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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Ukraine Battlefield; Funeral for Journalist; Ukraine Eurovision Singer. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired May 13, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Ukraine's changing frontline. CNN takes you to a village near Kharkiv, which has now been liberated from Russian soldiers.

Then, Israeli police in Jerusalem beat and shoot mourners at the funeral of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

And the lead singer of Ukraine's Eurovision team tells CNN that when the contest is over, he will return to Ukraine to fight until the end of the


Ukraine's defense minister says the war is now entering a long phase, that says its troops are achieving strategic breakthrough that will make

Russia's defeat inevitable. Fierce fighting is underway on the east as Russia battles for control of the Donbas. It is making some gain, pushing

Ukrainian forces back in the city of Rubizhne.

But elsewhere in Luhansk, Ukrainian forces are managing to hold off a Russian advance after the blew up two pontoon bridges. Russia appears to be

using the same tactic to try to stop Ukrainian advance in the Kharkiv region.

Forced to retreat, Russian forces apparently blew up three bridges, vital to Ukraine's counteroffensive.

Amid all the fighting, Ukraine's deputy prime minister says very difficult negotiations are ongoing with Russia to evacuate badly wounded fighters

from a steel plant in Mariupol. She says the results many not please everyone, noting, quote: There are no miracles in war.

Well, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is following developments tonight from Kharkiv and joins us.

And, Nick, I know you travel to a village recently liberated from Russian forces. What did you see?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yeah, Christina, it's extraordinary here how Kharkiv is feeling less pressure. I say that,

though, hearing the sirens going off again behind some distant impacts around the city.

But today, we traveled to one of the many villages liberated by Ukraine's pushback of Russian forces, often towards Russia's own border, at times

threatening Russia's own supply lines to its invading forces in Kyiv. It was remarkable to see just how close Russian forces have sat for a matter

of months, shelling this second largest city in Ukraine.


WALSH (voice-over): Charred, chewed, mauled (ph), northern Kharkiv's scars seem infinite. Putin's troops breathing artillery fire breathing down the

neck of this city of a million for two months.

But even still, it's a shock to see just how close the Russians got, on the other side of this road. We are told this is from de-mining, a controlled

blast. Yet here, everything is fluid. Ukraine stopped Russia's advance here on the first day of the war, killing two soldiers by this armor.

Three civilians shot dead in this car then, and their bodies recovered only two days ago. You can see the colossal force used here. A tank turret

literally that full distance thrown off the tank body.

The village of Zarkony (ph) lies ahead, liberated days earlier. People are starting to go back, he said, but they are still shelling it.

Two women died two days ago when they walked onto a trip wire trap set in the village and even around these factories, special forces here warn that

a soldier was wounded by a booby-trap three days ago.

The zed markings of Russia's invasion still a deranged sign of their collective insanity, even two months on. Why do they do this?

They say they reclaimed this area about a week ago, but they're now in the difficult task of de-mining what they can, but look around here. There's

really not much left to make safe. These civilians evacuated from the next village, just two kilometers away.

It's a nightmare, she says. The shooting is heavy, the driver adds, and we let them race on.


Desperation takes different forms here, and caught by another kind of survival is Dmitri, whose wife moved away a while ago, wheeling back food

he's got for his six dogs.

I haven't really left my home for two months, he said. I crossed the fields, passed the bomb fragments to get the food.

His gentle stroll in the open, a sign of how long the violence has swirled here. Not that it is slowing.


WALSH (on camera): Now, it's important to point out that we are now weeks into Russia's recess of its campaign in Ukraine. It's unprovoked invasion

that has cost the lives of thousands of innocent civilians, and it seemed very little progress, certainly here around Kharkiv, it's extraordinary to

know how they are being pushed back. Yes they're capable of shelling in their retreat, but even the supply lines that they need to sort of fund and

supply the push to central eastern part in the Donbas around the threat from Ukrainian maneuvers here in the south of the country, that's a

frontline that has barely changed in the past months or so, incremental shifts back and forth.

And so there is a feeling of stalemate around Russia's campaign here and questions as exactly to it they can't achieve and control the narrative

again. At the same time, since February the 18th, the U.S. secretary of defense, the Russian counterpart have not spoken until today, when Lloyd

Austin rang Sergei Shoigu and they had a conversation initiated by the Americans. It's unclear the full details of what was said, but it was

apparently about keeping connections open, and many will speculate as the timing about why now, but certainly in a place like Kharkiv, there's a

lighter feeling now that the shelling is less persistent and further away.

