September 7, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Andrew Raine, Hannah Strange, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 9:45 PM ET, Wed September 7, 2022
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7:54 a.m. ET, September 7, 2022

US is analyzing how it can provide long-term support to Ukraine's military, officials say

From CNN's Barbara Starr

The Pentagon is preparing detailed analysis and working out how to support Ukraine's military in the medium- and long-term, including after the war with Russia has ended, according to three defense officials.

The efforts are being led by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and would build on the billions of dollars in military aid the US has given to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.

The process is at an early stage and a senior defense official said it is looking at the "future of Ukrainian forces," aiming to answer key questions about "what makes sense?" and "what do we want Ukraine to start having in the mid and the long term?" in terms of military support. As well as the current conflict, which is expected to be lengthy, the US is looking, at least, at the next five years after the war is over.

The analysis is being conducted in conjunction with the Ukrainians, and if approved by US President Joe Biden, it could lead to years of future arms sales and the establishment of a long-term military training program by the US. It would be presented to Kyiv as an assessment, but it would provide a clear road map showing how the US believes it should develop its military.

The analysis is expected to "come together in the next month or two," the senior defense official said, emphasizing that Ukraine's views will be central to the final effort. "What's their strategy, what do they want?" they added. The effort will continuously evolve over the next few months as the battlefield shifts and Ukraine's forces advance.

The initial effort could lead to recommendations for weapons and training, depending on the military strategy Ukraine approves. That could ultimately extend US and allied involvement with Ukraine for years to come through long-term, multi-year weapons contracts that could be initially finalized before the end of Biden's first term.

8:27 a.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Russia, Ukraine trade accusations following IAEA report on Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

From CNN's Anna Chernova, Yulia Kesaieva and Vasco Cotovio

Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission visit the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on September 1.
Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission visit the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on September 1. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russia and Ukraine have traded accusations after the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report it was “gravely concerned” about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, amid ongoing fighting around the site.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he trusted the report and accused Ukraine of shelling the plant.

“[The IAEA] are under pressure and cannot directly say that shelling comes from Ukrainian territory” he said on Wednesday. “We are controlling the station, our servicemen are stationed there. What, are we shooting at our own [men] or what? This is utter rubbish, it's impossible to say otherwise.”

The Russian President went on to deny there were military personnel or equipment inside the station.

“I saw the report says that the IAEA considers it necessary to remove military equipment from the territory of the power plant. But there is no military equipment on the territory of the power plant, the IAEA staff should have seen it,” Putin said. “And they can still see it now because two employees stayed there.”
“Our military equipment... is not placed at the station. It is quite far off outside the perimeter of the station,” he added.

In its report, the IAEA said there was indeed military equipment inside the power plant, even releasing a picture of a Russian military truck.

“The team observed the presence of Russian military personnel, vehicles and equipment at various places at the ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant], including several military trucks on the ground floor of the Unit 1 and Unit 2 turbine halls and military vehicles stationed under the overpass connecting the reactor units,” the report said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday backed the IAEA’s call’s for demilitarization of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and surrounding support infrastructure, calling on the agency to “force Russia to demilitarize the territory of the NPP and return full control to Ukraine.”

Ukraine has also consistently blamed Russia for the shelling at the power plant and also accused Moscow of using the facility as a shield from which to fire at Kyiv’s positions across the Dnieper river.

The IAEA has called for the area around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to be demilitarized but, thus far, both Ukraine and Russia seem reluctant to engage in the kind of coordination needed to achieve that.

The IAEA team dispatched to the plant included six experts who carried out what the agency describes as “essential nuclear safety, security and safeguards work.” Two of the experts have remained behind to continued that work and enable the IAEA “to observe the situation there and provide independent assessments.”

CNN has reached out to the IAEA for additional details on the work they will be undertaking at the station but has yet to hear back. 

10:22 a.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Putin accuses European nations of acting "like colonial powers" in grain export deal, citing misleading figures

From CNN's Teele Rebane, Clare Sebastian, Hannah Ritchie, and Mick Krever

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on September 7.
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on September 7. (Sergei Bobylev/TASS/AP)

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday accused European nations of acting “like colonial powers," and used misleading figures to claim that low and middle-income countries are receiving a fraction of the Ukrainian grain exports they were expecting under the landmark UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative. 

In remarks Wednesday during his opening speech at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Putin cited figures that do not accurately reflect current UN data on grain shipments.

"Only 3% of the grain being exported from Ukraine is going to developing countries, the majority is going to Europe… over the past decades European countries have acted like colonial powers, they are continuing to act like that today,” Putin claimed erroneously. 

“Once again, they have deceived developing countries," he added. 

Fact check: In a statement to CNN, the United Nations said that under the Black Seas Initiative, roughly 30% of “grains and other foodstuffs” have made it to low- and lower-middle-income countries, or roughly 700,000 metric tons.

Among countries classified by the World Bank as low- or lower-middle-income, the UN says that 10% of the initiative’s exports have been sent to Egypt, 5% to Iran, 4% to India, 3% to Sudan, 2% to Yemen, 2% to Kenya, 1% to Somalia, 1% to Djibouti and less than 1% to Lebanon.

Putin’s remarks were consistent with Kremlin talking points around the looming global food shortages that have been caused in large part by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports. Russian diplomats in recent months have worked energetically to deflect criticism of Moscow by suggesting that Western sanctions, rather than Russia’s actions, are to blame for the crisis.

“It is clear that with this approach, the scale of the world’s food problems will only grow -- which is capable of leading to an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe,” Putin claimed, adding that he would discuss the issue with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who aided the deal.  

The Black Sea Grain Initiative -- which was brokered by the UN and Turkey -- was signed by representatives from Russia and Ukraine in July. 

Its purpose is to facilitate the resumption of vital exports out of Ukraine to alleviate global food shortages and rising grain commodity prices. 

Prior to the deal some 20 million metric tons of Ukrainian wheat and corn had remained trapped in the port of Odesa due to a Russian blockade. 

6:20 a.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia reach "agreement in principle" to restrict movement of Russian citizens

From CNN’s Eleanor Pickston in London

Latvia's Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, left, and Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis attend the Nordic-Baltic cooperation (NB8) foreign ministers meeting in Kaunas, Lithuania, on September 7.
Latvia's Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, left, and Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis attend the Nordic-Baltic cooperation (NB8) foreign ministers meeting in Kaunas, Lithuania, on September 7. (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)

The Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have reached an “agreement in principle” to restrict the movement of Russian citizens through their borders with Russia and Belarus, according to Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.

The last “nuances” of the restrictions are currently being agreed between Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, Rinkevics announced on Wednesday following a meeting of Nordic-Baltic foreign ministers in Kaunas, Lithuania.

What does this mean? Once implemented, the ban will prevent Russian citizens holding Schengen visas from crossing into Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia, from Russia or Belarus, Rinkevics said. There will be exceptions on humanitarian grounds, for lorry drivers, for family reasons and for diplomats, Rinkevics added.

There will be “sufficient warning time” before the restrictions are implemented, Rinkevics added, with further decisions being made within the next 10 days.

The number of border crossings from Russian citizens holding Schengen visas has “dramatically increased,” in recent weeks, Rinkevics said, adding that the crossings are becoming a public security concern as well as a moral and political issue.

Some background: Estonia implemented a ban on Russian citizens who already held Estonian-issued Schengen visas in August. Meanwhile, the European Union has agreed to reduce the number of new visas available to Russian citizens but stopped short of an outright ban on travel to the bloc.

7:34 a.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Ukrainian forces seen in previously Russian-occupied town east of Kharkiv

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian forces are advancing to the east of Ukraine's second-largest city Kharkiv, with recent social media footage geo-located by CNN showing soldiers in the town of Volokhiv-Yar, which was occupied by Russian forces until recently.

Important: If Ukrainian forces are able to consolidate their presence in Volokhiv-Yar, they could encircle Russian troops in the neighboring town of Balakliya.

CNN has geolocated videos showing Ukrainian forces on the outskirts of Balakliya. There are indications fighting is ongoing in the area.

Reports from both sides suggest Balakliya is being defended by militiamen from the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic and soldiers from the Russian National Guard, who may now be facing a precarious situation.

CNN cannot independently verify their reports and neither Moscow nor Kyiv have commented on the Ukrainian offensive in the region.

On Tuesday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Ukrainian forces were closing in on Balakliya, likely driving Russian forces to the left bank of the Severskyi Donets and Serednya Balakliika rivers.

Videos showed Ukrainian soldiers in Verbivka, next to Balakliya.

“Multiple Russian sources acknowledged Ukrainian gains in Verbivka and reported that Russian forces demolished unspecified bridges in Balakliya‘s eastern environs to prevent further Ukrainian advances,” the ISW said in its daily report on the war in Ukraine.
“The September 6 Ukrainian counterattack in Kharkiv was likely an opportunistic effort enabled by the redeployment of Russian forces away from the area to reinforce Russian positions against the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast,” the ISW added.
8:26 a.m. ET, September 7, 2022

 Putin says Russia has "lost nothing" during its "special military operation" in Ukraine 

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on September 7.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a plenary session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on September 7. (Sergei Bobylev/TASS/AP)

Russia has “lost nothing” in its “special military operation” in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin claimed in his speech to open the Plenary Session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Wednesday.

“We have lost nothing and are not going to lose anything. Our main gain is the strengthening of our sovereignty. We didn't start anything, in terms of military action, but are only trying to finish it,” Putin told the audience.

Based on downgraded intelligence, the US believes that Russia is facing "severe" shortages of military personnel in Ukraine and is seeking new ways to reinforce its troop levels, two US officials told CNN last week. 

In a statement Monday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said that it is now estimated that “over 25,000 Russian soldiers have lost their lives” since the start of the war. 

In late August, President Putin ordered Russia’s military to increase the number of troops in Ukraine by 137,000, though it remains unclear how the Defense Ministry intends to reach that target.

2:58 a.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Xi and Putin to meet face-to-face next week, Russian envoy says

From CNN's Simone McCarthy

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet on the sidelines of a summit in Uzbekistan next week, Russia's envoy to Beijing Andrey Denisov told reporters on Wednesday, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

The expected meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit would be the first face-to-face between the two leaders, who have established a close relationship, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

It would also be the first overseas trip for Xi since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The SCO summit will be held on September 15 to 16 in Samarkand.

2:56 a.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Myanmar is purchasing Russian oil products and will pay in rubles: Russian state media

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Hannah Ritchie

Myanmar has started purchasing Russian oil products and will pay for them in rubles, the nation’s military junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing confirmed in a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported.

The first shipments of diesel fuel from Russia to Myanmar will arrive in the next few days, according to RIA.

In terms of the payment – whatever currency the Russian side accepts, that's the currency we will pay in. This greatly simplifies our task, because there are many restrictions on receiving and transferring in other currencies,” Min Aung Hlaing told RIA when asked about paying for oil in rubles.

Myanmar state media is yet to report any of the details of the oil purchases.

CNN has reached out to the junta for comment but has yet to hear back.

For months, the Kremlin has been pressuring countries to pay for Russian oil and gas in rubles to reduce its reliance on the US dollar, euro and other currencies impacted by western sanctions.

2:55 a.m. ET, September 7, 2022

China's number three leader to meet Putin in most senior face-to-face since invasion

From CNN's Simone McCarthy

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Patriot Congress and Exhibition Center in the Moscow region on August 15, 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Patriot Congress and Exhibition Center in the Moscow region on August 15, 2022.

China's number three leader is expected to meet in person with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of an economic forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday, in what will be the most senior-level, face-to-face meeting between the two countries since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Li Zhanshu, a member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee and the country's top legislator, will meet Putin during the Eastern Economic Forum, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

Li is expected to attend the forum as part of a 10-day overseas tour with stops in Russia, South Korea, Mongolia and Nepal starting Wednesday, Chinese state media reported this week. That trip also makes Li the most senior Chinese official to leave the country since the start of the pandemic, which has seen China close borders and limit in-person diplomacy.

The expected meeting underlines the importance of the Russian relationship for China, even in the face of international blow back against Moscow after its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

It also comes weeks before a critical five-yearly political meeting in Beijing, where Xi Jinping is expected to break with tradition and assume a third term in power, cementing his role as China's most powerful leader in decades.

Moscow and Beijing have emerged as closer partners in recent years as both face tensions with the West, with Xi and Putin declaring the two countries had a "no limit" partnership weeks before Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has since refused to condemn the aggression, instead repeatedly laying blame for the conflict on NATO and the United States.