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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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. 

3:11 a.m. ET, August 25, 2022

Ukrainian official claims Russia killed 3, detained dozens of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant workers

From CNN's Petro Zadorozhnyy and Philip Wang 

A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, Enerhodar, Ukraine, on May 1.
A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, Enerhodar, Ukraine, on May 1. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP/Getty Images)

The Russian military has killed three Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant workers and detained 26 more during its occupation of the facility, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets said on Wednesday.

According to Lubinets, the three workers were killed from beatings or shelling, while Russia accuses the detainees of “passing on information about the movement and location of Russian military equipment” in the region.

“This is the Ukrainian nuclear power plant where Ukrainian nuclear engineers work, who are free to communicate with anyone who can ensure the preservation of the integrity of the nuclear power plant, ” Lubinets said, adding that “dozens of people were kidnapped” from the plant and their fate remains unknown.

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.

Lubinets also called on the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency to expedite the establishment of the demilitarized zone around the plant and add protections for its personnel to ensure maintenance of the facility.

9:13 p.m. ET, August 24, 2022

US to provide Ukraine with counter-unmanned aerial systems to "shoot missiles out of the sky"

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

The US will provide Ukraine VAMPIRE counter-unmanned aerial system, or counter-drone system that uses "small missiles essentially to shoot missiles out of the sky," Department of Defense undersecretary for policy Dr. Colin Kahl told reporters on Wednesday.

The VAPIRE counter-UAS systems are included in the latest $3 billion US security assistance package for Ukraine announced Wednesday. 

The US continues to "train Ukrainian forces on all systems" that the US and NATO allies are providing, Kahl said. This training has been happening on a "rolling basis," he added.

For training on systems included in the latest package of security assistance, the US believes there is "time to train the Ukrainians on whatever system they are not familiar with," Kahl said.

Because the latest security assistance comes from Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding — meaning it will be sourced and produced by industry partners and not directly from DoD stockpiles of weapons — it could take "months to get on contract and one, two, three years in some instances to arrive in Ukraine," Kahl said. 

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.