September 14, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Tara Subramaniam, Sana Noor Haq, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:53 PM ET, Wed September 14, 2022
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1:17 p.m. ET, September 14, 2022

UN secretary-general: "We are far away from the end of the war" after call with Putin

From CNN's Richard Roth

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Wednesday he feels a peace deal to end the war in Ukraine isn't close.

“We are far away from the end of the war," he told reporters following a call Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"A ceasefire is not in sight,” he said, adding, "I would be lying if I said it would happen.”

The diplomat said he discussed a variety of issues with Putin including the grain deal and the possibility of Russian exports, but cautioned there are obstacles to the export of Russian food and fertilizers. “We are risking the lack of food in the world later this year."

The two also discussed prisoners of war and Guterres quoted Putin as saying there would be no obstacles from Russia with regards to the panel conducting a fact-finding mission into last month’s prison attack in the Russian-occupied region of Eastern Ukraine. Dozens were killed. 

Guterres said he also spoke with Putin about Ukraine’s nuclear plant.

 

1:02 p.m. ET, September 14, 2022

Ukrainian military says there has been a significant decline in Russian shelling in some areas

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Tim Lister

A Ukrainian soldier walks in Izium, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on September 13.
A Ukrainian soldier walks in Izium, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on September 13. (Kostiantyn Liberov/AP)

The Ukrainian military said that Russian shelling in the Kharkiv region has significantly decreased since the success of the counteroffensive there.

However, in its operational update, the military's General Staff said that Russian artillery fire continued to bombard areas of Donetsk, especially around Bakhmut and Avdiivka. It also said Russian efforts to push forward in several districts of Donetsk had been rebuffed.

It also reported widespread Russian shelling of settlements in the Zaporizhzhia region, where Russian forces are resisting efforts by Ukrainian forces to take territory in the direction of Mykolaiv and Kherson.

The military said that the Russians were trying to withdraw S-300 air defense systems "deep into the temporarily captured territories and into the territory of the Russian Federation."

Russian air defenses have become more vulnerable since Ukraine acquired US-made the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM).

The General Staff said the Ukrainian Air Force had been active, carrying out 11 strikes. And Ukrainian missile units had attacked "areas of concentration of manpower and combat equipment of the enemy," including in Kherson.

The threat of Russian cruise missile attacks still persists.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian President's Office, said on Telegram that eight Russian cruise missiles had been aimed at the city of Kryvyi Rih Wednesday. He said they targeted critical civil infrastructure, but there were no civilian victims.

12:35 p.m. ET, September 14, 2022

China's President Xi lands in Uzbekistan ahead of Putin meeting

From CNN's Jonny Hallam in Atlanta and Shawn Deng in Toronto

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, is met by Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, right, as he arrives at the Nur-Sultan Nazarbayev International Airport on September 14 in Kazakhstan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, is met by Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, right, as he arrives at the Nur-Sultan Nazarbayev International Airport on September 14 in Kazakhstan. (Yao Dawei/Xinhua/AP)

China's President Xi Jinping arrived in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Wednesday, according to Chinese state media.  

The official Xinhua news agency said Xi arrived in the city "to pay a state visit to Uzbekistan and attend the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)." 

Xi is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO talks. 

It will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began in late February.

12:11 p.m. ET, September 14, 2022

Brittney Griner's wife says she is '"encouraged to hear" about former US governor's Moscow meetings

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Zahra Ullah

Cherelle Griner, the wife of detained WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks at a press conference on July 8 in Chicago.
Cherelle Griner, the wife of detained WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks at a press conference on July 8 in Chicago. (Max Herman/AFP/Getty Images/File)

Cherelle Griner, the wife of detained WNBA star Brittney Griner, said Wednesday she is “encouraged to hear” about former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s meetings in Moscow.

“We’ve asked Governor Richardson and the Richardson Center to help us, and have been working with them for a while,” Griner said in a statement to CNN. “We are encouraged to hear that they are having meetings in Moscow.”

Some more context: Richardson and his team were in Moscow this week and held meetings with Russian leadership, CNN has learned.

The details of those meetings were not immediately clear. Richardson and his center privately work on behalf of families of hostages and detainees, and the trip comes as the Biden administration works to free two Americans whom the US State Department has classified as wrongfully detained: Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

A spokesperson for the Richardson Center told CNN Tuesday that “at this point we are not able to comment on this.”

CNN reported in mid-July that Richardson had been expected to travel to the Russian capital.

 

11:29 a.m. ET, September 14, 2022

Russian tour operator says it's feeling the impact of stricter EU visa rules for Russians

From CNN's Zayn Nabbi in London and Anna Chernova in Moscow 

The Association of Tour Operators in Russia (ATOR) says it is feeling the impact of the European Commission's stricter visa processing conditions for Russian citizens, as nine European countries now "no longer accept documents from tourists.”

Last Friday, the European Union (EU) made the decision to suspend the visa facilitation agreement with Russia, making it harder for Russians to travel in Europe.

“The visa facilitation agreement with the Russian Federation has been suspended. This means that Russian citizens will receive Schengen visas under the general conditions of the EU Visa Code,” ATOR wrote on their website Tuesday. 

ATOR describes itself as the largest association of tour operators in Russia.

According to tour operators, the list of EU countries that have so far issued and continue to accept documents for visas for tourist trips include Italy, Spain, Greece, France, Hungary and Cyprus. Notably, the visas being granted are national visa — not Schengen, which allows a tourist access to other European countries too.

“Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands no longer accept documents from tourists,” it claimed.  

In response, the European Commission referred CNN to their visa guidelines, which were posted online last Friday. The guidelines outlined how short-stay visa applications lodged by Russian citizens should now be processed. 

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said last Friday that “being a tourist in the EU is not a fundamental right."

"Member States are advised to check thoroughly and with a great level of scrutiny visa applications from Russian citizens. Visas should be refused where consulates identify security risks," she continued.

"The EU will remain open to those who need to be protected, like journalists, dissidents, human rights activists, and people traveling for family reasons,” Johansson said.

According to the guidelines consulates are able to “adapt their procedures” and are allowed to “take up 45 days” on deciding Russian tourist visa applications, as opposed to the “15 days in regular cases.”

“Member States should refrain from issuing multiple-entry visas with long validity, as Russian citizens may not meet the conditions for entering the EU in the long run, given the economic instability, the restrictive measures and political developments in Russia,” the new guidelines add. 

At the start of September The Czech Republic, and Latvia already started to take measures to restrict Russian travel, while Estonia banned Russians who already had visas from entering the country.

CNN contacted the foreign affairs ministries of the Netherlands, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Denmark, and Belgium, and they have not responded yet to requests for comment. 

10:16 a.m. ET, September 14, 2022

Ukrainian military says it sees signs of Russian movement into Crimea

From CNN's Tim Lister and Oleksandra Ochman

Ivan Fedorov, Mayor of Melitopol, during the visit of the Ukrainian delegation to the Cologne City Hall in Cologne in April.
Ivan Fedorov, Mayor of Melitopol, during the visit of the Ukrainian delegation to the Cologne City Hall in Cologne in April.

The Ukrainian military says it is seeing signs of a movement among Russian forces from parts of the south into Crimea.

"It's not exactly our area of responsibility, but it's close, so we're watching it too. We see and understand the attempts of the occupiers to flee to Crimea and regroup there. It will be easier for us: gatherings of military equipment are a big target," Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Operational Command South, said at a briefing Wednesday.

Humeniuk's remarks follow comments from the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, on Tuesday, when he claimed that "columns of military equipment have already been recorded at the checkpoint in Chongar [from Kherson into Crimea.] This was expected — the rapid Ukrainian offensive leaves them no chance."

Fedorov also claimed that in order to take stolen goods from the Zaporizhzhia region to Crimea, Russian soldiers were breaking into garages and stealing civilian cars.

CNN is not able to verify independently Fedorov's claims nor the reports of an exodus through Chongar. No social media video has surfaced of such movements.

What Moscow is saying: Pro-Russian officials have denied any Ukrainian advances in the south in recent days, and the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Ukrainian forces had sustained heavy losses during attempted assaults in the south. 

Ukrainian strikes continued to destroy pontoon crossings across the river Dnipro, Humeniuk said Wednesday.

"Where they try to transport heavy equipment and ammunition with the help of barges, we hit and stop this process," she said. "Our artillery work is connected with the destruction of warehouses with ammunition — three were destroyed in the past day."

But Humeniuk acknowledged the Russians still had stocks on the west bank of the Dnipro, which is closest to the front lines running along the Kherson regional border.

9:39 a.m. ET, September 14, 2022

Here's a look at the territory reclaimed by Ukraine through its counteroffensive

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited newly liberated Izium on Wednesday — five days after the Ukrainian forces took back control of the northeastern region of Kharkiv.

Ukraine's counteroffensive continues to liberate swathes of territory from Russia's occupation, with most of this reclaimed land is in the country’s northeast and south, according to Zelesnky.

Take a look at the map of control as it stands currently:

9:39 a.m. ET, September 14, 2022

Zelensky says he is "shocked" by destruction in Izium

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Tim Lister

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends flag hoisting ceremony in Izium on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends flag hoisting ceremony in Izium on Wednesday. (Metin AktaÅ/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he is shocked by what he has seen on his visit to the newly liberated Izium district in Kharkiv.

"What we see is shocking, although we have already seen this in Bucha [near Kyiv], in the first de-occupied territories. Likewise, destroyed buildings, killed people," he told journalists during the visit. "Unfortunately, this is part of our history today. And this is part of the modern Russian nation – what they did."

He thanked foreign governments for sending investigators and prosecutors to Ukraine to investigate alleged human rights abuses by occupying forces.

"We all understand that this process takes time ... I am sure, there will be verdicts for all this, there will be a tribunal. I don't doubt it for a second," he said.

He also expressed confidence that all occupied areas would eventually return to Ukraine. 

"We should send signals to our people who, unfortunately, are still under occupation. And my signal to the people in Crimea: we know that these are our people, and it is a terrible tragedy that they have been under occupation for more than eight years. We will return there. I don't know when exactly. But we have plans," Zelensky said.

8:00 a.m. ET, September 14, 2022

It's 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Catch up on the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine

From CNN staff

If you're just joining us, here's what you need to know about the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited newly liberated Izium: Ukrainian forces took back control of the northeastern region of Kharkiv on Saturday. Zelensky thanked the military Wednesday and observed a minute of silence to honor those who had been lost in the war.

Izium's liberation is a huge strategic blow to Russia's military assault in the east as it had become an important hub for Moscow to launch attacks southward into the Donetsk region and Kupyansk.

About 8,000 square kilometers (3,088 square miles) of territory has been liberated by Ukrainian forces so far this month, according to Zelensky. Most of this reclaimed land is in the country’s northeast and south, he added.

The counteroffensive is, however, slowing down: Ukraine is liberating swathes of territory from Russia's occupation in the east, but presidential military adviser Oleksiy Arestovych says the country’s counteroffensive has "slowed down slightly because most of the Ukrainian forces are fighting to capture the city of Lyman, to open our way into the Luhansk region. We will intensify our strikes and liberate new territories in a different way,” he told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview.

Lyman, an important rail hub, is roughly 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of the strategically important Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk.

The US says Russian forces retreated back across the border: “We've seen a number of Russian forces, especially in the northeast, in the Kharkiv region, cross over the border back into Russia as they’ve retreated from the Ukrainian counter-offensive,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters during a briefing Tuesday. But Russian forces still “do exist en masse in Ukraine,” he added.

But Russia has been trying to gain ground in other parts of Ukraine: The Ukrainian military's General Staff said Ukrainian units had successfully repelled Russian attacks around the city of Bakhmut, while Russian artillery and air force are pounding settlements near the front lines across Donetsk. There was also Russian mortar and tank fire in the Zaporizhzhia region, the General Staff said.

Looting claims: The military claimed that in the south, around the city of Polohy, Russian troops were also stealing private cars. And in Nova Kakhovka, in the Kherson region, Russians "began to massively remove furniture and household appliances from temporarily abandoned settlements." CNN is unable to confirm the military's claims, but there has been widespread evidence of looting in Kharkiv and other previously occupied Russian areas.

Russian shelling killed at least two people and injured six in Mykolaiv: The head of the region's civil military administration provided this update, adding that educational institution, infrastructure facilities and residential buildings were damaged in the southern port city near the Black Sea on Wednesday. Ukrainian officials claim that they’ve taken back about 500 square kilometers of territory in the south so far, along the borders of Mykolaiv and Kherson.