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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

U.S. Support For Ukraine; Transnistria Significance; Ukrainian Holocaust Survivors. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired April 25, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Russia warns the United States against sending more arms to Ukraine, after the U.S. defense secretary says they will push us hard as they can to get

Ukrainians what they need to win this war.

And then several explosions have hit a ministry building in Transnistria. We look at the significance of the Moldavian separatist region.

And Germany's president meets with Ukrainian Holocaust survivors. We speak to a Jewish organization who'd been coordinating the difficult evacuations

for the elderly from Ukraine.

And in the lead-up to war, many thought Ukraine never stood a chance. But now, the U.S. defense secretary says the country can defeat Russia if it

has the right weapons and support. Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the U.S. will push as hard as it can to get Ukraine

what it needs. They delivered that message in person to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the highest level U.S. visit to Kyiv since this war began.

The U.S. is ignoring Russia's warnings to stop arming Ukraine, and in fact is accelerating military aid. Blinken says Russia has failed in its war

effort so far, suggesting that Vladimir Putin will never achieve his ultimate goal.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't know how the rest of this war will unfold, but we do know that a sovereign, independent Ukraine

will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin on the scene. Our support for Ukraine going forward will continue. It will continue until we see

final success.


NOBILO: While Kyiv itself is quiet, other cities are coming under attack, from the West to the South to the East. Our reporters are going to take you

across Ukraine to show you what's happening on the ground.

A barrage of Russian missiles on Monday targeted a key part of Ukraine's transportation work, railroads. Bombs fell on at least five railway sites

and western and central Ukraine. Ukraine's military says Russia may be trying to stop western arms from getting into the country and to its


CNN's Scott McLean takes us to one of the bomb sites.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We took a train into Kyiv from southwestern Poland. So didn't see a lot except looking out the train

windows on our way in. In Kyiv itself, we went right to the presidential palace.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just hours after the U.S. secretaries of state and defense left Ukraine by rail, air

raid sirens sounded in Western Ukraine. The head of Ukrainian railways says that within one hour, rail infrastructure in five places was hit by Russian

strikes. The farthest west was near the town of Krasne.

Natalia Rudak was working in this building next to the tracks when she heard the explosions.

NATALIA RUDAK, HEARD AIRSTRIKE ON RAIL STATION (through translator): From this side, air defense shot down a missile, then silence. The second

explosion was on that side. We have seen black smoke.

MCLEAN: How loud was it?

RUDAK: Very loud. Windows rang and we panicked. We were afraid.

MCLEAN: The governor's office released this video showing fire and heavy smoke near the tracks. They say an electrical substation was hit, though on

the ground, we weren't allowed to get close.

In several places, scattered throughout this area, police and military are finding what they say are remnants of a Russian rocket. This is one of

them, a twisted pile of melted, charred metal. They're finding these all over the place.

What they have not found, though, is a large crater, so they think this one was shot down.

In the Vinnytsia region, the governor there said that two separate strikes killed five and injured 18. Ukraine's military command said in an online

post that Russia is targeting vital railway supply routes in order to disrupt arms shipments from Ukraine's partner states.

Just across the border, Russia reported that a fire broke out at an oil storage facility on Russian soil. Russian officials say the cause of the

fire is unclear, but it comes not long after the Kremlin accused Ukraine of striking another Russian oil depot in the city of Belgorod.


NOBILO: CNN's Scott McLean in Western Ukraine.

Now as the Russian assault spreads across eastern Ukraine, many Ukrainians find themselves torn between staying at their homes or fleeing to safety.

One courageous young woman is trying to help survive even as Russian forces inch ever closer.


CNN's Sam Kiley shows us their emotional ordeal.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 21, Maria Shtern is a war veteran. She's been a volunteer on Ukraine's front

lines in the Donbas for five years.

Today, she's delivering medicine and food to villages within range of Russian artillery. A new phase in Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine is

under way. And it's sometimes hard to understand why people stay in frontline villages.

MARIA SHTERN, UKRAINIAN VOLUNTEER (through translator): I'm asking people a specific question. Are you ready to hear children crying and saying mom,

I'm scared to die? It gives me the creeps to hear them say that myself.

KILEY: Russian forces have captured Izium a few miles to the north. Pounding nearby towns with artillery and rockets, they're slowly advancing

south towards Sloviansk and the city of Kramatorsk. Russia's aim is to capture this territory.

