Ukraine War Updates: Zelensky Proposes Special Tribunal to Punish Russia

Live Updates
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of his military in a rare televised address Wednesday. Putin said reservists and ex-military personnel with "certain military specialties and relevant experience" will be subject to conscription "to protect the sovereignty... of Russia."
  • The move would call up an estimated 300,000 reservists against Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to Russia's latest military actions in a virtual address delivered Wednesday evening before the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. In the address, Zelensky outlined a five-point "formula for peace."
  • Ukraine's forces have made swift advances in a major counteroffensive in the northeast of country recent days, sparking concern in Russia.
  • Russia has already used many reserve units in Ukraine, suffering heavy losses, western analysts say. More reservists and ex-troops are "unlikely to dramatically increase Russian combat power," according to think tank ISW.
  • In occupied Ukraine, Russia-installed officials in four regions—Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, and Kherson and Zaporizka in the south—announced referendums from Friday, following steps annexed-Crimea took in 2014.

Live updates have ended.

Zelensky Proposes Special Tribunal to Punish Russia

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky introduced the idea of creating a special tribunal for the purpose of punishing Russia and other future world aggressors during a virtual speech he delivered before the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

The creation of a special tribunal was one of many recommendations Zelensky included in what he referred to as Ukraine's "peace formula." He said the special tribunal should be formed "to punish Russia for the crime of aggression against our state."

The special tribunal and other punishment strategies "will become signals to all would-be aggressors that they must value peace or be brought to responsibility by the world," he said. Ukraine will soon present "precise steps" on the creation of this proposed special tribunal to states within the UN General Assembly, Zelensky said.

Ukraine's president mentioned the special tribunal as part of Ukraine's five-point peace formula. The formula's first point, which included the tribunal, focused on punishment for Russia and other "would-be aggressors." These punishment recommendations included strategies like blocking trade with Russia, limiting or removing delegation rights within the UN Security Council and restricting tourism for citizens of an aggressor state.

Zelensky said Ukraine will also be asking for the UN General Assembly's support to make Russia "pay for this war with its assets," a strategy Zelensky said will be "one of the most terrible punishments for Russian officials who value money above everything else."

Zelensky Warns of Nuclear Plant Concerns

Military activity continues near the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday during a virtual address before the United Nations General Assembly.

In the hours before the General Assembly convened, Zelensky said Russia fired missiles at the plant.

"The explosion hit the station buildings. Windows were broken. Walls were damaged," Zelensky said, adding that some of the rockets fell about 300 meters away from reactor walls.

The latest shelling near Zaporizhzhya came amid efforts by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to establish a safety zone around the plant in coordination with officials from Ukraine and Russia. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said earlier Wednesday he has spoken with the foreign ministers from Ukraine and Russia on the need to establish the safety zone but said an agreement has not yet been reached.

Russia's military activity around Zaporizhzhya, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, "makes all of you a target," Zelensky told the General Assembly. This ongoing military activity by Russia "should concern each and every one of you, because none of you will find a vaccine against radiation sickness," he said.

Zelensky Details 5-Point Formula for Peace

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky outlined what he called Ukraine's five-point "formula for peace" during a virtual address delivered before the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Zelensky's speech focused on Ukraine's ongoing war with Russia, which began nearly seven months ago when Russia invaded Ukraine. Several other leaders also used their speeches before the General Assembly on Wednesday to speak out against Russia's military actions in Ukraine.

Zelensky introduced the formula as one that he said could work not only for Ukraine, "but for everyone who may find themselves in similar circumstances." The formula provides the "preconditions for peace," Zelensky said.

He listed the five points of the formula as: "punishment for aggression, protection of life, restoration of security and territorial integrity, security guarantees and determination to defend oneself." The formula is one of "crime and punishment," Zelensky added.

Zelensky said his country is "ready for peace" and that each of the five points "must be implemented as soon as possible."

Zelensky at UN Council
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky remotely addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City on September 21, 2022. Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Moldova Sheltered Over 500,000 Ukrainian Refugees

President of Moldova Maia Sandu praised families within her country for "opening their homes and hearts" to Ukrainians fleeing the ongoing war with Russia over the last several months.

While addressing the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Sandu said that, despite Moldova's population of fewer than 3 million people, it helped provide shelter for more than 500,000 refugees arriving from Ukraine.

"At the peak of the inflow, our population grew by 4 percent," Saidu said, adding that about 80,000 Ukrainian refugees decided to remain in Moldova.

