August 15, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Chris Lau, Sana Noor Haq, Caolán Magee, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Adrienne Vogt, Mike Hayes, Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 6:16 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023
22 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:35 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Russia says it prevented cross-border incursion by Ukrainian forces

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Kostan Nechyporenko

The governor of Russia’s Bryansk region, Aleksandr Bogomaz, says Moscow’s forces prevented a cross-border incursion by Ukrainian forces.

“At the moment, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as well as the border control unit of the FSB of Russia in the Bryansk region in the area of ​​the village of Kurkovichi, Starodubsky municipal district, have prevented an attempt by the Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group (DRG) to enter the territory of the Russian Federation,” Bogomaz wrote on Telegram on Tuesday.
“There were no casualties," he added.

CNN could not independently verify Bogomaz’s claims and Ukrainian officials have not commented on the alleged incident.

Some context: The Bryansk region shares a border to its south with Ukraine, and to its west with Belarus, the close Russian ally nation that helped facilitate Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

The area has been previously targeted in cross border raids.

Last month, a Ukrainian drone hit the Department of Internal Affairs in Bryansk leading to the destruction of the building's roof and windows, Bogomaz said in a Telegram post, before adding there were no casualties.

5:04 p.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Russia says 2 civilians were injured by shelling in Belgorod

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

Two people were wounded after shelling in the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka in the southern Russian region of Belgorod, the local governor said on Tuesday.

“Three artillery mines exploded near a private residential building in which restoration work was underway. There are two victims," Vyacheslav Gladkov posted on Telegram.

One man is in a "serious condition" in hospital after he sustained shrapnel wounds in his chest and spine, Gladkov said. Another woman was taken to another hospital with shrapnel injuries.

Russian towns bordering Ukraine have recently seen a significant uptick in the number of shelling and attempted drone attacks, bringing hostilities to its territory. 

8:37 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

At least 15 people have been injured in the western region of Lviv, as Ukrainian air defenses struggled to repel a wave of Russian missiles launched overnight.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Strikes in Lviv: A 10-year-old child and an elderly civilian aged 72 were among those wounded in the Lviv region on Tuesday, after Russian cruise missiles left five people hospitalized and heavily damaged infrastructure. Kyiv's air defenses shot down one of the missiles, a local military official said. Six other missiles were not intercepted.
  • Attacks across Ukraine: Elsewhere, at least three people were killed after Russian missiles targeted the Ukrainian city of Lutsk, the central Dnipropetrovsk region, and nearby Cherkasy, local authorities said on Tuesday. Ukrainian air forces said they intercepted 16 out of 28 cruise missiles launched by Russia.

  • Moscow-Pyongyang relations: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged stronger diplomatic relations with Moscow in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, as the Kremlin looks to strengthen ties with its remaining allies amid the war in Ukraine.
  • Polish Army Day: The US ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski, thanked Polish soldiers for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with Washington and “defending our freedom" and "shared values," on August 15, when the country commemorates the anniversary of the 1920 victory over Soviet Russia at the Battle of Warsaw.
  • Russian central bank acts: Russia's central bank raised the interest rate to 12% to try and curb inflation, it announced on Tuesday, a day after the ruble slid to a 17-month low against the dollar. The 40% drop in the currency's value this year shows how Western sanctions against Russia are squeezing the country's economy.
7:38 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Russia accuses US of "wiping out the military arsenals" of partners

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova and Duarte Mendonça

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu addresses the International Military Forum Army-2023 in the Patriot Park near Moscow, Russia, on August 15.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu addresses the International Military Forum Army-2023 in the Patriot Park near Moscow, Russia, on August 15. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu accused the US on Tuesday of “wiping out the military arsenals” of their global partners, leaving Ukraine exposed to low military resources, in order to allow Washington to supply Kyiv with more arms.

“Under the slogan of supporting Kyiv, the United States is wiping out the military arsenals of partners in different regions of the world, promising preferential supplies of Western-made equipment in return,” Shoigu said during the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS).
“There is a wiping of the market for the products of the American military-industrial complex,” he added.

Elsewhere in his address, the Russian defense minister said NATO’s military activities “increased significantly after Finland joined the alliance and the bloc actually absorbed Sweden's military structures."

He added: “Although the question remains open for us about what Helsinki and Stockholm acquired after they were consistently drawn into a military confrontation with Russia."

Shoigu also addressed the grain deal that collapsed last month, saying Kyiv showed “particular cynicism in the implementation of the Black Sea grain initiative.”

“Using it as a cover against missile attacks from Russia, significant stocks of weapons and ammunition were created in Odesa and other Black Sea ports, which are systematically supplied to the front,” Shoigu said.

“Moreover, near the granaries, the production of UAVs and marine controlled vehicles was deployed, which strikes at infrastructure facilities in the Crimea,” he concluded. 

7:57 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Ukrainian team uses thermal cameras in hunt for Russian threat

CNN Exclusive from Nick Paton Walsh, Florence Davey-Attlee, Kostya Gak and Brice Laine near Robotine, Ukraine

A demonstration of the thermal vision of the new military-grade drone in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 20.
A demonstration of the thermal vision of the new military-grade drone in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 20. Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Faced with thousands of Russian landmines in a grueling counteroffensive, Ukrainian armed forces are using the experimental technique of thermal imagery to locate the threat that has claimed many lives.

CNN has seen Ukrainian frontline troops deploy a thermal camera on a commercially available drone at dusk. The camera floats above Russian minefields and detects dozens of heat signatures. Some are craters, but many are landmines, barely hidden under the surface. The heat they gather from the glaring summer sun during the daytime is retained as the sun sets, causing them to show up more clearly on the thermal camera.

Drones with thermal cameras are frequently available to Ukraine’s frontline troops and are relatively cheap at around $5,000 each. But the scale of the task is formidable, with often up to five landmines per square meter across more than 180,000 square kilometers of mine-affected land, according to official Ukrainian estimates.

Troops with the 15th National Guard, near the heavily contested village of Robotine, told CNN the tactic was an effective means of locating some mines. Footage provided to CNN showed the mines being hit by specialised Ukrainian charges, detonating the devices and clearing at least some of the threat.

It is another example of relatively low-tech ingenuity being deployed along with the extraordinary input of NATO supplied armor and weaponry over the past months to try and assist the counteroffensive.

Paul McCann, a spokesman for the UK-based HALO Trust demining charity, told CNN its demining experts had used the technique in Angola where it had shown some promise. He said the heat signatures of the mines were more acutely visible at dawn and dusk when they contrasted more with the external temperature. 

A drone team at a frontline position near the southern village of Robotine told CNN how intensely mined the areas around them were.

“When we entered one treeline, we found up to 53 booby traps," said Oleksandr from the 15th National Guard. "These are not made of one grenade — we call it a 'bouquet,' grenades on top of other grenades.”

Another guardsman, Anton, described the emotional challenges at the front.

“There have been many scary moments. Every time you go to work you step over your fear. Because who else will do it? Nobody. And if they send someone else and something happens to him, you can’t forgive yourself.”

Watch the team's full report here:

7:02 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Russia may reconsider using cluster munitions, says defense minister

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu addresses a speech during the Moscow Conference on International Security in Kubinka, in the outskirts of Moscow, on August 15.
Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu addresses a speech during the Moscow Conference on International Security in Kubinka, in the outskirts of Moscow, on August 15. Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that Russia may reconsider the decision not to use cluster munitions – despite reports that Moscow has already used cluster munitions during the war in Ukraine.

“I would like to point out the fact that we also have cluster munitions at our service. Until now, for humanitarian reasons, we have refrained from using them. However, this decision can be reconsidered,” Shoigu said during the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS).

The Human Rights Watch claims that Russia has already “extensively used cluster munitions, causing many civilian deaths and serious injuries.”

Some context: The US announced last month that it would be sending the controversial munitions to Ukraine, in a move that was criticized by human rights groups.

US President Joe Biden told CNN that the decision whether to send cluster munitions to Ukraine was “very difficult,” but he opted to do so because Kyiv needs more ammunition to continue its fight to push Russian troops out of Ukrainian territory.

More than 100 countries – including the United Kingdom, France and Germany – are signatories of a treaty prohibiting use of the weapon.

What are cluster munitions? The munitions are particularly dangerous to civilians and non-combatants when fired near populated areas because they scatter explosive material, so-called “bomblets” across large areas.

Those that fail to explode on impact can detonate years later, posing a long-term risk to anyone who encounters them, similar to landmines.

Ninety-four percent of recorded cluster bomb casualties are civilians, of which almost 40% are children.

6:35 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Russia fines Reddit for not deleting "banned content"

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

A Moscow court has fined Reddit for failing to delete what it said was false information, or "banned content," regarding the war in Ukraine on its platform, as the Kremlin cracks down on political dissent.

The 2 million ruble (around $20,300) fine was also given for content posted about the prison organization AUE *, which is banned in Russia, state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday.

Judge Timur Vakhrameev said that Reddit was penalized under the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation, according to RIA Novosti.

The same court will consider another case on Tuesday against the Wikimedia Foundation, the operator of Wikipedia, for not removing possible prohibited content.

7:07 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

US ambassador to Poland thanks soldiers for "defending our freedom" on Polish Army Day

From CNN's Amy Croffey, Josh Pennington, and Jessie Gretener

The US ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski in Warsaw, Poland, on February 21, 2022.
The US ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski in Warsaw, Poland, on February 21, 2022. Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto/Getty Images

The US ambassador to Poland expressed his gratitude to Polish soldiers for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with Washington and “defending our freedom" and "shared values," as allies of Ukraine look to demonstrate their unity amid Russia's invasion.

Mark Brzezinski said he wanted to offer the "utmost appreciation" to Polish soldiers "on behalf of the United States" on August 15, when Poland commemorates its national Army Day.

August 15 is the anniversary of the 1920 victory over Soviet Russia at the Battle of Warsaw, locally known as the “Miracle on the Vistula.”

“Today is a great day — Polish Army Day. On this occasion, on behalf of the United States, I offer words of utmost appreciation to the Polish soldiers. Military cooperation is a key element of our Polish-American relationship,” Brzezinski wrote in a post on X, previously known as Twitter.

“You are our allies, friends, brothers and sisters in combat. The continued presence of US soldiers in Poland demonstrates our commitment to our allied obligations. Together we are stronger,” Brzezinski added.

Poland and the US have donated aid worth billions of dollars to bolster Ukraine's military might and imposed sanctions on Russia in an attempt to isolate its economy.

6:09 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Putin says US foreign policy adds “fuel to the fire”

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Jessie Gretener 

Russia's President Vladimir Putin addressing the participants and guests of the XI Moscow Conference on International Security via a video link in Moscow, Russia, on August 15.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin addressing the participants and guests of the XI Moscow Conference on International Security via a video link in Moscow, Russia, on August 15. Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin says US foreign policy adds “fuel to the fire” while speaking in a pre-recorded message at the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) on Tuesday.

Putin argued that he believes the United States "continue to benefit from human tragedies, play off peoples, force states to vassal obedience within the framework of the neo-colonial system, mercilessly exploit their resources."

“The United States seeks, among other things, to reformat the system of interstate interaction that has developed in the Asia-Pacific region for itself,” Putin said.
“What this policy of adding fuel to the fire leads to is clearly seen in the example of Ukraine,” Putin said, adding, “By pumping billions of dollars into the neo-Nazi regime, supplying it with equipment, weapons, ammunition, sending their military advisers and mercenaries, everything is being done to ignite the conflict even more, to draw other states into it."

Amid his attack on US foreign policy, the Russian president said “open, honest, unbiased discussions” are extremely important.

“I repeat, today it is obvious that it is possible to reduce confrontation at the global and regional levels, neutralize challenges and risks, strengthen trust between states and open up broad opportunities for their development only by joining the efforts of the world community,” Putin added.