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August 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

In the trenches: See Ukrainians holding the line against Russia
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What we covered here

  • Ukraine on Monday warned of catastrophic consequences if anything were to happen to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, following accusations that Russia launched rockets on the facility. The UN watchdog has warned that fighting at the complex risks a “nuclear disaster.”
  • The US Department of Defense announced $1 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine on Monday. The Pentagon also for the first time acknowledged sending previously undisclosed anti-radar missiles to the country.
  • Ukraine said Sunday it inflicted losses on Russian forces in several parts of the eastern Donetsk region. Meanwhile, Russian missiles struck military facilities in the central city of Vinnytsia.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ruled out future negotiations if Russia conducts referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine.
  • The export of grain from Ukraine through Black Sea ports continued Monday, with the first ship to leave the southern port of Yuzhnyi under a UN-brokered deal.
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Pentagon for the first time acknowledges sending previously undisclosed anti-radar missiles to Ukraine 

The Pentagon announced Monday that the US has sent anti-radar missiles for Ukrainian aircraft to target Russian radar systems. It marks the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged sending the previously undisclosed missile to Ukraine. 

Colin Kahl, the under secretary of Defense for Policy, said at a news briefing that the US had sent “a number” of the missiles without specifying how many the US has provided or when exactly they were sent. Kahl also did not explicitly say what type of anti-radiation missile.

A defense official told CNN the type of missile sent was the AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). 

Produced by Raytheon, HARMs have a range in excess of 30 miles (more than 48 kilometers), according to the US Air Force, making them one of the longer-range weapons the US has provided to Ukraine. The missiles can be used to target Russian anti-aircraft radar systems, such as the S-400, which have made it very difficult for the Ukrainian Air Force to operate over large swaths of Ukrainian airspace. The missiles can also target Russian counter-battery radars, which Russia uses to target Ukrainian artillery.

Kahl said the missiles had been sent over “in recent [Presidential Drawdown Authority] packages,” but the five most recent packages, dating back to July 1, make no mention of HARMs.

“In the near term, we’ve been doing lots of things to make Ukraine’s existing air force stay in the air and be more capable,” Kahl said.

He then pointed to the spare parts for Mig-29s the US helped send into Ukraine to keep the Soviet-era fighters flying. Kahl then mentioned the missiles, saying they “can have effects on Russian radars and other things.”

The Ukrainians have not publicly acknowledged receiving or using HARMs.

In recent days, open source reports have shown the remains of what appear to be the fin of a HARM missile that targeted a Russian position in Ukraine.  

President Zelensky calls on Western countries to ban all Russian citizens 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Western countries should ban all Russian citizens from entering their country. 

In an interview with The Washington Post published on Monday, Zelensky said, “the most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land.” 

The Ukrainian president said Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.”

Asked whether such a measure would unfairly impact those who left the country because they disagreed with the Kremlin, Zelensky said the distinction did not matter.

“They’ll say, ‘This [war] has nothing to do with us. The whole population can’t be held responsible, can it?’ It can. The population picked this government and they’re not fighting it, not arguing with it, not shouting at it,” Zelensky told the Washington Post.

“You’re telling the whole world that it must live by your rules. Then go and live there. This is the only way to influence Putin,” he added.

Ukraine's Zelensky holds video call with former US President Bill Clinton 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a video meeting with former US President Bill Clinton, Zelensky’s office announced.

Zelensky thanked Clinton for his support of Ukraine since the start of the war, according the the Ukrainian president’s office

“The United States helps us prevent Russia from freezing this conflict. And this is exactly what Russia wants. We are well aware of what happens with ‘frozen conflicts.’ It stretches for years, for decades. We cannot allow that,” Zelensky said on the call, according to his office. 

Zelensky called on Bill Clinton to use his personal authority to draw the attention of the world community to the shelling and mining of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and Russia’s nuclear terror.

“It is extremely important for us that societies where freedom and democracy are fundamental values do not lose the feeling of urgency of the war in Ukraine. That is why conversations like this one are very useful for us,” Zelensky said, according to his office. 

Ukraine says Russia is committing "nuclear terrorism" against Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Russia is continuing acts of “nuclear terrorism” on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and its personnel, Dmytro Lubinets, Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights said. 

