September 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

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'Defeat is not an option': Hear what Russia expert thinks about Putin's plan
03:09 - Source: CNN

What we covered

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday the annexation of four areas of occupied Ukraine — nearly a fifth of its territory — in the largest forcible annexation of land in Europe since 1945.
  • It comes after “sham” referendums concluded in the occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Western governments announced a new wave of sanctions and vowed not to recognize the regions as part of Russian territory.
  • Finland will close its borders to Russian tourists starting on midnight Friday local time amid record border crossings following Moscow’s “partial mobilization” order.
  • At least 30 people have been killed in an attack by Russian forces on a civilian convoy leaving the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia. Ukrainian President Zelensky called those who carried out the attack “downright terrorists.”
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Our coverage for the day has ended. Follow the latest Ukraine news here or read through the updates below.

Zelensky again calls Moscow's annexation claims a "farce"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used his evening address on Friday to once again condemn the “farce” of Russia’s claimed annexations of Ukrainian territory.

“Another farce took place in Moscow today,” he said. “Something was celebrated there. They were chanting something there. They sang in the square.”

“They were talking about Zaporizhzhia – when they themselves arranged such a thing in Zaporizhzhia,” he said, referring to the Friday attack on a civilian convoy that killed at least 30 and wounded 88.

He also said that Ukraine was working with its Western allies to impose new sanctions on Russia “against key persons and significant Russian enterprises.”

“Of course, sanctions will also be applied to those citizens of other countries who took part in the Russian farce on the occupied territory of our country,” he said.

G7 foreign ministers said Friday they will impose additional economic sanctions on Russia over the annexation of Ukrainian territories.

In his daily address, Zelensky also hailed the country’s military moves in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces have nearly encircled the town of Lyman.

“We have substantial results in the east of our country,” he said. “There is already enough public information about this. Everyone has heard what is happening in Lyman, Donetsk region.”

“These are steps that mean a lot to us. And I am thankful to all our fighters for implementing this element of our defense plan! It is very important,” he said.

US national security adviser: Ukraine's NATO application "should be taken up at a different time"

The United States believes the process for Ukraine to join NATO “should be taken up at a different time,” US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Friday, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed the country was applying for membership under an “accelerated procedure.” 

“The United States has been clear for decades that we support an open-door policy for NATO,” Sullivan told reporters at a White House press briefing. “Any decision on NATO membership is between the 30 allies and the countries aspiring to join.” 

“Right now, our view is that the best way for us to support Ukraine is through practical, on-the-ground support in Ukraine and that the process in Brussels should be taken up at a different time,” he continued.  

Earlier Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said member states of the alliance support Ukraine’s “right to choose its own path” but cautioned that any decision on membership has to be taken up by all 30 members of the alliance.

Russia vetoes UN Security Council resolution that condemns annexation and calls for withdrawal from Ukraine

Russia on Friday vetoed a resolution at the United Nations Security Council that would have condemned Russia’s claimed annexation of four Ukrainian regions after so-called referendums on joining the Russian Federation.

The referendums have been universally dismissed as “a sham” by Ukraine and Western nations.

The resolution would have denounced Russia’s “organization of illegal so-called referenda in regions within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders” and declared that the referendums “have no validity.”

The resolution would have also called on Russia to “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”

Russia was the sole country to oppose the resolution.

Ten countries voted in favor: Albania, France, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Four countries abstained: Brazil, China, Gabon and India.

Speaking ahead of the vote, the US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield – who tabled the resolution along with her Albanian colleague – said it was aligned with the Security Council goals of defending sovereignty, protecting territorial integrity and ensuring peace and security.

“We’re talking about a UN member state, a Security Council member, attempting to annex part of another through force,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “The outcomes of these sham referenda were predetermined in Moscow, and everybody knows it. They were held behind the barrel of Russian guns.”

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, said the results spoke for themselves.

“The overwhelming majority of those who voted supported the integration of these regions into Russia,” he said.

Danish police to set up a team with Germany and Sweden to investigate Baltic Sea gas leaks

The Danish police has started an investigation into the gas leaks in the Baltic Sea and will “soon” establish a joint international investigation (JIT) team consisting of relevant authorities from, among others, Germany and Sweden.

The Danish Police “expects the JIT to be established soon, but it is still too early to state a date,” it said in a statement on Friday. 

“Until a JIT has been established, there will be a close cooperation with relevant foreign authorities, including Swedish and German authorities, on the basis of the general rules concerning international cooperation on investigations,” the police also said.

