September 7, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Chris Lau, Sophie Tanno, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer, Maureen Chowdhury and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, September 8, 2023
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1:04 a.m. ET, September 7, 2023

Analysis: US scorns Putin's possible turn toward North Korea

Analysis from CNN's Stephen Collinson

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Getty Images

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un may each have something the other wants — a dangerous combination as far as the US is concerned.

A meeting that may be in the works between the Russian and North Korean autocrats could have an impact on the war in Ukraine, complicate Washington’s repeatedly failed efforts to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear program, and play into the wider geopolitical chess game unfolding in the Pacific in which China is the major player.

Washington has reacted to the possibility of the meeting — which could possibly take place after Kim climbs aboard his armored train headed for the Russian far east — by mocking Putin, warning North Korea and trying to work out what it might mean.

Russia may be looking to Kim to replenish its ammunition and artillery supplies as the war in Ukraine grinds into another bloody winter. Pyongyang is also adept at drone and missile technology.

Kim, meanwhile, knows that Russia is a longtime and sophisticated nuclear power whose expertise could help his own expanding program. It’s also a big oil supplier, and North Korea and Russia are both living under punishing Western sanctions and restrictions on their access to the global market. If they can help each other ease the pain of blockades, they may be able to do business.

Read the full analysis here.

12:00 a.m. ET, September 7, 2023

Ukraine touts counteroffensive progress as US secretary of state visits Kyiv. Here's what to know

From CNN staff

In one of the deadliest attacks in months, a Russian missile landed in the middle of the Ukrainian town of Kostiantynivka, killing 17 people, Ukrainian officials said.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with senior Ukrainian leadership and President Volodymyr Zelensky during his third visit to Kyiv on Wednesday. The visit comes as Ukraine’s counteroffensive enters its fourth month, with both Blinken and Zelensky expressing that it is making process.

Here's the top headlines:

  • Blinken in Kyiv: The US secretary of state announced $1 billion in new US support for Ukraine at a news conference with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv. Blinken also met with Zelensky to discuss efforts on the battlefield and "longer-term sustainable security arrangements." Zelensky, who just returned to the capital from the front lines, told Bliken it is always a “great message of support” for Ukraine when US officials visit and that financial support is "crucial."
  • New weapons: The new US military assistance package to Ukraine includes depleted uranium munitions for the first time, a US official told CNN. The munitions are mildly radioactive because they are made from dense metal, a byproduct from fuel production for nuclear power plants. They can be fired from the US-made Abrams tanks that are expected to arrive in Ukraine this fall.
  • Ukrainian counteroffensive: The slowness of Ukraine’s counteroffensive can in part be attributed to the strength of Russia’s defensive fortifications on the southern front. But Ukrainian officials are cautiously optimistic that the subsequent lines of defense may be easier to penetrate than the first, which were shrouded by dense minefields. 

  • Deadly strike: At least 17 people, including a child, were killed by a Russian missile attack on a market in the eastern Donetsk region town of Kostiantynivka, Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said. At least 32 others were injured, officials said. The strike appeared to hit a market near a shopping center, according to unofficial reports. Kostiantynivka is close to the front lines around Bakhmut.
  • Drone attacks: Russian air defenses intercepted drones over the southern city of Rostov-on-Don and the capital Moscow, officials said Thursday. Reports of Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian territory have become an almost daily occurrence in recent weeks as Kyiv ramps up its apparent efforts to wear down Russian domestic support for the war.
  • UAE visit: Senior Western officials are visiting the United Arab Emirates to discuss sanctions as concerns mount over goods being exported to Russia that could potentially be used in Moscow’s war on Ukraine. The concerns are centered on around computer chips and other electronics with both civilian and military use.
  • New defense minister: Rustem Umerov vowed to take back "every centimeter" of Ukrainian land and bring home all those in captivity after being sworn in as Ukraine's new defense minister. He replaces Oleksii Reznikov — defense minister since before the war began — whose tenure had been plagued by contract scandals. 
10:21 p.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Russia intercepts drones over Rostov and Moscow, officials say

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Mohammed Tawfeeq

Russian air defenses intercepted drones over the southern city of Rostov-on-Don and the capital Moscow, officials said on Thursday.

In a Telegram post, Rostov Gov. Vasily Golubev said one person was injured and several cars were damaged after one drone fell in the city center and another fell on its western outskirts.

Separately, Russian air defenses intercepted a drone attack near Moscow, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a Telegram post. 

