Live Updates

September 19, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

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02:15

What we covered here

  • The bodies of 146 mostly civilians, including two children, were exhumed from a mass burial site in Izium, according to a local official. Moscow dismissed accusations of war crimes in the eastern city recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces as a “lie.”
  • Russian forces are continuing to launch airstrikes against “civilian infrastructure,” a senior US military official said. One strike hit the industrial site of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in the Mykolaiv region, the plant operator said.
  • Ukraine has shot down 55 Russian aircraft since the start of the war, US and British officials said.
  • A Russian human rights group appealed to the country’s prosecutor general to investigate reports of prisoners being sent to war in Ukraine.
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Our coverage for the day has ended. Follow the latest Ukraine news here or read through the updates below.

US may give Ukraine tanks in the future, senior US military official says

Tanks are “absolutely on the table” for the US to provide to Ukraine in the future, according to a senior US military official, but are not an option for the immediate fight because of issues with training, maintenance and sustainment.

“We’re looking at the entirety of the Ukrainian armed forces and considering for the future what capabilities they will need and how the US and our allies will be able to support Ukraine in building out those capabilities,” said the official on a background call with reporters.

The US is currently not considering providing Ukraine weapons with longer ranges than the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) that are used with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), although the official would not say if such weapons would be on the table in the future.

Russians continue to conduct airstrikes "impacting civilian infrastructure" in Ukraine, US military official says

Russian forces “continue to conduct airstrikes that are impacting civilian infrastructure” in recent days during the ongoing fighting in Ukraine, a senior US military official said Monday.

Most recently, Russian forces struck a “dam near Kryvyi Rih,” and they conducted an airstrike “near a power plant in Mykolaiv,” the official said.

“This disturbing pattern which includes strikes that hit power stations last week continues to show Russian forces’ disregard for civilian life,” the official added. 

Ukrainians “continue to make efforts to consolidate their gains” on the battlefield, “holding the border to the southeast,” the official said.

“In the vicinity of Kherson, we continue to see deliberate and calibrated operations by the Ukrainians, and we have observed Ukrainians continuing to liberate villages in this area,” the official said. 

In the Donbas region, “Ukrainians have continued to effectively defend against continued Russian attacks, although” the US has seen Russian forces “make some minor gains in terms of territory.”

The official specified the Russian gains here were only a “few hundred meters.”

Ukraine has shot down about 55 Russian fighter jets, US Air Force commander says

Ukraine’s air defenses have shot down about 55 Russian fighter jets since the beginning of the war, the US Air Force commander in Europe said Monday, adding that Russia has never been able to establish air superiority over Ukraine.

Russia was well aware of Ukraine’s air defenses, Gen. James Hecker told the Air, Space & Cyber Conference in Washington, DC, but Russia’s initial strikes in late-February failed to destroy those defenses, such as surface-to-air missiles.

As a result, after six months of the war, Russian aircraft rarely fly deep into Ukraine and instead are firing long-range missiles.

“When they tried to take their fighters and their aircraft inside those [Ukrainian] missile engagement zones, they were shot down,” said Hecker. “Roughly about 55 Russian fighters have been shot down by the integrated air and missile defense for the Ukraine.”

On Monday, the British Ministry of Defence said Russia had lost 55 combat jets since the start of the war, including four that were “highly likely” lost in the past 10 days.

Baltic states and Poland begin to enforce ban on some Russian tourists

The Baltic states and Poland will begin turning away Russian tourists as of midnight Monday, a move to tighten restrictions in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania along with Poland reached an agreement earlier this month to limit issuing Schengen Zone visas due to “a serious threat” to security posed by an influx of Russians.

The Schengen zone comprises 26 mostly EU countries that allow unrestricted movement within their borders.

The travel ban means Russian citizens will be unable to enter four out of the five European Union countries that share a land border with Russia. The fifth, Finland, has decided to remain open to visa holders but has reduced the number of consular appointments available for those looking to travel to Europe.

