factory's basement. Russia has issued a new ultimatum for Mariupol's

fighters to surrender on Wednesday.

And Kramatorsk is just one of the Ukrainian cities where Russian shells and missiles are raining down.

CNN's Ben Wedeman shows us the immediate aftermath of one such deadly strike.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just a few minutes after 3:00 in the afternoon here in Kramatorsk, a missile hit this

construction warehouse, causing all of this damage and at least one person was killed, the bodies under this yellow and blue tarp, and according to

police on the scene, at least three people were injured. About an hour before this strike there was another missile strike and another part of

town, but as far as we know, there were no injuries in that case.

Now, as Russian forces mass nearby, and have actually taken one town about an hour's drive from here, this may be a taste of things to come.


NOBILO: And Ben Wedeman joins us now from the city of Kramatorsk. Ben, can the Russians maintain the aggression that you're seeing from this

offensive, down this entire front line? Are they adapting from their mistakes so far in the military campaign of multiple fronts spreading

themselves too thin?

WEDEMAN: Keep in mind that the front in Donbas is almost 500 kilometers long. So any military force to launch an offensive along the entire line

would be seriously challenged.

What we're seeing, unlike the opening phases of the first part of the war, when it began on the 24th of February, is that the Russians are not making

sort of throwing a lot of armor and men, really what they're doing is trying to take little bits and pieces, like this town that is just to the

east of here. And they're not pushing with all their might. It does appear that if this is the offensive in the Donbas and there is reason to wonder

whether it is actually really begun, it is getting off to a fairly low key mild start.

I mean, here in Kramatorsk, we had two missiles strike today. But if you compare it to the amount of firepower they were using when they were trying

to take the capital Kyiv in the areas around it, it's relatively little.

And the expectation is that instead of a blitzkrieg, it is going to be a much slower process where they try to move forward. And they'll just try to

wear Ukrainian forces down with their superior artillery, and mortars and rockets and what not. They do have much more in the way of weaponry than

the Ukrainians do.

Now, we have seen in the previous weeks Ukrainians have been reinforcing their troops, they have been digging more trenches, laying mines, rigging

explosives and bridges, so it is not going to be a cakewalk for the Russians, but perhaps their approach to this offensive is going to be much

more slow and deliberate and perhaps even more bloody -- Bianca.

NOBILO: And -- thank you, Ben Wedeman in Kramatorsk for us.

Ukrainian forces are resisting Russian attacks in the besieged city of Mariupol after rejecting a deadline to surrender.


CNN isn't in Mariupol now, but Ukrainian officials say that Russian troops were bombarding the Azovstal plant here. It's one of the last areas in

cities still under Ukrainian control.

And CNN's Matt Rivers reports on the desperate situation for the Ukrainian civilians sheltering there.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The city of Mariupol has been bruised and battered by relentless attacks. Local officials say some

22,000 people have already been killed there, and an estimated 100,000 civilians are desperately waiting to be evacuated from the port city.

Ukrainian troops are defending one small corner of the city still under their control, the area around the Azovstal steel plant, where an estimated

1,000 civilians are sheltering.

And now, a chilling new threat has emerged, the security service of Ukraine or SBU on Tuesday released a purported communications intercept of a

Russian ground unit commander who said Russian aircraft were planning to, quote, level everything to the ground around Azovstal.

INTERCEPTED RUSSIAN COMMUNICATION: Will there be some kind of explosion?

They said to level everything to the ground.


They are being bombed and bombed, they are knocking them out.

RIVERS: CNN cannot vouch for the authenticity of the recording, but the SBU has previously released audio from intercepted radio traffic revealing

Russian soldiers discussing killing and raping civilians, bolstering allegations that war crimes by Russian troops.

Military observers have also noted a tendency of Russian troops to use unsecured communications in Ukraine.

For now, Ukrainian commander says Russian forces are, quote, willingly bombing and shelling the plant, a sprawling complex in Mariupol's southeast

that once employed more than 10,000 people. It is unclear how many Ukrainian forces are at the site, but one commander says the Russians are

using free fall bombs, rockets, bunker buster bombs, and other artillery at the facility.

