August 18, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Heather Chen, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 5:26 a.m. ET, August 19, 2022
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11:54 a.m. ET, August 18, 2022

Denmark will invest $5.5 billion in warships due to Ukraine war and "security situation in Europe" 

From CNN's Benjamin Brown in London

Denmark will invest 40 billion Danish Krone ($5.5 billion) into its naval fleet as the Scandinavian NATO member attempts to beef up its defense over Russia's war in Ukraine and the "new security situation in Europe," Defense Minister Morten Bødskov said Thursday. 

Bødskov announced a partnership between the Danish defense ministry and its national maritime industry to boost the nation's shipbuilding capacity. 

"With Russia's attack on Ukraine and the new security situation in Europe, it is more important than ever that Denmark is able to defend itself. Security of supply plays a decisive role here," Bødskov said. 

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced last week that Denmark will give another 110 million euros ($113.7 million) in financial aid to Ukraine for "weapons, equipment and training." 

Speaking at an international donor conference in Copenhagen, Frederiksen said, "I hope that we here today can agree on even more contributions. And of course, Denmark is ready to do our part." 

About 130 Danish soldiers are currently training Ukrainian troops in the UK, while Copenhagen has also assisted Ukraine in the cyber defense area, according to the Danish defense ministry.

CNN's Sarah Diab contributed reporting to this post.

12:03 p.m. ET, August 18, 2022

Ex-Russian soldier speaks out against Ukraine war in lengthy post

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Evgenii Shapovalov and Radina Gigova

Pavel Filatyev
Pavel Filatyev (from Pavel Filatyev)

Pavel Filatyev, a former Russian paratrooper, publicly spoke out against the war in Ukraine in a lengthy 141-page-long testimony posted to his VKontakte social media page.

Filatyev’s account marks one of the first detailed public accounts from a Russian soldier.

“It's been a month and a half since I returned from the war in Ukraine, yes, yes, I know that you can’t say this word 'war', it's banned, but still I will say exactly 'war'," Filatyev said in the beginning of his post, which was posted two weeks ago. 

Filatyev, 33, goes on to describe how his paratrooper unit was sent to Ukraine via Crimea and entered Kherson.

The testimony is filled with Filatyev’s personal reflections and impressions from the war, as well as philosophical discussions about the sense of guilt. 

Filatyev also wrote about the poor state of the Russian army on the front lines — including how Russian soldiers changed into Ukrainian uniforms because they are more comfortable.

“It's a pity that reporters are not allowed to visit us on the front lines, because then the whole country can admire paratroopers dirty, thin and embittered, it’s not clear with what more, stubborn Ukrainians who don’t want to be denazified, or with their mediocre command, incapable of equipping them even during combat action,” Filatyev said.

Filatyev also said Russian commanders tried to motivate paratroopers with money by promising $69 per day, but in the end, the soldiers received only half of what was promised and many were saying that the job is not worth the money.

Pavel Filatyev
Pavel Filatyev (from Pavel Filatyev)

The VKontakte post is still up as of Thursday and has been shared over 60 times. 

Filatyev has since fled Russia and is now traveling to a “democratic country,” according to Vladimir Osechkin, founder of Gulagu.net, who is in charge of the relocation. Gulagu.net is a human rights nonprofit that advocates against corruption and torture in Russia, according to its website. 

10:05 a.m. ET, August 18, 2022

Death toll in Russian rocket strike on apartment building in Kharkiv rises to 12

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko

The Ukrainian state emergency service says the number of people killed in a rocket attack on an apartment building in Kharkiv Wednesday night has risen to at least 12.

As of Thursday afternoon "12 people are known to have died," the service said.

"All of them are civilians. Many of them are elderly and disabled. There is no military facility near the destroyed building," it added.

10:11 a.m. ET, August 18, 2022

Zelensky says he discussed Russia's "nuclear blackmail" in meeting with UN secretary-general

From CNN's Tim Lister

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Lviv, Ukraine on August 18.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Lviv, Ukraine on August 18. (Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he discussed the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at their face-to-face meeting in Lviv Thursday.

