September 16, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Andrew Raine, Lianne Kolirin, Ed Upright and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 7:55 PM ET, Fri September 16, 2022
5 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
3:11 a.m. ET, September 16, 2022

At least "440 graves" found in Izium, Ukraine says

From CNN's Jonny Hallam and Yulia Kesaieva 

Crosses mark the location of several bodies at a mass burial site in Izyum, Ukraine.
Crosses mark the location of several bodies at a mass burial site in Izyum, Ukraine. (Office of the President of Ukraine)

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense tweeted images on Thursday of a burial site in Izium, Kharkiv region, and said that "440 unmarked graves" had been discovered after the region was liberated from Russian forces last weekend.

Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications on Thursday said that some of the graves discovered after the Russians fled were "fresh" and that the corpses buried there were "mostly civilians." 

The cause of deaths and the circumstances around the burials are unclear; President Zelensky said that the "necessary procedural actions have already started."

1:55 a.m. ET, September 16, 2022

White House announces $600 million security package for Ukraine during counter-offensive

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

A commander of a unit shows the rockets on a HIMARS vehicle in eastern Ukraine on July 1.
A commander of a unit shows the rockets on a HIMARS vehicle in eastern Ukraine on July 1. (Anastasia Vlasova/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

The White House announced a $600 million security package for Ukraine on Thursday, providing the Ukrainian military with another round of assistance during its counter-offensive against Russian forces.

The equipment will be drawn from existing US stocks and inventories, and it will include additional arms, ammunition, and equipment, according to a statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Together with our Allies and partners, we are delivering the arms and equipment that Ukraine’s forces are utilizing so effectively as they continue their successful counter-offensive against Russia’s invasion,” Blinken said.

The package includes additional ammunition for the HIMARS system, which Ukraine has used to hit multiple Russian logistics hubs, command posts, and ammo depots. It also includes tens of thousands of conventional 105mm artillery rounds, 1,000 precision 155mm rounds, and counter-drone systems. With winter coming, the United States is also providing cold weather gear and more night vision devices.

One week ago, the Pentagon announced another $675 million package, which included additional ammunition for the HIMARS, as well as tens of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition. 

Some context: For now, the US has decided against sending long-range ATACMS ammunition to Ukraine for use with the HIMARS platform, despite repeated Ukrainian requests. The ATACMS have a range of nearly 200 miles (320 kilometers), capable of striking deep within Russian territory. 

Pentagon officials have said the HIMARS launchers coupled with GMLRS, a munition with a range of some 40 miles (64 kilometers), is what the US should be focused on providing to Ukraine.

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24th, the US has provided $15.1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. 

2:21 p.m. ET, September 16, 2022

Biden to meet families of Americans jailed in Russia

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler

Brittney Griner, left, and Paul Whelan, right.
Brittney Griner, left, and Paul Whelan, right. (Reuters)

President Biden will personally meet with the families of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan at the White House today, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

This is the first time he will meet them in person.

"The President wants to make sure their families know they remain front of mind and that his team is working on this every day," an official told CNN.

The Associated Press was first to report on the meeting.

Some background: The families of Whelan, who has been held by Russia for alleged espionage since 2018, and WNBA star Griner, jailed in Moscow for alleged drug possession since February, have urged the White House to secure their release, including via a prisoner exchange if necessary.

Where do things stand? Progress bringing either American home has been hard to come by. A senior Biden administration official told CNN Thursday that there has been “movement but not breakthrough” in the talks. The official said Russia is making demands the state department can't deliver on.

1:54 a.m. ET, September 16, 2022

Mass burial site found in Izium after Russian forces fled the city, Zelensky says

From CNN's Jonny Hallam and Yulia Kesaieva

A Ukrainian serviceman uses a metal detector to inspect a mass grave in the recently retaken area of Izium, Ukraine,on Thursday, September 15.
A Ukrainian serviceman uses a metal detector to inspect a mass grave in the recently retaken area of Izium, Ukraine,on Thursday, September 15. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday a mass burial site has been discovered in the Ukrainian city of Izium after the area was recaptured last weekend from Russian forces.

"In Izium, Kharkiv region, a mass burial of people was found. The necessary procedural actions have already started there, more information — clear and verified — should be available tomorrow," Zelensky said in his nightly address.

He added that Ukrainian and international journalists will visit Izium Friday to see what they have uncovered.

We want the world to know what is really happening and what the Russian occupation has led to," Zelensky said. 

"Bucha, Mariupol and now, unfortunately, Izium... Russia leaves death everywhere. And must be responsible for it. The world must hold Russia to real responsibility for this war. We will do everything for this," he added.

2:20 p.m. ET, September 16, 2022

Putin concedes China has "questions and concerns" over Russia's faltering invasion of Ukraine

From CNN's Nectar Gan

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 15.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 15. (Alexandr Demyanchuk/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool/AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday praised China's "balanced position" on the Ukraine war, though he conceded Beijing had "questions and concerns" over the invasion, in what appeared to be a veiled admission of their diverging views over the protracted military assault.

Putin made the comments when meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping in person for the first time since the invasion at a regional summit in Uzbekistan, days after Russia suffered a series of major military setbacks in Ukraine. Russian troops are retreating en mass, having lost more territory in a week than they captured in five months.

China has so far refused to outright condemn Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine while stepping up economic assistance to its neighbor, boosting bilateral trade to record levels in a boon to Russian business amid Western sanctions.

"We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends in connection with the Ukrainian crisis. We understand your questions and concerns in this regard," Putin said in an opening speech at the meeting. "During today's meeting, of course, we will explain in detail our position on this issue, although we have spoken about this before."

Xi said China would "work with Russia to extend strong mutual support on issues concerning each other's core interests" and "play a leading role in injecting stability and positive energy into a world of change and disorder," according to a readout from the meeting provided by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Xi also said he appreciated "Russia's adherence to the one-China principle and stressed that Taiwan is a part of China."

The two authoritarian leaders have emerged as close partners in recent years, propelled by growing conflict with the West and a strong personal bond. 

Read more