Return to Transcripts main page

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Fighting In Luhansk, Funerals Begin In Uvalde, Cuba Mass Trials. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired May 30, 2022 - 17:00:00   ET



LYINDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Lynda Kinkade in Atlanta, in for Bianca Nobilo and this is THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Ukrainian and Russian forces are fighting in the outskirts of Severodonetsk, as Russia tries to take full control of the Luhansk region.

Then, the town of Uvalde, Texas, mourns the loss of 21 victims of a mass school shooting in the first funeral services for two young victims.

And then a controversial trial is underway in Havana, Cuba, as activists groups accuse the government of human rights breaches.

We begin with fierce street battles in Eastern Ukraine as Russia fights to seize control of the last pockets of resistance in Luhansk. Ukraine says

Russian forces are now advancing into the center of Severodonetsk, after consolidating their hold on part of the city's outskirts. If Severodonetsk

falls, all of Luhansk would effectively be under Russian control.

And while Ukraine is losing ground in that Donbas region, it is waging a counteroffensive in the southern region of Kherson Ukraine's military has

released this video, saying it has pushed back forces in several areas. CNN has not independently geolocated the video.

And in the Russian controlled city of Melitopol, officials are accusing Ukraine of a terror attack. A car blew up near a building where Russian

occupiers are running city affairs, reportedly injuring three people.

Today, CNN's Melissa Bell talked with the Melitopol mayor in exile. He was held by the Russians for several days back in March.


IVAN FEDOROV, MAYOR OF MELITOPOL, UKRAINE: They can kidnap, they can kill, they can make torture but we can't give support, because our citizens don't

want to live in Russia. I know it, Melitopol will return to Ukraine.


KINKADE: We want to bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. She joins us live from Kyiv.

Nick, so, obviously, Severodonetsk, it's not a large city but it is a key city when it comes to the battle in that Luhansk region. Just explain why

it's so key.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Essentially, if Russian forces who look like they are gaining the upper hand in

Severodonetsk are able to establish control over that city on one side of the river, then they can also influence the neighboring city, Lysychansk

where we just were yesterday, potentially encircling that, and then say they control two of the main population centers still outside of their

control in Luhansk.

That's important because Vladimir Putin significantly reduce goals for the second wave of his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, was the secure control

over Luhansk and Donetsk. So, he could potentially claim a victory in the event that they take control of Severodonetsk, and neighboring Lysychansk.

But the battle is brutal. Many civilians are still caught in the way, and Ukrainians are still trying to hold on to parts of Severodonetsk but more

tenaciously to Lysychansk.

Here's what we saw yesterday.


WALSH (voice-over): This is the last road into Lysychansk. Putin's forces have moved with rare focus here, and they soon encircle the pockets of two

cities on the river were driving into.

Ukrainian forces we saw here, mobile, tense, at times, edgy. And this is why -- across the river here, the besieged city of Severodonetsk,

increasingly more in Russian hands, whoever you ask.

We can hear the crackle of gunfire down towards the river below.

What we were told, the Russians have tried already to get into town, and it looks like we might be witnessing another attempt over there. That smoke

near one of the remaining bridges into the city.

Our police escorts shout "drone" often used to direct artillery attacks. We are on high ground, exposed and scattered.

It is a tale of two desperations here, that which makes people stay, and that which makes them finally flee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): We've not slept for three months.

WALSH: Leonid is the latter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): Shooting. Windows shaking. It's a catastrophe. One man told me the Germans in the war were better.

WALSH: Some who stay are increasingly angry about what's left of the Ukrainian state here. A young woman was killed here, a day earlier, by a

shell. And locals told us not to film, saying cameras attracted shelling.

Russia's bloody persistence and unbridled firepower is bringing the kind of victory in the ruins they seem to cherish.


This cinema was a bomb shelter, local officials said. It's unclear if, when the huge airstrike hits, the Russian military was aware it had been empty

days earlier.

Just startling how whole chunks of this cinema have been thrown into the crater there. Just the ferocity of the airstrikes we're seeing here,

designed, simply, to get people out of this town. Those who stay among the shards of glass feel abandoned already.

ANYA, LYSYCHANSKI RESIDENT (through translator): Many, many people, but there is no gas or water, or power, or anything. We asked the aid workers

today when it will all come back, and they say there are only prostitutes, junkies, and alcoholics left. That means the aid workers have left.

WALSH: Lydia is carefully picking up the pieces of the air strike, which she felt the full force in her apartment, eight floors up.

