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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

War On Ukraine's Front Lines; Interview With Charles Michel; Taliban Restrict Women On Air. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired May 19, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

The Russian defense ministry says that more than 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. But Ukraine

hasn't confirmed that.

And I will speak to the European Council President Charles Michel on whether that will be a short cut for possible Ukrainian membership of the

European Union.

Then, Christiane Amanpour speaks with female journalists Afghanistan as they are ordered not to show their faces while on air.

Russia says more than 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered from the Azovstal steel plant this week. Ukraine won't confirm that number or say

how many may still be inside the complex. One Ukrainian soldier is vowing to continue the fight.


SVIATOSLAV PALAMAR, AZOV REGIMENT DEPUTY COMMANDER (through translator): My command and I are on the territory of the Azovstal steel plant. An

operation is underway. I will not give any details. I'm grateful to the whole world and to Ukraine for support. See you.


NOBILO: In Donetsk, officials say the town of Bakhmut, an important hub, is under increasing attack. Though in the same region, the military says

that Russian forces are suffering heavy losses as they try to advance from the city of Sloviansk. Further east, in Luhansk, Ukraine says its forces

are withstanding Russian assault on the industrial city of Severodonetsk, while in some areas, like Kharkiv, people are returning home for the first

time in months to witness the decimated landscape.

Nick Paton Walsh is in Kharkiv with the latest from the front line there.

And, Nick, the NATO secretary general has said that Ukrainian forces retaking Kharkiv adds to the growing belief that Ukraine can win this war.

How widespread is that view when we look at the battles in the east?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Obviously, Kharkiv is a city that was never occupied. It was just intensely

pressured by the Russian forces, getting so close. What we have seen over the past weeks here is that Ukrainian forces pushing Russian forces back.

But it's always a mixed picture. Every day that we hear one of the main arterial roads hours north from here has been seeing some Ukrainian

success. The next day, it appears that heavy Russian shelling is causing issues for the Ukrainian forces.

That continues to go back and forth. But certainly Russia is moving towards its own border here. That is also a mixed picture, if you look at the east,

the areas around Donetsk and Luhansk, I think many -- at the start of this many believe that Russia would have an easier time just extending its

territory, often held by separatists in the second part of its push. But that simply hasn't happened.

And so, we are seeing not a stalemate but just an exceptionally poor performance, frankly, at the stage by a Russian military was expected to do

a lot better. Here in Kharkiv, certainly the city is trying to return to normal. But for a small number of people here, they are finding an

exceptionally hard to get back to ordinary life and still staying in the shelters where they originally sought refuge.


WALSH (voice-over): The noises maybe further away from Kharkiv and its distant field of villages. But part of the city still stays hidden

underground in the subways near apocalyptic dark rooms. They came down to shelter just for the night, but that was two months ago. Homes now

destroyed but the fear of the bombs remaining, most have nowhere to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): I'm cold. Cold for two days.

WALSH: Officials have asked people to leave soon, and stopped people sleeping, at least in the trains which they have to get moving again.

Ludmila (ph) keeps her place tidy and welcoming, but is alone here. Her flat bombed twice.

LUDMILA, KHARKIV RESIDENT (translated): I am alone, but I like it like that. They are throwing us out. Against our will. The war isn't over, but

they ask us to leave.

How? Tell me how? I have a room already. Am I supposed to be here in the bombing? No one is listening to us.

WALSH: In the damp, cold, coughing, with food in one bucket, urine in another.


This is a desperation Russia's war on Ukraine wanted to inflict.

Luba is stuffed between her family and people whose names she does not even know.

LUBA, KHARKIV RESIDENT (translated): Everyday was scary. Everyday. I don't know that guy. He's a stranger to me.

WALSH: Even if Ukraine wins, this is still where it hurts. In the loss of presumptions, that the most ordinary parts of life.

Viktor Tsai (ph), his mother says, sheltering in a game of two pirate ships attacking each other.

OKSANA, VIKTOR'S MOTHER (translated): We stayed in the apartment until the end. We slept in the corridor, hid in the toilet. It was destroyed when we

were here.

WALSH: We see some deciding to leave already, yet still the framework of permanence sets in. And the outside sunnier days turn noisy at night.


WALSH (on camera): Now, there are suggestions from some Ukraine officials that they will try to find dormitory places for people in the metro. But

the crisis of people down there finding himself in, unable to have already place to return to, and at times also still fearful of potential shelling.

