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September 22, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

Graphic shows rate of people fleeing Russia after news of Putin's partial mobilization
02:34

What we covered

  • More than 1,300 people were detained across Russia in a crackdown on anti-war protests, according to a monitoring group, after President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization.”
  • Demand for flights out of Russia sharply increased following the order.
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the UN that Russia has “shredded” international order and called on the world not to let Putin “get away with it.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attacked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with a series of dismissive insults.
  • Voting on whether to join Russia will begin Friday in occupied parts of Ukraine. Both Ukraine and its Western allies have condemned the referendums as a sham.
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Our coverage for the day has ended. Follow the latest Ukraine news here or read through the updates below.

Analysis: Reports of Putin's problems are mounting

The reports out of Russia suggest a military and a leader in desperate need:

As world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York and condemned him, Russian President Vladimir Putin was back home, scrambling to refill his depleted war machine.

His foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was notably absent as the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a blistering soliloquy to the UN Security Council, documenting what he referred to as Russia’s war crimes since February.

“If Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends,” Blinken said, pledging the US would maintain its growing support for Ukraine.

While the news out of Russia seems very bad for Putin and the news out of Ukraine suggests the Ukrainian military continues to outperform all expectations, it is still hard to fathom a change of leadership there.

He is entrenched, as we have written here before, until the government turns on him.

The same is not true in democracies, where leaders come and go. So it is worth also monitoring another geopolitical story out of the UN meeting in New York that may ultimately be one of the fragility of Western democracies.

In an exclusive US interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of this crisis.

“I think we have [a] big crisis of democracies, of what I would call liberal democracies. Let’s be clear about that. Why? First, because being open societies and being open and very cooperative democracies put pressure on your people. It could destabilize them,” Macron said.

For more on this analysis, click here:

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Sochi on September 29, 2021. (Photo by Vladimir SMIRNOV / POOL / AFP) (Photo by VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Reports of Putin's problems are mounting | CNN Politics

It's nighttime in Kyiv. Catch up here on the latest headlines

Riot police detain a demonstrator during an anti-war protest in Moscow, Russia on September 21.

More details emerged about the referendums in the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine — derided by the Kyiv government and its allies as a sham — while there was heated verbal sparring at a session of the United Nations Security Council.

If you’re just joining us, here’s what you need to know about Thursday’s developments on Russia’s war in Ukraine.

  • Voting starts soon on Russia-backed referendums: Starting Friday, residents will be asked whether they want to join Russia in four occupied regions of Ukraine. The referendums take place over five days through Sept. 27, and in Donetsk and Kherson regions, in-person voting will only occur on the last day.
  • Ukraine and the West say the votes are a sham: Ukraine, US diplomats and NATO leaders all denounced the plans to hold referendums and vowed not to recognize the results. Observers said it’s unlikely such a rushed process, in areas where many voters live close to the frontlines, can be successful or fair.
  • Partial mobilization underway in Russia: Social media videos showed the first phase of Russia’s “partial mobilization” with groups of men awaiting transportation to join the offensive. Elsewhere, there was evidence that some Russians want to avoid the mobilization as long lines of traffic were spotted at some land borders and there was a sharp uptick in demand for flights out of Russia.
  • Diplomats exchanged bitter words at the UN meeting: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia has “shredded” international order and called on the world not to let Putin “get away with it.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attacked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with a series of dismissive insults, referring to him at one point as “a son of a b*tch.”
  • Anti-war protesters were arrested and even conscripted in Russia: At least 1,300 people were detained across Russia on Wednesday for participating in nationwide anti-war protests – with some directly conscripted into the military, according to a monitoring group.

Foreign ministers discuss special tribunal to punish Russia for atrocities in Ukraine

In a meeting moderated by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, foreign ministers of Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Ukraine on Thursday discussed allegations of atrocities committed in the conflict in Ukraine and the possible establishment of a special international tribunal to judge the crime of aggression.

“Russia has to pay,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said during the event, which was held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

He called for the establishment of a special tribunal, echoing a call made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last night. 

“We continue to believe that justice must be served in a way that will not leave space for impunity for the crime of aggression,” Kuleba said.