Exempted from the new ban will be Russian dissidents, journalists, truck drivers, refugees as well as residents of EU countries and those visiting family members in Europe.

The rule will also not apply to humanitarian cases, family members, holders of EU residency permits, diplomatic missions and other “legitimate exceptions.”

In a joint statement published on Sept. 8, the prime ministers of the four countries stated that “travel to the European Union is a privilege, not a human right.”

“Among the Russian citizens entering the EU/Schengen area, there are persons coming with the aim of undermining the security of our countries, insofar as three fourths of Russian citizens support Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine,” the statement said.

“Latvia, Poland, Lithuania and Estonia have agreed that measures are adopted on the common grounds of protecting the public policy and internal security, as well as ensuring the overall safety of our shared Schengen area,” the statement noted.

Commenting earlier on the EU decision to suspend a visa agreement with Moscow making it harder for Russian citizens to obtain Schengen visas, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said it was “ridiculous” and would make life more complicated for Europeans as well.

More civilian bodies including 2 children exhumed from Izium mass grave, official says

Workers and forensic police exhume bodies from unidentified makeshift graves at the Pishanske cemetery on Monday, September 19, in Izium, Ukraine.

More bodies of mostly civilians, including two children, were found in the city of Izium in eastern Ukraine, officials said Monday.

Separately, two more bodies were discovered in Bucha, the town on the outskirts of Kyiv that was the scene of mass atrocities at the start of the war, authorities said.

In Izium, 146 bodies of mostly civilians were exhumed from a mass burial site, according to Oleh Synehubov, head of the Kharkiv region civil-military administration.

“Some of the dead have signs of a violent death, and there are bodies with tied hands and traces of torture. The dead also have mine-explosive injuries, shrapnel and stab wounds,” Synehubov said, adding that all of the bodies have been sent for forensic examination to determine the final cause of death.

On Sunday, Izium Mayor Valerii Marchenko said the exhumation of bodies would continue for another two weeks.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said at least 440 “unmarked” graves were found in the city in recent days and on Friday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that some of the bodies showed “signs of torture,” blaming Russia for what he called “cruelty and terrorism.” Russia has dismissed Ukraine’s accusations of war crimes as a “lie.”

In Bucha, volunteers found two more “victims of Russian aggression” in civilian clothing, according to a Facebook post on Monday from the Bucha City Council. The bodies were discovered while volunteers were patrolling the forest around the Warsaw Highway near the Vorzel settlement. 

Some background: Bucha’s name became a byword for war crimes after accounts of summary executions, brutality and indiscriminate shelling emerged in the wake of Russia’s hasty retreat on March 31.

Russia’s presence in Syria has become "more aggressive" since invasion of Ukraine, US Air Force official says

Russia’s presence in Syria has become “more aggressive” both in the air and on the ground since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Lt. Gen Alex Grynkewich, Commander of US Air Force Central Command which oversees the US Air Force presence in the Middle East, said during a panel at the Air & Space Forces Association’s 2022 Air, Space & Cyber Conference in Maryland on Monday.

“The Russian presence in Syria has become I would argue more aggressive since the Ukrainian invasion,” Grynkewich said.

US forces are seeing this “increased pressure both in the air and on the ground from the Russians,” Grynkewich added. 

“Frankly, it’s a bit concerning, where we have forces on the ground and armed Russian aircraft that fly over them,” Grynkewich said. “Your airmen and guardians are in close contact with those Russians every single day, intercepting them, escorting them and making sure our forces on the ground remain safe in Syria and Iraq as they continue the fight against ISIS.”

Grynkewich said he believes this Russian activity is driven by “some of the personalities of the Russian leadership that is in Syria right now.”

“Some of those Russian general officers frankly failed in Ukraine for all the reasons that Gen. Hecker outlined upfront, and now they’re in Syria, and my assessment is they’re trying to make a name for themselves again, and regain a favorable standing within the Russian federation armed forces. I don’t think they’ll succeed, but that’s what they’re trying to do,” Grynkewich added.

