October 11, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

President Joe Biden speaks with CNN's Jake Tapper during an interview in the Map Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., October 11, 2022. Photo by Sarah Silbiger for CNN
Tapper asked Biden if Putin is a 'rational actor.' See his response
01:51 - Source: CNN

What we covered

  • US President Joe Biden said in an exclusive CNN interview he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “rational actor” who badly miscalculated his ability to invade Ukraine. He also said he doesn’t believe Putin would use a nuclear weapon.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who addressed a meeting of the G7 on Tuesday, urged the leaders to intensify efforts to create an “air shield” for Ukraine and to stiffen Russian sanctions.
  • Russia launched missile strikes on several regions of Ukraine on Tuesday, the second day of heavy bombardment aimed at the nation’s infrastructure.
  • At least 19 people were killed and more than 100 injured Monday in the Russian attacks, the heaviest seen in Kyiv and other cities since February.
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Biden says he doesn't believe Putin would risk using a nuclear weapon

President Joe Biden speaks with CNN's Jake Tapper during an interview in the Map Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, October 11.

After US President Joe Biden warned last week that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” was at its highest point since the Cuban Missile Crisis, he told CNN on Tuesday he doesn’t believe President Vladimir Putin would ultimately take that step.

“I don’t think he will,” Biden said when asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether the Russian leader would use a tactical nuclear weapon — a prospect US officials have watched with concern as Russian troops suffer embarrassing losses on the battlefield.

“I think it’s irresponsible for him to talk about it, the idea that a world leader of one of the largest nuclear powers in the world says he may use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine,” Biden added.

The President said even Putin’s threats have a destabilizing effect and warned of the potential errors in judgment that could ensue.

“The whole point I was making was it could lead to just a horrible outcome,” he told Tapper. “And not because anybody intends to turn it into a world war or anything, but just once you use a nuclear weapon, the mistakes that can be made, the miscalculations, who knows what would happen.”

“He, in fact, cannot continue with impunity to talk about the use of a tactical nuclear weapon as if that’s a rational thing to do,” Biden added later. “The mistakes get made. And the miscalculation could occur, no one can be sure what would happen and could end in Armageddon.”

Biden refused to disclose what a US response would look like should Putin follow through on his nuclear threats. But he said the Department of Defense had proactively developed contingencies should the scenario come to pass.

“What is the red line for the United States and NATO, and have you directed the Pentagon and other agencies to game out what a response would be if he did use a tactical nuclear weapon or if he bombed the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine or anything along those lines?” Tapper asked.

“There’s been discussions of that, but I’m not going to get into that. It would be irresponsible of me to talk about what we would or wouldn’t do,” Biden said.

“Have you asked the Pentagon to game it out, though?” Tapper asked.

“The Pentagon didn’t have to be asked,” Biden said.

Biden spoke to CNN a few hours after meeting virtually with members of the Group of 7 industrialized nations, who heard from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the need to bolster his country’s air defenses amid the new Russian bombardments.

Biden says he doesn't see "any rationale" to meet with Putin at next month's G20 summit

US President Joe Biden said Tuesday he doesn’t see a good reason to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin at next month’s Group of 20 Summit in Indonesia.

“It would depend on specifically what he wanted to talk about,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an exclusive interview, adding if Putin wanted to discuss the jailed American basketball star Brittney Griner then he would be open to talking.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Russian state TV that Moscow was open to talks with the West on the Ukraine conflict but had yet to receive any serious proposal to negotiate.

US officials press more than 100 countries to approve UN resolution condemning Russia's annexation of Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the concert in support of the annexation of four Ukrainian regions at Red Square, on September 30, 2022 in Moscow, Russia. Separatist leaders of annexed Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine has arrived in Moscow to sign joint documents.

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and State’s Undersecretary for Political Affairs Toria Nuland met the DC diplomatic corps – representing more than 100 countries — in virtual meetings on Tuesday to urge them to support a UN resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories.

This is the latest effort by the Biden administration to maintain global continuity of support for Ukraine.

“This is about collectively saying no to a direct violation of the UN Charter, to say no to an attempt to steal land for the threat force and to steal land through the use of force,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

What to know about the resolution: The vote is expected to take place at an emergency UN General Assembly meeting in the coming days. It comes at a critical moment in the war, with Russia increasing its attacks and Europe heading into a winter during which an energy crisis threatens to test support for Ukraine. 

Biden administration officials have their eyes set on getting 100 votes in favor of the resolution, one administration official said. 

