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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Sparks Fly At UNSC; Protests Break Out In Russia; Unrest Rocks Iran. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 17:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. And a warm welcome to THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Paula Newton, in for Bianca Nobilo.

Coming up: top U.S. and Russian diplomats clash at the U.N. Security Council over the war in Ukraine, what was said, and who got there late.

Then, escape from Russia. Thousands head to the border as Vladimir Putin's military mobilization begins.

And CNN speaks to the family of Mahsa Amini, 22-year-old Iranian woman who died while in police custody last week, sparking now what are nationwide

protests and unrest.

So, face to face but far from eye to eye. We begin with a key Security Council meeting at the U.N. general assembly which in the past few hours

brought together top diplomats from Moscow, Kyiv, and Washington to address the war in Ukraine.

Now, each side, of course, laid out its own position, and in no uncertain terms with the U.S. secretary of state accusing Moscow of ripping apart the

very fabric of diplomacy. Listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The very international order that we have gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes. We

cannot, we will not allow President Putin to get away with it.


NEWTON: So, Ukraine's foreign minister said Russia's recent move to mobilize reserves as a sign Vladimir Putin's strategy is faltering. And he

is accusing Moscow of playing, so-called, hunger games with the world.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINE FOREIGN MINISTER: Yesterday, Putin announced mobilization. But what he really announced before the whole world was his

defeat. You can draft 300,000, 500,000 people, but you will never win this war. Today, every Ukrainian is a weapon, ready to defend Ukraine.


NEWTON: So, meantime, Russia's foreign minister showed up late, left early, but held no punches referring to Ukraine's president in derogatory

language, and claiming Kyiv has its own agenda.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Of course, the Kyiv regime owns its impunity to its Western sponsors, first of all,

Germany and France, but also the United States. Instead of pushing the Kyiv authorities implement them into agreement, Berlin and Paris, and

Washington, cynically ignored the growing threats of Kyiv to resolve the problem of Donbas by force, the so-called Plan B. Over the past few years,

the Kyiv regime has conducted a frontal assault on the Russian language. It brazenly trampled on the rights of Russian, and Russian -speaking people in



NEWTON: OK. So, a reminder, the mission statement is to maintain international peace and security. The U.N. secretary general suggested the

possibility this conflict could further escalate would violate that in an alarming way.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL (through translator): The idea of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, has become a subject of debate. This in

itself is totally unacceptable. All nuclear arms states should re-commit to the non-use and total elimination of nuclear weapons.


NEWTON: So, that was a diplomatic theater, now we are on the battlefield in Ukraine and we are seeing a brief picture of joy.

On Wednesday, Russian and Ukraine conducted their largest prisoner swap to date. Russia released 215 people from its custody, including some foreign

nationals from the U.S. and U.K. who have been fighting in Ukraine, in exchange, Ukraine released 55 Russian prisoners. This also included a

prominent pro-Kremlin politician.

Now, Ukrainian defense official say Russia sent home more than 100 of the fighters who defended the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the largest

single release of fighters from that battle in Mariupol. Now, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says they are all heroes, and their families,

you can imagine, are overjoyed that they have been released. Listen.


YARYNA HERASHCHENKO, PARTNER OF RELEASED UKRAINIAN AZOV FIGHTER (through translator): Happiness, shock, fears, and joy, a whole spectrum of

emotions which can describe the good that took place on this earth.


NEWTON: Shock indeed.

Nick Paton Walsh joins me now from Kramatorsk in Eastern Ukraine.

By any measure, this was an extraordinary prisoner swap. Now, from what you have learned, what is behind this swap given the fact that one man in this

equation seemed to be so valuable to the Russians?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is really about the different values and emphasis of both sides here. Certainly,

Russia seems to have been extremely keen to get back to the victims. Kyiv was a big player in business, and pathetic legally political influence,

deeply pro-Russian before the war. And it appears that rather than being taken to comparative safety in Russia when Russia invaded, it seems to have

remained in Ukraine, and was eventually arrested in April by the Ukrainian security services.

On the Ukrainian, side they were keen to get back 200 or more of their own soldiers who are being held by Russia as prisoners of war.


The vast majority of which who defended the industrial plant in Mariupol known as Azovstal, we remember seeing the weeks of their long fabled

defense of that particular facility under intense Russian bombardment. So you have a story, really, of two separate sets of priorities. Being the

godfather of one of Putin's children, but also intends to use, it seems for Russia to get back.

