Ukraine news – live: Nuclear power ‘must not be instrument of war’, Macron warns

Nuclear power must not be used “as an instrument of war”, French president Emmanuel Macron has warned, after the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Europe’s largest – was disconnected from the Ukrainian grid due to shelling nearby.

The United States accused Moscow of turning the plant into an “active war zone” as part of “its strategy to create an energy crisis in Europe”, with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky warning that the world narrowly avoided a “radiation disaster” after electricity to the plant was cut.

Ukraine’s state nuclear firm Energoatom said one of the plant’s six reactors had been reconnected to the grid on Friday afternoon, as hopes were raised for International Atomic Energy Agency officials to be permitted to visit the plant, which was captured by Russia in the early days of Vladimir Putin’s war.

In a sign that he expects the war to grind on for months to come, Mr Putin this week signed a decree to expand the Russian army by 137,000 troops, following widespread claims that the Kremlin’s forces have suffered severe casualties over the past six months.

Key Points

  • Nuclear power ‘must not be instrument of war’, Macron warns

  • Zaporizhzhia plant ‘reconnected to Ukrainian grid’ ...

  • ... after Europe narrowly escaped ‘radiation disaster’, says Zelensky

  • Putin signs decree to increase size of Russian army

PM ‘proud’ of Eurovision Song Contest hosting

16:00 , Sam Rkaina

The UK will fund “cultural heritage protection measures” as well as military and humanitarian aid, Mr Johnson said.

The Prime Minister added: “I’m also proud, by the way, that the UK will be providing a venue in which Ukraine can host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

“If ever you wanted an inspirational case study on the power of culture to bring people together, then Kalush Orchestra surely provides it.”

A number of cultural figures from Ukraine are appearing at the summit, including author Oksana Zabuzhko and musician Maryna Krut.

To mark the beginning of the summit, a ceramic cockerel-shaped jug which was handed to Mr Johnson in Kyiv is going on display at Holyrood.

The Prime Minister and Volodymyr Zelensky were handed matching jugs by a woman from Kharkiv while walking through the streets of the Ukrainian capital in April.

In Ukrainian folklore, cockerels are believed to have powers of protection.

This type of jug became emblematic of Ukraine’s strong resistance against invading Russian forces after photographer Elizaveta Servatynska captured an image of a similar jug sitting undamaged on a kitchen cabinet in a high-rise apartment block in March.

The building, in Borodyanka, had been torn apart by Russian bombing.

Johnson condemns Russia’s “cultural vandalism”

15:31 , Sam Rkaina

Boris Johnson has condemned Russia’s “cultural vandalism” in Ukraine, saying invading forces are trying to erase Ukrainian culture in areas they have taken over.

The Prime Minister said the UK would fund “cultural protection measures” in Ukraine as well as continuing to donate civil and military aid.

He also praised Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra and said he was proud the UK would be holding Eurovision next year on Ukraine’s behalf.

Mr Johnson made the comments in a video message to the Edinburgh International Culture Summit, which is being hosted at the Scottish Parliament.

The summit brings together culture ministry delegations from around the world and has a particular focus on Ukraine this year.

Mr Johnson said: “Throughout history, we’ve seen what happens when aggressors try to oppress and to eliminate culture.

“We saw it with the Nazis in the Second World War, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“Today, the world is once again witnessing unforgivable acts of cultural vandalism, this time in Ukraine.”

Ukranians struggling to find work in UK ‘as qualifications not recognised'

15:01 , Sam Rkaina

Many Ukrainians who have come to the UK are struggling to find work because their qualifications are not recognised and due to language difficulties, a survey suggests.

Most who have fled the war in their homeland to come to Britain do not know how to access benefits or alter their visas now they have arrived, the findings also indicate, as well as revealing how some feel nervous, anxious or depressed.

Experimental research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) questioned a sample of adults who had arrived in the UK by mid-April under Ukraine visa schemes.

Some 1,132 people took part in the online survey between July 20 and August 4, which was a follow-up questionnaire to the first of its kind carried out earlier this year.

The majority of respondents (93%) were still in the UK but 7% had left since April and the results were based on those who remained in the country at the time of the latest survey.

Hugh Stickland, from the ONS, said: “More Ukrainian nationals have now had time to find work since they first arrived in the UK.

“However, while a majority of those that aren’t working said they are likely or very likely to look for work, many are struggling to find work due to their qualifications gained abroad not being recognised by UK employers or who are struggling with the English language requirements.”

Finland, Sweden and Turkey to meet through autumn to discuss Nato bids

15:00 , Andy Gregory

Officials from Finland and Sweden have agreed to continue meeting with counterparts from Turkey over the coming months to discuss security concerns raised by Ankara as a precondition for allowing the two Nordic countries to join Nato.

Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto said the first such meeting today aimed to establish contacts and set goals for cooperation that the countries agreed to by signing a memorandum of understanding in Madrid two months ago.

“The participants discussed the concrete steps to implement the Trilateral Memorandum and agreed that the mechanism will continue to meet at the expert level during the autumn,” the Finnish foreign ministry said in a statement after the meeting.

Finland’s foreign ministry had been tight-lipped about Friday’s meeting, refusing to give its location or timing, but later said it had taken place in the city of Vantaa near the capital Helsinki.

Ankara had threatened to veto the two historic Nato bids, launched in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, expressing anger towards the Nordic nations over arms embargoes and their support for Kurdish groups deemed terrorists by Turkey.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has since demanded Sweden and Finland extradite suspects Turkey seeks over terrorism-related charges, while the Nordic countries argue they did not agree to any specific extraditions by signing the memorandum.

Zaporizhzhia again supplying power to Ukraine, Energoatom says

14:35 , Andy Gregory

The Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is again supplying Ukraine with energy after one of its six reactors was reconnected to the grid, Energoatom has said.

