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tv   Unspun World with John Simpson  BBC News  June 12, 2022 12:30am-1:01am BST

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you this is bbc news. the headlines. as fighting intensifies in ukraine, officials warn their army is running out of ammunition as it engages in intense artillery battles with russian forces. western countries are being urged to speed up their delivery of long—range weapons and ammunition to help ukraine strike back in the south and east. hundreds of marches are being held across the united states to pressure congress into making changes to gun laws. following a spate of mass shootings, the rallies are being organised by the group march for our lives. president biden says guns should be a key issue in the coming elections. royal officials
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in britain have insisted that prince charles "remains politically neutral", following a report that he has strongly criticised government plans to send some asylum—seekers to rwanda in central africa. an unnamed source told the times newspaper that prince charles has described the policy as "appalling". now on bbc news, unspun world withjohn simpson. hello, and thanks forjoining me here at the bbc�*s central london headquarters for unspun world, the programme which provides straight answers from the bbc�*s array of experts worldwide to the important questions of the moment. is the west supplying
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enough weapons to ukraine to help it win the war? or can russia hang on and declare victory? russia has huge resources, and in a war of attrition, russia can sustain that for probably longer than ukraine can. things seem to have gone terribly wrong with the rainbow nation of south africa. why is that? corruption levels in this country have been so rampant, it has actually reached proportions that are quite, you know, scary. and the smuggling of priceless antiquities from egypt to the west, who is to blame for it? it's not an easy thing to try and stop the kind of trade that brings millions of dollars to the people involved in it.
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there are two main reasons why ukraine has resisted the russian invasion so well. one, of course, is the high morale the ukrainian forces have shown under the leadership of president zelensky. but the other is the weaponry they have been given. now the british and americans are supplying ukraine with long—range missile systems, not in anything like the numbers ukraine want, because it's a really tricky decision for the americans and british due to the danger that nato might get pulled into a direct war with russia, which could turn nuclear. yet nothing is quite what it seems, asjonny beale, the bbc defence correspondent, explained to me. what we are seeing is a very brutal, a very bloody, war of attrition, which is costing both sides a big price in terms of casualties and equipment being lost. but russia has huge resources,
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and in a war of attrition, russia can sustain that for probably longer than ukraine can. but we're hearing that they must be running out of cruise missiles, out of ammunition of all kinds. and, you know, we have seen the losses of russian battalion tactical groups, and then being merged, what people call frankenstein forces with other units, trying to sustain that military offensive in the donbas. we've also seen reports that they must be running low on precision, long—range precision munitions like cruise missiles, but they are still using them. they're certainly not running out of conventional munitions, they have vast, vast stockpiles, and, you know, they still have manpower. what do you think about the western countries who are supplying ukraine? have they got the equivalent
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vast arsenals that russia has? one thing that a senior official of a nato country told me the other day was that the stockpiles of ammunition in particular in the west, in lots of european countries, was in his words criminal. criminally low? criminally low, they do not have large stockpiles like the russians do. the russians, you know, have stockpiles to fight an intense warfare for years. so, we have seen these four american multiple rocket launcher system going into ukraine, the uk's providing three, they have a longer range, you know, they can fire... so, it's not very many, is it? it's not going to change the course of the war. i think you can say there's no one weapon that will change the course of the war, but the quantities could change at least ensure that there is some kind of stalemate, which isn't the case
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at the moment, because russia is slowly but surely making advances in the donbas. russian television, ok, it really is a propaganda arm of the government, but there is one particular talk show host who's saying that nuclear war is actually inevitable as a result of these weapons being supplied to the ukrainians. what do you feel about that? i think president putin kind of shrugged off the supply of these american and british rocket launchers. i think they were genuinely worried that the americans would supply the very long—range rocket launchers, range of 180 miles. yes. what they are getting, though, is ones that can fire up to 50 miles. there's been no intelligence, as far as the west is concerned, of the russians actually activating their nuclear protocols.
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they're gearing up for a long, protracted conflict with the hope, clearly, that the west buckles somehow. it will lose interest? well, either lose interest, and there are big concerns, the west is looking in on itself again over cost of living, food crisis, supplies, all linked, of course, to what's going on in ukraine, but there's a danger that the take their eye off... this is far as ukraine is concerned, take their eye off what is going on in ukraine, and their own publics will lose interest and be more worried about their day—to—day lives, which is almost inevitable. viktor orban, the prime minister of hungary, is a thoroughgoing pest as far as his allies in nato and the european union are concerned. he glories in being a one—man awkward squad, and it's made him hugely successful at home. orban is everything that other western countries dislike.
