October 4, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Lauren Kent, Hannah Strange, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, October 5, 2023
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9:11 a.m. ET, October 4, 2023

One Ukrainian captured following raid on Crimean coast, says Russian state media

From Tim Lister and Svitlana Vlasova 

Ukrainian Defense Intelligence (DI) has released a video purporting to show an amphibious raid on the coast of Russian-occupied Crimea, as Russian state media claimed a Ukrainian "saboteur" had been captured.

In a brief statement posted to Telegram, DI wrote that Ukrainian Special Forces "landed on the territory of the Crimean peninsula and inflicted fire on the Moscow occupiers!"

The date and time of the attack were not disclosed. The last such operation publicized by the Ukrainian military was in August.

The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday that video of an interrogation of a Ukrainian saboteur captured in Crimea had been released by the Russian security service, the FSB.

"A Ukrainian saboteur captured in Crimea said that the group consisted of 16 people, was supposed to put up a flag and demonstrate the entry of the [Defense Intelligence] into Crimea," the agency reported.

It said that "Russian air force aircraft foiled another attempt by the Ukrainian armed forces to land a landing force near Cape Tarkhankut in Crimea from three jet skis and one speedboat in the northwestern part of the Black Sea."

"The footage published by the FSB shows one of the hydro-cycles with automatic rifles and ammunition on board," used in the raid, "as well as the interrogation of the captured saboteur," RIA Novosti said.

RIA named the captive as a member of Ukrainian DI. It said he had told interrogators that the purpose of the landing was to put up the Ukrainian flag.

Ukraine claims losses on both sides: Andriy Yusov, the spokesperson for Ukrainian Defense Intelligence, acknowledged there were Ukrainian losses during the raid.

Yusov told Ukrainian media outlet RBC that DI fighters "had a fierce battle in the occupied Crimea. The Russians suffered significant losses, and our groups have already returned from the special operation."

Yusov said it had been a sabotage and reconnaissance operation. 

"Unfortunately, there are also losses among our special forces, but they are not commensurate with the Russians," Yusov said.

"It is not possible without losses. This is, in particular, the price for the fact that Ukraine surrendered Crimea in 2014 without a fight. Ukraine will definitely return Crimea and all the occupied territories," Yusov asserted.
9:02 a.m. ET, October 4, 2023

US House Speaker's ousting complicates Ukraine aid amid dwindling funds. Here’s what you need to know

From CNN Staff

Kevin McCarthy answers questions at the Capitol after being ousted as House speaker on October 3, in Washington, DC.
Kevin McCarthy answers questions at the Capitol after being ousted as House speaker on October 3, in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images

The ousting of US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has cast fresh doubt on the future of American aid for Ukraine. The vote to remove McCarthy follows a weekend deal in which funding for the US government was extended for 45 days -- but in which no provision was made for further aid to Ukraine.

The Biden administration's $24 billion request for more funding is stuck in limbo, and the coffers are running extremely low. 

Meanwhile, a Zelensky adviser criticized "Western conservative elites" for suggesting that military aid to Ukraine should be suspended and accused them of reluctance to confront Russia. 

Here's what else you need to know:

  • Low ammo stocks: Western militaries are running out of ammunition to give to Ukraine, NATO and British officials warned Tuesday, as they urged the bloc’s nations to ramp up production to “keep Ukraine in the fight against Russian invaders.” The Pentagon has also warned about depleting funds. The developments are troubling news for Ukraine as the war with neighboring Russia is in its 20th month and raise questions over whether Moscow may feel able to outlast Western commitment promises.
  • Ukraine's next steps: Ukraine's ambassador in Washington said on Wednesday that the embassy has a good dialog with the "vast majority" of likely candidates to replace the ousted US House speaker, noting that it continues to work with US officials “to discuss our needs and possible solutions for the next package of assistance to Ukraine."
  • Drones downed: Russian air defenses destroyed 31 Ukrainian drones over the border regions of Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk overnight, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday. 
  • Russia tests sirens: Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations announced the testing of its public warning system in all regions of the country on Wednesday morning, sounding sirens and interrupting radio and television broadcasts. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov emphasized the critical nature of testing the siren systems, saying it’s “not only appropriate, it is indispensable.”
  • Eastern frontline: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kharkiv is of crucial importance for keeping "our entire east strong" following his furthest visit to the eastern frontline since the start of Russia's invasion. "Especially given the constant Russian terror against Kharkiv, against the region and the occupiers' attempts to intensify assaults on our positions," Zelensky said after meeting regional officials.
7:35 a.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Public warning tests "indispensable," says Kremlin spokesperson as sirens sound across Russia

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Maria Kostenko

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has emphasized the critical nature of testing the siren systems in Russia, following pre-planned tests across the country on Wednesday.

