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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Battle For Severodonetsk; Europe's Russia Oil Import Ban; Canada's Military Culture Report. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired May 31, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Tonight, the battle for Severodonetsk. Ukraine's military says Russia is focusing on establishing control of the city where thousands of civilians

are stranded.

And then European officials react to the new oil ban that would suspend 90 percent of Russian imports by the end of this year.

And combating sexual harassment in Canada's armed forces. A new report outlines nearly 50 recommendations to change the culture of the country's

military. We asked the defense minister why they are only adopting a handful of them.

A city torn into by conflict. Russia is doubling down on its offensive in Severodonetsk, a city that's key to its ambitions in Luhansk and the entire

Donbas area. These images were shared on Telegram, showing Russian soldiers moving in on the city.

Ukraine says that Russia seized huge parts of the city. But the battle is far from over. A separatist leader says the Russian operation is not going

as fast as it would like. As violence flares, there are fears that the nearly 15,000 civilians still inside, who say they risk being massacred.

Moscow's also stepping up attacks over the river. One local official warns that troops armed with flame throwers are threatening to clear the area out

and burn anyone standing in their way.

Melissa Bell is in Zaporizhzhia for us in southeastern Ukraine.

Melissa, does the Ukrainian army have any hope of preventing Russia from seizing control of Severodonetsk? And how it's easing it impact Russia's

battlefield options?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does. The Ukrainian armed forces, the Ukrainian army, Bianca, continue to fight not just for Severodonetsk but to

mount counteroffensives. It had, of course, previously in Kharkiv, pushing back Russian forces. It is -- now pushing back toward Kherson. There is a

counteroffensive on the way there.

If you look at a map of those Russian controlled areas you will understand why that's happening in several different points along that line. Here, for

instance, where I'm standing in Zaporizhzhia, we are hearing a outgoing artillery fire toward the Russian positions that are just 30 miles away.

There is the military push from the Ukrainians to try and push back on that line because bear in mind, to them it is extremely important, for instance,

to get those long range rocket systems they are asking for them from the U.S. because they feel that for the time being, Russia has the upper hand.

So, there is a Ukrainian counteroffensive underway at several points. And there is, of course, a cross in those Russian controlled areas, fierce

resistance mounting as well.


BELL (voice-over): An explosion in the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, blamed by Moscow on Ukrainian resisters.

And on Sunday, Melitopol is Ukraine, chanted in the heart of a town that's been in Russian hands for nearly three months. Yellow ribbons were

defiantly displayed than elsewhere in southern Ukraine.

From Crimea to Kherson, symbols of silent resistance.

But Melitopol noisily resisted from the start. After the early chants of its people were silenced and when the town's mayor was kidnapped by Russian

forces in early March, some locals turned to armed resistance.


BELL: Now in Ukrainian government held Zaporizhzhia, Ivan Federov says Melitopol will never get up.

FEDEROV: They can kidnap, they can kill, but we can't give support because our citizens don't want to leave to Russia. I know it. Melitopol will

return to Ukraine.

BELL: Mariupol fell quickly and even as Russian forces pulled back to the south and east of the country, remained on the wrong side of a line that

has hardened.

MYKOLA KRASNY, UKRAINIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE (through translator): Russia is using hybrid methods of occupation. That means the Russian

Federation is trying to identify and destroy sensitive resistance, Ukrainian partisans. Such people are often uncovered and will sometimes

disappear in Russian prisons.

YAROSLAV BOZHKO, YELLOW RIBBON MOVEMENT: Idea of the yellow ribbon was --

BELL: Which is why the Yellow Ribbon movement became key according to a spokesperson in Kyiv.

He tells me the ribbons allow people to pass on the message that Ukraine is present here, that there is no other south than under the Ukrainian flag.

Here in Zaporizhzhia, there's also a sense that that line between Russian- controlled Ukraine and the rest of the country is hardening even as it continues to move forward. We can hear here the regular sound of outgoing

artillery fire, but we can also see an emerging refugee crisis.

Hundreds of families living in their cars as they try to get back to their homes, now, in Russian-controlled cities.


BELL: Bianca, the suggestion that that line is hardening came today when Ukrainian officials pointed out that in so many of the Russian-controlled

cities, communications have essentially been cut off. Around the greater Zaporizhzhia area for instance, there are five districts this evening,

three of them have had their communications cut off. Some of them, of course, in Russia and Ukrainian hands.

