August 11, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Heather Chen, Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 3:11 a.m. ET, August 12, 2022
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2:34 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

US supports calls for "demilitarized zone" around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on August 4.
A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on August 4. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The United States supports calls for a “demilitarized zone” around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, a US State Department spokesperson said Thursday.

“Fighting near a nuclear plant is dangerous and irresponsible – and we continue to call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukrainian nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine, and support Ukrainian calls for a demilitarized zone around the nuclear power plant,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Russia is accused of using the nuclear power plant as a military base. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week cited reports “that Russia is using this plant as the equivalent of a human shield, but a nuclear shield in the sense that it’s firing on Ukrainian from around the plant.” 

“And of course, the Ukrainians cannot and will not fire back, lest there be a terrible accident involving a nuclear plant. So this is the height of irresponsibility,” he said. 

Both Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for attacks.

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia was maximizing the risk of a nuclear disaster at the facility, and the UN secretary general said he was “gravely concerned about the situation.”

“We must be clear that any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia or any other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, or anywhere else, could lead to catastrophic consequences not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the region and beyond,” Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the G7 Foreign Ministers in a joint statement demanded “that Russia immediately hand back full control to its rightful sovereign owner, Ukraine, of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant as well as of all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders to ensure their safe and secure operations.”

“We remain profoundly concerned by the serious threat that the seizure of Ukrainian nuclear facilities and other actions by Russian armed forces pose to the safety and security of these facilities, significantly raising the risk of a nuclear accident or incident and endangering the population of Ukraine, neighboring states and the international community,” they said.

Radiation levels at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant are within the normal range despite renewed shelling on the site, Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom said on Thursday.

12:42 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Ukraine accuses Russia of shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again on Thursday 

From CNN's Maria Kostenko

Ukraine has accused Russia of shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) again on Thursday, the country's nuclear agency Energoatom said in a telegram post.

“The invaders again targeted the territory of the nuclear power plant, hitting not far from the first power unit,” Energoatom said in the post Thursday. “They damaged the domestic sewage pumping station. Extensive smoke was recorded nearby.”

“The situation is getting worse, because there are radiation sources nearby and several radiation sensors are damaged,” Energoatom added.

The nuclear agency also said Thursday that radiation levels at the plant were within the normal range despite renewed shelling on the site. 

In a statement on Wednesday, G7 nations demanded that Russia give back full control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and other nuclear facilities to Ukraine, amid growing concern from international organizations that nearby fighting could lead to catastrophic consequences.

11:40 a.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Ukraine is expecting arrival of ship that will take much-needed grain to Ethiopia

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London

Ukraine is expecting the arrival of a ship that will be taking 23,000 tonnes of grain to Ethiopia, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted on Thursday. 

“Ukraine is ready for the BRAVE COMMANDER arrival, which is expected tomorrow [Friday],” Kuvrakov said. “Thanks to the Black Sea Initiative we are ready to load more than 23,000 tons of grain & export it to Ethiopia.” 

Conflict in the north and a drought in the south have pushed around 20 million people to a vulnerable and precarious humanitarian situation in Ethiopia, which, according to the United Nations, has been made worse by the war in Ukraine. 

“At the same time, the ripple effect of the war in Ukraine is set to exacerbate Ethiopia’s food security crisis,” the UN said in a report published in June. “With over three-quarters of [World Food Programme] and government wheat – a country staple – coming from Ukraine or Russia, the precarious situation there is threatening to push its cost, as well as that of fertilizer, beyond the means of millions of Ethiopian farmers. 

2:17 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Defense secretary: UK is committed to train more Ukrainian troops than initially planned 

From CNN’s Benjamin Brown in London and Xiaofei Xu in Paris 

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace speaks during a press statement on August 11 in Copenhagen.
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace speaks during a press statement on August 11 in Copenhagen. (Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images)

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Thursday that Britain is on track to train more Ukrainian troops than it first planned. 

