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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Ukrainian Counteroffensive; Baghdad Green Zone Clashes; Moon Mission on Hold. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired August 29, 2022 - 17:00   ET



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

Ukraine launches its long-promised counteroffensive to retake territory from Russia. What this new phase might mean for the cost of the war.

And violent clashes in Iraq leave at least five people dead, as protesters breached the government palace.

And America's new mission to the moon. We'll have to wait at least a few more days. Why Monday's anticipated launch was abruptly postponed.

We began with a major new battle that Ukraine hopes will mark a crucial turning point in the war. Ukrainian forces launched their long-awaited

counteroffensive Monday to retake territory from Russia in the south. A military source says CNN, they've already recaptured for villages near

Kherson. Russia says that Ukraine has suffered heavy losses, claiming the counter offenses have miserably failed.

Ukrainian forces have been preparing for this operation for months. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko spoke to CNN Monday, describing how

this all unfolded.


PETRO POROSHENKO, FORMER UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: This is a long awaited counteroffense operation. It was started today at 7:00 a.m. with shelling

and missile's attack. This is the first time since February 2022, when such a concentrated Ukrainian troops within western artillery and western HIMARS

and Western missiles was collected together for these counter attacks.


NOBILO: Let's get some perspective now from CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton. He's a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.

And it's always great to speak to you, sir. Thanks for joining us.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You bet, Bianca. Always great to be with you.

NOBILO: So, when CNN first started breaking the story it was Jim Sciutto's reporting, he was talking to the fact that Ukraine had announced that they

starting a shaping operation. Can you explain to our viewers what that means?

LEIGHTON: Sure, a shaping operation is an essence preparation of the battle space. There is another term that is used that is related to that.

Basically what it means is that you take the battlespace, take your weapons and you can use to move into a certain area, you start firing them in the

general direction that you want to advance yet. And shaping the battlefield with the battle space means that you are moving your forces in a position

where they can advance, and also, trying to move the entered enemy forces in a way that you can take advantage of their positions and potentially do

something with those positions, circling them or cut them off from their supply lines.

NOBILO: And, Colonel, it's getting increasingly difficult to ascertain exactly what's happening in this war, for a myriad of reasons. We've heard

different accounts from the Russians and Ukrainians at this counteroffensive, which isn't even a day old yet. Obviously, the Russians

have been historically a lot more unreliable and evasiveness what they've shared.

But from what you understand, what's happened so far and what is happening on the battlefield?

LEIGHTON: So, as far as we can tell. Of course this is a statement where I need to put a few caveats at front that we don't know everything. What

we've seen so far, I think, is very close to what CNN reporting is that there are four villages that the Ukrainians have in fact recaptured from

the Russians. Of course, the question then is, what will the Ukrainians be able to hold those villages.

So far the Ukrainian offensive seems to be moving according to the Ukrainian plan. And we believe, they'll have further advances perhaps in

the next 24 to 48 hours. But a lot remains to be seen, other things can happen, but it is also true that the Russian forces are a lot weaker than

what they are supposed to be on paper for the types of positions that they're holding, the numbers of groups, the battalion tactical groups that

they have.

So, what that means is that the Ukrainians have a bit of an advantage. Here at least a local advantage. They're prosecuting that advantage, taking

advantage of their situation, and it looks as if they can make some progress at least in the near term. We don't see the Russians moving any

type of forces into position that could potentially stymied Ukrainian forward movement.

But that remains to be seen, it's probably one of the groups that the Russians want to perform whether or not they do so is, of course, another



NOBILO: So, taking all of that context into account, what do you think the extent of the current capabilities of Ukraine to have a successful southern

counteroffensive, how far they can push it up more do they need from the West in terms of weaponry to ensure that this is effective and executed?

LEIGHTON: Well, if you take the assertion and the pronouncements by president Zelenskyy at face value, the ultimate Ukrainian goal is to

recapture not just south but Crimea as well. So, that takes things beyond the captured territory from February of this year and takes that into

territory that was captured all the way back in 2014.

So, I don't think that the Ukrainians will be able in this particular move to capture all of Crimea, or all of the south even. But I think they have

the possibility of moving forward a considerable amount. Perhaps 20 or 30 miles into Russian -- they also of course want to capture the city of


They need to do that I think to alleviate pressure on the remainder of the Ukrainian coast. Such as the territory around Odessa, that will be very

important for Ukrainian from economic standpoint. Of course, the weapons that they made, the offensive is built as an offensive that takes care of

both ground and air assets, produces both ground and air assets.

