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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11:10 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

White House requests Ukraine nuclear security funding to expand assistance due to Zaporizhzhia concerns

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

A general view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant taken on September 11.
A general view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant taken on September 11. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

The White House requested $35 million be included in the short-term government funding bill to assist Ukraine's nuclear security as US officials continue to closely watch the precarious conditions around Europe's largest nuclear power plant, according to an administration official. 

The additional funds would serve to bolster the significant assistance already provided by the US National Nuclear Security Administration to Ukrainian officials in the months since Russia invaded the country, the official said. It comes as US officials and their international counterparts have been on high alert over the potential for a nuclear accident at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.

The new money, which congressional Democrats included in their draft funding measure released late Monday evening, would be directed to the overall US efforts to assist with Ukraine's nuclear preparedness, and would specifically be used to support procurement and maintenance of additional sensors, data assessment and analysis, and for to supply the Ukrainian National Guard with protective capabilities at nuclear power plants, the official said. 

The funds could also be utilized in the event Ukrainians faced the need to consolidate radiological materials. 

The facility, which has been held by Russian troops since March, has for weeks served as an increasingly hazardous flashpoint in the war. Shelling at and around the site has damaged infrastructure, cut power lines and drawn a sustained international effort to de-escalate the situation. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the shelling. 

"We've been working with the International Atomic Energy Agency and with Ukrainian energy regulators to try to make sure that there is no threat posed by a meltdown or something else from the plant," Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "We will continue to do that, but it's something we all have to keep a close eye on."  

The White House funding request came as part of the overall US effort to assist with Ukraine's nuclear preparedness, which has grown increasingly important as a result of the events at Zaporizhzhia. It also comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a series of dramatic steps to escalate a conflict he launched and has now found his country mired in after more than seven months.   

More on this: The $35 million only represents a small piece of the $12.3 billion in assistance to Ukraine included the stopgap funding bill, the bulk of which is directed toward military and economic assistance. 

But it does mark the latest tranche of assistance on an issue of palpable concern since the opening days of the Russian invasion. Ukraine has four operating nuclear power plant sites with a total of 15 reactors.  

Lawmakers have until Sept. 30 to pass the bill and avoid a government shutdown.

The US agency that would receive the new funds has been involved for months in providing real-time assistance in monitoring radiation levels amid shelling and combat in and around Ukraine's power plants, including Zaporizhzhia and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The NNSA, which technically operates within the US Energy Department, has also worked to model the potential consequences of damage to nuclear facilities.

 

2:43 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Explosions reported in the center of Kharkiv 

From CNN's Kareem Khadder and Josh Pennington

Witnesses in Kharkiv report several loud explosions close to the center of the Ukrainian city. 

The head of the Kharkiv regional administration, Oleh Synehubov, said on Telegram: "The occupants struck at Kharkiv," without giving further details.

Mayor Ihor Terekov said there had been three explosions which had knocked out electrical power in Ukraine's second-largest city.

4:38 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

"Shaking" recorded in Baltic Sea on Monday matches locations of Nord Stream leaks, geological agency says

From CNN’s Chris Liakos and Arnaud Siad

“Shaking” was recorded twice on Monday in the Baltic Sea, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The time and location of both events "match the time and location for the gas leakages on Nord Stream 1 and 2," the agency said.

“GEUS has early morning Monday 26 September at 02:03 am Danish summer time and again Monday 26 September 7:03 pm Danish summer time recorded shaking in the Baltic Sea” the agency said about the events.

“The first event registered 2.3 on the Richter scale, the second 2.1 on the Richter scale,” it added.

GEUS said the signals recorded “do not resemble signals from earthquakes” but “resemble the signals typically recorded from blasts.”

GEUS recorded the signals on its two seismographic stations, that of Bornholm and the station on Stevns.

It said Swedish and German stations had also recorded the signals.

According to its webpage, GEUS is responsible for monitoring and locating earthquakes and other seismological events in Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe islands.

More context: The cause of the leaks has not been confirmed yet as European authorities continue investigating the incident.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Swedish Maritime Authority told CNN that three leaks have been identified in pipelines for Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 near Bornholm, warning vessels to maintain a distance of 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the leaks and issuing a warning for aircraft, with a safety altitude of 1,000 meters.

In September, Russia halted deliveries of gas to Europe through Nord Stream 1 indefinitely, saying it was due to an oil leak at one of its compressor stations.  

As CNN has previously reported, US officials have expressed concern that Russia’s weaponization of oil and gas, leading to skyrocketing costs and even potential blackouts across Europe this winter, could successfully force fissures in what up until now has been a largely united European front opposing Russia’s war in Ukraine.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Livvy Doherty, Sharon Braithwaite and Robert North contributed reporting to this post.

2:37 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

"These are critical hours," Danish FM says after talks with Swedish FM on gas leakage in Baltic Sea

From CNN's Arnaud Siad, Sharon Braithwaite, Sarah Diab and Chris Liakos

Danish foreign minister Jeppe Kofod said that these are "critical hours" after he held talks with his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde on the gas leakage in Baltic Sea near both countries.

The talks follow the discovery of three leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines near the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.

Earlier on Tuesday, Swedish seismologists said they detected two underwater explosions in area close to Nord Stream pipelines on Monday. The cause of the incident is still not known as investigations continue. Initial reports – which are not officially confirmed yet– indicate that this could have been a deliberate act, according to some Western officials. 