When asked whether the UK could train more Ukrainian troops than the 10,000 by October as initially outlined, he said: "I think we're committed now to really going beyond that. We are going to train more and for longer." 

Speaking at a news conference in Copenhagen after an international donor conference to provide aid to Ukraine to help boost its military capabilities to fight against Russia, Wallace highlighted some of the achievements of the conference. 

“What we've got today is a confirmation [that more states will support UK training efforts], and in the lead-up to this we have Sweden putting in a significant number of troops, Norway announced at the event today they will put some in, we've got obviously Denmark sending 130. We've got Finland sending. We've got an awful lot of Vikings now in England. It didn't bode well a few hundred years ago when that happened. It's sort of repeat now. Most of the training mission seems to be Nordic,” he said. 

Wallace also said that the actions of the international community to help Ukraine “are still on an upward trajectory.”

“There is no fatigue on the actions. We started off with basic handheld weapons and debates about whether or not training people would be provocative. Six months later, we're into discussions about how many helicopters the international community has provided, how many fixed-wing aircraft the international community has provided, how many GMLRS and HIMARS. If you judge us by our actions, the international community, the appetite is still upwards not downwards,” he said. 

Speaking at the same press conference, Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov noted that it’s important to make continued support to Ukraine “sustainable” because the warehouses or storage “is not endless in every country.”

“That’s why we need to communicate ... We need to invest money to production, for example, in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Latvia or Lithuania to extend their capacity,” he said. 

12:42 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Radiation levels at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant are normal, according to Ukrainian agency

From Yulia Kesaieva

Radiation levels at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant are within the normal range despite renewed shelling on the site, Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom said on Thursday. 

“As of 17:00 (10aET), the radiation background at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is 11-12 μR/h, which corresponds to natural norms,” according to Energoatom. 

Energoatom said there was currently no fire at the Russian-occupied plant but accused Moscow of firing on it earlier in the day. 

At least 10 shells landed in the area around the nuclear complex, five near the station commander’s office and five near the fire department, the agency said.

“As a result of shelling at the station, it was not possible to carry out a shift handover in time. For the safety of nuclear workers, the buses with the personnel of the next shift were turned back to Enerhodar,” Energoatom said. “Until the situation finally normalizes, the workers of the previous shift will continue to work.”

“The situation at the station is currently under control,” it said. 

2:44 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Donors pledge more than $1.55 billion in aid for Ukraine, Danish defense minister says 

From CNN’s Benjamin Brown in London and Xiaofei Xu in Paris 

Danish Defense Minister Morten Bødskov attends a press conference on the support for Ukraine in Copenhagen, on August 10.
Danish Defense Minister Morten Bødskov attends a press conference on the support for Ukraine in Copenhagen, on August 10. (Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of 26 countries pledged more than $1.55 billion (1.5 billion euros) in aid to Ukraine, Danish Defense Minister Morten Bødskov said after hosting ministers from allied countries in Copenhagen for a conference to discuss long-term support for Ukraine, including military training and weapon supplies. 

"Participants today have committed more than 1.5 billion euros to the table for Ukraine. The United Kingdom is setting up a fund in order to gather financing for increased production of weapons,” he said at a press conference, speaking alongside his British and Ukrainian counterparts, Ben Wallace and Oleksii Reznikov. 

Reznikov said he was “satisfied with the results” of the donor conference.  

“I’m glad that we all have common sense, that there is no time for fatigue, that it’s a marathon. For marathon you need energy and frankly speaking the main energy in this case is money. Our partners know that we need funding and they articulated readiness to support us financially,” the Ukrainian minister added.  

2:47 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Russia is "maximizing" risk of nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Zelensky says

From CNN's Tim Lister

A view of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on August 4.
A view of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on August 4. (Alexander Ermochenko)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of maximizing the risk of a nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which was taken over by Russian forces in early March.

Addressing a meeting of allies from across northern Europe, Zelensky recalled the Chernobyl disaster.

