Latest Developments in Ukraine: August 4


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For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia's war on Ukraine. All times EDT.

10:05 p.m.: Russia may launch an offensive in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson to try to wrest back momentum from Kyiv and has been visibly building up forces, Ukrainian General Oleksiy Hromov said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Russia holds swathes of Ukraine's south that it captured in the early phases of its Feb. 24 invasion, but Kyiv has vowed to mount a major counter-offensive and used sophisticated western weapons to hit Russian supply lines and ammo dumps.

Hromov said Russia had brought in a large amount of weapons and hardware to the northeast of the strategically important southern region of Kherson, much of which is occupied by Russia.

"It's possible the enemy may or will try to carry out offensive operations deep into our territory in order to seize the initiative and threaten the development of our success in order to force the (Ukrainian army) to stop expanding bridgeheads and go on the defensive," he told a news conference.

8:11 p.m.: Around 50 mourners escorted two caskets draped in satin through a leafy cemetery in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region Thursday, family members of two soldiers killed last week on the nearby front.

One casket was opened to reveal the military fatigues-clad body of 48-year-old Oleh Panchenko, which bore visible face injuries.

"Our hero, I will be proud of you forever," Panchenko's mother, Lilia, said through bouts of uncontrolled sobbing as she leaned over her son, kissing his forehead. "God, why are you taking our boys from us?"

The funeral in Pokrovsk brought to 20 the number of Ukrainian soldiers buried there, in a newer section of the cemetery dedicated to military fatalities.

Nearly all of them were killed since Russia's invasion began on February 24, though others fell during the last eight years of fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists over control of the eastern Donbas region.

7:12 p.m.: The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) should tread a fine line so as not to consume all oil reserves, its Secretary-General Haitham al-Ghais told Al-arabiya TV on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Al-Ghais also commented on OPEC's decision on Wednesday to increase production by 100,000 barrels per day by saying: "we aim to test market reaction."

The secretary-general also said the organization was not in a competition with Russia saying: "the market has room for all," adding even with the discounts we heard Russia is giving to Asia.

6:21 p.m.: More grain ships approved to leave Ukraine.

The Joint Coordination Center (JCC) has authorized the departure of three vessels, two from Chornomorsk and one from Odesa, carrying a total of 58,041 tons of corn through the maritime humanitarian corridor under the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The vessels authorized to move Friday morning are:

M/V Polarnet, anchored in Chornomorsk port, with a cargo of 12,000 metric tons of corn destined to Karasu, Turkey;

M/V Navistar, anchored in Odesa port, with a cargo of 33,000 metric tons of corn with destination Ringaskiddy, Ireland;

M/V Rojen, anchored in Chornomorsk port, with a cargo of 13,041 metric corn destined to Teesport, United Kingdom.

The JCC has also authorized the movement, pending inspection, of M/V Fulmar S, inbound for Chornomorsk. It is currently at anchorage at the inspection area northwest of Istanbul.

The three outbound vessels are estimated to depart in the morning from their respective ports. Timings may be affected based on readiness, weather conditions or other unexpected circumstances. Inspection is expected to take place after arrival at the anchorage area in Turkish territorial waters.

5:19 p.m.: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday the war was the most dangerous moment for Europe since World War II and that Russia must not be allowed to win it, according to Reuters.

Amid fears among some politicians in the West that Russia's ambitions may extend beyond Ukraine, Stoltenberg warned Putin that the response to such a move from the Western military alliance would be overwhelming.

"If President Putin even thinks of doing something similar to a NATO country as he has done to Georgia, Moldova or Ukraine, then all of NATO will be involved immediately," Stoltenberg said.

The war has led previously non-aligned Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership, with the request so far ratified by 23 of the 30 member states, including the United States, which ratified their memberships Wednesday.

4:25 p.m.:

3:25 p.m.: Global oil prices dropped on Thursday to their lowest levels since before Russia's February invasion of Ukraine as traders worried about a recession later this year that could torpedo energy demand.

Benchmark Brent crude futures settled at $94.12, the lowest close since Feb. 18. West Texas Intermediate crude futures settled at $88.54, the lowest close since Feb. 2.

The fall in oil prices could come as a relief to large consumer nations including the United States and countries in Europe, which have been urging producers to ramp up output to offset tight supplies and combat raging inflation.

