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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Ukraine Gains; NATO Drills; Queen's Speech. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired May 10, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Ukraine recaptures villages from Russian troops in the east of the country, as Moscow continues heavy bombardment of Mariupol.

And then on high alert in the Black Sea. CNN joins NATO troops for military drills.

And her majesty's government -- Prince Charles delivers the Queen's speech for the first time ever.

We begin with a counteroffensive that could potentially signal a shift in the momentum of the war in northeastern Ukraine. Ukraine's military says it

has recaptured all seven -- several key terms around Kharkiv, pushing away, Russian forces that are being bombarded the city for many weeks.

Ukrainian troops have now reportedly moving into striking distance from crucial Russian supply lines, hoping to cut them off. To the south, the

last remaining bastion of Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol came under heavy shelling overnight. A commander inside the Azovstal steel plant says many

soldiers are badly wounded and need immediate evacuation.

One female fighter trapped inside, a former music student, released a defiant message on Facebook


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Can I say that I will shoot the knees of those who spread information that I am gone? People, we are at

war. I will outlive you all. Mariupol, we are fighting here.

People, do we compose yourselves. How do you like Azovstal? The only thing I can say is that Azovstal is holding on to the Russians, while they are

here, we are fighting to the last.


NOBILO: And for the west, in Odessa, a barrage of missiles leveled civilian targets, including a major shopping center into hotels. One person

was killed. But Odesa's mayor says the death toll would've been much higher if the curfew hadn't been in effect.

Ukraine says Russia used at least three new hypersonic missiles in the attack.

CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley joins me live from Kramatorsk in Eastern Ukraine.

You've been there for several weeks, in a place that you referred to as a strategic prize for Russia. Have you noticed a pattern in the eastern

offensive so far? What are you expecting next?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca, yes, there is a pattern. And the pattern is very kind of ebb and flows. You

rightly pointed out, there is been gains by Ukrainian forces north east and east of Kharkiv. That's effectively part of the same frontline area that I

am in.

Further south, though, the Russian forces a try to make a push themselves and were themselves pushed back their attack was met with a counterattack,

again, by Ukrainian forces, just a few days ago.

Now in the field, we caught up with some of the people who fought in that battle.


KILEY: It's a bunny?


KILEY: Bunny is a tank.

ALEX: Yeah, bunny is a tank.

KILEY: He's got quite a carrot.

ALEX: Yeah.

KILEY (voice-over): Bunny's got a very big stick. This T-80 tank was built two years ago and was in the vanguard of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

ALEX: So, down below, you see an autoloader, it's also slightly modernized to shoot more like advanced and like better rounds. It can shoot guided


KILEY: Alex was on a sniper team when he discovered Bunny. Stuck and abandoned in a field in March, eight days into Russia's assault. Within

days, the tank was back in action, against Russians.

ALEX: This is like my personal tank. I am tank commander and tank owner.

KILEY: In March, he said the tank destroyed 24 Russian vehicles and two tanks.

ALEX: We are fighting like new resume, so here we already destroyed three or four enemy tanks. We had three confirmed and four is like not fully

confirmed that it was our kill.

KILEY: That was in the previous couple days when Russian forces tried to break through Ukraine's lines in the bitter battle for the east.

Alex isn't a professional soldier. He's a software engineer who lived in the now smashed IT hub of Kharkiv. His home has been destroyed.

Bunny is being serviced as the battle rages a few miles away. Burning fields encroach on the tank's hideout. The front line in Ukraine is

hundreds of miles long.

For many Ukrainian soldiers on this front line, there's a sense that perhaps the Russians haven't yet brought their full destructive power to



But they expect to find out this week.

Russia's artillery is relentless, and Putin's tanks are massing, this army of volunteers is expecting a hard Russian push.

Anna is 22, she's been a soldier for a month and now she's a driver in a reconnaissance unit.

ANNA, DRIVER IN THE UKRAINIAN ARMY: There is a lot of opportunities to be killed.

KILEY: She just graduated from university.

ANNA: The thing that makes me angriest is the raped children and women.

KILEY: Is that something that you're afraid of happening to you?

ANNA: I can't say that I'm afraid of something like that. I'm afraid of being not useful for my country, for my people.

KILEY: This is what being useful here means, killing Russians, Russians Anna's age.

But this is a war thrust upon Ukrainians. Anna works with Vlad, a poet, author, publisher, and war vet.

Reconnaissance is a highly dangerous word. Have you lost many comrades, friends?

