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Latest Developments in Ukraine: August 7


Residents fill up water bottles in a park near their apartments in Sloviansk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 6, 2022. The city has no running water as artillery and missile strikes have downed power lines and punched through water pipes.

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

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

10 p.m.: Pope Francis welcomed the departure from Ukrainian Black Sea ports of the first ships carrying grain previously blockaded by Russia, saying the breakthrough could be a model for dialog to bring an end to the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported. \

The first ship, the Razoni, set off on Aug. 1 with seven more following through Sunday, thanks to a grain and fertilizer export deal between Moscow and Kyiv brokered by Turkey and the United Nations last month.

It came after U.N. warnings of possible outbreaks of famine in some areas of the world due to a halt in grain shipments from Ukraine that had squeezed supplies and sent prices soaring.

"This step shows that it is possible to conduct dialog to reach concrete results, which help everyone," Pope Francis said at his weekly address to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square. “This event presents itself as a sign of hope and my own heartfelt wish is that following this path, it will be possible to bring an end to the fighting and reach a just and lasting peace.”

9:18 p.m.: Ukraine is investigating almost 26,000 suspected war crime cases committed since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion and has charged 135 people, its chief war crimes prosecutor told Reuters.

Of those charged, around 15 are in Ukrainian custody and the remaining 120 remain at large, Yuriy Bilousov, head of the war crimes department of the Prosecutor General's office, said in an interview in the capital Kyiv.

Thirteen cases have been submitted to courts and seven verdicts have been issued, he said.

In May, a 21-year-old captured Russian soldier became the first person to be convicted in a war crimes trial in Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. He was sentenced to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian.

"Sometimes we've been asked why we prosecute such … low-ranked officers. It's just because they are physically here. ... If generals were here physically and we were able to capture (them), we would definitely prosecute generals," Bilousov told Reuters.

7:47 p.m.: Former Russian deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich was re-elected for a second term as president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), defeating a Ukrainian who had criticized him over Moscow's military actions, Reuters reported.

6:30 p.m.: Former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson said he was "optimistic" about efforts to negotiate a "two for two" prisoner swap with Russia that would free U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner and another American, Agence France-Presse reported.

Richardson, a former ambassador to the U.N., has negotiated the release of several Americans held in other countries. Reports last month said he was expected to travel to Russia for talks over Griner, who on Thursday was sentenced to nine years in prison on a drug charge.

While insisting Sunday that he is only a "catalyst" in any negotiations, Richardson's mention of a "two-for-two" swap, including Griner suggested inside knowledge.

"My view is, I'm optimistic," he told ABC's "This Week." "I think she's going to be freed, I think she has the right strategy of contrition, there's going to be a prisoner swap -- though I think it will be two for two, involving Paul Whelan."

Whelan is a former U.S. Marine who was convicted of espionage in June 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He has insisted on his innocence.

His case and Griner's have been enmeshed in the deep U.S.-Russia tensions since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February, AFP reported.

5:38 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with American actress Jessica Chastain in Kyiv, The Associated Press reported. During the meeting, Chastain described Ukrainians as "incredibly brave and very strong."

"For us, such visits of famous people are extremely valuable," the Ukrainian leader wrote in his Telegram channel. "Thanks to this, the world will hear, know, and understand the truth about what is happening in our country even more."

4:54 p.m.:

3:47 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia will lose any chance of negotiating with Ukraine should it conduct referendums in the occupied territories, The Associated Press reported.

"If the occupiers follow the path of these pseudo-referendums, they will close any possibility of negotiations with Ukraine and the free world for themselves," he said in his nightly address.

2:18 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “I spoke today with President of the European Council Charles Michel. I informed him about the situation on the battlefield, about the threat that Russia created by striking at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. There is no such nation in the world that can feel safe when a terrorist state fires at a nuclear plant. God forbid, if something irreparable happens, no one will stop the wind that will spread the radioactive contamination. Therefore, a principled response of the international community to these Russian attacks on the Zaporizhzhia NPP - the largest in Europe - is needed right now.”

1:34 p.m.:

12:45 p.m.: Russian forces shelled the towns of Bakhmut, Opytne, Soledar, Selidove in Donetsk, killing four and injuring six, The Kyiv Independent reports, citing Ukraine's General Prosecutor’s Office. Several houses, buildings, power lines, and civilian infrastructure were damaged.

12:15 p.m.: The Kyiv Independent reports that Russian forces have destroyed settlements near front lines in Kherson Oblast.

According to the Kherson Oblast Military Administration, the situation in the occupied southern region remains steadily tense, with active hostilities ongoing. The military administration also says Russia plans to issue new license plates to Kherson residents. Russia has been moving its troops toward Ukraine's south as Ukraine prepares for a counteroffensive in the region.

12 p.m.: The Kyiv Independent quotes the following statistics on civilian deaths, injuries and structural damage in Mykolaiv and Kharkiv since the start of Russia’s invasion February 24, 2022:

  • Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych said that 132 civilians have been killed and 619 injured in Mykolaiv, a city near the Black Sea also known as Nikolaev. Among those killed is one child and among those injured are eight children. Russian shelling and strikes have damaged over 500 residential buildings, and about 700 houses, causing $21 million worth of damage in that city, he said.
  • Oleksandr Filchakov, head of the Kharkiv prosecutor’s office, said that more 1,000 civilians have died in that Oblast and more than 2,000 civilians have been injured in the oblast since February 24. Over 7,000 sites in the city and region, 2,800 apartment buildings, almost 1,800 residential buildings, more than 500 educational institutions, and 150 hospitals have been completely or partially destroyed, he said.

