August 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Rhea Mogul, Heather Chen, Amy Woodyatt and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 2:31 a.m. ET, August 9, 2022
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1:41 p.m. ET, August 8, 2022

Pentagon official: Russia has had between 70,000 to 80,000 casualties so far in Ukraine-Russia conflict

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

Russia has had about 70,000 to 80,000 casualties so far in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Colin Kahl, Defense Department under secretary for policy, said during an on-camera briefing at the Pentagon on Monday. This figure includes both Russian forces killed and wounded in action.

“I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in the less than six months. Now that is a combination of killed in action and wounded in action, that number might be a little lower, little higher, but I think that’s kind of in the ballpark,” Kahl said.

Kahl said that number of casualties from Russian forces is “remarkable” considering Russia has “achieved none of Vladimir Putin’s objectives” since invading Ukraine at the end of February.

“The Ukrainian morale and will to fight is unquestioned, and much higher I think than the average will to fight on the Russian side, so I think that gives the Ukrainians a significant advantage,” Kahl added.

1:14 p.m. ET, August 8, 2022

"Huge consequences" for Ukraine and Europe if Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is compromised

From CNN's Jorge Engels and Tim Lister

Ukraine on Monday warned of catastrophic consequences if anything were to happen to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and said that Kremlin’s forces are preventing safety experts from visiting Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

“What will happen in the radius of 40-50 kilometers from the station, that’s absolutely not comparable even to Chernobyl or to Fukushima,” said Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, Ukraine’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

Tsymbaliuk said Ukraine would like to see a delegation of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations visit the station to monitor its status but that Russia’s military actions in Ukraine are making such a trip “impossible.”

“We will use all possible channels of diplomacy to bring IAEA and UN closer to conducting this mission. We really need it urgently,” Tsymbaliuk said at a news conference Monday.

His comments come after Russia and Ukraine traded blame for recent artillery and rocket fire around the nuclear plant in central Ukraine, which UN Secretary General António Guterres described as "suicidal." 

CNN cannot verify claims made by either Ukraine or Russia.

Meanwhile, a Russian representative claimed that Moscow sent out a diplomatic note stating that it is ready to assist the IAEA in a visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in central Ukraine.

Russian state media RIA Novosti reported Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s representative to International Organizations in Vienna, saying that a diplomatic note was sent out on Aug. 4 and distributed on Aug. 5. 

According to Ulyanov, the note also said Russia is interested in the IAEA taking into account criminal actions conducted by Kyiv and what he claimed is the campaign of disinformation that the Zelensky regime has launched.

On Saturday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said he was extremely concerned by the shelling "which underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond."

12:56 p.m. ET, August 8, 2022

Pentagon announces additional $1 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine 

From CNN's Barbara Starr and Ellie Kaufman

The US Defense Department Monday announced a $1 billion package of additional weapons and security assistance for Ukraine in the latest round of military aid.

It is “the largest single drawdown of US arms and equipment” since August 2021 using presidential authorities to drawdown from US military stockpiles, according to a Pentagon statement. This marks the eighteenth drawdown by the Pentagon.

What the package includes: The package for the first time will have munitions for the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), a US-Norwegian air defense system the Ukrainians need for shooting down Russian cruise missiles aimed at population centers.

The transfer of NASAMS itself could still be some days away according to US defense official. The first system to arrive is expected to be from Norway which can get it to Ukraine quicker than the US. 

This assistance package focuses heavily on additional ammunition and weapons which Ukraine forces have used successfully against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. There is additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), 75,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition and 1,000 Javelin anti-tank weapons among key items. This is the first transfer of Javelin’s announced since June. There are also hundreds of AT4 anti-armor weapons included. 

12:47 p.m. ET, August 8, 2022

Ukrainian nuclear energy generator says rocket struck close to spent fuel storage

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

As Russia and Ukraine blame each other for recent rocket and missile attacks close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the head of Ukraine's state nuclear energy company says one strike Sunday was close to the processed fuel storage area.

Petro Kotin, Chair of Energoatom, said on Ukrainian television: "This is very dangerous, because the rockets hit 10 to 20 meters away from the storage, but if they had hit the containers with the processed fuel, it would be a radiation accident."  

Kotin suggested that if one container was hit "it will be a local accident on the territory of the plant and nearby territory. If its 2-3 containers — the affected area will increase." 

Kotin also said that during the shelling communication lines between the nuclear plant and the hydro-electric power plant and the Ukrainian energy system had been ruptured.

