Home » Russia-Ukraine War Live News: Zelenskiy Warns Russian Troops In Nuclear Plant; Kherson Bridges Likely Out Of Use

Russia-Ukraine War Live News: Zelenskiy Warns Russian Troops In Nuclear Plant; Kherson Bridges Likely Out Of Use

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s ongoing coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. These are the latest developments at it approaches 9.30am in Kyiv on this Sunday 14 August 2022.

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  • Ukraine says it will target Russian soldiers who shoot at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant or use it as a base to shoot from, as both sides again accused the other of shelling the facility. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that Russian soldiers who shot at the plant or used it as cover would become a “special target”, Reuters reported. He repeated accusations that Moscow was using the plant – Europe’s largest – as nuclear blackmail. The exiled mayor of the town where the plant is located in south-eastern Ukraine said it had come under fresh shelling.

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  • An explosion was heard in the north-eastern part of Melitopol, the mayor of the city, Ivan Fedorov, Melitopol, posted on Telegram. “We’re waiting for good news about Russian losses,” he added. The city, which is east of the Dnipro river and north-east of the Crimean peninsula, has been occupied since March.

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  • The two primary road bridges giving access to the pocket of Russian-occupied territory on the west bank of the Dnipro in Ukraine’s Kherson region are now probably out of use for the purposes of substantial Russian military resupply, British military intelligence said on Saturday, which the UK’s defence ministry has described as a key vulnerability.

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  • The number of fatalities after a Russian missile strike on Kramatorsk, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, has grown to three, the Kyiv Post reports. It cites a report by Ukrinform giving the Kramatorsk mayor, Oleksandr Honcharenko, as the source.

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  • The US has said it is concerned by reports of British, Swedish and Croatian nationals being charged by “illegitimate authorities” in eastern Ukraine. “Russia and its proxies have an obligation to respect international humanitarian law, including the right and protections afforded to prisoners of war,” the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said.

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  • Russia has warned the US that potentially placing Russia on the US State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism could be a diplomatic “point of no return”, and trigger a total breakdown of relations between the two countries.

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  • The Ukrainian military has reportedly shot down a Russian fighter jet, as well as four Russian drones, over the past day, according to Ukrainian media.

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  • Two Russian missiles hit Kharkiv overnight on Saturday, the region’s governor, Oleh Synehubov, said on national television. He said there were no casualties but one missile damaged a technical college while the other landed in a residential area, Reuters reported.

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  • Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Saturday the war could only end with the return of the Crimea peninsula and the punishment of the Russian leaders who ordered the military invasion.

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  • Russian forces have taken full control of Pisky, a village on the outskirts in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Interfax cited the Russian defence ministry as saying on Saturday. Ukraine’s military command said later that “fierce fighting” continued in the village.

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  • Ukraine’s health minister has accused Russian authorities of committing a crime against humanity by blocking access to affordable medicines and hospitals in occupied areas.

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  • The Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, has again complained that the lack of comprehensive Schengen zone travel restrictions for Russians puts an “unfair” burden on countries neighbouring Russia, reiterating calls on the European Union to introduce visa bans for Russian nationals.

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Key events

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People receive donated items such as medicines and clothes in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Photograph: Andriy Andriyenko/AP
Men clean a destroyed house in the village of Kukhari, Kyiv region. Photograph: Sergei Chuzavkov/AFP/Getty Images
A mother and child ride a bike past a destroyed car in Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia oblast. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ukraine on Sunday said Russian troops who had crossed the Dnipro River during their offensive in the southern Kherson region were facing growing difficulties after strategic bridges were damaged, Reuters reports.

Moscow’s forces seized the city of Kherson on the Dnipro early in their invasion of Ukraine, the only regional capital they have conquered so far.

Their westward offensive in the region has made some progress, but the three bridges they control in the area – two for road traffic and another carrying a railway – have been bombarded repeatedly in recent weeks.

The most important crossing is the Antonivskiy bridge in Kherson’s suburbs, which has been targeted by missiles since late July.

