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Latest Developments in Ukraine: August 25

A boy runs with an Ukrainian flag during an event for Ukrainian Independence Day in Belgrade, Serbia, Aug. 24, 2022. The commemoration coincided with the six-month milestone of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
A boy runs with an Ukrainian flag during an event for Ukrainian Independence Day in Belgrade, Serbia, Aug. 24, 2022. The commemoration coincided with the six-month milestone of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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

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

9:33 p.m.: Emmanuel Macron will receive Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday to discuss support for Ukraine against Russia and the consequences of the conflict for Europeans, the Elysée announced, according to Reuters.

7:16 p.m.: Spain's parliament approved the minority government's energy-saving rules which include limits on air-conditioning use as part of an EU-wide effort to reduce reliance on Russian gas, Agence France-Presse reported.

Under the government decree, air conditioning must be turned down and set at no lower than 27 degrees Celsius (80.6 degrees Fahrenheit) during the warmest months of the year, in rules affecting everything from public transport to shops, offices, theaters and cinemas.

The new rules do not apply to home air conditioning, although people are encouraged to consume less energy domestically.

The government unveiled details of the energy saving measures in May as part of an EU-wide effort to cut dependence on Russia for oil and gas following its February invasion of Ukraine.

6:15 p.m.: President Joe Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Ukraine Thursday during a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a day after the six-month mark of the war with Russia, The Associated Press reported.

Speaking to reporters at the White House briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden "reiterated the United States' support for Ukraine as they defend themselves from Russian aggression," and "congratulated Ukraine as it marked a particularly significant Independence Day this week."

Jean-Pierre added that Biden and Zelenskyy discussed U.S. security assistance, including an additional nearly $3 billion tranche of aid that the U.S. administration announced Wednesday.

The two leaders also reiterated their call for Russia to return full control of the Zaporizhzhia to Ukraine and for the International Atomic Energy Agency to be given access to the plant.

5:17 p.m.:

4:08 p.m.: A Russian court has ordered the release of a former Yekaterinburg Mayor Yevgeny Roizman from custody, pending an investigation and trial on the charges he is facing for criticizing Russia's military operation in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

Yevgeny Roizman, 59, who served as the mayor of Yekaterinburg, the country's fourth-largest city, from 2013 to 2018, was allowed to walk free, but was barred from attending public events, using the internet, telephone or mail and communicating with anyone other than his lawyers and close family.

Police arrested Roizman on Wednesday. He told reporters the case against him was launched under a new law adopted after Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Roizman said the criminal charges against him were triggered by him calling the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine an “invasion.”

The Kremlin describes it as a “special military operation.”

Roizman, a sharp critic of the Kremlin, is one of the most visible and charismatic opposition figures in Russia. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

3:15 p.m.:

2:30 p.m.: The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) announced a new route for merchant vessels going in and departing from the three Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, Pivdennyi/Yuzhny under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a statement shared by VOA U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer said. The new route is 320 nautical miles long and connects the three Ukrainian ports with the inspection areas inside Turkish territorial waters.

The maritime humanitarian corridor, which makes part of this route, extends from the boundary of Ukrainian territorial seas to a southern waypoint. The route comes into effect Friday.

This route has been adjusted following an initial three weeks of operations. It allows for shorter transit in the maritime humanitarian corridor and easier planning for the shipping industry, the statement said.

The route provides that while transiting the maritime humanitarian corridor, no military ship, aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicle may approach within a radius of 10 nautical miles of any vessel engaged in the Initiative and transiting the corridor. The new coordinates have been disseminated through the international navigation system NAVTEX.

The JCC’s procedures state that any commercial vessel encountering provocations or threats while transiting the corridor should report immediately to the JCC.

1:45 p.m.: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday he is “determined” to personally lead a mission to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine, where fighting has raised international concern about the potential for a nuclear disaster.

The IAEA released a statement after Ukraine’s nuclear power agency said Thursday the plant had been disconnected from the national power grid. The agency, Energoatom, said fires at a nearby coal-fired electricity plant damaged power lines connecting Zaporizhzhya to the grid.

The line has since been restored and a temporary power outage in the region came to an end, reports the Associated Press.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the incident further underlines “the urgent need for an IAEA expert mission to travel to the facility.”

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for shelling that has caused damaged at the plant in eastern Ukraine. The plant has been occupied by Russian forces since the early weeks of the war but remains operated by its Ukrainian staff.

12:30 p.m.: Authorities in Latvia have torn down a monument to the Soviet Union’s victory in WWII that many Latvians saw as a reminder of past Russian domination.

The 80-meter-high obelisk, which had stood in Riga’s Victory Park since 1985, toppled over and crashed into a pond Thursday as onlookers cheered. The event was carried live on Latvian television.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted several formerly Soviet-dominated countries in Eastern Europe to remove statues and monuments that honor Soviet forces.

Authorities in the southwestern Poland city of Brzeg began demolishing a Soviet-era memorial to Red Army soldiers on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

10:30 a.m.: The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine was disconnected from Ukraine’s national power grid Thursday, after a fire damaged power lines connecting the plant to the grid, says Ukraine’s state nuclear operator.

