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Ukraine says 15 people killed in Independence Day attack; Biden reveals new $3 billion aid package

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

Ukraine marks its 31st Independence Day today as well as the six-month mark of Russia's full-scale invasion, which began on Feb. 24.

For many, the day represents resilience and defiance, as captured Russian tanks and other military equipment sit on display in Kyiv's main boulevard, half a year after Moscow expected the capital to fall within days.

Ukrainian and U.S. officials have warned of stepped up Russian attacks on this day, keeping the country on high alert with a ban on large gatherings in Kyiv for most of the week.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden announced a nearly $3 billion new security assistance package for Ukraine, its biggest yet.

Five ships carrying a total of 85,110 metric tons of agricultural products will depart Ukraine's ports tomorrow

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, carrying Ukrainian grain, is seen in the Black Sea off Kilyos, near Istanbul, Turkey August 3, 2022.
Mehmet Caliskan | Reuters

The organization overseeing the export of agricultural products from Ukraine said that five ships carrying grains and other crops were approved to depart Ukrainian ports on Thursday.

The vessel Ascanios is carrying 58,510 metric tons of corn and is destined for Germany. The vessel Mohamad is carrying 11,000 metric tons of wheat and is destined for Israel. The ship named Bellis will also travel to Israel and is carrying 6,000 metric tons of soybeans. The vessel Oris Sofi is transporting 5,900 metric tons of sunflower oil to Turkey. Another ship, Zelek Star is also destined for Turkey and is transporting 3,700 metric tons of peas.

In total, the five vessels are carrying 85,110 metric tons of grain and food products under the Black Sea Grain Initiative. 

— Amanda Macias

US Ambassador to UN calls on forum to hold Russia accountable for 'violence and carnage' in Ukraine

New US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks after meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations on February 25, 2021 in New York City.
Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said potential Russian war crimes are mounting in Ukraine.

"The evidence of Russian forces interrogating, detaining, and forcibly deporting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, including children, continues to mount. Their reasons are clear: They want to destroy Ukraine – its culture, its people, its very existence," Thomas-Greenfield said during a U.N. Security Council meeting.

"For all this violence and carnage, these hunger and humanitarian crises, these human rights abuses and threats to vulnerable groups. Russia and Russia alone bears sole responsibility," she added.

Thomas-Greenfield called on the international forum to hold Russia accountable.

— Amanda Macias

Russia is planning to hold "sham referendums" to show Ukrainians want to join Russia, White House warns

White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby addresses the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, July 27, 2022.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

National security council spokesman John Kirby said that U.S. intelligence indicates that Russia may try to hold "sham referendums" as early as this week.

Kirby told reporters that the referendums are a way of Russia trying to show that the Ukrainian people want to become part of Russia. Kirby said that the U.S. believes that the referendums may begin in Kharkiv, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk.

Kirby added that the Biden administration will not view the outcome of the referendum as legitimate.

"Since they obviously are having trouble achieving geographic gains inside Ukraine, they are trying to gain that through false political means," Kirby told reporters.

"We expect Russia to try to manipulate the results of these referenda, to falsely claim that the Ukrainian people want to join Russia," he added.

— Amanda Macias

WHO warns of inadequate healthcare in Ukraine, calls on Russia to end war

A medical worker takes care a patient who was injured during a Russian cruise missiles strike on Thursday at a hospital in Vinnytsia, Ukraine July 15, 2022.
Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The World Health Organization warned that Russia's war has severely impacted Ukraine's ability to provide adequate healthcare.

"No system can deliver optimum health to its people under the stress of war, which is why we continue to call on the Russian Federation to end this war," said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General in a statement.

"Though shaken, the health system has not collapsed," said Ghebreyesus, adding that the WHO will continue to support the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to restore disrupted services, displaced health workers and destroyed infrastructure.

He said that so far the WHO has delivered more than 1,300 metric tons of critical medical supplies to Ukraine. The supplies include power generators, ambulances, oxygen supplies for medical facilities, supplies for trauma and emergency surgeries and medicine to help treat non-communicable diseases. 

