August 12, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news (2023)

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1 hr 52 min ago

Today's coverage of the war in Ukraine is done for the day. Followthe latest Ukraine newsor read through the updates below.

2 hr 44 min ago

Russia has started producing its own version of Iran’s Shahed drones, researchers say

From CNN's Victoria Butenko in Kyiv and Mariya Knight

August 12, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news (1)

A United Kingdom-based organization that investigates weapon components says ithas discovered Russian efforts to produce its own domestic version of Iran’s Shahed series drones.

Conflict Armament Research (CAR) has previously documented drones in Ukraine that are marked with the Russian word for geranium, "geran," implying at first glance that they are of Russian origin. The research center had said the unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, were all Iranian-made Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 models.

But when CAR investigators got their hands on the physical remnants of two Geran-2 Russian drones used in Ukraine last month, a detailed analysis showed that Russia “has started producing and fielding its own domestic version of the Shahed-136,” the research center said.

Investigators said "major differences in the airframe construction and in the internal units, including for navigation" showed that the two UAVs were manufactured in Russia rather than Iran.

The researchers described the development as a turning point in Moscow's ability to extend its heavy use of the unmanned weapons.

“Almost a year after the first use of Iranian-manufactured UAVs in Ukraine, evidence that the Russian Federation has begun producing its own domestic versions marks a significant evolution in the country’s UAV capabilities that will allow it to sustain its reliance on single-use UAVs,” investigators wrote.

Russia “now has more than one pathway to still be able to sustain its current attack patterns” in Ukraine, CAR added.

The researchers said Russia “has distilled the principles of the Shahed series UAV, while simplifying its functioning by combining new solutions” and will likely be able to produce new UAVs fairly quickly.

About the Shahed drones: Russia has primarily used the Iranian-made drones to attack critical Ukrainian infrastructure and stretch Ukraine’s air defenses, according to US intelligence officials.

Tehran, for its part, has flatly denied providing the drones for Russia during the war.

Earlier this year, a separate report by CAR revealed that Iran was powering the drones with stolen Western technology.

3 hr 50 min ago

Ukraine’s military reports "partial success" near hard-fought frontline village in the south

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Mariya Knight in Atlanta

Ukraine claimed "partial success" near the village of Robotyne along the southern Zaporizhzhia front after weeks of fighting in the area, as Russia continues offensive efforts near Kupiansk in the northeastern Kharkiv region that borders Russia.

Ukraine’s drive to push down to the Sea of Azov and through to the Melitopol and Berdiansk areas continues, with fierce fighting along the front lines in that southern direction, officials say.

On Friday, social media video and images showed Ukrainian troops had entered Robotyne — a location that has seen heavy battles for several weeks. According to the Institute for the Study of War, even marginal gains by Ukraine in this area are significant.

In the Donetsk region: Meanwhile, Russians made "unsuccessful attempts" to regain lost ground near the village of Urozhaine in the eastern Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military's General Staff said. On Thursday, Ukraine also claimed “partial success” in gaining positions in the area near the recently retaken village of Staromaiorske.

Russian forces are trying to “escalate and take over the initiative” in the east in an effort to “pull” Ukrainian troops from other areas of the front lines, according to a regional military official.

In the Kharkiv region: In the Lyman-Kupiansk direction in the northeastern Kharkiv region, “the enemy is trying escalate and take over the initiative at this direction and attacking our positions,” said Serhii Cherevatyi, the deputy commander of strategic communications for the eastern military grouping.

Russian forces attempted offensives near Kupiansk, which were repelled in a number of settlements in the area, according to the daily update from the General Staff.

With the upcoming anniversary of Ukraine's September 2022 lightning offensive, Cherevatyi said on national television Saturday that Russian forces are looking to make gains there and “want to pull our forces and resources away from the Bakhmut area at all costs.” Ukraine has bolstered its defensive positions since last fall, according to the spokesperson.

