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
16 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:54 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Second line of Russian defenses in south may be weaker than the first, says Ukraine

From CNN’s Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian servicemen ride atop a tank near the village of Robotyne, Ukraine, on August 25.
Ukrainian servicemen ride atop a tank near the village of Robotyne, Ukraine, on August 25. Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters

Ukrainian officials are cautiously optimistic that the next line of Russia’s defensive fortifications on the southern front may be easier to penetrate than the first, which were shrouded by dense minefields.

Geolocated video over recent days indicates that Ukrainian units have made limited progress beyond the village of Robotyne, as they seek to expand a pocket of territory reclaimed in the last few weeks.

Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesman for Ukrainian forces in the south, told Ukrainian television on Monday that in breaching the second line of Russian defenses, Ukrainian units “will benefit from the fact that the network of trenches, dugouts, and overlaps there is not as strong as on the first line.”

However, Shtupun urged caution, stressing that the second line of defenses “is quite powerful.”

“The density of minefields there is lower, but their number is also quite large. The only thing that can play into our hands is that the trenches, dugouts and overlaps are not as strong.”

The Ukrainian military reported Wednesday that Russian units had tried to counterattack near the village of Robotyne, which fell to Ukrainian forces late in August, but had been repelled.

Ukrainian forces said that units had been successful in consolidating their positions, inflicting artillery fire on enemy targets and conducting counter-battery operations. 

Independent analysts assess that Ukrainian forces continue to make progress in a square-shaped pocket of territory south and east of Robotyne, toward the town of Tokmak. But both sides have reported intense artillery fire and widespread destruction of settlements in the area, which has reduced the village of Robotyne to ruins.

8:30 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Blinken praises "good progress" of Ukraine's counteroffensive during Kyiv visit

From CNN's Tim Lister

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes a statement alongside Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, ahead of their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv, on Wednesday, September 6.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes a statement alongside Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, ahead of their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv, on Wednesday, September 6. Brendan Smialowski/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted the "good progress" Ukraine has made in its counteroffensive, as he met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv on Wednesday.

In brief remarks at the foreign ministry, Kuleba said he was “looking forward to a productive, result-oriented conversation with you [Blinken].”

Blinken said that on his third visit since the Russian invasion, he was again “struck by the extraordinary bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian forces, Ukraine's leadership."

"And I'm here, first and foremost, to demonstrate our ongoing and determined support for Ukraine as it deals with this aggression," he said.

“We've seen good progress in the counteroffensive, which is very heartening. We want to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs not only to succeed in the counteroffensive, but it has what it needs for the long term, to make sure that it has a strong deterrent, a strong defense capacity, so that in the future, aggressions like this don't happen again," Blinken added.

He said: “We're also determined to continue to work with our partners as they build and rebuild a strong economy, a strong democracy.”

8:29 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Blinken in Kyiv to hear latest on Ukraine’s counteroffensive and "align" ahead of UNGA

From CNN's Andrew Carey and Kylie Atwood

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken ahead of a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv, Ukraine, on September 6.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba greets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken ahead of a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv, Ukraine, on September 6. Brendan Smialowski/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Kyiv on what is his third trip to the Ukrainian capital since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February last year.

The visit comes as Ukraine’s counteroffensive moves into its fourth month, with both political and military leaders in Kyiv talking up recent gains, especially in the south of the country, following growing concerns the concerted push on the battlefield has failed to produce results.

Blinken’s first stop Wednesday, after a brief visit to the US embassy, was at a military cemetery, where he laid a wreath in honor of Ukraine’s fallen soldiers. Later, he is scheduled to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, from whom he can expect a first-hand report of Ukraine’s efforts to regain land around the eastern city of Bakhmut – the Ukrainian leader visited with his troops there on Tuesday.

The visit by the US’s top diplomat is an opportunity for the United States and Ukraine to align ahead of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) later this month, a senior state department official told reporters traveling with Blinken.

“The Ukrainians have an important mission in New York to continue to explain – to their allies and partners around the world – what's going on and their continued need for support. And it's important for us to continue to lead that global effort to support them,” the official said. “Having a chance to consult and align before we get to New York is very, very important.”

While some US officials have been privately critical of Ukraine’s counteroffensive strategy, the official would not delve into specifics other than to say that now is the right time to “come and assess” how the counteroffensive is going.

“We want to see, hear, how they intend to push forward in the coming weeks,” the official said, adding that the US sees the country making “some impressive advances in the south in particular, but also in the east in recent days and weeks.”

Read more here.

8:29 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Blinken arrives in Kyiv for talks

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling by train to Kyiv on Wednesday, September 6.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling by train to Kyiv on Wednesday, September 6. Brendan Smialowski/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv Wednesday for meetings with key Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. 

His trip comes as Ukraine's counteroffensive has been going slower than hoped.

Blinken is also expected to announce more than $1 billion in new funding for Ukraine, according to a senior State Department official.

Kyiv was targeted by Russian missiles overnight, which were intercepted, according to the city’s military administration. 

Blinken arrived in Kyiv Wednesday morning after making an overnight journey by train from Poland, in common with almost all high-profile visitors to war-torn Kyiv, including US President Joe Biden, who took the ride in February.

It is his third visit to Ukraine’s capital since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

In April 2022 he made the trip with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, just a few weeks after Russian forces had withdrawn from areas immediately to the north of the Kyiv. His second trip was in September last year as Ukraine’s first big counteroffensive was underway in the Kharkiv region.