We have heard distant blasts here, it could be outgoing. But we do know for a fact that last, night 4:00 in the morning, there was a rocket attack, but

quite close to the city center here. It shows that the Kharkiv center itself is not free from the Russian threat.

And so, this, I think, marks a broad problem for people living here. Let's lower turn to anything approaching normality. If you look at the damage it

seems to impact such a significant number of buildings in some districts around here. But, still in the longer perspective, just today United States

finding President Biden will have in his desk a law he can sign for over $40 billion of assistance to Ukraine, $100 million dollars added on top of

that today by the United States.

And so, Ukraine continually gets more external assistance, has pretty high morale, frankly here, wherever you go, you see that. Counter that with the

Russian advances, that are significantly less than their propaganda or rhetoric or publicly stated aims have indeed been. And the question is

exactly when we start seeing Russia accepting the longer term here may not be in its favor. Regardless of all of that, the damage done in that gap in

between is utterly startling to Ukraine's infrastructure, Bianca.

NOBILO: Nick Paton Walsh for us in Kharkiv, thank you so much for that update.

In the Kyiv courtroom today, an extraordinary and powerful exchange took place during the testimony of a Russian soldier, who's pled guilty to

killing an unarmed civilian. The soldier looked his victim's widow in the eye and apologized.

Melissa Bell has more on the first war crimes trial since the Russian invasion began.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the start, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, stalled, like here, on February 28th.

These pictures shared exclusively with CNN by Ukrainian armed forces show a column of Russia's Fourth Tank Division off to had hit a landmine and

soldiers had fled.

One of those soldiers on Thursday facing both justice and grief.

KATERINA SHELIPOVA, CIVILIAN VICTIM'S WIDOW (through translator): Why did you come here? Did you come to defend us? From whom? Did you defend me from

my husband you killed?

VADIM SHISHIMARIN, RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): Our command gave us an order to move in as a column. I didn't know what would follow.

BELL: Vadim Shishimarin is accused of killing Katerina Shelipova's husband, Oleksandr, an unarmed civilian in the village of Chupakhivka. CNN

has located this video where Shishimarin's unit hit the mine as being just two miles from Chupakhivka. The Ukrainian armed forces then say the Russian

soldiers fled and killed local civilians.

In court, the prosecutors said that Shishimarin and four other soldiers have fled the scene in a stolen car and that Shishimarin was given an


SHISHIMARIN (through translator): It was very stressful, I was under great stress, he shouted at me.

BELL: A version of events corroborated by another Russian soldier who was traveling in the car that day.

IVAN MALTISOV, RUSSIAN SOLDIER WHO WITNESSED SHOOTING (through translator): The war officer ordered Vadim to shoot with the justification of the man

could be reporting on us. Vadim refused to do it and the man ordered him to do it.

BELL: A glimpse into the chaos and fear of the early days of the war on the Russian side as well.


SHELIPOVA: Can you please tell me, what did you feel when you killed my husband?


SHELIPOVA: Do you repent?

SHISHIMARIN: Yes. I acknowledge my fault. I understand that you will not be able to forgive me, but I am sorry.

BELL: Shelipova said she wanted Shishimarin in prison for life. The only alternative, she said, an exchange for the Azovstal prisoners of war now in

Russian hands.


NOBILO: That was Melissa Bell reporting from Kyiv.

Looking towards the end of Russia's war in Ukraine, whenever that may be, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is proposing that the EU create a fund to

help Ukraine rebuild, which he predicts will cost billions of dollars.


OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): The European Union must now begin to prepare a solidarity fund which will be fed by

contributions from the EU and our international partners.


NOBILO: But Mr. Scholz also said that Ukraine's bid to join the EU cannot be fast-tracked, and doing so would be unfair to the six Balkan countries

that also want to join.

At the same time, European Council President Charles Michel is calling for reforms in the way that the EU admits new members. He is in Serbia right

now, one of the Balkan countries seeking to join the EU.

I asked him if Serbia's close ties with Moscow and its refusal to join in on Western sanctions undermine its bid.


CHARLES MICHEL, EU COUNCIL PRESIDENT: I understand that Serbia as a country dependent on Russia for fossil fuels, for the energy sector. We

have the same difficulties. Within the European Union, we have decided to sanction Russia by targeting oil for instance. What are distressing, we saw

member state in order to decide what will be concrete measures and the concrete timing to implement those sanctions.

NOBILO: And the EU is set to approve 500 million euro military aid package for Ukraine. Can you tell me what is in that package that could

meaningfully tip this war in Ukraine's favor?