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he's nationalistic, he's outspokenly anti—diversity, and anti—lgbt. he's cut down on press freedom and on the independence ofjudges, and worst of all for nato and the eu at present, he's really close to vladimir putin's russia. nick thorpe, who has reported for the bbc from hungary for many years, knows orban well. with hungary's delightful lake balaton in the background, nick gave me his assessment. on the one hand, he's a right—winger, a populist, a nationalist, but he's also an anti—globalist, he likes going against the mainstream, if you like. he insists on, for example, maintaining good relations, pragmatic relations, as he calls them, with vladimir putin of russia, and he insists on maintaining a kind of war of words with volodymyr zelensky,
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the president of ukraine, because of what he sees as ukrainian mistreatment of the hungarian minority in ukraine, at a time when president zelensky is a very popular figure. but why do people in hungary support that? he won this recent — beginning of april — landslide majority, his fourth consecutive election win, by saying to people first and foremost, we will protect the cuts that we've already made to your utility bills. he keeps those prices down come hell or high water. so, for example, with the oil embargo to russia, mr orban said no, because he says this would cost the hungarian consumer too much money. he also manages to turn any criticism from abroad to his own advantage. in other words, brussels, the european union, says one thing or other. mr orban turns round to his own people and says, "are we going to take this?
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this would harm you, it would harm our country's national interests. i will defend you from brussels." it does surprise people, i think, that a country like hungary, which resisted soviet domination, that should be one of the countries, if not the country, in nato which is closest to the russian line on ukraine, for instance. hungarians have many good reasons to feel uncomfortable with the russians. also, for the past 12 years, mr orban has pursued these pragmatic relations with vladimir putin, he has maintained this almost friendship with him, and so this was a hard sell to his own public, and indeed his party's voters are split half in half, more or less, between those who see the real problem in this war as russia, and those who see it as sort of a proxy war fought by the united states,
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or by the eu. do you think he can still carry on keeping hungary in nato and in the eu? people are so fed up with mr orban and the current hungarian government within the eu, they might change the rules of the game, the need for a consensus, for a full consensus, which has given mr orban, has given hungary, this veto power to effectively put the rest of the eu over a barrel. over an oil barrel, in this case. in future, if they change that need for unanimity, that might mean that hungary's even more isolated, and might find itself being pushed out of the eu, or at least into a sort of second—tier status within the eu. in private, is he an angry kind of person? does he tick you off? does he tell you what's what? or does he listen? is he pleasant? i bumped into him in the corridors of a state
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hospital where he had gone for a checkup, and i was taking my son for a checkup. and he, you know, greeted me warmly, shook hands, he always calls me nick when we meet. but then he turned to his doctor and said, "nick is a member of the hostile foreign media." there's a sort of sharp edge to what he says. he's not as charming as he used to be, he can be pretty fierce. south africa has a special place in the affections of many people right around the world, the country which actively chose reconciliation and harmony at a time when bitterness and revenge were rife, and civil war seemed inevitable. i was the bbc correspondent in south africa at the height of apartheid, and saw the violence for myself. and years later, i covered the release of nelson mandela. but human events don't
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always have happy endings. under presidentjacob zuma, the anc, mandela's party, became infamous for the enormous scale of its corruption, and cyril ramaphosa, its current president, is accused of being too weak to flush out the powerful corrupt figures in the party. from johannesburg, nomsa maseko talked to me about what's gone wrong. the south african government is saying that, well, it cannot be at fault here, because the war in the ukraine has had a lot to do with high inflation in this country, fuel prices have gone up, food has gone up, transport costs have also gone up. so, there's a lot that is going wrong, but the anc government, you know, does not want to take the responsibility. but there's a hell of a lot of corruption, isn't there, at the very top? or there has been. corruption levels in this
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country have been so rampant, it's actually reached, you know, proportions that are quite scary. there has been a lot of money that has been stolen from the government, taxpayers' money, that should be used to improve the education system, to ensure that hospitals have all the equipment that is needed. south africans see politicians, you know, driving high motor vehicles, living in mansions, while the majority of the country lives in squalor. they, too, deserve services, basic services, like water, like electricity. there are areas that still do not have electricity and those that do have electricity, it's cut off most of the time, because of blackouts, because of corruption. people, by and large, are not blaming president ramaphosa,
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of personal corruption, or they? do you think he has got the ability to do anything about this? even though he is not directly implicated in the corruption, or some of it, he could have done or should have done something about it. unfortunately, the covid—i9 pandemic also brought widespread corruption in government departments. so, essentially, ramaphosa has, what, a couple of years to turn things around, otherwise they will be quite a heavy vote against him and against the anc, won't there? the president of the country will come from the anc, however it's not going to win by an overwhelming majority, just a few months ago there were local government elections and the anc lost. the anc is notjust losing support, where the black middle class is concerned, but even young people
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are saying that they do not want to vote for the anc any more, because the party has not done for them. you observe all of this on a daily basis, what is it that south africa needs the most, to get back on the rails again? corruption is a problem, crime in this country is a problem, driving at night is a problem, being a woman in this country is an extreme sport, because not only are women attacked by strangers and, you know, outside their homes, but they are victims of domestic violence. there's a lot that needs to be done, so that women in this country, children in this country, also feel protected. as a south african, as well as an observer, reporter, are you gloomy about the future or do you think there are signs of some kind of optimism?
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i'm hearing a lot of people wanting, you know to leave the country, because they believe there's a better life somewhere else. however, those that cannot afford to leave the country, they are hoping that, you know, in the future, the prospects of this country will change. whoever rules the country, after the anc, because i don't see the anc ruling beyond ten years from now, will have a lot to fix. it will notjust take one term, some people are even saying that it could take 50 years to try and fix the damage that has been done, in the 27 years that the anc has been in power. what did joe biden, campaigning to be president, back in 2019, say about saudi arabia? we are going to make them the pariah that they are. and what has the new york times now revealed that biden is going to do this summer?
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visit saudi arabia, of course. well, times do change. suddenly, the us needs oil at relatively cheap prices and other things seem distantly less important. the high level accusations that the crown prince was behind the gruesome murder of the saudi journalist, jamal khashoggi in 2018, for instance. but, mbs, as the crown prince is known, is changing things right across the middle east. i asked a reporter from the bbc�*s arabic service for details. after the jamal khashoggi, if you may call it, earthquake or storm, joe biden was clearly pointing fingers to the saudi crown prince that he was responsible and there was a complete shift of attitude in the times of donald trump tojoe biden,
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but after the russian invasion in ukraine and the oil prices went rocketing high, the us has tried to push for more oil production from the world's biggest oil exporter, saudi arabia, and the attitude has changed. you could not possibly blame the prince for just thinking, this whole fuss about human rights and murders of of journalists. it's nothing, all that counts is saudi's well. there will not be a change when it comes to human rights and freedom of speech inside saudi arabia, except for when the prince decides to change it, not the western pressure. has it changed ? what is the atmosphere like now? it has changed massively, i can tell you that. the first time i had been to saudi arabia was in 2015 and it was the first time that women were running for municipal elections.
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walking around the streets in the capital, as a woman, i had to wear the headscarf and be covered properly. after mohammed bin salman became crown prince, a lot has changed, so for example, the vigilantes, back then, you could see them in the straight, they were very obvious and if your head was not covered, they will tell you, you had to cover your head. i remember. i saw it myself. do you not see them around? you do not see them, they are not as obvious in the streets any more. nobody would talk to me, as a woman, in the street, if i'm not covering my hair, women can drive now, there are beach parties in saudi arabia. yeah. there are music festivals. you know, there are, like, cinemas opening. there is non religious—tourism.
