Latest Developments in Ukraine: August 14
For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.
The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EDT.
11:10 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Russian citizens to speak up and support Ukraine to end the war, The Associated Press reported.
Zelenskyy said those who are “silent” in opposing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “evil” were therefore complicit.
The president also Kyiv and its partners were working on new sanctions against Russia, without giving further details.
Zelenskyy also referenced European Union proposals to limit Russian nationals’ access to tourist visas.
“We are working on new sanctions against Russia and on stimulating the citizens of the terrorist state to feel their share of responsibility for what is happening,” the Ukrainian president said, according to AP.
9:08 p.m.: In a very special bakery in Kyiv, thousands of loaves of bread are being baked every week and sent out to those in need. VOA’s Anna Kosstutschenko has the story.
8:06 p.m.: A crowd of people gathered in the Eastern Finnish city of Imatra on a bridge overlooking Imatrankoski rapids, one of the Nordic country’s most well-known natural attractions, Agence France-Presse reported.
At the same time every day, the river’s almost century-old dam is opened and water rushes under the bridge, to the sound of music by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
It is a popular attraction, especially for Russian tourists.
But since the end of July, the city of Imatra has started the show by playing the Ukrainian national anthem, to protest the Russian invasion.
Finland, which shares 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) eastern border with Russia, is also preparing to limit tourist visas issued for Russians, AFP reported
7:27 p.m.: A United Nations-chartered ship loaded with 23,000 metric tons of Ukrainian grain set sail Sunday for Ethiopia in the first such shipment from war-ravaged Ukraine, aimed at helping a nation facing famine.
The Brave Commander left from the Ukrainian port of Yuzhne, east of Odesa, and plans to sail to Djibouti, where the grain will be unloaded and transferred to Ethiopia under the U.N.’s World Food Program initiative.
6:25 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “We are getting ready for the very active weeks of the second half of August — negotiations, meetings, the Crimea Platform, new appeals to foreign communities, international legal activity — on our initiative.
“This week, I will continue to expand our ties with African states and the Latin American region. Important contacts will take place at the European level tomorrow. In a few days, a ceremony of the presentation of credentials by the ambassadors of foreign countries who came to work in Kyiv will take place. Although there is a certain pause in global politics now — after all, it is August, for Ukraine, for the interests of our state, there haven’t been and will not be any pauses,” he said.
4:16 p.m.: Artists who are painting bright sunflowers over piles of burned-out cars destroyed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are being asked whether it is appropriate to beautify the remnants of the carnage. The painters, who are from Ukraine and the United States, say they want to raise money for Ukrainian artists, rehabilitation projects, and other causes by selling digital copies of the artwork as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has a photo gallery.
3:30 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak at the opening ceremony of the international military-technical forum Army-2022 in the Moscow region at 10:00 GMT, Reuters reports.
3:15 p.m.: A major battle is unfolding in Pisky, once a suburb of Russian-occupied Donetsk, with both Ukraine and Russia claiming to have control over parts of the embattled settlement. Heavy fighting is also occurring several kilometers north, in the town of Avdiivka, with Ukrainian positions being bombarded nonstop.
As the situation worsens, Ukraine carries out a mandatory evacuation from Donetsk Oblast. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged all remaining residents in the war-torn region to flee their homes, The Kyiv Independent reports.
3:00 p.m.: According to a new survey by German weekly Der Spiegel, three quarters of all Germans want to continue the operations of Germany’s remaining nuclear power plants, throwing into question the country’s much-touted plan to phase out nuclear energy.
Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed are in favor of continuing to operate the plants until the summer of 2023, a variant that is being discussed in the political sphere as a “stretch operation” — in other words, continuing to keep them online for a few months, but without the acquisition of new fuel rods. Even among Green Party supporters, a narrow majority favors this approach. The energy crisis generated caused by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has accelerated this shift.
2:30 p.m.: With Russia already having fired one missile at grain terminals in Odessa, there are questions about whether the deal to resume Ukrainian shipments will hold.
Extreme weather events, including a multiyear drought in the Horn of Africa, threaten harvests on multiple continents. And a potential embargo on Russian energy shipments to European customers later this year could aggravate rising natural gas costs that already are pushing some fertilizer prices up, The Washington Post reported.
2 p.m.: A group of Chicago high school students are attempting to set a new world record — all while raising money for those impacted by the war in Ukraine.
Students spent hours Wednesday at Wintrust Financial Corporation’s Grand Banking Hall, where they set a goal to construct the world’s largest mosaic flag made out of cereal boxes.
Using nearly 5,000 blue and yellow cereal boxes — donated by Kellogg’s — about two-dozen students worked together to create a massive Ukrainian flag.
It’s never been done before to this scale.
“We decided to go with Corn Pops and Rice Krispies,” said Ryder Shiffman, one of the high school students who worked on the project.
The group is applying for a new Guinness World Record for the “Largest Packaged Food Mosaic of a Flag.”
They are also trying to break the current world record for “Largest Cardboard Box Mosaic” — which was completed in 2019 in Saudi Arabia and measured 139 square meters, Fox32 Chicago reported.
1:15 p.m.: According to Deutsche Welle, an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Russians have moved to Serbia since the end of February. More than 1000 companies whose owners have Russian passports have registered with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, most of them in the IT sector. “I chose Serbia because it is one of the few countries where Russian passport holders are still allowed to enter without a visa,” Katya Khazina, a 34-year-old from Moscow,” told DW.
“Apart from that, of course, it’s quite schizophrenic that, as an opponent of Putin, I ended up in a country where there are many people who support the regime in Russia,” Khazina said. “But I’m putting up with it because I know it’s nothing compared to the difficulties that people who are fleeing the fighting in Ukraine have to cope with.”
12:20 p.m.: 42 countries including the 27 members of the European Union urged Russia to withdraw troops from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. In a joint statement the countries argued that Russia’s control over the power plant poses a risk to nuclear safety.
12:15 p.m.: Ukrainian officials have reported that more Russian munitions depots were targeted by the military amid mounting safety concerns over a Russian-occupied nuclear plant in the south of the country.
RFE/RL reports “Large” depots in the Kherson region were destroyed overnight, Yuriy Sobolevskiy, the first deputy head of the Kherson regional council said on August 14. “There is confirmed information about the destruction of objects both in Nova Kakhovka and in Muzykivka. Quite large military warehouses with weapons and ammunition were located there. Military equipment was also stored there,” he told Ukrainian media.
For several weeks, Ukraine’s military has tried to lay the groundwork for a counteroffensive to reclaim southern Ukraine’s Kherson region, which borders Crimea and fell to the Russians soon after the February 24 invasion.
12:10 p.m.: Russians are racing to secure Schengen visas amid calls for a ban on travel to Europe, the daily Kommersant has reported, citing executives at tour agencies.
RFE/RL reports Marina Shirokova, a manager at Vizakhod, said demand for Schengen visas had surged about 40% over the past two weeks as fears grow that European travel could soon be off-limits.
A Schengen visa is a 90-day visa that allows a person to travel to any of the 26 European members of the Schengen area for tourism or business purposes. Each member country of the Schengen zone can issue Schengen visas.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy on August 8 called on the European Union to ban Russian tourists to punish Moscow for its brutal invasion, now in its sixth month.
Three days later, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that his country will bar Russian citizens with Schengen visas issued by Estonia from entering the Baltic country because of the Kremlin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
11:20 a.m.: The first ship to depart Ukraine under a deal to resume grain exports from the country two weeks ago is approaching the Syrian port of Tartous on Sunday, two shipping sources said, after the vessel had been sailing with its transponder off.
The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni set sail from Odesa on August 1 under the deal between Moscow and Kyiv, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, but its location had not been clear in the past days without the transponder.
The cargo of 26,000 tons of corn had originally been destined for Lebanon, which has been facing an economic crisis that has plunged about half of its population into food insecurity.
However, the original buyer refused the delivery over quality concerns. The vessel sailed to Turkey and docked in Mersin on August 11 unloading 1,500 tons of the grain to new buyers.
When it set sail again the following day, the Razoni did not keep its transponder on which broadcasts position and route information. Two shipping sources, one of them in Tartous, confirmed to Reuters on Sunday that the ship was approaching the northwest Syrian port.
According to the Financial Times, the Razoni’s voyage has put a spotlight on the complex and secretive nature of grain trading and the layers of middlemen, agents and insurers involved. “Grain trading” is very complicated. The U.N. is relying too much on the private sector under a very half-baked initiative,” said Jean-Francois Lambert, a consultant and former commodities trade banker.
Ukraine has previously accused Syria of importing at least 150,000 tons of grain it said was plundered from Ukrainian warehouses after Russia’s invasion in February. Russia has denied stealing Ukrainian grain, Reuters reported.
10:45 a.m.: Life has gotten a little harder recently for many of the tens of thousands of Ukrainians in Georgia after the government on August 1 ended a program offering free housing in hotels to refugees. Many had to scrape around for a new place to stay, RFE/RL reports.
Many of the refugees in Tbilisi are from Kherson, a strategic port city that was the first major Ukrainian city to fall to Russian forces after the start of the war in February. To get to Tbilisi, the only way was through Russian-occupied Crimea via the Kerch Bridge to Krasnodar on the Russian mainland, on to Vladikavkaz, and finally, through the Lars border crossing to Tbilisi.
After the government of Ukraine directly appealed to Kherson citizens to evacuate, many refugees arrived in Georgia only in June and July. Welcomed at first, they soon found themselves under the threat of once again becoming homeless when the hotel program ended at the beginning of August.
In March, the Georgian government introduced the hotel program for Ukrainian refugees. The program had no specific deadline and an estimated 2,400 Ukrainians who fled the war could stay and eat for free in hotels in the cities of Tbilisi and Batumi, and later, in Gonio and Kobuleti. While Tbilisi city hall told RFE/RL that the temporary nature of the program was “clearly communicated” to the refugees, many say otherwise: that not only didn’t they know how long the hotels would shelter them, but they found out about the end of the program only two weeks ahead of the deadline, and not from the government but from acquaintances and in Telegram groups.
10:40 a.m.: The U.S. has committed at least $54 billion in aid for Ukraine, including at least $20 billion in military support, according to Al Jazeera. Ukraine has received different forms of support from the U.S. and allies so far.
9:45 a.m.: German gas storage facilities were slightly more than 75% full last Friday, a couple of weeks ahead of target, data from European operators’ group GIE showed on Sunday.
Germany has developed a three-stage emergency plan after a reduction in gas from Russia, its main supplier. That causes serious headaches for German industry, which accounts for a quarter of the country’s gas demand.
Russia has drastically cut flows to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline since mid-June and currently supplies only 20% of agreed volumes, blaming faulty and delayed equipment, while Europe says the move has been politically motivated.
The government had targeted gas storage levels to reach 75% by September 1. The next targets are 85% by October 1 and 95% by November 1, which are embedded in a number of provisions aimed at helping Germany to avoid a gas crisis in the winter.
The provisions include higher imports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, and incentives to reduce energy usage.
Meanwhile, Germany’s market operator THE is set to announce on August 15 the size of a gas price levy on consumers, to help with energy soaring prices.
The plan, announced last week, comes as Europe’s biggest economy tries to reduce its dependence on Russian energy. It is facing a collapse in gas supplies and soaring prices, raising fears of energy shortages and insolvencies among gas traders, Reuters reported.
9:35 a.m.: Britain’s main opposition Labor Party will call for the energy price cap to be frozen this fall to help the public deal with another expected surge in energy bills during the worst cost of living crisis in decades, Reuters reported.
A move by Russia to cut gas exports to the West following the invasion of Ukraine has driven up bills across Europe, forcing governments in Italy, France and elsewhere to intervene to protect their citizens. France has capped electricity tariff rises at 4%.
The forecasting group Cornwall Insight estimates that average British annual bills for gas and electricity will jump to 3,582 pounds in October and 4,266 pounds in January. Earlier this year the price cap was 1,277 pounds.
The favorite to be Britain’s next Prime Minister Truss has faced criticism from political opponents and charities for appearing to rule out further “handouts” and, seeking to appeal to fiscally conservative party members, has not committed to increasing direct support to consumers.
Sunak said last week every household would get savings of around 200 pounds on their energy bills with a reduction in value-added tax.
8:50 a.m.: Countries closest to Russia say they are desperate for more Western military aid, The Washington Post reported.
During a visit from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this month, Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said it is essential to arm themselves as well as Ukraine because there is a real risk the war will “come to our borders.”
The Biden administration has vowed to boost side-by-side exercises in the region to hone proficiency in air-defense capability and other vital combat skills, not only in Latvia but across the Baltics and in other nations within easy striking distance of Russian forces. About 100,000 U.S. troops are deployed across Europe, an increase of 20,000 in recent months, with a growing center of gravity in the east. But for those close to Russia, it’s not enough.