I haven't seen much reporting on the air assets, that would be the next movement that certainly something the Ukrainians would need, not only an

air asset beyond -- such as fixed aircraft for example. But a massive employment of such aircraft would really change the tide of this battle and

has the potential of doing so.

NOBILO: Very significant strategic moment. Cedric Leighton, great to hear from you. Thank you so much.

LEIGHTON: Thank you, Bianca. Good to be --

NOBILO: Now, IAEA on their way to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. It comes as renewed shelling has again threatened the complex. These satellite

pictures show holes in the roof of the plant, the Russian appointed leader of the region says the result of Ukrainian air strike claims that Ukraine


Our Melissa Bell has been following the latest for you from Kyiv.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For many, it's a nightmare scenario, shells landing just miles from Europe's largest nuclear plant.

Zaporizhzhia's become a flash point from the war in Ukraine, both sides blaming the other for the artillery strikes that threaten the site and

neighboring towns. Nine people were injured and shelling in the nearby town of Enerhodar on Sunday night, according to a Russian-backed official.

Last week, shells landed about 100 meters from Zaporizhzhia's reactors. CNN is unable to verify who's responsible for the shelling. Ukraine claims the

sites been turned into a military base, satellite images today show Russian armored vehicles hidden by a reactor, a demilitarized zone not under

discussion according to the Kremlin. But some hope is perhaps on the way.

Early Monday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, tweeted that a delegation of experts would arrive in Zaporizhzhia

later this week. They arrived in Kyiv today. The mission of 14 experts headed by Grossi, one of the few diplomatic agreements to come out of the

war so far.

RAFAEL GROSSI, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, IAEA: I think now there is general recognition that we need to be there, we need to be there soon. Kyiv accept

it, Moscow accepts it.

BELL: Ukraine's repeatedly called on Russia to remove its boots from the site, with Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president's office,

describing Russia's actions as nuclear blackmail on Sunday. In Zaporizhzhia, powers have been a concern with nearby fires twice cutting

the extra electricity that powers critical functions last Thursday. A total loss of power would be disastrous.

PETRO KOTIN, PRESIDENT, ENERGOATOM: If we have cut of power supply from outside, and after that, diesel generators stop, then there are completely

the same scenario like at Fukushima.

BELL: Grossi says the systems in place at the power plant remain operational, with radioactivity levels within normal range. Even so,

authorities are not taking any chances. In Ukrainian-controlled territories, exercises this month in case of nuclear fallout.

Near Zaporizhzhia, locals have been collecting iodine pills to defend against the effects of a possible radiation leak, in a land that's no

stranger to nuclear disaster, prudence is worth its weight in gold.


NOBILO: Our Melissa Bell joins me now live in Kyiv.

Melissa, how much confidence is there that the IAEA will be allowed access to everything that they would need to see in order to determine whether or

not this plant is presenting a wider risk?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This will be a huge passed. But, of course, the fact that there is an agreement to allow them to inspect the

plant of course that huge advance that had been something that had been in doubt in the last few days given the reluctance of one side and the other

to allow that to happen. Well, given the conditions that they were laying down in order that it might happen. So, it's, of course, the step in the

right direction.

They're here in Kyiv tonight, we wait to find out exactly when they're going to get to Zaporizhzhia. And get the chance to inspect the crucial

site that is run by Russians, but manned by Ukrainians in order to see exactly what's state it's in, dramatic, we saw those satellite pictures

that sought to show the holes in the roof, it shows what they're building, and how threatening it is.

But I think, really, the point is, Bianca, to remember that the fear now is not so much that shelling will damage the buildings -- concrete walls

around the reactors are so thick. That doesn't appear to be one of the concerns that experts have. However, the concerns are really to do as you

were just hearing there with electricity as we saw last Thursday when the plant was disconnected from the electricity grid, the fear is that that

would prevent the cooling of those nuclear reactors. Of course, that's why President Zelenskyy referred to the fact that you're a pad bin once more

step away from a nuclear disaster.

I think that's what they're going to be wanting to expect. Of course, all eyes on Zaporizhzhia this week, exactly what access they have or what terms

of access still haven't what it is the discover, Bianca.

NOBILO: Melissa Bell live for us in Kyiv, thank you very much.

