Russia-Ukraine war: Zelenskiy tells officials to stop leaking military tactics; UN sounds nuclear plant warning – live

Zelenskiy warns officials against talking about Kyiv’s military tactics

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday told government officials to stop talking to reporters about Kyiv’s military tactics against Russia, saying such remarks were “frankly irresponsible”.

In the wake of major blasts that wrecked a Russian air base in Crimea on Tuesday, the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers cited unidentified officials as saying Ukrainian forces were responsible. The government in Kyiv, on the other hand, declined to say whether it had been behind the explosions.

Zelenskiy said in an evening address:

War is definitely not the time for vanity and loud statements. The fewer details you divulge about our defence plans, the better it will be for the implementation of those defence plans.

If you want to generate loud headlines, that’s one thing – it’s frankly irresponsible. If you want victory for Ukraine, that is another thing, and you should be aware of your responsibility for every word you say about our state’s plans for defence or counter attacks.”

Zelenskiy addressed his remarks to state, local and military officials as well as other people he said were commenting on events at the front.

Key events

Russia’s permanent representation in the UN, Vasyl Nebenzia, has said the country does not support a proposal to create a demilitarised zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Interfax quotes Nebenzia:

The demilitarisation of the station can make it vulnerable to those who want to visit it. No one knows what their goals and objectives will be. We cannot rule out any provocations, terrorist attacks on the station, which we must protect.

Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the withdrawal of all military personnel and military equipment from the station and to avoid the deployment of any other military forces or military equipment in the area.

Gutteres said:

The facility should not be used as part of any military operations. Instead, it is necessary to urgently reach an agreement at the technical level on the establishment of a security perimeter and demilitarisation in order to ensure the security of the region.

Eleven rockets hit the city of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine at 2am, according to the city’s mayor.

Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko posted on Facebook:

Private homes were destroyed. There is no information about victims. Occupiers destroy everything in their path – a terrorist tactic.

The UK has posted its daily defence intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine.

Key points as follows:

  • On 9 August, explosions occurred at the Russian-operated Saky military airfield in western Crimea.

  • The original cause of the blasts is unclear, but the large mushroom clouds visible in eyewitness video were almost certainly from the detonation of up to four uncovered munition storage areas.

  • At least five fighter-bombers and three multi-role jets were almost certainly destroyed or seriously damaged in the blasts. Saky’s central dispersal area has suffered serious damage, but the airfield probably remains serviceable.

  • The loss of eight combat jets represents a minor proportion of the overall fleet of aircraft Russia has available to support the war. Saky was primarily used as a base for the aircraft of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea fleet.

  • The fleet’s naval aviation capability is now significantly degraded. The incident will likely prompt the Russian military to revise its threat perception. Crimea has probably been seen as a secure rear-area.

Night shelling took place in Kharkiv last night, according to a report on BBC Ukraine’s live blog.

The report cites Kharkiv OVA head Oleg Sinegubov as posting on Telegram:

Last night, the Russians launched rocket attacks on Kharkiv. Four rockets were fired from Belgorod at once. At around 3am, two rockets hit an educational institution in the Slobid district.

The report adds the following information from the Telegram post:

  • In the Novobavar district, a rocket hit the road next to the administrative building. Shrapnel damaged the facade.

  • The arrival of another rocket was recorded in the Kyiv region, with no casualties.

  • Russian strikes were also recorded that night in the village of Tsirkuny and between Tsirkuny and Cherkasy Tyshky in the Kharkiv district.

  • A 51-year-old woman died in the Zolochiv community due to shelling.

  • At the same time, two more Kalibr missiles, launched by the Russians from the Caspian Sea, were shot down by Ukrainian air defences over the Kharkiv region.

Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that a shipment of M20 MLRS tanks have arrived in Ukraine.

In a tweet, he thanked the UK’s defence minister Ben Wallace and British people for the donation, which had been pledged earlier. “Your support is amazing and so important for Ukraine,” he said.

He added that more “gifts” would arrive soon.

UK promised, UK delivered! 🇺🇦🤝🇬🇧
More M270 MLRS arrived in Ukraine. Thanks to @BWallaceMP and all the 🇬🇧 people! Your support is amazing and so important for Ukraine. Our #UAarmy will skillfully use this “replenishment” at the battlefield.
P.S. More “gifts” will arrive soon. pic.twitter.com/DvVIpz6XjK

— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) August 12, 2022

Kazakhstan is expected to sell some of its crude oil through Azerbaijan’s biggest oil pipeline from September to bypass a route Russia threatened to shut.

Reuters reports:

Kazakh oil exports account for more than 1% of world supplies, or roughly 1.4m barrels a day (bpd).

For 20 years, they have been shipped through the CPC pipeline to Russia’s Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, which provides access to the global market.

