Zelenskyy meets U.S. lawmakers in Washington; Kyiv dealt a serious blow by Poland

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

A Ukrainian emergency service worker in Lviv, western Ukraine, this week.
Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Russia unleashed a wave of missile attacks across Ukraine overnight, with Kyiv and five other cities among the targets. The strikes damaged buildings, setting some ablaze, and killed and wounded civilians.

The barrage of missile attacks came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced Russia during several speeches at the U.N.'s summit in New York this week, warning of Russian "mass destruction" and calling on global leaders to unite with Ukraine against Moscow.

Zelenskyy left New York for Washington, where he is meeting with U.S. lawmakers, administration officials and President Joe Biden with the aim of securing more aid for Ukraine, particularly in the area of air defense.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 21st, 2023.
Courtesy: "a person in the room"

In other news, Poland has dealt a serious blow to Kyiv after it said it will no longer supply its neighbor with weapons, as a rift over agricultural exports deepens.

Warsaw has been one of Kyiv's staunchest allies since mutual foe Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Poland has donated weaponry, tanks, Soviet-era fighter jets and provided military training to Ukraine's armed forces. Ukraine, which has made repeated pleas for more weaponry from its allies, has not commented on the move.

President Joe Biden welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shake hands during an expanded bilateral meeting in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 21, 2023.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the White House on Thursday as the embattled leader seeks to shore up additional support for his war-torn country.

Biden was seeking a "battlefield perspective" from Zelenskyy in their meeting, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

Speaking in the Oval Office before the meeting, Zelenskyy thanked the United States, saying the countries are "really truly allies." He said he intended to talk about weapons systems with Biden, "with a special emphasis on air defense."

"I am in Washington to strengthen Ukraine's position to defend our children, our families, our homes, freedom and democracy in the world," Zelenskyy said.

Biden called Ukraine a "partner" and said he was working with other G7 allies to formalize a commitment to the country's long-term security.

Biden announced a $325 million military aid package during the meeting with Zelenskyy, NBC News reported.

Emma Kinery and Scott Mlyn

U.S. President Joe Biden puts his arm around Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and whispers to him as they meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, September 21, 2023.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena as they arrive at the White House in Washington, September 21, 2023.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena as they arrive on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, September 21, 2023.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

First grain ship sailing from Ukraine since Russia halted grain deal reaches Istanbul

Cargo ships sail through a temporary corridor after leaving the southern Ukranian port of Odesa on September 1, 2023.
Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

A ship carrying grain from Ukraine — the first to set sail from the country since July, when Russia reimposed its blockade in the Black Sea — has reached Istanbul safely, according to marine traffic monitors.

The vessel, named Resilient Africa and carrying a Palau flag, left Ukraine's Chornomorsk port on Tuesday carrying 3,000 tons of wheat and bound for Israel, Ukrainian authorities said.

The journey represents the first successful Black Sea trip for a vessel coming from Ukraine since Russia pulled out of the UN-brokered Black Sea grain initiative in July, under which it had previously allowed ships transporting grain for export to leave Ukraine safely.

After withdrawing from the deal, citing displeasure with what it deemed to be unfairness toward Russian exporters, Moscow began bombing Ukraine's ports and grain storage facilities.

Ukraine is currently testing out a new alternative sea route in waters controlled by NATO members Romania and Bulgaria.

Ukraine is one of the world's largest producers of grain, most of which was exported internationally before Russia's full-scale invasion.

— Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy faces a tougher crown during Washington visit as some Republicans sour on Ukraine support

The White House is seeking $24 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, which it hoped would be passed alongside a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown as federal budget negotiations continue.

The measure has bipartisan support in the Senate. But it has been held up in the House of Representatives, where some members, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., have said they will not support any additional aid.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. is in a difficult position on the issue of Ukraine due to a slim GOP majority in the House, which gives individual Republican lawmakers leverage to pressure him to accede to their demands. Conservatives balked at McCarthy's proposal last week to pair Ukraine aid with additional border funding.

McCarthy agreed to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy privately during the latter's visit to Washington on Thursday, but did not offer a forum for him to appeal to the full House of Representatives as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. did in the upper chamber.

Read the full story here.

— Emma Kinery

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with Zelenskyy at the Pentagon

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during an honor cordon arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 21, 2023. 
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon after meeting with members of Congress at the Capitol.

