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Deadly Strikes Hit Hospitals in Syria; Syrian Government Front Line against ISIS; Oil Rallies on Hope of Production Cuts; Political Fight Brews after Supreme Court Justice Dies; Pope Travels to Mexico's Poorest State; George W. Bush Returns to Campaign Trail; Russian Airstrikes Boosting Syrian Government Gains; Winning Big at the BAFTAs. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired February 15, 2016 - 10:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST (voice-over): Ahead at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, two hospitals hit by airstrikes in Syria.
The political fight over America's next Supreme Court justice.
And Leonardo DiCaprio wins a big award heading into the Oscars.
CURNOW: Hi, there, and welcome. I'm Robyn Curnow at the CNN Center.
And we start with a wave of deadly attacks in Northern Syria that hit two hospitals and a school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW (voice-over): This video shows the aftermath of airstrikes on a hospital supported by Doctors without Borders in Idlib province. At least
seven people were killed there and at least 15 others died when a second hospital and a school were struck north of Aleppo.
This new violence coming just days after world leaders announced a planned cessation of hostilities. Well, let's go straight to our Fred Pleitgen.
He's in Damascus.
Hi, there, Fred, and it's a continuing blame game as to who's responsible for these attacks.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There certainly has been a continued blame game, especially if you look at that
attack that took place on that hospital in Azaz. That is in one of the main contested areas at this point in time. There was a lot of fighting in
and around Azaz that took place over the weekend and there really was an array of forces in that area.
You have the Syrian government forces that were fairly close to there; Kurdish forces, Turkish forces from the YPG were there; Turkish forces
shelled towns outside of Azaz, where there Kurdish forces and then of course you have the Russian air force that's operating in that area as
The Turks, for their part, have said about the Azaz attack that they believe that the Russians were behind it, saying it might have been some
sort of cruise missile; the Russians have yet to respond to those allegations. At this point in time it still is unclear.
What is clear is that it is horrible carnage that happened there, at that one hospital, as well as at the other one in Idlib province. And again,
Robyn, both of these hospitals very much in contested areas.
And I was up in the north of Syria, north of Aleppo recently, and I can tell you the battle lines there in many places, very much unclear, very
confusing as to who holds which territory at any point in time -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Indeed. And of course, as we know, civilians are always caught in the middle of this and this is not the first time this year hospitals have
been hit in Syria.
Let's talk about some of your journeys to the front lines in the last day or so. You have been with the Syrian military elsewhere.
What did you see there?
PLEITGEN: Well, we managed to get to the front line of the Syrian military with ISIS; this is something that we did in the east of Hama province,
which is on the fringe of the caliphate, of what the Islamic State has deemed the caliphate. It's on the fringe of Raqqah province.
It's a place where the Syrian military has dug in, where they have amassed a lot of forces. And you know, one of the things we keep talking about is
what sort of priorities the Syrian military have, whether it's only fighting moderate rebels or whether or not it's focusing on ISIS as well.
Certainly the military commander that we spoke to on the ground says that ISIS was very much a focus for them. Here's what we saw on that front
PLEITGEN (voice-over): In the eastern Syrian desert, on the fringe of ISIS' self-declared caliphate, the Syrian army readies its artillery;
cannons, tanks and armored personnel carriers have dug in.
PLEITGEN: We are right on the front line in the Syrian military's battle against ISIS. The soldiers here tell us that ISIS positions are literally
only a few miles away from this position.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): The top commander for this area tells CNN his forces constantly clash with ISIS here. He didn't want to appear on camera
because of Syrian military rules and instead designated a civilian working with him to speak on his behalf.
"Over there is the village of Khirbat," he says. "It's considered to be the alternative capital of ISIS."
The Syrian military recently launched a major offensive in the north of the country, winning back some territory but also causing tens of thousands to
flee toward the Turkish border.
The U.N. says Syrian forces, mostly combat moderate rebels, have put very little effort into fighting ISIS. But the troops say that is not true.
