September 18, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Matt Meyer, Mike Hayes and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 6:23 PM ET, Sun September 18, 2022
10 Posts
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5:07 p.m. ET, September 18, 2022

Ukrainian forces seize control of river near Kharkiv after Russian retreat, military says

From CNN's Mariya Knight

A view from Kupiansk after the city was regained from Russian forces, in Kharkiv, Ukraine on September 17.
A view from Kupiansk after the city was regained from Russian forces, in Kharkiv, Ukraine on September 17. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukrainian forces crossed the Oskil River in the northeastern Kharkiv region and now control both banks of the river, the country’s military said Sunday.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine crossed the Oskil river. Since yesterday, Ukraine controls the left bank as well," Ukraine's Center for Strategic Communications announced on Telegram. 

The center also posted a video that shows a pontoon bridge over the river and a military vehicle crossing. 

Earlier this month, Kirill Imashev, the military correspondent on the Russian Telegram channel Readovka, said Russian forces had left the city of Kupyansk in Kharkiv region (some 30 miles north of Izium) and retreated across the river to "regroup."

Ukrainian forces fending off attacks: According to the Ukrainian military's General Staff, troops repelled advances by Russians near the river in Kupyansk, as well as seven other settlements on Sunday.

"During the past day, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine repelled enemy attacks in the areas of Kupyansk, Hoptivka, Mykolaivka Druga, Vesela Dolyna, Odradivka, Maryinka, Novomykhailivka and Pravdyne settlements," the Ukrainian military said. 

“During the day, the Russian occupiers launched 3 missile and 11 airstrikes, carried out more than 40 shellings with MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) on objects on the territory of Ukraine,” the Ukrainian military said, adding that “the infrastructure of more than 20 settlements was damaged.” 

On Sunday, Ukrainian air defense forces carried out 20 strikes; 15 of them in “areas of concentration of enemy manpower and strongholds” and four of them hit “positions of anti-aircraft missile systems,” the Ukrainian military added, without specifying the locations on these strikes. 

12:56 p.m. ET, September 18, 2022

Russian shelling leaves Donetsk region power plant on fire, Ukrainian military official says

From CNN's Mariya Knight

A view shows the Sloviansk Thermal Power Plant damaged by a Russian military strike in the village of Mykolaivka, Donetsk region, on September 18.
A view shows the Sloviansk Thermal Power Plant damaged by a Russian military strike in the village of Mykolaivka, Donetsk region, on September 18. (Press service of the Donetsk Regional Military-Civil Administration/Reuters)

A thermal power plant located in the eastern Donetsk region came under heavy Russian shelling Saturday morning, a local official said. 

The shelling took place at the Sloviansk TPP plant, Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk regional military administration, said via Facebook.

“Firefighters are now putting out the fire that started from the shelling,” Kyrylenko wrote. He said equipment on the property was damaged. 

The Ukrainian official added that shelling in the city of Mykolaivka, where the Sloviansk TPP is located, interrupted water supplies in the area. 

“The occupiers are deliberately targeting infrastructure facilities in the region, trying to cause as much damage as possible to primarily the civilian population,” Kyrylenko said. 

12:48 p.m. ET, September 18, 2022

Russian pop legend asks to be named a “foreign agent” in support of her husband

From CNN's Darya Tarasova

Russian pop legend Alla Pugacheva looks on during a casting session for a musical television show on March 22, 2011 in Moscow, Russia.
Russian pop legend Alla Pugacheva looks on during a casting session for a musical television show on March 22, 2011 in Moscow, Russia. (Anton Belitsky/Epsilon/Getty Images)

Russian pop legend Alla Pugacheva criticized the “illusory aims” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an Instagram post Sunday.  

Writing in support of her husband Maxim Galkin, who was recently designated a “foreign agent” by Russia’s Justice Ministry, Pugacheva appealed to the ministry to label her as such, too. 

Pugacheva said Galkin is a “good real and incorruptible patriot of Russia” who wishes for “prosperity,” peace and “freedom of speech.” She added her husband wishes for an end to the death of Russian soldiers who are “dying for illusory aims that make our country a pariah.”

Galkin, who is a comedian, was labeled a foreign agent Friday by Russian authorities.

In an Instagram post the next day, Galkin commented on the label. 

“The rationale for this decision was that I allegedly received funds from Ukraine, funds for which I carried out political activities. Well, first of all, I'm not involved in politics. From the stage at my concerts, I am engaged in a humorous genre, political satire, and I have been doing this for 28 years,” Galkin said.

Galkin and Pugacheva, who have two children together, left Russia for Israel in March, according to multiple Russian and Israeli media reports. According to a social media post from a Russian fashion designer, Pugacheva returned to Russia in August. It is not clear where she is now or where their family permanently resides. 

Galkin has been an outspoken critic on social media of what Russia calls it “special military operation” in Ukraine.

In early September, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Galkin had made “very bad statements” about Russia and that he is “clearly not on the same path as us,” according to Russian state media.

Peskov said at the time that he had not heard a single anti-Russian statement from Galkin’s wife Pugacheva and noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the singer are “familiar and have met more than once.” 

Pugacheva — up until her Instagram post on Sunday — has largely remained silent on Russia’s war in Ukraine.

11:43 a.m. ET, September 18, 2022

Biden: There's been "no indication" that China sent weapons or aid to Russians in Ukraine "thus far"

From CNN's Allie Malloy

(CBS)
(CBS)

In a new clip of his "60 Minutes" interview, US President Joe Biden shared more details on his conversations last winter with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the “gigantic mistake" it would be if China assisted Russia in its war on Ukraine. 

Biden added that “thus far” there’s been “no indication” that China has put forward weapons or “other things Russia has wanted” to aid in their war in Ukraine.

The President was about to add to his sentence when he stopped himself, saying: “Well, maybe I shouldn’t say any more.” 

CBS’ Scott Pelly implored Biden to go on — but Biden answered a decisive no. 

“I called President Xi. Not to threaten at all, just to say to him, we’ve met many times. And I said that, 'if you think that Americans and others are going to continue to invest in China based on your violating the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia, I think you’re making a gigantic mistake. But that’s your decision to make,'” Biden said, referencing a video call he had with Xi following the Beijing Olympics, which Xi invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend. 

CNN has previously reported that Biden used that 110-minute video call in March to dissuade Xi from assisting Russia in its war on Ukraine. 

11:53 a.m. ET, September 18, 2022

Ukraine consolidating territory in the east, tense fighting continues in the south

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan

Ukrainian defenses continue to consolidate liberated territories in the eastern part of the country as Russian forces regroup, the Ukrainian military said Sunday.

“The enemy is regrouping troops in separate directions, looking for ways to pull up reserves, and conducting aerial reconnaissance. Inspections are being intensified in the occupied settlements,” the military's Operational South Command said via Facebook.

Officials describe the situation in the southern Kherson region as “tense” and a regional military official said the humanitarian situation in liberated settlements is difficult.

“The Ukrainian police, humanitarian aid (water, food) enter the de-occupied settlements. The primary tasks are providing people with water, electricity, firewood and building materials,” Serhii Khlan, a Ukrainian military advisor, said on national TV Sunday.

A clash in Kherson: Russian security forces clashed with "a group of armed men" in occupied Kherson Saturday, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.

TASS did not provide details about the identity of the "armed men" or how many of them were in the group.

Ukraine’s South Operational Command described the shooting as a provocation by the Russians, saying “they pass it off as counter-subversive measures, trying to accuse the Armed Forces of Ukraine of mindless street fighting among the civilian population.” 

The operational command also claimed that Russian forces “are shelling the houses of civilians, objects of civil and critical infrastructure,” in the Kherson region.

Elsewhere in the southern part of the country, explosions were heard in Melitopol, according to the city’s mayor.

“For the third day, explosions are heard in the city. Yesterday morning and afternoon, warehouses with ammunition and enemy military equipment, located on the shore of the Molochny estuary, exploded. Some time ago, the Russians removed their equipment from the city of Melitopol and placed it right on the shore of the estuary,” Mayor Ivan Fedorov said on Ukraine’s national TV.

10:06 a.m. ET, September 18, 2022

A total of 165 ships have left Ukrainian ports under UN-brokered grain deal

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan

A total of 165 ships have left Ukrainian ports since the implementation of the Ukraine grain deal, the country’s Infrastructure Ministry said Sunday via Facebook.

“On September 18, ten ships with 169.3 thousand tons of agricultural products for the countries of Africa, Asia and Europe are scheduled to depart from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhnyi," the ministry said.

The deal, adopted by Ukraine and Russia in July, allowed the resumption of vital gran exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

This major diplomatic breakthrough, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, aimed at easing a global food crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine.

 

9:08 a.m. ET, September 18, 2022

Exhumation of bodies in Izium will continue for another two weeks, the mayor says

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan and Darya Tarasova

Individual graves are seen throughout the site, some with names and numbers handwritten on the wooden crosses. One grave CNN saw had the number as high as 398.
Individual graves are seen throughout the site, some with names and numbers handwritten on the wooden crosses. One grave CNN saw had the number as high as 398. (Natalie Gallon/CNN)

The exhumation of bodies from a mass burial site in the eastern Ukrainian city of Izium will continue for another two weeks, a local official said in an update Sunday.

