Russia-Ukraine war: Zelenskiy adviser says war in deadlock; Russia ‘appoints new Black Sea commander’ – live news | Ukraine

Key events

A senior Ukrainian presidential advisor has urged Ukrainians to stop “cancelling” Russians and called for them to instead encourage Russians to “switch to our side”.

Oleksiy Arestovych penned a lengthy Telegram post on Wednesday, hitting out at fellow citizens for letting their emotions get the better of them and “turning on the cancellation to the fullest”.

The statement comes amid fierce debate on whether the west should stop issuing Russian visas or discontinue allowing Russian citizens to visit on holiday.

It’s hard to understand the nuances, it’s easier to hate and deny everyone – the solution is for an oyster.

A smart man seeks allies, a fool repels friends.”

These are tens and hundreds of thousands of people sitting on the fence who could switch to our side,” he wrote.

And now they’re not going to do it.”

The main bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland must be “dismantled”, a senior Ukrainian presidential aide has said.

The 19-km (12-mile) Kerch Bridge is Moscow’s key military and civilian land corridor to the peninsula.

“The bridge is an illegal object,” Mykhaylo Podolyak said. It “must therefore be dismantled. Not important how – voluntary or not”, implying the bridge could become a military target for Ukrainian forces.

About “Kerchen bridge”. As recorded in international law: Crimea – 🇺🇦. So this bridge is an illegal object, permission for the construction of which was not given by Ukraine. It harms the peninsula’s ecology and therefore must be dismantled. Not important how – voluntary or not.

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) August 17, 2022

China to send troops to Russia for joint week-long military drills

Chinese troops will travel to Russia to take part in joint military exercises led by the host and including India, Belarus, Mongolia, Tajikistan and other countries, China’s defence ministry said.

China’s participation in the joint exercises was “unrelated to the current international and regional situation”, the ministry said.

In July, Moscow announced plans to hold “Vostok” (east) exercises from 30 August to 5 September, even as it wages a costly war in Ukraine. It said at the time that some foreign forces would participate, without naming them.

China’s defence ministry said its participation in the exercises was part of a bilateral annual cooperation agreement with Russia.

“The aim is to deepen practical and friendly cooperation with the armies of participating countries, enhance the level of strategic collaboration among the participating parties, and strengthen the ability to respond to various security threats.”

Russia appoints new Black Sea commander

Russia has reportedly replaced the commander of its Crimea-based Black Sea fleet after explosions rocked the peninsula this week.

Russia’s RIA news agency cited sources as saying Igor Osipov had been replaced with Viktor Sokolov.

If confirmed, it would mark one of the most prominent sackings of a military official in the war so far.

The Black Sea fleet, which has a revered history in Russia, has suffered several humiliations since Russia invaded Ukraine in the hope of a swift victory.

In April, Ukraine struck Russia’s flagship the Moskva, a huge cruiser, with Neptune missiles. It became the biggest warship to be sunk in combat for 40 years.

A Russian strike on Kharkiv is believed to have killed at least seven people and wounded 16 others, Ukraine’s state emergencies services said.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said a block of flats was “totally destroyed … We will not forgive, we will take revenge.”

Images of rescuers combining through the wreckage have since been shared by the emergency services.

Rescuers work at the site of a residential building destroyed by a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv.
Rescuers work at the site of a residential building destroyed by a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv. Photograph: Reuters
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said a block of flats was ‘totally destroyed’
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said a block of flats was ‘totally destroyed’ Photograph: Reuters
Smoke billows from the scene
Smoke billows from the scene
Photograph: Reuters

War in deadlock, Zelenskiy adviser says

Russia’s war on Ukraine has reached a ‘strategic deadlock’ a senior presidential adviser has said.

Russian forces have achieved only minimal advances, and in some cases we have advanced, since last month,” Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video.

What we are seeing is a ‘strategic deadlock.’”

Ukrainian forces said on Thursday they had beaten back a Russian attack in the southern region of Kherson.

“The stakes of the Russian Federation in this war have been raised,” Arestovych added.

Ukraine’s ministry of defence said Russian forces were also moving aircraft further back into Crimea and away from the reach of Ukraine’s forces following the recent strikes in Crimea.

“The Rashists [Russians] are urgently moving their planes and helicopters deep into the peninsula and to the airfields of the Russian Federation following the recent strikes in Crimea,” the ministry said in a briefing late last night.

“The occupiers are carrying out measures to partially transfer aviation equipment from forward-based airfields in Crimea to reserve airfields and airfields permanently based on the territory of the Russian Federation,” the force added.

