Russian soldier jailed for firing tank shells at apartment block

The court in northeast Chernihiv found Mikhail Kulikov, who was captured while fighting, guilty of hitting the residential building on February 26, two days after Russia invaded Ukraine
The court in northeast Chernihiv found Mikhail Kulikov, who was captured while fighting, guilty of hitting the residential building on February 26, two days after Russia invaded Ukraine Credit: NEXTA

A Russian soldier has been sentenced to 10 years in jail after a Ukrainian court found him guilty of violating the laws and customs of war by firing tank shells at a multi-storey apartment block, an interior ministry official has said.

The court in north-east Chernihiv found Mikhail Kulikov, who was captured while fighting, guilty of hitting the residential building on February 26, two days after Russia invaded Ukraine, said Anton Herashchenko, an aide to Ukraine's interior minister.

Kulikov pleaded guilty at the trial and sought a more lenient punishment because he said he had been following orders, the Ukrainian general prosecutor's office said.

The residential block that was hit in the city of Chernihiv was not a military target or being used for military purposes, it said.

Elsewhere, Russia is forming 40 "volunteer battalions" to make up for losses in its regular army, offering high pay and short-term contracts to lure new recruits onto the battlefield.

Local officials from Vladivostok to Moscow have been put in charge of sourcing the troops and are pulling in volunteers without combat experience, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on Monday, citing public records.

Follow the latest updates in Tuesday's live blog.

What we learnt today

There has been a flurry of activity this evening. To recap what we have learnt:

  • Russia and Ukraine have traded accusations that each side is shelling Europe's biggest nuclear power plant, in southern Ukraine. Russia claimed that Ukrainian shelling caused a power surge and fire and forced staff to lower output from two reactors, while Ukraine has blamed Russian troops for storing weapons there.
  • The Pentagon announced $1 billion in fresh military aid for Ukraine, including additional precision missiles for the Himars system that have helped Kyiv's forces attack Russian troops far behind the front lines.
  •  The World Bank on Monday said it was mobilising a $4.5 billion grant for Ukraine provided by the United States that will help Kyiv meet urgent needs created by Russia's invasion, including healthcare, pensions and social payments.
  • A Russian soldier has been sentenced to 10 years in jail after a Ukrainian court found him guilty of violating the laws and customs of war by firing tank shells at a multi-storey apartment block.

  • Ukraine has arrested two people working for Russian intelligence services who planned to kill Ukraine's defence minister and the head of its military intelligence agency, Ukraine's domestic security service, the SBU has said.

Russian troop losses mount

Russia has suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 troop casualties since the start of the invasion of Ukraine, according to a senior Pentagon official.

New shipping procedures for Ukraine corridor

The United Nations, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine issued long-awaited procedures on Monday for merchant ships exporting Ukrainian grain and fertiliser through the Black Sea, according to a document seen by Reuters.

"The Parties will not undertake any attacks against merchant vessels or other civilian vessels and port facilities engaged in this initiative," the document said.

US announces $1 billion Ukraine arms aid package 

The United States will provide $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, the single largest package using the president's drawdown authority, including munitions for long-range weapons and armoured medical transport vehicles, acting Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale said today.

The package adds to about $8.8 billion in aid the United States has given Ukraine since Russia's invasion on February 24. It includes munitions for HIMARS, NASAMS surface-to-air missile system ammunition and as many as 50 M113 armoured medical transports.

Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia edging closer to Russia referendum 

Moscow-backed authorities in the southeastern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia said Monday they were pressing ahead with plans to stage a referendum on joining Russia.

"I signed a decree... to start working on the issue of organising a referendum on the reunification of the Zaporizhzhia region with the Russian Federation," Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the Moscow-installed administration in the occupied part of the region of Zaporizhzhia, said on social media.

Balitsky had earlier indicated the vote could be held in the autumn.

Placeholder image for youtube video: VdsTqhcGsy4

The eponymous Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant - Europe's largest - has in recent days been the scene of strikes that have damaged several structures, forcing the shutdown of a reactor.

Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for the strikes, raising fear of a nuclear accident.

The southern Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have been largely under Russia's control since the first weeks of Moscow's military campaign.

Ukraine and Botswana discuss food security

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been in conversation with Botswana's President Mokgweetsi E.K Masisi about food security.

US to send $4.5 billion more to Ukraine for budget needs

he United States will provide an additional $4.5 billion to Ukraine's government, bringing its total budgetary support since Russia's February invasion to $8.5 billion, the US Agency for International Development said on Monday.