Vlad said, since 2014, so many of my friends, people I knew, comrades, have died. So far, the people I came with since the beginning of the latest

invasion have not died and I'm very happy, it's cool.

These people are still fighting. They're already in charge of units. It's awesome. The best of the best are here.

His books are dark fantasies set in this war with Russia, an all too rich source of material.


KILEY (on camera): Now, Bianca, the Russians are reportedly rushing some 500 extra troops to the front in and around, or near to Kharkiv to protect

those vital supply lines. They are also trying to push down to the south, towards Kramatorsk, north of here, effectively, trying to get across the

Donetsk River. The Ukrainians have fought a counterattack there. They've destroyed at least one pontoon bridge that the Russians set up to get armor

across. The local authorities saying 18 Russian soldiers got across, including armored vehicles, but they were destroyed.

We got the Ukrainian version of events for that battle. But clearly this is ongoing. The key thing now is that over the next few days, certainly, we

may start to see the new Russian -- sorry, the new American supplied howitzers. Those heavy artillery pieces being brought in, some of them

self-propelled, that are going to make a significant difference from the Ukrainians' perspective. That may turn the tide back against the Russians -

- Bianca.

NOBILO: Sam Kiley in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, thank you.

Now, for centuries, the strategic port city of Odesa has been considered a crucial asset for both Ukraine and Russia. It's been the headquarters of

the Ukrainian navy since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and its key port of Sevastopol. Odesa now handles most of Ukraine's imports and exports. The

war has left millions of tons of grain to be dispatched.

The U.N. World Food Programme has urged the reopening of commercial ports in Odesa, warning that mountains of grain could go to waste.

Now, seizing Odesa would have symbolic significance for Russia, as it is still home to a large ethnic Russian community. For Ukraine, losing Odesa

would mean forfeiting maritime trade and sea power afforded by access to the Black Sea. In that sea, not far from Odesa, NATO troops are training

off the coast of Romania.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen was there. He has this report.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On high alert in the Black Sea, U.S. Navy SEALs, Romanian and British special

forces practice raiding an enemy ship, an exercise that requires a lot of skill but also, strong cooperation, a member of the Romanian special forces

tells me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The helicoptering session and the boating session, the synchronization is very important, so all the teams can get on board of the

ship in the exact time they should.

PLEITGEN: These are among NATO's most elite units. They allowed us to film on the condition we would not reveal their identities.

The raid involves both fast, rigid inflatable boats, as well as a chopper, to land troops on the ship, search it and detain would-be enemy combatants.

This drill is part of a much larger special forces exercise called Trojan Footprint, involving some 30 countries, both NATO and non-NATO allies.

PLEITGEN: On the face of it, this exercise has nothing to do with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But we're not very far from Ukraine's borders at all.

And the U.S. has been very keen to strengthen the NATO alliance and show that it's committed to collective security here in Europe.

Romania directly borders Ukraine, where the war is raging, both on land and at sea.

The exercise took place not far from Snake Island, which the Russians raided in late February and are occupying. The Ukrainians, though, have

struck back, managing to hit the flagship Moskva cruiser and sink it.

It in the past few days, they released videos of their forces allegedly hitting both a Russian landing vessel and a Russian chopper unloading

troops on Snake Island.

The Russians, for their part, claim to have hit Ukrainian strike aircraft and a helicopter.

Romanian forces telling us they recently had to destroy a sea mine that floated here from Ukrainian waters. But the commander in charge of this

drill says they keep the war next door off their minds and focus on getting better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's important on the level of training that we reach.

PLEITGEN: But it is quite real right now. I mean, it's next door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes, it is real and we are prepared for anything.

PLEITGEN: The U.S. says exercises like this one have become even more important since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, to strengthen the NATO

alliance and deter Moscow from aggressive moves against member countries.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, off the coast of Romania, in the Black Sea.


NOBILO: Let's take a look at more of the global reactions.

Belarus is deploying special forces to its border with Ukraine. The army's chief of the general staff said the move is necessary because the U.S. and

its allies are increasing their military presence near Belarus.

And Lithuania's parliament says that Russia is committing terrorism in Ukraine. The country's lawmakers passed a resolution Tuesday, declaring

Russia's invasion a genocide. It cites the full scale of armed aggression against Ukraine's people and politicians, and accuses Russian forces of

deliberately targeting civilians.

The U.N. General Assembly has elected the Czech Republic to replace Russia on the Human Rights Council. The motion passed with 157 votes in favor, and

23 abstentions. In April, the UNGA voted to suspend Russian from the Human Rights Council, saying Russia was committing gross and systemic violations

of human rights in Ukraine.