But earlier this year the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the vote was 141 nations in favor of the move and five nations against it, with 35 abstaining. If there are fewer supporters on this vote, it may be the reason for concern, some diplomats acknowledged. 

The resolution will need yes votes from two-thirds of the attending countries to pass, US officials said. 

While Russia is expected to oppose the resolution, the US will be watching for which other countries oppose it as well. And there are some possible detractors that the US is watching closely, specifically India. India abstained from a UN Security Council vote on the same topic last week.

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

Firefighters work to put out a fire at a power station hit by a Russian missile on October 10 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Russia launched missile strikes on several regions of Ukraine on Tuesday, the second day of heavy bombardment aimed at the nation’s infrastructure.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked G7 nations to help his country establish an “air shield” against aerial attacks.

Russia carried out over 30 missile strikes on Tuesday, compared to 84 on Monday. Roughly half of those on Tuesday were neutralized by air defenses, according to Ukraine’s military.

It is unclear how much longer the Russian military will be able to sustain such attacks.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, US President Joe Biden said he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “rational actor” who badly miscalculated his ability to invade Ukraine.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Russia confirms it’s targeting Ukrainian energy facilities: Russia is targeting Ukrainian military and energy facilities in attacks on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Defense in Moscow. “Today, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continue launching the massive attack using high-precision long-range air- and sea-based armament at the facilities of military control and energy system of Ukraine,” the ministry said in a post on Telegram. 
  • Energy minister says about 30% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure hit since Monday: Around 30% of energy infrastructure in Ukraine has been hit by Russian missiles since Monday, Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said Tuesday. The minister told CNN that this was the “first time from the beginning of the war” that Russia has “dramatically targeted” energy infrastructure.
  • Official at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant kidnapped by Russian forces, Ukrainian company says: Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company Energoatom said that a deputy director general for human resources at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been kidnapped. In a post on its Telegram channel, Energoatom said that “Russian terrorists” was holding Valeriy Martyniuk at an unknown location, adding that Russia wanted the plant’s personnel files “to force Ukrainian staff to work for Rosatom [Russia’s nuclear operator] as soon as possible.”
  • G7 leaders vow to hold Putin to account for recent attacks: The G7 heads of government vowed to hold President Vladimir Putin and those “responsible to account” for the recent wave of attacks in Ukraine. After a virtual meeting Tuesday, they committed to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” while promising to continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support. 
  • Russia declares Meta a terrorist organization: The Russian Federal Financial Monitoring Service has added the US tech company, Meta, to its registry of organizations involved in terrorism and extremism. The parent company of Facebook and Instagram has been banned in Russia, says Rosfinmonitoring. That ban now requires banks to freeze funds for companies on that list and suspend services to their accounts.

Zelensky: More than half of Russian missiles and drones fired on Tuesday were shot down

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than half the missiles and drones that Russia fired on Tuesday were brought down.

In his daily video address, Zelensky noted that 20 of the 28 missiles that were fired on Tuesday morning were shot down.

He paid tribute to one soldier, Dmytro Shumskyi, for bringing down two Russian cruise missiles on Monday using a shoulder-held anti-aircraft missile.

“If not for today’s strikes, we would have already restored power, water supply and communications, which terrorists damaged yesterday. And today Russia will achieve only one more thing: delay our restoration a little bit,” Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian president said the power supply and communications have been restored in most of the impacted towns and villages.

“In some cities and districts, the works are still ongoing,” he said, noting that there were some restrictions in the power supply in some areas to maintain the stability of the power system.

Zelensky said that Ukraine would be meeting its partners in Germany on Wednesday to address Ukraine’s military needs.

“I expect our partners to make progress in the issue of air and missile defense, agreements on the new supply of other weapons and ammunition we need,” he said.

Biden says Putin is a "rational actor who has miscalculated significantly"

President Joe Biden said in an exclusive CNN interview Tuesday he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “rational actor” who nonetheless badly misjudged his ability to invade Ukraine and suppress its people.

“I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly,” Biden told Jake Tapper as Russian bombardments on civilian targets in Ukraine signaled another turning point in the months-long war. 

Biden, his top officials and fellow Western leaders have spent the past several months debating what steps Putin may take as his troops suffer embarrassing losses on the battlefield in Ukraine. Biden himself warned last week the risk of “nuclear Armageddon” was at its highest point in 60 years.

