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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Ukraine War; Global Economic Crisis; Unusual Heat Waves. Aired 5- 5:30p ET

Aired June 17, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. I am in London. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Russian President Putin declares the end of the, quote, era of the unipolar work, as the European Commission recommends candidate status for Ukraine.

And Sri Lankan government employees are being told to stay at home for the next two weeks, with the country set to run out of fuel within days. We'll

be unpacking the economic crisis there and where it came from.

And sweltering heat waves are causing concern around the world. So, we'll be live at the CNN Weather Center.

The European Commission president put in vivid terms: We want Ukraine to leave the European country. And with that, the commission recommended that

Ukraine be made a formal candidate to join the European Union. It's the status Ukraine has been seeking as it fights the Russian invasion.

Becoming a member can take years, though, and it would come with conditions as to all E.U. ascensions, including requiring Ukraine to make judiciary

and anti-corruption reports.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: The entire process is merits-based. So it goes by the book and therefore progress depends

entirely on Ukraine. It is Ukraine that has been their hands. And what could be better to shape your own future?


NOBILO: EU flags were flying alongside Ukrainian ones Friday in Kyiv, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the recommendation a

historic achievement. And it will bring our victory closer.

Russia's Vladimir Putin is trying to downplay the EU's developments. He says that he has no objections to Ukrainian membership since the European

Union is an economic union, not a military bloc NATO. Keeping Ukraine out of NATO is, of course, one of the reasons that Putin says he ordered the

invasion in February. And hours ago, the Russian president made some of his substantive remarks since the war began.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): When the U.S. declared they won the cold war they declared themselves messengers of the

lord on earth, they have only interest. They have declared those interests, sacred.


NOBILO: Mr. Putin also declared the end of the era of the unipolar world and a series of attacks on the U.S. and its allies. When speaking of the

Ukraine, he claimed Russia was forced into the conflict.


PUTIN: Our soldiers and the militias of Donbas are fighting to defend their people. Russia's right to a free and independent development as a

multiethnic country that could make its own decisions, to define its own future based on its own values, history, and traditions. And reject any

attempts to impose pseudo values of dehumanization and moral degradation from outside. All the aims of the special operations will be achieved.


NOBILO: CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Ukraine's Donetsk region for us in the city of Kramatorsk. Ben, thank you so much for joining the program. What's

the reaction been in Ukraine to the E.U. recommending candidate status and the visits of European leaders this week? And do either of those things

translate to anything tangible to help Ukraine in the war?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, symbolically, it's very important and by and large Ukrainian officials were

positive about the fact that the European Commission is going to recommend Ukraine for candidates status. It's still a long way to go before it joins

the EU. President Zelenskyy says this will bring our victory closer.

But there are those in Ukraine who are worried about perhaps the Europeans, particularly the French and the Germans who were least enthusiastic about

bringing Ukraine into the EU but changed their tune when they came to Kyiv.

The worry is perhaps they want a quid pro quo and that is that Ukraine will start negotiations again with the Russians and perhaps be compelled to make

compromises on territory.

So, generally, the reaction was very positive. But there are still some concerns, and there is more to it than meets the eye at the moment, Bianca.

NOBILO: And, Ben, turning to the fierce battles in the East. You and your team, obviously, you are in Kramatorsk now, but you've been right at the

front in Lysychansk, what have you witnessed?

WEDEMAN: Well, what we witnessed is that despite what President Zelenskyy said, that Lysychansk and its sister city Severodonetsk are dead cities,

certainly, Lysychansk isn't dead but it is barely holding on.



WEDEMAN (voice-over): A portent of things to come on the road to Lysychansk. A city that has been in the line of fire for months.

A school basement serves as shelter for dozens of residents.

Tatiana shows us where they sleep. The only light provided by our camera.

"Everyone is outside now," she says, "because it's too dark and hard to breathe down here."

Outside, they wait as soup cooks over a fire.

"There's no gas, no power, no water," Maria tells me. "We have nothing."

Most are old, tired, terrified, and beyond despair.

"I'm alone," says 82-year-old Masha. "My legs are tired. I can't go anywhere."

Lydumila is leaving.

"We thought it would calm down, but it only gets worse and worse," she says. "I can't take these sounds anymore."

Natalya is leaving, too.

"The windows in my house are broken," she says. "There's a huge crater by my house. It's the end of the world."

