Ukraine latest: Vietnam PM says respects Russia relations, hopes to boost cooperation

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24 continues, with casualties mounting on both sides.

Ukrainian forces are putting up resistance using Western military aid, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more to help. Governments around the globe have imposed heavy sanctions against Moscow but have stopped short of direct intervention for fear of sparking a wider conflict.

Meanwhile, rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets are rocking Asia.

For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

Read our in-depth coverage:

Russia’s war leaves Europe with China rail route dilemma

Six months since Russia attacked Ukraine: Will grain prices drop?

Can Japan’s new nuclear policy revive its creaking industry?

Bangladesh eyes cheap Russian fuel oil to lower import bills

A Moscow car bomb threatens to further radicalize nationalists

All my friends are gone: A young Ukrainian in Kharkiv

Note: Nikkei Asia decided on March 5 to temporarily suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Here are the latest developments:

Wednesday, Sept. 7 (Tokyo time)

6:42 p.m. Chinese shipments to and from Russia accelerated in August, compared with a month earlier, contrasting with slower flows elsewhere amid weak global demand. Chinese shipments to Russia, which had been hit by Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, rose 26.5% from a year earlier in dollar terms, up from a 22.2% gain in July, Reuters calculations based on Chinese customs data on Wednesday showed. Imports from Russia jumped 59.3% versus a 49.3% increase in July.

6:04 p.m. Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh says Vietnam always respects its relationship with Russia, and hopes to further boost their cooperation. Chinh was speaking virtually at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Communist Vietnam, which is keen to strengthen relations with Europe and the U.S., remains one of Russia’s closest partners in Asia, ties that were developed during the Soviet era.

11:03 a.m. Russia is purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea to re-energize its offensive in Ukraine, according to recently declassified U.S. intelligence, as Western sanctions begin to choke Moscow’s supply of weapons.

4:50 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweets that he is the first foreign leader to speak with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss. He invited her to visit Ukraine and thanked the U.K. for its economic and defense aid, he writes, adding that it is important to “further strengthen it.”

Zelenskyy had a strong relationship with Truss’ predecessor, Boris Johnson, who made multiple trips to Ukraine and was the first Group of Seven leader to visit after the invasion began.

12:06 a.m. The International Atomic Energy Agency calls for a security and safety zone around Europe’s biggest nuclear power station, describing extensive damage that inspectors found at the Zaporozhzhia plant on the front line in the Ukraine war. The IAEA report says radiation levels within 30 kilometers of the plant remain normal, citing regular monitoring.

The agency did not ascribe blame for damage at the plant, which Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of shelling. Inspectors say they found Russian troops and equipment there, including military vehicles parked in turbine halls.

“Ukrainian staff operating the plant under Russian military occupation are under constant high stress and pressure, especially with the limited staff available,” the IAEA report said. “This is not sustainable and could lead to increased human error with implications for nuclear safety.”

Tuesday, Sept. 6

11:08 p.m. Japan’s e-Gov web portal was hit by a cyberattack and became inaccessible Tuesday, the country’s cybersecurity response center says.

Pro-Russian hacker group Killnet appears to claim responsibility, posting on the Telegram messaging app that it targeted Japan’s online public services and the tax authority’s electronic system. The group appeared to write that it was acting against Japan’s “militarism,” Kyodo news reports.

The government website became inaccessible around 4:30 p.m. and remained disrupted into the night after a so-called DDoS attack, in which a network is overwhelmed by hackers sending floods of data from multiple sources.

A screen at a Seoul railway station shows a broadcast on North Korea’s test of a new type of tactical guided weapon on April 17.

  © Reuters

10:00 p.m. Russia’s Gazprom says it has a deal to switch payments for natural gas supplies to China to yuan and rubles instead of dollars, part of Moscow’s efforts to cut is dependence on currencies that leave it exposed to U.S.-led sanctions. Read more.

5:30 p.m. Three people were killed as a result of Russian rocket fire in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region over the past day, including an elderly woman, the region’s governor says. “That night, the enemy once again launched a rocket attack on Kharkiv,” Governor Oleh Synehubov wrote on Telegram. “In the industrial district, a two-story building was damaged and a private residential building, in which a 73-year-old woman was staying, was destroyed. Unfortunately, she died,” he said.

11:30 a.m. The Russian Ministry of Defense is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for its fight in Ukraine, according to a newly downgraded U.S. intelligence finding. Russia’s turning to the isolated state demonstrates that “the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine, due in part to export controls and sanctions,” a U.S. official told The Associated Press. U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia could look to purchase additional North Korean military equipment in the future.

10:30 a.m. Russia has scrapped an agreement with Japan to allow former Japanese residents to visit Russian-held islands off Hokkaido without visas. Under the reciprocal program, residents of the islands can also travel to Japan without visas. The islands are claimed by Japan and are known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia. A Russian lawmaker attributed the action to Japan’s participation in Western sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

3:47 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin approves a foreign policy doctrine that aims to “protect, safeguard and advance the traditions and ideals of the Russian World,” a notion that conservative ideologues have used to justify intervention abroad in support of Russian speakers.

Putin for years has highlighted what he sees as the tragic fate of 25 million ethnic Russians who found themselves living outside Russia in newly independent states when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Moscow continues to regard the former Soviet space, from the Baltics to Central Asia, as its legitimate sphere of influence — a notion fiercely resisted by many of those countries as well as by the West.

