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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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

From CNN's Stephen Collinson

President Joe Biden speaks before signing the agreement for Finland and Sweden to be included in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the East Room of the White House on August 9.
President Joe Biden speaks before signing the agreement for Finland and Sweden to be included in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the East Room of the White House on August 9. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Six months after Russia's unprovoked invasion, the war in Ukraine hasn't gone away despite being overtaken in US headlines by former President Donald Trump and inflation.

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.

Read the full analysis here.

12:57 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

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.

Map of control in Russia's war in Ukraine
Map of control in Russia's war in Ukraine CNN

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

A kindergarten classroom damaged as a result of an explosion in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 13.
A kindergarten classroom damaged as a result of an explosion in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 13. (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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."

Read the full story here.

12:17 a.m. ET, August 24, 2022

Ukrainians celebrate Independence Day with a wary eye on Russia

From CNN's Tara John and Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv, Ukraine

People look at destroyed Russian military equipments in Kyiv on August 23, during an open-air military museum ahead of Ukraine's Independence Day.
People look at destroyed Russian military equipments in Kyiv on August 23, during an open-air military museum ahead of Ukraine's Independence Day. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

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."

Read more here.

10:27 p.m. ET, August 23, 2022

"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

Helena, right, and her brother Bodia from Lviv, Ukraine, are seen at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing, in eastern Poland on February 26.
Helena, right, and her brother Bodia from Lviv, Ukraine, are seen at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing, in eastern Poland on February 26. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

12:37 a.m. ET, August 24, 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

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.

9:35 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.