MICHEL: I spoke many times with President Zelenskyy and I understand perfectly the Ukraine needs support, needs financial support, needs

humanitarian support. And it's why together, with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, we'll work on the implementation of a kind of Marshall Plan for Ukraine.

We have three priorities. The first one is the humanitarian support. This is immediately needed to provide more support.

The second topic is related to liquidity. The government is able to run the country, they need liquidity support.

And third point is the reconstruction, the rebuilding of the country.

NOBILO: And do you believe that Ukraine can win this war?

MICHEL: Yes. In fact, if we observed the situation, we can see that Putin made many mistakes. He thought the European Union would not be united. He

thought we would not be able to have the same position together with our transatlantic allies. He thought that that Ukraine would not be able to

resist more than a few days.

And the world can see that the Russian army is not so strong. The world can see that the corruption of the Russian army, it has consequences for them.

The world can see that NATO will enlarge with Sweden and Finland that have decided to apply to become NATO members.

And it means that we must protect our fundamental democratic principles, our fundamental values. And it's a very difficult situation because we do

not want an escalation. On the contrary, we want to end the war.

NOBILO: How do you plan to manage the fallout of Sweden and Finland joining NATO has an escalatory effect on relations with Russia?

MICHEL: It is very clear that Finland and NATO already members of the European Union. And there is also solidarity mechanism within the European

Union, that is one first element.

And second element, I think we must not be intimidated. It is not possible to be intimidated by Russia.

NOBILO: The German chancellor's been very clear that there will be no shortcuts for Ukrainian ascension into the European Union. Do you think

that history will judge that decision kindly when the country is subject to a brutal invasion from Russia and trying to defend its sovereignty and


MICHEL: So first element, it is really clear that Ukraine is on the EU side, on the European side, on the EU side. The people of Ukraine made very

clear choice, when the start to evolution in Maidan, point one.


And it's our responsibility on the EU side to give a clear answer. And it's why the European Commission will have in the following days or weeks to

publish an opinion about this application by Ukraine.

NOBILO: But to be clear, there will be no special circumstances granted to Ukraine for EU ascension because of Russia's invasion?

MICHEL: You know, if I am assuming, you want a concrete example, usually when a country decides to apply to become an EU member, it takes eight or

nine months before we task the commission in order to prepare an opinion.

Here, they took the decision in a few days. It means that in the reality, we understand the urgency of the situation.


NOBILO: European Council president Charles Michel there speaking with me about Ukraine. I also asked him how the EU would retaliate if Boris Johnson

did breach international law, and unsurprisingly, he told me nothing.

Now, Putin's plan to push NATO away from Russia's doorstep backfire, as we know. The war is spurring formerly neutral countries to join. The latest is

Sweden and Finland, met U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday for a show of solidarity. The president said that the Nordic

countries NATO applications have America's full, total, complete backing.

A retired Russian colonel who criticized his country's war in state TV is now backtracking. On Tuesday, he said the situation in Ukraine will get

worse for Russia, suggesting the Kremlin isn't being honest about the reality on the ground. But this is what he is saying now.


MIKHAIL KHODARENOK, RETIRED RUSSIAN COLONEL (through translator): When people talk about Ukraine acquiring the ability to counterattack, well,

it's a big exaggeration. It concerns the actions of our supreme command, there is every reason to believe that the implementation of these plants

will, in the very near future, give Ukraine an unpleasant surprise.


NOBIKLO: "Tchaikovsky's Wife" is a Russian drama the debuted just hours ago in Cannes. Its Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov is begging the

world not to boycott his country's theater, music, and cinema. At a press conference after the premiere, he said that war and culture are complete



KIRILL SEREBRENNIKOV, DIRECTOR, "TCHAIKOVSKY'S WIFE (through translator): Boycotting Russian culture is unbearable. Russian culture has always

promoted human values, the fragility of mankind, compassion towards souls, towards those of lesser fortune. Russian culture has always been anti-

military, anti-war, because war wants to destroy the values I enumerated.


NOBILO: Still to come on THE GLOBAL BRIEF: For years, Afghanistan's female journalists have reported the news on air just like their male colleagues.

But that may be about to change. Our report from Kabul is next.

And we'll take a look at the global headlines making an impact today. The stories that you need to know, next.



NOBILO: CNN's chief international anchor is in Afghanistan, as the country's new leaders tighten restrictions on women. The Taliban had just

issued an edict saying that female anchors must cover their faces while on air. That's leading many journalists to reconsider their hard won futures.