Lubinets said that according to “International norms, an attack on a facility where nuclear or radiological materials are used is considered an act of nuclear terrorism. ‘Nuclear terrorism’ also includes actions aimed at disrupting, sabotaging, or manipulating operations at the plant that could lead to the release of radioactivity.”

Lubinets called on the UN Secretary General, the IAEA and the international community to take “possible measures to send a security mission to the Zaporizhzhia NPP, to completely demilitarize the territory of the NPP, and to provide security guarantees to the employees of the nuclear plant and residents of the city of Enerhodar for the maintenance of the plant.”

He added that he sent letters to international organizations with his appeal.

Some background: Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for recent artillery and rocket fire around the nuclear plant in central Ukraine, which UN Secretary General António Guterres described as “suicidal.”

On Saturday, the director general of the IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said he was extremely concerned by the shelling “which underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond.”

CNN cannot verify claims made by either Ukraine or Russia.

US is providing the Ukrainian government $4.5 billion to help keep it functioning, USAID says

The United States will provide $4.5 billion to the government of Ukraine to help keep it functioning and to combat the budget deficit caused by the war, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on Monday.

“The resources provided today build on previous budget support, enabling the Ukrainian government to carry out core functions – for example, keeping gas and electricity flowing to hospitals, schools, and other critical infrastructure, supporting the provision of humanitarian supplies to citizens, and continuing to pay the salaries of civil servants, healthcare workers and teachers,” USAID said in a statement.

“Robust safeguards put in place by the World Bank, coupled with USAID-funded, expert third-party oversight embedded within the Ukrainian government, ensure accountability and transparency in the use of these funds,” they said.

The agency said the Ukrainian government would receive a $3 billion tranche of funding this month.

Pentagon official: Russia has had between 70,000 to 80,000 casualties so far in Ukraine-Russia conflict

Russia has had about 70,000 to 80,000 casualties so far in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Colin Kahl, Defense Department under secretary for policy, said during an on-camera briefing at the Pentagon on Monday. This figure includes both Russian forces killed and wounded in action.

“I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in the less than six months. Now that is a combination of killed in action and wounded in action, that number might be a little lower, little higher, but I think that’s kind of in the ballpark,” Kahl said.

Kahl said that number of casualties from Russian forces is “remarkable” considering Russia has “achieved none of Vladimir Putin’s objectives” since invading Ukraine at the end of February.

“The Ukrainian morale and will to fight is unquestioned, and much higher I think than the average will to fight on the Russian side, so I think that gives the Ukrainians a significant advantage,” Kahl added.

"Huge consequences" for Ukraine and Europe if Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is compromised

Ukraine on Monday warned of catastrophic consequences if anything were to happen to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and said that Kremlin’s forces are preventing safety experts from visiting Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

“What will happen in the radius of 40-50 kilometers from the station, that’s absolutely not comparable even to Chernobyl or to Fukushima,” said Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, Ukraine’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

Tsymbaliuk said Ukraine would like to see a delegation of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations visit the station to monitor its status but that Russia’s military actions in Ukraine are making such a trip “impossible.”

“We will use all possible channels of diplomacy to bring IAEA and UN closer to conducting this mission. We really need it urgently,” Tsymbaliuk said at a news conference Monday.

His comments come after Russia and Ukraine traded blame for recent artillery and rocket fire around the nuclear plant in central Ukraine, which UN Secretary General António Guterres described as “suicidal.” 

CNN cannot verify claims made by either Ukraine or Russia.

Meanwhile, a Russian representative claimed that Moscow sent out a diplomatic note stating that it is ready to assist the IAEA in a visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in central Ukraine.

Russian state media RIA Novosti reported Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s representative to International Organizations in Vienna, saying that a diplomatic note was sent out on Aug. 4 and distributed on Aug. 5. 

According to Ulyanov, the note also said Russia is interested in the IAEA taking into account criminal actions conducted by Kyiv and what he claimed is the campaign of disinformation that the Zelensky regime has launched.

On Saturday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said he was extremely concerned by the shelling “which underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond.”

Pentagon announces additional $1 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine 

The US Defense Department Monday announced a $1 billion package of additional weapons and security assistance for Ukraine in the latest round of military aid.

It is “the largest single drawdown of US arms and equipment” since August 2021 using presidential authorities to drawdown from US military stockpiles, according to a Pentagon statement. This marks the eighteenth drawdown by the Pentagon.

What the package includes: The package for the first time will have munitions for the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), a US-Norwegian air defense system the Ukrainians need for shooting down Russian cruise missiles aimed at population centers.

The transfer of NASAMS itself could still be some days away according to US defense official. The first system to arrive is expected to be from Norway which can get it to Ukraine quicker than the US. 

This assistance package focuses heavily on additional ammunition and weapons which Ukraine forces have used successfully against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. There is additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), 75,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition and 1,000 Javelin anti-tank weapons among key items. This is the first transfer of Javelin’s announced since June. There are also hundreds of AT4 anti-armor weapons included. 

Ukrainian nuclear energy generator says rocket struck close to spent fuel storage

As Russia and Ukraine blame each other for recent rocket and missile attacks close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the head of Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company says one strike Sunday was close to the processed fuel storage area.

Petro Kotin, Chair of Energoatom, said on Ukrainian television: “This is very dangerous, because the rockets hit 10 to 20 meters away from the storage, but if they had hit the containers with the processed fuel, it would be a radiation accident.”  

Kotin suggested that if one container was hit “it will be a local accident on the territory of the plant and nearby territory. If its 2-3 containers — the affected area will increase.” 

Kotin also said that during the shelling communication lines between the nuclear plant and the hydro-electric power plant and the Ukrainian energy system had been ruptured.

“As of now Zaporizhzhia NPP is only connected to the Ukrainian energy system with just one communication line. If all the lines are damaged, the plant will transfer to the so-called “black-out” mode, meaning become completely de-energized. And this situation will be very dangerous for keeping fuel in nuclear reactors in a safe condition.”

Kotin said that Russian forces must be expelled from the plant and a demilitarized zone should be created on the territory of the plant.

“Since the beginning of the occupation we were saying that а security mission of peacekeepers should be present there, including the IAEA experts and other security organisations. The presence of peacekeepers in this zone and giving them the control of the plant first and then giving back the control to the Ukrainian side would have solved the problem.”

Kotin repeated Ukrainian claims that Russia had moved weapons into the plant’s power units. “There are 14 units of heavy military equipment in the first power unit. There are 6 vehicles in the second engine room and we don’t know what is inside those vehicles. There’s heavy weaponry as well.”

He also claimed that Russian troops had occupied all the shelters at the power plant and workers had nowhere to go when shelling occurred.

Mykolaiv curfew leads to several arrests of alleged Russian informants, Ukrainian official says

A curfew in the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv through the whole weekend had yielded results in uncovering Russian informants, said Vitaliy Kim, head of Mykolaiv region civil military administration.

The city is regularly fired upon by Russian missiles and rockets.

“I apologize for the inconvenience you had over the weekend. But it was worth it. About 20 cases were registered by various law enforcement agencies, five people who were wanted were caught,” Kim told residents. “We sorted out the situation with another group, which will not interfere with us anymore.”

Kim ordered an extended curfew for the city, which ran from 11 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. on Monday, local time.

“One of the tasks would be to expose the Russian agents,” he said. “The city will be closed, our law enforcement will be working in different districts, including working on collaborators. Be polite, provide all the useful information.”

It's 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has described the recent artillery and rocket fire around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in central Ukraine as “suicidal” as Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for both attacks.

Ukraine accused Russian forces on Sunday of launching rockets at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, further ratcheting fears of an accident a day after the United Nations’ watchdog warned that fighting at the occupied complex risked a “nuclear disaster.”  

The Zaporizhzhia plant is Europe’s largest and occupies an extensive site on the river Dnipro. It has continued operating at reduced capacity since Russian forces captured it early in March, with Ukrainian technicians remaining at work. 

“Any attack on nuclear power plants is a suicidal thing,” Guterres told reporters in Tokyo.

The rockets launched on Saturday night struck near a dry storage facility, where 174 casks with spent nuclear fuel are kept, according to Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power company. Explosions blew out windows in parts of the plant, and one worker was hospitalized with shrapnel wounds.

It was the second time in as many days that the plant was hit. 

Ukrainians say multiple Russian assaults resisted in Donetsk: The Ukrainian Military said Sunday it had inflicted losses on Russian forces in several parts of Donetsk and repelled their efforts to advance in other places.

