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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Mariupol Under Siege, Wimbledon Bans Russian Players; French Election Debate. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 20, 2022 - 05:00:00   ET


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. I'm Christina Macfarlane, in for Bianca Nobilo in London. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Thousands of people are trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol, as Ukraine forces appeal for help, warning the city has possibly hours left.

Then, Wimbledon bans Russian and Belarusian players from competing at the tennis tournament, a move that the Kremlin calls unacceptable.


And French President Emmanuel Macron faces far right challenger Marine Le Pen in a television debate that could determine the outcome of Sunday's


Now, there is no safe town, that's how military governor of one of eastern Ukraine's provinces is describing conditions as Russia unleashes a

firestorm of artillery and air strikes, heavy black smoke swelled from the besieged city of Mariupol. The commander of the Ukrainian military holding

out a steel factory there says the city is under constant bombardment.

CNN is not in Mariupol right now. This drone video of the steel works came from Russian television. The commander says inside are hundreds of badly

wounded soldiers and hundreds of civilians in desperate need of evacuation.


SERHII VOLYNA, UKRAINIAN MARINE COMMANDER (through translator): We might have only a few days or even hours left. The enemy's units are 10 times

larger than ours. We appeal to the world leaders to help us.


MACFARLANE: Some of Mariupol's war-ravaged residents try to get out Wednesday after Russia and Ukraine agreed on a safe passage corridor but

the evacuation mostly failed with only a few people able to board buses. Ukrainian officials blamed coordinators being disorganized and violating

the ceasefire.

Let's go to now to CNN's Matt Rivers who's in Lviv, Ukraine, for us.

And, Matt, the situation in Mariupol is just so desperate. What are the chances of any evacuation after yet again, we're hearing these humanitarian

corridors have failed?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We had this small glimmer of hope, with that humanitarian corridor being agreed today, first time it

happened in a long time, disappointingly so, the large scale evacuation officials were hoping for did not happen and this as we managed to speak to

someone who has unique insight what's going on inside Mariupol right now, here's what he had to say.


RIVERS (voice-over): The Azovstal steel plant housing Mariupol's last line of defense, if the defenders here fall, so goes the city.

A few days ago, George Kurparashvili says he was right in the heart of the fight.

GEORGE KURPARASHVILI, AZOV BATTALION COMMANDER: Honestly, I'll tell you that I've never seen such a brutal, devastating war, because Russians are

just trying to execute civilians.

RIVERS: He spoke to us via video chat from undisclosed location.

Severely injured during the fighting, he says he was smuggled out to recover. He is a Georgian national and commander in the Azov Battalion, one

of the few remaining units left defending the city. He says he was among the soldiers fighting the Russians, while at the same time taking care of

hundreds of civilians sheltering the area, some of which purportedly seen here in video CNN can't verify posted on Ukrainian government's social


So, how long do you think your group can take care of all those people and yourselves?

KURPARASHVILI: It's hard to answer. That's hard to assume. Time is short, that's all I can say.

RIVERS: Tens of thousands of citizens in besieged Mariupol still need to be evacuated. On Wednesday, a slight glimmer of hope. A humanitarian

corridor agreed to by both sides where civilians could evacuate Mariupol, heading to Manhush, Berdyansk, and then onward, eventually to the Ukrainian

held city of Zaporizhzhia. The city's mayor urging people to use it.

He said: Dear people of Mariupol, during these long and incredibly difficult days, you survived in inhuman conditions, you may have heard

different things, but I want you to know the main thing, they are waiting for you in Zaporizhzhia. It's safe there.

Video from Mariupol City Council shows buses lined up ready to take those who wanted to leave. It's unclear how many got on, but a regional official

says fewer people left than he hoped.

For many, leaving is a difficult choice, it requires trusting the Russian military will not harm those trying to leave, yet this is the same military

that has spent the entire war systematically targeting civilians across the country.

And yet, the city has become unlivable. For the military units still resisting, Kurparashvili says they're caring for soldiers and civilians

sometimes for the same injuries due to Russian shelling.

KURPARASHVILI: If a child, child or soldier, and often times a soldier says go ahead, take your child, it's a priority.

RIVERS: A commander inside the steel plant has urged the international community to set up an evacuation route using a third party, another

country that may be able to facilitate transfer of soldiers and civilians to safety. If that doesn't happen, Kurparashvili says Russia will continue

the bombardment and it will end only one way.


KURPARASHVILI: There will be nobody left in this area. There will be dead all the children, not talking about the soldiers but civilians will be

eliminated. It's going to be on us, on a civilized world.