Video posted on government social media, which CNN cannot verify, shows dozens of women and children who say they have been staying under the

facility for weeks, holding out against Russian attacks. The surrender deadline Russian forces issued to Ukrainian troops has now expired. But the

Russian military official in charge of the operation said they will allow the civilians safe passage out of the area.

COL. GEN. MIKHAIL MIZINTSEV, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY (through translator): Russian leadership will guarantee safe evacuation of each and every

civilian, as well as the safety of the humanitarian convoy's movement in any direction they choose.

RIVERS: It is unclear if the Ukrainians will take the word of the Russian general who has himself been accused of excesses during the Mariupol

campaign. Not all civilians are in the steel factory. Tens of thousands are trying to survive in other parts of the city. CNN is not in Mariupol, but

the Reuters News Agency found these people cooking outside a residential building on Monday. They're chopping wood to make a fire to boil water,

some soup, and even cook some pancakes.

This woman, cutting a boy's hair, says, quote, they need to quickly fix the water supply problem. How can we live without water? It is horrible.

And this woman says of the bombardment --

OLGA, MARIUPOL RESIDENT (through translator): To be honest, we are not well. I have mental problems after airstrikes, that's for sure. I'm really

scared. When I hear a plane, I just run away.


NOBILO: That was Matt Rivers reporting.

And a senior U.S. official tells us that Washington is working around the clock to get weapons to Ukraine. The White House has authorized more than

$2 billion worth of weapons assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion. The Pentagon says Ukrainian forces have different needs now

that Russian troops have started their new offensive in the Donbas region.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: They have received additional platforms and parts to be able to -- to be able to increase their fleet

size. Their aircraft fleet size. I'll leave it at that.

REPORTER: Platforms?

KIRBY: Platforms and parts.

REPORTER: What is a platform?

KIRBY: Platform is an airplane in this case. I'm -- they have received additional aircraft and aircraft parts to help them, you know, get more

aircraft in the air.


NOBILO: Let's take a closer look at this historic effort with our Pentagon correspondent Oren Lieberman.

Oren, what more can you tell us about the speed and scale of this military assistance?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: So this is all coming under presidential drawdown authority in which the president authorizes the

defense department to pull from U.S. stocks and inventories, weapons, arms equipment, ammunition and send that directly into Ukraine.

This is a process that used to take weeks or months. It begins with a bilateral conversation between the U.S. and another country and goes

through a process, it needs to be reviewed you need to see its effect on U.S. military readiness and goes to the secretary of defense, the

president, and then it has to go to the secretary of state, because he's the one who signs off and then back to the defense department.


So that is a long process. Now the U.S. government has gotten that in some cases down to 48 to 72 hours. And that's because of the situation on the

ground in Ukraine. There is an ongoing and imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine needs weapons right now, not only the bigger systems like

artillery, but also the smaller systems, small arms ammunition, as well as simply ammo for the antiaircraft missiles, the anti-armor missiles they

have, they just need more of it and what is nearly insatiable appetite and need to keep the fight going against Ukraine -- against Russia that is.

So the U.S. made this effort to try to get this process to move as quickly as possible. A senior defense official says they're working on this around

the clock, 24/7, and at that point, it has become unprecedented in the scope, the scale and perhaps most importantly right now the speed with

which this is moving forward, especially as we watch Russian movements around southeast Ukraine and what is an anticipated very large scale

offensive on the Donbas region.

NOBILO: Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, thank you.

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


NOBILO: The Russian Orthodox Church is a pillar of President Vladimir Putin's rule. And it has thrown its ideological weight behind the war in

Ukraine, legitimizing Putin's invasion in the eyes of his supporters. Key is the Russian president's belief in the Holy Rus, or Russkii Mir, the idea

that a Greater Russia extends to Belarus and Ukraine, because of Slavic tribes descending on Kyiv a thousand years ago.