8:45 a.m.: Residents in many heavily damaged areas in Ukraine have created their own initiatives to rebuild homes before the winter as international organizations rush aid to Ukraine to help with the reconstruction effort. The battled-scarred village of Novoselivka north of Kyiv is one of many sites where a local team of volunteers strip damaged homes of debris and begin to rebuild. Ukraine’s authorities last month said the country had suffered more than $100 billion in infrastructure damage alone but estimate that the reconstruction effort could cost more than seven times that amount. Volunteers reuse salvaged material such as bricks, insulation panels, scrap metal to rebuild destroyed homes, The Associated Press reports.
8:20 a.m.: Pope Francis said on Sunday that the war in Ukraine had distracted attention from the problem of world hunger and called for urgent food aid to stave off looming famine in Somalia. He said he wanted to draw attention “to the grave humanitarian crisis has hit Somalia and some areas of bordering countries.”
“The people of this region, who already live in very precarious conditions, are now in mortal danger because of drought,” he said at his weekly address in St. Peter’s Square, referring to the Horn of Africa.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, said this month that it could officially declare famine in eight regions of Somalia next month if livestock continue to die, key commodity prices rise further, and humanitarian assistance fails to reach the most vulnerable, Reuters reported.
8:15 a.m.: The United Nations-chartered ship Brave Commander will depart Ukraine for Africa in coming days after it finishes loading more than 23,000 metric tons of wheat in the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi, a U.N. official said.
The ship, which arrived in the port near Odesa, will sail to Ethiopia via a grain corridor through the Black Sea brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in late July, Reuters reported.
It will be the first humanitarian food aid cargo bound for Africa since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. under the framework of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Denise Brown, U.N. Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, told reporters the grain was urgently needed in Ethiopia, and the United Nations would work to ensure continued shipments to countries around Africa that are facing famine and sharply higher food prices.
8:10 a.m.: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy has warned Russian soldiers who shoot at Europe’s largest nuclear power station or use it as a base to shoot from that they will become a “special target” for Ukrainian forces, Reuters reported.
Russian troops captured the Zaporizhzhia facility in southern Ukraine early in the war, but it is still being run by Ukrainian technicians.
Fearing a nuclear catastrophe over renewed shelling there over the past days, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the establishment of a demilitarized zone. Ukraine and Russia trade blame for the shelling. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is seeking to inspect the plant, has also warned of a nuclear disaster unless fighting stops. Nuclear experts fear fighting might damage the plant’s spent fuel pools or the reactors.
The plant dominates the south bank of a vast reservoir on the Dnipro River. Ukrainian forces controlling the towns and cities on the opposite bank have come under intense bombardment from the Russian-held side.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak accused Russia of “hitting the part of the nuclear power plant where the energy that powers the south of Ukraine is generated.”
“The goal is to disconnect us from the (plant) and blame the Ukrainian army for this,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
5:28 a.m.: The Associated Press, citing Ukrainian officials, reported that Russia shelled residential areas across Ukraine. The mayor of the eastern city of Kramatorsk said a Russian rocket attack killed three people and wounded 13 others Friday night. Further west, a governor reported more Russian shelling of a city not far from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Ukrainian military intelligence alleged that Russian troops have shelled the nuclear plant.
4:33 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Russia is likely concentrating on reinforcing its position in southern Ukraine.
In the Donbas, however, the update said, Russian-backed forces — largely militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic — have continued to attempt assaults to the north of Donetsk city.
3:33 a.m.: The latest Ukraine assessment from the Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said Ukrainian forces are continuing efforts to disrupt Russian ground lines of communication that support Russian forces on the right bank of the Dnipro River.
Russian forces, the update said, have conducted limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk, east of Siversk, and south and east of Bakhmut. They’ve also conducted a limited ground assault north of Kharkiv City.
1:29 a.m.: Details on the process of the audit are to be determined by the Amnesty board next week, after the various national organizations have had a chance to give their input, according to the German Press Agency.
12:02 a.m.: German businesses and public institutions should heat their offices no higher than 19 degrees Celsius this winter to help reduce the country’s consumption of natural gas, Germany’s economy minister said Saturday, according to The Associated Press.
Germany, the European Union’s biggest economy, is quickly trying to wean itself off using natural gas from Russia in response to Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
However, Germany uses more Russian gas imports than many other EU nations. Russia has cut off gas exports to several EU nations, and officials fear Moscow will use the gas exports as a political weapon to get sanctions against Russia reduced — or even cut the exports to Europe off altogether in the winter, when demand is the highest.
Economy Minister Robert Habeck said while the EU’s 27 countries have pledged to cut their gas use by 15% from August compared to the previous five-year average, Germany needs to reduce its consumption by 20%.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.