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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Severodonetsk Battle; War Crimes Accusations; Brazil Missing Men. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired June 13, 2022 - 17:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. I'm Max Foster in for Bianca Nobilo. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Tonight, all three bridges into Severodonetsk are now destroyed, as Russia tightened its grip on the strategically crucial city.

Then, Amnesty International accuses Russia of war crimes in Kharkiv. I'll be speaking to the lead author of that report about the process of justice

could look like there.

And, Brazil's president says the missing journalists are likely victims of malice. I will bring you the latest from the authorities ahead.

Now, Russian forces are tightening their grip on the city of Severodonetsk, as a separatist leader warns that Ukrainians there must surrender or die.

The fight isn't over, but Ukraine's military says its forces have been driven from the city center under constant bombardment from superior

Russian firepower. The regional officials says all three branches into the city are now aim passable for vehicles, disrupting supply efforts and

making evacuation impossible.

Ukraine is urging the West to speed the delivery of high -- heavy weapons, warning that if Severodonetsk falls, all of the Donbas could share the same


We go now live to Ukraine, reporting live from the city of Poltava -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max, to describe the situation in Severodonetsk as dire, or is perhaps an understatement.

The situation there is bad for quite some time. But now it looks like it is almost completely cut off from Ukrainian forces.

There is one bridge still standing. But it's impossible for people, if video shows that there are destroyed cars all over the bridge. Of course,

it's been hit multiple times by artillery. Now, the head of the military in registration in the Luhansk region says that in the Azov chemical plant

which is one area still controlled by Ukrainian forces, there are 500 civilians still stuck there, including 40 children they simply can't get

out. Not under these circumstances.

It may be just a matter of days before the city falls to Russian forces. Ukrainian officials are saying the Russians control at this 70 to 80

percent. If that city falls, the next step perhaps is the city of Sloviansk, to the northwest of there. And we went to that city and found

that some people, despite the danger, have returned.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): The city of Sloviansk may be half empty, but the church of the Holy Spirit is almost full. The city is perilously close to

the front lines, but with faith and stubbornness, the few stay put while others have come back.

Luba and her family left shortly after the outbreak of war, staying with relatives in western Ukraine. She returned a month ago. For now, home sweet

home is a dark, damp basement shared with other building residents.

Having lived through the fighting here in 2014, she left because she didn't want to go through it all over again.

I was scared for my son and my grandson, she says. Yet hospitality had its limits, and home sickness took a toll.

We felt our relatives were sick of us, she says. They have their own lives. You can put up with your relatives for a while, but we decided it was time

to go back.

The basement is far from comfortable, but it's better than upstairs when the bombs and missiles fall at night. Her 14-year-old grandson Bogdan

prefers it here.

Even if you can go to a safer place elsewhere, he says, it's better to be at home, even if you have to sleep in the basement.

The longer this war goes on, the cooler the welcome becomes for those who have fled to safer ground. And as dangerous as it may be here, there's no

place like home.

With no cooking gas to be had, the kitchen has moved to the yard. The city water supply was knocked out. It now must be pumped by hand.

Gone are the comforts and conveniences of modern life, but at least it's home.



WEDEMAN (on camera): And, Ukrainian officials have warned that Russian forces are amassing outside of Sloviansk. And, of course, the Russians are

taking full advantage in Severodonetsk and elsewhere of their numerical advantage in terms of artillery.

Now, we spent some time with a unit of the Ukrainian army today, that has received Americans small arms. But they say that when they do go to the

front what they desperately need is artillery. We've heard estimates that for everyone artillery piece possessed by the Ukrainian army, the Russians

possessed perhaps 10 to 15 artillery pieces.

And given the situation, given the casualties the Ukrainians are taking, Ukrainian officials are saying that every day somewhere between 100 and 200

of their soldiers are being killed. The situation is getting ever more dangerous in that part of the country. And Ukrainian forces simply do not

have the wherewithal to stop the Russians from advancing -- Max.

FOSTER: Ben in Poltava, thank you.

Inside Russia, President Vladimir Putin is reframing his so-called special military action on Ukraine. He's not calling it a war but a policy of

unification, for filling the country's birth right.

Fred Pleitgen shows us how Russia is shaping the narrative within its borders, and how Russians are responding.