Saidu then took a moment to praise "all Moldovan families who showed unprecedented solidarity with refugees by opening their homes and hearts to those in need."

"I am proud of my people," she added.

More than 7.4 million Ukrainian refugees have left their country since the start of the war and sought refuge across Europe, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). An estimated 618,738 refugees from Ukraine had crossed the border into Moldovan as of Tuesday, according to the UNHCR's most recent refugee update.

Zelensky to Address U.N. General Assembly Soon

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to address the United Nations General Assembly soon.

The body voted last week to allow Zelensky to deliver his address via video link amid the ongoing conflict in his country.

Zelensky is expected to discuss the war, address recent threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin and call on nations to continue giving their support to Ukraine.

He will also likely call out countries, like China, to abandon their neutrality and condemn Russia for its actions.

EU Foreign Ministers Discuss New Russian Sanctions

The foreign ministers of European Union member states are holding an emergency meeting at the United Nations General Assembly to discuss the recent actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the ongoing tensions in Ukraine.

Josep Borrell, the high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy, said the meeting was called Wednesday.

This comes after Putin made a speech in which he said the he will proceed with a referenda to annex occupied territories in Ukraine, mobilization of 300,000 reservists and use "all necessary means" to defend Russia, seemingly threatened to use nuclear weapons.

Borrell said Putin is "doubling down on a failing strategy."

"He is trying to intimidate Ukraine and all countries that support it," he said in a statement.

"But fake referenda will not change the legal status of Ukrainian territory. Mobilising reservists will not mean fresh, trained and motivated troops are somehow available. Threatening with nuclear blackmail is unacceptable and it will only increase Russia's diplomatic isolation. The threat to use nuclear weapons should alert the international community and in particular all the states which for one reason or another look with distance at this war which they believe does not concern them."

Borrell said these comments constitute another "major escalation" from the Kremlin that show "a sign of fear."

"We can already begin to see the reactions inside Russia, with courageous people trying to get on flights out of Russia, while they can," he said. "The main thing is not to be intimidated. We have to stay united as EU and continue our support to Ukraine as well as the countries that support it. Putin is trying to destroy Ukraine; we must make sure that Ukraine will prevail."

The EU foreign minister will discuss the new threat from Putin and their continuous military support for Ukraine.

More sanctions are also on the table, Borrell told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Josep Borrell United Nations
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022 at U.N. headquarters Julia Nikhinson/AP Photo

New Round of Sanctions Possible

The President of the European Commission also said she is prepared to call for a new round of sanctions on Russia.

Ursula von der Leyen told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that Putin's latest move justifies more action for the EU.

"President Putin is showing his weakness now because what you see is that he tries to mobilize personnel that is less trained, less experience, less motivated and he wants to start sham referenda on Ukrainian sovereign soil," she said. "So I think this calls for sanctions from our part again."

Von der Leyen said the EU is prepared to impose further economic costs on Russia and on individuals and entities inside and outside of Russia who support, politically or economically. Additionally, she said the bloc will propose additional export controls on civilian technology "as Russia moves to a full war economy."

Ukraine Repelled Five Russian Attacks

Ukrainian troops continue to combat Russian forces as part of their counteroffensive.

Ukrainian General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces spokesman Alexander Štupun said Ukrainian units successfully fought back Russian attacks in five areas Wednesday, according to Ukrainian army officials.

Those Russian attacks were repelled near Kupiansk, Vesele, Zaitseve, Kurdiumivka and Bakhmutske.

Štupun said Ukrainian forces confirmed hits on several Russian military complexes, ammunition warehouses and weapons.

"Glory to Ukraine! The age of heroic confrontation of the Ukrainian nation Russian wide invasion lasts," Štupun said.

The total losses of the enemy are currently being specified, he said.

Russian shelling and airstrikes continue as Russia focuses its efforts on the complete occupation of the Donetsk region.

Russia launched five missiles, 11 air strikes and shelling attacks at both military and civilian objects in Ukraine, Štupun said, "violating the standards of international humanitarian law, laws and customs of warfare."

He said these air strikes have impacted the infrastructure of more than 30 settlements.

Оперативна інформація станом на 18.00 21.09.2022 щодо російського вторгнення Речник Генерального Штабу Збройних Сил України Олександр Штупун - Слава...

UN Agency Reports New Shelling at Nuclear Plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said new shelling occurred at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine on Wednesday morning.

The UN agency reported the shelling as world leaders gathered in New York for the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Several world leaders spoke out against Russia for its ongoing war with Ukraine during the meeting.

Speaking at the UN's headquarters in New York City during a Wednesday afternoon press conference, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said the agency has been working "very hard" with Ukraine and Russia on establishing a safety zone around the Zaphorizhzhya plant but that an agreement has not yet been reached.

The IAEA has "begun constructive and active consultations" on the safety zone with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, and started talks "in earnest" with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Grossi said on Twitter earlier Wednesday. President of France Emmanuel Macron and foreign ministers from other countries were also involved in talks about the need for a nuclear safety zone, Grossi said.

"Things are in motion," he told reporters.

Grossi said reaching an agreement with Ukraine and Russia on Wednesday "would have been nice," but that the discussions involve "complex issues that require perhaps a bit more than one meeting." Even so, Grossi said the discussions are not the kind that can be "afforded the luxury" of time.

"We have to decide on it as soon as possible. And I hope that I will be able to do that," Grossi said.

There is a new episode that raises concerns about nuclear dangers "almost every day," Grossi said, mentioning the Wednesday shelling at Zaphorizhzhya as an example.

Grossi was "gravely concerned" to learn of the latest shelling, according to an IAEA update on the situation in Ukraine.

"Until yesterday, there seemed to be less shelling at or near the plant, but this latest episode shows that the danger remains very real," Grossi said in the agency's update. "It hasn't gone away, and we can't afford to lose any more time."

IAEA session at UN headquarters
Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna (L), French President Emmanuel Macron (3L), IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi (2L), EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs/Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell (2R) and other leaders participate in a working session about nuclear security at the permanent mission of France at the United Nations in New York on September 21, 2022. LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

Over 1,000 Protesters Detained in Russia

The number of detained protesters in Russia has jump to over 1,000, according to an independent rights group.

OVD-Info said 1,026 people were detained by police at anti-war and anti-mobilization protests across the country.

"At least one person has been detained in 38 cities all over the country," OVD-Info said in a tweet. "We are still counting; the number will increase significantly in a few hours."

OVD-Info has been tracking the protests and arrests throughout the day since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "partial mobilization" of 300,000 reservists to fight in the Russian forces in Ukraine.

Two US Veterans Held In Russia Released in Prisoner Swap

Two Americans held by Russian forces have been released as part of a new prisoner swap deal between Russia and Ukraine.

U.S. army veterans Alexander John-Robert Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh were captured by the Russian forces while fighting for Ukraine in Kharkiv in June.

"They are safely in the custody of the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia and after medical checks and debriefing they will return to the states," a joint statement from Dianna Shaw, an aunt of Drueke, said, according to the Associated Press.

Both men have spoken with their relatives, Shaw said, adding they are in "pretty good shape," AP adds.

They are safely in the custody of the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia and will return to the U.S. after medical checks and debriefings.

Russia to Boost Military Equipment Production, Reports

Russian defense production company Rostech has reportedly said it is working on efforts to boost its production of military equipment amid Russia's ongoing war with Ukraine.

The production update from Rostech, which was reported by the Russia-owned television news network RT, announced plans to boost production following an address by Russian President Vladimir Putin. During his Wednesday speech, Putin said he signed an executive order instructing the partial mobilization of military reservists. The reservists who will be called up for duty will be "primarily those who served in the armed forces and have specific military occupational specialties and corresponding experience," Putin said.

In order to fully carry out the instructions of his executive order, Putin said leaders of defense industry companies "will be directly responsible for attaining the goals of increasing the production of weapons and military equipment and using additional production facilities for this purpose."

Rostech's announcement came as Putin was alerting his country of his latest executive order, according to RT.

"Many" parts of the larger Rostech company "have already introduced special operating conditions," a Rostech statement obtained by RT said. Those conditions reportedly included Rostech employees working longer hours.

The company's statement said the changes it is implementing will help it "meet the goals" Putin set and support Russia's efforts to win the war.

Hundreds of Protesters Detained in Russia

Hundreds of people have reportedly been detained in Russia as people protest the newly-announced mobilization Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a new mobilization program to bolster Russian forces fighting in Ukraine amid recent losses.

Russia's anti-protest law make unsanctioned rallies illegal.

Independent rights group OVD-Info reports 525 people have been detained by Russian police in over a dozen cities and districts across Russia. About 260 of those arrests took place in Moscow and at least 257 were in St. Petersburg.

