September 19, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Lauren Kent, Ed Upright, Joshua Berlinger, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, September 20, 2023
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9:26 p.m. ET, September 19, 2023

Analysis: Biden acknowledges the old world order needs a refresh in address to the UN

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

President Joe Biden addressed the United Nations Tuesday and urged the world to stand by Ukraine. At times, it felt like he was also imploring the countries to stick with the United Nations.

“If we abandon the core principles of the UN charter to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected?” Biden asked.

While Biden called international institutions created at the end of World War II – the UN, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and others – “an enduring bedrock of our progress,” he also acknowledged the need to reorient them toward a changing world.

He reiterated support for expanding the UN Security Council, although it’s hard to see how countries like Russia, China or the US, for that matter, would give up the permanent veto power that affords them so much power.

Speaking before Biden, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who wants to turn his country into a leader of the southern hemisphere, said the Security Council “has been progressively losing its credibility” precisely because a few countries wield so much power.

“This frailty is the specific result of actions from its permanent members who wage unauthorized wars or regime change. Its paralysis is the most eloquent proof of the urgent need to reform it, which will bring it greater representation and efficacy,” he said.

And by using the words “regime change,” a term more associated with the US, he can’t have been only referring to Russia.

Most of Biden’s address did not actually focus on Ukraine. Instead, he talked about how climate change, inequality and other cross-border issues require the structure of an inclusive international order.

The UN is an organization whose efficacy has been questioned for years; whose influence has waned due to bureaucracy and deadlock; and whose charter was inarguably violated by Russia. But Russia has tried to build support among developing nations.

Read more on Biden's remarks.

8:51 p.m. ET, September 19, 2023

Biden thanks international counterparts for working "to support the world's most vulnerable"

From CNN's DJ Judd

Biden speaks while hosting the United Nations General Assembly leaders' reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, on Tuesday, September 19.
Biden speaks while hosting the United Nations General Assembly leaders' reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, on Tuesday, September 19. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President Joe Biden thanked fellow leaders for their work in addressing global challenges, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in remarks to the United Nations Leader’s Reception at the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Our world stands at an inflection point, and the decisions we make now are going to determine our future for decades to come,” Biden told his international counterparts on Tuesday.

The president made reference to Russia, observing that the world stands poised at a moment where “basic principles like sovereignty, territorial integrity, universal human rights are being tested." He said a member of “the United Nations Security Council has launched a brazen and brutal attack against the people of Ukraine — attacks that go against the very character of the United Nations.”

Amidst those global issues, Biden said “you have worked to support the world's most vulnerable — so tonight, my message is simple, thank you, thank you, thank you — and keep it up.”

8:13 p.m. ET, September 19, 2023

Defeating Russia is the "only guarantee of peace," Polish president tells CNN

From CNN's Caitlin Hu and David Shortell

Western support for Ukraine as it defends against Russia has globally significant consequences, Polish President Andrzej Duda said Tuesday, urging Kyiv’s backers to remain steadfast.

“It is about making sure that Russia is not able legally to forcefully shift the borders in Europe,” Duda told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview from the United Nations headquarters in New York. “This is the guarantee of peace in the future, also for the United States.” 

Poland and Ukraine share a lengthy border, an area where the war resonated fiercely on Tuesday after Russian drones struck warehouses in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

There is no compromise solution, Duda also said — a position shared by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Both leaders took the podium in New York on Tuesday morning, as the United Nations General Debate got underway.

“Russia can be stopped only if it is defeated, and it will be defeated when Ukraine pushes out the Russian army from the occupied territories, thanks to the help of the United States, thanks to the help of the West, and when it regains control over its internationally recognized borders. Only then will we be able to say that Russian imperialism was really defeated,” Duda told Tapper.

Poland has been an ally of Ukraine since the Russian invasion, taking in more than a million Ukrainian refugees and leading the way in urging NATO partners to send more military supplies to Kyiv.

In the spring, Poland became the first NATO country to send fighter jets to Ukraine – months ahead of the US, which only agreed last month to approve the transfer of F-16 fighter jets, pending the completion of training by Ukrainian forces.

Read more on the Polish president's remarks.

8:13 p.m. ET, September 19, 2023

"It's not about politics, it's about these people," Zelensky says on visiting injured Ukrainian soldiers in US

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the main purpose of his visit to the United Nations General Assembly was to support soldiers fighting to defend their country.

"Yesterday, for example, from the airport I went directly to the hospital. It's not about some public meeting. It's not about this, you know — it's not about politics, it's about these people. I saw our guys there without legs, arms, but with their brains. With their eyes. With their hearts. And they are ready to come back. The doctor told me they are ready to come back to Ukraine," Zelensky told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday. "So, that is the reason of my visit."

Zelensky visited Monday with Ukrainian soldiers undergoing rehabilitation at a hospital in Staten Island, New York.

The president said on X, formerly Twitter, that he thanked the soldiers for their service.

CNN's Mariya Knight contributed to this report.

6:50 p.m. ET, September 19, 2023

Zelensky urges Trump to share Ukraine peace plan but says he will not cede territory to Russia

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to CNN's Wolf Blitzer during an interview on Tuesday, September 19, in New York. 
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to CNN's Wolf Blitzer during an interview on Tuesday, September 19, in New York.  CNN

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Donald Trump to share his peace plans publicly if the former US president has a way to end the war between Ukraine and Russia ¸— but he cautioned that any peace plan under which Kyiv gives up territory would be unacceptable.