"For three months now, ISIS has not been advancing," he says. "They have only been retreating."
And Assad's army acknowledges that Russian airpower --
PLEITGEN (voice-over): -- has had a big impact.
"Everything is much better since our Russian friends came in," he says. "They gave us the capability to conduct preemptive strikes and also aerial
surveillance to warn us in advance about ISIS attacks."
And they vow to continue their push eastward deeper into ISIS heartland.
PLEITGEN: The commanders here say that they are on the move forward and one of their predictions is that if nothing else goes wrong, they think
they can be in Raqqah by the end of the year.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): But they still are far away from achieving that goal and in the past, ISIS has shown it can rebound after being pushed
PLEITGEN: And just to give you an idea of how messy the battlefields are here in Syria, Robyn, of course the Syrian commander there told me that one
of the main key things that they want to achieve is they want to seal off the Turkish border to make sure that ISIS and other groups aren't able to
But of course, at the same time, that is one of the things where the U.S. and other world powers are saying that leads to a major issue with
civilians who are caught in the crosshairs of the fighting that is going on, not just in that area but of course north of Aleppo as well -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Indeed, thanks so much, Fred Pleitgen there in Damascus.
Well, turning now to global markets where Europe is surging and stocks in China struggled with a holiday hangover. But first, we have some exciting
news from our CNNMoney team. CNN is launching CNNMoney, a new global multiplatform brand, bringing you the latest in business news wherever you
are in the world. And several of our CNNMoney experts are joining me live today, anchor Maggie Lake and John Defterios.
Hi, there, guys.
Maggie, I want to start with you. It's a holiday in the States today; it's a good time, though, to digest the movement of these markets with, of
course, keeping an eye on Asia as always.
MAGGIE LAKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right and traders who are at home are probably relieved to see that we are seeing a rebound in many
China down slightly but not the selling that a lot of people were expecting after they came back from a week-long holiday. And we are seeing Japan up
strongly, hopes that the central bank is going to step in.
We're listening to ECB president Mario Draghi, address parliament in Europe, bank stocks there rebounding. He's trying to send a reassuring
So it seems that U.S. traders are going to come back to some welcome news. But not a lot of clarity, Robyn. I still say that there are a lot of
concerns out there and we have got to dig out of a big hole.
If you look at where we are year-to-date, markets closed today, they rebounded end of the week strong last week. But we are still down very
sharply year-to-date. And if you look at from the recent highs, it looks even worse than that.
The big question facing everyone is, to what extent can central bankers really do much more?
And is the global economy weakening?
Are they out of ammunition to try to help?
And are governments in any position to step in?
What does the global economy look like?
Is the market actually we're seeing an indication that we are weakening, even after all that stimulus?
Or are they detached somehow and we don't have the parallel that we used to in the past?
Honestly, analysts, investors just don't know the answer to that. So there's a feeling of uncertainty. People certainly hope that we are
stabilized at the moment.
But is there a reason to step in and buy aggressively?
I'm not hearing a lot of people talk about that. All of these markets so interconnected, whether you're looking at Asia, Europe or the U.S., they're
going to take their cue from one another.
So hoping for some positive action tomorrow. We're going to watch closely what happens once again overnight, though -- Robyn.
CURNOW: You talk about interconnectedness and the need for clarity.
Obviously concern and uncertainty over oil markets is a concern for investors globally, John, and there's also been some confusion over the
possibility of supply cuts.
What are you hearing on that?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, in fact, "extreme volatility" has been the buzzphrase in 2016, when it comes to oil and that
link that you were talking about, Robyn, with the global equity markets at the same time.
We see a rally based on the hope, I would say, of an OPEC -- non-OPEC deal to cut production to try to raise prices. Let's just take a look at the
chart for North Sea Brent since the start of 2016. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about.
A rally at the end of January, you see that first spike up and then it fades away, then the first week of February, then it fades away.