To do so, it needs to overrun this landscape. Maria is heading towards them, about three miles from the latest reported Russian forces and heavy

shelling. She ignores air raid sirens. A family who had become friends are hanging on in their home and she's bringing them food.

On arrival, good news. They have agreed to pull out. A last run in the spring time garden for Ifgenya (ph) and Oleksandra (ph) who ignored the

town's sirens.

NATASHA, UKRAINIAN VILLAGER (through translation): My sister woke up this morning and said, we have to leave. So, we packed up. We didn't want to

leave until the last minute, but then something made her want to. So, we had to.

KILEY: It's an emotional wrench, but it's a relief.

The importance of groups like Maria are part of a volunteer army right across Ukraine, here in the frontline villages is not just humanitarian.

It's political. It's about trying to hold on to as much Ukrainian government territory as is possible for as long as is possible.

The lessons from Bucha and other towns captured by Russia is that many civilians may not survive occupation. A neighbor herself frightened and

confused still refuses to go. She's got a job at the local power plant. Joining Ukraine's millions of refugees risks a life of deeper poverty.

SHTERN: It's simply genocide of the Ukrainian people. I don't know how else to explain it to you. You just ask for what?

NATASHA, UKRAINIAN VILLAGER (through translation): We're not planning to leave here. This is my homeland. And my relatives are here. I cannot leave

anyone here. My elderly grandmother is 80 and can hardly walk. I can't leave her. Do you understand?

KILEY: There's no joy in escape for grandmother Luga. Not for anyone in this family. Tens of thousands of people are staying on in their homes

across this region.

In a nearby church, Orthodox Easter services are dominated by prayers for peace, but the unholy ghost of war looms heavily here.


NOBILO: CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley there reporting from Ukraine's embattled Donbas.

And there are signs that Russia may be hoping to push beyond Eastern Ukraine. Military officials in the city of Kryvyi Rih say that Russian

forces are preparing a possible offensive from the occupied Kherson region. Last week, a top Russian general said that Moscow plans to establish full

control over southern Ukraine.

And Nick Paton Walsh is in that town for us now.

Nick, what more have you learned about the possibility of an impending offensive and the strategy behind it?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yeah, certainly, there were signs to the south of Kryvyi Rih, where we are standing. An

important town, not only an industrial hub but symbolic because it's the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. There are Russian

troops massing to the south of here, particularly in two areas. Near -- earlier on today one of them were told Russian troops are about 3 to 4

kilometers away. That suggest they are increasingly close towards this major city here.

And moving their way up from Kherson, the first city to fall under Russian control off the western side of the Kyiv and the river that splits Ukraine

into, moving further north, it seems. A lot of people fleeing those areas and we spoke of signs of armor building up around there. I should point out

as well, that on Wednesday is a key referendum called by the occupying Russian force, a sham, essentially, in which locals will be asked to vote

if they want to become closer, essentially to Russia as part of the peoples republic there.

So, many have been trying to get out while they can. The question, really, Bianca is where is this buildup of troops go? A lefty plan suggested last

week by Russian generals, all part of phase two of their operation to head west, go through Mykolaiv, and go through Odessa, even towards Moldova,

Ukraine's neighbor in the European Union.


That to me always felt a little off. They've been trying to head west for two months and repeatedly failed. There are suggestions, though, that maybe

this town of Kryvyi Rih is the next target. There are certainly troops, as I've said earlier, pushing their way up towards here, but also possibly as

well that the town of Zaporizhzhia, kind of to the east of where I'm standing here, may also be a Russian target, too. Those troops pulling up

here could in fact turn east and link up with the other troops where Sam was talking from, heading down south in the east of the country, but a lot

of fear here, I feel, as the days progress here, those mounting Russian forces to the southern warm standing will end up going somewhere.

And it may well be north towards the city, untouched pretty much so far, but also continuing to rampaged through the areas around Kherson and the

countryside below here where many villages repeatedly destroyed and many populations fleeing -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Nick Paton Walsh for us Kryvyi Rih -- thank you very much -- in southern Ukraine.

Now, west of Ukraine, there've been explosions in Moldovan separatist region where Russian troops are stationed, as Nick was just referring.

