October 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Amy Woodyatt, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 8:17 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022
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2:25 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Russian deputy PM: Freight train traffic has resumed on bridge and passenger trains are set to leave overnight

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Freight trains are moving again on the Crimean bridge following an explosion early Saturday, and 12 passenger trains should pass through the railway line overnight, according to Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin.

Khusnullin also said that so far, one lane of car traffic is moving on the bridge, and the goal is to open two lanes to traffic by morning.  

“We have visually inspected the Crimean bridge, you already know that one lane of traffic has been launched, the task is to prepare everything overnight and tomorrow launch traffic in two lanes,” Khusnullin told Crimean media. 

While Russian officials said that a limited amount of car traffic had resumed on the undamaged sections, trucks were told to take ferries across the Kerch Strait, state media reported.

The Russian Ministry of Transport announced that trains have permission to run on the Crimean bridge, and the first test train run on the railway track was successful. 

The Telegram channel of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise Crimean Railway said that after the first stage of repairs to the bridge, a train with 15 cars passed through it. 

3:03 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022

It's nighttime in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

An explosion on a bridge linking Russia with Crimea dealt a strategic and symbolic blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin's war effort. Meanwhile, more shelling near the Zaporizhzhia power plant renewed fears of a possible nuclear accident.

If you're just joining us, here's the latest:

  • A blast on the Crimean bridge: A huge explosion severely damaged the only bridge connecting annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland, causing parts of Europe’s longest bridge to collapse. At least three people were were killed, according to Russian officials.
  • Ukrainian leaders celebrate: While stopping short of claiming responsibility, high-ranking Ukrainian officials publicly celebrated the bridge explosion. Ukraine's secretary of the National Security and Defense Council posted a taunting birthday message for Putin and the postal service announced stamps commemorating the blast. In Kyiv, residents posed for selfies in front of a billboard depicting the burning bridge.
  • Russia restores some travel on the bridge: Russian officials rushed to investigate the explosion and restore partial service on the bridge's parallel rail and roadway structures. By evening, limited car traffic resumed on undamaged parts of the bridge and train service had restarted. The blast disrupted major transport links, however, and Russian officials planned to use ferries for trucks. The Kremlin said Putin has signed a decree strengthening the bridge's defenses, but provided few other details.
  • Power plant knocked off power grid: The nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia is once again running on emergency diesel generators after renewed Russian shelling damaged and disconnected the facility's connection to the Ukrainian power grid. The shelling sparked condemnation from the UN nuclear watchdog and the Ukrainian energy minister, who warned of a potential nuclear accident.
  • Who controls the plant? While Putin signed a decree that puts the power plant under Russian state control as part of the annexation of four Ukrainian regions, Western allies reject the move as illegal under international law. Ukraine's military claims that plant employees are being pressured to sign employment contracts with Russia's nuclear energy agency. The EU's top diplomat reiterated Saturday that Russia's claim to the plant is "legally null and void."

Here are the current frontlines and the location of the Kerch Strait bridge connecting Russia to Crimea:

1:33 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Germany announces more weapons deliveries for Ukraine and says NATO needs to fill “gaps in defense”

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris and Claudia Otto in Berlin

NATO needs to work on strengthening its defense, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Saturday.

“We live in serious times, and in such times, it is also important to know where we have gaps in defense. The air defense is one such area where it is urgent to act,” Lambrecht said while visiting German troops deployed in Lithuania.

Germany also announced more weapon deliveries for Ukraine, including the IRIS-T air defense system, and a total of 100 tanks from Greece and Slovakia.

Facing an increased security threat, Germany will also create a new armored infantry brigade that could be quickly deployed to Lithuania in times of need, Lambrecht added.

12:50 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Train service on Kerch Strait bridge has been restored, operator says 

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

Train service on the Crimean bridge was restored Saturday evening as routes from the cities of Simferopol and Sevastopol depart to Moscow, according to a statement published by the operator of the passenger train service.

The Russian Grand Service Express carrier company said Saturday that the "double-decker train No. 28 Simferopol-Moscow left the capital of Crimea today at 17:10 according to the schedule. Train No. 8 Sevastopol-St. Petersburg left Sevastopol at 17:15."

The structure has separate infrastructure for its rail and roadway bridges, which run parallel to one another.

Car traffic on the undamaged part of the road bridge has also resumed, according to the Russian-appointed head of Crimea.

11:32 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Car traffic resumes on part of Crimean bridge, Russian official says

From CNN's Katharina Krebs and Tim Lister 

Car traffic on the undamaged part of the Crimean bridge has resumed, said the Russian-appointed head of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov, in a statement on his Telegram channel on Saturday.

"At the moment, traffic is open to cars and buses with a full inspection procedure. We ask truck drivers to plan their route using the Kerch ferry crossing. The Kerch-2 ferry will begin to sail across the strait in two hours," he said.

Social media video reviewed by CNN indicates that the westbound lanes on the road bridge were severed, but eastbound lanes appear intact. 

