Russia's war in Ukraine

By Tara Subramaniam, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Adrienne Vogt and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 2:25 a.m. ET, August 31, 2022
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1:38 p.m. ET, August 30, 2022

Russia further decreases gas supply to France

From CNN's Pierre Bairin and Renée Bertini in Paris

Russian gas company Gazprom will reduce its supply of gas to France, effective today, French industrial energy group Engie announced in a statement on Tuesday morning.

The decrease in supply is “due to a disagreement between the parties on the application of contracts,” according to Engie.

“This reduction is the logical continuation of the actions of Gazprom for several months, which does not respect its contracts, and which reduces its supplies to most of its customers,” a source inside the cabinet of the French energy ministry told CNN. "This new reduction announced by Gazprom does not compromise our security of supply.”

Engie also said these actions won't affect supply.

The company had “already secured the necessary volumes to ensure the supply of its customers and of its own needs” and it has implemented a series of “measures to significantly reduce the direct financial and physical impacts that could result from an interruption of gas deliveries by Gazprom," it said.

7:58 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

EU ministers to consider visa ban for Russian tourists, among other measures

From CNN's James Frater in London

Russian tourists have their passport checked at the Nuijamaa border crossing in Finland on July 28.
Russian tourists have their passport checked at the Nuijamaa border crossing in Finland on July 28. Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP/Getty Images

European officials are gathering for a two-day informal meeting in Prague to discuss the situation in Ukraine and how European Union countries can support the country in terms of military and social support.

During the gathering, EU defense and foreign ministers will also consider further measures against Russia stemming from Moscow's invasion of Ukraine six months ago.

One proposal put forward by Eastern European countries is to ban Russian tourists from entering the EU.

“In a situation where people in Ukraine are being tortured, murdered, and terrorised, Russian citizens should not be enjoying tourist trips to Europe,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said in a statement.

“It is important that we limit the opportunities for Russian citizens to travel in Europe,” the statement said.

After all, tourism is a privilege, not a right,” Kallas added.

Reaching a consensus among the 27 EU countries may be difficult, said Artis Pabriks, Latvia's deputy prime minister and defense minister.

In a memo circulated ahead of the meeting, France and Germany urged a more cautious approach to changes to the EU’s visa policy.
“While understanding the concerns of some Member States in this context, we should not underestimate the transformative power of experiencing life in democratic systems,” the memo read.

The Russian government will take measures if the EU decided to ban visas for Russian nationals, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists Tuesday. 

“This is a very serious decision that can be directed against our citizens. And such decisions cannot remain unanswered," he said, adding that a response from Russia will reflect what "protects the interests of our citizens."

1:39 p.m. ET, August 30, 2022

Germany is prepared for winter in spite of Russian gas cuts, chancellor says

From Inke Kappeler in Berlin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz briefs the media prior to a two days cabinet meeting at the German government guest house in Meseberg, Germany, on August 30.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz briefs the media prior to a two days cabinet meeting at the German government guest house in Meseberg, Germany, on August 30. Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

Germany is better prepared for winter "than was foreseeable a few months ago" when it comes to gas supply, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday. 

"We can deal quite well with the threats that are coming our way from Russia," Scholz said ahead of a cabinet retreat.

Russia is using gas as a strategy in the war against Ukraine, he claimed. 

Germany has been building liquid gas terminals on its northern coasts "at a fabulous pace," he added.

The German pipeline operator Gascade announced plans Tuesday to connect a new liquified natural gas terminal in the northeastern town of Lubmin to the German gas grid by the end of 2022. The re-gasification unit at the terminal will connect Germany and Europe with long-distance pipelines to the network via a pipeline that is hundreds of meters long.

Germany had started filling gas storages to prepare for winter earlier than in previous years because of fears of curbed or suspended gas deliveries from Russia. 

Some background: The Nord Stream 1 pipeline was interrupted for scheduled maintenance in July. On Aug. 19, Gazprom announced unscheduled maintenance orders from August 31-Sept. 2, which will suspend gas flow. The Nord Stream pipeline had already been running at just a fifth of its capacity.

As of Monday, gas storage facilities were filled to nearly 83% capacity, according to the federal network agency. 

Germany has received gas from Norway and the Netherlands, as well as via western European ports.

7:34 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

EU to deliver 5.5 million potassium iodide tablets to Ukraine to protect against potential radiation exposure

From CNN's Alex Hardie in London and Kim Norgaard in Kyiv

The European Union is donating 5.5 million potassium iodide tablets to Ukraine to safeguard people from potential radiation exposure, in what the EU Commission called a “preventative safety measure” on Tuesday.

The tablets would be used in “limited scenarios to avoid that inhaled or swallowed radioactive iodine is absorbed by the thyroid,” the commission said in a statement.

The tablets were requested by the Ukrainian government to “increase the level of protection” around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to the commission.

“No nuclear power plant should ever be used as a war theatre. It is unacceptable that civilian lives are put in danger. All military action around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant must stop immediately,” EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič added. 

A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency has arrived in the Ukrainian capital ahead of a planned visit to the power plant in southeastern Ukraine later this week.

Members of the IAEA delegation were seen by CNN at their hotel in Kyiv early Tuesday.

8:13 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

From CNN staff

Ukrainian officials say the country's forces have broken through Russian frontlines after launching a counteroffensive in the southern Kherson region, and 14 United Nations nuclear experts have arrived in Kyiv before a planned visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Ukraine claims early success in counteroffensive: Ukrainian troops have broken through Russian defenses in “several” areas of the frontline near the city of Kherson, claimed a presidential adviser late Monday, and have retaken four villages in the region. The counteroffensive will be a "slow operation to grind the enemy," said presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych.
  • Zelensky promises to remove Russian forces: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to “chase” Russian troops to the border in his nightly television address Monday. “The occupiers must know: we will chase them to the border. To our border, which line has not been changed,” he said.
  • Nuclear experts arrive in Kyiv: A team of experts from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog has arrived in Kyiv ahead of their planned visit to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine later this week. New satellite images show four holes in the roof of a building at the plant, close to where at least three Russian armored personnel carriers are being stored.
  • Russia now has Iranian drones, says US: The United States assesses that Russia is now in possession of weapons-capable Iranian drones that they will likely deploy on the battlefield in Ukraine, Biden administration officials told CNN. The Russians picked up the drones from an Iranian airfield earlier this month and transported them back to Russia in cargo planes in mid-August, the officials said.
  • Europe considers further measures against Russia: European officials are gathering for a two-day informal meeting in Prague to discuss the situation in Ukraine, and how European Union countries can support the country in terms of military and social support. During the gathering, EU defense and foreign ministers will also consider further measures against Russia, including a proposal put forward by Eastern European countries to ban Russian tourists from entering the EU.
  • Ukrainian grain reaches Djibouti: The first grain shipment from Ukraine to Africa since Russia's invasion began more than six months ago has docked in Djibouti, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed Tuesday. After 14 days at sea, the shipment of 23,000 metric tons of wheat arrived on the MV Brave Commander in the Horn of Africa, and will be used to support the WFP's humanitarian response in the region, where over 20 million people face hunger.
6:54 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

Ukrainian troops have "broken through" some areas of frontline near Kherson, claims official

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych and Jo Shelley

A Ukrainian soldier patrols a frontline checkpoint in Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine on August 19.
A Ukrainian soldier patrols a frontline checkpoint in Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine on August 19. Alex Chan/SOPA Images/SIPA/Associated Press

Ukrainian troops have broken through Russian defenses in “several” areas of the frontline near the city of Kherson, claimed a presidential adviser late Monday.

“[The Ukrainian Armed Forces] have broken through the frontline in several sectors,” said Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, in a video interview posted on YouTube.

His comments came after Ukraine started a counteroffensive aimed at recapturing Russian-controlled territory in the south of the country.

Earlier Monday, a Ukrainian military source told CNN that Ukrainian troops had taken four villages back from Russian occupation in the south near Kherson.

Moscow on Monday acknowledged Kyiv’s operation in Ukraine’s south, but said the Ukrainian troops “suffered heavy losses” and “failed miserably” in their “attempted” offensive. 

Arestovych also claimed that Ukrainian forces were shelling ferry crossing points that Moscow is using to supply Russian-occupied territory on the west bank of the Dnipro river in the Kherson Region.

“We suppress their attempts to supply their groups on the west bank [of the Dnipro River],” he said. “We strike at reserves, including reserves that are on the east bank and are trying to cross, and at ferry crossings as well.”

Serhii Khlan, an adviser to the head of the Kherson region military administration, said in a video interview posted on YouTube on Tuesday that Ukraine had hit multiple crossings over the Dnipro River, making them unusable.

6:26 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

New satellite images show holes in roof of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant near Russian equipment

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Tim Lister

Satellite imagery shows holes in the roof of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, on Monday.
Satellite imagery shows holes in the roof of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, on Monday. (Maxar Technologies/Handout/Reuters)

New satellite images from Maxar Technologies show four holes in the roof of a building close to where at least three Russian armored personnel carriers are being stored at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The Russian-appointed leader for the Zaporizhzhia region, Vladimir Rogov, claimed that the holes were the result of a Ukrainian military strike on the complex. 

Rogov published photos showing one of the holes on his Telegram channel.

CNN has geolocated and confirmed the authenticity of the photos, but not the claims that the holes were the result of a Ukrainian military strike.

The Ukrainian government has repeatedly denied that they have conducted military strikes at or near the plant in recent weeks.

In the satellite images, at least three Russian armored personnel carriers are seen sitting underneath a large structure with pipes, which feed from the building into all six of the nuclear reactors.

Russia has repeatedly claimed that they do not have any "heavy weaponry" at the nuclear power plant. The holes in the roof of the building are almost 500 feet (120 meters) away from one of the nuclear reactors at the plant.

CNN has asked Ukrainian authorities whether they conducted a military strike at the plant, but have not yet received a response.

CNN has also reached out to Energoatom, Ukraine's state nuclear power plant authority, for comment and to inquire on what the building's purpose is.

The satellite image also shows a fire burning just north of the plant.

5:15 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

Russia now in possession of Iranian drones, says Biden administration

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand

The United States assesses that Russia is now in possession of weapons-capable Iranian drones that they will likely deploy on the battlefield in Ukraine, Biden administration officials tell CNN.

The Russians picked up the drones from an Iranian airfield earlier this month and transported them back to Russia in cargo planes in mid-August, the officials said. 

Russian officials began training on the drones in Iran late last month, CNN previously reported, and the US now believes that Russia has officially purchased and transferred the Mohajer-6 and Shahed-series drones -- the Shahed-129 and Shahed-191 -- back to Russia, likely for use in the war in Ukraine. 

Both types of UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are capable of carrying precision guided munitions and can be used for surveillance.

Russian operators are still training on the drones inside Iran, the officials said, and the US believes that Russia intends to import hundreds of them to use for air-to-surface attacks, electronic warfare, and targeting inside Ukraine. 

The introduction of the Iranian drones could have a significant impact on the battlefield as Russia looks to blunt the impact of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that the US and its allies have provided to Ukraine.

The HIMARS have a range of 49 miles and have enabled Ukraine to attack targets behind Russian front lines. 

US intelligence officials believe, however, that when tested, many of the drones Russia has purchased from Iran have already experienced numerous failures, so it is unclear how much of a game changer they will be when deployed. 

The Washington Post first reported that the drones had been transferred to Russia.

The Biden administration began warning in July that Russia was looking to purchase the drones amid acute supply shortages stemming from the war in Ukraine and Western sanctions that have stymied new production efforts.  

Satellite imagery revealed that month showed that a Russian delegation had visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice since June to examine weapons-capable drones.

The news of the drone transfers comes as the Biden administration has expressed cautious optimism about a possible deal to revive the Iran nuclear deal.

The deal’s detractors say that a new deal will result in sanctions relief for Iran -- and in turn, a financial windfall that could enable Iran’s malign activities throughout the region and beyond. 

White House officials have insisted, however, that the decision to re-enter the nuclear deal should be motivated only by the need to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and should not be influenced by Iranian actions that fall outside the scope of their nuclear program. 

5:31 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

"Go home": Zelensky promises to "chase" Russian forces to the border 

From CNN's Jo Shelley

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his nightly address on Monday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his nightly address on Monday. (Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to “chase” Russian troops to the border in his nightly television address Monday.

“The occupiers must know: we will chase them to the border. To our border, which line has not been changed,” he said.

Zelensky was speaking after Ukraine started a counteroffensive aimed at recapturing Russian-controlled territory in the south of the country. 

If they want to survive, it's time for the Russian military to run away. Go home,” he added.

“If they do not hear me -- they will have to deal with our defenders, who will not stop until they free everything that belongs to Ukraine.”