RIVERS (on camera): And, Christina, I asked George there, whether in the battalion if they would consider surrendering, and he said absolutely not.

He said that they are so convinced that the Russians hate them so much that if they were to surrender, they believe that they would be executed. And

so, as a result of that, he said there were two ways out for the members of the Azov battalion at this point. Either they are evacuated in some sort of

deal or they will die fighting -- Christina.

MACFARLANE: Wow, two stark options there.

Matt Rivers, great reporting. Thank you so much.

Well, the number of Ukraine refugees continues to grow, U.N. says more than 5 million people fled Ukraine so far during the invasion, at least 7

million others displaced within Ukraine because fighting forced them to flee homes.

Russian's defense ministry says it successfully test launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile, once that's capable of carrying a

nuclear war head Russian military officials say it will soon go into service. However, U.S. doesn't seem alarmed just yet, officials saying they

were notified of the launch ahead of time.

Ukrainians who survive encounters with Russian troops say the occupying forces were playing a cruel game with random violence, quite literally

Russian roulette with civilian lives on the line.

Phil Black tells us their stories.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Andrey Bychenko says his life will forever be split in two -- before and after the day the

Russians came.

He remembers the skies over his home in Hostomel, near Kyiv, suddenly swarming with dozens of attack helicopters.

He says they flew in a low formation, like they were on parade and soon after, he says, Russian ground forces approached his home. This is where,

he says, they opened fire from a distance. An explosive round landed close by, fracturing his leg, shrapnel piercing much of his body.

But Andrey says he was lucky. He got to hospital before the Russians worked out. He used to fight pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. He says

many veterans from the east were deliberately killed during the occupation.

If I had not been wounded, I would have been shot, too, he says.

Vasiliy Hylko also survived Russia's occupation but at great cost. Vasiliy was shocked by the Russian numbers and firepower that rolled in to

Bohdanivka, a tiny village northeast of the capital. So many tanks passed, he said, so much ammunition. Every house had 20 soldiers occupying it,

including the house where he, his neighbors and family were sheltering. They stayed in the basement, the Russians moved in above.

One night, Vasiliy says, four drunk soldiers pushed open the basement door and screamed, everyone out by the count of 10 or all will be killed.

Vasiliy says women were screaming, children crying, and as he was the last one through the door, he was blasted from behind with a shotgun.

He says nothing was left of the leg, all bones destroyed, just a puddle of blood in minutes. He says two days later, some Russian soldiers helped him

get to hospital. He still thinks they're beasts, not people.

The Russian invasion of areas around Kyiv violently interrupted and ended many peoples' lives and some would somehow survive brutal intimate

encounters, leaving them forever changed.

Phil Black, CNN, Bohdanivka, Ukraine.


MCFARLANE: All right. Let's take a look at more of the global reaction this hour.

Israel has agreed to supply helmets and vests to Ukrainian rescue services. It marks a shift in Israel's position previously limited to humanitarian

relief. Israel and Ukraine stress the gear is meant for rescue services and civilian agencies.

Germany says it will phase out Russian oil imports by half in summer and entirely by the years end. Coal imports also will be phased out within

months. Germany says it will provide training for the Ukrainian military as well but no further weapons.

European Council president Charles Michel met with President Zelenskyy today in Kyiv. He vowed the EU will do everything it can to help Ukraine

win the war.


Michel called Russia's actions in Ukraine atrocities and war crimes and said Moscow must be punished for what it has done.

Ukrainian farmers already experiencing massive disruptions in getting their product to people who need it. But now, they're finding themselves in the

paths of rockets, bombs and gun fire.

Ed Lavandera has this report for us.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sergiy Yaiichuk runs a one-man dairy operation. He has six cows on a little farm just 15 miles

from the front lines of the battlefield in southern Ukraine. But neither Russian soldiers or falling rockets have stopped the 49-year-old from

tending to his work.

That is Sergiy's house there, just in the distance, and there is an unexploded rocket, landed this close. It landed here about a week ago.

Did you hear the rocket land?

SERGIY YAIICHUK, UKRAINIAN DAILY FARMER (through translator): Everything happened before my eyes.

LAVANDERA: The explosions erupted all around him, when this strike hit. Russian rockets, often targeted his village of 500 people.

YAIICHUK: We were covered in dust, just dust and shrapnel all the way here. I fell to the ground, crawling, not feeling my legs or arms. It was

scary. For those who have not gone through this, you would not believe it.

