August 19, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Heather Chen, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Hannah Strange and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 3:18 a.m. ET, August 22, 2022
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5:03 a.m. ET, August 19, 2022

Several Ukrainian civilians killed and injured in Russian missile attacks in the south

From CNN's Tim Lister and Oleksandra Ochman

Ukrainian officials reported missile and artillery attacks by Russian forces overnight Thursday on several towns and cities in the south, including Mykolaiv and Kryvih Rih.

The regional administration in Mykolaiv said the river port was attacked again with S-300 missiles. Three missiles hit the Petro Mohyla Black Sea university, causing extensive damage.

South of the city, the town of Halytsynove was struck by Russian rockets Thursday, destroying several residential buildings and injuring three people.

In neighboring Dnipropetrovsk, the head of the regional administration, Valentyn Reznichenko, said there was a night of "massive enemy attacks" with the cities of Nikopol and Kryvih Rih hit.

One man was killed in a village near Kryvih Rih, he said. And a 12-year boy was injured when Russian missiles hit his home near Synelnykove, which is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the front lines.

Nikopol -- which is on the opposite side of the Dnipro River to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant -- was hit by 10 artillery shells, according to Reznichenko. Power had been disrupted and there was extensive damage, he said.

5:05 a.m. ET, August 19, 2022

Russia expects IAEA visit to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant soon

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is seen in the city of Enerhodar, Ukraine on August 4.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is seen in the city of Enerhodar, Ukraine on August 4. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russia has said it expects to welcome the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine in the near future.

Ivan Nechaev, deputy director of the information and press department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said during a press briefing on Thursday: "We expect that in the very near future there will be a trip to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant of IAEA experts, which was fully agreed upon in June and frustrated by the leadership of the UN Secretariat."

Nechaev also called the proposal for a demilitarized zone around the facility “unacceptable” and blamed Ukraine for provocations. 

"In order to prevent a nuclear catastrophe, it is necessary to force the Ukrainian units to stop shelling," he said. 

4:55 a.m. ET, August 19, 2022

Pro-Russian official says security around Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant strengthened

From CNN's Tim Lister

A pro-Russian official in Zaporizhzhia says that protection around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been "strengthened" amid intensified shelling.

"The protection system of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been strengthened due to a possible attempt by the Ukrainian army to strike at the facility," said Vladimir Rogov, an official with the self-declared Russian backed Zaporizhzhia region administration.

Rogov declined to disclose further details. CNN cannot verify Rogov's claim.

Both Russian and Ukrainian sides blame each other for ongoing rocket and artillery attacks on and around the large nuclear complex.

New video emerged online on Friday showing Russian military vehicles inside a turbine hall connected to a nuclear reactor at the plant. CNN geolocated and confirmed the authenticity of the video but it remains unclear when the video was taken.

4:44 a.m. ET, August 19, 2022

Ukraine military says offensive in south continues; Russian counter-attacks foiled

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Tim Lister

The Ukrainian military says it is continuing its offensive in the south to recapture the occupied Kherson region.

"During one of the attacks, we met with two airborne assault units," Operational Command South said on Thursday. It added that Russian forces had "tried to attack" in the direction of the towns of Oleksandrivka and Stanislav but ultimately "forced to retreat" due to the loss of tanks, armored vehicles and personnel."

"There was no success. Left with losses," it said.

The command said that Ukrainian "missile and artillery units have completed more than 200 fire missions," including the destruction of Russian plans to repair and continue to use the Kakhovka bridge, one of several disabled by Ukrainian strikes.

10:24 p.m. ET, August 18, 2022

Pro-Russian official claims artillery strikes near Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Tim Lister

A pro-Russian official in Zaporizhzhia says there have been several artillery strikes in the area around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant Thursday evening.

Vladimir Rogov, an official with the self-declared Russian-backed Zaporizhzhia region administration, said on his Telegram channel: "At the moment, there are at least seven hits from heavy artillery in the Enerhodar region."

Enerhodar is the town closest to the plant. 

CNN cannot verify Rogov's claim. The Russian and Ukrainian sides blame each other for rocket and artillery attacks on and around the large nuclear complex.

12:21 a.m. ET, August 19, 2022

Russian vehicles seen inside turbine hall at Ukraine nuclear plant

From CNN's  Paul P. Murphy, Tim Lister and Rob Picheta

Russian military vehicles sitting inside a turbine hall, connected to a nuclear reactor at the Zaporizhzhia power plant.
Russian military vehicles sitting inside a turbine hall, connected to a nuclear reactor at the Zaporizhzhia power plant. From Telegram

New video has emerged online showing Russian military vehicles inside a turbine hall connected to a nuclear reactor at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where intensified shelling has fueled fears of a nuclear disaster.

CNN has geolocated and confirmed the authenticity of the video, which began circulating on social media Thursday. It's unclear when the video was taken.

The footage shows one of the six turbine rooms located on the western side of the nuclear plant, located in the southeastern city of Enerhodar. Each turbine hall is connected and built into a large building that houses a nuclear reactor.

The vehicles, which appear to be standard Russian military trucks, are sitting in the far western edge of the building on the ground floor, just over 400 feet (130 meters) from the reactor.

At least five vehicles — with one clearly marked with the pro-war symbol "Z" — are seen in the video, with at least two tent-like structures nearby. There are a number of assorted pallets near the vehicles.

It's unclear from the video whether the pallets and tent-like structures are part of the Russian military or are related to power plant operations.

Moscow has previously said the only military equipment at the plant is related to guard duties. On Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that satellite imagery, "shows that weapons, especially heavy ones, are not placed on the territory of this station."

CNN reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment on what is inside and around the military vehicles in the turbine room, but did not immediately receive a response.

Read the full story here.

12:17 a.m. ET, August 19, 2022

Russian troops "can't move anywhere further" in Ukraine, former Ukrainian defense official says

From CNN’s Arnaud Siad

Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk speaks with CNN on Thursday August 18.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk speaks with CNN on Thursday August 18. (CNN)  

Russia is unable to capture any more territory in Ukraine thanks to weapons provided by Western countries, former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk told CNN on Thursday.

“The war is in a situation where the Russians cannot move anywhere further because of the weapons the West provided us. We managed now to make them stop,” Zagorodnyuk said.

“But unfortunately at the same time we don’t have enough weapons for a proper, serious, fully-fledged counter-offensive,” he added.

The former defense minister also said the term "stalemate" was not applicable to the situation in Ukraine.

“Usually when people use the word stalemate, they assume some sort of stability and some sort of calmness. But it’s not the case, unfortunately. It’s an extremely active war right now, there are people dying every day and there are a lot of operations, small operations happening in almost every operational direction,” Zagorodnyuk said.

Ukraine was behind at least three explosions in Crimea — an air base, an ammunition depot and an airfield — according to a Ukrainian government report circulated internally and shared with CNN by a Ukrainian official on Wednesday.

12:20 a.m. ET, August 19, 2022

Europe's largest nuclear plant is under threat. But experts say a Chernobyl-sized disaster is unlikely

From CNN's Rob Picheta

A satellite image of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine is seen on August 13.
A satellite image of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine is seen on August 13. (Planet Labs/Reuters)

The threat of nuclear calamity has hung for months over Russia's war in Ukraine.

Those fears were renewed last week after shelling intensified around the massive Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, which has been under Russian control since March.

Attacks at the complex, which have ramped up as fighting flares in Ukraine's south, have sparked concerns about the specter of nuclear disaster, leading the United Nations' watchdog and world leaders to demand that a mission be allowed to visit the site and assess the damage.

So just how real is the risk that the fighting poses? Nuclear experts are keen to defuse some of the more alarmist warnings, explaining that the main threat is closest to the plant itself and doesn't justify Europe-wide alerts. Experts are particularly wary of any comparisons to the Chernobyl disaster, a repeat of which is incredibly unlikely, they said.

It's not very likely that this plant will be damaged," Leon Cizelj, president of the European Nuclear Society, told CNN. "In the very unlikely case that it is, the radioactive problem would mostly affect Ukrainians that live nearby," rather than spreading throughout eastern Europe as was the case with Chernobyl, he said.
"If we used past experience, Fukushima could be a comparison of the worst-case scenario," Cizelj added, referring to the serious but more localized meltdown at the Japanese plant in 2011.

The most pressing dangers would be faced by Ukrainians living in the vicinity of the plant, which is on the banks of the Dnipro River, south of Zaporizhzhia city, and by the Ukrainian staff who are still working there.

Read the full story here.