October 9, 2022 Russia-Ukraine News

By Rhea Mogul, Amy Woodyatt, Matt Meyer, Mike Hayes and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 1:32 a.m. ET, October 10, 2022
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4:44 p.m. ET, October 9, 2022

Putin accuses Ukrainian special services of Crimean bridge blast

From CNN’s Mariya Knight

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Saturday's explosion on the Crimean bridge a "terrorist attack" and claimed Ukrainian special services organized and executed the blast. 

Putin made his remarks during a meeting with Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin Sunday.

“We have no doubts that this is a terrorist attack aimed at the destruction of the critical infrastructure of Russian Federation. And authors, executors and masterminds are the secret services of Ukraine,” Putin said.

“Secret services of Ukraine and citizens of Russia from foreign countries are the ones who helped to execute this terrorist attack,” Bastrykin said.

Bastrykin also said that Russians "have already established the route of the truck where the explosion occurred." In addition, "carriers have been identified — persons who participated in organizing the movement of this truck."

What we know so far: CCTV video shows the moment a huge explosion rocked the bridge Saturday.

"A truck is seen driving in the lane towards Crimea when all of a sudden there's a massive explosion, though it's not clear whether it is the truck that actually blew up," CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports.

What Ukraine is saying: High-ranking Ukrainian officials immediately celebrated the blast. Ukraine's secretary of the National Security and Defense Council posted a taunting birthday message for Putin and the postal service announced stamps commemorating the explosion.

But Ukraine has stopped short of claiming responsibility. An adviser to the head of the Ukranian president's office even suggested the blast was to be blamed on internal strife "between the military and power structures of Russia."

2:25 p.m. ET, October 9, 2022

Ukraine has significantly increased shelling of Russian territory, security service says

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

Ukrainian troops have significantly increased shelling of Russian territory near the war's frontlines since the beginning of October, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement Sunday.

"Over the past week, more than 100 attacks using multiple launch rocket systems, cannon artillery, mortars and unmanned aerial vehicles on 32 settlements in the Bryansk, Kursk and Belgorod regions were recorded," the statement said.

According to FSB, one local resident was killed during the shelling and five people were injured, including a child.

"In border settlements, two electrical substations, 11 residential buildings and two administrative buildings were destroyed. 8 checkpoints across the state border were damaged," the statement added.

12:59 p.m. ET, October 9, 2022

Ukraine's Sumy region shelled by Russian forces, officials say

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

Two settlements in Ukraine's Sumy region were shelled by Russian forces on Sunday, according to a statement published by the Ukrainian Operational Command North on Facebook.

There were no losses among personnel and equipment, according to the command.

"From 12:10 to 12:15, the observers recorded three 'arrivals,' probably from a 120 mm mortar, in the area of the settlement of Seredyna-Buda. Also, from 14:35 to 14:55, it became known about five more hits, probably from a 120 mm mortar, in the area near Bachivsk village," the statement read.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said on Telegram on Sunday that the Russian forces used a drone to attack a third area in Sumy — the village of Myronivka.

One person died in the drone attack, Tymoshenko said.

1:15 p.m. ET, October 9, 2022

Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan could be released by end of year, former governor says after trip to Russia

From CNN's Aaron Pellish and Devan Cole

Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. (Reuters)

Former Gov. Bill Richardson said Sunday he is “cautiously optimistic” that two Americans wrongfully detained by Russia will be released and suggested they could be freed by the end of the year.

Richardson, a former Democratic governor of New Mexico, and his namesake center privately work on behalf of families of hostages and detainees. He recently traveled to Russia to discuss with Kremlin officials the possible release of basketball star Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, and he said Sunday that he’s working with the families of both Americans and coordinating with the White House for their release.

“I do think so. Now, I hate making predictions, but yes,” Richardson told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” when asked if he believed Griner and Whelan may be released before the end of this year.

“I know (the families are) very emotional and this is a very emotional time. All I can say is that the Biden administration is working hard on it,” added Richardson, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration. “So am I. We coordinate, but not always agree on every tactical decision. But I’m not going to interfere in their process. I’m just giving you my assessment after two visits to Russia on behalf of American hostages.”

