Zelenskyy warns world is on 'verge of nuclear disaster'; More explosions reported at Russian military sites

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

U.S. sends more aid to Ukraine as fears mount Putin could cause a nuclear plant catastrophe
U.S. sends more aid to Ukraine as fears mount Putin could cause a nuclear plant catastrophe

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are set to attend the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, this November, according to Reuters.

Officials from numerous countries and institutions continue to sound the alarm over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, which has been occupied by Russian troops since the start of the war. Shelling has intensified around the plant, which Ukraine says has been used by Russia to store ammunition and military equipment. Russia says that Ukraine is shelling the plant.

The international community is increasingly worried about the risk of a catastrophe at the plant, which is Europe's largest of its kind.

Zelenskyy thanks Biden for latest security assistance package

Ukraine was already stocking up on U.S.-made Javelins before Russia invaded. Pictured here a group of Ukrainian servicemen taking a shipment of Javelins as Russia positioned troops on Ukraine's border.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for the 19th security assistance package.

"I highly appreciate another U.S. military aid package in the amount of $775 million. Thank you @POTUS for this decision," Zelenskyy wrote. "Ukraine will be free," he added.

The latest weapons package brings U.S. commitment to approximately $10.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Biden's presidency.

— Amanda Macias

U.K. says Russia 'has no moral right' to join G20 summit

"The situation in Ukraine shows that the U.S. is trying to prolong this conflict," said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The British government said Russia does not have the moral right to attend the G20 in Indonesia while the Kremlin carries on its war in Ukraine.

"We welcome Indonesia's efforts to ensure that the impacts of Russia's war are considered in G20 meetings, as well as indications that Ukraine may be represented by President Zelenskyy at the G20 Leaders Summit," a spokesperson for the British foreign office said in a statement.

Earlier on Friday, Rishi Sunak, one of the two candidates vying to replace Boris Johnson as British prime minister, said that Indonesia should bar Russian President Vladimir Putin from attending.

The G20 is set to take place in November.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine GDP projected to fall by 35-40% in late 2022

A view of devastation after conflicts as Ukrainians trying to rebound back to life Irpin near Kyiv, Ukraine on June 21, 2022.
Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine's gross domestic product in the remaining months of 2022 may fall by 35 to 40% due to Russia's war, according to Yulia Svyrydenko, Ukraine's Minister of Economic Development and Trade.

"According to our calculations, according to the macroeconomic forecasts made by the Ministry of Economy, the curtailment of the economy by the end of the year may be at the level of 35-40%," said Svyrydenko, who also serves simultaneously as Ukraine's first deputy prime minister.

The National Bank also predicts that Ukraine's real GDP in the third and fourth quarters of 2022 will contract. According to the National Bank estimates, the economy will also slip by another 19% in the first quarter of 2023.

— Amanda Macias

Pro-Ukrainian saboteurs are behind blasts at Russian military sites, Ukrainian official says

Smoke rises after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka, Crimea, on Aug. 9, 2022.
Stringer | Reuters

Pro-Ukrainian saboteurs were involved in the recent spate of explosions at Russian military sites in Crimea, a Ukrainian government official told NBC News.

The series of blasts hit military depots and airbases in the annexed peninsula over the past week, hinting at a growing ability by Ukraine's military or its backers to strike deep behind enemy lines, a development that could shift the dynamics of the war.

Kyiv has stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility for the explosions. The government official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to disclose information about the Crimea strikes to journalists.

Experts have speculated that guerrilla fighters, known colloquially as "partisans," may have played a role, given the nature of the blasts.

The official declined to say whether the Ukrainian military or special forces were also involved in the attacks. But he added, "Only thanks to the people who oppose Putin in the occupied territories and in Russia today, resistance is possible."

Read more here.

— NBC News

About 600,000 metric tons of grains and other crops have been exported from Ukraine's ports

An aerial view of "Glory" named empty grain ship as Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations (UN) of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) conduct inspection on vessel in Istanbul, Turkiye on August 09, 2022.
Ali Atmaca | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of agricultural products from Ukraine said that so far 25 ships carrying grains and other crops have left Ukrainian ports.

The vessels have thus far transported a total of 600,000 metric tons of grains and other food through the humanitarian sea corridor under the Black Sea Grain Initiative. 

— Amanda Macias

UN Secretary General Guterres visits Ukraine's port of Odesa

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) makes a speech during a joint press conference with Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov (L) in Odesa, Ukraine on August 19, 2022.
Vladimir Shtanko | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave an impassioned speech at the Ukrainian port of Odesa as the Kremlin's war enters its sixth month.

