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Latest Developments in Ukraine: August 16

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A woman carries an umbrella as she walks past a destroyed shopping mall in Bucha, in Ukraine's Kyiv region, Aug. 16, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EDT.

11:20 p.m.: Britain said on Tuesday that Russia's Black Sea Fleet is struggling to exercise effective sea control, with patrols generally limited to the waters within sight of the Crimean coast.

The Black Sea Fleet continues to use long-range cruise missiles to support ground offensives but is keeping a defensive posture, the British Defencs Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter.

The Black Fleet's limited effectiveness undermines Russia's overall invasion strategy, in part because the amphibious threat to Odesa has now been largely neutralized, the intelligence update added.

10:45 p.m.: Ukraine stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility for the Crimean depot blasts or for those that destroyed nine Russian planes at a Crimean air base last week.

But in his video address Tuesday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned people to avoid Russian military installations and storage sites for ammunition and equipment. He said the explosions could have a number of causes, including incompetence.

"But they all mean the same thing: the destruction of the occupiers' logistics, their ammunition, military and other equipment, and command posts, saves the lives of our people," he said.

Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and has used it to launch attacks against Ukraine in the war that began nearly six months ago.

9:25 p.m.:

8:40 p.m.: Russia on Tuesday blamed saboteurs for orchestrating a series of explosions at an ammunition depot in Russian-annexed Crimea, a rare admission that armed groups loyal to Ukraine are damaging military logistics and supply lines on territory it controls, Reuters reported.

The incident follows a series of explosions last week at a Russian-operated air base in Crimea, which Ukrainian officials hinted were part of some kind of special operation but which Moscow said at the time was an accident.

8 p.m.: Ukraine can export 3 million metric tons of grain from its ports in September and may in the future be able to export 4 million metric tons from them monthly, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Vaskov said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

He said Ukraine had received applications for 30 ships to come to Ukraine in the next two weeks to export grain.

Ukraine's grain exports slumped since Russia invaded on February 24 and blockaded Ukrainian Black Sea ports, but three Black Sea ports were unblocked last month under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv that made it possible to send hundreds of thousands of metric tons of Ukrainian grain to buyers.

7:02 p.m.: Estonia this week will close its border to more than 50,000 Russians with previously issued visas, the first country in the European Union to do so, making it harder for ordinary Russians to enter EU, Reuters reported.

Like many of the hundreds of Russians crossing the border each day at the Estonian town Narva, Anna is worried she will not be able to keep coming to Estonia, where she visits the graves of relatives.

The ban comes just four days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a fresh call for EU states to ban visas for Russian nationals to keep the bloc from becoming a "supermarket" open to anyone with the means to enter.

6 p.m.: With much fanfare, ship after ship loaded with grain has sailed from Ukraine after being stuck in the country’s Black Sea ports for nearly six months. More quietly, a parallel wartime deal met Moscow’s demands to clear the way for its wheat to get to the world, too, boosting an industry vital to Russia’s economy that had been ensnared in wider sanctions, The Associated Press reported.

While the U.S. and its European allies work to crush Russia’s finances with a web of penalties for invading Ukraine, they have avoided directly sanctioning grains and other goods that feed people worldwide.

Russian and Ukrainian wheat, barley, corn and sunflower oil are important to countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where millions rely on subsidized bread for survival. As the war spiked food and energy prices, millions of people have been pushed into poverty or closer to the brink of starvation.

4:45 p.m.: Germany has deployed troops with the EU's peacekeeping mission in Bosnia for the first time in a decade as concerns mount about instability from the Ukraine war spilling over to the Western Balkans, Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, the first German troops to return to the country were greeted in a ceremony at the Sarajevo headquarters of the EUFOR force that marked the start of their mission, a German military spokesman said.

Germany will deploy some 30 troops in total to Bosnia by mid-September, returning to the force that it had left at the end of 2012.

Bosnia lies hundreds of miles from the fighting in Ukraine but faces an increasingly assertive Bosnian Serb separatist movement that analysts say has at least tacit support from Moscow.

NATO and senior EU officials have warned that instability from the war in Ukraine could spread to the Western Balkans.

3:50 p.m.: Ukraine's nuclear operator Energoatom on Tuesday reported what it called an "unprecedented" cyberattack on its website, but said its operations had not been disrupted.

