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Latest Developments in Ukraine: August 26

A child is held by his grandmother as they light a candle in a church in Lviv, Ukraine, Aug. 26, 2022.
A child is held by his grandmother as they light a candle in a church in Lviv, Ukraine, Aug. 26, 2022.

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

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

9:04 p.m.:

7:31 p.m.: Ukrainian rocket fire hit an important bridge used by Russian occupying forces in southern Kherson region and put it out of action, Ukraine's southern military command said, according to Reuters.

"Rocket artillery units continued to conduct missions, including ensuring control over the Daryivskiy bridge. Its operation is currently halted," the southern command said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow.

The Daryivskiy bridge, which spans nearly 100 meters (yards), is the only Russian-controlled crossing across the Inhulets river, a tributary of the vast Dnipro.

6:52 p.m.: Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Moscow would not stop its military campaign in Ukraine even if Kyiv formally renounced its aspirations to join NATO, Reuters reported.

Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, also said in a French television interview that Russia was prepared to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy subject to certain conditions.

Even before the February invasion, Moscow made clear Ukrainian membership of NATO was unacceptable to it.

"Renouncing its participation in the North Atlantic alliance is now vital, but it is already insufficient in order to establish peace," Medvedev told LCI television in quotes reported by Russian news agencies.

Russia, he said, would continue the campaign until its goals had been achieved. Putin says he wants to "denazify" Ukraine. Kyiv and the West say this is a baseless pretext for a war of conquest.

5:55 p.m.: European Union nations are launching power saving drives as they seek to reign in soaring gas and electricity bills and conserve ever-more scarce resources following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.

The 27-nation bloc, which has accused Moscow of waging an "energy war", plans to cut gas consumption by 15 percent between August 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023 to cope with the crisis.

4:27 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskyy said, “I want to emphasize that the situation remains very risky and dangerous. Any repeat of yesterday's events, that is, any disconnection of the plant from the grid, any actions by Russia that could trigger the shutdown of the reactors, will again put the plant one step away from disaster.

“That is why it is so important that the IAEA mission arrives at the plant as soon as possible and helps keep the NPP under continuous control of Ukraine. That is why it is so important that Russian troops withdraw from the plant and neighboring areas and that the threat of shelling of the plant itself or power lines connected to it disappears,” Zelenskyy said.

3:45 p.m.:

3:01 p.m.: Ukrainian rocket fire hit a crucial bridge used by Russian occupying forces in the southern Kherson region on Friday and put it out of action, Ukraine's southern military command said, and Reuters reported.

"Rocket artillery units continued to conduct missions, including ensuring control over the Daryivskiy bridge. Its operation is currently halted," the southern command said in a statement.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow.

The Daryivskiy bridge, which spans nearly 100 meters, is the only Russian-controlled crossing across the Inhulets river, a tributary of the vast Dnipro.

2 p.m.: The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, said power cuts to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant had highlighted the potential vulnerability of a major nuclear plant in an active conflict zone. Grossi stressed the critical importance of sending an IAEA mission to the facility as soon as possible to help stabilize nuclear safety and security.

“I remain engaged in active and intense consultations with all parties to organize and lead an IAEA mission very soon, hopefully in the next few days,” he said. "As yesterday’s sudden loss of the external power line showed, the IAEA’s presence at the site is urgently needed.”


12:37: Authorities began providing iodine tablets on Friday to residents who live around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine in the event of a radiation leak, as fears grow that the fighting around the plant could spark a catastrophe.

Iodine tablets help block the absorption of radioactive iodine by the thyroid gland, and they were handed out to people in the city of Zaporizhzhia, which is about 45 kilometers from the complex.

The move came a day after the plant was temporarily knocked offline because of what officials said was fire damage to a transmission line. The incident heightened dread of a nuclear disaster in a country still haunted by the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl.

Continued shelling was reported in the area overnight, and satellite images from Planet Labs showed fires burning around the complex over the last several days.

11:50 a.m.: Driven by moral outrage over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year, U.S. governors and other top officials made it clear: They wanted to cut their financial ties with Russia. The Associated Press has a report.

11:23 a.m.: The deputy chief of traffic police in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Berdiansk died in a hospital on Friday after being wounded in a bomb blast, local Russian-installed officials said.

In a statement posted on Telegram, the Russian-installed Berdiansk authorities said Alexander Kolesnikov had been killed in a "terrorist attack" they blamed on "the Kyiv regime.”

Reuters reports Ukraine's defense ministry and military intelligence did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Berdiansk is a port city on the Azov Sea that was captured by Russia in February.

10:29 a.m: A team from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to visit the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine soon, according to the Associated Press.