The new policy says Russia should increase cooperation with Slavic nations, China and India while further strengthening ties to the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

Monday, Sept. 5

11:56 p.m. Ukraine is able to substitute Nord Stream 1 pipeline capacity through Sudzha, its only working transit point with Russia, says the head of its gas transit operator, reports Reuters.

Russia says its Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which supplies gas to the European Union, will remain shut indefinitely.

  © Reuters

5:30 p.m. European gas prices have jumped as much as 30% on Monday after Russia says one of its main gas supply pipelines to Europe would stay shut indefinitely, stoking renewed fears about shortages and gas rationing in the European Union this winter. The benchmark gas price surged as high as 272 euros ($270) per megawatt hour when the market opened. Russia said on Friday that a leak in its Nord Stream 1 pipeline equipment meant it would stay shut beyond last week’s three-day maintenance halt.

3:30 p.m. Russia’s service sector inched back into contraction in August, with broadly unchanged levels of output, a business survey showed on Monday, as consumer demand waned and companies reduced workforce numbers. The S&P Global Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 49.9 in August, down from 54.7 in July and slipping just below the 50 mark that separates contraction from expansion. “Where service providers reported a decrease in output, this was linked to reduced purchasing power at some customers and the impact of sanctions,” S&P Global said in a statement.

3:01 p.m. Myanmar’s junta leader is visiting Russia, his second trip to the country in less than two months, as Myanmar’s military tries to shore up one of its few diplomatic alliances as it comes under growing international pressure. Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing has been barred from representing Myanmar at most international gatherings since leading a coup early last year against an elected government led by Noble laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

A Ukrainian man stands at a destroyed wholesale market on Sept. 3 after a Russian strike in Kramatorsk, as Russia’s attack in the Donetsk region continues. 

  © Reuters

6:40 a.m. In his latest nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country’s forces have liberated some settlements under Russian control: one in the Donetsk region and two in the south.

He also reiterates his desire to do the same to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. Most of the world does not recognize Russian rule over the Black Sea peninsula.

“I believe that the Ukrainian flag and free life will return to Crimea again,” Zelenskyy says. “We will liberate all our land, all our people.”

2:20 a.m. John Sullivan, a Trump appointee who once told Reuters it would take “a crowbar” to get him out of Moscow, has left Russia after finishing the typical three-year tenure as American ambassador there, the U.S. Embassy says.

Sullivan, who was retained in the post by President Joe Biden after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, had said in March he wanted to remain to advocate for Americans detained in Russia, including basketball star Brittney Griner.

Elizabeth Rood, who has served as deputy chief of mission since June, will assume duties as charge d’affaires at the Moscow embassy until a successor arrives.

Sunday, Sept. 4

A truck driver fills his tank at a liquefied natural gas station in Soltau, Germany.

  © Reuters

11:45 p.m. Russia intends a “decisive energy attack” on all Europeans this winter to intimidate every nation on the continent, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says in a public address, calling for greater unity between Ukraine and the rest of Europe to protect each other. His comments come after Moscow shut a main pipeline that supplies Russian gas to the continent.

Germany will spend at least 65 billion euros ($64.7 billion) to shield customers and businesses from inflation, Chancellor Olaf Scholz says, responding to Russia’s indefinite suspension of some gas deliveries. The benefit hikes and public transport subsidy will be funded via a tax on electricity companies and by bringing forward Germany’s implementation of the planned 15% global minimum corporate tax.

Finland, meanwhile, says it will offer up to 10 billion euros in liquidity guarantees to the energy sector to help prevent a financial crisis.

12:30 p.m. Top Chinese legislator Li Zhanshu will attend Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok this week, the official Xinhua News Agency reports on Sunday, becoming the most senior Chinese official to visit Russia since the Ukraine war began. Read more.

The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during a visit by members of the International Atomic Energy Agency expert mission in Ukraine on Sept. 2. (IAEA via Reuters)

2:30 a.m. Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant lost connection to the last remaining main external power line but is still able to supply electricity to the grid through a reserve line, the International Atomic Energy Agency says. The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s experts now stationed at the plant were told by Ukrainian staff that the site’s fourth operational 750 Kilovolt power line was down after three others were lost earlier, it says in a statement.

But IAEA experts also learned that a reserve line linking the facility to a nearby thermal power plant was delivering electricity to the external grid. This reserve line can also provide backup power to the ZNPP if needed, the IAEA says.

Saturday, Sept. 3

6:30 a.m. The Swiss financial markets watchdog said Friday that Sberbank, one of Russia’s largest banks, is selling its Swiss subsidiary, which had come under pressure because of international sanctions on Russian interests over the invasion of Ukraine. Sberbank (Switzerland) AG, which focuses on trade finance in commodities, was already facing liquidity problems after a first round of Western sanctions hit Russian interests earlier this year. Then, last month, Switzerland’s executive branch froze the bank’s assets and banned it from providing any funds, resources or technical services following a new round of sanctions.

A Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline facility in Lubmin, Germany.

  © Reuters

6:00 a.m. Western officials condemn Russia for indefinitely suspending the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that carries gas to Europe, with the EU Commission calling the move “proof of Russia’s cynicism.”

“Gazprom’s announcement this afternoon that it is once again shutting down NorthStream 1 under fallacious pretenses is another confirmation of its unreliability as a supplier. It’s also proof of Russia’s cynicism, as it prefers to flare gas instead of honoring contracts,” commission spokesperson Eric Mamer says on Twitter.

