August 22, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Rhea Mogul, Eliza Mackintosh and Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 2:19 a.m. ET, August 23, 2022
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5:12 a.m. ET, August 22, 2022

Russian forces make limited gains in offensive from Kherson, Ukrainian military says

From CNN's Tim Lister

A local business owner and her workers clean a sewing workshop damaged by a Russian missile strike in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on August 22.
A local business owner and her workers clean a sewing workshop damaged by a Russian missile strike in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on August 22. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)

Russian forces have made some progress in pushing north from the occupied southern city of Kherson towards Mykolaiv, according to Ukrainian officials.

The Ukrainian military's General Staff said Monday that "in the Mykolaiv direction, the occupiers carried out assaults in the area of the settlement of Blahodatne, with partial success."

On Sunday, the General Staff acknowledged that Russian forces had "occupied the southern outskirts of the settlement of Blahodatne, and hostilities continue."

The area has seen almost constant combat for three months, but there has been little change in the position of the front lines. In early June, Ukraine said it had liberated the town from Russian occupation. 

The border of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions also saw heavy fighting, according to Ukrainian officials. "Five massive enemy attacks were repelled; battles continue in six other directions," regional authorities said. 

There were rocket attacks on several settlements in Donetsk, which killed two people. The General Staff said that Russian forces had again tried to push southwards towards the city of Sloviansk, but "did not succeed and withdrew." A similar offensive in the Bakhmut area further south had been repelled, it added.

Overall, there appears to have been little change in the frontlines running through Donetsk and Kharkiv regions, but CNN is unable to verify claims from either side on territory won and lost.

In the Dnipropetrovsk region, the town of Nikopol, across the Dnipro River from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, continued to come under fire. Authorities said the area was hit with more than 40 shells and four people were injured.

There was also shelling in the city of Dnipro, according to the regional administration, with as many as 50 properties damaged.

3:35 a.m. ET, August 22, 2022

Analysis: A grim winter will test Europe's support for Ukraine like never before

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee

A street lamp lights a resident outside partially lit block of apartments at dusk in Berlin on Tuesday, August 16.
A street lamp lights a resident outside partially lit block of apartments at dusk in Berlin on Tuesday, August 16. (Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Six months since Russia invaded Ukraine, the West's response to the crisis has remained strong and largely united — to the surprise of many.

Despite years of fractured relations during the era of former US president Donald Trump and the Covid-19 pandemic, the trans-Atlantic alliance has managed to pull together and reach agreements on financial support and the donation of weapons to Kyiv, agreements to stop using Russian energy as well as sanctions designed to hit President Vladimir Putin and his cronies.

However, as the crisis reaches its half-year anniversary, officials across Europe are worried that the consensus could fall apart as the continent enters a bleak winter of rising food prices, limited energy to heat homes and the real possibility of recession.

For the purposes of this article, CNN spoke with multiple Western officials and diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In a possible taste of more draconian measures to come, German capital Berlin turned off the lights illuminating monuments in order to save electricity, while French shops have been told to keep their doors shut while the air conditioning is on, or else face a fine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has captured the West's imagination and put heat on countries to support his war effort, might find it harder to get the attention of his fellow European leaders as the conflict drags on.

"The challenge for Ukraine is the same as it was on day one: keeping the West on side as the costs of supporting Kyiv hit home — not just Putin's gas and grain blackmail but also the cost of economic and humanitarian support," says Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow at think tank Chatham House.
"That may well be why Zelensky said he wanted the war over before Christmas, because the real issues will be getting the West to stick to its promises in the long run."

Read the full analysis here.

8:28 a.m. ET, August 22, 2022

Western leaders call for UN nuclear watchdog visit to Ukraine nuclear plant amid safety fears

From CNN's Heather Chen

(AP)
(AP)

US President Joe Biden and Western leaders on Sunday stressed the need for the United Nations nuclear watchdog to visit the Zaporizhzhia power plant in southeastern Ukraine, where shelling has sparked fears of a disaster, according to a White House statement.

The statement issued Sunday said Biden held a conference call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in which the leaders "affirmed their continued support for Ukraine's efforts to defend itself against Russian aggression."

The leaders also reiterated "the need to avoid military operations near the plant" and the importance of a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "as soon as feasible to ascertain the state of safety systems."

Some context: Kyiv and Moscow have made a barrage of accusations against each other about security and military action at and around the plant, the largest nuclear complex in Europe. But the lack of independent access to the plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since March, makes it impossible to verify what is happening there.

Over the past month, a number of rockets and shells have landed on the territory of the plant, according to satellite imagery analyzed by CNN. CNN is unable to verify what strikes occurred, nor who was responsible.

According to a source from the Elysee Palace, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed during a call with Macron Friday for an IAEA mission to visit the plant via territory controlled by Ukrainian forces.

12:49 a.m. ET, August 22, 2022

Car bomb kills daughter of "spiritual guide" to Putin's Ukraine invasion

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq, Josh Pennington, Jonny Hallam and Tara John

Darya Dugina, the daughter of influential Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin, was reportedly killed on Saturday, August 20.
Darya Dugina, the daughter of influential Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin, was reportedly killed on Saturday, August 20. (From Darya Dugina/Telegram)

Russian authorities said Sunday they had opened a murder investigation after the daughter of influential, ultra-nationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin was killed by a car bomb on the outskirts of Moscow.

The Russian Investigative Committee said it believed someone planned and ordered the car explosion that killed Darya Dugina, based on evidence already collected from the blast.

"Taking into account the data already obtained, the investigation believes that the crime was pre-planned and was of an ordered nature," the investigative committee said in a statement Sunday.

Dugina died at the scene after "an explosive device, presumably installed in the Toyota Land Cruiser, went off on a public road and the car caught fire" at around 9.00 p.m. local time on Saturday, near the village of Bolshiye Vyazemy, according to the press service of the Russian Investigative Committee, as reported by state news agency TASS.

Dugina's father is a Russian author and ideologue, credited with being the architect or "spiritual guide" to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He is purported to have significant influence over Russian President Vladimir Putin and was described as "Putin's Brain" by Foreign Affairs magazine.

Both Dugin and his daughter have been sanctioned by the United States. The United Kingdom sanctioned Dugina in July for being "a frequent and high-profile contributor of disinformation in relation to Ukraine and the Russian invasion of Ukraine on various online platforms," it wrote.

Read the full story here.

10:54 p.m. ET, August 21, 2022

Ukraine grain deal "lays groundwork for permanent peace environment," says Turkey

From CNN's Tara John and Cecelia Armstrong

Bulk cargo ship SSI Invincible II is anchored at the Marmara sea in Istanbul, Turkey, on Saturday, Aug. 20, will soon head to Chornomorsk, Ukraine.
Bulk cargo ship SSI Invincible II is anchored at the Marmara sea in Istanbul, Turkey, on Saturday, Aug. 20, will soon head to Chornomorsk, Ukraine. (Francisco Seco/AP)

Some 27 ships loaded with grain have left Ukraine's Black Sea ports since August 1 under an export deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, which has laid "the groundwork for a permanent peace environment," Turkey's Defense Minister said in a speech on Saturday.

"Since August 1, a total of 53 vessels have sailed for grain shipments, 27 of which have departed from Ukrainian ports," Hulusi Akar said at Istanbul's Joint Coordination Center (JCC) alongside United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The center is made up of Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN officials overseeing the Black Sea exports of Ukrainian grain and fertilizer.

Guterres, who had earlier inspected the vessel SSI Invincible II Saturday before it sailed to the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk, said more than 650,000 metric tons of grain and other food "are already on their way to markets around the world."

Both men stressed the importance of these exports as it would help overcome "the food crisis affecting the whole world, especially to lowering prices," Akar said.

Read more here.

11:09 p.m. ET, August 21, 2022

Gas supplies to Europe via Nord Stream 1 to be halted for 3 days, Gazprom says

From CNN's Maija Ehlinger

The gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline and transfer station in Lubmin, Germany is seen on July 25.
The gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline and transfer station in Lubmin, Germany is seen on July 25. (Stefan Sauer/Picture Alliance/Getty Images)

Natural gas supplies to Europe via Russia's Nord Stream 1 pipeline will be suspended from August 31 through September 2, according to a statement Friday from Russian state energy giant Gazprom. 

Friday's announcement comes after the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was shut down for 10 days in late July for "annual maintenance."

The crucial pipeline had already been running at less than 40% capacity, prompting concerns that Moscow is deliberately choking supplies of gas to Europe in an energy stand-off following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.