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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9:41 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Russia to resupply troops in southern Ukraine by sea and land corridor following bridge explosion

From CNN's Darya Tarasova

Russian troops in southern Ukraine will be resupplied by sea and land corridor, following Saturday's explosion on the Kerch bridge, the country's Ministry of Defense said.

Strategic importance: The Russian military has used the bridge extensively to resupply its forces in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. It's unclear how long the road and rail bridges across the Kerch Strait will be out of service.

The Ministry said on its Telegram channel: "The provision of the Russian group of troops involved in the special military operation in the Nikolaev-Krivoy Rog and Zaporozhye [Ukrainian: Mykolaiv - Kryvyi Rih - Zaporizhzhia] operational directions is carried out continuously in full along the land corridor and partially by sea transport."

Ukraine recaptures territory in south: Kyiv is successfully pushing ahead in its campaign to retake parts of southern and eastern Ukraine that Russia captured in the initial weeks of the war.

The Ukrainian military has recaptured 2,400 square kilometers of territory in Kherson region in the south of the country “since the beginning of the full-scale war,” a senior Ukrainian official said Friday.

9:52 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

What we know about the blast on the Kerch bridge

A helicopter drops water to extinguish fire on the Kerch bridge in Crimea on October 8. 
A helicopter drops water to extinguish fire on the Kerch bridge in Crimea on October 8.  (Stringer/Reuters)

In a major blow for Russia, at least one explosion has severely damaged the Kerch bridge connecting the annexed Crimean peninsula with the Russian Federation.

The explosion early Saturday caused parts of Europe’s longest bridge to collapse, according to images and video from the scene.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear. Russian officials said a fuel truck exploded, but two spans of the road crossing in the direction of Crimea appear to have collapsed. A subsequent fire engulfed a train of fuel trucks on a separate part of the bridge.

Images of the Kerch bridge posted on social media appear to show a portion of the roadway of the vehicle and rail bridge had fallen into the waters below it. Flames could be seen burning from rail cars above.

Three dead: Russia's Investigative Committee says that preliminary information indicates three people were killed in the explosion.

Why is the bridge important? The bridge spans the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, on which sit key Ukrainian ports, including Mariupol. For Russia, the bridge symbolizes the physical “reunification” of Crimea with the Russian mainland. The bridge carries much of Crimea’s needs – such as fuel and goods – and has been used regularly to supply weapons and fuel to Russian forces.

The aftermath: Major transport links between mainland Russia and the annexed peninsula of Crimea — including buses and trains — were suspended, following an explosion on Kerch bridge. Weather conditions in the Kerch Strait are hindering Russia’s plans to use ferries to reach Crimea from Krasnodar, according to Russian state media.

What has Ukraine said? Ukrainian officials have started responding to the fire without directly acknowledging that Ukraine was responsible for the explosion. Among the responses, the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine posted on Facebook, “Air defense of the Russian Federation, are you sleeping?” alongside a video showing a section of the bridge’s road that had been completely destroyed.

In a brief post on its official Twitter account, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reacted to the explosion, saying: "The guided missile cruiser Moskva and the Kerch Bridge – two notorious symbols of Russian power in Ukrainian Crimea – have gone down. What’s next in line, Russkies?"

What is Russia's response? Russian President Vladimir Putin immediately ordered a “government commission” to examine the Kerch Bridge “emergency” in Crimea, Russian state media TASS reported, adding that the heads of Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Transport are now at the scene of the incident.

Russian officials suggest that the explosion was caused by a truck blowing up on the road bridge.

The spokeswoman for the Russian Investigative committee, Svetlana Petrenko, said the committee "has opened a criminal case about the incident at the Crimean Bridge. According to preliminary information, this morning a truck was blown up on the automobile part of the Crimean Bridge from the Taman Peninsula [the westbound lanes of the bridge], which led to the ignition of seven fuel tanks of a train travelling toward the Crimean Peninsula."

"As a result, two car lanes of the bridge partially collapsed."

The Committee also expanded on its earlier statement that a truck on the bridge had blown up.

