U.S. sanctions leader of Russia’s campaign to deport Ukrainian children to Russia
Children stay at a temporary accommodation centre for evacuees, including residents of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, in the building of a local sports school in Taganrog in the Rostov region, Russia March 17, 2022.
Sergey Pivovarov | Reuters
The Treasury Department issued first-time sanctions on the leader of one of Russia’s most notorious government agencies, the so-called Presidential Commission for Children’s Rights.
Maria Alexeyevna Lvova-Belova leads the agency identified by the United Nations as the primary organizer of mass deportations of Ukrainian orphans and children separated from their families to Russia.
At a recent U.N. meeting on the Russian deportation of Ukrainians, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield reported that in the month of July alone, “more than 1,800 children were transferred from Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine to Russia.”
Many of the children were “separated from their families and taken from orphanages before being put up for adoption in Russia,” she said.
According to the Treasury Department’s sanctions report, Lvova-Belova has spearheaded the “forced adoption of Ukrainian children into Russian families, the so-called ‘patriotic education’ of Ukrainian children, legislative changes to expedite the provision of Russian Federation citizenship to Ukrainian children, and the deliberate removal of Ukrainian children by Russia’s forces.”
— Christina Wilkie
EU’s von der Leyen says Europe can do more to ease non-tariff barriers to Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) speaks with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen after a press conference following their talks in Kyiv on September 15, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images
“So much has changed for the better here in Kyiv,” said European Union Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the streets of Ukraine’s capital.
“We will never be able to match the sacrifice that the Ukrainians are making,” von der Leyen told reporters. “But what we can tell you is that you’ll have your European friends by your side as long as it takes.”
Von der Leyen praised the speed with which the EU and Ukraine have connected Ukraine’s electrical grid to the EU, a task that was projected to take at least two years before the war, but which was accomplished in two weeks.
“Ukraine is now delivering electricity to the EU, and this we want to improve and increase and thus create steadfast flows of income to Ukraine,” she said.
Making her third trip to Ukraine since the start of the war, von der Leyen emphasized the importance of smoothing out Ukraine’s economic integration into Europe.
She noted that 98% of tariffs on Ukrainian exports to the EU have now been lifted. But “there are many non-tariff barriers that we can take away.”
The European Parliament voted in June to accept Ukraine as a formal candidate for accession into the EU.
— Christina Wilkie
Ukrainian medic describes being tortured by Russian soldiers as a POW
Yuliia Paievska, known as Taira, poses for a photograph during an interview with The Associated Press in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, July 8, 2022.
Evgeniy Maloletka | AP
Yuliia “Taira” Paievska, a Ukrainian volunteer medic, testified before the U.S. Helsinki Commission that she was tortured over three months in Russian captivity.
“When I was in captivity I was being tortured, and they tried to make me give a confession some kind about alleged crimes which I had never committed,” Paieyska said in a hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
“They didn’t care to know the truth. They just wanted me to admit guilt of for something I had never committed,” she said.
Paievska also detailed the treatment of some of her fellow prisoners, and described situations that appeared to violate Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of prisoners and civilians in war.
“Prisoners in cells, screaming for weeks from the torture and lack of medical help,” she told the lawmakers.
“A fighter who was beaten for three hours and then thrown into the basement like a sack, and only a day later someone come to him,” she said.
“Pregnant prisoners were well known to their relatives and to the state,” Paievska said in an apparent reference to women raped while in captivity.
“A dead child in its mother’s arms. A seven year old boy with bullet wounds, dying in my lap,” she said.
Russia has denied committing atrocities during its months long invasion of Ukraine. But international investigators have documented hundreds of cases of apparent war crimes, from torture and rape to mass executions.
— Christina Wilkie
U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship, USS Kearsarge arrives in Stockholm, ahead of maritime focused training Baltops 22, in Stockholm, Sweden, June 2, 2022.
TT News Agency | Reuters
U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge is taking part in international training in the Baltic Sea amid Russia’s war in Ukraine and tensions in the region.
The Kearsarge is the first ship of the Wasp class to take part in international training in the Baltic in at least two decades. Associated Press journalists visited the ship last week.
“It’s a first off for us in recent memory and it’s been very exciting,” said Capt. Tom Foster, the commanding officer of the Kearsarge.
With some other U.S. Navy ships, the Kearsarge has been training for several months with the militaries of Sweden and Finland, which formally applied to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The training mission is to promote safety and security in the region.
