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."
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 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
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.
9:41 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022
Surveillance video captures the explosion that rocked Crimean bridge
Surveillance video from cameras on the Kerch Strait bridge shows the moment a large explosion rocked the roadway, disabling the only bridge connecting annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports that top Russian officials have already blamed the attack on Ukraine, which has not formally taken credit for the blast — though government and military officials have posted several gloating messages online.
In Kyiv today, Ukrainians stopped to pose for a selfie in front of a billboard depicting the burning bridge.
1:02 p.m. ET, October 8, 2022
Analysis: What the Kerch Strait bridge explosion means for Putin and his war effort
Analysis from Jill Dougherty
The explosion on Russia's bridge to Crimea not only strikes a blow against Russia's military effort in Ukraine, it's also a psychological blow to Moscow and a major propaganda victory for Ukraine.
Russia began constructing the enormous 19-kilometer (about 12-mile) bridge over the Kerch Strait, spending an estimated $3.7 billion, after Moscow illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It was the physical expression of Russian President Vladimir Putin's objective to take over Ukraine and bind it to Russia forever. The day it opened, he led a triumphant convoy over the bridge, driving a truck festooned with flags.
Russia's propaganda industry went into overdrive, even producing a romantic comedy about the bridge called "The Crimean Bridge, Made with Love," a rom-com about two guys working on building the bridge pursuing the same cute archaeology student. The screenplay was written by Margarita Simonyan, the head of Russia's main international propaganda TV channel RT.
The explosion on the Crimean bridge early Saturday was hardly extinguished before the trolling — a major weapon in this war — began.
The attack took place the day after Putin turned 70, and Ukraine's Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov published video of the bridge in flames, with a huge section of the roadway collapsing into the water, alongside a parallel video of Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday, Mister President." Others online compared the bridge attack to Ukraine's April sinking of the Russian Navy's warship the Moskva.
Putin's government scrambled to insist that the damage was under control and would be repaired quickly. The state news agency TASS avoided the word "attack," reporting that a team of 380 responders, along with 90 pieces of equipment, was dispatched to "eliminate the consequences of the emergency" on the bridge. The Russian Transport Ministry said the railway section of the bridge, vital for bring troops and equipment for the war effort, would be restored by Saturday evening. Russia's Investigative Committee immediately launched a criminal investigation.
Online, Ukraine was triumphant about striking such a key Russian military and symbolic objective. And Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak warned there could be more attacks ahead in a tweet, saying "everything occupied by Russia must be expelled."