In a briefing, the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said the Russian forces tried to conduct several assaults in Donetsk against multiple settlements near Sloviansk, but the Ukrainian forces pushed them back. 

Russia could be preparing to bring more forces to front line, Zelensky adviser warns: Ukrainian Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called on Germany to help increase its weapons supply Sunday in an interview with German newspaper Tagesspiegel, according to the president’s office.

Podolyak said in the interview that Ukraine needs “the supply of as many modern weapons as possible” and asked for the participation of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

“The more and faster we get heavy weapons, the sooner we will be able to stop this war,” he said, warning he believes Russia wants to “freeze the conflict for six months in order to bring new troops and weapons to the front line,” though there has not been official indication of this from the Russian side.

Zelensky rules out future negotiations if Russia holds referendums in Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would not hold future negotiations if Russia conducts referendums in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine – something officials in Russian-held territories of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region have previously said they would do.

“Every week there are more and more reports that the occupiers are preparing for pseudo-referendums in the occupied areas of the south of our country,” Zelensky said in his nightly address Sunday. “I want to say a very simple thing, everyone who helps the occupiers in any way realize their intention will be held accountable. They will bear responsibility to Ukraine.”

Ships loaded with Ukrainian grain are headed to international markets: The export of grain from Ukraine through Black Sea ports continued Monday, with the first ship to leave the southern port of Yuzhnyi under a UN-brokered deal to help ease the global food crisis sparked by war.

The Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry said the bulk carrier Sacura had become the first vessel to leave the port since the early days of the war in February.

The Sacura and the Arizona, which left the southwestern city of Chornomorsk Monday, are carrying 60,000 metric tons of agricultural products to international markets. Meanwhile, one of the first vessels to leave the Black Sea loaded with Ukrainian grain, the Polarnet, has reached Turkey, according to Ukrainian officials.

Kremlin says prerequisites for meeting between Putin and Zelensky "not there yet"

The necessary prerequisites for a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are “not there yet,” the Kremlin said on a conference call Monday.

“As for the summit meeting between Presidents Putin and Zelensky, it is possible only after all the homework is done by the delegations of negotiators,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked about the proposal of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to organize negotiations between Putin and Zelensky.

“This element is also missing. Therefore, the necessary prerequisites for the meeting mentioned by Mr. Erdogan are not there yet,” he added.

According to the Kremlin, the Ukrainian delegation “went off the radar” and there are currently no peace negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.

Russia’s so-called “special military operation” continues until the set goals are completed, Peskov added.

Responding to Zelensky’s warning against future negotiations if Russia conducts referendums in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, Peskov said Zelensky should address his own citizens, not Russians, as they are the ones who want to hold a referendum.

“We are not the ones holding the referendums,” Peskov said, adding: “[President Zelensky] needs to address his own citizens and ask why there are so many of them who would not want to live in his country.”

Zelensky on Sunday discounted the possibility of future negotiations if Russia conducts referendums in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

Ukrainians say they hit Kherson bridges again as Russians bolster defenses in region

A view of the Antonivskyi bridge across Dnipro river in the Russia-controlled Kherson region of southern Ukraine, July 23, 2022. 

Ukrainian officials say that their armed forces have struck critical river bridges in the Russian-occupied Kherson region again.

Yurii Sobolevskyi, First Deputy Head of Kherson regional council, said that on the night of August 7 the Ukrainian military “worked on the key points of the logistics routes” of the Russians, including the main Antonivskyi bridge.

“The occupiers have cordoned off the bridge from both sides and do not allow local residents to come close. The bridge itself, according to preliminary data, was seriously damaged.”

The bridge, which is one kilometer long, has been hit several times by long-range Ukrainian artillery fire.

Russian forces in Kherson continue to reinforce their presence in anticipation of a Ukrainian offensive. Serhii Khlan, an advisor to the Kherson region administration, said over the weekend that Russian forces were sending civilian traffic over the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant Bridge, north of the main bridge, and allowing civilians to use pontoon bridges to prevent Ukrainian forces from targeting Russian ground lines of communication over the Dnipro River.

Khlan also claimed that Russian forces had placed air defense systems in residential areas of Kherson city.

