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Putin says sanctions are a ‘danger’ to the world; Ukraine counterattacks in Kharkiv while

German chancellor tells Zelenskyy that Berlin will ‘not stop supporting’ Ukraine

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends the NATO summit via video link, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 29, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the “military, humanitarian and economic situation in Ukraine,” according to a German readout of the call.

The two leaders also discussed efforts to support Ukraine during its reconstruction from the war.

“The Chancellor stressed that Germany would not stop supporting Ukraine militarily, but also politically, financially and on a humanitarian level,” German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit wrote.

Scholz also received an update from Zelenskyy about the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The two leaders agreed to remain in close contact.

— Amanda Macias

More than 50 agricultural vessels have departed Ukraine for Asia, official says

A combine harvester of Continental Farmers Group agricultural company harvests wheat on August 4, 2022 in the Ternopil region of Ukraine. 

Alexey Furman | Getty Images

More than 50 agricultural vessels have departed Ukraine for Asia in the first month since exports restarted, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said.

Under the U.N.-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal to reopen three Ukrainian ports, 54 vessels carrying more than 1 million metric tons of agricultural products have been exported to Asia. He added that so far 16 vessels have departed Ukraine for Africa carrying nearly half a million metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs.

Another 32 vessels carrying nearly 1 million metric tons of agricultural goods have departed for European ports.

— Amanda Macias

At least 516 Ukrainian health-care facilities have been attacked since war started, WHO says

Doctors Without Borders (MSF), in cooperation with the Ukrainian railways and the Ministry of Health, has just completed a new medical train referral of 48 patients, coming from hospitals close to the frontline in the war-affected east of the country.

Genya Savilov | AFP | Getty Images

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, there have been at least 516 attacks on vital health services in the country, the World Health Organization’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care estimates.

The organization reports that health care facilities were damaged 438 times, ambulances were targeted in 73 cases and at least 144 attacks affected crucial medical supplies. The group also estimated that attacks on health services led to at least 100 deaths and 129 injuries.

The Kremlin has previously denied that it targets civilian infrastructure like hospitals, schools and apartment buildings.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian official urges residents near Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to evacuate

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine August 4, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister called on residents near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to evacuate the area amid reports of Russian troops holding Ukrainians in the area hostage.

“The Russians are holding hostage not only the staff of the station. Residents of the temporarily occupied territories adjacent to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are also held hostage. Tens of thousands of people,” Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram, according to an NBC News translation.

Vereshchuk added that Ukraine’s Ministry of Reintegration requested a humanitarian corridor in order to evacuate the civilian population from areas adjacent to the nuclear power plant.  

“The answer is cynical silence,” she said.

— Amanda Macias

Putin and Xi to meet next week as war in Ukraine shows no signs of halting

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping plan to meet next week in Uzbekistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization forum, a Russian official said on Wednesday.

Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping plan to meet next week in Uzbekistan, a Russian official said Wednesday, announcing a summit that could signal another step in warming ties between two powers that are increasingly facing off against the West.

Putin and Xi last met in Beijing in February, weeks before the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine.

The two presidents oversaw the signing of an agreement pledging that relations between the sides would have “no limits.”

It remains unclear whether Xi knew at the time of Russia’s plans to invade Ukraine.

— Associated Press

More than 7 million Ukrainians have become refugees from Russia’s war

People arrive at the central train station from Pokrovsk, in the eastern part of Ukraine on April 11, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

More than 7 million Ukrainians have become refugees and moved to neighboring countries since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the U.N. Refugee Agency estimates.

Nearly 4 million of those people have applied for temporary resident status in neighboring Western countries, according to data collected by the agency.

“The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance,” the U.N. Refugee Agency wrote.

— Amanda Macias

At least 96 vessels carrying agricultural products have left Ukrainian ports

ISTANBUL, TURKIYE – AUGUST 09: An aerial view of “Glory” named empty grain ship as Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Turkiye and the United Nations (UN) of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) conduct inspection on vessel in Istanbul, Turkiye on August 09, 2022. The UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal on July 22 to reopen three Ukrainian ports — Odessa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny — for grain that has been stuck for months because of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which is now in its sixth month. (Photo by Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of agricultural products from Ukraine said that so far 96 vessels have left the besieged country since ports reopened.

The Joint Coordination Center, an initiative of Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations and Turkey, said the ships transported a total of 2,212,972 metric tons of grain and other food products.

— Amanda Macias

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shutdown being considered, official says

A Russian serviceman stands guard the territory outside the second reactor of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar on May 1, 2022.

Andrey Borodulin | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s top nuclear inspector says the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant could be shut down if hostilities continue around the plant. Europe’s largest nuclear plant continues to be at the center of accusations between Russia and Ukraine — with both repeatedly accusing each other of shelling the Russian-occupied facility.

The head of Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory body, Oleh Korikov, said shutting down the plant was under consideration.

“Further deterioration of the situation will lead to the fact that we will be forced to operate backup diesel power generators in order to sustain our security systems, and diesel fuel reserves are very difficult to replenish in conditions of war,” Korikov said Wednesday in an interview broadcast on YouTube.

“In fact, we will need four tanks of diesel per day. It is very problematic to bring such a volume of fuel across the contact line now. That is, we can potentially get into a situation where we run out of diesel, which can lead to an accident with damage to the active zone of the reactors and the release of radioactive products into the environment. Then it will have consequences not only for Ukraine but also for other countries,” he said.

“The option of turning off the station is indeed considered if appropriate conditions arise that would require such a stop. If this happens, the 6th power unit will be turned off.”

The 6th reactor is currently the only one functioning in the plant, which was inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency last week.

In the 52-page report, IAEA investigators warned that while ongoing shelling “has not yet triggered a nuclear emergency, it continues to represent a constant threat to nuclear safety and security.”

“The IAEA recommends that shelling on site and in its vicinity should be stopped immediately to avoid any further damages to the plant and associated facilities, for the safety of the operating staff and to maintain the physical integrity to support safe and secure operation,” wrote IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi.

— Holly Ellyatt

‘Heavy fighting’ taking place in north, east and south of Ukraine, UK says

Britain’s Ministry of Defense has confirmed earlier reports from officials in Ukraine that the armed forces there have been counterattacking Russian positions in the northeastern and eastern parts of the country, as well the south, where a counteroffensive was launched last week.

“Over the last 24 hours, heavy fighting has taken place on three fronts: in the north, near Kharkiv; in the east in the Donbas; and in the south in Kherson Oblast,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update Wednesday.

“Russia’s planned main effort is probably an advance on Bakhmut in the Donbas, but commanders face a dilemma of whether to deploy operational reserves to support this offensive, or to defend against continued Ukrainian advances in the south,” the ministry added.

Firefighters at the rubble of a building destroyed by Russia’s missile strike in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Sept. 06, 2022.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

“Multiple concurrent threats spread across 500km will test Russia’s ability to coordinate operational design and reallocate resources across multiple groupings of forces.  Earlier in the war, Russia’s failure to do this was one of the underlying reasons for the military’s poor performance,” it said.

Holly Ellyatt

Russia hints at Putin-Xi meeting in mid-September

Russia has indicated that plans are being made for President Vladimir Putin to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from Sept.15-16.

Russian envoy to Beijing, Andrey Denisov, told reporters on Wednesday that “in less than ten days we will have a regular meeting of our SCO leaders in Samarkand, we are getting ready for it. In general, this summit promises to be interesting, because it will be the first full-fledged summit since the pandemic,” he said in comments reported by Russian state news agency Tass.

Russia has increasingly looked to China for support as its relations with the West deteriorate, and Beijing has called for a diplomatic resolution to the war in Ukraine.

Alexei Druzhinin | Afp | Getty Images

“One way or another, there will be plenary sessions and various kinds of group meetings, and we are planning a serious, full-fledged meeting of our leaders with a detailed agenda, which we are now, in fact, working on with our Chinese partners,” the official said.

Russia has increasingly looked to China for support as its relations with the West deteriorate, and Beijing has called for a diplomatic resolution to the war.

— Holly Ellyatt

Putin says sanctions are a “danger” to the world

Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the West again on Wednesday, saying sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine are a “danger” to the world.

“The pandemic has been replaced by new challenges of a global nature, carrying a threat to the whole world, I’m talking about the sanctions rush in the West and the West’s blatantly aggressive attempts to impose their modus vivendi on other countries, to take away their sovereignty, to submit them to their will,” he said, addressing delegates at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, a port city on Russia’s Pacific coast.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the West has been reluctant to recognize “irreversible tectonic shifts” in international relations and that the Asia-Pacific region has become a magnet for human resources, capital and production capacities.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Putin said there’s “nothing new” about the West’s policy but added that the current situation was precipitated by the United States’ “slipping dominance” in global politics and economics.

He added that the West has been reluctant to recognize “irreversible tectonic shifts” in international relations and that the Asia-Pacific region has become a magnet for human resources, capital and production capacities.

“Despite that, the Western countries are trying to maintain the old world order that only benefitted them,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine has launched a counterattack in Kharkiv, officials suggest

Ukraine has launched a counterattack in the Kharkiv region in the northeast of the country, with several reports of fighting in the town of Balakliia, which lies between the cities of Kharkiv and Izyum.

Overnight and early this morning, the head of the Kharkiv regional state administration, Oleg Synegubov, posted on Telegram that Russian forces were shelling various parts of Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, and fighting was taking place in the province.