Sergiy Khlan, a regional lawmaker, told Ukrainian television that the only ways for Russian soldiers to cross the river were pontoons near the Antonivskiy bridge that “cannot totally meet their needs”.

Russia was moving its command centres to the left bank of the river, knowing that it would not be able to evacuate them in time if fighting escalated, he added.

But Khlan said the 20,000 Russian troops on the right bank could still cross the bridges on foot for now.

The Nova Kakhovka bridge, about 30 miles to the north-east of Antonivskiy bridge, was targeted this week.

Khlan on Saturday said Ukrainian forces struck the bridge, preventing the Russians from moving ammunition, equipment and food across it to resupply their troops.

A briefing by Britain’s defence ministry said the two road bridges leading to Russian-controlled territory on the west bank of the Dnipro were “probably” out of use.

The Antonivskiy bridge in Kherson, which was closed for civilians after it reportedly came under fire. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Pope Francis said on Sunday that the war in Ukraine had diverted attention from the problem of world hunger and called for urgent food aid to prevent looming famine in Somalia.

“The people of this region, who already live in very precarious conditions, are now in mortal danger because of drought,” he said at his weekly address in St. Peter’s Square, referring to the Horn of Africa.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said this month that it could officially declare famine in eight regions of Somalia next month if livestock continue to die, key commodity prices rise further and humanitarian assistance fails to reach the most vulnerable.

Francis told pilgrims and tourists in the square that he wanted to draw attention “to the grave humanitarian crisis that has hit Somalia and some areas of bordering countries”.

The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said last week that about a million people have been internally displaced in Somalia since January, Reuters reports.

The country is one of the world’s most susceptible to climate vulnerability.

“I hope that international solidarity can respond efficiently to this emergency,” Francis said.

“Unfortunately the war [in Ukraine] has distracted attention and resources but these are the aims that call for the utmost commitment – the fight against hunger, health care, education,” he said.

Pope Francis leaves the window of the apostolic palace at the end of the weekly Angelus prayer. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

The Razoni, the first ship to depart Ukraine two weeks ago since grain exports from the country’s Black Sea ports resumed under a UN-brokered deal, was approaching the Syrian port of Tartus on Sunday after the cargo was refused by its original Lebanese buyer, two shipping sources told Reuters.

Ukraine cut off diplomatic ties with Syria in June after Damascus recognised the independence of the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

Earlier this week the ship was reported to have docked in Turkey, and was supposed to unload 1,500 tonnes of its 26,527 tonnes of corn in the country, before proceeding to Egypt with the rest of its cargo.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco on Sunday unveiled record profits of $48.4bn in the second quarter of 2022, after Russia’s war in Ukraine and a post-pandemic surge in demand caused crude prices to skyrocket.

The world’s biggest oil producer saw its net profits surge by 90% year-on-year, and posted its second straight quarterly record in “strong market conditions” – a rise of 22.7% from from the first quarter of 2022, for which the company had announced a net income of $39.5bn.

Almost entirely state-owned Aramco is just the latest oil giant to rake in eye-watering sums after ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, TotalEnergies and Eni also revealed multi-billion-dollar profits in the second quarter, Reuters reports.

“While global market volatility and economic uncertainty remain, events during the first half of this year support our view that ongoing investment in our industry is essential,” said Aramco president and CEO Amin H Nasser.

“In fact, we expect oil demand to continue to grow for the rest of the decade,” he added.

Amin H Nasser, president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco. Photograph: Daniel Kramer/Reuters

Half-year profits were $87.9bn, up from $47.2bn for the same period of 2021.

Aramco will pay an $18.8bn dividend in Q3, the same as it paid in Q2. It “continues to work on increasing crude oil maximum sustainable capacity from 12 million barrels per day to 13 million by 2027”, its earnings announcement said.

Aramco shares are up 25% this year.

The company is the “crown jewel” and leading source of income for the conservative kingdom, and temporarily overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company in March.

It is now in second place with a market valuation of $2.4tn.

