Follow the latest news on Russia's war in Ukraine here and read more about today's developments in the posts below.
September 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Tara Subramaniam, Jack Guy and Ed Upright, CNN
The United States has sanctioned an Iranian entity for its role in exporting unmanned aerial vehicles to Russia to be used in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the Treasury Department said in a statement Thursday.
The Treasury also designated three companies and an individual for their role in the provision of drones to Iranian military entities.
“Russia is making increasingly desperate choices to continue its unprovoked war against Ukraine, particularly in the face of our unprecedented sanctions and export controls,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said in the statement.
“The United States is committed to strictly enforcing our sanctions against both Russia and Iran and holding accountable Iran and those supporting Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We will also not hesitate to target producers and procurers who contribute to Iran and its IRGC’s UAV program, further demonstrating our resolve to continue going after terrorist proxies that destabilize the Middle East. Non-Iranian, non-Russian entities should also exercise great caution to avoid supporting either the development of Iranian UAVs or their transfer, or sale of any military equipment to Russia for use against Ukraine,” the statement continued.
Last month, CNN reported that the US believed Russian officials had begun training on drones in Iran.
CNN first reported in July that a Russian delegation had visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice since June to examine weapons-capable drones, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan and satellite imagery obtained exclusively by CNN.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed his country’s soldiers have retaken the key Kharkiv city of Balakliia.
Zelensky posted a video on his social media accounts with Ukrainian soldiers standing above a building in Balakliia, alongside the Ukrainian flag.
“Mr President, Mr Commander-in-Chief, Balakliia city of the Kharkiv region is taken under our control,” one of the soldiers says. “The order is fulfilled. Russian occupational troops have withdrawn.”
In front of the soldier, a Russian flag can been seen on the ground.
Zelensky captioned the video saying “everything was in its place.”
“The Ukrainian flag is in the free Ukrainian city, under the free Ukrainian sky,” the Ukrainian president said.
US President Joe Biden spoke with counterparts from Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Romania, Poland and the United Kingdom, as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and representatives from France and the European Union on Thursday to discuss ongoing support for Ukraine.
Biden “(underscored) continued international support for Ukraine, including through the ongoing provision of security and economic assistance and the sustained imposition of costs on Russia to hold the Kremlin accountable for its aggression,” according to a White House readout of the call.
The readout continued: “The leaders also discussed Russia's weaponization of energy and the need for further coordination to secure sustainable and affordable energy supplies for Europe.”
That comes as the White House is “closely” monitoring an escalating energy crisis in Europe after Russian energy giant Gazprom halted flows through the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline indefinitely, claiming it had found an oil leak in a turbine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has departed Kyiv after his unannounced visit on Thursday, where he said the ongoing counteroffensive was “proving effective.”
The top US diplomat also said “it would be hard to imagine” that Russia’s so-called filtration operations, which have forcibly deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, would be possible without the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Blinken credited the success of the counteroffensive to the “incredible bravery, resilience of Ukrainians,” and said the US was “so pleased to have been able to support your efforts.”
“Fundamentally, what this comes down, I think the reason for this success is this is your homeland, not Russia’s. And it’s as basic as that,” the top US diplomat said while seated across from Zelensky.
Speaking to the press before departing the city by train, Blinken said he got “a comprehensive update on the on the counter offensive.
“Again, it's very early, but we're seeing clear and real progress on the ground, particularly in the area around Kherson, but also some interesting developments in the Donbass, in the east, but again, early days,” he said.
Blinken said he spent about two hours with Zelensky and his team, and called it “a very productive and in many ways meaningful day.”
In addition to meeting with Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, he visited US Embassy, toured a children’s hospital and went Irpin, where he saw first-hand the devastation wrought from the Russian occupation of the suburb of Kyiv.
The top US diplomat told the press he “was able to bear witness to horrific attacks on houses, on buildings, clearly belonging to civilians, where the shelling, the missiles, the bullets, it's all there. And at best, it's indiscriminate. At worst, it's intentional. And I was able to talk to people doing remarkable work in compiling evidence of war crimes and atrocities and also those responsible for the city who are working to rebuild it,” he said.