But I think across Ukraine, a concern is to exactly how this war and it's, whether it ends with an entire Russian defeat pushed back to their borders

of 2014, or is it something else that might be in Moscow's playbook now? Christina?

MACFARLANE: As you say, Nick, a lighter feeling but so much devastation there are still on the ground. Nick, thank you so much for your reporting.

Ukraine has started its very first war crimes charges since the Russian invasion. On Friday, a court in Kyiv held a preliminary hearing on the case

of a 21-year-old soldier accused of killing an unarmed civilian. Ukraine's prosecutor general tells CNN more than 11,000 alleged war crimes are being

investigated right now.

Melissa Bell explains what Ukraine hopes the first case will accomplish.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Still at war with Russia, but already fighting for justice.

Ukraine has opened its first or crimes trial. A 21-year-old Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin accused of shooting an unarmed civilian on the fourth day

of the war.

So far, Ukraine has identified 11,239 alleged war crimes, according to the country's prosecutor. They include the massacre of 300 unarmed civilians in

Bucha and the killing of many hundreds of civilians, mainly women and children in the more than two-month-long siege of Kharkiv.

IRYNA VENEDIKTOVA, UKRAINE'S PROSECUTOR GENERAL: We have now some evidences that commanders give orders to shoot civilians. But from the

other side, we understand that ordinary soldiers have their own responsibilities for these atrocities.

BELL: And that, says Iryna Venediktova, is a message that needs to be sent now. So the Russian soldiers understand there will be no impunity, even as

the fighting in regions like Luhansk continues.

She says she's been held and gathering facts by the many foreign forensic teams working in towns like Bucha, evidence that will also be used by the

International Criminal Court as it investigates both Russia's overall aggression in Ukraine and the individual or crimes allegedly committed by

Russian soldiers, which Russia denies.

LUIS MORENO OCAMPO, FORMER PROSECUTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: They have to understand they cannot use the armies to invade another country and

they cannot use the armies to kill civilians.

BELL: For now, though, it is in the small courthouse in Kyiv that Ukrainian justice will have its first say. But can a trial be fair during

the war?

Shishimarin's Ukrainian lawyer says he has faith in the impartiality of the country's judiciary and under the court can be trusted to make a reasoned

decision. He has yet to enter a plea.

The Kremlin spokesman says he has no information about the case, but the size of the media packed inside spoke to the interest and emotion involved

on all sides. Shishimarin's court translator said she for her part felt no anger towards the 21-year-old who could face life in jail.


After all, she told us, the tears of Russian mothers are salty, too.


MACFARLANE: Our thanks to Melissa Bell for that report.

Now, the European Union's foreign policy chief says the block will soon provide more military aide to Ukraine worth more than $500 million. G7

foreign ministers meanwhile met in Germany on Friday. They're also promising to send more aid to Ukraine and isolate Russia even further.


LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: It's very important at this time that we keep up the pressure on Vladimir Putin by supplying more weapons to

Ukraine, by increasing the sanctions.


MACFARLANE: Well sanctions are one thing, but no longer depending on Russian energy is quite another. The EU is struggling to agree to an

embargo on Russian oil, because Hungary, which is heavily reliant on Russian feel, has been stalling on a potential deal.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: If this package is adopted without oil embargo, I believe President Putin can celebrate, because it

will be the first case when the unity of the European Union will be broken, because of the position of one country, Hungary.


MACFARLANE: Finland is now all but certain to join NATO after decades of neutrality. And neighbor Sweden is expected to follow suit. Russia is

threatening serious consequences of that were to happen. Sweden's government published a new assessment Friday. It said joining the alliance

will actually increase deterrence.


PETER HULTQVIST, SWEDISH DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): If Sweden chooses to seek NATO membership, there's a risk of reaction from Russia.

Let me state that in such case, we are prepared to deal with any counter response. Russian pressure under our so-called transition time would be

dealt with of a swath of national members. It's also important that Sweden gets assurances from a number of allies during the transition period.