"As of now Zaporizhzhia NPP is only connected to the Ukrainian energy system with just one communication line. If all the lines are damaged, the plant will transfer to the so-called "black-out" mode, meaning become completely de-energized. And this situation will be very dangerous for keeping fuel in nuclear reactors in a safe condition."

Kotin said that Russian forces must be expelled from the plant and a demilitarized zone should be created on the territory of the plant.

"Since the beginning of the occupation we were saying that а security mission of peacekeepers should be present there, including the IAEA experts and other security organisations. The presence of peacekeepers in this zone and giving them the control of the plant first and then giving back the control to the Ukrainian side would have solved the problem."

Kotin repeated Ukrainian claims that Russia had moved weapons into the plant's power units. "There are 14 units of heavy military equipment in the first power unit. There are 6 vehicles in the second engine room and we don't know what is inside those vehicles. There's heavy weaponry as well."

He also claimed that Russian troops had occupied all the shelters at the power plant and workers had nowhere to go when shelling occurred.

8:12 a.m. ET, August 8, 2022

Mykolaiv curfew leads to several arrests of alleged Russian informants, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

A curfew in the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv through the whole weekend had yielded results in uncovering Russian informants, said Vitaliy Kim, head of Mykolaiv region civil military administration.

The city is regularly fired upon by Russian missiles and rockets.

"I apologize for the inconvenience you had over the weekend. But it was worth it. About 20 cases were registered by various law enforcement agencies, five people who were wanted were caught," Kim told residents. "We sorted out the situation with another group, which will not interfere with us anymore."

Kim ordered an extended curfew for the city, which ran from 11 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. on Monday, local time.

"One of the tasks would be to expose the Russian agents," he said. "The city will be closed, our law enforcement will be working in different districts, including working on collaborators. Be polite, provide all the useful information."

3:33 p.m. ET, August 8, 2022

It's 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has described the recent artillery and rocket fire around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in central Ukraine as "suicidal” as Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for both attacks.

Ukraine accused Russian forces on Sunday of launching rockets at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, further ratcheting fears of an accident a day after the United Nations' watchdog warned that fighting at the occupied complex risked a "nuclear disaster."  

The Zaporizhzhia plant is Europe's largest and occupies an extensive site on the river Dnipro. It has continued operating at reduced capacity since Russian forces captured it early in March, with Ukrainian technicians remaining at work. 

"Any attack on nuclear power plants is a suicidal thing," Guterres told reporters in Tokyo.

The rockets launched on Saturday night struck near a dry storage facility, where 174 casks with spent nuclear fuel are kept, according to Energoatom, Ukraine's state-run nuclear power company. Explosions blew out windows in parts of the plant, and one worker was hospitalized with shrapnel wounds.

It was the second time in as many days that the plant was hit. 

Ukrainians say multiple Russian assaults resisted in Donetsk: The Ukrainian Military said Sunday it had inflicted losses on Russian forces in several parts of Donetsk and repelled their efforts to advance in other places.

In a briefing, the General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said the Russian forces tried to conduct several assaults in Donetsk against multiple settlements near Sloviansk, but the Ukrainian forces pushed them back. 

Russia could be preparing to bring more forces to front line, Zelensky adviser warns: Ukrainian Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called on Germany to help increase its weapons supply Sunday in an interview with German newspaper Tagesspiegel, according to the president's office.

Podolyak said in the interview that Ukraine needs "the supply of as many modern weapons as possible" and asked for the participation of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

"The more and faster we get heavy weapons, the sooner we will be able to stop this war," he said, warning he believes Russia wants to "freeze the conflict for six months in order to bring new troops and weapons to the front line," though there has not been official indication of this from the Russian side.

Zelensky rules out future negotiations if Russia holds referendums in Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would not hold future negotiations if Russia conducts referendums in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine – something officials in Russian-held territories of Ukraine's eastern Donbas region have previously said they would do.

"Every week there are more and more reports that the occupiers are preparing for pseudo-referendums in the occupied areas of the south of our country," Zelensky said in his nightly address Sunday. "I want to say a very simple thing, everyone who helps the occupiers in any way realize their intention will be held accountable. They will bear responsibility to Ukraine."

Ships loaded with Ukrainian grain are headed to international markets: The export of grain from Ukraine through Black Sea ports continued Monday, with the first ship to leave the southern port of Yuzhnyi under a UN-brokered deal to help ease the global food crisis sparked by war.

The Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry said the bulk carrier Sacura had become the first vessel to leave the port since the early days of the war in February.

The Sacura and the Arizona, which left the southwestern city of Chornomorsk Monday, are carrying 60,000 metric tons of agricultural products to international markets. Meanwhile, one of the first vessels to leave the Black Sea loaded with Ukrainian grain, the Polarnet, has reached Turkey, according to Ukrainian officials.

