August 11, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Heather Chen, Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 3:11 a.m. ET, August 12, 2022
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4:14 a.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Belarus says flashes at air base near Ukrainian border due to accidental fire

From CNN's Victoria Butenko  

An overnight blaze at a Belarusian air base near the Ukrainian border was caused by a piece of equipment catching fire, the Belarus Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The statement was issued in response to reports of flashes and detonations at Zyabrovka Air Base near the southeastern city of Gomel.

"There are no victims. Personnel took timely respective measures," the statement said.

CNN is unable to verify the Belarusian account. 

Some context: Belarus is one of Russia's closest allies and has played a key role in its invasion of Ukraine. In July, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Ukraine of dragging his country into the war.

3:52 a.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Airstrikes hit Russian targets in the south, Ukrainian military says

From CNN's Tim Lister

Ukraine's military said it carried out six airstrikes against Russian targets in southern Ukraine on Wednesday.

Russian forces were hit in the Beryslav district of Kherson and ammunition depots were destroyed in Bashtanka and Barvinka, officials said. 

Russian command posts, one located in the village of Chervonyi Maisk along the Dnipro River, were also destroyed, they added. 

CNN has been unable to verify the military's claims, which come as Ukrainian forces step up operations in the south of the country.

3:13 a.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Russian shelling kills 2 in Ukraine's central Dnipropetrovsk region, officials say

From CNN's Nicola Careem and Josh Pennington

A man surveys the damage after the Dnipropetrovsk region endured another night of shelling on Thursday, August 11.
A man surveys the damage after the Dnipropetrovsk region endured another night of shelling on Thursday, August 11. (Dnipropetrovsk Gov. Valentin Reznichenko)

At least two people were killed and nine others injured, including a 13-year-old girl, after Russian forces shelled Ukraine's central Dnipropetrovsk region overnight, according to Ukrainian officials.

Dnipropetrovsk Gov. Valentin Reznichenko said on Telegram that more than a hundred Russian rockets hit four districts of the region — Nikopol, Chervonohrihorivska, Kryvorizka and Synelniky — damaging dozens of buildings and leaving thousands of residents without electricity.

Rescue teams were searching for survivors in the rubble, he said.

Dnipro, the largest city in the region, was also subject to a rocket strike. The extent of the damage there is not yet known.

2:05 a.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Seven Russian warplanes destroyed as large blasts rock Crimea air base

From CNN's Brad Lendon and Paul P. Murphy

A satellite image from August 10, after the explosion, shows the charred remains of at least seven aircraft in the earthen berms. 
A satellite image from August 10, after the explosion, shows the charred remains of at least seven aircraft in the earthen berms.  (Planet Labs)

At least seven Russian warplanes were destroyed after explosions rocked annexed Crimea on Tuesday, new satellite images show, in what CNN research found could be Moscow's biggest loss of military aircraft in a single day since World War II.

The destroyed warplanes appear to be Su-24 bombers and Su-30 multirole fighter jets, said Peter Layton, a fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and a former Australian Air Force pilot, who examined Planet Lab satellite photos showing the Saki Air Base before and after the explosions.

Two more warplanes appear to have been damaged, Layton said. On Wednesday, the Ukrainian armed forces added nine aircraft to the tally of Russian military hardware they say has been destroyed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said it could not determine the cause of the explosions at the air base, which lies 225 kilometers (140 miles) behind the Russian front line, according to the Institute for the Study of War think tank.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said the blasts were caused by aviation ammunition -- but did not say how it had been detonated.

Video on social media, verified and geolocated by CNN as being from the air base, shows smoke rising from the base before it is rocked by three large, fiery explosions that send black mushroom clouds into the sky. Two of the explosions happen almost simultaneously and a third occurs shortly thereafter.

The satellite photos also show ​the explosions burned a swath of vegetation around a portion of the air base.

Read the full story here.

1:05 a.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Russia claims Ukraine used US arms to kill jailed POWs. Evidence tells a different story

From CNN's Tim Lister, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Vasco Cotovio, Benjamin Brown, Kostan Nechyporenko, Sarah-Grace Mankarious and Marco Chacón

A destroyed barrack at a prison in Olenivka is seen on July 29.
A destroyed barrack at a prison in Olenivka is seen on July 29. (AP)

On the morning of July 29, just hours after more than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed at a detention center in the Donetsk region, a Russian reporter at the scene displayed remnants of a US-made HIMARS rocket.

It was the beginning of a full-court Russian media offensive, with a message as cynical as it was brutal. Ukraine, according to Moscow’s version of events, had killed its own soldiers with a HIMARS strike because it didn’t want them confessing to war crimes, and to discourage others from surrendering.

A senior official of the self-declared Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Eduard Basurin, claimed that “after the Ukrainian prisoners of war began to talk about the crimes they committed on the orders of the political authorities of Ukraine, a blow was struck here.”

Ukraine vehemently denied the claims, with President Volodymyr Zelensky calling the attack "a deliberate war crime by the Russians."

Many of the prisoners in the Olenivka detention center belonged to the nationalist Azov Regiment. They had been transferred there after surrendering at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol in May. Azov is viscerally loathed by the Russians, and the feeling is mutual.

But would Ukraine target its own soldiers — many regarded as heroes for their resistance at Azovstal — even as they slept?

A CNN investigation based on analysis of video and photographs from the scene, satellite imagery from before and after the attack and the work of forensic and weapons experts concludes the Russian version of events is very likely a fabrication. There is almost no chance that a HIMARS rocket caused the damage to the warehouse where the prisoners were being held.

Experts consulted by CNN discount a HIMARS strike on Olenivka — but can’t say definitively what killed and wounded so many prisoners. A lack of access makes definitive conclusions impossible. However, experts say most signs point to an intense fire, and according to several witnesses there was no sound of an incoming rocket.

Read the special report here.

1:02 a.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Ukrainian forces hit industrial site in Donetsk, pro-Russian separatists say

From CNN's Petro Zadorozhnyy, Vasco Cotovio and Josh Pennington

Smoke rises after the shelling of a brewery in the city of Donetsk, Ukraine on August 10.
Smoke rises after the shelling of a brewery in the city of Donetsk, Ukraine on August 10. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian forces have hit an industrial site in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk, causing a fire and an ammonia leak, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Territorial Defense said in a Telegram post. 

“As a result of the shelling of the territory of the Donetsk brewery located in the Kalininskyi district of the city, an ammonia leak occurred,” the post said. “The affected area is 2 kilometers (more than 1 mile).” 

The state emergency services of the DPR said in an update that at least one person was killed and two were injured following the hit.

The fire at the brewery was still being extinguished, the post added.

“At the moment the MES Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Group is conducting investigation of the area to determine the location of the ammonia leak and the maximum permissible concentration levels,” it said.

The state emergency services of the DPR is also warning people to remain indoors.

“The population must be inside the premises. Take measures for additional sealing of your apartments (houses), and premises. Breathe through cotton-gauze bandages moistened with a 5% solution of citric or acetic acid,” it said in a Telegram post.
“Tell your neighbors about the information you receive. Help the elderly, the sick, and children as needed.”
1:02 a.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Pro-Russian separatists claim to have entered Donetsk towns of Soledar and Bakhmut

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Petro Zadorozhnyy

Civilians shelter in a basement in Soledar, Ukraine, as heavy shelling continues, on August 10.
Civilians shelter in a basement in Soledar, Ukraine, as heavy shelling continues, on August 10. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

Pro-Russian separatist forces say they have entered the Donetsk towns of Soledar and Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the spokesperson for the militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) told Russian broadcasters on Wednesday.

“At the moment, in Soledar and Artemivsk (Bakhmut in Ukrainian), we entered the border of the city, to the industrial zone where the fighting is going on,” Eduard Basurin said.

Basurin added DPR forces had surrounded Avdiivka and were in control of most of Pisky and Marinka.

“In the area of ​​Pisky, we control this settlement, but we do not yet control it completely, we do not control it in full. Marinka, we control 2/3 of the settlement,” he said. “No one enters Avdiivka and at the moment no one is going to do it. It will be surrounded because there are certain advances of our forces and means to the north of this settlement, in order to surround it later.
“Those Ukrainian soldiers who remain in the city will be captured or die. Because the choice is theirs: stay alive or die.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Ukrainian forces said they had repelled Russian assaults near Bakhmut and Avdiivka.