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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Ukraine's Six Months Of War; Attacking Ukraine's Culture; Iran Nuclear Deal Update. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired August 24, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Ukraine marks its independence and six the months of war today, as the president vows to fight Russia to the very end.

Then, we'll look at Russia's strategy of attacking Ukraine's cultural identity.

And the U.S. and Iran may be one step closer to restoring the nuclear deal after confirmation from the State Department.

Now, it was already a somber day in Ukraine. Thirty-one years of freedom from the Soviet rule clouded by Russia's six month war that has no end in

sight. As Ukrainians remark on their independence day, Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a horrific new attack against civilians, a strike on a rail

station in eastern Ukraine. He now says that at least 22 people were killed, including an 11-year-old boy.

CNN's Sam Kiley has more on all of the day's developments. And we warn you that his report contains some so disturbing images.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dawn, Ukrainian independence day outside Kharkiv, marking 31 years of freedom

from the Soviet Union, but not from Russia.

Flags but not people are out in Kharkiv, marking six months since Russia's invasion, amid fears of renewed attacks on cities here. And the threat

became real with a brutal strike on a train station.

PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINE (through translator): There are at minimum 15 dead and 50 wounded. Rescue workers are on site. The number of

dead may increase.

KILEY: Vladimir Putin assumed that Zelenskyy's government would be swiftly toppled in a Russian onslaught. Many in the West agreed with him.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We were filled with foreboding because we just did not see how this innocent and beautiful country could

repel an attack by more than 100 battalion tactical groups when the suffering and the casualties would be so immense. But you did.

KILEY: Russians were held up in their assault on Kyiv, then driven back. Their retreat from the capital revealing atrocities in Irpin and Bucha.

Switching tactics back to the 1940s, Russia gave up on the capital to focus on breaking Ukraine's national will, with wholesale bombardments of cities,

concentrating on Kharkiv, Mariupol, millions fled to safety outside the country overland, clogging roads and railways.

Led by the U.S., Ukraine's allies eventually sent better artillery. Then rocket launchers, drones, and vital intelligence. Too late to help save

Mariupol, but new weapons have slowed the Russian advance in much of the east, where soldiers now refer to fighting in towns like Severodonetsk as a

meat grinder.

Massive amounts of American money and equipment, fulsome support from countries like the United Kingdom have contributed to Ukraine's successes

on the battlefield. But they're still not getting the strategic weapons that they need. Fast jets, long range rockets, killer drones.

Without them, Ukrainians now face a crippling war along fixed front lines. Not a victory Putin would want, but one he might accept to prevent

democracy that's taking root on his doorstep in Ukraine, spreading into his own home.

Sam Kiley, CNN, Kyiv.


NOBILO: Now, let's go live to Kyiv. We are joined by CNN's David McKenzie.

David, how has the day unfolded in the capital? As we heard from you earlier, some Ukrainians have chosen not to heed Zelenskyy's warning to be

effort extra careful.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca, there is still this heightened state of alert, where the officials warning

both here in Ukraine and in the U.S. of possible missile strikes on the capitol. And other parts of the country. You are right, here in the

capital, in that main part of Kyiv, those many tanks, APCs, rocket launchers lining the streets, in a kind of parade, a real moment for people

to get out, get about, and ignore those warnings. Gather, when they were told not to.

When young man was asked why you are out here, and he said that his safety is important, but his freedom is more important. This is, of course,

independence day here in Ukraine. People want to show their support, and of course, while it was calm here in the capital.

There are awful scenes in the southeast of the country. An attack on the train station, possibly other civilian infrastructure. At least 22 are dead

now, according to the president, one 11-year-old dead there.


It shows the ongoing trauma of this conflict, both on the military and on civilians -- Bianca.

NOBILO: And, David, we heard from Zelenskyy on the wider conflict today, too. What was his message to the U.N. Security Council?

MCKENZIE: Well, this was quite a significant moment. President Zelenskyy, speaking virtually to the U.N. Security Council against the better judgment

of the Russians, I should say. The ambassador of Russia, looking on annoyed that the president of Ukraine got this moment to speak on this very

auspicious day for Ukraine, at the U.N. Security Council. Here's what he had to say.


ZELENSKYY: We must all get united and act decisively as soon as possible, so that there are no traces of Russian missiles, and no more city burned by

Russian artillery, so there would be no threat of radiation catastrophes ever again, Russia must released the captured territory of Ukraine, so that

there would be no food crisis. Russia would need to withdraw from our land, from our sea, so that no country in the world can disregard the UN.