There's an old lady on the first floor and me, with my disabled son, she says. He doesn't really understand the war is happening. Retreat lingers in

the empty air. If Putin takes here, he may claim he might have achieved some of his reduced goals in this invasion. It's the unenviable choice of

Ukraine's leaders if this is the hill its men and women will die on.


WALSH (on camera): Now, while many civilians die daily, today a 32-year- old French journalist Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff was killed as he filmed the entry into that town of an evacuation convoy. Clearly, the shelling,

indiscriminate as we have seen so often from Russian forces, claiming yet more lives.

On a broader point, Lynda, this is all important because it is about potentially longer strategy for Russia here, to choose smaller cities,

places that you may not necessarily have heard of if you weren't familiar with Ukraine, and concentrate forces on them. Slowly break them, and

possibly in the months ahead, move around Ukraine more gently or more slowly or methodically to prize off bits of territory, as potentially

western attention on this war begins to ebb.

That certainly I think what Ukrainian officials here are worried about, and that is always been the Kremlin's strategy. Patients, you might call it if

you're being generous tenacity, possibly but certainly, the ugly face of their invasion is looking like it is trying to find a long term variation -

- Lynda.

KINKADE: Our Nick Paton Walsh for us, thanks to you and the team for bringing us that report from the region. Much appreciated.

And as Nick mentioned, that 32 year old journalist, Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff who was killed, just 32 years old. The director general of Reporters

Without Borders is calling his death a war crime. France's foreign minister calls a double crime, and says that targeting the humanitarian convoy and a

journalist was reprehensible two times over. She says she has spoken to Ukraine's president about an investigation.

The European Union has still failed to reach an agreement on banning Russian oil imports. The two-day summit began on Brussels on Monday, world

leaders wrestled between putting more sanctions on Russia and addressing the economic risks to Europe. Many European countries depend on Russian oil

imports, which is why a blanket ban has been so elusive.

Well, issues around crude oil have been the main sticking point in those discussions over the sanctions package. That is according to the president

of the European Commission. In a draft report says the EU would agree to ban Russian oil imports, but would grant a temporary exemption for crude

suppliers via pipelines.

Ursula von der Leyen has said that's what's been at the root of the ongoing discussions.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: It's never easy. The same here, we now have basically solved all the issues but one, and this is

a question of crude oil by a pipeline. And here, the discussions are still ongoing. I have not too high expectations that it is going to be solved in

the next 48 hours, but after. It is very clearly on in the member states, the key to success wasn't solidarity with Ukraine, and unity in the

European Union. That's what we have to work.


KINKADE: Hungary's prime minister is blaming the European commission outright for Europe's energy issues.

Victor Orban says he supports the pipeline solution but says they should be guarantees for other means of delivery in case of an accident. He accuses

Brussels of complicating matters.


VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER: The problem is that we are in a difficult situation, basically, because of the responsibility of the

commission after the various (INAUDIBLE).


If we agreed that there would be no suggestion made by the commission on energy, which is not properly negotiated with the member states. And now

out of the blue, we have got the idea of an embargo and sanctions on oil, without answering the questions which are for Hungarian energy supply

security. So, the whole question we are in is a difficult one created by the commission.


KINKADE: The German chancellor says he agrees an agreement can be reached on a Russian oil embargo based on what he's hearing.

Olaf Scholz said that despite countries like Hungary looking into possible exemptions, the EU works best when it works together. And he believes there

will be enough will for a consensus.


OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I am convinced that this morning, we can further discuss a good solution with each other. I

have already reported that everything speaks for the fact that one will find another. No one can say beforehand if it will be the case, but

everything I hear sounds like there could be a consensus and sooner or later, there will be


KINKADE: Let's take a look at some other global stories.

The Biden administration says it won't send rocket systems to Ukraine that could reach Russia, but it is still expected to send more military

assistance to Ukraine, which could be announced as soon as next week.

And the Ukrainian military is set to receive support from unexpected source. The Ukrainian group that won this year's Eurovision song contest,

the folk rap group Kalush Orchestra, says it has auctioned off its trophy for about $900 million and it plans to use the money to buy drones for

Ukrainian forces. The band also has scheduled a European tour to raise even more money.

Still to come on THE GLOBAL BRIEF, the heartbreaking services began for the victims of last week school massacre in Texas. We will tell you about the

ten year old girls who are being remembered today and explain the growing outrage over how police handled the crisis.

And protests and mass trials, how the Cuban government is cracking down on dissent. We'll have a live report coming up.



KINKADE: Well, funeral services are underway today in Uvalde, Texas, for two of the 19 children and their teachers murdered in last week's school

shooting. And even as the loved ones of the victims and their community grieve and begin to say goodbye, the investigation into what police did and

did not do during that rampage are also getting underway.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in Uvalde.