According to Russia's Investigative Committee, the owner of the truck is resident of the Krasnodar Krai, and investigative actions have been launched at his place of residence. The route of movement of the vehicle and the relevant documentation are being studied, the committee added.

CNN is unable to verify the Russian explanation for the explosion.

8:26 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Three fuel tanks damaged in Donetsk shelling, Russian officials say

From Olga Voitovych and Zayn Nabbi

Fire has damaged three fuel tanks in Ilovaisk in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region, according to a statement by the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, following reports by Ukrainian officials that a cargo train was hit by a “powerful explosion.”

The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations posted photos and video on its Telegram account showing firefighters dousing the fire at the Ilovaisk railway station on Saturday, and said the fire was a result of shelling by “Ukrainian militants.”

What happened? A cargo train in Ilovaisk in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region was hit by a “powerful explosion” Saturday morning local time, according to the adviser to the Mariupol Mayor Petro Andrushenko.

“Not only Crimea. Not only fuel tanks. There is also a cargo train in Ilovaisk. Locals report a rather powerful explosion and subsequent detonation at night. The occupiers now have big problems with supplies from both sides,” Andrushenko said, referring to the explosion involving a tanker on the Kerch bridge that links Russia’s Krasnodar region with the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula.

Pro-Russian authorities in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic confirmed the incident, releasing video Saturday showing the fire’s aftermath at a local railway station. It is unclear yet if there were casualties in the blast.

7:09 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

At least three killed in Kerch bridge explosion

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

At least three people were killed in the explosion on the Kerch bridge early Saturday, according to Russia's Investigative Committee, citing preliminary information.

In a statement on its Telegram channel, the Committee said: "According to preliminary information, three people died as a result of the incident. These are, presumably, the passengers of a car that was next to the blown-up truck.

"Currently, the bodies of two victims have already been taken from the water -- a man and a woman, their identities are being established."

The Committee also expanded on its earlier statement that a truck on the bridge had blown up.

"The investigators of the Russian Investigative Committee also established the data of the truck and its owner. This is a resident of the Krasnodar Krai, investigative actions have been launched at his place of residence. The route of movement of the vehicle and the relevant documentation are being studied."

6:28 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Russian officials say road truck was "blown up" on Kerch bridge

From CNN's Tim Lister, Eyad Turki and Daria Tarasova

Russian officials suggest that the explosion on the Kerch road and rail crossing between Russia and annexed Crimea was caused by a truck blowing up on the road bridge.

The spokeswoman for the Russian Investigative committee, Svetlana Petrenko, said the committee "has opened a criminal case about the incident at the Crimean Bridge. According to preliminary information, this morning a truck was blown up on the automobile part of the Crimean Bridge from the Taman Peninsula [the westbound lanes of the bridge], which led to the ignition of seven fuel tanks of a train travelling toward the Crimean Peninsula."

"As a result, two car lanes of the bridge partially collapsed."

CNN is unable to verify the Russian explanation for the explosion. Ukraine has not acknowledged that its armed forces were responsible for the explosion.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the favorable response among Ukrainian officials to the explosion, saying: "The reaction of the Kyiv regime to the destruction of civilian infrastructure testifies to its terrorist nature."

6:56 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

There's no change in US nuclear posture, sources say, despite Biden's "Armageddon" warning on Putin’s threats

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Getty Images)

After US President Joe Biden warned that the world faces the highest prospect of nuclear war in 60 years, a senior administration official says there has been no shift in US nuclear posture.

"We haven't seen any indication of activity [from Russia] that would cause us to change our own nuclear deterrent posture," the senior official said, adding that the US continues to monitor Russian military movements for any change in its nuclear stance.

While this official would not go so far as Biden in saying that the world faces the prospect of nuclear crisis for the first time since the 1960s, the official said that "the stakes are clearly higher right now" as a result of a string of military setbacks Russia is facing in Ukraine.

The official said Biden was speaking "frankly" based on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s "irresponsible and reckless" rhetoric, but not based on any new information about Russia's nuclear posture.

What Biden said Thursday night: During a Democratic fundraiser in New York, Biden delivered a stark warning about the dangers behind Putin’s nuclear threats as Moscow continues to face military setbacks in Ukraine.