"On August 16, 2022, the most powerful cyberattack since the start of the Russian invasion occurred against Energoatom's website," the operator said on Telegram.

It "was attacked from Russian territory."

The Russian "popular cyberarmy" group used more than 7 million internet bots to attack the website for three hours, Energoatom said.

A Telegram channel called "popular cyberarmy" in Russian around midday called on its followers to attack the Ukrainian nuclear operator's website.

But by Tuesday evening, it had announced a "change" in plans, redirecting supporters to a new target — the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, whose website was sluggish.

3 p.m.: The United Nations said Tuesday that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet Thursday in western Ukraine with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, VOA’s United Nations Correspondent Margaret Besheer reports.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the invitation to the tripartite meeting was made by Zelenskyy.

The leaders represent three of the four members in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Russia is the fourth member. The deal, signed in Istanbul on July 22, has allowed for the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports to the international market, while removing some obstacles to the sale of Russian fertilizer and food stuffs.

2:30 p.m.:

2 p.m.: Russia’s Defense Ministry warned Britain Tuesday against a planned spy plane flight over Russian territory, saying the country’s air force has been given orders to prevent an intrusion, The Associated Press reported.

The tough statement comes amid tensions between Russia and the West over Moscow’s action in Ukraine.

The ministry said that Britain has sent a notice informing about a planned flight of an RC-135 reconnaissance plane along a route that partly passes over Russian territory. “We regard this action as a deliberate provocation,” the ministry said, adding that the Russian air force has been “given the task to prevent the violation of the Russian border.”

1:40 p.m. :

1:15 p.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron underlined to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy his concerns over risks to the country's nuclear facilities, Reuters reported. He made his comments during a phone call between the two leaders on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing the French presidency.

Macron added that he backed a proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) watchdog for a mission to be sent to Ukraine to examine the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Zelenskyy had earlier said that he had discussed "Russia's nuclear terrorism" at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine during a call on Tuesday with Macron.

12:45 p.m.:

12:10 p.m.: A Russian court has fined the lead singer for the classic Russian rock group DDT 50,000 rubles ($800) for harshly criticizing President Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine during a concert, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Yury Shevchuk made no immediate public statement regarding the August 16 ruling by the court in Ufa, the capital of the Russian region of Bashkortostan, but lawyer Aleksandr Peredruk said the decision will be appealed. Prosecutors charged Shevchuk in May under a law passed shortly after the February 24 invasion, criminalizing public statements that are deemed to discredit the armed forces.

During a DDT concert in Ufa in May, Shevchuk harshly criticized President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. "The Motherland is not the president's ass that one must lather and kiss all the time," Shevchuk said at the concert. “The Motherland is a beggar, an old woman that sells potatoes at the railway station. That is what the Motherland is.”

Shevchuk was loudly applauded by the audience. Videos of his statements went viral on Russian social media channels.

11:40 a.m.:

11:15 a.m.: A Russian state news agency said on Tuesday that Russia and Turkey had signed a contract to ship Ankara a second batch of S-400 air defense systems, but a Turkish defense official immediately cast doubt on the report, according to Reuters.

TASS news agency cited the head of Russia's military cooperation service, Dmitry Shugayev, as saying: "I want to note that the relevant contract has already been signed. It envisions the localization of production of certain components of the system."

Turkey's initial 2020 purchase of the Russian S-400 system angered the United States, a NATO ally, which imposed sanctions on Turkey in retaliation.

A Turkish defense official said on Tuesday there were "no new agreements."

"The original contract that was signed with Russia for the purchase of S400s already included two batches. The purchase of a second batch was included in the original plan and the related contract," the official said.

10:50 a.m.:

10:20 a.m.: The first shipment of grain to leave Ukraine under a wartime deal appears to have ended up in Syria — even as Damascus remains a close ally of Moscow, satellite images analyzed Tuesday by The Associated Press show.

The arrival of the cargo ship Razoni in Syria comes after the government in Kyiv praised the ship’s initial departure from the port of Odesa as a sign that Ukraine could safely ship out its barley, corn, sunflower oil and wheat to a hungry world where global food prices have spiked in part due to the war.

But its arrival in Syria’s port of Tartus shows how complicated and murky international trade and shipping can be. Syria has already received Ukrainian grain taken from Russian-occupied territory amid Moscow’s war on Kyiv.