Zelensky said that during the meeting, "particular attention was paid to the topic of Russia's nuclear blackmail at the Zaporizhzhia NPP."

"This deliberate terror on the part of the aggressor can have global catastrophic consequences for the whole world. Therefore, the UN must ensure the security of this strategic site, its demilitarization and complete liberation from Russian troops," he continued.

Russia and Ukraine blame each other for shelling the territory of the nuclear plant, and both sides have warned of the risk of a nuclear catastrophe. But there has been no agreement on how a mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency can safely get access to the plant. 

Zelensky also said on Telegram that he and Guterres "agreed to continue the coordination of the grain initiative implementation. We also discussed the possible directions of its development, the issue of illegal and forced deportation of Ukrainians, the release of our military personnel and medics from captivity."

The UN has yet to comment on the meeting. 

9:48 a.m. ET, August 18, 2022

More than 600,000 tons of grain has been shipped from Ukraine since opening of corridor, Turkish ministry says

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul 

Since Aug. 1, 622,000 tons of grain have been shipped from Ukrainian ports, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Thursday. 

In 17 days, a total of 43 vessels were used for grain shipments — 25 of which have departed from Ukrainian ports and 18 going to Ukrainian ports for grain shipment — the ministry announced in a statement. 

Ministers from Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement to unblock Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in Istanbul on July 22.

The first ship, Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, departed the port of Odesa on Aug. 1 and was followed by Navistar, Rojen, Polarnet, Mustafa Necati, Star Helena, Glory, Riva Wind, Sacura, Arizona, Ocean Lion and Rahmi Yagci ships, the ministry said. 

“Every ship leaving or going to Ukrainian ports was subjected to comprehensive inspection in the north of Istanbul,” the ministry said. 

8:37 a.m. ET, August 18, 2022

Crowdfunding helps Ukraine secure access to network of satellites for imagery on critical locations

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London

A Ukrainian crowdfunding effort has been able to secure to a private network of satellites for the country’s Ministry of Defense. This gives the Ukrainian Armed Forces access to radar satellite imagery on critical locations.

The effort was led by the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation, a charity owned by a Ukrainian TV-star turned politician.

The foundation signed a deal with the ICEYE company, which gives the Ukrainian defense ministry full access to all the systems and full capabilities for one of ICEYE’s satellites already in orbit over the region, the foundation said in a statement on Thursday.

“ICEYE will provide access to its constellation of SAR satellites, allowing the Ukrainian Armed Forces to receive radar satellite imagery on critical locations with a high revisit frequency," it added. “The satellite will provide the Government of Ukraine with ICEYE’s Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite imaging capabilities." 

The funds were originally crowdfunded to purchase Bayraktar drones, which the Turkish manufacturer decided to donate to Ukraine for free. The donation "allowed us to use the saved 600 million UAH (17 million USD) to purchase the satellite," the foundation said.

7:53 a.m. ET, August 18, 2022

Russia deploys jets armed with hypersonic missiles to Kaliningrad, reports state media

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Uliana Pavlova

Russia has deployed three fighter jets armed with hypersonic missiles to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, the ministry of defense told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

“Three MiG-31 aircraft with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles have been deployed to the Kaliningrad Region as part of additional strategic deterrence measures,” the MoD said on Thursday, according to RIA.

“The Ministry of Defense previously explained that Kinzhal missiles are invisible and invulnerable to any means of enemy air defense and anti-missile defense,” RIA reported.

Russia used the missiles for the first time in combat in mid-March.

However Western military experts have played down its significance, with the UK defense ministry saying that the Kinzhal missile is really just an air-launched version of the Iskander short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), which Russia has used repeatedly in its war on Ukraine.

Read What you need to know about hypersonic missiles here.

