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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Russia's Sham Referenda; Hurricane Ian Hits Cuba; Shinzo Abe's State Funeral. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired September 27, 2022 - 17:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Lynda Kinkade, in for Bianca Nobilo.


Coming up, Russia may annex four occupied regions in Ukraine after the sham referenda. The Western governments have made it clear they will not

recognize the outcome.

Then, Hurricane Ian is intensifying as it heads towards Florida after hitting Cuba. Millions of people are at risk.

And a state funeral for Japan's longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe. But public opinion is divided over his legacy.

Leaders in occupied Ukrainian territories claim people avoided overwhelmingly to join Russia. Moscow appointed authorities and occupied

regions of Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Luhansk, and Donetsk. They claimed huge numbers of people voted in the so-called sham referendum.

It's not clear whether the results are finally. But either way, the referenda are illegal under international law.

A top U.N. official says it is clear that the vote is not a genuine expression of the popular will. According to Ukraine turnout, was extremely

low. And in some cases, Russian tax authorities were going door to door with armed soldiers, essentially forcing people to vote in the barrel of a

gun. That is what appears to be happening in this video.

The outcome of the referendum will not be recognized by the you as, U.N., NATO or any other Western government.

But Russia and pro-separatists of leaders don't care. Moscow is already paving the way towards annexation and a dangerous acceleration of the war

in Ukraine.


Well, as Russia attempts to steal Ukrainian land from the ballot box, they're also firing missiles on the city of Zaporizhzhia, still under

Ukrainian control. The region's Ukrainian government says ten missiles hit the city overnight, terrifying people who are already on edge from constant

attacks. Well, Ukrainian forces are continuing their offensive east of Izyum, pushing out Russian forces as they continue north towards the

occupied town of Borova, when resident of Izyum explains what it was like living under Russian occupation.


IZIUM RESIDENT (through translator): I cannot describe it to you. And now there is no gas and no water. We have had nothing since February, no

electricity, and they will not give it to our building. If they did not give, it means they will not give it and I do not know how to survive the

winter without would. Those who have a stove in the house will survive.


KINKADE: Our senior correspondent Ben Wedeman joins me now from Kharkiv.

Good to have you with us, Ben. So, it's no surprise that Russian state media claimed that people in these Russian-controlled Ukrainian cities are

voting to join Russian. The big question is, what will this mean for both countries?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Before I get to that, Lynda, let me tell you, about three, three and a half hours ago, five

missiles, Russian missiles, hit here, Kharkiv, basically destroying an electrical substation.

And now, most of the city is without power. You might be able to hear a generator that is running nearby that is providing some of the power we're

using. No word on casualties.

Now, as far as the referenda go and those four Russian occupied areas, what does it mean? It essentially means that as far as Russia is concerned, it

will no longer be at war where Russian forces are fighting in Ukraine. For them, those areas will become Russia. So, it will be a case of Ukrainian

forces fighting in Russia, which, of course, means that perhaps it will no longer be in the wording of the Russia, a special military operation.

Rather, it will be a war on the soil of the motherland.

And perhaps, for instance, President Putin, who recently declared his partial mobilization, could shift to full mobilization -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Ben, you really are in the thick of it there. Just talk to us more about Ukraine's counteroffensive, because they are continuing to push

out the enemy. And I understand you have been speaking to residents in one town, which is now back under the control of Ukrainian forces.

WEDEMAN: Yes, well, certainly the first two weeks of September saw a dramatic gains by Ukrainian forces. Since then, it has been somewhat more

incremental, but nonetheless, fairly steady. We were in this one town that was liberated Saturday evening. We arrived very early Monday morning. I

think it was Monday. I sometimes lose track of time. But what we saw was the Russians are paying a very, very high price in this war.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): The bodies of dead Russian soldiers are scattered around the town of Pisky-Radkivski, killed far from home in what the

Kremlin chooses to call a special military operation. But it's a war by any other name, a war into which many more Russians will be thrown now that the

so-called partial mobilization has begun. And who may well meet a similar end.

This is a bank document found on one of the soldiers. The soldier is from St. Petersburg, and he was born on the 30th of September, 2001. He died

three days before his birthday.

The charred remnants of Russian armor scattered around town. Outgoing artillery pursues an army once considered one of the most powerful on

Earth. An army that abandoned tanks aplenty, many in working order.

Dmitri and his crew are tinkering with one such tank fresh from the battlefield.

It has minimal breakage, he says. I can turn it on now without any problems.

Sure enough, its motor roars to life.

When they run away, they lose not only the tanks, says Olexander, but also the ammunition, and the next day, it's all used against them.

This tank almost ready to go back into action.