UN chief in Ukraine for talks on grain and nuclear safety

The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has arrived in Ukraine to meet its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and Turkish president, Tayyip Erdoğan, in the western city of Lviv.

The leaders will review the UN-backed grain export deal and discuss “the need for a political solution to this conflict” as well as the situation at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Lviv in western Ukraine.

On Friday, Guterres will visit the Black Sea port of Odesa, where grain exports have resumed.

On Saturday, the top UN official will visit the Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul, which is made up of Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN. officials overseeing the Black Sea exports of Ukraine grain and fertiliser.

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.

Russia has reportedly replaced the commander of its Crimea-based Black Sea fleet after explosions rocked the peninsula this week.

The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has arrived in Ukraine ahead of a meeting later today with its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and Turkish president, Tayyip Erdoğan. The leaders will review the UN-backed grain export deal and discuss “the need for a political solution to this conflict” as well as the situation at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

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

  • A Russian strike on Kharkiv killed at least seven people and wounded 16 others, Ukraine’s state emergencies services said. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said a block of flats was “totally destroyed … We will not forgive, we will take revenge.”

  • Russia has replaced the commander of its Crimea-based Black Sea fleet after explosions rocked the peninsula this week. Russia’s RIA news agency cited sources as saying Igor Osipov had been replaced with Viktor Sokolov. If confirmed, it would mark one of the most prominent sackings of a military official in the war so far.

  • Chinese troops will travel to Russia to take part in joint military exercises “unrelated to the current international and regional situation”, China’s defence ministry has said. Other countries will include India, Belarus, Mongolia and Tajikistan. In July, Moscow announced plans to hold “Vostok” exercises from 30 August to 5 September.

  • Ukrainian authorities performed disaster response drills near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Wednesday. This followed repeated shelling at the Russian-occupied plant, the largest of its kind in Europe.

  • The main bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland must be “dismantled”, the Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak said. The 19-km (12-mile) Kerch Bridge is Moscow’s key military and civilian land corridor to the peninsula. “The bridge is an illegal object,” Podolyak said. It “must therefore be dismantled. Not important how – voluntary or not”, implying the bridge could become a military target for Ukrainian forces.

  • The top official in Russian-annexed Crimea has claimed the FSB security service has broken up a six-person terrorist cell of a banned Islamist group. It followed a series of strikes on Russian bases and other infrastructure across the region that Russia has sought to blame on sabotage.

  • At least 12 Russians were reportedly killed in a strike on a base in the occupied city of Nova Kakhovka, according to the Ukrainian military. Footage posted to Telegram by the state border guard service showed numerous burnt-out trucks, collapsed buildings, and debris.

  • Ukraine has not lost any US-supplied Himars rocket launchers, the Ukrainian defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said in contradiction to Russian claims. Ukraine has received at least 20 of the US-made launchers, and has used them to attack Russian ammunition depots, command posts, and air defences.

  • The mayor of the village of Verkhnyo Rogachytsk in the Kherson region has been kidnapped, according to the deputy chair of the regional council. Yuri Sobolevsky said Svitlana Ivanivna was taken from her home at about 11am on Tuesday.

  • The first wartime shipment of UN food aid for Africa reached the Bosphorus Strait on Wednesday under a UN-backed deal to restore Ukrainian grain deliveries across the Black Sea. Marine traffic sites showed the MV Brave Commander taking its cargo of 23,000 tonnes of wheat across the heart of Istanbul bound for its final destination in Djibouti next week.

  • The leaders of Ukraine, Turkey and the UN are set to meet to review the grain export deal in Lviv on Thursday. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, Zelenskiy, and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will also discuss “the need for a political solution to this conflict” and the situation at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said.

  • Canada has disbursed C$450m ($348m) in loans for the purchase of heating fuel before winter for Ukraine, the finance minister in Ottawa, Chrystia Freeland, has announced.

  • Russia foresees a 38% rise in energy export earnings this year due to higher oil export volumes, coupled with rising gas prices, according to an economy ministry document seen by Reuters. Russia’s earnings from energy exports are forecast to reach $337.5bn this year, a 38% rise on 2021.

A dog walks near rubbles of the destroyed governor building of Mykolaiv Oblast following a missile strike in Mykolaiv on 17 August.
A dog walks near rubbles of the destroyed governor building of Mykolaiv Oblast following a missile strike in Mykolaiv on 17 August. Photograph: Bülent Kılıç/AFP/Getty Images

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