September 26, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Lauren Kent, Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, September 27, 2023
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2:34 p.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Ukrainian defense minister neither confirms nor denies alleged death of Russian admiral

From CNN’s Maddie Araujo and Alex Hardie in London

If Russia’s Black Sea Fleet commander is dead, “it’s good news for everybody,” Ukraine’s Defense Minister Rustem Umerov told CNN Tuesday.

In an exclusive interview from Kyiv, he neither confirmed nor denied Admiral Viktor Sokolov had been killed in a Ukrainian strike last week on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea.

Earlier Tuesday, the Russian defense ministry published a video appearing to show Sokolov participating by video conference in a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, calling into question Ukrainian claims that the admiral had died in the attack.

“He is in our temporary occupied territories … he should not be there at all. So, if he’s dead, it’s good news for everybody that we are continuing to de-occupy our territory,” Umerov told CNN.

Some context: Ukraine’s military has said it is “clarifying” information received about Sokolov. CNN cannot confirm if the man in the video is Sokolov, when the meeting took place or where his video appearance was filmed. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier on Tuesday refused to comment on the Ukrainian claim that Sokolov had been killed.

11:12 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Ukraine "clarifying" Black Sea Fleet commander's alleged death after he is purportedly seen alive in video

From CNN’s Clare Sebastian, Florence Davey-Attlee and Olga Voitovych

A screengrab taken from video published by the Russian Ministry of Defense appears to show the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, participating in a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other Russian military leaders on Tuesday.
A screengrab taken from video published by the Russian Ministry of Defense appears to show the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, participating in a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other Russian military leaders on Tuesday. Handout/Russian Ministry of Defense

The Russian defense ministry published video Tuesday that appears to show the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Viktor Sokolov, participating in a meeting. The video comes after the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces claimed Monday that Sokolov was killed in a strike on Sevastopol military headquarters on Friday.

In the video, a man who resembles Sokolov appears to join the meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other Russian military leaders via video conference.

The nametape on his uniform reads Sokolov V. N. and his screen shows the Cyrillic letters "ЧФ," the abbreviation for the Black Sea Fleet. He appears healthy.

CNN cannot confirm the person is Sokolov, when the meeting took place or where his video appearance was filmed.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov earlier on Tuesday refused to comment on the Ukrainian claim that Sokolov had been killed.

“There has been no information from the Ministry of Defense. This is entirely in their purview and we have nothing to say here,” Peskov told reporters Tuesday during a routine call.

Ukraine's response: After the video was released, Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces said on Telegram that they are “clarifying” information received about Sokolov.

“Available sources claim that the Black Sea Fleet Commander is among the dead. Many have not yet been identified due to the fragmentation of body fragments,” the special forces said.   

Read more.

5:39 p.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Kremlin says US Abrams tanks delivered to Ukraine "will burn"

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

US soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 1st Infantry Division train with M1A2 Abrams tanks in Nowa Deba, Poland, in April.
US soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 1st Infantry Division train with M1A2 Abrams tanks in Nowa Deba, Poland, in April. Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov commented on the arrival of the US Abrams tanks in Ukraine, saying they “will burn” like other weapons and will not alter the situation in the conflict zone.

“Abrams tanks are such a serious weapon. But remember how President (Vladimir Putin) spoke about other foreign-made tanks, that they burn readily. Well, these (tanks) will burn too,” Peskov said on a regular conference call with journalists Tuesday.

On Monday, the Pentagon confirmed 31 US Abrams tanks have arrived in Ukraine.

Peskov said that despite their significance, no single type of weapon could change the balance of power on the battlefield and alter the course or the outcome of the war.

“​​All this can in no way affect the essence of the special military operation or its outcome,” he said, using the term that Putin and Russian leaders use to refer to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

9:04 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

It's Tuesday afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Firefighters work to extinguish burning trucks that were damaged during a Russian drone attack on a Danube river port compound in Ukraine's Odesa region on September 26.
Firefighters work to extinguish burning trucks that were damaged during a Russian drone attack on a Danube river port compound in Ukraine's Odesa region on September 26. Press service of a State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Odesa region/Handout/Reuters

Russian ships are still launching strikes on Ukraine following the alleged assassination of the commander of Moscow's Black Sea Fleet on Friday. Kyiv has claimed Admiral Viktor Sokolov and 33 other officers were killed in an attack on occupied Crimea on Friday, one of Kyiv’s boldest attacks yet.

But the Russian defense ministry published a video on Tuesday that appears to show Sokolov participating in a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other Russian military leaders. CNN cannot confirm whether the man in the video is Sokolov, when the meeting took place or where was his video appearance filmed.

The Kremlin earlier on Tuesday refused to comment on the Ukrainian claim that Sokolov had been killed.

Here are some of the other latest developments from the war in Ukraine:

  • Danube River port strikes: Russian drone attacks hit Danube River port infrastructure and injured two truck drivers overnight, a Ukrainian military official said Tuesday. The strikes caused a ferry crossing point between Romania and Ukraine to suspend operations.
  • Odesa strikes: Russian strikes killed at least two people and caused "significant damage" to Odesa, Ukrainian officials said Monday. Moscow's forces have repeatedly targeted the southern port city following the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal in July.
  • Kherson shelling: Russian attacks also killed at least six people and wounded five others in the southern Kherson region on Monday, Ukrainian officials said.
  • Abrams tanks: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday hailed the arrival of the first batch of US Abrams tanks in Ukraine. The tanks are a long-awaited capability for Ukraine and add a powerful ground component to troops who have already endured more than a year and a half of war.