Ukrainian forces regained control of Irpin in late March, but the city was left in ruins. Damage was still visible as the top US diplomat toured a part of the city, guided by Deputy Mayor Dmytro Nehresha, according to press accompanying Blinken.
Blinken was told that 95% of the city was evacuated at one point, but a vast majority – about 78% — have returned, and it is receiving internally displaced people from Kherson.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, the top US general, said that “so far, Russian strategic objectives have been defeated” in Ukraine.
“Despite being outgunned and outmanned, the Ukrainians have demonstrated superior tactical proficiency, and they've demonstrated a superior will to fight, fight for their own country, fight for their freedom,” said Milley at a news conference with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Ramstein, Germany.
Milley said that Russia has been “defeated” in its offensive that began in April after its failures early in the invasion.
“Their operational objectives in that offensive have not been successful. They have not achieved all of the Donbas, and they have only crossed the Dnipro River in the south in the vicinity of Kherson,” said Milley.
Milley also said while it’s too early to fully assess Ukraine’s newly launched offensive near Kherson, “Ukraine is effectively using their fires to shape the ground maneuver as they continue their offensive.”
Milley also said the progress of Ukrainian forces near Kherson has been “steady” and “deliberate.”
“I would characterize it as a very deliberate offensive operation that is calibrated to set conditions and then seize their objectives,” the general said.
Milley also denied that Ukraine’s military is overstretched fighting Russia from Kharkiv in the north to Kherson in the south.
“They're continuing the fight. They've got the forces to do it, and we'll see how this plays out,” said Milley.
Russia “is going to pay a very heavy price” for a long time because of its war in Ukraine, CIA Director Bill Burns said on Thursday.
“I think if you take a step back now, it's hard to see the record of the war — Putin's record — as anything other than a failure so far,” Burns said at a cybersecurity conference in Washington, DC. “Not only has the weakness of the Russian military have been exposed, but there's going to be long term damage done to the Russian economy and to generations of Russians as a result of this.”
“Russia is going to pay a very heavy price, I think over a long period of time,” he said.
Burns’ remarks come as Ukraine has begun to mount what the CIA director described as a counteroffensive in the south and in Kharkiv — although some US officials have been reluctant to name the Ukrainian operation as a true “counteroffensive” just yet and its chances of reclaiming territory remain unclear.
“In the northeastern part of Ukraine, I would not underestimate the capacity or the courage of the Ukrainians right now, as well,” Burns added.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday in Kyiv.
In a statement, the top US diplomat said he informed Zelensky of the latest tranche of US security assistance to Ukraine, noting that “President Biden has been clear we will support the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes. I reiterated this message to President Zelenskyy and his team today in Kyiv, which remains ̶ and will remain ̶ the capital of a sovereign, independent Ukraine.”
Blinken also announced that the administration had informed the US Congress of its “intent to make a further $2.2 billion available in long-term investments under Foreign Military Financing to bolster the security of Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors; including many of our NATO Allies, as well as other regional security partners potentially at risk of future Russian aggression.”
“The United States is providing security assistance alongside our allies and partners from more than 50 countries to support Ukraine’s defense. The capabilities we are delivering are carefully calibrated to make the most difference on the battlefield,” Blinken said.
The Ukrainian military says its forces have been able to advance 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) in the Kharkiv region, liberating 20 settlements in their counteroffensive.
“Military units have wedged themselves into the enemy's defense to a depth of up to 50 km,” Oleksii Hromov, the deputy head of the main operations directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said at a briefing in Kyiv.
“Filtration operations are ongoing in a number of settlements. In the course of active actions in the Kharkiv direction, more than 20 settlements were liberated,” Hromov also said.
CNN had previously reported Ukrainian advances in the area based on social media footage geolocated to settlements in the Kharkiv region previously controlled by Russian forces. The Institute for the Study of War said on Wednesday that Ukrainian forces had advanced 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) into through Russian lines.
According to Hromov the counteroffensive “with the aim of restoring the lost territories” started at the beginning of the week and involved “the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in cooperation with the units of the National Guard and other security forces.”