October 3, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Lauren Kent, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, October 4, 2023
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1:49 p.m. ET, October 3, 2023

White House confident new Ukraine funding will be approved — even with possible House speaker change

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The White House reiterated its confidence that Congress will approve new Ukraine aid — with or without GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy serving as House Speaker.

John Kirby, the communications coordinator at the National Security Council, told reporters that US President Joe Biden discussed the situation with global allies in a call Tuesday morning.  

“We know that the vast majority of members in Congress support additional help for Ukraine and we know and appreciate their statements to that effect, including those of Speaker McCarthy,” Kirby said. “As evidenced in today's call, we know that the world is watching.”

Yet, McCarthy may not be the speaker for much longer, throwing into doubt whatever assurances he’s provided about taking up new Ukraine aid.

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz on Monday moved to oust McCarthy from the top House leadership post by offering a motion to vacate the chair on the House floor — a rare procedural maneuver that can be used to force a vote to remove the speaker. 

Kirby said the leadership fight in Congress wasn’t something Biden would interject himself in.

“That's not something that the president is going to get involved in or necessarily be overly concerned about right now,” he said, pointing to statements of support on Ukraine from other Republicans as evidence of support within the party for continued funding.

“There's a small number of very vocal, a small minority of vocal members who are pushing back on that but they don't represent their party. They don't represent their leadership," Kirby said.

He warned that failing to approve new Ukraine assistance could have dire battlefield ramifications.

“We cannot under any circumstances allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted. Time is not our friend,” he said.

2:08 p.m. ET, October 3, 2023

More vessels travel from Ukrainian ports through Black Sea using new corridor

From CNN's Svitlana Vlasova

A bulk carrier ship sails towards the Black Sea port of Chornomorsk using a temporary corridor, established by the Ukrainian Navy, through the Black Sea on September 16.
A bulk carrier ship sails towards the Black Sea port of Chornomorsk using a temporary corridor, established by the Ukrainian Navy, through the Black Sea on September 16. AFP/Getty Images

More ships have used Ukraine's self-declared humanitarian corridor through the Black Sea, according to Ukrainian and US officials.

Ukraine set up the route after the collapse of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, when Russia withdrew from the arrangement in July.

United States Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that three more ships are headed out to global markets through the corridor and five others are waiting to load.

"Ukraine’s exports are vital to its economy and to feed the world," she said.

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said three vessels loaded with grain and iron ore had left the Black Sea ports of Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi this weekend. He said the bulk carriers were using the temporary corridor established by the Ukrainian Navy to export 127,000 tonnes of products.

The five ships that are in the process of loading would take almost 120,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain to Africa and Europe, he added.

But the number of ships using the Black Sea ports to carry grain to world markets has fallen sharply since the Russians pulled out of the grain deal. Ten ships have completed the journey so far, according to the infrastructure ministry.

12:43 p.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Biden speaks with top US allies on Ukraine support

From CNN's Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden looks on during a meeting with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 2.
US President Joe Biden looks on during a meeting with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 2. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Joe Biden spoke by phone with a group of top United States allies Tuesday morning as the future of US funding for Ukraine remains uncertain. 

“President Biden convened a call this morning with allies and partners to coordinate our ongoing support for Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement. 

The call came days after Congress passed a temporary government spending bill that notably did not include aid for Ukraine, which remains a thorny issue with hardline conservatives. 

Participants, the White House said, included:

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
  • European Council President Charles Michel
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
  • Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni
  • Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
  • Polish President Andrzej Duda
  • Romanian President Klaus Iohannis
  • United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
  • French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna

Following the call, EU leaders reiterated their support for Ukraine.

"We stand united and ready to provide additional military equipment, financial and political support for Ukraine," Michel said. "Peace and security in Ukraine equals peace and security in Europe."

Von der Leyen said Europe’s support for Ukraine "is unwavering" through a proposed new 50 billion euros (about $52 billion) on macro-financial assistance, one million rounds of ammunition delivered by March 2024, as well as "EU action to ensure full accountability for Russian crimes against Ukrainians."

"Good call with NATO leaders hosted by the President of the United States. As Russia continues its brutal war, we are all committed to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes," said Stoltenberg. 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak echoed that sentiment, according to a readout from his country, reiterating the UK's "ongoing military, humanitarian and economic assistance" to Kyiv.

The Italian readout of the call also said Biden was "keen to reassure" Kyiv’s allies about the continuing American support for Ukraine. 

CNN's James Frater, Sharon Braithwaite and Radina Gigova contributed reporting to this post.