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how those who love 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza will remember her. A decade of photos

showing a happy girl with a sweet smile, described by family as sassy and funny and a little diva who hated wearing dresses. Memories of happier

times as her family, friends, and community say good-bye during visitation and rosary service.

ALFRED GARZA, FATHER OF AMERIE JO GARZA: It brings me joy to know I had an opportunity to have such a great daughter. I tried to be the best father I

could be.

BROADDUS: Just down the road, another grieving family says good-bye to Maite Rodriguez, also ten years old.

UNIDETIFIED FEMALE: I love her, and I miss her, and I'm proud of her. She wanted to be a marine biologist before she could say the word. She loved


BROADDUS: As families bury their children, there are growing questions and outrage about the police response. The Justice Department now says it will

review the response which Texas officials say deviated from active shooter protocols.

GARZA: Had they gotten there sooner and somebody would have taken immediate action, we might have more of those children here today,

including my daughter.

BROADDUS: Investigators now say 19 officers waited outside the classroom where the gunman was for about 50 minutes. We're now getting a first

glimpse at some of the information that was being relayed to officers at the school. ABC News obtained audio which appears to be from one 911

operator relaying information from a child inside the classroom.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm the audio. The source is unclear. As is what point in the incident it was heard.

On Friday, Texas Public Safety director said there were at least eight 911 calls from two callers in the school.

DISPATCHER: We have a child on the line. Child is advising he is in the room full of victims.

BROADDUS: Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez says President Biden told him that Robb Elementary School would be razed and rebuilt as part of a

federal grant process for schools where there have been mass shootings.

STATE SENATOR ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS: What kind of world are we living in that legislation was created for razing these schools?

BROADDUS: For some parents, those questions coming too late.

GARZA: No matter who is held responsible, it's not going to bring my daughter back. She was the perfect daughter to me.


KINKADE: That was CNN's Adrienne Broaddus reporting there from Uvalde, Texas.

Well, it appears -- it appears that the trial of two of Cuba's most prominent anti-government activists has begun. Human rights group says the

proceedings of political persecutions. It all centers around this music video, a searing critique of Cuba's leadership in this musical form,

featuring two members of an anti-government movement. Now, those men stand accused of being foreign agents.

The story is not unique. Hundreds of Cuban activists and demonstrators have been put on trial in recent months.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann joins us now live from Havana to discuss this further.

And so, we have seen plenty of other trials of people, accused of dissent in Cuba face trial. But these are the most high-profile activists today.


And the music video you just showed actually speaks to what makes this trial so different. That music video called "Homeland and Life" was a

massive hit. And one of the rappers and the name of Osorbo actually received two Grammys, two Latin Grammys for appearing. He was in prison

when he received those two Grammys -- for appearing in that video, this critique, going after the Cuban government.

So, these are not the usual opposition activists. But these men have a very high profile that clashed in the past with government. The government has

detained them at times, which cost fellow artists and students to come out and protest for the release. And usually, the government has chosen to

release them rather than to try to potentially make them into martyrs. This time around, though, following those massive protests we saw last summer

here, with unprecedented protests, the government is coming down very, very hard on not only these men, but on hundreds of other protesters.

And now, these men are going to be facing lengthy jail sentences. And what we've seen up to now, Lynda, is that people are charged, and in these

trials, which are kept off limits to the media, kept off limits to foreign diplomats. You can basically be assured that they will be convicted and

serve prison time.

Unfortunately, we're not able to witness, to go and report on the trials. The Cuban government so far maintained that blackout on and information

coming out of those trials, certainly does not look good for either of those men, this artist and this rapper, who are now facing lengthy prison


KINKADE: So, it's certainly a difficult trial to cover, if there is a complete blackout, and they're not allowing in, not allowing European

diplomats in or anyone out. Had there been any protests outside the court today?

OPPMANN: Lynda, there were. Some family members were allowed in, but essentially, surrounding this courthouse, there is the police barricades,

letting everybody from going in or out. There's no mention of the trial, in the state controlled press. We just know about it from talking to activists

who made us aware that finally, after spending almost a year in prison, these men are going on trial. And perhaps, there's some mention of it, if

there is a conviction and perhaps, not. It could just be completely ignored by the government like it never happened, but certainly, for these men, and

their families, this is going to have a major impact on them.

The Cuban government of course says that these are troublemakers, and they have been put up by the U.S. government, their longtime nemesis.