The sunny weather belies what has become a post-apocalyptic existence. Residents line up for unfiltered water so they can wash and flush toilets.

Almost four months of war with no end in sight, frustration flares.

"Where's our mayor? Where's our governor?" ask Mykola. "They should have come here at least once."

Just across the river, savage street fighting rages in Severodonetsk. Lysychansk isn't near the front, it is the front.

At 3:00 in the afternoon, Russian aircraft hit this building. This building was serving as a shelter for people. Three were killed, and it really goes

to show there is nowhere in Lysychansk that's safe.

Lyudmila was in that building. Her husband injured in the strike. "Yesterday, he was crushed under the rubble," she says. She can do nothing

but weep as she waits for a ride to see him in hospital.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And as far as Severodonetsk goes, Ukrainian officials say negotiations have begun with the Russians for opening a humanitarian

corridor. The Ukrainians however say the most important conditions for that is that the Russians fully respect a cease fire. The Russians for their

part, a day before yesterday, also suggested a humanitarian corridor. But their condition was that everybody who leaves Severodonetsk goes into

Russian controlled territory -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Thank you, Ben. And we can see from your piece there how challenging it is to report from those areas. We appreciate it. Ben Wedeman

for us in Kramatorsk, thank you.

U.S. President Joe Biden says he's been briefed on three Americans who are missing and Ukraine. They've traveled to fight alongside Ukrainians, and

now, their family members fear that they've been captured by Russian troops.

Sam Kiley spoke to another Americans who was with them when they went missing, and he brings us this exclusive report.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These two American fighters have their hands bound behind them. They're dressed in

uniforms not their own and they may well have been captured by the very Russians that they've been fighting. This as far as it goes is good news

for the comrade who last saw a T-72 tank open fire on his two friends.

Does that give you any kind of cause for hope?

PIP, FORMER U.S. SERVICEMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I wish I could say with 100 percent certainty that it's not a fake, but I'm -- I have a lot of

hope that it's them.

KILEY: A former U.S. serviceman, he was in the same battle as Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh when they went missing in action. He fears Russian reprisals

in Ukraine and beyond, wants his identity and voice hidden. He uses the code name, Pip. But for the first time on TV, he described what happened on

June 9th about 20 miles northwest of Kharkiv.

PIP: The team was sent out on a mission on the 9th and showed up in areas of operations and a full scale Russian armored assault was underway. A

hasty defense was set up. Two antitank teams were set up.


Alex and Andy fired an RPG at the BPM that was coming through the woods and destroyed it. A T-72 then turned and fired upon them. Drove a few more

meters forward and hit the antitank mine that our Ukrainian officer placed.

We suspect they were knocked out by either the T-72 tank shooting at them or the blast of the mine.

KILEY: So far, Russian officials have denied any knowledge of the missing Americans.

Two Britons both with UK and Ukrainian citizenships were recently sentenced to death on charges of being mercenaries by a so-called court in the

Russian-backed rebel area of Ukraine that calls itself the Donetsk People's Republic. They were longstanding members of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Wayne and Drueke had served alongside Pip in a three-month team since April.

PIP: As far as I'm aware, we're paid about the same if not exactly the same as the Ukrainian soldier who's on the front, and money is certainly

not my motivation for being here and I know it's not Andy's and it's Alex's either.

KILEY: Ukraine has been appealing for urgent supplies of ammunition and heavy weapons. It's also recruited large numbers, the details are kept

secret, of foreign volunteers into its international legion.

So, what advice would you give finally for anybody thinking of wanting to join the legion?

PIP: Oh, wow, well, if you have no military background, if you don't have any combat experience, if you expect to come here with air support, intense

helicopter support, then stay home because that is not the case.

It is the Russian army. And they have massive amounts of artillery. They have massive amounts of armor and the Ukrainians are giving it their


KILEY: Did you make the right call?

PIP: I'll admit to questioning it once in a while, but I think, yes.

KILEY: For those captured by Russia, that answer may no longer be quite so positive.

Sam Kiley, CNN, in Kharkiv.


NOBILO: President Putin also said the West's attempt to crush the Russian economy's sanctions has been unsuccessful, arguing that Russia's economic

woes are not due to the war. We do know that the war paired with pandemic recovery is having dire economic consequences around the world.

The deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund told CNN that the global economy is currently seeing very challenging times with

crises after crises. The IMF will be traveling to Sri Lanka on Monday to navigate the country's worst economic crisis in seven decades. The

country's energy minister says they are days away from running out of fuel.

On Friday, the government introduced a two-day work week from home, sorry two weeks working from home as a program for workers to combat the fuel

shortage. This is days after the government set the public service workers can use one day of their week to grow crops admitting food shortages. The

World Food Programme also announced emergency aid to the country this week.

So, let's bring Ravi Agrawal, editor in chief of "Foreign Policy" and CNN's former New Delhi bureau chief.

Great to have you on the program, Ravi. Welcome.


NOBILO: So, we know that Sri Lanka has only a handful of days of fuel supply left and essential items are running out. How bad is it and what

kind of sacrifices Sri Lankans having to make?

AGRAWAL: This is the worst economic crisis in Sri Lanka's history really, it's as bad as it sounds in that Sri Lanka is running out of money. It

doesn't have money to pay for fuel. It imports, of course. It imports most of what it consumers, other than certain types of food.

It's unable to provide cooking oil for people. It's unable to get medicine into people. So, the situation really is dire. I mean, you mentioned that

the government has started to give some workers a four day work week. Part of the rational behind that is that as dire needing to save power in

government offices, and also hoping that some of these workers would grow food in their backyards. That's how bad it is across the board.

But what it all comes down to ultimately is money. If Sri Lanka had money, it can buy many of the things it needs, which is what it would've done

under normal circumstances. But the crisis that it now finds itself in is because of years of economic mismanagement.

NOBILO: Uh-oh. And so, obviously, we know that Sri Lanka needed some money. What emergency options are available right now to mitigate the

economic hardship?

AGRAWAL: Well, they are fairly limited for a number of reasons. Usually what happens when a country tends to fall into what is essentially a

balance of payments crisis is you reach out to the usual suspects, the IMF, the World Bank.

But the IMF itself doesn't just hand out money without any costs imposed. And so, usually, the costs imposed would be austerity, it would be certain

types of fiscal reforms that would be required, also to pay off some of your creditors.


In Sri Lanka's case, those creditors include China, which holds about 15 percent of Sri Lanka's debt right now. And other sort of countries that Sri

Lanka does not have the best relationship with. So there's a lot there to untangle in the coming days and weeks.

Adding to all of this is the fact that Sri Lanka has had a political crisis over the last several weeks now where the Rajapaksa government has been

deeply unpopular. It sparked protests across Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka, that people are extremely angry.

And so, you have toxic mix of political instability, no money, no real ability to build an economic plan without help from the outside world. And

the outside help is not easy to get in.

NOBILO: OK. So those are some of the factors, which right now are encumbering faltered progress, instability, outside help. Can we rewind?

When did this economic crisis come from? What factors contributed to it?

AGRAWAL: So, there are quite a few things, but many people are going back to around 2019 when Sri Lanka had an Easter Day, sort of terrorist attack

which killed more than 250 people. I know CNN, of course, reported that extensively at the time.

But before 2019, Sri Lanka was actually operating a surplus, in part because its prime minister at the time had imposed higher taxes, not only

in companies but also in regular people. What happened after those terrorist attacks is that he became very unpopular for security reasons,

defense reasons. And Sri Lanka then ended up welcoming back in the Rajapaksa family, which governed Sri Lanka for many years before in the


They're the family that was behind ending Sri Lanka's civil war in the `90s, in 2000s. And what happened when this family came back in and I say

family, because they had a president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, but he ended up installing his brothers and other cronies and a whole variety of

ministries. In a sense, you had one family with absolute power over government and it was unchecked power, and with that came populism,

economic mismanagement.

This is a country that again gets most of its income from tourism. They went on a grand tour of infrastructure, ruinous spending and also slashing

taxes so they were spending money but not bringing in new revenue. All of that still could have been fine and normal flourishing circumstances, but

then the pandemic hits and tourism is destroyed, and then Sri Lanka really begins to feel the bite.

It is still thought that maybe it could get through that, and then, of course, you have the war on Ukraine, which ended up leading to crude prices

more than doubling. That meant that if you are a country that imports most of your oil, you are in deep trouble. So, Sri Lanka really is exhibit A for

how a whole range of global crises over the last of couple of years have made it incredibly difficult for smaller nations.

NOBILO: Ravi Agrawal, it's been great to hear from you. You're editor in chief of my favorite magazine, "Foreign Policy". And we'll have to have you

again soon. Thank you for joining us.