“In the past several months, we have been operating in the Baltics and in the Mediterranean,” said Capt. Aaron Kelley, commander of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group.
— Associated Press
Ukraine’s ‘hero medic’ testifies before the Senate Helsinki Commission
U.S. lawmakers are hearing testimony this morning from Yuliia “Taira” Paievska, a Ukrainian volunteer medic who gained a following early in the war for her dramatic videos of emergency medical workers on the battlefield.
Paievska saved the lives of 700 people during early days of the war, including children and Russian soldiers.
In March, Paievska was captured in Mariupol and held prisoner by Russia for three months. Following her release this summer, she participated in the international Invictus games for injured veterans, where she won three medals.
“In the first 20 days of this war I spent in Mariupol, which was hell. Then I spent three months in Russian captivity, which was hell, too” Paievska said in her opening remarks at a hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
“When my tormentors advised me to commit suicide, I said no,” she said.
— Christina Wilkie
The ‘destruction is serious’ in Zelenskyy’s home city of Kryvyi Rih after repeated strikes
President Zelenskyy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine has come under repeated missile strikes over the last day.
Russian forces have launched a missile attack on Kryvyi Rih again today after launching eight cruise missiles targeting a dam near the city yesterday, causing the Inhulets River to rise and flooding to parts of the city.
Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the Kryvyi Rih military administration, said this on Telegram account Thursday morning that there had been another strike as he advised civilians to stay in shelters. Several hours later, he reported another cruise missile had hit an “industrial enterprise.”
“The destruction is serious,” he said, with details around the strike and its impact being clarified.
— Holly Ellyatt
Putin to Xi: Russia values China’s ‘balanced position’ on Ukraine
China’s President Xi Jinping (R), Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Mongolia’s President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh (unseen) hold a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leaders’ summit in Samarkand on September 15, 2022.
Alexandr Demyanchuk | AFP | Getty Images
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin told Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday that Moscow backs Beijing’s “One China” policy, opposes “provocations” by the United States in the Taiwan Strait, and values China’s “balanced position” on Ukraine, Reuters reported.
The two leaders were meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan. It was their first face-to-face meeting since Russia launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine in February.
In televised opening remarks at the bilateral meeting, Putin told Xi: “We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis. We understand your questions and concern about this. During today’s meeting, we will of course explain our position.”
Russia has moved closer to China since sending its armed forces into Ukraine in February, a decision that triggered an unprecedented barrage of Western sanctions against Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) talks to Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) while visiting the Moscow’s Zoo in Moscow, Russia,, June,5, 2019. Chinese leader Xi Jinping is having a three-days state visit to Russia.
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Putin also threw his weight behind Beijing’s key positions in the brief public statement, aligning the two countries in what analysts see as a fledgling anti-U.S., anti-Western alliance.
Putin referred to Beijing’s insistence that other countries do not recognise Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Bejing claims as part of China, as an independent country.
“We intend to firmly adhere to the principle of ‘One China’,” Putin said.
He added that Russian “condemns provocations by the United States and their satellites in the Taiwan Strait”, a possible reference to U.S. Navy warships sailing through international waters in the Taiwan Strait on Aug. 27.
The United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself. China has never ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control.
Path to reclaiming lost territory is ‘getting clearer,’ Zelenskyy says
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy poses for a pictures with Ukrainian servicemen as he visits the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 14, 2022.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the path to retaking Russian-occupied parts of the country is getting clearer.
“The path to the return of all our territories is getting clearer. We see the contours of restoration of our state’s territorial integrity. We know this is a hard path, but it is possible to pass it. And we are doing that,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram Thursday.
His comments come after Ukraine’s successes in the northeast of the country, where it has retaken almost all of the Kharkiv region. Russia has launched several blistering attacks in the south and southeast of Ukraine, however, including missile strikes on Zelenskyy’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih continued today after strikes yesterday damaged dam near the city, causing flooding in some neighborhoods.
— Holly Ellyatt
President Putin gets ready to meet Xi Jinping
Russia has increasingly looked to China for support as its relations with the West deteriorate, and Beijing has called for a diplomatic resolution to the war in Ukraine.
Alexei Druzhinin | Afp | Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday as both leaders attend a security summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
The leaders are set to discuss the war in Ukraine as well as Taiwan when they meet at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization , according to Yury Ushakov, President Putin’s foreign affairs advisor, according to comments reported by Russian state news agency Ria Novosti on Tuesday.