This ideology is backed by Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill. Kirill has gone so far as to endorse the war in Ukraine, saying there are

no Ukrainians, only people of Holy Russia.


PATRIARCH KIRILL, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH (through translator): I cannot stop feeling concern for all the people who live in those places where

there is armed conflict. All these are people of Holy Russia. They are our brothers and sisters.


NOBILO: Joining me is Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun, monastic priest and professor of ecclesiology. Hovorun has spoken about the holy alliance in

Russia's war, in Russia's longtime harmonious relationship between church and state.

Thank you for joining the program this evening, sir.


NOBILO: So what is the role of the Russian orthodox church in this war on Ukraine?

HOVORUN: Yes. I believe that the form of this war is very simple, the guns plus ideas. The guns have been supplied by the Kremlin and the ideas, to a

great extent, have been supplied by the church. The church is essentially the main provider of ideology. And in this sense, it has substituted the

communist party in the Soviet Union after the collapse of the Soviet Union.


NOBILO: And can you explain to our viewers the sort of ideology that the Russian Orthodox Church espouses? What is it that makes it such a good idea

for Vladimir Putin to promulgate to the people?

HOVORUN: Yes, this is a mixture of different ideologies, different sets of ideologies, so to say. Some elements to this ideology have been imported

from the prerevolutionary imperial Russia, and with its ideas of slavish and Slavic communities, the Slavic people. Some ideas have been imported

from the Soviet ideology from communism.

That's why Putin insists like on keeping the Soviet symbols everywhere, and also some to this ideology have been from the post-Soviet Russia and there

the church plays a key role because in the post-Soviet era, they believe in their revival of spirituality of the church in Russia and this is pretty

much a part of this composed synthetic ideology promoted by the church.

It is essentially a mixture of ideologies which are otherwise incompatible with one another if you take for example the imperial and Soviet

ideologies. They do not go along with one another. In this situation, with the input of the Russian church, they were united into a single ideological


NOBILO: And the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, is particularly powerful and outspoken about the war in Ukraine. What does he

say about it? How does he view Vladimir Putin's invasion?

HOVORUN: Well, I believe that Patriarch Kirill is one of the designers or the main designers of this ideology. And it presupposes a kind of an

absolutist power of the Russian state supported by the church.

And I believe that the Kremlin indeed did not have a clue about what kind of ideology should be in the post-Soviet Russia and the church essentially

filled up the void, which emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Patriarch Kirill played a key role in filling this void with new ideas,

and those ideas suppose a close alliance between the church and the state and new ideological construct to fill the old Soviet beliefs.

NOBILO: And what would the church gain in this instance from aligning itself so closely, intertwining itself with a brutal authoritarian regime

that wages war on innocent civilians?

HOVORUN: Yes, unfortunately the church indeed has contributed to this brutal regime. And instead it gained power, prestige, very high standing in

the Russian establishment, and money. The church has become an intrinsic part of the Russian establishment, with the patriarch and other officials

of the church just standing next to the Russian -- top Russian officials. This prestige is very important for the Russian church.

NOBILO: Archimandrite Dr. Cyril Hovorun, thank you so much for joining the program this evening.

Russia's president is honoring a brigade accused of committing war crimes in Bucha. Putin's awarding the unit the title of guards for, quote,

protecting Russia's sovereignty. But Ukraine's defense ministry says those troops treated Bucha like a slaughterhouse, shelling indiscriminately,

torturing, killing and raping civilians.

Phil Black shows us the grief in Bucha after Russia's occupation. A warning that the following report may be disturbing to some viewers.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL COPRRESPONDENT (voice-over): Morgues aren't supposed to be busy. So overcapacity, they needed a team of volunteers to

move bodies around and large mobile refrigerators to accommodate them.

This is one of seven sites in and around Kyiv, working to cope with the tide of death, left behind by Russia's retreating forces.

Are there still more bodies coming? A lot?

UINIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot. Every day at morning.

