September 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Kara Fox, Mike Hayes, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 11:10 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022
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6:42 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Pro-Putin TV host criticizes Russian draft effort on state television

From CNN’s Josh Pennington

TV presenter Vladimir Soloviev at XXV St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) 2022 on June 17 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
TV presenter Vladimir Soloviev at XXV St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) 2022 on June 17 in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Gleb Schelkunov/Kommersant/Sipa USA/AP)

State media spin-doctor Vladimir Soloviev criticized the handling of Russia’s "partial mobilization" effort on live state television on Sunday — a rare move for the pro-Kremlin talk-show host.

Soloviev questioned why employed people, or musicians or people with a "million illnesses" or students — all of whom he said should be exempted from the draft — should be called up to serve.

But he firmly drew the line at criticizing Russia’s President Vladimir Putin directly.  

"The idiots out there who are calling up musicians or individuals with a million illnesses [...] or students, despite the clearly defined exemption, not only should they be punished, but they should be the first to be sent to the front lines. If anyone wishes to discredit our supreme commander-in-chief, I'd strongly advise against it," Soloviev said.  

"And if it turns out that someone [overseeing the partial mobilization] chooses to turn a blind eye, then they should be punished in the harshest manner conceivable."

Soloviev was previously singled out by the US State Department as perhaps being the Russian government’s "most energetic" propagandist, figuring prominently in the Kremlin’s information war.

8:47 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Occupied area of Kherson region "completely closed for entry and exit"

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych

The occupied area of Kherson has been “completely closed for entry and exit” following a so-called “referendum” on the region’s accession to the Russian Federation held by separatist authorities, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Tuesday.

On Monday, the deputy head of the Russian-backed administration in the Kherson reported that there was enough of a margin to approve a vote which would see controlled areas secede from Ukraine and join Russia. 

Travel in and out of the occupied portion of the neighboring Zaporizhzhia region is also very difficult for civilians and near-impossible for men ages 18 to 35, Ukraine's National Resistance Center – a unit of the Defense Ministry – claimed.

In recent days, Ukrainian officials have reported that travel for young men out of Russian-occupied areas across the country has become extremely challenging, since the partial mobilization effort to conscript some 300,000 soldiers for Russia’s invasion was announced by the Kremlin. 

Humanitarian corridors in Ukraine’s south -- including Kherson -- have been affected and in some cases effectively closed, according to Ukrainian government sources. 

8:47 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Russian detention of Japanese diplomat "unacceptable," says Japanese foreign minister

From CNN’s Junko Ogura and Uliana Pavlova

Japanese Foreign Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, in New York City, on September 23.
Japanese Foreign Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, in New York City, on September 23. (David Dee Delgado/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia’s detention of a Japanese consular officer on Monday is “extremely regrettable and unacceptable,” Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said.

"The consular officer was taken away in a state of immobility, blindfolded from start to finish, with his hands and head held down, and was subjected to intimidating interrogation,” Hayashi told reporters on Tuesday, adding that "there is absolutely no evidence of illegal activities as claimed by the Russian side."

Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori summoned Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin on Tuesday morning, Hayashi said. Mori lodged a formal protest, demanding a formal apology and the prevention of recurrence.

The Japanese government will take “appropriate measures,” Hayashi said.

Some context: The Russian Federal Security Service said that the Japanese consul Motoki Tatsunori was detained in Vladivostok on Monday for receiving confidential information.

According to state news agency RISA Novosti, the FSB said the diplomat "was detained red-handed while receiving, for a monetary reward information of limited distribution [ie confidential] about current aspects of Russia's cooperation with one of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, the impact of the Western sanctions policy on the economic situation in Primorsky Krai."

The consul was also declared persona non grata by the Russia Foreign Ministry "for activities that are incompatible with the status of a consular officer and detrimental to Russia’s security interests,” they said in a statement. 

2:20 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Russian Orthodox Church head says Russian soldiers dying in Ukraine will be cleansed of all sin

From Josh Pennington and Sharon Braithwaite

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, conducts a service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, on April 24.
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, conducts a service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, on April 24. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/AP)

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill has said that Russian soldiers who die in the war against Ukraine will be cleansed of all their sins.

"We know that today many are dying on the fields of internecine warfare," Kirill said during a celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday.

"The Church prays that this battle will end as soon as possible, so that as few brothers as possible will kill each other in this fratricidal war," he added.