The German foreign minister says she discussed military assistance with Ukraine's president, adding that weapons deliveries are intended to prevent

further war crimes. Annalena Baerbock is the first high ranking German official to visit Ukraine since the war began.

It's just passed 5:00 p.m. in Washington, D.C. U.S. lawmakers are preparing to vote on a $40 billion dollar aid package for Ukraine. The bill would

provide funds for military and humanitarian assistance. House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is urging lawmakers to pass the legislation quickly, saying

time is of the essence.

Jessica Dean joins me now from Washington. Jessica, tell me more about what is in this planned package and its likelihood to pass.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, Bianca, we are expecting to see this package passed the house later this evening. They are

slated to vote in several hours. This is nearly 40 billion dollars in aid, which is actually more than president Biden asked for originally, which

shows you how popular this is, getting bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats here, on the Hill. This breaks down to about $20 billion in

military assistance. We know the previous assistance package that a lot of those items already arrived in Ukraine, they are working on getting that

into the country.

We know there's also economic assistance, humanitarian aid involved in this, there is assistance for the local Ukrainian government. This is

pretty wide-ranging, and terms of where this money is going and how it is being allocated.

Again, we are expecting it to pass the House. We will remember, Democrats have a slim majority. We do expect Republican support for this as well. It

will make its way over here to the Senate, where Leader Chuck Schumer has said he wants to move very quickly. It may not be until several days until

they can get through all of this.

We know that Republicans still have some questions about some refugee issues that are in there. There are things concerning Afghan refugees they

would like to get pulled out of that bill there. We'll have to negotiate through that. But they are working toward that.

It's also worth noting, Bianca, that earlier today, on Tuesday, Senate Republicans and Democrats had their respective lunches where they get

together and talk about various issues that they, as Democrats or Republicans, are focused on. Today we saw the Ukrainian ambassador paying a

visit to both of those lunches, imparting upon senators of both parties how important this aid is, and how quickly they need to get this passed. Time

is certainly of the essence, Bianca.

NOBILO: Jessica Dean, very good to talk to. Hopefully we will hear from you again soon. Thank you.

DEAN: Yeah.

NOBILO: President Putin's goal of stopping the NATO expansion appears to be backfiring. Finland may be on the verge of asking to join the alliance.

But as European affairs minister saying, the application this week is very likely. Recent polls show two thirds of the Nordic nation's population are

now in favor of membership.


CNN's Nic Robertson reports from Finland's border, where locals say fears of Russia are mounting.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC (voice-over): Through the trees to the left, Russia. To the right, remote Finnish farmhouses. Through

clearings, a glimpse of the flimsy fence falling much of the 1,300- kilometer, 830-mile border that separates them.

It is quite remarkable how open the border appears to be. We are not allowed to walk across the field, but on the other side of the field, less

than 100 yards, 100 meters away, it is a waist high fence, a few wooden holes and some wire.

Thank you.

From a clear view of the border, you need to get above it. From up here, you can really see just how fine the border is, chasing its way across the

countryside. It looks calm, yet below here, the biggest geopolitical alignment in a generation is taking place.

Other fences?


ROBERTSON: Sirkku Korhonen is caught in it. Her farmland touches Russia.

KORHONEN: Our land is zero meters.

ROBERTSON: Your land is on the border.


ROBERTSON: How do you feel about that?

KORHONEN: Confused. It has been safe. But now it is different.

ROBERTSON: For Finns, that change in feeling came fast.

Once tepid support for NATO rocketed as Russia invaded Ukraine, from one third to over two thirds in a matter of weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Excellent choice because we need now protection. And it's the best available.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joining NATO would be that gate to us (ph) that no one will invade us.

ROBERTSON: Here in Finland's east, generations have grown, knowing that Russia can be a dangerous neighbor.

As local legend would have it, when the Russians arrived here 281 years ago and stormed the fort up the hill, they spilled so much blood this log was

carried down the hill on it.

ROBERTSON: World War II commemorations of Finnish dead from battling the Red Army are plentiful, too. Finland ultimately escaping invasion by

agreeing to be non-aligned.

At the last Finnish cafe before the Helsinki to Moscow transcontinental rail line crosses into Russia, security, not trade, is the top priority,

despite new E.U. sanctions on Russia harming business.

VILLE LAIHIA, WORKS IN FAMILY CAFE: If you know our common history with Russia, we were in a similar situation back in the '30s. And I think it

would be really naive and foolish of us to remain neutral when we have this much historical background to learn from.

ROBERTSON: At the local ice hockey rink, many of the pros practicing sport Ukrainian flags on their helmets. Sympathies strong; similarities easy to


JARNO KOSKIRANTA, SAIPA HOCKEY TEAM CAPTAIN: It's natural to bring into mind at what could happen because we are so close.

ROBERTSON: Captain Koskiranta's focus: keep his team's head in the game. NATO membership, he says, should help.

KOSKIRANTA: I hope it will bring more like we got a little bit relax and just try to enjoy our lives like we have been enjoying so far.

ROBERTSON: At the official road crossing, one of the few places Russians can legally enter Finland, traffic is one-tenth what it was two years ago

and no apparent cross-border threat; the reverse, even. This young Russian seeking Finland's safety, an escape from Putin's war.

ANTON, RUSSIAN IN FINLAND: I think I will never come back into Russia.


ANTON: Yes, probably. I also am trying to avoid conscription because I don't want to die in Ukraine. That is not I like -- what I would like to


ROBERTSON: It may look like a flimsy fence. But in a few days, when Finland's parliament is expected to vote for NATO membership, this wire and

wood border could become part of a new Iron Curtain, keeping Vladimir Putin's ill-intent at bay.

Nic Robertson, CNN, on the Finnish-Russian border.


NOBILO: Still to come on THE GLOBAL BRIEF, this year, the opening of the UK parliament was led by Prince Charles, why this is such a significant

move ahead?

Plus, it looks like one of the biggest political dynasties in the Philippines is set to return to power.


We'll explain.


NOBILO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK will remain a steadfast friend of Ukraine, as it defends itself against Russia. His

comments came before the Queen speech during a state opening of British parliament.

For the first time since 1963, Queen Elizabeth was not there. Instead, she was represented by her son and future successor, Prince Charles. Max Foster

explains why this is so remarkable.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDNET: This was a very symbolic moment in modern British history. We got used to see Prince Charles step up for the

queen when she cannot make an event. But this was a call of constitutional responsibility, the opening of parliament, the monarch has to be there. She

could not make it because of this recurring mobility issue, so she issued legal orders to allow Prince Charles and Prince William to represent her,


For the very first time, Prince Charles read the queen's speech. Written by the government, it sets out the legislative agenda for the coming

parliamentary term.

PRINCE CHARLES: Her majesty's ministers will work closely with international partners to maintain a united NATO and address the most

pressing global security challenges.

FOSTER: We were giving less than a 24-hour notice that the queen would not be able to attend parliament on Tuesday. That is the form now. Whenever she

is slated to appear at an event, we will probably told on the day or the night before, whether or not she will be there.

Max Foster, CNN, London.


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

Hundreds of people protested in Manila about Ferdinand Marcos Jr., set for a huge win in the election. He's the son of an ousted dictator, and the

first candidate in recent history to win an outright majority in the Philippines. The election body there uphold the dismissal of petitions to

disqualify him.

And Sri Lanka's outgoing prime minister, who resigned a Monday, was rescued in a overnight military operation. It follows a day of deadly clashes

fueled by public anger over economic conditions. Sri Lankan troops have been ordered to shoot any one damaging state property or assaulting


Afghan women march the street of Kabul on Tuesday, protesting against the Taliban's new decree requiring women to cover their faces in public. The

rule expands a series of harsh restrictions, imposed on Afghan women since the Taliban seized power in August.

South Korea's new president, Yoon Suk Yeol, has begun his first five-year term In his inauguration speech in Seoul, Mr. Yoon said he had a bold plan

to strengthen North Korea's economy in exchange for denuclearization. He says that his administration is open to dialogue with Pyongyang despite the

threat of the nuclear weapon program.

And Elon Musk says that he would restore former U.S. president Donald Trump banned account on Twitter if his deal to take over the social media giant

goes through. Mr. Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter following the January 6th Capitol riot for violating its rules against inciting


And we end tonight with a moment of resilience in Mariupol.


NOBILO: The singer you see, a 21-year-old Ukrainian combat medic, is known as the Mariupol Bird. Local news also calls her a defender of Azovstal. The

video is believed to show the inside of the steel plant, which sustained heavy shelling on Tuesday. Many Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are

trapped inside, as Russia continues its bombardment.

In a defiant video message, the singer says that the plant's defenders will fight to the last.

Thank you for watching. We'll see you again tomorrow.