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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Ukraine Battlefield Latest; Summit Of Americas; Missing Journalist In Brazil. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired June 07, 2022 - 17:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN HOST: Hello and a very warm welcome, everyone. I'm Isa Soares, sitting in for Bianca Nobilo. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

As Russia continues to tighten its grip in Eastern Ukraine, we take you to the frontlines of the southern part of the country where fighting is

seemingly gridlocked.

Then, the U.S. gets ready to host the Summit of the Americas without several key countries in the region. We take a look at the impact of

excluding those voices from the diplomatic table.

And Brazil's military finally begins searching for journalists and researchers who have been missing in the Amazon state. A live report just


Now, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says a stalemate with Russia is not an option. He says victory must be achieved on the battlefield,

vowing Ukraine will retake all of its territory. But the situation is looking increasingly grim, particularly in Luhansk. A pro-Russia separatist

leader says 97 percent of the Donbas province has now been, quote, liberated.

Separatists have controlled part of the Donbas since 2014, but Russia has vowed to seize the entire region on their behalf.

Well, Ukraine is still fighting to hold on to their last major city under its control in Luhansk. Officials say the situation in Severodonetsk is

consistently difficult, reporting constant shelling along the frontline. New satellite images you're looking there really show at least two

hospitals are being hit by military strikes in Severodonetsk and nearby Rubizhne.

In Russian-occupied Mariupol, that's in the south, residents are living the hellish conditions that they can get even worse. An adviser to the exiled

mayor says corpses are piled everywhere. He says Russia is quietly closing off the city and with deteriorating sanitary conditions and growing fears

of a cholera outbreak.

And as we've been reporting here on the show, Ukrainian morgue workers are now using DNA to identify the bodies of some troops who died defending the

Azovstal steel plant.

I want to turn now to the south where Ukraine forces are continuing their counteroffensive on Russian-occupied Kherson, retaking some areas.

CNN's Matthew Chance just returned from the frontline there and takes a look at the current state of the battlefield.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is where the Ukrainian military tells us they're seizing back their lands.

But on the battered southern front with Russia, the stalemate of trench warfare seems to be setting in.

The commanders privately admit that advances by either side here are small.

The Russians seem to be running out of ammunition and not as strong as they were, the platoon commander of this forward trench told me. But we need

more weapons, too, he adds, if we're to push ahead.

I speak to Anton here and he is saying it's very loud at night.


CHANCE: Right. So in the morning, he's saying it's not so noisy, a bit quieter. So it's interesting, because this is the place where the Ukrainian

governments say there's a big counteroffensive that's been under way for some time and they're taking back territory. But we've not seen a great

deal of evidence of that on the ground.

It seems that, you know, both sides dug in here heavily, have fought themselves to a standstill, neither side strong enough to win this war, but

not weak enough to lose it either.

How's that going? Is it -- are you sure? You can hear the outgoing artillery shells streaming across our position here.

Ukrainian military escorts take us to what they say is a recently liberated zone where at least 30 Russians holed up inside this kindergarten were


As Moscow focuses its forces on Donbas in the east, Ukrainian officials say conquered areas in the south like this are being left exposed.

All right. Well, they brought to this very forward location where as you can here, there are still artillery exchanges taking place. And this is the

remnants of a battle from a couple of weeks ago, they say, where this Russian position was taken by Ukrainian forces at great cost, both to the

Ukrainians and obviously, to the Russians as well.


All of this debris on the ground is, we're told, Russian equipment, and obviously this is the remnants of a Russian-armored vehicle of some kind

which has been, like so many we've seen, totally destroyed in this bitter conflict.

The Russians thought that they were going to win easily. Didn't they?


CHANCE: But that's not what's happening?

DANTE: In Russian, thought that a few days finished for Ukraine. In a few days.

CHANCE: We can hear it still going on there.

DANTE: Yeah, it's shell, and we can hear the flight of shell.

CHANCE: Yeah, months later.

DANE: Russian government planned to have victory in a few days. I think we must be ready to a lot more.

CHANCE: A long artillery war with heavy weapons like this Ukrainian battle tank positioned in tree lines towards an unseen enemy.These firing points

quickly become vulnerable and the troops here need to be mobile.

OK. We're being brought to this frontline position where they're going to fire on Russian forces a short distance away. It's a secret location, we

can only stay for one round, we're told. After that, there's going to be return fire and we got to get out of here, but this is what we've been

brought -- to see. Goodness, me.