7:46 a.m. ET, August 8, 2022

Kremlin says prerequisites for meeting between Putin and Zelensky "not there yet"

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

The necessary prerequisites for a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are "not there yet," the Kremlin said on a conference call Monday.

"As for the summit meeting between Presidents Putin and Zelensky, it is possible only after all the homework is done by the delegations of negotiators," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked about the proposal of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to organize negotiations between Putin and Zelensky.

"This element is also missing. Therefore, the necessary prerequisites for the meeting mentioned by Mr. Erdogan are not there yet," he added.

According to the Kremlin, the Ukrainian delegation "went off the radar" and there are currently no peace negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.

Russia’s so-called "special military operation" continues until the set goals are completed, Peskov added.

Responding to Zelensky’s warning against future negotiations if Russia conducts referendums in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, Peskov said Zelensky should address his own citizens, not Russians, as they are the ones who want to hold a referendum.

"We are not the ones holding the referendums," Peskov said, adding: "[President Zelensky] needs to address his own citizens and ask why there are so many of them who would not want to live in his country."

Zelensky on Sunday discounted the possibility of future negotiations if Russia conducts referendums in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

3:33 p.m. ET, August 8, 2022

Ukrainians say they hit Kherson bridges again as Russians bolster defenses in region

From CNN's Tim Lister and Oleksandra Ochman

Alexander Ermochenko/REUTERS
Alexander Ermochenko/REUTERS

Ukrainian officials say that their armed forces have struck critical river bridges in the Russian-occupied Kherson region again.

Yurii Sobolevskyi, First Deputy Head of Kherson regional council, said that on the night of August 7 the Ukrainian military "worked on the key points of the logistics routes" of the Russians, including the main Antonivskyi bridge.

"The occupiers have cordoned off the bridge from both sides and do not allow local residents to come close. The bridge itself, according to preliminary data, was seriously damaged."

The bridge, which is one kilometer long, has been hit several times by long-range Ukrainian artillery fire.

Russian forces in Kherson continue to reinforce their presence in anticipation of a Ukrainian offensive. Serhii Khlan, an advisor to the Kherson region administration, said over the weekend that Russian forces were sending civilian traffic over the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant Bridge, north of the main bridge, and allowing civilians to use pontoon bridges to prevent Ukrainian forces from targeting Russian ground lines of communication over the Dnipro River.

Khlan also claimed that Russian forces had placed air defense systems in residential areas of Kherson city.

The top Ukrainian official for Kherson, Yaroslav Yanushkevych, said Sunday that "according to information from Ukrainian intelligence, the Russian occupiers mined vital communications in Kherson before a possible counteroffensive of the Armed Forces, including gas, electricity and water supplies."

The mayor of occupied Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, who is no longer in the city, says that Russian forces are "transporting three to four convoys of military equipment through Melitopol daily, likely in an effort to reinforce their defensive positions in Kherson and western Zaporizhia."

6:16 a.m. ET, August 8, 2022

Amnesty regrets 'distress' caused by report on Ukrainian military but stands by findings

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Amnesty International said it "deeply regrets the distress and anger" caused by a report the group published on the Ukrainian military's fighting tactics, but that it "fully" stands by the findings, which concluded those tactics violated international humanitarian law.

Some background: The human rights watchdog published a press release last week accusing Ukrainian forces of putting civilians in harm's way by setting up military bases in residential areas, including in schools and hospitals, and launching attacks from populated civilian areas.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lashed out at the group's report, arguing that it tried to "shift the responsibility" of civilian deaths in Ukraine away from Russia.

The report sparked the resignation of the head of Amnesty in Ukraine, Oksana Pokalchuk, who said she had tried to dissuade the organization from publishing the report as it appeared.

Following the backlash, Amnesty said in a statement to CNN Sunday: "While we fully stand by our findings, we regret the pain caused and wish to clarify a few crucial points."

The watchdog reiterated that it had "documented how in all 19 of the towns and villages we visited, we found instances where Ukrainian forces had located themselves right next to where civilians were living, thereby potentially putting them at risk from incoming Russian fire."

"We made this assessment based on the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL), which require all parties to a conflict to avoid locating, to the maximum extent feasible, military objectives within or near densely populated areas. The laws of war exist in part to protect civilians, and it is for this reason that Amnesty International urges governments to comply with them," the watchdog group said.

"This does not mean that Amnesty International holds Ukrainian forces responsible for violations committed by Russian forces, nor that the Ukrainian military is not taking adequate precautions elsewhere in the country," Amnesty said.

Read the full story here.