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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Ukraine Braces For New Attacks; Journalist Killed In Mexico; Twitter's Security Flaws. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired August 23, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London. Welcome to THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Just ahead, the Ukrainian president warns that Russia could increase attacks on his country's territory as Ukraine is preparing to mark

independence day, six months since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

And a deadly toll. A journalist has been killed in Mexico, the 15th this year. The victim was a renowned reporter known for his political columns.

Then, Twitter faces questions from European regulators over allegations made by a whistleblower, claiming that the social media company has major

security issues that pose a threat to his users' personal information.

Now, it's just after midnight in Kyiv, the beginning of a highly symbolic day that carries the heightened risk of attack for people across Ukraine.

The country is marking 31 years of independence from Soviet rule amid warnings that Russia could use the occasion to launch major strikes on

government and civilian targets. The U.S. says that conditions could deteriorate in an instant. It is urging Americans to leave the country

immediately, using private ground transportation.

Ukraine has canceled independence day commemorations as a precaution. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that any Russian attack will be met with

a powerful response. He addressed the nation on the eve of the holiday, urging extreme caution.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have to realize that tomorrow, repugnant Russian provocations are a possibility and

cruel strikes. Our armed forces, our intelligence community, security forces will do everything to protect people as far as it is possible. And

we are sure to retaliate against any form of Russian terrors.

But please, tomorrow be sure to follow security rules. Please, respect the curfew. Act on the air raid alarms systems, pay tension to official

announcements, and remember that we altogether have to get to our victory.


NOBILO: We're also following some disturbing allegations from Ukraine's defense ministry. It says that clouds of radioactive dust arriving after

repeated Russian shelling attacks around this operation nuclear power plant. CNN can't independently confirm this at the stage, we have reached

out to the U.N. nuclear watchdog about the claim. Let's bring in Sam Kiley now.

Sam, you are in Kyiv where Independence Day events have been banned because of fears of Russian attacks. What is the mood in the city? And you also

spoke with Ukraine's ministers today, what did he tell you?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the first thing, Bianca, is that although not very far from where I'm standing in

Maidan, there is a kind of museum of destroyed Russian vehicles from particularly fighting on the outskirts of the city to commemorate those

dark days where Kyiv looked like it was going to fall, or could fall. The Ukrainians fought them off with the earliest of the weapons that were

delivered to them by NATO to help in their defense against Russian invasion. There had been an anticipation that there would be crowds around

these locations, people would come out into the streets and celebrate their independence from Russia.

But, over the last few days the government has decided that based on intelligence, they say that they've received mostly from Western sources,

that there could be some kind of Russian plans to disrupt those celebrations violently. As a result, as you rightly point out, all of the

celebrations have been canceled. People are taking a couple of days off, and they are being asked, implored indeed, to respect, particularly sirens.

People here have gotten very used to hearing sirens and rather ignoring them, and the government in saying, please don't. But this is all coming on

the anniversary, the six-month anniversary of the start of the war, anniversary of the birth of the modern Ukrainian nation, the anniversary of

the intent to destroy by Russia.

And in that context, the Ukrainian defense minister, I asked him whether he was concerned about the future donations from Western powers still being

maintained for the war to be prosecuted successfully. This is how it went.


OLEKSIY REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: We need more sophisticated weaponry. We, I would say that in march it was a tectonic changing because

our partners have decided to make a transformation from the Soviet systems, military systems, weaponry systems, to NATO systems.

KILEY: President Zelenskyy said that Ukraine was losing 200 men and women a day dead, another for 400, 500 wounded.


That's a whole battle group, a NATO battle group.

REZNIKOV: There was really a lot killed in action and wounded. But when we get artillery and MLRS systems like HIMARS, this goes down low. You are

right, we are paying by the lives of people, and I hope that our partners understand it.

KILEY: Are you not afraid that the international community, your partners may begin to tire of this war?

REZNIKOV: I call it fatigue syndrome. For me, it is one of the main threats. We need to work with this threat because we need to speak with you

to communicate, to ask people, don't be on this fatigue because this is very, very dangerous for us.

KILEY: Is it drifting into stalemate?

REZNIKOV: The worst scenario was behind us. We are in a stage of stabilizing all the battlefield, of the battle line, with a small moving of

the units, and we made a lot of deterring them, and I think that we are on the perch of the new stage, because we have to go forward to start our

counteroffensive campaign in different reaction.

KILEY: Who did attack and blow up those aircraft in Crimea? Was it missiles or special forces?

