August 12, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Heather Chen, Jack Bantock, Hafsa Khalil, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 3:44 a.m. ET, August 15, 2022
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12:35 p.m. ET, August 12, 2022

Russian journalist who protested Ukraine war live on TV placed under house arrest

From CNN's Anna Chernova, Kara Fox and Sugam Pokharel  

Former Russian state TV editor Marina Ovsyannikova, stands inside a defendants' box during a court session over charges of "discrediting" the Russian army, in Moscow, on August 11.
Former Russian state TV editor Marina Ovsyannikova, stands inside a defendants' box during a court session over charges of "discrediting" the Russian army, in Moscow, on August 11. Natalia KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images

A Moscow court has placed former Russian state TV editor Marina Ovsyannikova under house arrest for two months pending a trial related to her anti-war protest in July, the press service of the court said in a statement Thursday.

According to the statement, Ovsyannikova has been charged with spreading fake news about the Russian military and has been placed under house arrest until October 9. 

The offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison by the Russian law.

Ovsyannikova, who previously worked as an editor for Russian state TV Channel One, took a dramatic stand against Russia's war in Ukraine during a live broadcast in March when she broke into the studio and appeared behind a news anchor with a sign that said: "NO WAR."

She previously told CNN she had already received three fines for a total sum of 120,000 rubles (about $1,970) for her anti-war statements, including for allegedly “discrediting” the army in her Facebook post she published on Russia Day.

During her hearing, Ovsyannikova held a sign saying, "May the dead children haunt you in your dreams,” in a protest against Russian military actions in Ukraine.   

Videos on social media showed Ovsyannikova, a former Russian state TV editor, holding the hand-written sign in Russian from inside the glass cage of the courtroom. Security personnel put their hands on the glass trying to block the sign from being visible. 

Ovsyannikova’s lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov confirmed to CNN that she held up the protest sign on Thursday in the court.

11:27 a.m. ET, August 12, 2022

Satellite image shows burnt remains of Russian military tent targeted by Ukraine strike at Zaporizhzhia plant

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy 

A destroyed Russian tent is seen in a Planet Labs satellite image of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from Aug. 7, following a targeted strike by the Ukrainian military.
A destroyed Russian tent is seen in a Planet Labs satellite image of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from Aug. 7, following a targeted strike by the Ukrainian military. (Planet Labs)

The burnt remains of a Russian military tent, targeted by a Ukrainian military strike, can be seen in a Planet Labs satellite image of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant from Aug. 7. 

The military strike occurred on July 19, according to the mayor of Enerhodar, the town where the nuclear power plant is located. At the time, Mayor Dmytro Orlov said an unexplained incident caused at least nine Russian soldiers to be injured and killed an unknown amount of soldiers. 

The same area is pictured on July 3 in a satellite image from Planet Labs.
The same area is pictured on July 3 in a satellite image from Planet Labs. (Planet Labs)

On July 22, Defence Intelligence of Ukraine released a video that showed a military strike among an area of tents on the Zaporizhzhia plant compound. The tents — as well as the Ukrainian strike — were located just under 1,000 feet from one of the nuclear reactors.  

The video showed at least three tent structures were burned. The Ukrainian intelligence agency claimed the strike killed three Russian soldiers and injured 12. 

9:02 a.m. ET, August 12, 2022

Ukrainian officials expect Russians to begin trials of prisoners of war this month

From Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych 

Ukrainian officials say they expect the Russians to begin trials for Ukrainian prisoners of war later this month, with the first tribunals taking place in Mariupol.

Vadym Boichenko, the mayor of Mariupol, said Friday at a media briefing that the "Russians plan to hold a trial of Ukrainian prisoners of war in Mariupol on the Independence Day of Ukraine, August 24."

"The occupiers are turning the Mariupol Philharmonic Hall, the pearl of the city, where only festive events took place, into a place of trial for our prisoners of war and civilians," he said.

Boichenko said, "There are different dates, but they are preparing. In this way, the invaders try to create 'victories' for their consumers, since they have no real victories at the front."

Officials of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, which is supported by Russia, have also indicated that trials will begin soon.

"The timing of the tribunal for the Ukrainian military and militants will be determined after the completion of the comprehensive work of the investigators," Denis Pushilin, the head of the DPR, said on Russian television earlier this week.

