September 6, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Chris Lau, Christian Edwards, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:46 a.m. ET, September 7, 2023
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6:42 p.m. ET, September 6, 2023

US secretary of state announces $1 billion in new aid for Ukraine to boost counteroffensive

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $1 billion in new US support for Ukraine, including military, humanitarian and budgetary assistance.

“In the ongoing counteroffensive, progress has accelerated in the past few weeks. This new assistance will help sustain it and build further momentum,” Blinken said at a news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba while visiting Kyiv on Wednesday.

The package includes replenishing Ukrainians with weaponry that the US has given to the country in the past including air defense system components, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems for HIMARS, munitions, ammunition, and communications systems, according to a State Department fact sheet. These weapons will come from Pentagon stocks.

The new military assistance package also includes depleted uranium munitions for the first time, a US official told CNN. The munitions are mildly radioactive because they are made from dense metal, a byproduct from fuel production for nuclear power plants. They can be fired from the US-made Abrams tanks that are expected to arrive in Ukraine this fall.

And in terms of long-term military support the new package commits $100 million in military support, through the foreign military financing program, the department said. This comes as conversations between the US and Ukraine over long-term support continue.

“I met today with President (Volodymyr) Zelensky I discussed longer-term sustainable security arrangements, which will provide ongoing security assistance and modern military equipment across land, air, sea and cyberspace, as well as training and intelligence share. The State Department is leading these discussions, which will continue in the months ahead,” Blinken said.

More than one-fifth of the new support announced on Wednesday, totaling more than $200 million, will go toward support for transparency and reform, bolstering efforts on anti-corruption, rule of law and the justice sector, the department said. This support notably comes following the resignation of the Ukrainian defense minister earlier this week in the wake of a number of corruption scandals in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

The US will also use this bucket of funding for transparency-related efforts to direct funding towards Ukraine’s capacity to both investigate and prosecute war crimes, invest in reconstruction efforts and strengthen the country’s financial management practices.

The humanitarian assistance portion of this new assistance totaling $206 million will go towards critical support including food, water, and shelter to those in Ukraine and those forced to flee to neighboring countries. There will also be more than $90 million in humanitarian assistance specifically for demining, the department said.

2:18 p.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Western officials visit UAE amid concerns over supply of technology to Russia that could be used in war

From CNN's Mostafa Salem

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan signed a slew of investment deals during a visit in October 2019.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan signed a slew of investment deals during a visit in October 2019. Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/AFP/Getty Images/File

Representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union arrived in the United Arab Emirates this week to discuss the implementation of sanctions on Russia as part of a broader effort with a range of “partner” countries, a US embassy spokesperson told CNN.

It comes as concerns mount over goods being exported to Russia that could potentially be used in Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the visit, said that the discussions are happening as part of “a collective global push to keep computer chips, electronic components and other so-called dual-use products, which have both civilian and military applications, out of Russian hands.”

“The UAE is working with its friends and allies to address any concerns with regards to sanctions on Russia,” a senior UAE official told CNN when asked about the matter.

Remember: Russia is under a barrage of sanctions from the US and other Western nations following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. But most of these are primary sanctions, which can only be enforced within the territory of the sanctioning country.

Western officials have visited the UAE several times over the past two years to warn the regional business hub that helping Moscow evade sanctions wouldn’t be without consequences.

The US has previously sanctioned entities and individuals in the UAE for sanctions evasion, including two UAE-based air transportation firms for collaborating with a sanctioned Iranian firm to transport Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), personnel, and related equipment from Iran to Russia.

The Gulf state has walked a tightrope between Washington and Moscow since the start of the war in February 2022, opting to remain neutral as it sees the world order moving toward multipolarity. It has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but has also expanded economic ties with Moscow.

Read more.

2:05 p.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Republican US senators ratchet up calls for Ukraine aid as they face skepticism from House conservatives

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer and Manu Raju

Senior US Senate Republicans say Congress should move quickly to pass new funding for Ukraine, even as the push has faced headwinds from conservatives in the House of Representatives.

The dispute centers around if Ukraine funding will be tied to the short-term spending bill to avoid a shutdown by the end of the month. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN that the Ukraine aid will "probably" be attached to the short-term funding bill.

Graham had choice words for conservatives who oppose Ukraine aid:

"To these people who say it's not in our interest to support Ukraine, you're the same folks that criticize (US President Joe) Biden for getting out of Afghanistan. You're right to do that. Pulling the plug on Ukraine and letting (Russian President Vladimir) Putin get away with this invasion will destabilize the world more than Afghanistan,” he said.  

Graham, who went to Ukraine with a congressional delegation in August, said Kyiv's forces are "on the offensive."

"I expect major breakthroughs by the end of October. Now's not the time to pull the plug on Ukraine and reward Putin for his invasion. So a supplemental, in my view, needs to address Ukraine because this is in our national interest,” he said.

Sen. Thom Tillis also said Ukraine funding and disaster relief should be tied together.

“I do support the disaster relief funding,” he said. “I feel very strongly that if we can, time is of the essence, we should work in the Ukraine funding at the same time. The president’s drawdown authority is probably only going to last for another month or two, and we have to replenish it to make it clear to Russia that we’re in for the long term.”

He said they will have to push for the skeptical House Republicans to recognize the importance of Ukraine aid. 

“The value of the Western world waking up and understanding all of the vulnerabilities that we’ve had is hard to estimate. And I think we have to go and communicate to reasonable-minded members that we have to sustain the investment,” he said, before echoing Graham. “It would make Afghanistan, which I think was a horrible failure of American leadership, look like child’s play, if we fail to do it in Ukraine.”

The Senate’s number-two Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin, said that tying Ukraine aid to government funding legislation would send a message that the US will not abandon Ukraine. “I think it’s important that we continue our assistance to Ukraine without any suggestion of our weakening resolve,” he said.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, who has long been a critic of US aid for Ukraine, argued that tying it to disaster funding would be “a mistake.”

“I've said over and over again on Ukraine aid: Who we ought to be going to for Ukraine aid are our European allies. I'm against more money for Ukraine, I'm particularly against it when we don't have an inspector general, any kind of watchdog," he said. 

Pressed on whether Speaker Kevin McCarthy should keep any Ukraine aid out of stopgap legislation to fund the government, Hawley replied, “I think so. Yeah, I think so. you know what he does will be up to him, but I don't support it.”


1:57 p.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Draft G20 declaration on Ukraine presented by India "not going far enough," EU official says

From CNN's James Frater in London

The draft declaration on Ukraine that is being prepared by the Indian presidency of the G20 must go further, according to a European Union official, ahead of this weekend's summit.

The draft “is not enough for the G7, the European Union and our members, because it's not going far enough,” the senior EU official said.

The official, while briefing journalists on Wednesday, said discussions on the draft wording due to be signed off by G20 leaders in New Delhi have "been a very difficult negotiation."

“Whether we'll have a statement, we can't say now as we speak, because negotiation is ongoing,” the official added.

"The difficulty for us is that Russia and China have refused to take back the language we had in Bali, which we cannot accept,” the official said, referring to the G20 summit in Indonesia last year, where leaders issued a statement condemning Russia's full-scale invasion.

From the European Union's perspective, the official said even if all countries aren't in agreement this year, "if we manage at 19 against one, it would be something." 

Without an agreement on a unified declaration, the official said the EU would accept a presidency report, which does not require agreement from all member nations — but “that will not be good.”

The official added that the EU expects “a reflection of our position” in the final text.

“I think what is important for us — and we are quite well supported in this, so it's more China and Russia isolated than the G7 — is that we base our approach on the UN Charter they concluded," the official said.

Some more context: Since the start of the war in Ukraine, India — the world’s largest democracy — has carefully navigated a middle path.

New Delhi has refused to condemn Moscow’s brutal assault in various United Nations resolutions. And India has undermined Western sanctions by increasing its purchases of Russian oil, coal and fertilizer. India has also maintained close ties to the West – particularly the United States – as it works to thwart China’s rise.