The top Ukrainian official for Kherson, Yaroslav Yanushkevych, said Sunday that “according to information from Ukrainian intelligence, the Russian occupiers mined vital communications in Kherson before a possible counteroffensive of the Armed Forces, including gas, electricity and water supplies.”

The mayor of occupied Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, who is no longer in the city, says that Russian forces are “transporting three to four convoys of military equipment through Melitopol daily, likely in an effort to reinforce their defensive positions in Kherson and western Zaporizhia.”

Amnesty regrets 'distress' caused by report on Ukrainian military but stands by findings

Amnesty International said it “deeply regrets the distress and anger” caused by a report the group published on the Ukrainian military’s fighting tactics, but that it “fully” stands by the findings, which concluded those tactics violated international humanitarian law.

Some background: The human rights watchdog published a press release last week accusing Ukrainian forces of putting civilians in harm’s way by setting up military bases in residential areas, including in schools and hospitals, and launching attacks from populated civilian areas.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lashed out at the group’s report, arguing that it tried to “shift the responsibility” of civilian deaths in Ukraine away from Russia.

The report sparked the resignation of the head of Amnesty in Ukraine, Oksana Pokalchuk, who said she had tried to dissuade the organization from publishing the report as it appeared.

Following the backlash, Amnesty said in a statement to CNN Sunday: “While we fully stand by our findings, we regret the pain caused and wish to clarify a few crucial points.”

The watchdog reiterated that it had “documented how in all 19 of the towns and villages we visited, we found instances where Ukrainian forces had located themselves right next to where civilians were living, thereby potentially putting them at risk from incoming Russian fire.”

“We made this assessment based on the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL), which require all parties to a conflict to avoid locating, to the maximum extent feasible, military objectives within or near densely populated areas. The laws of war exist in part to protect civilians, and it is for this reason that Amnesty International urges governments to comply with them,” the watchdog group said.

“This does not mean that Amnesty International holds Ukrainian forces responsible for violations committed by Russian forces, nor that the Ukrainian military is not taking adequate precautions elsewhere in the country,” Amnesty said.

Read the full story here.

Ship loaded with Ukrainian grain reaches Turkey

An aerial view of the Turkish-flagged ship Polarnet carrying grain from Ukraine at the Derince Port, Kocaeli, Turkey on Monday.

One of the first vessels to leave the Black Sea loaded with Ukrainian grain, the Polarnet, has reached Turkey, according to Ukrainian officials.

“This sends a message of hope to every family in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia: Ukraine won’t abandon you. If Russia sticks to its obligations, the ‘grain corridor’ will keep maintaining global food security,” tweeted Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

The Infrastructure Ministry said that bulk carriers Novi Star and Rojen, which left the ports at the same time as the Polarnet, are expected to arrive at their destination ports approximately in a week.

Some background: The export of grain from Ukraine through Black Sea ports continued Monday, with the first ship to leave the southern port of Yuzhnyi under a UN-brokered deal to help ease the global food crisis sparked by war.

The Sacura and the Arizona, which left the southwestern city of Chornomorsk on Monday, are carrying 60,000 metric tons of agricultural products to international markets. 

The Infrastructure Ministry said its goal is to increase trans-shipment to three to five vessels per day within the next two weeks.

Ukrainians claim to have repelled further Russian ground assaults in Donetsk

Despite widespread bombardment of civilian and military infrastructure, Russian forces have failed to make any progress in Donetsk, according to the Ukrainian military.

The military’s General Staff said that the Russians had waged offensive battles in several areas but had suffered losses.

The Ukrainians are still defending villages within a few kilometers of the Donetsk-Luhansk border, and said they’d beaten back a Russian attack near Verkhnokamyanske.

The military’s General Staff said heavy shelling continued north of Sloviansk, a front that has been largely static for two months, as well as in settlements around Bakhmut, where the Russians had also used strike aircraft.

“The enemy continues to conduct reconnaissance, sparing no personnel. Enemy reconnaissance groups were detected and neutralized in the areas of Bakhmutske, Bakhmut and Yakovlivka settlements,” the General Staff said. “The enemy tried to conduct assaults to the south of Bakhmut, “but was unsuccessful and retreated.”

Russian forces had also tried to gain ground west of the airport in Donetsk city but had retreated.