According to Peskov, such testing is “not only appropriate, it is indispensable.” Drawing a parallel with Japan's regular emergency evacuation exercises due to increased seismic hazards, Peskov said it is necessary to carry out training in other areas as well.

Earlier, Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations had announced the testing of its public warning system in all regions of the country on Wednesday morning, sounding sirens and interrupting radio and television broadcasts.

The sirens would sound with an announcement, saying, “Attention everyone,” the ministry said, adding that there was no reason to panic during the tests.

Radio and TV broadcasts would also be interrupted for one minute, according to the ministry.

Reports and videos shared on local Telegram channels indicated that sirens were audible Wednesday morning in central Moscow, the Moscow region, and multiple other regions across Russia.

7:24 a.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Ukrainian official criticizes "Western conservative elites" for reluctance to confront Russia

From CNN's Tim Lister and Maria Kostenko

Mykhailo Podolyak is pictured during an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 19.
Mykhailo Podolyak is pictured during an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 19. Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

A senior Ukrainian official has criticized "Western conservative elites" for suggesting that military aid to Ukraine should be suspended.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian president's office, wrote in a social media post on Wednesday, "When any of the representatives of Western conservative elites talk about the need to suspend military aid to #Ukraine, I have a direct question: what are your motives?"

"Why are you so insistently against... destroying the Russian army, which has been terrifying democracies for decades, and why are you against drastically reducing #Russia's ability to conduct 'special destructive operations' in different countries and on different continents?" Podolyak added.

He did not specifically reference the blockade of US aid to Ukraine in the temporary spending measure approved by Congress over the weekend, nor the ousting of US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Ukraine's next steps: Meanwhile, Ukraine's ambassador in Washington said on Wednesday that the embassy has a good dialog with the "vast majority" of likely candidates to replace the ousted House speaker.

"We at the Embassy of Ukraine in the USA continue our active work with caucuses, committees, individual congressmen, and of course the Senate to discuss our needs and possible solutions for the next package of assistance to Ukraine," Ambassador Oksana Markarova said on Facebook. 

She said it was too early to discuss specific candidates, adding, "I can only say that we have built a good constructive dialog with the vast majority of the names that are being mentioned and their teams."

6:31 a.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Ousting of US House speaker further complicates aid for Ukraine as funds dry up

Analysis from CNN's Tim Lister

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks to the press after the motion to vacate his position passes in the U.S. Capitol on October 3, in Washington, DC.
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks to the press after the motion to vacate his position passes in the U.S. Capitol on October 3, in Washington, DC. Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images

The removal of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from the US Congress casts a dark cloud over the already troubled process of Washington's military and financial aid for Ukraine. 

Without a speaker, the House is unable to pass legislation, and it may be weeks before another speaker is elected. 

The vote to remove McCarthy follows a weekend deal in which funding for the US government was extended for 45 days -- but in which no provision was made for fresh aid to Ukraine. 

That left the Biden administration's $24 billion request for fresh military aid, submitted to Congress in the summer, in limbo. It also left the coffers dangerously low. 

President Joe Biden said over the weekend that he expected Speaker McCarthy “to keep his commitment to secure the passage and support needed to help Ukraine as they defend themselves against aggression and brutality.” 

But McCarthy is now out of office and has ruled out running for speaker again. While it's unclear who might succeed him, several potential candidates are skeptical about continuing support for Ukraine at current levels. 

McCarthy himself warned: "Our members have a lot of questions, especially on the accountability provisions of what we want to see with the money that gets sent." 

Pentagon warning: Many analysts estimate that Ukraine's current "burn rate" of equipment, munitions and maintenance in the conflict with Russia is about $2.5 billion a month, perhaps higher. Much of the funding for that spending comes from Washington.  

Last week, the Pentagon's chief financial officer, Michael McCord, warned Congressional leaders that money for Ukraine was running low. In a letter subsequently released by House Democrats, McCord said that the Pentagon had about $5.4 billion left in what's known as presidential drawdown authority, which allows the rapid dispatch of weapons from existing stocks. That's essentially about two months' money. 

