Biden warns Putin against using nuclear weapons; another nuclear plant hit by Russian strike

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See here for the latest updates. 

Russian missile explodes less than 900 feet from nuclear power plant
Russian missile explodes less than 900 feet from nuclear power plant

Longtime Russian pop singer and celebrity Alla Pugacheva spoke out against the Ukraine war on an Instagram post to her 3.4 million followers, which received more than 600,000 likes and scores of supportive comments. Acts of public dissent are rare since Russia imposed a law threatening up to 15 years' imprisonment for spreading "fake news" about what Moscow calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Russian troops struck a nuclear power plant in the country's southern Mykolaiv region, but while its buildings sustained damage, its reactors are functioning normally, Ukrainian state energy officials said.

The war "isn't going too well" for Russia, U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley said from Poland, adding that this could make Moscow's reactions less certain and that U.S. forces in Europe need to maintain alertness.

Meanwhile, reports show Russian President Vladimir Putin relying increasingly on ad hoc volunteer forces for its Ukraine combat operations, sidestepping his country's military high command after a series of setbacks in recent weeks.

Two Turkish banks suspend Russian Mir payments after U.S. sanctions

Turkish lenders Isbank and Denizbank have suspended use of Russian payment system Mir, the banks said, following a U.S. crackdown on those accused of helping Moscow skirt sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

The moves, announced separately, came after Washington expanded its sanctions last week to include the head of the entity running Mir, which is popular with the tens of thousands of Russian tourists who arrived in Turkey this year.

The suspensions by two of the five Turkish banks that had been using Mir reflect their effort to avoid the financial cross-fire between the West and Russia, as the Turkish government takes a balanced diplomatic stance.

Isbank, whose shares tumbled 10% on Monday, said it halted Mir payments and is evaluating the U.S. Treasury's new sanctions. Isbank also said it was keen to comply with national and international laws, regulations and commercial business principles.

— Reuters

Missile strikes near Ukraine nuclear plant, IAEA says

A. Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, May 1, 2022.

An explosion near a Ukraine power plant damaged windows and power lines but did not impact the operation of the three reactors there, Kyiv told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday.

The blast from the shelling occurred about 300 meters, or 984 feet, from the industrial site of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in Mykolaiv Province, the IAEA said in a press release.

No staff were injured by the missile, which impacted three power lines that were swiftly reconnected, Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom told the IAEA.

Ukrainian authorities reportedly called the shelling an act of "nuclear terrorism" by Russia.

The IAEA also said its experts discovered that a power line used to supply electricity to another nuclear plant, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, had been disconnected Sunday.

Zaporizhzia, located in southeastern Ukraine, is Europe's largest power plant, and has six reactors that are currently in a "cold shutdown state," the IAEA said. The plant still receives the electricity it needs for essential safety functions, but it now does not have access to back-up power from the Ukrainian grid, the IAEA experts said.

The disconnected power line transferred electricity from the Ukrainian grid through the switchyard of a nearby thermal power station, the IAEA said. It was not immediately clear how the line was disconnected.

"The situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant remains fragile and precarious," IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in the press release.

"Last week, we saw some improvements regarding its power supplies, but today we were informed about a new setback in this regard. The plant is located in the middle of a war zone, and its power status is far from safe and secure. Therefore, a nuclear safety and security protection zone must urgently be established there," Grossi said.

Kevin Breuninger

Schumer calls for another $12 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) holds a news conference to tout the $430 billion drug pricing, energy and tax bill championed by Democrats at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. August 5, 2022. 
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Lawmakers will vote next week on whether to add $12 billion in U.S. aid for Ukraine to the budget, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday.

The proposed boost in military funding for Kyiv comes as Ukrainian forces appear to be making significant gains as they wage a counteroffensive against invading Russian troops.

Those gains coincide with Russia's attendance at this week's United Nations General Assembly, Schumer said during a press conference. "It's going to hear from world leaders what an outlier nation and outlaw nation Russia is," he said, according to an NBC News transcript of his remarks.

Additionally, Congress faces an end-of-the-month deadline to pass a stopgap spending bill, called a continuing resolution, that would keep the government from shutting down until mid-December, Schumer noted.