Arrests took place in Moscow, Irkutsk, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Permian, Ufa, Krasnoyarsk, Krasnodar, Chelyabinsk, Voronezh, Irkutsk, Korolev, Novosibirsk, Arkhangelsk, Saratov, Yakutsk and Petrozavodsk, according to the OVD-info tally.

Woman Arrested Moscow
Anti-Mobilization Protest Russia
Protests Russia
Arrests Made in Russia

Protesters in several cities were reportedly chanting "No war" and "No mobilization."

OVD-info said protesters in several cities were beaten by police as they were detained.

In St. Petersburg, police paddy wagons were reportedly filled with 30 to 45 people.

Iran Says It Wants to Revive Nuclear Deal

President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that Iran is interested in reviving the nuclear deal signed in 2015 but needs to know that the U.S. is committed to staying in the deal this time around.

The 2015 deal, which was created during former U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, was in place between the U.S., Iran and other major countries until former U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018. The deal was designed to incentivize Iran to stop pursuing the creation and expansion of a nuclear weapons program.

U.S. President Joe Biden began efforts to bring Iran back into the deal once he took office, but talks have stalled over the last year.

Raisi described America as having "trampled" upon the original deal when the U.S. removed itself four years ago, according to The Associated Press. He said Iran has "a great and serious will to resolve all issues" regarding discussions about reviving the deal but said Iran's "wish is only one thing: observance of commitments."

Raisi continued to question the U.S.'s commitment to the deal in his speech, doubts he also raised during a recent interview with 60 Minutes.

Ebrahim Raisi at UN headquarters
President of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022 at the U.N. headquarters in New York City. Mary Altaffer/AP Photo

Zelensky Says World Will Not Allow Russia's Use of Nuclear Weapons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he does not believe Russia will use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently issued new escalatory rhetoric that he use all means necessary to achieve his goals in Ukraine.

Speaking to German media Wednesday, Zelensky said Russia will not be allowed to act on threats with nuclear weapons.

"I don't believe that he will use these weapons," he said. "I don't believe that the world will allow him to use these weapons."

Zelensky added that Ukraine and its allies should not give in to Putin's threats.

"Tomorrow, Putin can say, 'In addition to Ukraine, we also want a part of Poland, otherwise we will use nuclear weapons.' We cannot agree on such compromises," he said.

Putin also announced Russian will increase mobilization to bolster its armed forces.

Zelensky said Russia has already been carrying out mobilization over the past month and notes the low morale among Russian troops.

"We already know they mobilized cadets, guys who couldn't fight," he said. "These cadets have fallen. They couldn't even finish their training. All these people cannot fight. They have come to us and died."

Zelensky said Putin needs "an army of millions" because many of his troops who meet Ukrainian forces on the battlefield "just run away."

He added that Putin "wants to drown Ukraine in blood, also the blood of his own soldiers."

Zelensky's adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons show the Kremlin has "not yet understood who he is dealing with."

Biden Calls on Nations to Stop 'Hoarding' Grain

President Joe Biden called on nations to pull back from food export bans and to stop "hoarding" grain as food security remains a concern around the world.

"We're calling on all countries to refrain from banning food exports or hoarding grain while so many people are suffering," Biden said Wednesday during a speech before the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. "Because in every country in the world, no matter what else divides us, if parents cannot feed their children, nothing—nothing else matters."

Biden said the U.S. believes "strongly in the need to feed the world." He mentioned the U.S. is the "world's largest supporter" of the World Food Program and that it also supports UNICEF in the agency's efforts to provide food to children in need.

The U.S. recently introduced a "roadmap" to strengthen food security, which Biden said already has support from more than 100 nations. During a summer meeting, he said the G7 said it would invest more than $4.5 billion in the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Feed the Future initiative. The initiative's website said it aims to address "the root causes of poverty and hunger" in poorer countries around the world.

Biden also announced during his speech that the U.S. will be investing an additional $2.9 billion to "address global food insecurity," an amount that stands in addition to $6.9 billion the U.S. announced earlier this year.

Biden Says Nuclear War 'Cannot Be Won'

President Joe Biden told the United Nations General Assembly that a nuclear war "cannot be won and must never be fought."

Speaking before the assembly's 77th Session in New York on Wednesday, Biden encouraged "every nation" to "recommit to strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime through diplomacy." That commitment is "one of the greatest successes" of the UN General Assembly, Biden said.