Some background: The Biden administration has distanced itself from Richardson’s efforts. Last month, a senior administration official told CNN that anyone “who’s going to Russia is going as a private citizen, and they don’t speak for the US government.”

The detainees: Griner was sentenced in August to nine years in a Russian jail after pleading guilty to drug-smuggling. The two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist had been arrested at a Moscow airport and accused by Russian prosecutors of trying to smuggle less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in her luggage – which she said she had accidentally packed while in a hurry.

Whelan was detained at a Moscow hotel in December 2018 and arrested on espionage charges, which he has consistently and vehemently denied. He was convicted and sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years in prison in a trial US officials denounced as unfair.

4:25 p.m. ET, October 9, 2022

Analysis: Putin is likely to take Kerch bridge blast as a personal affront and respond viciously

Analysis from CNN's Jill Dougherty

Black smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch bridge, on October 8.
Black smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch bridge, on October 8. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Kremlin is intent on showing the attack on the Crimea bridge wasn't that serious and that the crucial lifeline from the Russian mainland to the illegally-annexed Crimean Peninsula will be back to normal soon.

The physical damage can be restored — Russia immediately dispatched a large emergency team to the site — but the damage to Russia's prestige and, more importantly, to the image of Vladimir Putin, won't be that easy to repair. 

This is his bridge, his project, built with the equivalent of almost $4 billion from the Russian treasury. It's a symbolic "wedding band" uniting Mother Russia and Ukraine, or at least a region that still legally belongs to Ukraine, crucial not only to Putin's war effort but to his obsession with bringing Ukraine back under Russia's control.

Putin's February 21st address to the Russian people, delivered just before he ordered the invasion of Ukraine, laid bare his warped view of history. Ukraine, he insists, is not really an independent country: "Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us," he claimed. "It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture and spiritual space." 

That speech, one of the most revealing of his presidency, makes clear that this fratricidal war against Ukraine is very personal to him. For many years he has been fixated on Peter the Great, the Russian czar who founded St. Petersburg, the city in which Putin was born and raised. I once visited the city administration office in which Putin worked in the early 1990s after he returned from his job as a KGB operative in East Germany. On the wall above his desk was a portrait of Peter the Great.

In June of this year, as the grinding war in Ukraine entered its fourth month, Putin again compared himself to Peter the Great, insisting that Peter, who conquered land from Sweden, was "returning" to Russia what actually belonged to it.

Putin now, apparently, believes that returning Ukraine to Russia is his historic destiny. He likely sees the galling attack on the Crimea bridge not only as an attack on the Russian homeland, but as a personal affront. And he is likely to respond viciously.  

Already, a day after the attack, Russian forces are bombing civilian apartment buildings in Ukraine. Hardline supporters of Putin are urging more strikes on Ukraine's infrastructure. Western leaders warn that an increasingly frustrated Putin might resort to using tactical nuclear weapons. Military experts say he could retaliate asymmetrically, striking unexpected targets.

For years, Putin has had another obsession: punishing traitors. One month after his forces attacked Ukraine, he threatened to retaliate against any Russians who opposed the war, calling them "fifth column ... national traitors" in thrall to the West.

This Sunday, the day after the bridge bombing, he called it a "terrorist attack" whose "authors, executors and masterminds" are the secret services of Ukraine...and "citizens of Russia from foreign countries."

One thing is clear: as the fighting moves closer to Russia, Vladimir Putin sees his "historic mission" in jeopardy. And that means emotions could outweigh reason. For Ukraine, for Russians who oppose the war, and for the world, this is a dangerous moment.

12:09 p.m. ET, October 9, 2022

City near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant without power and water for third day after shelling, mayor says 

From CNN’s Mariya Knight

There has been no electricity or running water for three days in a row in Enerhodar, the city adjacent to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that is currently under Russian control, the city's mayor said on Sunday.

According to Ukrainian-elected mayor Dmytro Orlov, constant shelling “prevents quick emergency and restoration work.”

“As of now, Enerhodar is still without electricity and water. Regular shelling stays in the way of rapid emergency recovery work,” Orlov said in a Telegram post, adding that residents have had to build bonfires to cook. "For the third day, people have been deprived of the opportunity to cook food.”