"Comprehensive preparations for the tribunal are under way ... I won't say for sure about the timing, because it still depends on the investigators. As soon as the investigators give the go-ahead," Pushilin said.

He also said that an air defense group has been strengthened in the area of the isolation blocks where Ukrainian prisoners of war are kept.

A correspondent with the Russian Defense Ministry's channel Zvezda reported from outside the Philharmonic Hall in Mariupol this week, noting that a "huge metal frame is being built next to the Philharmonic. This is a future hangar, where prison wagons with Azov prisoners of war will presumably come by."

10:21 a.m. ET, August 12, 2022

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

The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southeastern Ukraine is at threat of running afoul of radiation and fire safety standards after subsequent Russian bombing.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Zaporizhzhia Plant: After attacks on the nuclear power plant last week, the city of Nikopol — across the Dnipro river from the plant — was again hit by Russian rockets overnight. On Friday, Ukraine's Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi said there was "no adequate control" over the plant, which has been operating at reduced capacity since been overtaken by Russian forces in March. According to Ukrainian nuclear power operator, Energoatom, the plant is now operating "with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards," due to parts of the facility being "seriously damaged during the shelling," which both countries are accusing the other for. Meanwhile, pro-Russian official Vladimir Rogov in the occupied Zaporizhzhia region administration has said that the plant may be "mothballed" so "nothing happens."
  • Grain scheduled for Ethiopia: Ukraine's Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov announced in a tweet on Thursday that a ship taking 23,000 tons of grain to Ethiopia would be arriving in Ukraine for loading on Friday. In June, the UN said war in Ukraine worsened the humanitarian crisis in the African nation, where 20 million people are suffering the from "food security crisis."
  • Corn heads to Iran and Turkey: According to Turkey's Defense Ministry, two ships carrying corn left Ukraine on Friday carrying over 63,000 metric tons.
  • Protesting Russian journalist charged: Former Russian state TV editor Marina Ovsyannikova has been placed under house arrest until October 9 pending a trial related to her anti-war protest in July, an offense punishable by up to 10 years. In March, Ovsyannikova stood behind a news anchor during a live broadcast with a sign that read: "NO WAR."
  • Ukraine fights eastern attacks: The Ukrainian military has repelled Russian assaults in the east, "pushing back" forces near the city Kramatorsk, according to its General Staff, adding that they were also successful in defending attacks towards Bakhmut and Avdiivka.

7:58 a.m. ET, August 12, 2022

Senior pro-Russian official badly injured in Melitopol attack, claims city's mayor

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

A leading pro-Russian official has been seriously injured in a sabotage attack in the Russian occupied city of Melitopol, the city's mayor has claimed.

Ivan Fedorov said on his Telegram channel that "one of the heads of the election headquarters of 'United Russia' [Russia's ruling party]" had been severely injured in an attack Friday morning.

Fedorov, who is not in the city, named the official as Oleg Shostak and said was head of the propaganda department.

There had been an "explosive warning from the Melitopol underground resistance movement," Fedorov said.

"The hunt for collaborators preparing for the pseudo-referendum has begun," he added.

CNN is unable to confirm the report.

Fedorov also claimed that the main headquarters of the 'United Russia' party in Melitopol had been blown up earlier this week, and that the home of a woman collaborating with the Russians in preparing for a referendum had been burned down.

On Tuesday, Fedorov said that that resistance and attacks continue in the city, with Russian troops there being reinforced.

"We are grateful to hundreds of citizens of Melitopol who inform us about activists and members of election committees every day. None of your messages go unnoticed," Fedorov ended his message by saying.

9:58 a.m. ET, August 12, 2022

Ukrainian nuclear operator says Zaporizhzhia plant at "risk of violating radiation" safety standards

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

The Ukrainian nuclear power operator, Energoatom, says that as of Friday, the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia "operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards."

Energoatom alleged the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) by Russian forces last week, and over ten "arrivals" near the plant, close to the first power unit on Thursday, "caused a serious risk to the safe operation of the plant."

"As a result of the attack on the Zaporizhzhia NPP, the emergency protection on one of the power units was activated; one of the three operating power units is now disconnected," Energoatom said on its Telegram channel. 

While the plant is under Russian control, most of the technicians are still Ukrainian. The Russian side has claimed that it is the Ukrainians who are shelling the territory of the power plant. 

Energoatom said the nitrogen-oxygen station, the domestic sewage pumping station, and the combined auxiliary building were seriously damaged during the shelling, as well as "three radiation monitoring sensors around the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel site of the ZNPP."

