Blinken met Zelensky in Kyiv and informed him of latest US security assistance
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
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.
12:47 p.m. ET, September 8, 2022
Ukraine claims its forces have advanced in Kharkiv region and liberated 20 settlements in counteroffensive
From CNN's Olga Voitovych
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.”
9:30 a.m. ET, September 8, 2022
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits children’s hospital in Kyiv
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the National Children’s Specialized Hospital Ohmatdyt in Kyiv on Thursday.
He met with children who were being treated there – including some injured in the war – as well as Patron, the mine-sniffing dog who has gained international renown.
The top US diplomat, accompanied by US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink, made the visit to the hospital during an unannounced trip to Ukraine.
He was welcomed in the lobby by a large group of staff and Patron. Blinken gifted the Jack Russell terrier dog treats, quipping that “since he’s already received a number of medals and awards, I thought he’d actually prefer something a more usable,” and posed for photos in the lobby with the vest-clad pup.
“We have a long history of working on de-mining,” Blinken said. “We’re honored to be working with you on that.”
More on his visit: Blinken toured the hospital and visited with some of its patients, including a six-year-old Maryna, who lost part of her leg and has been in the hospital since May after being injured in Kherson. Blinken gave her a stuffed dog, and she also received a visit from Patron.
“I can tell that Patron likes Maryna very much,” Blinken said to the girl and her mother as he knelt by her bedside. Her mother told the top US diplomat that Maryna met actress Jessica Chastain, noting that they “loved her.”
Blinken then went to another room to meet more children who are at the hospital. He carried a basket full of toys.
Blinken took a photo and gifted a stuffed rabbit to 13-year-old Kateryna who was injured in the Kramatorsk rail station attack in early April; her mother was killed, the top US diplomat was told.
He was again accompanied by Patron and remarked, “I think he’s the most famous dog in the world.”
“We so admire the courage, the spirit of your children. It sends a very strong message all around the world,” Blinken told the room.
“And it’s an honor for me to meet you, to meet them, and to see the wonderful work that the doctors, the Minister, the Ronald McDonald House, everyone is doing. We’re just happy to be able to help and to be a friend and a partner.”
12:47 p.m. ET, September 8, 2022
It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.
From CNN staff
Ukraine's apparent surprise counteroffensive in the northeast of the country has led to calls to evacuate Russian-held Kupiansk, while the United States has promised billions more in aid as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Kyiv.
Here are the latest headlines in the war:
Fighting on multiple fronts: The Ukrainian military says it has repelled several Russian offensives across the battlefield, but has remained silent about its own counteroffensives in the northeast around Kharkiv and in the south near Kherson.
Calls for evacuation from Russian-held city: The Russian-installed head of the Kupiansk city administration, Vitaly Ganchev, has called on women and children to evacuate the city as Ukrainian forces approach. "Today, such a situation is developing in Kupiansk that we are forced to ensure the evacuation of the population, at least children, women, due to the fact that the city is constantly under terror, constant rocket attacks from the armed forces of Ukraine, which do not (desist from) attempts to destroy infrastructure of the city,” Ganchev said.
Blinken visits Kyiv: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced trip to Ukraine Thursday – his third visit to the country since Russia invaded more than six months ago. The top US diplomat will meet with Ukrainian officials. It coincides with a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, hosted by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
More US aid promised: The US intends to provide $2 billion to bolster the security of Ukraine and 18 other regional countries, Blinken is expected announce Thursday. This new funding is in addition to the latest $675 million tranche of security assistance to Ukraine, which was announced by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in remarks in Germany.
Pro-Russian forces accused of torture: The recovered body of British aid worker Paul Urey, who was captured in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and died in the custody of Russian-backed separatists, has signs of “possible unspeakable torture,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Thursday.
UN Security Council hears of human rights abuses: Torture and the forcible deportation of 2.5 million people were among the shocking details of human rights violations against Ukrainian civilians recounted at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday. Deputy Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Khrystyna Hayovyshyn told the council that 2.5 million people, including 38,000 children, have been forcibly deported from the country under a Russian “filtration” program.
7:30 a.m. ET, September 8, 2022
As Ukraine pushes southern offensive, it also hits Russia in the northeast
From CNN's Rob Picheta, Vasco Cotovio and Olga Voitovych
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has hailed "good news" from the northeastern Kharkiv region, after an apparent surprise counter-offensive forced Russian troops onto the back foot and prompted a pro-Kremlin official to call for evacuations.
The Russian-installed head of the Kupiansk city administration, Vitaly Ganchev, urged women and children to evacuate the city as Ukrainian forces approached.
Ganchev said the city, which lies west of the Donbas region and about 70 miles east of the city of Kharkiv, "is constantly under terror" and experiencing "constant rocket attacks from the Armed Forces of Ukraine."
Ukrainian officials have declined to comment on the offensive in the northeast of Ukraine, but footage geolocated by CNN showed Ukrainian forces in the town of Volokhiv-Yar on Wednesday, around 50 km away from Kupiansk, and also on the outskirts of Balakliya to the south. Russian officials have also remained silent on developments in the Kharkiv region.
The operation appeared designed to catch Russian forces off guard, following intensifying conflict in the south of Ukraine near the city of Kherson.
US intends to provide additional $2 billion to bolster security of Ukraine and other regional countries
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
The United States intends to provide $2 billion to bolster the security of Ukraine and 18 other regional countries, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected announce Thursday.