12:39 p.m. ET, September 6, 2023

At least 17 dead after Russian missile hits center of town in Donetsk region, Ukraine says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Yulia Kesaieva

Emergency services respond following an attack on the city of Kostiantynivka in eastern Ukraine, on Wednesday, September 6.
Emergency services respond following an attack on the city of Kostiantynivka in eastern Ukraine, on Wednesday, September 6. Volodymyr Zelensky via Telegram/Reuters

The death toll from the Russian missile attack on a market in the eastern Donetsk region town of Kostiantynivka has risen to 17, Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said in a Telegram statement.

A child was among the 17 dead, according to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. The attack is one of the deadliest in months.

The number of injured has risen to 32, Klymenko added.

“Russian troops are terrorists who will not be forgiven and will not be left in peace. There will be a just retribution for everything,” Shmyhal had earlier said.

A Russian S-300 missile appears to have landed in the middle of the town, according to reports from the scene. Videos from the ground show a fierce fire and thick black smoke rising, with at least one casualty visible on the ground.

According to the unofficial reports, the market is located near a shopping center. 

Kostiantynivka is close to the front lines around Bakhmut and frequently crowded with military personnel.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has described the attack as “utter inhumanity,” saying that the number of dead and injured may rise. “This Russian evil must be defeated as soon as possible,” he added.

Editor's note: The death toll and number of injured has been updated to reflect the latest information provided by authorities.

11:57 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls Ukraine's counteroffensive progress encouraging

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv on September 6.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv on September 6. Brendan Smialowski/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is “determined to continue to walk side-by-side” with Ukraine when he met with President Zelensky in Kyiv on Wednesday, as he called Ukraine’s progress in the counteroffensive “very, very encouraging.”

“President Biden asked me to come, to reaffirm strongly our support. To ensure that we are maximizing the efforts that we're making and that other countries are making, for the immediate challenge of the counteroffensive, as well as the longer-term efforts to help Ukraine build a force of the future that can deter and defend against any future aggression,” Blinken said.

Blinken said that he looks forward to getting an assessment from Zelensky after his visit to the conflict’s frontlines.

“I know you were just on the front lines, and we are all ready to hear your assessment. But certainly, we see the important progress that's been made now in the counter-offensive and that's very, very encouraging,” Blinken said.

Zelensky said it is always a “great message of support” for Ukraine when US officials visit, noting that this is a “tough period” for Ukrainians.

The Ukrainian president expressed gratitude to President Joe Biden and to Congress for showing “great unity” in a bipartisan fashion when it comes to Ukraine.

“When you speak about Ukraine you are always together, thank you so much,” Zelensky said. “We are happy that we can count on you.”

Zelensky said that the US financial support for Ukraine’s budget is “crucial” and noted that a difficult winter is ahead.

“We are happy that we not alone through this winter,” Zelensky said.

11:35 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

US expected to announce depleted uranium munitions for Ukraine, official says

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand

The US is expected to include depleted uranium munitions for the first time in a military aid package to Ukraine, which is anticipated to be announced on Wednesday, a US official told CNN.

The munitions can be fired from the US-made Abrams tanks that are set to arrive in Ukraine this fall. The munitions can pierce armored plates like those found on tanks because they are made of a highly dense metal, a byproduct from fuel production for nuclear power plants. Depleted uranium rounds are nearly 70% denser than lead, which is the metal used in standard rounds of ammunition.

The munitions are mildly radioactive, raising questions about their safety and the risk they could pose to civilians — but they have been stripped of most of their radioactive matter and can't produce a nuclear reaction. The US has the munitions stockpiled around the world, a US official told CNN.

The UK defense ministry confirmed in March that it would be sending ammunition containing depleted uranium to Ukraine, which Russian President Vladimir Putin protested. “I would like to note that if all this happens, Russia will have to react accordingly,” he said during a press conference in March. “I mean that the collective West is already starting to use weapons with a nuclear component.” The British ministry said Russia was “deliberately trying to disinform.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that depleted uranium is “considerably less radioactive than natural uranium.” The agency added that the “main conclusion” of studies done on the health of military personnel exposed to depleted uranium is that exposure could not be linked to any statistically significant increases in the personnel’s mortality rates.

Deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh told CNN on Wednesday that the US is confident the Ukrainians would use the munitions responsibly if and when they are provided.

“I’m not going to get ahead of any announcements that the Pentagon hasn’t made yet today, but what I will say is these rounds are standard use in the tanks that not only the US uses, but that we will be providing the Ukrainians. And if they are included in the packages that are coming forward today or in the coming weeks, we have absolute confidence that the Ukrainians will use them responsibly as they fight to take back their sovereign territory in the east and the north, as well,” she said.

The move to provide the depleted uranium rounds comes after US President Joe Biden's administration decided to send controversial cluster munitions to Ukraine earlier this year. Both types of ammunition, the US believes, will help the Ukrainians break through Russian defensive lines and pierce Russian tanks amid the ongoing counteroffensive.

11:14 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

US secretary of state expresses gratitude to US embassy staff in Kyiv

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, flanked by US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, speaks to staff and families at the US Embassy in Kyiv on September 6.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, flanked by US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, speaks to staff and families at the US Embassy in Kyiv on September 6. Brendan Smialowski/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed gratitude to diplomats in Ukraine as he spoke to US embassy staff in Kyiv during his unannounced visit to Ukraine on Wednesday.

“It is quite simply inspiring to your colleagues to see the work that you're doing and the way that you're doing. I feel very strongly all the way back in Washington. You are at the top of our minds back home,” Blinken said, speaking to the diplomats’ “remarkable courage.”

Blinken acknowledged the challenges – both logistically and emotionally – that the diplomats and the local Ukrainian staff who work at the embassy face each day.

“I know that many of you have lost friends, loved ones, others have seen your communities destroyed. 20 members of our embassy family are bravely serving in Ukraine's armed forces and we salute their service, we salute their courage,” Blinken said.

Blinken thanked the diplomats who put work into organizing his visit, and the visits of other US officials.

“I just want to tell you how grateful I am for doing this work. Any visit in any embassy is challenging and complicated. To do it here, in the middle of a war, adds to the complexity,” he said. 

Blinken said he had a chance to meet with senior leadership at the embassy earlier in the day. He was introduced by the US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink.

“Secretary Blinken’s presence here in Kyiv, and his many visits before, are proof that he is literally here with us in this fight,” said Brink. 

 Brink acknowledged the deadly Russian strikes overnight saying: “As we saw just last night again, it's dangerous and the pace of work is relentless.”


9:26 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

New Ukrainian defense minister pledges to take back all of Ukraine from Russian control

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Ukraine’s new defense minister, Rustem Umerov, speaks in the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv on September 6.
Ukraine’s new defense minister, Rustem Umerov, speaks in the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv on September 6. Andrii Nesterenko/AFP/Getty Images

In remarks as Ukraine’s new defense minister, Rustem Umerov vowed to wrest back control of "every centimeter" of Ukrainian land from Russia and bring home all those in captivity.

He said he will “do everything possible and impossible for the victory of Ukraine — when we liberate every centimeter of our country and every one of our people,” speaking shortly after the Ukrainian parliament approved his appointment.

“We will definitely return everyone who, unfortunately, are temporarily in captivity. All of them — children, prisoners of war, political prisoners, civilians,” Umerov said.

Umerov has been prominently involved with the return of prisoners of war.

“Forty-two million Ukrainians stand behind every soldier. Behind every soldier is a ministry that will do everything to protect and provide for all our people. Our people, their lives and dignity are our priority and highest value,” he added.

Some background: Umerov replaces Oleksii Reznikov, whose long tenure – he had been in the post since before the full-scale war started – had been damaged by contract scandals involving the defense ministry.

Reznikov submitted his resignation on Monday after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy cited the need for "new approaches," with the conflict entering a critical phase.