Some background: Western nations have said leaks in two Russian gas pipelines, Nord Stream 1 and 2, are likely the result of sabotage.

On Monday, leaks were discovered in the pipelines, prompting investigations by European authorities that determined powerful underwater explosions had occurred just before the pipelines burst in several places.

The pipelines were created to funnel gas from Russia into the European Union, and were controversial long before Russia waged war on Ukraine, largely because of fears around European reliance on Russian energy.

Experts also say the explosion could release an “unprecedented” amount of the greenhouse gas methane and be enormously damaging to the climate.

Read more here.

Obstacles to NATO accession will disappear "as soon as Russia loses," Ukrainian official says

A top Ukrainian official on Friday said that any obstacles to Ukraine’s NATO accession will disappear “as soon as Russia loses” – a tacit acknowledgment that alliance members are unlikely to agree on admitting the country while it is at war with Russia.

“As soon as Russia loses, after that, there will be no obstacle for Ukraine to join NATO,” Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Office of the Ukrainian President, said on Ukrainian television. “Those countries that are currently in doubt, after our victory, will be the first to vote” for Ukraine’s accession.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that his country is applying “under an accelerated procedure” to become a NATO member, while acknowledging that accession would require the consensus of all members.

Podolyak said that the membership application marks “the beginning of a new era for Ukraine.”

“We rejected any formal or informal agreements that we have neutral status, non-aligned status. The President clearly demonstrates that there is only one route for Ukraine, which our partners will support,” Podolyak said.

And meanwhile, he said, Ukraine’s efforts on the battlefield would continue.

“A counteroffensive continues on the Donetsk direction and in the southern direction,” he said. “Russia is not able to stop the Ukrainian Armed Forces except solely by the number of its people who are ready to lay their heads on Ukrainian soil.”

Putin signs decree on routine autumn conscription

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a decree on routine autumn conscription — in this case, 120,000 Russian citizens aged 18 to 27.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported, according to Russian state news agency TASS, that the autumn conscription had nothing to do with what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine. 

The serving conscripts will be dismissed after their mandatory service and sent back to their places of residence, according to TASS.

Iranian drones that Russia obtained have had numerous failures in battle, US defense official says

The US has seen evidence that Iranian drones that Russia is using in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine have had “numerous failures” on the battlefield, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Sasha Baker told reporters during a briefing Friday.

“We have seen some evidence already that the UAVs associated with the transfer from Iran have already experienced numerous failures on the battleground, on the battlefield. in Ukraine,” Baker said.

Baker said these drones don’t represent a big technological step for Russia in the conflict.

“I think that the idea that they represent some technological leap ahead, frankly, we’re just not seeing borne out in the data,” Baker added.

More background: In late August, the US assessed Russia was in possession of weapons-capable Iranian drones, Biden administration officials told CNN. The Russians picked up the drones from an Iranian airfield and transported them back to Russia in cargo planes in mid-August, the officials said. Russian officials began training on the drones in Iran in July, CNN reported,   

Baltic states say they support Ukraine's NATO application

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania said Friday they “fully support welcoming Ukraine into NATO as soon as possible.”

Their respective foreign ministers — Urmas Reinsalu, Edgars Rinkēvičs and Gabrielius Landsbergis — shared similar messages on their Twitter accounts.

“Ukraine’s inspirational bravery can only strengthen our alliance,” they all said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that his country is applying “under an accelerated procedure” to become a member of the defense alliance.

Situation in Lyman is "grave" as Ukrainian forces look to encircle town, separatist leader in Donetsk says

The situation for pro-Russian forces in the Ukrainian town of Lyman is “grave,” the head of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic said on Friday.

“The situation remains grave,” Denis Pushilin said, quoted by the DPR’s official Telegram channel. “Our forces are withstanding the onslaught, reinforcements are being brought up”

Pushilin was in Moscow on Friday to attend Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claimed annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions, including Donetsk, where Lyman is located.

Lyman has been almost entirely encircled by Ukrainian forces.

Ukraine claims it captured village of Drobysheve, which neighbors key Donetsk town of Lyman

Ukrainian forces on Friday claimed control over the village of Drobysheve in the eastern Donetsk region, the settlement that neighbors Russian-occupied Lyman.

“The future of the world is no longer decided in the Kremlin,” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Twitter.

Drobysheve is just about 5 kilometers (3 miles) to the north of Lyman. In a video, Ukrainian forces are seen celebrating, holding a Ukrainian flag in the town center.

“Today, on September 30, the AFU, namely the 81st Independent Airmobile Brigade, liberated Drobyshevo. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!” the defense ministry said.

Lyman has now been almost entirely encircled by Ukrainian forces. Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic – which today in Moscow claimed to have joined the Russian Federation – said Friday that the situation in Lyman “remains grave.”

Putin says "victory will be ours" at concert after declaring annexation of Ukrainian regions

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia will be victorious during a celebratory concert at the Red Square in Moscow on Friday after he declared the annexation of four regions of Ukraine. 

“We have become stronger because we are together. With us is the truth, and indeed, the power! And that means victory! Victory will be ours!” Putin said.

Putin gave a speech following the claimed annexation of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine. 

“For decades, they tried to eradicate the historical consciousness of these people, to destroy their traditions, to forbid them to speak in their native language, to forbid their culture. Nothing worked,” he said. 

“And that’s why we say Russia not only opens the doors of our native home for our brothers and sisters, it opens its heart to them. Welcome home!” Putin said to the cheering crowd. 

After the speech, Putin was joined on stage by the four Russia-appointed leaders of the four regions: Denis Pushilin, Leonid Pasechnik, Yevgeny Balitsky and Vladimir Saldo. Together, they sang the Russian national anthem joined by a choir of artists from Russia and annexed regions who performed at the concert as the crowd waved Russian flags. 

How Ukraine and Western nations are reacting: Members of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – and the European Union have vowed to never recognize Russian sovereignty over the regions and to impose sanctions on Russia.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky called the move a “farce” in a pre-recorded video statement released shortly after Putin’s speech and vowed that “the entire territory of our country will be liberated.”

Leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipeline are a "deliberate act of sabotage," Biden says

US President Joe Biden said the leaks found in the Nord Stream gas pipeline were a “deliberate act of sabotage.”

He also accused the Russians of spreading “disinformation and lies.”

“We’re going to work with our allies to get to the bottom of precisely what happened. And at my direction, I’ve already begun to help our allies enhance the protection of this critical infrastructure,” he told reporters Friday.

He also committed to investigating what happened.

“At the appropriate moment, when things calm down, we’re going to be sending divers down to find out exactly what happened. We don’t know that yet exactly,” he said, adding that he is not going to “listen to what Putin is saying.”

“What he’s saying, we know is not true,” he said.

Later on Friday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the United States does not believe any NATO ally is behind the pipeline leaks. 

Some background: The pipelines were created to funnel gas from Russia into the European Union, and were controversial long before Russia waged war on Ukraine, largely because of fears around European reliance on Russian energy. On Monday, leaks were discovered, prompting investigations by European authorities that determined powerful underwater explosions had occurred just before the pipelines burst in several places.

Biden to Putin: US and NATO are prepared to defend "every single inch of NATO territory"

US President Joe Biden reiterated that the US does not recognize Russia’s claimed annexation of four Ukrainian territories, directly addressing Russian President Vladimir Putin at one point when saying the US will “defend every single inch of NATO territory.”

“America and its allies are not going — let me emphasize — are not going to be intimidated, are not going to be intimidated by Putin and his reckless words and threats,” Biden said from the White House.

“Putin’s actions are a sign he is struggling,” citing the “sham referenda” and “this routine he put on this morning” when announcing his annexation claims for four Ukrainian regions.

“The United States is never going to recognize this. And quite frankly, the world is not going to recognize it either. He can’t seize his neighbor’s territory and get away with it, as simple as that,” Biden said during White House remarks.

The US will continue to provide military equipment for Ukraine’s defense, plus an additional $13 billion more from Congress, Biden said.

“America’s fully prepared with our NATO allies to defend every single inch of NATO territory — every single inch — so Mr. Putin, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Every inch,” Biden said.  

NATO assets in Baltic and North Seas are collecting information to aid in Nord Stream probe, chief says

NATO military assets in the Baltic and North Seas are collecting information to help in the investigation into who and what caused the explosions near the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines earlier this week, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

They are also monitoring “critical energy infrastructure,” Stoltenberg said during a news conference in Brussels Friday.

Stoltenberg said NATO allies are both collecting new information and reviewing information they’ve collected over the last few weeks and months to see “whether we are able to discover something connected to the attacks.”

The military presence in the Baltic and North Seas is both “to send a message of deterrence, to collect and monitor, collect data and monitor the infrastructure and then share information and step up resilience,” Stoltenberg said.