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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4:37 p.m. ET, September 7, 2022

President Zelensky thanks Ukrainian brigades involved in Kharkiv region offensive

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Mick Krever

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday thanked three brigades involved in operations to recapture Russian-held territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

“This week we have good news from Kharkiv region,” Zelensky said in his evening address. “Probably, you all have already seen reports about the activity of Ukrainian defenders. And, I think, every citizen feels proud of our soldiers. It is a well-deserved pride, a right feeling.”

“Now is not the time to name these or that settlements to which the Ukrainian flag is returning to,” he said. “But it's time to say thanks to the 25th Airborne Brigade, the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade and the 80th Airborne Assault Brigade for their bravery and heroism, shown during combat missions.”

He also thanked units stationed in southern Ukraine “for the extremely successful hits” on occupying Russian forces. 

“The more difficult it is for the occupiers, the more losses they have, the better the positions for our defenders in Donbas will be, the more reliable the defense of Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and the cities of Dnipropetrovsk region will be, the faster we will be able to liberate the Azov region and the entire south," he continued.

4:56 p.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Estonia's economy minister urges unity on energy as Putin sends warning

From CNN's Gayle Harrington

Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, Riina Sikkut, speaks to the media in Brussels, on July 26.
Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, Riina Sikkut, speaks to the media in Brussels, on July 26. (Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Estonia's economy minister has stressed the need for unity ahead of Friday's emergency meeting of European Union Energy Ministers in Brussels.

Riina Sikkut, Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure told CNN's Quest Means Business that the 27-nation bloc must stay united in terms of answering Russia's threat and in dealing with the changes in the energy market.

Sikkut said, "Democratic states being united in tough times against Russia is a weapon Putin can never match. The challenge for Europe is to be united, to find a solution to reduce energy demand, to cap Russian energy sources and to actually come off Russian energy as quickly as possible. We have the political will, if we have the solidarity and unity we will survive the tough winter."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, proposed an EU-wide plan on Wednesday to tackle the energy crisis. This involves a price cap on Russian gas.  Russian President Putin says Moscow would react by stopping supplies to Europe completely.

4:45 p.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Shelling damaged a backup power line at Zaporizhzhia power plant on Tuesday, UN nuclear watchdog says

From CNN’s Mick Krever and Sharon Braithwaite

This satellite image shows damage to the roof of a building adjacent to several of the nuclear reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on August, 29.
This satellite image shows damage to the roof of a building adjacent to several of the nuclear reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on August, 29. (Maxar Technologies/Associated Press)

Shelling on Tuesday damaged a backup power line that would supply Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in case of emergency, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Of the three back-up lines between the ZNPP and the thermal power station, one is now damaged by shelling, while the two others are disconnected, senior Ukrainian operating staff informed IAEA experts present at the plant since last week,” the IAEA said in a statement.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been held by Russian forces since early March, but is still operated by Ukrainian staff. The IAEA Director General visited the power plant last week, and two IAEA experts stayed to maintain a permanent presence at the plant. 

The IAEA said that the shelling damage did not “have an immediate impact” on the plant, because the electricity line was not connected to the grid at the time.

“For the last few days, the ZNPP has relied on its sole operating reactor for the power it needs for cooling and other safety functions,” the IAEA said on Wednesday. “While the plant also has emergency diesel generators available if needed, Director General Grossi has repeatedly expressed concern about the power supply situation.”

“A secure off-site power supply from the grid and back-up power supply systems are essential for ensuring nuclear safety and preventing a nuclear accident. This requirement is among the seven indispensable nuclear safety and security pillars that the Director General outlined at the beginning of the conflict," the agency continued.

3:25 p.m. ET, September 7, 2022

US says officials in Putin administration are overseeing "filtration" operations in Ukraine

From CNN's Michael Conte, Jennifer Hansler and Christian Sierra

The US State Department alleged that members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration are personally “overseeing and coordinating” Russia’s so-called “filtration camps” for Ukrainians, which Russia has allegedly used to interrogate and forcibly transport Ukrainian citizens to Russia.

“We are further aware that the Russian presidential administration officials are providing lists of Ukrainians to be targeted for filtration and receiving reports on the scope and progress of operations,” said State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel at a briefing with reporters.

The allegations come as part of “newly downgraded information” from the US government, including maps from the director of national intelligence of the alleged filtration sites on how Russia is “using dedicated information technology to support filtration operations, including online databases, tools, equipment to support the gathering of biometric data and facial recognition and tracking and monitoring of Ukrainian cell phones.”

“We assess that the Kremlin views filtration operations as crucial to their efforts to annex areas of Ukraine under their control,” said Patel. “And we demand that Russia halt its filtration operations immediately and allow the UN, independent observers and humanitarian and human rights organizations access to these filtration sites.”

However, Patel would not say whether Putin himself was involved in these efforts.

And while Patel said “the fear and misery” that Russia’s filtration effort “evokes for people forced to live under the Kremlin’s control are hard to overstate,” he would not directly call these operations a war crime.

2:44 p.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Russian ambassador to EU claims that Russia's presence at Zaporizhzhia plant is "best guarantee of its safety"

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad and Emmet Lyons in London

The presence of Russian troops at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine is “the best guarantee of its safety and security,” Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.  

“I can assure you that the presence of Russian specialized military forces at the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station is the best guarantee of its safety and security,” Chizhov claimed in the interview.  

The Russian diplomat was referring to International Atomic Energy Director General Rafael Grossi’s calls on Tuesday for “a shield, a bubble around the perimeter of the facility” as a safety zone to prevent any nuclear incident. 

Chizhov told CNN that the onus was on the Ukrainians:

“What is needed to have the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station safe and secure is for the Ukrainian forces to stop shelling the area and actually buildings and other elements of the compound of the nuclear power station. And that will ensure safety for this largest — not only in Ukraine, but the largest in Europe – nuclear power station.” 

