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Latest Developments in Ukraine: August 22

A woman walks near a building damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, August 21, 2022.
A woman walks near a building damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, August 21, 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 p.m.: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he opposed a proposal to implement a complete ban on Russian travelers into the European Union, Politico reported.

Forbidding all Russians from entering the EU "is not a good idea," Borrell said. "We have to be more selective."

Speaking during a university conference in Spain, Borrell said the idea pushed by senior politicians in Kyiv and various EU countries was "quite controversial," adding that it would create division between capitals, as some introduced travel bans without addressing it at EU level.

Politico reported that Borrell said Russian oligarchs were already banned from entering EU territory as part of various sanctions packages but cautioned against extending the proposal to all Russians.

"More than 300,000 Russians have [fled] their country because they don't want to live under the rule of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. Are we going to close the door to these Russians? I don't think it's a good idea," he said, according to Politico.

His statement came ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague next week, which Borrell will chair.

9:10 p.m.: The European Union will debate the launch of a major training operation for Ukrainian forces in nearby nations, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, according to Agence France-Presse.

The proposal will be discussed next week at a two-day meeting of EU defense ministers which gets underway in Prague on Monday, Borrell told a press conference in Santander, in northern Spain.

Any such operation would be a step up from the military training that several nations are already providing to Ukrainian forces under bilateral agreements.

8:22 p.m.: State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the United States unequivocally condemns the intentional targeting of civilians anywhere, when asked about the killing of Darya Dugina, the daughter of a Russian ultra-nationalist, in a car bomb attack near Moscow, Reuters reported.

Speaking at a daily press briefing, Price declined to say whether Washington knew who was behind the attack but said there was no doubt that Russians would put forward "certain conclusions."

Russia's Federal Security Service accused Ukraine's secret services of killing Dugina. Ukraine, which is defending itself from what it says is an imperial-style war of conquest waged by Russia, has denied involvement in the attack.

7:01 p.m.: Ukraine has restored a rail link to neighboring Moldova after a 23-year hiatus and the connection could carry 10 million tonnes of freight a year, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address, according to Reuters.

Although Zelenskyy did not specify what kinds of goods, Ukraine is keen to find new ways to export millions of tonnes of grain that have been stranded by Russia's invasion. Moldova borders Romania, a member of the European Union.

The 22-kilometer (12-mile) line runs from Berezyne in western Ukraine to Basarabeasca in Moldova.

6:15 p.m.: Bulgaria announced it would seek talks with Russian energy giant Gazprom to resume deliveries of natural gas ahead of the winter season, Agence France-Presse reported.

Gazprom cut deliveries to Bulgaria in late April after the EU member's previous centrist government refused to pay in rubles.

Bulgaria is almost totally dependent on Russia for its annual consumption of 3.0 billion cubic meters of natural gas and has been scrambling to secure alternative deliveries since the cut.

5:37 p.m.: Nearly 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia invaded, the country's top military officer said, as Moscow accused Kyiv over the assassination of the daughter of a leading hardliner, Agence France-Presse reported.

The European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, meanwhile, told reporters in Spain that the bloc was considering military training for Ukraine's forces.

General Valeriy Zaluzhny, Ukraine's commander-in-chief, said Ukraine's children needed particular attention "because their fathers have gone to the front and are maybe among the nearly 9,000 heroes who have been killed."

Zaluzhny's comments on the Ukrainian death toll, reported by Interfax-Ukraine news agency, were the first indication of Kyiv's military losses since April.

4:23 p.m.: State Department Spokesman Ned Price said that a visit to Russia from former professional basketball player Dennis Rodman would only "hinder and complicate" negotiations that are currently happening to free Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, The Associated Press reported.

Griner, an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

Reflecting the growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to bring Griner home, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the unusual step of revealing publicly in July that Washington had made a "substantial proposal" to get Griner home, along with Paul Whelan, an American serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage.

Blinken didn't elaborate, but The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Washington has offered to free Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer who is serving a 25-year sentence in the U.S. and once earned the nickname the "Merchant of Death."