Ukrainian officials are saying that he was the Russian security services, the FSB, is kind of on the scene to some degree inside Ukraine, and useful

for funneling money around the country. That makes it potentially why they wanted him back. Also the personal link to Vladimir Putin, and 55 Russian

soldiers also part of that squad.

But overwhelmingly, it seems that this has been informationally and practically, and emotionally better off for Ukraine as a swap they have

been able during the news of Russia's partial mobilization, and the nuclear threats to Vladimir Putin to go along with it, Ukraine has been able to

show joyful pictures of their soldiers being reunited, often stumbling, often deeply suffering from malnutrition, looking extremely weak, often not

being recognized by their loved ones, but being reunited with their families was of course, Russia's main emphasis to get back a singular

member of its elite.

So, a lengthy series of negotiations here it appears that involve Turkey, that involved Saudi Arabia, obviously kept away from the headlines, but

resulting in this extraordinary exchange of personnel here -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yeah, it will be interesting to hear from those prisoners and the days and weeks to come so that they elaborate on their experiences both in

Mariupol, and in Russia.

Nick Paton Walsh for us on the ground in Ukraine, I appreciate it.

In the meantime, Ukrainians as we were just saying, are some now returning to their homes and towns, newly-liberated from Russian forces. The scale of

the destruction of the Russians is frankly, to use one term, shocking, and also by equal measure, horrifying.

Ben Wedeman has a report for us.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anatoli is trying to make his demolished house a home again, one nail at a time.

But without a roof, plastic sheeting on the windows won't make much of a difference. This is all they could salvage.

Anatoli is overwhelmed by what he and his wife, Svetlana found when they returned to their village of Prudianka.

"What can I say?" he asks. "You can see for yourself."

Svetlana was born in this house 53 years ago. Her reaction, pain, she says, shock, pain, terrible pain and bitterness. The fruits of a life's labor

withered on the vine.

This is what happened to many of the towns and villages caught in the front lines in this war -- they were totally destroyed.

Up the road, residents unload relief supplies trucked into the town of Kozacha Lopan.

Mayor Vyacheslav Zadorenko is back in his office after months away. He says these armbands were handed out to the workers in the local Russian-

installed administration. Food provided to collaborators and newspapers.

About 100 people were collaborators, he tells me. When the Russians left, most left with them.

Oleksandr from the mayor's office shows us where town residents were brought for interrogation and torture in a dark basement, as many as 30

people to a cell. Prisoners, he says, were seated in this chair and subjected to electric shocks.

Vadim spent a few days there. He recalls his interrogators beat him first, then asked questions.

They beat me on my back, my head, then shoved me on the floor and kicked me, he says. Then they gave me a cigarette and started the interrogation.

They asked me if I was pro-Ukrainian. I'm Ukrainian, I said. Of course, I'm pro-Ukrainian. He was released, but his son Vladimir was taken by the

Russians. He's still missing.

Vitali draws water from the neighborhood well. He recalls when Russian soldiers asked if he and his wife had any Nazis at home. This is a normal

village, he chuckles in the retelling. We're farmers and workers.

Kozacha Lopan is the last stop on the train line before the Russian border. Soldiers took over the railway station.

These are all letters and pictures sent by Russian school children to the soldiers here at the railway station. Now, things like this, pictures.


And here is a letter from Alexander in the fifth grade who says, you are heroes. Thank you for guaranteeing our safe future.

Misguided, discarded messages of support for a disastrous war.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Kozacha Lopan, Ukraine.


NEWTON: Now, we go to Russia itself where there has been a fierce reaction to Vladimir Putin's plan to mobilize civilians. We have been seeing

remarkable images of thousands of people protesting the move, which could result in hundreds of thousands of reservists called into action.

Now, monitoring groups say more than 1400 people have now been arrested, and half of those are indeed, women. There are fears, as well, that the

decree could be expanded. Now, Moscow is downplaying reports of Russians fleeing the country, but as you can see there, we are seeing long lines of

people trying to flee the country. Those are long lines along a border, that includes this checkpoint in Georgia, and planes, of course, flying out

of the country are also packed.

CNN's Matthew Chance joins me now from London.

