August 16, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Adrienne Vogt and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 2:43 a.m. ET, August 17, 2022
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10:21 a.m. ET, August 16, 2022

Town near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is under Russian rocket fire again, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko

The town of Nikopol across the river from the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has again come under rocket fire from the Russians, Ukrainian authorities say.

Residential areas had been hit and four people were injured, said Valentyn Reznichenko, head of Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration.

Twenty rockets from multiple rocket launchers called GRAD and 10 shells from artillery hit Nikopol, he added.

Nikopol has frequently come under fire from Russian forces' base on the opposite bank of the river Dnipro, where the nuclear power plant is situated.

10:15 a.m. ET, August 16, 2022

Hydro plant in Kherson still working despite multiple attacks on bridge, Ukrainian state energy company says

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva

The sign of the the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) in Kakhovka, near Kherson, Ukraine is seen on May 20.
The sign of the the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) in Kakhovka, near Kherson, Ukraine is seen on May 20. (Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA/Shutterstock)

Ukraine's state hydro-electric power operator says that despite the damage at a critical bridge across the river Dnipro, the Kakhovka power plant is still operating.

Ukrainian technicians continue working at the plant, which is a Russian-controlled area.

The bridge adjacent to the plant at Nova Kakhovka has been severely damaged by repeated Ukrainian attacks apparently designed to render it inaccessible to Russian military vehicles rather than destroy it.

Ukrhydroenergo, the state company, told CNN the plant "is currently operating in basic mode with a load of 72 MW."

The installed capacity of the plan is 357 MW.

"Currently, three units out of six are operating. The operation of the station is provided 24 hours a day by personnel (the schedule may change due to hostilities)," Ukrhydroenergo told CNN.

"There is also a possibility to perform small amounts of repair work by repair personnel," the company added.

The company said: "Provided that there is no external interference in the operation of the station, it will be able to work for a long enough time. However, in the event of a forced stop, there will be no breach of the dam nor shallowing," suggesting that current river levels can be maintained.

9:07 a.m. ET, August 16, 2022

Russian FSB claims Ukrainians blew up power lines connected to Kursk nuclear plant

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

The Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) said on Tuesday that Ukraine undermined six power lines and disrupted processes at the Kursk Nuclear Power Plant. 

The FSB is currently searching for members of Ukrainian sabotage groups who blew up power lines connected to the Kursk plant, Russian state news agency TASS reported on Tuesday, citing the FSB. 

“Six pillars of high-voltage power lines (110, 330 and 750 kV) were blown up, through which the Kursk NPP supplies power to facilities,” the FSB statement said.

Two previous attempts to blow up power lines were made earlier this month on Aug. 4 and Aug. 9, according to the FSB.

CNN could not independently confirm Russia’s claims. 

Some more context: Both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of threatening nuclear terrorism, particularly around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which Russia has controlled since March.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday called for tougher sanctions in response to what he described as Russia's "nuclear blackmail" around the Zaporizhzhia plant. 

9:05 a.m. ET, August 16, 2022

Russian defense ministry signs state supply contracts for ballistic missiles and air defense systems

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Radina Gigova

The Russian Ministry of Defense signed state contracts for the manufacturing and supply of ballistic missiles and air defense systems for Russian troops on Tuesday worth more than 500 billion rubles (more than $8 billion).

The ministry signed contracts for the manufacturing of Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), S-500 air defense systems and supply of Su-34 front-line bombers during the annual Army 2022 international military-technical forum held near Moscow, an announcer at the conference said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in June that the first Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile system would go on combat alert in Russia at the end of 2022, according to state news agency TASS. 

8:17 a.m. ET, August 16, 2022

Russian troops squeezed in south Ukraine as Kyiv ramps up strikes

From CNN's Tim Lister

Russian forces in the occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the flow of ammunition, armor and fuel to front-line units, according to Ukrainian officials and Western analysts, thanks to a concerted Ukrainian campaign to cut off river and rail supply lines as well as target ammunition depots.

The Russians are moving command posts from the north of the Dnipro River to the south bank as bridges have been heavily damaged, Ukrainian officials say.

The first deputy head of Kherson regional council, Yuri Sobolevsky, claimed on his Telegram channel that a significant portion of the Russian military command had already left Kherson city. Ukrainian forces are about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) north of the city, towards Mykolaiv.

Much of Kherson region has been occupied since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As part of Kyiv's counteroffensive to try to retake lost territory in the south, Ukrainian forces are targeting critical bridges to disrupt supply routes in and around Kherson.

The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think tank, said Sunday that the Russians may be leaving for the other side of the river "to avoid being trapped in Kherson city if Ukrainian strikes cut off all ground lines of communication connecting the right bank of the Dnipro River to the Russian rear."

Videos have appeared on social media in the past few days showing renewed long-range artillery attacks on the Antonivskyi bridge and a road bridge over the dam near Nova Kakhovka, rendering them impassable for heavily armored vehicles. In some areas, the river is up to 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) wide, making pontoon bridges impractical.

The Ukrainians have also targeted several railway lines from the Russian-occupied Crimea Peninsula into the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. On Tuesday, a series of fierce explosions rocked the town of Dzankhoy on the main line towards Kherson. Recent video showed a substantial stock of military vehicles and ammunition at the site.

Two railway lines from Crimea were struck in the last 10 days. Last week, local residents reported several hours of explosions in the Henichesk district, a port area along the Sea of Azov, and the railway further west at Brylivka was also struck.

"Within the last week we have destroyed over 10 ammunition warehouses and military equipment clusters. These hits do not allow for the heavy equipment to be transferred by these bridges," said the Ukrainian military's Operational Command South.

None of this suggests an imminent Russian withdrawal from Kherson.

