August 15, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Chris Lau, Sana Noor Haq, Caolán Magee, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Adrienne Vogt, Mike Hayes, Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 6:16 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023
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3:42 p.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Ukrainian officials slam comments by top NATO staffer that Kyiv could join alliance by ceding land to Russia

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Yulia Kesaieva

Volodymyr Zelensky visits the frontline near the city of Soledar, Donetsk region, on Monday.
Volodymyr Zelensky visits the frontline near the city of Soledar, Donetsk region, on Monday. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Ukrainian officials are slamming comments made by Stian Jenssen, the director of the Private Office of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General, who said in published remarks that ceding territory to Russia could be a way for Kyiv to achieve peace and join the military alliance. 

"Trading territory for a NATO umbrella? It is ridiculous. That means deliberately choosing the defeat of democracy, encouraging a global criminal, preserving the Russian regime, destroying international law, and passing the war on to other generations,"  Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, said in a social media post. 

Jenssen, who has been in his current NATO role since 2017, made his comments in an interview with the Norwegian newspaper, Verdens Gang.

Oleg Nikolenko, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, also criticized the remarks.

"Discussions about Ukraine's accession to NATO in exchange for giving up part of its territories are absolutely unacceptable. We have always believed that the Alliance, like Ukraine, does not trade territories," Nikolenko said in a Facebook post. 

Nikolenko added that the "conscious or unconscious involvement of NATO officials in shaping the narrative" surrounding Ukraine potentially ceding territories "plays into Russia's hands." Rather, he said, "It is in the interests of Euro-Atlantic security to discuss ways to accelerate Ukraine's victory and its full membership in NATO."

3:47 p.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Ukraine to spend $32 million on fortifications in northeast

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv and Vasco Cotovio in London

The Ukrainian government has allocated over 1.2 billion in Ukranian hryvnias (UAH), which is about around $32 million, to build up fortifications in the northeastern regions of the country, prime minister Denys Shmyhal announced Tuesday.

“At the request of the Kharkiv and Chernihiv regional military administrations, more than UAH 1.2 billion has been allocated from the state budget reserve fund,” the government announcement read.

The Kharkiv region will get UAH 911.5 million (which is about $24.69 million), while the Chernihiv region will receive more than UAH 363 million (or about $9.83 million), the announcement added. “These are funds for the construction of military engineering and fortification structures," the statement read.

The head of the Kharkiv region military administration, Oleh Syniehubov, said he was grateful for the support of the government in Kyiv.

“Defense capability remains the first and foremost common task,” Syniehubov said. “After all, our border region suffers from constant shelling by the occupiers every day, the Russian army keeps trying to break through our defense, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine fight difficult battles every day.”
6:16 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

Russian missiles fired on Ukraine overnight had foreign chips, Ukrainian presidential adviser says

From Kostan Nechyporenko in Kyiv

Workers clean an area at the site of a sports centre destroyed during a Russian military strike in Dnipro on Tuesday.
Workers clean an area at the site of a sports centre destroyed during a Russian military strike in Dnipro on Tuesday. Mykola Synelnikov/Reuters

The Russian missiles fired on Ukraine overnight were built using foreign chips, according to Andriy Yermak, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

“These missiles were manufactured by the Russians this year. There are about 30 foreign chips in the Kh-101, which were manufactured in April,” Yermak wrote on his Telegram Tuesday. “We collect information, work with our partners, and communicate with them regularly. Our partner governments are also working with chip manufacturers and suppliers.”

“Restrictions have already been put in place, but sanctions need to be strengthened to prevent Russia from obtaining critical components and manufacturing missiles,” he added.

Some background: Ukraine has repeatedly called for stronger western sanctions against Russia, arguing that despite the existing tough sanctions imposed by the US, NATO and the EU, Russia is still able to procure components for the weapons it is using in Ukraine.

Russia launched a barrage of missile strikes at Lviv in western Ukraine and other regions far from the front lines, officials said, leaving at least three dead.

10:58 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Zelensky visits frontline troops in Zaporizhzhia region

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in Lisbon and Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky visits a frontline in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on August 15.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky visits a frontline in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on August 15. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited his country’s troops taking part in Kyiv’s counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia region, his office said in a statement on Tuesday.

“During a working trip to Zaporizhzhia region, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the positions of the brigades engaged in offensive operations in the Melitopol sector,” his office said.

Zelensky met with the commander of the Tavria operational and strategic group of troops, Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, as well as with several units, including the 3rd Operational Brigade.

“The brigade took part in combat missions in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in defensive battles for Kharkiv, in the liberation of villages and towns near Kharkiv, and is currently conducting offensive operations in the Zaporizhzhia direction,” Zelensky wrote on his Telegram account. “We discussed the most problematic issues with the brigade commander.”

Zelensky received reports from commanders on the status of the offensive and discussed the needs and issues faced by each brigade, his office said.

“In particular, the military emphasized the need for means of electronic warfare and frontline air defense systems to counter enemy aircraft and UAVs,” according to the statement. “There is also a need for unmanned aerial vehicles, as they are quickly consumed in offensive operations.”

Zelensky and commanders also "discussed the issues of professional selection of people, providing brigades with special equipment and machinery, and the need for armored evacuation vehicles," the president’s office added.


10:06 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Sweden announces $300 million in military support package for Ukraine

From CNN’s Li-Lian Ahlskog and Eve Brennan in London

A Ukrainian soldier on a Swedish CV90 infantry fighting vehicle near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on June 25.
A Ukrainian soldier on a Swedish CV90 infantry fighting vehicle near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on June 25. Roman Chop/AP

Sweden announced another military support package for Ukraine, worth about $315 million, the country’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement Tuesday. 