Pisky-Radkivski lies just north of the Donbas region, which after sham referendum President Vladimir Putin plans to annex to Russia. Yet, few here

have fond memories of life under Russia's sway.

Stanislav is cutting sheet metal to put over the shattered windows of his sister's home.

There was looting in spring, he recalls. They were taking everything.

Down the road, Varvara and Raisa are back to what they did throughout the Russian occupation.

Just sitting here, says Varvara. They didn't bother us.

But Raisa found them annoying.

Nazis, Nazis, she says. They always ask, where are the Nazis?

The Russians have left or lie dead in the dirt. Lives wasted for nothing.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And, of course, as many as perhaps 300,000 more Russian soldiers will be coming to Ukraine. It is hard to see how they will

and any different from their comrades in that town -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Ben Wedeman, our thanks to you, and your team on the front lines. Stay safe.

Well, Russia's state news agency is reporting that a military registration and enlistments of course has been deployed to the region of North Ossetia,

which borders Georgia. They say mobilization notices will be handed out at the Verkhnii Lars checkpoint. And this comes as Russians continue to flee

after the Kremlin's call for a partial mobilization.

The border says they have seen a 30 percent increase in Russians entering the EU in the last week alone, with many saying that they are not willing

to fight Putin's war.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People who are against the regime, are not ready to go. I mean, they are ready to fight if there's a war for

truth, a fair war. When you're defending your home, it is fair. You go and you are not afraid.

But when you go to fight in a stupid war, to kill your brother, it is a war about nothing. And that is why people get away from it.


KINKADE: Well, CNN's Melissa Bell joins us now from Verkhnii Lars checkpoint at the Georgia and Russian border.

Good to have you there, first, Melissa.

If I could quote U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he said, one man chooses this way, one many can end it. But that's not the path Putin is

taking. Instead, he's trying to expand the war. Authorities are set to hand out draft notices to Russians across the border. Has that started yet,

Melissa? Is that what you're seeing?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the time being what we are seeing is this extraordinary, steady trickle of not just fighting, but families as

well. They're trying to get away anyway they can, carrying their few belongings, coming across on foot, on bicycles, simply because the queue of

traffic goes back so far. The cars are at a standstill, so far back now, that it will take you to many days of sitting in a car to get anywhere near

what should be a crossing for cars.

That is why you see them coming in on foot, carrying what a little they can. For the most part, these are people who have left cities like Moscow,

two or three days ago. That is how long they have taken to get here and then walked the remaining distance.

And of the fighting age men that we've spoken, we asked them, those who come from Moscow, but made you leave? It was the announcement of the

partial mobilization, they said. We asked them if they were eligible, if they were in that 300,000 called up already, who knows was the reply.

I think that speaks, Linda, to a lot of the reasons and the urgency with which people are leaving, again carrying what little they can and having

walked a lot of the way. A desperate bid to leave because the fear is that if you are not amongst the 300, 000, there is a chaotic way in which the

mobilization has been carried out and -- the fear also has been that this could be extended further.

And I think within Russia and from what we are hearing of the people crossing here and seeing their desperation, it is that the sudden

realization that throughout this time, the worst coming home to them properly with all of that -- for fighting age men who may be sent to the

front lines of Ukraine. And these some of the stories as well that have added a sense of urgency of this being across border crossings like this

one, Lynda.

KINKADE: And can you explain for us, Melissa, from those who are speaking to, how long they have traveled and how far they have walked or driven to

get across the border and what awaits them when they get into Georgia?


BELL: Extraordinary scenes and huge uncertainty for the last part of your question.

But it is a 20 hour drive from Moscow to town just on the other side of that border, but it is cars that it had to be abandoned up to 18 kilometers

away from it, simply because it's your only hope of getting in, to walk or ride a bicycle if you can, to carry your family -- you can see here, I

would assure on the side, these are, many of them, Georgian drivers who have come here to the border to try to help those who are coming across on

foot and carrying as little as they are, carrying small children, often, elderly women as well, and trying to help get them to some kind of safety.

But there are no structures at the moment. This has been such a sudden movement of people. It happened since last Wednesday and it's been picking

up speed with a massive increase, again, these last couple of days, simply because of the time a takes people to get to the borders of this vast

country. But again, Lynda, there is a sense that people are leaving and some of them even tonight as they come through, cursing Vladimir Putin as

they do -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Wow, Melissa Bell for us, extraordinary scene we've been seeing, our thanks to you and your team there.

Well, there is more suspicion and can sense of sabotage on the pipeline used to send gas from Russia to Western Europe. The operator of the two

Nord Stream pipelines says the system has sustained unprecedented damage near the Danish island, triggering three leaks. And Denmark says the impact

from the main one is causing disturbances up to one kilometer away.

