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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Russia Targets Ukraine's Power Sites As Winter Nears; EU Energy Crisis; Lafarge Terrorism Fine. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired October 18, 2022 - 17:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. I'm Lynda Kinkade. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. Thanks for joining us.

Ahead, a Ukrainian intelligence officer gives CNN exclusive access to an Iranian made drone shot down over the capital.

Then, the EU negotiates emergency measures as the UK warns of evening blackouts in the New Year. The latest on Europe's energy crisis.

And financing terror. A French company is fined more than $700 million for making payments to ISIS in Syria.

Well, Russia's new military commander in Ukraine says Moscow's goal is to make the country friendly and independent from the West. Right now, it is

trying to accomplish that goal by blasting Ukraine's energy infrastructure to pieces. That's according to Ukraine's president.

Russia has destroyed 30 percent of the country's power stations in the past eight days alone. It's an attempt to put the country in the cold and dark

with winter rapidly approaching, it left three dead in Kyiv on Tuesday.

The mayor of the capital is urging residents to conserve power and water. U.N. officials are warning of a deadly winter with Ukrainian families

struggling to find heat sources for their destroyed home.

Our Frederik Pleitgen walks us through the events of another deadly day in Russia's war.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL (voice-over): Russia hitting Ukraine's infrastructure with massive strikes across the country. Power

plants in several regions targeted by both kamikaze drones and cruise missiles.

This video purports to show Ukraine taking down one of them, but some hitting civilian areas like this residential building in the southern town


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We woke up at 1:45 a.m. because of a very large explosion. It's impossible to describe it. There was so

much dust.

PLEITGEN: The Ukrainians say 30 percent of their energy infrastructure has already been destroyed by Moscow's blitz. Key installations like this power

plant the city Dnipro hit by multiple missiles. Ukraine's air defense is sometimes also overwhelmed by swarms of cheap kamikaze drones.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The world can and must stop this terror. When we talk about Ukraine's need for air

and missile defense systems, we talk about real lives taken by terrorists.

PLEITGEN: Kyiv believes Moscow is resorting to drone strikes because its forces are running out of precision cruise missiles. Stocks of some weapons

already critically low, Ukraine's military intelligence claims. But Russia's army is showing no signs of letting up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): During the last 24 hours, the armed forces of the Russian Federation continued to deploy long-range high-

precision weapons, both air and sea-based on Ukraine's military command sites and energy infrastructure.

PLEITGEN: Russia continues to face major problems with its mobilization effort. While many Russian regions claim they fulfilled their recruitment

targets, some recruits complain they're not getting adequately compensated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The motherland called so we are all here and we are going to defend it. But while we care about the

motherland, it does not care about us at all. The question is, when will it be done? We will go there now and our relatives who have been staying at

home for a whole month without any provisions. They're struggling. In a month, they will be homeless.

PLEITGEN: Ukrainian officials believe despite Russia's strikes, its forces will prevail on the battlefield. The senior intelligence leaders saying

Russia's defeat is inevitable.


KINKADE: That was Frederik Pleitgen reporting from Kramatorsk in Ukraine.

Well, the Iranian foreign ministry denies that it's sending weapons to Russia for its war in Ukraine. But according to reports from "Reuters",

Iran's promised to revive provide Russia with surface to surface missiles as well as additional drones. The Pentagon spokesperson says he is where

those reports, but could not confirm them yet.

Ukrainian foreign minister urging President Zelenskyy to cut diplomatic ties with the round. Take a listen.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): I am submitting to the president of Ukraine a proposition to sever diplomatic

retirees with Iran. We never took an anti-Iranian stance. But after Iran became part of aggressive crimes and Russian crimes in our territory, we

are taking a definite and honest position.


KINKADE: CNN's Clarissa Ward gained exclusive access to an Iranian made drone shot down in Ukraine this, yes, as Russia claims it's only using

Russian equipment Russian numbers on it. Take a look.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At an undisclosed location, Ukrainian military intelligence officer Oleksi takes

us to see one of Russia's newest threats on the battlefield, an Iranian- made drone known as the Mohajer-6.

It's big.

Used by the Russians for reconnaissance and bombing.

Yeah, it was shot, I can see, this is the hole from where you shot it down.

OLEKSI, UKRAINIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Yes, yes, this is a hole from the rocket of Ukrainian forces. You can see 02/2022.

WARD: So, this is the date when it was made?

OLEKSI: We think that this plane was made in this year, when the Russians begin to fly these drones.


We have new problems on the battlefield.

WARD: In just the last eight days, more than 100 drones have been fired at Ukraine, mostly kamikaze Shahed-163 drones. Smashing civilian

infrastructure and terrorizing ordinary people.

The Kremlin today said only Russian equipment with Russian numbers is used in its so-called special operation. But Oleksi says there is no doubt where

this drone comes from.

Now, I don't see any writing in Farsi, in Iranian language. How do you know?

OLEKSI: We know that this Iranian plane by two main things. The first thing, we watched the exhibitions of the planes in other countries.

And some years ago, Iranian companies showed this.

WARD: This exact model?

OLEKSI: Yes, this plane. And the second thing, because why it is Iranian plane, yes, the aircraft one, only one writing by hand.

WARD: Can you show me?


WARD: So that's Farsi?

OLEKSI: I think yes. You are right.

WARD: So, if I understand, you are saying that they try to hide the fact that this was from Iran?

Ukraine has called for more sanctions against Iran for supplying the drones, but so for sanctions have had little effect. The components are

commercially available in a number of different countries, from Japanese, batteries to an Austrian engine, and American processors.

This is the Mohajer-6. Now we are seeing these kamikaze drones, the shahed- 136, and you are saying there is a new generation of drone coming too. The Arash-2?

OLESKI: Arash-2. Yes, we worry very much from this.


KINKADE: That was CNN's Clarissa Ward reporting for us.

From the battlefield to the situation room, top U.S. spy chief says Russia is running through its weapons supply at an unsustainable rate. U.S.

director of national intelligence says that means Moscow is relying on low end weapons and technological band-aids. The Kremlin said there is still no

end date of Vladimir Putin's partial mobilization plan. At least 40 regions, including Moscow, have already filled or draft quota.

And in other developments, the head of Germany's cybersecurity agency has been fired over alleged connections with Russia. Arne Schonbohm leaves the

job immediately. It comes after recent reports saying he had links with people involved with Russia's intelligence service. A spokesperson for

Germany's federal office for information security says public trust in the agencies neutrality was a key factor in his dismissal.

The war in Ukraine has forced the European union to confront it's expensive dependence on gas. A new report shows that wind and solar power have made

up 20 percent of the block's electricity mix since February. That's a record. And the growth in renewable power capacity saved E.U. nations

nearly $97 billion.

But the European Union is still struggling to cope with high energy prices ahead of this coming winter. On Thursday, the European Commission proposed

new emergency measures to create a, quote, energy union that but they did not impose a price cap on gas.

CNN's Clare Sebastian has the details.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The European Commission is making it clear it thinks the only way to get through this energy crisis caused by

Russia 's war in Ukraine is for the EU to do it together as a block to buy gas together through a joint system that would prevent member states of

bidding against each other and driving up prices, to share gas, and make that sharing mandatory in the event of an emergency, so that hospitals,

other protective customers can keep operating, and, of course, by continuing to work on reducing demand. That will get harder as winter takes


The E.U. stopped short of proposing an immediate cap on gas prices, a policy that has proved controversial among some member states. Even though

European Europe has filled its gas stories to 92 percent, well ahead of its target of 80 percent by November 1st, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson

made it clear that winter could still hit hard.

KADRI SIMSON, EU COMMISSIONER FOR ENERGY: As we make every effort to keep writes this predictable and gas flowing through Europe, we cannot exclude a

real supply crisis, with a shortage of gas, and for this solidarity and demand reduction are a key.


SEBASTIAN: These are not yet binding proposals. Member states would need to agree. That will be difficult.

Europe isn't the only area contemplating a real supply crisis. The head of the national grid here in the U.K. warned on Monday that in a worst-case

scenario, rolling blackouts could happen between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. on very cold days this winter. UK's electricity operators said early this month

that would only happen in an extreme scenario. Its best case is still that the UK will have enough electricity and gas.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.


KINKADE: Well, several thousand people turned out to protest in France, as inflation continues to take its toll on energy prices and food. Workers and

several oil refineries were on strike for weeks, demanding higher pay. It's causing fuel disruptions across the country.

Our Melissa Bell is in Paris for us.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The context of this is that for the last few weeks here in France, there've in huge cues at the petrol station,

refinery workers going on strike, first of all, because they say they want to have better wages to face the inflation that is so bad here in France.

But also because they want more profit sharing from the energy companies as a result of the profits they made these last few weeks.

In the context of that, you have this strike that was called today as you say by transport unions but also some public sector workers. What they've

done is they had a march as well. The traffic wasn't that crippled in France. It was a lot of traffic on trains were able to run.

