October 5, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Sana Noor Haq, Aditi Sangal, Matt Meyer, Maureen Chowdhury, Lisa Cohen and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, October 6, 2023
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8:54 p.m. ET, October 5, 2023

Ukraine says Russia launched one of its most devastating attacks of the war today. Here's what to know

A Russian missile strike killed at least 51 people, including a child, in a village near the eastern Ukrainian city of Kupiansk on Thursday, officials say.

It marks one of the deadliest attacks against civilians reported by Ukraine since the conflict began, and it came without a conceivable military target, according to a top Ukrainian police official.

Here's what we know about the devastating strike:

  • The missile hit the small town of Hroza: The village has a population of only about 300 residents, according to Ukrainian officials. The attack struck a grocery store and a cafe around midday local time.
  • Dozens of people were killed: The bodies of at least 51 people killed by the strike, including a 6-year-old boy, were removed from the destroyed buildings throughout the day, said Oleh Syniehubov, a regional military official. The death toll in such a small community means one of every six residents were killed.
  • Ukraine says there was no military target: There was not "a single military object" in Hroza when the missile struck, and all the victims were civilians, the chief investigator with Kharkiv's regional police told CNN. He said the attack would be used as evidence in a war crimes case against Russia's military.
  • The attack is among the worst of the war: Even by the grim standards set by Russia's full-scale invasion, the death toll was severe. Ukrainian authorities have not reported devastation on this scale since an attack on a railway station in Kramatorsk in early 2022 killed more than 60 people.
  • Zelensky and the Biden administration call for more US aid: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his call for more air defenses from allies, saying it is "impossible to protect people" without more support, especially ahead of anticipated winter bombardments. The White House, meanwhile, pointed to the attack as another example of why Congress needs to approve more US aid for Ukraine.

And here are two other key storylines from the war today:

  • Putin makes new claim on Prigozhin: Investigators found hand grenade fragments in the remains of those killed when Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's plane crashed in August, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, claiming the probe has shown "no external influence" downed the aircraft. The US and Ukraine have expressed skepticism at the Kremlin's claims it had nothing to do with the mercenary leader Prigozhin's demise, which came just two months after his short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin. Prigozhin had played a key role in Russia's war on Ukraine before his conflicts with the Moscow establishment came to a head.
  • Ukraine waits out a "political storm" in Washington: At a political summit in Spain, Zelensky urged European leaders to continue their support of Ukraine while the US goes through the "growing political storm" of a leadership crisis in Congress, which has left US aid to Kyiv on hold. Zelensky said the uncertainty in Washington is "dangerous," but that he has faith in the coalition helping resist Russia's invasion.
6:39 p.m. ET, October 5, 2023

Putin claims Russia's war in Ukraine is not a conflict over territory but about principles

From CNN’s Mariya Knight 

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that war in Ukraine is not a conflict over territory.

“The Ukraine crisis is not a territorial conflict, and I want to make that clear. Russia is the world’s largest country in terms of land area, and we have no interest in conquering additional territory,” Putin said, speaking at the Valdai Forum in Sochi on Thursday. 

According to Putin, Russia “still has much to do to properly develop Siberia, Eastern Siberia, and the Russian Far East.” 

The president reiterated that Russia was not “attempting to establish regional geopolitical balance.” 

Instead, Putin said the issue was "about the principles underlying the new international order.” 

This denial of these principles, one of them being “a balance in the world where no one can unilaterally force or compel others to live or behave as a hegemon pleases” is what causes conflicts, Putin said, seemingly referring to the West. 

Western elites "need an enemy to justify the need for military action and expansion" and made Moscow into one, Putin added.

5:14 p.m. ET, October 5, 2023

There wasn't a single military target in the village hit by devastating Russian strike, investigator says

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio, Radina Gigova and Svitlana Vlasova

There was not "a single military object" in Hroza when a Russian missile struck the eastern Ukrainian village Thursday, killing 51 civilians, according to a top police official.

"All the people are local residents, all the people are civilians. Not a single military, not a single military object, not a single military vehicle. All the dead and wounded people are civilians," Sergey Bolvinov, the chief investigator with Kharkiv's regional police, told CNN. "I am convinced that in the future this will give us a basis to collect all the evidence and bring the guilty Russian military to justice." 

"We have registered a criminal proceeding over this and are investigating it," Bolvinov added, saying a wide range of agencies are currently working in the village.

Authorities have recovered parts of a missile at the scene, he said.

Bolvinov repeated earlier reports that the strike was carried out with an Iskander ballistic missile, which Russia has commonly used in Ukraine and has a relatively short range.

"Iskander is definitely a big missile. You can see behind me that the building is completely destroyed. People were in the same room at that time, and as a result of the explosion, a very large number of people died," Bolvinov said. 

Ukrainian president calls for support: In his evening address Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said about 300 residents lived in the village, and more than 50 of them were killed in the Russian attack — one of every six residents. 

"There are no words or documents that can stop such evil. But there is air defense. There is artillery. There are our missiles. We have armored vehicles. There are our powerful servicemen, who repel Russian assaults," Zelensky said. 

"Russian terror must fail. And the world has what it takes to ensure this," the president continued. "The main thing is unity. The main thing is to believe in freedom and protect life."

4:17 p.m. ET, October 5, 2023

Russian missile hit cafe as wake was underway for fallen Ukrainian soldier, official says

From CNN's Svitlana Vlasova and Radina Gigova 

A Russian missile attack that killed dozens of people Thursday struck a cafe in the village of Hroza that was hosting a wake for a fallen soldier, a Ukrainian official told media outlet RBC.  

The soldier's son, wife and mother were killed in the strike, said Dmytro Chubenko, spokesperson for the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office.

Ukrainian officials said at least 51 people died, including an 8-year-old boy, and six people were injured, when the cafe and a nearby grocery were struck. It was one of the deadliest attacks against civilians since the conflict began.

The fallen Ukrainian soldier had previously been buried in the city of Dnipro, but his relatives wanted him to be reburied in his home village, Chubenko said.

3:18 p.m. ET, October 5, 2023

Putin says hand grenade fragments were discovered in remains of people on Prigozhin’s plane

From CNN's Mariya Knight 

A specialist works at the site of a crash of the private jet linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin in the Tver region, Russia, on August 24.
A specialist works at the site of a crash of the private jet linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin in the Tver region, Russia, on August 24. Anton Vaganov/Reuters

Investigators found hand grenade fragments in the remains of those killed when Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's plane crashed in August, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, claiming the probe has shown "no external influence" downed the aircraft.

The country's Investigative Committee "reported a few days ago that the fragments of hand grenades were found in the bodies of the victims," Putin said during a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in the Russian city of Sochi.

"There was no external influence on the plane; it is an established fact," the Russian leader claimed.

Putin added that the investigation into the crash is still ongoing.

Key context: The crash that killed the mercenary leader and seven other people came months after Prigozhin launched a brief rebellion that posed an unprecedented challenge to Putin’s authority. The mutiny was suddenly called off in a deal that required the Wagner chief and his fighters to relocate to Belarus.

Speculation about Prigozhin's eventual fate began soon after his march on Russia, and he eventually joined a long line of Putin critics who met an early death.

There is no concrete evidence that points to Kremlin involvement and, officially, the cause of the crash is unknown. Russia has denied any involvement in downing the plane. Shortly after the crash, it said it was launching an official investigation into the cause of the crash, and Putin said his comments Thursday reflected the results of that probe.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials and US President Joe Biden have suggested Putin may have been behind the crash.

CNN's Jessie Yeung and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed reporting to this post.

