September 9, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Travis Caldwell, Christina Walker, Aditi Sangal, Hannah Strange, Adrienne Vogt and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 2139 GMT (0539 HKT) September 9, 2022
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1:07 a.m. ET, September 9, 2022

US Secretary of State Blinken says Ukrainian counteroffensive is "proving effective" as he departs Kyiv

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to media before departing at the railway station in Kyiv, Ukraine on Thursday, Sept. 8.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to media before departing at the railway station in Kyiv, Ukraine on Thursday, Sept. 8. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has departed Kyiv after his unannounced visit on Thursday, where he said the ongoing counteroffensive was “proving effective.”

The top US diplomat also said “it would be hard to imagine” that Russia’s so-called filtration operations, which have forcibly deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, would be possible without the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Blinken credited the success of the counteroffensive to the “incredible bravery, resilience of Ukrainians,” and said the US was “so pleased to have been able to support your efforts.”

“Fundamentally, what this comes down, I think the reason for this success is this is your homeland, not Russia’s. And it’s as basic as that,” the top US diplomat said while seated across from Zelensky. 

Speaking to the press before departing the city by train, Blinken said he got “a comprehensive update on the on the counter offensive.

“Again, it's very early, but we're seeing clear and real progress on the ground, particularly in the area around Kherson, but also some interesting developments in the Donbass, in the east, but again, early days,” he said.

Blinken said he spent about two hours with Zelensky and his team, and called it “a very productive and in many ways meaningful day.” 

In addition to meeting with Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, he visited US Embassy, toured a children’s hospital and went Irpin, where he saw first-hand the devastation wrought from the Russian occupation of the suburb of Kyiv.

The top US diplomat told the press he “was able to bear witness to horrific attacks on houses, on buildings, clearly belonging to civilians, where the shelling, the missiles, the bullets, it's all there. And at best, it's indiscriminate. At worst, it's intentional. And I was able to talk to people doing remarkable work in compiling evidence of war crimes and atrocities and also those responsible for the city who are working to rebuild it,” he said.

Ukrainian forces regained control of Irpin in late March, but the city was left in ruins. Damage was still visible as the top US diplomat toured a part of the city, guided by Deputy Mayor Dmytro Nehresha, according to press accompanying Blinken.

Blinken was told that 95% of the city was evacuated at one point, but a vast majority – about 78% — have returned, and it is receiving internally displaced people from Kherson.

1:24 a.m. ET, September 9, 2022

Ukraine's Zelensky claims country's military retook key city of Balakliia from Russia

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Yulia Kesaieva

A video posted on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Facebook page on Thursday September 8, claims his soldiers have retaken the key Kharkiv city of Balakliia.
A video posted on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Facebook page on Thursday September 8, claims his soldiers have retaken the key Kharkiv city of Balakliia. (Office of President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed his country’s soldiers have retaken the key Kharkiv city of Balakliia.

Zelensky posted a video on his social media accounts with Ukrainian soldiers standing above a building in Balakliia, alongside the Ukrainian flag.

“Mr President, Mr Commander-in-Chief, Balakliia city of the Kharkiv region is taken under our control,” one of the soldiers says. “The order is fulfilled. Russian occupational troops have withdrawn.”

In front of the soldier, a Russian flag can been seen on the ground.

Zelensky captioned the video saying “everything was in its place.”

“The Ukrainian flag is in the free Ukrainian city, under the free Ukrainian sky,” the Ukrainian president said.

3:28 a.m. ET, September 9, 2022

Biden discussed "Russia's weaponization of energy" on call with allies

From CNN's Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a Cabinet Meeting at the White House on September 6.
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a Cabinet Meeting at the White House on September 6. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden spoke with counterparts from Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Romania, Poland and the United Kingdom, as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and representatives from France and the European Union on Thursday to discuss ongoing support for Ukraine.

Biden “(underscored) continued international support for Ukraine, including through the ongoing provision of security and economic assistance and the sustained imposition of costs on Russia to hold the Kremlin accountable for its aggression,” according to a White House readout of the call.

The readout continued: “The leaders also discussed Russia's weaponization of energy and the need for further coordination to secure sustainable and affordable energy supplies for Europe.”

That comes as the White House is “closely” monitoring an escalating energy crisis in Europe after Russian energy giant Gazprom halted flows through the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline indefinitely, claiming it had found an oil leak in a turbine.

1:07 a.m. ET, September 9, 2022

Forcible deportations of Ukrainian civilians to Russia are detailed at UN Security Council

From CNN’s Richard Roth

Torture and the forcible deportation of 2.5 million people were among the shocking details of human rights violations against Ukrainian civilians recounted at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

Deputy Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Khrystyna Hayovyshyn told the council that 2.5 million people, including 38,000 children, have been forcibly deported from the country under a Russian “filtration” program.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has also documented “filtration” cases, it said.

During these cases, “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.

Brands Kehris said there have been credible allegations of forced transfers of Ukrainian children to “Russian occupied territory, or to the Russian Federation itself.”

"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,” she added.

In addition, Brands Kehris said that 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.”

Russian officials said the allegations of forced "filtration" are unfounded, adding that newcomers to the country go through "registration," not filtration.

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.

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, the ambassador added.

Meanwhile, Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs said that 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, including 635 children, during the war so far, she said.

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