August 24, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Kathleen Magramo, Josh Berlinger, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 2:25 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022
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11:06 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

WHO: Ukraine’s health system is "shaken" but "has not collapsed" despite the war

From CNN’s Pierre Meilhan

The World Health Organization said Wednesday that Ukraine’s health system has managed to survive, despite Russia’s invasion.

“Six months of war have had a devastating impact on the health and lives of Ukraine’s people, but despite many challenges the health system has managed to survive and deliver care where and when it is needed most,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.

The head of the WHO went on to say that “though shaken, the health system has not collapsed. WHO continues to support the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to restore disrupted services, displaced health workers, and destroyed infrastructure, which is essential not only for the health of Ukraine’s people but for the country’s resilience and recovery. But no system can deliver optimum health to its people under the stress of war, which is why we continue to call on the Russian Federation to end this war.” 

Six months into Russia’s invasion, the WHO said it has helped deliver more than “1,300 metric tonnes of critical medical supplies to Ukraine in coordination with the Ministry of Health and partners, with more on the way."

The agency said this includes "power generators, ambulances, and oxygen supplies for medical facilities; supplies for trauma and emergency surgeries; and medicines to help treat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). However, attacks on health continue unabated, with 473 WHO-verified attacks recorded this past half-year, resulting in at least 98 deaths and 134 injuries.”


11:03 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

Zelensky tells UN Security Council that "Russia has put the world on the brink of radiation catastrophe"

From CNN's Jennifer Hauser

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on screen during the UN Security Council meeting on August 24 at UN headquarters in New York.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on screen during the UN Security Council meeting on August 24 at UN headquarters in New York. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the UN Security Council virtually Wednesday, urging that the organization's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), take permanent control of the situation at the Zaporizhzhia plant as soon as possible. He also called on Russia to completely withdraw from the plant.

"Russia has put the world on the brink of radiation catastrophe. It is a fact that the Russian military has turned the territory of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, into a war zone. ... Now Europe and neighboring regions face the threat of radiation pollution," Zelensky said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also said he is "gravely concerned" by the situation at Zaporizhzhia.

"The warning lights are flashing. Any actions that might endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of the nuclear plant are simply unacceptable. Any further escalation of the situation could lead to self destruction," Guterres said while speaking at the UN Security Council.

The UN secretariat is in close contact with the IAEA to support any mission to the power plant from Kyiv provided both Russia and Ukraine agree.

10:36 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

133 athletes and coaches have died during six months of war in Ukraine

From CNN's Kevin Dotson, Sammy Mngqosini and Issy Ronald

Russia's war in Ukraine has claimed the lives of 133 Ukrainian athletes and coaches, the Ukraine Ministry of Youth and Sports announced on Tuesday.

"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," Minister of Youth and Sports Vadym Gutzait wrote. "Russia invaded Ukraine and took their lives. 133 athletes and coaches have died on the battlefield and from enemy shelling."

CNN is not able to independently confirm the number of deaths of Ukrainian athletes and coaches.

Ukraine's Independence Day this year marks six months exactly since Russia invaded and began a bloody war which continues to rage across the country.

The website "Sports Angels" details the lives of each sportsperson killed during the war — some on combat missions, some in their homes destroyed by shelling.

Among those killed is Ivan Bidnyak age 36 who died while fighting in the Kherson region. He represented Ukraine at the World Championships and was the first Ukrainian to compete in shooting at the London 2012 Olympics. Eleven-year-old gymnast Kateryna Diachenko was reportedly killed when a shell hit her house in Mariupol on March 10 along with her father, mother and brother.

CNN's Ben Morse contributed reporting to this story.

10:24 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

Russia detains prominent opposition leader for "discrediting" Russian army, state-run media reports

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

Police detain Yekaterinburg ex-mayor Yevgeny Roizman, center, in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on August 24.
Police detain Yekaterinburg ex-mayor Yevgeny Roizman, center, in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on August 24. (Vladimir Podoksyonov/URA.RU/AP)

Prominent opposition leader Yevgeny Roizman was detained by Russian police Wednesday for allegedly “discrediting” the Russian army, the country’s state-run media reported.

A criminal case has been opened against Roizman based on a video posted on his YouTube channel, according to TASS news agency, citing a law enforcement source.

Roizman — who is also the former mayor of Yekaterinburg, a city east of the Ural mountains — has been detained for 48 hours, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. He is due to be taken to Moscow for further investigation, a source told RIA Novosti.

A video shared by the pro-Kremlin Mash Telegram channel showed police officers in flak vests and black balaclavas, storming Roizman’s apartment on Wednesday morning. Another video showed Roizman leaving his apartment with police when asked by bystanders he said he was arrested for using the word “invasion.”

“Practically for (saying) one phrase: ‘The invasion of Ukraine.’ I have said it everywhere and I will say it now,” Roizman said.  

“We already know everything about our country. This is nothing new," Roizman said in a video while leaving his apartment.

According to Russian state media, the searches took place at three addresses: at his home, in Roizman's foundation — where he regularly hosted meetings with local residents — and in his private museum, the Nevyansk Icon Museum.

Earlier this year, Roizman was fined three times for “discrediting” the Russian Armed Forces on social media. 

In May, Roizman was fined another 85,000 rubles ($1,412) for a comment on Twitter in which he used profanities in response to a statement from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.  

Some background: Following the arrest of Ilya Yashin, Roizman remained the last prominent Russian opposition public figure openly speaking out against the war in Ukraine. Roizman was well-known for calling out Russian officials on Twitter and remaining in Russia despite the widespread crackdown on the opposition.  

Last month, Roizman tweeted a photo of himself alongside Vladimir Kara-Murza and Ilya Yashin with the caption: “I am the only one still free.”  

Roizman came to prominence as a mayor of Yekaterinburg from 2013-2018 and for his anti-Kremlin stance. Roizman’s popularity and his opposition views resulted in authorities abolishing direct mayoral elections in Yekaterinburg in 2018.

Despite the loss of public office, Roizman continued to be one of the most influential voices in Russian opposition and was a close friend of jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny

11:22 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

UK prime minister announces $66 million aid package for Ukraine during surprise visit to Kyiv 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, center, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, walk at Kyiv's "Maidan" Independence Square on Ukraine's Independence Day on August 24.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, center, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, walk at Kyiv's "Maidan" Independence Square on Ukraine's Independence Day on August 24. (Sergei Chuzavkov/AFP/Getty Images)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a $66 million (54 million pounds) aid package for Ukraine during a surprise visit to Kyiv on Wednesday, telling the country that it "can and will win" the war against Russia. 

The UK called the package "a step up in the Ukrainian’s current capability, improving their long-range surveillance and defensive targeting ability," according to a Downing Street news release. 

Here's what is in the package: It comprises of 2,000 state-of-the-art drones and loitering munitions which will "enable Ukraine to better track and target invading Russian forces," the news release said. 

It also contains 850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones, which are "specifically designed for use in towns and villages, and are deployed to detect approaching enemy forces," according to the news release. 

Johnson said he came to Ukraine “to deliver the message that the United Kingdom is with you and will be with you for the days and months ahead, and you can and will win.”

According to Downing Street, during the visit, Johnson and Zelensky held talks "on the challenges of the winter ahead for the country," during which the prime minister reiterated the "UK’s all-encompassing and unwavering support for the Ukrainian people, from humanitarian aid to supporting the investigation of war crimes and rebuilding the country’s economy." 

Correction: An earlier version of this post included the wrong number of drones provided in the aid package. There were 2,000 drones.

10:07 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

Ukrainian President Zelensky gives Order of Liberty award to British prime minister

From CNN’s Karen Smith

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky awarded British Prime Minister Boris Johnson the Order of Liberty during a ceremony in Kyiv on Wednesday.

The award is “reflecting the work that Boris has been doing for our country and all of Europe," Zelenksy said while giving it to Johnson.

“I want to thank you and the people of Ukraine for the incredible honor that you’ve done me which is, I think, really a recognition of the efforts of the UK,” Johnson said after he received the award.

The British prime minister made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Wednesday as the country marks its Independence Day.

9:52 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is visiting Ukraine on the 6-month anniversary of the invasion

From CNN's Benjamin Brown and Ivana Kottasová

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, on August 24.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, on August 24. (10 Downing Street/Twitter)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in Kyiv to mark Ukraine’s Independence Day, Downing Street said via Twitter Wednesday.

Today marks 31 years since Ukraine voted for independence from the Soviet Union. It is also the six-month anniversary of Russia's invasion.

Johnson has been one of the most vocal supporters of Ukraine as it tries to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked assault, and the trip on Wednesday was his third visit to the Ukrainian capital since the war started in late February.

He became one of the first foreign leaders to make the precarious trip to the Ukrainian capital in late April, then returned on another surprise visit in June.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on his Telegram channel: "I am happy to meet Boris Johnson, a great friend of Ukraine, on Independence Day." 

"Boris, thank you for the uncompromising support for our country from the first days of the full-scale Russian aggression, for steadfastly defending the interests of Ukraine in the international arena! Ukraine is lucky to have such a friend!"
9:02 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

Analysis: Europe supplied weapons to Ukraine for 6 months — but recession fears could test that support

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee

Ukrainian servicemen fire a French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre Caesar gun towards Russian positions near the front line in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 15.
Ukrainian servicemen fire a French self-propelled 155 mm/52-calibre Caesar gun towards Russian positions near the front line in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 15. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

As Russia's war in Ukraine reaches the six-month mark, officials across Europe are worried that the Western consensus to supply arms to Ukraine could fall apart amid the real possibility of economic recession.

The continent is now facing a bleak winter of rising food prices, limited energy to heat homes, and a growing fuel crisis.

Western officials and diplomats spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity to candidly describe sensitive conservations among governments.

"At the start ... it was politically quite easy to rally behind Ukraine and make the case for donating weapons and cash," a NATO official told CNN. "Over time, the types of weapons we are sending have got more complicated, as has the training required to use them effectively."
"The good news is, these arms are helping the Ukrainians hold out. The bad news is, the longer the war goes on, the shorter on supply these weapons will be."

War fatigue: On top of the economic and military costs, there is also serious concern that war fatigue could influence foreign governments' contributions as the conflict stagnates.

"Back in February, it was easy to jump on the anti-Putin bandwagon. Now the war is in the boring strategic stage. There are fewer daily gains and losses and there are fewer photo opportunities," according to a NATO diplomat.

Of course, this won't be as straightforward as countries simply withdrawing their support. But it might involve countries changing the parameters of exactly what outcome they support.

Shifting end game: Some Western European countries, most notably Germany and France, have said publicly that dialogue will have to exist between the West and Moscow.

"Do we all still have the same view of the end game? Is it just getting back to the borders of before Russia invaded? Or is it back to pre-2014, before Russia annexed Crimea? And will we deal with Putin after the war or will he need to stand down?" a European diplomat said.

"These are the long-term questions we need to be asking, but are not. It's better not to ask these questions right now."

Read the full analysis here.

9:22 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

World leaders send messages marking Ukrainian Independence Day 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

Leaders from around the globe marked this year's Ukrainian Independence Day and pledged continued support amid Russia's invasion via messages on Twitter:

US President Joe Biden

President of the European Council Charles Michel

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith