August 9, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Heather Chen, Jack Guy, Hafsa Khalil, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 3:06 a.m. ET, August 10, 2022
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7:08 a.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Kremlin says Russia and US need to continue dialogue on START nuclear weapons treaty

From CNN's Anna Chernova, Radina Gigova and Jennifer Hansler

Russia and the US need to continue dialogue on the START nuclear weapons treaty, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday, following Moscow's announcement that it will temporarily suspend inspections of its facilities under the treaty.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Peskov refused to comment directly on Russia’s decision and referred questions to the country's foreign ministry, which issued Monday's official statement. 

Asked whether Moscow is ready to present to Washington further proposals on START, or is instead waiting for the US to make the first move, Peskov said: “Time will tell. We haven't received any specific proposals on this yet. But once again we repeat: dialogue is necessary.”

On Monday, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Russia "is compelled to resort to this measure due to Washington’s stubborn striving to achieve, without prior arrangement, the resetting of inspection activities on conditions that do not take into account existing realities and are creating unilateral advantages for the United States, and are de facto depriving the Russian Federation of the right to conduct inspections on American territory."

A US State Department spokesperson said Monday that "the principles of reciprocity, mutual predictability, and mutual stability will continue to guide the US approach to implementation of the New START Treaty, as they have since the treaty entered into force in 2011."

"We keep discussions between the parties concerning treaty implementation confidential," added the spokesperson.

1:34 p.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Head of Ukrainian state-owned nuclear power company warns only one power line to the complex is operational

From CNN's David McKenzie in Kyiv

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine on August 4.
A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine on August 4. Alexander Ermochenko/REUTERS

On Tuesday, the head of the Ukrainian state-owned nuclear power company Energoatom warned that Ukraine and Europe could face another Fukishima if the power supply to the massive Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power plant is further disrupted. 

Speaking to CNN on Tuesday in Kyiv, Petro Kotin said that only one power line to the massive complex was now operational after shelling damaged the lines in the past few days. 

“If there is no connection to the grid, then you cannot provide electricity from the outside, then the diesel generators will start. But everything will depend on the reliability of those generators. … This is a dangerous situation, because if those stop you could have a disaster of melting nuclear materials,” he said, comparing the potential fallout to the Fukishima disaster in Japan. 

The Fukishima plant’s reactor overheated when the backup power supply failed after the impact of the Tsunami in 2011. 

Kotin said that Energoatom has supplies ready to go into the facility for repairs, but they haven’t been able to enter the site. 

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

OSunday, Ukraine's Energoatom released a statement that said that one worker had been injured by Russian shelling around the facility on Saturday.

Kotin said that Russian soldiers have not been firing from inside the large complex, but close to its outskirts. He said Russia continues to occupy Zaporizhizhia with around 500 soldiers and hardware and that Russian soldiers moved assets into two special blast bunkers in recent days. 

There are around 1000 employees still on the site, according to Kotin, who have kept communications lines open but are working under constant stress of the occupying force including beatings and threats.  

“If the situation worsens, we need to think about our population at the plant. We are planning on how, during war conditions, we will be able to evacuate the personnel.”

“Great release of radioactivity could happen from there. There could be a cloud, a radioactive cloud,” he said, adding that the international community needs to work quickly to demilitarize the zone. 

Kotin told CNN that the ultimate plan of the Russians is to disconnect the plant from powering Ukraine and connect it to the grid to power occupied Crimea. 

Like other Ukrainian officials, he blames Russia for shelling the complex – he said the distance of the incoming strikes suggested Russian positions. 

Russia blames Ukraine. 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, accused Ukraine of “taking Europe hostage” by shelling Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, according to Russian state news agency TASS. 

6:19 a.m. ET, August 9, 2022

This travel company wants tourists to visit Ukraine right now

From CNN's Silvia Marchetti

Visiting Ukraine right now to experience what's it like living in the middle of a war, seeing its bombed cities and feeling the danger isn't likely to be high on many people's travel wish list.

But six months after Russia invaded the country, unleashing a wave of death and destruction, one organization is inviting tourists to come visit Ukraine.

Online platform Visit Ukraine.Today last month launched guided day tours of the so-called "Brave Cities" that have defied and continue to resist Russian invaders, offering travelers a look at how the country is living amid conflict.

"Set off on a journey to awesome Ukraine right now," the tour company's website implores.

Despite international alerts warning against travel to Ukraine, the company says it's so far sold 150 tickets, while its website offering information on safely traveling to and from Ukraine is receiving 1.5 million hits a month, up 50% on pre-invasion numbers.

Read the full story here.

5:53 a.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Largest grain cargo since agreement departs Ukrainian Black Sea port

From CNN's Tim Lister and Richard Roth

The largest cargo of grain to leave a Ukrainian port since last month's agreement has departed the port of Chornomorsk.

The bulk carrier Ocean Lion left Tuesday with nearly 65,000 tonnes of corn destined for South Korea.

A UN document obtained by CNN on Monday sets out technical details for the corridor through which merchant ships exporting agricultural products can travel.

The document reads: "As a vessel moves through the Maritime Humanitarian Corridor, it is additionally protected by a buffer zone. The size of the buffer zone is a 10 nautical mile circle around the vessel while moving through maritime humanitarian corridor."

"No military vessel, aircraft or UAVs will close to within 10 nautical miles of a merchant vessel transiting the Maritime Humanitarian Corridor, excluding territorial seas of Ukraine," it said.

The High Seas Transit Corridor itself is 111 nautical miles long and 3 nautical miles wide.

Some context: Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement in Turkey last month to resume Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports, which was a global breakthrough amid the world food crisis sparked by the war.

Since the invasion in late February, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 47 million people have moved into a stage of acute hunger as a consequence of the war, and Western officials have accused Russia of using food as a weapon during its invasion.

The first shipment of grain following the agreement left the port of Odesa on August 1 but was rejected by its buyer in Lebanon due to delayed delivery, according to the country's Ukrainian Embassy.

5:24 a.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Russia seeks to expand footprint in Africa, says US official

From CNN's Radina Gigova 

At the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) Change of Command Ceremony at the Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, the US Defense Secretary said Russia is seeking to expand their footprint on the African continent.

Speaking on Tuesday, Lloyd Austin said: "Russia is peddling cheap weapons and backing mercenary forces. And that’s yet another reminder of Moscow’s willingness to sow chaos and threaten the rules-based international order -- and it goes far beyond Putin’s reckless invasion of Ukraine."

Austin also mentioned China's desire to expand into Africa, saying they want to "build bases in Africa and to undermine US relations with African peoples, and governments, and militaries." 

But Austin assured that the United Sates is "committed to ensuring that Africa enjoys the protections of the international rules and norms that advance all of our safety and prosperity," adding that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in South Africa to launch a new US "strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa."

Some context: Austin will travel to Latvia later Tuesday, while Blinken is heading to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he will meet with President Felix Tshisekedi and Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula.

On Monday in Pretoria, South Africa, Blinken made a case for a partnership between the the US and African nations, saying that they cannot achieve any of their "shared priorities" unless they work together as equal partners.

Blinken's Africa tour also includes a stop in Rwanda, and comes after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov traveled to Ethiopia, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, and Egypt at the end of July following Russia's alienation from Europe amid the war in Ukraine.

Read more here.

5:00 a.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Russia temporarily suspends inspections under key nuclear weapons treaty

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Karen Smith

Russia has notified the US that it will temporarily suspend inspections under the START nuclear weapons treaty, the country's foreign ministry announced Monday.

“The Russian Federation is now being forced to resort to this measure as a result of the persistent desire of Washington to achieve a restart of inspection activities on short notice under conditions that do not take account of existing realities, creating unilateral advantages for the United States of America and effectively deprive the Russian Federation of the right to conduct inspections on American territory,” read a statement from the ministry.

The New START Treaty allows for 18 on-site inspections every year that allow Russia and the US to keep a close eye on each other's nuclear weapons.

The treaty, which was extended in early 2021 for five years, limits both nations to deploying 1,550 nuclear warheads over 700 delivery systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and bombers.

According to the ministry statement, Russia is fully committed to compliance with all the provisions of the START Treaty and the suspension of inspection measures are “temporary."

The aim is "to ensure that all the mechanisms of the START Treaty function in strict accordance with the principles of parity and equality of the parties, as was implied when it was agreed and put into force," it said. "Now these principles are not being upheld.”

Inspections will restart "once the current problematic issues relating to the resumption of Treaty inspection activities are resolved," said the ministry.

CNN has reached out to the US State Department for comment.

The treaty is the only one left regulating the two largest nuclear arsenals in the world.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law extending the treaty for five years on January 28, 2021, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Washington had extended the treaty on February 3 that year.

In a statement, Blinken said the extension of the New START Treaty allowed for verifiable limits on Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers until February 5, 2026, and the treaty's "verification regime enables us to monitor Russian compliance with the treaty and provides us with greater insight into Russia's nuclear posture, including through data exchanges and onsite inspections that allow U.S. inspectors to have eyes on Russian nuclear forces and facilities."

4:25 a.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Russians keep up pressure on Bakhmut area, but Ukraine says no territory lost 

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Russian forces are keeping up the pressure on the town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region as they try to take more territory in Donbas.

The Ukrainian military said Tuesday that the Russians were conducting offensive battles in the eastern cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka and trying to displace Ukrainian units with artillery fire.

It said that the Russians had tried to conduct "battle reconnaissance" in a string of towns and villages close to the main highway from Bakhmut towards the further eastward Luhansk region.

"Ukrainian soldiers inflicted fire damage and forced the invaders to flee," the military's General Staff said. 

Down south: The General Staff said that efforts by the Russians to advance on the outskirts of Donetsk city had also been rebuffed.

Along the front lines in the Kherson, Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, the General Staff said Russian forces had carried out air strikes against a number of settlements.

The southern town of Nikopol, across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, came under attack again overnight, according to Yevhen Yevtushenko, head of Nikopol district military administration.

Yevtushenko said 40 shells had been fired, seriously damaging industrial sites. He said the Russians were firing from under the cover of residential areas on the other side of the river.

In its latest assessment of the battlefield, the UK's Defense Ministry says that over the last month, "Russia’s assault towards the town of Bakhmut has been its most successful axis in the Donbas," but also noted that Russia "has only managed to advance about 10km during this time."

"In other Donbas sectors where Russia was attempting to break through, its forces have not gained more than 3km during this 30 day period; almost certainly significantly less than planned," the Ministry says.
"Despite its continued heavy use of artillery in these areas, Russia has not been able to generate capable combat infantry in sufficient numbers to secure more substantial advances."
3:51 a.m. ET, August 9, 2022

"Night of hell": Ukrainians claim heavy strikes against Russian positions in Melitopol

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Russian forces endured a "night of hell" in Melitopol, the occupied southern city's mayor said, adding that residents reported hearing about 10 explosions overnight and further blasts at dawn. 

"We cannot clearly name the places of explosions for now, but we know there are dead and injured," Mayor Ivan Fedorov said.

Smoke was rising from a military base that had been struck four times previously, he added.

"It is clear today that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are not going to abandon Melitopol and definitely will liberate it along with the resistance movement of local residents," Fedorov said.

Russian referendum: Fedorov also dismissed Russian plans for a referendum in occupied parts of the Zaporizhzhia region, where Melitopol is located, saying the date and format of the proposed vote on joining Russia had been changed multiple times "as they understand they would not have any support of local residents."

On Monday a Ukrainian politician cooperating with the Russian occupation signed a decree in support of preparations for the referendum.

2:25 a.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Injured by war, the scars on Ukraine's wounded children are more than skin deep

From CNN's Jo Shelley, Jason Carroll, Charbel Mallo and Daria Markina in Yahidne, Ukraine

The deep scars on Serhii's back are a permanent reminder of his survival.
The deep scars on Serhii's back are a permanent reminder of his survival. (CNN)

Fourteen-year-old Serhii Sorokopud is still haunted by what happened when Russian tanks rolled into his village five months ago. He lifts his T-shirt to show the deep scars across his back — a reminder of a trauma both hidden and visible.

Russian troops set up a military camp in the small farming community of Yahidne, northeast of the capital Kyiv, on March 3, on their advance toward the capital. Serhii and his family were taken captive with hundreds of others in the basement of his school. Ten days later, as he stood in line for food in the playground, there was an explosion and he was struck by shrapnel.

"First, there was a strong blow to the back. I fell, couldn't get up, couldn't move," he told CNN on Thursday, showing the spot behind his school where he was hit. "People ran over and lifted me up. I couldn't even walk. There was a lot of blood."

Read the full story here.