People in the eastern Ukrainian town of Rubizhne have started exhuming bodies that were hastily buried in courtyards at the height of battle, anxious to be able to lay them to rest with dignity.

Rubizhne is part of the Luhansk region of Ukraine where Russian forces established full control in early July, more than four months after president Vladimir Putin launched what he called his “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Men with spades removed soil on Friday outside a damaged apartment block in the town of 50,000 people.

A view of the ruined city of Rubizhne on 12 July. Photograph: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

Lilia Ai-Talatini, 48, watched as the workers pulled out a blanket covering her mother, who had been quickly interred after attacks that started in March and divided the town in two, Reuters reports.

Ai-Talatini said the fighting at that time had prevented her for 10 days from reaching her parents’ apartment.

She said her mother was unwell, and when she died, she and her husband had no spades and therefore, as shells flew, had to drag the corpse to an open trench in the ground, burying her in what she described as “inhuman conditions”.

“Now she is going to the cemetery, we have a plot there,” she said.

The breakaway Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), one of Moscow’s proxies in eastern Ukraine, is coordinating the search for bodies.

Anna Sorokina, an LPR official, said a team had been working in Rubizhne for 10 days and exhumed 104 sets of remains.

“It’s clear that shrapnel wounds predominate but there are also bullet wounds,” she said, estimating there were a total of 500 unofficial graves in the city.

Boris Kovalyov, 44, a forensic expert from the southern Russian region of Rostov, said examples of genetic material would be stored to help identify unknown corpses.

The US has expressed concern to India that it was used earlier this year to break economic sanctions imposed on Russia during a high-seas transfer of fuel made from Russian crude, according to a local central banker.

A Russian tanker on the open sea reportedly handed over oil to an Indian ship, which was then processed in India and finally exported to the United States, the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Michael Patra, said on Saturday at a financial conference in the state of Odisha.

“You know there are sanctions against people who buy Russian oil. Here’s what we were told by the US Treasury Department,” Patra told his state and financial industry audience.

“An Indian ship hit upon a Russian tanker in the open sea, picked up oil, called at a port in the state of Gujarat. The oil was in processed at this port and turned into a distillate used in the manufacture of single-use plastic,” the central banker said.

The Indian ship took over the freight again, left the port and was only informed about its destination, New York, on the open sea.

“That’s how war works,” Patra summed up. He did not name the ship. The US Embassy did not comment, Reuters reported.

Countries including Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Finland and the Czech Republic have called for the EU to limit or block short-term Schengen visas for Russian citizens, in protest at their country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Now, Poland is now also considering restrictions for Russian tourist visas.

“Poland is working on developing a concept that will make it possible not to issue visas to Russians,” deputy foreign minister Piotr Wawrzyk told the PAP news agency on Sunday, adding that a decision would be made in the coming weeks.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz has rejected calls for visa restrictions, saying a blanket ban on visas for Russians was “hard to imagine”, my colleagues Andrew Roth and Pjotr Sauer report.

EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss the measure at an informal meeting this month, although universal approval from the bloc’s 27 members would be needed to implement any such policy.

Two more ships carrying grain left Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Saturday, Turkey’s defence ministry said, bringing the number of vessels to depart the country to 16 since a UN- and Turkey-brokered deal was agreed in late July, aimed partly at easing a global food crisis.

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said on Saturday that 16 ships carrying 450,000 tonnes of agricultural products had departed from Ukrainian sea ports since early August under the deal, which ensured safe passage for vessels, Reuters reports.

The UN-chartered ship MV Brave Commander will depart Ukraine for Africa in coming days after it finishes loading more than 23,0000 tons of wheat in the port of Pivdennyi, a UN official said.

The Lebanese-flagged bulk carrier Brave Commander arrives to the sea port of Pivdennyi after grain exports were restarted, on 12 August. Photograph: Reuters

The ship, bound for Ethiopia, will be the first humanitarian food aid cargo to Africa since the start of the war, amid fears that the loss of Ukrainian grain supplies could lead to outbreaks of famine.