“Among other things, Ukraine has requested spare parts for the Combat Vehicles 90 and Combat Vehicles 122 that Sweden donated to the country,” the ministry said, adding that the government “is now responding to that need and is donating spare parts and emergency supplies that can be spared for a limited time to a maximum value of SEK 1.1 billion (around $102 million).” 

Transport vehicles, contingency goods and mine clearance equipment, which can be spared for a limited time amounting to a value of just under $200 million, will also be included in this new package according to the ministry.

This is Sweden’s 13th support package.


11:02 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

At least 19 people injured in Russian strikes on western Ukraine's Lviv region

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko in Kyiv and Vasco Cotovio in Lisbon, Portugal

A building destroyed during a Russian missile strike in Lviv, Ukraine, on August 15.
A building destroyed during a Russian missile strike in Lviv, Ukraine, on August 15. State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters

Russia's missile strikes in Ukraine's western Lviv region overnight wounded at least 19 people, including a 10-year-old child, and extensively damaged civilian infrastructure.

The attacks — which happen in the west less often than on the front lines in the east and south — also resulted in the hospitalization of five people, according to the head of the Lviv regional military administration.

Kyiv's air defenses shot down one of the Russian cruise missiles launched at the western region, Maksym Kozytskyi wrote on Telegram on Tuesday. Six other missiles were not intercepted.

“Russians attacked our region with cruise missiles between 5:20 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. (10:20 p.m and 10:30 p.m. ET),” Kozytskyi said. “Fortunately, no one was killed in this missile attack.”

The youngest civilian to sustain an injury was aged 10, while the oldest was 72 years old, Kozytskyi continued.

“Most of the victims had scratches and cuts due to broken windows and bruises,” Kozytskyi said, adding that around 40 houses were damaged. 

“Among them are six elderly people aged 62 to 75. Most of the victims were diagnosed with bruises, cuts, and acute stress reactions,” Kozytskyi said. “The most important thing is that everyone is alive. People are being provided with the necessary assistance.”

The strikes come as Poland holds its largest military parade in decades, in a flex of defensive muscle that comes as tensions rise on the border between the NATO nation and key Russian ally Belarus.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, at least three people died as a result of additional Russian strikes in the northwest and central parts of the country. The Russian Ministry of Defense said Moscow targeted Kyiv’s military industry.

“Tonight, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation carried out a concentrated strike with long-range air and sea-based high-precision weapons on key enterprises of the military industry of the Kyiv regime,” it said in a statement on Tuesday. “Target hit achieved. All assigned objects are hit. The military-industrial complex of Ukraine suffered significant damage.”

The Russian defense ministry did not comment when asked if strikes may have targeted residential areas. Russian forces have consistently denied targeting civilian infrastructure, despite evidence to the contrary. 

CNN's Uliana Pavlova contributed reporting to this post.

8:47 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Ukraine reinforces positions east of Kharkiv, military spokesperson says

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko in Kyiv and Vasco Cotovio in Lisbon

Ukraine has strengthened its positions east of Kharkiv, along the Lyman-Kupiansk axis, according to Serhii Cherevatyi, deputy commander for strategic communications of the eastern military grouping.

“The Lyman-Kupiansk axis was under the special control of the commander (Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi, who is also in command of the grouping of forces in the east, which encompasses Bakhmut, Lyman, Kupiansk). He personally traveled to all the key brigades that ensured a steady defense there,” Cherevatyi said on Ukrainian national TV.

“He gave direct, strict and clear orders to build a tiered defense. Our firing positions were strengthened, (command) provided certain methodological recommendations and redeployed reserves,” Cherevatyi said.

“Everything was done to make it impossible for the enemy to advance,” he added. 

Some context: Russian forces had recently tried to push through Ukrainian defenses in the area, with limited gains. 

Last week, a mandatory evacuation was ordered for Kupiansk and its surrounding areas, as Russia intensified shelling of Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region.

8:35 a.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Russia says it prevented cross-border incursion by Ukrainian forces

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Kostan Nechyporenko

The governor of Russia’s Bryansk region, Aleksandr Bogomaz, says Moscow’s forces prevented a cross-border incursion by Ukrainian forces.

“At the moment, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as well as the border control unit of the FSB of Russia in the Bryansk region in the area of ​​the village of Kurkovichi, Starodubsky municipal district, have prevented an attempt by the Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group (DRG) to enter the territory of the Russian Federation,” Bogomaz wrote on Telegram on Tuesday.
“There were no casualties," he added.

CNN could not independently verify Bogomaz’s claims and Ukrainian officials have not commented on the alleged incident.

Some context: The Bryansk region shares a border to its south with Ukraine, and to its west with Belarus, the close Russian ally nation that helped facilitate Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

The area has been previously targeted in cross border raids.

Last month, a Ukrainian drone hit the Department of Internal Affairs in Bryansk leading to the destruction of the building's roof and windows, Bogomaz said in a Telegram post, before adding there were no casualties.

5:04 p.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Russia says 2 civilians were injured by shelling in Belgorod

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

Two people were wounded after shelling in the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka in the southern Russian region of Belgorod, the local governor said on Tuesday.

“Three artillery mines exploded near a private residential building in which restoration work was underway. There are two victims," Vyacheslav Gladkov posted on Telegram.

One man is in a "serious condition" in hospital after he sustained shrapnel wounds in his chest and spine, Gladkov said. Another woman was taken to another hospital with shrapnel injuries.

Russian towns bordering Ukraine have recently seen a significant uptick in the number of shelling and attempted drone attacks, bringing hostilities to its territory.