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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1:57 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

President Zelensky says 6,000 square kilometers of Ukraine liberated since the beginning of September

From CNN's Tim Lister

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces have recaptured 6,000 square kilometers (approximately 2,316 square miles) of land in the east and south of the country since the beginning of the month as he appealed for greater international pressure to isolate Russia.

According to analysts, that would amount to nearly 10% of the territory lost to the Russian offensive since it began in February.

In his daily video message, Zelensky also asked: "Why can [Russia] wage war so cruelly and cynically? There is only one reason -- insufficient pressure on Russia. The response to the terror of this state is insufficient."

One answer, he said, was to "increase aid to Ukraine, and above all speed up the provision of air defense systems."

"There is still no official recognition of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. Citizens of the terrorist state can still go to Europe to rest and go shopping, they can still get European visas, and no one knows whether there are executioners or murderers among them who have just returned from the occupied territory of Ukraine," Zelensky said. 

Some European countries have enacted bans on tourist visas for Russians; most have not.

Zelensky said Russia was to blame for "energy terror. Residents of many countries around the world are suffering due to the painful increase in prices for energy resources -- for electricity, for heat. Russia does it deliberately. It deliberately destabilizes the gas market in Europe."

He added:

"Yesterday and today, the Russian army struck the Ukrainian energy infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians found themselves in the dark -- without electricity. Houses, hospitals, schools, communal infrastructure... Russian missiles hit precisely those objects that have absolutely nothing to do with the infrastructure of the Armed Forces of our country."

The President described the attacks on Ukrainian electricity supplies as "a sign of the desperation of those who invented this war. This is how they react to the defeat of Russian forces in the Kharkiv region."

2:33 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Ukraine's nuclear operator says power units at Zaporizhzhia plant remain in cooling mode

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant seen on Sunday.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant seen on Sunday. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

The president of Ukraine's state nuclear company — Energoatom — told CNN that the power units at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remain in a cooling state while work continues to restore power lines from the plant.

Speaking to CNN via Skype, Petro Kotin, said all seven lines connecting to the plant were damaged, and it had switched to what he called the "island mode" — where the plant supplied electricity solely for itself.

"We tried to prolong the operation of one of our power units for as long as possible, even in the conditions when it was operating in island mode. It worked for us for three days," he told CNN. 

Kotin said just one of the six power units remained working, and was supplying the needs of the plant — the electricity necessary for the pumps that cool the nuclear material. The reactors "are full of nuclear material, fuel and also there are six pools that are located near the reactors at each power unit. They need to be constantly cooled," he said.

"The hazard is that if there is no power supply, the pumps will stop and there will be no cooling, and in about one and a half to two hours you will have a meltdown of this fuel that is in the reactor," he added. 

Kotin reiterated that when there is no external power supply, the diesel generators could kick in. "As of today the diesel generators can work there for ten days."

"We are also doing our best to secure additional supplies. But we understand that it is very difficult to bring anything in there. The railway is damaged, so it can only be done by vehicles," he said. 
"If there is now a loss of external power, then we will have only one option. The diesel generators," he added. 

Kotin said representatives of the United Nation's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), remained at the plant. "They have meetings with the plant management twice a day, so they have all the current information on the plant’s operation," he said. 

As for the IAEA proposal for a safety zone around the plant, Kotin said: "We don’t fully understand what this safety zone means exactly."

He repeated the Ukrainian government's line that the plant should be returned to Ukrainian control and the power plant itself and zone around it should be demilitarized.

1:51 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Municipal deputies from Moscow and St. Petersburg call for Putin’s resignation

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

Deputies from 18 municipal districts in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kolpino have called for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s resignation, according to a petition with a list of signatures posted on Twitter on Monday.

“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,” said the petition posted by Ksenia Thorstrom, a local deputy of the Semenovsky District in Saint Petersburg.

The petition follows Russia’s first regional and municipal elections since the start of the war, which brought a sweeping victory for pro-Kremlin candidates.

“The petition's text is concise and does not “discredit” anyone. If you are mundep [municipal deputy] and want to join, you are welcome,” Thorstrom said in a Twitter post.

The council of one Moscow district (Lomonosovsky) also demanded Putin's resignation, saying: "Your views and your model of government are hopelessly outdated and hinder the development of Russia and its human potential."

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 Vladimir Putin. Several of them now face charges for discrediting the Russian army, according to a Twitter post from one of the local officials, Nikita Yuferev.

1:51 a.m. ET, September 13, 2022

Kremlin says Putin aware of situation on frontline, insists Russia will achieve its "goals" in Ukraine

From CNN's Anna Chernova

The Kremlin on Monday insisted that Russia would achieve all the goals of the "special military operation" in Ukraine, despite its damaging setback in Kharkiv over the weekend. 

“The special military operation continues and will continue until the initial goals are achieved,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with journalists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is aware of the situation on the frontline, he added.

Russian officials had previously claimed the country's primary goal was to control southern Ukraine as well as Donbas, though officials have been careful to avoid specifics, typically referring instead to catch-all phrasing.

After the success of Ukraine's counteroffensive on Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry sought to present its retreat as a strategic regrouping. 

"The decision was made to regroup Russian troops in the areas of Balakleya and Izium and redirect their efforts in the Donetsk direction," it said.

Peskov said Putin is aware of the said "regrouping" of Russian troops.

“Of course, all the actions of the army during the special military operation are reported to the supreme commander-in-chief [President Vladimir Putin],” Peskov told journalists. “The President is in constant round-the-clock communication with the minister of defense and with all military leaders."