The visit comes after the plant was temporarily knocked offline, fueling fears of a catastrophe in a nation still haunted by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

There were conflicting reports Friday on the extent of the damage to a transmission line at the complex —Europe’s largest nuclear plant — that caused a blackout across the region on Thursday. It was not immediately clear whether the damaged line carried outgoing electricity or incoming power that is needed for the reactors’ vital cooling systems. A loss of cooling could cause a nuclear meltdown.

9:42: Russia is wasting large volumes of natural gas by burning it in a huge orange flare near the Finnish border at a time when it has sharply cut deliveries to the European Union, scientists and analysts said on Friday.

Analysts from Rystad, an energy consultancy based in Norway, described it as an environmental disaster and estimated the amount of gas being burned off into the atmosphere was equivalent to about 0.5% of daily EU needs.

The spectacular flare can be seen in satellite images of Portovaya, site of a compressor station for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

Russia has cut flows through Nord Stream 1 to just 20% of capacity and plans to shut it down entirely for three days next week, citing maintenance issues with turbines. The EU accuses it of using gas as a weapon to fight back against Western sanctions over Ukraine.

8:56 a.m.: Russia's Defense Ministry said on Friday its forces had destroyed a U.S.-made M777 howitzer, which it said Ukraine had used to shell the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Reuters reported.

The Defense Ministry said the howitzer had been destroyed west of the town of Marganets in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe's largest, was captured by Russian forces in March. It remains near the frontline, and has repeatedly come under fire in recent weeks. Both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling the facility.

8:14 a.m.: The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant resumed electricity supplies to Ukraine on Friday after one of its six reactors was reconnected to the Ukrainian grid, state nuclear company Energoatom said.

Europe's largest nuclear power plant, which is located in southern Ukraine, was disconnected from the Ukrainian grid for the first time in its history on Thursday after a fire caused by shelling damaged a power line, Kyiv said earlier.

"The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station is connected to the grid and is producing electricity for the needs of Ukraine," Energoatom said in a statement on Friday.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, took control of the nuclear plant in March, though it is still operated by Ukrainian technicians working for Energoatom.

5:38 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said that on Aug. 24, 2022, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that Russia was deliberately slowing the pace of its military campaign in Ukraine, driven by the need to reduce civilian casualties.

This is almost certainly deliberate misinformation, the update said. Russia’s offensive has stalled because of poor Russian military performance and fierce Ukrainian resistance, the update said. Under Shoigu’s orders, the forces operating in Ukraine have repeatedly missed planned operational timelines, the update said.

5:08 a.m.: The Vatican’s Russia-Ukraine diplomacy has suffered two setbacks, according to The Associated Press.

First, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church canceled a planned meeting with Pope Francis in Kazakhstan next month. Then, Ukraine summoned the papal ambassador on Thursday to complain about Francis’ latest comments about the war.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters in Kyiv that “the Ukrainian heart is torn apart by the pope's words.”

He was responding to Francis’ comments about the weekend car bomb slaying in Moscow of Darya Dugina, a nationalist Russian TV commentator and daughter of a right-wing political theorist who ardently supports the war.

Francis listed the “poor girl” among the “innocents” who have been victimized by the “insanity of war.”

3:53 a.m.: The soaring price of wholesale natural gas triggered by Russia's war in Ukraine is helping drive an expected 80% spike in British energy bills, The Associated Press reported. It follows a record 54% annual spike in April.

2:32 a.m.: The latest Ukraine assessment from the Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northwest and northeast of Slovyansk, northeast and south of Bakhmut, and northwest of Donetsk City.

Russian forces also conducted a limited ground attack in northwestern Kharkiv Oblast and northwestern Kherson Oblast. the assessment said.

Ukrainian forces continued to target Russian military assets and ground lines of communication in Kherson Oblast.

1:14 a.m.: An engineer working under Russian occupation since March 4 at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) has told VOA that Russian forces have placed artillery and missile installations within and around the property of the plant and have themselves caused explosions near the plant in an apparent attempt to discredit the Ukrainian military, VOA's Georgian service reported.

The account of the engineer, whose identity is being withheld for fear of retaliation by the occupying authorities, supports Ukrainian government claims that Russia itself is responsible for the explosions in the area of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Russian officials have repeatedly said the explosions are the result of Ukrainian rocket and artillery fire.

12:02 a.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “Today, for the first time in history, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant stopped. The emergency protection of the power units worked -- after the last working line of the plant's power return to the Ukrainian power system was damaged by Russian shelling.

“Diesel generators were immediately activated to provide energy to the plant itself, to support it after the shutdown. The world must understand what a threat this is: if the diesel generators hadn’t turned on, if the automation and our staff of the plant had not reacted after the blackout, then we would already be forced to overcome the consequences of the radiation accident. Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans in a situation one step away from a radiation disaster,” Zelenskyy said.

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

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