9:29 a.m. ET, August 18, 2022

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

From CNN staff

Firefighters dig through the rubble of a building destroyed during a missile strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, August 18.
Firefighters dig through the rubble of a building destroyed during a missile strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, August 18. (Andrii Marienko/AP)

A Russian rocket attack killed at least seven people in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, while fighting continues around the town of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region. International experts could visit the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, and Moscow is hoping to deal with a demographic crisis by reviving a Soviet-era award for the mothers of large families.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Deadly strike Ukraine's second-largest city: A Russian rocket attack on an apartment building in the northeastern city of Kharkiv killed seven and injured 20 more in the early hours of Thursday, Ukrainian officials said. Emergency services said a fire at the three-story building in Saltivka district took two hours to bring under control.
  • Russian attacks in eastern Ukraine continue: Ukraine has repelled assaults by Russian forces across the front lines in the eastern Donetsk region, its military said on Thursday. The bulk of the fighting had been concentrated around the town of Bakhmut, which has remained under heavy Russian artillery fire, it said. 
  • IAEA experts ready to visit nuclear plant: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said a team of international experts is prepared to visit the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, following a call with the chief of the nuclear watchdog. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi "is ready to lead an IAEA delegation to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant," Kuleba said in a tweet.
  • Putin to reward mothers of large families: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree reviving the Soviet era “Mother Heroine” award for women with more than 10 children, in an attempt to alleviate the demographic crisis in Russia. Originally, the award was introduced by Joseph Stalin after World War II, when the Soviet population plunged by tens of millions of people.
  • Estonia struck by cyberattack: Estonia was hit by extensive cyberattacks on Wednesday, Luukas Ilves, the country's chief information officer and undersecretary for digital transformation, revealed on Thursday. According to Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR), the Russian-backed hacker group Killnet has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted both public and private institutions.

9:02 a.m. ET, August 18, 2022

Russia's claim it may shut down Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant sparks warnings of "radiation disaster"

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Uliana Pavlova

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on August 4 in Ukraine.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on August 4 in Ukraine. (Victor/Xinhua/Getty Images)

Russia's ministry of defense has said it is considering shutting down the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP) in southern Ukraine, triggering a warning from Ukraine's state nuclear agency that doing so would risk disaster.

“Negative developments” at the power plant could force Russia to consider “putting the 5th and 6th power units" into the “cold reserve,” leading to “the shutdown of the Zaporizhzhia NPP,” the ministry said in a statement Thursday, blaming Ukraine for shelling the site. Ukrainian authorities have refuted the allegations, accusing Russia of being behind attacks that have damaged the complex.

Energoatom, Ukraine's state-run nuclear power company, said the prospect of shutting down the plant would bring “the scenario of a radiation disaster closer.”

“In the event of the disconnection of the [Zaporizhzhia] NPP generators from the power system of Ukraine, they will not be able to be used for their own fuel cooling needs in case of a power outage at the plant,” Energoatom said in a Telegram post on Thursday. “This will approximate the possible scenario of a radiation disaster at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.”

The plant is the focal point of growing global concern after weeks of increased shelling has sparked calls from the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency to allow experts to visit the facility and ratcheted fears of a potential nuclear accident.

Both sides have tried to point the finger at the other for threatening nuclear terrorism.

Ukrainian shelling has damaged auxiliary support systems, such as splash pools and other equipment that keeps the reactors cool, according to the ministry, which accused Ukrainian forces of carrying out 12 attacks on the facility using more than 50 artillery shells and five kamikaze drones. 

Ukraine has consistently denied the allegations and blamed Russia of shelling the plant, as well as using it as a shield from which to fire at Ukrainian positions in Nikopol, on the opposite bank of the Dnipro River. Russia has also denied Ukrainian claims. 

“We are ready to present to the IAEA real high-resolution images ... which shows that weapons, especially heavy ones, are not placed on the territory of this station,” the Russian defense ministry said on Thursday.

“We know that in the presence of a large number of military and commercial foreign satellites, the same information can be presented to the world by the American side,” it added.

CNN cannot independently verify Ukrainian or Russian claims about strikes and placement of heavy military equipment at Zaporizhzhia NPP.

CNN has reached out to commercial satellite imagery operators to verify Russian claims but has yet to hear back.