The White House accused Moscow of using energy as a “weapon.”

“It is unfortunately not surprising that Russia continues to use energy as a weapon against European consumers,” a National Security Council spokesperson tells Reuters.

2:50 a.m. Russia scraps the Saturday date for reopening the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, with state-run gas company Gazprom saying operations have been suspended due to mechanical defects.

Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea to supply Germany and others, had been due to resume operating later in the day after a three-day halt for maintenance.

“Gas transmission via the Nord Stream gas pipeline has been fully shut down until the operational defects in the equipment are eliminated,” Gazprom says in a statement. It did not give a timeline for when it will be reopened.

More than half of EDF’s nuclear reactors are now offline for maintenance.

  © Reuters

2:00 a.m. French utility EDF plans to bring all of its nuclear reactors online as part of what a cabinet member calls a “general mobilization” against the threat of winter power shortages.

“EDF is committed to restart all the reactors for this winter,” Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher tells a news conference.

More than half EDF’s reactors are shut down for maintenance.

From Europe to Japan, nuclear power has moved back up the agenda for policymakers as prices of oil and natural gas surge. Europe in particular is hurrying to ease its dependence on Russian gas. France is less reliant on Russia in this respect than Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

Friday, Sept. 2

11:30 p.m. Finance ministers from the Group of Seven have agreed to impose a price cap on Russian oil aimed at slashing Moscow’s ability to fund its war in Ukraine. Russia has threatened to halt shipments to countries that follow the price cap. Read more.

6:40 p.m. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Ukraine’s shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is raising the risk of a nuclear catastrophe in Europe. Shoigu accused Ukraine of “nuclear terrorism” and rejected assertions by Kyiv and the West that Russia had deployed heavy weapons at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, located in southern Ukraine and under Russian control since March.

3:40 p.m. Equinor has completed its exit from Russia, the Norwegian energy group said on Friday, delivering on a promise made shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. This marks the first full, orderly exit from Russia by an international oil and gas company as pressure to leave mounts on others, such as TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil. Equinor said on Feb. 28 that it would begin the process of divesting from joint ventures in Russia, describing its position as “untenable” after the war started the previous week.

The liquefied natural gas plant operated by Sakhalin Energy at Prigorodnoye on Russia’s Pacific island of Sakhalin.

  © Reuters

9:40 a.m. Russia aims to intensify cooperation in the energy sector with Japan’s Mitsui & Co., Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak was quoted as saying in a government statement. At the meeting with a representative of Mitsui, Motoyasu Nozaki, to discuss the development of several joint gas projects in Russia’s Far East, Novak said Moscow especially looks forward to cooperation in terms of investment and technology.

3:00 a.m. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s team is “not going anywhere” for a while as it inspects the embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi tells reporters. The agency will establish a “continued presence” at the plant, he says in a video.

2:30 a.m. Shell will not invest in the new company Russia has established to operate the Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas project in the Russian Far East, a spokesperson for the oil supermajor says.

With a stake of nearly 27.5%, Shell was the old operating company’s second-largest shareholder, after state gas company Gazprom. Shell has communicated its intention to the Russian side, the spokesperson says

The new operating company was established by a presidential order. What happens to Shell’s investment is unclear. The spokesperson declines to comment on the outlook. Days after the war started, Shell had announced its intention to “exit its joint ventures with Gazprom and related entities,” including Sakhalin-2.

Japanese trading houses Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp., which had also been partners in the old company, have been approved by the Russian government to invest in the new company.

1:20 a.m. Russia will not deliver oil and petroleum products to countries that impose a price ceiling on Russian oil, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak says, warning against a proposal that the U.S. and its allies are set to discuss.

Finance ministers from the Group of Seven are expected to consider committing to the price cap plan during a virtual meeting on Friday, in a move to further restrict Russian energy income.

“As for the price cap: if they impose it, we simply will not supply our oil and oil products to such companies or countries that will impose restrictions, because we will not operate on nonmarket conditions,” Novak is quoted by Interfax as telling reporters.

U.N. vehicles with members of an IAEA mission depart for a visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant amid Russia’s continued shelling of the area on Aug. 31. 

  © Reuters

12:41 a.m. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi has left the Russian-occupied, Ukrainian-staffed Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, only hours after he arrived.

Most of his delegation left with him, but five members of the IAEA mission are expected to stay until Saturday local time, plant operator Energoatom says on Telegram.

Units 5 and 6 have been running at 60% and 80% of capacity and supplying power to Ukraine in recent days, Russian news agency Interfax reports.

Thursday, Sept. 1

5:30 p.m. Russia’s Defense Ministry says the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine is “difficult but remains under full control.” It was responding to reports of fighting in the nearby town of Enerhodar. In a statement on Telegram, the ministry said it was still ready to guarantee the safety of a delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency at the plant, despite what it called efforts by “the Kyiv regime” to disrupt the visit.

4:00 p.m. One of two operational reactors at Ukraine’s Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has been shut down due to Russian shelling, operator Energoatom says. “As a result of another mortar shelling by Russian … forces at the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the emergency protection was activated and the operational fifth power unit was shut down,” Energoatom wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Energoatom added that “power unit No. 6 continues to work in the energy system of Ukraine” and is supplying electricity for the power plant’s own needs.

