August 9, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury, Sana Noor Haq, Caolan Magee and Hannah Strange CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, August 10, 2023
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3:09 p.m. ET, August 9, 2023

Death toll from Russian attack in Zaporizhzhia revised to 2 after medics save one of the victims 

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva, Radina Gigova and Nick Paton Walsh

Buildings were destroyed in a Russian attack on the city of Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday.
Buildings were destroyed in a Russian attack on the city of Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday. Yurii Malashko

Medics were able to save the life of one of the three people who authorities said was killed in the Russian attack on the city of Zaporizhzhia in southeast Ukraine on Wednesday, according to Ihor Klymenko, the country's minister of internal affairs.

Klymenko said two people were killed and seven have been injured in the attack. 

"Initially, there was information about three dead. Fortunately, one person was resuscitated. Police paramedics assisted the doctors at the scene," Klymenko said. 
"Rescuers quickly extinguished the fire in the outbuilding. The police conducted door-to-door checks of the residential buildings. No one was found dead or injured. People who are injured were outside at the time of a strike," he said. 
"An air raid alert is now in effect in Zaporizhzhia region. Do not neglect safety rules," Klymenko said.

Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky had said three people were killed in the attack.

"The rescue operation is underway. All victims will be provided with the necessary assistance. And this war crime of Russia will certainly face its sentence. And the response to Russian terrorists will be on the frontline - thanks to our heroic warriors," Zelensky said in a Telegram post.

Yurii Malashko, head of the Zaporizhzhia region military administration, said the number of those injured "may increase as windows in many apartments were smashed and glass shattered."

A church and retail outlets were some of the buildings destroyed in the attack, Malashko added.

This post has been updated to reflect the latest death toll announced by authorities.

1:42 p.m. ET, August 9, 2023

1 killed and several wounded in Ukrainian shelling of Russia's Belgorod region, governor says

From CNN's Josh Pennington

The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) shelled Russia's western Belgorod region, leaving one person dead and several wounded, the regional governor said Wednesday. 

"The village of Gorkovsky in the Graivoron Urban District was shelled by the AFU [...] One man died from shrapnel wounds. Four others were injured," the Belgorod region's governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said in a Telegram post

The governor also said that a drone was shot down over the town of Shebekino, but there were no casualties or damage.

"The air defense system was triggered over Shebekinsky (Shebekino) urban district. An aerial target on the approach to the city was shot down. ... According to preliminary data, there are no known casualties or damage," he said.

More background: In May, a group of anti-Putin Russian nationals, who are aligned with the Ukrainian army, claimed responsibility for an attack in the Belgorod region, which borders northeastern Ukraine.

Two areas of the region were then hit by drones, according to Gladkov, causing two houses to catch fire. On May 23, drone attacks sent at least nine people to hospital, Gladkov said.

1:52 p.m. ET, August 9, 2023

White House downplays CNN poll showing majority of Americans oppose more US aid for Ukraine

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

View of The White House in Washington, DC on October 20, 2022. 
View of The White House in Washington, DC on October 20, 2022.  Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The White House is downplaying a CNN poll that shows most Americans oppose Congress providing additional funding to support Ukraine in its war with Russia ahead of a reported administration request for more aid.

“We have seen throughout this war solid support from the American people, solid support from the Congress in a bipartisan and bicameral way for continuing to support Ukraine and we're going to stay focused on that,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters Wednesday.

Kirby said the aid is not only important to the people of Ukraine but also to European and NATO allies "given that this fighting is on the doorstep" of many of those countries.

Additionally, he said, it's a matter of “national security of the American people.” 

“I think it's important to remember that if we just sit back and we let Putin win, we let him take Ukraine, where does it stop next?” Kirby said.  

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called for continued support for Ukraine during an event in Louisville, Kentucky, on Wednesday. He pushed back on arguments from House Republicans — and some Senate Republicans — that Russian aggression in Ukraine is not an issue for the US.

“Most of the money that we spend related to Ukraine is actually spent in the US, replenishing weapons, more modern weapons. So, it's actually employing people here and improving our own military for what may lie ahead," he said.

What the poll says: Last week a CNN poll showed that overall 55% of people said the US Congress should not authorize additional funding to support Ukraine. That's compared to 45% who said Congress should authorize such funding.

