September 26, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

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

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, September 27, 2023
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1:44 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Russian drone attack on Danube River port injures 2, Ukraine says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Oleh Kiper gives an interview in Odesa on August 16.
Oleh Kiper gives an interview in Odesa on August 16. Kyodo News/Getty Images/File

Russian drone attacks hit Danube River port infrastructure and injured two truck drivers overnight, a Ukrainian military official said Tuesday.

A crossing point, warehouses and about 30 trucks were damaged in the attacks on Izmail district in the southern region of Odesa, said Oleh Kiper, head of the region's military administration.

“For two hours, Russian terrorists attacked the Odesa region with attack drones,” Kiper said on Telegram, adding that Ukrainian air defenses shot down most of the unmanned aerial vehicles.

Odesa's Danube River ports, located close to the border with Romania, have been repeatedly targeted by Russia following the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal in July.

The latest attacks come after Russian strikes on the city of Odesa killed at least two people and caused "significant damage" to port infrastructure, Ukrainian officials said Monday.

6:09 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Zelensky thanks US after Abrams tanks arrive in Ukraine. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pictured at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on September 21.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pictured at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on September 21. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

US Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine and are "getting prepared to reinforce our brigades," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday.

"I am grateful to our allies for fulfilling the agreements! We are looking for new contracts and expanding the geography of supply," Zelensky said in a Telegram statement. 

The Pentagon confirmed that the first batch, which includes 31 Abrams tanks, have arrived in Ukraine. The armored capability adds a powerful ground component to Ukrainian troops, who have already endured more than a year and a half of war.

Catch up on the latest developments:

  • Black Sea attacks: Russian ships are still launching strikes on Ukraine following the alleged death of the commander of Moscow's Black Sea Fleet on Friday in one of Kyiv’s boldest attacks yet on occupied Crimea, a Ukrainian navy spokesperson said. However, the spokesperson said the Russian attacks are being launched "by inertia," and claimed the alleged death of Adm. Viktor Sokolov and 33 other officers had thrown the Black Sea Fleet into disarray. CNN has reached out to the Russian defense ministry for comment.
  • Odesa strikes: Russian strikes killed at least two people and caused "significant damage" to Odesa, Ukrainian officials said Monday. Moscow's forces have repeatedly targeted the southern port following the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal in July.
  • Kherson shelling: Russian attacks also killed at least six people and wounded five others in the southern Kherson region on Monday, Ukrainian officials said. Only a quarter of the population remains in the city of Beryslav as civilians evacuate in the wake of intense Russian shelling, officials said.
  • Ukrainian attacks: Russian forces on Monday thwarted Ukrainian missile and drone attacks on Crimea and regions bordering Ukraine, officials said. Air defenses shot down four Ukrainian drones over the western Kursk region and seven drones over the neighboring Belgorod region, the Russian defense ministry and regional officials reported. Russian forces also foiled a missile attack over Crimea's largest city Sevastopol, the ministry said.
  • UN accuses Russia: There is "continuous evidence" Russian forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine, the United Nations Human Rights Council said. The council alleged that attacks in Ukraine include “unlawful attacks with explosive weapons, attacks harming civilians, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and attacks on energy infrastructure.”

Here's where the state of control stands in Ukraine:

5:50 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Russia foils Ukrainian attacks over border regions and Crimea, officials say

From CNN’s Mariya Knight

Russian forces on Monday thwarted Ukrainian missile and drone attacks on Crimea and regions bordering Ukraine, officials said.

Air defenses shot down four Ukrainian drones over the western Kursk region and seven drones over the neighboring Belgorod region, the Russian defense ministry and regional officials reported.

Russian forces also stopped a missile attack over Crimea's largest city Sevastopol on Monday, the defense ministry said.

Mikhail Razvozhaev, the Russia-appointed governor of Sevastopol, said air defenses shot down the missile near the Belbek military airfield in the region, without providing any further details.  

Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev is pictured in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June 2022.
Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev is pictured in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June 2022. Maxim Shemetov/Reuters/File

No significant damage or casualties were reported. 

Some context: The reports Monday come after Ukraine claimed it killed the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, in one of Kyiv’s boldest attacks yet on Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

The Ukrainian Special Operations Forces said in an update that Friday’s attack killed Adm. Viktor Sokolov along with 33 other officers. CNN has reached out to the Russian defense ministry for comment. 

11:49 p.m. ET, September 25, 2023

Death toll rises to 6 in Kherson region following Russian attacks, Ukrainian official says 

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Yulia Kesaieva

Emergency units carry out rescue tasks in the Ukrainian region of Kherson on September 25.
Emergency units carry out rescue tasks in the Ukrainian region of Kherson on September 25. Latin America News Agency/Reuters

At least six people have died and five others were injured as a result of Russian attacks in Ukraine's southern Kherson region on Monday, Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the region's military administration, said in a social media post.