Then we saw the biggest gains since 2009 last Thursday and Friday. And the multibillion dollar question today is will it fade away again? Will
investors be disappointed?
Now if you listen to the Venezuelan oil minister, a country that's quite desperate to see a deal to raise the oil prices to help their economy, you
would think that a deal is on the table right now. The Nigerian minister, another desperate country because of the strain of lower oil prices
suggesting that the energy is there to call an emergency meeting.
But I'm listening to those here in the Middle East, those who have the spare capacity, the big players like Saudi Arabia and even the UAE. And
they suggested so far, Robyn, yes, we're open to collaboration with countries like Russia right the now but we want firm commitments. We've
talked about this --
DEFTERIOS: -- for a long, long time, we're the low-cost producers, so if you want to get a deal done, let's see a firm commitment to cut your
production. And so far, we don't see it yet.
In fact, the UAE minister had one of his staff members text me over the weekend to say his position hasn't changed. So the big issue right now,
the surplus of about 1.75 million barrels a day, that's the expectation from the International Energy Agency, that's a major glut; you got to take
it off the market.
And candidly, I don't see an agreement between Saudi Arabia on one side and Russia on the other.
This is the big question going forward. And when we see a rally but not a huge rally; we're still down 50 percent since July of last year -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Great to have your perspective, John Defterios there; Maggie Lake, thanks, guys.
And as we mentioned earlier, CNNMoney is launching a new global initiative, bringing you the latest in business; wherever you are in the world, be sure
to check out our website at money.cnn.com.
CURNOW (voice-over): Pope Francis is en route to one of Mexico's most troubled regions, where a large crowd is already on hand to greet him.
We'll explain the significance of his visit in a live report. That's coming up.
Plus U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush decides to lean in to his famous name, how his campaign is becoming a family affair.
CURNOW: Welcome back.
Well, the leading conservative voice on the U.S. Supreme Court has died suddenly, sending shock waves throughout American politics. Funeral plans
are under way for Justice Scalia, who was 79 years old. CNN's Joe Johns tells us what happened and why there's now a fight over who should pick his
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The body of Justice Antonin Scalia returning home to Virginia this morning. The 79-
year old died here in his sleep at a Texas resort over the weekend. Funeral plans for the Supreme Court's strident conservative voice are under
way and so is the epic political battle for his replacement.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VT., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama, in my view, should make that nomination. I hope he does it as soon as
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no way the Senate should confirm anyone that Barack Obama tries to appoint in his last
year in office to a lifetime appointment.
JOHNS (voice-over): The Republicans fear another liberal nominee would tip the scales on some of the defining debates of our time. In the coming
months, the Supreme Court justices are expected to take on several hot button issues, including an ObamaCare mandate requiring most employers to
pay for birth control, abortion and the president's actions on immigration.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor and there will be
plenty of time for me to do so.
JOHNS (voice-over): Top Democrat Harry Reid called for the seat to be filled right away. As for a timeline, a senior Obama administration
official points to the president's --
JOHNS (voice-over): -- previous Supreme Court nominations, both taking about a month.
JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has every right to do it and the Senate has every right to not confirm that person.
JOHNS (voice-over): But Senate Republicans are pledging to stall, demanding that Mr. Obama allow the next president to make the choice,
nearly a year from now.
The GOP hoping this could rally conservatives against a potential liberal shift on the high court, driving voters to the polls come November. The
problem with only eight justices, their only options are to leave the lower courts' decisions intact if they're divided on a case or to hold the case
over until a replacement is confirmed.
PATRICK LEAHY, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: If the Republican leadership refuses even to hold a hearing, I think that is going to guarantee they lose
control of the Senate.
CURNOW: Well, that was Joe Johns reporting.
Now I want to now bring in CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who joins us live from New York.
Hi, there, Jeffrey. You have been talking about the implications of this the whole weekend. And I think that's -- we mustn't underscore just how
important this is. The empty seat is crucial because it shapes the direction of how the U.S. Constitution is interpreted for perhaps decades
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: And for an international audience, I think it may be hard to understand just how important the U.S. Supreme
Court is to our system.
We have a system where almost every issue winds up for final resolution in our courts. It's really a much more important legal system in the United
States than in virtually any other country.
And our Supreme Court has been very closely politically divided for a long time with five conservatives and four liberals. Justice Scalia was the
leading conservative on the court, which means that if President Obama, who is certainly on the liberal end of the political spectrum, has the
opportunity to fill that seat, it would switch the balance to five liberals and four conservatives, which could have immense implications for issues
like abortion, campaign finance, affirmative action, immigration, all of those issues wind up before our Supreme Court.
CURNOW: And the fact that there might be this switch, this 5-4 switch to a more liberal court, this hasn't happened in a generation, has it. If we
think about it, Justice Scalia was appointed by Ronald Reagan. The tentacles of the legacy of one president extends far beyond their eight
years or four years.
TOOBIN: Right, under our system, federal judges serve for life, which means that judges routinely serve, as Justice Scalia did, for 30 years. So
this is an opportunity for presidents to make an impact on the country and on the government, on the society for long after their four- or eight-year
tenures are completed.
So that's why there's often a premium on placing relatively young people on the bench, people in their late 40s, early 50s. That is something that has
become a big factor in Supreme Court appointments in recent years.
And so this is why the Republican Senate and the Republicans, as of the 2014 election, control the United States Senate. They have said that the
president will not be allowed to have anyone confirmed for this seat.
CURNOW: Yes, well, let's talk about this political dogfight now. This just adds fuel to the fire, doesn't it?
Particularly going into a presidential election year.
Why is the impact of this one seat going to have an impact on who might be the next president?
TOOBIN: Well, the issue of the Supreme Court is -- figures prominently in American politics and so it does drive certain people to the polls, who say
we really want a conservative Supreme Court or we really want a liberal Supreme Court.
And this will now be a bigger part of the political dialogue going on in this country, especially if the Republican Senate doesn't even allow a vote
on whoever President Obama nominates.
That will be a -- something that will certainly rally at least some Democrats to go to the polls and, perhaps, some Republicans as well. But
the failure to even hold a vote, which is what the Republicans are promising now, is certain to have an impact independent of the merits of
any individual nominee.
CURNOW: Yes, it's going to be fascinating and also really speaks to the balance of the court and very important issue, as it's suddenly thrown into
the mix of a really quite messy election season. Thank you so very much, Jeffrey Toobin.
TOOBIN: Indeed, Robyn.
CURNOW: Well, another jam-packed busy day for Pope Francis in Mexico. He left the capital --
CURNOW: -- about two hours ago, bound for the southern state of Chiapas, which is Mexican's poorest region and home to a large indigenous
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW (voice-over): As you can see right now, large crowds are gathering in Chiapas. These are live pictures, people patiently waiting for the
pope's arrival under blue, blue skies.
CNN's Shasta Darlington joins us from Mexico City to explain the significance of the pope's day trip. I think that's his helicopter or at
least one of them that we're seeing flying in, nearly about to land.
Hi, there, Shasta.
This whole trip has been about frontiers, about a pilgrimage?
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Robyn, and you touched on two of the main points today. Chiapas is Mexico's poorest
state; it has a very large indigenous population. And before he even took off, Pope Francis got authorization for the mass and the services to be
ministered in three different indigenous languages. That's something his predecessor frowned upon.
So it's a real attempt here to embrace communities that often feel like they are pushed aside, something that the people's pope is very good at.
We can expect him to address topics like poverty, to really try and reach out to these indigenous communities.
But there's another topic here. Chiapas is also the main entry point for Central American immigrants trying to reach the United States. In fact,
many have referred to this as Pope Francis' attempt to retrace the group of immigrants.
