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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

War on Ukraine's Front Lines; Top Russian Diplomat Resigns; U.S. Policy Change On Taiwan? Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired May 23, 2022 - 17:00:00   ET



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

Kharkiv city center has come under intense shelling on the same day that its mayor announced the city subway would resume operating.

Then, a veteran Russian diplomat has resigned from his post over what he calls Russia's criminal war in Ukraine.

And then, an apparent shift away from the strategic ambiguity, the U.S. President Joe Biden says the U.S. would intervene military if China invades


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says history is at a turning point, when it will be decided if Brute force rules the world. He's appealing for

more aid, saying that as many as 100 people are killed every day in fierce fighting in the east. The second largest city, Kharkiv, has come under

renewed shelling.

But in a hopeful sign of normalcy, it's planning on reopening its subway on Tuesday. It's been used for a bomb shelter for months.

Ukraine says it's held off another major assault on the eastern city of Severodonetsk. It's accusing Russia of using scorched earth tactics to

capture one of the last part of the Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control. The fall of Mariupol has freed up Russian forces to focus on

seizing the entire Donbas. A separatist leader says a tribunal is planned for Ukrainian fighters who surrender at the Azovstal steel plant.

Let's bring in CNN's Sam Kiley, who's in Kyiv for us.

Sam, so Zelenskyy said during a press briefing that between 50 and 100 soldiers maybe dying every day defending Ukraine in the east. That's

obviously where you spent the last month. So, does that death toll signal a significant intensification to you?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it signals that as far as Ukrainians are concerned, they're now prepared to say the level

of casualties that they're taking is pretty high. That's his estimate of what's going on on one front, Bianca, that's not the whole Ukrainian

picture and it does lead people in the east of very heavy casualties indeed.

Of course, Ukrainians making all kinds of claims about a large number of Russians killed, but there is no doubt that this is a very, very bitter and

bloody war. It sounds like a truism, that we know about the casualties, very few infrequently do we hear about military casualties. We're spending

some time recently with the former American special forces soldier, and he had a lot to say about the mentality of the fighting that he faced recently

in Kyiv.


KILEY: How did you know where to go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't. We just knew the enemy was this way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just hop through these backyards and clear through here.

KILEY (voice-over): It's not as straightforward as it sounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to go to that building.

KILEY: Veterans of years of counterinsurgency warfare, this small team of American and British fighters is under Ukrainian command, and they now look

at war down the other end of the barrel, and have asked us to conceal their identities for their own security.

This is a war that has a moral clarity for these volunteers in Ukraine's International Legion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, people keep saying you're doing it for democracy. It's really not, you know. It really comes down to good versus


I never figured out why they were killing women and children. And it wasn't by accident. It was murder. I mean, we found many people just at the end of

this street that were bound together and shot, thrown on the side of the road.

KILEY: Many in Kevin's team, ex-special force operators, have had millions spent on their training in the West, in countries that won't send troops to

war with Russia. Among the first into Irpin, they took over this house behind enemy lines.

He says the team killed dozens of Russians in the park below. He says the fighting and the shelling and the Russian killing of civilians was


As Kevin's team advanced, he says they got trapped in this health spa for several days. It was steadily torn apart by Russian artillery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The house of hell. This was four really miserable days of really little sleep, really heavy artillery, really heavy infantry

presence from the Russians.

KILEY: Kevin's small team is funded largely by donations, to the Ukrainian Legion. It operates mostly behind Russian lines. And they were stunned at

first at being on the receiving end of air strikes and heavy artillery.

But they're applying the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan to Russia and believe that they're having an effect on the enemy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's definitely a psychological aspect to it. We do know the Russians were talking about, hey, we can't figure out where

they're at. We don't know what's happening. We're being artilleried so heavy that we put this chair here so we could jump out the window in a


KILEY: Deeper into the spa, he comes across evidence that Russia plays dirty, even in local defeat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, a lot of the Russians came back through some of these places and re-mined them, put boobytraps. This cable goes back into

the ground where it's been intentionally buried and it's tied off here.

