September 8, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Helen Regan, Christian Edwards, Hannah Strange, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 7:22 p.m. ET, September 8, 2023
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7:16 p.m. ET, September 8, 2023

Our live coverage for the day has ended. Follow the latest Ukraine news here or read through the updates below.

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

Ukraine plans to provide humanitarian aid to African and Asian countries through Danube ports, official says

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

Ukraine will use Danube ports to ship humanitarian aid to African and Asian countries, according to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

The government of Ukraine, during a meeting held in Kyiv on Friday, supported a resolution to involve Ukrainian ports on the Danube River in providing humanitarian aid in the form of wheat and corn to those countries in the two continents.

"This is our contribution to global food security. We are working with the UN and our other partners to fully restore agricultural exports from Ukraine and finally unblock our Black Sea ports," Shmyhal said.

Russia pulled out of a deal to allow the safe passage of ships carrying grain from Ukrainian ports in July. Since then, Russia also ramped up attacks on Ukrainian port infrastructure.

The Black Sea initiative was significant in stabilizing global food markets since the war started in February last year, particularly for poorer countries relying more heavily on grain supplies from the region.

Ukraine harvested 34 million tonnes of crops this year, including 22 million tonnes of wheat, according to the country's prime minister.

The country's domestic demand is 6-7 million tonnes per year, Shmyhal said.

4:22 p.m. ET, September 8, 2023

UN watchdog warns of increased fighting around Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

A Russian service member stands guard at a checkpoint near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant outside Enerhodar on June 15.
A Russian service member stands guard at a checkpoint near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant outside Enerhodar on June 15. Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Experts from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency are once again warning of "a potential threat to nuclear safety" at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after hearing explosions there over the past week.

The plant – which is the largest of its kind in Europe – is located along the banks of the Dnipro River, next to the town of Enerhodar. It has been under full Russian control since March of last year but is operated mostly by Ukrainian staff, who were initially forced to work by invading Russian troops.

Experts from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency are stationed at the plant and "have reported hearing numerous explosions over the past week, in a possible sign of increased military activity in the region that could also pose a potential threat to nuclear safety and security at the site," Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement Friday.

"Just over a year after the IAEA established a permanent presence at Europe's largest nuclear power plant (NPP) to help prevent an accident there during the conflict in Ukraine, the overall situation at the facility remains highly precarious," Grossi wrote.

The director general said the IAEA team heard about two dozen explosions over the course of last Saturday, Sunday and Monday, followed by several more during "the last few days."

Reports indicate the explosions occurred "some distance away" from the plant, Grossi said. "Nevertheless, I remain deeply concerned about the possible dangers facing the plant at this time of heightened military tension in the region," he wrote.

"Whatever happens in a conflict zone wherever it may be, everybody would stand to lose from a nuclear accident, and I urge that all necessary precautions must be taken to avoid it happening," Grossi said.

Power plant staff told the watchdog agency that more drone strikes hit Enerhodar, where many employees live with their families, on Thursday morning, according to the statement. No casualties were reported.

The IAEA team was also informed that the plant has reduced the number of on-site staff to minimum levels over the next few days due to the risk of further fighting nearby.

4:43 p.m. ET, September 8, 2023

Zelensky to CNN on suggestions to negotiate with Putin: It's impossible to compromise "with a liar"

From CNN's Andrew Carey in Kyiv


Ukraine’s president says the example of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian mercenary leader who died in a plane crash last month, shows what happens when you try to make a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Ukraine’s counteroffensive so far has resulted in only modest gains, but Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN he rejected suggestions it was time to negotiate peace with the Kremlin. 

“When you want to have a compromise or a dialogue with somebody, you cannot do it with a liar,” Zelensky told CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

The Wagner leader’s fiery end, after apparently receiving promises over his freedom to continue operating, just weeks after leading a revolt against Putin’s handling of the war, was a warning to be heeded, Zelensky suggested.

While the United States and other key Ukrainian allies continue to supply weapons to Kyiv, stressing that conditions to pursue a “just and durable” peace are not yet in place, several other prominent world leaders, such as Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, have put the onus on Ukraine to end the war.

Ukraine’s leader pointed to examples of other countries that have been attacked by Russian soldiers and continue to be partly occupied by Moscow, as support for his position.

“Did you see any compromise from Putin on other issues? With Georgia? With Moldova?” Zelensky asked rhetorically.

11:43 a.m. ET, September 8, 2023

At least 1 dead and more than 70 injured in missile strike on Kryvyi Rih, say Ukrainian officials

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Vasco Cotovio in London

Burning buildings are seen at a site of a Russian missile strike in Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, on September 8.
Burning buildings are seen at a site of a Russian missile strike in Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, on September 8. State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters

A Russian missile strike on the center of Kryvyi Rih killed one person and injured a further 72 people on Friday, Ukrainian officials said.

“A police officer was killed in the Russian strike. Three more ones were rescued from the rubble by the State Emergency Service,” Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said in a Telegram post on Friday. “They are in serious condition.”

The head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration, Serhii Lysak, said there was also extensive damage.

“Three administrative buildings were damaged. 7 residential buildings were damaged, including a multi-story building,” he said.