Christiane Amanpour speaks to them.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): For the past five months, Khatera Ahmadi has been anchoring the morning news on

TOLO TV, that this might be the last time she can show her face on air.

The morning editorial meeting starts with worried discussion about mandatory masking. Station director Khpolwak Sapai says he'd even

considered just shutting down and leaving. But then he thought, female staff who want to carry on anchoring with a mask can, while those who don't

will get other jobs behind the scenes.

KHPOLWAK SAPAI, DIRECTOR, TOLONEWS: We will leave the mask decision to them. They will make their own decision.

AMANPOUR: And it's a tough decision for these women, who braved the new Taliban regime to stay on the air, who've already adjusted their head

scarves to hide their hair, and who now fear is steep slide back to the Middle Ages.

Khatera says she's so stressed, she couldn't even president her program properly.

KHATERA AHMADI, TOLONEWS ANCHOR (through translator): It's not clear. Even if we appear with the burqa, maybe they will say that women's voices are

forbidden. They want women to be removed from the screen. They are afraid of an educated woman.

AMANPOUR: Across town, the Taliban government spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahed, was attending a meeting with local journalists to mark a slightly

delayed World Press Freedom Day.

We stopped him on the way in.

You have said they have to wear a face mask if they're on television, women. Why?

It's advisory from the ministry, he says.

But what does that mean? Is it compulsory?

If it is said, they should wear it. It will be implemented as it is in our religion, too, says Mujahed. It is good if it's implemented.

Afghan women are afraid that this is the beginning of your efforts to erase them from the workspace. They're afraid that, if they wear the mask, the

next thing you will say is their voice cannot be heard publicly. What is your response to that?

Like during COVID, he says, masks were mandatory. Women would only be wearing hijab or masks and they will continue their work.

He seems to say that, if women wear this, they can go to work. But the dress code edicts, like saying female university students must now wear

black, not colored head scarves, is an escalating war of nerves, and everyone fears where this will lead.

Back at TOLOnews, these female anchors are distraught.

What should we do? cries Tahmina. We don't know. We were ready to fight to the last to perform our work, but they don't allow us.

We women have been taken hostage, says Hilah (ph). Women can't get themselves educated or work, like me, who's worked on screen for years and

couldn't leave Afghanistan. Due to the fear of the Taliban. I can't go on screen again.

Since the Taliban takeover, the station has employed even more women than before, because they need a safe space.

And as for the actual journalism, TOLOnews is Afghanistan's leading independent news channel. But Director Sapai says they will all quit the

day the Taliban pressures them to tailor their coverage or lie to a public that's come to trust the truth they have been delivering over 20 years.

He's saved the station so far, recruiting a whole new staff, after most employees fled the Taliban's arrival.


SAPAI: And from management level, I felt alone. And I was considered. I was only thinking that how to keep the screen alive, not to go dark.

AMANPOUR: The challenge now is keeping it from going dark.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


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

One person was wounded in a shooting in a German school on Thursday. And on the newspaper said the school girl heard gunshots and called police while

students barricaded themselves in their classrooms. Police said that one armed suspect has been taken into custody.

Sri Lankan police fired tear gas and water cannons to pushback protesters. Students were marching through Colombo demanding the rest of the president,

when they were met by police. The protests have been going on for weeks now over the country's crippling economic crisis.

And Jordan's King Abdullah says that he is restricting movements have his estranged half brother. In April 2021, Prince Hamzah was accused of

plotting to destabilize the government. Now the king says that his brother has not repented. Prince Hamzah is a former heir to the throne. He's denied

the allegations.

A viral sensation is raising money for Ukrainian animal shelters. Meet stuff on the cat. He is rates thousands of dollars through his Instagram.

Stepan and his owner Anna are from Kharkiv. They fled a week after Russia's invasion, but they're still raising funds to support Ukraine shelters and

zoos. Stepan, who is 1.3 million followers, received a world influencers and bloggers award.

And a fighter jet has landed in central London. Not in the traditional sense. The runway in Leicester Square was a bit short for any maverick

style stunts ahead of Thursday's charity screening of "Top Gun: Maverick". Tom Cruise is there with royals Prince William and his wife Catherine.

Critics and the duchess of Cambridge are receptive to maverick.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, aviators.


NOBILO: Tonight is for a good cause. The film and TV charity supporting people behind the camera in the UK.

And thank you for watching. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. I will see you again tomorrow. And special goodnight to the good people of Swendland.