You know Matthew, it is always difficult just to tell exactly what the turning point in Russia will be, and if that they will ever come. But what

are you hearing from inside Russia, given everything that we have seen on social media, and some of what we have just shown?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, we know this is going to be a turning point, of course. There has been

processes in the past that have been quashed. It looks like at the moment, the authorities are determined to do the same on this occasion. But it was

always expected that any move towards mobilization that would be unpopular amongst many people in Russia because it would bring the reality of the

special military operation in Ukraine, as they call it, back home. And that is exactly what appears to have happened.


CHANCE (voice-over): Suddenly, an exodus across Russia's borders. Social media filled with images like these near the country's southern frontiers,

of vehicles backed up out of sight.

Everyone is on the run from Russia, the male voice says, endless cars, it is a. In the west, towards fiddle and, border officials also reporting

significantly higher traffic. Nearly 5,000 crossing in a single day. They were expected by the weekend as Russians make for the exits.

Across Russia, there is a growing sense of alarm, even anger that the call up of reservists to fight in Ukraine. More than 1300 protesters have

already been detained, many of them women, terrified their husbands, and sons will be killed.

I have got two kids, says this protester. I brought them up alone. I do not want to lose them, she cried.

And for what? Asks her friend, just so they can kill the sons of other mothers, she answers. But the mobilization is taking place regardless.

Images of reservists like these, boarding a military transporter in the Russian Far East, it shows how many are heeding the call to arms. Families

are saying emotional goodbyes, before their men, some currently middle aged, are bused away. It was always a limited special military operation,

it feels more and more like a full blown.


CHANCE (voice-over): Paula, as the pressure ratchets up inside Russia, Vladimir Putin, the Russian military, the administration, they are

attempting to ratchet up the pressure outside of the countries in Ukraine, calling the referendums and the four areas of Ukraine that they currently

control. The expectation is, of course, over the next few days, those areas will vote in that deeply flawed set of referendums to join the Russian

Federation and that is when the real concerns kick in about what will Russia do if the fighting continues in those areas, Paula.

NEWTON: Yeah, again, claiming it as their own and that is set to begin in just a few hours from now. Every time that we have spoken to some Russians

over the last few months in February, it is not one simple term that everyone keeps asking, for what? For what? What is this all about? We

continue to hear it again and again.


Matthew Chance, thank you so much, it is good to have your insight there again.

Still to come for us, protests are raging in dozens of Iranian cities after a woman died in police custody. Now, her family speaks to CNN.


NEWTON: We're continuing to keep a close eye on those protests in Iran, they have been spreading right across the country for about a week now in

the death of a young woman in police custody. They are the largest demonstrations in Iran since 2019. Now, women, including the one you see

here waving their head scarves in the streets, in some cases burning them, while chanting death to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Officials claim 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died of heart attack last week, but her father accuses authorities of lying about her death. Meantime, Iran's

President Ibrahim Raisi says the investigation into her death's ongoing, and that there were no signs of beating, while pointing to police brutality

in the United States, meantime.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has been following this story for us from Istanbul, and spoke to Mahsa Amini's family a short time ago.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, since the death of Mahsa Amini her family have been disputing the version of events that the government

has been pushing that she died of a heart attack. Her father telling BBC Persia they are liars. We spoke to the cousin of Mahsa Amini who told us a

bit more about who she was, what she was like as a person, and what they say happened to her.

(voice-over): The world knows her as Mahsa, to her family she was the kind and shy Gina. That is her Kurdish name. Her cousin in Norway sharing these

family photos of CNN of happier times from their childhood in Iran.

DIAKO AILI, MAHSA AMINI'S COUSIN: She was a very happy girl living in a not so good country with dreams that I maybe don't know about, very

respectful, and very kind.


Good hearted, took care of her mother and brother.

KARADSHEH: Amini's death, after being taken into the custody of the morality police last week has sparked unprecedented protests. Calls for

accountability for her death have turned into cries for freedoms with the generation of Iranians has never known. With women at the forefront of the

protest, burning the head scarves they have been forced to wear for decades.

AILI: It makes me sad and happy in one way because it is about someone's life has to go away for these things to start, and I know that when they

demonstrated in Iran, it is not like it was demonstrated in America, or Norway, or Sweden. They are risking their lives.

KARADSHEH: Amini's family is demanding justice, they don't trust the government's investigation, they want the truth they accuse authorities of

covering up. Last week, police released this edited CCTV video, they say it shows Amini at the so-called reeducation center where you can see her

collapsing. Police say she was taken because she didn't abide by their strict Islamic dress code.