Olga Voitovych, Yulia Kesaieva and Mariya Knight contributed reporting.

Read the full report here.

12:28 p.m. ET, August 16, 2022

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

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said Moscow has "no need" to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and President Vladimir Putin accused the United States of destabilizing global affairs. An explosion at a Russian ammunition depot in Crimea has injured two people and triggered the suspension of most train services to Russia, while the Ukrainian military has admitted that Russian forces have made limited progress in their attacks in eastern Ukraine.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Shoigu says "no need" for nuclear weapons in Ukraine: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Moscow had "no need” to use nuclear weapons to achieve its objectives in Ukraine. Speaking at a conference on international security in Moscow on Tuesday, Shoigu also said that the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, are not having a “significant impact” on Russia's war in Ukraine, despite reports that Kyiv is using them to target critical Russian military and logistical infrastructure in the country. 
  • Putin claims US is destabilizing geopolitics: Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the US of stoking tensions in Ukraine and elsewhere around the world, particularly in Asia. “The situation in Ukraine shows that the United States is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way by fomenting conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” Putin said in a video message played at the conference in Moscow.
  • Russian forces make some progress in the Donetsk region: Russian forces have had "partial success" in eastern Ukraine after making limited gains near the villages of Solodke and Novomykhailivka, the Ukrainian military said Tuesday. Ukrainian troops have been able to hold ground in other parts of the Donetsk region, it added.
  • At least two injured in explosion at Russian ammunition depot in Crimea: Russia's Ministry of Defense blamed sabotage for the explosion at the depot in the village of Maiskoye, which led to the suspension of train services from Russia into most of the Kremlin-occupied Crimean Peninsula. However damaged tracks have been repaired and services will resume following safety checks. 
  • Ukrainian wheat shipment leaves for Ethiopia: A cargo ship loaded with more than 23,000 metric tons of wheat destined for Ethiopia has departed from Ukraine, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said Tuesday. The vessel is headed for Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, with the wheat ultimately destined for neighboring Ethiopia under the UN World Food Programme's response to a drought in the East African country.

#Catch Up##

7:59 a.m. ET, August 16, 2022

Swedish PM says country will "live up to" NATO deal with Turkey and process extraditions

From CNN's Benjamin Brown and Jack Guy

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson speaks during a press conference alongside the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Stockholm on August 16.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson speaks during a press conference alongside the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Stockholm on August 16. (Kay Nietfeld/Picture Alliance/Getty Images)

Sweden will live up to the terms of the trilateral agreement signed by Sweden, Finland and Turkey over the Nordic countries' NATO membership applications, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Tuesday.

"We agreed on a memorandum of understanding between Sweden, Finland and Turkey, and, of course, from a Swedish government perspective, we will live according to the memorandum of understanding we agreed upon," Andersson said at a joint press conference in Stockholm with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Sweden and Finland to abandon their nonaligned status and apply to join NATO amid Europe’s worst security crisis in decades.

Sweden and Finland joined the European Union together in 1995 and gradually aligned their defense policies with the West.

The pair still avoided joining NATO outright but that changed when Russia invaded Ukraine, and convincing Turkey to let them join involved negotiations over extraditions.

"The cases of extradition that are being processed in Sweden will, of course, be processed according to Swedish and international law," said Andersson. "That is also something we agreed upon in this memorandum of understanding."

Extradition cases have been one of the central points of contention between Sweden and Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had previously threatened to veto Sweden and Finland's NATO membership requests, accusing the two countries of harboring members of the separatist militant Kurdistan's Workers Party, also known as PKK.

Erdogan had said that Sweden promised to extradite 73 people to Turkey because of the memorandum, which stipulates that Sweden and Finland will address Turkey's pending extradition requests of terror suspects in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition. 

Speaking alongside Andersson, Scholz said those states that hadn't yet ratified Sweden and Finland's respective bids would do so soon, "including Turkey."

"The agreements that Sweden and Finland have reached with Turkey show a good way forward," Scholz said, adding that he was looking forward to seeing Finland and Sweden in NATO and NATO needed the Nordic nations as partners.

7:14 a.m. ET, August 16, 2022

Russia has "no need" to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, says defense minister

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Jorge Engels

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu speaks during the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) at the Patriot Park in Kubinka, near Moscow, on August 16.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu speaks during the Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) at the Patriot Park in Kubinka, near Moscow, on August 16. (Maxim Shipenkov/EPA/Shutterstock)

Russia has “no need” to use nuclear weapons to achieve its objectives in Ukraine, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday. 

“From a military point of view, there is no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to achieve our goals,” Shoigu told attendees at a conference on international security in Moscow.

“The main purpose of Russian nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack, their use is limited to emergency circumstances, which are defined in Russian guiding documents that are open to the public,” he added.

"Against this background, speculation is spreading in the media about the alleged use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons during a special military operation or about the readiness to use chemical weapons. All this information is an absolute lie," Shoigu said.

7:13 a.m. ET, August 16, 2022

Explosions at Russian ammunition depot were due to "sabotage," says defense ministry

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio, Tim Lister and Petro Zadorozhnyy

The Russian Ministry of Defense has blamed sabotage for the explosions at an ammunition depot in Kremlin-occupied Crimea, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday.

“On the morning of August 16, as a result of sabotage, a military warehouse near the village of Dzhankoi was damaged,” the ministry said in a statement, according to RIA.

“There are no victims with serious injuries. Necessary measures are being taken to eliminate the consequences of sabotage," it added.

The ministry statement did not clarify how much military equipment and ammunition may have been damaged or destroyed, but the Ukrainian military said several air defense systems had been deployed to the area.

Footage posted on social media a week before the incident shows large ammunition stacks and several military vehicles with pro-war "Z" symbols on their side.