Return to Transcripts main page

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Ukraine's First War Crimes Trial; Afghan Girls' Education Ban; A New Climate Change Report. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired May 18, 2022 - 17:00:00   ET



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

In the first war crimes trial since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, a Russian soldier has pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed


Then, CNN's Christiane Amanpour has met some Afghan teenage girls who saw education as their key to a brighter future. But under Taliban, they can no

longer go to school.

And a new report shows that four key climate change indicators set new records last year. We'll debrief the impact of the staggering figures.

For the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, prosecutors in Kyiv are seeking justice for alleged war crimes. Today, a Russian soldier went on

trial and pleaded guilty to shooting in elderly Ukrainian civilian in February. The 21-year-old tank monitor could face life behind bars. Russia

says it has no details about the case, calling the trial staged. The guilty plea comes as human rights watch documented atrocities in northern Ukraine,

including summary executions, forced disappearances, and torture.


GIORGI GOGIA, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: In April, just days after Russian forces withdrew from Kyiv and Chernihiv region, we went to

over 17 villages and towns. We looked at physical evidence, analyzed both video and photo materials provided by victims and witnesses, as well as

images documenting apparent war crimes, horrific abuse committed against civilians in this war by Russian forces under their effective control.


NOBILO: Let's bring in Melissa Bell, who is live in Kyiv for us.

Melissa, what more can you tell us about this trial, and what can we expect to see the rest of the week?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As you were just hearing there, what has been happening is that because those parts of Ukraine that

have been liberated are now the subject of several forensic teams coming into the country and looking into what is going on, we are beginning to

hear about four and more of those alleged war crimes that have taken place. More than 12,000 are now recorded here in Ukraine as a result of those

various investigations. Some of those are subject of the investigation already. One of those is subject of a trial ongoing here in Kyiv, which has

allowed us to get a sequence for the first time of how this particular point Russian soldier intends to plead.


BELL (voice-over): Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war now facing a reckoning. In a Kyiv courtroom too small for the 150 journalists who turned

up, the first Russian soldier to be charged with a war crime pleaded guilty. Vadim Shishimarin led away after the hearing was suspended until a

larger courtroom can be found.

The 21-year-old is accused of killing an unarmed civilian, prosecutors say, after he and several other soldiers escaped a Ukrainian attack on their

convoy in a stolen car.

One of those Russian soldiers traveling with Shishimarin that day now expected to testify on Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He was in the car with him. He saw the moment of the shot. He saw Shishimarin fire. He saw how the bullet hit

the victim and how the victim fell after that. That is, he was a direct witness to the crime.

BELL: Over in Russian-held territory, meanwhile, the latest pictures released by the Russian ministry of defense showed some of those Ukrainian

soldiers evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Looking gaunt and dejected, they are now also prisoners of war.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Qualified medical help is being provided to all the wounded.

The norms of humanitarian law are basic for us, so no one should have any doubt about that.

BELL: But will they be handed over as part of the prisoner swap that Ukraine had been hoping for?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I want to emphasize, Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. To bring the boys home,

the work continues. And this work needs delicacy and time.

BELL: For now, though, they remain in the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic.


Its leader suggesting on Wednesday that the fighters might now be put on trial. Comments mirrored by the speaker of Russia's lower house of

parliament in Moscow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Nazi criminals should not be exchanged. They're war criminals. We should do everything to insure they

are put on trial.

BELL: The Russian side now claiming that the commanders of the Azovstal fighters are not amongst the evacuees. Even as the fate of the surrendered

soldiers takes a far murkier turn.


BELL: The point of this trial ongoing in Kyiv that will continue tomorrow, Bianca, is that it now comes in the context of the evacuation of those

nearly 1,000 fighters from Azovstal. Of course, as they were handed over, they became prisoners of war on the Russian side. They now give some

leverage to Moscow in a war where we've seen over the course of the last 24 hours, Russian forces are now pounding that frontline north of Donetsk, to

the west of Luhansk, and the north of it. That line we have been talking over the last few days, adding extra resources.

So it's not simply as a result of having these nearly thousand Azovstal fighters in their hands, that they have extra leverage. We see as a result

of the fall of Mariupol, they now have an entire swathe of Ukrainian territory that is essentially in their hands. And that their latest

fighting and concentration of man at firepower suggests, they are going to try and complete the takeover of in order to increase their overall

leverage in this war in terms of the negotiations with Ukraine.

The latest on those negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow, on how some kind of political solution might be found to this crisis, is that extends to.

The Ukraine announcing they are entirely suspended, Bianca.

NOBILO: Melissa Bell for us in Kyiv, thank you very much.

As Melissa just referred to, let's get more on the soldiers out of the Azovstal steel complex in Mariupol. Russia says nearly 1000 fighters

surrendered since Monday. Now, CNN cannot independently verify the numbers. As we've been reporting, the soldiers were put on buses and escorted to

territory controlled by pro Russian separatists.

The fall of Mariupol gives Russia as strategic corridor between the Donbas and Crimea regions. Though the battle for Mariupol is over, Ukraine says

it's making gains elsewhere. The National Guard reports that fighters have destroyed bridges to stop Russian troops in Luhansk, while in Kharkiv,

armed forces say they have retaken another town.

Nick Paton Walsh is in Kharkiv and filed this report from the front lines.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Every inch of risk flight from Russian shelling here comes that grotesque costs. What once

rained down on the second city of Kharkiv now lands here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep the distance, okay?

WALSH: Ukraine declared Ruska Lozova liberated over two weeks ago, but it's never simple. These tiny villages, which before the war, places you

would not notice driving through, have now become the key battlegrounds to defend vital cities like Kharkiv. While the fight still rages with every

step fast and cautious because of minds, Russia's border is now just nine miles away.

Did you ever think you would be this close to Russia? In a few months?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): To be honest, no. Quiet doesn't happen here. But that's good for the mood.

WALSH: But Russian troops are even closer. That's in the forest, across the field over this wall, that they say frequently at night, Russian

reconnaissance groups try and move in on the village.

The next tiny hamlet is being fought over, and this is where Kharkiv's defense cannot fail. The U.S. is most effective gifts and some of Ukraine's

youngest hands. This is a homegrown defense. Volunteers, software engineers, economists, funded mostly by our guide, a farming millionaire.

Russia's brief occupation never planned to leave anything of value here, their (INAUDIBLE) on a van full of TVs for looting.

VSEVOLOD KOZHEMYAKO, UKRAINIAN BUSINESSMAN: They see that we live better and do not even think that something is wrong with them. Not with us. You

know? They think that because America gives us everything for free, and they hate us for that, and they rob us and they kill us.


WALSH: Here, they hold back an enemy that slowly is proving as inept as it is immoral, by placing incredible value on the smallest patches of their



NOBILO: Nick Paton Walsh there reporting firsthand on the battle for Kharkiv.

Now, few people inside Russia have had the kind of unvarnished look at the front line that you just saw. The Kremlin's reporting restrictions means

the average Russian is only getting the official government view, and that is what makes one former colonel's televised comments rather astonishing.

Matthew Chance explains.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defenders of Ukraine turned prisoners of war.

The latest images released by the Russian military of Ukrainian forces surrendering after their defiant stand, some limping with wounds or

exhaustion. As one of this conflict's most grueling battles at the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol finally draws to a close.

Nearly 1,000 Ukrainians have surrendered so far, Russia's defense ministry spokesman announces triumphantly. Before detailing Russia's latest rocket

attacks on what he says are U.S. supplied weapons on the battlefield. Has ever, no hint of any problems or setbacks in what Russia still refuses to

even call a war.

Shocking then that Kremlin-controlled television would allow Russia's special military operation to be ripped apart on air by respected military

commentator, a former Russian colonel. He pulls no punches.

Let's not take information tranquilizers, the retired colonel advises, and pretend Ukraine's armed forces are nearing a crisis of morale, because

that's not even close to reality, he says.

The pro-Kremlin anchor pushes back, saying there have been individual cases that show otherwise.

But the colonel is insistent. With European military aid now coming into full effect, he says, a million Ukrainian soldiers could soon join the

fight. Well, frankly, the situation for Russia, he says, will get worse. It is scathing.