Klymenko later confirmed that "search and rescue operations have been completed in Kryvyi Rih."

Earlier, Klymenko said nine police officers were among the injured.

Kryvyi Rih is the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Editor's note: The number of injured has been updated to reflect the latest information provided by authorities.

11:22 a.m. ET, September 8, 2023

Russia shoots down Ukrainian drone over Bryansk, defense ministry says

From CNN's Darya Tarasova and Vasco Cotovio


The Russian Ministry of Defense says it foiled what it called another attempt by Ukraine to “carry out a terrorist attack” with drones — this time over Bryansk. 

“Around 5:30 p.m., an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack by an aircraft-type UAV on objects on the territory of the Russian Federation was thwarted,” the ministry said in a statement Friday. “Air defense forces on duty over Bryansk intercepted three unmanned aerial vehicles, two of which were destroyed in the air.”

The Bryansk region borders both Ukraine and Belarus.

Earlier today, the ministry said it had repelled another Ukrainian drone attack attempt in Belgorod

Kyiv has launched several strategic aerial strikes in Russian territory in the last few months.

11:15 a.m. ET, September 8, 2023

Voting underway in Russian-controlled Ukrainian regions as residents "know who will win anyways"

From CNN's Rob Picheta and Yulia Kesaieva

Sixty miles northeast of Melitopol, a Ukrainian counteroffensive is grinding laboriously through Russian-held territory, hoping to liberate regions from the grips of Moscow’s rule.

But in this city – one of the first captured by Russian forces after their invasion last February – another operation is in full swing. There is one key difference: everyone knows how this one is going to end.

Voting is underway in Russia-occupied parts of eastern and southern Ukraine, as Moscow attempts to exert authority with elections the international community have widely dismissed as a sham.

Campaign material has apparently been dropped in from Russia to give the appearance of a proper contest. “It seems like there is nothing left in the city except the headquarters of (Russia’s ruling party) United Russia, the military and the billboards,” said a Melitopol resident in her early 30s who has refused to flee the city. CNN is referring to the woman by the pseudonym Baska, because of concerns for her safety.

"The election results are already well known," she said, predicting low turnout even among those in the city that support Russia. "People are generally apolitical, inert and know who will win anyways."

Russia held similar sham referendums in the four regions of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Luhansk last year, in an attempt to project authority over the parts of Ukraine its troops had captured. The new round of elections is being held alongside local votes inside Russia.

While Melitopol was struck earlier in the year by Ukrainian missile attacks on Russian targets, recently, it has been quiet. “People here do not feel the war. If last year almost every person standing at the queue at the market was talking about Mariupol or Crimea, now people have different feelings,” Baska added. “There are now fewer local people in the city than newcomers �� soon there will be a complete replacement of the local population (by Russians), it feels like.”

Few residents in Melitopol are interested in the bogus elections taking place, Baska told CNN. But to Moscow, the votes across occupied Ukraine are another tool through which to enforce control – even if international observers are unmoved.

Read more here.

10:44 a.m. ET, September 8, 2023

First batch of Leopard 1 tanks arrives in Ukraine, Denmark says

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London

Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks arrive at a military training ground where Ukrainian tank crews are being trained to operate and maintain them by German and Danish military personnel on May 5, near Klietz, Germany.
Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks arrive at a military training ground where Ukrainian tank crews are being trained to operate and maintain them by German and Danish military personnel on May 5, near Klietz, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The first 10 German-made Leopard 1 tanks pledged by Denmark have arrived in Ukraine, the Danish Armed Forces said in a statement on Friday. 

An additional 10 tanks have since been delivered from the factory after undergoing renovation, and they should be sent to Ukraine soon, it added. 

Denmark has joined efforts with Germany to donate the vehicles, first introduced in 1960s, most of which had been decommissioned in the early 2000s. They will also provide training to the Ukrainian crews that are going to be operating them once they reach Ukraine.

Around 135 of the vehicles are expected to be donated to Ukraine after undergoing refurbishment, having been in storage for nearly 20 years. 

Remember: In late January, the United States and Germany each announced they would send contingents of tanks to Ukraine, reversing their longstanding trepidation at providing Kyiv with offensive armored vehicles. The announcement by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that he will send Leopard 2 tanks was coupled with an announcement from US President Joe Biden that he was providing 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

The modern German Leopard 2 tanks were introduced in 1979 and have been upgraded several times since, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

10:26 a.m. ET, September 8, 2023

Lithuania announces donation of 4.5 million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London

Lithuania has announced it has donated 4.5 million rounds of ammunition to Ukraine, the country’s Ministry of Defense announced on Friday. 

“Lithuania continues to provide uninterrupted military support to Ukraine and today handed over one and a half million rounds of ammunition to the warring country,” the ministry said in a statement. “The military support transferred from Lithuania to Ukraine already includes Mi-8 helicopters, L-70 anti-aircraft guns with ammunition, M113 armored personnel carriers, millions of cartridges, grenade launcher ammunition.”

“NASAMS missile launch systems, anti-drones, logistical equipment and other support will soon be transferred to Ukraine,” it added. 

Lithuania has also been regularly training Ukrainian soldiers, and its contribution are among the highest in terms of percentage of GDP.