MCKENZIE: The front lines have been relatively static for many weeks now in Ukraine and even though that is the case, Bianca, there has been a huge

impact on this front lines of soldiers and civilians, as I've said. The signs I have gotten from Ukrainian officials, they believe they need more

support if they are going to actually gain ground back from Russian forces, rather than just hold on to the ground that they have managed to at this

point, Bianca.

NOBILO: Thanks so much, David McKenzie, for all of your reporting today.

Now, six months of conflict have taken a toll on Russia as well, but Vladimir Putin's ratings seemed to be unaffected, both state-owned and

independent polling agencies have recently put his approval ratings above 80 percent, showing that most Russians either support this conflict or have

accepted it.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is standing by for us in Moscow.

Fred, six months on, how are Russians viewing this conflict, or special operation, and the chances of success, and what they feeling like they're

fighting for?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and their definition of success, that's another thing. I mean, on the face of it, the

Vladimir Putin's administration, and the president himself. They say that the aims of the war for Russia have remained exactly the same as they were

before. They want, as they, say Ukraine to be disarmed. They also say that they want a different government in Ukraine as well.

But then you also have state TV, which every once in awhile calls the special military operation one that they say is for the liberation of

Donbas. Obviously, that's a very limited aim of the Russia invasion. Then you would have heard from the president at certain other times.

So, it really is unclear to some people what exactly the endgame is going to be in all of this. And I would say that not very much has changed in

terms of the support or non support among the population. I think it is a lot more complicated than some of those polls make it out to be. There are

people who support Russia's invasion of Ukraine, who support the special military operation.

There are also some that are very unenthusiastic that. There are some who switch back into forth between support and non support, depending on things

going on the battlefield. And also, of course, and what they hear on Russian state TV.

But also from other news sources or other sources of information as well. There are also a chunk of people that are against the special military

operation, but who won't say it in public. So, it really is a more murky picture of public opinion. I would say that there is not much in the way of

enthusiasm for the special military operation, but there is certainly also a majority against the special military operation. I think was interesting,

one of the things that you said, I think that is certainly the case. People are also remaining passive as well. Bianca?

NOBILO: Fred Pleitgen, joining us from Moscow, thank you very much. Moscow's forces have bombed apartment buildings, hospitals, and schools.

They have another target that usually doesn't make the headlines, Ukraine's cultural heritage.

Some of the countries churches, historical sites, and museums have already been damaged. They play a key role in Ukrainian identity, and by destroying

them, Russia erases a distinct and autonomous nation.

Earlier, I spoke with Laura Ballman, the former head of intelligence for the FBI's art crime team. And she says that there is evidence that Vladimir

Putin is systematically trying to destroy their cultural heritage.


LAURA BALLMAN, FORMER HEAD, FBI ART CRIME INTELLIGENCE: For example, in Kharkiv, which is the equivalent of Bologna, a center of learning,

manuscript museums.


We have seen there that the Russians have used long range missiles, precision guided weapons that are usually solely reserved for high priority

military targets. Therefore, one can say that these are high priority targets.


NOBILO: I then ask her why Vladimir Putin seems to be threatened by the existence of these sites, and why he thinks that their destruction is



BALLMAN: The idea that Ukraine has the right to an independent culture and identity is anathema to what Putin is saying. He's saying that we are not

doing anything except for liberate Russian vassal, essentially.

And so, there are two reasons that culture is targeted in times of war. It is psychological warfare. One, again, to say that you don't have a right to

exist. We are going to dampen any confidence that you have, or you will have in your ability to exist.

And then we are also going to assert that our culture, in this case Moscow, Russia, our culture is superior.


NOBILO: There are territorial borders to this war, but no borders to its impact. Millions of people around the world face surging food and energy

prices as a result. Inflation is hitting everyone. That's not all.

CNN's Clare Sebastian lays it all out for us.


ANDREW BAILEY, GOVERNOR, BANK OF ENGLAND: The Russian shock is now the largest contributor to nuclear inflation by some way.

CHRISTINE LAGARDE, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: Russia's unjustified aggression towards Ukraine is an ongoing drug on growth.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have never seen anything like Putin's tax on food and gas.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the first Russian bombs fell in the early hours of February 24th, the economic front on this war

was also emerging.

NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We are disconnecting key Russian banks from SWIFT.

SEBASTIAN: The sanctions onslaught aimed at severing Russia's links with global finance.