3:17 p.m.: The United States rebuffed Ukraine's demand for a blanket visa ban on Russians, saying Washington would not want to close off pathways to refuge for Russia's dissidents and others who are vulnerable to human rights abuses, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had first urged the visa ban in an interview earlier this month with the Washington Post, saying Russians should "live in their own world until they change their philosophy."

Zelenskyy then issued another call a few weeks ago for European Union states to ban visas for Russian nationals to keep the bloc from becoming a "supermarket" open to anyone with the means to enter, Reuters reported.

A State Department spokesperson said the Biden administration has already imposed visa restrictions for Kremlin officials, but it made it clear that its focus would be on identifying those involved in Russia's invasion of Ukraine and holding them accountable.

"The U.S. wouldn’t want to close off pathways to refuge and safety for Russia’s dissidents or others who are vulnerable to human rights abuses," a State Department spokesperson said.

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1:50 p.m.: Turkey is touting its recent success in brokering a deal to free up grain trapped in Ukrainian ports as a good reason why it should maintain close ties with Russia.

Those relations are deepening further as Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan to attend a Russia-China security alliance meeting next month.

Two more ships departed Ukraine for Greece and Egypt on Monday, carrying 30,000 metric tons of grain. Dorian Jones has the details from Istanbul

12:13 p.m.: The U.S. says it warned Russia’s ambassador to Washington against any escalation of the war in Ukraine and called for Russia to cease military operations at or near Europe's largest nuclear power plant during a meeting at the State Department last week.

A State Department spokesman confirmed Monday that a meeting with Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov took place on August 18.

During the talks the U.S. urged “Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and to return full control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to Ukraine,” the spokesman said.

Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for repeated shelling near the power plant. Ukraine has asked the United Nations and other international organizations to force Russia to leave the site, which it has occupied since March, even as Ukrainian technicians operate the facility.

11:20 a.m.: Ukraine's Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhniy says nearly 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia launched its invasion almost six months ago, RFE/RL reported.

Speaking at forum on Tuesday, Zaluzhniy said the entire country, and not just the army, is taking part in the war, as children and wives have seen their fathers and husbands "go to the front lines and are maybe among the nearly 9,000 heroes who have been killed" in battle.

Both sides in the war have been extremely cautious in revealing any casualty figures since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The last time Ukrainian officials announced losses in the armed forces was in April, when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that up to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 10,000 injured.

Moscow, meanwhile, classifies military deaths as state secrets and has rarely updated its official casualty figures. On March 25, the last time official figures were given, it said 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed.

Ukrainian officials have put Russian losses at nearly 45,500 troops.

10:26 a.m.: As soon as the air raid sirens had stopped, Shakhtar Donetsk's players ran out onto the pitch for their final training session on Monday before Ukraine begins an extraordinary new season of its national soccer league, Reuters reported.

As Ukrainian soldiers battle Russian forces in the east and south, Shakhtar are due to play Metalist 1925 from the embattled eastern city of Kharkiv in the opening game of Ukraine's Premier League at 1000 GMT on Tuesday.

The match in Kyiv kicks off a day before Ukraine marks six months since Russia invaded its smaller neighbor in a war that has killed thousands of people, displaced millions, destroyed whole cities and is still raging on.

Matches will be played without fans in the stands due to the risk of bombs and missiles.

9:26 a.m.: The European Union will discuss launching a major training program for Ukrainian forces in neighboring countries, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Tuesday, RFE/RL reported.

Speaking at a press conference in the northern Spanish city of Santander, Borrell said the move will be discussed next week at a meeting of EU defense ministers in Prague.

"Of course, it would be a big mission," he said, adding "any mission has to be up to the level of the conflict."

Military equipment and intelligence data provided by the United States and Western Europe have helped Ukrainian forces to slow -- but not stall -- the advance of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine and along the Black Sea coast.

8 a.m.: Ukraine's agricultural exports are likely to rise to about 4 million tons in August, from 3 million tons in July, thanks to the U.N.-brokered deal that unblocked Ukrainian sea ports, a deputy chair of the Ukrainian Agrarian Council said on Monday, according to Reuters.

Denys Marchuk, whose organization represents agricultural producers, told a televised briefing that despite new export opportunities, Ukrainian farmers would still face a shortage of funds and a third of them would not take part in 2022/23 winter grain sowing later this month.

Ukraine's grain exports have slumped since Russia invaded the country and closed off its Black Sea ports, driving up global food prices and prompting fears of shortages in Africa and the Middle East.

7:44 a.m.: Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) on Monday accused Ukraine's secret services of carrying out the weekend killing of the adult daughter of Alexander Dugin, a national political theorist and staunch supporter of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported.

Daria Dugina, a 29-year-old television commentator who also supported Moscow’s offensive, was killed Saturday when the Toyota Land Cruiser she was driving exploded as she was returning from a cultural festival she had attended with her father.

Ukraine has denied involvement in the incident.

5:30 a.m.: Ukraine reported fresh Russian aerial attacks Monday near the site of a major nuclear power plant, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of potential Russian actions as Ukraine prepares to mark the anniversary of its independence.

Regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said Russian rocket strikes hit areas to the west of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The rockets struck houses, a kindergarten and stores, Reznichenko said.

Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for repeated shelling near the power plant. Ukraine has asked the United Nations and other international organizations to force Russia to leave the site, which it has occupied since March, even as Ukrainian technicians operate the facility.

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the situation in a call Sunday.

A White House statement said the leaders talked about “the need to avoid military operations near the plant and the importance of an IAEA visit as soon as feasible to ascertain the state of safety systems.”

Talks have been under way for more than a week to arrange for a visit to the plant by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In a phone call Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron that Russia would allow international inspectors to enter the plant.

4:30 a.m. Kyiv has banned mass gatherings from Aug. 22 to 25 because of the risk of Russian attacks near Ukraine's Aug. 24 Independence Day, according to The Kyiv Independent. Military authorities also urged citizens not to ignore air raid sirens.

This year, the date coincides with the sixth month since the war began.

3:15 a.m.

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1 a.m.: Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday that his country has a good chance of getting through the coming winter without taking drastic measures but nonetheless faces a difficult time and must prepare for Russia to tighten gas supplies further, Reuters reported.

“We still have a very critical winter ahead of us. We have to expect that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin will further reduce the gas,” Habeck told German broadcaster ARD from Canada, where he is on a three-day trip with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

12:30 a.m.: Artillery shells rained down on a city near Europe’s biggest nuclear plant and Russian missiles struck near the Black Sea port of Odesa on Sunday as Ukraine warned of the potential for more serious attacks by Russia as the war neared its six-month anniversary, Reuters reported.

Wednesday marks 31 years of Ukraine’s independence from Soviet rule as well as half a year since the invasion and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for vigilance, saying Moscow could try “something particularly ugly.”

In his nightly video address on Sunday, Zelenskyy said he had discussed “all the threats” with French President Emmanuel Macron and word had been sent also to other world leaders including Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“All of Ukraine’s partners have been informed about what the terrorist state can prepare for this week,” Zelenskyy said, referring to Russia.

12:15 a.m.: Moscow sees no possibility of a diplomatic solution to end the war in Ukraine and expects a long conflict, Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s permanent representative to the U.N. in Geneva, warned, according to the Financial Times.

As President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion reaches the six-month mark this week, Gatilov, told the Financial Times that the U.N. should be playing a bigger role in attempts to end the conflict and accused the US and other Nato countries of pressing Ukraine to walk away from negotiations. There would be no direct talks between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he said.

12:05 a.m.: Volodymyr Kovalenko, the mayor of Nova Kakhovka, a city in the central Kakhovka Raion region of Kherson, said Russian forces have kidnapped the directors of two secondary schools in that city after complaints from a Russian-appointed school director, The Kyiv Independent reported.

As the The Washington Post reported in July, Russia offered hundreds of teachers strong incentives to go to occupied Ukraine and “correct” Ukrainian education.

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

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