About 51% said that the US has already done enough to help Ukraine while 48% said it should do more.

A poll conducted in the early days of the Russian invasion in late February 2022 found 62% of people felt the US should have been doing more.

Partisan divisions have widened since that poll, too, with most Democrats and Republicans now on opposing sides of questions on the US role in Ukraine.

CNN's Morgan Rimmer contributed reporting to this post.

12:38 p.m. ET, August 9, 2023

New history textbooks praising the conflict in Ukraine are Russia's latest attempt to sway young minds

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Uliana Pavlova

The Russian Ministry of Education this week unveiled new history textbooks with sections about the "special military operation," — a term President Vladimir Putin uses to refer his war in Ukraine — the annexation of Crimea and Western sanctions.

Critics say the move is a part of a sustained effort to indoctrinate school children and stifle any independent thinking.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has always maintained that Moscow's unprovoked aggression against Ukraine is an effort to liberate the country from a "Nazi regime" and Western influence. He even went as far as suggesting there was no such thing as an independent Ukraine, insisting instead that the country has traditionally been part of Russia and that Russians and Ukrainians are "one people."

The new textbooks endorse this narrative and include maps that show occupied regions in Ukraine as being part of Russia. Photos of the books published by state media show they call Ukraine an "ultranationalist state" where all dissent is persecuted and "everything Russian is declared hostile."

Elsewhere, the authors tell students that when they look for information about Ukraine on the internet, they should remember that there is a "global industry for the production of staged videos and fake photos and videos."

Since coming to power in 2000, Putin has always emphasized the importance of education and programs for young people, pushing for reforms, according to Katerina Tertytchnaya, an associate professor of comparative politics at University College London

"This is a long-term investment policy on the part of the Kremlin, they care about the younger generations and how they see the state and how they interact with it," she said.

Read the full story here.

11:03 a.m. ET, August 9, 2023

Senior Ukrainian official defends speed of counteroffensive progress

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, defended progress made by Ukraine in its counteroffensive.

He argued that before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Russian army was “hysterically feared and not even imagined to be effectively fought against.”

“In order to finally debunk another myth that yesterday people were afraid to even think about, everyone needs to be patient and closely monitor the high-quality work of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They will in any case achieve a mandatory and fair conclusion. Russia will cease to exist as a military threat after the war in Ukraine. At least for Ukraine and Europe. Meanwhile... offensive operations continue,” he tweeted.

In a video released on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the counteroffensive hasn't been easy and is "happening probably slower" than some had hoped.

His remarks came after CNN reported that Western officials describe increasingly “sobering” assessments about Ukrainian forces’ ability to retake significant territory as they struggle to break through Russia’s multi-layered defensive lines, according to senior US and Western officials briefed on the latest intelligence.

See Podolyak's full tweet:

8:23 a.m. ET, August 9, 2023

Poland will send additional troops to border with Belarus

From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls

Poland will send more troops to its Belarusian border after the country’s Border Guard asked for 1,000 more people to be deployed there, Polish state news agency PAP reported on Wednesday. 

“Due to the dynamic situation on the Polish-Belarusian border and the request of the Border Guard Commander for increased border protection, the Minister of National Defense has ordered the implementation of the request and the deployment of additional soldiers,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said, according to PAP.

According to the Polish defense ministry, there are currently around 2,000 people stationed on the border.

While Blaszczak has agreed to send more troops to the border, he is yet to confirm the exact number, according to PAP.

Some context: Tensions have been escalating in recent weeks between the NATO member and key Kremlin ally after Poland accused Belarus of allowing Russian mercenary group Wagner to move towards the country's border.

On Friday, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński told CNN’s Isa Soares that Poland would send more troops to the border, citing the need to be “resilient.”

“We are stating very clearly that we will not back down. Obviously there will be attempts. We are expecting more attempts on attacks on our border, perhaps more attempts on also violating our airspace,” Jabłoński told Soares on Friday.
11:48 a.m. ET, August 9, 2023

Russia opens investigation into explosion at Moscow region plant that left dozens injured

From CNN's Katharina Krebs and Uliana Pavlova

Smoke rises from the Zagorsk Optical and Mechanical Plant in the city of Sergiev Posad, northeast of Moscow.
Smoke rises from the Zagorsk Optical and Mechanical Plant in the city of Sergiev Posad, northeast of Moscow. Administration of Sergiev Posad Telegram Channel/AP

At least 56 people were injured in an explosion at a mechanical plant Wednesday in the city of Sergiev Posad, located northeast of Moscow, the governor of Moscow region, Andrei Vorobyov, said in an update.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said it has opened a criminal investigation into the incident. 