The funding, coordinated with the US Treasury Department through the World Bank, will go to the Ukraine government in tranches, beginning with a $3 billion disbursement in August, USAID, the Agency for International Development, said.

Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, is greeted by USAID Administrator Samantha Power in Washington last month Credit:  REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

It follows previous transfers of $1.7 billion in July and $1.3 billion in June, USAID said. Washington has also provided billions of dollars in military support, and plans a new $1 billion weapons package shortly.

The US funds are to help the Ukrainian government maintain essential functions, including social and financial assistance for the growing poor population, children with disabilities, and millions of internally displaced persons, as the war drags on.

Ukraine says it caught hitmen on Russian mission to kill top officials 

Ukraine has arrested two people working for Russian intelligence services who planned to kill Ukraine's defence minister and the head of its military intelligence agency, Ukraine's domestic security service, the SBU has said.

The Security Service of Ukraine foiled the plot by the Russian GRU military intelligence agency to use a sabotage group to carry out three murders including that of a prominent Ukrainian activist, the agency said in a statement.

The assertions could not be independently verified.

There was no immediate reaction to the Ukraine statement from Moscow or Russian state-run media.

The suspects, one a resident of the eastern Luhansk region held by Russia-backed separatists and the other a resident of Ukraine's capital Kyiv, were promised up to $150,000 by Russian handlers for the murder of each of their targets, the SBU said.

The man from Luhansk region entered Ukraine from Belarus and was detained in the city of Kovel in northwestern Ukraine along with the Kyiv resident, the statement said.

US discusses South Africa neutrality over invasion

South Africa's neutral stance on Russia's war in Ukraine was discussed in a meeting Monday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Africa's Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor.

South Africa did not appear to shift in its refusal to criticize Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Instead, Pandor criticized the U.S. and other Western powers for focusing on the Ukraine conflict to the detriment of other international issues.

"We should be equally concerned at what is happening to the people of Palestine, as we are with what is happening to the people of Ukraine," she said in a press briefing following the meeting with Blinken.

US calls on Russia to stop military activity at nuclear sites 

The White House called on Russia on Monday to cease all military operations around nuclear facilities in Ukraine.

"Fighting near a nuclear plant is dangerous," White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One during a flight to Kentucky, where President Joe Biden is to tour flood-damaged areas.

"And we continue to call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukrainian nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine," Ms Jean-Pierre said.

Zaporizhzhia - Europe's largest atomic power complex - was occupied by Russia early in its invasion and recent fighting there has raised fears of a nuclear accident.

Ms Jean-Pierre said the United States is continuing to "closely monitor" the situation at the facility and radiation sensors have "thankfully" not shown any indications of an increase or abnormal radiation levels.

Russian TV protester ordered to pay new fine over Ukraine 

A Moscow court has ordered journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who denounced Russia's intervention in Ukraine, to pay a new fine for discrediting the Russian army.

In March, Ovsyannikova shot to prominence for interrupting a live TV broadcast to denounce Russia's military intervention in Ukraine. Her lawyer did not rule out on Monday the possibility she could face a criminal probe in the future.

Last week, another court ordered the 44-year-old journalist to pay 50,000 roubles (around $800) for discrediting the Russian army.

Placeholder image for youtube video: ze3HK12nRGI

On Monday, Ovsyannikova, a former editor at state-controlled Channel One, said Moscow's Cheryomushkinsky district court ordered her to pay 40,000 roubles.

In court, Ovsyannikova said she "trolled" the judge but he did not seem to understand her irony.

"America and Europe are to blame for the fact that there is no longer freedom of speech, just courts and fair elections in Russia. And people are put in jail for calling for peace," she said in court, according to her statement on messaging app Telegram.

Ukraine 'optimistic' after arrival of first grain shipment 

The first cargo ship to reach its final destination after departing from Ukraine under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv docked in Turkey Monday, Kyiv said, while a consignment due in Lebanon reported delays.

Ukraine, one of the world's largest grain exporters, was forced to halt almost all deliveries after Russia's invasion, but Black Sea exports recently restarted under a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey.

An aerial view of the Turkish-flagged ship "Polarnet" carrying grain from Ukraine is seen at the Derince Port, Turkey Credit: Omer Faruk Cebeci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Turkish cargo ship - the Polarnet - that reached its final destination left the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk last week carrying 12,000 tonnes of corn.

"This first successful completion of the implementation of the 'grain deal' means it is possible to be optimistic about future transportation," Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov was quoted as saying in a statement by the ministry.