3:31 p.m. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Rafael Grossi said that he would consider establishing a continued presence at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant before heading to the plant on Thursday. “There has been increased military activity including this morning, until very recently, a few minutes ago … but weighing the pros and cons and having come so far, we are not stopping,” he told journalists before leaving for the nuclear power plant.

2:50 p.m. Russian troops were shelling the planned route meant to take an IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the Zaporizhzhia region says. “The Russians are shelling the pre-agreed route of the IAEA mission from [the city of] Zaporizhzhia to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The U.N. advance team cannot continue to move due to security reasons,” Starukh wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

A vehicle with the “Z” symbol of the Russian invasion force sits near Nataliia Kyrychenko, a farm owner and member of the Vilkhivka village council who was detained by Russian soldiers occupying the village on the outskirts of Kharkiv, on June 1.

  © AP

11:30 a.m. Russia is suffering “severe manpower shortages” in its 6-month-old war with Ukraine and has become more desperate in its efforts to find new troops to send to the front lines, according to a new American intelligence finding disclosed Wednesday. Russia is looking to address the shortage of troops in part by compelling soldiers wounded earlier in the war to return to combat, recruiting personnel from private security companies and even recruiting from prisons, The Associated Press reported. The U.S. government highlighted the finding after Russian President Vladimir Putin last week ordered the military to increase the number of troops by 137,000 to a total of 1.15 million.

9:30 a.m. Oil prices fell in early Asian trade on Thursday amid increased supply and worries that the global economy could slow further due to renewed Chinese restrictions over COVID-19. Brent crude futures fell 37 cents, or 0.4%, to $95.27 a barrel by 00:06 Greenwich Mean Time. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 32 cents, or 0.4%, to $89.23 a barrel. Recent market volatility has followed concerns about inadequate supply in the months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and as OPEC struggled to increase output.

2:55 a.m. Russia’s Foreign Ministry announces sanctions against 55 Canadian citizens, in a move it says is retaliation for sanctions against Russian citizens imposed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Those targeted by the Russian sanctions, which include a travel ban, are mostly military officials, politicians and activists.

1:05 a.m. Sweden’s latest military aid package to Ukraine includes artillery ammunition, Ukraine’s defense minister says.

Wednesday, Aug. 31

Russia has cut off the flow of natural gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Europe for three days, citting the need for essential maintenance.

  © Reuters

11:30 p.m. Russia cuts off the flow of natural gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Europe for three days, citing the need for essential maintenance.

The latest shutdown, which had been announced, comes as Europe works on emergency measures to reduce energy usage.

Meanwhile, European Union countries agree to tighten conditions on entry visas for Russians but stop short of a full tourist ban, for which there was no consensus.

8:45 p.m. Great Wall Motor, the largest Chinese SUV maker, has reported 59% year-on-year growth in net profit for the first six months of this year, owing to its operations in Russia, where Western competitors are winding down their presence since the Ukraine invasion.

Revenue from Russia, the company’s biggest market outside China, surged by 14.2% to 2.29 billion yuan ($331 million). The company did not disclose sales volume but, according to the latest Russian new car sales data from the Association of European Businesses, Great Wall sold a total of 14,040 cars during the seven months until July, down 27% from a year ago. Read more.

6:00 a.m. Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union’s last leader who led the country through the end of the Cold War, has died. Read more.

Indian soldiers march during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Jan. 26.

  © Reuters

4:30 a.m. Asked about India’s participation in the Russian-led Vostok 2022 multinational military exercises, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stops short of calling out New Delhi.

The U.S. “has concerns about any country exercising with Russia, while Russia wages an unprovoked, brutal war against Ukraine,” she says aboard Air Force One. “But of course, every participating country will make its own decisions and I’ll leave it at that.”

Chinese forces will also take part in the exercises, which will be held in the Russian Far East and Sea of Japan.

India has refrained from condemning Russia’s war, even as New Delhi simultaneously tightens defense links with the U.S. and its allies.

1:15 a.m. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi has arrived in Kyiv and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Grossi is leading an IAEA team to the embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, shakes hands with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi in Kyiv on Aug. 30. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service via Reuters)

12:40 a.m. A ship carrying 23,000 tonnes of wheat from Ukraine arrives in Djibouti as part of a United Nations-led food aid program for drought-stricken Ethiopia and neighboring countries.

The U.N.-chartered Brave Commander brings the first shipment of its kind since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began. Another shipment of 7,000 tonnes is set to follow.

Hunger threatens more than 20 million people in the Horn of Africa, according to the World Food Program.

“Getting the Black Sea ports open is the single most important thing we can do right now to help the world’s hungry,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said this month. “It will take more than grain ships out of Ukraine to stop world hunger, but with Ukrainian grain back on global markets we have a chance to stop this global food crisis from spiraling even further.”

Tuesday, Aug. 30

10:30 p.m. Russian state-owned gas group Gazprom has signaled deeper cuts in gas deliveries to French utility Engie after a disagreement over contracts, Engie says.

Though France is less dependent on Russian gas than neighbors such as Germany, the latest development adds to the energy uncertainty hanging over Europe.

In another sign of the impact of higher energy prices on the continent, German inflation quickened to a 40-year high of nearly 9% in August.

An M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) being fired in an undisclosed location in Ukraine.