Of course, what that means is that the people who are on this side who had fled some of those who saw their, hoping to get back across that line are

no longer even able to reach their families, the ones they've left behind back in their home cities. What you are seeing is Ukrainian armed forces

mounting a counteroffensive to try and push that line back as far as it can. As you heard in that report, resisters on the other side also trying

to make a difference.

That mayor in Melitopol now in exile here in Zaporizhzhia, telling us that since the beginning of the occupation, his town, when he was kidnapped in

early March, he says hundreds of Russian soldiers have been killed in acts of resistance -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Melissa Bell, thank you and your team so much for your reporting. Melissa Bell for us in Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian officials say the country is now completely dependent on fuel imports of its biggest oil refinery was destroyed. The refinery in

Kremenchuk was hit by Russian missiles in April. The chair of the association says fuel shortages have triggered price shock. He says the

government must deploy mobile or refining complexes to increase production.

The European Union is targeting Russia's oil industry to try and dry up funding for the Kremlin's war machine. It agreed today to immediately

banned two thirds of Russian oil imports to the EU, increasing that amount to 90 percent by the years end.

The ban doesn't include deliveries on Russian oil by pipeline, meaning Hungary and two other nations are exempt from this. Ukrainian President

Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the sanctions, but criticized the delay.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have agreed on the necessity to increase sanctions. It's more than 50 days since

the fifth package of sanctions. This is unacceptable for us.


NOBILO: CNN's Anna Stewart has more on that latest package of E.U. sanctions and what it took to get the entire block to sign off.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca, after one month of negotiations, finally, the EU has passed its sixth round of sanctions on

Russia. Now, this package includes cutting the biggest Russian bank from SWIFT. That's the messaging service that underpins much of the global

financial system, banning three Russian state TV warcasters, and sanctions more individuals for war crimes.

But the most significant measure was the embargo on Russian oil, which came with a big concession. In order to get the approval of Hungary, Slovakia,

and Czech Republic, an exemption has been granted for a key pipeline delivering Russian oil to these landlocked countries. Now, that does weaken

the embargo overall, but it still means that at the end of this year, the EU will receive just 10 percent of the Russian oil it currently imports.

Russia will have lost what is currently its biggest oil customer.

According to the think tank, Russia currently receives ten billion dollars a month from the block for oil. That will drop off to one billion dollars

by the years and. Of course, Russia will try to sell its oil to other customers. Like India and China. Russian grades of oil are much cheaper,

around $34 a barrel less than benchmark crude. And that, of course, makes it more attractive to markets outside the EU. It also brings in less

revenue for Russia.

The other problem, though, with the E.U.'s plan to squeeze Russia financially is the fact that the E.U. is still buying Russian gas, which is

a huge source of Russian revenue. Many would like to see that added as a band to the next round of E.U. sanctions, but that would likely face even

fiercer opposition from the 27 member states -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Anna Stewart there for us.

While some countries have already banned imports of Russian oil, one country is taking advantage of discounted prices from Moscow. India's oil

purchases, as and I was just saying, have more than doubled from 2021 from Russia. Head to to find out more about the deal and Asia's

third largest economy is getting from Russia.


Ukraine's prosecutor general says that more 600 Russian war crime suspects have now been identified. She says that Ukraine has started prosecuting

about 80 of those, and that some of the suspects are high-level military officials, politicians, and, quote, propaganda agents. She also says that

Estonia, Latvia, and Slovakia have joined the international investigation team of Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland formed back in March. They are not

working with the International Criminal Court. Russia has denied targeting civilians or being involved in war crimes.

Coming up on the show, Canada plans to crack down on gun violence, moving to freeze handgun ownership across the country and more. And after two

months of COVID frustration, most of shanghai's residents can now freely leave their homes. We will show you how people are reacting.


NOBILO: It's been one week now since the Uvalde School shooting killed 19 children and two teachers, shattering a community and igniting our

conversation, once again, about guns in America. The bipartisan group of senators met virtually today to discuss gun reform. This, as the two latest

victims were laid to rest, Amerie Jo Garza and Maite Rodriguez, two 10 year old girls who will never make it home.

And gun control and extremism were on the agenda and the White House as well, as President Joe Biden met with New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda

Ardern. New Zealand cracked down on guns following the 2021 massacre in Christchurch. Ms. Ardern told the president that New Zealand's experience

is, quote, our own, but promised to advise him as best she could. And they promised to work together to combat online extremism.

Mr. Biden says that he hopes to learn from New Zealand's progress.

As America struggles with how to protect children from school shootings, its neighborhood Canada is making sweeping moves to tighten gun controls.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a bill Monday that would freeze handgun ownership. If approved, Canadians would no longer be able to buy,

sell, transfer, or import handguns. Canada's also considering banning hundreds of assault style weapons.

And joining us now to discuss is CNN correspondent Alexandra Field.

Alexandra, great to have you on the show.

So, tell us, how likely is this to be approved in Canada? And what impact, if any, could it have on its neighbor, the United States?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The impact on the United States, we have yet to see. You know, we are locked in debates in this country, but

Canada not taking a breath here, moving very swiftly on the heels of what happened here in the U.S.

Hearing about the sweeping changes from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. There is support there. This is a bill that is likely to pass, and this is

an imminent administration that is moved quickly on guns before. Just two years ago, on the heels of the deadliest massacre in Canada's history, in

Nova Scotia, Trudeau's administration announced a ban on 1,500 assault weapons, 1,500 different styles of assault weapons.

They are announcing that they will begin a mandatory buyback of these weapons in order to compensate gun holders and businesses. They're also

saying they will automatically prohibit other assault style weapons from entering the market.

Beyond going after the assault weapons, we're seeing this sweeping bill that would go after handguns, as you say, Bianca, freezing the buying and

selling of handguns. Also raising fines on those who tried to traffic guns, adding additional red flag laws, leading to curbing gun violence.

And also implementing new restrictions on long guns, which would no longer be able to hold more than five rounds. That means he would no longer see

the sale of high capacity magazines.

Prime Minister Trudeau campaigned on these issues, he has talked about that often. He has made attempts to an act either gun safety laws. He is saying

that he knows many Canadian gun holders are law-abiding citizens, but as gun violence goes up, action needs to be taken.

NOBILO: Alexandra Field, thank you so much.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: The government as a society, we have a responsibility to act to prevent more tragedies. Canadians certainly

don't need assault style weapons that were designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.


FIELD: Prime Minister Trudeau saying that this is an issue of freedom for Canadians. He says it's about the freedom to be able to go to the

supermarket, or to be able to go to school without being struck by a bullet. He also says that Canadians need to do nothing more than look south

of the border to understand that the problem only gets worse if the government does not act.

NOBILO: Alexandra Field, thank you so much.

Now, a new independent report published by a former Canadian Supreme Court justice says allegations of sexual misconduct within Canada's military

should be handled by an external civil court, not by the Canadian armed forces. In her report, Louise Arbour found that the Canadian military has

failed to keep women in uniform say from sexual harassment. And she says that complaints should be turned over to the country's Human Rights


The report lays out 48 recommendations, aimed at changing the culture within the Canadian armed forces. The Ministry of Defense has said it will

immediately implement 17 of them, while the others require further analysis and planning.

Joining me now from Ottawa is Canada's minister of national defense, Anita Anand.

Thank you very much for joining us on the program, Minister.


NOBILO: What do you have to say to the women in the military who have had sexual offenses committed against them, who are not protected by the

military, or by extension, the government who holds the military accountable?

ANAND: On December 15th, 2021, I formally offered an apology to all women who have suffered sexual harassment (AUDIO GAP) or any form of

discrimination. (AUDIO GAP) cannot be a place where women are guests. In other words, everyone should be able to work free from discrimination of

any sort when they are putting on a uniform to serve our country. And that is what our government will continue to work towards.

The Arbour report is another step towards assuring that women have a legitimate place, free from harassment, a place where they can work in a

protected and safe environment.

Why is that important? Morally speaking, obviously, it's important for us to stand up every day for a non discriminatory workplace. And

operationally, it is also important. We need to recruit and retain members of the Canadian armed forces.


And the only way we can do that in effect our operations nationally and internationally, is that everyone who signs up to serve our country can

work in a safe and respected and protected environment.

NOBILO: Now, the former Supreme Court justice, Louise Arbour, blames the, quote, insular culture within the army and has surged for a complete change

of the military system. So, why are you only opt dropping 17 of the 48 recommendations from the report?

ANAND: Actually, as I mentioned in my press conference yesterday, and with Madam Arbour, I agree with and support all of the recommendations, and I

accepted the report and its entirety. Seventeen of those recommendations are ones that we are able to act on immediately. And we are beginning to do


The remainder require more planning and analysis before they are implemented, and that's why we will continue to move down that road. I've

asked my department and the Canadian armed forces to present me with a plan for implementing the remainder of those recommendations. But rest assured,

I have received an accepted the report and its entirety yesterday.