"Ukraine depends on our aid. And now that they have begun to really push back the Russians, more aid at this point is crucial," Schumer said.

Democrats could face hurdles from Republicans wary of tacking on more money to the continuing resolution, a spokesman for Schumer told CNBC on Monday.

Kevin Breuninger

Kremlin denies accusations of war crimes committed in Izium after mass graves found

EDITORS NOTE: This post shows graphic content of mass graves uncovered near Izium, Ukraine.

Two forensic technicians uncover a body in a forest on the outskirts of Izyum, eastern Ukraine on September 16, 2022.
Juan Barreto | AFP | Getty Images

The Kremlin denied that Russian forces carried out executions of civilians in the Ukrainian city of Izium following a grizzly discovery of more than 400 mass graves.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russian troops of committing war crimes in the eastern Ukrainian city.

"More than 400 bodies were found at the mass burial site in Izyum with signs of torture. Children, those killed as a result of missile attacks, warriors of the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Zelenskyy said in English on the Telegram messaging app last week. Izium was recently liberated from Russian occupation following a stunning Ukrainian counter offensive.

"This is a lie, and, of course, we will defend the truth in this whole story," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to an NBC News translation.

"This is the same scenario as in Bucha. Everything develops according to one scenario," Peskov said, referencing the more than 450 dead civilian found in that Kyiv suburb after Russian soldiers retreated following about five weeks of occupation.

The Kremlin has previously denied that its forces target and kill civilians, a violation of international humanitarian law.

— Amanda Macias

Five NATO allies still have to approve Sweden and Finland’s entry into the alliance

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C), Finland Ministers for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (L) and Sweden Foreign minister Ann Linde (R) give a press conference after their meeting at the Nato headquarters in Brussels on January 24, 2022.
John Thys | AFP | Getty Images

Five NATO member countries have yet to sign ratification protocols for Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance.

Out of NATO's 30 member countries, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey are the last holdouts to grant Sweden and Finland membership. Greece was the latest NATO ally to sign ratification documents on September 15.

In May, both nations began the formal process of applying to NATO as Russia's war in Ukraine raged. All 30 members of the alliance have to ratify the countries' entry into the group.

Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden signed ratification documents following a 95-1 Senate vote to bring Finland and Sweden into NATO.

— Amanda Macias

Russia has lost 55 aircraft in Ukraine, U.S. Air Force general says

Remains of the Russian fighting aircraft are seen at a residential area, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 5, 2022. 
Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine via Reuters

Russia has lost 55 aircraft in Ukraine since the invasion began, U.S. Air Force Gen. James Hecker told reporters Monday.

That figure from Hecker, the top U.S. Air Force commander in Europe, aligns with a running tally of aircraft losses compiled by the military blog Oryx. Of those 55 aircraft, 53 were destroyed and two were damaged, according to Oryx.

More than 80% of Ukraine's aircraft are remaining, Hecker estimated during his remarks at the 2022 Air, Space & Cyber Conference, journalists reported.

Kevin Breuninger

More than 163 vessels carrying agricultural products have left Ukrainian ports

Barbados-flagged general cargo ship Fulmar S is pictured in the Black Sea, north of the Bosphorus Strait, in Istanbul, Turkey August 5, 2022.
Mehmet Caliskan | Reuters

The organization overseeing the export of agricultural products from Ukraine said that so far 163 vessels have left the besieged country since ports reopened.

The Joint Coordination Center, an initiative of Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations and Turkey, said the ships transported a total of 3.6 million metric tons of grain and other food products.

In July, three of Ukraine's ports were reopened to exports under the U.N.-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative.

— Amanda Macias

UN says at least 5,916 killed in Ukraine since start of war

A volunteer places a cross onto a grave of one of fifteen unidentified people killed by Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, during a burial ceremony in the town of Bucha, in Kyiv region, Ukraine September 2, 2022.
Vladyslav Musiienko | Reuters

The United Nations has confirmed 5,916 civilian deaths and 8,616 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher, because the armed conflict can delay fatality reports.

The international organization said most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missiles and airstrikes.

— Amanda Macias

Biden to hold bilateral meeting with U.K. prime minister Liz Truss at U.N. General Assembly

The U.K.'s next prime Minister Liz Truss
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images News | Getty Images

President Joe Biden will meet with U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Wednesday.

