September 26, 2022 Russia-Ukraine News

By Aditi Sangal, Tara Subramaniam and Sana Noor Haq, CNN

Updated 0025 GMT (0825 HKT) September 27, 2022
15 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:18 a.m. ET, September 26, 2022

Zelensky says two more mass graves discovered in Izium

From CNN’s Mick Krever

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said two more mass graves have been discovered in Izium, northeast Ukraine, following their liberation from Russian occupation earlier this month.

“Today I received more information,” Zelensky told CBS in an interview that aired on Sunday. “The journalists are on their way. They found two more mass graves, big graves with hundreds of people.”

“Also and we're talking about a little town of Izium. Do you know? There are two more mass graves in a small town. This is what's going on.”

Some context: On Friday, Ukrainian authorities completed the exhumation of over 400 bodies from a previously discovered mass burial site in Izium. Most of the bodies showed signs of violent death, and 30 had traces of torture, according to an official.

10:04 a.m. ET, September 26, 2022

More than 2,350 detained across Russia since partial mobilization announcement, independent monitoring group says

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Police officers detain a protester during an unsanctioned rally in protest against the military invasion on Ukraine and partial mobilization on September 24, in Moscow, Russia.
Police officers detain a protester during an unsanctioned rally in protest against the military invasion on Ukraine and partial mobilization on September 24, in Moscow, Russia. (Getty Images)

More than 2,350 people have been detained across Russia since President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a partial mobilization, according to the independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info. 

At least 2,352 people have been detained in various cities across Russia from Sept. 21 to Sept. 25 but the number of those detained may be higher, the latest OVD-Info numbers showed Monday. 

On Sunday, at least 128 people were detained in five cities, including Makhachkala, Yakutsk, Irkutsk, Reftinsky and Kotlas, OVD-Info said. 

Some context: Makhachkala is the capital of the predominantly Muslim region of Dagestan. Heated protests have broken out in some ethnic minority regions in Russia, including Dagestan, with activist groups and Ukrainian officials saying these minorities are being disproportionately targeted for conscription in the war.

3:13 a.m. ET, September 26, 2022

What would happen if Russia deployed a tactical nuclear weapon?

From CNN's Brad Lendon

Russia (and before it, the Soviet Union) has built and maintained a large stockpile of tactical nuclear weapons. 

The initial thinking was that using a nuke on a battlefield gave leaders an option to make a decisive strike that could stave off defeat without resorting to the use of their biggest nuclear weapons, which after a counterattack would bring a "civilization-ending nuclear exchange," according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

On its website, the organization calls that thinking "flawed and dangerous."

"Tactical nuclear weapons ... introduce greater ambiguity, raising the possibility that a country might think it could get away with a limited attack," the organization said.

Some analysis supports that theory, but the reality is likely to be far from that.

"US war games predict that a conflict involving use of tactical nuclear weapons will quickly spiral out of control," the Union of Concerned Scientists blog said.

"A Princeton University simulation of a US-Russian conflict that begins with the use of a tactical nuclear weapon predicts rapid escalation that would leave more than 90 million people dead and injured," it said.

Responding to Putin's threat last week, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) says the Europe of 2022 is a much more dangerous place to use nuclear arms than the Japan of 1945, which had a smaller population and was relatively isolated. 

In Europe today, "a single nuclear detonation would likely kill hundreds of thousands of civilians and injure many more; radioactive fallout could contaminate large areas across multiple countries," ICAN said on its website. 

"Emergency services would not be able to respond effectively and widespread panic would trigger mass movements of people and severe economic disruption. Multiple detonations would of course be much worse," it added.

3:12 a.m. ET, September 26, 2022

Putin has threatened to go nuclear. Here's what you need to know about the weapons that could be deployed

From CNN's Brad Lendon

With his forces retreating in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has once again threatened to turn to nuclear weapons, most likely what are often called tactical nuclear weapons.

In a speech last week, he warned that, "In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff."