10:00 a.m.: The first U.N. World Food Program vessel left Ukraine Tuesday, according to a statement by the humanitarian agency, which added that this shipment will boost efforts to get food supplies to people threatened by famine. “A record 345 million people in 82 countries are now facing acute food insecurity while up to 50 million people in 45 countries are right on the edge of famine and risk being tipped over without humanitarian support,” according to the WFP statement.

9:45 a.m.: The Joint Coordination Center, which is overseeing shipments to and from Ukraine under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, released a progress report Tuesday, covering shipping traffic from the first half of August, VOA’s U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer reported.

“From 1 to 15 August, the JCC has authorized a total of 36 movements of vessels (21 outbound and 15 inbound) through the maritime humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea to facilitate the safe exports of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizer, including ammonia, from Ukrainian ports,” the statement said.

The JCC said that 21 vessels were authorized to move from the Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi, and that they carried a total of 563,317 metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs. The cargo was destined for Turkey, Iran, South Korea, China, Ireland, Italy, Djibouti and Romania, according to information provided to the JCC.

The JCC conducted 27 inspections through its joint inspection teams on inbound and outbound vessels, and the statement said all ships inspected so far were cleared. “It has so far observed on two occasions vessels deviating from the corridor and it has responded appropriately by contacting captains and advising them to follow the coordinates,” the statement said.

9:30 a.m.:


9:15 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday he had discussed "Russia's nuclear terrorism" at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, Reuters reported.

Zelenskyy, writing on Twitter, gave no further details of their discussions on the Zaporizhzhia plant, which Russia seized in March following its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. In recent days, there has been shelling in the vicinity of the plant.

8:50 a.m.:

8:35 a.m.: Ukraine’s military says it is preparing for possible attacks on Independence Day, the Kyiv Independent reported Tuesday.

“According to Yuriy Ihnat, spokesman for the Air Force Command, intelligence shows that Russia is building up military capacity in the Belarusian territory, and it may be in preparation for attacks on Aug. 24,” the media organization reported.

8:10 a.m.:


7:55 a.m.: With much fanfare, ship after ship loaded with grain has sailed from Ukraine after being stuck in the country’s Black Sea ports for nearly six months. More quietly, a parallel wartime deal met Moscow’s demands to clear the way for its wheat to get to the world, too, boosting an industry vital to Russia’s economy that had been ensnared in wider sanctions, The Associated Press reported.

While the U.S. and its European allies work to crush Russia’s finances with a web of penalties for invading Ukraine, they have avoided sanctioning its grains and other goods that feed people worldwide.

Russian and Ukrainian wheat, barley, corn and sunflower oil are important to countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where millions rely on subsidized bread for survival. As the war spiked food and energy prices, millions of people have been pushed into poverty or closer to the brink of starvation.

Two deals that the U.N. and Turkey brokered last month to unblock food supplies depend on each other: one protects ships exporting Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea and the other assures Russia that its food and fertilizer won’t face sanctions, safeguarding one of the pillars of its economy and helping ease concerns from insurers and banks.

7:40 a.m.:


7:25 a.m.: Estonia will remove all public Soviet memorials in its majority Russian-speaking city of Narva, the government said on Tuesday. It cited rising tensions in the city and accused Russia of trying to exploit the past to divide Estonian society, Reuters reported.

Once part of the Soviet Union, Estonia is a member of both NATO and the European Union, and has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine since Russia's invasion on February 24, fearing like its other Baltic neighbors that they could be next.

However, nearly a quarter of its population of 1.3 million are ethnic Russians, and the government has been anxious of the minority falling under influence of its former overlord.

Estonians have a mixed view of their history: invaded by both Nazi German and Soviet forces in the war, they had men on both sides of the conflict. The Soviet era also saw the deportation of tens of thousands of Estonians to Siberian labor camps.

7:05 a.m.:


6:50 a.m.: Finland will slash the number of visas issued to Russians to 10% of the current amount from September 1, foreign minister Pekka Haavisto said on Tuesday, amid a rush of Russian tourists bound for Europe, according to Reuters.

Haavisto said the decision had come as an influx of Russian tourists begun using Finland and its Helsinki-Vantaa airport as a gateway towards European holiday destinations, after Russia lifted pandemic-related border restrictions a month ago.

Some EU leaders such as Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and her Estonian counterpart Kaja Kallas have called for an EU-wide visa ban, which German Chancellor Olaf Scholz contested on Monday, saying Russians should be able to flee their home country if they disagree with the regime.