Blinken made an unannounced trip to Ukraine today – his third visit to the country since Russia invaded more than six months ago.
According to a senior State Department official, the top US diplomat “will announce that we are notifying Congress today of our intent to make a further $2 billion available in long-term investments under Foreign Military Financing to bolster the security of Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors; including both many of our NATO allies as well as other regional security partners who are most potentially at risk for future Russian aggression.”
This new funding is in addition to the latest $675 million tranche of security assistance to Ukraine, which was announced by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in remarks in Germany.
“These announcements will bring the total U.S. military assistance for Ukraine to approximately $15.2 billion since the beginning of this Administration,” the senior State Department official said.
6:39 a.m. ET, September 8, 2022
Forcible deportations of Ukrainian civilians to Russia are detailed at UN Security Council
From CNN’s Richard Roth
Torture and the forcible deportation of 2.5 million people were among the shocking details of human rights violations against Ukrainian civilians recounted at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
Deputy Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Khrystyna Hayovyshyn told the council that 2.5 million people, including 38,000 children, have been forcibly deported from the country under a Russian “filtration” program.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has also documented “filtration” cases, it said. During these cases, “Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups have subjected persons to body searches, sometimes involving forced nudity, and detailed interrogations about the personal background, family ties, political views and allegiances of the individual concerned,” according to Ilze Brands Kehris, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.
Brands Kehris said there have been credible allegations of forced transfers of Ukrainian children to “Russian occupied territory, or to the Russian Federation itself.”
"We are concerned that the Russian authorities have adopted a simplified procedure to grant Russian citizenship to children without parental care, and that these children would be eligible for adoption by Russian families,” she added.
In addition, Brands Kehris said that men and women “perceived as having ties with Ukrainian armed forces or state institutions, or as having pro-Ukrainian or anti-Russian views” being subjected to torture, arbitrary detention, and “enforced disappearance.”
Russian officials said the allegations of forced "filtration" are unfounded, adding that newcomers to the country go through "registration," not filtration.
Refugees and displaced persons in Russia are given health and financial assistance, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said in his remarks to the UN Security Council Wednesday.
It’s very unfortunate that human rights groups are making unfounded allegations against Russia, Nebenzia said. "We have wasted time" discussing this issue rather than real issues, the ambassador added.
Meanwhile, Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs said that over 6.9 million people remain internally displaced in Ukraine, with most of the newly-displaced coming from eastern and southern Ukraine.
There have been 5,718 civilians killed, including 372 children, and 8,199 injured, including 635 children, during the war so far, she said.
DiCarlo added that “these are only verified figures and the actual numbers are likely significantly higher.”
7:23 a.m. ET, September 8, 2022
US Secretary of State Blinken makes unannounced trip to Ukraine
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced trip to Ukraine Thursday – his third visit to the country since Russia invaded more than six months ago.
The top US diplomat met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
His trip comes as Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive aimed at reclaiming Russian occupied areas in the south of the country. It is also coincides with a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, hosted by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Both Austin and Blinken visited Ukraine in late April. They still remain the highest level US officials to have traveled to the country since the war began in late February. Multiple heads of state have gone to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky. US President Joe Biden has yet to travel there, though the two leaders spoke by phone in recent weeks.
Also on Thursday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov met his US counterpart Austin and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley at the Ramstein base.
“Started the day with a meeting with great friends of Ukraine Lloyd Austin III @SecDef and Gen. Mark Milley @thejointstaff,” Reznikov tweeted. “We appreciate the US staunch support of Ukraine.”
“Look forward to launching #Ramstein 5 Meeting with 50+ participants,” he added.
6:00 a.m. ET, September 8, 2022
In revealing analysis, Ukrainian generals discuss future of the war and effect of Russian nuclear threat
From CNN’s Mick Krever
Ukraine’s top general has predicted that the war against Russia will last beyond this year, and acknowledged the effect of Moscow's nuclear arsenal in discouraging greater involvement from Ukraine's allies.
“There is every reason to believe,” writes Zaluzhnyi,in a piece co-authored with Lieutenant General Mykhailo Zabrodskyi, First Deputy Chairman of the National Security, Defense, and Intelligence Committee of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament), that the conflict “is not going to end anywhere within 2022.”
The pair also raised a series of interesting tactical points:
Ukraine needs to increase the distance over which it can strike against Russia. “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,” they write. The generals say that they believe that being able to strike further into Russian-held territory in Ukraine would also address the fact that ordinary Russians do not feel “all the losses, failures, and most importantly, costs of this war in all its senses.”
Strikes on Russian bases in Crimea last month are an example of this approach. “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 write, the most explicit that Ukrainian officials have been so far in acknowledging the strikes.
Arms deliveries from allies have been held up because of a lack of understanding of the scale of the war. “It remains difficult for the modern-day populations worldwide, primarily for Europeans, to even fathom World War 2-style combat operations in real life,” they write.
The threat of Russia's nuclear arsenal has also discouraged greater arms shipments. “The possibility of direct involvement of the world's leading powers in a ‘limited’ nuclear conflict, bringing closer the prospect of World War 3, cannot be completely ruled out either,” they write.
Russia is aiming to capture all of the Donetsk region in the east, said the generals, and could take over Mykolaiv and Odesa in the south if they manage to advance on the right bank of the Dnipro River. This would allow Russian forces to threaten the city of Kryvyi Rih in the center of the country, and renewed efforts to take over Kyiv "cannot be ruled out either," they add.