KILEY: So far, this group has not lost a soldier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely a nightmare.

KILEY: But that time may come. It's a risk he says he's prepared to take because for the West's former warriors in the war on terror, Ukraine has

given them something back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One way or the other, they have either been lost or they have lost everything. So this is giving them another chance. To come

back here and it's like they have put their life back together.


KILEY: Now, Bianca, the reality is that there, this fighting is very, very better, but the International Legions numbers, in state secret we do know

that they are paid between $2,000 or $3000 a month. That's foreign volunteers. So, it's not a place to make money, and all of those soldiers

sign up to that legion, of course, for completely under Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

But as far as Russia is concerned, they risk being prosecuted as mercenaries if they're captured, Bianca.

NOBILO: Sam Kiley for us in Kyiv, thank you.

A 21-year-old Russian soldier has been sentenced to life in prison in the conflicts first war crimes trial. Vadim Shishimarin was found guilty of

shooting an unarmed civilian in Ukraine Sumy region in late February. Ukraine's prosecutor general says that his case is just the beginning.


IRYNA VENEDIKTOVA, UKRAINIAN CHIEF PROSECUTOR: For today, more than 13,000 cases only about war crimes, and now, we have a first sentence. But it's

not enough. It's only beginning. It means that these three months, our investigators and prosecutors properly have done their job. And actually, I

respect their job, I respect the job of the judges.


NOBILO: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov says the Kremlin is concerned about Shishimarin. Peskov previously called the charges unacceptable and


Now, a veteran Russian diplomat to the U.N. has resigned in protest over what he calls Russia's aggressive war in Ukraine. Ambassador Boris

Bondarev, referred to the daily vision and condemned it on social media writing, for 20 years of my diplomatic career I've seen different terms of

foreign policy but never have I been so a shamed of my country as on February 24th this year.

For more on this, I'm joined by CNN's diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.

Nic, tell us more about what he actually said and how damaging this could be for Vladimir Putin?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's damaging for Putin, for a number of reasons. You know, he lays the blame for the war and

those are words that would land Bondarev in jail where he in Russia. So, that's dangerous for him.

But for Vladimir Putin, it's calling out a war and saying that this is against Ukrainians and against the world. But its crimes are not just

Ukraine he says, it's crimes against Russians that really erodes there possibilities of a free and open and prosperous society. So, that's


But I think where it's really damning is where he talks about this war, this propagated by those who live in pompous palaces. And if you think

about what Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader who Putin poisoned a couple years ago, and he was jailed in Russia now, one of the last things

that happened before he was sort of silenced in jail. Was his organization put out a big right up on one of Putin's alleged palaces.

So, that sort of narrative that Bondarev is using lands with the public, because that's the perception. He goes on to say at least people who have

big luxury yachts, and he compared them in scale and cost of the Russian navy and saying, as well, that these people in people were willing to

expand any number of Russian lives, just to keep their lives of luxury.

These are all things that the Kremlin can't keep -- these are all these things that, you know, average Russian who maybe doesn't want to speak out

against the war, who maybe feels, you know, some sense of pride in Russia, will know -- will know to be there a reality. And that's where it's

dangerous for Putin.


NOBILO: And, obviously, Nick, any kind of damage that it could cause is predicated on people in Russia being able to learn that information and see

that statement from him. You've spent a lot of time of Russia and Ukraine and this year, what are the chances that the people in Russia will see this


ROBINSON: Well, it's not something that the Kremlin's going to jump up, and propagandized themselves or try to spin. You know, I think of that case

where the worker at state media, the editor came on set and interestingly, the state didn't throw the book at her and didn't cast her in jail for

years. They just kind of moved it to one side and carried on, gave her a sort of minimum fine and carried on.

And I think that they'll try to do the same thing here, pretend it didn't happen. But another place Bondarev lands his mark is his accusations

against foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. This is -- you know he says, that Lavrov is really now not about diplomacy that the foreign ministry is all

about warmongering and hate and this is an erosion that he's seen over Lavrov's career over the past years.

