US secretary of state concerned Russia might "stir the pot" with Armenia and Azerbaijan to distract from Ukraine
From CNN's Michael Conte, Jennifer Hansler, Aren Melikyan and Eleni Giokos
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was concerned about whether Russia might try “stir the pot” between Armenia and Azerbaijan “to create a distraction from Ukraine.”
“But, if Russia can actually use its own influence for good, which is to again calm the waters, end the violence, and urge people to engage in good faith on building peace, that would be a positive thing,” added Blinken during a press gaggle while touring the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue University in Indiana.
Blinken said he spoke last night with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan and “urged them to do everything possible to pull back from any conflict and to get back to talking about building a lasting peace between their countries.”
“We’d seen the outbreak of hostilities again, something that is in no one’s interest,” said Blinken.
Some more context: Armenia’s prime minister says that at least 49 Armenian soldiers were killed after fresh clashes erupted on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan this week.
In an address to Armenia’s parliament on Tuesday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said, "At present, we have 49 (service personnel) killed in action, confirmed by the Ministry of Defence. But I have to admit as well, that this number is unfortunately not the final one."
Russian forces lost hundreds of pieces of equipment during Kharkiv retreat, analysts say
From CNN's Tim Lister
Scores of images and videos have emerged in recent days of tanks, armored vehicles and other military equipment abandoned by Russian forces in their hasty retreat from the Kharkiv region.
While those losses are hard to quantify, it's clear that the Russians lost or abandoned hundreds of pieces of equipment, including more modern hardware. Analysts believe that, for example, one Russian tank division may have lost half its combat power.
According to the Ukrainian military's General Staff, during the week beginning Sept. 6, 590 pieces of Russian equipment were destroyed.
"Enemy losses were 86 tanks and 158 armored fighting vehicles, 106 artillery systems, 159 vehicles and 46 units of other equipment," the General Staff claimed.
CNN cannot independently verify the figures cited, but an independent group, Oryx — which has collated Russian losses since the campaign began — said it has verified a surge of losses among Russian units compared to August. Most have been incurred in Kharkiv, though the Russians have also lost equipment in Kherson and Donetsk.
In one day alone, Sept. 11, Oryx estimated that Ukrainian forces destroyed, damaged or captured 102 pieces of Russian equipment, including 23 tanks, 13 armored personnel carriers and 25 infantry fighting vehicles. The following day, the Russians lost a further 99 pieces, according to Oryx data.
As it only counts observed and verifiable losses in its data, Oryx says the real rate of losses is likely much higher.
According to rolling averages compiled by Oryx, in the second week of September, Russian forces were losing an average of more than 60 pieces of equipment a day, compared to about 15 a day in the final week of August. That's the highest sustained rate of loss since several disastrous attempts to cross the Siverskyi Donets river in May.
In the same period, Ukrainian verified losses were running at about 10 pieces of equipment.
Some of the equipment appears to have belonged to the Luhansk People's Militia rather than regular Russian forces and is likely to have been older. But substantial amounts of modern hardware were also lost.
Geolocated images show a number of updated T-80 tanks were among those damaged or destroyed, as well as mine-clearing vehicles and armored personnel carriers.
Military analyst Rob Lee of the Department of War Studies at King's College London tweeted Monday that videos showed T-80s, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles all disabled.Lee later tweeted: "Russia's 4th Tank Division has two tank regiments ... With the most recent losses in Izium, it has lost nearly a full regiment of T-80U variant tanks in Ukraine, or half its total that weren't in storage."
Ukraine Weapons Tracker, which also analyzes social media and official images, said that in one single location near Izium, "we counted no less than nine T-80U and T-80BV tanks."
Some more specialized equipment was also lost, including a Zoopark-1 radar station, which tracks the positions of enemy firepower. Other videos show Ukrainian soldiers showing off captured Russian Tor and Osa short-range surface-to-air missile systems in the Kharkiv region. There are also images of Russian Orlan-10 drones retrieved by Ukrainian forces, apparently undamaged.
Some analysts believe Russian forces left equipment behind because of a lack of fuel.
According to the Institute for the Study of War:
"Russian troops likely withdrew from the area in great haste, and social media posts show abandoned tanks and other heavy military equipment near Izium, which indicates that Russian troops failed to organize a coherent retreat."
The loss of so much armor and other equipment may also complicate the Russians' task of reconstituting units and forming a new defensive line inside the Luhansk region.
4:18 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022
Ukraine asks US for long-range weapons amid counteroffensive, source says
From CNN's Natasha Bertrand
Ukrainian government officials are asking the US for additional weapons systems and ammunition amid a major counteroffensive that has successfully pushed Russia out of key cities in northeast Ukraine.