But he went on. We are geopolitically isolated. The whole world is against us. Even if we don't want to admit it, he says. Telling millions of

Russians who get their news from this state channel what many of them, given the international sanctions on Russia, most of already suspected.

The recent days have seen the official veil of denial slip, too, like when the pro-Kremlin Chechen leader, whose forces have been fighting in Ukraine,

try to tell Russians students what is really going on there.

We are fighting Ukrainian nationalists backed by NATO, and the West is arming them, he says. That's why our country is finding it so difficult

there. Though it's a good experience, he says.

Not the experience though that Vladimir Putin, who presided over a slightly muted annual Victory Day parade earlier this month, is likely to have

expected when he sent his troops across the border. Russia hasn't lost its latest war, but expectations of a quick and easy win are being rolled back.

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


NOBILO: And in a simple ceremony filled with symbolism, the U.S. has raised its flag over its embassy in Kyiv as diplomatic operations resume


Secretary of State Antony Blinken is crediting the Ukrainian people with U.S. help, but pushing Russian forces away from the capital.

Up next on THE GLOBAL BRIEF, Afghan girls and women are finding ways to support each other as Taliban leaders limit their futures. And a new

climate change report warning that the worlds coming closer to catastrophe. We'll debrief the impact of that next.



NOBILO: CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour is taking us inside Afghanistan this week. Today, she shows us the lives of Afghan women

and girls. They are reconciling their dreams of education and jobs with the reality of Taliban rule. Here is Christiane's report.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Wednesday morning in Kabul, and we're going to girls school through these

plastic curtains and past prying eyes.

Yes, this fashion studio has become an alternate education facility, since the Taliban stopped girls from attending government high schools.

Seventeen-year-old Rokhsar wanted to be a doctor. Now she's learning to be a dressmaker.

We're feeling very bad, she tells us. Girls are not able to go to school, staying home, doing nothing. We hope that this will change our life, so we

can be self-sufficient, have a profession, learn, earn money to support ourselves and our families.

Neda wanted to be a professional soccer player.

You're 17. You have never known the Taliban government. Did you ever imagine that this would happen to you, that you would be prevented from

going to school?

No, never. We tried our best for our future. But it's a dark one now, because we're kept away from our schools.

Nageena Hafizi started this fashion business with her sisters four years ago. Today, she's running the resistance. When the Taliban slammed the door

in their faces, she opened hers up to high school girls, aiming to have them sufficiently trained to earn a living and support themselves within

six to 12 months. She does this for 120 girls and women across three locations.

You're helping them, but they all want to be doctors, or an athlete, or, you know, professionals. They want to go on to university. How do you feel

about them having to be embroiderers or dressmakers?

This is very upsetting, says Nageena. When someone is following their own dreams, it's very good. It's different when they're forced into doing

something else. And it's a bad feeling, because most of these girls wanted to go to university, become a doctor, a teacher, an engineer. It's very

difficult for them, and I know that they can't do any other work. So at least they can learn the dressmaking profession for their future.

For the record, the powerful deputy Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani told me that girls public high schools would open again soon and that, of

course, women have the right to work within the Islamic framework.

But 26 years ago, I had the same conversations about the same issues when the Taliban was first in charge.

A lot of people want to know what you're going to do about the women issue. What about women's education, girls education, women working, widows who

have no other way to support themselves?

SHER MOHAMMAD ABBAS STANIKZAI, FORMER DEPUTY TALIBAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I know that, especially in Western news media, it's the propaganda against us

that we are against women education, which is not right. It is not correct.

AMANPOUR: But the girls can't go to school. We have been to schools here that are all closed.

STANIKZAI: We have just told them that, for the time being, they should not come to office and school, so -- until the time that we can come out

with some sort of solution.

AMANPOUR: Even the youngest understand something is not right; 10-year-old Aziza (ph) complains about having to stay home all day.

We just do housework, cleaning, baking bread and sweeping the floors, she says.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love my work. It's my right to work. And I need to work, because I got education in this country, and the government spent

money on me, and even my family. And I want to express myself to my society.

AMANPOUR: Brave then, brave now. Only now, after more than two decades of progress for their wives, their daughters and their family incomes, so many

more Afghan men support them.

Hajinor Ahma (ph) tells us not even 1 percent of Afghan people are against women working.