  © Reuters

7:00 a.m. Ukraine says it has broken through enemy lines in several places near the southern city of Kherson as it pressed a new campaign to retake territory while Moscow says Kyiv’s counteroffensive has failed as Russia shelled the port city of Mykolaiv. Kyiv’s move came after several weeks of relative stalemate in the war. “I should note today the [Russian] defenses were broken through in a few hours,” said Oleksiy Arestovych, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Ukrainian forces were shelling the ferries that Moscow is using to supply a pocket of Russian-occupied territory on the west bank of the Dnieper River in the Kherson region, he added.

4:00 a.m. As Ukraine launches a counteroffensive in the south, Washington credits U.S. arms transfers with helping Kyiv in “taking the fight to the Russians inside their country.”

John Kirby, the U.S. National Security Council spokesperson, tells reporters: “In fact, with some of the assistance that they’ve gotten from U.S. weapons as well as others, such as HIMARS, they’ve been … actually able to strike behind Russian lines and put the Russians more on the defense.”

“Regardless of the size, scale and … scope of this counteroffensive that they’ve talked about today, they have already had an impact on Russia’s military capabilities,” Kirby adds, explaining the Russians have had to pull resources from the east in response to the threat of Ukrainian activity in the south.

Ukrainian servicemen ride atop tanks near a front line in Mykolaiv region.

  © Reuters

1:55 a.m. After striking a we-mean-business pose for a group photo, an International Atomic Energy Agency expert mission is on its way to the Russian-occupied, Ukrainian-staffed Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The team is slated to reach Zaporizhzhia “later this week” to “assess the physical damage to the facilities, determine the functionality of the main and backup safety and security systems, and evaluate the working conditions of the control room staff,” the agency says. “At the same time, the mission will undertake urgent safeguards activities to verify that nuclear material is used only for peaceful purposes.”

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby expresses the White House’s full support for the mission, which is being led by IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi.

Monday, Aug. 29

10:30 p.m. Ukrainian military spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk says the country has started a long-anticipated counteroffensive in a news briefing in the south that includes the Kherson region.

Humeniuk says that recent strikes on Russia’s southern logistical routes had “unquestionably weakened the enemy.” More than 10 Russian ammunition dumps had been hit over the last weeks. She declines, however, to give details of the operation. Russia’s forces in the south are “rather powerful” and have been built up over a long time, she says.

6:15 p.m. Russia is due to host closely watched multinational military exercises, starting this week, as its war rages in Ukraine and geopolitical tensions simmer in Asia.

China has confirmed it will take part in the Vostok 2022 drills, which were scheduled to begin Tuesday and run until Sept. 5. All eyes are on the likely participation of troops from India, which has been quiet about its attendance but was named in a statement by Beijing. Russia’s state-run news agency Tass also said India would take part. Read more

2:15 p.m. An International Atomic Energy Agency mission will visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine this week, agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi says. “We must protect the safety and security of #Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility,” he writes on Twitter, adding that he will lead the mission. Captured by Russian troops in March but run by a Ukrainian staff, Zaporizhzhia has been a major hot spot in the six-month conflict, with both sides trading blame for recent shelling near the plant.

6:00 a.m. Russian artillery fired at Ukrainian towns across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant overnight, local officials said on Sunday, adding to residents’ anguish as reports of shelling around the plant fueled fears of a radiation disaster. Russia’s defense ministry said there was more Ukrainian shelling of the plant over the past 24 hours, just a day after Moscow and Kyiv traded accusations of targeting Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, which has prompted grave international concern.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine on Aug. 22.

  © Reuters

5:28 a.m. European Union foreign ministers meeting later this week are unlikely to back a visa ban on all Russians, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says.

“I don’t think that to cut the relationship with the Russian civilian population will help and I don’t think that this idea will have the required unanimity,” Borrell says on Austrian television, according to Reuters.

“We have to be more selective,” he says. “But I am not in favor of stopping delivering visas to all Russians.”

1:38 a.m. Russia unilaterally blocked a final draft at the recent Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference because the document “acknowledged the grave radiological risk” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the U.S. State Department says.

“For the Russian Federation to not accept such language in the face of overwhelming international consensus underscores the need for the United States and others to continue urging Russia to end its military activity near ZNPP and return control of the plant to Ukraine,” spokesperson Vedant Patel says in the statement.

Sunday, Aug. 28

4:55 a.m. Dell Technologies ceases all Russian operations after closing its offices in mid-August, Reuters reports, the latest in a growing list of Western companies to exit Russia. The U.S. computer company, a vital supplier of servers in Russia, suspended sales in Ukraine and Russia in February, saying it would monitor the situation to determine next steps.

3:30 a.m. Millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain must be cleared to make room for the next harvest, the United Nations says in a statement. “The Black Sea Grain Initiative has started creating some space but much more grain needs to shift to make space for the new harvest,” says Amir Abdulla, U.N. coordinator for the initiative.

Over 1 million tonnes of grain and other food have been exported under a deal brokered by Turkey and the U.N.

“These million tonnes are just a beginning: The world cannot afford to have food and fertilizer held up by anything,” Abdulla says. “Every shipment cleared through this route helps to calm markets, boost food supplies and keep farmers producing.”

Saturday, Aug. 27

11:55 p.m. Russian ally and neighbor Kazakhstan suspends all arms exports for a year. The former Soviet republic, which also has active economic ties with Kyiv, has avoided taking sides in the Ukrainian crisis while calling for its peaceful resolution. Reuters reports the Kazakh government did not give a reason for the decision to halt arms exports.

