June 8, 2023 Russia-Ukraine war news

By Helen Regan, Caolán Magee, Rob Picheta, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, June 9, 2023
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1:39 p.m. ET, June 8, 2023

Rescuers in Kherson face shortage of equipment amid Russian shelling, official says  

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva

Ukrainian security forces help to unload local residents from a boat during an evacuation from a flooded area in Kherson on June 8.
Ukrainian security forces help to unload local residents from a boat during an evacuation from a flooded area in Kherson on June 8. Aleksey Filippov/AFP/Getty Images

Rescuers are facing resource challenges while carrying out evacuations in Ukraine-controlled Kherson due to the scale of the flooding caused by the dam collapse, an emergency services officer told CNN.

There is a shortage of resources as Russians continue shelling the western bank of the Dnipro river, said Maksym Trykur, an officer at Ukraine’s State Special Transport Service.

The catastrophe is “unprecedented and the challenge is it's impossible to accumulate all the resources in such a short time,” Trykur told CNN.

The State Special Transport Service has been working along with the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in evacuating civilians. 

“There's a great shortage of the equipment. To put it simply — we need everything: boats, motor pumps, radio walkie-talkies, lights — all the equipment that comes in handy when a humanitarian catastrophe such as this occurs,” he said. 

“People there are not in a position to stay. The place is unlivable, the houses are flooded, lots of cattle have been killed, the public transport doesn't work obviously,” he added.

Trykur said most territories are flooded with 5 meters of water, or about 16 feet, and that "it’s impossible to predict the time frame that will allow people to come back to their homes."

He said his colleagues on the ground have not encountered any humanitarian aid offices or assistance provided by any international organizations, such as the United Nations or the International Committee of the Red Cross.

12:42 p.m. ET, June 8, 2023

Landmines displaced and shifted by Ukraine dam collapse “a big problem,” NGO says

From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls in London

The collapse of Ukraine’s Nova Kakhovka dam has displaced landmines in the region, the head of the Red Cross Weapons Contamination Program told CNN on Thursday.

Landmines “in the water, on the surface, [and] buried under the ground” in the area flooded by water have “shifted location,” Erik Tollefsen told CNN. “Water is a force of nature,” he said. “It just basically moves everything in front of it, be that rocks, boulders, buildings. Nothing can withstand that force — that also includes the landmines.”

The marking and mapping systems used by charities and NGOs to detect and locate landmines are no longer accurate, as so many landmines have moved in the water. “This is a big problem,” Tollefsen said. 

Mike Newton, head of The HALO Trust’s Ukraine demining program, told CNN that his organization will have to re-locate and re-map landmines in the area affected by the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam. 

“Before the dam even burst its banks there was (a) significant humanitarian problem that we were dealing with. So now that the dam has gone, what we're looking at now is just another humanitarian catastrophe, just an ecological disaster, to throw into this bigger catastrophe that has been enveloping Ukraine for the past year and a half almost,” Newton told CNN.

“You can see ... mines exploding in the water, mines literally being pushed past shorelines, mines being washed up on shores,” Newton added. “That volume of water is enough to pick up a 10 kilo anti-vehicle mine and move it downstream. That's an incredible force that's required to move that.” 

Soil is also being picked up by moving water and ending up on top of landmines, Newton said, sometimes detonating them, but also sometimes burying them. In these cases, teams have to be sent to remap and clear the buried mines. 

More than 5000 landmines were detected by the HALO Trust’s demining team in Mykolaiv, Newton said, nearly 500 of which were on riverbanks in the region. 

“Areas that previously didn't have any risks to the population in terms of weapon contamination, [are] now very, very dangerous,” Tollefsen told CNN. 

The Red Cross is “very concerned,” he added. Ukrainians “have maybe lost their loved ones, their families have been disrupted, they can't get access to drinking water, to food, to medicine. Now they have the risk of landmines being in the area that could kill them or injure them,” he said.

