June 7, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Sophie Tanno, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Mike Hayes and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, June 8, 2023
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2:22 p.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Biden will host NATO's secretary general at the White House Monday

From CNN's DJ Judd

President Joe Biden will welcome NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to the White House next Monday “to discuss the upcoming NATO summit,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday, confirming a statement from NATO earlier today. 

Biden and Stoltenberg “will review preparations for the summit, including the work to further strengthen allied deterrence and defense, build on the 2014 Wales Summit Defense Investment Pledge, and deepen NATO's partnership,” she said. They will also discuss support for Ukraine "in the face of Russia's brutal war of aggression."

Stoltenberg’s visit comes just one week after Biden hosted Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who is widely viewed as a potential contender to replace Stoltenberg, at the White House.

Biden is scheduled to attend the NATO summit in Lithuania in July.

2:19 p.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Ukrainian prime minister appeals to UN and Red Cross to evacuate residents from Russian-occupied flood areas

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Amy Cassidy 

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal attends a news conference following a bilateral meeting at the US Treasury Department Building in Washington, DC, on April 13.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal attends a news conference following a bilateral meeting at the US Treasury Department Building in Washington, DC, on April 13. Ken Cedeno/Reuters

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal appealed Wednesday to leading international aid organizations to help evacuate residents in the flooded areas of the Russian-occupied Kherson region.

He claimed occupying Russian forces have offered “no help” following a devastating dam breach. 

Shmyhal addressed leaders of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a video message posted on Twitter, urging them to “act immediately”. 

“We appeal to you to take charge of evacuating people from the territories of Kherson oblast, occupied by Russia,” he said.  

Shmyhal said residents in occupied areas of the Kherson region “have been abandoned by the Russians” and “left to perish” as homes “vanish beneath the water."  

UN humanitarian officials visited Kherson on Wednesday to “coordinate the humanitarian response” alongside local organizations and authorities, the body’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a news release.  

“They said the disaster will likely get worse in the coming hours, with water levels still rising and more villages and towns being flooded,” the UN said. “This will impact people’s access to essential services and raises serious health risks.” 

Remember: Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for the breach, which occurred in territory occupied by Russia. The cause remains unclear, and CNN analysis of satellite images shows the dam was damaged just days before it collapsed.

2:24 p.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Zelensky discussed the situation in Kherson region following dam collapse with Macron

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed the current situation in Kherson region following the Nova Kakhovka dam collapse with French President Emmanuel Macron.

In a tweet, Zelensky said they spoke via phone Wednesday about “the environmental and humanitarian consequences of the Russian act of terrorism, and outlined the urgent needs of Ukraine to eliminate the disaster.“

“We discussed the possibility of using international mechanisms to investigate its causes,” Zelensky said.

“We agreed to continue defense cooperation, in particular to protect our skies. We look forward to the earliest possible start of training for Ukrainian pilots,” he added.

Macron said in a tweet following his call with Zelensky: “I expressed to President Zelensky my solidarity with the Ukrainian people after the attack on the Kakhovka dam. France condemns this atrocious act, which is endangering populations."

“Within the next few hours, we will send aid to meet immediate needs," he added.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, in a video message Wednesday, appealed to the UN, International Red Cross and other bodies to help residents in flooded parts of Russian-occupied Kherson. 

Shmyhal said: "The Russian occupiers don't even make an effort to help these people, they have left them to perish.”

Shmyhal said in another tweet that the World Bank will conduct a “rapid assessment of the damage and needs” caused by the dam incident.


1:40 p.m. ET, June 7, 2023

UK announces additional funding for an international nuclear watchdog to support its work in Ukraine

From CNN's Jessie Gretener and Radina Gigova in London 

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visits the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on March 29.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visits the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on March 29. Andrey Borodulin/AFP/Getty Images

The UK will provide an additional 750,000 pounds (around $933,000) of funding to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to support its missions in Ukraine, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said in a statement Wednesday.

That brings UK's total support to nuclear safety in Ukraine since the start of the war to 5 million pounds (more than $6.2 million), according to FCDO.

“Russia’s barbaric attacks on Ukraine’s civil infrastructure and its illegal control of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant runs contrary to all international nuclear safety and security norms. It claims to uphold nuclear safety standards, but its actions say otherwise," said UK's Permanent Representative to the IAEA Corinne Kitsell, who attended a meeting of the agency's Board of Governors in Vienna on Wednesday. 

"I commend the work of the IAEA’s staff in Ukraine and I am pleased that the UK’s additional funding will help to facilitate its vital work, particularly given the additional risk posed by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam," she said. 

At the meeting, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi presented the latest report on Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards in Ukraine, according to the statement. "The report outlined the state of nuclear safety at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, and in particular the deeply concerning situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which relies on water from the Kakhovka dam for its cooling pond," FCDO said. 

"The UK also echoes Ukraine’s calls for an uninterrupted power supply from Ukraine to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and continues to call for the Russian Federation’s full withdrawal from the site, and for it to end its illegal war of aggression in Ukraine," FCDO added.

Some background: Zaporizhzhia NPP, with six reactors, is the largest nuclear power station in Europe. It was mostly built in the Soviet era and became Ukrainian property after its declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The power plant is located on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Ukraine. The area, and the nuclear complex, have been under Russian control since the beginning of the war, but the plant is still mostly operated by Ukrainian workers.

1:19 p.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Ukraine launches "ecocide" and war crimes probe into Nova Kakhovka dam incident

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

 Ukraine is investigating the Nova Kakhovka dam incident as a war crime and as possible "ecocide," or criminal environmental destruction, a statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office said Wednesday.

“The legal classification is ecocide and violation of the laws and customs of war... A specially created interagency and interregional group of investigators from the Security Service of Ukraine and the National Police is working on the investigation,” the statement said.

Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin informed the Chinese ambassador to Ukraine, Fan Xianrong, of the proceedings in a meeting on Wednesday.

"Ukraine has initiated proceedings over this crime, qualifying it as a violation of the laws and customs of war and ecocide. It has caused severe long-term damage to people and the environment," Kostin told him, according to a readout from the Prosecutor General’s Office. 

“The consequences are catastrophic. More than 40,000 people have been affected. Homes and infrastructure have been destroyed, land has become unsuitable for agriculture, and water supply has been disrupted in a number of regions, both in the government-controlled areas and in the territories temporarily occupied by Russia,” the readout added.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine said Wednesday that the collapse of the dam was the largest act of ecocide that Russia has committed since the beginning of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for the breach, which occurred in territory occupied by Russia. The cause remains unclear, and CNN analysis of satellite images shows the dam was damaged just days before it collapsed.


12:56 p.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Ukrainian foreign minister tells NATO chief Kyiv is seeking the best guarantee to avert future wars 

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wednesday he held a call with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the upcoming NATO summit in July.

“By all accounts, it makes sense for Allies to take a decisive step toward Ukraine’s membership. We are not seeking NATO troops on the ground to end this war. We are seeking the best guarantee to avert future wars,” he tweeted after the call.

More on NATO: Last week, Stoltenberg reiterated previous remarks that all NATO allies “agree that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance,” it is just a matter of when.

Last month, the NATO chief said that he expects Ukraine will join the alliance when the war is over.

12:59 p.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Ukrainian-controlled Kherson region evacuations ongoing after dam collapse, local officials say

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv and Sarah Dean in London

Residents are evacuated from a flooded neighborhood in Kherson on June 7.
Residents are evacuated from a flooded neighborhood in Kherson on June 7. Roman Hrytsyna/AP

Evacuations in flooded areas are ongoing after the Nova Kakhovka dam's collapse on Tuesday, officials in Ukrainian-controlled Kherson said.

The head of the Kherson region military administration, Oleksandr Prokudin, said: “We expect that the water will stay and accumulate for another day and then will gradually decrease for another 5 days.”

Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said it is looking for ways to evacuate citizens from the occupied-eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region.

Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko, who visited the region, said: "The evacuation works are ongoing. We are trying to do it as quickly as possible. We are hampered by a strong current and shelling by the Russian military."

"The headquarters will work around the clock as long as necessary,” he said, adding “at the same time, we are working on the tasks we will face when the water goes away.”

“There is a lot of work to be done. First of all, it will concern environmental pollution. 150 tons of machine oil leaked out of the turbine room when the hydroelectric power plant was blown up," Klymenko said.

As of 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET), 1,854 people have been evacuated from Ukrainian-controlled areas of Kherson region, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said in an update.

12:21 p.m. ET, June 7, 2023

Ammonia pipeline damaged in Kharkiv region 

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

The Russian Ministry of Defense released a statement on Wednesday accusing Ukraine of blowing up an ammonia pipeline in the Kharkiv region.

“On June 5, at about 21.00 Moscow time, in the area of ​​the village of Masiutivka, Kharkiv region, a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group undermined the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

”As a result of this terrorist act, there are victims among the civilian population. They received the necessary medical care,” the statement said. 

What Ukraine says: Ukrainian officials have blamed Russian shelling for the damage. Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration, first reported damage from shelling on Monday and said the pipeline had been damaged again on Tuesday. 

“Yesterday at about 17:45 the enemy shelled the ammonia pipeline in Kupyansk district again. A total of 6 incomings were recorded in the area of the pumping station near the village of Masiutivka. As of now, the results of the measurements show that there is no ammonia in the air in the settlements of Kupyansk district,” he wrote Wednesday on Telegram.

CNN cannot independently verify either claim. 

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that it would take one to three months to repair the damaged Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline during a press briefing. According to Zakharova, the ammonia pipeline was key to the Black Sea grain deal.

"The ammonia pipeline was one of the linchpins of the implementation of the agreements made in Istanbul on July 22. The pipeline was key to global food security," Zakharova said during a news briefing on Wednesday.

Some context: According to the UN, the Black Sea Grain Initiative was launched by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and United Nations as a mechanism for the safe exports of grain, related foodstuffs and fertilizer, including ammonia, from designated Ukrainian ports to global markets.

12:24 p.m. ET, June 7, 2023

International NGO warns of landmine risk after Nova Kakhovka dam collapse

From CNN’s Jo Shelley in London 

An aerial view of flooding in Kherson after the Nova Kakhovka dam breach on June 7.
An aerial view of flooding in Kherson after the Nova Kakhovka dam breach on June 7. Vladyslav Smilianets/Reuters

The international humanitarian organization CARE cautioned that landmines are likely floating in the flood of water unleashed by the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam in the southern Kherson region. 

“The area where the Kakhovka dam was is full of landmines, which are now floating in the water and are posing a huge risk,” Country Director at CARE Ukraine Fabrice Martin said in a statement.

Martin also noted “the catastrophic consequences” the dam breach could have on the environment. 

He said that oil had been released into the Dnipro River and warned that more could leak, echoing concerns that the head of Ukraine's main hydropower generating company made in an interview with CNN on Tuesday

“At least 150 tons of oil have been released into the Dnipro River with the risk of further leakage of more than 300 tons,” Martin said. “This may lead to the Nyzhniodniprovskyi National Nature Park to disappear, which is more than 80,000 hectares of protected land.”