ANNOUNCER: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A display of patriotism on Russia day. Russian President Vladimir Putin

handing out medals just days after he likened himself to Peter the Great, claiming like Czar Peter 300 years ago, in Ukraine, Russia is taking back

land that is rightfully Russia's.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): He went there to take it back and strengthen it. That's what he was doing. Well, it seems it

has also fallen to us to take back and strengthen territories, and if we take these basic values as fundamental to our existence, we will prevail in

solving the issues we are facing.

PLEITGEN: After stating at the start of the war that Russia has no intention of occupying Ukraine, Kremlin TV now is amplifying the new

slogan, taking back and strengthening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We all need to explain to the Ukrainians we are not playing. We, as our President said, are taking back

what's supposed to be ours and strengthening it.

PLEITGEN: Take back and strengthen, those words also start the show of the man known as Putin's chief propagandist, then showing images of people in

Russian occupied territory in Ukraine receiving Russian passports.

And pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine's Donbas region firing at Ukrainian forces with a clear message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): All of this is Russian territory, Russian land. They had been separating us for centuries. But the center of

Ukraine and the southeast, those are all Russian people.

PLEITGEN: At the same time, the Russians are making clear the current sanctions won't make them change course. The country's economy has

stabilized and this weekend, a Russian company reopened several restaurants formerly owned by McDonald's, under the new brand name, Tasty, and that's


Some at the grand opening wearing "Z" embroidered clothes, the symbol of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as they ate American style fast food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Food and politics have nothing in common. Come on, man. Keep things separate.

PLEITGEN: A big run on burgers in Moscow, while the war in Ukraine drags on, and Vladimir Putin is far from finished with what he sees as his


Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


PLEITGEN: Amnesty International is accusing Russia of having committed war crimes in Ukraine's second largest city. It says Russia's use of cluster

munitions and scatter ball land mines to capture Kharkiv killed hundreds of civilians indiscriminately.

Amnesty's new report matches our own reporting from the front lines, here's part of CNN's Nima Elbagir's report from last month.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A devastation of civilian homes and lives, throughout the last few months, we

have witnessed atrocities in Ukraine.

More and more airstrikes, very close, they want to start moving.

While we know these are Russian actions, it has been difficult to draw a direct line from individual atrocities to a specific Russian commander,

until now.

CNN can exclusively reveal that this man, Colonel General Alexander Zhuravlyov, commander of the western military district is the commander

responsible for this.

Munitions targeting civilians in the city of Kharkiv, east Ukraine, a war crime under international law.


FOSTER: You can watch Nima's he full report at

CNN has reached out to the Russian defense forces and to the general for comment but we have no reply so far.


Now, Donatella Rovera is a senior crisis adviser for Amnesty International, the lead author of this 40-page report. Thank you so much. A huge amount of

work going into it.

What does it tell us about the Russian tactics?

DONATELLA ROVERA. SENIOR CRISIS ADVISER FOR AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Well, we investigated another of strikes, 41 strikes in the city of Kharkiv. And

seven of them were carried out using cluster munitions, and scatterable minds. These are wildly banned internationally.

All the others were carried out using Grad rockets, or again rockets, artillery, unguarded artillery shells, which are not banned but they are

weapons that are designed for the battlefield, they should never be used in residential and civilian areas. And yet, Russian forces have in doing so.

They are in residential areas which are populated by civilians, knowing that they will kill and injure civilians.

That is a violation to the international humanitarian law. There is prima facie evidence that these are work rhymes. It should be investigated as


FOSTER: How do you prove the intent to target civilians? It's very difficult, isn't it?

ROVERA: Proving intent is very difficult. I think that what we have here is even in the absence of proof of intent, of deliberately targeting

civilian, there is evidence of war crimes because international humanitarian law is very clear on the need to differentiate between

civilians and military.

So, attacks that are either disproportionate or, as in this case, which are indiscriminate. There is no doubt that the attacks that Russia has been

committing in Kharkiv since the end of February are indiscriminate attacks, because of the nature of the weapons and the munitions that they have been

using. These are war crimes. It is possible to argue in addition that even from the very first day, the Russian forces and the Russian government

could not ignore that their attacks were causing a very large number of civilian casualties and fatalities.

The fact that their pursuit of these same tactics for three months, that that is tantamount to deliberate targeting of civilians. But as I said,

even in the absence of evidence or inability to prove that there is a desire to deliberately target civilians, these indiscriminate attacks are

in and of themselves war crimes.