— Amanda Macias

15 reported killed in Independence Day attack in Ukraine

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stands at Independence Square as he congratulates Ukrainians on Independence Day, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released August 24, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukraine's president says Russian forces have launched a rocket attack on a railroad station in central Ukraine on the country's Independence Day, killing at least 15 people and wounding about 50.

The lethal strike came after warnings from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in recent days that the Russians might "try to do something particularly nasty, something particularly cruel" this week.

Wednesday is a national holiday in Ukraine commemorating the country's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It also marks the six-month point in the war against Russia.

— Associated Press

Biden announces nearly $3 billion in security assistance for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on July 28, 2022.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Biden administration announced approximately $3 billion in security assistance for Ukraine on Wednesday.

The announcement of the upcoming military aid package, the 19th such installment, comes as Ukraine celebrates 31 years of its independence from the Soviet Union.

The package consists of six additional National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, as well as munitions for those systems, 24 counter-artillery radars, 245,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition, 65,000 rounds of 120 mm mortar ammunition, laser-guided rocket systems, support equipment for the Scan Eagle drone as well as Puma drones.

New to this security package is the Vampire drone. It was not immediately clear how many the Pentagon would provide.

So far, the U.S. has committed more than $13.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021.

— Amanda Macias

1.7 million Ukrainians are in need of access to heat sources as winter approaches, U.N. estimates

A woman cooks in the yard of a house in the city of Mariupol on June 4, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.
Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

United Nations Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo warned that Ukrainians will need additional support as the harsh winter season approaches.

"As winter approaches the destruction caused by war, combined with the lack of access to electricity due to damaged infrastructure could become a matter of life or death," DiCarlo said during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council

"The United Nations estimates that 1.7 million people are already in need of urgent assistance with heating, shelter repair and other winterization preparations as temperatures in parts of the country are expected to decline to minus 20 degrees Celsius," she added.

DiCarlo said U.N. organizations were working with Ukraine to address their winterzation efforts.

— Amanda Macias

'There is no such war crime that the Russian occupiers have not yet committed on the territory of Ukraine,' Zelenskyy says in dramatic UN appearance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on screen before addressing the UN Security Council Meeting on the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine on August 24, 2022, at UN headquarters in New York.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the United Nations Security Council as his war-torn country celebrates its 31st Independence Day.

"There is no such war crime that the Russian occupiers have not yet committed on the territory of Ukraine," Zelenskyy told the international forum.

"If Russia is not stopped now in Ukraine, if it's not stopped by the victory of Ukraine then all these Russian murderers will probably end up in other countries," he warned.

Zelenskyy, who spoke via video teleconference, called on the United Nations body to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked war in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

UK celebrates Ukrainian Independence Day with sunflower arch outside No. 10

Larry the cat stands by a flower arch of Ukraine's national flower, sunflowers, erected outside Number 10 Downing Street in London to mark Ukrainian Independence Day on August 24, 2022.
Susannah Ireland | AFP | Getty Images

The British government celebrates Ukraine's Independence Day by erecting a flower arch over the entrance to Number 10 Downing Street in London.

The sunflower, Ukraine's national flower, is seen with pops of blue flowers to further symbolize the colors of the national flag.

Seen under the flower arch is a 15-year-old tabby cat named Larry that lives in the Number 10 residence.

— Amanda Macias

Civilians are trying to leave Kyiv over fears of intensified Russian strikes, official says

Numerous civilians are trying to leave the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv as fears grow over Russian strikes around the period of Ukraine's Independence Day, Aug. 24, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

There is "certainly some concern" that a Russian attack could hit strategic parts of Kyiv, particularly government areas, presidential advisor Alex Rodnyansky said.

Ukrainians arrive at Khreschatyk Street to see the seized military equipment and weapons including tank and motorized artillery systems belonging to the Russian army displayed by Ukraine ahead of the country's 31st anniversary of Independence Day in Kyiv, Ukraine on August 21, 2022. 
Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

And according to the head of Ukraine's intelligence directorate, Andriy Yusov, Russian President Vladimir Putin is "really obsessed with dates and symbols, so it would be logical to be on the lookout and be prepared for independence day to be attacked."

