Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
September 17, 2023 Russia-Ukraine war news
By Sophie Tanno, Thom Poole and Elise Hammond, CNN
World leaders are meeting in New York starting Monday for the United Nations General Assembly meetings.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is planning to use an in-person appearance at the annual meeting to appeal for more support for Ukraine as it continues to wage a counteroffensive against Russia.
Aside from an address to the assembly, Zelensky also has plans to hold several meetings with other world leaders in New York, according to people familiar with the plans. After that, the Ukrainian president is set to go to Washington and meet with US President Joe Biden.
Here's what else to know:
- Visit to Washington: After meeting with Biden, Zelensky will visit the US Capitol next Thursday, according to a GOP source familiar, though he will not address a joint session of Congress and is instead expected to meet with senators. It comes as Congress is weighing a White House request for additional aid to Ukraine. Its passage remains in doubt, with the GOP fiercely divided over the issue.
- The goal for Biden: In Zelensky's visit to the White House, the US president is looking to reaffirm "for the world, and for the United States, for the American people his commitment to continuing to lead the world in supporting Ukraine as it defends its independence, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said. Both Zelensky and Biden are scheduled to give remarks to the UN assembly.
- Biden and Zelensky's history: The two leaders met in person on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Lithuania in July. Before that, the men sat for talks in May at the G7 summit in Japan. Despite support from the United States for an appearance at last week’s G20 summit in India, Zelensky wasn’t extended an invitation by the hosts. Zelensky last came to the US in December, his first time leaving Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began.
Other key headlines from the war:
- Counteroffensive near Bakhmut: The Ukrainian president's office has posted a picture on social media of soldiers inside the village of Klishchiivka, southwest of Bakhmut, in an indication Ukraine believes it has recaptured the village from Russian forces. The area has been a focus of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the east throughout the summer.
- Other front-line attacks: Overnight, Russia attacked the northeastern Kharkiv region, including the Kharkiv city and villages, according to the head of the region’s military administration. Twenty villages in southeastern Zaporizhzhia region were also hit by Russian shelling nearly a hundred times, the head of the regional military administration Yurii Malashko said.
- North Korea and Russia: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un concluded his trip to Russia Sunday, Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported. Kim had been in Russia for the last several days. He met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday and, most recently, he inspected warplanes, toured an airfield and visited a Pacific Fleet frigate on Saturday.
- Warning from NATO chief: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that we must "prepare ourselves for a long war" in Ukraine. “The easiest way to end this war would be if Putin withdrew his troops," he said. Stoltenberg also reiterated that it is just a matter of time before Ukraine joins NATO.
Ukraine has recaptured Klishchiivka, a key village in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday.
Zelensky's office posted a picture on social media earlier in the day, indicating Ukraine had liberated this key area that has been critical to Ukraine's counteroffensive in the east.
In the photo, five soldiers are holding flags and posing for the camera in front of a church, geolocated by CNN as the Church of the Intercession in the center of the village.
"[T]oday I would like to especially recognize the warriors who are gradually regaining Ukraine's territory in the area of Bakhmut," Zelensky said during his nightly address.
The area southwest of Bakhmut has been a focus for Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the east throughout the summer, and Zelensky will be keen to highlight this apparent success when he meets with world leaders, among them United States President Joe Biden, on his upcoming trip to the US this week for the United Nations General Assembly.
In a separate video release also filmed in front of the church, one of a group of six soldiers standing together declares the liberation of Klishchiivka has been completed.
The sound of artillery explosions can be heard throughout the short clip, some sounding no more than 500 meters away, which the soldier seems to acknowledge, saying, “the enemy does not give up attempts to re-capture [the village], using all possible means of fire. But we are standing firm and confident.”
The video shows the church has suffered massive damage during months of fighting, including the loss of its green cupola.
The announcement that Klishchiivka had been recaptured came two days after Ukraine’s forces claimed Andriivka, a small hamlet immediately to the south.
With the summer counteroffensive now well into its fourth month, Ukraine has come under increasing pressure to convince key Western partners that Russian forces can be pushed back
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to speak to United States senators during his visit to Capitol Hill on Thursday, a leadership aide said.
The Ukrainian president will give remarks at 10 a.m. ET during an all-Senators meeting. CNN reported last week that Zelensky was not expected to address a joint session of Congress, according to a GOP source familiar.
The visit comes as Congress is weighing a White House request for additional aid to Ukraine, but its passage remains in doubt, with the GOP fiercely divided over the issue. Zelensky addressed a joint session last December, but opposition to Ukraine funding has grown particularly inside the House GOP.
Zelensky will also meet with President Joe Biden at the White House. He last traveled to the United States in December, his first time leaving Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began.
Aside from his trip to Washington, DC, around the United Nations General Assembly meetings, Zelensky plans several meetings with other world leaders in New York, according to people familiar with the plans.
Among his objectives will be trying to persuade nations that haven’t taken a firm stance against the war to be more forceful in their condemnation of Russia.
CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Kevin Liptak and Melanie Zanona contributed reporting to this post.
United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malta over the weekend.
They discussed a range of issues, including the war in Ukraine, according to a statement from the White House.
“The two sides had candid, substantive, and constructive discussions" and have committed to more communication in the future, the statement added.
Some background: Western leaders want China in their corner when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine, but Beijing has not appeared to scale back ties with Russia.
China attended a summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, aimed to find a peaceful solution to the war at the beginning of last month. But after the meetings, China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, called his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov reiterating Beijing’s “impartiality” in the conflict.
