Ukraine live briefing: Putin claims Russia has ‘lost nothing’ in Ukraine; Kyiv reports gains in the north

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi after a news conference Friday in Vienna on his team's visit to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi after a news conference Friday in Vienna on his team's visit to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to minimize the damage his country has sustained during nearly 200 days of war with Ukraine, claiming in a defiant speech on Wednesday that “we have lost nothing,” despite heavy military casualties and punishing economic sanctions. On the same day, Ukraine reported territory gains in a northern region after another apparent counteroffensive.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • Russia has lost tens of thousands of soldiers in its war with Ukraine, according to American intelligence assessments, which put Moscow’s number of war dead at more than 15,000 with many thousands more injured. But in his speech Wednesday, Putin refused to acknowledge the human toll: “I believe that we have lost nothing and will lose nothing.”
  • Putin will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next week, as Moscow seeks to strengthen its ties with another U.S. rival. The two leaders will meet at an economic summit in Uzbekistan, Putin confirmed in his Wednesday remarks. Putin noted the “special nature of Russian-Chinese relations” amid the West’s efforts to isolate the Kremlin.
  • The Pentagon will announce on Thursday another $675 million in weapons transfers to Ukraine, including more rounds for artillery rocket launchers that the Ukrainian military has used to precisely target Russian forces, a U.S. official said. The official, who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity, said the rounds for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, will be accompanied by vehicles and other equipment for soldiers.
  • Ukraine’s top military official warned that world powers could be drawn into “limited” nuclear conflict with Russia. In a wide-ranging article on Ukraine’s state-run media website, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said that Russia’s military presence at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant demonstrated Moscow’s apparent disregard for global nuclear security. He also confirmed Ukraine’s involvement in several explosions at Russian military installations in Crimea in August, saying such long-range strikes are key to winning the war.
  • Russia must halt so-called “filtration operations,” in Ukraine, U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters on Wednesday. In a policy approved and overseen by senior Kremlin officials, Russia is forcibly deporting, disappearing and imprisoning Ukrainians that it sees as threats to its efforts to annex Ukrainian territories, he said.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a new report this week that it found extensive damage at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine. The IAEA called for a “special safety and security zone” around the plant and warned that shelling continues to pose a threat. On Wednesday, the IAEA said renewed shelling on the previous day had damaged a backup power line, though the incident didn’t immediately impact the plant’s operations.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog warned Sept. 6 that ongoing shelling near the Zaporizhzhia power plant poses a “constant threat to nuclear safety.” (Video: Reuters)

Battlefield updates

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky cheered “good news from the Kharkiv region” on Wednesday, saying the country’s military has retaken multiple settlements in the northeastern province. He did not elaborate on the retaken territory, but posts to social media appeared to show Ukrainian soldiers retaking villages around the Russian-held town of Balakliia. Analysts previously reported a recent Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area, where Russian forces may have been weakened after Moscow redeployed troops to fight in the south.
  • Russia is facing challenges as its troops advance into the Donbas region, Britain’s Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update Wednesday. The ministry said Russian commanders had to decide “whether to deploy operational reserves to support this offensive, or to defend against continued Ukrainian advances in the south.”
  • Russia detained 137 people in Ukraine’s Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported Wednesday. Russian authorities said they suspect the individuals were supporting Ukrainian forces, pointing to the discovery of 25 arms caches.

Energy crisis

  • NATO countries will “pay a price” this winter for supporting Ukraine, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Wednesday, but insisted that Europe has a “moral responsibility” to stand up to Russian aggression. “There are tough times ahead,” Stoltenberg wrote in the Financial Times. “For Ukraine’s future and for ours, we must prepare for the winter war and stay the course … We do pay a price for our support to Ukraine. But the price we pay is counted in dollars, euros and pounds, while Ukrainians are paying with their lives.”
  • Putin called the U.S.-led sanctions regime against Russia “stupid” in a defiant speech in the city of Vladivostok on Wednesday. He issued threats aimed at pushing Europe to ease restrictions against Russia amid a looming energy crisis. But on the same day, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reiterated the bloc’s commitment to reducing its reliance on Russian energy, saying Norway was already providing the E.U. with more gas than Russia.

Global impact

  • Russian public support for the war against Ukraine, while sky-high, is less solid than statistics generally suggest, according to a new analysis by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The report notes that some supporters say they are anxious, shocked or fearful about the ongoing military campaign.
  • Putin will discuss with Turkey’s leader the possibility of limiting grain and food exports from Ukraine to Europe. The Russian president announced his intention to talk with Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the structure of the grain deal that eased Russian blockades of Ukrainian ports. “If we exclude Turkey as an intermediary country, then almost all the grain exported from Ukraine is sent not to the developing poorest countries, but to the E.U. countries,” he said.
  • The European Commission proposed the full suspension of a visa facilitation accord with Russia, a move aimed at making it more difficult and expensive for Russian tourists to get visas but not banning them completely. It is now up to the European Council to adopt the proposal. Zelensky, who has repeatedly called for a ban on Russian tourists, said the decision was “an important step” but that more should be done. “Europe is not a place for murderers and those who support them,” he said Tuesday in his nightly address.
  • Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, pledged “steadfast support” for Ukraine. In her first call with Zelensky on Tuesday, Truss promised to continue helping the country, and Zelensky invited her to visit Kyiv. “Russia’s attempts to weaponize energy must not deter the West,” Truss tweeted following their conversation.

From our correspondents

Wounded Ukrainian soldiers reveal steep toll of Kherson offensive: In interviews with The Washington Post’s John Hudson, nine wounded Ukrainian soldiers at two hospitals in Odessa recount the bloody push to retake Kherson and the heavy disadvantages their units faced in the early days of a new offensive to expel Russian forces from the strategic city.

The interviews provide a rare glimpse at the counteroffensive in the south — the most ambitious military operation by Kyiv since the expulsion of Russian forces at the perimeter of the capital in the spring — and illuminate a stark technological and military divide between Ukrainian forces and their better-equipped Russian adversaries.

“They used everything on us,” Denys, a 33-year-old Ukrainian soldier whose unit fell back from a Russian-held village after a lengthy barrage of cluster bombs, phosphorous munitions and mortars, told Hudson. “Who can survive an attack for five hours like that?”

Emily Rauhala, Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.

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