In July, a Russian court threatened to shut the CPC, prompting the Kazakh government and major foreign producers to set up contracts for other outlets as a precaution.

None of the alternatives are as practical as the CPC pipeline, raising the risk of further volatility on energy markets.

Rachel Hall here taking over from Samantha Lock. If there’s anything you think we’ve missed, drop me a line at rachel.hall@theguardian.com.

Summary so far

Before I hand you over to my colleague here is a quick update of developments so far this morning.

  • Explosions at the Russian-operated Saky military airfield in western Crimea earlier in the week were “almost certainly” from the detonation of up to four uncovered munition storage areas, though the original cause of the blasts remains unclear, the UK Ministry of Defence has said. At least five Su-24 fencer fighter-bombers and three Su-30 flanker H multi-role jets were almost certainly destroyed or seriously damaged in the blasts, according to British intelligence.

  • The devastation at the Russian air base in Crimea suggests Kyiv may have obtained new long-range strike capability with potential to change the course of the war. The base is well beyond the range of advanced rockets that western countries acknowledge sending to Ukraine so far, with some western military experts saying the scale of the damage and the apparent precision of the strike suggested a powerful new capability with potentially important implications.

  • A shipment of Ukrainian grain is to be loaded for delivery to Ethiopia later today as another two export ships reportedly left Ukraine’s ports. Turkey’s defence ministry reported that the Marshal Islands-flagged Star Laura ship will transport 60,150 tons of corn to an Iranian port, while the Belize-flagged ship Sormovskiy 121 will transport 3,050 tons of wheat to a Turkish port, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia.

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told officials to stop talking to reporters about Kyiv’s military tactics against Russia, saying such remarks were “frankly irresponsible”. The president’s comments come after news organisations cited unidentified officials saying Ukrainian forces were responsible for blasts that destroyed a Russian air base in Crimea on Tuesday, despite Kyiv declining to say whether it was behind the explosions.

  • The UN has urged a demilitarised zone around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as Russia and Ukraine trade accusations over more shelling of the plant on Thursday. Ukraine’s nuclear energy company said it had been shelled five times by Russian forces on Thursday, resulting in staff being unable to change shifts.

  • The British defence secretary said Vladimir Putin is unlikely to succeed in occupying Ukraine. Ben Wallace said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “faltered” and was “starting to fail”, as he pledged more financial and military support to the eastern European nation’s defence.

  • Russia has doubled the number of air strikes on Ukraine’s military positions and civilian infrastructure compared with the previous week, Ukrainian brigadier general Oleksiy Hromov said on Thursday. “The enemy’s planes and helicopters avoid flying into the range of our air defences, and therefore the accuracy of these strikes is low,” he told a news conference.

  • Ukraine aims to evacuate two thirds of residents from areas it controls in the eastern battleground region of Donetsk before winter, partly out of concern people won’t be able to stay warm amid war-damaged infrastructure, the deputy prime minister said on Thursday. The government plans to evacuate some 220,000 people out of around 350,000, including 52,000 children, Iryna Vereshchuk told a news conference.

In a separate report, Forbes Ukraine estimated that the aircraft destroyed at Russia’s Crimea airbase was worth $650m to $850m.

“Based on various sources, Forbes estimated that before the explosions, aircraft equipment worth $650m to $850m was located at the airfield,” the report read.

Russia loses 8 combat jets in Crimea attack: UK MoD

The UK Ministry of Defence has said the explosions at the Russian-operated Saky military airfield in western Crimea earlier in the week were “almost certainly” from the detonation of up to four uncovered munition storage areas, though the original cause of the blasts remains unclear.

At least five Su-24 fencer fighter-bombers and three Su-30 flanker H multi-role jets were almost certainly destroyed or seriously damaged in the blasts, according to British intelligence.

Saky’s central dispersal area has suffered serious damage, but the airfield probably remains serviceable, the report added.

The loss of eight combat jets represents a minor proportion of the overall fleet of aircraft Russia has available to support the war. However, Saky was primarily used as a base for the aircraft of the Russian navy’s Black Sea fleet.

The fleet’s naval aviation capability is now significantly degraded and the incident will likely prompt the Russian military to revise its threat perception, officials said.

Estonia said on Thursday it will from next week prevent most Russians from entering the country with visas issued by Estonian authorities, cutting off a popular route into Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone.

While exceptions apply, the foreign ministry for Estonia, a European Union member, said it will also cease to issue visas to Russians for work, study and business in the country.

Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said in a statement:

We have seen an enormous rise in the number of Russian citizens coming into or passing through Estonia.

The possibility they have to visit Estonia, or other parts of Europe via Estonia, en masse is not in line with the principles of the sanctions we have imposed,” he said, adding that the order takes effect from 18 August.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday called on the west to impose a blanket travel ban on Russians while the European Commission questioned the feasibility of a ban.

Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic have already stopped issuing visas to most Russians, while Finland and Estonia recently called for the EU to do so jointly.

Two more ships depart from Ukraine

A shipment of Ukrainian grain is to be loaded for delivery to Ethiopia later today as another two export ships reportedly left Ukraine’s ports.

The total number of ships to depart the country under a UN-brokered deal is now 14, including the first export of wheat.

“Thanks to the Black Sea Initiative we are ready to load more than 23,000 tonnes of grain and export it to Ethiopia,” Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Twitter.

Turkey’s defence ministry reported that the Marshal Islands-flagged Star Laura ship will transport 60,150 tons of corn to an Iranian port, while the Belize-flagged ship Sormovskiy 121 will transport 3,050 tons of wheat to a Turkish port, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia.

Ukraine is ready for the 🚢 BRAVE COMMANDER arrival, which is expected tomorrow. Thanks to the Black Sea Initiative we are ready to load more than 23 000 tons of grain & export it to Ethiopia. In the framework of @WFP & persistent work of @UNReliefChief @UN it became possible.

— Oleksandr Kubrakov (@OlKubrakov) August 11, 2022

Tahıl sevkiyatı kapsamında;

▪️Belize bandralı ve 3 bin 50 ton buğday taşıyan SORMOVSKY isimli gemi Çernomorsk’tan Tekirdağ’a,

▪️60 bin ton mısır taşıyan Marşal Adaları bandralı STAR LAURA isimli gemi de Yuzni’den İran’a gitmek üzere hareket etti.

— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) August 12, 2022

UN sounds warning at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

The United Nations nuclear watchdog has called for officials to visit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant as soon as possible amid renewed shelling in the area and warnings of the “catastrophic consequences” of continued fighting near Europe’s largest atomic plant.

“This is a serious hour, a grave hour and the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] must be allowed to conduct its mission to Zaporizhzhia as soon as possible,” the agency’s chief, Rafael Grossi, told an emergency meeting of the UN security council on Thursday night.

Ukraine’s state-run company operating the plant, Energoatom, said the area was struck five times on Thursday, including near the site where radioactive materials are stored.

“Five [hits] were recorded near the plant management’s office – right next to the welding site and the storage facility for radiation sources,” Enerhoatom said in a post on its official Telegram channel. “The grass caught fire over a small area, but fortunately, no one was hurt.”

The United Nations nuclear watchdog has called for officials to visit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant as soon as possible amid renewed shelling in the area. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

The claims come just one day after Ukraine accused Russia of firing rockets from around a captured nuclear power plant, killing at least 13 people and wounding 10, in the knowledge that it would be risky for Ukraine to return fire.

The UN’s top official called for an immediate end to all military activity around the Zaporizhzhia plant, warning that further “deeply worrying” incidents could – if they continue – lead to disaster.

“I am calling for all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the plant to cease immediately and not to target its facilities or surroundings,” António Guterres, the secretary general, said in a statement ahead of the meeting.

Guterres warned that any potential damage to the Zaporizhzhia plant “could lead to catastrophic consequences not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the region and beyond”.

Grossi said he was ready to lead an expert mission to inspect the site in south-eastern Ukraine and called on Russia and Ukraine to cooperate so officials could travel as soon as possible.

“Time is of the essence,” he told the 15-member security council via video feed, adding that the agency could perform urgent work on safeguards and provide a stabilising influence in order “to prevent a nuclear accident from happening”.

A series of haunting images taken during a burial service for unidentified bodies in the town of Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, have been released.

A priest prays for unidentified civilians killed by Russian troops in Bucha.
A priest prays for unidentified civilians killed by Russian troops in Bucha. Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP
Workers carry a coffin with the body of an unidentified person killed during the Russian occupation of Bucha on 11 August.
Workers carry a coffin with the body of an unidentified person killed during the Russian occupation of Bucha on 11 August. Photograph: Alexey Furman/Getty Images
Workers place mortal remains in coffins of unidentified persons killed in the Bucha district during a mass burial at a cemetery in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, Ukraine.
Workers place mortal remains in coffins of unidentified persons killed in the Bucha district during a mass burial at a cemetery in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, Ukraine. Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA
Hundreds of tortured and killed civilians have been found in Bucha and other parts of the Kyiv region after the Russian army retreated.
Hundreds of tortured and killed civilians have been found in Bucha and other parts of the Kyiv region after the Russian army retreated. Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA
Municipal workers remove body bags of some twelve unidentified civilians from the back of a morgue container to be laid in coffins ready for burial at a local cemetery in Bucha, Kyiv region.
Municipal workers remove body bags of some twelve unidentified civilians from the back of a morgue container to be laid in coffins ready for burial at a local cemetery in Bucha, Kyiv region. Photograph: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Zelenskiy warns officials against talking about Kyiv’s military tactics

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Thursday told government officials to stop talking to reporters about Kyiv’s military tactics against Russia, saying such remarks were “frankly irresponsible”.