And as you know, he'll end his trip in Ciudad Juarez, right across the border from El Paso, Texas. That's where he will give his cross-border
mass, where we expect him to drive his Popemobile along the border fence, really highlighting the plight of immigrants.
So these are some issues very important to Pope Francis that we should be hearing throughout the day and, of course, throughout his trip -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Thanks so much, Shasta Darlington there in Mexico. And of course this is a pope who will all the way throughout this trip has expressed his
devotion to the powerless. And I don't think that message will change.
Well, just ahead, turning to his brother for a boost on the campaign arsenal, Jeb Bush embraces the political weight attached to his last name.
CURNOW: I'm Robyn Curnow. You're watching CNN. Turning now to the U.S. campaign trail, where Republicans are bracing for a hard-fought week in
South Carolina, for some candidates, it's time to put fresh faces on the stump. And if you're Jeb Bush, well, that means an old and familiar face.
CNN's Athena Jones is live in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Tell us about W.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. That's right. Look, Jeb Bush finished in sixth place in Iowa, in fourth place in New Hampshire, and so
the stakes are high for him here in South Carolina. And his team is making a big play for this state, that's why they're bringing out perhaps their
biggest gun, former president George W. Bush.
This marks a whole new stage in the campaign for Bush.
JONES (voice-over): George W. Bush, hitting the campaign trail tonight for the first time since leaving office.
JEB BUSH: Is he a popular Republican?
You bet he is.
JONES (voice-over): The former president giving his younger brother a helping hand as the battle for South Carolina heats up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know Jeb.
JONES (voice-over): W. has already lent his famous face to an ad for Jeb's campaign.
GEORGE BUSH: Experience and judgment counts in the Oval Office.
JONES (voice-over): His guest-starring role on stage tonight is part of the Bush camp's effort to pull out all the stops after a dismal sixth place
in Iowa, where his brother won.
GEORGE BUSH: And thank you, Iowa.
JONES (voice-over): -- and a better-than-expected fourth place in New Hampshire, where his father won.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank the wonderful people of New Hampshire.
JONES (voice-over): Jeb is hoping for a strong showing in South Carolina, which handed primary victories to both Presidents Bush.
JEB BUSH: I think there's a lot of interest in my brother coming. This is the right time, right when the interest -- when it's important and when
people are watching.
JONES (voice-over): Bush, whose campaign logo doesn't even include his famous last and who began his run stressing he would be, quote, "his own
man," is now embracing his name.
JEB BUSH: I'm proud of my dad, I'm proud of my brother. I'm proud of being a Bush.
JONES (voice-over): But that extra dose of brotherly love this election year is already bringing an extra dose of scrutiny.
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Obviously the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake.
JONES (voice-over): Especially from GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who continues to bash the 43rd president's decision to go to war in Iraq. And
his brother's initial response to questions about that decision.
TRUMP: And then he admitted that it was a mistake, finally, after five days. In fact, it almost -- I mean, look, he's got no chance, anyway. But
it almost cost him the election before he even started.
JONES: And with Donald Trump, you know that there's always more attacks where that one came from.
Meanwhile, Bush sent out fundraising appeal to supporters, saying that Trump went too far in attacking his brother in the debate the other night.
Of course the big question here is whether bringing out W. will really give Jeb Bush the boost that he needs in this state.
In speaking to "STATE OF THE UNION" over the weekend, just yesterday, Jeb Bush would only say that he hopes to beat expectations here in South
Talking to Bush aides, they say the goal is to be best among the electable candidates. They don't include Trump or Ted Cruz among the electable
candidates but of course Donald Trump is taken to Twitter again this morning. He's saying that Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are the ones who aren't
electable, saying Hillary will destroy them.
And then also, tweeting a little while after that, that the fact that W. is back on the campaign trail means that all the talk about things that
happened during his administration is fair game, the fall of the World Trade Center, the Iraq War, the economic collapse.