"These are critical hours – call for close international cooperation. We are doing everything we can to gather information and assess the situation," Kofod tweeted Tuesday.

Linde said that it is "essential to closely coordinate and handle the situation".

The Swedish government and agencies are "closely monitoring the developments," she tweeted.

See the tweets:

2:26 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Ukrainian forces make further incremental gains in the east

From CNN's Tim Lister

The Ukrainian military has released video showing that its forces have made further incremental gains east of the river Oskil in Kharkiv — which had been the limit of their recent successful offensive.

One of the short clips of video released Tuesday showed a Ukrainian soldier raising the national flag in Kupyansk Vuzlovyi, a suburb south of the city of Kupyansk — which was captured earlier this month.

Other clips show Ukrainian troops entering villages further south, close to where Kharkiv and Donetsk regions meet. Those villages are Koroviy Yar and Ridkodub.

Their capture indicates that Ukrainian forces are moving slowly to consolidate gains made in the first two weeks of September, with the aim of cutting off pro-Russian units still defending their positions around the town of Lyman.

2:02 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Norwegian oil minister says initial information about Nord Stream leaks "indicates acts of sabotage"

From CNN's Chris Liakos

Nord Stream headquarters in Zug, Switzerland on March 1.
Nord Stream headquarters in Zug, Switzerland on March 1. (Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters)

Initial information about Nord Stream pipeline leaks “indicates acts of sabotage," Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland said on Tuesday.

“Based on the information we have seen so far, much indicates acts of sabotage,” Aasland told reporters Tuesday referring to the three leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines near the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.

He did not provide any further information on the matter. His comments were published on the Norwegian government website.

Remember: The cause of the leaks has not been confirmed yet as European authorities continue investigating the incident.

Aasland added that today the Norwegian government has decided to heighten the emergency preparedness in relation to infrastructure, onshore and offshore installations on the Norwegian continental shelf. 

“There has been close contact between the Norwegian Government, the Police, the Norwegian Armed Forces and the operators on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. On this basis, the Government has decided to enact measures to heighten emergency preparedness in relation to infrastructure, onshore and offshore installations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Some of the background are reports of increased drone activity. An investigation is ongoing,” he said.

1:49 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Pentagon: Russia is using Iranian-made drones for attacks and reconnaissance in Ukraine

From CNN's Michael Conte

The US Defense Department confirmed that Russia is now using Iranian-made drones in Ukraine both for attacks and for reconnaissance. 

“I think again it’s just indicative of the Russians employing a capability that we know they’ve sought out from Iran, and they’re using the way they indicated they would use them,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, who serves as the Pentagon press secretary, said at a news briefing Tuesday.

Ryder would not comment on the effectiveness of the drones, but said the US believes reports of Ukrainians shooting down some of the drones are “credible.”

Ukrainian officials have said there have been five attacks from these drones in Odesa in recent days.

 

9:08 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

Draft papers will be given to all eligible Russian citizens seeking to cross into Georgia, state media says

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

Travelers from Russia cross the border to Georgia at the Verkhnii Lars checkpoint on September 26.
Travelers from Russia cross the border to Georgia at the Verkhnii Lars checkpoint on September 26. (Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters)

Draft papers will be given to all eligible Russian men seeking to leave Russia through the Georgian border crossing at Verkhnii Lars, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Quoting the press office of the regional government of North Ossetia, where the crossing is located, RIA said that "at the entrances to the republic and at the Verkhnii Lars checkpoint, mobile operational groups are organized, consisting of representatives of military registration and enlistment offices and executive authorities."

Earlier on Tuesday, RIA reported that only residents of North Ossetia would receive draft letters at the checkpoint. Now the order appears to apply to all males eligible to be called up under the partial mobilization announced last week.

"The task of the operational groups is to hand draft letters to citizens subject to conscription in accordance with the lists of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation."

The head of government in North Ossetia, Sergei Menyailo, also said that the order applied to citizens who are registered with the military — not only in North Ossetia but in other regions of the country.

The Georgian government says the number of Russians crossing into its territory has almost doubled since the announcement of the mobilization, and there are long lines of traffic at the crossing. 

1:21 p.m. ET, September 27, 2022

President of Georgia condemns referenda in Ukraine as "completely unacceptable"

From CNN's Tim Lister and Josh Pennington 

Georgia's President Salome Zurabishvili in Tbilisi, Georgia on March 24.
Georgia's President Salome Zurabishvili in Tbilisi, Georgia on March 24. (Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters)

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has described the so-called referenda in occupied parts of Ukraine as a cynical act on the part of Russia that is "completely unacceptable."

Zurabishvili called on the Georgian government to "categorically condemn" them.

She was speaking while visiting a memorial in the capital, Tbilisi, for those who died during the conflict in Abkhazia 29 years ago, when Georgia lost control of the territory to pro-Russian Abkhazian separatists.

"We know what referendums are when they are held in the occupied territory, in conditions of war," Zurabishvili.

"This is an extremely cynical action on the part of Russia, which is completely unacceptable for us, for the world and for civilized people," she added.

Zurabishvili's comments come as the Georgian government says the number of Russians crossing into its territory has almost doubled since Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement of the mobilization, and there are long lines of traffic at the crossing. 

CNN's Uliana Pavlova contributed reporting to this post.