The news agency quoted Ushakov as stating that Beijing “has a balanced approach to this issue” and understands the reasons for the “special military operation,” as Russia labels its invasion of Ukraine.
“If we are talking about a bilateral agenda, then a conversation on trade and economic cooperation will be very important during this contact. In the current difficult situation, in the face of illegitimate Western sanctions, this cooperation demonstrates stability, continues to develop progressively, gain momentum,” he said.
It’ll be Xi’s first foreign visit since the start of the Covid pandemic. China has tacitly supported Russia’s position regarding Ukraine but has also appeared keen to insulate itself from the global geopolitical and economic fallout from the war, having called for a cease-fire in Ukraine earlier this year.
— Holly Ellyatt
112 houses flooded, 11 people rescued but no casualties after Kryvyi Rih flooding
In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, rescuers help people for evacuation from a flooded area after what Ukrainain officials said was a Russian missile attack hit and damaged the dam and a nearby pumping station in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
Ukrainian Emergency Service | AP Photo
Ukrainian officials have released more details on the flowing in the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, which was targeted by Russian missile strikes yesterday.
Kyrylo Timoshenko, deputy head of the office of President Zelenskyy, posted on Telegram that after the strikes by Russian missiles, which targeted a major dam on the Inhulets river, 112 houses were flooded and rescuers had to save 11 people.
No deaths have been reported.
The local authorities organized four collection points for citizens to evacuate to in order to reach a safe zone, he added as he detailed how the river level rose after the dam was damaged.
“As a result of such a breach, the water level in the Ingulets River rose from 100cm to 190cm,” he said, saying that in order to lower the water level, it was necessary to blow up part of the hydraulic structures downstream.
After what he described as “the exhausting work of this long night,” the water level in the river has already dropped by 40cm, a detail also noted by the head of Dnipropetrovsk Regional Military Administration Valentyn Reznichenko.
“The water level in the Ingulets River has already dropped by 40 centimeters at the moment and continues to fall. Thank you to the rescuers, emergency services and everyone who worked through the night and continues to work now. Each of you did an incredible job,” Reznichenko said.
— Holly Ellyatt
European Commission chief visits Kyiv
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers the State of the European Union address to the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, on Sept. 14, 2022.
Yves Herman | Reuters
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is in Kyiv on Thursday to discuss how to progress Ukraine’s membership bid to join the European Union.
“In Kyiv, for my 3rd visit since the start of Russia’s war. So much has changed,” von der Leyen said on Twitter.
“Ukraine is now a candidate” for EU membership, she said, adding that she would hold talks with President Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal about progressing its membership application.
The Ukraine’s membership bid was formally accepted earlier this year but it’s expected that it will take years for it to join the union.
— Holly Ellyatt
Russians’ flight from Kharkiv region shows ‘breakdowns in command and control’
The manner in which Russian forces withdrew, and fled, from the region of Kharkiv on northeastern Ukraine suggests a breakdown in command structures, the U.K. said in its latest intelligence update Thursday.
A damaged military vehicle is seen after the withdrawal of Russian forces in Balakliia, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine, on Sept. 13, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
“Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their control of newly liberated areas of Kharkiv Oblast. Russian forces have largely withdrawn from the area west of the Oskil River,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Twitter.
“The way in which Russian forces have withdrawn in the last week has varied. Some units retreated in relatively good order and under control, while others fled in apparent panic,” it said.
“Such abandonment highlights the disorganised retreat of some Russian units and likely localised breakdowns in command and control.”
High-value equipment abandoned by withdrawing Russian forces included capabilities essential to enable Russia’s artillery-centric style of warfare, the ministry noted, including at least one Zoopark counter-battery radar and at least one IV14 artillery command and control vehicle.
— Holly Ellyatt
‘Active hostilities’ in Kherson amid reports of shelling and looting by Russian forces
De-occupied settlements in the region of Kherson in southern Ukraine are coming under Russian fire, a regional official warned on Thursday as he told residents to evacuate.
“The situation in the de-occupied settlements of the Kherson region is extremely difficult,” Yaroslav Yanushevych, head of the Kherson Regional Military Administration, said on Telegram, noting that one town had seen all of its houses damaged or destroyed while another had seen 80% of its properties destroyed.