REZNIKOV: So, I think it was breaking the rules of don't smoke in dangerous places.

KILEY: So the Russians blew them up themselves?

REZNIKOV: It was a lucky strike in a bowling game.

KILEY: Yeah, but he threw the blow, probably Russian soldiers.

REZNIKOV: If they continue to get fired from, or if there's an escalation that comes from Belarus, will Ukraine attack Belarus?

KILEY: It's a good question because the official part of Belarus, playing their game, trying to balance between Russia and I absolutely am sure that

Belarusian people, they don't want to go with the war to Ukraine.

REZNIKOV: Could it spread across Europe, this war?

KILEY: No. I think this war started in the Ukraine and will finish in the Ukraine.


KILEY: Now, Bianca, he did also say that he was anticipating that Ukraine over the next few weeks and early months would try to drastically shift the

emphasis, to regain the momentum to prevent the Russians from freezing the front lines where they are now because that in the end would of course

reflect something much closer to what's looks like victory for the Russians.

For the Ukrainians victory, it means the total destruction of the Russian army on the Ukrainian soil. The evacuation of all the occupying forces,


NOBILO: Sam Kiley for us in Kyiv, thanks so much, great interview. And don't ignore the air raid sirens.

Russia says that it hopes to have news about the car bomb that killed the prominent ally. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been speaking

about murder of Darya Dugina, saying we have no clemency for those found responsible.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Now as I understand it, the FSB has already established the facts. They are now being investigated. The

investigation will hopefully be completed soon. According to the results of this investigation, there can be no mercy for those who organized, ordered,

and carried out the bombing.


NOBILO: Russia has awarded Darya Dugina an posthumous order of courage and as a memorial service was held in Moscow. In an emotional speech, her

father Alexander said that, quote, she died for Russia. Russian authorities have blamed Ukraine special services for Dugina's death. Ukraine is denying

any involvement.

For the latest, let's speak to Fred Pleitgen in Moscow now.

Fred, what did you see at the memorial today? What is the boot?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the memorial was very big. There was a lot of mourners who came past, it

lasted about two and a half to three hours. As far as the mood was concerned, on the one hand of course, there was a lot of grief, there was a

lot of sorrow. But there is also a lot of anger on the part, especially the people around Alexander Dugin.

And there were a lot of people who then called for an escalation of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, some even calling for an

all out war. Here is what we saw.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): As Darya Dugina's body lay in an open casket, among the mourners, grief, sorrow, but also massive anger and a thirst for



Dugina's father, the hard line pro-Kremlin ideologue Alexander Dugin, emotional, openly calling for a massive escalation of Russia's invasion of


The price we have to pay can be justified by only one thing, the highest achievement, victory, he said. She lived in the name of victory and she

died in the name of victory -- our Russian victory, our truth, our orthodoxy, our country, and our empire.

Some going even further than that, demanding an all-out war.

Maybe this event in the capital will help convey the message to our government that we have to stop playing around with, quote, special

military operations, and it's time to start a war, a serious war with first and foremost spiritual mobilization, a friend of Darya Dugina said.

After Darya Dugina was killed when her car exploded and crashed on a Moscow highway, it took the Russian intelligence agency only about a day to blame

Ukraine, releasing video of what they claim is a Ukrainian special services operative who allegedly infiltrated Russia, killed Dugina, and then fled to

a neighboring country.

Those claims cannot be independently verified by CNN.

And Ukraine's president reiterating Kyiv was not behind the killing.

This is not our responsibility, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. She is not a citizen of our country. We are not interested in her. She is not in the

territory of Ukraine occupied or not.

But Russia's allegations come as the war in Ukraine has seemingly reached a brutal stalemate, with heavy losses but few territorial gains for either

side. Another fire brand pro-Kremlin commentator at the memorial calling for tougher action against Ukraine and lashing out at the U.S. for

supporting Kyiv.

Americans at the head of NATO brought this up in Ukraine, very cynically turning Ukraine into anti-Russia. Americans don't care at all about

Ukraine. They're only interested in their own future. Ukraine is expendable for them in a war with Russia that they are preparing.



PLEITGEN: As you can see there, there is some pretty strong --

NOBILO: Go ahead, Fred.

PLEITGEN: Go ahead.

There are some pretty strong language there that we heard on the part of the people who were at that event there, certainly could see that there are

many people calling for an escalation in Russia special military operation in Ukraine, Bianca.

NOBILO: That was very striking and quite disturbing, the sound bite that you had there from the friend of the area. If I could also ask you about

the foreign minister's comments about having no mercy on those who perpetrated this attack. What do you think that might materialize into,

what do you think that Russia and Russians would consider a commensurate response for how they perceive this attack to have gone down?

PLEITGEN: Well, this is really the Russian government and the Russian power elite, they think that -- their coup the most interested in this

topic. There's really two things that I think we can discern from all of that. This is especially with Sergei Lavrov, said that there be no mercy

for those who are behind this.

On the one hand, you have the official threat of that official investigation. The Russians said that they have identified the person who

they believe was behind that. The person worked for the Ukrainian special services, and that person managed to escape to Estonia.

Now the Russians are saying that they have called on Estonia to extradite that person to Russia. But they stoning say that they haven't heard

anything official from the Russian federation as far as any sort of request for help or any sort of requests for an extradition. It is concerned. But

then of course, you also have the whole theme of what is going on in Ukraine.

One of the things that really struck me the most as we were at that memorial today was that there was one person who is speaking at the

memorial who said, the war has now come to the capital, meaning, the Russian capital. The answer to that, for some of the people who are

speaking at the event today was, a further escalation, bring the war further to Ukraine, hitting Ukraine harder.

Now, Alexander Dugin, the father of Darya Dugina, is someone who has very fiery rhetoric, very right-wing rhetoric and talks of expansionism and, you

know, some people might see that as being extremist and being French, perhaps. But if we look at today at this event, there was a control in

telegram by Vladimir Putin that was rather, and it was read by surrogate, the Russian foreign minister. Clearly, the folks who are talking about are

people who do have a lot of influence and the power elite here in Russia, Bianca.


NOBILO: Absolutely, it's great here from you having had that access and being at that event yourself earlier. Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much for

joining us.

Even as the war grinds on, Ukraine is trying to bring back some sense of normalcy through football. The Ukrainian Premier League began its new

season on Tuesday at the Olympic stadium, with a match between Donetsk and the 1925 Kharkiv. Those playing are from their home cities. Special safety

measures are in place, the 70,000 seat stadium is empty offense and bomb shelters and air raid sirens are set up in case of emergency. The green

soldier and supporter took the pitch for a ceremonial kick.


YAROSLAV HOLIK, AZOV BATTALION SERVICEMAN (through translator): I like that to be more people at the stadium, but it can happen yet because of the

situation in our country. You can't count on this unfortunately. But before, I could only run out onto the pitch until I was caught by the

steward. And now, I'm invited intentionally.


NOBILO: The match itself, Shakthar Metalist played nil-nil.

Now, let's take a look now. Two people have died and many others have been injured during two days of the nationwide protests in Haiti. The protesters

want to step down, they're angry about inflation and rampant gang violence.

And a terrible trend this year in Mexico, a 15th journalist was killed on Monday. Fredid Roman was the host of the program that focused on local

politics. He lived in regional Mexico that is being played by clashes between drug gangs and armed vigilantes.

Pakistan authorities say that more than 800 people are dead and well over 300,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed by severe flooding over the

past two months. Hundreds of kilometers of roads are washed out, more than 100 bridges have been damaged and many have collapsed.

China's record-breaking drought has caused a partially submerged temple to appear on dry land. The base of the temple is ordinarily under the lake for

much of the year, only appearing give that. This year the lake has dried up so much earlier than usual and its temperature is surrounded by grassland

rather than mud and water.

Coming up on the global brief, a CNN exclusive report a former Twitter executive turned whistleblower speaking out. We'll have that for you next.



NOBILO: Twitter is facing questions after an explosive whistleblower report sent shockwaves across the Internet. In a disclosure obtained

exclusively by CNN and "The Washington Post", Twitter's former head of security, Peiter "Mudge" Zatko says that the company's policies were

reckless and negligent. Zatko says that too many people have access to sensitive information without adequate oversight. Now, both U.S. leaders

and European regulators are calling for an investigation.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has been following the story and joins us now for a closer look at the allegations.

Donnie, always good to hear from you on the program.

So, tell us a very small population of the world uses Twitter, around 6 percent, I believe. In terms of national security and significance, tell us

why this really matters.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you might remember two years ago, there was a huge hack on Twitter in the summer of 2020 when we saw

teenagers hack into the Twitter systems, take over a lot of accounts, including then presidential candidate Joe Biden, Obama, even Elon Musk

himself. You know, imagine if a nation state, but hackers from another country, and they weren't just teenagers trying to push a crypto scam. That

and many other allegations that in this report from the Twitter whistleblower, and I think we have some we can play for you know.