Oil had surged to well over $120 a barrel earlier in the year.

2:30 p.m.:

2:05 p.m.: Canada will send up to 225 personnel to the United Kingdom to train Ukrainian military recruits, starting with the first troops next week, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Ukraine has been forced to cede some territory in the east of the country in the face of a Russian offensive, and the head of the NATO military alliance said Moscow must not be allowed to win the war, which began with Russia's invasion in February.

The Canadian Armed Forces has trained more than 33,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel since 2015, but paused aspects of the training effort since February.

"We have now entered a new and very dangerous phase of this conflict with (Russia) engaging in a protracted attempt to inflict long-term damage on Ukraine and its people," Anand said in Toronto.

"I am therefore announcing today that we are fulfilling our promise to resume large-scale training."

1:35 p.m.:

1:15 p.m.: NATO members are working closely with defense companies to ensure Ukraine gets more supplies of weapons and equipment to be prepared for the long haul in its war with Russia, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

"We are providing a lot of support but we need to do even more and be prepared for the long haul," Stoltenberg told Reuters in an interview.

"Therefore we're also now in close contact and working closely with the defense industry to produce more and to deliver more of different types of ammunition, weapons and capabilities," he said.

12:40 p.m.:

12:25 p.m.: NASA and the White House have since late last year quietly drawn up contingency plans for the International Space Station in light of tensions with Moscow that began building before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, according to nine people with knowledge of the plans, Reuters reported.

The U.S. space agency's game planning shows how the U.S. is juggling its relationship with Russia, a crucial ally on the international space station project, which also involves such corporate names as Boeing, SpaceX and Northrup Grumman.

At risk is a two-decade old alliance NASA has sought to preserve as one of the few remaining links of civil cooperation between the two superpowers.

The plans drafted by U.S. officials laid out ways to pull all astronauts off the station if Russia were to abruptly leave, keep it running without crucial hardware provided by the Russian space agency, and potentially dispose of the orbital laboratory years earlier than planned, according to three of the sources, all of whom asked not to be identified.

12:10 p.m.: The eastern Ukrainian city of Druzhkivka has almost no drinking water and wherever the residents can find it, people line up with canisters to gather it. Many parts of the Donetsk region are without a regular supply of water. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

11:55 a.m.: The International Crisis Group has released a report assessing the recent deal involving Ukraine and Russia to allow grain exports via the Black Sea.

Titled "Who are the Winners in the Black Sea Grain Deal," the report analyzes the accord, a product of months of diplomacy which "have yielded a set of agreements allowing Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea."

Its experts assess the outcomes of the accord "which could be significant even if it does not by itself push down global food prices."

11:45 a.m.: The White House released a statement by U.S. President Joe Biden Thursday, immediately after a judge in Russia sentenced American basketball star Brittney Griner for drug possession and smuggling.

"American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney," Biden said. "It's unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates," he added.

Biden said his administration would "continue to work tirelessly" to secure the release of Griner and another American held prisoner in Russia, Paul Whelan.

11:35 a.m.:

11:25 a.m.: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to meet his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, VOA's Dorian Jones reported.

A just-concluded deal on freeing up Ukrainian grain, along with Russian backing for a new Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces will be on the agenda.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Friday meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Black Sea resort of Sochi will be the second time the two leaders have met in a month.

The meeting comes just after the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain left the Black Sea under a Turkey-U.N.-brokered deal between Kyiv and Moscow.

11:00 a.m.: The Bank of England projected Thursday that the United Kingdom's economy will enter a recession at the end of the year as it hiked interest rates by the largest amount in more than 27 years, pushing to tame accelerating inflation driven by the fallout from Russia's war in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

"There is an economic cost to the war," Bank of England Gov. Andrew Bailey said at a news conference. "But I have to be clear, it will not deflect us from setting monetary policy to bring inflation back to the 2% target."

The bleak outlook in the world's fifth-largest economy shows the ripple effect of the war, with people mired in a cost-of-living crisis that has surged the cost of everything from groceries to utility bills. Recession is also a growing concern in Europe as shrinking flows of natural gas from Russia drive inflation and threaten to force factories to ration this winter.

10:25 a.m.: In the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, active fighting continues on the outskirts of the city as Russian forces try to capture the key area. The city itself is half-empty. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Maryan Kushnir spoke to one of the few residents who refuse to leave despite the fighting.