So Trump tweeted, "Careful." -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Indeed. It does remain to be seen whether it's going to help or hinder Jeb Bush to have his brother there on the campaign trail with him.
So much, thanks so much, Athena Jones, appreciate it.
Well, ahead at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, Russia's prime minister speaks out about Syria's civil war. Why he says the bombing won't stop even after
diplomats announce a cessation of hostilities.
CURNOW: You're watching the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Here's a check of the headlines.
CURNOW: Let's turn back to Syria, where the likelihood of a planned cessation of hostilities seems very much in doubt. World powers meeting in
Munich announced the supposed truce last week though many groups fighting on the ground just weren't part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW (voice-over): What's more, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev tells "Time" magazine Moscow will only stop its bombing campaign when the
Syrian government it's backing can get a favorable peace deal with the rebels.
Well, "Time" correspondent, Simon Shuster interviewed Mr. Medvedev and he joins us now from Berlin.
He struck a really defiant tone, didn't he, in your piece?
SIMON SHUSTER, "TIME": He did, yes, with respect to the Western sanctions that have been imposed against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine and really
with respect to the negotiations going on over the crisis in Syria, he didn't seem to be in any kind of hurry to mend relations.
Even though his trip to Germany this weekend was in part intended to mend bridges and to re-establish closer ties with Western allies but on the
issues of Ukraine, on the issues of Syria, they're not moving very fast, those negotiations.
CURNOW: Well, let's talk about Syria, particularly the timing of Russia's support for Mr. Assad, he kind of alluded with that with you.
SHUSTER: Yes. Well, as you know, the main obstruction to the negotiations over cessation of hostilities in Syria is the Russian, the very active and
intensifying Russian bombing campaign, especially around the city of Aleppo. And I asked the prime minister directly when that offensive would
stop, when the Syrian regime's forces would stop their offensive, would it be after they retake Aleppo or would they continue on to other cities?
And he basically said that when they reach a point when they feel they can get a favorable a peace deal, when they meet certain requirements that the
Syrian regime and Russia want to see, then the war should stop, the fighting should stop.
CURNOW: He taught some parallel with Libya and what happened after the falling of Moammar Gadhafi; this is a pretty standard Russian response and
it perhaps gives a clue as to the Russian strategy in Syria and why they are there.
SHUSTER: I think so. He brought up Libya, he brought up Egypt and he was making the point that a lot of Western countries and Arab countries
abandoned their allies in the Arab world when the Arab Spring began. And when there were conflicts in the Middle East, alliances immediately faded.
And he made the point that Russia does not -- did not rupture its relations with Syria despite the troubles that the Syrian regime has found itself in.
And his point was that Russia will stand by its ally essentially. And we're seeing that in military terms playing out every day, especially with
-- including with the bombing of civilians and certainly the bombing of moderate rebel groups that are opposed to the Syrian regime.
And there's just no sense that Russia is going to back away from that position.
CURNOW: What is -- what were his comments, particularly about aid, about humanitarian aid, how it's going to be distributed?
Will there be any recourse?
What kind of allowances will be made and why should allowances be made when it comes to the issues of bombing hospitals or schools?
SHUSTER: On the point of humanitarian aid, the talks that took place in Munich at the end of last week, all sides seem to be more or less in
agreement that humanitarian aid should be delivered to the places where it's needed.
And Russia has taken a relatively softer line with respect to that. Prime Minister Medvedev did not give the impression that the delivery of
humanitarian aid would make Russia scale back or change its military actions in Syria. But he was positive in terms of allowing humanitarian
aid to reach the places where it's most needed.
CURNOW: And his controversial, perhaps, comments over the Cold War, whether or not there was a new Cold War, he kind of pedaled back from that;
either way, Russian sensitivities towards NATO expansion and Turkey in particular very much playing into your conversation about so-called
possibility of a new Cold War.
SHUSTER: Yes, he did try to walk back the comments that he made very controversially at the Munich security conference, when he said that Russia
and the West have essentially slid back toward the times of a new Cold War.
When I asked him what he meant by that and what points of confrontation he was talking about, he said no, no, no, I never said the word "in a new Cold
War," I said that NATO actions in terms of troop buildups in Eastern Europe are pushing us back toward a new Cold War.
So he very much shifted the blame for the tensions onto the NATO side and said all that Russia wants is peace and no confrontation on any point of
contact between NATO and Russia, be it the Baltics or Turkey or anywhere.
But of course the rhetoric between Turkey and Russia right now is extremely tense and both sides seem to be approaching some kind of war footing,
especially after the downing of the Russian jet last year, late last year, over Turkey, over the Turkish-Syrian border.
CURNOW: OK. Simon Shuster, thank you so much from "Time" magazine, appreciate it.
Coming up here at CNN, the brutal survival and revenge ethic, "The Revenant," wins big at the BAFTAs.
Who else took home the hardware on Britain's biggest night in film?
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kate Winslet for "Steve Jobs."
KATE WINSLET, ACTOR: It has been an extraordinary year for women and I feel so proud to stand alongside you, Jennifer, Julie, Rooney and Alicia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brie Larson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Real oceans, real trees, real cats.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mark Rylance for "Bridge of Spies."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leonardo DiCaprio.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: Mom, happy birthday, I love you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio celebrating his Best Actor win for "The Revenant" at Sunday's British Academy Film Awards, the frontier epic took
home a lot of hardware, including winning --
CURNOW: -- Best Film, Director, Sound and Cinematography. Brie Larsen won Best Actress for her role as a captive mother in "Room." Our very own Nima
Elbagir was there with all the action. She joins me live from London.
Those winners, I was no surprises, I think, there?
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, no. Brie Larsen was the bookie favorite. Kate Winslet, although "Steve Jobs" didn't get a lot of love at
the box office, has definitely gotten a lot of critical love.
Mark Rylance, if you haven't seen "Bridge of Spies," I have to tell you, Robyn, he was extraordinary --
CURNOW: I actually watched it last night. It really was, I mean, an incredibly restrained performance, but just perfect in many ways.
ELBAGIR: You couldn't take your eyes off him. He was -- extraordinary really is the way to describe it. But of course, behind all the glitz and
the glamor and really the issue that's overshadowed much of this awards season was very much the specter in the room yesterday evening. Rebel
Wilson, who was one of the presenters, the Australian comedian, tried to make a joke about it, saying perhaps I was invited to the Oscars because
Sasha Baron Cohen told me on the red carpet that he knows his next film won't be Oscar nominated because he went out of his way to cast two African
American actors in it.
This issue of #OscarsSoWhite, which has been trending throughout this awards season, was very present on the red carpet yesterday and we spoke to
John Boyega, who's been one of the breakout stars of this season and won the Rising Star award yesterday. Take a look at this, Robyn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOYEGA, ACTOR: Talking about the diversity across all boards, Oscar, industry, everything, everything. So all the discussion needs to be had
because the world needs to be portrayed for what it is. And we're not going to sit down and back down until that's done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELBAGIR: And this really has been such an extraordinary season for John. And what amplifies it is that when he was first cast as a black
stormtrooper in "Star Wars," there was a whole boycott movement online. The fans really pushed back against it.
And so see "Star Wars" go on to be the third biggest grossing film of all time, to see John Boyega receive that Rising Star award and be tipped for
so many extraordinary things, in a way, he told us, is a reinforcement of the role that diversity plays and the need that people have to see
themselves in their realities up on that big screen.
But of course it's next year that we're going to know whether all of this has had any genuine impact -- Robyn.
CURNOW: OK. Nima, thanks so much, appreciate it.
Well, that does it here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Don't go anywhere. "WORLD SPORT" with Amanda Davies is up next.