Biden said permanent members of the security council recently recommitted to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) but that "disturbing trends" are now emerging. He cited Russia as his first example amid concerns of nuclear weapons dangers during Russia's ongoing war with Ukraine.

"Russia shunned the non-proliferation ideals embraced by every other nation at the tenth NPT review conference," Biden said, referring to a meeting that took place last month. "And again today, as I said, they're making irresponsible nuclear threats to use nuclear weapons."

Biden also listed China, North Korea and Iran as nations that he said are demonstrating "disturbing trends" in regards to nuclear weapons activity. China is "conducting an unprecedented, concerning nuclear buildup without any transparency" and North Korea "continues to blatantly violate UN sanctions," Biden said. Meanwhile, the president said the U.S. is clear on its position on Iran: "We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon," he said.

"I continue to believe diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome," Biden said.

Biden Pledges Nearly $3 Billion to Fight Global Food Insecurity

President Biden announced nearly $3 billion in additional assistance to address global food insecurity.

The White House said the additional $2.9 billion in global humanitarian assistance, through USAID, will be given to "help save lives in countries facing food security crises, including through food and nutrition assistance, health care, safe drinking water, protection for the most vulnerable, and other vital relief."

This funding will increase food security programming in countries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, inflated food prices and the supply chain constraints as a result of the war in Ukraine.

This adds to the already $6.9 billion the U.S. government pledged to support food security around the world this year.

During his address at the United Nations General Assembly, Biden blamed the global food crisis on Russia.

He said Russia is "pumping out lies" that the sanctions imposed on the Kremlin by the United States and its allies were leading to the crisis.

" pumping out lies, trying to pin the blame for the crisis — the food crisis — on the sanctions imposed by many in the world for the aggression against Ukraine," Biden said. "So let me be perfectly clear about something: Our sanctions explicitly allow, explicitly allow, Russia the ability to export food and fertilizer. No limitation."

Biden added that "Russia's war" is worsening food insecurity and "only Russia can end it."

Biden Says Russia Was the Only Nation to Seek Conflict

President Joe Biden blasts Russia's claim that it was threatened to justify its actions in Ukraine.

"Putin claims he had to act because Russia was threatened, but no one threatened Russia and no one other than Russia sought conflict," he said during his address to the United Nations General Assembly.

He said the dozens of nations part of the assembly will continue to support Ukraine through economic and military support. The direct economic support to Ukraine has reached $25 billion total, Biden said.

The United States and its allies and partners will also continue to issue sanctions on Russia to hold it accountable for its war crimes and violations of the UN charter.

Biden said the U.S. and its allies will be "firm" and "unwavering" in their continued support to defend democracy, liberty and sovereignty.

"Ukraine has the same rights that belong to every sovereign," Biden said. "We will stand in solidarity with Ukraine. We will stand against Russian aggression."

Biden added that he wants to end this war on "just terms."

"The United States wants this war to end on just terms, on terms we all signed up for: that you cannot seize a nation's territory by force," he said. "But the only country standing in the way of that is Russia."

Biden Says Russia Aims to 'Extinguish' Ukraine

President Joe Biden said Russia is "shamelessly" violating the United Nations charter as it continues its invasion of Ukraine.

During his address at the U.N. General Assembly, Biden said Russia's invasion of its sovereign neighbor to take its territory by force was clearly prohibited.

"Let us speak plainly. A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase the sovereign state from the map," Biden said.

He condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's nuclear threats, military mobilization and "sham" referendum to annex parts of Ukraine, calling these actions an "extreme violation" of the U.N. charter.

"This world should see these outrageous acts for what they are," he said.

Biden also noted the alleged atrocities committed by Russian forces at the mass grave found in Izyum.

"This war is about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state, plain and simple. And Ukraine's right to exist as a people," he said. "Whoever you are, where ever you live, whatever you believe, that should make your blood run cold."

Putin Puts More Men Into 'Flames of War," Ukraine's FM Says

Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba called out Russian President Vladimir Putin for throwing "more men into the flames of the war."

"He wants to throw more men into the flames of the war he has no chance of win[n]ing," Kuleba tweeted Wednesday.

"Putin has shown utter disrespect to China, India, Mexico, Turkey, other Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Latin American nations which have called for diplomacy and an end to Russia's war on Ukraine."