LAVANDERA: Sergiy keeps one eye on his herd and the other eye on the war.

So, these are Sergiy's six dairy cows, and if you notice, he has them spread out. He wants to separate them, so they all don't get killed in one


He must keep the cows alive. This is the life of a farmer in Ukraine.

Maxim Krivenko and his family grow the traditional Ukrainian crops of wheat, and sunflower, on these lush, wide open fields near the village of

Yavkine. But the war has upended his business.

MAXIM KRIVENKO, UKRAINIAN FARMER (through translator): It's been unfortunate for all of us. Basically, everything has shut down and we

aren't working now.

LAVANDERA: Maxim says the cost of fuel and grain seeds have skyrocketed. It's difficult to find parts to repair farm machinery.

He's supposed to plant this year's wheat crop in the coming weeks, but if the fighting returns to this land, it won't happen.

So, this is the storage area where they keep their sunflower seeds. But they haven't been able to sell it because of the war.

Maxim is also stuck with an entire season sunflower seed harvest. It just sits in the storage space.

Will this war kill your business?

KRIVENKO: It's already killed it. We have stockpiled our wheat production, and our sunflowers. We aren't able to sell them. So, I would say, it's a

beginning at the end.

Ukraine is considered the world's bread basket, along with Russia, producing 30 percent of the world's wheat exports. The United Nations says

this war is creating a food production crisis not seen since World War II.

Thousands of Ukrainian farmers now find themselves on the front lines of this war. And their growing fields of wheat and sunflower have been turned

into debris fields for missiles, and rockets, and other explosives.

The wreckage of recent battles, sitting in the farm fields. The body of a Russian soldier, buried next to this ammunition supply truck.

Farm or fight is the choice facing frontline farmers. Sergiy Yaiichuk has already faced this life and death decision. When the Russians invaded this

village last month, Sergiy joined the fight. He was shot in the shoulder.

If the Russians come back, do you want to fight again?

YAIICHUK: What else can we do? I'll take my pitchfork and go fight. I will defend my village until the end.

LAVANDERA: When the war returns, the harvest will have to wait.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Yavkine, Ukraine.


MACFARLANE: Incredible resistance.

Now, Russia's actions in Ukraine impacted the world's most famous tennis tournament Wimbledon. Organizers have banned Russian and Belarusian from

competing this year due to the invasion. The move prevents several high ranked players for competing at the event, which is set to begin June 27th.

A Kremlin spokesperson calls the ban unacceptable.


DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN: It is unacceptable to make the athletes once again hostages of certain political prejudice, intrigues and hostile

actions toward our country. We can only express our regret and wish to keep their physical shape and world class in tennis.


MACFARLANE: Now, French president debating with his main rival ahead of Sunday's final day of voting. The names on the ballots might be the same as

in 2017, but this race is a very different affair. We'll explain.


MACFARLANE: Welcome back.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his far right challenger Marine Le Pen are debating Wednesday night ahead of this weekend's run-off. The two

already went head to head years ago but this election by no mean as repeat of 2017. Macron is no longer a political outsider and now has a record in

office that his rival can attack.

Plus, Le Pen has worked a lot on her image to win over mainstream voters. Case in point, recent polls with Macron as the front runner but it's gap

between the two much narrower than last time. So this debate could make a difference. French president needs to convince all the voters who perceive

previously didn't vote for him or turn up at all to she would be a worse president.

She on the other hand has nowhere to go but up. So let's bring in Paris correspondent, Melissa Bell.

And, Melissa, this debate could play a crucial role in influencing undecided voters. Now, as we said five years ago, it was a disaster for

Marine Le Pen. So what have we been seeing tonight?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: You're quite right, Christina. It couldn't really have gone much worse tonight than five years ago and she

did seem better prepared. She spent two days outside her schedule of campaigning taking off to simply prepare for this debate and while there

were no knock-out blows this time, she didn't appear to unravel. This is really a format in which Emmanuel Macron excels.

I think -- I think what we can say it may not be a real decider one things, one way or another and pretty much where we stood before with a French

incumbent president hoping to convince, specifically, Christina the far left voters who did not vote for him in the first round, that they should

hold their noses and vote for him in the second round in order to prevent Marine Le Pen from taking power.

Marine Le Pen doing, as she did in her debate in her campaign, trying to convince her electorate and beyond trying to tap into that anger we saw

explode on the streets of France by speaking to people about problems regarding the cost of living, inflation, energy prices, that she believes

really give her a foothold on which to make progress with the French electorate. So everything to still play for but again a debate that really

reminded us how different their positions are on so many issues and how very much is at stake for France on Sunday, Christina.