Whether Putin is acting rationally has been a subject of intense debate as leaders work to predict his next steps. While Biden said Tuesday he believed Putin himself was rational, he characterized the Russian leader’s aims in Ukraine — which Putin laid out in an angry speech as he launched the war in February — as ridiculous.

“You listen to what he says. If you listen to the speech he made after when that decision was being made, he talked about the whole idea of — he was needed to be the leader of Russia that united all of Russian speakers. I mean, it’s just I just think it’s irrational,” Biden said.

Going further, Biden said Putin wrongly believed Ukrainians would submit to Russian invasion — a misjudgment that’s been disproved by fierce resistance inside the country.

“I think the speech, his objectives were not rational. I think he thought, Jake, I think he thought he was going to be welcomed with open arms, that this was the home of Mother Russia in Kyiv, and that where he was going to be welcomed, and I think he just totally miscalculated,” Biden said.

Indeed, a counteroffensive launched by Ukraine last month was successful in retaking territory previously held by the Russians, including critical transportation hubs. The losses proved the latest major embarrassment for Russia, whose military has struggled over the course of the seven-month war.

Tapper’s full interview with Biden airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.

Estonian foreign minister says Ukraine's allies should not be frightened by Russia's red line warning

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu speaks at a joint press conference on August 17.

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu on Tuesday urged Ukraine’s allies to “not be frightened” by the warnings from the Russian ambassador to the US of crossing “red lines” by providing arms to Kyiv. 

“All the policies of, in a way, of appeasement — what we have, well maybe in some cases, have used to avoid escalation — have led us where? To this genocidal type of war and now I think we should not to be frightened. What more can happen? The genocide is taking place. And in the sake of humanity, in the sake of our own security of Europe we have to act, ” Reinsalu told CNN’s Isa Soares. 

He said he believes the allies must ramp up support for Ukraine.  

What is needed is a “new deliverable by Western countries to air defense, to defend particularly the civilian areas, civic infrastructure, particularly also before the winter falls,” the minister added. 

As for Putin’s veiled threats of a nuclear strike, Reinsalu said it was “part of this chicken game, and we should not fall to that entrapment.” 

He added: “The only person who can immediately end the war is Putin.”

Lviv experiencing serious issues with energy supply, mayor says

Employees of a cafe serve visitors in a cafe without electricity in Lviv, after three Russian missiles fired targeted energy infrastructure on October 11.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said Tuesday that four electrical substations had been damaged in the Lviv region, “resulting in serious problems” with the energy supply in the city.

Russia launched fresh missile attacks against Ukraine — including in the western region — on Monday and Tuesday.

He said full restoration of power requires patience.

“Our power engineering specialists are doing everything possible to overcome the critical situation. It requires time,” Sadovyi said on Twitter.

The mayor urged residents to “minimize energy consumption” once the power system is back and running.

“I ask you to be understanding under these circumstances. The enemy is striving to destabilize us but we will not give in,” he added.

Earlier, Sadovyi told CNN that Russian strikes fuel the Ukrainian people’s resistance to Russian forces. He also called for more air defense systems as well as generators.

Energy minister: About 30% of Ukraine's energy infrastructure has been hit by Russian missiles since Monday

Around 30% of energy infrastructure in Ukraine has been hit by Russian missiles since Monday, Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said Tuesday.    

The minister told CNN that this was the “first time from the beginning of the war” that Russia has “dramatically targeted” energy infrastructure.  

He said one reason is because Ukrainian electricity exports to Europe “helps European countries to save on Russian gas and coal,” adding that Ukraine is trying “to reconnect quickly from the other sources.”

On Monday, the Ukrainian government urged people across the country to “limit” their energy use.  Asked whether Ukraine would receive extra energy from Europe, Halushchenko said that was “one of the options on the table.” 

The minister said that the Ukrainian energy system “is still stable,” but called on partners to provide “air protection systems which really could help us to protect our infrastructure.”   

“We send this message to our partners: we need to protect the sky,” he said. “Russians they are not playing on some games on international laws. They don’t care about any kind of international agreements or conventions.” 

The Russian defense ministry on Tuesday confirmed it’s targeting Ukrainian military and energy facilities in attacks.

Belarus holds inspection of its armed forces to ensure combat readiness, defense ministry says

Belarus said Tuesday that it has been holding an inspection of its armed forces to ensure combat “readiness.”  

“Since October 11, the State Secretariat of the Security Council of the Republic of Belarus, in accordance with the instruction of the President, has been conducting an inspection of the Armed Forces of Belarus,” the country’s defense ministry said in a statement. 