Against the backdrop of this fresh momentum, Ukrainian officials told US lawmakers that the Ukrainian military needs new equipment to sustain the push. Specifically, they say they need long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems, known as ATACMS, which can fire as far as 180 miles, according to a source who has seen the list and described it to CNN.
The US has been reluctant to provide the ATACMS out of concern that they could be used to fire into Russia and potentially escalate the conflict further. But in an analysis published last week, two top Ukrainian generals — Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi and Lt. Gen. Mykhailo Zabrodskyi — said that Ukraine is at a disadvantage because the Russians have assets that can fire as far as 1,200 miles, whereas the Ukrainians’ systems have a maximum range of around 60 miles.
“Thus, from the onset of the large-scale aggression, Russian weapons could hit targets 20 times farther than the Ukrainians,” they wrote.
When Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was asked why the US has not sent ATACMs to Ukraine yet, despite Ukrainians’ request for them, Austin said the US is in “constant communication” with Ukraine about what weapons they need and stressed, “it’s not just about one particular weapon or weapons system.”
“It’s about how you integrate these systems and how you integrate the efforts of various elements in the inventory to create effects that provide advantages to the Ukrainians,” Austin said during a press conference in Prague on Sept. 9.
The source said that the Ukrainians also said they need 2,000 more missiles for their High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, which the US began providing earlier this summer, plus additional Harpoon anti-ship missiles and more drones and tanks.
The wishlist was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The Biden administration has committed nearly $15 billion in security assistance to Ukraine this year alone.
CNN reported last week that the Pentagon is preparing a 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 efforts are being led by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and would build on the billions of dollars in military aid the US has given to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.
4:18 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022
US refutes Russia's claims of the US developing biological weapons in Ukraine
From CNN's Kylie Atwood
US officials refuted Russia’s false claims made earlier this year of the US developing biological weapons in Ukraine during a meeting of the Biological Weapons Convention last week in Geneva, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday.
“The United States delegation, led by Special Representative Kenneth D. Ward, effectively exposed Russia’s disinformation tactics and dispelled Russia’s spurious allegations seeking to malign peaceful U.S. cooperation with Ukraine,” Price said. “In the presence of delegations from 89 countries, the United States and Ukraine presented a thorough, in-depth series of presentations that strongly refuted Russia’s absurd and false claims of U.S. biological weapons development and bio-labs in Ukraine.”
At the meeting — which Russia called for — both American and Ukrainian delegations explained the work that the two countries are actually doing together, Price said.
“Technical experts from the U.S. and Ukrainian delegations unambiguously explained their cooperation and U.S. assistance related to public health facilities, biosafety, biosecurity, and disease surveillance as part of the broader U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. The United States and Ukraine also highlighted how such activities are consistent with—and further support—the provisions of the BWC, particularly Article X, which promotes cooperation and assistance by States Parties,” Price said.
Russia made accusations that Kyiv was developing biological weapons and preparing a chemical attack in March of this year. At the time the US called the US's UN Mission spokesperson Olivia Dalton said the move was "exactly the kind of false flag effort we have warned Russia might initiate to justify a biological or chemical weapons attack."
At the meeting last week Russia also attempted to get certain delegations to agree to a statement about the convention before it was even over, Price added. They did this by “distributing a proposed “joint statement” to select delegations with its conclusions from the meeting before the United States and Ukraine even began our presentations,” Price explained.
“The United States takes seriously its obligations under the BWC and therefore participated fully, transparently, and with integrity in the Article V process,” Prices said, adding that Russia does not take those obligations seriously.
4:18 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022
List of Russian municipal deputies calling for Putin’s resignation grows to nearly 50, local official says
From CNN's Uliana Pavlova
Nearly 50 municipal deputies have now signed a petition demanding the resignation of President Vladimir Putin, 29 more than on Monday, according to one of those involved.
Ksenia Thorstrom, a municipal deputy of the Semenovsky District in Saint Petersburg, told CNN:
“Now we have 47 verified signatures. Their geography has expanded significantly.”
“My colleagues and I wanted to support the deputies from Smolninsky, who were recently summoned to the police and will soon have a trial,” Thorstrom said.
The petition says: “We, the municipal deputies of Russia, believe that the actions of its president Vladimir Putin are detrimental to Russia’s and its citizens’ future. We demand Vladimir Putin's resignation from the post of the President of the Russian Federation."
“We decided to make our appeal so short that there would be less reason to find any fault with it from the authorities and so that as many municipal deputies as possible would sign the petition,” Thorstrom said.