Clooney, who is advising Kyiv on finding accountability for Ukrainian victims, called for world leaders to help Ukrainians rebuild by supporting a draft UN resolution to establish a framework for a compensation commission. 

“Ukraine may need up to $1 trillion to repair the damage. Documenting losses should start now,” she said.

A compensation fund proposed by Ukraine would draw on Russian assets abroad that had been seized and appropriated by foreign governments, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Justice Iryna Mudra, who was also in attendance.

Several other foreign ministers were in the audience and took the podium to voice support for Ukraine, including representatives from the UK, Poland, Canada and Estonia.

Zelensky encourages Russians to protest against Putin's "partial mobilization" order 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday called on Russians to protest against the “partial mobilization” ordered this week by Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

In his daily video address to Ukraine, Zelensky said that thousands of Russian soldiers have already died in the nearly seven-month-old war.

“Tens of thousands are wounded and maimed. Want more? No? Then protest. Fight back. Run away. Or surrender to Ukrainian captivity. These are options for you to survive,” Zelensky said.

Between 70,000 and 80,000 Russians have been killed or wounded during the war in Ukraine, according to an August estimate from the Pentagon.

Addressing the ongoing anti-war protests across Russia, the Ukrainian leader said, “(Russian people) understand that they have been cheated.”  

The protests in Russia are an indicator of the mood among the public in the country, he said.  

“You are already accomplices in all these crimes, murders and torture of Ukrainians. Because you were silent,” Zelensky said, addressing the Russian people.  

“For men in Russia, this is a choice to die or live, to become a cripple or to preserve health. For women in Russia, the choice is to lose their husbands, sons, grandchildren forever, or still try to protect them from death, from war, from one person,” Zelensky said. 

Bipartisan group of US lawmakers asked Pentagon to send advanced drones to Ukraine, letter shows

A bipartisan group of lawmakers asked the Pentagon to send advanced drones to Ukraine in a letter sent to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Sept. 21 and obtained by CNN.

“Ukraine could better confront Russian threats” with advanced Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, “like the MQ-1C Gray Eagle or the MQ-9A Reaper,” a group of 17 bipartisan lawmakers wrote in the letter to Austin.

“These advanced UAS systems, which could be staged far from the war’s front lines, would provide the continuous surveillance and long-range precision tracking and targeting needed to counter Russian rockets and missiles,” the lawmakers wrote. 

Lawmakers stressed in the letter that it is important to complete the assessment of whether to send MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones “in a timely manner.”

“While important, thorough risk assessment and mitigation should not come at the expense of Ukrainian lives,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the letter. 

The Pentagon is aware of Ukraine’s request for MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon Thursday.

“We are aware that Ukrainians have asked for Gray Eagles, or have an interest in Gray Eagles, no decisions have been made in that regard,” Ryder said.

The US has, throughout the conflict, given Ukraine other weapons that include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities like Puma drones, ScanEagle drones, Switchblade drones and Phoenix Ghost drones, Ryder said. 

“We continue to maintain a robust dialogue with Ukraine and the international community about what we, the international community, can do to support Ukraine, but that’s where we’re at, at this point,” Ryder added.

Ukrainian foreign minister calls out Russia's Lavrov for insulting Zelensky with inappropriate slang at UN

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba attends a UN Security Council meeting on the situation amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba blasted Russia’s top diplomat on Thursday for “inappropriate slang” after he called Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky “a son of a b*tch.”

Although Kuleba didn’t directly mention anyone by name, his comments came after his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, spoke at a UN Security Council meeting. In his speech, Lavrov attacked the Ukrainian president with a series of dismissive insults while making outlandish claims about who was responsible for the war in Ukraine. 

In response, Kuleba described Russia as shameless. “Russian diplomats are directly complicit because their lies incite these crimes and cover them up,” he said.

He added, “The Russians are confident that they can get away with anything and they are entitled to do anything they want.

“They think it allows them to shell nuclear power plants and seize them. They think it allows them to unleash missile terror on civilians and critical infrastructure. They think it allows them to threaten the world with the use of nuclear weapons,” Kuleba said, adding “They must be held accountable for all of this.”  

Kuleba said Ukraine was not worried about any increase in Russian troop numbers following a partial mobilization this week. 