The blockage of Ukrainian ports has trapped tens of millions of grain in the country.

Zelenskiy said that in less than two weeks, Ukraine had managed to export the same amount of grain from three ports as it had done by road for all of July.

Ukraine hopes to increase its maritime exports to over 3 million tonnes of grain and other farm products per month in the near future.

Residents stand next to destroyed buildings following a rocket attack in the town of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region on 13 August. Photograph: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images
Family members receive a Ukrainian national flag during the funeral of Ukrainian serviceman Anton Savytskyi at Bucha cemetery in Kyiv region. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images
Ukrainian soldiers prepare and fire a GRAD multiple launch rocket system towards Russian positions in Kharkiv oblast. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

In July, the Eastern Finnish city of Imatra began playing the Ukrainian national anthem at a prominent tourist site every evening, to protest the Russian invasion.

Imatra is home to the Imatrankoski rapids, one of the Nordic country’s most well-known natural attractions that is popular especially with Russian tourists, who are now greeted with Ukraine’s anthem when they visit the beauty spot, AFP reports.

Finland, which shares 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) eastern border with Russia and for the time being remains Russia’s only EU neighbour without restrictions on tourist visas to Russian citizens, is preparing to limit tourist visas for Russians soon.

Tourists gather on the bridge over the Vuoksi River near the Imatra Rapids in Imatra, Finland, on 12 August. Photograph: Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP/Getty Images

In the nearby city of Lappeenranta, the Ukrainian national anthem is also played every evening above its city hall, overlooking shopping centres popular with Russian tourists.

“The aim is to express strong support for Ukraine and to condemn the war of aggression,” Lappeenranta’s mayor Kimmo Jarva told AFP.

Many Russians visit Lappeenranta to shop for clothes and cosmetics, for example, and Russian number plates can be seen on numerous cars.

But tourism from its eastern neighbour has caused discontent in Finland due to the war in Ukraine, with a recent poll showing that 58% of Finns are in favour of restricting Russian tourist visas.

As flights from Russia to the EU have been halted, Finland has become a transit country for many Russians seeking to travel further into Europe.

“Many saw this as a circumvention of the sanctions regime,” Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto told AFP.

Although the Schengen regime and Finnish law do not allow for an outright ban on visas based on nationality, Finland can reduce visa numbers issued based on category, Haavisto noted.

“[The] tourism category can be restricted in terms of how many visas can be applied for in a day,” Haavisto said, adding he believed the final decision to adopt the plan could be taken by the end of the month.

In late June, Russian president Vladimir Putin issued fresh warnings that Russia would respond in kind if Nato set up military infrastructure in Finland and Sweden after they joined the US-led alliance.

The UK Ministry of Defence says in its latest update that Russia has probably prioritised reorganising its forces over the past week to reinforce southern Ukraine, but that in the Donbas region in the east, Russian-backed forces have continued to attempt attacks on the north of Donetsk city.

Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 14 August 2022

Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/rRYELPEUjo

🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/nJKmgDjAya

— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) August 14, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1558686949862690816″,”id”:”1558686949862690816″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”33801350-d84e-4125-a0eb-f74ae8f63983″}}”>

Hungary says Russia has started delivering additional gas to the country following a July visit to Moscow by its foreign minister.

Hungary’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that trade negotiations with Moscow “led to an agreement”, resulting in Russia’s Gazprom starting to deliver “above the already contracted quantities” on Friday to the European Union member, Agence France-Press reported.

Ministry official Tamas Menczer said on his Facebook page:

It is the duty of the Hungarian government to ensure the country’s safe supply of natural gas, and we are living up to it.

In the first phase, an additional volume of 2.6m cubic meters a day would arrive from the south through the TurkStream pipeline until the end of August, Menczer said, adding that negotiations were under way for September deliveries.

As Ukraine and Russia have continued to accuse each other of striking the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, it had been shelled repeatedly over the past week.

Ukraine’s nuclear agency, Energoatom, said on Saturday as it shared a message from a local chief in Energodar city in