August 25, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 2:48 a.m. ET, August 26, 2022
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10:36 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Power supply from Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has been restored, Russian-backed official says

From CNN's Petro Zadorozhnyy and Tim Lister

Power supply to all cities and districts of the Zaporizhzhia region has been restored after earlier disruptions, according to the Russian-installed governor of occupied areas of Zaporizhzhia.

"As a result of a strike by the armed formations of Ukraine on power lines in the area of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, the territory of the security zone of the 750 kV overhead line caught fire. The fire was provoked by a short circuit on power lines," Yevhen Balytskyi claimed.

"The relay emergency protection of ZNPP worked, two power units were turned off, after which the Zaporizhzhia region was left without power supply," he added.

"Immediately after the fire was extinguished, one unit was put into operation. Work was underway to restore the power supply to the region and launch the second power unit," he explained.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has six reactors, but only two are operational at the moment.

10:01 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Last power line at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant twice disconnected on Thursday, Ukraine authorities say

From CNN's Tim Lister, Julia Kesaieva, Uliana Pavlova, Olga Voitovych and Petro Zadorozhnyy

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, Ukraine, on August 22.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, Ukraine, on August 22. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

A power line from the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia was disconnected as a result of hostilities in the area, the state nuclear regulator in Ukraine said.

As a result, one of the nuclear power units at the plant had also been disconnected, according to the State Inspection of Nuclear Regulation, which quoted the nuclear operator Energoatom.

After being restored once, the 750 kV "Dniprovska" overhead line was disconnected again, the regulator said in a Telegram post, adding that this also affected the second power unit again due to "the subsequent tripping of the emergency protection."

Energoatom also posted on its Telegram channel, confirming that the "750 kV ZNPP - "Dniprovska" overhead line - was disconnected twice."

"The actions of the invaders caused a complete disconnection of the ZNPP from the power grid - the first in the history of the plant," it added.

It is unclear whether there is currently any disruption to the power supply at the plant. CNN has previously been told that there are 18 diesel generators at the plant as back-up sources of power to the reactors. 

Satellite view of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on August 13.
Satellite view of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on August 13. (Planet Labs PBC/Reuters)

The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported there had been "a short circuit in the network after shelling by Ukrainian troops and fires in Enerhodar [which] caused a blackout in the Zaporizhzhia region."

CNN has confirmed the disruption of electricity supplies to Melitopol, which is Russian occupied territory.

9:57 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

France reiterates support for UN agency mission to Zaporizhzhia plant "as soon as possible"

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu and Pierre Bairin in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron, second right, attends a meeting with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi, second left, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on August 25.
French President Emmanuel Macron, second right, attends a meeting with the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi, second left, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on August 25. (Alain Jocard/Reuters)

French President Emmanuel Macron restated France’s support for sending an expert group from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during his meeting with IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, the Élysée Palace said in a statement Thursday. 

“The President of the Republic reiterated his support for the deployment of an IAEA expert mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as soon as possible to address nuclear safety and security issues and safeguards, while respecting Ukraine's full sovereignty over its territory and infrastructure,” the Élysée said. 

“(Macron) confirmed that the Director General could count on France's support to ensure that the IAEA mission would have safe and unhindered access to the plant and could carry out its mission without interference,” the statement said.

The French president praised Grossi’s efforts in the past few months to ensure the security of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. His comments also come after shelling intensified around the massive Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe's largest, which has been under Russian control since March.

CNN previously reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed for a mission from the IAEA to access the plant via territory controlled by Ukrainian forces during a call with Macron last week, according to a source from the Élysée Palace.

Some context: Both Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for security and military action at and around the plant. The lack of independent access to the plant 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.

9:46 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

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

International inspectors are close to agreeing a deal with Russia to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, while concern is growing over planned trials of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the occupied city of Mariupol.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • IAEA near Zaporizhzhia visit: Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told French channel France 24 he might soon be able to visit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, currently under Russian control. An agreement with Russia is "very, very close," said Grossi.
  • Worries over POW trials: There are growing concerns over the scheduled trials of Ukrainian POWs in Mariupol. Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), said that the trials will include soldiers from Ukraine's "regular army" as well as members of the Azov Regiment.
  • Russia-linked building targeted: Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, has posted video of damage to a building allegedly used by Russian-backed officials in the region. "Tonight, the headquarters of the occupiers in the village of Pryazovske was blown up," Fedorov said on Telegram.
  • Russian forces target Kyiv region: Two Russian rockets hit communities near Ukraine's capital Kyiv overnight into Thursday, according to Oleksiy Kuleba, head of Kyiv's regional state administration. No injuries or infrastructure damage were reported.

  • Railway station death toll increases: The number of casualties in a Russian attack on a train station in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region on Wednesday has risen to 25. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the President's office said search and rescue operations has been completed at the station in the village of Chaplyne.
  • Biden and Zelensky to speak: US President Joe Biden will speak Thursday with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to update him on US arms shipments and congratulate him on Ukrainian independence day, according to the White House.
7:36 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Russia claims attack on Chaplyne train station killed 200 Ukrainian soldiers

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Tim Lister and Radina Gigova

A missile strike on a train station in Chaplyne, in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region, killed more than 200 Ukrainian servicemembers and destroyed 10 equipment units, according to Russia's Ministry of Defense.

CNN cannot independently verify accounts of the strikes referenced by the ministry.

Ukrainian officials say at least 25 people, including two children, died in the attack on the station on Wednesday, which marked both Ukraine's independence day and exactly six months since Russia invaded the country on February 24.

“As a result of a direct hit by an Iskander missile on a military echelon at the Chaplyne railway station in the Dnepropetrovsk region, 200 employees of the reserve of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and 10 units of military equipment were destroyed on its way to Donbas,” Russia's Ministry of Defense said in a statement published Thursday. 

7:30 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

IAEA "very, very close" to agreement with Russia over visit to Zaporizhzhia

From CNN’s Renée Bertini in Paris

Director General of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Rafael Mariano Grossi press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, U.S, on August 2.
Director General of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Rafael Mariano Grossi press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, U.S, on August 2. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told French channel France 24 he might soon be able to visit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, currently under Russian control. 

“We are very, very close to that [an agreement with Russia],” Grossi said Thursday.

Earlier today, Grossi met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. 

The French and Russian defense ministers also talked about the nuclear power plant on the phone the same day, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

7:08 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Ukrainian official says building used by Russian-backed officials near Melitopol has been sabotaged

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, has posted video of damage to a building allegedly used by Russian-backed officials in the region. 

"Tonight, the headquarters of the occupiers in the village of Pryazovske was blown up," Fedorov said on Telegram. "It was there that the Russians prepared for the 'voting' and issued Russian passports."

Fedorov was referring to a referendum being planned by Russian-backed authorities in the region on whether it should join the Russian Federation.

"There is neither a clear date nor a plan for holding a pseudo-referendum in the occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia region," he said in a press briefing. 

"The concept of the Russians now is to hold a referendum during a period of five days in the format of a survey (by visiting apartments and houses)," said Fedorov. "In the next two weeks, the Russians are simply unable to hold a referendum."

Fedorov, who is not in the city, also claimed that very few people had taken up the offer of Russian passports.

"We do not have an exact number of how many people received Russian passports ... I think it is about 1,000 people at most," he said.

On the day of the start of the new school year, Fedorov said the Russians had tried to open four out of 22 schools in the area and had brought in Russian teachers.

They were threatening heavy fines for parents whose children were absent from school, he said.

Pressure on the remaining population in Melitopol was growing, added Fedorov. He estimated some 60,000 - 70,000 people are still living in the city, half the pre-war population.

"The Russians begin a total cleansing, filtering in every house, every apartment," he said. "If a person is found with at least something Ukrainian (flag, embroidery), they are immediately arrested."

Four people have been transferred to a high security detention center in Moscow, claimed Fedorov. CNN cannot verify the allegation.

"Up to 80 people are held captive by the Russians," he claimed.

6:52 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Concerns mount over POW trials in Mariupol

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Prison cells installed at the Philharmonic Hall in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this image released via social media on August 6.
Prison cells installed at the Philharmonic Hall in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this image released via social media on August 6. (Mariupol City Council/Reuters)

There are growing concerns over the trials of prisoners of war scheduled to take place in Russian-occupied Mariupol, with Washington and Moscow trading barbs over the plans.

"Show trials": On Wednesday, the US State Department said the Kremlin was using the trials as an attempt "to deflect responsibility for President Putin’s war of aggression and distract from overwhelming evidence of the atrocities Russian forces have committed in Ukraine."

The State Department said it strongly condemned the "planned show trials," and described them as "illegitimate and a mockery of justice."

"All members of Ukraine’s armed forces, including domestic and foreign volunteers incorporated into the armed forces, are entitled to prisoner of war status if they are captured and must be afforded the treatment and protections commensurate with that status, according to the Geneva Conventions," the State Department said.

Russian reaction: The Russian Embassy in Washington responded early Thursday, accusing the US of "groundless accusations" against Russia.

It added that the "upcoming trial is aimed at bringing justice to war criminals, among which there are Nazis from the Azov Regiment."

The embassy added that Washington was "clearly afraid of making public the evidence of the inhumane acts committed by members of this terrorist organization," referring to Russia's claims that it launched a "special mission" to protect itself from genocide at the hands of ​"neo-Nazis."

No start date: Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), said that the trials will include soldiers from Ukraine's "regular army" as well as members of the Azov Regiment.

Speaking on Russian television Thursday, Pushilin said that "all war criminals will be court-martialed at the tribunal."

However Ukrainian official Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said that the DPR has not announced a start date for the trials.

"Most likely, this is due to the lack of 'confessions' of our Heroes themselves," said Andriushchenko, who is not in Mariupol himself, on his Telegram channel Thursday.

The area around the building slated to host the trials remains closed, he added.

Some context: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights this week expressed concern about the trials, saying that willfully depriving prisoners of war a fair trial is a war crime, and international humanitarian law prohibits the establishment of courts solely to judge prisoners of war.

6:01 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Russia ready to assist UN visit to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, says defense minister

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, Ukraine, on August 22.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, Ukraine, on August 22. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and French counterpart Sébastien Lecornu discussed the situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a call on Thursday, according to the Russian Defense Ministry

Shoigu shared his assessments of the actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces during the call, which was initiated by the French side, said the ministry.

The Russian minister also stressed the importance of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visit to the plant, and said Russia is ready to provide the necessary assistance to the organization's inspectors.

US President Joe Biden and Western leaders have stressed the need for the United Nations nuclear watchdog to visit the plant in southeastern Ukraine, where shelling has sparked fears of a disaster.

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.