October 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Amy Woodyatt, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 8:17 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022
24 Posts
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11:32 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Car traffic resumes on part of Crimean bridge, Russian official says

From CNN's Katharina Krebs and Tim Lister 

Car traffic on the undamaged part of the Crimean bridge has resumed, said the Russian-appointed head of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov, in a statement on his Telegram channel on Saturday.

"At the moment, traffic is open to cars and buses with a full inspection procedure. We ask truck drivers to plan their route using the Kerch ferry crossing. The Kerch-2 ferry will begin to sail across the strait in two hours," he said.

Social media video reviewed by CNN indicates that the westbound lanes on the road bridge were severed, but eastbound lanes appear intact. 

Cars have begun to pass over the Crimean bridge from Taman on the Russian mainland toward the Crimean peninsula en route to the city of Kerch, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported on Saturday.

Russian state media RIA Novosti reported Saturday that the Minister of Transport of the Crimean Republic Nikolai Lukashenko said ships with a capacity of 100 people will be launched to take passengers between Crimea and Russia's Krasnodar Territory as an alternate method of transport. 

According to Aksenov, railway communication on the bridge is set to be renewed by the end of the day.

11:34 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Forces from self-declared Donetsk People's Republic advance west of main city, separatist authorities say

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

The pro-Russian militia of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic said its units are carrying out an offensive to the west of the city of Donetsk, advancing into the village of Pervomaiskoye.

The area — near the city's now defunct and destroyed airport — has seen constant fighting for several months.

The DPR militia said in a statement on its Telegram channel Saturday that its units "continue their successful advance and are cleaning up the village of Pervomaiskoye. The actions of the assault groups are supported by artillery, the fire of which is adjusted using unmanned aerial vehicles."

The militia also published a video purporting to show its progress toward taking the village.

Ukraine's military has said that its forces have resisted several attempts to capture Pervomaiskoye this week.

1:13 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022

EU condemns Putin's attempted seizure of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after declaring annexation of regions

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, on September 11.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, on September 11. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Union "condemns in the strongest possible terms" Russia's attempted seizure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the declared annexation of four Ukraine regions, the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Saturday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that puts the plant under Russian state control and amends the country's constitution by admitting new regions into Russia.

The EU "does not recognise and strongly condemns Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. Consequently, the decree on the seizure of the ZNPP is illegal, and legally null and void," Borrell said in a statement.

Borrell urged Russia to "fully withdraw its military forces and equipment and hand back control of the NPP to its rightful owner, Ukraine."

The EU's top diplomat also stressed that a "reinforced" presence by the UN's nuclear watchdog at the site and "its unhindered access to the plant are urgently needed in the interest of the security of Europe as a whole."  

The power plant lost all external power sources Saturday due to renewed shelling and is now relying on emergency diesel generators, the International Atomic Energy Agency and Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom said.

10:21 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Ukraine to issue stamps commemorating Crimean bridge explosion

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu and Olga Voitovych 

The Ukrainian Postal Service will issue new stamps that feature the damaged Kerch Strait bridge, which connected Crimea to Russia, its CEO announced on Saturday.

“I will not wish you a good day, because it is already wonderful. The Kerch bridge is done,” Ukrposhta head Igor Smelyansky said.

The stamp will feature two figures who resemble Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in their iconic pose from the 1997 film "Titanic." 

There is also an envelope with an image of Crimea breaking handcuffs with Russia in the images shared by Smelyansky.

The price of the stamp will be 18 Ukrainian hryvnia ($0.48) each, and Kyiv plans to print 7 million copies for circulation, according to Smelyansky.

Some context: Beyond being the only bridge connecting annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland, the structure had major symbolic significance for Russian President Vladimir Putin's objective to take over Ukraine and bind it to Russia forever.

1:10 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022

UN nuclear watchdog condemns renewed shelling that knocked Zaporizhzhia plant off power grid

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi holds a press conference during his visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 6.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi holds a press conference during his visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 6. (Kyodo News/Getty Images)

The UN's nuclear watchdog condemned new shelling near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which just disconnected the plant from Ukraine's power grid, according to its operator.

The resumed shelling is "tremendously irresponsible," International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said Saturday in a press release.

The last power line connecting the plant to Ukraine’s power grid was damaged and disconnected Saturday due to attacks by Russian forces, according to the Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom. The plant is now relying on diesel generators.

“The resumption of shelling, hitting the plant’s sole source of external power, is tremendously irresponsible. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant must be protected,” Grossi said on Saturday. 

"All the plant’s safety systems continue to receive power and are operating normally, the IAEA experts were informed by senior Ukrainian operating staff at the site,” he added in the release.

"Although the six reactors are in cold shutdown, they still require electricity for vital nuclear safety and security functions. The plant’s diesel generators each have sufficient fuel for at least ten days. ZNPP engineers have begun work to repair the damaged 750 kV power line," according to the release.

Grossi stressed that the plant "must be protected” and added that he will "soon travel to the Russian Federation, and then return to Ukraine, to agree on a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the plant. This is an absolute and urgent imperative.”

What Russian officials say: The plant can be put back into operation, said Vladimir Rogov, who is a senior pro-Russian official in the regional Zaporizhzhia government. 

"Now the nuclear power plant has been switched back to the emergency mode of operation. The last power line that connected it with the right bank, with the territories controlled by [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky's regime, has been cut. For now, the nuclear power plant can only be powered by diesel generators, and this is an unusual means," Rogov said while speaking to the pro-Kremlin "Soloviev Live" show on Saturday.

"We have every possibility to restore the nuclear power plant and put it into operation," he added. 

9:41 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Surveillance video captures the explosion that rocked Crimean bridge

Surveillance video from cameras on the Kerch Strait bridge shows the moment a large explosion rocked the roadway, disabling the only bridge connecting annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports that top Russian officials have already blamed the attack on Ukraine, which has not formally taken credit for the blast — though government and military officials have posted several gloating messages online.

In Kyiv today, Ukrainians stopped to pose for a selfie in front of a billboard depicting the burning bridge.

1:02 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Analysis: What the Kerch Strait bridge explosion means for Putin and his war effort

Analysis from Jill Dougherty

Black smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch bridge on October 8.
Black smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch bridge on October 8. (AFP/Getty Images)

The explosion on Russia's bridge to Crimea not only strikes a blow against Russia's military effort in Ukraine, it's also a psychological blow to Moscow and a major propaganda victory for Ukraine. 

Russia began constructing the enormous 19-kilometer (about 12-mile) bridge over the Kerch Strait, spending an estimated $3.7 billion, after Moscow illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It was the physical expression of Russian President Vladimir Putin's objective to take over Ukraine and bind it to Russia forever. The day it opened, he led a triumphant convoy over the bridge, driving a truck festooned with flags. 

Russia's propaganda industry went into overdrive, even producing a romantic comedy about the bridge called "The Crimean Bridge, Made with Love," a rom-com about two guys working on building the bridge pursuing the same cute archaeology student. The screenplay was written by Margarita Simonyan, the head of Russia's main international propaganda TV channel RT.

The explosion on the Crimean bridge early Saturday was hardly extinguished before the trolling — a major weapon in this war — began.

The attack took place the day after Putin turned 70, and Ukraine's Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov published video of the bridge in flames, with a huge section of the roadway collapsing into the water, alongside a parallel video of Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday, Mister President." Others online compared the bridge attack to Ukraine's April sinking of the Russian Navy's warship the Moskva.

Putin's government scrambled to insist that the damage was under control and would be repaired quickly. The state news agency TASS avoided the word "attack," reporting that a team of 380 responders, along with 90 pieces of equipment, was dispatched to "eliminate the consequences of the emergency" on the bridge. The Russian Transport Ministry said the railway section of the bridge, vital for bring troops and equipment for the war effort, would be restored by Saturday evening. Russia's Investigative Committee immediately launched a criminal investigation.

Online, Ukraine was triumphant about striking such a key Russian military and symbolic objective. And Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak warned there could be more attacks ahead in a tweet, saying "everything occupied by Russia must be expelled." 

12:59 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Russian defense minister appoints new commander for Ukraine operations, according to state media

From Darya Tarasova and Eyad Turki

Sergey Surovikin.
Sergey Surovikin. (Russian Defence Ministry/Zuma Wire)

The Russian Defense Ministry has announced the appointment of a new commander for what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine, according to Russian state media.

The ministry said that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has approved the appointment of Gen. Sergey Surovikin as commander of Russia's "Joint Grouping of Forces" in Ukraine. 

Russian state news agency TASS said the ministry's spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, made the announcement Saturday.

Who is Surovikin? The appointment for Surovikin, who turns 55 on Oct. 11, is the latest promotion in a military career that began in 1983. He's served in several conflicts and faced sanctions by the European Union.

Surovikin first saw service in Afghanistan before commanding a unit in the Second Chechen War. He has also served as head of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.

He commanded several motorized rifle divisions and was instrumental in Russia's operations in Syria, when Russian combat aircraft caused widespread devastation in rebel-held areas. In 2017, he was appointed commander in chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces and was promoted to be an Army general last year. 

While in Syria, he was awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation.

He was sanctioned by the European Union in February this year in his capacity as head of the Aerospace Forces during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

9:41 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Russia to resupply troops in southern Ukraine by sea and land corridor following bridge explosion

From CNN's Darya Tarasova

Russian troops in southern Ukraine will be resupplied by sea and land corridor, following Saturday's explosion on the Kerch bridge, the country's Ministry of Defense said.

Strategic importance: The Russian military has used the bridge extensively to resupply its forces in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. It's unclear how long the road and rail bridges across the Kerch Strait will be out of service.

The Ministry said on its Telegram channel: "The provision of the Russian group of troops involved in the special military operation in the Nikolaev-Krivoy Rog and Zaporozhye [Ukrainian: Mykolaiv - Kryvyi Rih - Zaporizhzhia] operational directions is carried out continuously in full along the land corridor and partially by sea transport."

Ukraine recaptures territory in south: Kyiv is successfully pushing ahead in its campaign to retake parts of southern and eastern Ukraine that Russia captured in the initial weeks of the war.

The Ukrainian military has recaptured 2,400 square kilometers of territory in Kherson region in the south of the country “since the beginning of the full-scale war,” a senior Ukrainian official said Friday.