The minister said the inspection is “comprehensive and covers the most important issues of checking readiness to perform tasks as intended.”

“During the inspection, military units and subunits will work out the issues of putting on combat readiness, making a march, deploying in designated areas with the performance of combat training tasks,” the statement added. 

It comes as the country’s defense minister said earlier on Tuesday that the joint deployment of forces with Russia along the border between Belarus and Ukraine is a defensive measure to ensure “security.” 

“The tasks of the Regional Grouping of Forces are purely defensive. And all the activities currently being carried out are aimed at an adequate response to actions near our borders,” Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. Viktor Khrenin said in a statement.  

Zelensky calls on UNESCO to add port city of Odesa to its World Heritage site list  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during the video conference of the leaders of the G7 and Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, October 11.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has officially requested that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) add the historic Ukrainian port city of Odesa to its World Heritage site list.

Zelensky said Tuesday a total of 540 “objects of cultural heritage, cultural institutions and religious buildings (were) damaged by Russian strikes in Ukraine during the full-scale war since Feb. 24.”

“We must provide a clear signal that the world will not turn a blind eye to the destruction of our common history, our common culture, our common heritage,” he said in a pre-recorded address to the to the 58 member states of UNESCO’s executive board. 

“One of the steps for this should be the preservation of the historical centre of Odesa — a beautiful city, an important port of the Black Sea and a source of culture for millions of people in different countries. Together with our partners, we prepared the nomination file of Odesa for inclusion in the World Heritage List. We are passing this on to UNESCO,” Zelensky added. 

Odesa, like all other cities of Ukraine, is a “target for Russian strikes. Please support Odesa. Show at the level of UNESCO precisely that Russian terror must end,” he said. 

The Ukrainian president also demanded that Russia be excluded from all UNESCO bodies and from the organization itself. 

“A terrorist state definitely has no right to chair one of the key bodies for the protection of cultural and natural heritage — the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Such a Russian presidency devalues the institution itself — its significance, its reputation. It is inadmissible to let Russia destroy the authority of UNESCO. The terrorist state must be excluded from all UNESCO bodies and from the organization itself,” he said. 

More on the application: The UN’s cultural watchdog said in a news released that it had formally received the nomination file Tuesday morning and will “be reviewed by the consultative bodies and examined at the next session of the World Heritage Committee, whose 21 Member States will be responsible for deciding on the nomination.”

In legal terms, the inscription of the historic center of Odesa on the World Heritage List “would establish an extended protection zone under the 1972 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage,” it said.

The fabric of the center of Odesa, “a melting pot of exchange and migration, reflects multiple influences. It bears a heritage and a history that resonates with people around the world and stands as a powerful symbol,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay stated in the news release. 

UN ambassador: US will be watching who sides with Russia during vote on condemning annexations

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks to press after Security Council meeting in the UN Headquarters in New York on October 1.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Tuesday that the United States will be watching which countries side with Russia at Wednesday’s expected General Assembly vote on a resolution condemning Russia’s annexations in eastern Ukraine. 

Unlike the UN Security Council, there are no vetoes allowed in the General Assembly Hall. Abstentions will not count for the official tally.

The US is seeking a strong global signal to oppose Russia on the Ukraine invasion.

Thomas-Greenfield said Wednesday’s vote is “about defending the UN” along with its charter. The US ambassador said she couldn’t predict how China, India or any country will vote. There are about 70 co-sponsors of the resolution, she said. 

Russia has blasted the United States and the West in the ongoing debate on the resolution in debate that began Monday.

At least 45 countries or regional groups are left to speak on the matter, which means the vote will likely occur at some time on Wednesday afternoon.

Some background: On Monday, Russia’s attempt for a secret ballot on the resolution was not approved. Thomas-Greenfield said Russia failed to draw much support and said the number of votes against Russia was “resounding” in the secret ballot vote.

“Now is not the time for placation,” the ambassador said.

US working to expedite delivery of air defense systems to Ukraine in near future, White House says

The US is expediting delivery of two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, (NASAMS), to Ukraine as quickly as possible, the White House said Tuesday.

The joint US-Norwegian systems will help fulfill Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s requests for more air defense support.

The US is on track to deliver the first two systems to Ukraine “in the very near future,” John Kirby, National Security Council communications coordinator, said.

Biden had previous agreed to contract for eight of the NASAMS systems, which provides short-to-medium range defenses. It’s the same system used to protect airspace in Washington, DC.

