August 23, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Rhea Mogul, Jack Guy, Adrienne Vogt and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 12:19 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022
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4:17 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

Ukraine's defense minister tells CNN the "worst scenario" in the war is behind them

From CNN's Sam Kiley, Bex Wright and Karen Smith.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov speaks during an interview on August 23.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov speaks during an interview on August 23. (CNN)

When asked by CNN if the Russia-Ukraine war was drifting into a stalemate, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said his country has the “worst scenario” behind them.

Speaking on Tuesday with CNN’s Sam Kiley in Kyiv, Reznikov said, “we are in a stage of stabilizing all the battlefield or battle lines with the small moving of the units, and we made a lot of good deterrents there.”

Reznikov said he believes Ukraine is on the verge of a “new stage” of the war by starting its counter-offensive campaign in a different direction.  

Reznikov said “fatigue syndrome” in the international community is one of the main threats in Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

When asked by Kiley if he is afraid the international community will begin to get tired of the war, Reznikov said, “I call it fatigue syndrome, and for me it’s one of the main threats, and we need to work with this threat, because we need to speak like with you, to communicate, to ask people, don’t be on this fatigue. Because this is very, very dangerous for us.”

3:31 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

UN says it has capacity to support mission to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and is proceeding with preparations

From CNN's Laura Ly

The United Nations has consulted with its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and determined that it has the “logistics and security capacity in Ukraine to support any IAEA mission to the [Zaporizhzhia] plant from Kyiv, provided Ukraine and Russia agree,” Rosemary DiCarlo, the United Nations under-secretary for political and peacebuilding affairs, said in remarks to the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

DiCarlo also said that preparations for the mission are proceeding and that “IAEA is in active consultations with all parties regarding its efforts to send such a mission as soon as possible.” 

“We welcome Ukraine and Russia’s recent statements indicating support for the IAEA’s aim to send a mission to the plant, which would be IAEA’s first to that site since the start of the war,” DiCarlo said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has met with both Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regarding the physical integrity, safety, and security of the nuclear plant, according to DiCarlo.

DiCarlo also reiterated Guterres’ calls for an end to all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the plant and “for all sides to refrain from targeting its facilities or surroundings.”

“We must be clear that any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia, or any other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, leading to a possible nuclear incident would have catastrophic consequences, not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the region and beyond,” DiCarlo said.

CNN’s Richard Roth contributed reporting to this post

3:26 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

US not planning immediate changes to diplomatic presence in Ukraine despite concerns of Russian strikes

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

The US State Department is not planning any immediate changes to the US diplomatic presence in Ukraine despite concerns about Russia stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine in the coming days, according to a senior administration official. 

While the diplomats will take extra precautions in the coming days they are not going to be departing Kyiv at this time, the official said. 

Their continued presence at the US embassy in Ukraine’s capital comes as the State Department is urging Americans – once again – to immediately depart Ukraine, citing concerns about Russia planning to target Ukrainian infrastructure and government facilities.

"The Department of State has information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine's civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days... The US Embassy urges US citizens to depart Ukraine now using privately available ground transportation options if it is safe to do so," a security alert on the embassy's website said on Tuesday.

"The security situation throughout Ukraine is highly volatile and conditions may deteriorate without warning," the announcement said.

3:31 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

Turkey's Erdogan says return of Crimea to Ukraine is a requirement of international law

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul and Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference in Ankara on August 23.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference in Ankara on August 23. (Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday reiterated Turkey’s position that Ankara supports Ukraine's territorial integrity and rejects Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, according to the state-run Anadolu agency.

Erdogan said in a video message to the Second Crimea Platform Summit in Kyiv that Crimea must be returned to Ukraine. 

"The return of Crimea to Ukraine, of which it is an inseparable part, is essentially a requirement of international law," Erdogan said

Erdogan said Ankara will continue to support the Crimean Platform, which was established to resolve the Crimean issue through peaceful means.

"Turkiye does not recognize the annexation of Crimea and has been openly stating since the first day that this step is illegitimate and illegal. This is a principled stance that has not only legal but also moral foundations," he said.

Erdogan added that protecting Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and political unity is "critical," not only for regional but also for global security and stability.

"Ensuring the safety and well-being of our Crimean Tatar compatriots is also among Turkiye's priorities," he said.

3:28 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

Russian and French ministers discussed UN nuclear watchdog mission to Zaporizhzhia plant 

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in eastern Ukraine on August 19.
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in eastern Ukraine on August 19. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies/AP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talked about the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and “the available opportunities for organizing a visit to the station" by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. 