Cars have begun to pass over the Crimean bridge from Taman on the Russian mainland toward the Crimean peninsula en route to the city of Kerch, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported on Saturday.

Russian state media RIA Novosti reported Saturday that the Minister of Transport of the Crimean Republic Nikolai Lukashenko said ships with a capacity of 100 people will be launched to take passengers between Crimea and Russia's Krasnodar Territory as an alternate method of transport. 

According to Aksenov, railway communication on the bridge is set to be renewed by the end of the day.

11:34 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Forces from self-declared Donetsk People's Republic advance west of main city, separatist authorities say

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

The pro-Russian militia of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic said its units are carrying out an offensive to the west of the city of Donetsk, advancing into the village of Pervomaiskoye.

The area — near the city's now defunct and destroyed airport — has seen constant fighting for several months.

The DPR militia said in a statement on its Telegram channel Saturday that its units "continue their successful advance and are cleaning up the village of Pervomaiskoye. The actions of the assault groups are supported by artillery, the fire of which is adjusted using unmanned aerial vehicles."

The militia also published a video purporting to show its progress toward taking the village.

Ukraine's military has said that its forces have resisted several attempts to capture Pervomaiskoye this week.

1:13 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022

EU condemns Putin's attempted seizure of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after declaring annexation of regions

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, on September 11.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, on September 11. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

The European Union "condemns in the strongest possible terms" Russia's attempted seizure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the declared annexation of four Ukraine regions, the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Saturday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that puts the plant under Russian state control and amends the country's constitution by admitting new regions into Russia.

The EU "does not recognise and strongly condemns Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. Consequently, the decree on the seizure of the ZNPP is illegal, and legally null and void," Borrell said in a statement.

Borrell urged Russia to "fully withdraw its military forces and equipment and hand back control of the NPP to its rightful owner, Ukraine."

The EU's top diplomat also stressed that a "reinforced" presence by the UN's nuclear watchdog at the site and "its unhindered access to the plant are urgently needed in the interest of the security of Europe as a whole."  

The power plant lost all external power sources Saturday due to renewed shelling and is now relying on emergency diesel generators, the International Atomic Energy Agency and Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom said.

10:21 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Ukraine to issue stamps commemorating Crimean bridge explosion

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu and Olga Voitovych 

The Ukrainian Postal Service will issue new stamps that feature the damaged Kerch Strait bridge, which connected Crimea to Russia, its CEO announced on Saturday.

“I will not wish you a good day, because it is already wonderful. The Kerch bridge is done,” Ukrposhta head Igor Smelyansky said.

The stamp will feature two figures who resemble Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in their iconic pose from the 1997 film "Titanic." 

There is also an envelope with an image of Crimea breaking handcuffs with Russia in the images shared by Smelyansky.

The price of the stamp will be 18 Ukrainian hryvnia ($0.48) each, and Kyiv plans to print 7 million copies for circulation, according to Smelyansky.

Some context: Beyond being the only bridge connecting annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland, the structure had major symbolic significance for Russian President Vladimir Putin's objective to take over Ukraine and bind it to Russia forever.

1:10 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022

UN nuclear watchdog condemns renewed shelling that knocked Zaporizhzhia plant off power grid

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi holds a press conference during his visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 6.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi holds a press conference during his visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 6. (Kyodo News/Getty Images)

The UN's nuclear watchdog condemned new shelling near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which just disconnected the plant from Ukraine's power grid, according to its operator.

The resumed shelling is "tremendously irresponsible," International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said Saturday in a press release.

The last power line connecting the plant to Ukraine’s power grid was damaged and disconnected Saturday due to attacks by Russian forces, according to the Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom. The plant is now relying on diesel generators.

“The resumption of shelling, hitting the plant’s sole source of external power, is tremendously irresponsible. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant must be protected,” Grossi said on Saturday. 

"All the plant’s safety systems continue to receive power and are operating normally, the IAEA experts were informed by senior Ukrainian operating staff at the site,” he added in the release.

"Although the six reactors are in cold shutdown, they still require electricity for vital nuclear safety and security functions. The plant’s diesel generators each have sufficient fuel for at least ten days. ZNPP engineers have begun work to repair the damaged 750 kV power line," according to the release.

Grossi stressed that the plant "must be protected” and added that he will "soon travel to the Russian Federation, and then return to Ukraine, to agree on a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the plant. This is an absolute and urgent imperative.”

What Russian officials say: The plant can be put back into operation, said Vladimir Rogov, who is a senior pro-Russian official in the regional Zaporizhzhia government. 

"Now the nuclear power plant has been switched back to the emergency mode of operation. The last power line that connected it with the right bank, with the territories controlled by [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky's regime, has been cut. For now, the nuclear power plant can only be powered by diesel generators, and this is an unusual means," Rogov said while speaking to the pro-Kremlin "Soloviev Live" show on Saturday.

"We have every possibility to restore the nuclear power plant and put it into operation," he added.