Blinken says allowing Russia to bully Ukraine would mean 'open season' worldwide 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that if Russia were allowed to bully Ukraine, to invade and take territory without being opposed, then it would be "open season" around the world.

The United States' top diplomat was speaking at a news conference alongside South Africa's foreign minister Naledi Pandor as part of a visit that will also take him to Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

Antony Blinken and South Africa's Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor Credit: Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

"If we allow a big country to bully a smaller one, to simply invade it and take its territory, then it's going to be open season, not just in Europe but around the world," Mr Blinken said.

Blinken said the United States felt it was important to stand up to Russia because its aggression against Ukraine threatened the foundational principles of the international system.

Germany's Schroeder to remain in ruling party despite Putin ties 

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will remain a member of the ruling Social Democrats (SPD), the party said Monday, finding his ties with Vladimir Putin did not breach its rules.

The SPD's Hanover branch said Schroeder, whose party membership falls under its umbrella, was "not guilty of a violation of the party rules, as no violation can be proven against him".

Schroeder, chancellor from 1998 to 2005, has refused to turn his back on Putin despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

His stance has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

He has also been widely criticised for holding a number of lucrative posts at Russian energy giants, and it was only after much public pressure that Schroeder in May gave up his seat on the board of Russian energy group Rosneft.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder meeting with Vladimir Putin in 2018 Credit:  Alexey DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / AFP

He later also announced he would not be joining Gazprom's supervisory board as initially planned.

Germany's parliament in May removed some of the perks Schroeder was entitled to as an elder statesman, stripping him of an office and staff.

Mr Schroeder, 78, who was Angela Merkel's immediate predecessor, has remained defiant and met with Putin in Moscow in July.

In an interview after the visit, he claimed Russia wanted a "negotiated solution" to the war - comments branded as "disgusting" by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Russia ready to facilitate IAEA visit to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant 

Things are moving quickly on the ground in Zaporizhzhia.

Russia is ready to facilitate a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the RIA Novosti news agency has quoted Russia's permanent representative to international organisations in Vienna as saying.

Earlier, the United Nations chief called for access to the plant as Kyiv and Moscow traded blame for the shelling in a southern region captured by Russian invaders in March and now targeted by Kyiv for a counter-offensive.

EU plan to cut gas use by 15% comes into effect 

An EU plan to cut gas consumption across the bloc by 15 percent to cope with an energy price crisis spurred by Russia's war in Ukraine comes into effect on Tuesday.

The EU regulation enshrining the plan agreed two weeks ago by the 27-nation bloc was published today in the European Union's official administrative gazette, with the stipulation it would take force from Tuesday.

"Considering the imminent danger to the security of gas supply brought about by the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, this regulation should enter into force as a matter of urgency," it said.

The aim is for the EU to be able to bolster its reserves of gas in time for what is likely to be a very tough winter. European households and businesses are being squeezed by skyrocketing energy prices and reduced Russian gas that several member states are dependent on.

Ukraine waiting for international mission to power plant

Russian forces want to cause electricity blackouts in southern Ukraine by shelling its Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex, Ukraine's ambassador to the IAEA nuclear watchdog said on Monday, calling for an international mission to the plant this month.

"We will use all possible channels of diplomacy to bring the IAEA and U.N. closer to conducting this mission," Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told reporters in Vienna.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Credit:  REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko//File Photo

"We really need it urgently, as soon as possible, I would say not later than the end of this month," he added.

Earlier, the United Nations chief called for access to the plant as Kyiv and Moscow traded blame for the shelling in a southern region captured by Russian invaders in March and now targeted by Kyiv for a counter-offensive.

Ukraine seeks new IMF programme

Ukraine has formally requested a new programme from the International Monetary Fund and hopes to receive aid under the programme from November to December, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Monday.

"We expect to receive the corresponding assistance from the IMF already in November-December of this year," he said in a statement on the government website. 

Ukraine calls for de-militarisation of Zaporizhzhia

Further to our post at 10.19am, Kyiv has called for the establishment of a demilitarised zone around a nuclear power station in east Ukraine where recent fighting with Russian forces has raised fears of a nuclear accident.

Zaporizhzhia - Europe's largest atomic power complex - was occupied by Russia early in its invasion.

In recent days, it has been the scene of strikes that have damaged several structures, forcing the shutdown of a reactor.

"What needs to be done is to remove occupying forces from the station and to create a de-militarised zone on the territory of the station," said Petro Kotin, president of Ukraine's nuclear energy company, Energoatom.