McCord also warned that of the roughly $26 billion that Congress had authorized to replace weapons and equipment that had been sent to Ukraine, only $1.6 billion remains. 

One pipeline, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), is already empty. McCord told Congressional leaders that "a lack of USAI funding now will delay contracting actions that could negatively impact the department’s ability to purchase essential additional 155mm artillery and critical munitions essential to the success of Ukraine’s armed forces.” 

“Without additional funding now, we would have to delay or curtail assistance to meet Ukraine’s urgent requirements, including for air defense and ammunition that are critical and urgent now as Russia prepares to conduct a winter offensive and continues its bombardment of Ukrainian cities,” McCord wrote. 

Max Bergmann, director of Europe and Russia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that "the chaos in the House leaves Ukraine in a dangerous limbo."

"Let’s be clear, if the US Congress does not pass a funding bill, Ukraine will be in deep trouble. A lot of Ukrainians will die and their ability to fight on will be severely compromised," Bergmann said.

For Ukraine's military planners, the uncertainty is an immense challenge as they try to plot any winter offensive or where to place air defenses. 

Low European inventories: Bergmann and other analysts also highlighted that if US funding dwindles or gets delayed, European countries won't be able to pick up the slack. Inventories are already very low, as NATO officials warned Tuesday. 

"European militaries already had empty warehouses from decades of under-investment. There isn’t much left to give. Europeans can and should get their industries humming but this again takes time," Bergmann noted.

The funding of Ukraine's war effort by the United States has thus far amounted to $113 billion in security, economic and humanitarian aid since the Russian invasion. 

The Ukrainian government has not yet reacted to the latest news out of Washington but has tried to sound unruffled over the past few days. 

Responding to the news that aid to Ukraine had not been included in the temporary funding measure, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, "The question is whether what happened in the US Congress last weekend is an incident or systematic," Kuleba said on the margins of a meeting with European Union foreign ministers. "I think it was an incident."

5:51 a.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Russian journalist who protested on live TV sentenced to 8.5 years in prison in absentia

From CNN’s Anna Chernova and Sophie Jeong

Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova is pictured during a press conference in Paris, France, in February.
Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova is pictured during a press conference in Paris, France, in February. Andreina Flores/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who staged a daring protest live on state-run television last year, was sentenced to eight and half years in prison in absentia on Wednesday, according to a statement from the press service of Moscow’s district court.

Ovsyannikova was found guilty of “public dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” the court said.

The journalist shot to international fame in March 2022 when, as an editor at Russia’s state-controlled Channel One television station, she stood behind an anchor and held up a sign that read “No War” during a live broadcast.

In a statement posted before the sentencing, Ovsyannikova called the charge against her “absurd and politically motivated.”

“It was decided to give me a demonstrative whipping for the fact that I was not afraid and called a spade a spade,” she said. “Of course, I do not admit my guilt. And I do not back down from a single word of mine. I made a very difficult, but the only correct moral choice in my life, and I have already paid a rather high price for it."

Ovsyannikova escaped house arrest with her 11-year-old daughter last year and is now in Paris, according to her assistant.

5:03 a.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Western militaries are running out of ammunition to give to Ukraine, NATO official warns

From CNN's Brad Lendon and Radina Gigova

A Ukrainian serviceman fires a 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled howitzer towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, at a position in Donetsk region, Ukraine on September 13.
A Ukrainian serviceman fires a 2S22 Bohdana self-propelled howitzer towards Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, at a position in Donetsk region, Ukraine on September 13. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters

Western militaries are running out of ammunition to give to Ukraine, NATO and British officials warned Tuesday, as they urged the bloc’s nations to ramp up production to “keep Ukraine in the fight against Russian invaders.”

The news of possible ammunition shortfalls comes after money to buy weapons for Ukraine was not included in a stopgap spending bill the US Congress passed at the weekend to avoid a federal government shutdown.

Fresh uncertainty over the future of US aid arose Tuesday when US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who advocated for support of Ukraine, was ousted from his leadership position by Republican colleagues.

The developments are troubling news for Ukraine as the war with neighboring Russia is in its 20th month and raises questions over whether Moscow may feel able to outlast western commitment promises.

“The bottom of the barrel is now visible,” Adm. Rob Bauer of the Netherlands, the chair of the NATO Military Committee and NATO’s most senior military official, said of the West’s ammunition stockpile Tuesday during a discussion at the Warsaw Security Forum.
“We give away weapons systems to Ukraine, which is great, and ammunition, but not from full warehouses. We started to give away from half-full or lower warehouses in Europe” and those stores are now running low, Bauer said.

Meanwhile, analysts are warning that the US “arsenal of democracy” needs to start working overtime or Ukraine’s war effort may be in trouble.

“The United States and its allies are sending to Ukraine a wide range of munitions, but they are not being produced or delivered as quickly as needed,” Atlantic Council nonresident senior fellow Thomas Warrick wrote last week.

Warrick wrote that as Ukraine delayed the start of summer offensive to get more ammo and equipment to the front lines, Russia was able to build up defenses that have significantly blunted Ukrainian advances.

“Ukraine’s forces have proven themselves flexible and adaptive, but they need to have sufficient ammunition and weapons,” he wrote.

But events in Washington are placing supplies — and Ukraine’s standing on the battlefield — in doubt.

Read the full story here.

1:59 a.m. ET, October 4, 2023

Russia downs dozens of Ukrainian drones over border regions, defense ministry says

From CNN's Maria Kostenko

Russian air defenses destroyed 31 Ukrainian drones over the border regions of Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk overnight, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

In a Telegram post, the ministry said it had "foiled" attempted Ukrainian "terrorist attacks" on Russian territory.

The ministry also claimed that a Russian Air Force aircraft prevented a Ukrainian attempt to "infiltrate" Crimea in "a fast military boat and three jet skis," which were heading toward Cape Tarkhankut, the occupied peninsula's westernmost point.

Ukraine has ramped up strikes on Crimea in recent weeks. On Tuesday, Russia's Defense Ministry said its air defenses destroyed a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile near the peninsula.

12:04 a.m. ET, October 4, 2023

NATO official warns of low ammo as Zelensky heads east. Catch up on the latest here

From CNN staff

NATO and UK officials have warned that Western military ammunition stockpiles are reaching "the bottom of the barrel," and production needs to be increased to assist Ukrainian fighters.

"The bottom of the barrel is now visible," Adm. Rob Bauer, chair of the NATO Military Committee and the alliance's most senior military official, said Tuesday during a discussion at the Warsaw Security Forum. "We need the industry to ramp up production in a much higher tempo," he said.

The Pentagon also warned about depleting funds.

Meanwhile, the White House reiterated its confidence that Congress will approve new Ukraine aid after funding for Kyiv was not included in a last-minute deal to avoid a government shutdown.

Here's what else you need to know:

  • Strong east: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kharkiv is of crucial importance for keeping "our entire east strong" following his furthest visit to the eastern frontline since the start of Russia's invasion. "Especially given the constant Russian terror against Kharkiv, against the region and the occupiers' attempts to intensify assaults on our positions," Zelensky said after meeting regional officials.
  • Grain movement: Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania have agreed to move some border checks for Ukrainian grain from the Polish border to a Lithuanian port to speed up exports, Kyiv said. Meanwhile, more ships have used Ukraine's self-declared humanitarian corridor through the Black Sea, Ukrainian and US officials said. Kyiv set up the route after Moscow withdrew from a UN-brokered grain deal in July.
  • Crimea missile: Russian air defenses destroyed a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile near Crimea, the Russia's Defense Ministry claimed. The ministry didn't provide additional details. Ukraine has ramped up strikes on the occupied peninsula in recent weeks.
  • Southern spy ring: The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) claimed it cracked a large Russian spy ring in the south of the country. The SBU alleged that 13 informants had been detained in the Mykolaiv region, all of them local residents. Four of the 13 had already been found guilty and sentenced to prison, it said.
  • European aid: EU lawmakers have approved a four-year budget that would provide up to 50 billion euros ($52.3 billion) for Ukraine to tackle the crisis caused by Russia’s war, the European Parliament said. The funding, separate to financing for military assistance, will provide direct budgetary support for Kyiv to support reforms, create a favorable investment climate and conditions for attracting private investors to the country's recovery, the statement said.  
  • Corruption concerns: The US is increasingly urging Ukraine to do more to combat corruption, multiple US officials told CNN. US officials have made clear recently that some forms of non-military aid are potentially in jeopardy if Kyiv does not do more to tackle graft.
  • Kyiv's blacklist: Ukraine has added three Chinese oil and gas companies to its list of international companies sponsoring Russia's war. The Ukrainian National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NAZK) said the firms "continue to develop joint projects with Russia and to fund Russia's strategic industry by paying substantial taxes."