His comments come shortly after Putin announced a partial mobilization of his military and referenced a potential use of nuclear weapons Wednesday.

Watch: Biden Addresses UN General Assembly

U.S. President Joe Biden is now addressing the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Watch live below:

Russian Military Vehicles Found at Izium Mass Grave

The Conflict Observatory found evidence of mass burial by Russian forces in the newly-liberated Ukrainian city of Izium.

Ukrainian officials reported a mass burial site in Izium, a city freed from Russian occupation as part of the recent counteroffensive from Ukrainian forces.

The Conflict Observatory is a United States non-governmental organization (NGO) that analyzes and publicizes evidence of Russian war crimes and atrocities during the war in Ukraine.

The organization found evidence of multiple earth disturbances in and around the cemetery between April and July 2022, when Russia was in control, "in a manner consistent with reported burial operations."

Disturbed Land at Izyum  Mass Grave
The Conflict Observatory finds evidence of disturbed land at the mass burial site found in Izyum, Ukraine after it was liberated from Russian forces. Conflict Observatory

Additionally, Conflict Observatory discovered photo evidence of military excavators near the cemetery.

The trenches used to burry bodies were apparently dug by an earth excavator near Izium.

At least two vehicles consistent with the EOV 3523 are present in 20 June 2022 satellite imagery near the cemetery, the organization found. One is 450 meters away from the entrance and the second is 1800 meters from the entrance.

Military Vehicle in Izyum
The Conflict Observatory believes Russia used military vehicles to dig up trenches for the Izyum mass burial site. Conflict Observatory

Finally, "significant" military activity reportedly occurred at the location when Russian forces were in control.

The team identified at least 40 military objects, including vehicles, communication and logistics hubs and artillery positions, that "often align with locations of disturbed earth."

Three types of locations were identified: areas that clearly were disturbed related to military activities consistent with warfighting, areas that were disturbed consistent with body disposal operations and areas with a cause of disturbance that could not determined.

Zelensky, Biden to Address UN General Assembly

U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are set to address the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday.

Zelensky will address world leaders by video, following an assembly vote last week allowing him to do so remotely. His address comes hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of his military in a rare televised address. Putin will not be at the annual gathering.

This is the first annual in-person gathering following limited activity over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden's address is expected to focus on the Ukraine war and is expected around 10:30 a.m. EST.

Watch the UN General Assembly at this link or below:

German Chancellor Denounces Putin's 'Desperation'

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin' "desperation" after the Kremlin announced a "partial mobilization" of citizens to fight in Ukraine.

Putin announced a partial mobilization of citizens to the Russian armed forces to liberate Ukrainians from the "neo-Nazi regime" that took power in 2014. He said Russia will "use all the means at our disposal" to protect its territorial integrity and its people, adding "it's not a bluff."

Scholz said this rhetoric is "an act of desperation" as Ukrainian forces have launched a successful counteroffensive.

"Putin's announcement of a partial mobilization is an act of desperation," Scholz said in a tweet.

"Russia cannot win this criminal war," he added. "Right from the start, Putin completely underestimated the situation – Ukraine's will to resist and the unity of its friends."

This comes after the Kremlin also expressed his support for referendums in Crimea and Russian-held areas of Ukraine.

Scholz said the "sham" referendums are just "an attempt to conquer the neighbor's country by force."

"We will not accept that," he tweeted. "In our world, law must prevail over violence. Violence cannot be stronger than law."

Navalny Ally Calls on Russians to Set Buildings on Fire

An ally of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has called on Russians to protest Vladimir Putin's move to roll out a partial mobilization.

"If you are ready to do big things, including setting fire to the military registration and enlistment office, we support this and are also ready to provide some assistance," said Ivan Zhdanov, according to Latvia-based independent news channel Meduza.

Several social media accounts have suggested protests against Putin's partial mobilization are planned in Moscow later.

 Ivan Zhdanov poses during an interview
FBK anti-corruption foundation director Ivan Zhdanov poses during an interview with AFP in Moscow on September 3, 2020. Dimitar DILKOFF//AFP via Getty Images

Many Russians' Choice: Fight in Ukraine or 10 Years in Jail

For many Russians there is little escape from joining the conflict in Ukraine.

On Tuesday we learned that Russians who desert during wartime could face up to 10 years in jail, under sweeping legislation passed by lawmakers.

Those who disobey orders from superiors during wartime, or refuse to fight, will also face, according to the legislation, two to three years behind bars, and in more severe cases, three to 10 years.

The legislation also proposes a 10-year sentence for military-industrial sector workers who fail to hit delivery targets and deadlines on state orders.

The bill, passed by the Russian parliament's lower house, the State Duma, includes amendments to the Criminal Code that would also introduce punishments for looting, destruction of weapons and military equipment, and unauthorized surrender.

Russian MP Ruminates Over 'Tough Decision' Not to Enlist

A lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party has told reporters that he and his colleagues could not go to war because "we have a duty to inform citizens."

Dmitry Vyatkin said on Wednesday that going to fight in Ukraine would be "the easiest decision."

"Behind each of us, behind all our parties, there are citizens who live ordinary lives," the 48-year-old said. "We have a duty and a responsibility to convey the importance and criticality of today's situation to everyone with whom we can speak and reach out."

Earlier, Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said 300,000 reservists would be subject to Vladimir Putin's partial mobilization decree.

These Maps Plot Ukraine's Counteroffensive So Far

Maps of Ukraine produced by the Washington D.C. based think tank ISW the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) show continued efforts by Kyiv to conduct counteroffensives in the southern and eastern regions of the country.

In the east, Ukrainian forces likely continued offensive operations along the cities of Lyman, Yampil in the Donetsk region, and Bilohorivka, in the Sievierodonetsk region, as well as across the Oskil River near the Luhansk region.

Ukraine Map
Eastern Ukraine update: Ukrainian forces likely continued offensive operations along the Lyman-Yampil-Bilohorivka line on September 20 Institute for the Study of War and AEI's Critical Threats Project

In the south, significant fighting has taken place in the past 24 hours north of the Kherson region, including in Posad-Pokrovs'ke and Davudiv Brid, and in Snihurvka, in the Mykolaiv region, the ISW assessed.

Ukraine Map
Southern Axis Update: Ukrainian forces continued disrupting ongoing #Russian efforts to reestablish ground lines of communications (GLOCs) across the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast. Institute for the Study of War and AEI's Critical Threats Project

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his troops have retaken more than 3,000 square miles of territory in counteroffensive operations since the beginning of September.

Ukraine: Partial Mobilization 'Huge Disaster' for Russia

Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Volodymyr Havrylov responded to Putin's announcement earlier...

He said the partial mobilization "will be a huge disaster for Russia," and that Ukraine would win provided it maintained technological superiority.

"This war is not about numbers, this war is about a technological superiority, and so if we have sufficient, up-to-date, modern equipment, it doesn't really matter how many troops from Russia will enter our territory," he said.

Havrylov said Ukraine would "destroy" Russia, and save "the rest of our people."

Ukraine has benefitted from about $83billion in western aid since the war began, according to The Institute for the World Economy's tracker.

Part of that has included 16 HIMARS [High Mobility Artillery Rocket System] from the United States, which have proved vital in turning the tide of the war.

Russian State TV Predicts 'Beginning of the End of Ukraine'

Meanwhile on Russian state TV...

State Duma deputy Andrey Gurulyov has said Ukraine will no longer exist.

The clip of Gurulyov has been viewed more than 100,000 times after being posted by the Daily Beast's Julia Davis on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of Putin's speech, Gurulyov issued a stark warning: "It's clear to me that today's decision is the beginning of the end of Ukraine," he continued.

"That's it, that nation no longer exists, it doesn't exist. Film productions about Bucha or Izium [where mass graves have been discovered in Ukraine] aren't going to change that.

"Time will come and everything will come out, it will be later and without Ukraine. Ukraine does not exist, Ukraine's history is ending, perhaps it is a good thing."

Ukraine has been an independent country since 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Flights From Russia Sell Out, Rail Website Crashes—Reports

Flights from Russia to Armenia, Turkey and Georgia sold out minutes after Putin's announcement of partial mobilization, Russian online newspaper Lenta reports.

"All tickets for direct flights to Istanbul and Yerevan were sold out in a few minutes after Putin's address," it said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Russian Railways (RZD) webpage was down, according to the "Down for Everyone or Just Me" website.

Russian Railways has issued a statement denying Russian state media reports that men of military age are required to have certificates showing their military service status before buying tickets.

Thousands Flood to Petition Against Russia Mobilization

A petition opposing general and partial mobilization in Russia is gaining signatures quickly since Putin's announcement.

The petition, launched on, has so far gathered more than 86,000 signatures currently. And it's gaining pace quickly. In the last 10 minutes another 3,600 signatures have been added.

It was set up in April amid speculation of a general mobilization, and gained about 50,000 signatures by May, independent Russian outlet Meduza reported.

"We, the citizens of Russia, women and men, oppose general and partial mobilization. President Vladimir Putin has no legal grounds, weighted and well-reasoned reasons for announcing it," it states.

"In the current situation of uncertainty, we are not ready to expose the men of our country – brothers, sons, husbands, fathers and grandfathers – to moral or physical danger."

Up to 300,000 Russian citizens are expected to be called to serve as a result of Wednesday's decree.

Biden to Rally UN Leaders Against 'Russia's Unjust War'

 Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One
U.S. President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on September 20, 2022. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden will meet world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York later, with the war in Ukraine likely to top the agenda.

The president will "offer a firm rebuke of Russia's unjust war in Ukraine and make a call to the world to continue to stand against the naked aggression that we've seen these past several months," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in previewing the president's address.

"He will underscore the importance of strengthening the United Nations and reaffirm core tenets of its charter at a time when a permanent member of the Security Council has struck at the very heart of the charter by challenging the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty."

Mystery Surrounds Point 7 of Putin's Mobilization

A first draft of Russia's decree on partial mobilization, published Wednesday, mysteriously missed out point 7, skipping straight from 6 to 8.

The Kremlin later republished the document with point 7, offering no explanation. The point remains blank, but says that this item is "for official use only."

No. 6 details some measures the Russian government must take on, including on financing and meeting the needs of troops.

The eighth states that officials must ensure citizens are conscripted within time limits set by Russia's defense ministry.

What Is Partial Mobilization?—How It Compares to Conscription

As we've been hearing, Putin has announced a partial mobilization in Russia. That will put Russia on a stronger war footing, but is different to full conscription.

What Is Part Mobilization?

Putin said only reservists and those to have previously served in the armed forces with "certain military specialties and relevant experience" will be called up.

Putin's partial mobilization decree will also involve Russian soldiers having their military service contracts extended indefinitely, except in cases of dismissal.

What Would Mass Mobilization or Conscription Involve?

Under general mobilization any citizen can be called up—conscripted—to serve.

Full state mobilization would see the reorganization and conversion of industry, natural resources, transport and communications to the service of the armed forces, think tank Chatham House notes.

It would also see Russia's conscript reserves, and others, including discharged military personnel, conscripted into the armed forces. Russia's defense minister clarified Wednesday that conscripts will not be affected by Putin's decree.

Russians Also Undertake Military Service

Separately, Russia's military conscript men semi-annually, with the draft affecting all men aged 18 to 27 years old. Russian conscripts typically serve one year.

Turkey's Erdogan Had Predicted Putin 'Willing To End This'

Only Tuesday, Turkey's president said he believed Putin Russia's leader would take a "significant step" to end the war Russia began.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has trod an unusual line with Putin, told PBS he had held "very extensive discussions" with his Russian counterpart last week.

"He is actually showing me that he's willing to end this as soon as possible," Erdogan said. "That was my impression, because the way things are going right now are quite problematic."

Erdogan discussed Putin on PBS on Tuesday
Erdogan discussed Putin on PBS on Tuesday. PBS

Erdogan did not specify steps Putin might take or how he would seek to end war.

The Turkish leader said "lands which were invaded will be returned to Ukraine."

What Did Putin Say in TV Speech Today?

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation early on Wednesday. Here are key parts of what he said...

  • Mobilization: He announced a partial mobilization in Russia as his full-scale invasion against Ukraine approaches the seven month mark. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu later said 300,000 Russian citizens will be called up to fight in Ukraine. Putin said partial mobilization is due to start Wednesday.
  • Seizing the Donbas: Russia's goal remains to seize Ukraine's eastern Donbas region in its entirety, Putin said, adding he was certain the decision to carry out what he calls a "special military operation" was the only option.
  • Nuclear Threats: The Russian leader said that he was willing to respond to what he described as the West's "nuclear blackmail" using his country's own weapons. "If Russia feels its territorial integrity is threatened, we will use all defense methods at our disposal, and this is not a bluff," Putin said.
  • So-called Referendums: Putin said he supports referendums in the occupied Donbass region, east Ukraine, in Kherson and Zaporozhy, south Ukraine, saying "we will do our best to ensure safe conditions ... to enable people to express their will."