“Putin announced mobilization but what he really announced before the whole world was his defeat. You can draft 300 or 500,000 people, but you will never win this war.” 

Kuleba urged UN member states to help his country fight Russian aggression and win justice by holding Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine, echoing remarks Wednesday by Zelensky in his UN address.

NATO condemns "sham" referendums in Ukraine and says alliance will never recognize them

Vehicles drive past advertising boards, including panels displaying pro-Russian slogans, in a street in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Luhansk, Ukraine on September 20.

NATO on Thursday condemned plans to hold referendums in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, calling them a “sham” that the alliance will not recognize.  

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the plan to hold so-called ‘referenda’ on joining the Russian Federation in the Ukrainian regions partly controlled by the Russian military,” the North Atlanta Council, NATO’s principle decision-making body, said in a statement.  

The referendums were called suddenly at the beginning of this week by pro-Russian officials in occupied regions of Ukraine. They will ask the people of the occupied areas whether they wish to join the Russian Federation.  

“Allies do not and will never recognize Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. Sham referenda in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions of Ukraine have no legitimacy and will be a blatant violation of the UN Charter. NATO Allies will not recognize their illegal and illegitimate annexation,” the council said.  

“These lands are Ukraine. We call on all states to reject Russia’s blatant attempts at territorial conquest,” according to the statement.

The council also accused Russia of escalating its “illegal war” by ordering what Russian President Vladimir Putin called a “partial mobilization” of its military.

“We continue to reject Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric,” it added, referring to Putin’s speech on Wednesday in which he threatened the use of nuclear weapons and warned he was “not bluffing.” 

“NATO Allies remain resolute in providing political and practical support to Ukraine as it continues to defend itself against Russia’s aggression,” the council said.  

Aid to Ukraine will not be affected by Putin's nuclear rhetoric, US Defense Department says

Pentagon spokesman U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder speaks during a media briefing at the Pentagon, Thursday, September 22.

The Defense Department said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric threatening the possible use of a nuclear weapon would not affect the aid the US is providing to Ukraine.

“In terms of the statements or the announcements coming out of Russia, it does not affect the department’s commitment to continue working with our international partners and our allies on providing Ukraine with the support that it needs in their fight to defend their country,” said Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder at a briefing.

Putin on Wednesday spoke about the possibility of using nuclear weapons. “The territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence and freedom will be ensured, I will emphasize this again, with all the means at our disposal. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction,” he said.

Ryder said that Putin’s threats would not affect discussions on the kinds of lethal aid the US would provide.

“We will continue to have those conversations and we’ll continue to think through not only what they need in the medium to long term, but also what they need now,” said Ryder. “So I don’t see those conversations being impacted by this situation.”

Voting begins Friday in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine on referendums widely considered shams by West

Voting begins Friday in referendums called in four regions of Ukraine that are occupied by Russian forces and their militia allies. 

The votes take place over five days through Sept. 27, and in Donetsk and Kherson regions, in-person voting will only take place on the last day. 

Observers say it seems unlikely that such a rushed process, in areas where many voters live close to the front lines of the conflict, can be successful or fair. Additionally, because of widespread internal displacement since the beginning of the conflict, voting databases are likely out of date. In Kherson, for example, Ukrainian officials have said that about half the pre-war population have left.

The plans have been condemned by both the government of Ukraine and its allies in the West as “illegitimate” and “a sham.” The European Union has said it won’t recognize the results and has indicated it is preparing a new package of sanctions against Russia. 

In Donetsk, the question will only be presented in Russian. The chair of the People’s Council — an unelected body — in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, Vladimir Bidyovka, called Russian is the “state language.”

The questions on the ballot vary slightly depending on the region. 

  • In the Donetsk People’s Republic, the question will be: “Are you in favor of joining of the DPR to the Russian Federation on the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation?” The self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic uses the same phrasing.
  • In Kherson, the question will be: “Are you in favor of the secession of the Kherson region from state of Ukraine, the formation of an independent state by the Kherson region and its joining the Russian Federation as a subject of the Russian Federation?” In occupied Kherson, Marina Zakharova — who chairs the election commission — said about 750,000 are expected to vote.
  • And in occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia, the question is in both Russian and Ukrainian, and it reads: “Do you vote FOR the secession of Zaporizhzhia Oblast from Ukraine, the formation of Zaporizhzhia Oblast as an independent state and its accession to the Russian Federation as a sub-entity of the Russian Federation?”

