September 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Andrew Raine, Sana Noor Haq and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 6:14 p.m. ET, September 30, 2022
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1:18 p.m. ET, September 30, 2022

Zelensky says Ukraine is applying for NATO membership "under an accelerated procedure"

From CNN's Mick Krever, Victoria Butenko and Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, center, together with Speaker of the Parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk and Prime Minister Denys Shmygal are applying “under an accelerated procedure” for Ukraine to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, center, together with Speaker of the Parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk and Prime Minister Denys Shmygal are applying “under an accelerated procedure” for Ukraine to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. (President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that his country is applying “under an accelerated procedure” to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

He signed Ukraine’s application together with Speaker of the Parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk and Prime Minister Denys Shmygal.

“It is here, in Ukraine, that the values of our Euro-Atlantic community have obtained real vital energy,” Zelensky said in a pre-recorded video message. “The strength of the nation that fights for freedom, and the strength of the nations that help in this fight.”

He said that “de facto,” Ukraine had already “completed our path” to NATO.

“Today, Ukraine is applying to make it de jure. Under a procedure consistent with our significance for the protection of our entire community, under an accelerated procedure,” he said.

Zelensky said that he understood that accession would require consensus of NATO members.

“And therefore, while this is happening, we offer to implement our proposals regarding security guarantees for Ukraine and all of Europe in accordance with the Kyiv Security Compact, which was developed and presented to our partners.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that member states of the alliance support Ukraine's “right to choose its own path” after Zelensky made the announcement.

And Stoltenberg cautioned that any decision on membership has to be taken by all 30 members of the alliance.

“NATO allies, when they met at the NATO Summit in Madrid, stated also very clearly that we support Ukraine’s right to choose its own path, to decide what kind of security arrangements it wants to be a part of,” Stoltenberg told a news conference.

"Every democracy in Europe has the right to apply for NATO membership, and NATO allies respect that right and we have stated again and again that NATO's door remains open. And we have demonstrated that over the last [few] years,” he said.

 CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite and Arnaud Siad contributed reporting to this post.

1:08 p.m. ET, September 30, 2022

Blinken: US has not seen Russia actually take steps that suggest they'll use nuclear weapons in Ukraine war

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC, on September 30.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC, on September 30. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that the United States has not seen Russia actually take steps that suggest it would use nuclear weapons in the war against Ukraine, but reiterated that the US takes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling “very seriously.”

“We are looking very carefully to see if Russia is actually doing anything that suggests that they are contemplating the use of nuclear weapons. To date, we've not seen them take these actions,” Blinken said at a news conference at the US State Department.

“But we also know that Russia is engaged in horrific, horrific brutalization of Ukraine, and so the threats that they make, we take very seriously,” he continued.

“As to President Putin’s intent, I'm not going to speculate on what's in his mind, I can just tell you that we plan against every possible scenario, including this one,” Blinken said.

On the Nord Stream leaks: Blinken also said he had “nothing to say” in response to Putin’s “absurd allegation” that “Anglo-Saxons” sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines.

“We will get to the bottom of what happened. We'll share that information as soon as we have it, but I don't want to get ahead of the investigation that’s ongoing,” Blinken said at a news conference alongside his Canadian counterpart, Melanie Joly.

1:41 p.m. ET, September 30, 2022

G7 foreign ministers say they will impose additional economic costs on Russia

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London 

The G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the High Representative of the European Union said Friday they will impose additional economic costs on Russia over the annexation of Ukrainian territories.

The G7 foreign ministers condemned "in the strongest possible terms of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and its continued violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and Independence," they said in a joint statement.

"We will never recognize these purported annexations, nor the sham 'referenda' conducted at gunpoint," they said.

"We will impose further economic costs on Russia, and on individuals and entities — inside and outside of Russia —that provide political or economic support to these violations of international law," they said.

What the US is saying: The country said earlier Friday that it was announcing sanctions in coordination with G7 allies. 

A Biden administration official said the US is “targeting additional Russian government officials and leaders, their family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials, and defense procurement networks, including international suppliers supporting Russia’s military-industrial complex” through announcements from the Departments of Treasury, Commerce and State. 

12:36 p.m. ET, September 30, 2022

Norway increases controls along its border with Russia

From CNN's Jorge Engels in London

Norway is increasing preparedness and controls along the Russian-Norwegian border after it said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s "partial mobilization" order on Sept. 21 increased the likelihood of illegal border crossings, Oslo said in a statement Friday.