Further south, the General Staff said, many settlements in Zaporizhzhia had come under fire from both artillery and air strikes.

In the Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko, head of the military administration, said Russian rockets had hit the districts of Nikopol and Kryvyi Rih.

UN Secretary General describes shelling around Ukrainian nuclear plant as "suicidal"

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has described the recent artillery and rocket fire around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in central Ukraine as “suicidal.”

“Any attack on nuclear power plants is a suicidal thing,” Guterres told reporters in Tokyo.
“I hope that these attacks will end,” he said, calling on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to be given access to the plant.

The Zaporizhzhia plant is Europe’s largest and occupies an extensive site on the river Dnipro. It has continued operating at reduced capacity since Russian forces captured it early in March, with Ukrainian technicians remaining at work. 

Fears about the security of the plant have been growing since Russian forces seized the site but reached an inflection point last week when shelling damaged a high-voltage power line and forced one of the plant’s reactors to stop operating despite no radioactive leak being detected.

Ukraine’s state energy company, Energoatom, said over the weekend that one worker was injured by Russian shelling around the plant, adding that radiation monitoring sensors were also damaged. 

Meanwhile, Russia is blaming Ukraine for the shelling around the plant. 

Russian-backed authorities in the nearest city, Energodar, claimed that a Ukrainian missile landed within 400 meters of one of the plant’s reactors. Energodar was seized by Russian forces at the same time as the power plant. 

“Tonight, the armed formations of Ukraine struck with a Uragan 220 mm rocket missile cluster rocket,” the local authority said, according to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
“Administrative buildings and the adjoining territory of the dry cask storage facility were damaged by the projectiles.”

CNN cannot verify claims made by either side.

The Russians have been shelling the Ukrainian-held town of Nikopol from positions around the plant.

On Saturday, the IAEA director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said he was extremely concerned by the shelling “which underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond.”

Two more ships loaded with Ukrainian grain are headed to international markets 

The Sacura is seen in the sea port of Pivdennyi, on Monday.

The export of grain from Ukraine through Black Sea ports continued Monday, with the first ship to leave the southern port of Yuzhnyi under a UN-brokered deal to help ease the global food crisis sparked by war.

The Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry said the bulk carrier Sacura had become the first vessel to leave the port since the early days of the war in February.

The Sacura and the Arizona, which left the southwestern city of Chornomorsk Monday, are carrying 60,000 metric tons of agricultural products to international markets. 

The Infrastructure Ministry said its goal is to increase trans-shipment to three to five vessels per day within the next two weeks.

Zelensky adviser warns Russia could be preparing to bring more forces to front line

Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 19, 2022. 

Ukrainian Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called on Germany to help increase its weapons supply Sunday in an interview with German newspaper Tagesspiegel, according to the president’s office.

The office posted a readout from the interview to its official website Sunday.

Podolyak said in the interview that Ukraine needs “the supply of as many modern weapons as possible” and asked for the participation of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “The more and faster we get heavy weapons, the sooner we will be able to stop this war,” he said.

Podolyak warned he believes Russia wants to “freeze the conflict for six months in order to bring new troops and weapons to the front line,” though there has not been official indication of this from the Russian side.

According to the adviser, Ukraine needs the supply of long-range artillery, MLRS and unmanned aerial vehicles. 

“Germany must now take a different path, understand what Russia really is. It is a fact that we need more weapons,” Podolyak added. 

Zelensky rules out future negotiations if Russia holds referendums in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would not hold future negotiations if Russia conducts referendums in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

“Every week there are more and more reports that the occupiers are preparing for pseudo-referendums in the occupied areas of the south of our country,” Zelensky said in his nightly address Sunday. “I want to say a very simple thing, everyone who helps the occupiers in any way realize their intention will be held accountable. They will bear responsibility to Ukraine.”

Officials in Russian-held territories of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region have previously said they would hold referendums on joining Russia.

“The position of our state remains the same: we will not give up anything of ours,” Zelensky reiterated, warning that if Russian occupiers pursue the referendums, “they will close for themselves any possibility of negotiations with Ukraine and the free world, which the Russian side will definitely need in a certain moment.”

Ukraine says "several missiles" hit military facilities in Vinnytsia region, victims reported

Several Russian missiles struck military facilities in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia on Sunday, according to the Ukrainian military.

“There are victims. The type of missiles is being clarified by the relevant services,” the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a post on its official Facebook page. “The reasons for the failure of the missile warning system are being investigated.”

The Air Force Command did not specify the number of victims or severity of injuries.

Jessica Chastain's visit to Kyiv "extremely valuable," Zelensky says

American actress Jessica Chastain met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Sunday.

“For us, such visits of famous people are extremely valuable,” Zelensky said on his Telegram account. “Thanks to this, the world will hear, know and understand the truth about what is happening in our country even more. Thanks for the support!”

In his nightly address Sunday, Zelensky said Chastain visited a children’s hospital in Kyiv and the suburb of Irpin, where she “saw with her own eyes the consequences of the Russian occupation.” 

Irpin was the site of some of the heaviest fighting in Russia’s failed bid to capture the Ukrainian capital earlier this year. Substantial evidence has also emerged of the massacre of civilians there and nearby Bucha. 

Ukrainians say multiple Russian assaults resisted in Donetsk

The Ukrainian Military said Sunday it had inflicted losses on Russian forces in several parts of Donetsk and repelled their efforts to advance in other places.

In a briefing, the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said the Russian forces tried to conduct several assaults in Donetsk against multiple settlements near Sloviansk, but the Ukrainian forces pushed them back. 

“With offensive actions, the enemy tried to improve its tactical position near Verkhnokamianske, a village in Donetsk region, but was unsuccessful and retreated,” the General Staff said. 

The Russians also “conducted offensive and assault actions in the districts of Bakhmut, Zaitseve, Yakovlivka and Vershina but were unsuccessful and retreated,” the General Staff added, saying that fighting continues near Kodema, Krasnohorivka, Avdiivka, Pisky and Mariinka. 

The General Staff also reported that Russia is “concentrating its main efforts on preventing the advance of our troops” in the south and shelling “the entire line of contact.” 

New rocket strike on Ukraine nuclear plant, as UN watchdog warns of "disaster"

Ukraine accused Russian forces on Sunday of launching rockets at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, further ratcheting fears of an accident a day after the United Nations’ watchdog warned that fighting at the occupied complex risked a “nuclear disaster.”

It was the second time in as many days that the plant, which is the largest of its kind in Europe, was hit. Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for both attacks.

The rockets launched on Saturday night struck near a dry storage facility, where 174 casks with spent nuclear fuel are kept, according to Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power company. Explosions blew out windows in parts of the plant and one worker was hospitalized with shrapnel wounds.

“Apparently, they aimed specifically at the containers with processed fuel, which are stored outside next to the site of shelling,” the company said in a statement on Telegram.

Three radiation monitoring detectors were also damaged on Saturday, making “timely detection and response in case of aggravation of the radiation situation or leakage of radiation from spent nuclear fuel casks are currently impossible,” Energoatom said.

Kyiv has accused Russian forces of storing heavy weaponry in and launching attacks from the plant, which they took over in early March and still occupy. Moscow, meanwhile, has claimed Ukrainian troops are targeting the complex.

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US senators put bipartisan pressure on Biden to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism

A bipartisan pair of senators has called on the Biden administration to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism in response to its invasion of Ukraine, saying they would push Congress to pass a bill issuing the designation “whether or not” it had President Joe Biden’s support.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” on Sunday that the designation should be made either by the President or Congress, with both of them saying Biden must intensify pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin and continue aiding Ukraine amid the ongoing invasion.

Graham, of South Carolina, said he wants the Biden administration to engage with Congress in designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism but said Congress is “willing” to advance legislation calling for the designation regardless.

“I’d like to work with (the Biden administration). But whether or not we have to do legislation to make it happen — we’re willing to do. I am urging the administration to act now,” Graham said.

Ukraine visit: The two senators traveled together in June to Ukraine, where they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and called on Biden to send more humanitarian aid to the county and issue stronger sanctions in addition to designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Read more here.

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Go Deeper

New rocket strike on Ukraine nuclear plant, as UN watchdog warns of 'disaster'
'You are not a refugee.' Roma refugees fleeing war in Ukraine say they are suffering discrimination and prejudice
How the Ukraine invasion flattened Eastern European tourism