BLACK: Andrii Bilyakov, normally teaches forensic medicine. Now he's a full time volunteer, performing endless autopsies.

How many murders are you seeing?


BLACK: By his definition, that means 30 percent of the people in these bags have deliberate gunshot wounds to the head.

We witness a continuous cycle, shuffling bodies from vehicles to storage to autopsy to storage and ultimately preparation for burial.


Usually, it will be their second, most to be exhumed from temporary graves. Families buy new clothes for those they have lost as a gesture of love and

respect. But they often go unworn. They can only be laid inside the coffin.

The condition of the bodies means dressing them is impossible. Among those lying here, waiting to be collected is Roman Lepir (ph). His family says he

was skilled when munitions struck his home in a small remote village. Roman's wife, Victoria, survived, only to endure a form of hell.

Intense fighting meant she couldn't escape the house.

Victoria's brother Ihor says: My sister had to step over her husband's body for two weeks, she had to go through it to get to food or water, the room

is still covered in blood.

She is very bad now. Very bad. I don't know how she will live with this loss.

Others who grieve are living through a different form of hell. They can't find the body of the person they love.

Vladimir is searching for his brother, Leonid. He shows us where he was shot and killed. Where he was buried in a shallow makeshift grave before

officials exhumed the body and took it away.

So Vladimir has taken leave from active duty to travel through devastated communities, going from morgue to morgue, but no one can help. Eventually,

he's directed to a police office with a central list of the dead.

He's told his brother probably hasn't been processed yet. Vladimir must return to the war, he doesn't know when he'll be able to come back, even if

Leonid's body is found.

It hurts a lot, he says. It hurts a lot, but we don't give up.

Russia has left so much death behind in areas near Kyiv, some people must wait their turn to grieve.

Phil Black, CNN, Bucha, Ukraine.



We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: Things are heating up in parliament. Tuesday, the British prime minister faced mps for first time since he was fined for breaking COVID

lockdown rules. Take a listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I take this opportunity on the first available sitting day to repeat my wholehearted apology to the



NOBILO: While Boris Johnson acknowledged the public anger swelling around the so-called party-gate scandal, he doubled down on his defense.


JOHNSON: Let me also say not by way of mitigation, or excuse, but purely, purely because it explains my previous words in this House. That it did not

occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the cabinet room just before a vital meeting on COVID strategy could amount to a breach of the



NOBILO: But opposition leader Keir Starmer wasn't having any of it, saying the prime minister doesn't respect the sacrifice of the British public and

therefore should step down.


KEIR STARMER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: What a joke. Even now, as the latest mealy-mouthed apology stumbles out of one side of his mouth, a new

set of deflections and distortions pour from the other. But the damage is already done. The public have made up their mind. They don't believe a word

the prime minister says.


They know what he is.


NOBILO: It is a call even some of Johnson's fellow conservatives are echoing, with one senior Tory breaking ranks saying the prime minister is

no longer worthy of office. Some lawmakers accuse Johnson of misleading parliament when he previously said no rules have been broken.

On Thursday, MPs will vote on whether an investigation into that should be launched, which that is, of course, resigning offense, typically.

Now let's look at the other key stories making international impact today. Police and witnesses in Kabul tell CNN at least six people were killed

after a high school and learning center were attacked. The blast went off Tuesday in a mostly Shia Muslim area of Afghanistan's capital.

And residents of Sri Lanka held a vigil after police opened fire on protesters killing one person, 25 people were also injured. Protests began

earlier this month over rising fuel and flour prices.

And actor Johnny Depp took the stand Tuesday in his defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard. The star accuses his ex-wife of ruining his career,

with accusations of violence during their relationship.


JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: There were arguments and things of that nature, but never did I myself reach the point of striking misheard in any way, nor

have I ever struck any woman in my life.


NOBILO: He told the court the allegations are diabolical.

Well, thank you for watching tonight. For our viewers tuning in on CNN+ in the United States, our show is on demand. For viewers around the world, you

can find me on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram. I'll see you all tomorrow.