He then took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial alongside his wife, Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska, Defense Secretary Austin, and U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his wife Olena attend a wreath laying ceremony at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 21, 2023. 
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

— Natasha Turak

Ukraine pushes for diplomatic solution with Poland, Slovakia on grain

A combine harvests wheat near Kramatorsk, in Donetsk region on August 4, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 
Anatolii Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine agreed to license its grain exports to Slovakia on Thursday and pushed for a deal with Poland to end restrictions by its neighbors on grain that it has been forced to send overland since Russia's invasion last year.

Slovakia, Poland and Hungary imposed national restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports last week after the European Union executive decided not to extend its ban on imports into those countries and fellow bloc members Bulgaria and Romania.

The countries have argued that cheap Ukrainian agricultural goods meant mainly to transit further west and to ports, get sold locally, harming their own farmers. The EU, which imposed its ban in May, let it expire on Friday after Ukraine vowed to tighten controls.

For much of the last year, some 60% of grain from Ukraine, one of the world's biggest exporters, has transited through the five eastern EU countries.

The row escalated as Ukraine, which turned to land routes to the west after a de facto Russian blockade of its Black Sea ports, filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the bans and threatened retaliatory import restrictions.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

Russia hits Ukrainian energy facilities in biggest attack in weeks

The crater from a Russian missile is seen outside a building after an attack which occurred on Thursday morning, September 21, Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine. 
Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Russia pounded energy facilities across Ukraine on Thursday in its biggest missile attack for weeks, firing what Ukrainian officials saw as the first salvo in a new air campaign against the national power grid.

Power cuts were reported in five Ukrainian regions in the west, center and east, reviving memories of multiple air strikes on critical infrastructure last winter that caused sweeping outages for millions during the bitter cold.

Officials said at least 18 people were wounded in the air strikes, including a nine-year-old girl, and a regional governor said two people were killed in separate overnight Russian shelling.

"Winter is coming. Tonight (Russia) renews missile attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure," lawmaker Andrii Osadchuk wrote on platform X.

Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement its attack hit military industry facilities, radio intelligence installations and centers for the training of sabotage groups. It said it struck all its targets.

Ukraine has been racing to repair infrastructure after the attacks last winter damaged nearly half its energy system and forced grid operators to impose regular rolling power cuts.

Read the full story here.

— Reuters

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Washington: Photos

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives to the U.S. Capitol with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., left, for a meeting with House members on Thursday, September 21, 2023.
Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 21st, 2023.
Courtesy: "a person in the room"
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is seen speaking during a meeting with all members of the U.S. Senate held in the Old Senate Chamber during a visit to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 21, 2023. 
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 21st, 2023.
Courtesy: "a person in the room"
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky walks with Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) as he arrives for a meeting with members of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on September 21, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images News | Getty Images
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky (C) walks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer during his visit to the U.S. Capitol Building on Sept. 21, 2023, in Washington, D.C.
Win Mcnamee | Getty Images

— Getty Images

'If we don't get the aid, we will lose the war,' Schumer quotes Zelenskyy as saying

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is escorted by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as he departs after a meeting with all members of the Senate on a visit to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 21, 2023. 
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

U.S. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer spoke to reporters after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Washington, and cited the leader's stark description of his country's needs just over 18 months into Russia's invasion.

"There was a single sentence that summed it all up, and I'm quoting him verbatim, Mr. Zelenskyy said: 'If we don't get the aid we will lose the war'," Schumer said.

His comments came after Zelenskyy addressed the Senate behind closed doors in the Capitol building's historic Old Senate Chamber. Senator Chris Murphy posted descriptions of the meeting on social media platform X, saying that the Ukrainian leader received several standing ovations.

Zelenskyy told reporters after the meeting, "We had great dialogue." He is scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden later in the day.

— Natasha Turak 

UK authorizes charges against five people on suspicion of spying for Russia

The UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has delivered charges against five people it suspects of spying on behalf of Russia.

The individuals, three men and two women, are charged with "conspiring to collect information intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy," prosecutors said. They are all Bulgarian but have been living in the UK and are between the ages of 29 and 45, the CPS said.

"The CPS has authorized a charge of conspiracy to conduct espionage against three men and two women suspected of spying for Russia," Nick Price, the head of Crown Prosecution Service's special crime and counter-terrorism division, said.

The accused individuals are scheduled to present themselves at the Westminster magistrates court on September 26.