The Central Election Commission of Russia said it will take part in monitoring the referendums in all four areas.

In both Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions, local authorities have urged people to vote from home, saying that ballot boxes can be brought to them. A video from the Luhansk election commission says, “You can vote directly from home! From 23 to 27 September you can vote at home.”

Ahead of the votes, pro-Russian authorities are trying to enthuse voters. Russian state news agency RIA Novosti showed a poster being distributed in Luhansk, which read “Russia is the future.” 

“We are united by a 1,000-year history,” it says. “For centuries, we were part of the same great country. The break-up of the state was a huge political disaster. … It’s time to restore historical justice.”

Partial mobilization is underway in Russia. Here is a snapshot of the tearful goodbyes.

Social media videos show the first phase of Russia’s partial mobilization getting underway in several Russian regions, especially in the Caucasus and the Russian Far East.

Telegram videos showed one newly mobilized group of men awaiting transport, purportedly in Amginskiy Uliss in the region of Yakutiya, a vast Siberian territory — where the caption on one video read, “50 mobilized guys are going to the special operation zone.”

Another shows a group of about 100 newly mobilized soldiers waiting at Magadan Airport in the Russian Far East, next to a transport aircraft. The group receives instructions on no smoking and other rules inside the plane and are warned that it will be cold inside the aircraft and that there are no toilets on board.

Still in the Russian Far East, in the city of Neryungri, a community video channel posted video of families saying goodbye to a large group of men, as they board buses. The video shows a woman crying and hugging her husband goodbye, while he reaches for his daughter’s hand from the bus window.

Neryungri is six time zones east of Ukraine.

CNN has not been able independently to geolocate or date all the videos posted. 

The republic of Buryatia has already supplied hundreds of volunteers to the conflict in Ukraine. The central Asian region may be about to send many more. According to a community Telegram channel called The People of Baikal, “they might mobilize up to 6-7 thousand people in Buryatia. The authorities do not name the exact number.”

“Buses with mobilized people are arriving in Ulan-Ude [Buryatia’s capital] in the morning. The men are taken to the assembly point of the Military Commissariat…,” it said.

The channel, which has just under 5,000 subscribers, describes itself as independent. It quotes a local official as saying, “we were given a verbal order to raise the mobilized from their beds, put them in cars and immediately bring them to the military registration and enlistment office.”

It’s not possible to verify the channel’s reporting. 

In Dagestan in the Caucasus, a furious argument broke out at one enlistment office, according to one video. A woman said her son had been fighting since February. Told by a man that she should not have sent him, she replied, ” Your grandfather fought so that you could live,” to which the man responded: “Back then it was war, right now it is politics.”

Much nearer the Ukrainian border, a crowd was gathered near the city of Belgorod to see off a batch of newly mobilized men. As they get on a bus, a boy shouts out, “Bye, Daddy!” and starts crying.

Other moves are underway to increase the flow of troops.

The Human Rights Council of Russia has proposed that immigrants from central Asian countries who have had Russian citizenship for less than 10 years will undergo compulsory military service in Russia for a year, according to the Russian news agency TASS.

Ukraine among countries formally invited to first meeting of new European nations' club 

Ukraine and the United Kingdom — as well other European countries — have been formally invited to attend the first meeting of the “European Political Community” in the Czech capital Prague on Oct. 6, a senior European Union official told journalists in Brussels Thursday.   

“The European Political Community constitutes a platform for political coordination for European countries across the continent,” the senior official said. 

The aim of the high-level meeting is to foster “political dialogue and cooperation to address issues of common interest so as to strengthen the security, stability and prosperity of the European continent,” the official said. 

At the summit, a series of roundtable discussions are planned to cover “peace and security, energy and climate, the economic situation, migration and mobility.” 

All of the EU’s 27 member states and the European Free Trade Association countries of Norway, Lichtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland have been invited, alongside neighboring non-EU countries, including Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine and the UK. 

