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Ukraine hits key Dnieper River bridges

August 8, 2022

Kyiv said it hit the main supply route between Kherson and the south bank of the Dnieper overnight. Meanwhile, calls for access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant have grown after recent shelling. DW has the latest.

Russian-backed authorities use pontoon bridges to ferry passengers across the Dnieper River in the Kherson region following strikes on key bridges by Ukrainian forces
Ukraine struck bridges on the Dnieper River in Kherson overnight as officials look to retake the city from RussiaImage: Alexei Konovalov/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

The Ukrainian army said it successfully executed long-range strikes, hitting strategic bridges on the Dnieper River and Russian bases overnight. 

Writing on Facebook, regional deputy Sergei Khlan said, "What a night for the occupiers in the Kherson region. Strikes in the area of the Antonovskiy bridge."

Natalia Gumeniuk, the southern army command spokesperson, confirmed the attack, telling Ukrainian television, "The firing system we have developed in recent days shows results."

She added, "The impact has been considerable for both the Antonovskiy and Kakhovskiy bridges."

Russian-backed forces also confirmed the strikes.

The Antonovskiy bridge provides the main land supply link between Russian-occupied Kherson and the south bank of the Dnieper River. On July 27, Ukraine partly destroyed the bridge, forcing Russia to rethink its supply lines.

By contrast, Kirill Stremusov, the deputy head of the Russian-backed Kherson regional administration, told Russian state-run RIA Novosti, "There was one strike, a construction booth and a cement mixer caught fire. There is damage to the bridge floor, which means we will continue restoring it."

Stremusov said, "There is no critical damage, the structural elements of the transport crossing were not damaged."

Russia has resorted to pontoon boats to facilitate crossings.

Kherson is located only a few kilometers from the front line. It was the first major city to fall to Russia in the early days of the invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine steps up efforts to retake Kherson

Using Western-supplied arms, Kyiv's forces hope to retake the city of almost 300,000. However, Moscow plans to stage referendums there with an eye toward annexing the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on August 8.

Russia suspends strategic arms inspections over US travel curbs

Russia said it was suspending US on-site inspections under the strategic arms control treaty (START) with Washington.

Inspection conditions created "unilateral advantages for the United States and effectively deprive the Russian Federation of the right to conduct inspections on American territory," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

Russia insisted it remained fully committed to complying with all the provisions of the nuclear arms pact.

The treaty limits each party to 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), 1,550 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers.

It also envisions a rigorous inspection regime to verify compliance.

The statement indicated it had become hard for Moscow to conduct inspections on American soil due to Western sanctions, including the closure of air space for Russian planes and visa restrictions.

Moscow also pointed to a new spike in coronavirus cases in the United States.

US announces $1 billion in new arms aid for Ukraine

The United States will provide $1 billion ( €980 million) in new military aid for Ukraine the Pentagon said.

It would be the largest-yet delivery of arms from US stockpiles.

Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale said the delivery would include munitions for long-range weapons and armored medical transport vehicles.

The package adds to about $8.8 billion in aid the US has given Ukraine since Russia's invasion in February. 

It also includes more surface-to-air missiles for defense against Russian aircraft and rockets, more Javelin anti-armor rockets, and other ammunition.

"These are all critical capabilities to help the Ukrainians repel the Russian offensive in the east, and also to address evolving developments in the south and elsewhere," said Under Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl.

Separately, the World Bank announced Monday $4.5 billion in aid for Ukraine paid for by the United States.

The funds will help Kyiv pay for services and pensions, key to easing economic impacts of the Russian invasion, the bank said in a statement.

"This economic assistance is critical in supporting the Ukrainian people as they defend their democracy against Russia's unprovoked war of aggression," US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

Calls for access, demilitarized zone at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for international inspectors to be granted access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant following fresh shelling at the facility, the largest in Europe, over the weekend.

Guterres said an attack on a nuclear power plant "is a suicidal thing," during a press conference in Japan.

Petro Kotin, the head of Ukraine's state nuclear power company Enerhoatom, called for peacekeepers to be deployed at the plant following a worker injury due to shelling Sunday.

While the plant is Russian-occupied, Ukrainian employees from Enerhoatom continue to do their best to manage the facility and prevent a Chernobyl-like catastrophe.

Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, Ukraine's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Russia is shelling the nuclear power plant in an effort to cause blackouts in southern Ukraine. He reiterated calls for the IAEA and the UN to be given better access.