"If the Soviet authorities tried to hide the Chernobyl disaster and its full consequences, then the Russian authorities are much more cynical and dangerous. They themselves do everything to maximize the risk of a nuclear disaster and lie to the whole world that someone else is allegedly to blame," he said.

Zelensky accused Russia of turning the nuclear power plant into a "battlefield."

"The Russian occupation army is using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant for terror and armed provocations," he added.

The Ukrainian president also reiterated his demand that Russia be declared a terrorist state and also urged tougher sanctions.

Russia "simply would not have a combat-ready army in modern conditions if it were not for imported parts. Electronics, optics and many other parts of foreign production are used in the creation of missiles, drones, means of communication, armored vehicles, etc. This flow of technical assistance to Russian terror must be completely stopped," he said.

Ukraine also needs continued supply of weapons in order to force Russia to "finally think about finding a peaceful solution," Zelensky said, adding an appeal for financial support.

Ukraine's monthly deficit of is about $5 billion dollars, he told the Allied conference. "Ukraine needs reconstruction. Now. We need to carry out demining. And, of course, we need to prepare defenses for winter conditions," he said. "Financial support for our state, for the budget and for fast recovery is as vital as weapons and ammunition for our army and sanctions against Russia."

8:07 a.m. ET, August 11, 2022

Germany will launch tax relief package to help ease impacts of energy crisis

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Germany will launch a new package of measures to help ease the impacts of the energy crisis on citizens as Russia's war in Ukraine continues.

This includes a tax relief for low-income families and for people who have problems paying their energy bills, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday. 

"Citizens can count on us not to abandon them," Scholz told journalists at a news conference in Berlin. 

On Wednesday, Germany's finance ministry revealed a proposal to ease income taxes in response to rising living costs. Finance Minister Christian Lindner said he expects about 48 million Germans would benefit from the tax changes.

The proposal follows an announcement from Chancellor Scholz in July that German households would have to pay for higher gas prices in the fall as a result of a gas standoff with Russia.

On Thursday, Scholz also said that Germany is determined to tackle an energy crisis in the coming winter in solidarity with its European partners.

"I believe that as the biggest country with the greatest economy and the largest population at the center of Europe, we have a special task," Scholz said. "We are the ones that have to do their share so that progress and sustainability come to pass in Europe. This is something that I commit to."

6:44 p.m. ET, August 11, 2022

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

From CNN staff

At least two people were killed by Russian shelling in central Ukraine overnight, and pro-Russian forces say they have entered two towns in the eastern Donetsk region. Various European leaders have also pledged more military support for Ukraine, including rocket systems promised by the United Kingdom.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Pro-Russian forces claim progress in Donetsk: Pro-Russian separatist forces say they have entered the Donetsk towns of Soledar and Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. DPR forces also claim to have surrounded Avdiivka and were in control of most of Pisky and Marinka.
  • Ukraine strikes Russian targets in south: Ukraine's military said it carried out six airstrikes against Russian targets in southern Ukraine on Wednesday. Russian forces were hit in the Beryslav district of Kherson and ammunition depots were destroyed in Bashtanka and Barvinka, officials said.
  • Two killed by Russian shelling: At least two people were killed and nine others injured, including a 13-year-old girl, after Russian forces shelled Ukraine's central Dnipropetrovsk region overnight, according to Ukrainian officials.

  • Belarus air base fire caused by equipment: An overnight blaze at a Belarusian air base near the Ukrainian border was caused by a piece of equipment catching fire, the Belarus Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The statement was issued in response to reports of flashes and detonations at Zyabrovka Air Base near the southeastern city of Gomel.
  • More military support for Ukraine: The United Kingdom will send further multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) to Ukraine, and Denmark will give another 110 million euros ($113.7 million) in financial aid to Ukraine for "weapons, equipment and training." In addition, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany will provide Ukraine with arms deliveries "in the near future."
  • Russia targets Tatar activists: Ukraine's First Deputy Foreign Minister, Emine Dzheppar, said that authorities in Crimea have arrested several Tatar activists after searching their homes. Three of the activists were detained.