“The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station is connected to the grid and is producing electricity for the needs of Ukraine,” Ukraine’s state nuclear company said in a statement.

“Today ... at 14:04 [local time], one of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant’s power units that shut down yesterday was connected to the power grid,” it added.

Nuclear power ‘must not be instrument of war’, Macron says

14:21 , Andy Gregory

French president Emmanuel Macron has warned that “civilian nuclear power must not be an instrument of war” after the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Europe’s largest – was disconnected from the grid due to shelling.

“There is a worry and a big concern about nuclear safety. And that is why, since last March, I have been deeply engaged with the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency to do everything to protect initially Chernobyl and now Zaporizhzhia,” said Mr Macron.

He insisted that the “war shouldn’t, under any circumstances, undermine the nuclear safety of the country, the region and the rest of us”, adding that both Ukraine and the Russians have pledged security guarantees for the IAEA mission, which he said should take place “very quickly.”

“Therefore, civilian nuclear power must be fully protected,” Mr Macron said. “Civilian nuclear power must not be an instrument of war and therefore the sovereignty of states must be respected in regard of nuclear installations.”

Russia burns off ‘$10m of gas a day meant for Europe’ after huge flame seen near Nord Stream pipeline

14:01 , Andy Gregory

Russia is burning off vast amounts of natural gas which experts believe would once have been destined for Germany, as Europe struggles with rocketing energy costs exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

The flare at the Portovaya plant – which is located close to a compressor station at the start of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – was first noticed months ago by residents across the border in Finland and in satellite images, with an estimated 4.34 million cubic metres of gas being burned every day

“I’ve never seen an LNG plant flare so much,” Dr Jessica McCarty, an expert on satellite data from Miami University in Ohio, told the BBC. “Starting around June, we saw this huge peak, and it just didn’t go away. It’s stayed very anomalously high.”

Russia burning off ‘$10m of gas a day meant for Europe’ as millions face rising bills

US concerned diminished access to Russian oil will drive up prices, official says

13:38 , Andy Gregory

The United States is concerned that diminishing access to Russian oil from 5 December will lead to higher prices, a US Treasury official has said.

That is the date that a sanctions waiver exempting third-party purchases of Russian energy is set to expire.

Deputy Treasury secretary Wally Adeyemo told reporters in New Delhi that he had a very constructive conversation with Indian officials and private sector participants about the idea of a price cap on Russian crude.

Proportion of Ukrainians in UK employment rises by 42%

13:16 , Andy Gregory

Our senior news correspondent Samuel Lovett reports:

The proportion of Ukrainians nationals employed in the UK has increased significantly since the government launched its resettlement scheme for refugees of the war against Russia, official figures show.

Some 42 per cent of Ukrainians living in Britain had secured work as of 4 August, up from 9 per cent in April, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The majority of those employed (63 per cent) said they had a permanent job, with one-quarter having a temporary job. The most common sectors of work were accommodation or food service (29 per cent), manufacturing (8 per cent), and wholesale and retail trade (8 per cent), with 28 per cent reporting “other”.

Some 37 per cent of respondents said they had enough money to support themselves for the next three months – up from 26 per cent in April.

Proportion of Ukrainians in UK employment rises by 42%

One reactor at Zaporizhzhia reconnected to Ukrainian grid, Energoatom says

12:57 , Andy Gregory

Ukraine's state nuclear company Energoatm has said that one reactor at its Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been reconnected to the Ukrainian grid and that it was building up capacity.

The Ukrainian regional governor said earlier on Friday morning that efforts were underway to resume operations at two of the six reactors at the plant.

The plant’s sixth reactor was working at 10 per cent capacity, while the fifth reactor was in the process of resuming operations, governor Oleksandr Starukh had said in televised comments reported by Reuters.

Putin’s ‘ability to exercise leverage’ on energy will diminish, Boris Johnson says

12:38 , Andy Gregory

Vladimir Putin’s ability to “exercise leverage over us and the rest of the world will diminish” and energy bills will eventually fall, Boris Johnson has said, as he blamed the Russian president for driving the spike in costs.

The prime minister told broadcasters: “We want to make sure that we get people through the next few months, and we can, and we will because we took the right steps. We have a big, big package of help and support.

“But the message I want to get over to people is that I’m afraid that there’s a global spike in energy costs driven by Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.

“Putin’s position, Putin’s ability to blackmail, to exercise leverage over us and over the rest of the world will diminish week by week, month by month, and we will get through this and in the end, we will be in a much better position. The other side will have more of our own UK energy to rely on, and the bills will eventually come down.”

Macron responds to Truss ‘jury’s out’ claim as Tory frontrunner risks angering Nato partner

12:19 , Andy Gregory

Despite France being a vital Nato ally of the UK in the face of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the frontrunner to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister last night claimed the “jury’s out” on whether Emmanuel Macron is a “friend or foe”.

Responding to foreign secretary Liz Truss’s remarks today, the French president described Britain as an ally and said its people would always be friends of France, despite the occasional error made by its leaders.

But he added: “If France and Britain cannot say whether they are friends or enemies ... then we are headed for serious problems.”

Our Whitehall editor Kate Devlin has more details here:

Macron hits back at Truss over comment ‘jury out’ on whether he is a friend or foe

Political support for Ukraine at ‘risk’ of waning in Europe as energy crisis bites, top diplomat says

12:02 , Andy Gregory

“There is a risk” that political support for Ukraine in Europe could decline as a result of the energy crisis, Germany’s ambassador to the UK has said.

“I think this is the same challenge here in the UK, for France, for all of Europe. The way Putin is using gas as a weapon and putting pressure on our societies – he wants to test our resolve. Obviously it will depend a lot on the relief packages of our governments,” Miguel Berger, who appeared on the BBC this morning, was reported as saying by The Guardian.

