Share

Russia issues stark warning over the nuclear power plant it's occupying; Kyiv urges inspection of damaged facility

This has been CNBC's live blog covering updates on the war in Ukraine. [Follow the latest updates here.]

Shelling near Ukrainian nuclear plant causes serious concerns
VIDEO3:1803:18
Shelling near Ukrainian nuclear plant causes serious concerns

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday night that Ukrainian diplomats and nuclear scientists are in "constant touch" with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and working to get a team of inspectors into the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The plant has been occupied by Russian troops since the start of the war in Ukraine but there have been increasing fears that a nuclear catastrophe could take place as shelling has intensified around the plant, which Ukraine says has been used by Russia to store ammunition and military equipment. Russia has accused Ukraine of shelling the plant.

There are heightened fears that a catastrophe could occur at the plant, which is Europe's largest of its kind. Yesterday, Ukraine's Emergency Ministry conducted a nuclear catastrophe exercise in Zaporizhzhia in case of an accident.

A Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuer attends an exercise in the city of Zaporizhzhia on Aug. 17, 2022, in case of a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant located near the city.
Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images

In other news, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is in Lviv in Ukraine on Thursday to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Zelenskyy.

The three are expected to discuss the ongoing Black Sea Initiative to export grains from Ukraine. Guterres will also meet with Zelenskyy to discuss the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

State Department condemns 'Russia's reckless disregard for nuclear safety'

U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price faces reporters during a news briefing at the State Department in Washington, March 1, 2021.
Tom Brenner | Reuters

The U.S. reiterated concerns regarding Russia's military takeover and continued control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

"The International Atomic Energy Agency must be given access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as soon as possible and in a manner that respects Ukraine's full sovereignty to help ensure the safety and security of the plant and monitoring of its nuclear material," State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a daily press briefing.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms Russia's reckless disregard for nuclear safety and security," Price said, adding that Washington and its allies "call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukraine's nuclear facilities."

Price also urged Russia to allow IAEA inspectors access to the nuclear power plant facility.

Russian forces took control of Europe's largest nuclear power plant shortly after a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

'Any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide,' U.N. Secretary General says

A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Energodar on May 1, 2022. Europe's largest nuclear power station has become a fighting ground for the conflict, with both sides blaming each other for attacks on and around the complex.
Andrey Borodulin | Afp | Getty Images

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant should be demilitarized immediately.

Guterres, speaking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said "any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide."

"Military equipment and personnel should be withdrawn from the plant. Further deployment of forces or equipment to the site must be avoided," he added.

Guterres urged all parties to approve the International Atomic Energy Agency, a nuclear watchdog, to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

— Amanda Macias

Russia allegedly tells nuclear power plant workers to not go to work tomorrow amid concerns of a planned incident

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine August 4, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine's military, told NBC News that new intelligence indicates the Kremlin has informed its forces at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to leave tomorrow, a revelation that comes amid speculation that Russia is planning an incident at the facility.

Earlier today, Russia's military accused Ukraine of planning a "provocation" at the plant on Friday.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of laying the groundwork to create an incident at the facility in order to blame Ukraine for the mishap.

Read more from NBC News here.

— Amanda Macias

Death toll rises in Kharkiv following Russian strikes

Firefighters extinguish a fire at the site of a destroyed hostel as a result of a missile strike in the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv late on August 17, 2022, amid Russia's military invasion of Ukraine. 
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine's state emergency service said the death toll has risen in Kharkiv after Russian strikes targeted residential buildings.

The service said on its Facebook page that 12 civilians have died and another 20 people have been wounded.

The Kremlin has previously said that it does not target civilian infrastructure.

— Amanda Macias

'We do not want to experience a new Chornobyl case,' Turkish president says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (R) at Potocki Palace in Lviv, Ukraine on August 18, 2022.
Turkish Presidency | Murat Cetinmuhurdar | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed mounting concern over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant situation.

"We do not want to experience a new Chornobyl case," Erdogan said during a joint press conference with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Lviv.

Erdogan's visit to Ukraine, his first since the Kremlin's war broke out, comes amid speculation that Russian forces are planning an attack at the facility.

— Amanda Macias

Turkey's Erdogan meets with Zelenskyy in Ukraine for the first time since war broke out

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (R) in Lviv, Ukraine on August 18, 2022.
Turkish Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lviv, Ukraine. The meeting in Ukraine was Erdogan's first since Russia's war began nearly six months ago.

The two will also meet with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and discuss the humanitarian sea corridor deal known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Guterres will also meet separately with Zelenskyy to discuss the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and arrangements for the IAEA, a nuclear watchdog to visit the facility.

— Amanda Macias

Russia says it has deployed hypersonic missiles to Kaliningrad

A MiG-31K fighter jet with a Kinzhal hypersonic missile flies over Moscow's Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in 2018.
Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia's Ministry of Defense said that it deployed three MiG-31i fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles to an airfield in Kaliningrad.

Kaliningrad is a small Russian exclave located on the Baltic Sea and sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland.

"MiG-31i with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles will be on round-the-clock combat duty at Chkalovsk airfield," Russia's military wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

The Kinzhal is a hypersonic weapon that travels at Mach 5 or higher, which is at least five times faster than the speed of sound. This means that a hypersonic weapon can travel about one mile per second.

— Amanda Macias

Blinken speaks with Ukrainian counterpart on weapons and Zaporizhzhya

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about US policy towards China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2022.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on continued U.S. support for Ukraine's defense needs.

Blinken updated Kuleba on U.S. deliveries of security assistance and condemned Russia's actions at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to a State Department readout of the call.

"Additionally, the secretary reaffirmed the United States will continue to call for an end to all military operations at or near Ukraine's nuclear facilities, the return of full control of these facilities to Ukraine and Moscow to end its war of choice against its sovereign neighbor," the readout said.

The two also discussed Ukraine's upcoming Independence Day on Aug. 24. 

— Amanda Macias

At least four people were killed by early-morning Russian bombardments of Kharkiv

Editor's note: Graphic content. This post contains images of dead bodies after Russian missile strikes in Kharkiv.

Firefighters search through the rubble of a building destroyed by Russian missile strike in the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

At least four people were killed and more than a dozen others injured by early-morning Russian bombardments on the northeast Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, the governor said.

Firefighters respond in the rubble of the Culture Palace destroyed by a Russian missile strike in the second-largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, on Aug. 18, 2022.
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images
Firefighters extinguish a fire at the site of a destroyed hostel as a result of a missile strike in the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv late on August 17, 2022, amid Russia's military invasion of Ukraine. 
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images
Rescue workers carry the body of a victim following a missile strike in the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv late on August 17, 2022, amid Russia's military invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK / AFP) (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images)
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images
This picture taken on August 17, 2022, shows bodies of victims lay on the ground following a missile strike on a hostel in the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, amid Russia's military invasion of Ukraine. 
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images
Rescue workers inspect the site of a destroyed hostel as a result of a missile strike in the second-largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Aug. 17, 2022.
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

— Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S. calls for more weapons and Russian removal from Zaporizhzhia

Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova speaks about the war in Ukraine during a press event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, March 15, 2022.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova asked allies to continue sending weapons, humanitarian support and financial aid as Russia's war heads into its sixth month.

"I know it's a lot to ask, but the enemy is much bigger and brutal," Markarova told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

Markarova also called on the United States as well as other Western governments to force Russian troops from their positions in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

"It's not just a problem for Ukraine but for the whole world," Markarova said, referencing a potential accident at Europe's largest nuclear power plant.

— Amanda Macias

Russia says it may shut down nuclear power plant, warns of effects of potential accident

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine August 4, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Russia's Ministry of Defense said on Thursday that it may shut down the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant if Ukrainian forces continue, as it claims, shelling the facility.

Ukraine denies shelling the facility and instead blames Russia for endangering the nuclear power plant, saying it is storing ammunition and military equipment there.

Ukraine and the international community have warned of the potential for a catastrophic accident at the plant. On Wednesday, Ukraine's Emergency Ministry conducted a nuclear catastrophe exercise in Zaporizhzhia in case of an accident.

Igor Kirillov, the head of Russia's radioactive, chemical and biological defense forces, said Thursday the plant's backup support systems had been damaged as a result of shelling, Reuters reported.

He also said that in the event of an accident at the plant, radioactive material would cover Germany, Poland and Slovakia.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is visiting Ukraine today and the status and fate of the nuclear power plant are on the agenda.

Russia's Ministry of Defense claimed separately on Telegram today that Kyiv was planning a "provocation" at the power plant during Guterres' visit to Ukraine, "as a result of which the Russian Federation will be blamed for creating a man-made disaster at the power plant."

Russia's Defense Ministry claimed that "in order to prepare for the provocation" it was deploying radiation observation posts near Zaporizhzhia and organizing training exercises for a number of military units in the region "on measures to be taken in conditions of radioactive contamination of the area." 

Russia presented no evidence for its claim and has often been accused of "false flag" operations.

The possibility of an accident at Europe's largest nuclear power plant is a terrifying prospect for Ukraine, a country that still lives with the scars of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russians move planes, helicopters in Crimea following blasts, Ukraine says

Ukraine's Ministry of Defense has said Russian forces are moving their planes and helicopters "deep" into Crimea, and back to Russia, following several attacks in recent weeks on Russian bases on the peninsula.

"The occupiers are carrying out measures to partially transfer aviation equipment from forward-based airfields in Crimea to reserve airfields and airfields permanently based on the territory of the Russian Federation," the intelligence directorate within the defense ministry claimed Wednesday.

The ministry said that, among the aircraft being moved, were SU-34 fighter bombers and KA-27 helicopters like the one below.