"At the same time, the Church realizes that if someone is driven by a sense of duty to fulfill his oath of office, he stays true to his calling and does what his duty tells him to do. And if, in the performance of this duty if a person dies, then he undoubtedly has committed an act on par with a sacrifice. He is sacrificing himself for others. I am sure that such a sacrifice washes away all sins that a person has committed," he said.

Kirill's words come days after Putin announced an immediate ‘partial mobilization’ of citizens, to conscript 300,000 more soldiers, escalating its invasion of Ukraine.

2:14 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Nord Stream operator investigating pressure drop in gas pipeline from Russia

From Sharon Braithwaite

Pipe systems and shut-off devices at the gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline in Lubmin, Germany, on Monday.
Pipe systems and shut-off devices at the gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline in Lubmin, Germany, on Monday. (Stefan Sauer/dpa/Getty Images)

Nord Stream AG, the operator of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany and into Europe, said Monday it was investigating the reasons behind a drop in pressure in the pipeline.

"Tonight, the dispatchers of the Nord Stream 1 control center registered a pressure drop on both strings of the gas pipeline. The reasons are being investigated," the operator said in a statement.

Earlier on Monday the pressure also plunged in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and authorities are trying to find out why, the German authorities said.

12:56 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Snowden welcomes news of Russian citizenship

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Chris Liakos

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has welcomed the news that Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted him Russian citizenship.

Snowden is accused of espionage and theft of government property in the US for leaking troves of information on American intelligence and mass surveillance programs to the media.

The 39-year-old has been living in exile in Moscow after initially traveling to Hong Kong following his 2013 public disclosure of the classified information. He is facing up to 30 years in prison in the US.

In November 2020 Snowden and his wife, Lindsay Mills, applied for Russian citizenship. He had been already given permanent residency in Russia.

In a tweet he wrote: “After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our SONS,” posting a picture of him, his wife and their two children.

“After two years of waiting and nearly ten years of exile, a little stability will make a difference for my family. I pray for privacy for them -- and for us all,” he continued.

Some context:

Putin’s decision to grant Snowden citizenship comes just days after the Russian President threatened to escalate his war in Ukraine, announcing the “partial mobilization” of citizens.

In 2016, the US Congress released a report saying Snowden had been in contact with Russian intelligence officials since arriving in Russia. Snowden immediately disputed the accusations, writing on Twitter “they claim without evidence that I’m in cahoots with the Russians.”

Snowden would not be subject to the “partial mobilization” announced by Putin since he did not serve in the Russian army, according to his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, as quoted by Russian state media RIA Novosti on Monday.

“Now the spouse will receive citizenship after he has received it. Now the spouse will apply,” Kucherena told RIA Novosti referring to Snowden’s wife, Mills.

According to the lawyer, Snowden has a child who was born in the Russian Federation and received Russian citizenship at birth.

1:57 a.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Large lines of traffic wait to cross from Russia into Georgia, satellite images show

From CNN's Tim Lister, Sebastian Shukla and Gianluca Mezzofiore

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of the traffic jam near the Russia border with Georgia on Sunday.
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of the traffic jam near the Russia border with Georgia on Sunday. (Maxar Technologies/AP)

Satellite images from Sunday provided by Maxar Technologies show long lines of traffic on the Russian side of the border with Georgia. 

Maxar says the northernmost image shows traffic queuing about 16 kilometers (nearly 10 miles) north of the border crossing, and adds that "the traffic jam likely continued further to the north of the imaged area."

CNN reported earlier Monday, that images and social media video from the border crossing between Russia and Georgia have shown long lines of stationary traffic through a mountain pass. Drone video uploaded from the area Monday suggests there are hundreds of vehicles gathered on the Russian side, with witnesses saying that people are waiting up to 48 hours to cross into Georgia.

Several videos show additional Russian security forces arriving at the border in an armored personnel carrier.

Queues have built up at the Verkhnii Lars crossing from North Ossetia into Georgia and other border crossings since the announcement last week by President Vladimir Putin of a partial mobilization. 

Videos show some families and many men on their own among those waiting to cross at Verknii Lars Hundreds of people are approaching the crossing on foot, pulling suitcases. 

Amid the sudden influx, "we have been pushing government to introduce visas and/or close the borders," an opposition politician in Georgia, Nona Mamulashvili, told CNN.

At the moment, the border appears still to be open.