FOSTER: Just briefly, are you confident that you can get the evidence that you will need to stand these allegations and a court of law, international

court of law?

ROVERA: Well, for us, the importance of being on the ground very promptly is precisely to be able to investigate why the material evidence is

available. The witnesses and the survivors, their memories fresh -- I mean, obviously ultimately the prosecutors who will need to prosecute this case

are the ones who need to be collecting and preserving the evidence, to withstand their need to it, for bringing a case before a court of law. And

that is -- that's a very heavy process, and a very long one.

It's important to manage expectations. At the moment, some of the -- some of the narratives are perhaps overoptimistic in this perspective in the

short term.

FOSTER: Donatella Rovera from Amnesty, thank you very much for joining us today.

Now, Wikipedia is fighting back after Russia demanded that it removed information about the war. Russian courts have ordered the foundation that

orders the site to take information about the invasion of Ukraine, hitting it with an $88,000 fine. Wikipedia has refused, arguing that people have

the right to know the facts of the war. But Moscow says it's the information, and a risk to the public.

Brazil's president says he believes that a missing journalist, Dom Phillips, and his guide, Bruno Pereira, are likely victims of malice. Jair

Bolsonaro also said that he had evidence that points to them no longer being alive. Brazil's military is still scouring the Amazon rainforest for

the men who've been missing since June 5th. Brazilian authorities did find some of the personal belongings like backpacks and shoes and what we call

biological traces.


CNN's Shasta Darlington is joining us live from San Paolo to discuss this, and what so many people had feared.

You know, what are your understanding about the story of their disappearance?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, I mean, what we do know at this point is that there are still search and rescue teams on the ground

in the region. As you mentioned, they found personal items belonging to Phillips and Pereira, biological traces that you mentioned are currently

being analyzed and, of course, Bolsonaro weighing in saying malice was done to them, and that they likely won't be found alive.

Now, the fact is a British journalist and indigenous affairs expert went missing more than a week ago now. So, according to indigenous groups both

men had both received death threats before they went missing. They were last seen on June 5th during a trip in the Javari Valley.

This is in the far western part of the Amazon. They were conducting research for a book on conservation efforts in the region. It's an area

that's home to many protected indigenous tribes, but also seen increasing illegal activity with land invasions carried by illegal loggers, illegal

miners, poachers, and drug trafficking.

So, with that has come an increase in violence. Just to give you an example, a colleague of Pereira was killed there in 2019. So, given this

scenario where there's been a lot of backlash against authorities with critics claiming they were slow to react, they didn't really dive in and

start the search and rescue efforts seriously until a couple of days after the men had been reported missing.

And again, this is not a region that's known to be dangerous. So, the hope is fading. The news that we are getting isn't great, but we still have to

wait for any kind of a conclusive announcement -- Max.

FOSTER: OK. Shasta, thank you. We'll be back with you soon as we have more.

Coming up next, the president's detached from reality. Donald Trump's former attorney said he feared what his boss has become. I will have today

stunning testimony of the January 6 committee hearing, coming up.

And a London court has ruled that first flights taking asylum seekers from the U.K. to Rwanda can go ahead on Tuesday. We'll have the latest details

of the controversial plans just ahead.



FOSTER: Now, former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr used blunt terms to describe former President Donald Trump in a testimony played today during

the January 6 committee's second televised hearing. The panel attempted to show that President Trump refused to accept the election laws, even though

many aides lawyers and other experts told him he had as Barr testified he feared to the president's mental state, as Trump pushed claims of election



WILLIAM BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has -- you know, lost contact with -- he's become

detached from reality if he really believes this. On the other hand, you know, I went into this and would, you know, how crazy some of these

allegations were. There was never -- there was never an indication of interest in with the actual facts were. My opinion then and my opinion now

is that the election was not stolen by fraud.


FOSTER: The testimony today included Trump's campaign describing how Trump's team is divided into two camps. His urging restraints and lawyer

Rudy Giuliani's encouraging Trump to declare victory early and pushing voter fraud claims. Former U.S. attorney, B.J. Pak saying Trump's claims

fraud in Georgia were not true. The committee investigator who said Trump's campaign raised a quarter of a billion dollars of his election fraud claims

even though a fraud did not exist.

