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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Leaders Issue Dire Warnings About Ukraine Nuclear Plant; Judge Wants Redacted Affidavit, Russia Oil to Cuba. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired August 18, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Dire warnings of potential nuclear disaster from leaders in Ukraine.

A U.S. judge may okay the release of a heavily redacted version of the affidavit for the search of Donald Trump's Florida home.

And Russia sends a supertanker of crude oil to Cuba. We debrief the island nation's desperate need and its relationship with the global pariah.

A new Chernobyl, suicide, the brink of nuclear catastrophe -- those were the words of warning we heard Thursday about Ukraine's embattled

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. They came for the presidents of Ukraine and Turkey, and the U.N. secretary general, as they met in the Ukrainian

city of Lviv. Continuous fighting and shelling at the Russian occupied plant, the largest nuclear power station in Europe, is raising fears that a

devastating breach could happen.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres is leading the demands that Russia put out its forces now.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Military equipment and personnel should be withdrawn from the plant. Further deployment of forces or

equipment to the site must be avoided. The area needs to be demilitarized. And we must tell it as it is, every potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is



NOBILO: CNN's Sam Kiley is in Zaporizhzhia for us. Sam, there have been warning statements about the attacks on this power plant. Russia, accusing

Ukraine of shelling it in a false flag operation, risking another Chernobyl. Ukraine denying this, saying that Russia was responsible.

But today, you've been speaking to people living in range of the shelling. What did they tell you?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca they are very, very afraid. They are afraid of two things. The forces of the

shelling that's actually hitting their villages and towns, it's a relatively short distance across the Dnieper River from the nuclear power

station. Then more concerning to them is the long term prospect, or long term damage potential that can be done by nuclear leak. That's also keeping

them awake at night and things have been very seriously escalating over the last few weeks.

This is what it looks like on the ground.


KILEY (voice-over): It's an all too routine seen. A Ukrainian home destroyed by a missile. But here, the lucky escape of a young couple is

overshadowed by a potential catastrophe. The first Russian rocket hit the local soccer pitch and sent them scrambling into their basement, safe from

the second.

After what happened, we jump at every sound, Andriy says. The Ukrainian authorities say that both rockets were fired by Russian troops from the

grounds of a nuclear power station captured in March.

The international consternation over the future of the Enerhodar nuclear power station is very obvious when you stand here. You can see the six

reactors of the biggest nuclear power station in the whole of Europe. The United Nations, the international community are all reacting in horror at

the mere thought that this could be at the center of fighting.

Ukraine blames Russia for using the nuclear plant as a fire base, and insists that is not able to shoot back for risk of blowing up the nuclear


The Russian occupiers shoot all the time to provoke the armed forces of Ukraine and to spread panic among the people. We understand that the power

plant may explode because of their actions. I just don't understand. Maybe they just don't get it, he told us.

The United States, the United Nations, and Ukraine have all called for Russia to leave the nuclear plant and for it to be demilitarized. These

demands are growing in volume, as the bombardment of Ukrainian towns allegedly from around the six nuclear actors has intensified.

Andriy worked at the plant until he escaped the Russians. But then he was recaptured, he says, and tortured before being released. Now he's in hiding

in Western Europe and he says, the possibility of a disaster is very high.

I would say 70 to 90 percent of we are talking about the most optimistic scenario. I am very worried about it.

And civilians in the Russian occupied town next so the plant have been stuck in traffic jams, trying to flee a potential nuclear escalation.

Ukraine's claims that it hasn't shelled the nuclear site cannot be verified, but there's no doubt that Russia has used it as a safe location

to attack Ukraine from.


Ukrainians have been conducting nuclear disaster drills in cities nearby, both sides have said that some kind of incident is imminent and could cause

massive radioactive contamination, or meltdown, a cataclysm that could be felt far beyond Ukraine. Even in nearby Russia.


KILEY (on camera): Now, Bianca, there is clearly the danger of some kind of military strike on that location because of the fact that it is a fire

base being used by the Russians. Ukrainians have said, anything that does happen there would be a false flag operation. In other words, self harming,

effectively by the Russians.

There's also technical dangers. The teams working there include Russians who, according to Ukrainian sources, if there are any Ukrainian sources

have been bussed in from the nuclear innate industry elsewhere in Russia and are anxious to leave, and Ukrainians who are afraid to be trapped

there, suffering from exhaustion, there's a lack of monitoring. The national atomic -- is not able to conduct any kind of monitoring their.