The Norwegian government said its armed forces garrisoned in the area of Sør-Varanger are monitoring the Russia-Norway border and announced it would station a police helicopter with sensors to detect potential illegal crossings along its 198-kilometer (123-mile) border with Russia.

Oslo also said it was ready to follow Finland’s lead in barring Russian tourist visa holders from entering the country but was waiting to see its implementation.

More than 50,000 Russians have entered Finland after Putin’s mobilization order last week, Finland's border guard said Wednesday. 

"We will quickly close the border if this becomes necessary, and changes may be made at short notice. Few people have arrived in Norway, compared with Finland, and the situation is different here,” Norway’s Minister of Justice and Public Security Emilie Enger Mehl said.

Mehl added that the government is in close talks with Norway’s police and customs regarding the situation at the border.

1:50 p.m. ET, September 30, 2022

NATO chief: Russia's mobilization and annexation is "most serious escalation" since start of war

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad and Sharon Braithwaite

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on September 30.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on September 30. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

The mobilization of more troops and the annexation of parts of Ukraine is an escalation of Russia's war in the country, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The actions constitute “the most serious escalation of the conflict since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February,” Stoltenberg said on Friday.

"Putin has mobilized hundreds of thousands of more troops, engaged in irresponsible nuclear saber rattling and now illegally annexed more Ukrainian territory. Together, this represents the most serious escalation since the start of the war," Stoltenberg said in a news conference.

“None of this shows strength. It shows weakness,” he said.

“It is an admission that the war is not going to plan, and that Putin has utterly failed in his strategic objectives,” he added.

“Putin bears full responsibility for this war. And it is his responsibility to end it,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg also said that NATO will continue providing support to Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

“If Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops fighting, it will cease to exist as an independent, sovereign nation in Europe,” he said.

“NATO reaffirms our unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.

1:56 p.m. ET, September 30, 2022

Pro-Russian propagandist slams "unprofessionalism" of Russian command as Ukrainian forces surround Lyman

From CNN's Denis Lapin and Mick Krever

Igor Girkin speaks during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday.
Igor Girkin speaks during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday. (Contributor/Getty Images)

In scathing remarks on his Telegram channel, a pro-Russian propagandist and former defense official in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic slammed the “unprofessionalism of the command.”

Igor Girkin said that Ukraine’s effective encirclement of Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk town of Lyman had the potential to “turn into a huge moral blow to our army and, on the contrary, into a huge moral success for the AFU,” referring to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Girkin was defense minister of the DPR during the war in 2014 and is now a pro-Russian propagandist and military analyst.

“With a greater degree of probability I assume a real cretinism and unprofessionalism of the command,” he said on his official Telegram channel. “Inescapable in an environment where no one is responsible for all the numerous and regularly repeated failures, except the outright ‘shooters.’”

He said that Ukraine outmanned Russian and pro-Russian forces three to four times, and that Russia’s superiority in artillery and aviation would not help enough in the wooded and rugged terrain.

“Why the withdrawal from Lyman was not secured in advance by introducing forces into the ‘corridor’ sufficient to hold it and cover the withdrawal – I have no answer to that,” he added.

He said that if Russian forces are not able to withdraw from Lyman, “a relatively insignificant tactical defeat” would turn into “a huge moral success” for Ukraine.

Girkin also speculated that it was “quite probable” that Ukraine’s offensive near Lyman is a diversionary tactic, meant to mask a Ukrainian push on the southern front, in the Zaporizhzhia region.

“Unlike the Lyman area, a breakthrough of the enemy somewhere near Polahy or south of Ugledar threatens to destroy the front and to surround our entire Kherson grouping, to lead the enemy to the Crimean Isthmus and – as a result – to the strategic defeat of the RF [Russian Federation] Armed Forces with unpredictable general consequences,” he said.

1:50 p.m. ET, September 30, 2022

UK will implement sanctions targeting "Russian economic vulnerabilities"

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad and Jorge Engels

The United Kingdom said it will implement services sanctions and an export ban that target “Russian economic vulnerabilities” following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian regions, the UK Foreign Office said on Friday.

“Under new sanctions Russia will lose access to major western services that Russia depends on, including: IT consultancy, architectural services, engineering services, and transactional legal advisory services for certain commercial activity,” the office said.

“UK also bans the export of nearly 700 goods that are crucial to Russia’s industrial and technological capabilities,” it added.

The Foreign Secretary summoned Russian Ambassador Andrey Kelin to protest “in the strongest terms” against the annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory.

“The UK is moving in lockstep with international partners to target key sectors of the Russian economy. The new measures will ramp up economic pressure on the Russian regime by targeting vulnerabilities and disrupting crucial supply chains,” the Foreign Office added.

