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What we covered here

  • Ukraine’s chief nuclear inspector says the country is considering shutting down the Zaporizhzhia power plant, as Russia and Ukraine continue to trade accusations over shelling of the Moscow-occupied facility.
  • Ukrainian forces are advancing to the east of Kharkiv, with recent footage geo-located by CNN showing soldiers in a town that was occupied by Russian forces until recently. Ukraine’s military also aims to retake Kherson by the end of the year, according to US and Ukrainian officials.
  • The European Commission is proposing a reduction on electricity during peak hours due to “Russian manipulation of the gas market.”
  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to have their first face-to-face meeting next week since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
32 Posts

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about today’s developments in the posts below.

Ukrainian official tells UN Security Council that 2.5 million people have been forcibly deported to Russia

Ukraine denounced Russia’s “filtration” scheme at a United Nations Security Council meeting Wednesday.

Deputy Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Khrystyna Hayovyshyn said Ukrainians forced to head to Russia or Russian-controlled territory are being killed and tortured.

Hayovyshyn told the Security Council that thousands of Ukrainian citizens are being forcefully deported to “isolated and depressed regions of Siberia and the far east. The Ambassador said 2.5 million people have been deported, including 38,000 children. 

Ukrainian citizens are terrorized, under the pretense of a search for “dangerous” people by Russian authorities, Hayovyshyn said. Those who have different political views or are affiliated with the Ukrainian government or media disappear into a gray area. Children are ripped from the arms of their parents, the Ukraine representative declared.

Russia's "filtration operations" are "horrifying," US ambassador to the UN says

U.S. Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a press conference, in the United Nations Security Council, on Wednesday, September 7.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Wednesday that Russia’s “filtration operations,” which Russia has allegedly used to interrogate and forcibly transport Ukrainian citizens to Russia, are “horrifying.”  

“A growing number of eyewitnesses and survivors of ‘filtration’ operations tell stories of threats, harassment, and incidents of torture by Russian security forces. They’ve had their biometric data captured, identification documents confiscated, and all means of communication cut off. They’ve been subject to invasive searches, interrogation under inhumane and demeaning circumstances. It really is horrifying,” Thomas-Greenfield told reporters outside the UN Security Council chamber.

“So why are they doing this?,” Thomas-Greenfield later asked during her remarks to the Security Council. “The reason is simple: to prepare for an attempted annexation.”

“The goal is to change sentiments by force. To provide a fraudulent veneer of legitimacy for the Russian occupation and eventual, purported annexation of even more Ukrainian territory. This effort to fabricate these facts on the ground is the predicate to sham referenda. It is part of the Russian playbook for Ukraine that we have been warning Council members about since even before the war began,” Thomas-Greenfield said. 

“These referenda will attempt to create a false semblance of legality and public support, so Russia feels it can annex Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and other regions of Ukraine. Of course, we will never recognize any efforts by Russia to change Ukraine’s borders by force. We must hold the perpetrators of these atrocities to account. We must respond as an international community — an international community that still respects the UN Charter,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

UN: Russia has subjected civilians to body searches and forced nudity during "filtration" security checks

Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris, left, and Head of the Board, Civic Lustration Committee, Ukraine Oleksandra Drik, right, virtually address the United Nations Security Council in New York on Wednesday, September 7.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has documented “filtration” cases, during which “Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups have subjected persons to body searches, sometimes involving forced nudity, and detailed interrogations about the personal background, family ties, political views and allegiances of the individual concerned,” according to Ilze Brands Kehris, United Nations assistant secretary-general for Human Rights. 

“They examined personal belongings, including mobile devices, and gathered personal identity data, pictures and fingerprints. In some cases, those awaiting ‘filtration’ spent nights in vehicles, or in unequipped and overcrowded premises, sometimes without adequate access to food, water and sanitation. We are particularly concerned that women and girls are at risk of sexual abuse during ‘filtration’ procedures,” Brands Kehris said.

The UN OHCHR has also documented cases of men and women “perceived as having ties with Ukrainian armed forces or state institutions, or as having pro-Ukrainian or anti-Russian views” being subjected to torture, arbitrary detention, and “enforced disappearance.”  

They were transferred to penal colonies, including the now infamous penal colony near Olenivka, and pre-trial detention centers, where they were interrogated and sometimes tortured to extract a so-called “confession” of their active cooperation with the government of Ukraine.

