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The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EDT.
9:10 p.m.: The two primary road bridges giving access to the pocket of Russian occupied territory on the west bank of the Dnipro in Kherson Oblast are now probably out of use for the purposes of substantial military resupply, British military intelligence said on Saturday, according to Reuters.
Even if Russia manages to make significant repairs to the bridges, they will remain a key vulnerability, the UK's Ministry of Defense said.
"Ground resupply for the several thousand Russian troops on the west bank is almost certainly reliant on just two pontoon ferry crossing points," the ministry said in an intelligence update.
With their supply chain constrained, the size of any stockpiles Russia has managed to establish on the west bank is likely to be a key factor in the force’s endurance, according to the update.
8:15 p.m.: Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov reports on the arrival of weapons from Slovakia. Slovak Defense Minister Jaro Nad said that the first howitzers are ready to be deployed at the front line.
7:12 p.m.: Any seizure of Russian assets by the United States will destroy Moscow's bilateral relations with Washington, TASS said, quoting the head of the North American Department at the Russian foreign ministry on Saturday, according to Reuters.
Russia's relations with the West have deteriorated sharply since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24, calling it a "special military operation."
The West responded with economic, financial and diplomatic sanctions, including freezing around half of Russia's gold and foreign exchange reserves that stood near $640 billion before February 24.
Top Western officials, including European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, have suggested seizing the frozen reserves to help fund the future reconstruction of Ukraine.
"We warn the Americans of the detrimental consequences of such actions that will permanently damage bilateral relations, which is neither in their nor in our interests," Alexander Darchiev told TASS in an interview. It was not immediately clear which assets he was referring to.
6:55 p.m.: Russia's gross domestic product contracted 4% in the second quarter of this year, the first full quarter since Russia sent troops into Ukraine, the state statistical service said Friday, according to The Associated Press.
Russia was hit with a wide array of sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, including sanctions that cut off some Russian banks from the SWIFT international transfer system, and a significant exodus of foreign companies.
The report by the Rosstat service did not analyze why GDP was lower this year than in the same quarter of 2021. But it said there was a 15.3% drop in wholesale trade and a 9.8% contraction in retail trade.
Russia had reported sizable GDP increases in the first quarter of 2022 and for the last three quarters of 2021.
5:10 p.m.: Oil shipments from Russia through a critical pipeline to Czechia resumed Friday after more than a week, the Czech pipeline operator Mero said, according to The Associated Press.
Czechia became the last central European country after Slovakia and Hungary to receive deliveries from the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline after a problem over payments for transit was resolved.
Russian state pipeline operator Transneft said Tuesday it halted shipments, citing complications because of European Union sanctions for its action on August 4, saying its payment to the company's Ukrainian counterpart was refused.
On Wednesday, the payment was made by Slovak refiner Slovnaft after both Russia and Ukraine agreed to the solution. Slovnaft is owned by Hungary's MOL energy group.
4 p.m.: Ukraine is targeting Russian soldiers who shoot at an occupied nuclear plant in the south of the country or use it as a base to shoot from, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday, according to Reuters.
"Every Russian soldier who either shoots at the plant, or shoots using the plant as cover, must understand that he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army," Zelenskyy said in an evening address.
Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations over multiple recent incidents of shelling at the Zaporizhzhia facility, Europe's largest nuclear power plant. Russian troops captured the station early in the war.
2:20 p.m.: The number of fatalities after a Russian missile strike on Kramatorsk, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, has grown to three, the Kyiv Post reports, citing a report by he Kramatorsk mayor, Oleksandr Honcharenko, as the source.
At least 13 others were injured, and damage was reported to dozens of homes, according to Ukrainian officials.
1 p.m.: Russian troops and Kremlin-backed rebels are seeking to seize Ukrainian-held areas north and west of the city of Donetsk to expand the separatists’ self-proclaimed republic, the Associated Press reports.
The Ukrainian military said on Saturday that its forces had prevented an overnight advance toward the smaller cities of Avdiivka and Bakhmut.
The Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk province, which is part of the fight over the Donbas region and was overrun by Russian forces last month, claimed that Ukrainian troops still held a small area.
Writing on Telegram, Luhansk governor Serhii Haidai said the defending troops remained holed up inside an oil refinery on the edge of Lysychansk, a city that Russia claimed to have captured.
12:30 p.m.: Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, posted on Telegram that “an explosion was heard in the northeastern part” of the city, reports The Guardian. “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.
10:40 a.m.: Ukrainian military officials reported renewed shelling at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine Saturday reports Reuters. The country’s military intelligence agency said Russia was using the town of Vodyane nearby the plant as location shell the complex.