The EPC will not replace current institutions and doesn’t plan to create new ones for now, the official added. 

Russian foreign minister dismisses Western condemnation and blames Ukraine for the war

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the conflict in Ukraine on September 22.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday dismissed Western condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, instead accusing Ukraine of being the country violating international law.

Speaking to the United Nations Security Council session on Ukraine, Lavrov claimed Ukrainian forces made “illegal” attacks on the “peaceful citizens of Donbas.”

He also accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the “Kyiv regime” of “racist” and “anti-Russian” motivated aggression.

Lavrov claimed Zelensky made “Russo-phobic” comments in an August interview and that they motivated people living in Russian occupied areas of Ukraine to hold referendums on the prospect of joining Russia.

“I think the decisions that have been adopted by a whole range of the regions of Ukraine about conducting referendums are the result of his [Zelensky’s] comments,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov also condemned the “cynical” way Western nations are supplying weapons to Ukraine and said the “policy means the direct involvement of the West in the conflict and makes them a party to the conflict.”  

In his speech, Lavrov claimed the West was primarily motivated to supplying weapons to Ukraine in order to “drag out the fighting as long as possible in spite of the victims and destruction in order to wear down and weaken Russia.” 

Lavrov ended his speech by dismissing the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court, “We have no confidence in the work of his body,” he said, adding, “and we don’t expect anything more from this institution or a whole range of other international institutions.” 

“Everything I’ve said today simply confirms that the decision to conduct the ‘special military operation’ was inevitable,” Lavrov added.

Some context on those referendums: This week, Russian-appointed leaders in the occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia and the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic all said they planned to hold “votes” beginning Friday.

The expected referendums run counter to international law upholding Ukraine’s sovereignty. Ukrainian officials dismissed the announcement as a “sham” stemming from the “fear of defeat.”

US ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink echoed that sentiment on Twitter Wednesday.

US official criticizes Russian foreign minister for short stay during UN meeting about Ukraine

A US official criticized Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for only being at the United Nations Security Council meeting on Ukraine for a short time and skipping the Russian criticism from Western diplomats.

“Lavrov apparently couldn’t bear to hear the clear and repeated messages of condemnation of Russia’s war against Ukraine. He walked into the chamber just before his speaking slot and left shortly after,” the US official said. 

The official said it was a sign of Russian weakness. 

“It’s another sign of weakness and a testament to the fact that Russians recognize they are increasingly isolated on the world stage,” the official said.

CNN has reached out to Russian officials to explain why Lavrov was only in the chamber for his own remarks.

Finnish prime minister says country ready to take action to put "an end" to Russian tourism 

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin attends a press conference in Kongens Lyngby, outside of Copenhagen, Denmark on August 30.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin told parliament Thursday that her government is ready to take action to put “an end” to Russian tourism and transit through Finland, according to Finnish public broadcaster Yle. 

“We have to put an end to Russian travel and tourism, how to do this is a more complicated question,” Marin told reporters after the parliament session, Yle reported. 

“The assessment has to be done very quickly,” Marin said. 

This comes as traffic on Finland’s eastern border with Russia intensified overnight on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization.”

Social media video from Russia’s land borders with several countries shows long lines of traffic trying to leave the country. 

“If the security situation at border crossings is assessed to have deteriorated, new solutions are possible to limit visas, for example restricting border crossings from Russia to Finland,” Marin said, according to Yle. 

Family visits will still be allowed under any new restrictions, the broadcaster reported. 

China refuses to place blame on war in Ukraine and calls for "neutrality" in war crimes probe

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at the UN Security Council meeting on September 22.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke more vaguely than his counterparts at the United Nations Security Council Thursday, calling for “neutrality” from UN agencies and adding that any investigation into war crimes in Ukraine be “based on facts, not assumption of guilt.”

He laid out several proposals, calling for Russia and Ukraine to commit to “dialogue without preconditions,” and for all parties to prevent attacks on civilians and civilian facilities (an accusation levied by Russia, as well as by Ukraine and the West).

Wang Yi also said that China supports the International Atomic Energy Agency amid concerns over nuclear posturing in the conflict and over the safety of the Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

“There is no room for trial and error” when it comes to nuclear issues, he said.