“The Russian army again attacked the Dniprovskyi district of the city of Kherson. According to preliminary information, two men and one woman died from their injuries,” Prokudin said.

According to Prokudin, three more people were also injured.

Earlier, Prokudin reported that three people had died and two others were injured as a result of a Russian airstrike on the city of Beryslav in the Kherson region Monday.

Prokudin said only a quarter of the population remains in Beryslav after civilian evacuations following intense Russian shelling.

“Over the past two weeks, almost 100 children and their families have left the dangerous coastal communities” of the Kherson region, Prokudin said.

6:30 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Russian ships still launching strikes from Black Sea after top commander's alleged death, Ukrainian Navy says 

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Yulia Kesaieva 

Commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Vice-Admiral Viktor Sokolov salutes during a send-off ceremony for reservists, in Sevastopol, Crimea, in September 2022.
Commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Vice-Admiral Viktor Sokolov salutes during a send-off ceremony for reservists, in Sevastopol, Crimea, in September 2022. Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters/File

Russian ships were still launching strikes on Ukraine following the alleged death of the commander of Moscow's Black Sea Fleet, but those attacks are being launched "by inertia," Dmytro Pletenchuk, spokesperson for the Ukrainian Navy, said Monday on national television. 

Pletenchuk was asked about comments made by Ukrainian authorities earlier Monday, claiming that Adm. Viktor Sokolov, as well as 33 other officers were killed in Friday's attack in Sevastopol. 

Pletenchuk said Russian President Vladimir Putin "does not control the actual operation of ships at sea," and relies on his admirals who know "their means and forces, personnel, how to manage them, how to better deploy them. And they can also keep things from [Putin], not report on certain issues."

"At this moment, [the Russian Navy] lost the person who actually manages all of this, and his staff, who manages the fleet together with him," Pletenchuk claimed. "This is a large grouping that requires a great number of managers to run all the processes to make [the fleet] work as a single mechanism. Imagine that the core part of this mechanism becomes inoperable."

Pletenchuk added: "Yes, last night [Russian ships in the Black Sea] were still launching strikes by inertia," but he compared the operations to "a chicken running around without a head."

"Therefore, as of now, [the Russian navy] will have respective problems with the control of the troops," he said. 

Earlier Monday, the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces said Sokolov was killed in Sevastopol on Friday, in perhaps the most daring attack by Ukrainian forces on Crimea so far. 

"Eliminated during a strike on the headquarters in Sevastopol Commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Admiral Sokolov," said Col. Vladislav Nazarov, spokesperson for the Operational Command South. 

CNN cannot independently confirm Ukraine's claims about Sokolov and the rest of the casualties in Sevastopol. CNN has reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.

8:34 p.m. ET, September 25, 2023

"Continuous evidence" of Russian forces committing war crimes in Ukraine, UN says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite and Stephanie Halasz

There is “continuous evidence" Russian forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine, the United Nations Human Rights Council said.

The council alleged that attacks in Ukraine include “unlawful attacks with explosive weapons, attacks harming civilians, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and attacks on energy infrastructure.”

The council’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine said it had "documented explosive weapons attacks on residential buildings, a functional medical facility, a railway station, a restaurant, shops and commercial warehouses."

"These attacks led to civilian casualties, the damage or destruction of key facilities, and the disruption of essential services and supplies," it said.

The commission heard from torture victims and quotes one person as saying, “every time I answered that I didn’t know or didn’t remember something, they gave me electric shocks … I don’t know how long it lasted. It felt like an eternity.”

The commission reported Russian soldiers committing sexual violence against women of ages ranging from 19 to 83, and said it continues to "investigate individual situations of alleged transfers of unaccompanied minors by Russian authorities to the Russian Federation."

Furthermore, the commission said it is investigating what caused the Nova Kakhovka dam to collapse in June.

11:45 p.m. ET, September 25, 2023

US Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine, Zelensky says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva, Radina Gigova, Haley Britzky and Alex Marquardt

Volodymyr Zelensky stands for the Ukrainian national anthem in Toronto, Canada on September 22.
Volodymyr Zelensky stands for the Ukrainian national anthem in Toronto, Canada on September 22. Katherine KY Cheng/Getty Images

US Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine and are "getting prepared to reinforce our brigades," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday.

"Good news from Minister [of Defense Rustem] Umerov. 'Abrams' are already in Ukraine and are getting prepared to reinforce our brigades. I am grateful to our allies for fulfilling the agreements! We are looking for new contracts and expanding the geography of supply," Zelensky said in a Telegram statement. 

The Pentagon confirmed that the first batch, which includes 31 Abrams tanks, have arrived in Ukraine.

"The mere presence of Abrams tanks serves as a potent deterrent. By having these tanks in their arsenal, the Ukrainian army can more effectively discourage aggressive actions," Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Charlie Dietz said Monday.

The armored capability adds a powerful ground component to Ukrainian troops, who have already endured more than a year and a half of war.