And it was a rough week for investors on Wall Street. U.S. markets try to come back Friday, but it was not enough to offset the frenzied weeks of

selling, mounting inflation fears and record interest rate hike from U.S. Federal Reserve. The Dow close lightly down. The S&P closed higher and the

Nasdaq picked up more than 1 percent.

This was the worst week for the S&P since 2020. Wall Street is closed on Monday in observance of the first ever federal holiday marking Juneteenth.

Millions around the world suffering under extreme temperatures, dealing with high fire risks and health warnings. Next, we will have an update on

the global heat wave. And we will have your weekly wrap of good news, it's come back, including Thailand edging closer to legalizing same sex


So, do stay with us.



NOBILO: Let's take a look at other key stories making national impacts.

Brazilian federal police say the forensic dental examination confirms that some of the human remains found in the Amazon belonged to British

journalist, Dom Phillips. He and indigenous expert, Bruno Pereira, were reported missing the remote region of the Amazon nearly two weeks ago. Two

suspects have been arrested.

New numbers show the coronavirus infections are surging in Britain, 1.4 million people are estimated to have had COVID last week, according to the

Office of the National Statistics. That's an increase of 43 percent compared to just the previous week.

Experts say that the rise in omicron variance is likely a key factor.

Labor shortages are fueling flight cancellations and other restrictions at two of Europe's busiest airports. London get work will limit the lumber of

departures of landings in July and August, and Amsterdam will cap the numbers of travelers a day this summer.

If I had a pound for every British person who said it's hot today, U.S. officials have issued heat health warnings until Saturday. Many people have

the skip to be just to try to cool down on the hottest day of the year so far. But people are facing scorching and dangerous temperatures as heat

waves are spreading around the world.

So, I want to bring in meteorologist Alison Chinchar for more on this extreme heat.

Alison, how or why are this year's heat waves unusual?

ALISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: So, let's start with the good news, actually, which is we are finally going to get a little bit of a reprieve

from the heat over the next couple of days. But we have noticed a lot of heat. It has not just been in one place. The Iberian Peninsula, France,

Germany, Italy, even areas of the U.K., have been dealing with that intense heat over the last few days.

Look at some of the records. In fact, in France, they said their earliest 40-degree recorded temperature in the mainland on Thursday and it was not

the only location. We had individual spots in Spain topping out at over 40 degrees.

Within France, take a look at the numbers, several over 40. Even Cognac sitting at 38.9. Not the hottest temperature in France, but that was their

June record. Not just breaking a daily record, but a monthly record as well.

Talking again about France, take a look at Paris. The forecast high on Saturday's 38. If they reach that mark, that two, will break their all-time

June record for their hottest temperature.

Madrid still looking at a high of around 40, 33 in Rome. Same thing for Berlin. We will finally start to see a drop down here in the coming days.

Take Paris, for example. 38 on Saturday. Down to 29 on Sunday. Sticking around to the mid and upper 20s over the next several days.


Berlin also looking at some of these temperatures looking to come back down. Just having one more at a day. So, both Saturday and Sunday will be

in the low 30s before we finally see some drawback next week as we finally start to get some rain chances into the mix as well.

NOBILO: Allison Chinchar, thinks so much.

Now, research released by Reuters this week found 38 percent of people globally are now choosing to tune out of the new cycle due to its

negativity. That figure hit in the U.K. is nearly 50 percent. I'm a populist news anchor and want to bring you positivity.

We will bring back our weekly good news wrap. And, of course, there's no better way to pick it off again then with the Guinness Book of World

Record. This little five-year-old has become the world's youngest female author from the U.K. She penned the lost cat. It's a tale about a kitty who

ventured outside at night alone.

Meanwhile, Thailand is edging closer to legalizing same sex marriage. After House of Representatives passed four crucial bills on Wednesday. Those

bills will not be debated by committee prior to being sent to Senate for royal approval.

And finally, a viral moment showing a level of joy we all need some more of.

An Australian journalist got a little too excited about the 2022 World Cup during a live report. I can say good luck, Australia.

We always want to hear from you, so I asked early on Twitter what went right in your week? From little winds to a proposed hot air balloons, we

love all of your responses. So, please do keep the good news coming. I think we all need it.

We'll be wrapping up the best bits of the week every Friday. And you can find me on Twitter @bianca_nobilo.

That was your GLOBAL BRIEF. I hope you'll have a lovely weekend.