This is what it looks like right now above the lakes on the surface of the Baltic Sea. What caused the damage is not clear. Swedish seismologists say

it appears to be explosions and many European officials are suggesting it was sabotage.

Well, we are seeing major storms in North America and Southeast Asia right now. Hurricane Ian is in the Gulf of Mexico and it is headed towards the

western coast of Florida, after making landfall in Cuba on Tuesday morning. Cuban state television says the province of Pinar del Rio, known for its

tobacco farms, has lost power and has suffered heavy damage.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says it could make landfall just south of Tampa, Florida, on Wednesday evening, as a category three hurricane or


And halfway across the globe in Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of people are being told to evacuate because of typhoon Noru. The storm hit the

Philippines a few days ago as a super typhoon, killing at least eight people, some villages are devastated.


UNIDENTFIED MALE (through translator): It was more difficult compared to before. The flood before has never so severe, and the water levels raise

all the time. It is difficult to find a place for refuge because there are so many families in the same situation. We don't know where to evacuate

because of the rising waters.


KINKADE: Let's get a sense of where things stand with Hurricane Ian. Our Patrick Oppmann joins us live from Havana, Cuba. Ryan Young is in Tampa,


I want to start with you first, Patrick. Help finally on the way in Cuba, just how much do you know right now about the extent of the devastation


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think even the Cuban government really has a complete idea of the devastation. The Cuban

president has gone to inspect for himself the absolute widespread terrible disaster that has taken place there. You know, hundreds of people if not

thousands have lost most of their homes, their roofs, the entire province, as you said, without power.

Here in Havana, we got much luckier, but throughout the day, there were heavy winds and rain that flooded through neighborhoods and the entire city

is without power right now because according to the Cuban government, if they turn it back on, then you have power lines that are down. You could

have fires. You could have people electrocuted.

So, the power, even here in Havana, the capital, we will be off for some time, it seems. It could be off for days if not weeks there. The damage

there is just so extensive. And of course, there are tens of thousands of people that evacuated out of the storm. It is just beginning to return now

-- for them to come home and find that they may not have a home anymore is just going to be devastating.

So, this is really going to be one for the history books, even for Cuba, which is used to hurricanes, hurricane Ian was really a terrible storm that

people will remember here for a very long time.

KINKADE: And we will continue to check in with you, Patrick, to get those updates.

Ryan, a hurricane now barreling towards Florida. The track it takes may change. Just describe how people are preparing for it.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it has taken a change, but I can tell you, some people are really scared about the storm surge. What they're

worried about is, there has not been a direct hit to Tampa in some 100 years.


And so, with all the developments here, the millions of people who move into this area, a storm surge could be quite devastating. In fact, there's

already been evacuations throughout parts of Florida.

We want to show you something. The hospitals right there behind me, and they put up that sort of barrier right there. That is what they call an

aqua dam. They're trying to keep water out from this level one trauma center. This is an emergency room that people will be rushed to if they

need help during the storm. So, that barrier is going up right now.

We also have to show you this video that we shot today. This is where we went out with police officers as they went door to door in certain

communities, asking people to leave, to make sure they understand that this is not a drill. They want them out as soon as possible. Because there are

some low lying areas that flood when there is heavy rainfall here.

And what could be coming is more than ten inches of rain. Yes, the track has changed a little bit, but what they are concerned about is the fact

that the rain could sit over this area and so many people have moved here from other places, even the mayor talked about the idea that someone could

try to drive through water.


JANE CASTOR, TAMPA, FLORIDA MAYOR: The high water driving through, if can't see, don't go into it. Like I said before, three feet of water, your

car is going to float.

So, those kind of common sense things, as my dad used to say, common sense is not as common as we all like to think, but just common sense. Don't be

out there on the roads driving around. There will be down trees. But more importantly, there is going to be down electric lines and that is more

dangerous after the storm.


YOUNG: Yeah, common sense is not so common anymore, especially because so many people are moving here from all over the country, all over the world

of Florida. We want to make sure that they understand how to stay safe.

One of the things you may notice there, she took a phone call right at the end of our comment. That is because the president was calling her during

her news conference. The president was saying that they have trucks and FEMA, emergency management all throughout this area, staged just in case

the worst happens.

Now, I can tell you already, there are places throughout this area that are so low they're already dealing with about a half a foot of water. If you

had all that rain that they're expecting here, we could be in some serious trouble. So, you can see what the hospital is doing, but all over the city,

people are getting sandbags and at 2:00 today, I'll sandbag operations were suspended in this city because at this point, now they are moving to a

point when they went all their emergency service personnel ready for when the storm finally starts to hit and then rain starts to fall.