"It is very emotional for me to be here today in Odesa. I just saw wheat being loaded into a ship again," Guterres said from a dock. "This port is a symbol of what the world can do when we commit to working together for the common good," he added.

Guterres, who met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, called each departing ship a "vessel of hope."

"Hope for Ukrainian farmers finally rewarded for their harvest – with storage being freed up for more. Hope for seafarers and the larger shipping community, knowing that it is once again possible to sail through the Black Sea safely and efficiently. And, most of all, hope for the world's most vulnerable people and countries," Guterres said.

Last month, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations signed a deal that would reopen three Ukrainian ports for agricultural product export.

— Amanda Macias

U.S. poised to announce new military aid, drones for Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen fire an M777 howitzer, Kharkiv Region, northeastern Ukraine. This photo cannot be distributed in the Russian Federation.
Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy | Future Publishing | Getty Images

The U.S. for the first time said it will give Ukraine Scan Eagle surveillance drones, mine-resistant vehicles, anti-armor rounds and howitzer weapons to help Ukrainian forces regain territory and mount a counteroffensive against Russian invaders.

A Boeing Co. ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sits on display at the Singapore Airshow held at the Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore, on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.
SeongYoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A senior defense official told reporters that a new $775 million aid package will include 15 Scan Eagles, 40 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles known as MRAPs with mine-clearing rollers, and 2,000 anti-armor rounds that can help Ukraine troops move forward in the south and east, where Russian forces have placed mines. The official said the U.S. is looking to help shape and arm the Ukrainian force of the future as the war drags on.

A solider stands in front of a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle outside The Greenbrier resort ahead of a Salute to Service dinner with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, July 3, 2018.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

This latest aid comes as Russia's war on Ukraine is about to reach the six-month mark. It brings the total U.S. military aid to Ukraine to about $10.6 billion since the beginning of the Biden administration. It is the 19th time the Pentagon has provided equipment from Defense Department stocks to Ukraine since August 2021.

The U.S. has provided howitzer ammunition in the past, but this is the first time it will send 16 of the weapon systems.

— Associated Press

Macron speaks to Putin about Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Emmanuel Macron, France's president, will have a more difficult time in his second mandate after losing his parliament majority.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin about Russian forces at the  Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

"Macron once again emphasized his concern over the risks that the situation at the Zaporizhzhia plant poses to nuclear safety and security and expressed his support for sending a mission of IAEA experts to the site as quickly as possible, under conditions approved by Ukraine and the United Nations," according to an Elysee Palace readout of the call.

Putin indicated to Macron that he would support the IAEA deployment to the site following additional discussions about the scope of the mission.

The two leaders are expected to speak again in the coming days, according to the readout of their call.

— Amanda Macias

Death toll rises in Kharkiv following Russian strikes

A woman walks by apartment building damaged after shelling the day before in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 8, 2022.
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

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

The service said on its Facebook page that 21 civilians have died and that search and rescue operations have concluded. The service added that nine people were rescued from the rubble.

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

— Amanda Macias

Kremlin hints that IAEA inspectors may be given access to Zaporizhzhia next month

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

A Kremlin official said that IAEA access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant may be granted in the "first days of September."

"It's too early to say anything about the details, these are all extremely sensitive issues," said Mikhail Ulyanov of Russia's foreign ministry, according to an NBC News translation of a TASS report.

"Forecasts do not always come true, but, according to my feelings, we can quite realistically talk about the first days of September, unless some extraneous factors that are not related to the goals arise again and objectives of the IAEA visit," Ulyanov added.

For months, Western governments have pressed Russia to allow IAEA inspectors access to the occupied nuclear power plant facility.

— Amanda Macias

'World is on verge of nuclear disaster,' Zelenskyy says

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

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the world is on the verge of a nuclear disaster as tensions mount over the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

"The world is on a verge of nuclear disaster due to occupation of world's third largest nuclear power plant in Energodar, Zaporizhzhia region," Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.

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

"How long will it take the global community to respond to Russia's irresponsible actions and nuclear blackmailing," Zelenskyy added on Twitter.

— Amanda Macias

Explosions and fires reported at military sites in Russia and Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine

Smoke billows and explosions erupt from a Russian munitions depot in Dzhankoi on August 16, 2022.
Marie-laure Messana | AFP | Getty Images

Explosions and fires have been reported at military facilities in Russia and the territory it occupies in Ukraine, suggesting more sabotage attacks far into enemy lines. Ukraine has not publicly taken responsibility for any of the incidents, and Russia so far does not acknowledge that its bases have been attacked.