“Active fighting continues on the contact line. The enemy continues to intensively fire at the positions of our military, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are retaliating. As a result of the successful actions of our defenders, the occupiers from private military companies suffered great losses in the temporarily occupied Oleksandrivka,” he said on Telegram.

A building damaged after an attack by Russian forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sept. 06, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In its latest military update, Ukraine’s armed forces said Russia had launched missile and air strikes on civilian infrastructure “in the areas of Kharkiv” and elsewhere in eastern and southern Ukraine, where the fighting remains most intense between the forces. CNBC was unable to independently verify the reports.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said in an overnight update that “Ukrainian forces have launched likely opportunistic counterattacks in southern Kharkiv Oblast [province] and retaken several settlements.”

The analysts noted that Russian redeployments of forces from this area to defend against the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson, southern Ukraine, “likely prompted and facilitated these counterattacks.”

Last night, Serhiy Leshchenko, an advisor to President Zelenskyy, tweeted that there would be “great news” from the president regarding the “counteroffensive operation in Kharkiv region.” The tweet has since been deleted and Zelenskyy made little reference to the region in his nightly address.

Ukraine has become tight-lipped about its counteroffensive in southern Ukraine in order not to reveal its military strategies and objectives to Russia.

— Holly Ellyatt

Six NATO allies have yet to ratify Finland and Sweden’s entry into the alliance

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg talks speaks during a joint press with Sweden and Finland’s Foreign ministers after their meeting at the Nato headquarters in Brussels on January 24, 2022.

John Thys | AFP | Getty Images

Six NATO member countries have yet to sign ratification protocols for Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance.

In May, both nations began the formal process of applying to NATO as Russia’s war in Ukraine raged. All 30 members of the alliance have to ratify Sweden and Finland into the group.

Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey are the six of the 30 allies yet to do so.

Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden signed ratification documents following a 95-1 Senate vote to bring Finland and Sweden into NATO.

— Amanda Macias

U.S. Defense Secretary Austin heads to Germany to meet with allies on Ukraine

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin participates in a virtual Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at the Pentagon in washington, DC, on May 23, 2022.

Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Germany this week to host a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

The group, a coalition of nearly 40 countries supporting Ukraine’s military needs, has met four times previously. The group will discuss additional ways to provide security assistance for Ukraine as Russia’s war enters its seventh month.

Following the meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Austin will travel to the Czech Republic, a fellow NATO member state.

— Amanda Macias

The Kremlin announces sanctions on Sean Penn, Ben Stiller and U.S. senators

Hollywood star and founder of CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) Sean Penn holds a press conference at a building housing refugees from Ukraine after signing an agreement with authorities to help refugees from Ukraine on March 25, 2022 in Rzeszow, Poland.

Darek Puchala/ | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Moscow imposed personal sanctions on American celebrities Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, along with 23 other U.S. cultural figures and several U.S. senators.

“In response to the ever-expanding personal sanctions by the Biden Administration against Russian citizens, a group of persons from members of the U.S. Congress, high-ranking officials, representatives of business and expert communities, as well as cultural figures (25 people), are banned from entry into the Russian Federation on a permanent basis,” the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote, according to an NBC News translation.

Penn and Stiller have been outspoken critics of Russia’s war and have both visited Ukraine since the Kremlin’s military campaign began nearly seven months ago.

U.S. Sens. Mark Kelly, Rick Scott and Kyrsten Sinema were also sanctioned.

— Amanda Macias

Russia is purchasing rockets and artillery from North Korea, U.S. Defense official says

A serviceman of pro-Russian militia walks nest to a military convoy of armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) on a road in the Luhansk region, Ukraine February 27, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Russia is buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea, a senior U.S. Defense official confirmed to NBC News.

“This purchase indicates that the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine, due in part to export controls and sanctions,” the official told NBC News, confirming a New York Times report.

“We expect Russia could try to purchase additional North Korean military equipment going forward,” the official added.

Russia to buy rockets from North Korea; IAEA calls for security zone around nuclear plant

Last week, the Biden administration confirmed that Moscow purchased drones from Iran to use on the battlefield in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

IAEA details damage from shelling, poor work conditions at Zaporizhzhia nuclear site in new report

Russian military vehicles escort a motorcade transporting the International Atomic Energy Agency expert mission while leaving the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine on Sept. 1, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, released a report on its findings from a recent mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

In the 52-page report, IAEA investigators warned that while ongoing shelling “has not yet triggered a nuclear emergency, it continues to represent a constant threat to nuclear safety and security.”

“The IAEA recommends that shelling on site and in its vicinity should be stopped immediately to avoid any further damages to the plant and associated facilities, for the safety…

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