But it was more this, a large demonstration on the streets of Paris. There have was one on Sunday against inflation in the high cost of living. But

they haven't gotten as many people out on the streets as they managed to today. Here, we're arriving which is the end point of the demonstration, of

the march, and it's been remarkably well-attended. We haven't seen these kinds of figures on the streets of paradise than a couple of years.

Of course, COVID have made it impossible. There's been some protests about the restrictions. But nothing like this since the very end of the yellow

vest protest and the union in 2019.

And so, once again, the French back on the streets and it is a difficult time for Emmanuel Macron. He's trying to get workers back into refineries,

so the petrol stations can be working once again. But he's also having to push through, as a result of parliamentary division, the 2022 budget by

bypassing the vote altogether and in the hope behind that, of being able to push through his controversial reform.

So, it's a difficult time politically for Macron, reelected in May, with a very divided political landscape and wanting to push through reforms in the

second term. So, this large demonstration, of course, bad news for the French president, as he looks ahead as the fall season, in which he had

hopes to get so much through.


KINKADE: Well, the British government says it's taking steps to keep China from recruiting village military pilots to train its armed forces. The UK's

ministry of defense says up to 30 former British pilots started to train members of Chinese people's liberation army and that personnel currently

serving have also been approached with generous compensation offers.

CNN's Bianca Nobilo reports.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The British ministry of defense has issued a threat alert after announcing that up to 30 former UK pilots are

in China training Chinese pilots and supporting their defense industries, having been lured with lucrative composition packages.

The ministry of defense said that: We are taking decisive steps to stop Chinese recruitment schemes to attempt to head hunt current and former UK

armed forces pilots to train the people's liberation army personnel in the People's Republic of China.

They added that China is using third parties to find UK and other Western pilots to directly train Chinese pilots and assist their defense


Minister of state for the armed forces, James Heappey, spoke about the national security sensitivities.

JAMES HEAPPEY, BRITISH ARMED FORCES MINISTER: China is a competitor that is threatening the UK interest in many places around the world. It is also an

important trading partner. But there is no secret in their attempt to gain access to our secrets, and their recruitment of pilots in order to

understand the capabilities of our air force is clearly of concern to us and the intelligence part.

NOBILO: The British government has signaled its intention to toughen up the use of confidentially contracts, also to change the law to increase

transparency around those employed by foreign governments, as well as making it an offense to continue such training off to having received a


Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.


KINKADE: Well, still to come, an abrupt policy reversal. Australia would no longer recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.


We'll explain why.

Plus, pleading guilty to supporting terror groups. A French firm is fined hundreds of billions of dollars for payments made in Syria when the war

broke out.


KINKADE: Welcome back.

A French company has been handed a fine of almost $800 million after pleading guilty in a terrorism financing case. Cement firm Lafarge made

payments intended to benefit terrorist groups ISIS and al-Nusra Front in Syria between 2013 and 2014. The payments were designed to keep a factory

running. Lafarge says it deeply regrets violating its own code of conduct.

Our Kara Scannell joins us from Europe where she's been following the case for us.

Good to have you with us, Kara. So, this company paid not one but two terrorist groups in order to keep operating, and now they have been ordered

to pay this massive fine. Just how unusual is this case?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lynda, prosecutors say that this is an unprecedented prosecution. Lafarge is the first company to be charged

and plead guilty to conspiracy to provide material to support terrorist groups. As part of this deal, Lafarge admitting to a range of activity in

what prosecutors began as way for Lafarge to protect employees working at their cement plant in Syria during civil war translated into a revenue

sharing agreement, where in the end, ISIS and this other terrorist organization were paid $6 million directly. They made millions more through

other arrangements and prosecutors say this was an act of Lafarge putting profits over -- profits that led to the funding of a terrorist reign of

terror by ISIS and this other organization.

Now, in addition to this alleged revenue sharing deal, they said that Lafarge try to hide this arrangement by falsifying invoices and using

personal email accounts instead of corporate email accounts so really trying to hide this activity from investigators in 2013 in 2014.


Now, in addition to pleading guilty today, Lafarge is paying $788 million. They say they regret this activity. The U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, New

York, where I am, who announced the charges today said that in some, Lafarge made a deal with the devil -- Lynda.

KINKADE: Yeah, significant repercussions. Kara Scannell for us in Europe, thanks very much.

Well, an Iranian female climber is apologizing for not wearing a head covering while competing in Seoul, calling it an intentional. She is

appearing to distance herself from speculation that she was acting in solidarity with the protests sweeping her country back home.