Officials in Transnistria say the offices of the state security ministry were hit. Ukraine's defense ministry has in turned said the incident was,

quote, a planned provocation, designed to spread anti-Ukrainian sentiment. On Friday, Moldova recalled its Russian ambassador after a Russian general

said forces aimed to take full control of southern Ukraine, opening a corridor to Transnistria.

Earlier, I looked into why that would be so significant.


NOBILO: Transnistria is a breakaway territory in Moldova. Not recognized by the international community. It's a narrow sliver of land around 1,350

square miles, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. It's a self- proclaimed republic and it's got its own Constitution, currency, military and flag. It's home to about half a million people, the majority of whom

are Russian speakers.

So, when a senior Russian commander said this, quote, evidence that the Russian-speaking population in Transnistria is being oppressed, it sent a

chill down the Moldovans spine, as that echoes the justification the Kremlin used for its invasion of Ukraine.

Some background here. Transnistria declared its independence from the former Soviet Republic of Moldova in 1990, just as the Soviet Union was

collapsing. The Russian stepped into back Transnistria but they never recognized it as an independent state. Then in March 1992, this split

erupted into a full blown military conflict between the Moldovan conflict and separatists ending a cease-fire about four months later, but a round

1,500 Russian troops have remained in Transnistria since then, despite the objection of the Moldovan government.

And following Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, pro-Russian politicians in Transnistria asked the Russian parliament to draft a border

that would allow Transnistria to join Russia. Then in 2016, Transnistria introduced a law that would punish anyone showing disrespect to Russian

armed forces in the region, anything from a fine to three years in jail.

So the depth of this connection between Transnistria and Russia helps explain why in the lead up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there were

claims from Ukrainian military intelligence they had evidence Russia was covertly planning false flag provocations against them, their own soldiers

in Transnistria. All of that was denied by Russia. But some military analysts suspect that Russia plans to lean on Transnistria for logistical

support, and potentially establish a large corridor along the black sea coast to help them capture and consolidate the strategic port city of

Odessa in Ukraine.


NOBILO: And if you want them, you can catch more of my explainers in the show on my TikTok.

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

Twitter and Elon Musk have made a deal. The social media company has agreed to sell itself to the CEO of Tesla and world's richest man, according to

Forbes, for about $44 billion. Musk said he wants to improve free speech on the platform and, quote, unlock twitter's extraordinary potential.

People in Beijing stocked up on groceries as the city's biggest district started to test all of its residents for COVID-19. Dozens of new cases have

been reported in the Chinese capital, recently, and now many are afraid it could be a hard lockdown like the one we've seen in Shanghai.

A South Korean military source tells "Reuters" that North Korea staged a nighttime military parade on Monday. The parade marks the anniversary of

the North Korean army's founding and comes weeks after Pyongyang began testing intercontinental ballistic missiles again for the first time since



And Pakistan's finance minister said this country's trying to increase the size and duration of its six billion dollar international monetary fund

program. He also says the details will be worked out next month. Payment of the funds have been slowed down several times, because of IMF concerns for

tighter fiscal policy measures.

And coming up after the break, Ukrainian Holocaust survivors are evacuated to Germany, a country they once feared. There are among thousands of

Ukrainian Jews making that journey. And we'll speak with the man helping to coordinate that operation, next.


NOBILO: A major evacuation effort is being made to bring Ukrainian Holocaust survivors to safety.

Survivors have gone to Poland, Romania, Israel and Germany, last country one they once feared. On Monday, the German president met with the

holocaust survivors. According to the German government, more than 3500 Ukrainian Jews have arrived in Germany since the invasion. They've been

offered a special path to permanent immigration. Part of Germany's ongoing effort to compensate for the holocaust.

One man who's been coordinating the evacuation effort is Rudi Mahlo, from Germany's Jewish Claims Conference.

Thank you for joining the program this evening, sir.


NOBILO: And I understand you spoke with the German president today after he met with Holocaust survivors. So what more could you tell us about that


MAHLO: So, that visit was a visit that was planned for a couple of days ago, and the president of Germany called our office and wanted to get

together, how to get together with the Holocaust survivors that had been evacuated from Ukraine. So we were organizing it, and obviously, it's a big

honor if the president of a country takes that great of an interest in this kind of evacuation.

NOBILO: And how is the president personally affected by their stories? And the trip that they've had to make?

MAHLO: So, he was very interested in the procedure and obviously in the feelings of the holocaust survivors that have made this trip, a very

difficult trip to Germany, once a difficult trip physically and also emotionally difficult trip. And he welcomed them very well in Germany.