"Tonight, in the Ramensky urban district, air defense forces thwarted a drone attack on Moscow. There is no damage or casualties at the site of the fall of the wreckage. Emergency services are on site," Sobyanin said in the post. 

Ukraine did not make any immediate comment.

Reports of Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian territory have become an almost daily occurrence in recent weeks as Kyiv ramps up its apparent efforts to wear down Russian domestic support for the war.

10:17 p.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Russian defense ministry proposes law allowing military registration for prisoners

From CNN’s Mariya Knight 

The Russian defense ministry has proposed amending regulations to allow military registration for prisoners, state news agency TASS reported Wednesday. 

“The Russian Ministry of Defense has proposed amending the regulations of military registration, in order to make those serving sentences get on military registration in correctional institutions,” TASS said.

The current law says “citizens serving a sentence of imprisonment are not subject to military registration.” 

It is proposed to introduce the concept of "special military registration” for conscripts and those liable for military service who are currently serving sentences, according to TASS. 

"Special military registration is carried out by correctional institutions, correctional centers of the penitentiary system [...] and military commissariats at the location of institutions of the penitentiary system in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation and this regulation," the draft amendment says. 

According to the draft, “installment and removal from special military registration are carried out without appearing at the military commissariats, the corresponding lists of prisoners are provided by correctional institutions as prisoners are received, transferred or released,” according to TASS. 

Some background: Russian prisoners have already been used by Moscow in the war in Ukraine. For months, Russia had been using the private mercenary company Wagner to bolster its frontline presence with prisoners — a scheme at first denied and secretive, but then openly promoted by Wagner’s late owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin. In addition, several prisoners told CNN earlier this year they were directly employed by the defense ministry. And, more recently, other convicts detailed the brutality of the front lines.

8:16 a.m. ET, September 7, 2023

After a frontline breakthrough, Ukraine appears optimistic it can further breach Russian defenses

From CNN's Tim Lister, Olga Voitovych and Sana Noor Haq

Ukrainian officials continue to sound optimistic that the second line of Russian defensive fortifications on the southern front may be easier to penetrate than the first, as Kyiv’s troops try to push through a web of dense minefields in a grinding counteroffensive.

Geolocated video in recent days indicates Ukrainian units have made limited progress beyond the village of Robotyne, as they seek to expand the territory in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region they reclaimed in August.

Ukraine’s military appears to have targeted its operations toward the strategic town of Tokmak — just south of Robotyne — a logistic hub that Russian forces use for resupply, and where fuel and ammunition depots are located.

Last week, Ukrainian forces said they had penetrated the first line of Russian strongholds in Zaporizhzhia.

However, the surrounding occupied area is encircled by complex lines of Russian defenses including minefields, anti-tank barriers and deep-set trenches, posing acute challenges for Ukrainian troops trying to regain the territory.

In attempting to breach the second line of Russian defenses, Ukrainian units “will benefit from the fact that the network of trenches, dugouts, and overlaps there is not as strong as on the first line,” Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesman for Ukrainian forces in the south, told Ukrainian television on Monday.

But Shtupun conceded that the second line “is quite powerful.”

“I don’t know why everyone thinks it is weaker. Indeed, the density of minefields there is lower, but their number is also quite large. The only thing that can play into our hands is that the trenches, dugouts, and overlaps are not as strong.”

The Ukrainian military said on Wednesday that it repelled a counterattack by Russian forces near Robotyne.

The General Staff said its units had been successful in consolidating their positions, inflicting artillery fire on identified enemy targets and conducting counter-battery operations.

Read more here.

12:58 a.m. ET, September 7, 2023

Blinken visits Kyiv and makes clear the Biden administration is working to support Ukraine for the long haul

From CNN's Kylie Atwood, Natasha Bertrand and Andrew Carey

Antony Blinken attends a joint press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv, Ukraine on September 6.
Antony Blinken attends a joint press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv, Ukraine on September 6. Brendan Smialowski/Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv on Wednesday for his third trip to the Ukrainian capital since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, where he doubled down on US support for Kyiv’s counteroffensive, announcing more than a billion dollars of additional US aid and underscoring for an audience back home why the US needs to commit billions of dollars more to help defeat Vladmir Putin.

Blinken said the US is “determined to continue to walk side-by-side” with Ukraine when he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, as he called the country’s progress in the counteroffensive “very, very encouraging.”

Zelensky said it is always a “great message of support” for Ukraine when US officials visit, noting that this is a “tough period” for his country.

The top US diplomat announced more than a billion dollars in additional funding for Kyiv’s war effort as the Biden administration braces for a political struggle to secure more money from Congress.

“In the ongoing counteroffensive, progress has accelerated in the past few weeks. This new assistance will help sustain it and build further momentum,” Blinken said at a press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

The new package includes up to $175 million to replenish Ukrainian forces with weaponry that the US has given to the country in the past including: air defense system components, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems for HIMARS, munitions, ammunition, and communications systems, according to a State Department fact sheet. These weapons will come from Pentagon stocks.

The military assistance includes depleted-uranium munitions for the first time.

The aid also contains $100 million for long-term military support, $90 million to assist demining efforts, $300 million to support law enforcement efforts, $200 million for transparency and anti-corruption efforts and $200 million for humanitarian assistance.

Blinken also said that the US will be transferring seized Russian assets to Ukraine for the first time. He did not say how much those assets amounted to, or precisely when the transfer would happen.

“Those who have enabled Putin’s war of aggression should pay for it,” Blinken said.

Read the full story here.

1:05 a.m. ET, September 7, 2023

Russian missile strikes eastern Ukraine market, killing 17, in one of the worst attacks in months

From CNN's Tim Lister, Julia Kesaieva and Christian Edwards

Police officers and rescuers inspect the site of a Russian military strike in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine September 6.
Police officers and rescuers inspect the site of a Russian military strike in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine September 6. Press service of the Interior Ministry of Ukraine/Reuters

At least 17 people have been killed, including a child, after a Russian missile struck a market in a town in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, officials said, one of the worst attacks in months.

Ukrainian officials said 32 others were wounded in the attack on Kostiantynivka.

“Russian troops are terrorists who will not be forgiven and will not be left in peace,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal wrote on Telegram. “There will be a just retribution for everything.”

Russian missile attacks regularly hit civilian areas but tolls this high are unusual. A strike on an apartment block in the central city of Uman killed 23 people, including children, in April, and a similar strike on Dnipro killed 40 in January.

Kostiantynivka is close to the front lines around Bakhmut and frequently crowded with military personnel.

But footage of the attack shared by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed civilians walking along the market street before the missile struck on Wednesday afternoon.

One video showed a large explosion in the middle of the busy thoroughfare, smashing the glass of nearby buildings as pedestrians ran away.

The footage shared by Zelensky then showed a fierce fire and plumes of thick black smoke billowing from burnt-out cars and buildings, as firefighters responded at the scene.

Subsequent images from Kostiantynivka showed the effects of the explosion: blood smeared across the floor of a pharmacy, burning cars, destroyed buildings, and bodies being carried away by emergency services.

Read more here.

8:45 p.m. ET, September 6, 2023

New defense minister pledges to take back all of Ukraine from Russian control

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

In remarks as Ukraine’s new defense minister, Rustem Umerov vowed to wrest back control of "every centimeter" of Ukrainian land from Russia and bring home all those in captivity.

He said he will “do everything possible and impossible for the victory of Ukraine — when we liberate every centimeter of our country and every one of our people,” speaking shortly after the Ukrainian parliament approved his appointment.

“We will definitely return everyone who, unfortunately, are temporarily in captivity. All of them — children, prisoners of war, political prisoners, civilians,” Umerov said.

Umerov has been prominently involved with the return of prisoners of war.

“Forty-two million Ukrainians stand behind every soldier. Behind every soldier is a ministry that will do everything to protect and provide for all our people. Our people, their lives and dignity are our priority and highest value,” he added.

Some background: Umerov replaces Oleksii Reznikov, whose long tenure — he had been in the post since before the full-scale war started — had been damaged by contract scandals involving the defense ministry. Reznikov submitted his resignation on Monday after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy cited the need for "new approaches," with the conflict entering a critical phase.

8:44 p.m. ET, September 6, 2023

Western officials visit UAE amid push to deprive Russia of advanced microchips

From CNN's Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

Senior Western officials are visiting the United Arab Emirates to discuss sanctions as concerns mount over goods being exported to Russia that could potentially be used in Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

Representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union arrived in the Gulf nation this week to discuss the implementation of sanctions on Russia as part of a broader effort with a range of “partner” countries, a US embassy spokesperson told CNN.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the visit, said it comes as part of “a collective global push to keep computer chips, electronic components and other so-called dual-use products, which have both civilian and military applications, out of Russian hands.”

“The UAE is working with its friends and allies to address any concerns with regards to sanctions on Russia,” a senior UAE official told CNN when asked about the matter.

Read more here.