The operator added that the fire department located outside the ZNPP is intended for "protection from fires and their extinguishing in case of emergency situations at the station, was also fired upon."

CNN is unable to confirm the details provided by Energoatom, but the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said on Thursday that some parts of the plant were inoperable.

Energoatom reported that "the Ukrainian staff of the station continues to work and make every effort to ensure nuclear and radiation safety, as well as eliminate the consequences of damage."

"Currently, the Zaporizhzhia NPP continues to operate and produce electricity for the needs of the domestic power system."

9:59 a.m. ET, August 12, 2022

Zaporizhzhia plant may be "mothballed," says pro-Russian official in Ukraine

From CNN's Tim Lister, Anna Chernova and Olga Voitovych

A local pro-Russian official in occupied Ukraine has suggested the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant may be "mothballed."

Vladimir Rogov, an official with the Russian-backed Zaporizhzhia region administration, did not specify what that would entail on Friday.

"The load on the nuclear power plant is minimal, the output is minimal, there is a way of preserving what is, so that nothing happens," Rogov said in an interview with Rossiya 24 channel.

"Soon (the Ukrainian authorities) will not receive anything, because, of course, we will save the nuclear power plant, mothball it, bring the [electricity] loads that we have to the liberated territories."

Russian officials have previously suggested that the power produced at Zaporizhzhia -- the largest nuclear power plant in Europe with six reactors -- will be diverted away from the Ukrainian grid to Crimea.

CNN has reached out to Russia's state nuclear operator Rosatom for comment.

A recent rise in shelling around the plant has led to the damage of its facilities and communications, with both sides blaming each other.

Rogov added that there had been "constant damage to the power [transmission] line of 750 kilovolts."

Earlier Friday, Ukraine's Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi accused Russian forces of shelling the plant's power unit.

9:59 a.m. ET, August 12, 2022

"No adequate control" over operations at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Ukraine says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

There is "no adequate control" over operations at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine's Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi said Friday.

The plant has been held by Russian forces since its capture in March but has continued operating at reduced capacity, largely by Ukrainian civilian technicians.

A recent uptick in artillery and mortar fire to the plant's surrounding area led the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to state that the "alarming" situation had reached a "grave hour" on Thursday.

Repeating that the Ukrainian government has already appealed to the IAEA to ensure proper control over the plant, Monastyrskyi said that his ministry "is preparing for any scenario."

"There is no adequate control over the operations at Zaporizhzhia NPP," Monastyrskyi said in a Facebook post. "Now, it is actually not just in the hands of the enemy, but also in the hands of untrained specialists who can really allow a tragedy."

"Those Ukrainian specialists who remained there are partially not allowed to the areas where they should be. As is known, military equipment of the Russian Federation is located on the territory of the station now. All this is assessed as the highest level of threat," he added.

Both sides have blamed each other for putting the plant at risk, with Monastyrskyi accusing Russian forces of shelling the plant's power unit.

"It's hard to even imagine the scale of the tragedy that could happen if the Russians continue to stay there," he said.

4:22 a.m. ET, August 12, 2022

Zelensky warns officials not to reveal military tactics against Russia

From CNN's Tim Lister and Gul Tuysuz

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during his evening video message on Thursday August 11.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during his evening video message on Thursday August 11. (Office of President of Ukraine)

President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned Ukrainian officials to stop talking about the military campaign against Russia, saying that war was "definitely not the time for vanity and loud statements."

In a video message on Thursday, Zelensky sternly addressed military commanders and state officials.

"The less concrete details you give about our defense plans, the better it will be for the implementation of those defense plans," Zelensky.

"You should feel your responsibility for every word you say about what our state prepares for in defense or counteroffensives."

"The general rule is simple: war is definitely not the time for vanity and loud statements."

Zelensky's remarks come after a senior Ukrainian commander spoke at length about plans to liberate the southern city of Kherson from Russian forces by the end of the year.

In an interview, Major General Dmytro Marchenko spoke about Ukrainian operations to disable bridges across the River Dnipro used by Russian forces to resupply their units in Kherson. "I want to convey to the people of Kherson ... it will not be as long as everyone expects. It will be fast," Marchenko said.

Zelensky did not mention Marchenko by name in his video address but Ukrainian defence officials said that investigations into "a high-ranking military officer" were underway.