3:15 p.m. ET, October 5, 2023

White House says Russian attack that left at least 51 dead in Ukraine shows need for continued US support

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

The “horrifying” Russian missile strike that hit a grocery store near the eastern city of Kupiansk is an example of why the US needs to continue to support Ukraine, the White House said Thursday.

"Can you imagine just walking to the grocery store with your kids, trying to figure out what is it that you're going to make for dinner, and you see an explosion happen? Where bodies are everywhere? And it's horrifying," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a briefing.

“This is why we're doing everything that we can to help Ukraine, to help the brave people of Ukraine to fight for their freedom," Jean-Pierre added.

The press secretary said that, during the recent US government funding fight, President Joe Biden had pushed for the US to “continue to support the people of Ukraine, because this is the horrifying nature that they live in every day.”

Jean-Pierre called on Congress to now act on additional funding, after the short-term spending bill passed last weekend left out any new funding for Kyiv's war effort.

The press secretary said the administration is working another Ukraine aid package that includes new weapons and equipment. “We're going to continue to make sure that we meet the battlefield needs that Ukraine has," she told reporters.

More on the attack: Ukrainian officials say the devastating strike hit the grocery store and a cafe nearby Thursday afternoon. It marks one of the deadliest attacks against civilians to be reported since the conflict began. At least 51 people are dead, according to Ukrainian officials, who say the toll may still rise as workers clear the rubble.

1:43 p.m. ET, October 5, 2023

Zelensky calls for more air defenses following a deadly attack on a village in the Kupiansk district

From CNN's Svitlana Vlasova and Radina Gigova

Rescues work at a site of a Russian military strike in Kupiansk on Thursday.
Rescues work at a site of a Russian military strike in Kupiansk on Thursday. Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his call for more air defenses following a Russian strike in the village of Hroza in Kupiansk district, which left at least 51 people dead. 

"I believe that today it is impossible to protect people, especially during the winter, except by air defense, to protect people who died absolutely tragically because of this inhuman terrorist attack," Zelensky told reporters during a visit to Granada, Spain, on Thursday. He also noted that Russia attacks the Kharkiv region on a daily basis and only air defenses can help.

During meetings with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Zelensky said he is focused on Ukraine's need for air defense and thinks a lot of progress has been made for the support needed.

He said Ukraine will receive six Hawk systems from Spain and that Germany will work to provide Kyiv with another Patriot system. Zelensky said he believes that the Patriot system is "the only system that can withstand such threats and such massacres."

12:24 p.m. ET, October 5, 2023

Russia has successfully tested a new nuclear-powered strategic missile, Putin says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Sergey Gudkov

Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia, on Thursday.
Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia, on Thursday. Grigory Sysoyev/Pool/Sputnik/Reuters

Russia has successfully tested a new generation of nuclear-powered cruise missile, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

The "last successful test of the Burevestnik, a global-range cruise missile with a nuclear installation, a nuclear propulsion system, has been conducted," state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Putin as saying at the Valdai Discussion Club forum in the southern Russian city of Sochi.

Some background: Putin announced the program to develop the Burevestnik in March 2018 as part of a broader initiative to develop a new generation of intercontinental and hypersonic missiles. Others included the Kinzhal ballistic missile and the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle.

Putin told the country's Federal Assembly that missiles like the Burevestnik would help ensure a strategic balance in the world for decades to come.

“It is a low-flying stealth missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with almost unlimited range, unpredictable trajectory and ability to bypass interception boundaries,” Putin said at the time.

Reported failures: However, Western analysts say the program has since run into trouble, with a number of failed tests. In 2019, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, an open source analytical group, said "there is a consensus in the press, with purported agreement from U.S. intelligence services, that the Burevestnik has been tested 13 times, with two partial successes."

Russian military expert Alexei Leonkov described the Burevestnik as a weapon of retaliation, which Russia would use after intercontinental ballistic missiles to fully destroy military and civilian infrastructure and leave no chance of survival, according to the analytical group.