A statement from the state company, Energoatom, says fires at a nearby coal-fired plant damaged the fourth and last connection line from the two working nuclear reactors to the grid.

Energoatom said three other power lines were previously damaged by Russian firing.

The U.N. has expressed increasing concern that fighting around the plant could lead to the release of harmful radioactivity.

9:35 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to increase the size of Russia’s army by 140,000, reports Reuters.

The decree sets the size of the Russian armed forces at 2.04 million, including 1.15 million combat personnel. Most of the new positions will be combat-related.

Putin signed the decree Thursday as the war in Ukraine entered its seventh month.

Moscow has not disclosed any casualty figures since the early weeks of the war. Ukraine says its forces have killed or wounded about 45,000 Russian troops since the invasion began February 24.

9:17 a.m.: Britain will share technical expertise with Ukraine as part of a new package of support to help the country rebuild its infrastructure and transport network following Russia's invasion earlier this year, Reuters reported Thursday, citing the government.

British experts will offer technical knowledge in airport, runway and port reconstruction, and will help identify training opportunities for aviation staff, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.

9:17 a.m.: The U.N. nuclear watchdog is “very, very close” to being able to go to the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe’s largest, its chief Rafael Grossi told France 24 TV on Thursday.

Asked if talks on gaining access to the facility had succeeded, in which case he has said his agency would go within days, Grossi said: “We are very, very close to that.”

5:45 a.m.: The death toll from a Russian rocket attack on Ukraine's Independence Day has risen to 25, according to a Ukrainian official.

The deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office reported Thursday that the victims include an 11-year-old boy found under the rubble of a house and a 6-year-old killed in a car fire near a train station that took a direct hit.

The lethal strike on Wednesday took place in Chaplyne, a town of about 3,500 people in the central Dnipropetrovsk region.

5:15 a.m.: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu discussed the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant with his French counterpart by telephone, Reuters reported Thursday, citing the ministry.

Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, was captured by Russian troops in March. It remains close to the frontline, and has come under repeated fire in recent weeks, raising fears of a nuclear disaster. Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the plant.

4:40 a.m.: Ukraine’s economy should stabilize over the coming year and expand by as much as 15.5% in 2023, depending on military developments in the war against Russia that began on February 24, the country’s economy minister told Reuters in an interview.

Yulia Svyrydenko, who also serves as first vice prime minister, said government officials were compiling macroeconomic forecasts ahead of the start of negotiations next month with the International Monetary Fund on a fresh lending program.

Surrounded by sandbags in the basement of the Cabinet of Ministers amid increased warnings of possible attacks on Kyiv, Svyrydenko said current forecasts for gross domestic product in 2023 ranged from a further contraction of 0.4% to an expansion of 15.5%, after a likely contraction of 30-35% this year.

4 a.m.: U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt armed attacks on Ukraine and said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant must be demilitarized, Reuters reported.

“The international community must insist on documentation” to be able to one day prove war crimes, said Bachelet in a speech on Thursday marking the end of her term as the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights.

3:30 a.m.: The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden will speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday.

The call comes on the heels of the U.S. announcing its largest-ever Ukrainian assistance package – $3 billion – bringing U.S. support of Ukraine since the Russian invasion to $13.6 billion.

John Kirby, the communications coordinator at the national security council, said the U.S. will continue to “rally the free world” to support Ukraine, which Russia invaded six months ago.

The phone call between Biden and Zelenskyy would affirm those commitments and provide the Ukrainian president with an update on U.S. arms shipments, according to the White House.

2:45 a.m. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, Russia’s war on Ukraine has caused $10.7 billion worth of environmental damage, reports The Kyiv Independent.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine six months ago, more than 2,000 cases of damage to nature have been recorded, said the report.

2 a.m.:

1:30 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the death toll in Wednesday’s attack on the Chaplyne train station in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast has risen to 22, including an 11-year-old, according to CNN.

“Chaplyne is our pain today,” he said, “As of this moment, there are 22 dead, five of them burned in the car, a teenager died, he was 11 years old, a Russian rocket destroyed his house.”

Search and rescue operations at the railway station continue.

“We will definitely make the occupiers answer for everything they have done,” said Zelenskyy, according to the CNN report. “And we will certainly throw out the invaders from our land.”

12:01 a.m.: Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp. said on Thursday it has decided to apply for a stake in the new Russian entity that took over the Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas project, according to Reuters.

The move comes after the Japanese government asked Mitsubishi Corp to “think positively” about joining the new entity as the Sakhalin-2 is a key source of stable energy supplies for Japan.

“A resolution was passed this morning regarding the submission of a consent to take a stake. The consent will be filed by the deadline," a Mitsubishi spokesperson said, referring to the September 4 deadline.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in June to take charge of the Sakhalin-2 project in Russia's far east, raising the stakes in an economic war with the West and its allies. The order created a new Russian entity to take over all rights and obligations of the previous operator Sakhalin Energy Investment, in which Shell and two Japanese trading companies hold just under 50%.

A Russian government decree signed early in August gave the foreign investors a month to claim their stakes in the new entity.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.

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