August 17, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Heather Chen, Josh Berlinger, Adrienne Vogt and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 2:15 a.m. ET, August 18, 2022
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4:20 a.m. ET, August 17, 2022

Russian rockets strike Odesa in southern Ukraine

From CNN's Mayumi Maruyama and Josh Pennington

A firefighter works at a site of a hotel building hit by a Russian missile strike in the Odesa region on Wednesday.
A firefighter works at a site of a hotel building hit by a Russian missile strike in the Odesa region on Wednesday. (Operational Command South of the Armed Forces of Ukraine/Reuters)

At least four people were injured in a Russian attack on the southern city of Odesa overnight, Ukrainian officials said.

In a Telegram post, Serhii Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa military administration, said a recreational center and several buildings had been destroyed and a fire was now raging in a 600-square-meter area.

Russia fired on the city with Kh-22 anti-ship missiles from Tu-22M3 strategic bombers Bratchuk wrote. Russia has previously used anti-ship missiles against targets on land. 

Rescue operations were ongoing, Bratchuk added.

This post has been updated with additional information.

3:35 a.m. ET, August 17, 2022

Ukraine says Russia fired on northern city from Belarus

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman

Russia flew Su-34 fighter jets in Belarussian airspace to launch missiles on the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr, a major transportation hub that links to the capital Kyiv, the Ukrainian Air Force said.

The strike on the northern city Tuesday damaged an airfield and surrounding infrastructure, officials said, adding that Russia had also used Kh-59 tactical land-attack missiles.

Elsewhere in the northern and eastern regions of the country, fighting raged as Russian forces focused on taking territories still under Ukrainian control. Ukrainian officials reported shelling in multiple cities including Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

The city of Kharkiv, the country's second largest, was also targeted.

“In the Bohorodychne district, enemy tried to conduct an offensive battle, was unsuccessful, and withdrew. Fighting continues near Mazanivka and Novodmytrivka,” the military’s General Staff said. “The enemy was conducting aerial reconnaissance in the Kramatorsk area. Near Spirne, the invaders decided to go on the offensive, suffered losses and retreated.”

The General Staff added that Russian forces had also been trying to take control of the Donetsk town of Bakhmut but Ukrainian forces continue to hold it, despite air and missile strikes, and intense shelling.

“[Russia] led offensive and assault actions near Zalizne, Shumy and Zaitseve, was unsuccessful, withdrew,” the General Staff said. “Fighting continues in the Soledar and Bakhmutske districts.”
2:39 a.m. ET, August 17, 2022

He was abducted and tortured by Russian soldiers. Then they used his social media for propaganda

From CNN's Eliza Mackintosh and Yuliia Presniakova

Before the war broke out, Igor Kurayan, a 55-year-old from the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson, shared frequent gardening updates on social media. His feeds were full of palms, pomegranate trees, marigolds, bamboo and avocados, grown at his home and small business near the Black Sea. He called it his "fairytale garden."

On Feb. 25, a day after Russia invaded Ukraine, Kurayan posted a selfie on Instagram with a rifle, announcing he had volunteered to fight in the Territorial Defense Forces, reserve units of Ukraine's military.

Soon after, Kherson fell to Russian troops and in early April, after weeks living under and protesting against their occupation, Kurayan was abducted. He was watering plants in his shoe store when he said Russian soldiers dragged him outside and threw him into a van.

Soon after Kurayan's kidnapping, his Facebook and Instagram pages, and a new TikTok account registered under his name, began posting messages entirely out of character for the man known to family and friends as a proud Ukrainian, a passionate activist and avid gardener.

Read the full story here.

8:29 p.m. ET, August 16, 2022

Ukraine's state nuclear power company says Russia-based hackers attacked its website

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

Ukraine's state nuclear power company Energoatom accused hackers based in Russia of launching a “powerful” attack on the company's website for three hours on Tuesday, but said the attack had not “significantly” affected operations of the site. 

"Today the most powerful hacker attack since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation took place on the official website of the state-owned enterprise NAEK Energoatom. The attack was carried out from the territory of the Russian Federation," Energoatom said in a statement on its verified Facebook page. 

The statement blamed the Russian group "People's Cyber ​​Army" for carrying out the attack using 7.25 million bot users, who simulated hundreds of millions of views of the company's main page. 

2:52 a.m. ET, August 17, 2022

Russians are shelling positions up to 800 times daily, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Kostan Nechyporenko

A man tries to extinguish fire in a damaged house after a Russian airstrike in Slavyansk, Donetsk oblast on Tuesday.
A man tries to extinguish fire in a damaged house after a Russian airstrike in Slavyansk, Donetsk oblast on Tuesday.

Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine's armed forces, has acknowledged that Russian forces "continue to advance" in Donbas but said the "intense" situation is "fully controlled."

"I have informed my counterpart about the situation at the front line. It is intense but fully controlled," Zaluzhny said after talking with Gen. Wayne Donald Eyre, chief of the Defence Staff of Canada.
Zaluzhny added that "the enemy continues to advance along the entire front line. At the same time, the enemy carries out approximately 700-800 [actions of] shelling of our positions every day, using from 40 to 60,000 pieces of ammunition."

That estimate is in line with many made by Western analysts about the volume of ammunition being used by Russian forces, after a relative lull in early July.

"The enemy’s main efforts are concentrated on pushing our troops back from the Donetsk oblast. The most intense situation is now on the axis of Avdiivka-Pisky-Mariinka," Zaluzhny said. 

That axis is a stretch of some 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Donetsk.

8:22 p.m. ET, August 16, 2022

Russian attempt to break through north of Sloviansk foiled but fresh battles brew in southern Donetsk

From CNN's Tim Lister

Russian forces tried to advance again from north of Sloviansk but their offensive was unsuccessful and they withdrew, the Ukrainian military said.

The battle occurred near Mazanivka on the border of the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions, an area that first saw Russian efforts to break through more than 40 days ago, according to the General Staff.

Another Russian assault further east also failed, despite support from combat aircraft, it added. "Near Ivano-Dariivka, with the support of aviation, the enemy conducted unsuccessful assault actions. It suffered losses and withdrew," the General Staff said.

Fighting has been going on in that district for well over a month. 

Ukrainians say Russian objectives remain the same — they are "focused on conducting active offensive and assault actions in the Kramatorsk, Bakhmut, and Avdiivka directions," the General Staff said.

Bakhmut and Avdiivka have been within a few miles of the front lines for several months, but they remain in Ukrainian hands.

The Ukrainians say further efforts to advance in the Bakhmut area had been rebuffed.

"Offensive and assault actions of the occupiers in the Soledar, Zaitseve and Maiorsk districts ended with losses and withdrawal," it added, saying another attack just south of Bakhmut [in the Vershyna area] had also been foiled.

Meanwhile, the Russians appear to have put renewed effort into breaking through Ukrainian lines in southern Donetsk, between Pavlivka and Novomykhailivka, where "hostilities continue," according to the General Staff.

Further north, in the Kharkiv region, the Ukrainian General Staff said nearly 20 settlements had come under fire, including several close to the border with Russia.

The mayor of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekov, urged civilians to stay indoors after shells landed in the Saltivka district.

8:17 p.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 the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration.

Some 20 strikes from GRAD multiple rocket launchers and 10 artillery shells hit Nikopol, he added.

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

8:09 p.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 frontline 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, toward 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.

Read the full report here.