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: We decided to have a ban on de facto 90 percent of Russian oil.

SEBASTIAN: And eventually, hampering its ability to sell its fossil fuels. By far, its biggest source of revenue. Six months in, Russia has fought

back, cutting off the gas to parts of Europe, causing it to ration energy to avoid winter shortages, and bringing soaring inflation that threatens

the post-COVID recovery.

It's not like Russia invaded Ukraine at a time of global economic stability. Inflation had already started rising sharply in the developed

world, as COVID-19 abated, and demand outpaced supply in many areas. A year ago, as you can see, U.S. was already seeing inflation way above its 2

percent targets. By February, the month that war started, the UK and the euro area was also seeing that. Now we are seeing multi-decade highs across

the board, and already, double digits here in the UK.

Central Banks blindsided by the surge have raised interest rates aggressively.

BAILEY: If we don't bring inflation back to targets, it's going to get worse. It will get worse precisely, I'm afraid, for those that are released

to society.

SEBASTIAN: And that's amid signs that some economies are already slowing. U.S. and UK GDP fell in the second quarter, and German growth flatlined.

RICARDO REIS, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, LSE: The challenge is to bring down inflation, but the challenge is to bring down inflation without blinking

too much when the economy goes into an unavoidable recession in response to, not a monetary, but a real shock.

SEBASTIAN: So, get used to the idea that you're going to continue to raise rates through a recession.

REIS: Yes.

SEBASTIAN: A more dangerous consequence for the world's most vulnerable has been the disruption to the food supply chain. Russia and Ukraine played

a critical role in supplying wheat, sunflower oil and fertilizer to global markets.

Before the war, many countries, including some of the poorest countries in the Africa and the Middle East, completely reliant on their exports.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: More than 650,000 metric tons of grain and other food that are already on their way to markets around the


SEBASTIAN: After five-month blockade of Ukraine's sea ports, the U.N. brokered grain deal providing some hope. Some experts think this is going

to bring a shoot in economic order. They're built not just to minimize cost, but also political risk.

I'm Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.


NOBILO: Striking out and lashing, at the U.S. says that it carried out air strikes in Syria to protect its troops. Why Iran is condemning the attack,




NOBILO: Over the past six months, the battlefield in Ukraine has shifted dramatically. We have seen surprising wins, monumental losses, and the

nation rallying to the cry of its motto: Glory to Ukraine, like never before. The changing battleground has often come in a catastrophic human

cost, something that we have seen from the earlier days of this conflict.

Isa Soares looks back at a war that still has no clear in sight.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Devastating explosions across Ukraine's major cities. This was the moment that Russia lit up Ukrainians

guys. An unwarranted invasion that only moments earlier Russian President Vladimir Putin called a special military operation to demilitarize and

denazify Ukraine.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: However tries to interfere with us, and even more so to create threats for our country, our people should know that

Russia's response will be immediate. It will lead to search consequences that that you have never experienced in your history.

SOARES: The Kremlin's immediate goal: to surround Kyiv and liquidate Ukrainian leadership. Later that same day, Russian special forces took in

airbase just outside of the capital. CNN was there, as it all unfolded.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Within the past few seconds, just since you came to us, they're engaged in a firefight,

presumably with Ukrainian military, which says it has staged a counteroffensive.

SOARES: The predictions of some Western analysts that it would be all over in three days seemed on target. They weren't. Within 48 hours, Ukrainian

special forces render the airbase in operable, the first in a series of setbacks. Russia's shock and awe was suddenly, surprisingly muted by

Ukrainian resistance, symbolized by a defiant President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, telling CNN from a bunker in Kyiv, that the Russian invasion was

about far more than Ukraine.


ZELENSKYY: It's very important for people in the United States to understand that despite the fact that the war is taking place in Ukraine,

it is essential for values in life, for democracy, for freedom, this war is for all of the world.

SOARES: As he spoke, millions of Ukrainians were fleeing west towards to Poland, fearful of a Russian blitzkrieg, the fastest-growing refugee crisis

in generations, according to the United Nations.

As Russia pressed on, families were torn apart as the men stayed on to fight. Their future, uncertain.

KILEY: So, this is goodbye? Temporarily?

SOARES: Those who stayed behind bunkered underground. The metro filled with the elderly and vulnerable all terrified of the unknown.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm asking if they're afraid: They're very nervous.

SOARES: President Zelenskyy appealed to the West for help.

