Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
August 30, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news
By Jessie Yeung, Sophie Tanno, Caolan Magee, Mike, Hayes, and Hannah Strange, CNN
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that a review of military medical commissions is underway following revelations that some had accepted bribes to help Ukrainians evade conscription.
During his nightly address on Wednesday, Zelensky said that “the inspection of military medical commissions across the country is underway.”
Thousands of military-aged men have avoided conscription and fled abroad since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 with the help of bribes and “unreasonable decisions” by military medical commissions, the president said.
On Tuesday, the Security Service of Ukraine reported that an investigation is underway into the head of the military medical commission in Kyiv region who is suspected of allowing over 50 men of enlistment age to evade the draft in exchange for bribes on the basis of fictitious documents about "bad" health.
According to the security service, the head of the military medical commission and five others were a part of the criminal scheme that helped men who wanted to evade the draft and flee abroad.
Zelensky said all of those who accepted bribes would be brought to justice.
“It is necessary to check a significant number of decisions of the military medical commissions on disability and unfitness for military service that were made after February 24,” Zelensky said, adding that “there are examples of regions where the number of people removed from the military register due to the MMC's (military medical commissions) decision has increased tenfold since February last year.”
“It is absolutely clear what these decisions are corrupt decisions,” Zelensky emphasized.
Zelensky noted that “the criminal proceedings are currently underway” against the staff of military medical commissions and medical social expert commissions of Ukraine.
“The list of those who went abroad due to obviously dubious decisions of MMCs will be analyzed separately,” he noted, adding that these are “at least thousands of people.”
Zelensky also announced his intention to equate corruption with treason during wartime in his interview with Ukrainian media on Sunday. Zelensky said the Ukrainian parliament will get a proposal from him “in the coming week.”
Six Russian regions, including Moscow, came under attack early Wednesday in the biggest drone assault on its territory since the full-scale invasion began last February. Russian officials haven’t reported any casualties and claimed to have thwarted almost all of the strikes.
A Kremlin spokesman has attributed the assault to the “continued terrorist activity of the Kyiv regime.”
Mykhailo Podolyak, the adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the attacks are an indication the “war is increasingly moving to Russia’s territory." The official, however, stopped short of claiming responsibility for last night’s attacks.
Residents told CNN of their panic and fear as the city was shaken by the powerful assault.
Here are other headlines you should know:
- Ukraine attacks on Russia: An attack on the election headquarters of a pro-Russian party in the occupied Kherson region has been claimed by a Ukrainian insurgent group. The group, Atesh, says it blew up the headquarters of the United Russia Party in Nova Kakhovka on Tuesday. The group said three Russian soldiers were killed in the attack, a claim that was denied by a pro-Russian politician in the area. Additionally, one person has died and 13 were injured as a result of Ukrainian shelling of Russian-occupied Donetsk region, according to the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Denis Pushilin. And the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) guerilla group claimed responsibility for an August 27 drone on the Russian region of Kursk, saying that it worked in tandem with the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU).
- On the ground developments: Six Ukrainian pilots were killed during a combat mission near Bakhmut, Yevhen Rakita, spokesperson for the Igor Sikorsky 18th Separate Army Aviation Brigade, told national broadcaster Suspilne on Wednesday. Russian air defense forces also shot down a Ukrainian missile over eastern Crimea and two drones over the Bryansk region, which borders northeastern Ukraine, on Wednesday, Russian officials said.
- Prigozhin plane crash: Russia is considering the possibility of “deliberate” action in its investigation of the plane crash that killed Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, but Moscow will not allow international authorities to intervene, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday. The possibility of a "deliberate atrocity" is one of many scenarios under consideration, Peskov said.
- Ukrainian precautions: The northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv has set up 60 classrooms in its subway ahead of the start of the school year in September, the mayor said in a statement. The underground classrooms will accommodate around 1,000 students, with plans to set up even more classrooms to allow for safe in-person education several days a week, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.
- Potential arms deal: Russia and North Korea are “actively advancing” their negotiations over a potential arms deal that would provide significant ammunition for different types of weapons systems, including artillery, in the latest indication that the Kremlin is desperate to obtain further materiel for its failing invasion of Ukraine, according to newly released US intelligence. The news of the potential deal comes despite North Korea’s public claims to the contrary.
- Grain discussions: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will hold meetings on grain supplies in Moscow this week, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. Lavrov and Fidan will discuss alternatives to the Black Sea grain deal that is no longer in effect, during meetings in the Russian capital on Thursday and Friday, the ministry said.
The Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) guerilla group claimed responsibility for an August 27 drone on the Russian region of Kursk, saying that it worked in tandem with the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU).
"Another maximally successful attack [was] carried out jointly with SBU military counterintelligence in the Kursk region. Without hindrance, again passing through a porous border, on the night of August 27, we hit a military facility with drones: an airfield with Putin's vultures," the RVC said in a statement posted to Telegram.
On August 27, the Russian defense ministry claimed it destroyed the drones that were launched at the Kursk region. The RVC has disputed this and accused both the Russian defense ministry and the Kursk governor of covering up that a stray air defense missile hit a residential high-rise building. CNN cannot independently verify these claims.
The Russian Ministry of Defense, the Kursk governor and the SBU have not commented on the RVC’s claims.
The Russian Volunteer Corps is a guerilla group made up of Russian citizens fighting on the side of Ukraine. In March, the group claimed responsibility for a cross-border attack on Bryansk, a Russian region bordering Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused deep disruptions in the global food supply, raising prices and increasing the risk of food insecurity in poorer nations in the Middle East and North Africa, America’s top spy agency said in an unclassified report released by Congress on Wednesday.
The direct and indirect effects of the war “were major drivers of one of the most disruptive periods in decades for global food security,” the eight-page report found — in large part because Ukraine and Russia were among the world’s largest pre-war exporters of grain and other agricultural products.
Although food security concerns have abated since the start of this year, according to the report, the future trajectory of global food prices likely will depend in part on what happens with the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which Russia ended in July. The deal, facilitated by the United Nations, had allowed Ukrainian agricultural shipments to safely exit Black Sea ports and reach the international market.
How much acreage Ukraine is able to cultivate as the war continues to rage and the cost and availability of fertilizers will also have an impact on global food prices, the report found. Global fertilizer prices reached near-record levels in mid-2022 as global oil and natural gas prices rose.
“The combination of high domestic food prices and historic levels of sovereign debt in many countries — largely caused by spending and recessionary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic — has weakened countries’ capacity to respond to heightened food insecurity risks,” the report said. “These factors probably will undermine the capacity of many poor countries to provide sufficient and affordable food to their population through the end of the year.”
Droughts last year in Canada, the Middle East, South America and the United States also compounded the war-related stress on global food supplies, according to the report.
Intelligence officials have accused Russia in the past of weaponizing food supplies by blocking Ukrainian exports, destroying infrastructure and occupying Ukrainian agricultural land.
Citing satellite imagery and open-source reporting, the report said that Russia stole nearly 6 million tons of Ukrainian wheat harvested from occupied territories in 2022. Cargo ships used to transport the stolen grain out of Russian-occupied territories in 2022 would steer along the coast of Turkey to deliver shipments to ports in Syria, Israel, Iran, Georgia and Lebanon, the report said.
“We cannot confirm if the buyers of the Russian cargoes were aware of the grains’ Ukrainian origin,” the report said.
Russian air defense forces shot down a Ukrainian missile over eastern Crimea and two drones over the Bryansk region, which borders northeastern Ukraine, on Wednesday, Russian officials said.
“Air defense forces shot down a cruise missile in the eastern part of Crimea. I ask everyone to remain calm and trust only official sources of information,” Sergey Aksyonov, Russia-appointed head of Crimea, said in a Telegram post.
His advisor, Oleg Kryuchkov, said the fragments of the missile set the grass in the field on fire. “Emergency services are working on the scene,” Kryuchkov said.
Aksyonov and Kryuchkov didn't provide additional details about the missile.
Aleksandr Bogomaz, governor of Russia’s Bryansk region, said two drones were shot down Wednesday.
“Two aircraft-type unmanned aerial vehicles were shot down over the Bryansk region,” Bogomaz said, adding there were no casualties or damage.
The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell stressed Wednesday that the efforts must be maintained to search for peace in Ukraine, but that it “has to be a just peace.”
Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Borrell said it was "difficult to believe that peace negotiations can take place" right now, given the relentless Russian attack on Ukrainian cities.
“We have to prepare, we have to work on looking for peace, but this peace has to be a just peace, recognizing that there is an aggressor and an aggressed. And the aggressor has to withdraw their troops, Ukraine has to recover its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the aggressor has to pay for the consequences of the aggression,” he added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will hold meetings on grain supplies in Moscow this week, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
Lavrov and Fidan will discuss alternatives to the Black Sea grain deal that is no longer in effect, during meetings in the Russian capital on Thursday and Friday, the ministry said.
“The Foreign Ministers of Russia and Turkey intend to work on the parameters for the implementation of the initiative of the Russian President Vladimir Putin on organizing the supply of 1 million tons of Russian grain to Turkey at a reduced price with the financial support of Qatar for subsequent processing at Turkish enterprises and shipment to the countries that are in need the most,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also said on Wednesday that Fidan will be traveling to Russia on Thursday and Friday.
"During the visit, issues on our bilateral agenda as well as regional and global developments will be discussed," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement.
One person has died and 13 were injured as a result of Ukrainian shelling of Russian-occupied Donetsk region, according to the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Denis Pushilin.
"Peaceful towns of the Republic endured another day of fierce shelling by Ukrainian armed formations. One man was killed [...] thirteen were wounded, including two minors," Pushilin said.
The casualties occurred in and around the city of Donetsk, he said. Houses and civilian infrastructure were also damaged, Pushilin added.