KINKADE: All right. Ryan Young, we will continue to check in with you in Tampa, Florida, as we watch this hurricane move up the coast. Thanks so


And our thanks also to Patrick Oppmann in Havana, Cuba.

We are, as I say, keeping a close eye on Hurricane Ian and you can track it on We will have live updates as well as a live sight in case you

are affected by the storm.

Well, still to come, a rare show of defiance by locals in Shenzhen, China, in response to a sudden COVID lockdown.

Plus, a state funeral for Japan's longest-serving prime minister draws world leaders and protesters. A look at a Shinzo Abe's complicated legacy.



KINKADE: Welcome back to the show. I'm Lynda Kinkade.

Let's take a look at other key stories making international headlines today.

Iran says at least 41 people have died a nationwide protests that have raged for more than ten days. CNN can't confirm that number and some

independent groups say it must be much greater. The government's forceful crackdown doesn't appear to be calling the protests. They began after a 22

year old woman died in police custody.

A cholera outbreak is spreading across Syria and across the front lines. Officials in both government and rebel-controlled area are reporting new

cases, at least 2,000 so far. And the government says almost 30 patients have died. It's raising alarms, particularly in camps where they displaced,

which often have no running water or sewage systems.

A snap COVID-19 lockdown in China has led to rare protests by presidents who chanted and scuffled with police. Authorities imposed a lockdown

following a handful of COVID cases in the city of 18 million people, as the country seeks to its zero COVID policy.

TikTok could face a $29 million fine for failing to protect children's privacy in the U.K. An investigation by Britain's data privacy regulator

found the popular video sharing up handled sensitive information from minors without their parents' permission. TikTok was notified about the

possible fine. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Japan has bid farewell Tuesday to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, holding an elaborate state funeral. The country's longest-serving prime minister

was assassinated in July. While many mourner spent the day paying their respects. Others protested Abe's policies and the state cost of the funeral

amid rising inflation.

More now from CNN's Blake Essig.


BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Starting early Tuesday morning, mourners signed up for the opportunity to walk say a final goodbye

to Japan's longest-serving prime minister.

Among the lines of people are blocked off roads and tens of thousands of police officers, patrolling the streets of Tokyo.

They are here to provide security for the roughly 4,300 guests, including 700 foreign dignitaries, attending the government-funded state funeral for

Shinzo Abe inside Japan's iconic arena Budokan Arena. For several hours -- flowers were offered, a video tribute with images of

Abe was played, and speeches were delivered. To honor the man people like current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida say accomplish so much for his

country, and was taken too soon.

FUMIO KISHIDA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): You breached the intersection of the two oceans. You took your ideas further and develop

them into a framework for a free and open Indo Pacific Region. It serves many countries and many people. Your multilayered diplomacy has good

relations with every country in the world.

ESSIG: Outside the arena, protesters marched, chanted, and clashed with police. Protesting and events that will end up costing taxpayers 1.6

billion yen or 12 million U.S. dollars that they say never should have happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The cost of the state funeral was way too high. There's so many people who are struggling to get by after the

pandemic. I can't get my head around why we're having a state funeral. It's a really bad thing. It's so expensive.

ESSIG: A nation divided on full display. Japan it's a lost farewell to one of its most polarizing figures of all-time. A man that was both revered and

resented for his role in shaping the Japan that exists today.

Blake Essig, CNN, Tokyo.


KINKADE: Meanwhile, in the UK, the royal mourning period for Queen Elizabeth II has ended. Tuesday, William and Kate made their first trip to

Wales since receiving their titles of prince and princess of Wales. The pair returned to the island of Anglesey where William formerly worked as a

Royal Air Force search and rescue helicopter pilot. They also met with volunteers at a church in Swansea.

And back in London, Buckingham palace unveiled the official monogram for King Charles III. The design will feature on banknotes, coins, and stamps.

Well, to celebrate 60 years of James Bond, Christie's is hosting a charity sale of some of 007's famous gadgets and costumes. The auction includes

items that reflect each of the six actors that played bond. Much of the memorabilia comes from the film "No Time to Die", including an Aston Martin

DB5 stunt car, which could sell for more than $2 million.


MEG SIMMONDS, EON PRODUCTIONS ARCHIVE DIRECTOR: It is one of eight replicas that were made especially for "No Time to Die" and used in Matera,

on location in Italy for the chasing. It is one of the distant cars with some gadgets on it as well. So, it is a very special car.


KINKADE: Well, the live auction is Wednesday, by invitation only. There is also an online auction open until James Monday day on October 5th. The

date, the first Bond film premiered in 1962.

Well, thanks so much for watching. I'm Kinkade, Lynda Kinkade, and that was your GLOBAL BRIEF.

Do stay with CNN. "WORLD SPORT" is coming up next. I'll see you tomorrow.