Now, the U.K. court is refusing to grant an injunction to block Britain from sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. A spokesperson for the UK Home

Office told CNN the first flight would take place as early as Tuesday even if it's just one person on board.

The plan has sparked a backlash, with the United States high commissioner human rights calling it, quote, all wrong.

CNN's Nada Bashir spoke to some refugees in Calais, France, whose lives could be drastically altered by the controversial policy.


NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For days, weeks, sometimes even months, refugees here can only wait. Once notoriously known as the

jungle, this camp in northern France was once seen as a final stop in a desperate attempt to reach the UK.

But, now, the dangerous trip across the English Channel comes with an added risk.

Volunteers here are handing out vital advice pamphlets, warning that an illegal crossing into the UK could now mean deportation to Rwanda. The

message here? Do not panic, we will help you.

But, for some, the news is too much to bear.

If you are told when you get to London that you are being sent to Rwanda, what will you do then?

GULJURBAKHI, AFGHAN ASYLUM SEEKER: Then, maybe, I won't go to Rwanda. Never will I go to Rwanda.

BASHIR: In a nearby camp, we meet a group of young men from Sudan. They are too afraid to appear on camera. Many left the country as teenagers,

fleeing militia violence. They tell us that they remained determined to cross the channel, despite the threat of deportation.

Bu you still want to go to the U.K. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)?

ADAM SUDANESE ASYLUM SEEKER (through translator): Yes, God willing. We hope they will let us settle into the UK, but if they deported to Rwanda,

and we will go. Honestly, I am afraid. But, God knows what is best.

BASHIR: But on the other side of the channel, the situation for those already facing deportation is also strained. Many are being held at

detention centers like this one, just outside of London.

Among them, is Sydney's asylum seeker Karim, we're not using his real name to protect his identity. Karim is unreachable while in detention. But his

legal representatives tell us he received notice he would be deported to Rwanda in may, sent us this written testimony.

KARIM: I was shocked. I didn't think any country would do that. Why did they rescue me from the waves to send me there? They should have left me in

the water, it would have been better. I won't go. I'd rather be dead.

BASHIR: The British government claimed its new program is aimed at disrupting people smuggling networks. It will deter people from making the

perilous journey across the English Channel. The U.N.'s Refugee Agency has described the UK's deal with Rwanda as unlawful, warning that the scheme

lacks adequate safeguards to ensure refugee protection.

Meanwhile, human rights watch has one blasted the secretary's claim that Rwanda will provide a safe haven for refugees.


The organization says that the British government has cherry picked and even ignored facts on the ground, pointing to what they described as

Rwanda's appalling human rights record.

It's an issue which has sparked controversy within the government's own home office. Some civil servants marching a legal challenge, seeking to

halt all deportation flights to Rwanda, and it's even triggered an inquiry by the House of Lords.

Back in Calais, volunteers say the uncertainty is taking a devastating toll on asylum seekers.

CLARE MOSELEY, FOUNDER, CARE4CALAIS: The conversations that we have had with people, they say to us, I've lost my hope. The future is black.

There's nothing left for me to live for. It is so critically important that this plan is absolutely examined in fine detail to make sure that it is

lawful and if it isn't, then, nobody must be sent.

BASHIR: While some here say they remain undeterred and will still try to reach the UK, others are stuck in limbo, unable to return home, desperate

for the security that the UK once offered, but, also, unwilling to risk being the reported to Rwanda.

Nada Bashir, CNN, in Calais, France.


FOSTER: Members of the royal family gathered in Windsor on Monday for Garter Day when new members are brought in to Britain's oldest and most

senior order of chivalry. The duchess of Cornwall, she was installed as new garter ladies or knights. Also included, Baroness Valerie Amos, a former

politician and UN undersecretary. She's the first black member of the orders since it was founded, it at least 700 years ago.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tony Blair's investiture was overshadowed by anti-war protesters outside the Windsor Castle, with 1 million

signatures for a petition of the removal of his knighthood due to his involvement in the Iraq war.

Queen Elizabeth II attended the private lunch but was not in the public procession. His son Prince Andrew was also kept out of the public eye, only

attending private events and what was understood to be a family decision.

Thanks for watching. That was your GLOBAL BRIEF. "WORLD SPORTS" is up next.