"The fact that they are there is the greatest danger going forwards, towards an accident with radiation or even to a nuclear catastrophe," he added in a statement distributed by the agency.

Recent fighting at the plant has prompted the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to warn of "the very real risk of a nuclear disaster".

Germany stands by Russia sanctions despite gas crisis

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz does not consider support for Russia sanctions to be waning even with energy bills expected to surge further, a government spokesperson has said.

"We face difficult months ahead," the spokesperson said, adding "but it is clear that we stand firmly on the side of Ukraine and we stand behind the sanctions that we agreed together with the European Union and the international community".

Speaking at a regular news conference in Berlin, the spokesperson also ruled out an approval for the shelved Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Butterfly mines, in pictures

Butterfly mines lay strewn on the ground at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. The powerful mines were a key weapon deployed by the Societ Union during their invasion of the country Credit: Joe Raedle /Getty Images North America 
PFM-1 Butterfly mines scattered from cluster munitions over Donetsk Credit: @nm_dnr/Newsflash 

Russia says it shot down 19 Himars missiles

Russia's defence ministry has claimed its forces have shot down 19 US-made Himars missiles across eastern and southern Ukraine, and destroyed Himars vehicles near the Ukrainian town of Kramatorsk.

Ukraine shelled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on Sunday - Kremlin

Russia's defence ministry has claimed that Ukraine had shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station on August 7, damaging high-voltage power lines and forcing the plant to reduce its output.

Kyiv has denied targeting the plant. Ukraine's state nuclear power company Energoatom said on Sunday that a worker was wounded when Russian forces shelled the power station, the biggest in Europe, on Saturday evening.

Kremlin warns Kyiv of 'catastrophic consequences'

The Kremlin has accused Ukrainian forces of firing on the Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant, warning against potential "catastrophic consequences" for Europe.

"The shelling of the territory of the nuclear plant by the Ukrainian armed forces is a potentially extremely dangerous activity... fraught with catastrophic consequences for a vast area, including the territory of Europe," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He called on Ukraine's allies "to use their influence to prevent the continuation of such shelling".

Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for strikes on the atomic power plant, where recent fighting sparked a UN warning of a potential nuclear disaster.

Zaporizhzhia - Europe's largest atomic power complex that was occupied by Russia early in its offensive - has in recent days been the scene of military strikes that have damaged several structures, forcing the shutdown of a reactor.

No basis for meeting between Putin and Zelensky - Kremlin

The Kremlin has said there is no basis for a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents at the moment.

In response to a question about Turkish proposals to broker peace talks, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky could meet only after negotiators from both sides had "done their homework".

Negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv have been stalled for months, with each side blaming the other for a lack of progress.

Ukraine's nuclear chief calls for military-free zone at Zaporizhzhia plant

The head of Ukraine's state nuclear power company Energoatom has called for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to be made a military-free zone and said there should be a team of peacekeepers present at the site.

He made the comments on television after Ukraine and Russia accused each of shelling the nuclear power plant - Europe's biggest - which lies in Russian-controlled southern Ukraine. 

Zaporizhzhia nuclear station 'operating normally'

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, hit by shelling over the weekend, is operating "in normal mode," the Interfax news agency quoted the Russian-installed head of the local administration as saying.

"We have information from the military and representatives of Russia's Rosatom, who are here, just watching the situation. We have information from them that everything is operating in normal mode," said Yevgeniy Balitsky, head of the Russian-installed administration of the Zaporizhzhia region.

Mr Balitsky said the facility, Europe's largest nuclear power station, was under the control of Russian authorities.

Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for shelling the station over the weekend.

Actress Jessica Chastain meets Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv

Placeholder image for youtube video: SOYgnWUqQUM

Two more grain ships depart Ukraine, in pictures

The Maltese-flagged cargo ship Rojen, that left the Ukrainian port of Chernomorsk with grain shipment for export, sails through Bosphorus in front after an inspection in Istanbul Credit: ERDEM SAHIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock 
The Turkish-flagged cargo ship Polarnet, carrying Ukrainian grain, enters Gulf of Izmit Credit: YORUK ISIK /REUTERS

Russia will achieve its aims in Ukraine - Dmitry Medvedev

One of President Vladimir Putin's closest allies has said Russia will achieve its aims in the conflict in Ukraine on its own terms, warning that the West had a long-term plan to destroy Russia.