“In total, 56 people asked for medical help. 30 are now in the hospital, six of them are in intensive care,” the governor said in a Telegram post. “Another 26 people went to the emergency room - they did not need hospitalization, after the examination, the doctors let them go home.”

Rescue teams continue to working at the site of the explosion as more people could remain under the rubble. “Rescuers will need about 12 hours to clear the rubble. There may still be people left, three have already been removed - doctors assess their condition as serious,” the official added.

Russian state media reported earlier Wednesday, citing local authorities, that the source of detonation was a pyrotechnics warehouse rented by a third company on the site of the Zagorsk Optical and Mechanical Plant, which makes optical systems for the Russian military. The cause of the explosion is a violation of technological processes, they added. 

A representative from Russia’s Investigative Committee told TASS news agency that suggestions of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attack on the plant have not been confirmed. The official cause of an explosion is being determined by authorities, they said.

"As for the explosion, it was very powerful. And now the operational services are engaged, investigating. I cannot comment on what it was, because journalists traditionally ask the question: was it a blow from above or an explosion inside — this is done by specialists," the governor of the Moscow region told RIA Novosti in an interview.

“One thing is clear, that the explosion was powerful, and it was in the pyrotechnics workshop," he added.

The explosion was captured on security cameras and car dashcams in the small city. Video shared on social media shows a huge mushroom-shaped plume of smoke rising over the plant.

An eyewitness named Nikolai said in an interview with MASH, an independent Russian media blog present at the scene, that there used to be a munition factory at the site before “it was sold and turned into pyrotechnics factory.”

“The company went bankrupt; it is not clear who worked there and what they did there. What caused the explosion is also unclear,” Nikolai said.

The eyewitness said "the bang was very strong and immediate color of the explosion was orange before it turned into grey smoke. Usually, when pyrotechnics explode you can smell sulfur — but there was absolutely no smell of sulfur. There were no detonations — only a big bang."

8:10 a.m. ET, August 9, 2023

Ukraine says it hit a Russian command post in the city of Nova Kakhovka

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Kyiv claimed on Wednesday that it struck a Russian command post in the city of Nova Kakhovka, as the Ukrainian military ramps up activity in the southern Kherson region amid a sweeping counteroffensive.

Nova Kakhovka is located on the occupied east bank of the Dnipro River, where Ukrainian forces reportedly carried out a raid on Tuesday. Kyiv refused to confirm reports of the operation.

"At about 10:00 a.m. (local time), the Armed Forces of Ukraine hit a command post of the Russian army in the temporarily occupied Nova Kakhovka," the Strategic Communications Department of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Telegram.

CNN cannot independently verify this claim, but videos posted by Stratcom filmed on Wednesday show plumes of smoke rising over the city.

7:58 a.m. ET, August 9, 2023

Zelensky holds meeting with top military commanders

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday he held a meeting with top military commanders on the counteroffensive.

“Today's Staff [meeting of the Staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief] was in a special format. The narrowest circle of people and maximum attention to a single topic - our offensive,” Zelensky posted on Telegram.
“In-depth analysis of the current situation, planning of future steps, providing troops with everything they need, and analysis of the enemy's actions,” he added.

Some context: Earlier this week Zelensky conceded that the counteroffensive has been "difficult," he said in a video released by his office on Tuesday.

This prompted US officials to acknowledge that Ukraine's recent progress had been slowed.

“Even the Ukrainians…including President (Volodymyr) Zelensky, have said that they're not going as far or as fast as he would like," White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told CNN on Tuesday

Analysis: The primary challenge for Ukrainian forces is the continued difficulty of breaking through Russia’s multi-layered defensive lines in the eastern and southern parts of the country, which are marked by tens of thousands of mines and vast networks of trenches.

Ukrainian forces have incurred staggering losses there, leading Ukrainian commanders to hold back some units to regroup and reduce casualties.