UKRAINE UPDATE: 17 AUGUST 2022
Explosion rocks ammunition depot in occupied Crimea; Russia ‘has no plans to use nuclear weapons’
An explosion tore through a Russian ammunition depot in occupied Crimea, a week after a blast at an air base on the Black Sea peninsula destroyed fighter jets. About 2,000 people were evacuated from the area, Russian television reported.
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski called the explosion at a Russian ammunition depot in occupied Crimea the beginning of a series of attacks, while Russia attributed it to an act of sabotage. Neither side clarified what caused the blast.
President Vladimir Putin’s defence chief said Russia had no plans to use tactical nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu cited Russian military doctrine as saying nuclear weapons can only be used to deter an attack.
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On the ground
Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, was hit by Russian shelling overnight, affecting five out of nine districts, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Telegram. The breadth of missile attacks on the eastern city hadn’t been seen “for a long time”, he added. Fighting continued in the areas around Bakhmut and Avdiyivka in the eastern Donetsk region, as well as on the Kramatorsk axis, according to Ukraine’s general staff. Russian forces also shelled parts of the Chernihiv and Sumy regions, while parts of the Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv regions in the south were also struck overnight, local authorities said on Telegram.
Ukraine ‘is not considering peacekeepers on its territory’
Ukraine isn’t looking at the possibility of a peacekeeping operation on its territory, including for the Russian-seized Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, told reporters in Kyiv after talks with former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.
“We need to de-occupy all our territories and resume control over all strategic facilities, including Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” Yermak said, adding that a peacekeeping mission wasn’t discussed.
Turkey rebuffs Russian claim that missile-defence deal is complete
The Turkish government rejected a Russian defence official’s assertion that a new deal on an S-400 missile-defence system had been signed. There had been “no new development” on the status of the weapons system, Turkey’s defence procurement agency said, adding that the procedure was still in line with a 2018 agreement on the deal.
Russia’s Tass news agency earlier cited Dmitry Shugaev, the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, as saying that a new contract had been signed, which included Turkish production of individual components of the system. Turkish stocks dropped as much as 2.9% following the report, while Turkey’s five-year CDS jumped by almost 40 basis points.
Estonia dismantles World War 2 monuments to prevent misuse by Russia
Estonian authorities removed a Soviet-era T-34 tank from its pedestal after Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Russia was using such monuments to foment hostility in the Baltic country.
Kallas told reporters on Tuesday that Soviet monuments had been brought back into the public eye as a reminder of Russian aggression that “opened up old wounds” after the invasion of Ukraine. The government’s push to remove hundreds of Soviet monuments cuts into the country’s cultural divide, with Russian speakers making up nearly a quarter of the population
UN’s Ban, Colombia’s Santos to offer peacekeeping advice
Zelensky’s government invited former UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Colombia’s ex-president Santos for talks on conflict resolution. The two toured the towns of Bucha and Irpin outside Kyiv, where Russian forces are accused of committing atrocities in the first weeks of the war, Ukrainian television reported.
Ban, the UN secretary-general from 2007 to 2016, and Santos, who was awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in forging a peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, met with Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday, Ban’s foundation said in a statement.
Finland to cut Ukrainian visa numbers
From September, Finland will only accept about 100 visa applications a day, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters. That’s about 10% of the average number it has been receiving daily from Ukrainians since Russia’s invasion. The decision comes as the government responds to growing calls to limit travel across the country’s eastern border.
Russia says depot blast caused by sabotage
The Russian defence ministry made the assertion about the Dzhankoy depot in a statement, according to Interfax. Meanwhile, Kommersant reported explosions at another Crimean air base, close to Simferopol. Ukrainian authorities didn’t immediately confirm those blasts.
Russian Crimea depot explosion continues to detonate ammunition
The blast took place at a key transformer station and an ammunition depot near the strategically significant town of Dzhankoy in northern Crimea — and was just the beginning, Mykhaylo Podolyak, an adviser to President Zelensky, said in televised comments.
The transformer station had been intended to carry electricity from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in occupied southern Ukraine, and the explosion disrupted rail travel at a key point linking Crimea with Ukraine’s Kherson region. Seven passenger trains have been delayed, RIA Novosti reported, citing the national railway carrier.
Ukraine says Russia is taking millions of tonnes of grain
Grain and oilseed harvests in the Ukrainian regions occupied by Russian forces totalled about 20 million tonnes last year, including large amounts of winter wheat and barley, according to Ukraine Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi. Harvests are now under way and Russian occupiers appear to be looting newly collected grain, he said.
“We can predict, by analysing the information, the volume of crimes,” Solskyi said Monday in a television interview. “The volume of abuse of the new crop is calculated in millions of tonnes.”
Russia doesn’t plan to use nuclear weapons, Shoigu says
Russia’s Shoigu said the Kremlin has no plans to use tactical nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine. In comments in a televised speech at a security conference in Moscow, Shoigu said that from a military viewpoint, there is no need to use such weapons to achieve Russia’s goals in Ukraine.
Russian military doctrine states that the main goal of nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack, Shoigu said. The nation’s “special military operation” in Ukraine signified the end of a unipolar world, he added. DM