The UK has also sanctioned Elvira Nabiullina, the governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, according to the Foreign Office.

“In her role, Nabiullina has been instrumental in steering the Russian economy through the Russian regime’s illegal war against Ukraine and extending the ruble into the Ukrainian territories that are temporarily controlled by Russia. Nabiullina has been sanctioned and is personally subject to an asset freeze and travel ban,” it said.

The US also announced sanctions on Nabiullina.

“The UK utterly condemns Putin’s announcement of the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory. We will never recognise the results of these sham referendums or any annexation of Ukrainian territory,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

“The Russian regime must be held to account for this abhorrent violation of international law. That’s why we are working with our international partners to ramp up the economic pressure through new targeted services bans,” he added.

“What happens in Ukraine matters to us all, and the UK will do everything possible to assist their fight for freedom,” he concluded.

1:51 p.m. ET, September 30, 2022

It's nighttime in Ukraine. Catch up here on the latest developments in the war

From CNN staff

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of four regions of Ukraine — Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — which was roundly condemned by leaders around the world. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said it "will only lead to greater escalation of conflict."

Catch up here on the latest developments:

Putin's announcement: Russia said it would annex nearly a fifth of Ukraine in a blatant violation of international law, following so-called referendums in regions occupied by Russian forces.

Putin attempted to claim that the referendums reflected the will of “millions” of people, despite reports from the ground suggesting that voting took place essentially – and in some cases, literally – at gunpoint. Western leaders have slammed the polls, saying that they in no way met internationally recognized standards of free and fair elections.

Widespread condemnation: Putin's announcement sparked immediate sharp rebuke from Ukrainian and Western leaders.

  • Zelensky: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed on Friday that the entire territory of Ukraine would be liberated from Russian control, calling the annexation of some Ukrainian regions a “farce.” Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that “nothing changes for Ukraine: we continue liberating our land and our people, restoring our territorial integrity.”
  • Biden: United States President Joe Biden said the US “condemns Russia’s Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that “nothing changes for Ukraine: we continue liberating our land and our people, restoring our territorial integrity.”fraudulent attempt today to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory. Russia is violating international law, trampling on the United Nations Charter, and showing its contempt for peaceful nations everywhere.” He added that those actions have “no legitimacy” and the US will continue to “always honor Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.” The US also announced new sanctions on Russia.
  • EU: The European Union said it "will never" recognize the Kremlin's "illegal annexation," describing the move as a "further violation of Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity." The bloc said it will also step up sanctions against Moscow and provide Ukraine with support "for as long as it takes."

Here's what the latest map of control looks like:

Ukrainian military looks to circle Donetsk town: The Ukrainian military said that its troops are trying to complete the encirclement of Russian forces in the Lyman area of Donetsk. Lyman has been occupied by Russian forces for several months. In the last two weeks, Ukrainian forces have advanced from the north, south and west, gradually tightening their grip on the area. 

NATO application: Zelensky said Friday that his country is applying “under an accelerated procedure” to become a member of NATO. He added that he understood that accession would require consensus of NATO members.

Zaporizhzhia attack: Ukrainian officials said at least 23 people were killed in an attack by Russia on a civilian convoy leaving the city of Zaporizhzhia. Zelensky said the Russian forces who carried out the attack are "downright terrorists."

11:16 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022

UK defense minister met with Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv to discuss ongoing offensive and support

From CNN’s Eve Brennan in London  

Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace leaves Downing Street after attending a weekly cabinet meeting on March 8, in London, England.
Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace leaves Downing Street after attending a weekly cabinet meeting on March 8, in London, England. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said he met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov this week to discuss the ongoing war, according to a news release issued by the UK Defense Ministry on Friday. 

The release stated that the two ministers met to discuss “the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s ongoing offensive to recapture and liberate territory seized in Putin’s illegal war.” 

“They spoke about how UK equipment has been brought to bear on the battlefield, along with the effectiveness of soldiers trained by the UK and other partners … and what further support the UK can provide,” the release continued. 

The UK has also “committed to donating more than 120 logistics vehicles” and has “trained more than 27,000 members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine since 2015, including thousands of new recruits in the UK this year, with help from allies and partners,” according to the release. 

“The UK is one of the leading donors of military aid to Ukraine, committing £2.3 billion in 2022,” the release said.   

On Thursday, Wallace tweeted about the visit.

And on Friday, Reznikov tweeted that “every visit of @BWallaceMP to [Ukraine] brings good news to the battlefield,” including a video of a M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System firing.