Celebrations have been canceled and large gatherings banned for most of this week as Kyiv remains on high alert.

— Natasha Turak

War could leave Ukraine’s environment with a ‘toxic legacy for generations to come,’ UN warns

TOPSHOT - Smoke rises from an oil refinery after an attack outside the city of Lysychansk in the eastern Ukranian region of Donbas, on May 22, 2022, on the 88th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images

United Nations investigators said the war in Ukraine "could leave the country and region with a toxic legacy for generations to come," according to preliminary monitoring reports from the region.

The United Nations Environment Program, or UNEP, found thousands of possible incidents of air, water and land pollution and the degradation of ecosystems, including risks to neighboring countries.

"The mapping and initial screening of environmental hazards only serves to confirm that war is quite literally toxic," wrote UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen in the report.

"The first priority is for this senseless destruction to end now. The environment is about people: it's about livelihoods, public health, clean air and water, and basic food systems. It's about a safe future for Ukrainians and their neighbors, and further damage must not be done," she added.

— Amanda Macias

Photos: Ukraine's Independence Day and commemoration of lives lost to war

Two boys walk with a flag as dignitaries and members of the public attend a ceremony in the Na Valakh park on Independence Day of Ukraine on August 24, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images
Dignitaries and family's attend a ceremony for the fallen soldiers of Ukraine on the Field of Mars on August 24, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images
Dignitaries and families attend a ceremony at the graves of fallen soldiers in Lychakiv cemetery on August 24, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images
Dignitaries and family's attend a ceremony for the fallen soldiers of Ukraine on the Field of Mars on August 24, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (C) takes part of a ceremony at the Grand-Place in Brussels to celebrate Ukraine's Independence Day on August 24, 2022.
Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP | Getty Images
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Independence Square on Aug. 24, 2022, the country's Independence Day. "I believe that the Ukrainian flag and free life will return to Crimea again. We will liberate all our land, all our people," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address Sunday.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

— Getty Images

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Kyiv on Ukrainian Independence Day

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kyiv to celebrate Ukraine's Independence Day.

"What happens in Ukraine matters to us all. That is why I am in Kyiv today. That is why the UK will continue to stand with our Ukrainian friends," Johnson wrote on Twitter.

"I believe Ukraine can and will win this war," he added.

Johnson, who was one of the first world leaders to visit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv following Russia's invasion, has quickly become one of the most visible Western supporters of Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

'Extraordinary courage and dedication to freedom': Biden congratulates Ukraine on Independence Day

The White House issued a statement from President Joe Biden congratulating Ukraine on its 31st anniversary of independence, in which he reaffirmed his administration's support for the country in its war against Russia.

"Over the past six months, Ukrainians have inspired the world with their extraordinary courage and dedication to freedom. They have stood resolute and strong in the face of Russia's full scale invasion of Ukraine. And today is not only a celebration of the past, but a resounding affirmation that Ukraine proudly remains – and will remain – a sovereign and independent nation," Biden's statement read.

U.S. President Joe Biden signs into law S. 3522, the "Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022" at the White House in Washington, May 9, 2022.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

It highlighted the latest U.S. security assistance package for Ukraine totaling roughly $2.98 billion, its largest yet. In the past six months since the war began, Ukraine has lost thousands of civilian and combatant lives, seen swathes of cities and infrastructure destroyed, and had its population depleted by at least 10 million as people flee to other countries.

"I know this independence day is bittersweet for many Ukrainians as thousands have been killed or wounded, millions have been displaced from their homes, and so many others have fallen victim to Russian atrocities and attacks," Biden's statement continued.

It added that the U.S. "looks forward to continuing to celebrate Ukraine as a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous state for decades to come."

— Natasha Turak

Former Russian mayor arrested on charges of discrediting military

The former Russian mayor of Yekaterinburg, Russia's fourth-largest city, was arrested and charged with discrediting the country's military, in the latest example of the Kremlin's harsh laws against dissent.

