September 13, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Ivana Kottasová, Eliza Mackintosh, Adrienne Vogt and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 7:40 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022
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2:39 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022

White House official says more Ukraine aid could be announced "in coming days"

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal 

The White House said Tuesday that another aid package for Ukraine could be announced soon.

John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said he didn't want to "get ahead of future security systems packages," when asked by CNN's Phil Mattingly about more assistance to Ukraine.

"I do think you'll see another one here in coming days," Kirby continued. "We're in lockstep with the Ukrainians talking to them every day."

Kirby said there were "real-time discussions going on with the Ukrainians about what their military needs are." 

He added: "Many of the systems that we've been providing in just the last few weeks and couple of months have proven instrumental and effective in the Ukrainians ability to go on the offense and to be actually quite effective on the defense in the last several days and weeks."  

Some context: President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged this week the importance of US assistance to the recent Ukrainian counteroffensive. “We prepared carefully for this. It has taken months of planning. We used reconnaissance and accuracy, we used our allies, especially the United States army, for information on this, and we used Western weapons,” he said.

 

2:12 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Pentagon has seen "a number of Russian forces" cross back into Russia from the Kharkiv region

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

The Pentagon said some Russian forces have crossed from the Kharkiv region back into Russia.

“We've seen a number of Russian forces, especially in the northeast, in the Kharkiv region, cross over the border back into Russia as they’ve retreated from the Ukrainian counter-offensive,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters during a briefing Tuesday. 

But Russian forces still “do exist en masse in Ukraine,” Ryder said.

The US was not surprised that Ukraine forces “pushed as quickly as they have” in the counteroffensive, Ryder said, but based on reports that the Pentagon has seen “on the Russian military response, it was probably the Russians” who were surprised by the push.

3:30 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Ukraine says Russian troops are trying to gain ground in some regions and alleges widespread looting

From CNN's Tim Lister and Oleksandra Ochman 

Abandoned munitions are seen inside a church in Bohorodychne village in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, on September 13.
Abandoned munitions are seen inside a church in Bohorodychne village in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, on September 13. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)

As Ukrainian units press their offensive in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Russian forces are trying to gain ground elsewhere, according to the Ukrainian military.

The military's General Staff, in its latest bulletin, said Ukrainian units had successfully repelled Russian attacks around the city of Bakhmut, while Russian artillery and air strikes continued to pound settlements near the front lines across Donetsk.

"During the day, the enemy carried out 2 missile strikes, 8 air strikes and conducted 13 strikes from missile artillery systems," according to the military.

There was also Russian mortar and tank fire in the Zaporizhzhia region, the General Staff said.

Looting claims: The military claimed that in areas of Kharkiv and Luhansk, there was widespread looting from retreating Russian forces.

The General Staff said that on the Starobilsk-Luhansk highway, in the direction of Luhansk, "about 300 civilian cars, mostly with state license plates of the Kharkiv region were spotted – most on trailers driven by Russian military personnel."

It claimed that in the south, around the city of Polohy, Russian troops were also stealing private cars. And in Nova Kakhovka, in the Kherson region, Russians "began to massively remove furniture and household appliances from temporarily abandoned settlements."

CNN is unable to confirm the military's claims, but there has been widespread evidence of looting in Kharkiv and other previously occupied Russian areas.

Military shortage claims: The General Staff also claimed that the Russian military was moving up the graduation of cadets from some Defense Ministry academies, such as the Black Sea Higher Naval School, to make up for shortages of junior officers.

"The shortage of tactical-level commanders is due to the refusal of reserve officers to sign contracts amid recent events. The level of morale and psychological state of the enemy's personnel continues to decline," the General Staff asserted. "A significant number of servicemen do not return to military units after the end of their vacations."

1:38 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Germany's Scholz to Putin in call: Any further Russian annexation steps in Ukraine will "not be recognized"

From CNN's Inke Kappeler in Berlin

Any further steps for Russian annexation in Ukraine will "not be recognized under any circumstances," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a 90-minute phone call on Tuesday, according to a German government statement. 

Scholz urged the Russian President to "find a diplomatic solution as soon as possible, based on a ceasefire, a complete withdrawal of Russian troops and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine."

Regarding the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Scholz called for "avoiding any steps of escalation“ and pressed for "the immediate implementation of the measures recommended in the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency."

While discussing the global food situation, Scholz appealed to Putin to fully implement the United Nations-brokered grain deal, asking the Russian president "not to discredit the agreement."  

Scholz also demanded Putin "treat captured combatants in accordance with the requirements of international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Conventions, and to ensure unhindered access for the International Committee of the Red Cross," according to the statement. 

The conversation followed the chancellor's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sept. 7. 

The chancellor and the Russian president agreed to remain in contact.

1:17 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Putin and Xi to discuss Ukraine during summit, according to Russian state media 

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will discuss Ukraine and Taiwan at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Thursday, according to Putin’s foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov. 

According to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, Ushakov said that Beijing holds a balanced approach to Ukraine and understands the reasons for what Russia called its "special military operation."

“In the current difficult situation, in the face of illegitimate Western sanctions, this cooperation demonstrates sustainability, which continues to progressively develop, gain momentum," Ushakov said as quoted by RIA Novosti. 

Putin will attend a Shanghai Cooperation Organization heads of state meeting in Samarkand on Sept. 15 and 16, according to a separate Kremlin statement. 

1:27 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Putin won’t be invited to Queen’s funeral over Ukraine invasion, UK government source says

From CNN’s Luke McGee and Max Foster

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, walks as he takes part in a naval parade in St. Petersburg on July 31.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, walks as he takes part in a naval parade in St. Petersburg on July 31. (Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images/File)

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be invited to Queen Elizabeth II's funeral because of his invasion of Ukraine, a senior UK government source told CNN on Tuesday.