Kirby declined to provide a specific date for when the NASAMS systems would arrive, but said the US was “certainly interested in expediting” the system quickly.

During a virtual meeting of the G7 earlier, Zelensky told the meeting that “common efforts to create an air shield for Ukraine” must be intensified amid a barrage of Russian cruise missile and drone attacks.

France will step up military presence in eastern Europe, defense minister says 

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu addresses a press conference in Berlin on September 22.

France will deploy additional forces to bolster NATO’s “defensive posture” in eastern Europe, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu told lawmakers on Tuesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron had taken the decision over the deployment Monday evening, Lecornu said.

The announcement comes after the recent wave of Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure.

France will deploy one reinforced company of armored infantry vehicles to Romania, as well as a squadron of Charles Leclerc tanks, Lecornu said. France has taken the lead in NATO’s presence in Romania, with some 750 soldiers deployed there already.

The minister also outlined an additional deployment of Rafale fighter jets in Lithuania, as well as the deployment of a reinforced company of light infantry in Estonia too.

He said the forces would be in place by the end of October or the beginning of November.

France was already contributing two Rafale jets and supporting aircraft to NATO’s air defense mission in Poland and some 300 soldiers in Estonia. 

Ukraine's security service says it found more evidence of torture in formerly Russian-occupied areas

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) says it has found new evidence of detention centers where torture was used in places that had been occupied by Russian forces.

The SBU said its officers had discovered a place of illegal detention in Sviatohirsk in Donetsk region that included a torture chamber in what had been a recreation center.

“SBU detectives and investigators found items that directly indicate signs of torture,” it said.

The prosecutor general’s office said its inspectors had visited both Sviatohirsk and Lyman, which was liberated last month.

In Sviatohirsk, “law enforcement officers exhumed the bodies of 34 people, some of them with signs of violent death. Also, the burnt bodies of two citizens were found in a car, their identities are currently being established,” the prosecutor general’s office said.

In Lyman, “about 110 trenches were found at the Nova Masliakivka cemetery, including the graves of children,” it added. “In total, 44 bodies have already been exhumed during the inspection.”

US officials still wary of Russian retaliation in cyberspace

Nearly eight months into the war in Ukraine, US officials are still wary of potential retaliatory Russian hacking campaigns against critical infrastructure, despite a paucity of such hacks so far, a senior US Department of Homeland Security cyber official said Tuesday. 

“I think there is some concern about [Russian President Vladimir] Putin escalating, specifically with attacks against our critical infrastructure,” said Jen Easterly, director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

US officials have for months warned about the potential for Russia-based cybercriminals or Kremlin-backed hackers to target US organizations after Washington imposed sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. US President Joe Biden’s administration has also warned that Russia hacking targets in Ukraine could bring collateral damage for US organizations with supply chains in the region. 

Easterly said those scenarios were still on the table. 

“I think we’re still in a very sensitive time,” she told a conference hosted by the National Association of Corporate Directors.

Some background: Russian-speaking hackers last week claimed responsibility for knocking offline state government websites in Colorado, Kentucky and Mississippi, among other states. The same group also claimed responsibility for briefly downing a US Congress website in July, and for cyberattacks on organizations in Lithuania after the Baltic country blocked the shipment of some goods to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad in June.

On Monday, the same group, known as Killnet — a loose band of so-called “hacktivists,” politically motivated hackers who support the Kremlin but whose ties to that government are unknown — claimed to target more than a dozen public-facing airport websites. There were no immediate signs of impact to actual air travel.

Putin tells chief of UN nuclear watchdog situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is "of concern"

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the chief of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency on Tuesday that the situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is “of concern,” adding that Moscow was “open” for dialogue. 

Ahead of his meeting with Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in St. Petersburg, Putin said:

“We see that today there are elements of an excessively dangerous politicization of everything connected with nuclear activity. We very much hope that, thanks to your efforts, we will be able to reduce all rhetoric and bring this area of ​​our cooperation to normal, despite all the turbulence and complex processes that are taking place on the world stage.” 

Putin added that he is “happy” to discuss “all issues that are of mutual interest to us and may even cause concern to someone. Well, to us as well. For example, as far as the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is concerned. In any case, we are open to this dialogue and are glad to see you.” 

Grossi said that the their discussion today is “very important and indispensable,” since “we do have issues that have to do with nuclear safety, nuclear security in particular at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.”