Mayor Valerii Marchenko said in a video posted on Ukraine’s Parliament broadcaster Rada TV Sunday. 

Ukraine's Defense Ministry said at least 440 "unmarked" graves were found in the city in recent days. The country's President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that some of the bodies found in Izium showed "signs of torture," blaming Russia for what he called "cruelty and terrorism."

“The exhumation of the bodies will continue for another two weeks. No new burial sites have yet been found in Izium, but there is information that they exist, the search is ongoing,” Mayor Valerii Marchenko said in a video posted on Ukraine’s Parliament's broadcaster Rada TV Sunday.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry said at least 440 "unmarked" graves were found in the city in recent days. The country's President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that some of the bodies found in Izium showed "signs of torture," blaming Russia for what he called "cruelty and terrorism."

The city, which sits near the border between the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, was under Russian occupation for over five months and became an important hub for the invading military. Moscow was using Izium as a launching pad for attacks southward into the Donetsk region and Kupyansk, some 30 miles to the north of Izium, as a rail hub to resupply its forces.

“Many people who have left the city are now reporting missing relatives. As of today, Izium has 11,000 - 15,000 residents. People are beginning to return to the city. I think that in a month or so there will be up to 30,000 residents. Not everyone will return because many houses have been destroyed. Currently, there is no power or gas supply in the city. The electricity will be provided no earlier than in two weeks. Gas supply restoration in multi-apartment buildings is a problem because gas networks have been affected. We will probably be able to restore the gas supply in private houses only,” Marchenko said.

8:12 a.m. ET, September 18, 2022

More than 10 "torture rooms" found in reclaimed areas of northeast Ukraine, Zelensky says

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Michelle Velez

Forensic experts collect the pieces of evidence at the District Police Department used by Russian forces for torture in Balakliia, Ukraine in the Kharkiv Region on September 13. 
Forensic experts collect the pieces of evidence at the District Police Department used by Russian forces for torture in Balakliia, Ukraine in the Kharkiv Region on September 13.  (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

Troops found so-called "torture rooms" and devices used by Russian forces in reclaimed portions of the northeastern Kharkiv region, Ukraine's President Volodymr Zelensky claimed in his nightly address Saturday. 

"More than ten torture rooms have already been found in the liberated areas of Kharkiv region -- in various cities and towns," Zelensky said. "As the occupiers fled, they also dropped the torture devices."  
"Even at the regular Kozacha Lopan railway station, they found a room for torture, found tools for electric torture," he added. 

Earlier on Saturday, the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office made similar claims.

"The Russian army tortured people in the cellar of the so-called 'people's militia' in the town of Kozacha Lopan when it was under siege," Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office stated in a social media post.

"Representatives of the Russian Federation created a pseudo-law enforcement agency, in the basement of which a torture chamber was set up, where civilians were subjected to inhuman torture," the post continued. "During the inspection, documents confirming the functioning of the pseudo-police department and the device with which the occupiers tortured civilians with electric shock were seized." 

The Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office also provided pictures of the "torture rooms" and a "device with which the occupiers tortured civilians."

CNN has reached out to the Russian government and Russian Foreign Ministry for comment, and they have yet to respond. 

Horrors of war: The reports from Kharkiv follow the discovery of a mass burial site in the eastern city of Izium this week. Zelensky said Friday that some of the bodies showed "signs of torture."

8:54 a.m. ET, September 18, 2022

Russian attacks damaged at least 30 areas of Ukraine Saturday, military says

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Smoke rises near the city of Kupiansk, Ukraine in the Kharkiv region on September 17.
Smoke rises near the city of Kupiansk, Ukraine in the Kharkiv region on September 17. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)

The infrastructure of at least 30 areas across the country was damaged due to Russian attacks on Saturday, according to the Ukrainian military. 

"The enemy struck military and civilian facilities on the territory of Ukraine four times with missiles, 15 times with aviation and more than 20 times with multiple-launch rocket systems," Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesperson of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine spokesman, said in a video briefing.

Shtupun said most areas affected by Russian attacks were Kharkiv, Siversk, Druzhkivka, Kostiantynivka, New York, Marinka, Krasnohorivka, Poltavka, Kryvyi Rih, Zaporizhzhia, Nikopol, Orikhiv, Myrolyubivka and Ochakiv.

At the same time, Ukrainian aviation struck 10 areas "of concentration of enemy manpower and equipment and three positions of anti-aircraft missile systems," Shtupun added.