Remember: A mandatory evacuation was ordered for Kupiansk and surrounding areas as Russia intensified shelling of the area and claimed to have captured some Ukrainian positions near the northeastern city that lies close to the Russian border.Kupiansk fell to Moscow’s forces within the first week of their invasion in February last year, but was then taken back last September.

5 hr 18 min ago

Russia says it intercepted a Ukrainian drone over the border region of Belgorod

From CNN’s Mariya Knight

Russian defenses intercepted a Ukrainian drone over the western border region of Belgorod on Saturday, Russia's defense ministry said.

The attempted attack happened around 5:30 p.m. local time (10:30 a.m. ET), but it was "foiled," the ministry said in a post on Telegram. Nothing was damaged in the incident and no one was wounded or killed, the post added.

The defense ministry did not name a potential target of the attack, saying simply that it was an assault on "facilities on the territory of the Russian Federation."

Some background: Ukrainian drone strikes inside Russia have become an increasingly common feature of the war, with Kyiv warning that more will come.

Astring of drone strikes has peppered Russian cities, including the capital of Moscow, throughout the summer. Belgorod and other western border regions are also frequent targets.

CNN's Rob Picheta contributed to this report.

5 hr 54 min ago

Analysis: European leaders welcomed China at Ukraine peace talks but remain wary of Beijing's ties with Moscow

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee

August 12, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news (2)

European officials took some small comfort when China attended a summit inJeddah, Saudi Arabia, last weekend. The meeting aimed to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

While Beijing didn’t budge from its stated position of impartiality, China’s mere presence at a meeting to whichRussiasays it was not invited has, some sources claim, sent a message to the international community that it’s not willing openly to pick Russia’s side against the West.

It might be a very small victory, but in the diplomatic world of zero-sum games, Russian President Vladimir Putin not getting exactly what he wants is something to celebrate.

“We never expected China to move fully to the Western position, but supporting this meeting will be a major disappointment to Russia,” a senior EU official told CNN.

“From our point of view, China is visibly engaging with the West, talking to the Ukrainians, and pushing back on Russia. We really welcome that,” the official said. Multiple European sources have echoed this view.

However, while China’s engagement with the international community might be a blow for Russia, it’s still being viewed with suspicion by Western allies, not least because of the continued economic, diplomatic and security ties the countries share.

Read the full story here.

7 hr 38 min ago

Ukraine opens registration for merchant ships to sail temporary corridors in the Black Sea

From CNN's Olya Voitovych and Jessie Gretener

Ukraine opened registration Saturday for merchant ships to sail through temporary corridors in the Black Sea, according to the Ukrainian Navy.

“Registration is now open, and the coordinator is already working,” a spokesperson from the Ukrainian Navy, Dmytro Pletenchuk, said on national television Saturday.

The temporary routes aim to overcome the global food security crisis, Pletenchuk said. He added that it will allow shipowners and companies to “finally take back their merchant vessels that are in humanitarian captivity due to the constant threats of Russians at sea.”

Pletenchuk said ship owners and captains have been warned of the existing danger, and said Ukrainian Armed Forces will help to ensure the security of the merchant ships sailing through the corridors, with the Navy “doing everything we can.”

The Ukrainian Navy first announced the temporary corridors for civilian ships to sail to and from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea on Thursday. The navy outlined that only vessels whose owners or captains officially accept the current conditions will be allowed to use the routes.

However, it is not immediately clear when ships will begin using the new routes.

Pletenchuk also did not outline a set duration for how long the corridors will remain open, saying, “everything depends on the events in the Black Sea.”

Some background: Last month, Russia said it was suspending its participation inthe Black Sea Grain Initiative, once again raising fears over global food supplies.

The deal allowed Ukraine to export grain by sea, with ships bypassing a Russian blockade of the country’s Black Sea ports and navigating safe passage through the waterway to Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait in order to reach global markets. It proved vital for stabilizing global food prices and bringing relief to the developing countries that rely on Ukrainian exports.