MCFARLANE: Absolutely, and what are the main challenges the two face in this race, Melissa, how potentially could the war in Ukraine influence how

people vote on Sunday?

BELL: Well when it began as the campaign already started here in France, it was thought this would maybe help the incumbent who loomed so large on

the world stage in times of trouble, of course electorates intend to prefer someone in charge, the devil they know, any in particular, the one that in

this instance, had taken such a leading role in trying to prevent the war from happening.


But there is again that deep-seeded anger with Emmanuel Macron and the fact, Christina he was so caught up being in Moscow and Kyiv and trying to

prevent that war from happening, being on the world stage added to the feeling that a lot of French people have that this is a French president

disconnected from the ordinary concerns of French people and particularly those worse off. Remember, his first term in office marred by the yellow

vest protests but also protests against some reforms like pension reforms and again over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So there is a lot of very deeply felt anger about his presidency, about his policies, about his manner, and that is what manifested itself in the first

round of voting when more than 50 percent of the French voted for extreme either right wing or left wing candidates. And I think that speaks to you

about those very deep concerns that the French have and the divisiveness of Emmanuel Macron's presidency.

So while Ukraine changed things, that footing, wrong footing, several candidates including Marine Le Pen who took a loan from a Russian bank back

in 2014, we heard from Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny tweeting from his penal colony and urging people to vote for Macron, pointing out

taking a loan from a Russian bank is not simply as Marine Le Pen says a normal loan she paid back but it comes with political conditions she must

have known about. This should all have been a game changer but in fact she has remained remarkably strong in the polls.

MACFARLANE: We'll watch to see how this debate plays out in the opinion polls.

Melissa Bell there live from Paris, thank you so much.

All right. You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll back after this short break. Stay with us.


MACFARLANE: The British prime minister faced a grilling in parliament again over the so-called party-gate scandal. Boris Johnson recently paid a

fine breaking COVID lockdown rules oat this own birthday celebration in 2020. But he has rejected calls to resign ask and stopped short of

admitting he broke the law. Now, he's voting to, quote, get on with the job.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We're going to get on with delivering for the British people, making sure -- making sure that we power

out of the problems that COVID has left us and more people in work than there were before the pandemic, Mrs. Speaker, fixing our energy problems

and leading the world in standing up to the aggression of Vladimir Putin.


MACFARLANE: Julian Assange being sent to the U.S. to face trial. On Wednesday, a British judge issued a formal extradition order. Now, all it

needs is the approval of the UK home secretary. Assange can appeal the order, he faces 18 criminal charges under U.S. Espionage Act after

WikiLeaks published thousands of classified files and cables in 2010.

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

Local government in Shanghai says two districts eliminated community spread of COVID-19 while the number of new cases remains consistent. The positive

tone from officials leading some to leave it's a move toward reopening the city. The government continuing to double down on its zero COVID policy

which has led to loss of income and irregular food supplies.

Preliminary results show Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta has scored a landslide victory in East Timor's presidential election. That still needs

to be evaluated by the country's electoral commission. This will be Ramos- Horta's second time in office. He served as president in the young country in Southeast Asia from 2007 to 2012.

YouTube terminated the official channel of Hong Kong chief executive candidate John Lee. He's poised to be selected as the city's next leader in



The channel was deleted to comply with U.S. sanctions imposed on Lee and other officials, a move he calls unreasonable and acts of bullying.

Johnny Depp return to the stand on Wednesday and $50 million defamation trial against his wife Amber Heard. Deep says an argument between the

couple ended in him seeking medical attention for a severed finger, saying Heard threw a bottle of vodka at him he says he never struck her or any

woman in allegations of domestic violence.

Prince Harry opened up on his visit with Queen Elizabeth, saying being with her was great.


PRINCE HARRY: It was great, so nice to see her. She's always got a great sense of humor with me, and I'm making sure she's protected and got the

right people around her.


MACFARLANE: He and wife Meghan stopped for tea at Windsor Castle last week. They were on the way to the Invictus games in the Netherlands. It was

their first trip to Britain since quitting moral duties back in March 2020, and it comes less than a month after the absence from Prince Phillips

memorial service because of security concerns.

All right. That will do it for us. Thanks for watching and for our viewers tuning in on CNN+ in the United States, our show will be available on

demand. For our viewers worldwide, do stay with CNN.