Okay. Guys, what now? Another one. I thought we had to go after one. One more again.

Seconds later, another bone-shaking round hurdles toward Russian positions.

Okay. We're going to go now, come on.

And we quickly leave Ukraine's grinding frontlines behind.


SOARES: Matthew Chance joins us now from Kryvyi Rih.

And, Matthew, both sides, as you clearly outlined, they're clearly digging in heavily. Give us a sense of what you saw after you left the area. I

mean, did you witness the Russian side returned fire on those front lines?

CHANCE: Yes. I mean, actually, just as we fled, a few minutes after we fled that scene, where the tank was firing on Russian positions, there was

an attack, a return fire back in that approximate location as well. And so, that underlines very pointedly to us that this front line area looks quite

static. It's reminiscent of sort of a World War I style trench warfare situation. It is actually still, at times, quite dynamic. It is still

certainly very dangerous, indeed, Isa.

SOARES: Matthew Chance for us there in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine. Thanks very much, Matthew.

Let's take a closer look of the global reaction.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is among dozens Americans Russia has banned from entering the country. The new ban also includes leaders in

defense, media, transportation, and financial industry. And that brings almost 1,000 the number of Americans banned by Russia.

Britain's foreign secretary says more sanctions against Russia, quote, in the pipeline. That is according to a readout of Monday's cabinet reading.

But Liz Truss wasn't specific about what additional measures Western allies might be considering.

And Fiji Supreme Court has given the U.S. the go-ahead to seize a $300 million super yacht believed to be owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs.

The U.S. is now free to tow the 106-meter ship out of the South Pacific Island, where authorities impounded it in April.

Leaders from the Western Hemisphere are gathering in Los Angeles today for the ninth summit of the Americas. Officials meetings kicked off on

Wednesday, with talks aimed at boosting economic corporation, fighting climate change, and tackling illegal migration in the region.

But the ambitious agenda has been overshadowed by the refusal of the host country, that's the United States, to invite Cuba, Venezuela, and

Nicaragua, citing their human rights records and authoritarian governments. Well, that move has prompted Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

to boycott the summit.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann joins me now from Havana, Cuba.

And, Patrick, Cuba, I believe, was invited to the last two summits. So, what has been the reaction this time around? What are you hearing in


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, officials are furious, and not with a little bit of irony, accused the U.S. of being against democracy,

saying that how can you have a regional summit when you don't include every country that makes up this region?


And it's not just Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, the countries that are snubbed there that are fighting back, that are angry at the Biden

administration. You heard -- as you said, the Mexican president is boycotting the summit. He is sending his foreign minister.

And he's not the only one. Honduras as well, and for different reasons, El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, and the president of Guatemala, both these

presidents, while they are to the right, claimed the U.S. meddles too often in their affairs. And so, as well, they are sending their foreign

ministers, which is something of a snub to the Biden administration.

And it really is an issue because one of the main issues, they said that they wanted to discuss, want to reach an agreement on is causes of

migration. Here, you have Mexico and Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, all the presidents not going to this summit. So, that is an issue for the

Biden administration because they will not have the level of leaders, the heads of state they hoped for, to hammer out an agreement.

Officials say they are still hopeful they can come to an agreement, but we are seeing a surge of migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, and a new

caravan of more than 2,000 people entering southern Mexico, heading towards the U.S. Mexico border. So, certainly, this is an issue that even with the

controversy taking place in the summit cannot be -- cannot be ignored.

SOARES: Patrick, give me a sense of the mood. Look, you're in Havana, you have covered Venezuela, other parts of south America. You and I were

together in Venezuela.

Is the U.S., from your viewpoint, losing influence in the region?

OPPMANN: Absolutely, Isa. As you know, this summit was meant to counteract the rising influence of China in the region. It's mired in this issue of

which countries to invite, which countries say they are not attending. And to see a leader like the Mexican President AMLO, and other leaders just

sort of say to the U.S., well, we won't come to your summit, and even leaders like Panama's president and the Argentine president saying they

will go but they felt the U.S. has made a misstep here in striking on something that would not have happened in the past.

Even if you talk to current and former U.S. officials, they said they just could not have President Biden receive a dressing down from Venezuela's

Maduro or Diaz-Canel of Cuba. They didn't want to have them in the family photo with leaders they consider to be dictators.

But, certainly, this is overshadowing the summit. U.S. officials are anxious to get things back on track if they can.

SOARES: If they can. Patrick, great to see you. Thanks very much, Patrick.

