For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.
The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT.
11:10 p.m.: The South China Morning Post said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants to speak directly with China about the ongoing war with Russia.
In an interview with the Post, Zelenskyy said, "It's a very powerful state. It’s a powerful economy … So (it) can politically, economically influence Russia. And China is [also a] permanent member of the UN Security Council."
China has refused to criticize Russia over its actions in Ukraine, even going so far as not to describe it as an invasion. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian Vladimir Putin signed a cooperation pact in February on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics, pledging there would be "no limits" on their partnership.
9:10 p.m.: Ukraine on Wednesday dismissed comments by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that Russia wanted a "negotiated solution" to the war and said any dialogue would be contingent on a Russian ceasefire and withdrawal of its troops, Reuters reported.
Schroeder, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin and increasingly derided in Germany for his pro-Russia stance, said last month's agreement on grain shipments from Ukraine, aimed at easing a global food crisis, might offer a way forward. read more
"The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated solution," Schroeder told Stern weekly and broadcasters RTL/ntv, adding he had met Putin in Moscow last week. "A first success is the grain deal, perhaps that can be slowly expanded to a ceasefire."
In response, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described Schroeder as a "voice of the Russian royal court" and made clear that the grain agreement would not lead to broader negotiations.
"If Moscow wants dialogue, the ball is in its court. First — a cease-fire and withdrawal of troops, then — constructive (dialogue)," Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
8:47 p.m.: Humanitarian aid workers who were temporarily detained at the Olenivka prison in Ukraine's separatist-controlled eastern Donetsk province told The Washington Post they don't believe Russia's claim that the prison was destroyed by a Ukrainian attack.
The Post reports that about 30 workers were held by pro-Russian forces at the prison, but released about two weeks ago, before the blast Friday that killed at least 53 Ukrainian soldiers. Moscow alleges that the Ukrainian military hit the building with a U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). Ukraine said it hadn't attacked the prison, and suspects Russia blew up the building and detainees to cover up the torture and execution of prisoners, many of whom held Russian forces at bay for weeks in Mariupol's Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant before surrendering.
Russian state media broadcast a video of a destroyed building it said was a barracks that housed Ukrainian prisoners. The video showed a burned building and charred body parts.
Three volunteer aid workers, who spent about 100 days in Olenivka, told The Post that the building identified by Moscow as “a detention center” was located in a separate area of the complex that had not been used to hold prisoners.
"I can tell you definitively that the video doesn’t show the prison barracks, and [the demolished building is] not part of the living quarters," said Evgeny Maliarchuk, who was arrested by Russians in Mariupol while trying to evacuate about 20 civilians in a bus he had bought and driven from Kyiv.
7:49 p.m. The U.S. Senate approved Sweden's and Finland’s accession into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Wednesday by a vote of 95-1, sending a strong bipartisan message of support for expanding the Western alliance against Russia.
“The NATO vote is a very important vote — for American security around the world: Finland’s and Sweden’s membership will strengthen NATO even further and is all the more urgent given Russian aggression, given Putin’s immoral and unjustified war in Ukraine. Putin is strengthening the NATO alliance,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The United States is one of 30 NATO member countries that will have to approve Sweden's and Finland’s admission into the more than 70-year-old organization that has guaranteed European security since World War II. The usually lengthy process for admission has been fast-tracked in the U.S. Senate as part of a robust response to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
7:37 p.m.: A top coach for U.S. women's pro basketball who once represented Russia at the Olympics has made a plea for Russian President Vladimir Putin to "do the right thing" and quickly release American star player Brittney Griner, Reuters reported Wednesday.
Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon, who as a player spent years in Russia and won Olympic bronze for her adopted country, said it was upsetting to see a fellow member of the tight-knit women’s basketball community locked up for nearly six months. Washington says Griner is wrongfully detained in Russia.