In the wake of major blasts that wrecked a Russian air base in Crimea on Tuesday, the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers cited unidentified officials as saying Ukrainian forces were responsible. The government in Kyiv, on the other hand, declined to say whether it had been behind the explosions.

Zelenskiy said in an evening address:

War is definitely not the time for vanity and loud statements. The fewer details you divulge about our defence plans, the better it will be for the implementation of those defence plans.

If you want to generate loud headlines, that’s one thing – it’s frankly irresponsible. If you want victory for Ukraine, that is another thing, and you should be aware of your responsibility for every word you say about our state’s plans for defence or counter attacks.”

Zelenskiy addressed his remarks to state, local and military officials as well as other people he said were commenting on events at the front.

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

I’m Samantha Lock and I will be bringing you all the latest developments for the next short while. Whether you’ve been following our coverage overnight or you’ve just dropped in, here are the latest lines:

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told officials to stop talking to reporters about Kyiv’s military tactics. Divulging details about Ukraine’s defence plans is “frankly irresponsible”, he said.

Meanwhile, the UN’s top official called for an immediate end to all military activity around the Zaporizhzhia plant, warning that further “deeply worrying” incidents could – if they continue – lead to disaster.

It is 7.30am in Ukraine. Here is everything you might have missed:

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told officials to stop talking to reporters about Kyiv’s military tactics against Russia, saying such remarks were “frankly irresponsible”. The president’s comments come after news organisations cited unidentified officials saying Ukrainian forces were responsible for blasts that destroyed a Russian air base in Crimea on Tuesday, despite Kyiv declining to say whether it was behind the explosions.

  • The devastation at the Russian air base in Crimea suggests Kyiv may have obtained new long-range strike capability with potential to change the course of the war. The base is well beyond the range of advanced rockets that western countries acknowledge sending to Ukraine so far, with some western military experts saying the scale of the damage and the apparent precision of the strike suggested a powerful new capability with potentially important implications.

  • The UN has urged a demilitarised zone around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as Russia and Ukraine trade accusations over more shelling of the plant on Thursday. Ukraine’s nuclear energy company said it had been shelled five times by Russian forces on Thursday, resulting in staff being unable to change shifts. However, Russian news agency Tass reported that the local Russian-imposed authorities in occupied Zaporizhzhia said the plant had been fired upon by Ukrainian forces. Ukraine’s Energoatom agency said the plant was operating normally.

  • The United States supports calls for a demilitarised zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant after fighting involving Russian and Ukrainian forces in the vicinity of the plant, a State Department spokesperson said on Thursday. “Fighting near a nuclear plant is dangerous and irresponsible and we continue to call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukrainian nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine, and support Ukrainian calls for a demilitarised zone around the nuclear power plant,” the spokesperson said.

  • The British defence secretary has said Vladimir Putin is now unlikely to succeed in occupying Ukraine. Ben Wallace said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “faltered” and was “starting to fail”, as he pledged more financial and military support to the eastern European nation’s defence.

  • Russia has doubled the number of air strikes on Ukraine’s military positions and civilian infrastructure compared with the previous week, Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov said on Thursday. “The enemy’s planes and helicopters avoid flying into the range of our air defences, and therefore the accuracy of these strikes is low,” he told a news conference.

  • Ukraine aims to evacuate two thirds of residents from areas it controls in the eastern battleground region of Donetsk before winter, partly out of concern people won’t be able to stay warm amid war-damaged infrastructure, the deputy prime minister said on Thursday. The government plans to evacuate some 220,000 people out of around 350,000, including 52,000 children, Iryna Vereshchuk told a news conference.

  • Ukraine expects a ship to arrive on Friday to load grain for delivery to Ethiopia under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, Reuters reports.

  • Ukraine expects $3bn of US financial aid to arrive in August and a further $1.5bn in September, its finance minister, Serhiy Marchenko, said on Thursday. Marchenko said the payments were part of the $7.5bn financial aid package agreed by Ukraine and the US at the start of the summer and would be used to finance “critical spending” such as healthcare and pension costs.

  • Belarus has said that blasts heard overnight at one of its military bases 19 miles from Ukraine were caused by a “technical incident”. At least eight explosions were heard after midnight near Zyabrovka military airport, according to reports on Telegram messenger. Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.

  • McDonald’s will start reopening some of its restaurants in Ukraine in the coming months, in a show of support after the American fast-food chain pulled out of Russia. The burger giant closed its Ukrainian restaurants after Russia’s invasion nearly six months ago but has continued to pay more than 10,000 McDonald’s employees in the country.



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