In Russia's Belgorod province near the Ukrainian border, two villages had to be evacuated due to a fire at an ammunition depot. "An ammunition depot caught fire near the village of Timonovo" some 30 miles from Ukraine's border, but there were no casualties, a statement by regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.

Several explosions were also reported in Crimea, the third such incident in the Russian-occupied peninsula in less than two weeks, near Russia's Belbek airbase. Russian authorities there say there was no damage and no casualties. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukraine is believed to be ramping up its counter-offensive in the south, which is heavily occupied by Russian forces. The strategy involves blowing up supply routes, vital bridges and military sites used by Russia to supply its forces in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned civilians to stay away from Russian military facilities.

— Natasha Turak

Russia wants to disconnect Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant from grid, Ukraine says, warning of 'provocation'

Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuers attend an exercise in the city of Zaporizhzhia on August 17, 2022, in case of a possible nuclear incident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant located near the city. 
Dimitar Dilkoff | AFP | Getty Images

Russia wants to disconnect Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — the largest in Europe — from the electricity grid, Ukrainian nuclear energy agency Energoatom said, warning that Moscow was laying the groundwork for a "large-scale provocation."

Russian forces have controlled the plant since March and it's been the site of months of shelling, prompting international leaders to sound the alarm over risks of a nuclear catastrophe.

"There is information that the Russian occupation forces are planning to shut down the power blocks and disconnect them from the power supply lines to the Ukrainian power system in the near future," Energoatom said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

 "The Russian military is currently looking for fuel suppliers for the diesel generators, which are supposed to turn on after the power units are shut down in the absence of an external power supply for the nuclear fuel cooling systems," the statement said.    

Moscow, meanwhile, accused Kyiv of planning a "provocation" at the site, saying Ukraine is shelling at its own nuclear facility in order to blame Russia. Ukrainian and Western officials warn that is a sign Russia's military could be preparing for a "false-flag attack". 

— Natasha Turak

Finland says Russian MiG fighter jets may have violated its airspace

Two Russian MiG-31 fighter jets are suspected to have violated Finnish airspace, Finland's Defense Ministry said.

"The depth of the suspected violation into Finnish airspace was one kilometer" over the city of Porvoo on Finland's southern coast and lasted about two minutes, the ministry's head of communications Kristian Vakkuri said. Vakkuri added that possible violation happened at 6:40 a.m. GMT on Thursday, or 9:40 a.m. local time, and the jets were flying westward.

The ministry did not say whether the planes were escorted out.

Russia's MiG-31 supersonic interceptor jets carrying hypersonic Kinzhal missiles fly over Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2018.
Yuri Kadobnov | AFP | Getty Images

Finland's air force activated an "operational flight mission," identifying the MiG jets, and its Border Guard has opened an investigation into the incident, the ministry added.

Finland and Russia share an 800 mile border, and Helsinki has warned of Russian provocations to come as the Nordic country awaits full approval of its NATO membership bid, which upends decades of its historically nonaligned position vis-a-vis Russia.

— Natasha Turak

Kharkiv is one of Ukraine's most consistently attacked cities, UK says

Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, is one of the most consistently shelled cities in the country because it's directly in Russia's line of fire, Britain's Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence update on Twitter.

The front line in this area has not moved much since May, the ministry said, but "sitting around 15 km (9.3 miles) from the Russian front line, Kharkiv has suffered because it remains within range of most types of Russian artillery. Multiple rocket launchers and generally inaccurate area weapons have caused devastation across large parts of the city."

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

On Wednesday, Russian missile strikes on residential areas of Kharkiv killed at least 12 civilians, Ukrainian authorities said. Less than half of the city's pre-war population of 1.4 million people still remain; the rest have fled to other countries or other parts of Ukraine.

Russian forces "are probably trying to force Ukraine to maintain significant forces on this front, to prevent them from being employed as a counter-attack force elsewhere," the ministry wrote.

— Natasha Turak

Xi and Putin set to meet at this year's G-20 summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin in 2022.
Alexei Druzhinin | AFP | Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to attend this year's G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, a longtime advisor to Indonesian President Joko Widodo told Reuters.

All G-20 leaders were invited including Putin, despite launching an unprovoked war on Ukraine. Western countries have since called on Indonesia to withdraw its invitation to Putin.

Indonesia has also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the summit.

Natalie Tham

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

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