— Natasha Turak

Russia temporarily restricts motor gas and diesel fuel exports

Oil storage tanks stand at the RN-Tuapsinsky refinery, operated by Rosneft Oil Co., at night in Tuapse, Russia.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Russia announced a temporary halt on gasoline and diesel fuel exports to prevent domestic market shortages, as prices on the Russian market have soared.

"The government introduced a temporary restriction on exports of motor gasoline and diesel fuel to stabilize the domestic market. The decision was made to stabilize fuel prices on the domestic market," a government statement said, without giving details as to what specific measures would be implemented.

Prices of those commodities have spiked domestically amid a weakened ruble, higher oil prices globally and supply disruptions at Russian refineries undergoing repair works.

The news follows Moscow's decision one week prior, in coordination with OPEC partners, to extend a voluntary curb on crude exports through to the end of the year to buoy oil prices.

— Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy meets with U.S. lawmakers in Washington

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) departs for the US Senate after a meeting with members of the House of Representatives at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, in September 21, 2023.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with U.S. lawmakers at the Capitol building during a visit to Washington, where he stressed his country's need for more military support, in particular air defense.

"Today there are important negotiations in Washington. Air defense for Ukraine is among the top issues," he wrote in a Telegram post, according to a Google translation. "More air defense, more support for Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines."

Zelenskyy met with leaders of the House of Representatives and House national security committees, and addressed the full U.S. Senate in a private session.

The Ukrainian leader is also set to visit the Pentagon, meet with President Joe Biden, and give an address at the National Archives museum.

— Natasha Turak

Russia says 'military industry facilities' hit in multiple Ukraine strikes

A Policeman stands in front of burnt cars at an industrial area after missile attack on September 21, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Oleksii Chumachenko | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia's defense ministry said it targeted "military industry facilities" in its overnight attacks across Ukraine last night.

"The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation carried out a multiple strike with high-precision long-range air-launched weapons and attack unmanned aerial vehicles on military industry facilities, as well as radio intelligence and training centers of sabotage groups of the Armed Forces of Ukraine," the ministry said on Telegram. It did not provide evidence for its claims.

"The goals of the strike were achieved. All objects were hit," the ministry said.

Russia launched attacks on Kyiv and a number of Ukrainian cities on Wednesday night with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying "infrastructure" had been targeted. At least three people reportedly died in the attacks and others were injured, including children.

— Holly Ellyatt

Air defense for Ukraine top of my agenda, Zelenskyy says ahead of Biden meeting

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy listens to U.S. President Joe Biden addressing the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, on Sept. 19, 2023.
Caitlin Ochs | Reuters

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said air defense for Ukraine is at the top of his agenda when he meets President Joe Biden in Washington Thursday.

"Today, we will have important negotiations in Washington. Air defense for Ukraine is among the top issues," he said on Telegram. Cities across Ukraine were the target of a massive missile attack on Wednesday night in which at least three people were killed and a number of civilians injured.

"Most of the missiles were shot down. But only the majority. Not all," Zelenskyy, who has been in New York this week attending the U.N.'s General Assembly, said.

"Thanks also to every country that has already provided Ukraine with anti-missile systems. We are working to completely rid Russia of its terrorist potential. We have to come to this result. More air defense. More sanctions. More support for Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines," he said, adding that "Russian terror must lose."

Russia denies that it targets civilian infrastructure despite numerous instances of civilian buildings being attacked during the war. Ukraine has accused Russia of numerous war crimes.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine targeted Russian military airfield in Crimea

Ukraine's military confirmed that it targeted Russia's Saky military air base in occupied Crimea on Wednesday night.

The Strategic Communications Directorate of Ukraine's armed forces said on Telegram Thursday that "on the night of September 21, the defense forces of Ukraine struck the military airfield of the occupiers near the city of Saky in temporarily occupied Crimea."

Earlier Thursday, a source at Ukraine's security service gave NBC more detail about the attack, saying the Security Service of Ukraine and navy launched a strike at the Saky military airfield in Crimea, inflicting "serious damage."

The source, who asked for anonymity because they aren't authorized to speak publicly about operations, said there were 12 combat aircraft (Su-24 and Su-30 fighter aircraft) at the airfield, a Pantsir missile system and a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones) operator training base.

Russia's Saki military airbase in Crimea in 2021. In 2022, the airbase was attacked, damaging a number of planes.
Maxar | Maxar | Getty Images

"Strikes hit the targets and caused seri