Some detainees were released after one or two months, while others remain detained as of today, with no or little information for their families about their whereabouts and fate,” Brands Kehris said.

Over 6.9 million people remain internally displaced in Ukraine, with most of the newly-displaced coming from eastern and southern Ukraine. There have been 5,718 civilians killed, including 372 children, and 8,199 injured, 635 being children, during the war so far, Rosemary DiCarlo, UN under-secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs, said Wednesday.

DiCarlo added that “these are only verified figures and the actual numbers are likely significantly higher.”

Russia denies forced “filtration” allegations: Refugees and displaced persons in Russia are given health and financial assistance, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said in his remarks to the UN Security Council Wednesday.

He said newcomers go through “registration,” not “filtration” procedures. 

It’s very unfortunate that human rights groups are making unfounded allegations against Russia, Nebenzia said. “We have wasted time” discussing this issue rather than real issues, he said. 

Nebenzia described the West’s concerns as “fantasies” and said no one is preventing people from leaving Russia. Ukraine is moving people out, even if they are safe in the affected regions, he claimed. “Kiev saboteurs” are attacking areas where people want to leave, charged the ambassador. 

“People are fleeing Ukraine, more for fear of Ukraine,” Nebenzia said.

UN says there have been credible allegations of forced transfers of unaccompanied Ukrainian children to Russia

The United Nations said Wednesday that there have been credible allegations of forced transfers of Ukrainian children to “Russian occupied territory, or to the Russian Federation itself,” Ilze Brands Kehris, the United Nations assistant secretary-general for human rights, said.

“We are concerned that the Russian authorities have adopted a simplified procedure to grant Russian citizenship to children without parental care, and that these children would be eligible for adoption by Russian families,” Brands Kehris said. “Moreover, we are particularly concerned that the announced plans of the Russian authorities to allow the movement of children from Ukraine to families in the Russian Federation do not appear to include steps for family reunification or in other ways ensure respect for the principle of the best interests of the child.”

Brands Kehris was addressing the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, during a meeting called by representatives from the United States and Albania to discuss the forced displacements of Ukrainian civilians and the use of “filtration” operations by Russia in their war in Ukraine.

CNN’s Richard Roth contributed reporting to this post.

Zelensky hits back at Putin over grain export criticism

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday hit back at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s criticism of the UN-brokered Black Seas Initiative to export Ukraine’s grain. 

“Today in Russia, another blatantly false statement was made that the absolute majority of Ukrainian grain is allegedly exported to European countries,” Zelensky said in his evening address. “Well, true words have not been heard at the official level in Russia for a long time, and this does not surprise anyone.”

“By the end of this month, at least three million tons of agricultural products can be exported from our seaports,” Zelensky said. “And a significant part is intended for the poorest and most needy countries.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Putin claimed that “only 3% of the grain being exported from Ukraine is going to developing countries, the majority is going to Europe.”

More background: In figures shared with CNN on Wednesday, the United Nations said that roughly 30% of exports under the initiative have gone to countries classified as low- or lower-middle-income. 

A further 37% of exports have gone to European Union countries. On top of that, 20% has gone to Turkey, though the UN advised that some of those shipments may have been sent on to Asia or Africa. 

“Unlike Russia,” Zelensky said, “we do not make a racist division of the world into those who deserve security and those who supposedly do not; into those who deserve to live without hunger and those who supposedly do not. We support all people, all countries. And those who help us, and those who still refrain from helping us.”

“And those that are more stable and those that are less stable. I emphasize once again: Ukraine was, is and will be the guarantor of world food security,” he aded.

With previous reporting from CNN’s Teele Rebane, Clare Sebastian and Hannah Ritchie.

President Zelensky thanks Ukrainian brigades involved in Kharkiv region offensive

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday thanked three brigades involved in operations to recapture Russian-held territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

“This week we have good news from Kharkiv region,” Zelensky said in his evening address. “Probably, you all have already seen reports about the activity of Ukrainian defenders. And, I think, every citizen feels proud of our soldiers. It is a well-deserved pride, a right feeling.”

“Now is not the time to name these or that settlements to which the Ukrainian flag is returning to,” he said. “But it’s time to say thanks to the 25th Airborne Brigade, the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade and the 80th Airborne Assault Brigade for their bravery and heroism, shown during combat missions.”