While the German government has already begun rolling out support for households and firms, Mr Berger reportedly acknowledged that “there is a risk” that support would wane.

Belarusian warplanes re-fitted to carry nuclear armaments, Lukashenko claims

11:35 , Andy Gregory

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has announced that the country’s SU-24 warplanes have been re-fitted to carry nuclear armaments – which Belarus does not own.

Mr Lukashenko told reporters that he had previously agreed the move with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, whose troops Belarus has hosted as a launching pad for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia claims to have destroyed howitzer ‘used to shell Zaporizhzhia'

11:16 , Andy Gregory

Moscow’s forces have destroyed a US-made M777 howitzer used by Ukraine to shell the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Russia’s defence ministry has claimed.

In its daily briefing, the defence ministry claimed the howitzer had been destroyed west of the town of Marganets, in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region.

Russia turning Zaporizhzhia plant into ‘active war zone’, US says

11:01 , Andy Gregory

After the Zaporizhzhia plant was disconnected from the grid, the US State Department has accused Russia of turning the nuclear facility into an “active war zone” – as part of “its strategy to create an energy crisis in Europe”.

“It is clear that Russia’s shelling and seizure of Ukraine’s power plants and infrastructure are part of its strategy to create energy crises in Europe,” said spokesperson Devant Patel.

“The situation at [the plant] is the result of Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine, its control of and dangerous military presence at the power plant, and its unwillingness to turn control of the plant back to Ukraine for safe and secure operations,” he added.

“We’ve said this before, but no country should turn a nuclear power plant into an active war zone, and we oppose any Russian efforts to weaponize or divert energy from the plant.

“To be very clear, the [plant] and the electricity that it produces rightly belongs to Ukraine, and any attempt to disconnect the plant from the Ukrainian power grid and redirect to occupied areas is unacceptable.”

Ukraine trying to resume operations at two Zaporizhzhia reactors, governor says

10:39 , Andy Gregory

Ukraine has begun trying to resume operations at two of the six reactors at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, a Ukrainian official has said.

The plant’s sixth reactor is working at 10 per cent capacity, while the fifth reactor is in the process of resuming operations, the regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said in televised comments reported by Reuters.

It came as the Russian state-owned Tass news agency reported a Russian-installed official in Zaporizhzhia as claiming that that Ukrainian forces had broken the final power line connecting the plant with Ukraine.

Zaporizhzhia plant working ‘without outages’, Russian-installed official claims

10:23 , Andy Gregory

A Russian-installed official in Zaporizhzhia has claimed that electricity from the nuclear plant there was being supplied to Ukraine as normal.

Russian state-owned news agency Tass quoted the head of the Russian-installed administration in Enerhodar, where the nuclear plant is located, as saying the plant was working “without outages”.

Ukrainian state atomic energy company Energoatom said on Thursday that the plant’s six reactors had been disconnected from the country’s electricity grid, with president Volodymr Zelensky warning that Russia had put “all Europeans in a situation one step away from a radiation disaster”.

City close to Zaporizhzhia plant hit by overnight shelling, Ukrainian officials say

09:57 , Andy Gregory

An area close to the Zaporizhzhia plant was hit by overnight shelling, Ukrainian officials have said.

Shelling in the city of Nikopol, which sits across the Dnieper River from the plant, damaged 10 houses, a school and a sanitorium, causing no casualties, Dnipropetrovsk governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.

A power line also has been cut, leaving up to 1,000 local residents without electricity, Mr Reznichenko added.

Nikopol has been under nearly constant Russian shelling for more than six weeks, with eight people killed, 850 buildings damaged and over half the population of 100,000 fleeing the city, the Associated Press reported.

Russia divestment promises by US states largely unfulfilled, analysis suggests

09:37 , Andy Gregory

Six months into the war, most US pledges to drop Russian investments have gone unfulfilled, according to an Associated Press review, state retirement administrators and firms that invest state funds.

The swift isolation of Russia’s economy in response to its invasion of Ukraine have made it nearly impossible for divestment by state pension funds, university endowments and other public-sector holdings, the US news agency reports.

“These pension funds want to get out, but it’s just not realistic to sell everything in the current environment,” Keith Brainard, research director at the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, told AP.

Benjamin Smith, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island treasury, also told the agency that the factors which make it hard to divest show that efforts to isolate Vladimir Putin is working.

“This is good news because it means that pressure from investors across the world, including Rhode Island, is succeeding in exacting a toll on the Russian economy, making it more difficult for Putin to fund his military operation, state-owned companies, and corrupt network of oligarchs,” he said.

Zaporizhzhia had not been disconnected from grid in its near four-decade history, Energoatom says

09:18 , Andy Gregory

Ukraine’s state nuclear firm Energoatom has said that yesterday’s was the first such disconnect in the near-four decade operation of the Zaporizhzhia plant.

During the outage, the plant still received supplies of electricity from one remaining backup line connecting the plant to the nearby conventional power plant.

There were three of these lines before the war, but two have been cut. If all external connections go down, diesel-fuelled generators would be the last line before engineers would have to try and head-off dangerous overheating.

My colleague Rory Sullivan has more details in this report:

Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant cut off from Ukraine grid for first time

UK rejects Russian claim to be ‘deliberately’ slowing pace of war to protect civilians

08:56 , Andy Gregory

The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has rejected Russia’s claim to be deliberately slowing the pace of its war in Ukraine to protect civilians, accusing Vladimir Putin of likely firing at least six general over the invasion’s slow progress.

On Wednesday, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoihu told a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – including China, India and Pakistan – that the country was “deliberately” slowing its invasion to reduce civilian casualties.

But on Friday, the MoD claimed this was “almost certainly deliberate misinformation”, adding: “Russia’s offensive has stalled because of poor Russian military performance and fierce Ukrainian resistance. Under Shoigu’s orders, the forces operating in Ukraine have repeatedly missed planned operational timelines.

“It is highly likely that Shoigu and President Putin have fired at least six generals for not advancing quickly enough.”

Citing the recent attack on a railway station in Chaplyne – claimed by Ukraine to have killed 25 civilians – the ministry said: “This highlights Russia’s willingness to cause collateral damage when it perceives there is military advantage in launching missile or artillery strikes.”

Turkey, Finland and Sweden to meet over Nato bids

08:37 , Andy Gregory

Officials from Turkey, Finland and Sweden are expected to meet in Finland today to discuss security concerns raised by Turkey as a precondition for allowing the two Nordic countries to join Nato.

Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto previously said that the first meeting would aim to establish contacts and set goals for cooperation that the three countries agreed to by signing a memorandum of understanding at the alliance’s June summit in Madrid.

Ankara had threatened to veto the two historic Nato bids, launched in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, expressing anger towards the Nordic nations over arms embargoes and their support for Kurdish groups deemed terrorists by Turkey.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has since demanded Sweden and Finland extradite suspects Turkey seeks over terrorism-related charges, while the Nordic countries argue they did not agree to any specific extraditions by signing the memorandum.

Zelensky urges stronger international efforts over Zaphorizhzia

08:25 , Andy Gregory

In his nightly video address, Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv was doing everything possible to prevent an emergency scenario at Zaporizhzhia, “but it depends not only on our state”, with international pressure key to forcing Russia to withdraw from the power plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other international organisations “must act much more quickly, because every minute that the Russian military remain at the nuclear plant there is a risk of a global radiation disaster”, Mr Zelensky was quoted as saying.

IAEA officials are “very, very close” to being able to visit Zaporizhzhia, the agency’s director-general Rafael Grossi has said.

 (Volodymyr Zelensky/screengrab)
(Volodymyr Zelensky/screengrab)

US national security expert likens Zaporizhzhia situation to ‘Russian Roulette’

08:00 , Andy Gregory

Paul Bracken, a national security expert and professor at the Yale School of Management, told Reuters that a main concern over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is that artillery shells or missiles could puncture the reactor walls and spread radiation across potentially a large area – much like the 1986 accident involving the Chornobyl reactor.

A failure at the Zaporizhzhia plant could “kill hundreds or thousands of people, and damage environmentally a far larger area reaching into Europe,” Prof Bracken said.

“Russian Roulette is a good metaphor because the Russians are spinning the chamber of the revolver, threatening to blow out the brains of the reactor all over Europe,” added Prof Bracken.

All six reactors at Zaporizhzhia still disconnected from grid, Energoatom says

07:46 , Andy Gregory

As of 9am local time (7am BST), all six reactors of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine are still disconnected from Ukraine's electricity grid, state nuclear company Energoatom said.

The Ukrainian company said electricity for the plant’s own needs was currently being supplied through a power line from Ukraine's electricity system.

Work is underway to prepare the connection of two power units of the power plant to the grid, Energoatom said.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

ICYMI | India on Wednesday voted against Russia in UN security council

07:06 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

For the first time since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, India on Wednesday voted against Russia during a “procedural vote” at the UN security council.

India had so far abstained from several resolutions on the war, but called on both sides to end the violence. New Delhi has also refused to criticise Moscow for the unprovoked invasion.

The 15-member UN body had invited Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to address a meeting through a video conference on Wednesday.

Russian ambassador to the UN Vassily A Nebenzia, objecting to Mr Zelensky’s virtual participation, called for a procedural vote.

India’s vote went in favour of Mr Zelensky’s participation, while Russia voted against it. China abstained from the vote.

US report identifies 21 ‘filtration’ locations run by Russia

06:45 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Russia and its proxy forces in Ukraine are operating 21 locations used to detain, interrogate and process prisoners of war and civilians, a new report claims.

The report by Yale University researchers backed by the US state department cites commercial satellite imagery and open-source information to identify with “high confidence” the separate locations, which include former schools, markets and regular prisons, Reuters reported.

It also identifies possible graves at one prison complex.

Nathaniel Raymond, the humanitarian research lab’s executive director, said the findings showed Russia and its proxies had established a “system of filtration” to sort people in areas that fall under Russian occupation that represents a “human rights emergency.”

Putin orders another 137,000 Russian troops

06:23 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian military to increase by another 137,000 troops from next year as Moscow’s invasion in Ukraine passes the six-month mark.

The Russian president’s decree, signed on Thursday, did not explain whether the military will increase its ranks by drafting a bigger number of conscripts, taking more volunteer soldiers or using a combination of both.

The Kremlin has said that only volunteer contract soldiers take part in what it calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine, rejecting claims that it was considering a broad mobilisation.

The order comes amid reports that Russian forces have suffered heavy losses, though Moscow is yet to publish any official number of its casualties.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain reports.

Putin orders another 137,000 Russia troops amid reports of heavy casualties

Seven Russian ammunition deports destroyed last week, claims Ukraine

05:56 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Ukrainian troops have destroyed seven ammunition deports of the Russian army in the past week, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command said.

“Ammunition warehouses are one of the priority targets of our artillery, in particular, and air strikes, as these are stocks that the enemy would plan to use against our units,” Nataliya Humenyuk was quoted by Radio Free Europe as saying.

“Despite the fact that they are trying to disperse these stocks, as they have already felt that our interventions are quite spot-on and absolutely targeted, we still find places of new dislocation and destroy them anew.”

Soviet-era monument’s iconic obelisk taken down in Latvia

05:39 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

An obelisk with Soviet stars at the top that was the centrepiece of a monument commemorating the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany was taken down Thursday in Latvia’s capital Riga.

Heavy machinery was spotted behind a green privacy screen fence at the foot of the nearly 80-metre obelisk shortly before its removal.

The column, which had stood like a high-rise in the landscape of downtown Riga, crashed into a nearby pond at Victory Park.

A leading Latvian media outlet broadcast the event live, showing onlookers cheering and applauding as the obelisk fell. It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen to it.

Read more here.

Soviet-era monument's iconic obelisk comes down in Latvia

Ukraine narrowly escaped nuclear catastrophe, says Zelensky

04:53 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said the world narrowly avoided a radiation disaster as electricity to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was cut for hours due to Russian shelling in the area.

Moscow, however, has denied the allegations.

He said Russian shelling on Thursday sparked fires in the ash pits of a nearby coal power station that disconnected the reactor complex from the power grid.

“If our station staff had not reacted after the blackout, then we would have already been forced to overcome the consequences of a radiation accident,” Mr Zelensky said in his evening address.

“Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans in a situation one step away from a radiation disaster.”

Thursday 25 August 2022 20:50 , Katy Clifton

Thanks for following our live coverage, we are pausing updates for the evening.

ICYMI: Sir Keir Starmer offers ‘unshakable support’ on country’s independence day

Thursday 25 August 2022 20:34 , Aisha Rimi

Around 500 bodies of Mariupol defenders have been returned

Thursday 25 August 2022 20:03 , Aisha Rimi

The bodies have been retrieved from occupied Mariupol and its suburbs as part of a continuous process of exchange since June, according to Olena Tolkachova, head of the Azov regiment’s patronage service, The Kyiv Independent reported.

UN official urges respect for international law after Chaplyne attack

Thursday 25 August 2022 19:35 , Aisha Rimi

The top UNofficial in Ukraine said she was shocked by military strikes that killed children and other civilians in Chaplyne in central Ukraine on Wednesday, and called on all parties to adhere to international law.

Russia’s defense ministry said its forces had hit a military train at Chaplyne railway station. Kyiv says 25 civilians died in the Russian strike.

“I am truly shocked by the strikes that yesterday killed and injured civilians close to the rail station in Chaplyne, in central Ukraine,” Denise Brown, UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said in a statement.

“Children were killed in this attack and they died in places where they expected to be safe, in their homes or traveling with their families.”

Ms Brown said the human toll of the attack was “just one more example of the level of suffering that this war is causing the people of Ukraine.”

She added: “All actors, without exception, must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and take constant care to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure so that they are protected, their houses preserved, and essential services remain.”

The Hague seeks exemption from EU sanctions against Russia

Thursday 25 August 2022 19:02 , Aisha Rimi

The Dutch city of The Hague is seeking a temporary exemption of EU sanctions against Russia, as it struggles to find a replacement for its contract with Russian gas supplier Gazprom in time.

EU sanctions against Russia order governments and other public bodies to end existing contracts with Russian companies by 10 October.

The city said it held an EU-wide tender in June and July, but failed to attract any bids from potential suppliers.

Individual talks with suppliers were certain to lead to an agreement, alderman Saskia Bruines wrote in a letter to the city council, but not before the October deadline.

"We will ask for an exemption for our current arrangement until 1 January 2023 to guarantee the safety of supply and to facilitate negotiations," she said.

Ms Bruines said she was confident the delay would be granted, as The Hague had fulfilled the condition of holding a timely tender without a positive result.

However, she added that any new contract set to enter into effect on 1 January would be significantly costlier than the city’s current arrangement with Gazprom.

Zelensky says he and Biden discussed next steps in war against Russia

Thursday 25 August 2022 18:20 , Aisha Rimi

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had “a great conversation” with US 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,” he tweeted in English.

Russian ex-mayor banned from internet, public events after being charged with discrediting military

Thursday 25 August 2022 18:02 , Aisha Rimi

Russian opposition politician Yevgeny Roizman has been banned by a court from attending public events or using the internet for five weeks after he was charged with discrediting the armed forces, Interfax news agency reported.

Mr Roizman, an outspoken supporter of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and opponent of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, was also barred until 29 September from communicating without permission with anyone except his lawyer and relatives.

The court declined prosecutors’ request to place him under house arrest and ordered him released from detention. Mr Roizman denies all the charges.

He told reporters that he was being investigated for using the words "war" and "invasion" to describe Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

The offence of discrediting the military, newly introduced after Russia invaded Ukraine, carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

Truss accused of abandoning foreign secretary duties during Tory race

Thursday 25 August 2022 17:21 , Aisha Rimi

Liz Truss has been accused of abandoning her duties as Britain’s foreign secretary since she joined the Conservatives’ leadership contest almost 50 days ago.

According to the Liberal Democrats, she has been absent from “nearly all” of her ministerial duties for the past 46 days. Since Johnson’s resignation, the Foreign Office has made public two bilateral phone calls held by Ms Truss, once with the Ukrainian foreign minister on 15 July and another with her French counterpart on border delays in Kent on 23 July.

Lib Dems’ foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said the Tory frontrunner has neglected her duties at a time of crisis – highlighting the Russia-Ukraine war and rising tensions between the West and China over Taiwan.

Adam Forrest has the full story:

Liz Truss accused of abandoning foreign secretary duties for almost 50 days

Russian-held nuclear plant disconnects from Ukraine grid for first time

Thursday 25 August 2022 17:02 , Aisha Rimi

Ukraine’s Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was completely disconnected from the Ukrainian grid for the first time ever on Thursday after nearby fires interfered with power lines, state nuclear company Energoatom said.

It said that fires broke out in the ash pits of a coal power station near the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex – Europe’s largest nuclear facility – and interfered with power lines connecting the plant to the grid.

“As a result, the station’s two working power units were disconnected from the network,” Energoatom said in a statement.

“Thus, the actions of the invaders caused a complete disconnection of the (nuclear power plant) from the power grid - the first in the history of the plant,” it said.

