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Latest Developments in Ukraine: August 2

Ukrainian servicemen fire with a BM21 Grad multiple launch rocket system in a frontline in Kharkiv region, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Aug. 2, 2022.

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

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT.

9:32 p.m.: On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged U.S. President Joe Biden and the American people for the latest defense aid package, The Associated Press reported.

"The word HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) has become almost synonymous with the word justice for our country," he said, but added that Ukraine still cannot match Russia's firepower.

He also expressed his hope that grain shipments would now be able to freely leave the country.

As the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain arrived in Istanbul, Zelenskyy stressed that "continuity and regularity are necessary principles all consumers of our agricultural products need."

8:20 p.m.: Turkey says the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain under a UN-brokered deal to resume grain exports from the war-torn country arrived off Turkey late on August 2.

The Sierra Leone-registered ship, Razoni, which set sail for the Libyan port of Tripoli from Odesa early on August 1 carrying 26,000 tons of corn, had been originally expected to arrive in Istanbul on August 2 in the early afternoon.

The Razoni, now anchored off the mouth of the Bosphorus, will be inspected on August 3 by a delegation from a special joint coordination center set up last week in Istanbul under the grain export deal and staffed by civilian and military officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the UN, Turkey's Defense Ministry said.

8:13 p.m.: There are sections of the front in the eastern Donbas region where the Ukrainian military is slowly managing to push back Russian troops. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Borys Sachalko has the story of one unit that captured some Russian trenches.

7:21 p.m.: The conflict in Ukraine does not warrant Russia's use of nuclear weapons, but Moscow could decide to use its nuclear arsenal in response to "direct aggression" by NATO countries over the invasion, a Russian diplomat said Tuesday at the United Nations, according to Reuters.

Russian diplomat Alexander Trofimov a senior diplomat in the non-proliferation and arms control department of Russia's foreign ministry, said Moscow would only use nuclear weapons in response to weapons of mass destruction or a conventional weapons attack that threatened the existence of the Russian state.

"None of these two hypothetical scenarios is relevant to the situation in Ukraine," Trofimov told the U.N. conference to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

However, he accused NATO countries of a "fierce hybrid confrontation" against Russia that now "dangerously balances on the edge of open military clash."

"Such a move would be able to trigger one of the two emergency scenarios described in our doctrine," Trofimov said. "We obviously stand for preventing this, but if Western countries try to test our resolve, Russia will not back down."

5:10 p.m.: The U.S. imposed new sanctions Tuesday targeting Russian elites, including oligarchs and a woman — one-time Olympic rhythmic gymnast champion Alina Kabaeva — often named in news reports as Russian President Vladimir Putin's lover and mother of four of his children.

The Treasury Department froze the visa of Kabaeva, 39, and imposed other property restrictions on her. She is a former member of the Russian Duma, the country's legislative body, and is also head of a Russian national media company that has promoted Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin opponents and Putin critic Alexey Navalny have called for sanctions against Kabaeva, contending that her news outlet had taken the lead in portraying Western commentary on the invasion as a disinformation campaign.

4:23 pm.:

3:30 p.m.: Maryna Havrysh struggled to hold back her tears as she helped a group of volunteers load her elderly parents into an evacuation van in Kramatorsk, near the front line of Russia’s war on Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

Her 84-year-old father, Viktor Mariukha, was carried by stretcher out of the house, while her mother Lidia, 79, held a cane as volunteers held her under each arm. As the couple left the home they had shared for nearly 70 years to begin a journey to a nursing home in western Ukraine, their daughter offered them words of comfort.

But when the van’s sliding door closed, Maryna burst into sobs.

“I understand that this will be the last time that I ever see them,” said Maryna, who decided to remain in Kramatorsk with her husband to continue working. “You see their age, I can’t give them the proper care.”

The evacuation of Maryna’s parents, carried out by volunteers with a Ukrainian aid group, came days after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued an order to all those remaining in the country’s embattled Donetsk region to evacuate as soon as possible as Russian forces press deeper into the region.

“The more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill,” Zelenskyy said.

2:30 p.m.:

2:15 p.m.: Russia on Tuesday said that the United States, the world's top military power, was directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine because U.S. spies were approving and coordinating Ukrainian missile strikes on Russian forces, Reuters reported.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most serious crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.

Russia's defense ministry, headed by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine's deputy head of military intelligence, had admitted to the Telegraph newspaper that Washington coordinates HIMARS missile strikes.

"All this undeniably proves that Washington, contrary to White House and Pentagon claims, is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine," the defense ministry said.

U.S. President Joe Biden has said he wants Ukraine to defeat Russia and has supplied billions of dollars of arms to Kyiv but U.S. officials do not want a direct confrontation between U.S. and Russian soldiers.

2:00 p.m.:

1:10 p.m.: Spain cannot send its mothballed Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine as they are "in an absolutely deplorable state" and could be a danger to the people firing them, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

In June, Robles said the possibility "was on the table" after El Pais newspaper reported that Spain was considering sending around 40 German-made Leopards kept at a military base in Zaragoza to Ukraine.

12:20 p.m.:

12:05 p.m.: The Group of Seven (G7) wealthy Western nations has accused Russia of trying to "weaponize" its energy exports and pledged to work to ensure Moscow doesn't "exploit" its position as an energy producer "to profit from its aggression at the expense of vulnerable countries," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The G7 said in a statement released on Tuesday that Russia has breached international law with its invasion of Ukraine and demanded that it "put an end to this war of choice, immediately, and unconditionally cease all hostilities."

"We further condemn Russian attempts to weaponize its energy exports and use energy as a tool of geopolitical coercion. Russia is therefore not a reliable energy supplier," the statement, released on the website of the U.K. government, said.

"We will act in solidarity and close coordination to mitigate the impact of supply disruptions on economies and citizens globally and in our countries, especially in order to protect vulnerable groups," it added.

In retaliation to Western sanctions, Russia has cut energy supplies to countries it has deemed "unfriendly," raising fears in many European nations that they will not have enough to get through the winter.

11:30 a.m.:

11:05 a.m.: Lebanon’s prosecutor general decided a Syrian ship allegedly carrying Ukrainian grain stolen by Russia may leave a port in the country’s north, officials said Tuesday. The move came after an investigation showed the vessel wasn’t carrying stolen goods, The Associated Press reported.

However, the Laodicea cannot immediately leave the port of Tripoli because a judge ordered Monday that it may not sail for 72 hours at the request of Ukrainian authorities. If the judge does not extend the order, the ship could sail in two days, a move likely to anger Ukraine.

The judicial officials said the investigation into the ship, which docked in the port of Tripoli on Thursday and has been seized, showed it is not carrying stolen goods. The investigation was conducted by prosecutors and the intelligence arm of the Lebanese police, they said.

The judicial officials said a lawyer for the Ukrainian Embassy was headed to Tripoli on Tuesday with documents proving the ship is carrying stolen grain. They gave no further details.

10:15 a.m.:

9:30 a.m.: A nationalist, pro-imperial post calling Georgia and Kazakhstan "artificial" creations briefly appeared on the VKontakte (VK) social network account of former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev before being taken down and attributed to hackers, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The post in question appeared on Medvedev's VK account, which has 2.3 million followers, on August 1 and was removed within about 10 minutes. Still, it was viewed about 2,000 times, according to multiple screenshots posted on social media, and also placed online by Russian TV personality Ksenia Sobchak. Her post quickly went viral with nearly 450,000 views in just a few hours.

Medvedev's aide, Oleg Osipov, on August 2 denied the ex-president had written the post, adding that it appeared on the account after it was hacked. "VK's administration, and those who are supposed to do the job, will take care of those who hacked the account," Osipov wrote on Telegram.

The controversial text in the post on VK said that Georgia never existed as a country, while it calls Kazakhstan an artificial country and accuses the Central Asian nation's authorities of genocide against Russians. The territories of the two countries must be returned to Russia, it adds.

9:05 a.m.:

8:45 a.m.: The Kremlin said Tuesday that it’s ready for talks with the United States on nuclear arms control even as Moscow and Washington have remained locked in a tense standoff over Russia’s actions in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

Commenting on U.S. President Joe Biden’s statement that Washington is open for talks on a new arms control deal to replace the New START treaty after it expires in 2026, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that such negotiations are long overdue.

Just days before the New START was due to expire in February 2021, Russia and the United States agreed to extend it for another five years. The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.

Moscow and Washington hadn’t started discussions about the pact’s possible replacement until the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24.

While voicing readiness to “expeditiously negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New START when it expires in 2026,” Biden emphasized in Monday’s statement that “Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and constitutes an attack on fundamental tenets of international order.”

8:05 a.m.:

7:10 a.m.: BP’s earnings tripled in the second quarter as the British energy giant profited from oil and natural gas prices that soared after Russia invaded Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

But the good news for BP shareholders was bad news for consumers as soaring energy prices contribute to the cost-of-living crisis in Britain and around the world.

6:55 a.m.:

6:40 a.m.: Southeast Asian foreign ministers are gathering in the Cambodian capital for meetings addressing persisting violence in Myanmar and other issues, joined by top diplomats from the United States, China, Russia and other world powers amid tensions over the invasion of Ukraine and concerns over Beijing’s growing ambitions in the region, The Associated Press reported.

The meeting in Phnom Penh of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will see U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov together at the same venue for the second time in a month, though it’s not clear whether the two will meet.

The two did not meet separately when they both attended the Group of 20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in early July. But they had their first direct contact since before Russia invaded Ukraine in a phone call Friday, when Blinken urged Moscow to accept a deal to release American detainees Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan and discussed other issues.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, its impact on global food and energy prices and escalating China-U.S. friction are of high concern for the 10 ASEAN nations, said Susannah Patton, director of the Southeast Asia Program for Australia’s Lowy Institute.

6:25 a.m.: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday tweeted about his phone call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying it was “vital” that NATO and its allies provide more military aid, more quickly.

6:00 a.m.: The number of border crossings from Ukraine has surpassed 10 million for the first time since Russia invaded the country, the U.N. Refugee Agency reported on Tuesday.

A total of 10,107,957 border crossings from Ukraine have been recorded since February 24, the agency's tally showed.

5:45 a.m.:

5:20 a.m.: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that Russia had destroyed six U.S.-made HIMARS missile systems since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, Interfax reported.

Shoigu said Russia had also destroyed five anti-ship Harpoon missile launch systems and 33 M777 howitzers since Moscow deployed tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24.

Reuters could not verify the accuracy of the reports.

Ukraine officials have said they operate up to a dozen HIMARS systems, whose accuracy and long-range have allowed Kyiv to reduce Russia's artillery advantage.

4:55 a.m.: The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Office in Ukraine announced Tuesday on Twitter that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska to extend “an already fruitful partnership to further protect children’s rights, improve education and provide mental health support for those affected by war.”

4:40 a.m.: Turkey expects roughly one grain ship to leave Ukrainian ports each day as long as an agreement that ensures safe passage holds, a senior Turkish official said on Tuesday after the first wartime vessel safely departed Odesa on Monday, Reuters reported.

The first ship, Razoni, carrying 26,527 metric tons of corn to Lebanon, was crossing the western Black Sea off Romania's Danube Delta at 0714 GMT, nearly halfway to Turkish waters, where it will be inspected on Wednesday, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

"The plan is for a ship to leave...every day," the senior Turkish official told Reuters, referring to Odesa and two other Ukrainian ports covered by the deal. "If nothing goes wrong, exports will be made via one ship a day for a while."

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, added Razoni's departure was delayed by a couple of days by "technical problems" that are now fixed, and NATO member Turkey expected the safe-passage corridor to function well.

The Razoni should arrive off Turkey's coast in the early hours of Wednesday and be inspected later that morning by Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian and U.N. officials, Turkey's defense ministry said.

4:15 a.m.:

3:45 a.m.: Tens of thousands of Russian troops were preparing to advance on the cities of Kryviy Rih and Mykolayiv in southern Ukraine, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych has said, as Moscow pounded the Dnipropetrovsk region with rocket fire and the United States announced a fresh batch of armaments and munition for Kyiv, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Arestovych estimated that the Russian attack force numbered about 22,000 soldiers and said that a "sufficiently large" Ukrainian contingent lay in wait.

The head of the Dnipropetrovsk region's military administration, Valentyn Reznichenko, reported that Russian troops fired rocket launchers and artillery at the Synelnykove and Kriviy Rih districts of the Dnipropetrovsk region.

"The enemy hit [Synelnykove] with an anti-aircraft missile. In Pokrovska hromada there is destruction of housing, damaged cars," he wrote on Telegram.

Powerful explosions again targeted the Black Sea port city of Mykolayiv on August 2 in the morning and one person was wounded, city mayor Oleksandr Sienkovych said.

3:10 a.m.:

2:50 a.m.: Ukrainian farmers are holding back on orders for rapeseed to sow for next year's harvest as Russia's invasion continues to disrupt agricultural activity, French seed group Vilmorin said on Monday, according to Reuters.

Ukraine's president said on Sunday that this year's harvest could be half its usual size, and some farmers and observers fear next year's production could be even more affected as the impact of the war accumulates.

Rapeseed is one of the first major arable crops to be sown in Europe after summer harvesting and demand from Ukrainian growers so far was "relatively sluggish," Vilmorin's Chief Executive Franck Berger said.

"Some farmers are cautious about their capacity to carry out sowing," he said during a presentation of full-year sales.

1:55 a.m.: Key arrangements including procedures for ships still need to be worked out before empty vessels can come in and pick up cargo from Ukraine using the new grains corridor, a senior London marine insurance market official said on Monday.

Turkey and the United Nations brokered a grain-and-fertilizer export agreement between Russia and Ukraine last month ‑‑ rare diplomatic breakthrough in a conflict that is grinding on with no resolution in sight.

"The standard operating procedures for vessels still need to be worked out and there are issues about crewing that still need to be resolved," Neil Roberts, head of marine and aviation with the Lloyd's Market Association, told Reuters.

Shipping companies and the insurers that cover vessels need to be assured that the journey is secure with no threat of mines or attacks to both the ships and their crews. These are typically covered in accepted maritime practices known as standard operating procedures.

12:05 a.m.: Since Brittney Griner last appeared in her trial for cannabis possession, the question of her fate expanded from a tiny and cramped courtroom on Moscow's outskirts to the highest level of Russia-US diplomacy.

The WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist is to return to court on Tuesday, a month after the beginning of the trial in which she could face 10 years in prison if convicted. As the trial has progressed, the Biden administration has faced rising calls for action to win her release.

In an extraordinary move, Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week spoke to Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction would go free.

Although details of the offer remain shrouded, Blinken's public announcement of a proposal was at odds with the convention of keeping prisoner-release negotiations tightly under wraps.

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse, The Associated Press and Reuters.