Last week, the deputies of the Smolninskoye municipality of St. Petersburg called on the State Duma of the Russian Federation to bring charges of treason against Putin in order to remove him from office due to the war in Ukraine. Now those deputies face charges of "discrediting" the Russian army, according to a tweet by one of them, Nikita Yuferev.
Municipal deputies are local officials with limited political influence. The petition follows Russia’s first regional and municipal elections since the start of the war, in which pro-Kremlin candidates were overwhelmingly successful.
4:18 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022
White House official heralds "swift and stunning" Ukrainian advances on Russian-held territory
From CNN's Betsy Klein
The White House reiterated some cautious optimism regarding Ukraine’s recent advances on Russian-held territory Tuesday, with John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, saying it has been “swift and stunning.”
“They certainly have some momentum, particularly up there in the northeast part of the country in that Donbas region. You saw just from that report how swift and how stunning their advances have been," Kirby said during an appearance on “Good Morning America.”
"There is more fighting to go, though, and in particularly down in the south where the Ukrainians are also trying to break through near Kherson city. They've made some incremental progress there. They're facing a stiffer Russian resistance down south, but clearly up in that northeast region, there's some momentum here by the Ukrainians, there's no doubt about it,” Kirby said.
He noted that “weeks of planning” went into the offensive.
Pressed on threats to Russian President Vladimir Putin inside Russia, Kirby said the US is watching closely.
“It is very interesting to see, isn't it now, that he's facing some public rebukes not just from opposition figures, but from actual elected officials inside Russia. That's not insignificant, and we'll see where this goes. And we're already starting to see signs that they're going to probably start to crack down on some of these dissident elected officials. We'll watch this carefully. But it is noteworthy that now even elected municipal officials are coming out speaking against Mr. Putin,” he said.
When asked if the US believes the table has been set for a diplomatic settlement, Kirby said, “I don’t know that we know we’re there yet,” saying he would defer to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Mr. Putin has shown no inclination to stop the prosecution of this war against the Ukrainian people, as we saw with his retaliatory strikes and in Kharkiv just over the over the weekend. So I don't think we're there yet. Obviously, President Biden fully supports a diplomatic end of this war, an end that we'd like to see today if possible, but I just don't know that we're on the horizon right now,” he said.
8:54 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022
Governor of Russian region bordering Ukraine urges evacuation of some villages
From CNN's Tim Lister
The governor of the Russian region of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, has again urged civilians to leave villages close to the border with Ukraine.
Belgorod is adjacent to Ukraine's Kharkiv region.
Gladkov said on Telegram Tuesday that he had been to the village of Zhuravlevka, and the situation there is "difficult, but all services are in place," including law enforcement and border guards.
"We continue to persuade people who still remain in Zhuravlevka and Nekhoteevka to temporarily leave their homes," he added.
Shelling along the border has affected communities on both sides, with homes damaged and grain fields set on fire.
8:33 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022
China responds to questions regarding an official's remarks during a visit to Russia
From CNN's Beijing Bureau
China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday responded to questions about remarks regarding Ukraine during a visit to Russia.
A Russian statement on a visit by Li Zhanshu, Chinese chair of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, mentioned that Li said China “understands and supports Russia on issues that represent its vital interests, in particular on the situation in Ukraine."
But a Chinese government readout on Li's visit had no mention of Ukraine at all.
According to the official Xinhua News Agency, Li expressed China’s willingness to “continue to work with Russia to firmly support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns.”
Mao Ning, a spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Tuesday:
"As for China's position on Ukraine, we have already presented it many times. This position is clear and consistent, and we call on all parties to achieve a ceasefire and stop the war as soon as possible through dialogue and consultation."
Beijing has firmly refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – or even refer to it as a “war.” Instead, it has repeatedly laid the blame for the conflict on NATO and the United States.
Moscow has not discussed a nationwide mobilization to boost its military campaign in Ukraine, Kremlin says
From CNN’s Anna Chernova
After a Russian parliamentarian suggested the need to announce a nationwide mobilization to boost Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine, the Kremlin said there has been no discussion about it.
“Without full mobilization, without wartime footing, including of the economy, we will not achieve proper results,” State Duma deputy from the ruling United Russia party, Mikhail Sheremet, was quoted as saying to local media Ura.ru on Monday.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in a conference call Tuesday there is "no discussion of this for now.”
When asked about criticism from some popular Russian bloggers and commentators about Russia’s recent performance in Ukraine, Peskov said it illustrated “pluralism,” adding that Russians support Russian President Vladimir Putin and his decisions but warned there is a “fine line” when expressing critical opinions.
“As for other, critical points of view, as long as they remain within the framework of the law, this is pluralism. But there is a fine line, and one must be very careful here,” Peskov said.