The vast nuclear power plant supplied more than 20 per cent of Ukraine’s electricity needs and its loss would pile new strain on the government, which is already bracing for a difficult wartime winter of potentially crippling energy shortages.

Russia captured the Zaporizhzhia plant in March and has controlled it since, although it continues to be operated by Ukrainian technicians from Energoatom.

Energoatom said the nuclear plant was still being supplied with power from Ukraine’s energy system through a final power line between the plant and the coal power station.

But an energy official said that the two reactors that had been disconnected were being powered by diesel generators.

Each power unit, which includes a reactor, a cooling system and other equipment, has three Soviet-era diesel generators that “are not able to work for weeks”, the source said.

A spokesperson for Energoatom denied the diesel generators had been switched on.

Energoatom said the plant’s security systems were working normally and work was under way to reconnect one of the reactor blocks to the grid. The power plant has six reactors in total.

Soviet-era statue taken down in Latvian capital

Thursday 25 August 2022 16:25 , Rory Sullivan

An obelisk topped with Soviet stars has been taken down in Riga, six months after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The concrete monument, which was built in 1985 when the Soviet Union ruled Latvia, commemorates the Red Army’s victory over the Nazis.

Latvia, a member of both the EU and Nato, has been fiercely critical of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

In response to Moscow’s aggression, it has backed a proposed EU-wide ban on Russian tourists.

Moscow scrambles as Russian military falters

Thursday 25 August 2022 16:00 , Rory Sullivan

My colleague Maryam Zakir-Hussain has more on the news that the Russian army will grow by 137,000:

Putin orders another 137,000 Russia troops amid reports of heavy casualties

UN humanitarian coordinator ‘shocked’ by deadly Russian attack on train station

Thursday 25 August 2022 15:46 , Rory Sullivan

The UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine has expressed her “shock” at yesterday’s deadly Russian shelling of Chaplyne railway station.

Kyiv says 25 civilians died in the attack.

“I am truly shocked by the strikes that yesterday killed and injured civilians close to the rail station in Chaplyne, in central Ukraine,” Denise Brown said.

“Children were killed in this attack and they died in places where they expected to be safe, in their homes or travelling with their families,” she added.

Ms Brown called on all parties to respect international law.

Russian cluster munitions have killed almost 700 civilians, says HRW

Thursday 25 August 2022 15:25 , Rory Sullivan

Russia’s use of cluster munitions in Ukraine killed at least 689 civilians between February and July, Human Rights Watch has said.

The NGO said that homes, parks and a maternity hospital in Kharkiv had been hit by such attacks.

It added that Ukraine, which like Russia is not a signatory to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, had fired cluster munitions rockets on at least two occasions.

“All countries should condemn the use of these weapons under any circumstances,” says Mary Wareham , arms advocacy director at Human Rights Watch

Last operating reactors close at Zaporizhzhia, says Energoatom

Thursday 25 August 2022 15:03 , Rory Sullivan

The two last operating reactors at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station have been shut after fire damage to overhead power lines, Ukraine’s state nuclear company has said.

The problem was caused by a fire which initially broke out in the ash pits of a nearby coal plant and then affected the power lines, Energoatom said.

“As a result, the station’s two working power units were disconnected from the network,” it said on Telegram.

Stop the war in Ukraine, UN human rights chief urges Putin

Thursday 25 August 2022 14:45 , Rory Sullivan

Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, has urged Vladimir Putin to stop the war in Ukraine.

The human rights chief said Russia’s war had caused six “unimaginably terrifying months” for the people of Ukraine, adding that at least 5,587 Ukrainian civilians had been killed and another 6.8 million of them had fled their country.

Ms Bachelet said the hostilities around the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant posed “unthinkable risks” to civilians and the environment.

Macron backs IAEA trip to Russian-held nuclear power plant

Thursday 25 August 2022 14:23 , Rory Sullivan

French president Emmanuel Macron has reiterated that he wants to see experts from the UN’s nuclear watchdog travel to the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia plant to conduct safety tests.

After meeting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi, Mr Macron voiced his support for the visit to Europe’s nuclear power station, which is located in southeast Ukraine.

Concerns have grown about the situation there, with the IAEA saying its contact with the site is limited.

Detained Kremlin critic taken to court

Thursday 25 August 2022 14:00 , Rory Sullivan

Yevgeny Roizman, a critic of Russia’s war in Ukraine, was arrested yesterday.

On Thursday, the former mayor of Yekaterinburg was pictured being led into court in the city he used to oversee.

The EU has condemned his detention, calling it a “grim act of oppression” by the Putin regime.

Kremlin critic Yevgeny Roizman is escorted to a court building in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on 25 August, 2022. (via REUTERS)
Kremlin critic Yevgeny Roizman is escorted to a court building in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on 25 August, 2022. (via REUTERS)

Putin signs decree to increase size of Russian army

Thursday 25 August 2022 13:33 , Rory Sullivan

Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on Thursday to increase the army by 137,000 soldiers, the country’s state media has reported.

After the enlargement takes effect in January, the size of the Russian army will stand at more than 2 million .

Scholz visits training programme for Ukrainian soldiers in Germany

Thursday 25 August 2022 13:05 , Rory Sullivan

German chancellor Olaf Scholz paid a visit on Thursday to a training programme for Ukrainian soldiers near Oldenburg.

On the tour, the head of training at arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Juergen Schoch showed him an anti-aircraft tank:

German chancellor Olaf Scholz inspects an anti-aircraft gun. (REUTERS)
German chancellor Olaf Scholz inspects an anti-aircraft gun. (REUTERS)

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant’s safety systems activated, says Russia

Thursday 25 August 2022 12:39 , Rory Sullivan

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant’s safety systems have been activated after power outages, the Russian-state RIA news agency has said.

The nuclear facility, which is located in Russian-occupied southeastern Ukraine, is Europe’s largest.