For context: Both Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly blamed each other for shelling at and around the Moscow-controlled plant. CNN is unable to independently verify their claims.

Chizhov also said he shares Grossi's concerns.

“The important thing is for the Ukrainian side to stop shelling the site and abandon attempts to take it by force, which it has been doing in the last few days and weeks,” Chizhov said. 

3:12 p.m. ET, September 7, 2022

EU proposes $5 billion loan for Ukraine

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London 

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on September 7.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on September 7. (Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed 5 billion euros (about $5 billion) in macro-financial assistance loans to Ukraine, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. 

The proposal would help the country address "its immediate financial needs caused by Russia's brutal invasion," she said.

The commission said in a news release that the aid was part of a 9 billion euros (about $9 billion) funding package agreed by EU leaders in May. 

The proposal now needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council. 

Ukraine "must win this war: it must regain the freedom and independence it is so courageously fighting for. The EU will continue to do its part to make sure this happens – solidarity will prevail, and peace will come," von der Leyen also said. 

2:28 p.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Switzerland will seek closer ties to NATO and EU in wake of Russia's war in Ukraine, government says 

From Inke Kappeler in Berlin 

Switzerland said it would seek closer ties to NATO and the European Union to strengthen its “defense capabilities” in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine while maintaining its traditional neutrality in the crisis.  

The Swiss Federal Council said in a statement Wednesday that the government has decided to focus on country’s security and defense policy “more consistently than before towards international cooperation.” 

The war in Ukraine has showed the increasing threat also posed by disinformation, cyberattacks, covert operations and armed conflict, the council said.  

“The war has also created a new dynamic in security and defense cooperation,” it added.  

The country will seek to increase participation in joint exercises with NATO and join the EU’s rapid-deployment teams for rescue and evacuation operations.  

The Swiss Federal Council also said it decided to modernize the country's armed forces by “incorporating lessons learned from" the war in Ukraine.   

 

2:45 p.m. ET, September 7, 2022

Ukrainian generals: The conflict likely "is not going to end anywhere within 2022"

From CNN’s Mick Krever

People stand near a destroyed building following a missile strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine on August 29.
People stand near a destroyed building following a missile strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine on August 29. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine’s top general said that there is “no certain final outcome in view” in the country's battle against Russia and that success will only be possible by increasing the distance that Ukraine can strike with its missiles.

“Only by balancing out the weapons’ operating range, thus disturbing the said center of gravity for the enemy, can we get to a turning point in the ongoing war,” Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi wrote on Wednesday in a piece co-authored with Lt. Gen. Mykhailo Zabrodskyi, first deputy chairman of the national security, defense, and intelligence committee of Ukraine's parliament.  

“There is every reason to believe,” they write, that the conflict “is not going to end anywhere within 2022.”

In a wide-ranging and revealing analysis published by Ukrainian state media Ukrinform, Zaluzhnyi and Zabrodskyi said that the country needs more weapons to battle Russian forces.

“The Armed Forces of Ukraine, in the best-case scenario, are able to employ outdated launchers and strike no farther than the depth of the enemy's operational rear,” they wrote. “If Ukraine succeeds in receiving the appropriate weapons, operational and strategic prospects for 2023 will look totally different. The very threat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces employing means of destruction of the appropriate range will force Russia to reconsider the nature, course, and outcome of the ongoing confrontation.”

As an example, they cited Ukraine’s strikes on Russian bases in Crimea last month. This is believed to be the most explicitly Ukrainian military leaders have publicly acknowledged the strikes on Crimea.

“This was done by a series of successful missile strikes on the enemy's Crimea-based air bases, first of all, the Saki airfield. The task of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for 2023 is to make these experiences even sharper and more tangible for the Russians and for other occupied regions, despite the massive distance to the targets,” they wrote.

A Ukrainian artillery unit fires a rocket launcher near a frontline position in Donetsk region on August 27.
A Ukrainian artillery unit fires a rocket launcher near a frontline position in Donetsk region on August 27. (Antatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

They also said that acquiring more-capable weapons systems from foreign allies can only be a solution as a “transition period,” and that Ukraine must better develop a domestic production capability.

Since the start of the war, they believe, two factors have most hindered Ukraine’s efforts to get more weaponry from allied countries: a “misconception about the scale of the Russo-Ukrainian war” and “the direct threat of the use by Russia, under certain circumstances, of tactical nuclear weapons,” which would threaten all of Europe.

The generals are realistic about Ukraine’s immediate military challenges, saying that “this will be a long conflict, bringing human losses and massive expenses, with no certain final outcome in view.”

They also noted that Donetsk region, the cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa, and even the capital of Kyiv are still vulnerable to capture by the Russians.

1:32 p.m. ET, September 7, 2022

German chancellor pledges continued military support in call with Ukrainian president  

From CNN's Inke Kappeler and Sugam Pokharel 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks on September 7 in Berlin, Germany.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks on September 7 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call Wednesday that Berlin would continue to support Kyiv not only militarily, but also politically, financially and humanitarianly, according to a German readout of the call.  

Scholz and Zelensky exchanged views on Ukraine's military, humanitarian and economic situation and possibilities for further concrete support, including in reconstruction, the readout said. 

Scholz also informed Zelensky about the “intensive preparations” for an international conference on Ukraine reconstruction in Berlin on Oct. 25 this year. 

Both the leaders agreed that the safety and protection of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were of “utmost importance” and supported measures recommended in a report published Tuesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  

The IAEA in the report called for the "immediate establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone" around the nuclear power plant.  

"There is an urgent need for interim measures to prevent a nuclear accident arising from physical damage caused by military means," the IAEA wrote in its report.