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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8:10 p.m. ET, August 24, 2022

Ukraine's Independence Day darkened by deadly missile strike

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

Ukraine's Independence Day, which on Wednesday marked the 31st anniversary of when the country voted to break with the Soviet Union, was a more somber affair this year, with officials attending memorials. The day was darkened by a missile strike on an eastern Ukrainian train station which killed at least 22 people — fulfilling warnings by Ukrainian officials.

While previous years have been marked by celebrations and parades, Wednesday's commemoration came exactly six months after Russia's invasion of the country began.

President Volodymyr Zelensky marked the day with an emotional address that spoke of the Russian invasion as a new independence day — the day Ukraine had to fight for its freedom, rather than simply voting for it at the ballot box.

"A new nation emerged on Feb. 24 at 4 a.m. Not born, but reborn. A nation that didn't cry, didn't scream, didn't get scared. Didn't run away. Didn't give up. Didn't forget," Zelensky said Wednesday.
"Every new day is a new reason not to give up. Because, having gone through so much, we have no right not to reach the end. What is the end of the war for us? We used to say: Peace. Now we say: Victory."

Across the country, Ukrainians paid tribute to those who have been killed in military action since the invasion began. Foreign leaders, such as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also visited Kyiv.

In the capital, Zelensky and first lady Olena Zelenska visited the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine. In the Western city of Lviv, visibly emotional family members of fallen soldiers attended a ceremony at the memorial, the Field of Mars.

Read the full story here.

9:00 p.m. ET, August 24, 2022

Biden to speak with Zelensky on Thursday as US warns of upcoming "sham referenda"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden will speak Thursday with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to update him on US arms shipments and congratulate him on Ukrainian Independence Day, according to the White House.

John Kirby, the communications coordinator at the National Security Council, said the US would continue to "rally the free world" and "galvanize allies and partners" to support Ukraine as the Russian invasion hits the six-month mark. 

He said the phone call between Biden and Zelensky would reaffirm those commitments.

"The President's looking forward to that," Kirby said, while saying there were no travel plans to discuss for Biden to visit Kyiv. He said if a "trip makes sense," it would come under consideration.

Biden on Wednesday announced a nearly $3 billion security assistance package to Ukraine.

Warning of a potential next step in the Russian invasion, Kirby said the US has information showing Russia is preparing to hold "sham referenda" in regions of Ukraine, potentially within days.

He said an announcement could come before the end of the week. The potential regions where a referenda could occur include Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, along with Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

"The United States and the international community have been very clear that any attempts at controlling Ukraine sovereign territory will not be considered legitimate," Kirby said.

He said the US expects Russia to manipulate the results of the votes and falsely claim the Ukrainian people want to join Russia.

"It will be critical to call out and counter this disinformation in real time," he said.

He said the US information shows Russian officials are concerned there would be low voter turnout in the upcoming votes.