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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5:07 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

Ukraine says UNSC meeting was a waste of time and says Russia filled it with "fictitious soundbites”

From CNN’s Richard Roth and Laura Ly

Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya called Tuesday’s Security Council meeting a waste of time and said that Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia filled it with “fictitious soundbites.”

“I wish we had been gathered here by Russia to hear the only thing that the entire world wants to hear – and that is a statement that Russia demilitarizes Zaporizhzhia NPP [nuclear power plant], withdraws its troops, and hands it over to the government of Ukraine. Instead, we wasted more than one hour to listen to a slew of fictitious soundbites,” Kyslytsya said.

CNN previously reported that, according to one UN diplomat, Russia had called for Tuesday’s meeting.

“Once again, [Russia] has the audacity to convene a UN Security Council meeting to discuss its own provocations, its own terror, at the Z-NPP [Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant],” Kyslytsya said, calling Russia a “terrorist state.”

Kyslytsya also refuted Nebenzia’s statements that Ukrainian shelling has deteriorated the security situation at the nuclear site at Zaporizhzhia.

“Russian narratives about Ukrainian shelling of the station do not stand up to scrutiny. Nobody who is at least conscious can imagine that Ukraine would target a nuclear power plant at tremendous risk of nuclear catastrophe on its own territory. Such a catastrophe would lead to numerous deaths and pollution for many years to come,” Kyslytsya said.

During the meeting, Russia’s UN Ambassador blamed the car bomb death of the daughter of a leading Putin-ally on Ukrainian intelligence agencies, during a Tuesday Security Council meeting on the in-peril nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

“An explosion of a car took place. Inside the car was…Darya Dugina. Our competent authorities are investigating this and preliminary conclusions are that this monstrous crime was organized by the Ukrainian special services,” Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said in translated remarks.

Nebenzia also blamed the West for supporting the pro-Ukrainian groups.

Nebenzia said the life of Dugina was stopped at “its very height.” He also said a Ukrainian female agent connected to Dugina’s death had escaped to Estonia. Ukraine has denied any responsibility for the attack.

He called on the UN Security Council to condemn the attack, though such condemnation is unlikely.

The Russian representative also said access for international inspectors to the Zaporizhzhia power plant, the largest in Europe, will go forward “in the near future.” Russia and Ukraine have requested the IAEA to go to the power plant site, but so far the UN has said that security is not safe. The Russian Ambassador said the security situation at the nuclear site has deteriorated. He blamed Ukrainian shelling. He denied allegations of Russian abuse of Ukrainian staff at the facility.

4:59 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

US will not be "facilitating the movement" of US citizens in Ukraine, White House says

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

After months of warnings for Americans to leave Ukraine, the White House says the US is not going to be “facilitating the movement of American citizens” inside the country, as the State Department renews its warnings and says increased Russian strikes could be coming soon.

“We have warned [Americans] for months and months that they should not be there,” National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday. “If anybody did remain, now's the time to start making your plans to get out of the country.”

Kirby did not offer any new information on the killing of Darya Dugina, the daughter of a close Putin ally that the Russian government claims was killed by Ukrainian intelligence agencies. Ukraine denies any involvement.

“We don’t have any more information or data about this violence,” Kirby said, but he reiterated the US feels “there’s no place for this kind of violence period against anyone. 

Asked about an American teacher sentenced to 14 years in Russian prison, who a group of nine bipartisan senators called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to immediately designate as "wrongfully detained," Kirby said there was “a limit to what I can say on this particular case… based on some legal considerations.”

“The designation of wrongful detention is one that the State Department has to make, and they take that very, very seriously,” Kirby said. “They're still working their way through this and reviewing the case, and that's really about as far as I can go.” 

As CNN’s Jennifer Hansler previously reported, the classification that would allow the US government to undertake active diplomatic efforts to secure Marc Fogel's release.

4:24 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

US official says Russia is "pushing us to the brink of nuclear disaster" with shelling near Zaporizhzhia

From CNN’s Richard Roth and Laura Ly

US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Richard Mills said Tuesday afternoon that Russia is “pushing us to the brink of nuclear disaster” for using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant “as a staging ground for war.”

“As we speak, Ukraine, neighboring states, the entire international community, are living under the threat of a nuclear catastrophe, and people are understandably terrified,” Mills said, speaking during a UN Security Council meeting. “Russia created this risk and only Russia can diffuse it.”

Mills also echoed UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for Russia to “immediately…establish a demilitarized zone in the area surrounding the plant.”

“A demilitarized zone would enable the IAEA team to travel to the facility, conduct an inspection, and assess the safety, security, and application of safeguards to ongoing nuclear plant operations,” Mills said.

3:56 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

Ukraine's Ministry of Youth and Sports says 133 athletes and coaches have died during the Russian invasion

From CNN's Kevin Dotson

The Ukrainian Ministry of Youth and Sports announced Tuesday that at least 133 Ukrainian athletes and coaches have been killed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Minister of Youth and Sports Vadym Gutzait wrote, “The flag will no longer be raised and the anthem will no longer be played in honor of the sports victories of the deceased athletes."

“Russia invaded Ukraine and took their lives. 133 athletes and coaches have died on the battlefield and from enemy shelling," he continued.

The announcement was accompanied by a video tribute to Ukraine’s fallen athletes and coaches created by the ministry together with the Sports Committee of Ukraine and the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine.

CNN cannot independently confirm the number of deaths of Ukrainian athletes and coaches.

CNN’s Rich Phillips, Karen Smith and Josh Pennington contributed reporting to this post.

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.