October 2, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Sana Noor Haq, Aditi Sangal and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:04 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023
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3:59 a.m. ET, October 2, 2023

EU meeting in Ukraine sends message of "unfettered support," foreign minister says

From CNN's Nada Bashir and Jessie Gretener

The meeting of EU foreign ministers in Kyiv Monday, is a “historic event” that sends a strong "message of support" for Ukraine, the war-torn country's foreign minister said.

Speaking alongside EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said holding a meeting of the EU's Foreign Affairs Council outside of the bloc's borders for the first time sends "a message in itself."

"A message of support, the unfettered support that the EU is extending to Ukraine, which we’re very much grateful for," he said.

Borrell said the EU ministers would study a peace plan put forward by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“This is the kind of brainstorming that we need to do among us — and together with [Ukraine] — in order to look at the situation of the war against Ukraine, how the EU is supporting Ukraine, and how we will continue to do that,” Borrell said.

He added that the EU foreign ministers had come to Kyiv to show "their commitment and the commitment of the European Union to continue to support Ukraine in the war of aggression of Russia against Ukraine.”

“These kinds of meetings are called informal because, first, they are outside of the premises of the European Union, and secondly because they are considered a high level political debate that has not the aim of reaching agreed conclusions and decisions,” Borrell said.
3:59 a.m. ET, October 2, 2023

EU foreign ministers to hold "historic" meeting in Kyiv on Monday, official says

From CNN's Jessie Gretener and Benjamin Bamsey

Josep Borrell holds a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on October 1.
Josep Borrell holds a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on October 1. Viacheslav Ratynskyi/

European Union foreign ministers will hold a "historic" meeting in Kyiv on Monday to offer support to Ukraine, the bloc's foreign policy chief said.

In a series of posts on X, formerly Twitter, Josep Borrell said it would be the "first ever meeting of all 27 Member States outside the EU."

"We are convening a historic meeting of EU Foreign Ministers here in Ukraine, candidate country and future member of the EU," Borrell said. "We are here to express our solidarity and support to the Ukrainian people."
2:55 a.m. ET, October 2, 2023

Russian shelling injures 3 in Kherson city, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Maria Kostenko

At least three people, including three members of the same family, were wounded after Russian shelling struck Kherson city in southern Ukraine on Sunday evening, Ukrainian officials said.

Among those injured were a 13-year-old girl, her 12-year-old sister and their mother, according to the Kherson prosecutor’s office.

Sunday's attack was followed by another early Monday, which sparked a fire, said Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the region's military administration.

Details of the damage are being established, he said.

Some context: Kherson city is the provincial capital of Kherson, one of four Ukrainian regions annexed illegally by Russia just over a year ago. The frontline city was captured by Russian forces during the early days of the invasion and has come under sustained attack by Moscow's forces since it was liberated by Ukrainian troops in November last year.

12:14 a.m. ET, October 2, 2023

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

From CNN staff

In an address Sunday on a Ukrainian holiday honoring veterans and fallen soldiers, President Volodymyr Zelensky said "victory will come" in the country's war against Russia as he stressed the importance of unity and optimism.

“Our unity must enable us to go all the way to drive the occupier out of our land, and it will," Zelensky said during a ceremony in Kyiv to mark Day of the Defenders. "Never again will Ukraine pay with the future of its children, its sovereignty, and its will for illusory promises of peace."

Meanwhile, Ukraine said it is working with the United States after Congress did not include new wartime aid in a last-minute deal to avoid a government shutdown. President Joe Biden vowed, however, that American support would continue.

“I hope my friends on the other side keep their word about support for Ukraine. They said they’re going to support Ukraine in a separate vote,” Biden said. “We cannot, under any circumstance, allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted.”

Catch up on the latest here:

  • Slovakia election: Pro-Kremlin former prime minister Robert Fico, whose SMER party won parliamentary elections in Slovakia on Saturday, said he will do everything he can to ensure peace talks between Russia and Ukraine start as soon as possible. Fico failed to secure enough votes to govern on his own but will have a chance to become prime minister again when coalition talks begin, in what could pose a challenge to EU and NATO unity on Ukraine. Kyiv does not want to engage in any negotiations that would mean ceding territory to Moscow.
  • Drone wars: Flights were diverted at Sochi airport in Russia Sunday after a Ukrainian drone was shot down over Russia’s Krasnodar region, Sochi Mayor Aleksey Kopaigorodsky said. As a precautionary measure, the Sochi airport — over 200 miles from the affected region — imposed a temporary restriction on flights. It comes after Russian forces launched around 40 drones in an overnight attack on Ukraine’s central and southern regions, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) said Sunday.
  • Weapons hub: Ukraine is ready to offer special conditions to companies that are willing to develop weapons production jointly with Kyiv, Zelensky said Saturday as he met with representatives from defense companies from countries including the US and the UK. "It will be a mutually beneficial partnership. I think this is a good time and place to create a large military hub," Zelensky said, according to his office. 
  • Odesa visit: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell visited Odesa on Saturday as part of a push to express solidarity and support for Ukraine on the first anniversary of the illegal annexation of four regions by Russia. Speaking at the city's Transfiguration Cathedral, Borrell said Odesa should be known for its beauty and rich history, but instead, has been in the headlines for "barbaric attacks by Russia."
10:47 p.m. ET, October 1, 2023

Here's what Ukrainians have to say about the lack of new aid in the US spending bill

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv, Ukraine

The United States may have avoided a government shutdown on Saturday — but the lack of additional funding for Ukraine in the spending bill has left some residents in the war-torn nation nervous.

Though US President Joe Biden lauded the deal reached by lawmakers, he also acknowledged the lack of new funding for Ukraine, vowing Washington “will not walk away” from Kyiv. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of leaders in the US Senate also promised to vote on more aid for Ukraine.

For some in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the drama that has engulfed Congress for the past week is little more than noise as the war rages on.

“These are internal American games. And Ukraine is a hostage to this discussion — this internal war,” Ukrainian serviceman Volodymyr Kostiak told CNN on Sunday, a national holiday marking Defenders Day to honor the country’s veterans and war dead.
“America’s strategic interests are so big that Ukraine is part of them,” he added. “And I think that the internal political struggle cannot affect the assistance to Ukraine that much. There will be some errors, but they will be insignificant.”

Kostiak said the fight over funding Ukraine is due to the political realities of the 2024 US presidential election, but he believes the possibility that Washington would stop helping Ukraine is slim.

“The US budget has been suspended 20 times in history, and never once has it led to any serious consequences,” the serviceman said. “So I don’t see this as a big problem for Ukraine.”

Natalia and Serhii Krasnoshchoks, an English teacher and an entrepreneur, were similarly optimistic.

“Yes, we have seen the news, but we think that there will be aid to Ukraine anyway,” they said. “We hope so very much. And of course, we will be grateful for any help. The more, the better.”

Mykhailo Chendei, a store administrator, told CNN he believed it would be “impossible” for the US to withdraw aid entirely — but “now it’s an internal American issue.”

Read more Ukrainian reactions here.

11:02 p.m. ET, October 1, 2023

Zelensky says "victory will come" at event honoring soldiers

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych

Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a meeting in Kyiv on September 28.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a meeting in Kyiv on September 28. Kaniuka Ruslan/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "victory will come" in the country's war against Russia in an event celebrating the country's soldiers.

In an address marking Day of the Defenders, Ukraine's national holiday honoring veterans and fallen soldiers, Zelensky stressed the importance of unity and optimism as the fight continues.

“Our unity must enable us to go all the way to drive the occupier out of our land, and it will," he said. "Never again will Ukraine pay with the future of its children, its sovereignty, and its will for illusory promises of peace.

“Courage, resilience, unity are the things we must not lose in order to not lose Ukraine.”

10:39 p.m. ET, October 1, 2023

Ukraine is working with the US to ensure the budget decision will help Kyiv

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych, Eve Brennan

Ukraine is working with its partners in Washington to ensure that the budget Congress will work on over the next 45 days will include new funds to help Kyiv push back against Russia, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said.

