August 6, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Joshua Berlinger, Thom Poole, Maureen Chowdhury and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, August 7, 2023
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12:14 p.m. ET, August 6, 2023

Multiple explosions hit road bridges between Crimea and occupied Ukraine, Russian-installed officials say

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko, Denis Lapin and Tim Lister

One of the bridges reportedly struck connected the Arabat Spit on Crimea's east coast to the city of Henichesk.
One of the bridges reportedly struck connected the Arabat Spit on Crimea's east coast to the city of Henichesk. From truexakhersonua/Telegram

Multiple explosions have been reported on critical road bridges linking Crimea with parts of the Russian-occupied Kherson region in Ukraine, according to Russian-installed officials.

A bridge connecting the Arabat Spit, which is located on Crimea's east coast, and the Ukrainian city of Henichesk was among the reported targets. Explosions have been heard in the city, according to an unofficial Telegram channel, RIA Melitopol.

Strikes also hit the Chonhar bridge, which links the Kherson region and Crimea, said Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Russian-installed government in Zaporizhzhia.

"A total of three or four hits are reported. The extent of the damage is still unknown," he said.

The Russian-appointed leader of occupied Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, said Ukraine fired 12 missiles at the Chonhar bridge and nine had been shot down.

Saldo claimed Kyiv used advanced British Storm Shadow missiles in the attack. He also said the strikes hit a village school, and that one civilian who was on the bridge at the time of the attack was wounded.

Saldo said officials were still sorting through details of the attack and the extent of the damage to the bridge, a gas pipeline and nearby towns.

The Russian-appointed head of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, also acknowledged the attack, saying on Telegram that a bridge for cars and trucks was damaged, and "repair work is already beginning."

CNN cannot independently verify the Russian officials' claims, and Ukraine has not immediately commented on the attack.

Key context: Russia annexed the peninsula of Crimea in 2014, in a move condemned by Ukraine and its allies as illegal under international law. Kyiv has vowed to retake Crimea along with the territory occupied by Russia since it launched its full-scale invasion in 2022.

Key bridges connect the peninsula to mainland Russia and to areas of Ukraine occupied by Moscow's troops, which are now controlled by Russia-installed leaders.

Crimean bridges have emerged as key targets in Ukrainian drone and missile attacks, especially as Ukraine vows to ramp up its assault on Russian targets in and around the Black Sea, and as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Kyiv's troops are working "to bring the war back where it came from."

2:26 p.m. ET, August 6, 2023

Russian bomb hits blood transfusion center in Kharkiv region, Zelensky says

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Smoke and flames rise after President Volodymyr Zelensky says a Russian-guided aerial bomb hit a blood transfusion center in the town of Kupyansk in northeastern Ukraine, in this image released on August 5, 2023, and obtained from the Ukrainian President's Telegram account.
Smoke and flames rise after President Volodymyr Zelensky says a Russian-guided aerial bomb hit a blood transfusion center in the town of Kupyansk in northeastern Ukraine, in this image released on August 5, 2023, and obtained from the Ukrainian President's Telegram account.

A Russian guided aerial bomb struck a blood transfusion center in the country's northeastern Kharkiv region Saturday, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He said on Telegram that there are dead and wounded victims as a result of the attack, but did not provide any specific numbers.

Zelensky said the blood transfusion center is located in the Kupyansk community, where Russia has recently amassed troops on the eastern front line. A fire broke out at the center following the attack, he added.

CNN cannot independently verify reports about attacks on the front lines in Ukraine.

The area was liberated in a Ukrainian counteroffensive last fall.

11:59 a.m. ET, August 6, 2023

Flights at Moscow airport disrupted during a drone alert

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

A plane takes off from Vnukovo International Airport on September 9, 2020.
A plane takes off from Vnukovo International Airport on September 9, 2020. Alexander Sayganov/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images/FILE

Flights at Moscow's Vnukovo International Airport were temporarily disrupted during a drone alert Sunday.

Citing the airport's press service, Russian state news agency TASS said flight restrictions began at 10:26 a.m. in the capital due to "reasons beyond the airport's control."

Nearly 30 flights were affected.

Separately, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said a drone attempted to break through Moscow's air defenses at about 11 a.m. local time but was destroyed on approach.

The Russian defense ministry later said a drone attack at 11:27 a.m. local time was "thwarted."

The capital on alert: Drone attacks on Moscow and inside Russia have become increasingly common in recent weeks. Officials in Kyiv have warned of more to come.

This post has been updated with additional information.

9:39 a.m. ET, August 6, 2023

Peace talks at Ukraine summit in Saudi Arabia productive and honest so far, official says

From CNN's Tim Lister

The second meeting on restoring peace in Ukraine is taking place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with more than 40 countries participating today.

A senior official from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office said the peace talks, so far, have been productive.

"We had an extremely honest, open conversation, during which representatives of each country could voice their position and vision," Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine's presidential office, said.

Yermak said all the participants demonstrated their countries' commitment to the principles of the UN Charter. He described the peace consultations as "very productive."

Among the participants are senior officials from the European Union, United States, Germany, United Kingdom, China, India, South Africa and Turkey.

Russia was not represented. 

The meeting is expected to continue through Sunday. 

More context: The talks involve Ukraine, Western nations and representatives from developing countries — some of whom have refused to take sides in the conflict. Host country Saudi Arabia is hoping the summit results in support for Kyiv's peace proposals from beyond its core Western backers.

The meetings are likely to center more around the talking stages rather than concrete steps towards peace, as Ukraine and Russia continue to express conditions that are unacceptable to the other. Despite all this, the conference is being closely watched.

CNN's Sophie Tanno contributed to this report.

8:32 a.m. ET, August 6, 2023

Russia hasn't made major advances as fighting rages along the eastern front, Ukrainian military says

From CNN's Maria Kostenko

There has been heavy fighting along the eastern front line in the war, with hundreds of recent engagements, but Russia has failed to make any significant advances, a Ukrainian military official said Sunday.

Kyiv's soldiers have been particularly successful around Bakhmut, where some of the bloodiest fighting of the war has taken place, Serhii Cherevatyi, a deputy commander and spokesperson for Ukrainian forces in the country's east, told CNN.

Cherevatyi said Ukrainian troops were advancing "hundreds of meters every day" despite a tough Russian resistance. Kremlin forces fired more than 650 shells there in the past day alone, he said.

"The enemy is putting up fierce resistance," Cherevatyi told CNN.

He added that movement along the front line was broadly static despite the intensity of the fighting. 

The fight further north: While Ukraine is advancing on Bakhmut, Russia is trying to move toward Kupyansk, a city to the north in the Kharkiv region, Cherevatyi said.

Six attacks had taken place in settlements close to Kupyansk and Kharkiv's border with the region of Luhansk. Some involved fighter jets and attack helicopters.

"The Russians are concentrating their forces in this area, with powerful units there. However, we can see their intentions, we know what they want to do and what areas to attack," Cherevatyi said.

The Russian military said its forces had taken a village near Kupyansk on Saturday. Cherevatyi denied claims that Russia had made any ground, "unless we are talking about tens of meters. Nothing significant."

Cherevatyi also shot down any assertions that Kyiv had lost territory south of Svatove, another hotspot on the front that runs along the border of Kharkiv and Luhansk regions.

CNN cannot independently verify battlefield reports from either side in the conflict.

8:47 a.m. ET, August 6, 2023

Important Ukrainian air base targeted in wave of Russian strikes, Kyiv says

From CNN's Maria Kostenko and Tim Lister

Russian forces attempted to strike a key air base in western Ukraine as they launched a wave of missiles and drones overnight into Sunday.

The Starokostiantyniv airfield, in the Ukrainian region of Khmelnytskyi, has previously been targeted.

"The Starokostiantyniv airfield keeps troubling the enemy," said Yurii Ihnat, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force command. "And we can understand why — our pilots are hauling the enemy over the coals."

A local official said several homes were damaged in the attack and a fire had broken out on the premises of a grain elevator.

Missiles also struck the Khmelnytskyi region on Wednesday.

Attacks across Ukraine: Ukraine's Air Force said Russia fired 70 aerial attack weapons at targets across Ukraine in the latest wave of strikes.

