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Latest Developments in Ukraine: August 6

A local resident tries to stop the fire at a neighbor's house destroyed by a Russian attack in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Aug. 5, 2022.

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

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

9:20 p.m.: As the United States and Russia prepare to discuss a prisoner swap just days after Moscow sentenced a U.S. women’s basketball star to nine years in prison on drug smuggling charges, much remains unclear about who could be freed.

If the U.S. and Russia do trade prisoners, for Russia the question may be whom to choose. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

8:10 p.m.: Following months of fierce battles in the east, Russia's war in Ukraine is about to enter a new phase, with the heaviest fighting shifting along the Dnieper River to a nearly 350-kilometer front that stretches southwest from near Zaporizhzhia to Kherson, British military intelligence said on August 6, as Kyiv and Moscow traded blame for the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

In the east, Russian forces launched an offensive on Bakhmut and several other cities in Donetsk, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported on August 6. The General Staff said in its morning report that that the Russian attacks were successfully repulsed in Yakovlivka, Vershyn, Kodem, and Zaitseve.

The reports could not be independently verified, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

7:05 p.m.: A 45-year-old Ukrainian entrepreneur was arrested while trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Mariupol. She was taken to the Olenivka detention facility where Ukrainian prisoners of war were also held.

She describes what it was like in Russian captivity, The Observer reports.

6:22 p.m.: The Joint Coordination Center (JCC), the body set up under the Black Sea Grain Initiative to monitor its implementation, authorized the departure of five vessels. Four are to leave the Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk and Odesa on Sunday carrying nearly 162,000 metric tons of corn, meal and sunflower oil.

The JCC also authorized the movement of a fifth ship, the MV Osprey S, to travel from Istanbul to Chornomorsk.

The MV Navistar, which sailed from Odesa on Friday with 33,000 metric tons of corn, has been inspected and cleared to sail on to its destination, Ireland.

5:10 p.m.: North Macedonia has agreed to supply tanks and planes to Ukraine to help fend off Moscow's ongoing invasion, senior Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said on Saturday, Reuters reported.

"Many nations are showing more courage today than half of the G20 (Group of 20 major economic powers). Like North Macedonia, giving Ukraine a (supportive) shoulder in the form of tanks and planes," Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

The defense ministry of North Macedonia, a small Balkan country, confirmed last week that it would supply Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine, but has said nothing about aircraft deliveries.

4:20 p.m.: A foreign-flagged ship arrived in Ukraine on Saturday for the first time since the war started in February and will be loaded with grain, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said, according to Reuters.

Ukraine is starting to resume grain exports in an effort overseen by a Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul where Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. personnel are working.

Kubrakov said the Barbados-flagged general cargo ship Fulmar S was in the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk.

"We are doing (everything) possible to ensure that our ports can receive and handle more vessels. In particular, we plan to reach the level of at least three to five vessels per day in two weeks' (time)," he wrote on Facebook.

Ukraine eventually aims to ship out 3 million metric tons a month from its Black Sea ports, he said.

Roughly 20 million metric tons of grain from last year's crops are still stuck in the country.

3:15 p.m.:

1:57 p.m.: The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog released a statement Saturday expressing alarm after Friday's shelling at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia power plant, Agence France-Presse reports. Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the strikes are "the latest in a long line of increasingly alarming reports." He added that there is a very real risk of "a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond."

12:01 p.m.: A pro-Russian official was gravely wounded in Ukraine's Kherson region on Saturday, Agence France-Presse reports. An anonymous official in Russia-occupied Kherson said the assassination attempt targeted Vitaly Gur, deputy chief of the Kakhovka district, located about 80 km east of Kherson city.

11:32 a.m.: Russian forces are attacking two key cities in eastern Ukraine, according to Ukraine military and local officials. The cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, in the Donetsk region, were under assault on Saturday, the Associated Press reports. Meanwhile, Russian troops continued rocket and shelling attacks on other Ukrainian cities, including one close to the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe's largest nuclear power plant, Ukraine officials said. Bakhmut and Avdiivka are prime targets for Russia. Analysts say Moscow must take Bakhmut in order to advance on the key regional hubs of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

11:16 a.m.: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that he offered to host talks between Russia and Ukraine, The Kyiv Independent reported. Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for several hours on Friday in Sochi. The Turkish leader offered to host talks between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Turkey, the Ukraine English-language newspaper tweeted.

10:14 a.m.: The European Union is condemning Russia for its military activity near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Agence France-Presse reports. The EU's foreign affairs chief demanded that Russia give the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), open access to the plant. "This is a serious and irresponsible breach of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia's disregard for international norms," Josep Borrell said on Twitter. Ukraine has rejected past IAEA efforts to visit the plant, saying that would legitimize Russia's occupation of the plant in the eyes of the international community, Agence France-Presse reports.

9:49 a.m.: Parts of a Ukraine nuclear power plant were "seriously damaged" by military strikes that forced the shutdown of a reactor, the Zaporizhzhia plant's operator said on Saturday, according to Agence France-Presse. Ukraine and Russia are blaming each other for the attack. "There are still risks of leaking hydrogen and radioactive substances, and the risk of fire is also high," the plant operator said via the Telegram messaging service. Russian troops have occupied the Zaporizhzhia plant since the early days of the February invasion and Moscow has accused Ukrainian forces of targeting the plant.