“It’s something that obviously hits super close to home for me and so I just ask the Russian government to do the right thing. It’s never too late to do the right thing,” Hammon told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday in an appeal that was joined by other figures in global women's basketball. “We're asking for leniency. We're asking for grace. And we're asking to bring home BG.”
6:20 p.m.: Ukraine said on Wednesday that Russia had started creating a military strike force aimed at President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown of Kryvyi Rih and warned that Moscow could be preparing new offensive operations in southern Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Russia holds swathes of Ukraine's south that it captured in the early phases of its February 24 invasion, but Kyiv has said it will mount a counter-offensive. It said on Tuesday it had already recaptured 53 villages in occupied Kherson region.
The steel-producing city of Kryvyi Rih where Zelenskyy grew up lies around 50 km (30 miles) from the southern frontline.
5:17 p.m.: Cossacks who are part of a territorial defense battalion are now defending against Russian attacks in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya region. The soldiers talk about burned wheat fields, destroyed homes, and daily Russian artillery fire. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.
3:50 p.m.: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday he will launch a fact-finding mission into an attack in the front-line Ukranian town of Olenivka that killed prisoners held by Moscow-backed separatists, Reuters reported.
Russia and Ukraine both requested an investigation, Guterres told reporters. He said the terms of reference for the mission, which would need agreement from Russia and Ukraine, were being prepared.
2:05 p.m.: The first grain ship to leave Ukraine and cross the Black Sea under a wartime deal passed inspection Wednesday in Istanbul and headed on to Lebanon. Ukraine said 17 other vessels were “loaded and waiting permission to leave,” but there was no word yet on when they could depart, The Associated Press reported.
Although U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni’s journey a “significant step,” no other ships have left from Ukraine in the past 48 hours and officials on all sides have given no explanation for that delay.
A U.N. statement said three Ukrainian ports are due to resume exports of millions of tons of wheat, corn and other crops. It said inspectors “gained valuable information” from the Razoni’s crew about its voyage through the Black Sea maritime humanitarian corridor. The Joint Coordination Center is “fine-tuning procedures,” it said.
Analysts say that authorities’ first priority is bringing out vessels that have been stuck for months at the three Ukrainian ports covered by the deal. Sixteen ships loaded with grain have been stuck at the ports of Odesa and Chernomorsk since Russia’s invasion, according to Lloyd’s List.
Even slower than that is the effort to bring ships into Ukraine’s ports to extract the millions of tons of grain in storage.
1:05 p.m.: Italy's parliament on Wednesday gave its final approval to a bill ratifying the accession of Finland and Sweden to the NATO alliance, Reuters reported.
The Senate voted 202-13 in favor of the bill, a day after the lower house approved it by a large majority.
The accession needs to be ratified by the parliaments of all 30 North Atlantic Treaty Organization members before Finland and Sweden can be protected by the NATO defense clause that states that an attack on one member is an attack against all.
12:15 p.m.: Ukraine said on Wednesday that any negotiated peace settlement with Moscow would be contingent on a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops, brushing off comments by ex-German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Reuters reported.
Schroeder, who is a friend of President Vladimir Putin, said he met the Kremlin leader in Moscow last week, that Russia wanted a "negotiated solution" to the war and that there was even the possibility of slowly reaching a cease-fire.
In response on Wednesday, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described Schroeder derisively as a "voice of the Russian royal court."
"If Moscow wants dialogue, the ball is in its court. First — a cease-fire and withdrawal of troops, then — constructive (dialogue)," Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
11:50 a.m.: Tensions between Jerusalem and Moscow are rising over a Russian attempt to close the Jewish Agency office in Moscow. The quasi-governmental Jewish Agency helps Jews immigrate to Israel, but Russia says it violates local laws by gathering information on Russian citizens. Israeli officials say they believe it has more to do with growing Israeli support for Ukraine. VOA’s Linda Gradstein reports from Jerusalem.
11:35 a.m.: The president of the American Nuclear Society, Steven Arndt, released a statement Wednesday saying it was “inexcusable” for Russia to use Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility as a “cover for missile strikes.”