If you want to learn more about exactly how the power plant works, and why Melissa was just referencing a loss of power could spell a nuclear

disaster, you can check out a little explainer on Twitter.

Now, violent clashes at Iraq's government palace have killed at least five people, as the country's political crisis deepens.


NOBILO: The protests came just hours after a powerful Shia cleric announced his withdrawal from political life. Hundreds of his supporters

descended on the palace in Baghdad's fortified green zone. Protesters push their way inside the building where the Iraqi cabinet meets. Some even made

it as far as the palace swimming and went in for a celebratory dip.

For more on this, let's bring in CNN's Ben Wedeman.

Ben, why has this announcement that Muqtada al-Sadr is withdrawing from politics precipitated these clashes and what is it that his supporters


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it goes quite a ways back basically to last October's parliamentary elections when the

Sadr's movement that's led by Muqtada al-Sadr, won 73 seats. That's the largest single block in parliament. But they were unable to form a

government mainly because the other main Shia faction which has very close ties with Iran, they wouldn't negotiate and therefore the country's been in


And Sadr has reached a point where he said, if we can't form a government, then we should have a dissolution of parliament and early elections, but

he's made no progress there. He's basically engaging in some very dangerous political brinksmanship, hoping perhaps that this might break the deadlock

and allow him to form a government. But what we've seen so far, this evening some fairly intense gunfire and fighting it appears inside the

Green Zone. That, of course, is not only where the Iraqi parliament is, Republican palace where those gentlemen were taking a deep.

There's also a fortress like American embassy there. We've also heard that there is been clashes between Kateab Hezbollah, which is a pro-Iranian-

Iraqi faction. In Basra, has clashed with followers of Muqtada Sadr there.

So, this is a very dangerous situation which many fear can quickly get out of control -- Bianca

NOBILO: And on that point, Ben, I mean, you paint the picture so clearly of how incendiary it is, how dangerous move, this brinkmanship, how likely

is it to you think that these clashes will develop into a much wider confrontation.

WEDEMAN: It's difficult to say. Keep in mind that this is perhaps the fourth maybe the fifth time Muqtada Sara has announced he is withdrawing

from politics.


So, this is not unique events so to speak. What's unique is the intensity of the violence we're seeing so far. Keep in mind that almost every major

political party in Iraq has military wing. Muqtada Sadr -- the Sadirist movement has it, the Hashd al-Shabi, which was a major player in the war

against ISIS linked to Iran, is also involved in this.

And therefore, basically, what you have is political parties that are clashing in terms of politics, but behind them or military, basically

militia's -- well-armed militias in a country that is awash with weapons. And therefore this political impasse could very quickly become a major

military clash. Some people are saying it could be the beginning of a civil war in Iraq -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Ben Wedeman, it's always great to hear from you on the program and get your insights. Thank you so much for joining us.

Now, trading barbs with his opponents and with journalists, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro came out swinging in the first debate of Brazil's

presidential campaign. His main competition is former President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva, and he blasted Bolsonaro for his handling of the

economy. Lula suggested that things were different when he was in charge.


LULA DA SILVA, FORMER BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): You say you didn't see those changes I'm talking about. Well, your driver saw them.

You're gardener saw them. You're cleaning lady saw them.

Go ask her. She saw this country doing better. She saw her child could enter university.


NOBILO: He fought back by pointing out that Lula was convicted of taking bribes in the past and Bolsonaro's competitive style was also on display

when he did not like the questions that the female journalist posed.


JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I could not expect anything else from you. You sleep thinking about me. You have

passion for me. You cannot take aside in a debate like this and make false accusations with my respect. You are a disgrace for Brazilian journalism.



Early polls show that Lula has a lead on Jair Bolsonaro, but both voters don't head to the polls until October. So, still some time.

And still to come, India's prime minister is expressing his condolences to neighboring Pakistan. But more than 1,100 people have died from monsoon

floods. More on that extreme weather event coming up.



NOBILO: Roads destroyed, bridges cut off, and hundreds killed. Pakistan is currently paralyzed amid unprecedented monsoon driven lots. More than 1,100

people including more than 300 children have been killed since the floods began in mid June. Emergency services are struggling to reach those who are

impacted with the International Federation of the Red Cross saying it's only possible to supply aid by air.


PETER OPHOFF, HEAD OF DELEGATION IN PAKISTAN, IFRC: Airdrops east is one way of getting the aides to people. Now, it is very limited, of course.