ZELENSKYY: You are the leader of the nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world.

SOARES: By March 10th, Russia was heading towards the capital. But not everything was going according to their plans. One column of Russian

vehicles, 14 miles long, they sat north of the capital, exposed to Ukrainian mobile units. With anti-tank missiles, and drones, suddenly,

Russia found itself bogged down suffering heavy losses.

But it wasn't until they were forced to pull back, that the true human devastation was seen. Evidence of torture, executions, mass graves exposed.

Russian troops had committed human rights violations, atrocities, war crimes. The entire town became a crime scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For us, the best motivation is justice.

SOARES: By the spring, the Russian focus shifted to the Eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions. The original goal of Putin's special operation.

Russia's goals in the east have come at the price of immense suffering. The city of Mariupol was battered and bombed for two months. Local officials

estimated 20,000 people are killed, far more fled.

Soldiers that the city's Azovstal steel complex became a center for Ukrainian resistance, pounded from sea, land, and air, but for weeks

refusing to surrender. Gradually, remorselessly, Russian forces edged forward in the Donbas. They have taken immense casualties.

The Pentagon estimates that more than 70,000 people. Western officials tell CNN that the Russians are struggling to make up losses of men and

ammunitions. And with new longer range and accurate weapons from the West and its partners, Ukraine has begun to take the battle to the enemy,

especially in the south.

The consequences of this war, reaching far beyond its borders, as the wider world sees skyrocketing food prices. And Europe, so dependent on Russian

gas, is looking towards a grim winter. The prospect of peace, still so far away.

Lisa Soares, CNN.


NOBILO: In the past few hours, I spoke with Ukraine's prosecutor general, who is promising to hold those responsible for war crimes to account. He

told me a vast number of investigations are currently being conducted, and said that the pursuit of justice is a matter of great importance.


ANDRIY KOSTIN, UKRAINIAN PROSECUTOR GENERAL: Currently, we are investigating more than 29,000 war crimes. They are added every day. We are

also investigating specific crimes, which we are in the contact with the International Criminal Court and will already be passed to the Hague.

It's important for Ukrainians to feel justice on the local level, and on the Ukrainian level in Ukrainian courts. We have already 15 Russian

aggressors charged in Ukrainian courts. It is also important for Ukrainian people to see the justice on the international level. It's very important

for them to understand that the rule of justice prevails over the rule of force.


NOBILO: The U.S. State Department confirms that the Washington has sent its response to the European Union on a proposal to save the Iran nuclear

deal. U.S. officials say that they're optimistic, but there are still gaps.

This comes after the U.S. launched air strikes on Iranian -backed groups in Syria on Tuesday. U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the precision strikes in

eastern Syria, retaliating after rockets hit near a military base a week ago.

Now, Iran is condemning the attack, and denying any affiliation with the groups targeted. U.S. officials say that they struck bunkers used to store

ammunition, while an official said that an initial access mint indicated that no one was killed, human rights groups in the region say that as many

as ten people died.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann has the context for you.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Iran has denied involvement, but the U.S. looks at these attacks as broadly speaking, carried out not

only under the leadership of Iran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, but Shia militias that are backed by Iran. So, that interaction

there, and the leadership from Iran, that is something that the U.S. has always seen here.

But you're right to point out that this happens in the context of the nuclear negotiations around Iran's nuclear deal. The U.S. has long seen

these proxies as a way for Iran to increase or decrease the volume or the pressure around some other issue. In this case, the nuclear deal. It is

worth noting that senior administration official says that they were unrelated. The U.S. seized the nuclear deal as one issue, an issue where

there is progress.

But the U.S. has not simply allowed attacks on facilities were bases used by the U.S. led coalition to happen without some sort of response.


NOBILO: Let's take a look at other stories making an international impact around the world today.

Deadly floods in Sudan are taking over 40 percent of the country. The country's southwestern region, alongside denial, has been the hardest hit.

The UN reports that torrential rain and flash flooding have killed more than 80 people. More than 3,300 fires were identified on Monday in the

Amazon rain forest. It is the most fire hotspots in the Amazon since 2017, and there is so much vegetation burning right now, that a cloud of smoke

and soot has covered the city, some 600 kilometers away.

And U.S. President Joe Biden is announcing new steps to forgive student loan debt, $10,000 for borrowers. It extends to making people less than

$125,000 per year. The president has been facing pressure to cancel this kind of debt since he took office.

And that is all for this evening. Thank you for watching. That was THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

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