Situation at Zaporizhzhia 'not sustainable'

While Ukraine blamed Russia for this weekend's shelling of the plant, the Russian Embassy in Washington claimed two high voltage powerlines and a water pipeline had been damaged during shelling it alleged was carried out by the Ukrainian side.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov tried to force blame on the Ukrainians for safety incidents at the plant since Russian forces seized it.

"We expect the countries that have absolute influence on the Ukrainian leadership to use this influence in order to rule out the continuation of such shelling," Peskov said.

Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported Russia is ready to facilitate a visit from IAEA inspectors.

The Russian Ministry of Defense also alleged that a "power surge" occurred at the plant, causing smoke in a switch gear. The ministry said firefighters at the scene were unable to stop the smoke.

Despite the statements of more senior officials, Yevgeniy Balitsky, the Russian-backed head of the local administration, claimed the plant continued to work in "normal mode."

The Russia-installed head of the Zaporizhzhia region that is home to the nuclear plant also signed a decree paving the way for a referendum to join Russia, Russian state-run RIA Novosti said.

Ukraine receives anti-aircraft systems from Germany

Ukraine's southern military command said it had received three Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft systems from Germany.

The Gepard air defense systems require three people to operate and can hit targets up to four kilometers (2.5 miles) away.

It is the latest shipment of weapons and war materiel Ukraine has confirmed it received from Western nations, many of which are members of the NATO alliance, such as Germany.

Ukraine is not a NATO member but has sought membership in the past. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his country would not be at war now had NATO accepted Ukraine as a NATO member state.

RUSI: Hundreds of foreign-made components found in Russian weapons

A new report from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) defense think tank in the UK indicates that 450 foreign-made components were found in Russian weapons recovered in Ukraine. The evidence suggests Moscow acquired critical technology from companies in the West and Asia prior to launching its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Since then, Ukraine has captured and recovered from the battlefield a range of Russian weapons and weapons systems. Some of those systems were damaged in fighting while others remain largely intact.

When the Ukrainians disassembled Russia's battlefield weapons, they found 27 weapons systems, including cruise missiles and air defense, had relied on Western components.

RUSI found two-thirds of those components came from US-based manufacturers. Products by Analog Devices and Texas Instruments were the most popular in the Russian weapons systems Ukraine recovered.

Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Switzerland, and the UK also produced components located in the Russians' weapons systems.

For instance, a Russian 9M727 cruise missile capable of maneuvering at low altitude to evade radar systems that can also hit targets from a distance of hundreds of kilometers, was found to contain 31 different foreign parts. Those parts came from companies including Texas Instruments Inc, Advanced Micro Devices Inc, and Germany's Cypress Semiconductor, now owned by Infineon AG.

The research is the most detailed public assessment to date of the role Western components have played in Russia's military operations. Companies asked about their components being found in Russian weapons systems said they had followed export law and had now ceased selling parts to Russia.

RUSI's research also serves to highlight that Russia remains dependent on foreign microchips for use in everything from tactical radios to drones and precision-guided long-range munitions.

First ship carrying Ukrainian grain reaches its final destination

Polarnet, a Turkish-flagged ship carrying Ukrainian maize, reached the port of Kocaeli on the Sea of Marmara, becoming the first ship carrying Ukrainian grain to reach its final destination since Russia invaded Ukraine.

At least 10 ships have left Ukraine's ports following a deal brokered by Turkey and the UN with Kyiv and Moscow to bring Ukrainian grain to market, averting a global food crisis triggered by high prices and supply shortages.

The first vessel to leave the Pivdennyi port in Ukraine also sailed for Italy Monday.

Russia's use of antipersonnel mines

The UK's morning military intelligence briefing focused on Russia's use of anti-personnel mines, calling their deployment "highly likely" along their defensive lines in the Donbas.

Specifically, the UK suggested Russia may be deploying PFM-1 series, known as butterfly mines. The UK believes Russia is likely setting those mines in Kramatorsk and Donetsk, calling them "deeply controversial, indiscriminate weapons."

More on the war in Ukraine

Speaking in Japan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned broadly of a nuclear arms race, calling on nuclear-armed nations to re-commit to a policy of no first use of those weapons in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Germany's SPD has decided not to expel former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder over his controversial work for Russian-state energy firms since he left office in 2005, allowing that he has not broken any party rules while garnering a tremendous amount of controversy.

Emerging concerns about energy availability in Germany next winter in the wake of the war in Ukraine has left an open question as to how Germany's export-based economy may be shaped by a coming crisis.

ar/nm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)