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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Fierce Fighting Ongoing at Azovstal Steel Plant; W.H.O. COVID-19 Report; Polls Close in U.K. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired May 05, 2022 - 17:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta, in for Bianca Nobilo. And this is THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Ukrainian officials say that the second stage of the Azovstal steel plant evacuation has begun, as Russia is accused of breaking a promised


Then, a WHO report says that the world's real death toll from COVID-19 is almost 15 million. That is nearly three times what has been officially


And polls have just closed in local elections. It's the first big tests for Prime Minister Boris Johnson since the party-gate scandal.

Well, fierce battles are raging at the Azovstal steel plant, as Ukrainian defense forces fight to keep control of their last stronghold in Mariupol.

Thursday, the Azov Regiment released this video showing a massive plume of smoke rising from the complex. Ukrainian officials say the hundreds of

civilians, including some 30 children, are trapped in the hellish ruins, surrounded by violence and death.

The military governor of the Donetsk oblast region tells CNN that the second stage of the evacuation from that plant has begun. But, he says that

Russia keeps changing the terms, making safe passage nearly impossible. Ukrainian fighters inside the plant agree.


SVYATOSLAV PALAMAR, AZOV REGIMENT COMMANDER (through translator): Once again, the Russians violated the promise of a truce, and did not allow the

evacuations of civilians who continue to hide from shelling in the basement of the plant.


KINKADE: Well, CNN is not in Mariupol right now, but Scott McLean has this report on the situation he filed from Lviv.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol. The Azovstal steel plant, under what a

city official calls non-stop shelling and assault by Russian forces. Inside, an untold number of civilians are still trapped as the battle

rages. The commander of Ukrainian troops in the plant saying Thursday, fierce combat is ongoing after he says Russian forces breached the

compound's barrier.

The commander begging for transport of the bodies of soldiers who died in weeks of violence at the complex. He pleads for more evacuation of

civilians trapped inside. The United Nations says it's hard to know exactly how many remain, but they are trying to send help.

MARTIN GRIFFITHS, UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL ENVOY FOR UKRAINE: The convoy is proceeding to get to Azovstal by tomorrow morning, hopefully, to receive

those civilians remaining in that bleak hell that they have inhabited for so many weeks and months and take them back to safety.

MCLEAN: On Thursday, Putin promise safe passage for civilians out of Mariupol, and the Kremlin denied an assault on Azovstal. But as Russian

forces besieged the city from all sides, Ukrainian troops say the plant is a final holdout for Mariupol's last defenders as the enemy closes in, an

exceptionally bitter fight for a city that's vital to Putin's war effort in Ukraine.

Full control over Mariupol completes a Russian controlled land corridor between its mainland and Russian controlled Crimea. It also means Russian

access to the port city's key export hubs on the Black Sea, a major blow to Ukraine, whose remaining soldiers fight at all costs to protect the

strategically important city.

Inside the Azovstal steel plant, Ukrainian forces singing a battle hymn. It's sweeter to die in battle than to live in chains as slaves, they chant,

prepared to fight for Mariupol and Ukraine until the bitter end.


KINKADE: Our Scott McLean reporting there from Lviv.

Well, Ukrainian armed forces are saying that Russian troops are having no success breaking through the front lines in eastern Ukraine. U.S. officials

are a bit more cautious, saying Russians have made some small progress in the Donbas Region but not nearly as much as they would expect. Russia's

attacks are still taking a deadly toll, killing Ukrainians.

Russian forces shelled a zoo in Kharkiv, killing a teenager who is helping evacuate animals to safety. And the eastern city of Kramatorsk saw its

first airstrike in a month, injuring at least 25 people, according to officials there.

As Ukraine struggles to evacuate citizens from Mariupol, we are hearing firsthand accounts of some of the horrors that have unfolded there.

Our Nick Paton Walsh sat down with the Ukrainian soldier who was fighting for the city, before Russia took him as a prisoner.



NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): This is how Hlib's war ends. But if you told him he was lucky, he'd probably agree.

He fought for Mariupol and the other steel factory Illich since the war began, put tourniquets on friends, felt the heat of Russian tanks blasting

his building just meters away. He survived but only just, here, after 17 days as a wounded prisoner in Russia.

HLIB STRYZHKO, INJURED UKRAINIAN MARINE (through translator): Very often when I close my eyes, I see that moment when the tank was firing at me and

my side getting injured. On the day of my injury, one of my boys, a machine gunner was killed.

Every time, it's personal. Every time, I heard it over the walkie-talkie or in person that someone was dead. It would conjure memories of him.

WALSH: His mind, also in pieces. Left grappling with fragments of the worst fighting in Europe for decades.