Joining me now from Los Angeles, Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the American Society and Council of the Americas, here on the show.

Eric, great to have you on the show. I mean, you heard Patrick Oppmann say one of the officials saying it was a misstep by the United States. Cuba was

invited the last two summits, I believe, of the Americas.

So, what has changed since? Why not invite these countries?


Well, you know, it's a good question, but I think it's a lot deeper than whether the leader of Cuba or Nicaragua show up at the summit. I think the

lack of a broader economic recovery agenda coming out of COVID is what created the political space to allow leaders like the president of Mexico

to really try to fill it with issues that are frankly inconvenient for the United States.

But let's take a step back. It was the leaders themselves, by signing the Democratic Charter, the American Democratic Charter on 9/11, actually,

ironically, that expressly disqualifies leaders of non-democratic countries from participating in Summits of the Americas. So, this is something that

was even signed by the late Hugo Chavez himself.

And so, I think, you know, this summit is really supposed to be not just a celebration of democracy, institutionally, it's supposed to be reserved for

democratically elected leaders. But the absence of a broader economic recovery agenda allowed some of that space to be filled by others with

separate agendas.

SOARES: Okay. That might be the case, Eric. But, you know, President Biden, from what we understand, has agreed to meet with the Saudi crown

prince in July. We are told he has been discussing the rights records in Yemen, the role of Saudi government in the murder of journalist Jamal


Why can't President Biden talked to leaders of these countries if he can talk to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia?

FARNSWORTH: Well, a couple reasons.

First is, the Americas are different. We have intentionally, along with our democratically elected partners and friends in the region tried to reserve

the western hemisphere as a democratic space. And that's been since the first summit of the Americas, which I attended in Miami, in 1994.


You don't have an Inter American charter for Middle East or for Asia or anywhere else.

The second thing is, this is a unique forum, specifically reserved for the critically elected leaders. That's not to say there aren't other fora where

President Biden could speak with other folks if he chose to do that. This is a unique forum.

And so, I think it really does speak to the promise, and that's a good thing, of the democracy moments in the Americas. Frankly, I hope that Saudi

Arabia and others actually catch up at some point. But that's for another thing.

SOARES: I understand your point. But, surely, Eric, it's counterproductive. I mean, how do you achieve any sort of consensus on

migration, trade, climate change without some of the biggest players?

I mean, in the case of Venezuelan, more than 6 million refugees and migrants have left the country. That's according to the IOM. These leaders

are now present. The leaders of these countries represent a huge chunk of Latin America.

FARNSWORTH: It's a real conundrum. There's no question about it. Particularly, the president of Mexico and the leaders of the three Northern

Triangle countries, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Now, that's a real challenge, no question about it.

Venezuela is different. The migration crisis, over 6 million people, estimates would say, who have left Venezuela, are the largest humanitarian

crisis in modern history of Latin America. And we can lay that squarely at the feet of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, who have frankly destroyed

their country.

And so, there is a lot to be said and done on that front. But it is with allies like Colombia and Brazil, neighbors of Venezuela. Look, if Nicolas

Maduro is the one who's the one who's caused this crisis, talking to him to try to resolve it could in its own be counterproductive.

But, no, I think you are right to raise the question, because they are not easy. That is ultimately why you would have a summit of regional leaders,

so that you can talk about some of these issues and find a way for collective action to address them, whether it's migration, climate change,

economic recovery, what-have-you.

SOARES: Let me ask you this, Eric, because what I have seen in Venezuela, and Patrick Oppmann was there, the time that I was there. We have been

there various times, is really a growing influence not just by China economically but also by Iran. It is not just Venezuela we're seeing. We're

seeing in other parts of South America, Latin America.

How worried should the U.S. be about the shift?

FARNSWORTH: These are very concerning issues. And, in fact, it was Hugo Chavez who welcomed the Iranian regime into Latin America when he was

alive, you know, sometime ago. The Russians are there, the Chinese have been there for sometime.

These are non-democratic influences that, in my view, are not helpful in terms of regional strength and economic recovery and democratic governance.

And in some cases, they are security issues, not just for the United States, but the country in question.

But there are ways to begin to address some of those issues. I think we need to do is higher prioritize some of the initiatives in Americas so that

we can bring to bear the very top political attention that these issues require. Russia is not going to leave Venezuela just because we asked them


But, there are some things that can be done and are being done to make their connection in Venezuela less convenient, and to cause more than a

curtain cost them. And so, the cause-benefit analysis changes. I think those are some of the issues that we would have to look at from a foreign

policy perspective, exercise the tools that we have available to try to address them.

