August 16, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Chris Lau, Jack Guy, Caolán Magee, Hannah Strange, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:10 a.m. ET, August 17, 2023
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9:50 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

In Moscow speech, China's defense minister warns against "playing with fire" on Taiwan

From CNN's Simone McCarthy

China's Defense Minister Li Shangfu addresses a speech during the Moscow Conference on International Security in Kubinka, in the outskirts of Moscow, on August 15, 2023.
China's Defense Minister Li Shangfu addresses a speech during the Moscow Conference on International Security in Kubinka, in the outskirts of Moscow, on August 15, 2023. Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

China’s defense minister Li Shangfu on Tuesday warned against “playing with fire” when it comes to Taiwan in a veiled jab at the United States as he addressed a security conference in Russia.

Speaking at the Moscow Conference on International Security, Li said attempts to “use Taiwan to contain China,” would “surely end in failure,” according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

Li’s comments echoed previous statements by Chinese officials but the location of his speech was significant and symbolic given Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

China’s ruling Communist Party claims the self-governing democracy of Taiwan and has vowed to take control of it, by force if necessary. It has repeatedly castigated American interactions with the island, with which Washington does not have official diplomatic ties, including for the sale of US arms to Taipei.

Li, who was sanctioned by the US in 2018 for purchases of Russian weapons, joined the Moscow security conference as he began a six-day trip to Russia and its close ally Belarus.

Senior defense officials from more than 20 “friendly states,” including Belarus, Iran and Myanmar will also attend the forum, Russian state media previously reported, citing Moscow’s defense ministry, which organizes the annual event. No Western countries were invited, state media said.

The visit is Li’s second to Russia since assuming his role as defense chief earlier this year. It comes as Beijing has continued to bolster its security ties with Moscow, despite its unrelenting assault on Ukraine, which has triggered a humanitarian disaster with global ramifications.

Read the full story.

12:21 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

Russia intercepts 3 drones over Kaluga region near Moscow, defense ministry says

From CNN's Aruzhan Zeinulla 

Russian air defenses intercepted three Ukrainian drones over the Kaluga region southwest of Moscow early Wednesday, Moscow's Ministry of Defense said. 

"All [unmanned aerial vehicles] were detected and destroyed by Russian air defense systems in a timely manner," the ministry said in a Telegram post, adding there were no casualties or damage.

Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory have ramped up in recent months, with a string of drone strikes peppering cities including Moscow throughout the summer as Kyiv warned more would come.

12:03 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

It's early morning in Kyiv. Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine

From CNN staff

At least three people were killed Tuesday following Russian missile strikes in northwest and central Ukraine.

Meanwhile, a barrage of Russian missiles also targeted the western region of Lviv, injuring at least 19 people and damaging civilian infrastructure.

Russia's Defense Ministry claimed it struck Kyiv's military industry but did not comment on whether it targeted residential areas. Russian forces have consistently denied attacking civilian infrastructure, despite evidence to the contrary. 

Here are other headlines you should know:

  • NATO controversy: Ukrainian officials slammed comments by Stian Jenssen, the director of the Private Office of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General, who said that ceding territory to Russia could be a way for Kyiv to achieve peace and join the military alliance. Jenssen made the comments in an interview with Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang.
  • On the ground: The road to victory for Ukraine will be "long and difficult," said Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, looking at a long fight ahead. 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.
  • Cross-border attacks: Two people were wounded after shelling in the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka in the southern Russian region of Belgorod, the local governor said. The governor of Russia’s Bryansk region, Aleksandr Bogomaz, said Moscow’s forces prevented a cross-border incursion by Ukrainian forces. CNN could not independently verify his claims and Ukrainian officials have not commented on the alleged incident.
  • Military support: Sweden announced another military support package for Ukraine, worth about $315 million, the country’s Ministry of Defense said. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new package of security assistance for Ukraine, including air defense munitions, artillery rounds, anti-armor capabilities, and additional mine-clearing equipment. Norway's Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace has also signed a $71 million contract with the International Fund for Ukraine for the delivery of air defense systems to Kyiv, the company said. Meanwhile, Ukraine has allocated about $32 million to build up fortifications in the northeastern regions of the country, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said.
11:59 p.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Road to victory will be "long and difficult," Ukraine’s deputy prime minister says  

From CNN's Mariya Knight and Radina Gigova

Iryna Vereshchuk attends the International Summit of Cities and Regions in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 20.
Iryna Vereshchuk attends the International Summit of Cities and Regions in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 20. Eugen Kotenko/Reuters

The road to victory for Ukraine will be "long and difficult," said Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, looking at a long fight ahead.

"'Two-three weeks', 'by the end of the year', 'next spring' — all this is not true,” Vereshchuk said Tuesday in a Telegram post. Ukraine has “to get ready for a long fight," she added.

The Ukrainian people should work toward victory “where they belong,” Vereshchuk said.

"We do our best here and now. Patient. Day by day,” she said in the post. “Let's set ourselves up for a long run, not for a sprint."

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has acknowledged that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is moving slower than expected. Ukrainian officials have said that efforts are focused on destroying Russia's capabilities and disrupting its logistics.

8:40 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

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."

9:04 a.m. ET, August 16, 2023

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

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko in Kyiv

Andriy Yermak speaks during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 29.
Andriy Yermak speaks during a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 29. Viacheslav Ratynskyi/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.

11:50 p.m. ET, August 15, 2023

Zelensky visits frontline troops in Zaporizhzhia region

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Yulia Kesaieva

Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks at a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 12.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks at a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 12. Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited his country’s troops taking part in Kyiv’s counteroffensive in the southern 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.

11:47 p.m. ET, August 15, 2023

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

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Vasco Cotovio

Local residents look at a part of a missile as they stand near residential buildings destroyed during a Russian military strike in the village of Stavchany,  Lviv region, Ukraine on August 15.
Local residents look at a part of a missile as they stand near residential buildings destroyed during a Russian military strike in the village of Stavchany, Lviv region, Ukraine on August 15. Andriy Perun/Reuters

Russian missile strikes in Ukraine's western Lviv region early Tuesday 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 age 10, while the oldest was 72, Kozytskyi added.

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

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.

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.