"As an organization dedicated to the use of nuclear technology for the societal good, the American Nuclear Society opposes the misuse of nuclear power plants as shields for military operations,” Arndt said.
“Russia’s behavior at the Zaporizhzhia facility violates international humanitarian law, which prohibits both attacks on nuclear power plants and the use of human shields to avoid enemy attacks or reprisals,” he added.
Arndt called on Russia’s armed forces to “remove their weapons immediately from the site and surrounding area.” He also expressed concern for the welfare of staff working at the nuclear facility. He called on Russia to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency full access to the facility, while noting that the Ukrainian nuclear power operator Energoatom has reported that conditions remain stable at the Zaporizhzhia plant.
11:15 a.m.: A Russian soft drinks maker is targeting 50% of the market to fill the gap left by Coke and Pepsi, Reuters reported Wednesday.
10:40 a.m.: Fanning out like urban guerrillas through Paris’ darkened streets well after midnight, the anti-waste activists shinny up walls and drain pipes, reaching for switches to turn off the lights, The Associated Press reported.
Click. Click. Click. One by one, the outdoor lights that stores had left on are extinguished. It’s one small but symbolic step in a giant leap of energy saving that Europe is trying to make as it rushes to wean itself off natural gas and oil from Russia so factories aren’t forced to close and homes stay heated and powered.
Engineer Kevin Ha and his equally nimble friends had been acting against wasteful businesses in Paris long before Russia started cutting energy supplies to Europe in a battle of wills over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. As such, the campaigners were precursors of the energy economy drive becoming all the rage in France, Germany and elsewhere. Their message — that everyone can contribute — is almost word-for-word what public officials from cabinet ministers to mayors are saying now, too.
The stakes are high. If Russia severs the supplies of gas it has already drastically reduced, authorities fear Europe risks becoming a colder, darker and less-productive place this winter. It’s imperative to economize gas now so it can be squirreled away for burning later in homes, factories and power plants, officials say.
9:45 a.m.: The Swiss government imposed further sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine on Wednesday, in line with the European Union's latest measures on gold and gold products, the cabinet said, according to Reuters.
The government said that it had made two new exceptions with respect to transactions related to agricultural products and oil supplies to third countries, which the EU has as well, in order to avoid any disruptions in payment channels.
"The new measures primarily concern a ban on buying, importing or transporting gold and gold products from Russia. Services in connection with these goods are also prohibited," a government statement said.
It said Switzerland was committed to tackling the global food and energy crisis, noting that none of the measures against Russia were directed against the trade in agricultural or food products between third countries and Russia.
9:15 a.m.: The OPEC oil cartel and its allies decided Wednesday to boost production in September by a much slower pace than in previous months at a time of high oil prices and unstable energy supplies exacerbated by the war Russia has waged on Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.
The OPEC+ coalition said it will increase output to 100,000 barrels a day next month after raising it by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August. The group considered what effects staggering inflation and rising COVID-19 rates may have on global demand for fuel in the fall, with gasoline prices at the pump still high.
Russia’s oil and natural gas exports to the world have declined as many nations imposed sanctions or curtailed buying from the major supplier due to its invasion of Ukraine. Russia also has reduced or cut off natural gas to a dozen European countries, further driving up energy prices, squeezing people’s spending power and threatening to cause a recession if nations can’t stockpile enough gas to get through the winter.
8:50 a.m.: Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Moscow has done its best to suppress opposition inside Russia. VOA’s Russian Service has the story.
8:25 a.m.: The first grain ship to depart Ukraine under a wartime deal entered the Bosporus Strait on the way to Lebanon after its cargo was checked and approved Wednesday, Turkish and Ukrainian authorities said, according to The Associated Press.