NOBILO: I mean, you mentioned rightly the emotional aspect and be re- traumatized again by having to make this journey. So, these are Holocaust survivors who fled the Nazis, and now in old age they are having to flee

again the Russian army. I would just like to play you and our viewers what we heard from one Holocaust survivor.


Just take a listen.


JUDITH SPIELBERGER, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: Of course, it hurts me, because a lot of Jewish people in Ukraine. It hurts me and I know with the people are

going through. And they should never ever happen. It should never happen. Never. But history repeats itself.


NOBILO: What are some of the other reflections that you hear from Holocaust or five years? Is there just an incredulity that this is


MAHLO: So, the piece that you just played is a piece that we heard a lot. Holocaust survivors that have evacuated think about a situation and are

remembering the past, how they survived by fleeing the Nazis and now being in the country of Germany, where the Nazis came from, originated in.

So that is something that really puzzled them. And however, they also share the thought that Germany has changed. And that they feel that by being

evacuated, by being in Germany, that really makes a big difference in the history.

NOBILO: And now, these Holocaust survivors are of course extremely vulnerable. They are elderly. And in Ukraine they have often being trapped

without assistance without water for weeks. So what does it take to evacuate just one older person from Ukraine to Germany?

MAHLO: So, it's kind of a massive operation since there are over 15 organizations involved in one evacuation. And over 50 people that are

working on only one evacuation. And so, from this perspective, it's already massive.

We at the Claims Conference and with our partner on the ground, and the joint distribution committee, we have focused very much on Holocaust

survivors that are living in the east of Ukraine, where the conflict is very heavy. And secondly, there they are in need of care. And thirdly, they

are living either alone or have family that is not in their surroundings.

So, we focus on them to bring them out, because as we have seen also, I think it was a couple of days ago. Where we had a Holocaust survivor in

Mariupol who was dying in a cellar, and the tragedy of all that is that she survived in the cellar, and now has died in the cellar, because of lack of

water, lack of electricity and lack of food.

Obviously, it has been buried in a park in Mariupol. Obviously that is for us a nightmare that we don't want to have and we've worked very hard in

getting the survivors out of the Ukraine, and evacuated either to Germany or to Israel.

NOBILO: It's so incredibly sad.

MAHLO: Absolutely.

NOBILO: Well, thank you -- thank you for everything that you are doing for these Holocaust survivors and for joining us this evening to tell us about

it, Rudi Mahlo.

MAHLO: Thank you.

NOBILO: Elsewhere, there are reflections of the First World War, as well as tributes to those who are still fighting for freedom in the world today.

Thousands gathered globally, to commemorate Anzac Day, which marks the moment that Allied soldiers from Australia and New Zealand landed in

Gallipoli during World War I. Leaders from the countries say they stood shoulder to shoulder with people of Ukraine, saying the occasion was a

reminder of how fragile peace can be.


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: First in all our minds is the invasion of Ukraine, it's a grim reminder of the fragile nature of peace

and the devastating impact of war on people's lives. We may feel a great distance from this conflict, but we are inextricably linked to what it



NOBILO: Early on Monday, Australian and New Zealand nationals attended an Anzac Day service on the shores of Gallipoli, Turkey. It was the first

service to take place since 2019, because of COVID restrictions.

And you're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back in a few minutes.



NOBILO: The first same sex wedding has taken place on British Antarctic territory. Steven and Eric, who you see here, tied the knot after 20 happy

years together. They both were both as stewards on board the RSS Sir David Attenborough and the unique ceremony was held on the ship's heli deck,

looking over these peaceful, icy waters. The newly wed celebrated with over 30 crew members, refusing to let the sub-zero temperatures get in their


I want you to believe, believe in things that you cannot. It's been well over a century since those haunting words thrilled readers of Bram Stoker's

Dracula. And now, you could have a chance to breathe new life into that classic tale.

Whitby Abbey, the Gothic ruin that helped inspire the story is looking for vampires or at least anyone who can do a convincing job portraying one. The

abbey in Yorkshire, England, wants to break the record for the largest gathering of vampires in one place, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of

Dracula's publication next month.

More than 1,039 vampires will be there to attend to break a record set in Virginia in 2011. Black clothing, a cape and, of course, fangs, all

heartily encouraged. It should be something to see. I will see you all there. Good night.