Some context: In recent months, China has offered Russia tacit support and stepped up economic assistance to its neighbor, boosting bilateral trade to a record high.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin conceded last week that Beijing had “questions and concerns” over the invasion, in what appeared to be a veiled admission of their diverging views on the military assault.

Blinken says Russia "shredded" international order and the world "can't let President Putin get away with it"

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during the UN Security Council meeting amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine on September 22.

At a United Nations Security Council meeting Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “the very international order we’ve gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes” by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The world “can’t let President (Vladimir) Putin get away with it,” Blinken told his fellow diplomats.

His remarks came amid a week of escalatory actions by Moscow, including the mobilization of tens of thousands of troops and planned “sham referenda” in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.

“That President Putin picked this week, as most of the world gathers at the United Nations, to add fuel to the fire he started shows his utter contempt and disdain for the UN Charter, the UN General Assembly, and this Council,” Blinken said.

“President Putin is making his choice. Now it’s up to all of our countries to make ours. Tell President Putin to stop the horror he started,” Blinken continued. “Tell him to stop putting his interests above the interests of the rest of the world, including his own people. Tell him to stop debasing this Council and everything it stands for.”

Blinken said the areas of Ukraine that were occupied by Russia offered a view into that “less peaceful world,” noting, “wherever the Russian tide recedes, we’ve discovered the horror that’s left in its wake” — Bucha, Irpin, Izyum, where mass graves have been discovered, survivors have recounted acts of torture.

The top US diplomat called on Russia to cease its nuclear saber rattling, calling Putin’s threat to use “all weapon systems available” to Russia “all the more menacing given Russia’s intention to annex large swaths of Ukraine in the days ahead.”

Blinken also stressed the impact the war was having globally on food security, and called out Russian disinformation on WHO-approved vaccine effectiveness.

Lavrov arrives to Security Council meeting about Ukraine nearly 1.5 hours after it started

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrives to the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine on September 22.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov walked into the UN Security Council meeting at approximately 11:30 a.m. ET and took his seat at the table, nearly 1.5 hours late.

The council is discussing the maintenance of peace and security in Ukraine.

"The echoes of Nuremberg should be heard today," ICC prosecutor for Ukraine tells UN Security Council 

The bodies of civilians killed by russian soldiers were found near the village of Myrotske in Bucha, Ukraine on June 13.

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan on Thursday said that he believes alleged war crimes have been committed in Ukraine after he visited the country three times to investigate the war.

“One has seen a variety of destruction of suffering, and that fortifies my determination. And my previous finding that there are reasonable grounds to believe the crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed,” Khan said to members of the United Nations Security Council during their meeting Thursday.

During his update to the Security Council, Khan spoke candidly of the brutal horrors he had seen in Ukraine.

“When I went to Bucha and went behind St. Andrew’s Church, the bodies I saw were not fake. When I walked the streets of Borodyanka, the destruction that I saw of buildings and schools was all too real,” Khan said. “When I left Kharkiv, the bombs I heard land, gave a somber insight and a very small insight into the awful reality that is faced by well many of our brothers and sisters and children that are in a war zone.”

Making reference to the Nuremberg trials that prosecuted defeated Nazis after World War II, Khan said, “The echoes of Nuremberg should be heard today.” 

“Failure to uphold the promises of Nuremberg, we have seen over the last many decades to act as a reproach on all of us as leaders, not to despair or to despondency, but acts as a catalyst for further action to galvanize us as a council as international organizations and as humanity.” he said.

EU entry for people leaving Russia will be up to individual member states, commission says

The European Union is planning to establish a joint position on requests for entry made by Russian citizens fleeing their own country, a spokesperson for the European Commission said during a news conference Thursday.

The European Commission also noted that for now, each member state will need to assess entry requests on a case-by-case basis, adding that external border management of the EU must be carried out in line with EU law and comply with “fundamental rights and all of the legislation in place for asylum procedures.”

Another spokesperson, the EU’s lead for external affairs Peter Stano, said the EU is watching what is happening right now in Russia following Putin’s announcement of so-called “partial mobilization.”