STRYZHKO: You know there's a point when the brain accepts it, seeing the phosphorus missiles, seeing aviation flying in. When this became normal,

that was scary. We learned how to fall asleep at this accompaniment. Instead, it became scary to fall asleep in the silence.

WALSH: Two moments, though, haunt him here.

STRYZHKO: The first time I used tourniquets on my friend and the second scene is this -- we saw aviation destroying whole hangers, watching a huge

hanger have nothing left in just seconds. This has really been engraved on my memory.

WALSH: Wounded on April the 10th, when he regained consciousness, he was not where he thought he was.

STRYZHKO: First time I found out I was held captive was when we were inside ambulance. Me and another guy with similar injuries. He asked, are you

ours? And they replied. It is unclear now who you mean by ours now.

They said I was under the guard of ministry of state security of the separatist DPR, but it was scarier when I got to the separatist hospital. I

was told by a Russian soldier. You'll have to forget Ukrainian now. You'll only get help if you ask in Russian.

WALSH: The Russians kept him alive, he says, so they could exchange him for their own.

STRYZHKO: There were two of us bedridden, so we had to be fed by nurses. So they would say, because of you, my son got killed. I tried to be

understanding but they were accusing us of things we never did, and we had Russian news read to us all the time, in the morning and evening. That was

a lot of pressure on the mind. A distortion of reality.

WALSH: On April the 27th, the exchange happened, and he was put on a plane, his pelvis crushed, his lower jaw broken, brain concussed but can still

feel his legs.

STRYZHKO: And I also have problems with my eyes because of constant bright flashes and dust. So at first, they were glazed, then they opened. For now,

I still can't see with my left and my right only silhouettes, my body was broken but not my spirit. My doctor says I would be able to pick any New

Balance sneakers by autumn. That makes me happy.

WALSH: Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Southern Ukraine.


KINKADE: Well, let's take a look at more of the global reaction now. International donors are pledging more than six and a half billion dollars

after a fundraising conference in Warsaw. France says it will boost its overall aid to $2 billion, that is up by $300 million, while Germany is

pledging $130 million.

The conference was aimed at helping Ukraine deal with the economic and humanitarian consequences of Russia's invasion, Ukraine's president say

that he welcomes the united response from Europe.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Because this Russian war was planned as a prelude to a hit on a united Europe, more

unification is a powerful response that is why Ukraine's membership in the European Union must be an absolute reality.


KINKADE: Japan's prime minister is in London for talks with Boris Johnson about the war in Ukraine. Premier Kishida says Japan needs to develop more

nuclear power plants as a way of weaning itself off of Russian energy.


FUMIO KISHIDA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In order to contribute to a global move to reduce dependence on Russian energy, in

addition to renewable energy, we will secure the safety of nuclear reactors.


KINKADE: Germany is also trying to end its decades of reliance in Russian energy and liquefied natural gas. Terminal projects are peaking up there.

Construction work on the country's first floating terminal for LNG started Thursday.



ROBERT HABECK, GERMAN VICE CHANCELLOR AND ECONOMY MINISTER (through translator): At the end of the winter, the storage facilities would be

empty. But we would then have two more terminals, so we could fill them immediately again. That's the plan, to also become independent from

Russia's blackmail. Hopefully, it will work out. But a day like today makes me confident that it can work.


KINKADE: Israel says that Vladimir Putin has apologized for comments made by Russians foreign minister by Hillary and Jews in a phone call with

Israel's prime minister. Sergey Lavrov's comments earlier this week included the baseless claim that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestors. Naftali

Bennett's office says he accepted Mr. Putin's apology, thank them for clarifying his attitude towards the Jewish people and the memory of the


Well, the fallout over this comment is complicating wet already complex relationships between Israel and Russia, to the situation in Syria.

Hadas Gold went to the Golan Heights to show us why Israel has found itself in a unique position diplomatically.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Golan Heights, old tanks of what's known as the Valley of Tears remind Israelis of the fierce

battles fought here in 1973 Yom Kippur War against Syrian forces. Such memories hang heavy as Israel attempts to navigate a new and very

complicated geopolitical system.

Israel's frontier with Syria is just through this valley. We can even see Syrian towns from where we are standing. We are more than 1,000 miles away

from the war in Ukraine, but Israel's position on Russia 's heavily influenced by what's happening just over there.

Israel often carries out air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, something it sees as critical to its security. But, as Russia has expanded

its military presence in the country, in order to avoid unnecessary conflict between Russia and Israel, the two countries now have a direct


Jonathan Conricus, former Israel defense spokesperson says the deconfliction mechanism is necessary, because the Syrian battle space is so


JONATHAN CONRICUS, FORMER ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Before an Israeli airstrike is conducted, there is a call to make sure that

Russian troops aren't danger and Russian aircrafts aren't operating in the area where Israeli aircrafts are.