"Russia is conducting a special military operation in Ukraine and is attaining peace on our terms," former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who serves as deputy chairman of Russia's security council, told TASS in an interview.

Mr Medvedev cast the 2008 war in Georgia, the enlargement of the Nato military alliance westwards and the Ukraine war as part of an attempt by the United States and its allies to destroy Russia.

"The goal is the same: to destroy Russia," he was quoted as saying. 

Ukraine today, in pictures

Residents carry water collected at a nearby well in Sloviansk Credit: David Goldman /AP
Destroyed vehicles that were caught in heavy fighting are gathered in a lot in Mariupol Credit: AP
Ukranian servicemen stand next to a tank hiding with camouflage in a position ready to fire in Kharkiv Credit: NACHO DOCE /REUTERS
A bee and a sunflower are seen among the debris of a collapsed residential building in Kharkiv Credit: Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock 

Russian tank in Ukraine explodes after catastrophic ammo detonation

Placeholder image for youtube video: wS6pDoZDxK4

Ex-Russia deputy PM beats Ukrainian to World Chess Federation presidency

A former Russian deputy prime minister has beaten his Ukrainian challenger in elections for the head of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), in a move welcomed by the Kremlin, reports James Kilner.

Ukrainian grandmaster Andrii Baryshpolets was defeated by Arkady Dvorkovich, the sitting FIDE president, who initially denounced Russia's war on Ukraine but in a later interview praised Russian soldiers.

“Wars are the worst things one might face in life…including this war," he said in March. "My thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians. Wars do not just kill priceless lives. Wars kill hopes and aspirations, freeze or destroy relationships and connections.”

You can read James' report in full here.

Fresh shelling delays reopening of Kherson bridge

Ukrainian forces again shelled the Antonivskyi bridge in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, damaging construction equipment and delaying its reopening, Interfax news agency quoted a local Russian-appointed official as saying.

The bridge is one of only two crossing points for Russian forces to territory they have occupied on the western bank of the Dnipro river in southern Ukraine in what Moscow calls a "special military operation" in the country.

It has been a key target for Ukrainian forces in recent weeks, with Kyiv using high-precision US-supplied rockets to try to destroy it in possible preparation for a counter-offensive to retake Russian-controlled areas of the south.

Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-appointed deputy head of Kherson's city administration, told Interfax there had been no "critical damage" from the latest shelling. He did not say how long this would delay its planned reopening.

Russia likely 'deploying anti-personnel mines' in Donbas - MoD

More grain leaves Black Sea ports

Two more grain-carrying ships sailed from Ukraine's Black Sea ports on Monday, Turkey's defence ministry said, as part of a deal to unblock Ukrainian sea exports.

The Sacura, which departed from Yuzni, is carrying 11,000 tonnes of soybeans to Italy.

The Arizona, which left Chernomorsk, is carrying 48,458 tonnes of corn to Iskenderun in southern Turkey.

Kharkiv hit by strikes

Shelling and missile strikes were reported in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and around military sites in the western region of Vinnitsya, among other places, Ukrainian authorities said.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

About 26,000 war crimes investigated

Ukraine's chief war crimes prosecutor has said that almost 26,000 suspected war crimes committed since the Russian invasion are being investigated, with 135 people charged, of whom 15 are in custody. 

Armed and ready in the supermarket...

A Ukrainian serviceman pushes a trolley at a supermarket in Kharkiv, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues Credit: REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Amnesty regrets 'distress and anger' over report

Amnesty International has said it "fully stands by" a report which accused Ukraine of human rights violations despite widespread criticism.

The controversial report, which accused Ukraine of endangering civilians, infuriated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

It prompted the head of the rights group's Ukraine office to resign. Oksana Pokalchuk accused the campaign group of publishing “inadmissible and incomplete” evidence, and said her colleagues in the war-torn country had been shut out of the investigation.

Responding to the report on Sunday, Amnesty International said that while it "regrets" the anger caused by the report, it stood by its publication.

"Amnesty International deeply regrets the distress and anger that our press release on the Ukrainian military's fighting tactics has caused," it said.

"Our priority in this and in any conflict is ensuring that civilians are protected. Indeed, this was our sole objective when releasing this latest piece of research. While we fully stand by our findings, we regret the pain caused."

Ukrainian officials say they try to evacuate civilians from front-line areas.

Comment: Amnesty is now utterly morally bankrupt

'Any attack to a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing'

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Monday for international inspectors to be given access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after Ukraine and Russia traded accusations over the shelling of Europe's largest atomic plant at the weekend.

