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
7 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:00 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022

US Secretary of Defense says cause of Nord Stream explosions won't be known until probe is finished

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin holds a press conference in Prague on September 9.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin holds a press conference in Prague on September 9. ( Lukas Kabon/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said while there is “a lot of speculation” about who caused the explosions near the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that funnel gas from Russia to Europe, “until a complete investigation is done, no one will really be able to determine for certain what happened.” 

Austin made the remarks in Hawaii after a bilateral meeting with the Philippine Senior Undersecretary and Officer in Charge of the Department of National Defense Jose Faustino Jnr

Austin spoke with Denmark's Minister of Defense Morten Bødskov yesterday by phone. Austin said he offered Denmark “any assistance that the United States may provide.” 

Bødskov told Austin it “will be several days before he is able to get the right team in to look at the sites and try to really determine as best as possible what happened,” Austin said.

Until that, until we get further information or are able to do further analysis, we won’t speculate on who may have been responsible,” Austin added.
2:00 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022

Pentagon to form new command to coordinate arming and training Ukrainian forces

From CNN's Oren Liebermann and Barbara Starr 

NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Christopher G. Cavoli in Izmir, Turkey on August 4.
NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Christopher G. Cavoli in Izmir, Turkey on August 4. (Mehmet Emin Menguarslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Pentagon is working to form a new command to coordinate arming and training Ukraine, according to two US officials, in an effort to streamline what was a largely ad hoc process rapidly created in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

The new command, to be based at Weisbaden in Germany, will fall under Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the commander of US European Command, which has led the multinational effort to train Ukrainian military forces on advanced Western weapons and deliver those weapons to the border with Ukraine, one official said. It is expected to be led by a 3-star general. 

But the US has been careful in how it discusses the plan, which the officials emphasized is not a major change to the current system of organizing and administering shipments. Officials are careful not to give Putin a reason to claim the US is party to the conflict, especially given the elevated rhetoric coming from the Kremlin about the threat of nuclear weapons usage. 

The New York Times was first to report about the new command.

The Biden administration has openly signaled its ongoing and long-term support for Ukraine. Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion in late-February, the US has committed more than $16 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. This week, the Pentagon announced another $1.1 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine, which a senior defense official called a “multiyear investment” in the country’s defenses.

Since the first weeks of the war, the US has looked for ways to quickly and effectively translate Ukrainian requests for different types of equipment into shipments of weapons, turning a process that normally takes weeks or more into a matter of days. 

As Ukrainian forces proved they could stand up to the Russian invasion, and as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hopes for a quick victory turned into a bruising war, the number of countries willing to provide security assistance to Ukraine grew. 

The US and its allies and partners established the Ukraine Contact Group, consisting of more than 40 countries meeting monthly, to coordinate shipments of weapons and equipment into Ukraine. 

The new command will create a more formal structure within the military to manage the shipments, officials said. Its anticipated location in central Germany also places it close to many of the areas used by Western countries to train Ukrainian forces.

The command would also work closely with the International Donor Coordination Center, which has played a critical role in handling the logistics necessary to match the need for Ukrainian weapons with the available stocks of potential donor countries. 

1:59 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022

Putin signs decrees claiming to recognize independence of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions

From Uliana Pavlova and Karen Smith

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting via a video link in Moscow on September 29.
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting via a video link in Moscow on September 29. (Gavriil Grigorov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on Thursday decrees that recognize the independence of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, parts of which have been occupied by Russia since shortly after it invaded Ukraine in late February.

The two decrees were published by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti and each says the recognition of independence is “taking into the account the will of the people” following referendums. The so-called referendums have been widely criticized as illegitimate and the United States has pledged not to recognize the results.

The decrees come into force from the date of publication according to RIA Novosti.

1:59 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022

West has been "naive" in dealing with Russia, Georgian official says

From CNN’s Elizabeth Wells

The West should have seen that Russian President Vladimir Putin was going to invade Ukraine, a Georgia official told CNN on Thursday.

“We have been anticipating this for a long time… Unfortunately, nobody listened to us in the 90s or in 2000s when we were saying that Georgia will not be the last country which Russia invades,” Nikoloz Samkharadze, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee at the Georgian Parliament, told CNN’s Becky Anderson.

Russia recognized Georgia’s separatist-held regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent following a five-day war in August 2008.

Samkharadze said the reaction by the West to this and to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 emboldened Russia.    

“Russians thought that they have a free hand and they can do whatever they want in the post-soviet space, and that's how we ended up in February 2022 when they invaded Ukraine and started a full scale war against Ukraine,” he said. 

We are really surprised with the naivety that the Western community had towards Russia. Unfortunately it unfolded in front of our eyes,” Samkharadze added.
1:58 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022

US Army doctor and wife charged with conspiring to provide medical records to Russian government

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

A wife and husband from Maryland, United States, have been charged with conspiring to provide the Russian government with personal medical records from the US government and military, according to a newly unsealed federal indictment.

Anna Gabrielian, an anesthesiologist practicing in Baltimore, and her husband, Jamie Lee Henry, a major and doctor in the US Army, allegedly provided “individually identifiable health information,” which is protected under federal law, to an FBI undercover agent posing as a Russian government employee.

Gabrielian and Henry were arrested Thursday morning, according to the US Attorney’s office in the District of Maryland. After appearing in court, they were released on home detention with 24/7 location monitoring. Gabrielian also has a $500,000 unsecured bond.

According to the indictment, Gabrielian was contacted by the undercover agent – who claimed to be an employee of the Russian embassy – in August, after Gabrielian had reached out to the Russian embassy to offer her and her husband’s assistance to the Russian government several months earlier.

CNN is reaching out to the defendants. No attorneys have been listed in court records. 

Gabrielian and Henry both suggested that they provide the undercover agent with medical information from members of the US military and their families from Fort Bragg, where Henry was stationed as a staff internist, as well as from the medical institution where Gabrielian worked in Baltimore, the indictment alleges.

Henry, the indictment says, provided to the undercover agent during an August meeting the health records of a US Army officer, Department of Defense employee, and the spouses of three Army veterans, two of whom are deceased. The indictment also alleges that Gabrielian conspired to provide the medical information of “the spouse of a government employee and military veteran.”

Henry told the undercover agent that if the US were to declare war against Russia, “at that point, I’ll have some ethical issues I have to work through,” according to the indictment.

Read the full report here.

2:11 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022

Finland will close borders to Russian tourists amid record crossings since partial mobilization order

From Jorge Engels and Allegra Goodwin

Foreign Minister of Finland Pekka Haavisto speaks during the Finnish Government's press conference in Helsinki on September 29.
Foreign Minister of Finland Pekka Haavisto speaks during the Finnish Government's press conference in Helsinki on September 29. (Roni Rekomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images)

Finland will close its borders to Russian tourists from midnight Friday local time until further notice amid a record number of Russians crossing into the country following Moscow's partial mobilization order, the government confirmed Thursday.

On September 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the immediate "partial mobilization" of citizens for its war in Ukraine.

Since then, there has been an exodus of citizens fleeing the country and thousands of Russians have entered neighboring Finland.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the mobilization declared by Russia have changed the security situation in Europe," Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Thursday.

"The government deems that the Russian mobilization and the rapidly increasing volume of tourists arriving in Finland and transiting via Finland endanger Finland’s international position and international relations." 

"The resolution aims to stop tourism and related transit from Russia altogether. It will drastically limit the capacity to receive visa applications in Russia," the ministry added. 

"The resolution will not prevent traveling when it is deemed necessary for humanitarian reasons, for national interests or for meeting Finland’s international obligations."

Some context: The announcement comes after Helsinki announced Wednesday it would "significantly" restrict the right of Russian tourists to enter the country or transit through when traveling to other parts of Europe's Schengen area.

Finland’s border guard also said Wednesday that more than 50,000 Russians have entered Finland via the land border since September 21.

Last weekend saw a record number of Russians entering Finland via its land border, with 16,886 Russians arriving in total over Saturday and Sunday, according to the border guard’s head of international affairs, Matti Pitkaniitty.

1:58 a.m. ET, September 30, 2022

Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill made ambassador for Ukraine's Army of Drones project

From CNN's Lisa Respers France

Actor Mark Hamil attends the premiere of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" in Los Angeles on December 16, 2019.
Actor Mark Hamil attends the premiere of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" in Los Angeles on December 16, 2019. (Phil McCarten/Reuters)

Mark Hamill – the actor who played Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars" – has been made an ambassador for Ukraine's Army of Drones project.

His introduction as an ambassador took place during an online call on Thursday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who expressed his gratitude for Hamill’s support since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mark, you have become the first ambassador to help Ukraine raise funds to support its defenders,” Zelensky said. “For Ukrainians, this means a lot. As in ‘Star Wars,’ good will triumph over evil and light will overcome darkness. With you in the team, there’s no other way around it.”

Hamill said, “In this long and unequal fight, Ukraine needs continuous additional support. That’s why I was honored President Zelensky asked me to become an ambassador for the Army of Drones."

The Army of Drones project is a program of the fundraising platform UNITED24, Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Digital Transformation and the State Special Communications Service. It procures, repairs and replaces drones and trains their pilots.