This is something again that's dangerous for Lavrov, undermines his authority, undermines Putin as well. Does this change what Putin does? You

know, perhaps not. But it's the sort of erosion that in the West, diplomats have been looking for and here it is happening.

And let's also remember, in Geneva, that's the myth, the diplomat, the Russian diplomatic mission we're seeing the effect of the war because it

was their representative to the U.N. Human Rights Commission who was moved by the U.S., replaced by another delegate in another country.

So, they're witnessing at the forefront at the diplomatic backlash as well. The diplomats are more exposed on the international stage, then people like

Putin and Lavrov that are inside the Kremlin.

NOBILO: And, of course, this will underscore the points that Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian government have been making about the Russians not engaging

in any of these talks as well if they are indeed just warmongering.

Nic Robertson --

ROBERTSON: Rhetoric, rhetoric. That's what they say.

NOBILO: Thank you so much.

U.S. President Joe Biden has launched a new Asian Pacific trade agreement with 13 countries, including India and Japan. The path is aimed at

countering China's growing economic influence, and in apparent policy shift, he told reporters in Tokyo that the U.S. would intervene military if

China invades Taiwan.

Take a listen.


REPORTER: You didn't want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons. Are you willing to get involved militarily

to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?


REPORTER: You are?

BIDEN: That's the commitment we made.


NOBILO: CNN's MJL Lee is in Tokyo with more on this story.

MJ, great to talk to you.

So, Biden's remarks undermine the U.S.'s strategic ambiguity here, not for the first time. Is the response from the White House suggests that this was

intentional, or a mistake?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the fact that some U.S. officials were caught off guard by what the president said and the fact

that White House officials put out a statement clarifying what the president said, that obviously suggest that this wasn't exactly

intentional. There wasn't a plan for the White House, and this administration to make exactly this kind of news.

And as you have been talking about, you know, this is an issue that is incredibly sensitive. There is a reason why the U.S. for so many years has

kept sort of this, issue incredibly ambiguous as you said. The agreement says that the U.S. would provide Taiwan military means to defend itself

about the question, of course, is what exactly does that look like. And that's why it was so striking when the president was asked directly, would

the U.S. get involved militarily to help Taiwan defend itself and he said a resounding yes.

Now, of, course the response from the Chinese government has not been favorable. A Chinese government spokesperson essentially warning that the

U.S. that it needs to be careful with its words, and that it doesn't want to see the U.S. sending the wrong message about Taiwan independence, or

Taiwan separatist movements. And so, this has caused quite a stir here and at a moment when the president actually does want to be using this trip to

Asia to be more aggressive and show that the U.S. can be more aggressive on issues related to China.

But that, of course, include sort of the military and the security aspect of everything, and there's also the economic aspect to this that you are

talking about this new economic framework that the president unveiled here in Tokyo.


So, all of these things sort of come together to paint a picture of again this president of wanting to sort of reset sort of things here in Asia as

he comes together with different Indo-Pacific allies and says, look, we're going to work together on economic issues, but we're also going to be

working together on a number of security issues as well.

You know, we've heard the president talked so much about how he believes that the Ukraine War, and everything that we've seen going on there but

that is actually help bring all these countries together. So, this is going to be fascinating dynamic. I assume that once we return to Washington, the

White House is going to continue getting asked about this.

NOBILO: Absolutely. Yeah, really unhelpful from their policy objectives for that trip.

MJ Lee, thanks so much for joining us.

It's been just two weeks in South Korea's new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, took office. His election comes as North Korea ramps up missile tests and

nuclear activity.

In an interview with CNN's Paula Hancocks, Mr. Yoon says it's up to Kim Jong-un to resume the talks.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol sets up a new sign for his desk, a gift from U.S.

President Joe Biden who was just in Seoul, a popular quote from the late U.S. President Harry Truman.

A former prosecutor just two weeks into his presidency and fresh from a summit with Biden, Yoon is now dealing with North Korea expected to launch

a long range missile or conduct an underground nuclear test any day.

YOON SUK YEOL, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Our response will be stronger and firmer than it has been before. We will coordinate

closely with our U.S. counterparts.