GOLD: But, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Israel found itself and a tight diplomatic spot. It initially took a more cautious stance, to act as

mediator. Worried about the hundreds of thousands of Jews in Russia and Ukraine, and its freedom of action in Syria. Although Israel has condemned

the invasion, and cues Russia war crimes, and sent planeloads of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, it has been criticized for not doing more.

The comments by Russia's foreign ministry on Israel's most sensitive nerve, the Holocaust, drew one of the strongest Israeli reactions to date. And as

Russia has amped up even more absurd claims about Hitler having Jewish ancestry, and Israel supporting neo-Nazis in Kyiv, the rhetorical war of

words could mean real on the ground consequences on Israeli strikes in Syria and any possible future operations against neither regret on me,


CONRICUS: Russia has the ability to interfere with Israel's capabilities to defend itself, and to negate Iranian military capabilities, simply by being

present with their advanced weaponry in Syria.

GOLD: But the pressure is growing, as many believe that Israel can't afford those risks in order to be on the right side of history.

CONRICUS: Security is one thing, it is very important, but we need to make sure that we are on the right side of history of our moral values, of our

commitment to ourselves, to freedom, and to other democratic countries.

GOLD: For now, the situation here in Israel's frontier with Syria is unchanged. But, as the diplomatic tangles continue, is not clear how much

longer that will last.

Hadas Gold, CNN, the Golan Heights.


KINKADE: Emergency services in Israel say at least three people are dead after a suspected terror attack in the town of Elad. Police say they were

two attackers, when using a rifle, or one wielding an ax or knife. Four more people were wounded. Two Palestinian militias groups, Hamas and

Islamic Jihad, are praising the attack.

The Federal Reserve took its most stack dress of staff in the last 22 years on Wednesday by raising interest rates by half a percentage point. Now, on

Wall Street, the reality is setting in. The Dow tumbled by more than 1,000 points Thursday, wiping out all of the gains on previous day. Investors

were initially relieved when the Fed chairman said bigger rate increases were on the table. Now, they have had time to take a step back.

Our Rahel Solomon is at the New York Stock Exchange and joins us now.

Good to have you with us, Rahel.

Markets having the worst day since 2020, certainly the worst of this year. Tech stocks leading those losses.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, it almost feels like, Lynda, that the stock that benefited the most from the pandemic these last

few years are now among the worst hit. Part of the reason why is they raises interest rates, you know, that makes borrowing more expensive, not

just for folks like you and me, but also for high growth tech companies, it is their job of borrowing more expensive.


So, what you are seeing as one trader told me here on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is that a reprising of stock, a recalibration of

stocks, right? Because, if a stock prices essentially the worth of a company, right, the value of the company's future cash flow -- well, if

it's not going to be more expensive to borrow, you shouldn't have to be recalibrating unfolding. It's part of what we're seeing here.

It's part of why the Nasdaq is down more than 20 percent this year, it was the biggest laggard today, Lynda?

KINKADE: It is expected to continue to raise interest rates, as it deals would the worst inflation rates in the U.S. in 40 years. How long could it

take until inflation rates get down to healthy levels? What are the risks that come with interest rate rises?

SOLOMON: You know, I wish I knew the answer to that. I would be a very rich woman. But, look, I mean, there are sort of examples that prices are

already starting to cool, right? We are seeing the price of used cars come down a bit.

So, there are some to have speculated that we have reached the peak of inflation. But what the Fed risks here is sort of slamming on the brakes

and once the slow consumption, so it's raising rates to try to get people to spend less. It doesn't want to slam on the brakes. It wants to tap on

the brakes.

That is the risk here, right? If they raised risk too severely, too quickly, then we see people start to drastically pull it back. That would

cause a recession, which some have said that would come toward the end of next year, 2023. That is not what the Fed wants. They want a slow economic

activity, not to slam it.

KINKADE: All a balancing act.

Rahel Solomon, good have you with us. Thanks so much.

Well, still to come tonight, a new report from the WHO says that the real COVID-19 death toll is nearly three times what has been officially

reported. We will dig into why does numbers are so high and where to go from here.

And from party-gate and to the conservative party itself, Britain has been voting in elections that will prove a key test for Boris Johnson's




KINKADE: Welcome back.

We are beginning to get a full picture of the true devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a new report, the WHO says the world's real death

toll from COVID is almost 15 million loss lives. That is nearly three times what has officially been reported.

This new number accounts people that have died directly or indirectly from the virus.

Earlier, I asked the WHO's Dr. Samira Asma whether she was surprised by this data.