An inspection team spent about 90 minutes conducting checks aboard the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, which was carrying Ukrainian corn and anchored off Istanbul, Turkey’s defense ministry said. The team included officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, the parties to the agreement struck last month to create safe shipping corridors for exporting Ukraine’s agricultural products as Russia’s invasion of its neighbor continues.
The inspectors, some wearing white helmets, headed out to the Razoni in two boats, escorted by the Turkish coast guard. Turkish media said there were about 20 inspectors. The checks are intended to ensure that outbound cargo vessels are bearing only grain, fertilizer or related food items and not any other commodities, and that inbound ships are not carrying weapons.
Pictures tweeted by the Turkish Ministry of National Defense showed an inspector reaching into the Razoni’s open hold and touching the grain. The Razoni’s horn rang out as the inspectors left the ship.
The Razoni, which the United Nations says is carrying 26,527 tons of corn, set sail Monday from Odesa on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. From Istanbul, it is on a voyage to cross the Bosporus Strait, a 19-mile scenic waterway connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, before sailing on to Lebanon, its final destination.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure said 17 other vessels “are loaded and are awaiting permission to leave” Ukrainian ports. Some 27 vessels have been waiting in three Ukrainian ports with cargo and signed contracts, ready to go, according to U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
7:45 a.m.: A Russian sailor who was initially reported as being among 27 missing navy troops after the Moskva missile cruiser sunk near Ukrainian shores in April has been confirmed dead, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
Dmitry Shkrebets, who has been demanding Russian authorities find his son who was serving aboard the vessel, said in a post on VKontakte on August 2 that he had received a death certificate for his 20-year-old son, Yegor Shkrebets.
The date of the death was listed as April 13, the day the Moscow missile cruiser sank. Since the ship went down, multiple reports have surfaced of relatives of those on board seeking information about their loved ones.
7:10 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Wednesday that the level of tension provoked by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan "should not be underestimated," Reuters reported.
Responding to a question about whether the world was closer to war, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that he was not in favor of using that word but reiterated that the visit was a "provocation."
He added that no additional contacts between President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were planned in light of the visit.
Pelosi's arrival on Tuesday in Taiwan prompted a furious response from Beijing at a time when international tensions were already elevated by the conflict in Ukraine.
6:40 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed the importance of the first grain export shipment from his country since Russia invaded, saying it was carrying a fraction of the crop Kyiv must sell to help salvage its shattered economy, according to Reuters.
His downbeat comments, via video to students in Australia on Wednesday, came as an inspection of the ship was completed in Turkey before it continues to its destination in Lebanon under a deal aimed at easing a global food crisis.
"Just recently, thanks to the U.N. in partnership with Turkey, we had a first ship with the delivery of grain, but it’s still nothing. But we hope it’s a tendency that will continue,” he told the students.
He said Ukraine had to export a minimum 10 million metric tons of grain to urgently help bring down its budget deficit which was running at $5 billion a month. Known as Europe's breadbasket, Ukraine hopes to export 20 million metric tons of grain held in silos and 40 million metric tons from the harvest now underway, initially from Odesa and nearby Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk.
"The war...is almost killing the economy. It's in a coma," Zelenskyy added. "Russia's blocking of the ports is a great loss for the economy. Zelenskyy has repeatedly warned that Moscow may try to obstruct exports despite signing up to last month's deal.
5:55 a.m.: Three ships may leave Ukrainian ports daily instead of one per day, a senior Turkish official said, after the first grain-carrying ship successfully departed from Odesa and was cleared to pass through the Bosphorus after inspections, Reuters reported Wednesday.
The first ship, Razoni, was able to sail after Turkey and the United Nations brokered a deal between Russia and Ukraine that aims to ease a global food crisis.
5:35 a.m.: The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Wednesday on Twitter that a joint inspection team is checking the first grain shipment out of Ukraine, under the Black Sea export deal.
5:20 a.m.: At the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta dockers have worked for months to ship out Ukrainian grain in addition to their usual loads from Romania and its land-locked neighbors, Reuters reported.