Yevgeny Roizman, 59, was Yekaterinburg's mayor from 2013 to 2018 and had already been fined earlier this year under Russia's law that bans any activity "discrediting" the military or spreading "fake information" about its operations.

The law came into place shortly after Russia launched its war against Ukraine, which it calls a "special military operation." Russian authorities are well known to label criticism as equivalent to spreading fake information.

According to Reuters, the former mayor said he had been arrested "basically for one phrase, 'the invasion of Ukraine'."

Roizman could serve up to five years in prison if convicted. A few similar arrests of local officials and journalists have been made in previous months.

— Natasha Turak

Biden announces new $3 billion military aid package for Ukraine on its Independence Day

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on arming Ukraine, after touring a Lockheed Martin weapons factory in Troy, Alabama, May 3, 2022.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden announced a new nearly $3 billion military aid package for Ukraine, the largest yet since Russia launched its full invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

"The United States of America is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue the fight to defend their sovereignty," a White House statement from the president said.

"I am proud to announce our biggest tranche of security assistance to date: approximately $2.98 billion of weapons and equipment to be provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative," the statement said. "This will allow Ukraine to 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."

The U.S. is by far the largest supplier of military and financial aid to Ukraine as it fights to defend itself from Russian forces, and has committed more than $10.5 billion to the country in the last six months.

Ukrainian service members unpack Javelin anti-tank missiles, delivered by plane as part of the U.S. military support package for Ukraine, at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine February 10, 2022.
Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

— Natasha Turak

UK could 'toughen up' visa requirements for Russians, defense secretary says

The U.K. may decide to toughen visa conditions for Russians entering the country, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told BBC Radio, though he questioned the wisdom of an outright ban on Russian citizens, which has been called for by some European leaders.

"I certainly think we can toughen up the conditions of our visas. I am not sure whether an outright ban is the right way," Wallace said.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shake hands after a meeting, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 10, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

"I think that's a matter for the home secretary to look at. But I don't like ... watching oligarchs' wives or indeed Russian senior officials' wives enjoying themselves in Greece or the south of France, or on superyachts around the world while their army is committing war crimes in Ukraine," he added.

Estonia, Finland and the Czech Republic have all called for an EU-wide ban on the entry of Russian tourists from the Schengen free movement area. The move would serve as further punishment for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, supporters of the ban say.

U.S. President Joe Biden has also signaled he is not in favor of an outright ban on Russian travelers.

— Natasha Turak

Former U.S. ambassador says outcome of war difficult to predict, but 'no sign of Ukraine fatigue yet'

The end of the Russia-Ukraine war is not in sight, says think tank
VIDEO2:4902:49
The end of the Russia-Ukraine war is not in sight, says think tank

"The end is not in sight," said former U.S. ambassador to Georgia and Kazakhstan, William Courtney, who added that the outcome of the war is difficult to predict. Ukraine marked the sixth month since Russia invaded the country.

Courtney, who is now an adjunct senior fellow at Rand Corporation, added that while Russia is likely to "undertake some kind of attack" on Ukraine's Independence Day, Russia is not in a position to alter the outcome of the war.

"It doesn't appear that Russia is in a position to make an advance … this is not something that will affect the outcome of the fighting," he said.

Russia's continued assault can continue "as long as the Kremlin retains support," the senior fellow said, but cautioned that the disposable incomes of households in Russia have considerably dropped since its first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, and are "going down further."

Courtney noted that inflation in Russia is much higher than wage growth, and that "there's a potential for public unrest."

Ukraine fatigue

When asked about the likelihood a diminishing Western union against Russia, Courtney said that there is "no sign of Ukraine fatigue yet."

"There is a strong feeling in Europe that what Russia is doing is a direct attack on not only European security, but European values," he said. "This war was Russia-Ukraine, but it's now become a proxy war between Russia and the West, so we are seeing Europe stand quite tall."

— Lee Ying Shan

Russia's war in Ukraine after 6 months: Reversal of fortunes, but no end in sight

Ukraine marks the sixth month of Russia's invasion, and analysts are expecting the conflict to be a long, grinding "war of attrition" with no end in sight.

Russia initially expected a quick victory in Ukraine, but hopes of swiftly overthrowing Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's pro-Western government dissipated.

Geopolitical analyst and associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, Sam Ramani, said there has been something of a reversal in Russia's fortunes since the start of the invasion.

"In the first month of the war, the stronghold for Russia was really southern Ukraine. They took over Kherson very quickly and two thirds of Zaporizhzhia. They had Snake Island. The whole of the Black Sea coast was almost under their control," he said, adding that "now they're vulnerable in the south."

Russian troops in recent months pulled out of Snake Island and occupied areas, such as Crimea and Kherson. Additionally, Russian forces are seeing rising numbers of Ukrainian strikes in what could be the start of Kyiv's counteroffensive to reclaim lost territory in the south.

The shipping of grain exports from Ukrainian ports has also been able to resume under a U.N.-Turkey brokered deal between Moscow and Kyiv, bringing an end to a months-long Russian blockade.

In spite of these gains by Ukraine, many analysts have been left asking where and when Ukraine will launch a counteroffensive in the south like they announced.

Max Hess, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a U.S.-based think tank, told CNBC that the outlook for the next six months is likely to resemble a quagmire, both physically on the ground and on a geopolitical level, with neither side able to make advances and no impetus for a return to cease-fire negotiations after talks failed earlier this year.

— Lee Ying Shan, Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine marks its 31st Independence Day on Aug. 24

A boy with Ukrainian national flags poses on a destroyed Russian military vehicle displayed on the main street of Khreshchatyk in Kyiv, as part of the country's Independence Day celebrations.
Oleksii Chumachenko | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Ukraine marks its 31st anniversary of independence today, Aug. 24, exactly six months after the start of Russia's full-fledged military invasion.

The country regained its independence following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, declaring itself neutral and establishing a limited partnership with the ex-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States and later joining NATO's Partnership for Peace in 1994.

The country is currently on high alert as intelligence agencies in both Ukraine and the United States anticipate intensified Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, and the capital Kyiv has banned large gatherings for most of this week.

Kyiv's main boulevard is lined with captured Russian tanks and other military hardware, representing the defiance and resilience of the country, which Moscow and many other governments had expected to fall to invading forces within days.

— Natasha Turak

Ukraine's defense minister calls for more weapons and tighter sanctions on Russia

Ukrainian soldier Igor Ryazantsev with the Dnipro-1 regiment keeps watch outside his tent during a period of relative calm around their position near Sloviansk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Members of the unit believe a Russian advance could be impending with the aim of seizing the strategic city.
David Goldman | AP Photo

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov called for additional weapons and tighter sanctions on Russia as the Kremlin's war approaches its sixth month, a somber milestone that coincides with Ukraine's Independence Day.

"Sanctions should be tightened and loopholes closed. Russian citizens should face a Schengen Zone tourist visa ban, with only humanitarian cases permitted to enter the EU," Reznikov wrote for the Atlantic Council.

Reznikov also called on Western governments to support Ukraine with more weapons and humanitarian aid.

"The current war is not just about Ukraine. It is a struggle to determine who gets to set the rules the whole world will live by," he wrote.

"It is also a wake-up call for the many Europeans still in denial over the threat facing the continent from a hostile Russia," he added.

— Amanda Macias

Nearly 18 million people in serious need of humanitarian aid, UN says

A local resident, Raisa Kuval, 82, reacts next to a damaged building partially destroyed after a shelling in the city of Chuguiv, east of Kharkiv, on July 16, 2022.
Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Russia's war in Ukraine has left about 17.7 million people in serious need of humanitarian aid, according to United Nations estimates.

The U.N. also warned that the crisis will affect more people as the harsh winter season approaches.

The United Nations estimates that humanitarian organizations have scaled up operations in order to reach 11.7 million people since Russia's war in Ukraine began six months ago.

— Amanda Macias

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