Dutch Marines in March take part in “Cold Response 2022, a NATO military exercise held in the Arctic Circle in Norway.

  © Reuters

4:40 a.m. Russia’s capabilities in the North are a strategic challenge for NATO, alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says, welcoming recently announced Canadian investments in North American defense systems after making his first visit to the Canadian Arctic.

“The importance of the High North is increasing for NATO and for Canada because we see a significant Russian military buildup,” he says, standing alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Cold Lake, Alberta.

“Russia has set up a new Arctic command,” Stoltenberg says, adding that it has opened hundreds of new and former Soviet-era military sites in the region, including airfields and deep-water ports.

“Russia is also using the region as a test bed for many of its new and novel weapon systems,” he says.

“The shortest path to North America for Russian missiles and bombers … would be over the North Pole,” he says. “This makes NORAD’s role vital for North America and therefore also for NATO.”

The NATO chief says that “China is also expanding its reach,” declaring itself a “near-Arctic state,” planning to build the world’s largest icebreaker, and “investing tens of billions of dollars in energy, infrastructure and research projects in the High North.”

4:00 a.m. Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom now says two units of the Zaporizhzhia plant have been reconnected to the power grid.

1:00 a.m. France’s TotalEnergies says it has signed an agreement to sell its 49% stake in Terneftegaz, which operates the Termokarstovoye natural gas and condensates field in Russia, to Russian gas producer Novatek.

Friday, Aug. 26

11:45 p.m. Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical, one of the largest petroleum refiners in China, says it has purchased Russian crude oil in a rare admission for a state-owned enterprise.

Guan Zemin, president of New York-listed Shanghai Petrochem, tells an online earnings call that the company has bought 99,000 tons of Russia’s flagship Urals crude during the first half of the year.

China has not followed Western nations in shunning business with Russia since President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine six months ago. Along with India, it has been known to be a major buyer of Russian oil, now selling at a discount to international benchmarks like Brent and West Texas Intermediate. Read more.

3:30 p.m. All six reactors of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine remain disconnected from Ukraine’s electricity grid, state nuclear company Energoatom says. Electricity for the plant’s own needs was currently being supplied through a power line from Ukraine’s electricity system, the utility said.

10:00 a.m. A concrete obelisk topped by Soviet stars that was the centerpiece of a monument commemorating the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany was taken down Thursday in Latvia’s capital — the latest in a series of Soviet monuments removed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Heavy machinery was spotted behind a green fence at the foot of the nearly 80-meter-high obelisk shortly before it was felled. The column, which had stood like a high-rise building in downtown Riga, crashed into a nearby pond, causing a huge splash at Victory Park.

5:28 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant came close to an accident after it was temporarily disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid for the first time in its history.

If diesel generators had not provided emergency power to the plant, and if automation and staffers had not reacted after the blackout, “we would already be forced to overcome the consequences of the radiation accident,” he says in a video address. “Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans in a situation one step away from a radiation disaster.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency says none of the plant’s six reactors are currently supplying energy to the Ukrainian grid as a result of the disruption. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi calls for an urgent mission to “help stabilize the nuclear safety and security situation there.”

12:48 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he had “a great conversation” with U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday and thanked him for his support in the war against Russia.

“We discussed Ukraine’s further steps on our path to the victory over the aggressor and [the] importance of holding Russia accountable for war crimes,” Zelenskyy tweeted in English.

Thursday, Aug. 25

9:18 p.m. Citigroup will close its consumer and commercial banking businesses in Russia starting this quarter and expects to incur about $170 million in charges over the next 18 months as a result, the Wall Street giant says.

The U.S. bank with the largest presence in Russia announced plans in April 2021 to leave the retail business as part of a broader departure from some overseas markets. It expanded the scope of that exit in March to include local commercial banking after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but has been unable to find a buyer for either business. Citigroup has said its Russia exposure was $8.4 billion, as of June 30.

Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, calls on Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt armed attacks on Ukraine.

  © Reuters

4:50 p.m. U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet calls on Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt armed attacks on Ukraine and says the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant must be demilitarized. “The international community must insist on documentation” to be able to one day prove war crimes, Bachelet says in a speech on Thursday marking the end of her term as the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights.

The tanker Sun Arrows loads its cargo of liquefied natural gas from the Sakhalin-2 project in the port of Prigorodnoye, Russia.

  © AP

10:31 a.m. Mitsubishi Corp. is set to issue a notice that it will participate in the new operating company for Sakhalin-2, a resource development project in the Russian Far East, Nikkei has learned. In August, Russia transferred operation of the project to a new company, forcing Japanese participants Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi to decide whether they would continue their investment. Mitsui has also decided it will announce its continued participation in Sakhalin-2.

7:00 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden announces that he is sending $2.98 billion in new military aid to Ukraine that will provide longer-term weapons and training to enable forces there to fight for years to come. In a statement, Biden said the aid will allow Ukraine to acquire air defense systems, artillery systems and munitions, drones and other equipment “to ensure it can continue to defend itself over the long term.”

5:45 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the death toll from a Russian attack on a railway station has risen to 22.

3:00 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has blamed Russia for a rocket attack on a railway station that he says has killed at least 15 people. The death toll from the attack, which Zelenskyy says occurred while he was preparing for a video address to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, could rise, he tells the council.

Fifty were wounded in the destruction at the station in the town of Chaplyne, about 145 kilometers west of Donetsk, according to the president. There was no immediate comment from the Russian side.

Looking back on six months since the Russian invasion, Zelenskyy accuses Moscow of “deliberately trying to bring tens of millions of people into energy poverty” and “deprive them of normal access to basic goods by deliberately raising energy prices.”

Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzia later addresses the council, accusing Ukraine of crimes against civilians and saying that the only threat to Ukraine’s independence is the country’s own government.

12:30 a.m. Outgoing U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made another visit to Kyiv.

Wednesday, Aug. 24

9:40 p.m. U.S. President Joe Biden marks Ukraine’s Independence Day with $3 billion in security assistance, Washington’s largest aid package since Russia’s invasion six months ago.

The money will let Ukraine “acquire air defense systems, artillery systems and munitions, counter-unmanned aerial systems, and radars to ensure it can continue to defend itself over the long term,” he said. The U.S. has committed $10.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Biden took office in January 2021.

6:11 p.m. Pope Francis calls for “concrete steps” to end the war in Ukraine and avert the risk of a nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia power plant. Russia and Ukraine have repeatedly accused each other of firing at the facility, the largest of its kind in Europe and which pro-Moscow forces took over soon after the Feb. 24 invasion. The United Nations has called for the area to be demilitarized.

“I hope that concrete steps will be taken to bring an end to the war and to avert the risk of a nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia,” the pope said at his weekly general audience. Speaking on the day Ukraine marks its independence from Soviet rule in 1991 and six months after Russian forces invaded, he condemned wars as “madness” and referred to the death of Darya Dugina, daughter of a prominent Russian ultranationalist, in a car bombing near Moscow on Saturday.

4:42 p.m. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Ukrainians in an emotional speech marking 31 years of independence on Aug. 24 that their country had been “reborn” when Russia invaded and that it would never give up its fight for freedom from Moscow’s domination. In a recorded speech aired on the six-month anniversary of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Zelenskyy said Ukraine no longer saw the war ending when the fighting stopped but when Kyiv finally emerged victorious.

“A new nation appeared in the world on Feb. 24 at 4 o’clock in the morning. It was not born, but reborn. A nation that did not cry, scream or take fright. One that did not flee. Did not give up. And did not forget,” he said.

3:05 a.m. Ukraine informs the International Atomic Energy Agency that renewed shelling in recent days damaged infrastructure of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant including lab and chemical facilities, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi says.

Grossi says in a news release these incidents show why the IAEA must be able to send a mission to the plant “very soon” to “reduce the risk of a severe nuclear accident” in Europe.

“I’m continuing to consult very actively and intensively with all parties,” he says. “The mission is expected to take place within the next few days if ongoing negotiations succeed.”

Tuesday, Aug. 23

11:50 p.m. Nasdaq-listed Yandex, Russia’s largest tech company, has sold its news aggregator, blogging platform and homepage to state-controlled social media group VK.

“The board and management of Yandex have concluded that the interests of the company’s stakeholders, including its Class A shareholders, are best served by pursuing the strategic exit from its media businesses (other than entertainment streaming),” Yandex says in a statement.

Once known as “Russia’s Google,” Yandex says will become its main page and portal for search, email and other non-media services. A new application for Android called Yandex with Alice will also be launched, the company says.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, left, pictured in May with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has arrived in Kyiv to discuss providing more support. The pair have met five times this year. 

  © Reuters

5:30 p.m. Polish President Andrzej Duda has arrived in Kyiv to discuss further support for Ukraine, including military aid, his office said, as Russia’s invasion of the country approaches the six-month milestone. Warsaw is one of Kyiv’s strongest supporters, and nearly 6 million Ukrainian refugees have crossed the border into Poland since Russia invaded their country on Feb. 24. Poland, a NATO and European Union member, has often criticized some other EU nations for not doing more to help Ukraine. Duda has met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy five times this year, including on three visits he has made to Ukraine since the start of the invasion.

12:30 a.m. The Japanese government says it will maintain sanctions on Russia while working in tandem with other Group of Seven nations as the war in Ukraine is set to enter its seventh month. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who virtually attended a meeting of ministers and senior ministry officials, directed attendees to craft measures to address rising energy prices. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters afterward that Kishida, who has COVID, also asked him to continue Japan’s “diplomatic responses,” including imposing sanctions, while also ensuring the safety of Japanese nationals in Russia and Ukraine. Japan and other G-7 nations have frozen the assets of President Vladimir Putin, excluded some big Russian lenders from a key international payment network and imposed other sanctions since the war began.

Freight train wagons in the Black Sea port of Odessa: “We have information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure,” a U.S. official says.

  © Reuters

10:30 a.m. The United States has intelligence that Russia is planning to soon launch fresh attacks against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities, a U.S. official says. “We have information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days,” the official said. “Given Russia’s track record in Ukraine, we are concerned about the continued threat that Russian strikes pose to civilians and civilian infrastructure.”

Blank Russian passports are seen at a Moscow printing factory.

  © Reuters

4:49 a.m. The U.S. rejects Ukraine’s demand for a blanket visa ban on Russians, saying Washington does not want to close off paths to refuge for Russia’s dissidents and others vulnerable to human rights abuses.

The State Department, whose comments follow top European Union diplomat Josep Borrell opposing a similar ban by the EU, says the Biden administration has imposed visa restrictions for Kremlin officials.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy first urged the visa ban in a Washington Post interview this month, saying Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.” He issued another call a few weeks ago for EU states to ban visas for Russian nationals.

1:15 a.m. Russia’s security service has accused a Ukrainian woman of being the prime suspect in the car bombing that killed the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist thinker on Saturday.

The Federal Security Service says the woman arrived in Russia with her young daughter last month, changing license plates multiple times to avoid detection. After the bombing, she drove to Estonia, according to the FSB.

Ukraine has denied involvement in the blast that killed Darya Dugina, whom Russian President Vladimir Putin called a patriot after her death.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak says Russian propaganda “lives in a fictional world.”

The Russian Navy landing ship Yamal, left, passes the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Kouros on its way to the Black Sea in Istanbul in June 2016.

  © Reuters

12:13 a.m. Kyiv bans public celebrations this week that commemorate Ukraine’s independence from Soviet rule, citing a heightened threat of Russian rocket attacks on the capital city. Kyiv has rarely been hit by Russian missiles since Ukrainian defenders repelled Moscow’s ground offensive to seize the capital in March.

As the war nears the six-month mark, the United Nations says 5,587 civilians have been killed in Ukraine as of Sunday. A Ukrainian general says nearly 9,000 soldiers have died in action.

12:02 a.m. Top European Union diplomat Josep Borrell opposes a blanket ban on EU visas for Russians, the Financial Times reports, as bloc officials prepare to discuss the proposal next week in Prague.

“To forbid the entrance to all Russians is not a good idea,” Borrell says Monday. “We have to be more selective.”

Finland, Estonia and the Czech Republic are among the countries urging the ban on new tourist visas as punishment for Moscow’s war against Ukraine. Some EU states unilaterally suspended visas for Russians, but say Russians enter their territory using visas issued by other EU countries, under the Schengen rules.

Monday, Aug. 22

5:30 p.m. Oil majors such as ExxonMobil and Chevron will have to cut exports of Kazakh oil via Russia again due to damaged equipment, the pipeline operator says, adding to energy supply disruptions from Russia to the West. CPC, which ships oil from Kazakhstan via Russia to global markets and handles about 1% of global oil, said oil exports from two of its three mooring points at a Black Sea terminal had been suspended. It said loadings were only being processed from SPM-3, while SPM-1 and SPM-2 were out of service. Oil loading requests will therefore have to be reduced, it said.

3:00 p.m. Turkey doubled its imports of Russian oil this year, Refinitiv Eikon data shows. Trade between Turkey and Russia has been booming since spring as Turkish companies not banned from dealing with Russian counterparts stepped in to fill the void created by EU businesses leaving Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Turkey increased oil imports from Russia — including Urals and Siberian Light grades — beyond 200,000 barrels per day so far this year compared with just 98,000 bpd for the same period of 2021, Refinitiv data showed.

1:50 p.m. Germany has a good chance of getting through the coming winter without taking drastic measures but faces a difficult time and must prepare for Russia to tighten gas supplies further, Economy Minister Robert Habeck says. “We still have a very critical winter ahead of us. We have to expect that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will further reduce the gas,” Habeck told German broadcaster ARD from Canada, where he is on a three-day trip with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

3:24 a.m. Russian missiles hit targets near the city of Odesa, a Ukrainian Black Sea port and grain export hub, as the war heads for the six-month milestone on Wednesday. Local authorities say Ukrainian defenses shot down two of the cruise missiles while three hit agricultural targets, but there were no casualties.

Aug. 24 also will mark 31 years of Ukraine’s independence from Soviet rule, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls for vigilance in a nightly video address, saying Moscow could try “something particularly ugly.”

Meanwhile, artillery shells rain down overnight on Nikopol, a city lying across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, cutting power to 3,000 residents and spurring fears of a nuclear accident.

People attend an exhibition displaying destroyed Russian military vehicles in central Kyiv.

  © Reuters

2:00 a.m. Russian authorities are investigating a suspected car bomb attack outside Moscow that killed the daughter of Alexander Dugin, an ultranationalist ideologue who advocates Russia absorbing Ukraine. Investigators say they are considering “all versions” when it comes to establishing who was responsible for Darya Dugina’s death, while Russia’s Foreign Ministry speculates of a link to Ukraine, which Kyiv denies.

“I confirm that Ukraine, of course, had nothing to do with this because we are not a criminal state, like the Russian Federation, and, moreover, we are not a terrorist state,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak says. Read more.

Sunday, Aug. 21

10:00 p.m. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says tensions between the United States and China and the Russia-Ukraine war affect Asia-Pacific security. “We can expect more geopolitical contestation in the Asia-Pacific,” he said, adding that Singapore would try its best to avoid being caught up in the “major power rivalry.” Worsening U.S.-China relations are making it “almost impossible” to work together on pressing global issues like climate change, pandemics and nuclear proliferation, he said, speaking at the city-state’s national day rally.

4:45 a.m. Russia shot down Ukrainian drones in Crimea, while Ukrainian officials said Russian forces pressed ahead with efforts to seize one of the few cities in eastern Ukraine not already under their control, The Associated Press reports.

In Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, Russian authorities say local air defenses shot down a drone above the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. It was the second drone incident at the headquarters in three weeks and followed explosions at a Russian airfield and ammunition depot on the peninsula this month.

For earlier updates, click here.

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