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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1:15 p.m. ET, August 18, 2022

Turkish president warns of danger of "a new Chernobyl" around Ukraine nuclear power plant

From Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul and Sugam Pokharel in London

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday expressed concerns about the ongoing conflict around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, warning of danger of “a new Chernobyl." 

Speaking at a news conference alongside his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky and UN chief António Guterres after a trilateral meeting in Lviv, Erdogan said his country is trying to push for a diplomatic solution to the war, while “standing on the side” of Ukraine.  

Stressing Russia and Ukraine to find “the shortest and the fairest way to the negotiating table,” the Turkish leader said, "I maintain my belief that the war will eventually end at the negotiating table. In fact, Mr Zelensky and Guterres echo this view."

"We are ready to act as a facilitator or mediator towards the goal of reviving the negotiations over the parameters that took form in Istanbul," Erdogan said.

Turkey has been temporarily hosting about 325,000 Ukrainians since the start of the war and has dispatched 98 humanitarian aid trucks to the country, he also said. 

12:48 p.m. ET, August 18, 2022

UN secretary-general demands "demilitarized" area around Ukrainian nuclear plant

From CNN's Tim Lister

Left to right: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres shake hands after their meeting in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday.
Left to right: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres shake hands after their meeting in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Any potential damage to the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia would be "suicide," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said after meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Ukrainian city of Lviv on Thursday.

In opening remarks distributed by his office, Guterres called for the area to be "demilitarized" and said that agreement was urgently needed to "re-establish Zaporizhzhia as purely civilian infrastructure and to ensure the safety of the area."

"We must tell it like it is – any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide," Guterres said.

"In close contact with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), the UN Secretariat has assessed that we have in Ukraine the logistics and security capacity to support any IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant from Kyiv, provided both Russia and Ukraine agree," Guterres said.  

"We must spare no effort to ensure that plant’s facilities or surroundings are not a target of military operations. Military equipment and personnel should be withdrawn from the plant," according to the statement.

Russian military personnel and some equipment have been based at the nuclear plant since it was occupied early in March. 

"Further deployment of forces or equipment to the site must be avoided. The area needs to be demilitarized," Guterres said. 

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.