Russian weapon systems include 4,477 deployed and reserve nuclear warheads, with about 1,900 of these being "non-strategic" warheads, otherwise known as tactical nuclear weapons,according to the Federation of American Scientists. 

Tactical warheads refer to ones designed for use in a limited battlefield, say to destroy a column of tanks or an aircraft carrier battle group if used at sea. These warheads, with explosive yields of 10 to 100 kilotons of dynamite, are also called "low yield."

In contrast, Russia's most powerful "strategic" nuclear warheads have explosive yields of 500 to 800 kilotons and are designed to destroy entire cities -- and then some.

The reference to "low yield" for tactical weapons is somewhat misleading as explosive yields of 10 to 100 kilotons of dynamite are still enough to cause major destruction -- as the world discovered in 1945 when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan

Those bombs were the equivalent about 15 and 21 kilotons of dynamite, respectively -- within the ballpark of Russia's tactical nuclear weapons.

And it's because of this devastating capability that many people say there's really no difference between a strategic and tactical weapon when used in war.

“I don’t think there is any such thing as a ‘tactical nuclear weapon," said former US Defense Secretary James Mattis, during a congressional hearing in 2018. "Any nuclear weapon used any time is a strategic game-changer,” said Mattis.

3:01 a.m. ET, September 26, 2022

Ukraine military says Russian drones hit military facility in Odesa

From Josh Pennington

Two drones launched by Russian forces into the Odesa region in Ukraine hit a military infrastructure facility, causing a fire and the detonation of ammunition, the Ukrainian military’s Operational Command South said on Monday.

“During the night, the enemy attacked the Odesa region with kamikaze drones,” the command said in a statement on Telegram. “Due to a large-scale fire and detonation of ammunition, it was decided to evacuate civilians.”

One drone was destroyed by the Ukrainian air defense forces. No casualties have been reported, and firefighting and rescue operations continue, the command added.

The attack comes after Russian forces hit the administrative building in Odesa’s city center three times on Sunday.

4:19 a.m. ET, September 26, 2022

Japan bans export of chemical weapons-related goods to Russia as concerns over nuclear threats grow

From CNN’s Tetsu Sukegawa and Emi Jozuka in Tokyo

Japan will ban exports of chemical weapons-related goods to Russia in an additional sanction against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Monday.

Matsuno did not specify when the ban will take effect or provide the list of banned items.

"Japan is also deeply concerned about the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons in Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine. As the only country to have ever suffered atomic bombings in war, I would like to strongly advocate that Russia should not threaten or even use nuclear weapons," Matsuno said during a press conference on Monday.

Past actions: In August, the Japanese government held a meeting of relevant ministers and confirmed it will continue to work with the G7 and other related countries to impose sanctions against Russia and provide assistance to Ukraine.

Since March, Japan has introduced a series of sanctions against Russia, including freezing the assets of President Putin and his family members in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The Kremlin has responded by imposing its own sanctions on Japan, including the entry ban of Japanese officials including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to the country.

4:17 a.m. ET, September 26, 2022

Analysis: US warnings against Putin's nuclear threats mark a sobering moment for the world

From CNN's Stephen Collinson

In this image made from video released by the Russian Presidential Press Service, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation in Moscow, Russia, on September 21.
In this image made from video released by the Russian Presidential Press Service, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation in Moscow, Russia, on September 21. (Russian Presidential Press Service/AP)

That the United States should be forced to warn Russia publicly, and in more strident terms privately, not to use nuclear weapons is a mark of how dangerous the battle for Ukraine has become -- and how much more risky it might get.

The war is in a critical new phase. Kyiv's forces have won victories in the east using billions of dollars in Western-provided arms and Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded by pouring thousands more men onto the frontlines.

Facing increasing political pressure at home, isolation abroad and battlefield humiliations, the Russian leader ratcheted up his nuclear brinkmanship last week in warning that he could use all weapons systems available to him if he considered Russia's territorial integrity under threat.

Putin's rhetoric was a reminder that the better the war goes for Ukraine, the more the West will need to keep its nerve, especially if the Russian leader becomes more boxed in and tries to scare his foes with Russia's best leverage -- its nuclear arsenal.