We don't want our people to grow up as if we're in a jungle. We want people to have culture, knowledge. We need food and work.

Back at the design studio, these classes are not only open to high school students, but to older women who are suddenly out of work, like 30-year-old

Rabia, who's a teacher.

We feel suffocated, she says. Why can't we, in our own country, our own place, live freely, move freely? Wherever we go, whatever work we do, they

put barriers in our way. We can't reach our goals in life. We're always afraid, whether the previous government or the Taliban's emirate regime.

Rabia comes here to retrain and, like many of the mothers and wives, to have some kind of social life, like Norjan (ph), whose daughter, Neda,

wanted to become a soccer player.

When I'm really upset, she tells me, "my husband says I should come here, so that at least I can meet others. My husband is so kind. We are all

sisters here.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


NOBILO: The world has broken for new alarming climate records. That's according to a new report by the World's Meteorological Association, which

says that its only hope now is to act.

The climate crisis change started long before this report, obviously. We have seen extreme weather, like droughts and wildfires in the west of the

United States, and the floods in South Africa, last month, that killed over 400 people. Scientists blame the world rising temperatures for that kind of

deluge. We can see extreme weather around the U.S.

But the latest report focuses on the for key climate indicators that broke records in 2021. Those are greenhouse gas emissions, sea level risings,

warmer and more acidic oceans. The U.N. is listening.

Here is Antonio Guterres.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECURITY GENERAL: The global energy system is broken, and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe. Fossil fuels

are at a dead end environmentally and economically. The war in Ukraine and its immediate effects on energy prices is yet another wake up call. The

only sustainable future is a renewable one.


NOBILO: So, let's look at these indicators. The amount of harmful gas in the atmosphere reach new levels last year. The WMO chief says that these

gases warm the planet for generations to come. The world's ocean also grew to their most warmest and most acidic on record. The WMO says it will take

a millennia to reverse this.


PETTERI TAALAS, SECRETARY-GENERAL, WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION: We are publishing this kind of report for annual basis and every time we have

broken less comfortable reports, that is what we did also. This time, we have again record amount of carbon dioxide, which means that the

concentration is always so high that the melting of glaciers, sea level rise will continue.


NOBILO: In response to the report, the U.N. unveiled a new plan to transition to renewable energy.


GUTERRES: Time is running out. To keep the 1.5 alive and prevent the worst impact of the climate crisis, the world must act in this decade. The good

news is that the life line is right in front of us.


NOBILO: Head to our web page for more on the climate crisis, including how it's affecting Australia's environment and its upcoming elections.


There, you'll get a taste of how climate change is impacting Australia. That is on

Now, let's take a look at the other key stories making international headlines today.

Black box data are recovered after a deadly plane crashed in China suggests that someone in the cockpit down the aircraft intentionally. That is

according to "The Wall Street Journal". The China Eastern flight nosedived from 29,000 feet in March, killing all 132 people on board.

And police in Armenia have arrested hundreds of people at a protest that shut down the metro system in the capital. Protesters are furious after the

president said that allies want our media to back off claims to a disputed region. Armenia fought a war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020

and lost territory in that peace deal.

More angry crowds in Iran, where the price of food and supplies have skyrocketed after a government decision to move certain subsidies. Flour,

cooking oil and dairy products are affected. The protests are spread across several provinces now.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla have kicked off the last day other Canadian visit. The jubilee tour marks the first time that the couple had

visited the compared country in five years. And indigenous reconciliation is at the top of the agenda, as Canada reconciles with its previous

treatment of those communities. The prince of Wales vowed to listen and learn.

Just in time for its 75th anniversary, the red carpet is back in Cannes. After two years of pandemic delay, the glamorous gala has movie stars and

movie makers posing on the French Riviera. Opening remarks on day one were made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He reminded everyone of

the power of film during World War II.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY (through translator): We need a new chaplain to prove that today's cinema is not silent.


NOBILO: Thanks for watching. Do stay with CNN. "WORLD SPORT" is up next with the latest on the historic agreement reached between U.S. soccer and

the women's and men's national teams. The deal ensures that every player, female or male, is paid equally.

And I'll see you tomorrow.