SOARES: Very important context. Eric Farnsworth, always great to have you on the show. Really appreciate it, Eric. Thank you.

FARNSWORTH: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

SOARES: Now, coming up, a missing journalist, a military search party and a emotional plea from a desperate family. We'll bring you the latest on Dom

Phillips disappearance in the Amazon.

Plus, how China's push for zero COVID keeping its largest city from moving forward. That is next.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Let's take a look at the other key stories making international impact today.

More than a dozen majority Muslim countries are condemning comments made by officials from India's ruling party, which they say insulted the Islamic

Prophet Muhammad and the Muslim faith. India's ruling party has suspended one official and expelled the other. It comes as India looks to expand its

economic partnership with several Gulf States.

Officials in Shanghai have locked down neighborhoods where three coronavirus cases were found. It comes just a week after China lifting most

restrictions in its largest city, along most of its 25 million residents to leave their communities for the first time in two months.

A search is underway for a missing British journalist and his colleague working in the remote area of the Amazon rainforest. But Brazil's military

is being criticized for a slow response. Dom Phillips and indigenous affairs specialist Bruno Pereira disappeared on Sunday. They were traveling

through an area known for illegal mining and drug trafficking.

CNN's Shasta Darlington live from Sao Paulo to discuss.

And, Shasta, what are you hearing this hour from the authorities regarding the disappearance? Because both of these men, I think it's important to

point to our viewers, are very well-regarded in their field for really bringing to light the crimes being committed against these indigenous


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Isa. And you can imagine that there is a lot of fear and anger here right now. As you

mentioned, Phillips is well known and loved in the journalist community. We all know him. Bruno Pereira is widely respected indigenous circles and has

been active for years. And they went missing on Sunday.

Here we have another day of search and rescue efforts that have come up with absolutely nothing. They were last seen in the Javari Valley in the

far western part of the Brazilian Amazon. That's near the Peruvian border. They were leaving this community for what was supposed to be a two and a

half but ride. But they never arrived.

And local indigenous organizations immediately set out search and rescue efforts. Today on Tuesday, we now see troops using boats and helicopters in

search efforts. They definitely jumped in.

But experts say that it has come late. The speed was crucial. This was a protected area that has come under attack from different groups involved in

legal activity. That is everything from illegal mining, illegal line logging, poaching, illegal fishing and as you mentioned, even drug

trafficking. That is in the tri border area with Peru and Bolivia.

And yet, it's supposed to be an area reserved for indigenous communities, including several un-contacted tribes.


So, with these repeated land invasions, we have seen a lot of violence. In 2019, a worker was killed. And both Phillips and Pereira were receiving

death threats. So, there was a lot of concern that maybe they had a run in with one of these groups involved in illegal activities, Isa.

SOARES: And we have been hearing from, I believe, Dom Phillips' sister. Let's have a listen.


SIAN PHILLIPS, SISTER OF MISSING JOURNALIST DOM PHILLIPS: He loves the country and cares deeply about the Amazon and the people there. We knew

that it was a dangerous place, but Dom really believed it's possible to safeguard the nature and the livelihood of the indigenous people. We are

really worried about him and urged the authorities in Brazil to do all they can, search the routes he was following.


SOARES: I can't imagine what his family was going to, Shasta. Just -- are we expecting the search and rescue to continue?

DARLINGTON: At the point, yes, until we have some news about their disappearance, what could have happened.

We did actually hear from President Jair Bolsonaro today. He has -- under his administration, illegal activity has soared in the Amazon region. On

Tuesday, he called their disappearance an un-recommended adventure and he said that they could have been victims of an execution or an accident --

definitely not an uplifting message, Isa.

SOARES: Yeah, and it was under Jair Bolsonaro that environmental protections have been rolled back. So, that's -- we don't have time for

that, but that is important context that you brought, Shasta. Thank you very much. Shasta Darlington for us there in Sao Paolo.

Well, I have been following this story for the past few years, environmental aspects, specifically the urgent issue of safeguarding the

lives of Amazon's indigenous communities. In 2021, as you can see there, I reported on how illegal gold miners threatening their fragile life deep in

the Amazon rainforest. You can watch my full report online at Of course, we'll stay on top of the story.

Thanks very much for watching. I'll see you again tomorrow. Bye-bye.