Ukraine recently launched a counteroffensive in southern Ukraine to reclaim Russian-occupied territories. Unlike its counterattack in northeastern Ukraine, which has seen most of the region of Kharkiv de-occupied, a significant part of Kherson — the region above Russian-annexed Crimea — remains occupied by Russian forces although Ukraine has launched a series of counterattacks there and has made some gains.
A destroyed house following a missile strike in Mykolaiv on Aug. 29, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images
Yanushevych said the first thing Ukraine’s armed forces did when they liberated settlements from Russian occupation was to advise residents to leave immediately in expectation of Russian reprisals and attacks.
Yesterday Yanushevych said the “situation in the Kherson region remains extremely difficult, active hostilities continue.”
The region’s infrastructure was being subjected “to devastating destruction every day due to shelling by the occupiers. In the temporarily occupied settlements, the Russians continue to seize administrative premises and loot,” he said. CNBC was unable to verify the information in the official’s post.
— Holly Ellyatt
Zelenskyy tells Crimeans that Ukraine is coming
Video source: Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited a key city recently liberated by Ukrainian troops and had a message for residents of Crimea: “We will arrive.”
Zelenskyy spoke to reporters after visiting scenes of destruction inflicted by Russian troops and helping to hoist Ukraine’s flag at Izyum, which only a week ago was held by invading forces. A Ukrainian counteroffensive sent Russian troops into a retreat and reclaimed the city on Sept. 10.
“We will come,” Zelenskyy said, addressing residents of Crimea. “I don’t know when. And nobody knows when. But we have plans. So we’ll come, because…it’s our land, and it’s our people.”
Zelenskyy expressed concern about the cumulative effect of televised Russian propaganda on Crimean children who have never known what it’s like to be part of Ukraine. Russia’s military seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
“The information war is very strong, and Russia attacked [Crimeans] by television, media … and of course, it will be very difficult for children when we come,” Zelenskyy said.
— Ted Kemp
Russians target dam near Kryvyi Rih, causing flooding and evacuation of parts of the city
Russians have shelled a dam on the Inhulets River near Kryvyi Rih — President Zelenskyy’s home city — leading to flooding in parts of the city and residents being evacuated.
Oleksandr Vilkul, the head of the Kryvyi Rih military administration, said on Telegram last night that Russian missiles had hit a “very large hydrotechnical structure,” widely reported as a dam near the city.
“Dear residents of Kryvyi Rih, Russia has committed another terrorist act. They hit a very large hydrotechnical structure in Kryvyi Rih with eight cruise missiles. The attempt is to simply wash away a part of our city with water. We are monitoring the situation, the response efforts are underway, all services are involved, everyone is on the site. But the water level in the Inhulets River has risen,” Vilkul said.
He then named streets that citizens were being asked to evacuate as “the water in the Inhulets River has risen.”
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office, said eight Russian cruise missiles had attacked Kryvyi Rih, calling it a “terrorist act.”
“After all, rockets are aimed at buildings that are critically important for people’s livelihood,” he said in a post on Telegram with a video showing high water levels on the river and partially submerged trees on the banks.
“Today, the Russian troops directed the maximum number of their weapons to hydrotechnical structures. The goal is obvious — an attempt to create an emergency situation. It is not important to them whether people will remain without water or whether the city will be flooded. They need us to panic so it would be difficult for us to make decisions. So let’s not panic,” he said.
— Holly Ellyatt
President Zelenskyy involved in car accident, is unhurt
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a flag-hoisting ceremony in Izium after Ukrainian forces took control of the city from Russian forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sept. 14, 2022.
Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was involved in a car accident in Kyiv last night, the president’s office said late last night.
Zelenskyy was not injured in the incident, the circumstances around which are now being investigated.
Presidential Press Secretary Serhii Nykyforov said on Facebook last night that “a car collided with the car of the President of Ukraine and escort vehicles.”
“Medics accompanying the head of the state provided the driver of the car with medical aid and transferred him to an ambulance. The president was examined by a doctor, no serious injuries were found. The law enforcement officers will find out all the circumstances of the accident.”
— Holly Ellyatt
‘It’s not surprising to us,’ Pentagon says of Ukraine counteroffensive
Ukrainian soldiers stand guard as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends flag hoisting ceremony in Izium after the Ukrainian forces took control of the city from the Russian forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine on September 14, 2022.
Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
The Pentagon hailed a series of lightning advances Ukraine made against Russian forces in the southern and eastern parts of the war-weary country.
“Certainly, since the beginning of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, we’ve seen the Ukrainians demonstrate a remarkable adaptability and their ability to use their warfighting capabilities to great effect,” Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters at the Pentagon.
“So, it’s not surprising to us that they have pushed as quickly as they have,” he added.
Ryder declined to confirm Ukrainian government reports that cited specific gains the country had made, adding that he would not speak on behalf of a foreign military.
He added that the U.S. would continue to provide security assistance to Kyiv and hailed Ukrainian forces’ “remarkable adaptability on the battlefield.”
— Amanda Macias
Estonia, one of NATO’s smallest countries, prepares additional aid package for Ukraine
Estonia’s Defence minister Hanno Pevkur speaks to the media before the Informal Meeting of European Union Defence Ministers.
Tomas Tkacik | Lightrocket | Getty Images
Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that his government is preparing another aid package for the war-torn country.
“The Ukrainian armed forces and people have shown immense courage. It is a proud feeling to see reports of success along Ukraine’s eastern front – it is a sure sign that our collective aid has had a positive impact and that it must continue,” Pevkur said, according to an Estonian readout of the meeting.
Estonia, one of NATO’s smallest member countries and a nation that borders Russia, has donated two field hospitals to Ukraine since Russia’s war broke out in late February.
Pevkur also met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.
“I was interested in hearing from the Minister of Defence about the specifics of aid that is needed now – that will be the basis for putting together our next aid package to Ukraine. In addition, we are currently contributing towards training efforts,” he added.
— Amanda Macias
30-40% chance of a collapse in the Russian army, says retired Air Marshal
A former senior member of the British armed forces has told Sky News said there is a 30-40% chance that Russia’s armed forces could collapse and the war could be over by Christmas.
Retired RAF Air Marshal Edward Stringer, the ex-director-general of the Defence Academy and director-general of Joint Force Development, Strategic Command, told Sky’s Kay Burley he previously thought the war would go into next year, but things have changed on the ground.
Two soldiers look at the southern frontline from their position, which is 5 km from it. Soledar is a town in the Donetsk region, where it is being hammered by Russian artillery as it sits along the crucial road that leads out of besieged Severodonetsk.
Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images
He said: “I do not see that the Russians will be able to rebuild their armed forces to be able to re-seize the initiative and retake the offensive again.
“And so now we are into seeing how this develops on the ground and one hopes that Zelenskyy will be in a position where he can start to negotiate favourable terms and perhaps even defeat the entire Russian invasion of his country
“Eventually all conflicts end in negotiation. One has to calibrate to what extent you have to keep channels open and to what extent you allow him (Putin) to think that he’s still part of the family of nations.
“I always thought it would go into next year. I think it is possible now, and one hates to be the person that says it will all be over by Christmas, but it is possible now that there could be a collapse in the Russian armed forces… it’s a good 30-40%, and that calls into question the future of Putin, Putinism, and the West should think very strongly now about what the world looks like post-Putin.”
— Sky News
As war began, Putin reportedly rejected a Ukraine peace deal recommended by aide
Vladimir Putin’s chief envoy on Ukraine told the Russian leader as the war began that he had struck a provisional deal with Kyiv that would satisfy Russia’s demand that Ukraine stay out of NATO, but Putin rejected it and pressed ahead with his military campaign, according to three people close to the Russian leadership who spoke to Reuters.
The Ukrainian-born envoy, Dmitry Kozak, told Putin that he believed the deal he had hammered out removed the need for Russia to pursue a large-scale occupation of Ukraine, according to these sources. Kozak’s recommendation to Putin to adopt the deal is being reported by Reuters for the first time.
Putin’s threat to halt all supplies raises the risk of energy rationing in Europe this winter.
Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Putin had repeatedly asserted prior to the war that NATO and its military infrastructure were creeping closer to Russia’s borders by accepting new members from eastern Europe, and that the alliance was now preparing to bring Ukraine into its orbit too. Putin publicly said that represented an existential threat to Russia, forcing him to react.
But, despite earlier backing the negotiations, Putin made it clear when presented with Kozak’s deal that the concessions negotiated by his aide did not go far enough and that he had expanded his objectives to include annexing swathes of Ukrainian territory, the sources said. The upshot: the deal was dropped.