6:35 a.m.:


6:10 a.m.: Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Tuesday, according to the Yonhap News Agency based in Seoul, South Korea.

The meeting is part of the former secretary-general’s 12-hour trip to Ukraine — with former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos — as a member of The Elders, a group of independent global leaders, according to the Ban Ki-moon Foundation for a Better Future.

5:45 a.m.:

5:15 a.m.: A court in Russia on Tuesday fined streaming company Twitch $33,000 (2 million roubles) for publishing “unreliable information” about alleged war crimes in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, Reuters reported citing Interfax.

Earlier, the messaging service Telegram was fined $66,000 (4 million roubles) for refusing to delete content related to the conflict in Ukraine.

4:40 a.m.: European Union member states would show solidarity if there were to be energy supply shortages in light of the war in Ukraine, said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a news conference in Stockholm on Tuesday.

4 a.m.: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday during a speech at the Moscow international security conference that Russia had no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Shoigu also alleged that Ukrainian military operations were being planned by the United States and Britain, and that NATO had increased its troop deployment in Eastern and Central Europe “several times over.”

Referring to the New START Treaty, Shoigu said that talks to extend the treaty were “a two-way street,” and that the situation around the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control treaty was “not easy.”

3 a.m.: Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Vaskov said on Tuesday that Ukraine can export 3 million tons of grain from its ports in September and may in the future be able to export 4 million tons from them monthly, Reuters reported.

He said Ukraine had received applications for 30 ships to come to Ukraine in the next two weeks to export grain.

Ukraine’s grain exports have slumped since Russia invaded on February 24 and blockaded Ukrainian Black Sea ports, but three Black Sea ports were unblocked last month under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv that made it possible to send hundreds of thousands of tons of Ukrainian grain to buyers.

2:40 a.m.: Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday there were no serious casualties in an explosion at an ammunition depot in the town of Mayskoye in Russian-controlled Crimea earlier on Tuesday, Reuters reported citing the state-owned news agency RIA.

Interfax quoted the defense ministry as saying that a fire had broken out in the temporary storage area of the ammunition depot.

2 a.m.: Britain said Tuesday that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is struggling to exercise effective sea control, with patrols generally limited to the waters within sight of the Crimean coast.

The Black Sea Fleet continues to use long-range cruise missiles to support ground offensives but is keeping a defensive posture, the British Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence bulletin on Twitter.

The Black Fleet’s currently limited effectiveness undermines Russia’s invasion strategy, in part because the amphibious threat to Odesa has now been largely neutralized, the intelligence update added.

1:15 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of nuclear “blackmail” and called for new sanctions to be imposed in response to it, The Associated Press reported.

In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said Russian troops were continuing to use the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as cover for attacks on nearby towns. He warned that the presence of Russian forces around Europe's largest nuclear power plant threatened Europe and beyond.

"All Russian forces must immediately withdraw from the station and neighboring areas without any conditions," he said, amid rising fears of a potential radiation leak due to the fighting.

Zelenskyy also said he had spoken to the Nigerian president on Monday and gave details about the creation of a Crimean platform, a platform for work on the liberation of Crimea.

1 a.m.: The ship Brave Commander has left the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi, carrying the first cargo of humanitarian food aid bound for Africa from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, Refinitiv Eikon, a financial analysis platform’s data showed on Tuesday.

Earlier, a joint co-ordination center, set up by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations, said it had approved the ship’s departure.

12:05 a.m.: Hollywood actor Liev Schreiber and former Ukraine soccer star Andriy Shevchenko appealed for international donations to Ukraine to continue during a visit to a residential area outside Kyiv that suffered extensive damage by Russian bombardment, The Associated Press reported.

“People see it as a one-time thing. But, as you can see, people live with it every day,”said Schreiber, who has starred in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

“It’s a coward move,” Schreiber said, pointing at a damaged apartment tower block in Borodyanka, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Kyiv.

Borodyanka is located in the Bucha area, where hundreds of dead civilians were discovered following the Russian occupation. Ukrainian authorities said 16,000 residential buildings were damaged in the area.

Schreiber, who is partly of Ukrainian ancestry and is involved in several charity initiatives for the country, earlier met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

A number of Hollywood stars have visited Ukraine during the war, including Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn and Ben Stiller.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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