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and, what about iran? iran is the sworn enemy, is that right? it is still. it is still the enemy, iran. for saudi arabia. but we notice, like, a very delicate, if i may say, change of tone. we have seen efforts reported of negotiations between the two sides. and what about western europe, britain, france, germany, are they also banging on the door of mohammed bin salman? after the jamal khashoggi murder, there were a lot of questions about that, germany decided to stop exporting arms to saudi arabia after that. but now it is also different. i think the west has realised that this man is here to stay. he is becoming king. some would argue that he has learnt a lot of lessons. what they are trying to do, they are trying to find a way to work with him. there are more precious objects
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per square foot in the soil of egypt than anywhere else on earth, said a british egyptologist recently. that, inevitably brings crime with it. last year, the egyptian government, despairing of the level of theft and smuggling that has been going on, amended its antiquities act with some pretty draconian punishments — life imprisonment for anyone who steals antiquities, together with a fine of up to 5 million egyptian pounds, that is more than 200,000 british pounds. and yet, people are still prepared to take the risk, with the river nile flowing majestically behind her, our correspondent for the bbc arabic service spoke to me from cairo. after 2011, after the egyptianl revolution, there was a period
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of chaos, security was pretty lax, and this was when this i activity has accelerated. what is the egyptian government trying to do about it? they set up some committees to see over and chase - the league will antiquities that left the country, - but that is a very complicated process, due to a number- of factors that those - regulations in each country, —— illegal antiquities. they tried to get in touch - with the museums that managed to acquire some of these egyptian antiquities, - but the thing is, not all- the monuments or antiquities that leave the country that are put up on display- in museums. some of them, they go to private collectors - and art stealers, there - was this very famous incident at christies auction house i in london a couple of years ago, when they sold their head of king tut for nearly— $6 million, although- the egyptians tried to stop this selling, saying - that the head of king tut
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was illegally smuggled out of egypt, this isjust one . example of what has been going on for years. - now, sally, if you go to an antiquities dealer, you're quite likely to see egyptian pieces there. if you go on ebay, you will find lots and lots of egyptian pieces. does that mean that all of those are illegally obtained? if a person owns a piece - of antiquity, he is not allowed to sell it any more. he can keep it, but is not - allowed to put it out for sale. it's not an easy thing to try and stop, the kind of tradej that brings millions of dollars to the people involved in it. l we are talking also about other countries in the region, - like syria and iraq, - these are the main countries where human history started. so, they have a lot to give i and this is why many people have been interested in illegal
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excavations and digging, - because they are just after making money. | you mentioned iraq, and the iraqi museum in baghdad was attacked and stripped of many, many of its treasures in 2003, after the american invasion. and yet, i played a bit of a part, a very small part, in getting some of those things back. is there any chance that the same sort of thing could happen in egypt? yes. that is what the ministryl of antiquities are working on and, according to officials, they say they have managed i to retrieve nearly 30,000 - pieces over the past few years. some people are saying that it's better for- an antiquity to remain, - like, in the british museum, or in the louvre or whatever, because they are getting farl better treatment, far more attention, than what they i will have here in egypt.
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but, of course, this. point of view is refuted by egyptian officials. should we think of it as a positive thing, you know, that you're talking to me about it? social media is playing a key role in that, because peoplej are talking and raising this issue, because they have i a sense of belonging to these pieces. - maybe this is putting extra i pressure on the government to try and act more quickly and more actively. - that was our reporter speaking to me from cairo. these are pretty difficult times, serious divisions in the united states, major political problems here in britain, weakness in germany, challenges to the president in france and, meanwhile, the ukraine war, totally unnecessary and appallingly destructive, grinds on. and, all the time, the real, overarching problem, the climate crisis which we are
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all facing is getting closer. have i left anything out? probably. but, there is one comfort. as long as we can discuss these things openly and honestly, there's always the hope that we can find some way of doing something about them. i hope you willjoin me again soon for unspun world. until then, goodbye. it'll still be rather windy from the northern half of the uk during sunday with a scattering of showers, although it shouldn't be as windy as saturday. best of the sunshine will be found further south. but temperatures under the
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starry skies dipping to 8 or 9 in rural parts of england and wales, but further north, we've kept a few showers. that's the story for the day. as time goes by, if you are the grampians. —— fewer. temperatures on par with saturday. the winds just a notch lower but still future, they continue to ease as we go into monday. mild start to the morning, just a little bit cooler again. you can see for monday, best of the sunshine in the south.
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this is bbc news. i'm lucy grey. our top stories: hundreds of thousands across the usjoin marches to push for reform of gun laws. are you ready, young and old and in between, to be the generations that make ourselves heard from ballots, not bullets? ukraine's army says it urgently needs more ammunition as battles intensify. so, why are western—made arms taking so long to reach the front line? prince charles is politically neutral, say royal officials, following a report he called government plans to send migrants to rwanda "appalling". not floating, but sinking: hong kong's famousjumbo restaurant is to disappear
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after nearly 50 years.


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