11:15 a.m.: The Kyiv Independent quotes Zaporizhzhia Governor Oleksandr Starukh as saying that background radiation levels are normal at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the wake of shelling by Russian forces. According to Starukh, background radiation measures 8-12 micro roentgen per hour.

10:40 a.m.: Ukraine is investigating almost 26,000 suspected war crime cases committed since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion and has charged 135 people, its chief war crimes prosecutor told Reuters.

Of those charged, around 15 are in Ukrainian custody and the remaining 120 remain at large, Yuriy Bilousov, head of the war crimes department of the Prosecutor General’s office, said in an interview in the capital Kyiv.

Thirteen cases have been submitted to courts and seven verdicts have been issued, he said.

In May, a 21-year-old captured Russian soldier became the first person to be convicted in a war crimes trial in Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. He was sentenced to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian.

"Sometimes we've been asked why we prosecute such...low-ranked officers. It's just because they are physically here... If generals were here physically and we were able to capture [them], we would definitely prosecute generals," Bilousov said.

9:45 a.m.: Russian shelling destroyed fifty houses in the town of Marhanets outside Nikopol, a city across the river from the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Kyiv Independent reports, citing Ukraine’s Prosecutor General's Office. Almost 50 houses, a church, a gas pipeline and power lines were damaged. One person was injured.

9:15 a.m.: Amnesty International apologized on Sunday for “distress and anger” caused by a report accusing Ukraine of endangering civilians. That report, published Thursday, said that the presence of Ukrainian troops in residential areas heightened civilian risks.

“Amnesty International deeply regrets the distress and anger that our press release on the Ukrainian military’s fighting tactics has caused,” the rights group said in an email to Reuters.

“Amnesty International’s priority in this and in any conflict is ensuring that civilians are protected. Indeed, this was our sole objective when releasing this latest piece of research. While we fully stand by our findings, we regret the pain caused."

In its email on Sunday, Amnesty said it had found Ukrainian forces next to civilian residences in 19 towns and villages, exposing residents to the risk of incoming Russian fire.

8:45 a.m.: The Swedish Defense Ministry announced Sunday that beginning August 12, it will send up to 120 instructors to the UK to conduct basic military training for Ukrainian citizens, divided into several training courses which will continue through the end of the year.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine has been going on for over five months, and it’s immensely important that the rest of the world continues to support Ukraine in its fight for sovereignty and self-determination. It’s important that Sweden is part of these efforts, and the Swedish instructors will contribute to strengthening Ukraine’s defense capabilities,” Minister for Defense Peter Hultqvist said.

8:20 a.m.: The Kyiv Independent quotes Luhunask Governor Serhiy Haidai as saying that locals living in the occupied territories in eastern Ukraine are being coerced into participating in a sham referendum organized by Russia and are being offered food, water and "a good life."

Russian forces are already compiling a register of premises where they will hold “elections without a choice,” Haidai said. According to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, Russia has not given up on the idea of annexing southern parts of Ukraine by staging illegal referendums there.

8 a.m.: Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky's chief of staff, called on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to supply long-range artillery, multiple rocket launchers, drones, air defense systems, and armored vehicles, the Kyiv Independent quotes, citing the German daily newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel. Scholz has been repeatedly accused of blocking arms supplies to Ukraine.

7:30 a.m.: Ukraine's state nuclear power company Energoatom said on Sunday a worker was wounded and radiation monitoring sensors were damaged when Russian forces renewed their shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, on Saturday night.

The plant was also shelled on Friday, and Russia again blamed Ukraine for the fresh incident.

On Saturday evening, Russian rocket attacks hit the site of the plant's dry storage facility, where 174 containers with spent nuclear fuel are stored in the open air, Energoatom said on the Telegram messaging app.

7:45 a.m.: Four ships carrying Ukrainian foodstuffs sailed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Sunday as part of a deal to unblock the country's sea exports, Ukrainian and Turkish officials said.

The four bulk carriers were loaded with almost 170,000 tons of corn and other foodstuffs, Ukraine's sea ports authority said on Facebook.

The resumption of grain exports is being overseen by a Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul, where Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. personnel are working.

5:30 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said the poor performance of Russia’s armed forces during its invasion of Ukraine has been costly for Russia’s military leadership, highly likely resulting in the dismissal of at least six Russian commanders since the start of hostilities in February 2022.

Additionally, the update said, at least 10 Russian generals have been killed on the battlefield in Ukraine. The cumulative effect on consistency of command is likely contributing to Russian tactical and operational difficulties, the update concluded.

4:27 a.m.:

3:36 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk and east and south of Bakhmut. Russian forces also conducted a series of ground attacks to attempt to break through Ukrainian defensive lines north, west, and south of Donetsk City.

The assessment also said a Russian opposition outlet reported that Russian forces are storing explosives and mines in and around Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and may have mined parts of the plant. Russian forces may also be firing rockets at Ukrainian positions from within or near the plant.

2:18 a.m.:

1:31 a.m.: Belarusian exiles are volunteering to do military training in Poland with the aim of going to Ukraine to fight against Russian forces. But some also hope to one day return to Belarus and play a role in ousting Belarus's autocratic leader, Alexander Lukashenko. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

12:02 a.m.: In Russia, The Washington Post reports, the number of war dead is a state secret. It is a crime to question the invasion or criticize the military. Independent journalists who speak to bereaved relatives or cover funerals have been arrested and told that showing such “tears and suffering” is bad for public morale. Authorities have ordered some online memorial pages to be shut down.

The Kremlin’s priority has been to prevent angry voices of mourning families and antiwar activists from coming together and gaining traction. Information about war dead could deter Russia’s increasingly urgent recruitment effort, scraping up prisoners with military experience and offering highly paid contracts for deployments.

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