O'SULLIVAN: Why are you coming forward?

PEITER "MUDGE" ZATKO, TWITTER WHISTLEBLOWER: All my life, I have been about finding places where I can go and make a difference.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): This is Peiter Zatko. Until January of this year, he was head of security at Twitter, but now he's a whistleblower. And he

says Twitter's security problems are so grave, they are a risk to national security and democracy.

ZATKO: I think Twitter is a critical resource to the entire world. I think it's an extremely important platform.

O'SULLIVAN: He's handed over information about the company to U.S. law enforcement agencies including the SEC, FTC, and Department of Justice.

JOHN TYE, FOUNDER WHISTLEBLOWER AID: We're in touch with the law enforcement agencies where. They're taking this seriously.

O'SULLIVAN: Twitter is pushing back, saying Zatko is peddling a narrative about our security practices that is riddled with inconsistencies and

inaccuracies and lacks important context.

CNN and "The Washington Post" obtained a copy of the disclosure from a senior Democratic official on Capitol Hill. In it, Zatko claims nearly half

of Twitter's employees have access to some of the platform's main critical controls.

ZATKO: There's an analogy of an airplane. So you get on an airplane and every passenger and the attendant crew all have access to the cockpit, to

the controls. You know, that's entirely unnecessary. Might be easy, but there it's too easy to accidentally or intentionally turn an engine off.

O'SULLIVAN: That kind of access contributed to the massive attack in the summer of 2020 when hackers, two of them teenagers tricked a couple of

Twitter employees into letting them into Twitter's systems.

If you're running any system, the more people that have access to the main switches, that's a very risky situation.

ZATKO: Yes, absolutely. I'm talking in generalities just large tech companies need to know what the risks are. And then they also need to have

an appetite to go fix it.

O'SULLIVAN: Twitter told CNN that since the 2020 hack, it had improved these access systems and a train staff to protect themselves against


Zatko also claims Twitter has been misleading about how many fake accounts and bots are on its platform. That's an issue that Elon Musk has made

central to his attempt to get out of a deal to buy the company.

There will be suspicions of the timing of this. Are you guys carrying water for Elon Musk?

JOHN TYE, FOUNDER, WHISTLEBLOWER AID: Absolutely not. We've been following the news just like everyone else, but that has nothing to do with his

decisions or with the content of what was sent in.

O'SULLIVAN: Zatko says he was fired by Twitter in January of this year after he tried to raise the alarm internally.

TYE: This is not any kind of personal issue for him. He was eventually fired in January of this year, but he hasn't given up on trying to do that


O'SULLIVAN: In response to allegations, Twitter told CNN, security and privacy had long been a priority on Twitter.

As for Zatko, they said he, quote, was fired from his senior executive role at Twitter more than six months ago for poor performance and leadership.


He now appears to be opportunistically seeking to inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders.

Are you nervous?

ZATKO: Yeah, yeah.


O'SULLIVAN: And, Bianca, obviously, Twitter pushing back very strongly, and statements from spokespeople about Zatko. We have not heard from their

executives or leadership team on the record yet. The company CEO sending out an internal memo today, that CNN obtained, for stuff, that what Zatko

is mischaracterizing and exaggeration and asking them essentially to ignore it.

NOBILO: You have heard from European data and privacy regulators in Ireland. They are calling into an investigation into this because of that

claims. Is that something we can see happening? What do you think the fallout from these allegations will look like?

O'SULLIVAN: Yeah. So, this disclosure right now is in the hands of multiple U.S. law enforcement agencies and people on Capitol Hill and

Washington, D.C.

In Europe, Twitter is based in the headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. So, the Irish Data Protection Commission is responsible for overseeing Twitters

compliance with European privacy and data law.

After CNN and "The Washington Post" broke this story today, we heard from the Irish Data Protection Commission, and they said that they got in touch

with Twitter to ask what was going on. Certainly, it is very possible that they may seem some consequences in Europe, particularly, if these

allegations are true.

NOBILO: Donie O'Sullivan, thanks so much for joining us, and great reporting.

And billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk is quick to get involved. His legal team says that it's subpoenaing Zatko. Musk is trying to get out of his $44

billion purchase of the company, saying that it downplays the true number of spam accounts on the site.

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

And "WORLD SPORT" is coming up for you next. I'll see you tomorrow.