Pro-Russian official killed by car bomb in southern Ukraine
From CNN's Tim Lister
A pro-Russian official in occupied Ukraine has been killed by a car bomb, Russian-backed authorities said Wednesday.
Ivan Sushko, head of the military-civil administration of the village of Mikhailovka, was killed after an explosive device was planted under his car, according to a Telegram post by Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Russian-appointed council in occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia.
"As a result of the explosion, Ivan Sushko was wounded and taken to the hospital in critical condition, where he soon died," Rogov said.
3:11 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022
New Zealand's military has received reports of a soldier killed in Ukraine
From CNN’s Larry Register
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) said it has received reports that a soldier on leave has been killed in Ukraine.
In a statement Wednesday, NZDF said the "soldier was on a period of leave without pay at the time and was not on active duty with the NZDF."
"At this early stage, there is still more information to be gathered in order to understand the circumstances fully," the statement said. "The New Zealand Army will work closely with the family of the soldier to offer support at this deeply sad time."
2:39 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022
Norway and UK to donate micro-drones to Ukraine
From CNN's Manveena Suri
Norway and the United Kingdom will jointly supply micro-drones to Ukraine to aid in its fight against Russia’s invasion, the Norwegian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
The Norwegian-developed Black Hornet drones from manufacturers Teledyne FLIR are worth up to $9.25 million, the ministry said in a statement.
The package includes Black Hornet units, spare parts, transportation and training, which will be financed by a British-led fund to which Norway has contributed, according to the ministry.
“The drone is used for reconnaissance and target identification. It is easy to operate, robust, difficult to detect and particularly well suited for combat in urban areas,” Norway’s Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram said.
The ministry added that Ukraine had asked for this type of equipment to help fight the war.
“These cutting-edge drones will help give Ukraine’s troops a vital advantage on the battlefield,” UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
2:23 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022
Analysis: Why Ukraine frets about US commitment to the war 6 months in
The stakes have not changed; they are as important now as ever. And if anything, the war is more brutal and bloody and may be primed for an escalation that could again test American policy.
But as a conflict that has evolved multiple times reaches another possible pivot point, a familiar question is being raised with new urgency — especially by Ukrainians: How long is the West willing to stay engaged?
Foreign aid to Ukraine: US and European money and military aid remain critical to Ukraine's capacity to stave off Russia's invasion. But senior figures in Kyiv are sufficiently concerned that they are again warning of the massive stakes for the democratic world as they face down President Vladimir Putin's troops half a year into the conflict.
"I call it fatigue syndrome, and for me it's one of the main threat(s)," Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov told CNN in an exclusive interview. "We need to work with this threat, because we need to ... communicate, to ask people, don't be (in) on this fatigue. Because this is very, very dangerous for us."
Fears of attacks: Questions about the longevity of Western commitment is coming at a perilous moment.
The State Department on Tuesday advised Americans to leave Ukraine immediately, warning of potential Russian attacks on Wednesday's 31st anniversary of independence, to which Putin says the country is not entitled.
There are also fears that the capital's return to a pale imitation of normality could be shattered by Russian strikes after the daughter of influential, ultra-nationalist philosopher and war propagandist, Alexander Dugin, was killed in a car bomb near Moscow.
Ukraine has denied responsibility and the hasty Russian investigation offers little confidence in its claims that an operative from Kyiv's special services was to blame. But the murder has sparked chilling Russian demands for vengeance and total warfare against Ukraine.
6 months into Russia's war in Ukraine, here's a look at the map of control
Six months of war in Ukraine has seen relentless attacks and devastation in cities including Kharkhiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson and many more.
Ukrainian forces are battling a grinding Russian offensive in the east, which is largely under Russian occupation, and launching counteroffensives in the south of the country.
The Donbas: The Russian military has kept up a persistent barrage of artillery and missile strikes across the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, capturing the last Ukrainian-held city in Luhansk in July. Ukrainians still hold a significant chunk of Donetsk, but are under pressure from three directions.
Intense shelling: Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine's armed forces, acknowledged earlier in August that Russian forces "continue to advance" in the east and sometimes shell Ukrainian positions up to 800 times a day.
But, he added, the "intense" situation is "fully controlled."
2:25 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022
Children in Ukraine prepare for a new academic year with schools ravaged by 6 months of war
From CNN's Tara John in London and Maria Kostenko in Kyiv
Six months since the outbreak of war, Ukraine's children are preparing for a new academic year, while armed forces battle a Russian offensive in the east and the country's economy lies in tatters.
As schools prepare to open their doors in September, many educators are grappling with the fact that they don't have the ability to provide safety to pupils or peace of mind to parents if their schools come under attack.
Child casualties: At least 972 children have been killed or injured since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, according to UNICEF.
A June survey by the Ukrainian government estimated that 5.7 million children between the ages of 3 and 18 have been affected by the war, with 2.8 million estimated to be internally displaced.
Impact on schools: The fighting has damaged 2,300 of Ukraine's 17,000 schools, according to education officials. Some 59% of all schools and universities will not be ready to resume in-person classes in September, said Education Minister Serhiy Shkarlet, and no one knows how many students will attend in-person classes.
The war has also caused a brain drain of teachers, with 22,000 of Ukraine's 434,000 educators (most of whom are women) having left the country, while many more remain internally displaced, he added.
"The academic year will be very difficult," Horbachov said. "It will begin in unpredictable and very difficult conditions, when there is actually no safe place in Ukraine, since (Russian) missiles can hit anywhere."
Ukrainians celebrate Independence Day with a wary eye on Russia
From CNN's Tara John and Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv, Ukraine
Ukraine's Independence Day, which on Wednesday marks 31 years since the country broke with the Soviet Union, is set to be a somber affair as officials warn that Russia may carry out missile attacks against Ukrainian cities.
While previous years have been marked by celebrations and parades, Wednesday's commemoration comes exactly six months after Russia's invasion of the country began.
The head of Kyiv's Military Administration, Maj. Gen. Mykola Zhyrnov, said events have been banned in the capital and other cities so that security forces can respond more efficiently to potential Russian attacks.
In lieu of a parade, wrecked and captured Russian military vehicles including tanks were placed on Khreshchatyk, Kyiv's main street, as a testament to Moscow's failed attempt to capture the capital in the early weeks of the war.
"The enemy planned to hold a 'parade' on Khreshchatyk in three days, but it didn't work out. Our armed forces answered back," Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian President's office, wrote on Telegram Saturday, when the vehicles were placed on the road with a crane.
On the eve of Independence Day, crowds of people were seen in Khreshchatyk, inspecting the display. Some children crawled up the rusty metal carcass of a tank, while others posed for pictures by the mangled vehicles.
Liubov, who asked for her last name to not be published, said she turned up to show the "scrap metal parade" to her 8-year-old son, Illia.
As Illia climbed on a Russian combat vehicle, Liubov described the parade as "symbolic," saying "a lot of people in Kyiv (have forgotten) about war, so I think this is a good reminder."
"Worst scenario" in war with Russia is "behind us," Ukrainian defense minister says
From CNN's Sam Kiley, Bex Wright and Karen Smith
Ukraine's "worst scenario" in its war with Russia has already passed, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Tuesday.
"The worst scenario was behind us, left behind us," Reznikov told CNN’s Sam Kiley in Kyiv.
"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 added he believes Ukraine is on the verge of a "new stage" of the war by starting its counteroffensive campaign "in a different direction."
When asked if he is afraid the international community will begin to get tired of the war, Reznikov said "fatigue syndrome" could hurt Ukraine's fight against Russia.
"I call it fatigue syndrome, and for me it’s one of the main threats," he said. "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."
2:17 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022
UN reports more than 6.6 million Ukrainian refugees in Europe since Russian invasion began
From CNN's Aditi Sangal
As of Aug. 17, a total of 6,657,918 refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Millions of people have been uprooted from their homes in Ukraine and are in need of humanitarian assistance, in what has become the largest and fastest displacement crisis since World War II, according to the International Rescue Committee.
The UN estimate of refugees in Europe includes the sum of registrations for temporary protection or a similar national protection scheme and the number of asylum applications lodged by refugees from Ukraine.
Some context: The UNHCR figure is a conservative estimate of the total number of refugees from Ukraine across Europe. This could be because updated official estimates may not be available for every country, or not all countries currently hosting Ukrainian refugees have or take part in official temporary protection programs, according to Christopher Boian, a UNHCR spokesperson.