Many Western observers believe Putin is bluffing and that there are strategic reasons for Moscow to stop short of this fateful step. There are no public reports that the Kremlin is readying its stock of battlefield nuclear weapons for use or that it has changed the posture of its international strategic missiles. And Putin has played the nuclear card before in the conflict in an apparent effort to frighten Western publics and to fracture support for Kyiv in the transatlantic alliance.

But at the same time, the Russian leader has gone all in on a war that he cannot afford to lose but that is going increasingly badly for Russia, as last week's partial national mobilization showed. He is in a corner, a reality that may explain his return to nuclear scare tactics. And while Putin's political position doesn't seem immediately threatened, he's facing increasing dissent at home and appears consumed by fury against the US and the West that is vehement even for him. 

Putin is led by a sense of historic mission rooted in a desire to restore respect for Russia as a great civilization. He has already shown callous indifference to human and civilian life in Ukraine. Such conditions mean clear strategic thinking and rational decisions cannot be taken for granted, especially since the ruthless Russian leader's sense of caution deserted him with his reckless leadership of the war in Ukraine.

You can read Collinson's full analysis here.

2:59 a.m. ET, September 26, 2022

President of Finland, who has a long working relationship with Putin, doubts he will accept "any kind of defeat"

Sauli Niinistö, Finland's president, speaks during a news conference in Washington, DC, on May 19.
Sauli Niinistö, Finland's president, speaks during a news conference in Washington, DC, on May 19. (Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

President Sauli Niinistö of Finland warned Sunday of a dangerous moment in the Ukraine war, with Russian President Vladimir Putin having invested so much credibility in an invasion that has turned against him.

"He has put all in," Niinistö told CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

"He is a fighter, so it is very difficult seeing him accepting any kind of defeat and this surely makes the situation very critical."

Niinistö's comments come as Finish border officials reported more than 8,500 Russians travelled into Finland by land on Saturday.

“Saturday 8,572 Russians arrived to Finland via Finnish Russian land border. Week ago Saturday 5,286 entered,” said Matti Pitkäniitty, the head of the International Affairs Unit at Finnish Border Guard, in a post on social media Sunday. 

Saturday’s number is a 62% increase compared to last Saturday’s, Pitkäniitty said.

The border crossing of Vaalimaa in south east Finland was the busiest crossing point for Russians coming into the country, Pitkäniitty said in another post Sunday.

“Sunday morning queue at 08.00 Finnish time [1 a.m. ET] approximately 500 m,” he added.

The increase in Russians entering Finland comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday significantly raised the stakes of his assault on Ukraine for ordinary Russians, with the announcement of an immediate "partial mobilization" in a bid to reinforce his faltering invasion following Ukrainian gains.

1:04 a.m. ET, September 26, 2022

Protests erupt in Russia's Dagestan region over mobilization

From Josh Pennington

Several videos posted to social media that CNN has geo-located to Russia's Dagestan region depict heated protests against the mobilization Sunday.

In the regional capital of Makhachkala, women are seen outside a theatre pleading with police: "Why are you taking our children? Who attacked who? It's Russia that attacked Ukraine!"

In another video in Endirei, a police officer is seen shooting his rifle into the air in an apparent attempt to try to disperse the crowd.

People are seen in Makhachkala being violently detained while others flee the police on foot past a restaurant.

Independent Russian monitoring group OVD-Info has reported that several arrests have already been made, including that of Murad Muradov, a local journalist who was reporting on the day's protests. 

The city's mayor called for calm Sunday.

"I urge you not to commit illegal acts, each of which will be assessed by the law enforcement agencies for legal consequences. Do not succumb to the provocations of persons engaged in anti-state activities," Mayor Salman Dadayev said according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Some context: The events in Dagestan come on the heels of mass anti-mobilization protests across Russia after Putin announced a partial mobilization last Wednesday. According to OVD-Info, more than 2,000 people have already been arrested across Russia since the announcement.