9:15 a.m.: 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, reports The Guardian.
7:05 a.m.: 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, reports the Russian news agency TASS.
Alexander Darchiev, director of the Russian foreign ministry’s North American Department, was asked in an interview with TASS whether the possibility of lowering diplomatic relations between Moscow and Washington was being considered.
“If passed, it would mean that Washington would have to cross the point of no return, with the most serious collateral damage to bilateral diplomatic relations, up to their lowering or even breaking them off. The US side has been warned.” said Darchiev.
“Any possible seizure of Russian assets by the US would completely destroy Moscow’s bilateral relations with Washington,” Darchiev added.
5:50 a.m.: Exports of Russian what looks like a record wheat harvest this summer are unlikely to fulfill their potential as banks, shippers and insurers are still wary despite U.S. assurances over sanctions, traders told Reuters.
The West issued an array of sanctions on Russia following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and although food exports were excluded from those sanctions, lenders, freight and insurance companies remained leery.
In July, amid a global food crisis, the United States issued clarification reassuring banks, shipping firms and insurance companies that transactions for Russian food and fertilizer exports would not breach Washington's sanctions on Moscow.
A sharp drop in global prices, however, during the last couple of months has meant higher than normal costs for financing and freight are beginning to impact shipments.
5:12 a.m.: That latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said the two primary road bridges giving access to the pocket of Russian occupied territory on the west bank of the Dnipro in Kherson Oblast are now probably out of use for the purposes of substantial military resupply.
In recent days, the update said, Russia has only succeeded in making superficial repairs to the damaged Antonivsky road bridge which likely remains structurally undermined.
Even if Russia manages to make significant repairs to the bridges, the update said, they will remain a key vulnerability. Ground resupply for the several thousand Russian troops on the west bank is almost certainly reliant on just two pontoon ferry crossing points.
4:11 a.m.: Spain and Portugal backed Germany's call for a gas pipeline linking the Iberian peninsula to central Europe on Friday, and Madrid said its part of the project could be operational within months, Agence France-Presse reported.
The proposal came as Europe struggles to find ways to rapidly reduce its energy dependence on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, which has upended the power market and sent prices soaring and nations scrambling for supplies.
Spain has six liquefied natural gas terminals for processing gas that arrives by sea, which could help the EU boost imports.
But it has only two low-capacity links to France's gas network, which has connections to the rest of Europe.
Madrid has been pushing to revive the pipeline project linking the Catalan Pyrenees with France, which could significantly increase its supply capacity.
3:18 a.m.: In its latest assessment of the Ukraine conflict, the U.S. think tank the Institute for the Study of War said Russian forces conducted ground attacks east of Siversk, northeast and southeast of Bakhmut, and southwest and northwest of Donetsk City.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces destroyed the last functioning bridge Russian forces used to transport military equipment near the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, the update said. Also, Ukrainian officials confirmed additional Ukrainian strikes on Russian ammunition depots and a logistics point in Kherson Oblast.
2:06 a.m.: Russian oil flows to the Czech Republic will resume through the Druzhba pipeline after more than a week on Friday evening, Slovak pipeline operator Transpetrol said, as transit fee payments were unblocked, Reuters reported.
Supplies via the Druzhba pipeline had been suspended to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia since Aug. 4 because Western sanctions prevented paying transit fees to Ukrainian transit company Ukrtransnafta, Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft said Tuesday.
A European bank has agreed to process the payment for the transit of Russian oil through Ukraine, removing the cause of the stoppage.
1:07 a.m.: Ukraine's security agencies issued a joint statement on Friday calling for the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to send representatives to locations where Russia is holding Ukrainian prisoners of war, Reuters reported.
The request follows earlier allegations by Kyiv that Moscow's forces have tortured and executed prisoners, including by staging an explosion in a Ukrainian POW camp in Olenivka. Moscow claims Ukraine shelled the facility, killing over 50 POWs.
12:02 a.m.: Russia has told the United States that diplomatic ties would be badly damaged or even broken off if Russia is declared a "state sponsor of terrorism," Tass cited a top official as saying Friday, according to Reuters.
Alexander Darchiyev, head of the North American department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, said if the U.S. Senate went through with plans to single out Russia, this would mean Washington had crossed the point of no return, Tass said.
"The American side has been warned," he added.
Latvia's parliament on Thursday designated Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism over the war in Ukraine and called on Western allies to impose more comprehensive sanctions on Moscow.
Some information in this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.