Still, as Nada Bashir reports, there is growing concern that she could experience repercussions.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: The fate of Iranian athlete Elnaz Rekabi could hang in the balance after video emerged showing the prominent rock climber

competing in South Korea without her mandatory head scarf or hijab. The veil is mandated by the Iranian regime, both at home and overseas, when

officially representing the country.

ELNAZ REKABI, IRANIAN SPORT CLIMBER (through translator): The future is very bright, especially for women in rock climbing.

BASHIR: Her hopes for the future, however, now in limbo. In a post on Instagram, Rekabi issued an apology saying she had been called to climb

unexpectedly, creating an unintentional issue with her hijab. Though some activists have questioned whether her statement was written under duress.

Now some fear she may face punishment upon her return to Iran.

MAHMOOD REZA AMIRY-MOGHADDAM, DIRECTOR, IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS: Based on the knowledge that we have from the Iranian authorities they will do whatever

they can to try to undo this so-called damage she has done to their authority.

BASHIR: Iran's strict dress code is in forest, often violently, by the countries notorious morality police, the very authority under whose custody

22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in September. She had detained for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly.

Amini's death has, however, sparked a moment of reckoning for the country's hard-line regime, with nationwide protests now entering their fifth week.

Women and girls across the country removing their mandatory hijabs and even cutting their hair in a show of defiance against the regime's severe

restrictions on women's rights, a movement which has gained support across the international community.

RAVINA SHAMDASAN, SPOKESPERSON, U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE: What we have to stress is that women should never be prosecuted for what they wear.

BASHIR: With the Iranian regime continuing to pursue a brutal and deadly crackdown on protesters, and there are growing concerns that Rekabi could

be used by the regime as an example to other women.

AMIRY-MOGHADDAM: The bravery she has shown would certainly inspire millions of Iranian girls and I think that is the main problem.

BASHIR: While the Iranian embassy in Seoul claims that reports Rekabi will be arrested upon her arrival in Iran are, quote, fake news, fears remain

that she also will face the brutal repression of the Iranian regime.

Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


KINKADE: Well, Palestinian leaders are welcoming Israel's decision to reverse its recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel's capital, calling it a

correction follows international law. Israel's foreign minister says the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through the Israeli Palestinian peace

negotiations. Anyone confirmed Israel's embassy will remain in Tel Aviv. Israel insists Jerusalem is its eternal capital, saying, quote, nothing

ever will change that.

Well, astronomers were recently treated to a once in a lifetime event, a gamma ray bursts that maybe the biggest explosion ever seen with a

telescope. Scientists say the long happens when a massive star 2.4 billion light years away collapsed into a supernova explosion. Scientists say the

star was likely many times the mass of the sun. The afterglow of the burst is made up of x-rays scattered by layers of dust within our galaxy.

Well, CNN's space and defense correspondent Kristin Fisher joins us from Washington, D.C.

Those images are just incredible. One astronomer was reading from the Harvard Smithsonian Center of Astrophysics, an event like this is the

equivalent to getting front row seats at a fireworks show.

Just how significant is this?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lynda, I mean, this is one of the biggest and brightest explosions in space ever recorded

by telescopes.


It's so bright that scientists and astronomers believe that they're not going to see anything else quite like it, potentially for decades. And so

what you are seeing there, that's actually some gamma rays. It's taken by a gamma rays sensor and telescope, something that can see that type of


And this all started, this giant explosion started about 2.4 billion light years away. It has been traveling through space for billions of years, and

then finally reached earth and the telescopes and sensors in our solar system last week, ten days ago, or about ten days ago, on October 9th.

And so, what scientists believe happened is that there was this massive explosion of a star, likely 30 to 40 times the size of our sun. What that

explosion was, was a supernova explosion, a star dying, essentially, and becoming a black star. When that happens, what you're seeing on that screen

right there, a stream of particles that comes from a supernova explosion.

These are traveling through space at a very high rate of speed in the form of x-ray and gamma ray particles. Those gamma ray particles are known for

producing most powerful explosions in the universe. So that is what this was.

To give you an idea of how big and bright it is, you said that it was that one science acquainted it to getting front row seat to a fireworks. Well, I

like this analogy. One team of researchers are now inside the research group calling this the BOAT, kind of like the GOAT, the greatest of all

time? Well, this is their analogy for the BOAT, the brightest of all-time.

And so this really was something scientists weren't expecting, took them by surprise, and they may not get to see anything quite like it for at least a

few decades.

KINKADE: Wow, incredible. Certainly, a once in a lifetime event for many people.

Kristin Fisher, thank you so much. Good to see you.

FISHER: Good to see you.

KINKADE: And thanks so much for all of you for joining us today. I'm Lynda Kinkade. That was THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

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