HANCOCKS: But in Kim Jong Un, you have a leader who's given a five year plan of what he wants to achieve militarily. He seems to have no interest

in talking whatsoever. How do you convince him to talk?

YOON: I think the ball is in Chairman Kim's court. It is his choice to start a dialogue with us. I do not want North Korea to collapse. My hope is

for North Korea to prosper alongside South Korea.

HANCOCKS: At the same time, Yoon says he believes his predecessor's policy of prioritizing dialogue with North Korea has failed.

YOON: Just to temporarily escape North Korean provocation or conflict is not something that we should do. Many callers serve all diplomacy but the

policy of being over concerned about the other side's feelings does not work and has proven to be a failure in the past five years.

HANCOCKS: South Korea is one of 13 nations President Biden announced today as joining his new Indo-Pacific economic framework, already criticized by

China, South Korea's largest trading partner.

YOON: Even if we strengthen our alliances with the United States in security and technology, it does not mean that we think our economic

cooperation with China is unimportant. So I do not believe it is reasonable for China to be overly sensitive about this matter.

HANCOCKS: President Yoon says he believes China should abide by the rules- based international order. At a time when that order is under pressure around the world, South Korea's president is clear that his country's

future, at least for the next five years, is firmly by the side of the United States.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.



Coming up after the break, the World Food Programme says that 49 million people in dozens of country are quote, knocking on famine's door. We'll

explain why the world is facing a food crisis.



TAYLOR REED, TREVOR REED'S SISTER: -- people would not sign them, and they all got very strongly worded e-mails from me, but it's outrageous to think

that there was anybody that we elected or put in these positions that would not be --

JOEY REED, TREVOR REED'S FATHER: Marjorie Taylor Greene is not our representative. The day before Trevor's appeal hearing where they were

going to give the decision, she called for every resolution and every bill in the House that day to have a roll call vote so they would just put them

off. And they didn't have to do that on Trevor's.

This was a call for Putin to release an American Marine, but she called for a roll call vote. It got put off to the next day where they rolled them all

into one roll call vote and her and her cronies in that small group of idiots voted against it. So, you voted for Putin?

TREVOR REED, IMPRISONED 985 DAYS IN RUSSIA: I'm going to go to every single one of their campaigns and thank them personally about that. So --

TAPPER: Thank them for hurting your ability to get out of prison?

T. REED: Yes, thank them for voting against a bill that was only about getting American political prisoners out of Russia. How do you -- how do

you justify that? That's embarrassing to me that anyone who represents the United States would vote against something, you know, like that.

I'm sure that the Russians loved that. I'm sure that, you know, they're all big fans of all of those congressmen who did that.

That's completely unacceptable to me. It's embarrassing. And I better not ever see that happen again to any other Americans because I promise that I

will be at every single campaign that that person runs for the rest of their life to tell everyone that they did that.


TAPPER: Trevor's father, Joey, a retired Marine himself, was also disappointed in the organization that he and his son Trevor risked their

lives serving.


TAPPER: Joey, you were not happy with the Marines initially.

J. REED: We heard nothing from the Marine Corps. Not a single representative from the Marine Corps, no Marine Corps groups, VFW, people

we reached out to wouldn't even respond to us.

And it just kind of, to me, it just kind of weakened our, you know, our motto of semper fidelis. You know, always faithful, because other than the

people that we knew directly that we served with, there wasn't -- I mean, there was a few people that were strangers that were Marines that reached



But Marines need to think about it this way. There's millions of former Marines. Think of the voting power that you would have. Think of the voice

you would have. And you can't use any of that for another Marine? Semper fidelis.


TAPPER: When asked for comment, the Marine Corps provided CNN a statement reading, quote: Trevor Reed served his country honorably as a Marine and we

thank him for his service. We are happy he has returned home safely and wish him and his family the best as they reunite.

The Marines did not specifically address the substance of Joey Reed's criticism that they did nothing to help their son.

The Georgia surprise that is defying Democrats' prediction about a controversial new voting law.

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