There is a limited number of helicopters available. Pakistan is a very big country. So to reach them remains difficult. The only way at the stage is

actually through airdrops.

NOBILO: This is a crisis months in the making. It will take years to recover.

CNN's Anna Coren looks at how the extreme weather event unfolded.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A young life hanging in the balance. -- across rushing water with flood soaked -- safely off the bed

frame, it's an older man's turn. Lucky for some, but these floods have killed over 1,000 people since mid-June, including over 350 children

according to UNICEF.

ABDULLAH FADIL, UNICEF REPRESENTATIVE IN PAKISTAN: This is a calamity of proportions I think Pakistan has not seen. Some of the areas were hit with

most vulnerable areas of the country.

COREN: Pakistan normally goes through three to four monsoon rain cycles each year. It has had eight in that time. In the wet season, it will drag

on to September.

Extreme heat has baked the earth. The rain cannot silk in. Flash flooding comes next. These satellite images show the Indus River swelling, nowhere

for the water to go and few routes to escape.

Highways through central Pakistan have been cut off. Bridges broken as villages washed away.

In the northwest of the country, army choppers rescue desperate people. Another person saved. Others scramble for the next helicopter.

FADIL: This is a climate crisis. A climate that has been mostly done by richer countries, contributing to the crisis, and I think it is time that

the world responded to support Pakistan in this time of need.

COREN: As Pakistan and NGOs appeal for an international aid, the weather forecast is finally brightening. All are hopeful for a break in the rain, a

chance to further assess the damage. What is immediately obvious, the toll that climate change is taking.

Pakistan's relatively low carbon footprint, not enough to save it from the dangers of our warming world.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


NOBILO: As Anna reported, Pakistan is feeling the brunt about the climate's red alert, the country usually -- 3 to 4 periods of monsoon rain

each year, but this year who's already been eight. As you can see on this graphic, that means a lot more water, all of the areas in purple have

received more than 500 millimeters more than normal, in seasons.

Now let's look at some other key stories making international impact today.

A Dutch shoulder who was in the U.S. on a training exercise has died after he was shot during an incident at a hotel in Indiana. Indianapolis police

still trying to piece together exactly what happened. Two other Dutch shoulders were wounded in the shooting.

An indigenous man in Brazil who had never been contacted by modern civilization has died. He is believed to be the last indigenous person to

resist contact with the outside world. His pride was decimated over the years by ranchers and others who wanted their land. Survival International

which has monitored demand from a far said that his death, with his death, the genocide of his people is complete.

Two U.S. Navy cruises sail through the Taiwan Strait Sunday, a move that has angered Beijing. China considers the strait its territorial waters.

Tensions between the U.S. and China have flared since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier this month.


And Air France says it has suspended two pilots for engaging in a brawl while at the controls during an international flight. The airline said that

the cockpit fight was quickly resolved without affecting the planes safety. The incident happened back in June on the flight from Geneva to Paris.

Meantime, France's air investigation agency has released a report highlighting several incidents in which Air France crew members did not

follow procedure, creating flight security risks.

Now, we're going to have to wait a little longer to see NASA's historic Artemis 1 rocket liftoff for the moon. Monday's launch was postponed after

NASA found an issue with one of the rockets for engines. The next opportunity to launch is Friday.

National administrator Bill Nelson says that while the delay is disappointing, the setbacks are naturally to be expected.


BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: This is a brand-new rocket, and it's not going to fly until it's ready. There are millions of components of this

rocket and its systems and needless to say, the complexity is daunting when you bring it all into focus of a count down.


NOBILO: At the same news conference, Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin gave a response to the reporter's question about the next launch window.


MIKE SARAFIN, ARTEMIS MISSION MANAGER: So you're asking about the likelihood of Friday?

REPORTER: Do you think it will be likely that we go on Friday?

SARAFIN: There is a non-zero chance we will have a launch on Friday.



NOBILO: And finally, the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold is a small piece of cardboard. And Mickey Mantle baseball card has

sold $12.6 million, mantle from the New York Yankees was known for his home runs. The card is a near mint conditions despite it being 70 years old.

Thank you for watching. That was THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

"WORLD SPORTS" is up next with much more of the first day of the U.S. Open. It will be the final tournament for tennis Serena Williams who said that

she is evolving away from tennis.

Stay with CNN to get all the latest on that. I'll see you tomorrow.