"So (if) the idea is how to take the part of our territory and to give (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, that is not the peace formula," Zelensky told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, following his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

Trump, during a CNN’s town hall in May, declined to say who should prevail in Russia’s war against Ukraine, instead saying he wanted the bloodshed to end. “And I’ll have that done in 24 hours.”

Pressed Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" about whether the deal would let Putin keep the land he's taken, Trump said, "No, no. I'd make a fair deal for everybody. Nope, I'd make it fair."

Trump, asked at the time whether it would be a win for Putin, said, "You know, that's something that could have been negotiated. Because there were certain parts, Crimea and other parts of the country, that a lot of people expected could happen. You could have made a deal. So they could have made a deal where there's lesser territory right now than Russia's already taken, to be honest."

Zelensky's trip to the United Nations comes as Ukraine is facing its stiffest headwinds in the US to date over support for the war.

A faction of the House GOP conference is openly hostile to providing Ukraine with any additional military aid, and it remains unclear whether House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will be willing to sign off on more funding.

Zelensky said he's planning to meet with McCarthy when he travels to Washington, DC, later this week. He is also scheduled to meet with US President Joe Biden during his trip.

Asked about those skeptical of offering more funding to Ukraine, Zelensky said that it was difficult for those who have not seen war up close to compare domestic problems like civil rights or energy to the existential threat facing a country under attack.

"It's so difficult to understand when you are in war, and when you are not in war," Zelensky said.

6:01 p.m. ET, September 19, 2023

Iran accuses the US of “fanning the flames of violence” in Ukraine

From CNN's Karen Smith

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, September 19.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, September 19. Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi accused the US of “fanning the flames of violence” in Ukraine.

“Any type of fanning the flames of violence in Ukraine has been done by the United States of America in order to weaken the European countries and this is a long-term plan unfortunately,” Raise said in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

“We support any initiative for a cessation of hostilities in the war and we support any political measure," he said. "We fully announce our support for such initiatives.”


5:57 p.m. ET, September 19, 2023

At least 6 civilians killed in Russian missile attack on Kupiansk, local officials say

From CNN’s Mariya Knight and Eyad Kourdi

At least six civilians were killed in a Russian missile attack on Kupiansk, a city in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, according to the local police and Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office.

As a result, a bridge over the Oskil River was destroyed and several cars were damaged, according to Kharkiv regional police.

“On September 19, at about 1 pm local, the enemy attacked the city of Kupiansk with a guided aerial bomb,” Kharkiv regional police said on its Telegram channel on Tuesday. 

The attack took place when "a car with volunteers was crossing the bridge to evacuate civilians," according to the Prosecutor General's Office.

"It was established that four men and two women were killed," the office said.

Kharkiv regional authorities said more than 2,000 people have left the Kupiansk district last week amid the intensified Russian shelling. 

5:51 p.m. ET, September 19, 2023

Zelensky appeals to world leaders at UN General Assembly to unite against Russia. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, September 19, 2023.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, September 19, 2023. Mike Segar/Reuters

In his first in-person appearance at the United Nations General Assembly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on world leaders to unite to defeat Russia.

During his address in New York on Tuesday, Zelensky warned leaders at the UNGA that the goal of Russia with its invasion is "not only about Ukraine."

First, he gave the example of Russia's blockade of the Black Sea ports, which makes it hard for Ukraine to ship its food grains, raising concerns about rising food prices contributing to global hunger.

Then, Zelensky pointed to Russia trying to block gas and oil supply to European countries that were dependent on it, calling it "weaponization of energy."

"Kremlin weaponized oil and gas to weaken the leaders of other countries," he said, adding that "Now, now this threat is even greater."

"It is also turning other country's power plants into real dirty bombs. Look, please, what Russia did to our Zaporizhzhia power plant — shelled it, occupied it and then blackmails others with radiation leaks," he continued.

He went on to say that Russia must be stopped. "We must act united to defeat the aggressor and focus all our capabilities and energy on addressing these challenges. As nukes are restrained, likewise, the aggressor must be restrained," Zelensky said

Here are the latest developments:

  • Biden says US fully supports Ukraine in UN speech: During his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly, US President Joe Biden said supporting Ukraine in its defense against Russia's invasion is "not only investment in Ukraine's future, but in the future of every country" that values the basic UN rules of sovereignty and territorial integrity "that apply equally to all nations" big and small.
  • G7 foreign ministers express concern over Russia and North Korea relationship: At a dinner of the G7 foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday night, “there was great concern in the room about what Russia and (North Korea) might be up to together,” a senior State Department official said Tuesday. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week traveled to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin, and the two held what the Kremlin called “very substantive” discussions.
  • European Commission proposes extension of temporary protection for people fleeing Ukraine: The proposed extension from March 4, 2024, to March 3, 2025, "will provide certainty and support for more than 4 million persons enjoying protection across the EU," the commission said. The EU activated a Temporary Protection Directive in March 2022 and member states unanimously agreed to automatically extend it by one year.
  • US government shutdown could impact military aid to Ukraine: The delivery of military equipment, as well as the ongoing training of Ukrainian forces by the US, "could be impacted by furloughs of personnel and DoD's suspension" of all activities deemed not essential to US national security in the event of a shutdown, Pentagon spokesperson Chris Sherwood said.