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.
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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:
Tuesday, Aug. 30 (Tokyo time)
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 counter-offensive 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.
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 counter-offensive 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 ya.ru 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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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