All 27 drones used in the barrage were shot down, as were 18 of the 26 cruise missiles used by Russia's troops, according to Ukrainian officials. Kyiv did not specify how many hypersonic missiles made it through its air defenses.

"Unfortunately, we do not always succeed in shooting down everything," said Ihnat.

8:55 a.m. ET, August 6, 2023

Russian attacks in Kharkiv are on the rise, officials say

From CNN's Maria Kostenko and Tim Lister

Russian forces are stepping up their operations in the northeastern region of Kharkiv, according to Ukrainian officials.

Kremlin forces have continued shelling several areas around the region, including the city of Kharkiv, the head of the region's military administration, Oleh Syniehubov, said Sunday.

Two men were killed and four people were wounded when a non-residential building was struck with a bomb in the village of Kruhliakivka, Syniehubov said.

Russian artillery fire and air strikes along the front line have intensified in recent days.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that a blood transfusion center in the region was also bombed. He said there are dead and wounded victims as a result of the attack, but did not provide any specific numbers.

CNN cannot independently verify reports about attacks on the front lines in Ukraine.

Dueling claims near Kupyansk: Russia claims it has captured a village near Kupyansk on Saturday, but Syniehubov said Ukraine's troops have held their positions in the area. He also said Russia's attempts to launch assaults on villages northeast of Kupyansk have failed.

4:33 a.m. ET, August 6, 2023

Ukraine accused of using cluster munitions against university in Donetsk, Russian state media claims

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Ukrainian forces allegedly shelled a university in Russian-held territory with controversial cluster munitions, Russia's state media TASS reported, citing emergency services on the scene.

TASS said that the Donetsk University of Economics and Trade was hit by the weapons, causing a fire to break out. Emergency services said there were no people inside at the time and they are working to put out the fire.

CNN has not been able independently verify the claim.

Donetsk has been plagued by fighting since 2014, when Russia began backing pro-Moscow separatists. The region was one of four territories Russia said it would annex last year in violation of international law.

Understanding cluster munitions: Cluster munitions are particularly dangerous when fired near populated areas because they scatter explosive material, so-called “bomblets,” across large areas, posing a greater threat to nearby civilians than many other types of explosives. Those that fail to explode on impact can detonate years later, posing a long-term risk to anyone who encounters them, similar to landmines.

The danger posed by cluster weapons has prompted more than 100 countries – including the United Kingdom, France and Germany – to sign a treaty prohibiting their use.

Their use in the conflict: Russian forces have been accused of using cluster bombs throughout the conflict, killing at least 200 civilians, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said in a statement on Friday. 

The United States began sending Kyiv American-made cluster bombs last month despite concerns regarding the danger they pose to civilians. US President Joe Biden told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that he approved the shipments because Ukraine was "running out of ammunition."

5:26 a.m. ET, August 6, 2023

Ukraine promises more attacks on Russian shipping and Crimea bridge

From CNN's Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko

A screengrab from a video shows damage to the Crimea Bridge on July 17, 2023.
A screengrab from a video shows damage to the Crimea Bridge on July 17, 2023. Telegram via @grey_zone

Ukraine has served notice that it intends to continue attacks using maritime drones, following two strikes using such weapons within 24 hours.

The head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Vasyl Maliuk said Saturday that any explosions that happen to Russian ships or the Crimean bridge are "an absolutely logical and effective step. Moreover, such special operations are conducted in the territorial waters of Ukraine and are completely legal."

Maliuk said that if the Russians wanted such explosions to stop "they have the only option to do so — to leave the territorial waters of Ukraine and our land."

Some context: The Russian-flagged tanker Sig was damaged by a maritime drone overnight near the bridge connecting the annexed Crimean peninsula to mainland Russia. According to the Russian agency for Marine and River Transport, the Sig was hit shortly before midnight Friday local time. It was not carrying a cargo of oil at the time.

The hit on the oil tanker was carried out in a joint operation with the Navy, a Ukraine Security Service (SBU) source told CNN.

The attack came hours after Ukrainian sea drones attacked a major Russian naval base in the Black Sea.