August 25, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 2:48 a.m. ET, August 26, 2022
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7:36 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Russia claims attack on Chaplyne train station killed 200 Ukrainian soldiers

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Tim Lister and Radina Gigova

A missile strike on a train station in Chaplyne, in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region, killed more than 200 Ukrainian servicemembers and destroyed 10 equipment units, according to Russia's Ministry of Defense.

CNN cannot independently verify accounts of the strikes referenced by the ministry.

Ukrainian officials say at least 25 people, including two children, died in the attack on the station on Wednesday, which marked both Ukraine's independence day and exactly six months since Russia invaded the country on February 24.

“As a result of a direct hit by an Iskander missile on a military echelon at the Chaplyne railway station in the Dnepropetrovsk region, 200 employees of the reserve of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and 10 units of military equipment were destroyed on its way to Donbas,” Russia's Ministry of Defense said in a statement published Thursday. 

7:30 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

IAEA "very, very close" to agreement with Russia over visit to Zaporizhzhia

From CNN’s Renée Bertini in Paris

Director General of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Rafael Mariano Grossi press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, U.S, on August 2.
Director General of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Rafael Mariano Grossi press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, U.S, on August 2. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told French channel France 24 he might soon be able to visit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, currently under Russian control. 

“We are very, very close to that [an agreement with Russia],” Grossi said Thursday.

Earlier today, Grossi met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. 

The French and Russian defense ministers also talked about the nuclear power plant on the phone the same day, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

7:08 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Ukrainian official says building used by Russian-backed officials near Melitopol has been sabotaged

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, has posted video of damage to a building allegedly used by Russian-backed officials in the region. 

"Tonight, the headquarters of the occupiers in the village of Pryazovske was blown up," Fedorov said on Telegram. "It was there that the Russians prepared for the 'voting' and issued Russian passports."

Fedorov was referring to a referendum being planned by Russian-backed authorities in the region on whether it should join the Russian Federation.

"There is neither a clear date nor a plan for holding a pseudo-referendum in the occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia region," he said in a press briefing. 

"The concept of the Russians now is to hold a referendum during a period of five days in the format of a survey (by visiting apartments and houses)," said Fedorov. "In the next two weeks, the Russians are simply unable to hold a referendum."

Fedorov, who is not in the city, also claimed that very few people had taken up the offer of Russian passports.

"We do not have an exact number of how many people received Russian passports ... I think it is about 1,000 people at most," he said.

On the day of the start of the new school year, Fedorov said the Russians had tried to open four out of 22 schools in the area and had brought in Russian teachers.

They were threatening heavy fines for parents whose children were absent from school, he said.

Pressure on the remaining population in Melitopol was growing, added Fedorov. He estimated some 60,000 - 70,000 people are still living in the city, half the pre-war population.

"The Russians begin a total cleansing, filtering in every house, every apartment," he said. "If a person is found with at least something Ukrainian (flag, embroidery), they are immediately arrested."

Four people have been transferred to a high security detention center in Moscow, claimed Fedorov. CNN cannot verify the allegation.

"Up to 80 people are held captive by the Russians," he claimed.

6:52 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Concerns mount over POW trials in Mariupol

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Prison cells installed at the Philharmonic Hall in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this image released via social media on August 6.
Prison cells installed at the Philharmonic Hall in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this image released via social media on August 6. (Mariupol City Council/Reuters)

There are growing concerns over the trials of prisoners of war scheduled to take place in Russian-occupied Mariupol, with Washington and Moscow trading barbs over the plans.

"Show trials": On Wednesday, the US State Department said the Kremlin was using the trials as an attempt "to deflect responsibility for President Putin’s war of aggression and distract from overwhelming evidence of the atrocities Russian forces have committed in Ukraine."

The State Department said it strongly condemned the "planned show trials," and described them as "illegitimate and a mockery of justice."

"All members of Ukraine’s armed forces, including domestic and foreign volunteers incorporated into the armed forces, are entitled to prisoner of war status if they are captured and must be afforded the treatment and protections commensurate with that status, according to the Geneva Conventions," the State Department said.

Russian reaction: The Russian Embassy in Washington responded early Thursday, accusing the US of "groundless accusations" against Russia.

It added that the "upcoming trial is aimed at bringing justice to war criminals, among which there are Nazis from the Azov Regiment."

The embassy added that Washington was "clearly afraid of making public the evidence of the inhumane acts committed by members of this terrorist organization," referring to Russia's claims that it launched a "special mission" to protect itself from genocide at the hands of ​"neo-Nazis."

No start date: Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), said that the trials will include soldiers from Ukraine's "regular army" as well as members of the Azov Regiment.

Speaking on Russian television Thursday, Pushilin said that "all war criminals will be court-martialed at the tribunal."

However Ukrainian official Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said that the DPR has not announced a start date for the trials.

"Most likely, this is due to the lack of 'confessions' of our Heroes themselves," said Andriushchenko, who is not in Mariupol himself, on his Telegram channel Thursday.

The area around the building slated to host the trials remains closed, he added.

Some context: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights this week expressed concern about the trials, saying that willfully depriving prisoners of war a fair trial is a war crime, and international humanitarian law prohibits the establishment of courts solely to judge prisoners of war.

6:01 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Russia ready to assist UN visit to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, says defense minister

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, Ukraine, on August 22.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, Ukraine, on August 22. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and French counterpart Sébastien Lecornu discussed the situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a call on Thursday, according to the Russian Defense Ministry

Shoigu shared his assessments of the actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces during the call, which was initiated by the French side, said the ministry.

The Russian minister also stressed the importance of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visit to the plant, and said Russia is ready to provide the necessary assistance to the organization's inspectors.

US President Joe Biden and Western leaders have stressed the need for the United Nations nuclear watchdog to visit the plant in southeastern Ukraine, where shelling has sparked fears of a disaster.

Kyiv and Moscow have made a barrage of accusations against each other about security and military action at and around the plant, the largest nuclear complex in Europe.

But the lack of independent access to the plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since March, makes it impossible to verify what is happening there.

5:15 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Boris Johnson blames Vladimir Putin for worsening cost of living crisis in UK

From CNN's Jack Guy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, listens to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as they give a press conference on August 24, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, listens to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as they give a press conference on August 24, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

Outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has blamed a spike in the cost of living on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, amid criticism of his government's lack of response to the growing crisis.

Speaking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday, Johnson said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had underestimated Ukraine, as well as "the price the world was willing to pay to support Ukraine."

"And I've come from the United Kingdom where we're battling inflation that is being driven by the spike in energy prices that is caused by Putin's war," said Johnson.

"And we also know that if we're paying in our energy bills for the evils of Vladimir Putin, the people of Ukraine are paying in their blood," he added.

Wholesale natural gas prices started increasing last year as countries reopened from their pandemic lockdowns, causing a global spike in demand.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February, and the resulting energy crunch, has also pushed prices further up.

But Johnson's government has also come in for heavy criticism for a lack of action in helping people to deal with the cost of living crisis in the UK, where energy bills have risen 54% so far this year and are expected to increase further.

"It is going to be truly, truly horrific for a large number of people," Keith Anderson, CEO of Scottish Power told STV, a Scottish TV station, on Monday, referring to the price increases.

"This is bigger than the pandemic. It's a big national crisis," he added.

So far this year, the government has offered about £33 billion ($39 billion) in support to households to help with energy costs, through a mix of tax cuts, energy bill rebates and direct payments, the Institute for Government said in its report published Tuesday.

But experts say more is needed.

Leaders of the UK National Health Service warned last week of a "humanitarian crisis."

Many people could fall sick this winter as they "face the awful choice between skipping meals to heat their homes and having to live in in cold, damp and very unpleasant conditions," they said.

CNN's Anna Cooban contributed to this report.

4:18 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Spain to send anti-aircraft battery and other weapons to Ukraine 

From CNN's Al Goodman in Madrid 

Spain will send Ukraine an anti-aircraft battery and missiles for the first time since Russia’s invasion began in February, Spain's Ministry of Defense said Wednesday.

Madrid's latest shipment of military aid will also include 1,000 rounds of field artillery munitions, a thousand tons of diesel fuel, various armored vehicles and 30,000 winter uniforms, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“Coinciding with the sixth month of the war in Ukraine, and with (Ukraine’s) Independence Day, Spain continues supporting the Ukrainian people in their fight to defend peace and freedom against the Russian invasion,” the statement said. 

Spain will train Ukrainian troops in the operation of the anti-aircraft battery, and also provide training for Ukrainian air force personnel “in an allied country,” which was not specified, the statement said. 

Spain last April announced the shipment of 200 tons of ammunition and other military aid to Ukraine.

3:26 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Train station attack death toll rises to 25, with children among the dead

From CNN's Tim Lister

A crater in a residential district in Chaplyne, Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, after a Russian missile attack on August 24.
A crater in a residential district in Chaplyne, Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, after a Russian missile attack on August 24. (Dmytro Smolienko/Reuters)

The death toll from a Russian attack Wednesday on a train station in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region has risen to 25, according to Ukrainian officials.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the President's office said search and rescue operations had been completed at the station in the village of Chaplyne.

"Twenty-five people died, including two children, 31 people were injured due to the shelling of the residential sector and the railway station," Tymoshenko said Thursday. "An 11-year-old boy died under the rubble of a house; a 6-year-old child died in a car fire near the railway station."

Independence Day strikes: The attack was one of several Russian strikes carried out around Ukraine on Wednesday as the country marked Ukrainian Independence Day, officials said.

Yuri Sak, an adviser to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, told CNN that Russia conducted "missile strikes across Ukrainian territory."

"In other major cities of Ukraine, even those which are far away from the battlefield, there have been explosions, there have been missile strikes," Sak said, adding that Kyiv had at least eight air raid sirens on Wednesday.

2:19 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Ukraine reports Russian rocket attack near Kyiv

Two Russian rockets hit communities near Ukraine's capital Kyiv overnight into Thursday, according to Oleksiy Kuleba, head of Kyiv's regional state administration. 

"At night, the enemy launched a rocket attack on one of the communities of the Vyshhorod district. Two hits were recorded," Kuleba said. 

No injuries or destruction of infrastructure was reported, he added.

Kuleba said an assessment of the areas impacted continues and that other explosions heard by those in the area were from Ukraine's air defense.