Video shows centuries-old Ukrainian monastery damaged by Russian shelling in June in liberated town

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense released video on Monday showing extensive damage and destruction in the town of Sviatohirsk after the area was liberated from Russian forces last week.

The video shows the pockmarked exterior walls of the Sviatohirsk Lavra, a 16th century monastery in the northern part of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, that was damaged by “Russian shelling” in June 2022 according to President Volodymyr Zelensky who spoke at the time.

An unnamed Ukrainian military reporter speaking at the start of the video accuses Russian forces of “burning the relics and killing people seeking shelter inside the monastery compound.”

CNN cannot independently verify the claims made by Ukrainian forces. 

The monastery tower, with a partially demolished corner is shown, as well as military equipment, tanks and armored vehicles abandoned and littering the streets nearby.

Residential buildings were also impacted.

“All of the windows in my house, from top to bottom have been shattered,” an elderly woman says on the verge of tears.

Commercial buildings are also shown as having been substantially damaged in the fighting.

Another resident of the town says his water, electricity and internet were cut off as the Russian troops entered the area. 

Ukrainian forces liberate village in Luhansk region, military official says

A CNN team travelled to Bilohorivka where they saw destroyed Russian tanks and armed personnel carriers, shattered Russian armor. 

The village of Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region is now entirely under Ukrainian control according to a Telegram post from Sehiy Haidai, head of the Luhansk regional military administration on Monday.

Haydai asked Ukrainians to be patient with their operation to free towns and villages in the Luhansk region, saying it is proving to be a “much more difficult” operation than the liberation of Kharkiv. 

“There will be a hard fight for every centimeter of Luhansk land,” Haidai said. 

Earlier in the year, Ukrainian forces stopped Russian advances in Bilohorivka. In May, the Ukrainian military blew up two pontoon bridges near Bilohorivka, stopping Russian efforts to cross the Siverskyi Donets River in the Luhansk region.

A CNN team travelled to Bilohorivka where they saw destroyed Russian tanks and armed personnel carriers, shattered Russian armor.

In July, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Ukrainian soldiers “competently repelled another combat reconnaissance attempt near Berestove and Bilohorivka” and that Russian soldiers suffered losses and withdrew.

US senators expected to get a classified briefing tonight on Ukraine

There will be an all-member classified briefing for United States senators on Ukraine Monday night, according to two Senate aides.

The briefing comes as Ukraine has had some success in its counter-offensive efforts last week against Russia, and the Biden administration announced another $600 million package of military assistance for Ukraine on Friday.

Moscow dismisses accusations of war crimes in northeast Ukraine as a "lie"

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov is seen during a news conference in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September16.

Moscow dismissed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s statement about Russia’s war crimes in the liberated territories in northeast Ukraine as a “lie” accusing Kyiv of using “the same scenario” in Kyiv’s suburb of Bucha.

“This is the same scenario as in Bucha,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday. “This is a lie. Of course, we will defend the truth in this whole story.”

After Russia’s hasty retreat from the Kharkiv region, a mass burial of people was found on the territory of the liberated Izium last week with Ukraine’s Defense Ministry saying at least 440 “unmarked” graves were found in the city in recent days.

Some of the bodies found in Izium showed “signs of torture,” blaming Russia for what he called “cruelty and terrorism,” Zelensky said Friday.

There have been numerous allegations of atrocities committed against civilians since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. In Ukraine’s town of Bucha, investigators and journalists revealed what appeared to be the aftermath left by Russian forces after their retreat. 

Russia dismissed the allegations of killings of civilians in Bucha as a staged provocation. A brigade accused of committing war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha had been awarded an honorary title by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It's 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Russian missile attacks across southern and northeastern Ukraine have damaged a power complex and left multiple people injured, amid an onslaught of shelling from Moscow targeting civilian infrastructure.

The Kremlin has accused the US of engaging in “media madness” after President Joe Biden personally met with the families of two American detainees last week.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Moscow escalates attacks on critical facilities: Russian shelling injured at least two people, including an 11-year-old boy, and damaged infrastructure in the northeastern region of Kharkiv over the past day, according to a local official. Further south in Mykolaiv, a Russian missile attack hit the industrial site of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, nuclear operator Energoatom said on Monday. The attack shut down one of the hydropower units and three high-voltage power lines, but all three nuclear reactors were not damaged, Energoatom added.
  • Zelensky says Kyiv is “preparing for liberation of more cities”: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted there is no “lull” on the frontline, saying that Kyiv’s sweeping counteroffensive is rolling on in “preparation for the next sequence.” Ukrainian forces are working to recapture territories in the south and the east, Zelensky said during his nightly address on Sunday.
  • Russia lashes out at US: Moscow accused the US of engaging in “media madness,” pointing to videos and photos posted by the US embassy criticizing Russia and after President Joe Biden personally met with the families of two American detainees last week. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said “relatives were unable to get a clear explanation” from Biden about Russia’s demands for a prisoner exchange, but said Russia was ready to negotiate.
  • Russian pop legend speaks out against war: Musical legend Alla Pugacheva criticized the country as having “illusory aims” in Ukraine on Sunday. She posted her comments on Instagram while expressing support for her husband, Maxim Galkin, a comedian who was designated a “foreign agent” by Russia’s Justice Ministry on Friday under a draconian law to rid the country of foreign influence and funding.
  • Moscow rebuffs accusations of war crimes: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed Zelensky’s statement about Russian war crimes in recaptured territories in northeast Ukraine as a “lie.” The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said least 440 “unmarked” graves were found in newly liberated Izium in recent days, following Russia’s hasty retreat from the city. Zelensky said that some of the bodies showed “signs of torture,” and blamed Russia for what he called “cruelty and terrorism.”

Russia accuses US of "media madness" after Biden meets with families of jailed Americans

President Joe Biden met with Cherelle Griner, wife of Brittney Griner, at the White House on September 16.

Moscow says it is ready to negotiate the fate of American prisoners in Russia, but has accused the US of engaging in “media madness” after President Joe Biden personally met with the families of two American detainees last week.

Biden held separate meetings with the relatives of professional basketballer Brittney Griner and ex-marine Paul Whelan at the White House on Friday, marking the first time he personally convened them since the two were detained.

“Instead of fulfilling its direct official duties – maintaining contacts with the diplomats of the host country – the US Embassy in Moscow is engaged in some kind of media madness,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Telegram on Monday, pointing to videos and “funny pictures” posted by the US embassy in Moscow, as well as Biden’s meeting.

“Relatives were unable to get a clear explanation from the President of the United States about Russia’s demands for a prisoner exchange,” she said, adding that she learned of the details of the meeting through a CNN report citing Cherelle Griner, Brittney’s wife.

She added that she would have to turn to Whelan and Griner’s relatives herself.

“We have stated many times that we are ready for negotiations to resolve the fate of convicted US citizens in Russia and Russian citizens convicted in the United States.”

“If the US Embassy in Moscow has a minute of free time they will tell President Biden about it, and he, in turn, will tell the relatives of Whelan and Griner,” Zakharova said.

Following Griner’s sentencing in August, the US and Russia indicated they were ready to hold talks over a prisoner swap.

Griner was detained in February, accused of carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist pleaded guilty to drug charges and said she accidentally packed the drugs while in a hurry. She has been sentenced to nine years, along with a fine of around $16,400. Her legal team in Russia has appealed the sentence.

Whelan has been imprisoned in Russia for more than three years after being convicted on espionage charges that he denies. He was sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years in prison in a trial US officials denounced as unfair.

In the meetings, Biden reiterated “his continued commitment to working through all available avenues to bring Brittney and Paul home safely,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement on Friday. “The President appreciated the opportunity to learn more about Brittney and Paul from those who love them most, and acknowledged that every minute they are being held is a minute too long.”

Russian pop legend speaks out against war

Russian pop legend Alla Pugacheva criticized the country as having “illusory aims” in Ukraine on Sunday, becoming the latest high-profile Russian figure to voice opposition to the war.

Her comments came in an Instagram post in which she expressed support for her husband, Maxim Galkin, a comedian who was designated a “foreign agent” by Russia’s Justice Ministry on Friday under a draconian law to rid the country of foreign influence and funding.

In her post, Pugacheva said her husband wished for an end to the death of Russian soldiers, who were “dying for illusory aims that make our country a pariah.”

She said Galkin was a “good real and incorruptible patriot of Russia” who wished for “prosperity” and “freedom of speech,” while she appealed to the ministry to label her a foreign agent as well.

In a call with reporters on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Pugacheva’s post.

Read the full story:

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 22:  Russian singer Alla Pugacheva looks on during a casting session for "the Factor A" a new musical television show on March 22, 2011 in Moscow, Russia.  (Photo by Anton Belitsky/Epsilon/Getty Images)

Russian pop legend speaks out against war in Ukraine | CNN

Russian shelling injures at least two people, including a child, in Kharkiv region

Damaged residential buildings are seen in Saltivka, northern district of Kharkiv on September 18.

Russian shelling has injured at least two people, including a child, in the northeastern region of Kharkiv over the past day, according to a local official.

An 11-year-old boy was injured in Kupiansk and one person was hospitalized with injuries in the Chuhuiv district, the head of the Kharkiv region military administration, Oleh Syniehubov, said on Monday.

Residential buildings, commercial buildings and infrastructure facilities were also damaged by the bombardment, he added.

Six civilians were “blown up” by mines in Kharkiv over the past day, and all of them were hospitalized with injuries, according to Syniehubov.

“In the liberated territories of Kharkiv region, mine danger is very high,” Syniehubov said. “Move only where demining has already been carried out.” 

Some background: Russian forces have escalated attacks on civilian infrastructure in recent weeks amid Kyiv’s sweeping counteroffensive in the eastern and southern regions of the country.

Russian troops carried out a missile attack on the industrial site of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in the southern Mykolaiv region, nuclear operator Energoatom said on Monday. However, all three power units were operating normally.

On Saturday, a thermal power plant located in the eastern Donetsk region came under heavy Russian, damaging equipment on the property and interrupting local water supplies.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenky said last week that large swathes of eastern Ukraine, including the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, were without electricity following “deliberate and cynical missile strikes” from Moscow.

Ukraine says Russia shelled the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant

Broken windows are seen in an industrial area building of the South Ukraine nuclear power plant following a Russian rocket strike close to Yuzhnoukrainsk on Monday.

Russian troops carried out a missile attack on the industrial site of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in the southern Mykolaiv region, but all three power units are operating normally, nuclear operator Energoatom said on Monday.

A “powerful explosion” occurred just 300 meters (984 feet) from the reactors, and the shock wave damaged the power plant buildings, Energoatom said in a statement.

The attack shut down one of the hydropower units of the Oleksandrivska hydroelectric power station, which is part of the South Ukrainian power complex, according to Energoatom. Three high-voltage power lines were down as well.

Russian human rights group asks government why prisoners are being sent to war 

A group of human rights defenders has issued an appeal to the Russian prosecutor general to investigate reports of prisoners being sent to war in Ukraine. 

“Information was widely disseminated (in the show ‘Besogon TV,’ [and] in the show ‘Vesti’ on the ‘Russia-1’ channel ” on Sunday, August 7, 2022) that now throughout Russia there are thousands of prisoners with unserved terms for [committing] various – including serious crimes – who are sent to Ukraine to participate in a special military operation,“ the activists stated in the letter addressed to Russian Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov.

“In connection with the above, we ask you to clarify, on what basis are these persons released from prison, if this information is true?” the appeal asked. 

The appeal also stated that prisoners should only be released before finishing their sentence under certain terms: a pardon from the President, amnesty from the State Duma, or parole by a court decision.

The activists that signed the appeal are associated with the Human Rights Council of St. Petersburg, a Russian NGO which monitors human rights violations.

Some context: CNN has done prior investigative reporting on the increasing evidence that prisoners across Russia have been recruited by the Russian military in exchange for contracts reducing their prison sentence.

20220108-russian-prisoners-fighting-in-ukraine-hero-gfx.jpg

Russia dangles freedom to prisoners if they fight in Ukraine. Many are taking the deadly gamble.

Zelensky says no "lull" on the frontline, just "a preparation for the liberation of more cities"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his nightly address on Sunday.

In his nightly address on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called any perceived slowing of his military’s progress “a preparation for the liberation of more cities.”

“Perhaps it seems to someone now that after a series of victories we have a certain lull. But this is not a lull. This is preparation for the next sequence,” Zelensky said.

“For the next sequence of words that are very important to us all and that definitely must be heard.” 

“The words that must be heard” are the names of liberated cities, according to Zelensky. 

“Izium, Balakliya, Kupyansk and the Kharkiv region in general are the cities and communities that we have liberated. These words are heard now. They are heard everywhere, “he said. 

“Mariupol, Melitopol and Kherson are also heard, but they will sound even more often and louder when we liberate them,” he continued. 

Donetsk, Horlivka and Luhansk – they will be heard as well. Dzhankoy, Yevpatoriya, Yalta – and they will, too. Definitely,” the President concluded.

Analysis: Winter is fast approaching in Ukraine. Here's what comes next for the conflict

Until a few weeks ago, it looked as though the conflict in Ukraine would head into the bitter winter months frozen in place – with neither side making appreciable progress. 

That prognosis has changed with the sudden and successful Ukrainian offensive through most of occupied Kharkiv, which has galvanized Ukraine’s Western backers as much as it has led to recriminations in Moscow. 

The Russian military must now ask itself what sort of force, and where exactly they are deployed, can regain the initiative after Ukraine captured more territory in one week than Russian forces had in five months. 

Ukraine’s stunning counteroffensive across Kharkiv, combined with more attritional advances in the south, has presented the Kremlin and Russia’s much-criticized Defense Ministry with a range of bad options. 

As winter approaches, they must choose which front to prioritize, and whether to double down on efforts to fulfill Putin’s stated objective: the seizure of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Russians currently hold about 20% of Ukrainian land, including Crimea and parts of the south.

There are important political dynamics involved too. The Kremlin faces tough choices: whether to declare a general mobilization to reinvigorate its increasingly ragged units in Ukraine and how to manage a budget deficit – even though it’s sitting on historically high foreign reserves. 

Far beyond the theater of war, Russia must choose how far to weaponize its influence over Europe’s gas supply, as governments prepare to spend big to mitigate the effects of exceptionally tight supply. 

Another potential dilemma: the first signs that Chinese support for the Russian invasion, never whole-hearted, may be waning.

Read more

Ukraine consolidating liberated territories as tense fighting continues in the south

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.

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

A Panama-flagged bulk carrier Ikaria Angel leaves the sea port in Chornomorsk with wheat for Ethiopia on Saturday.

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 grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

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

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

Military and police investigators started the exhumation of a mass grave site in Izium, on Friday.

The exhumation of bodies from a mass burial site in the eastern Ukrainian city of Izium will continue for another two weeks, Mayor Valerii Marchenko said in a video posted on Ukraine’s Parliament broadcaster, Rada TV, on 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 the video.

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 to 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.

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

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

“More than 10 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,” the 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.” 

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 last week. Zelensky said Friday that some of the bodies showed “signs of torture.”