Fears have been growing about the site’s safety recently following reports of shelling in the vicinity.

UK to advise Ukraine on reconstruction, says Shapps

Thursday 25 August 2022 12:17 , Rory Sullivan

Britain will offer Ukraine technical advice about how to reconstruct its damaged infrastructure, the UK government has said.

The training in airport and port reconstruction will come as part of the UK’s new £54m package of support for Ukraine, British transport secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.

Experts ‘very close’ to being able to visit Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, says IAEA boss

Thursday 25 August 2022 12:00 , Rory Sullivan

The UN nuclear watchdog is “very, very close” to being able to send experts to inspect the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant, its boss has said.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said talks were ongoing, but appeared to be going in the right direction.

This comes weeks after he described the situation at the nuclear facility as “completely out of control”.

Kremlin admits deadly shelling of Chaplyne railway station

Thursday 25 August 2022 11:36 , Rory Sullivan

Russia’s defence ministry has admitted that its troops hit Chaplyne railway station yesterday.

The attack in Ukraine’s Dniptropetrovsk region killed 25 people, including several children, Kyiv said.

The Kremlin claimed its missile destroyed arms that were being sent to the frontline in the eastern Donbas region.

Russia’s war in Ukraine speeding up renewable energy transition, says US climate diplomat

Thursday 25 August 2022 11:20 , Rory Sullivan

Russia’s war in Ukraine has sped up the world’s shift towards renewable energy, the US deputy special envoy for climate has said.

While addressing a university forum in Australia, Rick Duke said: “The European Union has tripled down on its efforts to deploy renewables and heat pumps and to electrify its vehicle fleet and otherwise respond to this crisis.

“That’s going to take time, but the pace is quickening because of the conflict.”

Russian tourists must be banned from Europe and beyond, says Ukraine’s foreign minister

Thursday 25 August 2022 11:00 , Rory Sullivan

Russian tourists must be banned from Europe and elsewhere as they all bear a “common social responsibility” for the horrors inflicted by their country against Ukraine, the Ukrainian foreign minister has said.

In an op-ed for Politico, Dmytro Kuleba said an “overwhelming majority of them [Russians] support this war”.

“Yet, massive popular support in Russia for the war is a grim reality that not all European leaders seem ready to appreciate,” he added.

Acknowledging that Russians who oppose the war could face persecution at home, he argued they would still be able to seek asylum abroad, even if a travel ban is introduced.

“Tourism is an achievement of peace and humanity. Belligerent nations that break international peace must lose access to the privileges of peaceful coexistence,” Mr Kuleba wrote.

Russian and French defence ministers discuss Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Thursday 25 August 2022 10:30 , Rory Sullivan

The Russian and French defence ministers have spoken about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the Kremlin has said.

The conversation comes amid fears of a potential nuclear disaster there.

The Ukrainian plant, which is the largest in Europe, was captured by Russia early in the war.

World leaders have called for the site to be demilitarised.

Ukrainian town grieves for victims of Russian strike

Thursday 25 August 2022 10:09 , Rory Sullivan

Ukrainian families grieve for their loved ones in Chaplyne, the town hit by deadly Russian shelling on Wednesday.

As search and rescue efforts neared their conclusion, three more bodies were discovered, bringing the number of fatalities to 25.

Local resident Sergiy’s 11-year-old son died in the strike. “We looked for him there in the ruins, and he was lying here. Nobody knew that he was here. Nobody knew,” he said, beside his child’s covered body.

Moscow has declined to comment on the attack.

Responding to the strike on Ukrainian Independence Day, US secretary of state Antony Blinken tweeted: “Russia’s missile strike on a train station full of civilians in Ukraine fits a pattern of atrocities. We will continue, together with partners from around the world, to stand with Ukraine and seek accountability for Russian officials.”

EU condemns arrest of Russian opposition figure

Thursday 25 August 2022 09:43 , Rory Sullivan

The EU has condemned Russia’s detention of opposition figure Yevgeny Roizman for his criticism of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign affairs representative, said it was “yet another grim act of oppression by the Kremlin”.

“The EU calls for his immediate and unconditional release,” he added.

Mr Roizman served as mayor of Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city, from 2013 to 2018.

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Russian attack on passenger train kills 25, says Ukraine

Thursday 25 August 2022 09:16 , Rory Sullivan

A Russian attack on a passenger train in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast has left at least 25 people dead, Ukraine has said.

The Ukrainian authorities revised the death toll up from 22 on Thursday.

Moscow’s forces hit the train in the village of Chaplyne on Wednesday, with four carriages catching fire.

Children are said to be among the victims.

Ukrainian Independence Day in photos

Thursday 25 August 2022 08:52 , Rory Sullivan

Yesterday, Ukrainian Independence Day marked 31 years since Kyiv broke away from the Soviet Union.

The anniversary was celebrated not just by Ukraine, but by other countries across the world.

Here are some photos from the US, Europe and the Middle East:

Celebrations are held in Baabda, Lebanon. (Fadel Itani/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)
Celebrations are held in Baabda, Lebanon. (Fadel Itani/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)
A Ukrainian Independence Day gathering in Warsaw, Poland. (Piotr Lapinski/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)
A Ukrainian Independence Day gathering in Warsaw, Poland. (Piotr Lapinski/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)
A giant Ukrainian flag is unfurled in Central Park, New York City. (Ron Adar/Shutterstock)
A giant Ukrainian flag is unfurled in Central Park, New York City. (Ron Adar/Shutterstock)

Russian Patriarch cancels meeting with Pope

Thursday 25 August 2022 08:35 , Rory Sullivan

The controversial head of the Russian Orthodox Church will no longer attend an interfaith meeting in Kazakhstan where he was suppose to meet with Pope Francis.

The Moscow Patriarchate, which has been supportive of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, said Kirill will no be going to the meeting next month.