The two countries’ militaries have continued joint exercises throughout the war, including a naval patrol off the coast of Alaska in August. Putin is also expected to visit China in October, according to Russian media, after being invited by China’s Xi Jinping in March.
CNN's Luke McGee contributed reporting to this post.
The arrival of US soldiers for a peacekeeper training exercise in Armenia has rankled the Russian government, which has for decades acted as the sole security guarantor for the former Soviet republic. The 10-day “Eagle Partner” exercise, which began Monday, involves 85 US and 175 Armenian soldiers and aims to prepare the Armenians to take part in international peacekeeping missions.
The exercise, while small in scale, is the latest in a series of what Russia’s foreign ministry has deemed “unfriendly actions” taken by its traditional ally.
Armenia recently sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine for the first time, and its parliament is set to ratify the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute — meaning it would be obliged to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he were to set foot in the country, which Russia has long viewed as its own backyard.
Armenia’s flirtation with new international partners has been spurred by its frustration that Russia has been unable or unwilling to defend it against what it sees as aggression from neighboring Azerbaijan, and has raised questions about Russia’s ability to retain its hold on countries and conflicts across the former Soviet empire.
Armenian President Nikol Pashinyan said his country was beginning to taste the “bitter fruits” of the “strategic mistake” of trusting Russia with near-exclusive responsibility for his country’s defense.
“Armenia’s security architecture 99.999% was linked to Russia,” he told Italian newspaper La Repubblica earlier this month. “But today we see that Russia itself is in need of weapons… Even if it wishes so, the Russian Federation cannot meet Armenia’s needs.”
Most recently, a 44-day conflict in the fall of 2020 exposed Armenia’s military inferiority. Azerbaijan, armed with drones and F-16 fighter jets provided by Turkey, won a crushing victory, claiming about a third of the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as attacking Armenia proper.
Russia brokered between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but some analysts attribute Russia’s failure to uphold the terms of the agreement to being distracted by its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un concluded his trip to Russia on Sunday, Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
In a video published by RIA, Kim is seen boarding his personal armored train. Russian officials are seen waving as the train leaves the station.
The train left Artyom station following a farewell ceremony which included red carpet and honor guards, RIA said. The train is expected to travel more than 200 kilometers from Artyom to the border town of Khasan, state media said.
Before he left, the North Korean received a bulletproof vest and a set of drones produced in the region of Primorye as a gift from its local Governor Oleg Kozhemyako, Russian state media TASS reported.
Kim was also presented with five kamikaze drones produced in Primorye, as well as a Geranium-25 aircraft-type reconnaissance drone, TASS reported, adding that a set of special clothing that is invisible to thermal imaging cameras was an additional gift.
Some background: Kim had been in Russia for the last several days. Most recently, he inspected warplanes, toured an airfield and visited a Pacific Fleet frigate on Saturday.
He also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. While exact details remain scant on what sorts of talks have taken place behind closed doors, observers say it’s clear what each is looking for from the other.
Moscow is desperate for fresh supplies of ammunition and shells as its war with Ukraine drags on – and Pyongyang is believed to be sitting on a stockpile.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that we must "prepare ourselves for a long war" in Ukraine, as Kyiv's counteroffensive against Russia continues to make only marginal gains.
“Most wars last longer than is expected when they first start. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves for a long war in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost, published on Sunday.
“We are all wishing for a quick peace. But at the same time, we must recognize: If President Zelensky and the Ukrainians give up the fight, their country would not exist anymore. If President Putin and Russia laid down their weapons, we would have peace,” the NATO chief said.
“The easiest way to end this war would be if Putin withdrew his troops," he added.
Also in the interview, Stoltenberg reiterated that it is just a matter of time before Ukraine joins NATO.
"Ukraine will become a member of NATO – all allies have made that clear," he said, adding that Ukraine will need safety guarantees when the war ends, otherwise "history could repeat itself."
Addressing the idea of a possible nuclear threat by the Russians, Stoltenberg said: “Moscow must understand that the use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable.
"We are observing very closely what the Russian army is doing. Until now we have not noticed any changes to Russia’s nuclear forces that would prompt us to react."
Long battle ahead: His words follow warnings that Ukraine's counteroffensive could run through the winter.
Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine's head of military intelligence, last week acknowledged that even though cold weather was a reality the military cannot ignore, “hostilities will continue, the counteroffensive will continue,” he said.
Russia attacked Ukraine’s border regions overnight using missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and artillery, Ukrainian officials said.
Russia launched cruise missiles and UAV attacks in Ukraine’s southern Odesa region on Sunday, Ukraine’s Air Force wrote on Telegram.
“The primary target of the attack was the south of Odesa region,” the Air Force said. While the Air Force shot down 12 cruise missiles and UAVs, some missiles struck civilian agricultural facilities, the Air Force said.
The airstrike damaged agricultural land and a grain storage facility in Berezivka district of Odesa region, the Ukrainian southern command wrote in Telegram.
No people have been injured, according to the southern command.
Russia also attacked Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region overnight, including the Kharkiv city and villages, the head of region’s military administration Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram.
Russia’s S300 missiles and cruise Iskander missiles struck the city of Kharkiv, injuring six civilians and damaging residential buildings, Syniehubov said.
Twenty villages in southeastern Zaporizhzhia region was attacked by Russia nearly a hundred times, mostly by shelling, the head of regional military administration Yurii Malashko said on Telegram on Sunday. While five residential buildings were damaged, no civilians were injured, Malashko said.