"Any attack to a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing," Mr Guterres said in Japan, where he attended the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing.

Ukraine said renewed Russian shelling on Saturday had damaged three radiation sensors and hurt a worker at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, the second hit in consecutive days on the site.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of waging "nuclear terror" that warranted more international sanctions, this time on Moscow's nuclear sector.

"There is no such nation in the world that could feel safe when a terrorist state fires at a nuclear plant," Mr Zelensky said on Sunday.

Russian forces captured the plant in south-eastern Ukraine in early March but it is still run by Ukrainian technicians.

The Russian-installed authority of the area said Ukrainian forces hit the site with a multiple rocket launcher, damaging administrative buildings and an area near a storage facility. The Russian embassy in Washington also released a statement itemising the damage.

"Ukrainian nationalists launched an artillery strike on the territory of the specified object on August 5. Two high-voltage power lines and a water pipeline were damaged as a result of the shelling. Only thanks to the effective and timely actions of the Russian military in covering the nuclear power facility, its critical infrastructure was not affected," the embassy said.

Zelensky warns 'pseudo-referendums' will ruin talks

An elderly woman is evacuated from her home in Bakhmut, Ukraine Credit: Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency

As the fighting rages, Russians installed in the wake of Moscow's invasion have toyed with the idea of joining Ukraine's occupied territory to Russia.

Last month, a senior pro-Russian official said a referendum on such a move was likely "towards next year".

In his daily video address, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said that any "pseudo-referendums" on occupied areas of his country joining Russia would eliminate the possibility of talks between Moscow and its Ukrainian counterparts or their allies.

"They will close for themselves any change of talks with Ukraine and the free world which the Russian side will clearly need at some point," Mr Zelensky said.

Putin's troops attempt full control of Donbas 

Vladimir Putin's troops are trying to gain full control of the Donbas region of east Ukraine where pro-Moscow separatists seized territory after the Kremlin annexed Crimea to the south in 2014.

Russian forces stepped up their attacks north and northwest of Donetsk city in the Donbas on Sunday, Ukraine's military said.

The Russians attacked Ukrainian positions near the heavily fortified settlements of Piski and Avdiivka, as well as shelling other locations in the Donetsk region, it said.

In addition to tightening its grip over the Donbas, Russia is entrenching its position in southern Ukraine, where it has gathered troops in a bid to prevent a potential counter-offensive near Kherson, Kyiv has said.

Ships sail out in attempt to beat famine

Navi-Star, carrying 33,000 tons of corn from Ukraine to Ireland, passes through the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sunday Credit: Islam Yakut/Anadolu Agency

A deal to unblock Ukraine's food exports and ease global shortages has gathered pace as another four ships sailed out of Ukrainian Black Sea ports while the first cargo vessel since Russia's invasion docked.

The four outgoing ships had almost 170,000 tonnes of corn and other food. They were sailing under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to try to help ease soaring global food prices that have resulted from the war.

Before Moscow's invasion, Russia and Ukraine together accounted for nearly a third of global wheat exports. The disruption since then has threatened famine in some parts of the world.

Russian-appointed Kherson mayor ‘poisoned by chef’

Volodymyr Saldo is on a ventilator in the Sklifosovsky Emergency Research Institute Credit: Anadolu Agency

The Russian-appointed mayor of Kherson was poisoned by a chef brought into his household a day before he fell ill, Russian opposition media has reported.

It was reported that, on August 3, Vladimir Saldo “became ill, his mind began to cloud and his fingertips went numb” after he ate food prepared by the chef.

Saldo was rushed to a hospital in Crimea, where doctors put him into a coma and flew him to Moscow. He is now on a ventilator.

Doctors are waiting for his toxicology reports, although regional officials denied he had been poisoned.

Read the full story here.

Today's top stories

  • The Kremlin insider known as “Putin’s chef” personally toured Russian prisons to recruit 1,000 convicts to fight for his Wagner Group of mercenaries in Ukraine, a Russian opposition website has reported
  • The Russian-appointed mayor of Kherson was poisoned by a chef brought into his household a day before he fell ill, Russian opposition media has reported
  • The Ukrainian fishermen who smuggled babies while watched by Russian snipers: When a heavily pregnant woman on the brink of labour turned up on fisherman Oleksandr Dvorianets’ doorstep begging for help to get across a river to go to hospital, he knew he had to do something
  • Telegraph View: For a country that presided over one of the world’s worst nuclear power disasters, Russia’s latest action in Ukraine is reckless in the extreme