Kirill has caused schisms in the Russian Orthodox Church by justifying the invasion and blessing Russian soldiers being sent to the frontlines.

Google subsidiary to target disinformation about Ukrainian refugees

Thursday 25 August 2022 08:17 , Rory Sullivan

Google’s subsidiary Jigsaw is to start anti-disinformation campaigns in several European countries to counter bias against Ukrainian refugees.

The company will run adverts in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

Russia ‘in very fragile position’ and bracing for ‘major’ Ukrainian counterattack, say UK

Thursday 25 August 2022 07:56 , Rory Sullivan

Icymi:

With its “poorly-trained” troops and their low morale, Russia is in a “very fragile position”, the UK has said.

Speaking on the six month anniversary of the Russian invasion, British defence secretary Ben Wallace said Moscow’s offensives were “grinding” to a standstill in some parts of Ukraine.

Russia ‘in fragile position’ and bracing for ‘major’ Ukrainian counterattack, say UK

Russia lost control of area ‘size of Denmark’, says ISW

Thursday 25 August 2022 07:32 , Rory Sullivan

Since it controlled swathes of northern Ukraine early in the war, Russia has been pushed out of an area the size of Denmark, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has said.

The US think tank said that Moscow, whose troops are now concentrated in eastern and southeastern Ukraine, has only gained a small amount of territory in its recent offensives.

Over the past 39 days, Russian forces have captured an area the size of Andorra, equivalent to 1 per cent of what they lost earlier in the conflict, the ISW added.

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Russian war on Ukraine caused environmental damage worth $10.7 bn

Thursday 25 August 2022 07:04 , Arpan Rai

The six-month long war on Ukraine bleeding into its seventh month has caused at least $10.7 billion worth of environmental damage.

Ukrainian officials have recorded more than 2,000 cases of damage to nature have been recorded since 24 February, country’s ministry of environmental protection and natural resources said.

Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine in February this year and president Vladimir Putin has called it a “special military operation”.

Russian fighters in Zaporizhzhia can exploit Ukrainian military activity for propaganda purposes - British MoD

Thursday 25 August 2022 06:46 , Arpan Rai

The British defence ministry has said that the Russian fighters in Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant are probably prepared to exploit any Ukrainian military activity for propaganda purposes.

Russian ground forces had assaulted and seized Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) within a month of invading Ukraine, threatening the safety of the region by wresting control of the risky infrastructure.

“On 21 August 2022, imagery indicated that Russia maintained an enhanced military presence at the site, with armoured personnel carriers deployed within 60 metres of reactor number five,” the British MoD said in its latest intelligence update on Thursday.

It added that the Russian troops were likely attempting to conceal the vehicles by parking them under overhead pipes and gantries.

“While Russia maintains the military occupation of ZNPP, the principal risks to reactor operations are likely to remain disruption to the reactors’ cooling systems, damage to its back-up power supply, or errors by workers operating under pressure,” the defence ministry warned.

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Russian rockets hit Kyiv oblast, ‘several explosions' heard

Thursday 25 August 2022 06:38 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian authorities said “several explosions” were heard in Kyiv Oblast’s northern district Vyshgorod early on Thursday morning around 3am.

In an update, Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the Kyiv regional military administration, said that Russia had fired a rocket attack on the district which lies to the north of the city.

“Two arrivals were recorded,” Mr Kuleba said, adding that no casualties or damage to the residential buildings and infrastructure facilities was recorded so far.

US slams Russian trials of Ukrainian PoWs: ‘Illegitimate and mockery of justice’

Thursday 25 August 2022 06:23 , Arpan Rai

The US has criticised any Russian effort which could lead to holding tribunals for Ukrainian prisoners of war in the Russian-occupied port city Mariupol and has called the proceedings “illegitimate.”

Moscow is reportedly planning to prosecute Ukrainian prisoners of war (PoWs) under conditions that could amount to war crimes.

However, US state department spokesman Ned Price said that the “planned show trials are illegitimate and a mockery of justice, and we strongly condemn them.”

“The Kremlin is attempting to deflect responsibility for President [Vladimir] Putin’s war of aggression and distract from overwhelming evidence of the atrocities Russian forces have committed in Ukraine…,” he said in a statement.

Mr Price added: “All members of Ukraine’s armed forces, including domestic and foreign volunteers incorporated into the armed forces, are entitled to prisoner of war status if they are captured and must be afforded the treatment and protections commensurate with that status, according to the Geneva Conventions.”

Washington has also called on Moscow to “comply with its obligations under international law.”

ICYMI: At least 22 killed as Russia attacks rail station on Independence Day

Thursday 25 August 2022 06:11 , Arpan Rai

At least 22 people were killed in Ukraine’s Chaplyne after a Russian attack on a railway station in eastern Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

The rocket attack struck the town of about 3,500 people in the Dnipropetrovsk region. It came as Ukrainians across the world marked the country’s Independence Day on Wednesday.

Mr Zelensky had warned Russia may attempt “something particularly cruel” to coincide with the celebrations.

Read the full report here:

At least 22 killed in Russian rail attack on rail station in Ukraine

Search and rescue in Ukraine’s Chaplyne continue, Zelensky pledges retribution

Thursday 25 August 2022 05:47 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian authorities have continued search and rescue opeartions at the site of deadly missiles strike in eastern Ukraine’s Chaplyne which killed at least 22 civilians on Wednesday.

“Search and rescue operations at the railway station will continue,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in his video address.

He also vowed to make Russian forces pay for the attack on civilians and said: “We will definitely make the occupiers bear responsibility for everything they have done. And we will certainly drive the invaders out of our land. Not a single stain of this evil will remain in our free Ukraine.”

Thursday 25 August 2022 04:59 , Arpan Rai

Good morning!

Hello, and welcome to our rolling Ukraine coverage.

Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates.