Ukraine Live Briefing: Shelling near Zaporizhzhia plant; Ukraine strikes last key bridge

A service member with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine on Aug. 4.
A service member with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine on Aug. 4. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the European Union to halt visas for Russians, and missiles hit a city in southern Ukraine near the Zaporizhzhia site, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Key developments

  • Ukrainian forces will target Russian soldiers who shoot at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, or shoot from the facility, Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday. He said the Russian soldiers are becoming a “special target,” and repeated his call for sanctions against Russia’s nuclear industry.
  • Russian forces in the Kherson area are retreating to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River after Ukrainian forces destroyed the bridge over Nova Kakhovka Dam, according to the Mykolayiv regional governor, Vitaliy Kim. The bridge was the last one Russians could use to transport supplies to several thousand troops on the Dnipro’s western bank, and the damage comes just weeks after Ukrainian forces destroyed the Antonovsky Bridge.
  • The Kremlin has condemned calls to ban all Russian travelers after Zelensky told The Washington Post he wants Western countries to deny visas to Russians in a bid to deter Moscow from annexing Ukrainian territory. Latvia and Estonia have decided to stop issuing tourist visas, closing off two vital land routes for Russians to access the European Union since the bloc closed its airspace to Russian aircraft.
  • The Pentagon said it does not know what weapons were used in an attack on a Russian air base in Crimea this week. A military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity under terms set by the Pentagon, told reporters the United States found that equipment damaged in the blasts includes “a number of Russian aircraft, fighters, fighter bombers, surveillance aircraft” and “a pretty significant cache of munitions.”

Battlefield updates

  • Russian strikes hit Nikopol, a regional official said overnight. He reported damage to homes and a kindergarten in the region near the Zaporizhzhia plant. A recent uptick in shelling in districts around the facility, which Russian forces control, has raised alarm. As Ukrainian and Russian forces trade blame for firing near the site, the United Nations has called for a cease-fire there.
  • Zelensky said in his address that “fierce fighting” continues in Donbas and that Ukraine-backed forces continue to defend the Kharkiv region. He said Russian forces are “trying to intimidate” residents near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, adding that they hide behind the plant to fire at the cities of Nikopol and Marhanets.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States “is concerned” by reports of British, Swedish and Croatian nationals being charged by “illegitimate authorities in eastern Ukraine.” Pro-Moscow separatists in the east have tried foreign nationals for fighting alongside Kyiv.
  • Shelling in the eastern city of Kramatorsk left three dead and 13 wounded, the city council said Friday, as Ukrainian officials ask people to leave the eastern Donetsk region under an evacuation order.
  • Ukraine’s military says it has nearly all of Moscow’s supply lines under firing range in the southern Kherson region, which Russian forces seized earlier in the war. On the front near Kherson, progress that Ukrainian troops made in retaking occupied villages appears to have stalled.

Global impact

  • Two more ships left a Ukrainian port on the Black Sea carrying corn and sunflower seeds to Turkey, Ankara said Saturday. Grain exports have started trickling out of Ukraine under a U.N.-brokered deal to ease the global food crisis. As of Saturday, 16 vessels carrying grain have left Ukrainian ports, Zelensky said in his nightly address.
  • A Russian foreign ministry official warned that if the United States were to declare Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism,” it would “cross the point of no return” in strained ties between the two countries. After Latvia added Russia to its list this week, the State Department did not indicate any moves toward such a designation, which has been used sparingly in the past half-century.
  • Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder filed a lawsuit against parliament for cutting back his state benefits over his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, his lawyer told German media.

From our correspondents

Odessa’s summer of war: Summer beach days are off-limits in Ukraine’s seaside city of Odessa, Loveday Morris and Wojciech Grzedzinski report in this visual story.

“The threat of sea mines and fears that packed beaches could attract Russian shelling mean that a few hours of sunning or a dip in the Black Sea is illegal,” they write.

But the draw is too strong for many residents starved for normalcy. “It’s happiness,” said Olya, 49, a vocalist spending the day at the beach with friends.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees Friday to annex four occupied regions of Ukraine, following staged referendums that were widely denounced as illegal. Follow our live updates here.

The response: The Biden administration on Friday announced a new round of sanctions on Russia, in response to the annexations, targeting government officials and family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials and defense procurement networks. President Volodymyr Zelensky also said Friday that Ukraine is applying for “accelerated ascension” into NATO, in an apparent answer to the annexations.

In Russia: Putin declared a military mobilization on Sept. 21 to call up as many as 300,000 reservists in a dramatic bid to reverse setbacks in his war on Ukraine. The announcement led to an exodus of more than 180,000 people, mostly men who were subject to service, and renewed protests and other acts of defiance against the war.

The fight: Ukraine mounted a successful counteroffensive that forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in early September, as troops fled cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

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