They claim the 22 year old appeared unwell, had a heart attack, and collapsed into a coma. She died in hospital three days later. Family

members say they saw her beaten up by the morality police as she was dragged away. It was the last time they saw her awake. They say doctors

told them she had severe head injuries, swollen limbs, and had a heart attack.

AILI: She had no heart disease or anything. It was damage to her head, like she was bleeding out of her ear.

KARADSHEH: Violent acts of repression by this notorious force known as the morality police have been on the rise according to the U.N. This video from

an activist group purports to show those abuses, CNN can't independently verify the circumstances of this video, or when it was filmed.

The fury on Iran's streets has been years in the making. Amini's death seems to have been the final straw.

AILI: I want the world to know that she was a good person. Her life didn't end for nothing. I hope this can start something to maybe, towards to get a

better Iran, more free Iran. I am going to start crying.

KARADSHEH: Diako is overcome with emotions, he hopes for the homeland he has not seen in more than ten years, and the pain of a family grieving

their beloved Gina.


KARADSHEH (on camera): Paula, he was very emotional, feeling guilty that he is outside the country, that he can't speak freely. He is very worried

about other relatives in the country who are taking part in the protests, but very concerned about Masha's father, her mother, and her brother, for

speaking out, for standing up to the government, he says that they are taking a great risk. By doing that, and that they are under a lot of

pressure right now, Paula.

NEWTON: Our thanks to Jomana for following that story.

In the meantime, CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour was supposed to interview the Iranian president Thursday in New York, and this

would have been Ibrahim Raisi's first interview on U.S. soil after addressing the United Nations assembly Wednesday. But the interview did not

happen. An aide told Amanpour that the president wanted her to wear a head scarf, she politely declined, saying no previous Iranian president had

required this for interviews outside of Iran.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: If you could just guess, how do I read it? I think that he did not want to be seen with a

female without a head scarf in this moment. Either because he calls it a religious month, or because people will say how come he is sitting down

with a foreign journalist who is not wearing a head scarf and yet inside Iran they are cracking down on young women who are not wearing their head


But the fact of the matter is, the women are wearing their head scarves, sometimes in protest they take them off. But the authorities and I know,

because I have been there and seen it, each year, they change their boundaries and their lines. Sometimes it is okay if it is and, sometimes it

is okay if it is, you just never quite know what the parameters are.


NEWTON: Now, Yair Lapid has become the first Israeli prime minister since 2016 to call for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He spoke at the United Nations General Assembly just a few hours ago.




YAIR LAPID, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Despite all of the obstacles, still today, large majority of Israelis support the vision of the two-state

solution. I am one of them. We only have one condition, that a future Palestinian state we'll be a peaceful one, that we will not become another

terror base for which to threaten the well-being and the very existence of Israel. That we will have the ability to protect the security of all of the

citizens of Israel at all times.


NEWTON: Time now for a look at the other key stories, making international headlines today.

At least two people have died in Mexico City after a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck the country's southwestern coast Thursday morning. Now,

that follow Monday 7.7 magnitude quake nearby, authorities say the quake caused one man to suffer a fatal heart attack, as well as the death of a

woman who fell down a set of stairs.

After making their way through tense and destroyed buildings, dozens of children in Syria's rebel held Idlib are learning Arabic, English, and

math, thanks to a woman who has turned an ancient castle into a school. The 40-year-old history graduate created this education center you see there

with the help of other women volunteers. She hopes that it will help toddlers, as well as kids who were forced to miss school for all of these


Now, tourists can make plans to visit Japan freely again, hear, hear. After two years of heavy COVID-19 restrictions, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

announced a change at the U.N. General Assembly Thursday. The borders are set to reopen on October 11th.

And one of the biggest stars in Los Angeles is getting a facelift. The iconic Hollywood sign turns 100 years old next year. So, let me get this

straight, 400 pounds of paint and primer will give it a look in time for that all-important celebration. The sign is not directly accessible to the

public, it is part way down a hillside, a very steep hillside, making it a challenge for the team of painters, you see it there, tackling it.

We hope for some good weather for them.

Thank you for watching. That was THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I will be back here tomorrow.

For now, though, "WORLD SPORT" is next.