So there are deep concerns that there could be a technical failure, too, Bianca.

NOBILO: And obviously, where you've been today is the heart of the international -- concern at the moment, but if we broaden out to the

military picture across Ukraine, the countries obviously been telegraphing for several weeks that a counter offensive to retake Russian territory in

the south could be imminent. What we have seen is attacks on Russian military targets deep inside their territory in Crimea. So is anything

shifting, in terms of battlefield initiative here?

KILEY: Well, I think that's absolutely true that there has been a shift. There's been a shift in some kind of capability being deployed by the

Ukrainians. There have been several attacks inside Crimea. This evening, there are explosions going off in Belgrade, another ammunition dump

apparently being detonated there. We're not exactly sure how. The Ukrainians are very coy about how these attacks are occurring, sometimes

just -- riling to accidents inside Russia, in the past. Months ago, we've seen facilities, military facilities very deep in Russia burned down, for


So, these things have been going on, but this seem to be more of these behind the lines attacks going on in Russia, clearly intended to break the

ability or to try to break down the ability of the Russians to maintain their logistics line of support to a very, very extended frontline. Perhaps

in some future date, there may be a concentration of forces to try to break through the front lines by the Ukrainians. But ultimately they probably

don't have the numbers for that, Bianca.

NOBILO: Sam Kiley for us in Zaporizhzhia, thank you so much.

Fighting is so widespread, not just in Crimea and the south, as we were just discussing with Sam. Ukraine says that Russian rockets slammed into a

three-story apartment building in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, killing at least 12 civilians and injuring at least 20 others. You can see rescue

workers sift through the smoldering rubble, looking for survivors. Those are the pictures you are looking at their.

Now, U.S. judge says, it's possible that portions of the sealed Mar-a-Lago search affidavit could be made public. In a hearing earlier, he gave the

U.S. justice department until next Thursday to propose redactions, and to explain why prosecutors believe that certain sections need to remain

confidential. Several media organizations, including, we should tell you, CNN, are suing to unseal the affidavit and other documents related to the

FBI's search of Donald Trump's Florida home.

CNN's senior crime and justice reporter, Katelyn Polantz, was inside the courtroom at West Palm Beach.

Katelyn, great to have you on the program. Thanks for joining us.

And tell us the significance of this, what this might mean going forward, what we could see in the next week.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we did have in court today a judge indicating he is leaning towards transparency

here in this unprecedented situation, where the Justice Department did conduct a search and seizure at a former president's home.

So, the judge today in court was weighing both sides, with the media was saying, that there should be things release, at least the paper of the

affidavit. The Justice Department can make redactions as they see fit, or that the judge approves of. But there should be some sort of disclosure

here in this case, this affidavit, which is a narrative that would explain all of the investigative steps taken that would create a need for the FBI

to go into Mar-a-Lago and take out 33 different boxes and other materials in this criminal investigation.

Now, on the Justice Department side, they made several arguments to the judge today that they've also argued for papers, saying that they really

want continued secrecy over this. They don't want to unredact much at all. They want to blackout nearly everything on these pages, for several

reasons, that there's active grand jury proceedings here, that there are several witnesses they spoke to and describe what those witnesses had to

say in and identify away, potentially, in the affidavit.


And that they also have a detailed and relatively lengthy set of information in that affidavit, about not just the investigation itself, but

the investigative techniques that are going on here. And that they know, going forward, there is an ongoing investigation that there would be future

witnesses that they don't want to have chilled, in some way, in and obstruction of justice investigation. They want to make sure that they can

continue their work. That continued work is something that we've been watching for. What does this all mean? Does it all result in an indictment

or set of indictments at some point in time?

And Jay Bratt, the head of counterintelligence at the Justice Department said, you know, there is a public interest that criminal investigations are

able to go forward unimpeded, like in this situation. And then shortly after court today, while that affidavit is still under seal, be considered

by the judge, the court did release some additional documents around this particular search warrant in the court record.

And one of those documents indicated with a little bit more specificity, that one of the crimes being investigated here is the willful retention of

national defense information, something that appears to be putting a bit of a sharper focus on Donald Trump, himself.

NOBILO: Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much for joining us.

Police in Kabul say now that 21 people were killed in a bombing at a mosque Wednesday night. A Taliban spokesman said that the perpetrators will be

punished. No one has claimed responsibility.