Here's where the state of control stands in Ukraine:

8:48 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Norway will provide $92 million in humanitarian aid to help Ukrainians "get through another winter of war"

From CNN’s James Frater in London

A local resident carries humanitarian aid while passing through a battle-scarred downtown area of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on February 14.
A local resident carries humanitarian aid while passing through a battle-scarred downtown area of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on February 14. John Moore/Getty Images

Norway will provide 1 billion Krone ($92 million USD) in humanitarian support to Ukraine, the Norwegian government announced Tuesday.

The humanitarian funding aims to “ensure that the most vulnerable, children, refugees and internally displaced persons” receive vital assistance, such as “shelter, food, water and sanitation, education, health care and psychosocial support, as well as protection against sexualized and gender-based violence," the government said in a press release.

“Russia's brutal warfare causes great suffering to the Ukrainian civilian population," Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said, adding that Ukrainians “need our help to get through another winter of war."

The aid will be distributed through existing programs for Ukraine created by the United Nations and the Red Cross.

Norway, which is a founding member of NATO, previously announced it was sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. It also donated anti-aircraft missiles, de-mining sets and additional funding to secure gas and electricity supply in the country. 

7:08 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Kremlin has “nothing to say” on alleged death of Russian Black Sea Fleet commander

From Anna Chernova

A satellite image shows smoke billowing from a Russian Black Sea Navy headquarters after a missile strike in Sevastopol, Crimea, on September 22.
A satellite image shows smoke billowing from a Russian Black Sea Navy headquarters after a missile strike in Sevastopol, Crimea, on September 22. Planet Labs PBC/Handout/Reuters

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refused to comment on the alleged assassination of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Admiral Viktor Sokolov.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that Sokolov was killed during its attack on the occupied peninsula of Crimea on Friday.

“There has been no information from the Ministry of Defense. This is entirely in their purview and we have nothing to say here,” Peskov told reporters Tuesday during a routine call.

Ukrainian Special Operations Forces claimed that Sokolov, as well as 33 other officers, were killed in the attack on the Black Sea headquarters in Sevastopol Friday, in perhaps the boldest attack by Ukrainian forces on the occupied peninsula of Crimea so far.

6:24 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Opinion: Ukraine’s bumpy road ahead just got rockier

Opinion by David A. Andelman

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a school in Veliky Novgorod, Russia, on September 21.
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a school in Veliky Novgorod, Russia, on September 21. Contributor/Getty Images/File

The vast store of goodwill accumulated among the forces of democracy for Ukraine and its courageous and utterly unorthodox president may be running dry, writes CNN contributor David A. Andelman.

That is the clearest and most present danger to the security of Europe and the entire Western alliance. It is surely also the fervent hope on which Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to pursue his carnage and the reason he has chanced his whole presidency on what once seemed like a sure bet, and is instead turning into a morass of quicksand and violence with no easy exit.

America — and its allies — must under no circumstances allow that to happen.

Read the full opinion here.

7:18 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Ukraine-Romania ferry crossing suspended following Russian drone strikes overnight

A ferry crossing point between Romania and Ukraine was suspended Tuesday morning following an overnight Russian drone attack that hit port infrastructure on the Ukrainian side.

The Orlivka-Isaccea crossing on the Danube River has been closed and traffic is being directed elsewhere, according to a spokesperson for the Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

“At the moment, measures are being taken to stabilize functioning at the Orlivka ferry crossing point on the border with Romania in Odesa region after the enemy attack on the border infrastructure during the night,” spokesman Andrii Demchenko told CNN.

The Orlivka-Isaccea crossing, in Ukraine's Odesa region, is close to the border with both Romania and Moldova. Despite the close proximity to the border, Odesa's Danube River ports have been repeatedly targeted by Russia following the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal in July. 

The Romanian Border Patrol confirmed the suspension of movement across the border, noting that traffic is being redirected to the Galati Rutier crossing point.

1:44 a.m. ET, September 26, 2023

Russian drone attack on Danube River port injures 2, Ukraine says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Oleh Kiper gives an interview in Odesa on August 16.
Oleh Kiper gives an interview in Odesa on August 16. Kyodo News/Getty Images/File

Russian drone attacks hit Danube River port infrastructure and injured two truck drivers overnight, a Ukrainian military official said Tuesday.

A crossing point, warehouses and about 30 trucks were damaged in the attacks on Izmail district in the southern region of Odesa, said Oleh Kiper, head of the region's military administration.

“For two hours, Russian terrorists attacked the Odesa region with attack drones,” Kiper said on Telegram, adding that Ukrainian air defenses shot down most of the unmanned aerial vehicles.

Odesa's Danube River ports, located close to the border with Romania, have been repeatedly targeted by Russia following the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal in July.

The latest attacks come after Russian strikes on the city of Odesa killed at least two people and caused "significant damage" to port infrastructure, Ukrainian officials said Monday.