According to the State Department, Blinken also briefly went into Ukraine in March 2022, when he met on the border with Kuleba.

3:49 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

UK to classify Wagner Group as a terrorist organization

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

A flag emblazoned with Wagner's logo flies at a car rally in the Moscow region on August 23.
A flag emblazoned with Wagner's logo flies at a car rally in the Moscow region on August 23. Yulia Morozova/Reuters

The United Kingdom is set to classify Russian mercenary group Wagner as a terrorist organization, giving officials the power to prosecute its members and seize assets.

In a statement Wednesday, the UK Home Office said Home Secretary Suella Braverman has put a draft order before Parliament to proscribe the Wagner Group, which will come into effect on September 13.

Once passed, the order will render it “illegal to be a member or support Wagner Group and punishable by up to 14 years in jail,” and allow the government to seize Wagner's assets, the statement said.

“Wagner is a violent and destructive organisation which has acted as a military tool of Vladimir Putin’s Russia overseas. While Putin’s regime decides what to do with the monster it created, Wagner’s continuing destabilising activities only continue to serve the Kremlin’s political goals,” Braverman said in the statement.
“They are terrorists, plain and simple - and this proscription order makes that clear in UK law. Wagner has been involved in looting, torture, and barbarous murders. Its operations in Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa are a threat to global security.”

Some context: The future of the Wagner Group remains uncertain following the death of its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash last month. Most security experts doubt Wagner can survive without Prigozhin, posing major questions about what will happen to the group’s fighters, weapons and operations.

3:33 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Russia's withdrawal from Robotyne was tactical, Moscow-backed official claims

From CNN's Olga Voitovych, Vasco Cotovio and Katharina Krebs

Ukrainian servicemen ride a tank near the village of Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine on August 25.
Ukrainian servicemen ride a tank near the village of Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine on August 25. Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters

Russian forces "tactically left" the southeastern village of Robotyne after losing control of it to Ukrainian troops, a Moscow-backed official said Tuesday.

The Ukrainians breached Russian defenses near the village and are now focusing on expanding their gains in the area, CNN reported earlier.

Speaking on local television, the Russia-appointed acting governor of the occupied Zaporizhzhia region, Yevgeniy Balitskiy, said Robotyne "almost no longer exists as a result of quite large and prolonged fighting."

"This settlement remains only on the map," he said.

Holding the bare ground where the village used to be is "not expedient," so Russian forces withdrew to the hills where they enjoy height advantage, Balitskiy added.

Some context: Much has been made of the strategic importance of Robotyne for Ukraine’s three-month-long southern counteroffensive and the remains of what was a village of 500 before the war continue to be pounded day and night.

Ukrainian efforts are now focused on widening the bridgehead near the village, with fighting near Verbove, a few kilometers to the east, according to Ukrainian sources.

4:39 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Top Ukrainian commander reports "difficult" situation on the eastern front

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

A Ukranian soldier takes up a position near Bakhmut, in Ukraine's Donetsk region, on Monday, September 4.
A Ukranian soldier takes up a position near Bakhmut, in Ukraine's Donetsk region, on Monday, September 4. Libkos/AP

Fierce fighting is raging near Bakhmut as Ukrainian forces try to drive entrenched Russian troops out of the hotspot city on the "difficult" eastern front, the commander of Ukraine's ground forces said Wednesday.

Bakhmut was captured by Russian forces in May but Ukrainian forces have made slight progress to the south and northwest of the city in recent weeks.

The overall situation on the eastern front "remains difficult," Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi said in a statement on Telegram.

“The enemy is not abandoning its plans to reach the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, stubbornly preparing to take revenge and seize the operational initiative,” he said.

Near Kupiansk in northeastern Ukraine, Russia is “finalizing the preparation of assault units and firing at Ukraine’s positions with artillery and mortars on a daily basis,” Syrskyi said.

Russia is also replenishing its troops in the Lyman area, about 25 miles north of Bakhmut, he said.

The Ukrainian military’s main tasks are to hold its positions near Kupiansk and Lyman, and advance on the Bakhmut front, he added.

2:50 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Kyiv repels Russian missile attack, officials say

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Smoke rises in the sky over the city after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on September 6.
Smoke rises in the sky over the city after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on September 6. Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Ukraine's air defenses rebuffed a Russian missile attack on Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday. 

In a Telegram post, the Kyiv city military administration said all cruise missiles and presumed ballistic missiles fired by Russia were destroyed.

No casualties were reported and fires caused by missile fragments have been extinguished, Ukraine's State Emergency Service said.

1:27 a.m. ET, September 6, 2023

At least 1 killed as Russian drones target Ukraine's Danube ports

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

An agricultural worker was killed and grain infrastructure damaged after Russian drones attacked a Danube River port, a Ukrainian official said Wednesday.

In a Telegram post, Oleh Kiper, chief of the Odesa region military administration, said several settlements were hit in the attack on Izmail district.

Russia has repeatedly targeted Ukrainian shipping infrastructure since it pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal in July. The accord’s collapse pushed up global food prices and fueled fears that the world’s poorest countries would struggle to feed their populations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Turkey's leader Tayyip Erdogan on Monday amid efforts to bring Moscow back into the critical deal, but no major breakthroughs came from the meeting.