The U.N. is urging the Taliban to take more action to prevent such acts of terror. It says, security is deteriorating in Afghanistan, and that in

recent weeks, attacks have killed or wounded more than 250 civilians in Afghanistan.

Now, a year after the U.S. departed, allowing the Taliban to take over, CNN's Clarissa ward traveled outside Kabul, where many residents views on

the U.S. have harmed.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There were no tears in the Tangi Valley when U.S. forces left Afghanistan. The

landscape is awash with white flags, marking the graves of Taliban fighters killed in battle.

Among them is the son of Nabi Mubaraz (ph).

This is your son?

He tells us he was killed in the U.S. supported Afghan special forces night raid on the family home in 2019. Video of the aftermath shows the scale of

the destruction. After a protracted gun battle, the house was leveled, killing a second son Mubaraz's as well as his niece and her daughter.

It was a lot of blood spilled, the voice says off camera.

The rebuilt living room is now a shrine to the death.

What was your reaction when American forces left a year ago?

I said the pieces come to Afghanistan, he says. There will be no more mothers becoming widows, like our mothers and sisters who were widowed, and

our children killed.

Across this rural Taliban stronghold, American forces were seen as invaders, have brought death and destruction with their night raids and

drone strikes. Peace has brought a chance to air long held grievances at the local market we're immediately surrounded.

Every household had at least one fighter, this man tells us. Every house had people who were killed by the Americans and their drones. We are proud

of that.

Bashir Muhammad Hamas (ph) is treated like royalty here. His brother is believed to be responsible for downing a helicopter full of U.S. Special


So he's taking me to the spot where he says his brother shot down a Chinook. It was August 6th, 2011. Hamas says his brother was hiding behind

the trees, and shot the Chinook down with an RPG as it prepared to land by the river. Thirty Americans were killed, the single greatest loss of

American life in the entire Afghan war.

There were a lot of celebrations, and not just here, he tells us. It was a big party.

I'm sure you can understand that it's hard to hear that people were celebrating about the deaths of dozens of Americans.

This was a heroic achievement, because of people who were killed on this plane, they were the killers of Osama bin Laden, he says. And Sheikh Osama

is someone who is on the crowd of the head of Muslims, so definitely people were happy about this.


Days later, the U.S. says it responded with a strike that killed Hamas' brother. Another white flag raised in a valley were martyrs were made and

views hardened.


NOBILO: That was CNN's chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, reporting from the Tangi Valley in Afghanistan.

A win-win situation for Russia and Cuba. Moscow needs new customers for its energy exports, while Havana deals with massive energy shortages. And they

are collaborating ahead.

And scorching heat drying river beds and flash floods. We will look at how extreme weather is impacting China.


NOBILO: Before its invasion of Ukraine, Russia was the world's second largest crude oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia. Western sanctions on Moscow

tried to change that, but the international energy agency says that those sanctions caused limited decline in Russian supply. The agency's August

report finds that Russian oil has barely changed since the beginning of the war because even though Moscow airports between Europe and the U.S. might

be down, other buyers are stepping in. China, India, Turkey, to name just a few. That is something to mitigate any effect on the Kremlin's finances.

And now, a Russian oil tanker carrying 700,000 barrels of oil has arrived in Cuba. It is valued at 17 billion dollars. It does not seem like the

Caribbean Island is paying for the crude, but it is badly needed. Cuba is facing blackouts and energy shortages on top of last week's fire at a

critical oil storage facility.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is standing by for us in Havana.

And, Patrick, tell us what more you know about the tanker and its possible destination?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is off the coast of Cuba right now, Bianca, and it is going to be actually unloading the oil it has

a board because the supertanker cannot go into the port that was so heavily damaged.


So, that operation is underway right now, is what we are told. Whether or not Russia is getting any money or hard crash in this or not, it is

certainly buying influence, because the energy crunch here is really, really severe. It is the worst blackouts we have seen in years if not

decades. So, this is a lifeline from Russia, once again, Cuba keeping the lights on thanks to Russian oil.

NOBILO: And why would Russia not be getting hard cash for this?

OPPMANN: Well, one theory is that Cuba has a relationship with Venezuela where Venezuela has agreed to supply Cuba with oil, but Venezuelan oil

production is down. That perhaps Cuba or perhaps Russia and Venezuela have agreed to swap oil, that Venezuela will send a shipment of oil later on.

But, Russia, increasingly because of the war in Ukraine, is looking at its allies in Latin America, as a way to perhaps make Washington uneasy, that

there are in countries where they have greater influence like Cuba, like Nicaragua, like Venezuela, that are in what Washington would call its


So, Vladimir Putin has redoubled the efforts to make sure that he is friends in this region. It is really $70 million of oil to Cuba right now,

which will go a long way.

NOBILO: So, let's talk about Cuban demand. Why is Cuba failing to meet its domestic the ban? How much Russian oil are they actually relying on using?

OPPMANN: You know, a lot of people don't realize it, but Cuba produces oil. Production has been dropping here because like in so many other areas,

Cuba has just failed to reinvest in its own oil exploration efforts, and its power plants, the grid here is shaky on a good day. So, we're seeing

blackouts across the island, even before this massive, massive fire.

Now that there is the one facility that can accommodate supertankers, it is offline for foreseeable new feature because of the massive fire that killed

16 Cuban firemen. Cuba is in dire straits, so they need this oil. They will probably only last Cuba for two weeks. This is a short term solution,

looking ahead as we see more and more blackouts, as we see more and more people protesting blackouts, something that is really unprecedented here.

This is going to have Cuban leaders very, very worried. And, certainly, the assistance from Moscow is welcomed, but they know that they are not out of

the woods yet.

NOBILO: Patrick Oppmann for us in Havana, thank you for joining the program.

Now, let's take a look at other key stories making international impact today.

Crisis talks between Serbia and Kosovo have ended with no agreement. The European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the meeting with

the leaders of the country amid renewed tensions between the two neighbors. Borrell said that the talks will resume in a couple of days.


JOSEP BORRELL, EUROPEAN UNION FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: The most important outcome is to say that we had to continue working jointly in a politically

intelligence and responsible manner, looking for a comprehensive, mutually agreeable solution, in a situation that is creating insecurity and

instability, first and foremost for the citizens of the region but also to Europe as a whole.


NOBILO: The suspected attacker of celebrated author Salman Rushdie has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault. The suspect

Hadi Matar made the plea in court Thursday after being indicted by a grand jury. Rushdie was stabbed multiple times at a literary event in New York.

At least 37 people have been killed in wildfires in eastern Algeria. Nearly 200 are injured after the devastating blaze race through the mountainous

areas. Dozens of hectares of bush and threes have been destroyed. Air force helicopters are being used to distinguish those fires.

And at least 17 people have been killed in flash flooding in northwestern China. Seventeen others are missing. Thousands are involved in a search and

rescue mission. The sudden heavy rainfall has led to mudslides and divergent rivers in three areas. This while other parts of the country are

enduring the worst heat wave in 60 years. Hundreds of cities under heat and drought warnings, and power grids are under strain as the demand for air

conditioning surges.

Kristie Lu Stout has more.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Officials across China are scrambling to alleviate the effects of a prolonged and intense heat wave. The city of

Chongqing as suspended factories for a week in order to save electricity.


Chengdu has put its metro system on power saving mode and Hubei province is seeding clouds to make rain. This involves shooting clouds with silver

iodine rods to induce rainfall this is a practice that has been in place and China since the early 1940s and was used during the Beijing Olympic

Games in 2008.

For more than two months, parts of eastern, southwestern and northwestern China, have been enduring extreme heat. China has issued a red alert heat

warning to at least 108 cities and counties. This is the highest warning that can be issued, and it indicates expected temperatures around 40

degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. China has also issued an orange drought alert to at least 75 cities and counties. Chinese authorities say,

it is the strongest heat wave recorded since 1961.

In a statement, China's national climate center says this. Quote, the heat wave this type is prolonged, wide and scope and strong in extremity. Taken

all sides to gather, the heat wave in China will continue its intensity will increase, unquote.

Since June, the extreme heat across China has threatened livestock, has disrupted crop growth and forced factories to shut down. In fact, Sichuan

province, a key manufacturing hub that is home to 84 million people, has ordered all factors to shut down for six days this week, to ease a power

crunch. The high temperatures are expected to continue in the Sichuan basin and large parts of central China for at least another week.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


NOBILO: Booze, booze, booze, that is the message from the Japanese government which has been hit with an unusual problem, young people in the

country simply are not drinking enough alcohol. The alcohol industry was hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic and it's has been struggling every

since. The "sake viva" campaign hopes to change that with a contest, asking people to pitch in ideas on how to entice Japan's youth back into bars,

which is another problem to have.

Well, thank you for watching. That was THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

"WORLD SPORT" is up next.