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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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.

2:21 a.m. ET, August 9, 2022

Buyer refuses cargo of first grain ship to leave Ukraine under UN deal, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton

The cargo ship Razoni, which departed from Odesa within the framework of the grain shipment agreement, is pictured in Istanbul, Turkey on August 3.
The cargo ship Razoni, which departed from Odesa within the framework of the grain shipment agreement, is pictured in Istanbul, Turkey on August 3. (Hakan Akgun/ dia images/Getty Images)

A buyer in Lebanon has rejected the cargo of the first grain ship to leave Ukraine since the early days of the war due to delayed delivery, according to a statement from the Ukrainian Embassy in the Middle Eastern country. 

The M/V Razoni departed the Black Sea port of Odesa on August 1, carrying more than 26,000 metric tons of corn under a UN-brokered deal aimed at easing the global food crisis sparked by Russia's invasion.

“According to the information provided by the shipper of the Ukrainian grain aboard the Razoni, the buyer in Lebanon refused to accept the cargo due to delays in delivery terms," the statement said. "So the shipper is now looking for another consignee to offload his cargo either in Lebanon/Tripoli or any other country/port.”

Some context: Ukrainian officials say they aim increase grain shipments to three to five vessels per day within the next two weeks. Shipments continued Monday, with two vessels carrying 60,000 metric tons of agricultural products to international markets departing from ports in southern Ukraine.

8:44 p.m. ET, August 8, 2022

Up to 80,000 Russian casualties in Ukraine, Pentagon official says

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Between 70,000 and 80,000 Russians have been killed or wounded during the war in Ukraine, Colin Kahl, Defense Department undersecretary for policy, said during an on-camera briefing at the Pentagon on Monday.

“I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in 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.

8:37 p.m. ET, August 8, 2022

Pentagon announces extra $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine 

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Ellie Kaufman

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, 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 officials. The first system to arrive is expected to be from Norway, which can get it to Ukraine quicker than the US. 

This package focuses heavily on additional ammunition and weapons that Ukrainian 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.