8:44 a.m.: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed that Turkey will pay for some Russian natural gas in rubles, the official currency of Russia, Agence France-Presse reports. The move is seen as a way to insulate Russia from Western sanctions. Payments in rubles would be protected from sanctions. The United States is spearheading international efforts to impose economic sanctions on Russia for its February invasion of Ukraine. Turkey is a NATO member, but has refused to take part in sanctions, in part because Turkey is heavily dependent on Russian energy.

8:09 a.m.: Ukraine's military is digging in, fortifying its positions around the strategic eastern city of Sloviansk ahead of an anticipated fresh Russian assault, the Associated Press reports. Sloviansk is a strategic target in Moscow's ambitions to seize the entire Donetsk region, a largely Russian-speaking area in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces and pro-Moscow groups control about 60% of the province. Russia last attacked the city on July 30.

7:45 a.m.: The head of Amnesty International in Ukraine resigned after the rights organization issued a report charging Ukraine with endangering civilians amid Russia's invasion of that country. Oksana Pokalchuk accused Amnesty International of parroting Kremlin propaganda in the report, which criticized Ukraine for establishing bases in schools and hospitals, and launching counterattacks from heavily populated areas.

"If you don't live in a country invaded by occupiers who are tearing it to pieces, you probably don't understand what it's like to condemn an army of defenders," Pokalchuk said when she announced her resignation on social media, Agence France-Presse reported.

5:39 a.m.: From The Associated Press: Hiroshima is remembering the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing as officials, including the United Nations chief, warn against nuclear weapons buildup and as fears grow of another such attack amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Saturday that nuclear weapons “guarantee no safety — only death and destruction.” Hiroshima Mayor Kazimi Matsui criticized nuclear powers for not taking more concrete steps toward a nuclear-free world. The Aug. 6, 1945, U.S. atomic bombing on Hiroshima killed 140,000. Another nuclear attack on Nagasaki killed 70,000 more.

4:44 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Russian forces are almost certainly massing in the south in anticipation of Ukraine’s counter-offensive or in preparation for a possible assault.

Russian equipment is being moved southwest, away from Ukraine's Donbas region.

The update said Ukrainian forces are focusing their targeting on bridges, ammunition depots, and rail links with growing frequency in Ukraine’s southern regions. It noted that Russia’s war on Ukraine is about to enter a new phase, with the heaviest fighting shifting to a roughly 350-kilometer front line stretching southwest from near Zaporizhzhya to Kherson, paralleling the Dnieper River.

3:40 a.m.: Greece has extradited a Russian money launderer to the U.S., hours after his release from a French jail, his lawyer said Friday.

Zoe Konstantopoulou said Alexander Vinnik, 43, "was loaded onto a private plane to the U.S." without being allowed to lodge an asylum request in Greece.

A source with knowledge of the case in France said Vinnik had been handed back to Greek authorities on Thursday afternoon, just weeks after the Court of Cassation in Paris confirmed his five-year sentence for money laundering.

Vinnik's French lawyer, Frederic Belot, said Washington appeared to have exerted significant pressure to secure his extradition.

He said his client was sent to San Francisco via Boston. He faces 55 years in prison in the U.S., Belot said.

A U.S. indictment accuses Vinnik of 21 charges ranging from identity theft and facilitating drug trafficking to money laundering.

2:32 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground assaults on settlements south of Bakhmut. They also conducted several limited ground assaults to the north, northwest, and southwest of Donetsk City.

The update also noted that Russian occupation authorities are likely accelerating passportization and rubleization efforts and civilian data collection in occupied territories in preparation for the upcoming pseudo-referenda on the annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory into Russia.

1:27 a.m.: President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan adopted a statement on Friday pledging to boost political and economic cooperation including in energy and trade, Reuters reported.

The talks between Putin and Erdogan came as Russia's isolation grows following its intervention in Ukraine.

The statement said the two leaders agreed "to meet the expectations of the opposite side in the spheres of economy and energy."

While Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine was not explicitly mentioned in the statement, the leaders stressed the resumption of Ukrainian grain shipments, pointing to the two countries' "constructive relations" that they stressed made the agreement possible.

12:02 a.m.: Russia's TASS news agency on Friday cited separatist forces as saying they and Russian troops had taken full control of Pisky in Donetsk region, a fortified village held by Ukrainian troops and close to Donetsk city, which is in the hands of Russian-backed separatist forces.

But Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said: "There is very little evidence of any movement here. They (the Russians) made an attempt to advance but it was unsuccessful."

Ukraine has turned the village into a stronghold, seeing it as a buffer against Russian-backed forces holding Donetsk city about 10 km to the southeast.

TASS also said fighting was taking place in the city of Bakhmut, north of Donetsk and Russia's next main target.

Arestovych said Ukrainian forces had recaptured two villages near Izyum in Kharkiv region, which borders Russia, and were advancing on a third.

Reuters could not verify either side's assertions about battlefield developments.

Some information in this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.