September 13, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Ivana Kottasová, Eliza Mackintosh, Adrienne Vogt and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 7:40 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022
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8:09 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Moscow has not discussed a nationwide mobilization to boost its military campaign in Ukraine, Kremlin says

From CNN’s Anna Chernova 

Russia's Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov arrives for a meeting on Russky Island on September 6.
Russia's Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov arrives for a meeting on Russky Island on September 6. (Valery Sharifulin/TASS/ZUMA Press)

After a Russian parliamentarian suggested the need to announce a nationwide mobilization to boost Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine, the Kremlin said there has been no discussion about it.

“Without full mobilization, without wartime footing, including of the economy, we will not achieve proper results,” State Duma deputy from the ruling United Russia party, Mikhail Sheremet, was quoted as saying to local media on Monday.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in a conference call Tuesday there is "no discussion of this for now.” 

When asked about criticism from some popular Russian bloggers and commentators about Russia’s recent performance in Ukraine, Peskov said it illustrated “pluralism,” adding that Russians support Russian President Vladimir Putin and his decisions but warned there is a “fine line” when expressing critical opinions.

“As for other, critical points of view, as long as they remain within the framework of the law, this is pluralism. But there is a fine line, and one must be very careful here,” Peskov said.

8:01 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Pro-Russian officials claim Ukraine is making no progress toward southern city of Kherson

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

People inspect the damage at a residential building destroyed by a strike in Mykolaiv on September 11.
People inspect the damage at a residential building destroyed by a strike in Mykolaiv on September 11. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)

Fighting continues in southern Ukraine along a wide front in the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions.

Pro-Russian officials have insisted that a Ukrainian offensive is being contained.

In a video message close to the front lines, Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-appointed deputy head of Kherson region military administration, said that he was on the Kherson-Mykolaiv highway and that "no one is retreating and will not retreat."

Stremousov said he had visited much of the front line around Kherson and the city was "reliably protected." He maintained that Ukrainian forces had "no chance of breaking through the line of defense."

"There is no threat to Kherson. Kherson will remain with Russia," he said.

Ukrainian officials have provided few details about the progress of their offensive in the south, but claimed that some 500 square kilometers of territory had been taken — mainly along the borders of Mykolaiv and Kherson regions. 

Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military's Operational Command South, said Tuesday that Russian forces continued to shell "peaceful settlements," especially in the direction of the city of Kryvih Rih.

8:54 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

CNN goes to Izium, a city recaptured by Ukraine after months of Russian occupation

From CNN's Rebecca Wright, Sam Kiley, Olha Konovalova and Peter Rudden

An abandoned Russian armoured vehicle is seen near a village on the outskirts of Izyum on September 11.
An abandoned Russian armoured vehicle is seen near a village on the outskirts of Izyum on September 11. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)

As a CNN team on the ground surveyed the city of Izium, the signs of Ukrainian victory after months of Russian occupation are clear.

Burned-out tanks and trucks emblazoned with Russia's signature "Z" symbol were at the side of the road, gutted and red with new rust. A collapsed bridge was covered in signs warning of landmines. Further along, the wreckage of a car was left alongside a destroyed petrol station surrounded by the debris of shelling.

Izium has now been "liberated," along with almost the whole of Kharkiv region, a Ukrainian military source told CNN. The city is a huge strategic loss for the Russian military, which used it as a key base and resupply route for its forces in eastern Ukraine, and shows the speed and scale of Ukraine's lightning-fast counteroffensive in the northeast.

Work is still ongoing to make the city center completely safe. The Ukrainians are seeking to capture a few Russian soldiers still in hiding, and anyone who worked with them during the occupation. The city also remains in a complete information blackout, with no phone or data signal — a tactic used by the Russians across the occupied territories.

From what the CNN team witnessed, local people are relieved to see their city back in Ukrainian hands.

Although the streets of Izium were largely quiet, residents would occasionally venture out of their homes and wave at CNN's vehicles or at the passing military trucks, and shake hands with any Ukrainian soldiers they came across.

But at the same time, fear of the Russians still grips the city. Most of the residents CNN approached were too scared to speak freely about what had happened there in recent months.

One couple in their 50s agreed to talk, using only their first names. They have been celebrating the Ukrainian victory over the city, a resident named Valeriy said, calling it a "balm for the soul."

"We prayed to God to be liberated without a fight and without blood. And so it happened," he said.

The distant sound of shelling is a constant reminder that despite the impressive gains in this counteroffensive, the war is not yet won — and many parts of Ukraine are still within range of Russia's arsenal of heavy weapons.

Read more here.

9:05 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Ukraine claims shooting down Iranian drone used by Russia

From CNN’s Yulia Kesaieva and Mostafa Salem

The wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed is seen near Kupiansk on September.
The wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed is seen near Kupiansk on September. (Ukrainian military's Strategic Communications Directorate/ Associated Press)

Ukraine's military claimed Tuesday for the first time that its forces had shot down an Iranian-supplied drone used by Russia on the battlefield in the country's east.

“With a great deal of conceit, it can be claimed that the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the first time destroyed an Iranian attack drone near Kupyansk,” the Ukrainian military's Strategic Communication Directorate said in a statement on Telegram, published alongside images of the wrecked drone allegedly downed near a city in the Kharkiv district.

“Analysis of the appearance of the wing elements of the drone allows us to say with certainty that the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed an Iranian UAV for the first time. It is a long-range kamikaze UAV Shahed-136,” the statement added.

CNN is unable to independently verify the Ukrainian claim

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense also tweeted images of what appears to be the Iranian-made drone that was shot down near Kupiansk.

Background: The news comes after US intelligence warned in July that Tehran planned to send Russia "hundreds" of bomb-carrying drones for use in the war in Ukraine. In August, a US official told CNN that Russians were believed to have been training on the drones for several weeks. Later in the month, Iran’s armed forces launched drills with over 100 locally-manufactured combat and reconnaissance drones to exhibit its "power," state media reported.

Iran began showcasing the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones, also known as UAVs or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, to Russia at Kashan Airfield south of Tehran in June, US officials told CNN. Both types of drones are capable of carrying precision-guided missiles.

8:03 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Analysis: Putin running out of options after Russian collapse in Kharkiv region

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting via videoconference in Moscow on September  9.
Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting via videoconference in Moscow on September 9. (Gavriil Grigorov/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool/Associated Press)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent more than two decades carefully cultivating his domestic political image of a strong foreign policy strategist who can outsmart Western leaders and restore Russia to its former glory.

But that image has suffered significant damage in the past few days, as a blistering Ukrainian counteroffensive in eastern Ukraine exposed the inadequacies of Moscow’s master plan and forced Russian troops to retreat.

Experts said the Russian collapse in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region represented the biggest challenge of Putin’s career, and that the Kremlin leader was running out of options.

Moscow has tried to spin the hasty withdrawal as “regrouping,” but in a sign of just how badly things look for Russia, the military has been publicly criticized by a number of high-profile Kremlin loyalists — including Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who supplied thousands of fighters to the offensive.

Russia has suffered significant setbacks earlier in the war – for example, when it lost its Black Sea fleet flagship Moskva or when it was forced to withdraw from the areas around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

But the current situation could pose a much bigger problem for Putin, Russian political analyst Anton Barbashin said.

“The Kyiv withdrawal was framed as a gesture of goodwill, something they’ve had to do to prevent civilian casualties,” he told CNN. “The propaganda component was always focusing on Donbas region as being the top priority, but now that Russian forces are somewhat withdrawing from Kharkiv region and Luhansk region, it would be much more problematic to explain this if Ukraine does in fact, push further, and I didn’t see a reason why they wouldn’t.”

Read more:

7:55 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

See the latest map of control

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that since the beginning of the month, Ukrainian forces have recaptured nearly 10% of the territory lost to the Russian offensive since February.

Here is the latest map of the situation in Ukraine, as assessed by the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based analytical group.

6:28 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

"Massive shelling" has targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure in recent days, minister says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva

Russia on Sunday carried out some of the "most massive shelling" of Ukraine's energy infrastructure since the start of the war, according to the country's energy minister, Herman Halushchenko.

Large parts of eastern Ukraine, including the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, were left without electricity following the strikes, Ukrainian officials said.

"These attacks are nothing more than Russian attempts to take revenge on the civilian population after the success of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the battlefield," Halushchenko said Tuesday during a meeting with Bridget Brink, the US ambassador to Ukraine.

The two discussed the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant following an inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) two weeks ago.

The IAEA called for the “immediate establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the plant.

According to a statement released after the meeting, Halushchenko told Brink that the only way to ensure nuclear safety was to return the plant to Ukrainian control.

7:59 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

"Everybody was running away." Ukrainians in Kharkiv villages describe Russia’s retreat

From CNN's Saskya Vandoorne, Melissa Bell, Olga Voitovych, Victoria Butenko and William Bonnett

Ukraine has claimed major territorial gains since the beginning of the month, much of that progress believed to be in the Kharkiv region.

This has given an impression that Ukraine is effortlessly pushing Russian forces back from territory they’ve controlled for more than six months. The truth, inevitably for a war zone, is far less clear-cut.

CNN was given exclusive access to Kupiansk, just a day after pictures emerged showing soldiers hoisting the Ukrainian flag on the roof of the town’s municipal building.

Far from being a town under full Ukrainian control, CNN found one still being bitterly fought for.

Further west, some villages have seen calm entirely restored, such as in the Kharkiv region's Zaliznychne, liberated last week, as the eastern counteroffensive picked up speed. There, the fight appears to have been far less painful.

"I didn't even expect it would be so fast," says 66-year-old Oleksandr Verbytsky, who witnessed the Russians retreating. "I went to the store and when I came back, everybody was running away. The Russians drove through the cemetery to get away. Can you imagine?"

Read the full story here.

7:59 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Ukrainian officials say Kharkiv is without electricity due to “insidious shelling” by Russian forces

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych and Yulia Kesaieva

A power substation damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv on September 12.
A power substation damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv on September 12. (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Reuters)

The entire region of Kharkiv is without electricity, the Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Kyrylo Tymoshenko said Tuesday, citing “insidious shelling by Russian [forces]” as the cause. 

“It has just been reported that Kharkiv and the region are without electricity. The backup line that supplied the settlements failed. Now all forces are directed to eliminate the problem. These are the consequences of insidious shelling by the Russians the day before (Monday),” Tymoshenko said on Telegram. 

 Local authorities in Derhachi, north-east of the city of Kharkiv, also reported electricity outages across its city center and nearby towns.