The two leaders were originally expected to meet following Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral.

Truss, who ascended to the prime minster role earlier this month, previously served as the U.K.'s foreign minister.

The White House declined to preview bilateral meetings between the U.S. delegation at the United Nations. Biden's Ambassador to the United Nations told reporters on Friday that there were plans to meet with the Ukrainian delegation but did not elaborate on further details.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainians adapt to life after Russia withdrawals from Izium

Ukrainian residents cook their meals outdoors in front of their homes on a wood fire in Izium city since electricity, water and natural gas services aren't available since Russian troops withdrew from the area. Volunteer organizations distribute food and candles to settlers. 

Ukrainians cook their meal on a wood fire outside their homes after Russian Forces withdrawal from Izium as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Izium, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on September 18, 2022.
Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Ukrainian citizens charge their mobile phones and tablets from a generator supplied by Ukrainian soldiers after Russian Forces withdrawal from Izium as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Izium, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on September 18, 2022.
Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Ukrainian citizens wait in queue for food aid packages and candles delivered by volunteer organizations after Russian Forces withdrawal from Izium as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Izium, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on September 18, 2022.
Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Ukrainian citizens carry bottles and buckets to receive clean water delivered by volunteer organizations after Russian Forces withdrawal from Izyum as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Izium, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on September 18, 2022.
Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Ukrainian citizens carry food aid packages delivered by volunteer organizations after Russian Forces withdrawal from Izium as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Izium, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on September 18, 2022.
Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Getty Images

Zelenskyy vows not to let up as Ukrainian forces cross key river

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed not to let up in his forces' drive to take back territory occupied by Russia, as Ukraine's military announced it had crossed a strategically important river in the country's east.

Ukrainian troops "have pushed across the Oskil. From yesterday, Ukraine controls the east bank", the Ukrainian Armed Forces wrote in a Telegram post Sunday night.

Serhiy Gaidai, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk, which came fully under Russian control in late June, wrote on Telegram: "Luhansk region is right next door. De-occupation is not far away."

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine September 16, 2022. 
Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

Traversing the Oskil River represents an important achievement for Ukraine's forces following their successful counter-offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region. The river moves southward into Seversky Donets, which then passes through the eastern Donbas, which is majority-occupied by Russia and which Moscow sees as an "unconditional" conquest. 

"Perhaps it seems to some of you that after a series of victories we now have a lull of sorts," Zelenskyy nightly address. "But there will be no lull. There is preparation for the next series... For Ukraine must be free. All of it."

— Natasha Turak

Signs of recession for Germany are 'multiplying,' Bundesbank warns

Germany's economy is likely to shrink for a "prolonged" period, the country's central bank, the Bundesbank, warned in its monthly report.

Europe's largest economy is staring down a very difficult winter as inflation soars and Russia cuts energy supplies to the continent in response to Berlin's support for Ukraine.

"The signs of a recession for the German economy are multiplying," the bank's report said, warning of a "broad-based and prolonged decline in economic output."

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the 'Nord Stream 1' gas pipeline are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022.
Hannibal Hanschke | Reuters

Russia's shutting of its gas supply, which it did by halting flows through the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany in August, meant the situation for gas markets was "very tense," the bank added.

Germany has relied heavily on Russia for its energy needs, importing 55% of its gas from the country.

The third quarter of this year will likely see the German economy shrink "slightly," the Bundesbank wrote, followed by a "marked" drop in the final quarter of 2022 and the start of 2023. Berlin can still avoid an official fuel rationing regime, but the need to decrease consumption likely means companies would have to lower or stop production, the report said.

— Natasha Turak

Biden warns of 'consequential' response from U.S. if Putin uses nuclear weapons

U.S. President Joe Biden pictured in London on September 18, 2022. Biden said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that U.S forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, his most explicit statement so far on the issue.
Brendan Smialowski | Afp | Getty Images

President Joe Biden warned of a "consequential" response from the U.S. if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to use nuclear or other non-conventional weapons, speaking to CBS during an interview Sunday night.

Asked what he would say to Putin if he was considering such action, Biden replied, "Don't. Don't. Don't."

Biden said that Ukrainian forces are "defeating Russia," and praised their courage.