Shipments arrive constantly. The grain, which is poured onto conveyor belts in Constanta terminals, makes the air smell sweet and covers workers seeking shade under the steel silos in a fine layer of golden dust.
The export route is one of the few left open to Ukraine, which before the conflict with Russia was one of the world's top grain suppliers. Exporters have shipped 1.46 million metric tons of Ukrainian grain through Constanta since Russia invaded the country in February and the war halted shipments from Ukraine's own Black Sea ports.
The first grain-carrying ship to leave the Ukrainian port of Odesa since the war began under a safe passage agreement sailed on Monday. Operators in Romania expect they will continue to ship Ukrainian grain as it will take time to fully implement that deal.
4:50 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday that China was balancing and maintaining neutrality over Russia's war in Ukraine, but that he would like to see China join the countries opposed to Moscow over the invasion.
He made the comments by video link at an event organized at the Australian National University, Reuters reported.
4:20 a.m.: Ukraine's military reported early on August 3 that it continued to target the Kherson region, striking several Russian positions in the area overnight and causing casualties and material damage to the enemy, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
"Our aircraft carried out three strikes on strongholds and one on the weapons and equipment depot in the Berislavskiy and Bashtansky districts. Missile and artillery units launched a fire attack on Chornobayivka, where the base of the occupying forces is located," the military said on Facebook.
The report could not be independently confirmed.
In the eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the battlefield situation is “just hell,” and despite U.S. supplies of advanced artillery systems, Kyiv's forces have not been able to overcome Russian advantages in heavy guns and manpower.
The imbalance is "very much felt in combat, especially in the Donbas,” Zelenskiy said on August 2 in his nightly address. “It is just hell there. It can't even be described in words."
3:40 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest assessment of the conflict in Ukraine that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations northeast and northwest of Kharkiv City, along with limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk and east of Siversk.
Russian forces made marginal gains southeast of Bakhmut and continued offensive operations to the northeast and southeast of Bakhmut, the update said. Additionally, Russian forces made incremental advances around Avdiivka and are continuing attempts to push southwest of Avdiivka.
2:45 a.m.: Russia wants a negotiated solution to the war in Ukraine and last month's agreement on grain shipments might offer a way forward, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
"The good news is that the Kremlin wants a negotiated solution," Schroeder told Stern weekly and broadcasters RTL/ntv, adding he had met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week. "A first success is the grain deal, perhaps that can be slowly expanded to a ceasefire," he said.
Russia and Ukraine struck a deal last month to unblock grain exports from Black Sea ports and the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain to world markets since Moscow's invasion five months ago is on its way to Lebanon.
Schroeder said solutions to crucial problems such as Crimea could be found over time, "maybe not over 99 years, like Hong Kong, but in the next generation." He said an alternative to NATO membership for Ukraine might be armed neutrality, like Austria.
The future of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the scene of fierce fighting, however, was more complicated. "A solution based on the Swiss cantonal model will have to be found," he said, adding it would have to be seen if Putin would go back to a pre-war "contact line" in a ceasefire.
1:30 a.m.: Britain’s Defence Intelligence update said Wednesday that a Ukrainian strike against a Russian ammunition train in the Kherson region likely damaged the railway link between Crimea and Kherson. It also noted the likelihood that an increasing number of civilians will seek to leave Kherson and the surrounding area due to fighting and food shortages.
1 a.m.: Three Ukrainian soccer teams learned their paths to European competitions on Tuesday in the UEFA draws for the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League playoffs, The Associated Press reported.
None of the teams will be able to play home matches because of the war with Russia.
Aiming to join Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage of the Champions League, Dynamo Kyiv would have to beat either two-time European champion Benfica or Midtjylland in the playoff round if it advances that far.
UEFA officials expressed hope for peace in Ukraine before each draw ceremony at the European governing body’s headquarters. Ukrainian clubs did not attend. UEFA has barred Russian teams from all its competitions.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.