5 hr 46 min ago

Once-popular Ukrainian holiday destination reopens beaches for the first time since Russia's invasion

From CNN’s Maria Kostenko in Kyiv and Allegra Goodwin

August 12, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news (3)

Beaches have officially opened for swimming in Ukraine’s largest port city ofOdesafor the first time since the full-scale Russian invasion began in February 2022, local officials announced Saturday.

Bathing during air raid alerts, however, remains banned in the Black Sea city.

Odesahas seen relentless waves of Russian attacks over the last 17 months, filling the waters with sea mines and leading officials to close the stretch of sandy beaches and holiday resorts once popular with Ukrainian and foreign vacationers.

However, despite officially banning swimming since the start of the war, some people have continued to do so.

The city’s beaches were further tarnished in June when filthy waters from the collapse of the Russia-controlled Nova Kakhovka dam washed downstream, posing what theOdesamunicipality described as a “genuine threat” to the health of residents.

The head of theOdesaregion military administration, Oleh Kiper, said several “swimming and recreation areas” would open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time in a post on the Telegram messaging app on Saturday, adding that more beaches would open up as inspections were completed.

Kiper said lifeboats and mesh fences to protect against explosive ordnance would be required in open swimming areas, adding divers would be sent to inspect the Black Sea waters if necessary. Daily coastal cleaning will also take place, he said.

In a Telegram post,Odesa’s municipality said air raid shelters were available near the reopened swimming spots, with shelter locations indicated on information boards at the beaches.

But whileOdesaMayor Hennadii Trukhanov said it was the administration’s responsibility “to prepare all the necessary infrastructure,” he added, “in my personal opinion, beach vacations — as recreation — are a bit out of time while our defenders are fighting for every meter of Ukrainian land.”
7 hr 9 min ago

Another Ukrainian missile shot down in the Kerch Strait, Russian authorities say

FromCNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Jessie Gretener

Another Ukrainian missile has been shot down in the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea on Saturday, according to an update from the Russia-appointed Head ofCrimeaSergey Aksyonov.

“Another enemy missile was shot down over the Kerch Strait. Thank you to our air defense troops for their high professionalism and vigilance!” Aksyonov wrote on Telegram on Saturday.

Aksyonov earlier said that two Ukrainian missiles has been shot down in the Kerch Strait on Saturday.

Photos and videos circulating on social media platforms showed white smoke billowing from the bridge connecting the Russian mainland to the peninsula declared annexed by Russia in 2014. CNN has not independently verified the images.

10 hr 14 min ago

2 missiles shot down over Kerch bridge in annexed Crimea, Russian authorities say

From CNN's Maria Kostenko, Victoria Butenko, and Gul Tuysuz

August 12, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news (4)

Two Ukrainian missiles were shot down over a bridge connecting Russia-annexed Crimea to the mainland, Russian authorities say.

The Kerch bridge has come under repeated attack during the conflict.

“Two enemy missiles were shot down by air defense forces near the Kerch Strait. The Crimean bridge has not been damaged,” the Russia-appointed Head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov said.

Photos and videos circulating on social media platforms showed white smoke billowing from the bridge. CNN has not independently verified the images.

Traffic on the bridge has been temporarily blocked following the attempted attack, officials said.

Some context: The Crimean bridge is a vital artery for supplying Russia’s war on Ukraine, allowing people and goods to flow into the Ukrainian territories that Moscow has occupied in the south and east of the country.

Also known as the Kerch Bridge, it holds personal value for Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the Kremlin narrative it marks the“reunification”of Crimea with the Russian mainland.

In October, the bridge was partially destroyed when a fuel tanker exploded and damaged a large section of the road. The Kremlin was quick to blame Kyiv for that explosion, and Putin alleged that it was an act of “sabotage” by Ukrainian security services.

The bridge was also hit by two strikes in July in an attack a Ukrainian security official told CNN Kyiv was responsible for.

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