MACFARLANE: While Russian officials are not the only one success this potential expansion. The president of Turkey, a NATO member, says he's

opposed to it too. He says it's because Sweden and Finland are home to Kurdish militant groups, that Ankara calls terrorist organizations.

Now, this is a major problem since new NATO members need unanimous agreement.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): At the moment, we are following the developments recording Sweden and Finland, but

we do not hold positive use. In the past, previous Turkish governments made a mistake about Greece's membership. And you know Greece's current attitude

against Turkey backed by NATO. As Turkey, we don't want to repeat similar mistakes.


MACFARLANE: Now, meantime, Finland's transmission systems operator says Russia is suspending power exports to the country starting Saturday.

Fingrid said because it's the problems receiving payments.

Israeli police in Jerusalem beat and shoved mourners Friday ahead of the funeral of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Atika Shubert was there and has this report.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Muslim prayers at a Catholic hospital, a display of Palestinian solidarity for

Shireen Abu Akleh, from strangers and family alike.

Her niece, Lareen Abu Akleh.

LAREEN ABU AKLEH, NIECE: She meant everything to me, and clearly to everyone we can see. She made a huge impact on Palestine, on all the

people. She left her fingerprint on everyone's heart.

SHUBERT: But as the funeral procession began, Israeli riot police first blocked the coffin from moving forward, then charged, hitting several

pallbearers with batons. The coffin nearly falling to the ground.

Things are very tense here. The funeral procession tried to walk out of the hospital gates. Israeli police did not allow it. They threw in tear gas,

had flash bombs here, tried to disperse the crowds. And now, it appears the hearse is being brought here to try to bring the coffin out.

Israeli police insist they acted against stone throwing by mourners, providing this video as evidence, but CNN did not see any stones, but did

witness dozens of plastic bottles being thrown at police.

What is clear is that Israeli police ultimately used force to try and contain this outpouring of grief and anger.

Shireen Abu Akleh was beloved by Palestinian viewers for giving them a voice and chronicling their struggles. Born and raised here, Jerusalem was

her home. Israeli authorities did finally permit the family to bring her coffin to the church by car. Thousands of mourners were also ultimately

allowed to swell the streets, carrying her atop a river of grief, anger, and defiance to her final resting place at the Mt. Zion cemetery.


Even at her own funeral, it seems, Shireen Abu Akleh gave voice to the struggles and frustrations of so many Palestinians.

Atika Shubert, for CNN, in Jerusalem.


MACFARLANE: The United Arab Emirates has entered a 40 day mourning period after President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan died Friday. The 73-

year-old sheikh was the country's second ever president of the country. He has stayed out of the public eye in recent years, Sheikh Khalifa has helped

transform the UAE into a regional powerhouse.

CNN's Becky Anderson has more on his life and legacy.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan was born in 1948 the United Arab Emirates didn't even exist

as a nation. This was a land where many earn their living by fishing, or purling.

But his family was instrumental in transforming this into one of the world's largest oil producers. By the time the UAE, a federation of seven

states, was created in 1971, Sheikh Khalifa was the Crown Prince of the wealthiest state and country's capital, Abu Dhabi.

He took over the presidency in 2004 after the death of his father, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan, the nation's founder. Like his father, he wished to

modernize his country, shaping it into a haven of stability in a volatile neighborhood.

At home, he invested in the country's armed forces and developed its lucrative energy sector. His success spelled out on Dubai's skyline were

one of the tallest buildings in the world, the Burj Khalifa, took on its leaders name, after the government bailed Dubai out of its debt woes in


Overseas, he solidified traditional alliances with countries like the UK, while boosting trade ties with new partners. Under his leadership, the UAE

invested its enormous wealth in globally recognized airlines, prized assets.

Sporting powerhouses and major global events that have collectively put the country on the map, turning it into a global tourist destination.

By the early 2010's, deteriorating health increasingly kept Sheikh Khalifa out of the public limelight.

He underwent surgery after suffering a stroke in 2014. But his modernizing vision for the country has carried on under the leadership of his half-

brother in Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.

It's taken bold diplomatic steps, such as establishing relations with Israel through the Abraham Accords, and hosting the first ever people visit

to the Arabian Peninsula, positioning itself as tolerant Middle Eastern society.

All the while delicately balancing relations with Western and non-western powers alike. It's used its military might to project power, sometimes

controversially in places like Yemen, and it's been diversifying its economy to cut its reliance on oil revenues investing in renewable and

nuclear energy while taking steps such as allowing for complete foreign ownership of companies, and introducing a golden visa program to maintain

its position as an attractive destination for foreign investment and talent.

It's even entered the space race, becoming the first ever Arab country to send a mission to Mars, aptly named Hope. It is by all accounts a country

transformed and that is how Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan leaves it to his successor.


MACFARLANE: Our thanks to Becky for that. You are watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be back after the short break.



Let's look at key stories making international impacts today.

South Korea and the U.S. are discussing how the international community can help provide humanitarian aid to North Korea. It comes after North Korea

announced an explosive COVID-19 outbreak that has likely killed six people and infected more that 350,000, the country's first acknowledgment of COVID

within its borders.

Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party is blocking the formation of a new power sharing government days after the national Sinn Fein party won a

historic victory. DUP's leaders say they will not support the election of speaker to the Northern Ireland assembly as part of their protest against

the Brexit legislation that essentially keeps Northern Ireland part of the EU single market.

Elon Musk says this $44 dollar deal to buy Twitter is on hold. In a tweet early Friday, the billionaire cited a need for more data on the platforms

spam and fake accounts. Musk later said he is still committed for the takeover.

Queen Elizabeth attended the Royal Windsor horse show Friday, her first public appearance since March. She watched her horses compete in the

private grounds of Windsor Castle. She missed parliament due to mobility issues.

And the Italian city of Turin is getting ready for the grand finale of the Eurovision contest. The lineup for this addition was set Thursday for

semifinals and all eyes are on Ukraine's folk and hip-hop band Kalush Orchestra. They are the favorites to win with their song "Stefania". Here's

a sneak peek.


MACFARLANE: CNN's Bianca Nobilo spoke to the band's lead singer about how the song has become an anthem for his war torn country.


OLEH PSIUK, UKRAINE EUROVISION LEAD SINGER (through translator): For Ukraine, Eurovision has always been very important, and especially now in

the period of war as it has become even more important.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While his countryman fight on the front lines, Oleh, age 26, the lead singer of the Kalush Orchestra,

was given special permission to leave the Ukrainian battlefield for the Eurovision stage.

PSIUK: Of course, this is a huge responsibility and stress, especially now with the missiles flying around. Lots of our relatives are in danger, and

this causes a lot of pressure.

NOBILO: One of the core members of the group chose to stay behind and fight, while the country's commentator of Eurovision set up a studio in a

bombshell shelter.


NOBILO: The song "Stefania" written before the war began about his mother has now taken on greater significance.

PSIUK: It is true that this song has become very popular and has been perceived as a natural anthem of the war, but I would rather it would be

called the anthem of our victory.


NOBILO: Fusing Ukrainian folk elements with rap, the group's performance combines past with present at a time when the country's future is unknown.

And what would a victory for Ukraine in the Eurovision song contest mean for your country?

PSIUK: Now, for Ukraine, it is important to our victory in all different aspects. And the victory in this Eurovision contest would raise the spirits

of the Ukrainian people a lot, so I hope to bring good news back to Ukraine, because there hasn't been any good news for a long time.

NOBILO: Eurovision, known for its costumes and choreography's was born from a desire to promote cooperation between European countries in the

years following the Second World War. Viewed by almost 200 million people, it's an exercise in soft power. They usually align with countries in

sympathies, with neighboring countries and blocs often giving points to each other.

Historically, Belarus and Russia have voted for one another, but this year, they've been banned from competing.

PSIUK: Russia has been disqualified from lots of events. The world shows that it is in our side, they are condemning the invasion of one country

into another country in the center of Europe.

NOBILO: From a little girl belting out "Let It Go" in a bunker, to trapped soldiers singing inside the besieged Azovstal steel plant as the Russian

shelled it, defiance dressed in song has rang out through the chaos of this war -- a fight to which Oleh and his band will soon return.

PSIUK: As soon as Eurovision ends, we will go back to Ukraine if it comes to that. All of us will go and defend our country until the very end.

NOBILO: Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.


MACFARLANE: And we really do wish all the best.

All right. That was THE GLOBAL BRIEF. You can catch up with the shows content that, and you can also find me on Twitter

@chrissymacCNN. Thank you so much for watching.

Stay tuned. "World Sport" is up next.