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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4:41 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

First grain shipment from Ukraine arrives in Africa since start of Russian invasion

From CNN's Zayn Nabbi and Bethlehem Feleke

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.

"We have officially docked! The first @WFP ship to carry Ukrainian grain since February has just arrived in #Djibouti. Now, let’s get this wheat offloaded and on to #Ethiopia," WFP Executive Director David Beasley tweeted 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.

The WFP says people across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia face severe hunger as the Horn of Africa experiences some of the driest conditions its seen in decades. The drought is the worst in 40 years for Ethiopia, according to the UN. 

Some context: Since the first days of the war, Ukraine's southern ports had been blocked by Russia, stopping Ukrainian grain from traveling to the many countries that rely on it. A UN-brokered agreement struck on July 23 promised to unblock ports on the Black Sea to allow the safe passage of grain and oilseeds, following routes identified by Ukrainian maritime pilots to avoid mines, and with stops in Istanbul to ensure weapons are not being smuggled back into the country.

4:34 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

Ukrainian presidential adviser says counteroffensive will "grind the enemy"

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych in Kyiv, Ukraine

The Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south of the country will be a "slow operation to grind the enemy," according to Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

“This process will not be very fast,” Arestovych said in a statement posted on his Telegram account late Monday, “but will end with the installation of the Ukrainian flag over all the settlements of Ukraine.”

Some context: Ukrainian officials said Monday that military operations to retake Russian-held areas of the south are underway, with a source telling CNN that Ukraine's troops had taken back four villages near the city of Kherson. The effort comes as Russia's war in Ukraine has passed the six-month mark.

4:22 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

UN nuclear inspectors arrive in Kyiv ahead of visit to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant 

From CNN's Kim Norgaard in Kyiv, Ukraine

A team of 14 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.

Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation were seen by CNN reporters at their hotel in the Ukrainian capital early Tuesday.

The visit comes amid renewed shelling at the facility and mounting fears over a potential nuclear accident.

The mission is headed by IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said Monday.

Grossi tweeted Monday: "The day has come, @IAEAorg's Support and Assistance Mission to #Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) is now on its way. We must protect the safety and security of #Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility."
4:04 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

Water and electricity cut as Ukrainian forces attack Russian-occupied town in south, official says

From CNN's Sharif Paget and Josh Pennington

Ukrainian forces launched an attack on Monday at the Russian-occupied town of Nova Kakhovka in southern Ukraine, knocking out its electricity and water supply, according to Russian state media RIA Novosti, who cited a Moscow-appointed local authority.  

RIA quoted the head of civil-military administration in the town, Vladimir Leontyev, as saying the consequences of the strike "will probably be terrible."

"You can't leave now. There was a lot of shelling, something exploded. There were strikes in the city and near the hydroelectric plant. We can see the fire in both places," Leontyev said. 

After the city was left without electricity and water supply, authorities managed to outfit the hospitals with generators. They will start delivering water in the morning, Leontyev added.

2:57 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

Ukraine retakes 4 villages near Kherson, military source tells CNN

From CNN's Olga Konovalova and Bex Wright

Destruction following a missile strike in Mykolaiv, on Monday. Ukrainian forces have started to retake the southern city of Kherson, which is currently occupied by Russian troops, a local government official said on Monday.
Destruction following a missile strike in Mykolaiv, on Monday. Ukrainian forces have started to retake the southern city of Kherson, which is currently occupied by Russian troops, a local government official said on Monday. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian troops have taken four villages back from Russian occupation in the south near the city of Kherson, a Ukrainian military source tells CNN. Their main "target" is Kherson, the source added.

“The operation began at night with massive shelling of Russian positions and the rear,” the source, who CNN is not naming for security reasons, said.

“The main direction of the attack was on Pravdyne. We hit their infantry from the DNR (Donetsk People's Republic) and LNR (Luhansk People's Republic), and they fled. The Russian landing force fled after them," the source told CNN.

“We have now liberated four villages. Their first line of defense has been broken through in three places,” the military source said. 

The source said the village names are Nova Dmytrivka, Arkhanhel's'ke, Tomyna Balka and Pravdyne.

“Many of them were killed and captured, and a lot of [Russian] military vehicles [were destroyed].”

“We'll see how it goes from here. Our target is Kherson," the source said. 

4:32 a.m. ET, August 30, 2022

Ukrainian counteroffensive underway in Russian-held south, former president says 

From CNN's Jim Sciutto 

A “long-awaited” Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces is underway in southern Ukraine to retake Moscow-controlled territory, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told CNN on Monday. 

“This is the long-awaited counteroffensive operation. It was started today at 7:00 a.m. (local time) with shelling and missiles attack," he told CNN's Jim Sciutto.
"This is first time since February 2022 when such a [concentration] of Ukrainian troops with Western artillery, with Western HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) and Western missiles was collected together for this counterattack.”

The counteroffensive comes as Russia's war in Ukraine has passed its six-month mark, with US assessments indicating that Russia has been able to deploy fewer units to the front lines than initially thought, according to a senior US official. 

On Monday morning, Ukraine indicated that actions were underway.

"Ukrainian armed forces have started the offensive actions in several directions on the South front towards liberating the occupied territories," Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Operational Command South, told CNN.

"All the details will be available after the operation is fulfilled," she added.

9:08 p.m. ET, August 29, 2022

Ukrainian forces begin "shaping" battlefield for counteroffensive, senior US officials say

From CNN's Jim Sciutto

Ukrainian forces have begun "shaping" operations in southern Ukraine to prepare the battlefield for a significant Ukrainian counteroffensive, two senior US officials briefed on the intelligence told CNN.

Shaping operations are standard military practice prior to an offensive and involve striking weapons systems, command and control, ammunition depots and other targets to prepare the battlefield for planned advances.

The US believes the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which has long been anticipated, will include a combination of air and ground operations.

Ukraine indicated Monday morning that the actions were underway.

"Yes, (Ukrainian forces) have started the offensive actions in several directions on the South front towards liberating the occupied territories," Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Operational Command South, told CNN, adding, "All the details will be available after the operation is fulfilled."

The plans come as Russia's war in Ukraine has passed its six-month mark, with US assessments indicating that Russia has been able to deploy fewer units to the front lines than initially thought, according to a senior US official.

Read the full story here.