"Winning the war in Ukraine is to get Russia out of Ukraine completely," he said, but added that given the scale of destruction and death involved in pushing back the Russians, "it's awful hard to count that as winning."

— Natasha Turak

Russia likely lost four combat jets in the last 10 days: UK MoD

Russia likely lost four combat jets in the last ten days, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence said in its latest daily intelligence update posted to Twitter.

"Russia has highly likely lost at least four combat jets in Ukraine within the last 10 days, taking its attrition to approximately 55 since the start of the invasion," the ministry wrote.

"There is a realistic possibility that this uptick in losses is partially a result of the Russian Air Force accepting greater risk as it attempts to provide close air support to Russian ground forces under pressure from Ukrainian advances."

It added that "Russia's continued lack of air superiority remains one of the most important factors underpinning the fragility of its operational design in Ukraine."

— Natasha Turak

Putin relying increasingly on volunteer and proxy forces for Ukraine combat: ISW

Russia is relying more and more on volunteer and proxy forces for its combat operations in Ukraine, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

"(Russian President) Putin's souring relationship with the military command and the Russian (MoD) may explain in part the Kremlin's increasing focus on recruiting ill-prepared volunteers into ad-hoc irregular units rather than attempting to draw them into reserve or replacement pools for regular Russian combat units," the ISW said.

Part of this, it said, is due to Putin "bypassing the Russian higher military command and Ministry of Defense (MoD) leadership throughout the summer and especially following the defeat around #Kharkiv Oblast."

— Natasha Turak

Russian troops strike nuclear power plant; reactors still intact

Russian forces struck a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine in Monday's early hours, but its three reactors are unharmed, Ukraine's state nuclear energy company said.

The Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine's southern Mykolaiv region is still functioning normally, Ukraine's Energoatom said.

The attack, which cause a blast about 300 meters away from the reactors and caused damage to buildings at the plant, also reportedly hit a nearby hydroelectric power plant and transmission lines.

— Natasha Turak

War 'not going too well' for Russia, Gen. Milley says

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley at a news briefing at the Pentagon on July 20, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia.
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images

Things are not going so well for Russia in Ukraine at the moment, U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Warsaw, Poland. That could make Putin unpredictable and Western forces need to be vigilant, he added.

"The war is not going too well for Russia right now. So it's incumbent upon all of us to maintain high states of readiness, alert," Milley said. "In the conduct of war, you just don't know with a high degree of certainty what will happen next."

The general added that he wasn't suggesting there was any increased threat to American troops stationed in Europe, but that readiness is paramount.

Russia's operations in Ukraine have faced significant setbacks with the rapid counteroffensives in recent weeks that saw Ukrainian forces retake swathes of territory in the country's northeast.

— Natasha Turak

Russian pop star speaks out against Ukraine invasion

Russian pop singer Alla Pugacheva speaks at a congress of pro-reform Pravoye Delo (A Just Cause) party in Moscow, on Sept. 15, 2011, with the party's logo in the background.
Natalia Kolesnikova | Afp | Getty Images

Russian pop star Alla Pugacheva spoke out against Russia's war in Ukraine via Instagram, writing in a post in Russian asking the country's Ministry of Justice to "include me among the list of the foreign agents of my beloved country" and calling for "an end to the death of our guys for illusionary goals, which make our country a pariah and make life more difficult for our citizens."

The singer, a longtime Russian performer who began her career in the Soviet Union in the 1960s, also expressed solidarity with her husband Maxim Galkin, who was labeled a "foreign agent" on Friday after vocally criticizing the war in Ukraine. She said that Galkin, a singer, comedian and TV presenter, also wanted "prosperity for his motherland, peace, free speech."

Pugacheva has 3.4 million Instagram followers, and her post received nearly 600,000 "likes" within its first 18 hours online. Scores comments from what appeared to be Russian followers featured heart and applause emojis.

The pop star isn't the first prominent Russian to speak out against the war, but but public criticism is rare and dissent has been heavily punished. Shortly after the Ukraine invasion began in late February, Russia's government introduced a law that would impose a 15-year prison sentence on anyone spreading "fake news" about the Ukraine war, which the Kremlin strictly calls a "special military operation."

— Natasha Turak