10:10 a.m.: A Turkish bulk carrier is expected to arrive in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Chornomorsk on Friday and will be the first vessel to arrive at a Ukrainian port during Russia's invasion, a spokesperson for the regional administration of Odesa said, according to Reuters.

"The Turkish bulk carrier Osprey S, flying the flag of Liberia, is heading from the Dardanelles Strait to the port of Chornomorsk," Serhiy Bratchuk, the spokesperson, wrote on Telegram late on Wednesday.

As of Thursday afternoon, Osprey S was anchored in the Sea of Marmara, around 1 kilometre (0.62 mile) off Istanbul's Asian coast, along with other ships waiting to cross the Bosphorus in to the Black Sea, according to a Reuters witness.

9:30 a.m.:

9:05 a.m.: Ukrainian forces have exposed civilians to Russian attacks at times by basing themselves in schools, residential buildings and other places in populated areas, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

In a report released Thursday, Amnesty International said its researchers between April and July "found evidence of Ukrainian forces launching strikes from within populated residential areas, as well as basing themselves in civilian buildings in 19 towns and villages" in three regions of the country. Amnesty also said it found Ukrainian forces using hospitals as military bases in five places, which the human rights group called "a clear violation of international humanitarian law."

At the same time, its authors stressed that the "Ukrainian military's practice of locating military objectives within populated areas does not in any way justify indiscriminate Russian attacks."

The Associated Press reported that its journalists observed scenes on several occasions in recent weeks that mirrored the human rights group's findings. They included attack sites in Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, and communities in the eastern Donetsk region where Ukrainian fighters, their vehicles or other items such as ammunition were still present, the AP said.

Ukraine's government disputed the report by Amnesty International, according to the Kyiv Independent."Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the President's Office, accused Amnesty International of participating in the Russian disinformation and propaganda campaign to discredit Ukraine's military," the news organization said. "Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also said he was outraged by the "unfair" report," it added.

8:45 a.m.: The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) office in Ukraine supported training workshops in the capital Kyiv this week aimed at teaching families about the risks of explosive ordnance.

8:25 a.m.: Ukraine said on Thursday it had repelled multiple Russian assaults on a strategic stronghold in the east of the country, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this week described the pressure his armed forces were under in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine as "Hell". He spoke of fierce fighting around the town of Avdiivka and the fortified village of Pisky, where Kyiv has acknowledged its Russian foe's "partial success" in recent days.

The Ukrainian military said on Thursday Russian forces had mounted at least two assaults on Pisky but that Ukraine troops had managed to repel them.Ukraine has spent the last eight years fortifying defensive positions in Pisky, viewing it as a buffer zone against Russian-backed forces who control the city of Donetsk about 10 km (6 miles) to the southeast.

The Russian defense ministry on Thursday confirmed its forces were on the offensive. It said they had inflicted heavy losses on Ukrainian forces around Avdiivka and two other locations in Donetsk province, forcing Kyiv's mechanized and mechanized infantry units to withdraw.

Reuters could not immediately verify either side's assertions.

8:05 a.m.:

7:50 a.m.: Eight people were killed and four were wounded in Russian artillery shelling in the eastern Ukrainian town of Toretsk in Donetsk region on Thursday, the regional governor said, according to Reuters.

The shelling hit a public transport stop where people had gathered, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram. Three children were among the wounded, he said.

Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, said the attack was "another terrorist act" by Russia, and repeated his calls for other nations to declare Russia a state sponsor of terror, a move which would bring further sanctions on Moscow.

Russia has previously denied targeting civilians and has rejected allegations of war crimes in what it calls a "special military operation" aimed at demilitarizing and "denazifying" Ukraine. Ukraine says it was invaded without provocation.

7:35 a.m.:

7:20 a.m.: The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog appealed for access to a Ukrainian nuclear power plant now controlled by Russian forces to determine whether it was a source of danger, Reuters reported Thursday.

Contact with the Europe's largest nuclear plant, which is at Zaporizhzhia and is being operated by Ukrainian technicians, was "fragile" and communications did not function every day, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Rafael Grossi told Swiss paper Tages-Anzeiger.