NOBILO: And, so I presume, one of those that perhaps requires more planning and analysis is this recommendation to let civilian courts handle

cases of sexual offense, because, do you really think that even for the time being, until all these recommendations are analyzed, that a problem

within the military of sexual offenses against women can be solved by the military?

ANAND: Well, actually, on November 4th, 2021, Madam Arbour had provided us with an internal recommendation, which I accepted on that date. To move all

cases relating to sexual misconduct and sexual harassment under the criminal code from the military justice system, to the civilian justice

system. So we already have the process in place to move cases to the civilian justice system.

Now the recommendation in the final report of Madam Arbour goes further than that, and you're exactly right. We do need to do the planning, because

what she is contemplating there is a removal of concurrent jurisdiction. And as you can imagine, it's extremely complex.

But rest assured, we are making sure that victims and survivors have the same procedural protection by moving those cases to the civilian justice

system. And also, by enacting the Victims Bill of Rights, which will be fully implemented and enforced in just a few weeks.

NOBILO: And, finally, Ms. Anand, so President Joe Biden has said today that the U.S. will not send long range rocket systems to Ukraine, ones that

can potentially reach Russian territory. Do you agree with that position? And if so? How will Canada look to further support Ukraine?

ANAND: Well, from day one, in fact, since 2015, Canada has been extremely supportive of Ukraine. We have trained over 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers. We

have sent millions of dollars of aid to Ukraine. And we have trained Ukrainian soldiers on the M777 howitzers in third country.

The reality is we will continue to send whatever aid we possibly can. I spoke with Minister Reznikov this morning, in fact, in contemplation of

additional aid that we will send. We earmarked $500 million in the federal budget for that very purpose. And as I said, we will continue to stand with

Ukraine, as we believe very deeply and the sovereignty, the security, and stability of this country, and the rules-based international order.

NOBILO: Minister of National Defense, Anita Anand, thank you very much for your time this evening and your candor, we appreciate it.

ANAND: Thank you so much for having me. Bye-bye.

NOBILO: COVID-19 restrictions are starting to ease in Shanghai, China. But some neighborhoods are under incredibly strict lockdowns, and many fear

that the toughest measures could come back at anytime.

CNN's Selina Wang explains from the Chinese capital.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sprinting with shopping bags, residents racing to get out. After more than two months of a brutal city-

wide lock down, Shanghai is finally cracking open the seal. The city's main train station, packed with people trying to escape.

But actually getting out of here is a treacherous journey. The city says it will fully resume transportation today but earlier, people have been seen

trekking miles across highways, dragging their luggage or strapping it to bikes, even journeys of dozens of miles or more, not swaying their


The train station parking lot has become a campsite, some leaving days earlier than their departure time, terrified they could be locked down

again if they stay at home.


The masses outside the train station, a stark contrast to the rest of Shanghai, hundreds of thousands still remained locked in but even the lucky

ones allowed out face a laundry list of restrictions. There are check points everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is definitely not freedom.

WANG: This Shanghai resident and her son who wish to remain anonymous for fear of persecution from authorities were finally allowed out after 80

days. Her only solace is seeing her son outside and smiling for the first time in a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My child now has depression because of the lockdown. He started waking up at night and crying and shouting and saying there were

people wearing masks in his bedroom and he stopped eating.

WANG: That harsh reality, miles away from what the government wants to show.

Watch this state TV reporter pull the microphone and camera away during a live interview, when the resident starts to complain about the lockdown.

She says I've never lived through anything like this, being locked inside your home and not allowed to go out, what a big joke.

Officials say the city will start returning to normal in June but residents are doubtful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, this does feel like endless, endless nightmare.

WANG: Her freedom lasted less than a week, one COVID case was found near her so she's back to lockdown.

For over two months, Shanghai had its freedom taken away, residents imprisoned at home or forced into quarantine centers like these. No one

knows when this nightmare will fully end.

Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


NOBILO: Well, that was THE GLOBAL BRIEF. Thank you for watching. You can, as always, find our socials on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and get excited

because we will bring a bringing special coverage of Queen Elizabeth's platinum jubilee from Buckingham Palace on Thursday. And we will also be

talking about republicanism in the commonwealth. So, something for everyone.

And I will see you again tomorrow.