DR. SAMIRA ASMA, ASST. DIRECTOR GENERAL, W.H.O. DATA, ANALYTICS & DELIVERY: It is both a shock as well as expected. Shock because this is truly a

tragic and staggering number of almost 15 million excess deaths, direct or on directly associated with COVID pandemic, just over a period of 24



KINKADE: The threat from COVID is far from over. In Beijing, mass testing continues despite low case numbers, this as the city effectively shut down

its largest district all in an effort to avoid a harsh lockdown like the one we've seen in Shanghai.

Well, we want to bring in CNN's Jacqueline Howard in Atlanta.

Good to have you with us.

So, the new report from the WHO suggests that almost three times the number of people have died from COVID during the last years of the pandemic. Take

us to the findings, what do we know?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: It is a significant finding like that. The world health organization came to this figure by looking at the

number of deaths that did occur during the pandemic and comparing that with the number of deaths that otherwise would have been expected if the

pandemic did not happen. And that's how World Health Organization scientists came to this figure of excess deaths.

Here is a breakdown of those numbers. We know that 84 percent of the excess deaths are concentrated in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas. We know

that there is a greater death toll among men, 57 percent were men, 42 percent women. There was a higher death toll among older adults as well.

And then when you look at countries with the highest number estimated excess deaths, here is a list in alphabetical earlier, starting with

Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and United States. Just today when the scientists spoke to reporters about

these numbers, they said that these numbers paint the picture of the collateral damage of the pandemic. That that term, collateral damage,

really stood out as the takeaway here when it came to the findings.


ASMA: Reporting deaths from COVID-19 is important to monitor the impact of the pandemic and the response. It is important to save lives and for us all

to be better prepared for future emergencies.


HOWARD: So, we heard there, Lynda, this is to help nations better prepare for future emergencies.

KINKADE: And talking about the preparation, what can we learn from the numbers to reduce the death toll in future pandemics? What tools have been

most effective?

HOWARD: It sounds like from the World Health Organization that they are calling for more data. They are saying that look, the surveillance of

infectious diseases like COVID-19 is in above itself a tool to help monitor what is happening in the public health space and help prepare for any

emerging outbreaks.

And additionally, this is another wakeup call for nations to invest in their health systems. It really seems like the takeaway message here,

Lynda, is that if there is investment now in preparation kind of to prevent an emergency, that will help reduce the investments needed later to react

to an emergency -- Linda.

KINKADE: And from what we have seen here in the U.S., this new omicron subvariant is spreading rapidly. In New York City, COVID hospitalizations

have doubled in the last month. What does that suggest about what is to come?

HOWARD: It is something that is concerning. What we are hearing from our public health experts, there is some concern about the risk of possible

summer surge. There are two reasons why there is this concern.

Number one, we have seen seasonal patterns with COVID-19, where we see a summer surge followed by a huge winter surge, then cases go down and go up

again in the summer. Then you have a large surge in the winter. And that's number one, that pattern.

Number two, these surges are typically driven by variants.


Here in the United States, last year's summer surge, driven by delta. Our most recent winter surge, driven by omicron. And that is why there is this

concern that we will see a highly infectious variant emerge, we could see the possibility of another surge.

KINKADE: All right. Jacqueline Howard, we will chat to you again soon, no doubt. Thank you so much for joining us.

HOWARD: Absolutely.

KINKADE: Well, let's take a look at other case making international impact today.

U.S. officials say that North Korea may be preparing to conduct an underground nuclear test. It will be the first underground test by

Pyongyang and nearly five years. U.S. President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit South Korea this month. North Korea has done tests during U.S.

presidential visits in the past.

At least 49 people have been arrested in Armenia, after police moved in to break out protests against the country's prime minister. Protesters are

angry that their government is not doing more to retake areas of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region that contains ethnic Armenians.

The dust cloud that descended over Baghdad, Iraq, sending dozens of people to local hospitals with respiratory problems. Dust and sandstorms like this

are becoming increasingly common in Iraq because of droughts.

Jerusalem police have arrested 21 people on suspicion of disturbing public order. Clashes broke out at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound on Thursday. The

confrontations come on Israeli Independence Day and as Jewish visits to the compound resumed. The site is one of the holiest in Jerusalem and is

revered by both Muslims and Jews.

Well, this hour, polls closed in the U.K.'s local elections, which are expected to deliver a major blow to the country's ruling conservative

party. The vote is the first big test of public opinion since the party- gate scandal. This is Prime Minister Boris Johnson casting his ballot in London.

The election could be an opportunity for the opposition labor party to take key battleground areas. We're expecting the results to come through in

about an hour and half.

And please do turn in to THE GLOBAL BRIEF tomorrow. Bianca Nobilo will be hosting the show live from Downing Street to unpack the election results

and what they mean for Boris Johnson's future. That will be 10:00 p.m. in London, 5:00 p.m. in New York.

Thank you so much for watching. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Good to have you with us today.

"World Sport" with Patrick Snell is up next. Stay with us. You are watching CNN.