Orlov said “the Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly tried to deliver humanitarian supplies with food, hygiene products and so on to the city,” adding that Ukraine is “ready to organize prompt delivery and distribution of drinking water in Enerhodar” but that Russian forces have not let humanitarian aid through.

“For a long time now, the occupiers have not let humanitarian goods from the territories controlled by Ukraine into the city,” Orlov said.

Russian and Ukrainian officials blame each other for the recent shelling in Enerhodar.

Vladimir Rogov, a senior pro-Russian official in the regional Zaporizhzhia government, said Friday that the situation in Enerhodar and its suburbs was due to shelling from Ukrainian side.

11:49 a.m. ET, October 9, 2022

Car traffic is moving again in two lanes on Crimean bridge, Russian deputy prime minister says

From CNN’s Mariya Knight in Atlanta

Car traffic on the Crimean bridge has resumed in two lanes, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Marat Khusnullin said in a Telegram post Sunday.

“Traffic has already been launched along two lanes on the Crimean bridge," Khusnullin wrote, adding that earlier, one lane was being used for cars traveling in both directions, slowing down traffic since the explosion. 

The deputy prime minister also posted a video showing the cars moving in two lanes across the Kerch bridge.

“Lighting was adjusted on the road part, new markings were applied, barrier fences were restored,” Khusnullin added. “Now it will be possible to drive faster on the bridge by car.”

Train traffic has also resumed on the bridge, but larger vehicles like heavy trucks, vans and buses continue to use ferry boats.

1:28 p.m. ET, October 9, 2022

Sen. Murphy: Putin is "getting pushed into a corner" with faltering war effort

Sen. Chris Murphy speaks to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday.
Sen. Chris Murphy speaks to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. (CNN)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been pushed into a corner by setbacks in his war effort, but there are no imminent signs he would resort to using nuclear weapons, US Sen. Chris Murphy said in an interview Sunday morning.

Putin's war effort is faltering, Murphy, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

"Vladimir Putin is increasingly getting pushed into a corner. This war is going incredibly badly for him, the mobilization that he has undertaken has backfired," Murphy said. "This morning, you see scenes of hundreds of Russian troops essentially refusing to go into training."

Tapper asked Murphy about US President Joe Biden's recent warnings on the danger of nuclear escalation with Putin, in which he invoked "Armageddon."

"This is a dangerous man and the United States has to get ready for Putin to use a tactical nuclear weapon. I agree," Murphy said. "I don't think there's any sign that he is going to do that imminently. And it's important for us to send signals about what the consequences would be, should he make that choice."

Murphy said Biden's assessment was realistic, "for the fact that you were dealing with an incredibly dangerous human being in Russia. The war is going badly, and you just can't predict what he's going to do next."

3:15 p.m. ET, October 9, 2022

More than 200 rescuers on scene in Zaporizhzhia after missile strikes, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Dennis Lapin and Jorge Engels

More than 200 rescuers sifted through rubble in Zaporizhzhia Sunday after Russian missile strikes.
More than 200 rescuers sifted through rubble in Zaporizhzhia Sunday after Russian missile strikes. (State Emergency Service Ukraine)

More than 200 rescuers are on scene at the site where a round of missile strikes killed at least 12 people and injured scores in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, authorities said Sunday.

“As of 15:00 [3:00 p.m. local time], emergency rescue operations at the sites of missile strikes in Zaporizhzhia continue. In total 215 people and 58 vehicles are involved (including 85 people and 20 vehicles from the State Emergency Service), as well as 8 teams (8 search dogs) of the dog unit 'Antares' from Pavlohrad town,” Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said in a tweet.

Yesterday evening: The southern city was hit by six Russian cruise missiles and 16 S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, according to Ukraine’s air force. The cruise missiles were fired from Russian Tu-22M3 and Su-35 fighter jets inside Russian-held areas of the Zaporizhzhia region.

The Zaporizhzhia rescue effort after Russian missile strikes Sunday included eight teams using dogs to search for survivors.
The Zaporizhzhia rescue effort after Russian missile strikes Sunday included eight teams using dogs to search for survivors. (State Emergency Service Ukraine)