He also thanked units stationed in southern Ukraine “for the extremely successful hits” on occupying Russian forces. 

“The more difficult it is for the occupiers, the more losses they have, the better the positions for our defenders in Donbas will be, the more reliable the defense of Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and the cities of Dnipropetrovsk region will be, the faster we will be able to liberate the Azov region and the entire south,” he continued.

Estonia's economy minister urges unity on energy as Putin sends warning

Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, Riina Sikkut, speaks to the media in Brussels, on July 26.

Estonia’s economy minister has stressed the need for unity ahead of Friday’s emergency meeting of European Union Energy Ministers in Brussels.

Riina Sikkut, Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure told CNN’s Quest Means Business that the 27-nation bloc must stay united in terms of answering Russia’s threat and in dealing with the changes in the energy market.

Sikkut said, “Democratic states being united in tough times against Russia is a weapon Putin can never match. The challenge for Europe is to be united, to find a solution to reduce energy demand, to cap Russian energy sources and to actually come off Russian energy as quickly as possible. We have the political will, if we have the solidarity and unity we will survive the tough winter.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, proposed an EU-wide plan on Wednesday to tackle the energy crisis. This involves a price cap on Russian gas.  Russian President Putin says Moscow would react by stopping supplies to Europe completely.

Shelling damaged a backup power line at Zaporizhzhia power plant on Tuesday, UN nuclear watchdog says

This satellite image shows damage to the roof of a building adjacent to several of the nuclear reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on August, 29.

Shelling on Tuesday damaged a backup power line that would supply Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in case of emergency, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Of the three back-up lines between the ZNPP and the thermal power station, one is now damaged by shelling, while the two others are disconnected, senior Ukrainian operating staff informed IAEA experts present at the plant since last week,” the IAEA said in a statement.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been held by Russian forces since early March, but is still operated by Ukrainian staff. The IAEA Director General visited the power plant last week, and two IAEA experts stayed to maintain a permanent presence at the plant. 

The IAEA said that the shelling damage did not “have an immediate impact” on the plant, because the electricity line was not connected to the grid at the time.

“For the last few days, the ZNPP has relied on its sole operating reactor for the power it needs for cooling and other safety functions,” the IAEA said on Wednesday. “While the plant also has emergency diesel generators available if needed, Director General Grossi has repeatedly expressed concern about the power supply situation.”

“A secure off-site power supply from the grid and back-up power supply systems are essential for ensuring nuclear safety and preventing a nuclear accident. This requirement is among the seven indispensable nuclear safety and security pillars that the Director General outlined at the beginning of the conflict,” the agency continued.

US says officials in Putin administration are overseeing "filtration" operations in Ukraine

The US State Department alleged that members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration are personally “overseeing and coordinating” Russia’s so-called “filtration camps” for Ukrainians, which Russia has allegedly used to interrogate and forcibly transport Ukrainian citizens to Russia.

“We are further aware that the Russian presidential administration officials are providing lists of Ukrainians to be targeted for filtration and receiving reports on the scope and progress of operations,” said State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel at a briefing with reporters.

The allegations come as part of “newly downgraded information” from the US government, including maps from the director of national intelligence of the alleged filtration sites on how Russia is “using dedicated information technology to support filtration operations, including online databases, tools, equipment to support the gathering of biometric data and facial recognition and tracking and monitoring of Ukrainian cell phones.”

“We assess that the Kremlin views filtration operations as crucial to their efforts to annex areas of Ukraine under their control,” said Patel. “And we demand that Russia halt its filtration operations immediately and allow the UN, independent observers and humanitarian and human rights organizations access to these filtration sites.”

However, Patel would not say whether Putin himself was involved in these efforts.

And while Patel said “the fear and misery” that Russia’s filtration effort “evokes for people forced to live under the Kremlin’s control are hard to overstate,” he would not directly call these operations a war crime.

Russian ambassador to EU claims that Russia's presence at Zaporizhzhia plant is "best guarantee of its safety"

The presence of Russian troops at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine is “the best guarantee of its safety and security,” Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.  

“I can assure you that the presence of Russian specialized military forces at the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station is the best guarantee of its safety and security,” Chizhov claimed in the interview.  

The Russian diplomat was referring to International Atomic Energy Director General Rafael Grossi’s calls on Tuesday for “a shield, a bubble around the perimeter of the facility” as a safety zone to prevent any nuclear incident. 

Chizhov told CNN that the onus was on the Ukrainians:

“What is needed to have the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station safe and secure is for the Ukrainian forces to stop shelling the area and actually buildings and other elements of the compound of the nuclear power station. And that will ensure safety for this largest — not only in Ukraine, but the largest in Europe – nuclear power station.” 

For context: Both Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly blamed each other for shelling at and around the Moscow-controlled plant. CNN is unable to independently verify their claims.

Chizhov also said he shares Grossi’s concerns.

“The important thing is for the Ukrainian side to stop shelling the site and abandon attempts to take it by force, which it has been doing in the last few days and weeks,” Chizhov said. 

EU proposes $5 billion loan for Ukraine

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on September 7.

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed 5 billion euros (about $5 billion) in macro-financial assistance loans to Ukraine, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. 

The proposal would help the country address “its immediate financial needs caused by Russia’s brutal invasion,” she said.

The commission said in a news release that the aid was part of a 9 billion euros (about $9 billion) funding package agreed by EU leaders in May. 

The proposal now needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council. 

Ukraine “must win this war: it must regain the freedom and independence it is so courageously fighting for. The EU will continue to do its part to make sure this happens – solidarity will prevail, and peace will come,” von der Leyen also said. 

Switzerland will seek closer ties to NATO and EU in wake of Russia's war in Ukraine, government says 

Switzerland said it would seek closer ties to NATO and the European Union to strengthen its “defense capabilities” in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine while maintaining its traditional neutrality in the crisis.  

The Swiss Federal Council said in a statement Wednesday that the government has decided to focus on country’s security and defense policy “more consistently than before towards international cooperation.” 

The war in Ukraine has showed the increasing threat also posed by disinformation, cyberattacks, covert operations and armed conflict, the council said.  

The country will seek to increase participation in joint exercises with NATO and join the EU’s rapid-deployment teams for rescue and evacuation operations.  

The Swiss Federal Council also said it decided to modernize the country’s armed forces by “incorporating lessons learned from” the war in Ukraine.   

Ukrainian generals: The conflict likely "is not going to end anywhere within 2022"

People stand near a destroyed building following a missile strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine on August 29.

Ukraine’s top general said that there is “no certain final outcome in view” in the country’s battle against Russia and that success will only be possible by increasing the distance that Ukraine can strike with its missiles.

“Only by balancing out the weapons’ operating range, thus disturbing the said center of gravity for the enemy, can we get to a turning point in the ongoing war,” Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi wrote on Wednesday in a piece co-authored with Lt. Gen. Mykhailo Zabrodskyi, first deputy chairman of the national security, defense, and intelligence committee of Ukraine’s parliament.  

“There is every reason to believe,” they write, that the conflict “is not going to end anywhere within 2022.”

In a wide-ranging and revealing analysis published by Ukrainian state media Ukrinform, Zaluzhnyi and Zabrodskyi said that the country needs more weapons to battle Russian forces.

“The Armed Forces of Ukraine, in the best-case scenario, are able to employ outdated launchers and strike no farther than the depth of the enemy’s operational rear,” they wrote. “If Ukraine succeeds in receiving the appropriate weapons, operational and strategic prospects for 2023 will look totally different. The very threat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces employing means of destruction of the appropriate range will force Russia to reconsider the nature, course, and outcome of the ongoing confrontation.”

As an example, they cited Ukraine’s strikes on Russian bases in Crimea last month. This is believed to be the most explicitly Ukrainian military leaders have publicly acknowledged the strikes on Crimea.

“This was done by a series of successful missile strikes on the enemy’s Crimea-based air bases, first of all, the Saki airfield. The task of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for 2023 is to make these experiences even sharper and more tangible for the Russians and for other occupied regions, despite the massive distance to the targets,” they wrote.

A Ukrainian artillery unit fires a rocket launcher near a frontline position in Donetsk region on August 27.

They also said that acquiring more-capable weapons systems from foreign allies can only be a solution as a “transition period,” and that Ukraine must better develop a domestic production capability.

Since the start of the war, they believe, two factors have most hindered Ukraine’s efforts to get more weaponry from allied countries: a “misconception about the scale of the Russo-Ukrainian war” and “the direct threat of the use by Russia, under certain circumstances, of tactical nuclear weapons,” which would threaten all of Europe.

The generals are realistic about Ukraine’s immediate military challenges, saying that “this will be a long conflict, bringing human losses and massive expenses, with no certain final outcome in view.”

They also noted that Donetsk region, the cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa, and even the capital of Kyiv are still vulnerable to capture by the Russians.

German chancellor pledges continued military support in call with Ukrainian president  

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks on September 7 in Berlin, Germany.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call Wednesday that Berlin would continue to support Kyiv not only militarily, but also politically, financially and humanitarianly, according to a German readout of the call.  

Scholz and Zelensky exchanged views on Ukraine’s military, humanitarian and economic situation and possibilities for further concrete support, including in reconstruction, the readout said. 

Scholz also informed Zelensky about the “intensive preparations” for an international conference on Ukraine reconstruction in Berlin on Oct. 25 this year. 

Both the leaders agreed that the safety and protection of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were of “utmost importance” and supported measures recommended in a report published Tuesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  

The IAEA in the report called for the “immediate establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the nuclear power plant.  

“There is an urgent need for interim measures to prevent a nuclear accident arising from physical damage caused by military means,” the IAEA wrote in its report.  

It's 7:30 p.m. in Ukraine. Catch up here on the latest developments in the war. 

Ukraine is considering shutting down the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to a top nuclear inspector, while officials say troops are looking to retake Kherson by the end of the year.

These are Wednesday’s latest developments in the war:

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant: Ukraine is considering shutting down the Zaporizhzhia plant — the largest in Europe — due to the deteriorating security situation, according to the country’s chief state inspector for nuclear and radiation safety.

Russia and Ukraine continue to blame each other for shelling at and around the plant after the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report yesterday that it was “gravely concerned” about the situation on the ground.

Ukraine sets its sights on Kherson: The last week has seen the most ambitious ground assaults by the Ukrainians since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, and both US and Ukrainian officials said that Ukrainian forces aim to take back most of the southern Russian-occupied region of Kherson by the end of 2022.

Proposal to reduce electricity: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made a series of proposals, including a “mandatory target for reducing electricity use at peak hours.” 

The proposals were introduced with the goal of helping European citizens deal with rising energy costs as Russia’s actions in “actively manipulating the gas market” and the effects of climate change cause prices to surge.

US analyzing long-term support: The Pentagon is preparing detailed analysis and working out how to support Ukraine’s military in the medium- and long-term, including after the war with Russia has ended, according to three defense officials. The US has provided billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.

Ukrainian forces near Kharkiv: Ukrainian forces are advancing to the east of Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, with recent social media footage geolocated by CNN showing soldiers in the town of Volokhiv-Yar, which was occupied by Russian forces until recently. If Ukrainian forces are able to consolidate their presence in Volokhiv-Yar, they could encircle Russian troops in the neighboring town of Balakliya.

CNN has geolocated videos showing Ukrainian forces on the outskirts of Balakliya. There are indications fighting is ongoing in the area.

Putin makes claims on grain and war gains: Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia has “lost nothing” in its invasion of Ukraine in a speech on Wednesday. But based on downgraded intelligence, the US believes that Russia is facing “severe” shortages of military personnel in Ukraine.

He also used misleading figures to claim that low- and middle-income countries are receiving a fraction of the Ukrainian grain exports they were expecting under the landmark UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative. In a statement to CNN, the United Nations said that under the Black Seas Initiative, roughly 30% of “grains and other foodstuffs” have made it to low- and lower-middle-income countries, or roughly 700,000 metric tons.

Austria will freeze electricity prices from December until June 2024

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer attends a press conference in Vienna, Austria, on July 28.

The Austrian government on Wednesday announced plans for a cap on electricity costs starting in December to tackle the rise in energy prices, partly triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The price cap “is effective for about 80 percent of the average consumption of a household and massively dampens the cost increase. For consumption beyond 2900 kWh, the market price must be paid. This also provides an incentive to save electricity,“ Chancellor Karl Nehammer said ahead of a Council of Ministers meeting. 

The electricity cost freeze is expected to take effect starting on Dec. 1 and will remain in force until June 30, 2024, and should relieve a household of an average of around 500 euros ($497) per year, according to a Council of Ministers’ news release.

The government aims to pass the plan in parliament “as quickly as possible, probably in October,“ it said.