Lavrov outlined Russia's approaches to the war — what it calls the ongoing “special military operation” — and said that “the Kyiv regime continues to shell the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the territory adjacent to it, exposing the entire European population to the danger of a nuclear catastrophe with the obvious connivance of its foreign sponsors,” according to the ministry.

Some context: Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed for a mission from the IAEA, a UN nuclear watchdog, to access the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia plant via territory controlled by Ukrainian forces. He gave his consent during a call with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, according to a source from the Élysée Palace.

Russia and Ukraine have both made accusations about security and military action at and around the plant, the largest nuclear complex in Europe. The lack of independent access to the plant makes it impossible to verify what is happening there.

Over the past month, a number of rockets and shells have landed on the territory of the plant, according to satellite imagery analyzed by CNN.

1:43 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

US will announce security package of up to $3 billion on Ukrainian Independence Day

From CNN's Oren Liebermann and Ellie Kaufman

The US is set to announce a security assistance package of up to $3 billion for Ukraine on Wednesday, according to a US official, which is the country's Independence Day and marks six months since the beginning of the war. 

This package, first reported by the Associated Press, is far larger than any single previous US package since the start of the war. 

The package falls under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) and will include Western air defense capabilities, a large quantity of ammunition, as well as training and maintenance, the official said.  

More background: Because this package is part of the USAI, it will not be drawn from existing US inventories. Instead, it will come from contracts with arms manufacturers. 

The official said the package has not been finalized and details could still change.

Last week, the US announced a $775 million package that included HIMARS and 105mm Howitzer ammo, anti-armor missiles, mine-clearing capabilities, and more. That package came through Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which means it will be pulled directly from US stocks.

12:31 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

Zelensky: Murder suspect in Darya Dugina's car bombing is "not our responsibility"

From CNN's Karen Smith

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference on August 23 in Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference on August 23 in Kyiv. (Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

President Volodymyr Zelensky denied Ukraine's responsibility in Russian political commentator Darya Dugina's murder by car bombing, saying that the suspect is not a Ukrainian citizen.

“This is not our responsibility," he said Tuesday. "She is not a citizen of our country ... we are not interested in her."

"She is not in the territory of Ukraine — occupied or not," he added.

Dugina, the editor of a Russian disinformation website, was also the daughter of prominent Russian ultranationalist Alexander Dugin.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) alleged that the assailant was a Ukrainian woman who arrived in Russia on July 23 with her young daughter, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

After remotely detonating explosives planted in Dugina's Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, the FSB said the woman and her daughter drove through the Pskov region to Estonia, roughly a 12-hour journey.

12:54 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

UN Security Council will hold meeting today on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

From CNN's Richard Roth

The United Nations Security Council will hold a meeting today on Europe's largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, which has come under assault as Russia's war in Ukraine continues.

The plant, located in eastern Ukraine, has been under Russian control since March.

Russia called for the session, according to one UN diplomat, which is set to begin at 3 p.m. ET on camera, the official UN schedule shows.

The council can expect to hear Russia blame Ukraine and the United States for shelling the plant zone, while the US and others on the council are expected to accuse Moscow of threatening a radiation leak.

Talks are ongoing regarding getting an International Atomic Energy Agency mission to visit the Zaporizhzhia plant, UN Secretary-General spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said during a news briefing Tuesday. 

Dujarric said the UN still needs safe assurances in order for staff to visit the site.

11:36 a.m. ET, August 23, 2022

The world before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine "will no longer exist," German foreign minister says 

From CNN’s Inke Kappeler in Berlin

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks during a news conference in Berlin on August 23.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks during a news conference in Berlin on August 23. (Lisi Niesner/Reuters)

Russia's invasion of Ukraine — which is nearing the six-month mark — has changed the world permanently, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin neither stopped “at that final turning point [on] Feb. 23” nor responded to “countless offers of talks," Baerbock said, leading "his country into a long, ever darker night until today, without any sign of compliance, without any serious offer of negotiation, without remorse."

“If some are now longing for a return to the world that existed before Feb. 23, that is all too understandable. But that world will no longer exist. What has happened in the past six months can never be undone," Baerbock said during a joint news conference in Berlin with her Icelandic counterpart Thordis Gylfadottir.

“As long as this brutal war of aggression continues, we will continue to support Ukraine with military aid in its right to self-defense," Baerbock said. However, Germany itself must remain capable of defending itself, also in view of the threat situation in the Baltic States, she added. 

Gylfadottir also said her country is “on the side of the Ukrainian people in their heroic struggle against Russian aggression." She vowed to “help Ukraine rebuild so that the younger generation has reason to hope and reason to dream. This is what we owe them. We owe this to the people who are fighting and dying to defend their country." 

Russia needs to be held accountable and “must not achieve its goals," the Icelandic foreign minister said. "Ukraine must win."