“First time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use (of a) nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they are going,” Biden warned. He added: “I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily (use) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”

It was striking for the President to speak so candidly, particularly at a fundraiser, while his aides from the National Security Council to the State Department to the Pentagon have spoken in much more measured terms, saying they take the threats seriously but don’t see movement on them from the Kremlin.

CNN's Sam Fossum, Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc contributed reporting to this post.

6:24 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Weather conditions are prohibiting Russian ferries from reaching Crimea, further threatening transport links

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Kostan Nechyporenko

Weather conditions in the Kerch Strait are hindering Russia’s plans to use ferries to reach Crimea from Krasnodar, according to Russian state media.

“Weather conditions do not allow the launch of a ferry crossing from Crimea on October 8,” TASS said Saturday, citing “authorities.”

Earlier Saturday, major transport links between mainland Russia and the annexed peninsula of Crimea -- including buses and trains -- were suspended, following an explosion on Kerch bridge.

Prior to the weather warning, authorities had planned to use “at least four or five ferries” to organize communication between Crimea and Krasnodar according to TASS.

5:36 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Cargo train in Russian-occupied Donetsk region hit by “powerful explosion,” says Ukrainian official 

From CNN’s Kostan Nechyporenko and Teele Rebane

A cargo train in Ilovaisk in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region was hit by a “powerful explosion” on October 8.
A cargo train in Ilovaisk in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region was hit by a “powerful explosion” on October 8. (Press Service of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the DPR)

A cargo train in Ilovaisk in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region was hit by a “powerful explosion” Saturday morning local time, according to the adviser to the Mariupol Mayor Petro Andrushenko.

“Not only Crimea. Not only fuel tanks. There is also a cargo train in Ilovaisk. Locals report a rather powerful explosion and subsequent detonation at night. The occupiers now have big problems with supplies from both sides,” Andrushenko said, referring to the explosion involving a tanker on the Kerch bridge that links Russia’s Krasnodar region with the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula.

Pro-Russian authorities in the self-declared republic of Donetsk confirmed the incident, releasing video Saturday showing the fire’s aftermath at a local railway station. It is unclear yet if there were casualties in the blast.

9:42 a.m. ET, October 8, 2022

Ukrainian Energy Minister warns of possible nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia as Russian shelling continues

From CNN's Xiaofei Xu and Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko has repeated warnings about a disaster at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Ukrainian’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko has repeated warnings about a disaster at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

Ukraine's Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko reiterated warnings that a disaster at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant could be on the horizon after it was once again disconnected from Ukraine's main grid on Saturday.

“Now only the professionalism of Ukrainian nuclear workers is a fuse against a possible nuclear accident,” Halushchenko wrote in a Facebook post.

Some background: The Zaporizhzhia plant has been subject to intense scrutiny since its occupation shortly after Russia’s invasion in late February. Intense shelling near the facility this summer sparked concerns of a nuclear accident, prompting the International Atomic Energy Agency to send a team there. The plant has been disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid on several occasions in recent months due to shelling, according to Ukrainian authorities.

The plant sits in the Russian-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region and is the largest in Europe. It has been held by Russian forces for more than seven months but is operated by its Ukrainian staff.

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, was in Kyiv on Thursday to discuss his calls to establish a nuclear safety zone around the plant “as soon as possible,” the IAEA said in a statement. Grossi will also visit Russia in the coming days.

Grossi said at a news conference that it’s still unclear what the “practical consequences” were of Russia’s decision to seize the plant, but he would be discussing those matters in high-level meetings in Moscow. He also said that the IAEA considers the facility Ukrainian.

Power line damaged: The last power line connecting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to Ukraine’s power grid was damaged and disconnected due to shelling from Russian forces, Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom reported earlier Saturday.

The powerplant is now relying on diesel generators, which have capacity to provide the plant with electricity for 10 days, according to Energoatom.

“The civilized world has already given a clear assessment of Russia's actions, but the nuclear terrorist continues its blackmail. And they may only be stopped by tough sanctions, primarily against the nuclear industry,” Halushchenko said.

CNN cannot independently verify Halushchenko's claims.