"We can't afford faulty communication with the plant in areas relevant to safety. We know of allegations that live ammunition is stored in the plant, that there are attacks on the power plant," he said in interview published in German.

"Frankly, if I don't have access, I can't determine that. There are contradictions between the accounts of the Russian and Ukrainian sides. I receive information, I also mention it in my situation reports, but I have no way of determining whether it corresponds to the facts."

7:00 a.m.:

6:45 a.m.: A Syrian ship that Ukraine says is carrying stolen Ukrainian grain has left a Lebanese port after officials in Lebanon allowed it to sail following an investigation, Lebanon's transport minister tweeted on Thursday.

The Syrian-flagged Laodicea had been anchored at the port of Tripoli since it arrived last Thursday, carrying 10,000 tons of wheat flour and barley, according to The Associated Press. Ukraine says the grain was stolen by Russia, a claim it denies.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian Ambassador to Lebanon Ihor Ostash urged Lebanon not to allow the vessel to leave the port. A judge on Wednesday said the Laodicea can sail, a day after Lebanon's prosecutor general decided the ship could leave after an investigation showed it was not carrying stolen Ukrainian grain.

Transport Minister Ali Hamie tweeted that "Syrian-flagged Laodicea is now outside Lebanon's territorial waters." It was not immediately clear where the ship is heading but Marine Traffic, a website that monitors vessel traffic and location of ships on seas, showed it moving toward the Syrian coast.

6:25 a.m.:

6:10 a.m.: U.S. officials believe Russia is working to fabricate evidence concerning last week's deadly strike on a prison, housing prisoners of war, in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine.

U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Russia is looking to plant false evidence to make it appear that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the July 29 attack on Olenivka Prison that left 53 dead and wounded dozens more, a U.S. official familiar with the intelligence finding told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Russia has claimed that Ukraine's military used U.S.-supplied rocket launchers to strike the prison in Olenivka, a settlement controlled by the Moscow-backed Donetsk People's Republic.

The Ukrainian military denied making any rocket or artillery strikes in Olenivka. The intelligence arm of the Ukrainian defense ministry claimed in a statement Wednesday to have evidence that local Kremlin-backed separatists colluded with the Russian FSB, the KGB's main successor agency, and mercenary group Wagner to mine the barrack before "using a flammable substance, which led to the rapid spread of fire in the room."

5:50 a.m.:

5:35 a.m.: The U.N. Human Rights Office on Thursday tweeted excerpts from a speech by its chief, Michelle Bachelet, in which she spoke of a "grim picture" in the world, saying democracy is "ailing" in several regions.

"Just as we thought we were slowly emerging from a global health pandemic, the armed attack in Ukraine, and its socio-economic consequences globally, have thrown us deeper into turbulence," she said.

"And polarization both within and between countries continues to grow, the weakening of multilateralism, of the international legal order - and of international law itself, with immense consequences on human rights," Bachelet added.

Bachelet was speaking at the opening workshop for the International Association of Jesuit Universities, at Boston College, on August 3.

5:20 a.m.: Closing arguments in Brittney Griner's cannabis possession case in Russia are set for Thursday. The basketball star faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted for having vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage.

4:30 a.m. As Russia continues its attack on Ukraine, Ukrainians face a worsening health emergency, said the World Health Organization. A combination of burnt-out staff, increased shelling and the approach of winter is fueling the agency's concerns.

In an interview with Reuters, the WHO's Ukraine emergency coordinator Heather Papowitz said healthcare teams in many areas have become used to working with shelling outside their window.

3:20 a.m.: Many Ukrainian refugees are still struggling to find jobs in their European Union host countries, reports The Associated Press. Faced with language barriers and unable to prove their education or expertise, many have settled for jobs far different than those they left behind, with highly educated professionals working as hotel housekeepers or bartenders.

2 a.m.: The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense shares its latest intelligence on the situation in Ukraine.

1 a.m.: According to The Kyiv Independent, Ukraine's Education Minister Serhiy Shkarlet estimates that 641,000 of the country's children remain abroad after leaving as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

12:02 a.m.: Though the first grain ship to leave Ukraine under a Black Sea wartime deal passed inspection in Istanbul and is heading to Lebanon, Ukraine says 17 other vessels loaded with grain are waiting for permission to leave its ports, according to The Associated Press. No word yet on when they could depart.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.