The source said the full list of invitations had not yet been finalized, but that officials from three countries had been ruled out: Russia, Belarus and Myanmar.

In the case of Russia and Belarus, the source said their exclusion was due to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which Belarus has supported. In the case of Myanmar, it is because of the treatment of the Rohingya people, the source said.

The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar's Rakhine state who were targeted in a brutal campaign of killing and arson by the Myanmar military in 2016 and 2017.

The Palace sends invitations to state funerals on the advice of the government after members of the civil and diplomatic services have considered the political implications of inviting certain leaders. 

Palace protocol is not to reveal invitees to family events, and it has not commented on the guest list. 

Typically, every country that the United Kingdom has normal diplomatic relations with would be invited to a state funeral, such as the one which will be held Monday for the late monarch in London. 

Nations are usually represented by their political leader, head of state, a senior member of the government or their ambassador to the UK. 

A second UK government source told CNN that up to 500 foreign dignitaries were expected to attend the funeral.

The UK has been one of the strongest opponents of Russia’s war and one of the biggest supporters of Ukraine, providing money, weapons and aid. 

12:52 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022

US House committees to get classified briefings on Ukraine, sources say

From CNN's Daniella Diaz and Melanie Zanona

Relevant US House of Representatives committees will get classified briefings on Ukraine over the next two weeks, multiple sources tell CNN.

The House Armed Services Committee will be briefed on Thursday at 10 a.m. ET, while the House Foreign Affairs Committee will also get a briefing next week, those sources said. Committee members from both parties are invited to attend.

The briefings come in the wake of Ukraine’s recent stunning advances on Russian-held territory. Lawmakers are also pushing to include additional Ukraine aid in the upcoming short-term government funding bill. Current funding expires Sept. 30.

1:02 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Zelensky adviser: Ukrainian counteroffensive continues but has "slowed down slightly"

From CNN’s Zeena Saifi

Ukrainian soldiers stand on a road in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on September 12.
Ukrainian soldiers stand on a road in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on September 12. (Kostiantyn Liberov/AP)

As Ukraine continues to liberate swathes of territory from Russian occupation in the east, presidential military adviser Oleksiy Arestovych says the country’s counteroffensive has “slowed down slightly.”

“The counteroffensive continues but has slowed down slightly because most of the Ukrainian forces are fighting to capture the city of Lyman, to open our way into the Luhansk region. We will intensify our strikes and liberate new territories in a different way,” he told CNN’s Becky Anderson in an interview.

Lyman, an important rail hub, is roughly 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of the strategically important Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk.

President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukrainian forces have taken 6,000 square kilometers of land since the beginning of the month. His adviser also said they conducted a storm operation that liberated “more than 300 settlements in four days.”

“We prepared carefully for this. It has taken months of planning. We used reconnaissance and accuracy, we used our allies, especially the United States army, for information on this, and we used Western weapons,” Zelensky added.

During the recent offensive, Ukrainian forces managed to capture Russian weaponry that would support around three brigades in their fighting, Arestovych told CNN. He also said Russia suffered “huge casualties” and lost some soldiers who Ukraine had captured as prisoners of war. Asked by CNN whether they will be afforded the rights they are entitled to under the Geneva convention, he said “absolutely.”

“We are a European army and a European country, we follow international law. We do not break the Geneva Convention or other international conventions about the rules of war… We give them rights and the possibility to call home, their mothers, and fathers…and to speak with journalists if they want,” Arestovych continued. 

Arestovych said Ukrainian forces used disinformation to trick Russian soldiers on the battlefield by making them think they were going to strike at Kherson.

“They thought we were going to start the main strike on the city of Kherson. We did start our strike on Kherson, but it was an assisted strike, not the main strike. The main strike we provided in the east of our country, and the Russians were completely surprised about this, because two months before, we were only speaking about the Kherson region. That’s why we liberated territory in four days that Russians tried to keep for about four months.” he said.

12:43 p.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Ukrainian official warns about abandoned ammo and Russian soldiers still at-large in Kharkiv region

From Kostan Nechyporenko in Kyiv

A Ukrainian official said that despite the retreat of Russian forces from much of the Kharkiv region, the area remains dangerous — with some Russian soldiers "wandering in the forests" and huge amounts of abandoned ammunition yet to be secured.

Stepan Maselskyi, head of the Izium district military-civilian administration, told CNN Tuesday that there is no power, electricity and water in most settlements.

There are also "major problems with gas in most of the communities, very serious damage to gas pipelines. There is no provision of medical services. Medical services were not provided during the occupation," he said.

Maselskyi told CNN by phone that there is a "very big danger [with munitions left behind]. A lot of ‘booby traps,’ a lot of explosive items left, scattered."

He said that near Balakliya, which was re-taken last week, one person was killed by a mine on Tuesday. "Many sappers work in the area, but the [liberated] territory is very large. It takes time to de-mine everything and defuse all explosive objects," he said.

There are "a lot of places where ammunition was left, abandoned," he added.

According to Maselskyi, "Some [Russian soldiers] are still wandering in the forests of the Izium region. ... All measures are now being taken to detain them."

He referred further comment to the military.

"The occupiers looted everything they could," Maselskyi told CNN. "From households of people who had evacuated, everything was taken away. We try to prevent looting by locals. We immediately take the liberated settlements under the protection of the National Police."

Maselskyi said it would be a while before residents could return home.

"It is dangerous now, until the territory is de-mined and the shells are dismantled. Until we are completely sure that the territory is clear of mines, tripwires and that the occasional occupiers are not hiding anywhere — only then will special bodies allow entry," he said.

Maselskyi said restoring electricity and water is a top priority. "We have a week of hard 24/7 work ahead. And only after that we will make a decision: when to give permission to return," he said.