“There have been protests in a number of cities across Russia. During these protests, more than 1,300 people have been detained,” Stano told reporters, according to EU monitoring. “And this is showing that the Russians are voting with their feet, basically, on Putin’s regime and on Putin’s actions.”

“We take also note of the reports that are indicating that a lot of Russians are leaving the country in a legal pathway, in a legal way. They go on train on car, and they leave through the borders, or they take flights to Turkey to Serbia to Emirates. This is what we are seeing is happening,” Stano said.

“We as European Union, in principle, we stand in solidarity with the Russian citizens who have the courage and bravery to show their opposition to what the regime is doing, especially when it comes to this illegal war in Ukraine,” he said, adding that concrete decisions when it comes to visa policy is in the hands of individual members states.

Asked about the numerous requests for entry from Russia, another European Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer said, “We will need to have a joint position at the EU level.”

Long lines of traffic seen at some of Russia's land borders 

Cars coming from Russia wait in long lines at the border checkpoint between Russia and Finland near Vaalimaa, on September 22.

Social media video from Russia’s land borders with several countries shows long lines of traffic trying to leave the country on the day after President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization.”

There were queues at border crossings into Kazakhstan, Georgia and Mongolia. One video showed dozens of vehicles lining up at the Zemo Larsi/Verkhny Lars checkpoint on the Georgia-Russia border overnight Wednesday. That line appears to have grown longer Thursday. One video showed a long queue stretching into the mountains behind the crossing, with a man commenting that it was five to six kilometers long.

Another posted Thursday showed long lines at the Khaykhta crossing into Mongolia.

One man spoke over video recorded at the Troitsk crossing into Kazakhstan, where dozens of cars were lined up Thursday morning. “This is Troitsk, queues of trucks and passenger vehicles … you can’t see the start or the end of this queue … everyone, everyone is fleeing Russia, all sorts.”

A senior Kazakh official, Maulen Ashimbaev, had said Kazakhstan could not restrict the entry of Russian citizens into the country, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported earlier Thursday. But Ashimbaev, the speaker of the upper house of the Kazakh parliament, said that in order to obtain a residence permit, applicants must have a set of documents that comply with the law.

It is difficult to compare the current flow of traffic to the average in the absence of official data.

Flights from Russia to countries that do not require visas continue to be very busy and frequently sold out. A search on the Aviasales website showed there were no seats available on Moscow-Istanbul one-way economy flights until Sunday — with the lowest price almost $2,900.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Thursday dismissed reports of airports crowded with people trying to leave Russia following the announcement, calling it “exaggeration” and “fake news.”

Putin's "partial mobilization" is a "mistake," Macron tells CNN

French President Emmanuel Macron gives an interview to CNN's Jake Tapper on September 21.

French President Emmanuel Macron called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision on “partial mobilization” of Russian citizens a “mistake.”

Macron also said it was a missed opportunity to “go to a way towards peace.”

“A few months ago Vladimir Putin conveys a message: ‘I was aggressed by NATO, they triggered the situation and I just reacted.’ Now, it’s clear for everybody that the leader who decided to go to war, the leader who decided to escalate is President Putin,” Macron said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“And I have no rational explanation,” he added, calling the invasion the “strategy of Germany intervention” and a “post-Covid-19 consequence” due to Putin’s isolation during the pandemic.

Emmanuel Macron.

Macron warns of 'crisis of democracies' after years of 'destabilization' efforts in exclusive US interview

Aeroflot says it will return money for air tickets to mobilized Russians

Aeroflot Russian Airlines Airbus A320 civil jet aircrafts at Moscow-Sheremetyevo International Airport, Russia, on September 16, 2021.

Russian state carrier Aeroflot announced on Thursday that it would return money for tickets purchased before Wednesday to those Russians who were mobilized. 

“Citizens subject to conscription who purchased tickets before September 21, 2022 (inclusive) are entitled to an involuntary [outside the control of the customer] refund on the ticket,” the company said in a statement. 

“To do this, you must personally contact the place of purchase of the ticket and present any of the documents confirming the right to terminate the contract and receive a return of the funds,” it said. 

Flights leaving Russia sold out within hours of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of partial mobilization on Wednesday, while costs for the few available tickets soared in price, according to Russian aggregator websites.