12:13 p.m. ET, October 3, 2023

European Parliament adopts multi-year support for Ukraine worth $52 billion

From Tim Lister and Zahid Mahmood

European Union lawmakers have approved a four year budget that would provide up to $52.3 billion (50 billion euros) for Ukraine in order to tackle the crisis caused by Russia’s war, the European Parliament said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The budget revision was introduced to adapt to the ongoing “war against Ukraine and growing migration issues,” the statement said. 

The facility for Ukraine will provide up to $52 billion in direct budgetary support for Ukraine over the period 2024 to 2027, to support reforms, create a favorable investment climate and conditions for attracting private investors to Ukraine's recovery. 

The funding would be separate to financing for military assistance. 

MEP Jan Olbrycht said of the revised budget: “Our goal was an ambitious but realistic proposal...and we have managed to keep it targeted but comprehensive. We aim to stabilise Ukraine's situation with a new €50 billion facility while bolstering the EU’s economy."

At the same time, Ukraine is working towards satisfying the European Union's demands for reform as part of a path towards membership of the EU, though analysts expect this will take at least several years.

According to Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal Ukraine will work on a single document – a “roadmap for reforms plan until 2027."

Much of Ukraine's annual budget is financed by credits from external sources while its spending is focused on financing the war against Russia. 

Shmyhal said the plan would have a number of documents with reform proposals from partners including the seven conditions that the EU has laid out for Ukraine's membership to move forward. Most significantly, these include action on corruption and money laundering, as well as guarantees for media freedom and the protection of ethnic minorities.

More Ukraine aid: The International Monetary Fund is also reviewing financial support for Ukraine, following the agreement of a $15.6 billion package of aid in March designed to help Ukraine's economic recovery from the devastating effects of Russia's invasion This week an IMF team has started technical discussions in Kyiv "with the aim of discussing fiscal, budgetary, financial, and structural measures ."

The arrangement is part of a US$115 billion total IMF support package for Ukraine.

The European Union is also planning to step up the pipeline of credits to finance military aid to Ukraine, principally munitions and weapons systems.

On Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell proposed an annual $5 billion "peace facility" for Ukraine, an EU fund that reimburses states that supply arms to Ukraine. 

10:49 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Ukraine Security Service says it cracked a large Russian spy ring

From CNN's Maria Kostenko and Tim Lister

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) claimed it has cracked a large Russian spy ring in the south of the country.

The SBU alleged that 13 informants had been detained in the Mykolaiv region, all of them local residents. Four of the 13 had already been found guilty and sentenced to jail, with terms of between eight and 15 years, it said.

"The criminals collected intel regarding the locations and movements of the Defense Forces in the southern region. They also adjusted Russian air attacks on the residential and public infrastructure of the regional center," the city of Mykolaiv, according to the SBU.

Some context: Mykolaiv came under almost daily fire from Russian missiles for much of 2022 but has seen fewer attacks since Ukraine retook much of the neighboring Kherson region last autumn.

The SBU said that the informants had helped Russia target "a multi-storey building in Mykolaiv with an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system in the fall of 2022. Seven civilians, including a child, were killed as a result of the enemy attack at that time."

According to the investigation, the Russian informants passed the coordinates of Ukrainian targets to Russia's Federal Security Service through a "liaison," whom the SBU named as pro-Kremlin blogger Sergey Lebedev. Lebedev was indicted on suspicion of treason in June.

The SBU said that "in the course of the investigation into Lebedev's criminal actions, it was established that following the FSB instructions, he had remotely established his own espionage network in Mykolaiv region." He recruited the informants through his Telegram channel, according to the SBU.

Earlier this year, a woman in Mykolaiv was arrested in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

8:40 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

US issues formal diplomatic note to pressure Ukraine to do more to counter corruption, sources say

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand and Alex Marquardt

The US is increasingly urging Ukraine to do more to combat governmental corruption, issuing several notices to Kyiv in the last few weeks indicating that certain kinds of US economic aid will be linked to Ukraine’s progress in reforming its institutions, multiple US officials told CNN.

The Biden administration’s commitment to supporting Ukraine’s military remains undiminished. But officials have made clear recently that other forms of US aid are potentially in jeopardy if Ukraine does not do more to address corruption.

Congress has not yet approved the administration’s request for $24 billion in additional funding for Ukraine, with some Republicans wary of providing so much money without robust oversight and conditions attached.

“The message to the Ukrainians has always been that if any of these funds are misappropriated, then it jeopardizes all US aid to the country,” one US official familiar with the efforts told CNN.

The State Department issued a formal diplomatic note, also known as a demarche, to Ukraine in late summer that said the US expects Ukraine to continue pursuing various anti-corruption and financial transparency efforts in order to keep receiving direct budget support, three officials familiar with the matter told CNN. The demarche has not been previously reported.