Washington narrowly avoided a government shutdown with the passage of a stopgap funding bill on Saturday but it dropped funding for Kyiv.

A future shutdown could have a negative impact on Ukraine, the spokesperson, Oleg Nikolenko, said on Facebook on Sunday.

Nikolenko said the US budget currently includes about $1.6 billion for the defense industry and $1.23 billion for direct budget support, as well as funds for humanitarian and energy projects. 

Some context: US President Joe Biden has vowed that American support for Ukraine will continue. On Sunday, Biden urged House Republicans to keep their word on government funding and aid to Ukraine after he signed the bill that narrowly avoided a shutdown.

11:53 p.m. ET, October 1, 2023

Pro-Russia Slovakia election winner "will do everything" to see Ukraine peace talks begin

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

Robert Fico speaks during a press conference after the country's early parliamentary elections, in Bratislava, Slovakia, on October 1.
Robert Fico speaks during a press conference after the country's early parliamentary elections, in Bratislava, Slovakia, on October 1. Radovan Stoklasa/Reuters

Slovakia’s two-time former prime minister Robert Fico, whose SMER party won parliamentary elections Saturday, said he will do everything he can to ensure peace talks between Russia and Ukraine start as soon as possible. 

Fico failed to secure enough votes to govern on his own but will have a chance to become prime minister again when coalition talks begin.

He's known for his pro-Russia stance and his suggestion of peace talks is unlikely to be welcomed in Ukraine, which does not want to engage in any negotiations that would mean ceding territory to Russia.

Asked about his stance on Ukraine, Fico said: “I will constrain myself to one sentence: Slovakia and people in Slovakia have bigger problems than Ukraine.”

“Ukraine is a huge tragedy, for everyone. If SMER is asked to form a government … I will do everything, also within the European Union, to see peace talks begin as soon as possible,” he said.
“More killing is not going to help anyone. You know our opinion. I’d rather spend 10 years negotiating peace and compromises, than let people kill each other for 10 more years and then end up where we are now. We are not changing our stance as a peace party.”

Some context: Slovakia, an eastern European nation of about 5.5 million people, was going to the polls to choose its fifth prime minister in four years after seeing a series of shaky coalition governments.

A SMER-led government could have serious consequences for the region. Slovakia is a member of both NATO and the European Union, was among the handful of European countries pushing for tough EU sanctions against Russia and has donated a large amount of military equipment to Ukraine.

But this will likely change under Fico, who has blamed “Ukrainian Nazis and fascists” for provoking Russia’s President Vladimir Putin into launching the invasion, repeating the false narrative Putin has used to justify his invasion.

8:25 p.m. ET, October 1, 2023

Analysis: Winter is coming to Ukraine, but Kyiv is adapting its tactics

Analysis from CNN's Tim Lister

Ukraine will soon face its second winter at war, and the bold campaigns of a year ago that saw significant gains in Kharkiv and Kherson seem a distant memory.

The Ukrainian military is now waging a war of intense attrition against stubborn and larger Russian forces along a front of nearly 1,000 kilometers. It is still desperately short of air power, and offensive action will be disrupted by the deteriorating weather.

The Russians are likely to launch another campaign to cripple Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, plunging its people into a dark winter. On the battlefield, the Russians have adapted. Next year’s defense budget will be 70% higher than this year’s. They are in this for the long haul.

But the Ukrainians are also adapting, after a stuttering start to the counteroffensive.

As Franz-Stefan Gady and Michael Kofman argued in The Economist, “Ukrainian soldiers’ ability to master Western tech quickly led to misplaced optimism that the time it takes to develop cohesive fighting units could be short-circuited.”

Now they’ve returned to a style of warfare they know best, using small groups of mobile infantry to test entrenched Russian defenses. It’s also appropriate to the circumstances now, because scores of Russian drones spotted any concentration of forces and directed massive artillery fire against them.

Small and nimble is the answer.

Read the full analysis here.