But if you talk to these activists, they say they're just artists they're just one exit express themselves fully in their own country. They do want

to be forced into exile, which is what they have been offered. They want to stay here. Even if that means they're going to prison, they say that they

will continue to advocate for changing the country.

KINKADE: And as you mentioned, Patrick, Cuba has blamed the U.S. government for this, creating this unrest. The protests we saw that last

summer, have they provided any evidence to back up that claim?

OPPMANN: You know, they have. And it's really more for internal consumption, because he talked to people in the streets, you know? Since

the beginning of the pandemic, which has hit so hard here, because the majority of the food that comes into this island is imported, and that's

food the government can no longer afford to import. So, people who are going hungry, are waiting hours and hours in line to buy the most basic


And you've seen people leave this island and in record numbers by the tens of thousands, and you are seeing people increasingly voice their

displeasure. Their anger at what they think is a government mismanagement of the economy, and then other people, people like these artists, who just

say the censorship has simply become too much but the government, by cracking down, is making a bad situation worse.

KINKADE: Yeah. All right, Patrick Oppmann, good on you for trying to stay across this story, despite the blackout. We'll chat soon. Thanks so much.

Well, former guerrilla fighter and one time mayor, Gustavo Petro, against a business magnate, a TikTok star, Rodolfo Hernandez. Now, those two runoff

candidates like to do the first round of Colombia 's presidential election, and it took many by surprise.

Journalist Stefano Pozzebon impact who these candidates are, and what happens next.


STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Colombia took a step towards the unknown on Sunday, with two political outsiders progressing a second round of the

presidential election. The left wing candidate, Gustavo Petro, on his third bid for the presidency won the largest share of the vote with about 40

percent off the ballots. And the second round, which he is set for June 19, he will face off against 77 year old populist entrepreneur, Rodolfo

Hernandez, who won about 28 percent of the votes.

While Petro is a veteran of left-wing politics in Colombia, he has run for the presidency before, and if elected, he would be the first progressive

president in this country's recent history, Hernandez is a relative newcomer, he mounted a campaign without a support of traditional parties,

and has been compared to former U.S. president, Donald Trump, for his focus on social media.

Whoever comes out on top on that challenge, on June 19, Colombia, which is one of Washington's strongest allies in South America, really seems to have

entered a new chapter in this recent history.

For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


KINKADE: Well, Nepal authorities have recovered 20 bodies from the site of a deadly plane crash. Rescue workers say they're still searching for one

last missing person, and they're trying to reach another body they spotted earlier. They are conducting the operation under difficult weather

conditions in the height of the Himalayas.


Authorities say the plane crashed into the Rocky Mountainside on Sunday, and then, it lost contact with air control just 12 minutes into the flight.

Let's take a look at the other key stories making international headlines today.

Ninety-one people in northeastern Brazil have lost their lives, after intense rain battered the region for several days. President Jair Bolsonaro

travelled to the affected state of Pernambuco on Monday, where nearly 4,000 houses have been destroyed. Dozens of people there are still missing.

Israeli police say more than 70,000 people turned out this Sunday's Jerusalem Day Black March, which drew protests from Palestinians. And

clashes erupted across the region. And the Red Crescent says goals of Palestinians were injured in Jerusalem alone, while more than 160 were hurt

in the west bank.

A color whale lost in the Seine River has died. The sick orca was stranded in the French river for several weeks, despite attempts to get back to see.

Orca sightings in rivers are extremely rare. Authorities had already planned to euthanize the animal before they responded to it today. How the

animal became stranded and died is being investigated.

Well, Johnny Deep gave a surprise performance in England, while awaiting the verdict in the U.S. court case. On Sunday, the Hollywood star appeared

on this rock concert with English guitarist Jeff Beck. Fans of the venues said they were caught off guard, when they saw the actor performing on

stage, because it happened just two days after a U.S. jury began deliberating in a defamation trial against Depp's ex-wife, actress Amber


And finally today, and astonishing find in Egypt. Archaeologists have discovered some 200 sarcophagi filled with well-preserved mummies at a site

in the south of Cairo. They found about 150 statues and other artifacts, all dating back 25 centuries.


MOSTAFA WAZIRI, SECRETARY GENERAL, EGYPT SUPREME COUNCIL OF ANTIQUITIES (through translator): The first and biggest cache of hidden bronze statues

here in Bubastine. In the site, 150 bronze statues, four different gods and goddesses.


KINKADE: And they also found jewelry and a mirror that appeared to date back to 1500 B.C.

Well, thanks so much for watching. I'm Lynda Kinkade. I will see you back here again tomorrow.