The demarche also emphasized the need for Ukraine to implement critical reforms under Ukraine’s International Monetary Fund program, including those related to anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), a source familiar with the matter said.

In a statement to CNN, the Ukrainian embassy in Washington said that Ukraine has moved “ambitiously” to pass reforms, including on its IMF program.

White House list of reforms: Separately, the White House has drafted a list of reforms Ukraine should implement in order to continue receiving US financial assistance and move toward integrating into Europe.

The draft, first reported by Ukrainska Pravda, was shared with the US embassy in Kyiv and members of the Donor Coordination Platform, a mechanism launched in January to better coordinate international financial support flowing into Ukraine. The reforms are not a condition for receiving military aid, a US official said.

“This list was provided as a basis for consultation with the Government of Ukraine and key partners as part of our enduring support to Ukraine and its efforts to integrate into Europe, a goal the United States strongly supports,” the US embassy in Kyiv said in a statement.

The White House document outlines changes Ukraine could make within three months, six months, one year and 18 months.

Read more here.

9:39 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Ukrainian President Zelensky visits eastern frontline areas

From CNN's AnneClare Stapleton 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits the front line on October 3.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits the front line on October 3. President of Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he was visiting the eastern frontline areas of Kupyansk-Lyman.

He said he visited several brigades and commanders to discuss the battlefield situation.

“Each of our combat brigades, each warrior who destroys the occupiers with every step forward assert that the Ukrainian victory will surely come,” Zelensky continued.

“They are the power. I thank them for their service!” Zelensky concluded in his X post.

The area has seen intense exchanges of artillery and tank fire as both sides have probed for weaknesses. But little territory has been won or lost in the region over the past year. 

This is the furthest he has traveled east in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began.

8:34 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

Ukraine adds three major Chinese firms to list of sponsors of Russian war

From Maria Kostenko

View of the headquarters of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) in Beijing, China, on October 11, 2017.
View of the headquarters of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) in Beijing, China, on October 11, 2017. Imaginechina/AP

Ukraine has added three Chinese oil and gas companies to its list of international companies sponsoring Russia's war against the country.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC Group), China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) were named today by the Ukrainian National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NAZK)

The NAZK said all three companies "continue to develop joint projects with Russia and to fund Russia's strategic industry by paying substantial taxes."

The additional listings bring the number of Chinese companies on the NAZK's list to 12.

8:39 a.m. ET, October 3, 2023

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

From CNN Staff

Heavy artillery and aerial bombardments on the front lines in Ukraine are preventing either side from winning territory, with official and unofficial reports indicating very little movement in many areas.

The Ukrainian military said Tuesday there had been 35 combat engagements over the past day, with the Russians carrying out 47 air strikes. It said that one area where the Russians have deployed many forces — Kupiansk in the north — had not seen any further Russian efforts to advance, while the Russians had again unsuccessfully tried to regain ground south of Bakhmut, which has seen some of the war's most intense fighting.

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Ukrainian forces failed in their attempts to break through Russian defensive lines in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, according to state media outlet RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

However, fierce fighting has continued to the south of the village of Robotyne, as Ukrainian forces try to push towards the strategic hub of Tokmak, which Russian forces use for resupply and where fuel and ammunition depots are located.

CNN is unable to verify battlefield claims made by either side. 

Here's what else you need to know:

  • Cluster munitions: Ukrainian forces fired cluster munitions at a southwestern Russian border village, damaging several houses and outbuildings, a local Russian official claimed Tuesday, noting that there were no casualties. The controversial weapons, which scatter “bomblets” across large areas, are banned by over 100 countries, including Kyiv's key allies. Ukraine did not immediately comment on the allegations Tuesday.
  • US funding: President Joe Biden said he "fully expects" House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a majority of Republicans to approve new funding for Ukraine but declined to say whether he'd received any specific assurances on the matter. On Tuesday morning in the US, Biden posted on X, formerly known on Twitter, that McCarthy and the GOP "must keep their word" on funding. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday that Kyiv was working with Washington after Congress did not include new aid in a last-minute deal to avoid a government shutdown. The US State Department blasted Congress Monday for not passing funding for "desperately needed" assistance to Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian soldiers fear loss of support: In Ukraine’s east, where the military is waging a counteroffensive against Russian forces assisted by American weapons, Ukrainian soldiers tell CNN that they can’t imagine what would happen if Ukraine were to lose support from the US.
  • Leopard tanks: Ukraine has received the first batch of refurbished Leopard tanks from Poland, a Polish industrial partner announced Monday. The group also confirmed they are working on repairing another batch of tanks for Ukraine. In April 2023, Germany, Poland and Ukraine signed an agreement to set up a hub in Poland to repair Leopard 2 battle tanks used in Ukraine.

Here's the latest map of control: