August 15, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Amy Woodyatt and Hafsa Khalil, CNN

Updated 3:22 a.m. ET, August 16, 2022
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5:39 a.m. ET, August 15, 2022

Spike in Russian attacks in Kharkiv region, Ukraine's military says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Russian rockets launch against Ukraine from Russia's Belgorod region are seen at dawn in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Monday, Aug. 15.
Russian rockets launch against Ukraine from Russia's Belgorod region are seen at dawn in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Monday, Aug. 15. (Vadim Belikov/AP)

Russian forces have increased shelling in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine, bombarding Ukrainian units trying to challenge their supply lines running into Donetsk, according to Ukraine's military.

Ukrainian officials on Monday reported rocket and artillery attacks against the Chuhuiv district south of the city of Kharkiv. Oleh Synyehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration, said at least 10 missiles had been fired from the Russian city of Belgorod.

One of the towns hit was Merefa, at least 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the front lines.

According to Synyehubov, five people were injured in the shelling, four of whom have been hospitalized, with two in a critical condition.

There were also rocket attacks on a residential area of Kharkiv, Synyehubov said.

In the eastern city of Donetsk — the focus of the Russian offensive —  the Ukrainian general staff on Monday reported continued artillery fire and airstrikes but said several ground assaults by Russian forces had been repelled. Ukrainian officials reported shelling of the cities of Sloviansk and Kostiantynivka, as well as Bakhmut and surrounding villages. 

Geolocated videos show Russian forces moving through an industrial plant on the edge of the town of Soledar, a target of Russian attacks for many weeks.

In the far north of Ukraine, the Sumy regional military administration reported a sharp uptick in cross-border shelling of the town of Seredyno. 

Overall, Russian forces persist with heavy indirect fire in much of Donetsk but have made only marginal territorial gains, the Ukrainian military said.

Southern battles: Across the Dnipro River from the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the towns of Nikopol and Marhanets were again hit by Russian rocket fire, according to the general staff.

Meanwhile, Russian shelling of Ukrainian positions behind the front lines in the Mykolaiv region persists, the general staff added.

In the south, much of the Russian fire is defensive, as they try to disrupt Ukrainian attempts to move forward into Kherson, the general staff said.  

1:03 p.m. ET, August 15, 2022

EU and more than 40 countries urge Russia to withdraw forces from Ukrainian nuclear power plant

From CNN's Mariya Knight

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is seen from Nikopol, Ukraine across the Dnipro River on April 27.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is seen from Nikopol, Ukraine across the Dnipro River on April 27. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

A joint statement from the European Union and 42 countries including the United States has called on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned last week that parts of the plant had been knocked out due to recent attacks, risking an "unacceptable" potential radiation leak.

“We urge the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorized personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant," said the joint statement, dated August 12 and published Sunday to the website of the EU Delegation to the International Organizations in Vienna.
The withdrawal must take place "so that the operator and the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside interference, threat, or unacceptably harsh working conditions," the statement said.
This would also "enable the IAEA to carry out its verification pursuant to Ukraine’s safeguards obligations under safe and secure conditions and in a timely manner."

Nuclear watchdog's warning: On Thursday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the "alarming" situation at the plant had reached a "grave hour," as he called for an immediate inspection of the facility by international experts.

The joint statement expressed support for the work of the IAEA and emphasized that "the deployment of Russian military personnel and weaponry at the nuclear facility is unacceptable and disregards the safety, security, and safeguards principles that all members of the IAEA have committed to respect." 

9:26 p.m. ET, August 14, 2022

Russian forces retreating in southern Ukraine after third key bridge destroyed, Ukrainian military says

From CNN's Mariya Knight in Atlanta 

Russian forces are evacuating to the left bank of the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region after Ukrainian strikes made a third key bridge in the area impassable, Ukrainian officials said.

“We are watching how the leadership of the Russian forces uses the remains of transport routes to evacuate to the left bank of Dnipro in order to feel safe," Ukrainian military spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk told the country's media on Sunday. 

The destruction of the three bridges — including the Kakhovka bridge this weekend — has impeded the movement of heavy military equipment and the supply of ammunition to the Russians on the right bank of the river, making it ''extremely complicated to the point of being impossible,'' she added.

Attacks along southern frontline: Meanwhile, heavy Russian shelling continued in the south of Ukraine along the occupied line of defense over the weekend, Ukraine’s military said.

On Sunday night, Smerch multiple rocket launchers targeted Mykolaiv and the settlement of Bereznehuvate, killing one person and injuring another, according to Ukraine’s Operational Command South (OC South).

In the city of Mykolaiv, residential areas and port infrastructure were shelled, and communication lines and industrial facilities were damaged, leaving one civilian wounded, OC South added.

The city of Nikopol was shelled twice on Sunday night with heavy-barreled artillery, destroying five high-rise buildings, six houses, a kindergarten and other civilian infrastructure. No casualties were reported.  

Also on Sunday, the city of Marhanets was struck by Grad rockets. One civilian was hospitalized and a dozen homes and a power grid were destroyed.

Enerhodar also came under shelling on Sunday. One person was killed and two people were wounded, OC South said. 

The Ukrainian military said it destroyed two "enemy" ammunition depots in in Muzykivka and Nova Kakhovka on Saturday.

CNN cannot independently confirm all the incidents.

2:23 a.m. ET, August 15, 2022

Grain ship to Ethiopia ready to set sail from Ukraine

From CNN's Jorge Engels and Mariya Knight

The Liberian-flagged Brave Commander cargo ship is seen in Yuzhne, Ukraine east of Odessa on the Black Sea coast on August 14.
The Liberian-flagged Brave Commander cargo ship is seen in Yuzhne, Ukraine east of Odessa on the Black Sea coast on August 14. (Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images)

A cargo ship carrying 23,000 metric tons of wheat is ready to set sail from the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi to Ethiopia, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov announced Sunday.

The Liberian-flagged Brave Commander cargo ship arrived in Pivdennyi Friday, according to Kubrakov, and will be the first UN-chartered ship to head for an African nation, Reuters reported. It is currently moored at Pivdennyi port, according to ship tracking website Marine Traffic.

“It is the supply of grain, in particular for Ethiopia, where the situation with hunger is particularly severe,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday.
“In less than two weeks, three of our ports — Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi — managed to export such a volume, which is equal to the entire agricultural export by road for July and more than two-thirds of the export by rail for the past month.”
2:42 a.m. ET, August 15, 2022

Analysis: The tide of the war is unlikely to turn any time soon

Analysis from CNN's Nic Robertson in Kramatorsk, Ukraine

Shelled shops in Siversk, eastern Ukraine.
Shelled shops in Siversk, eastern Ukraine. (Nic Robertson/CNN)

There are many observations to be made about Ukraine. But on a recent road trip, one sticks out — just how vast the country is.

Three weeks of driving from south to east in this sprawling country through front line villages, towns, past trenches and along hedgerows which are this war's strategic equivalent of high ground, is an education, and one that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use.

Almost six months on, the disastrous war that he launched is stagnating. Scenes reminiscent of World War I trench warfare and its associated incremental gains and death are taking hold.

The almost 1,000-mile-long battle front Putin opened has hardened, but the country behind is deep, and for the most part unscathed.

Thirty miles from the front, city lawns are still being mowed, while many hundreds of miles away in the capital Kyiv, fancy restaurants have reopened, where fine wines and chilled champagnes are available, and fresh caught Mediterranean fish is on the menu.

This is a fat land, with fertile farms and proud crops rich from rain and sun. If strategic depth is what's behind the front lines, Ukraine has an untapped wealth available.

Perhaps most striking is the number of military age males across the country who are not yet committed to the fight. Ukraine is at war, but not yet it seems, all in. Only some of Ukraine's potential fighting force are in bunkers buried in tree lines overlooking Russian forces.

Cobblers, authors, artists, teachers, businessmen, journalists, even a former McDonald's franchise CEO, are holding back Putin's push, but when the government needs it there are many more who can be called on.

The big takeaway is, that this is not a war that's going to be over fast, not is even clear yet if the real defining fight has begun.

Read the full analysis here.