Those attempting to offer assistance to civilians are also facing increased danger in the region, Tollefsen said. “We really, really call for caution.”

“You cannot rebuild a country on mine foundations,” Newton said. "Mines have got to be front and center in everyone's minds when you're talking about recovery in Ukraine when you talk about reconstruction. And of course, now with this dam, it's just another thing that Ukrainians have got to deal with.”

 

12:22 p.m. ET, June 8, 2023

Russian defense minister calls for expedition of military hardware to Ukraine 

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attends the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in New Delhi on April 28.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attends the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in New Delhi on April 28. Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has called for the expedited delivery of military hardware to the front lines in Ukraine, in a video posted on Thursday by the ministry's press service.

"The enemy tried to advance today. In two hours of the first battle alone, Russian troops destroyed 30 tanks and 10 IFVs. In two hours of combat, since morning. So this equipment is needed, let's hurry up," Shoigu said in reference to his earlier claim that Russian forces have repelled four overnight attacks in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region. CNN cannot independently verify these claims.

Shoigu made the request during a visit to troops of the Western Military District of Russia, where he inspected the preparation of equipment and weapons for shipment at the arsenals and storage bases, according to the statement posted by the ministry.

"Shoigu ordered that the time restrictions for accepting vehicles from enterprises be decreased and that they be ready to be transferred to units of the Russian Armed Forces in the shortest possible time," according to the statement.

"Shoigu drew particular attention to the quality preparation and timely dispatch of ammunition and missiles to units involved in the special military operation and also undergoing combat readiness as part of combat training," the statement added.

 

11:25 a.m. ET, June 8, 2023

At least 9 people wounded in shelling during Kherson evacuations, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

At least nine people have been injured by shelling as civilians evacuate Kherson city Thursday, local Ukrainian officials said.

Two employees of the State Emergency Service, a police officer, a doctor and a volunteer from Germany are among those wounded, said Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of Kherson's regional military administration.

“One man is in intensive care with serious injuries, and doctors are fighting for his life,” Prokudin said. 

“Today the Russians have committed another terrorist act! A massive artillery attack on the locations where our rescuers are working," Serhiy Kruk, the head of Ukraine’s State Emergency Service, said. 

Remember: Rescuers are trying to evacuate thousands of people in the flood zone of the Russian-occupied Nova Kakhovka dam and hydro-electric power plant in the southern Kherson region, which collapsed Tuesday, sending torrents of water gushing down the Dnipro River. Kherson city is under Ukrainian control.

Both Russia and Ukraine are accusing each other of shelling during the evacuations.

Kyiv and Moscow also accuse each other of causing the breach in the first place, although it is unclear whether the dam was deliberately attacked, or whether the collapse was the result of structural failure.

More from officials: Prokudin, the Ukrainian regional leader in Kherson, said Thursday water has flooded 27 settlements and damaged well over 3,000 houses, most of them in the city.

“Despite Russia's cynical attacks, police, rescuers and volunteers continue to evacuate people from the dangerous areas. They have managed to evacuate 2,198 people, including 120 children and 38 people with limited mobility,” he added.

Kremlin officials, meanwhile, said Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call Thursday with the Moscow-installed leader of Kherson's occupied areas, according to the state news agency TASS.

Putin called for Russian emergency services to provide all necessary assistance to people in impacted areas, a Kremlin spokesperson said.

CNN's Katharina Krebs and Sarah Dean contributed to this report.

10:17 a.m. ET, June 8, 2023

Ukraine sees "stiff resistance" and losses in attempt to breach Russian lines, US officials say

From CNN's Jim Sciutto 

Ukrainian forces have suffered losses in heavy equipment and soldiers as they met greater-than-expected resistance from Russian forces in their first attempt to breach Russian lines in the east of the country in recent days, two senior US officials tell CNN. 

One US official described the losses — which include US-supplied MRAP armored personnel vehicles — as "significant."

Ukrainian forces managed to overrun some Russian forces in the east around Bakhmut. However, Russian forces, armed with anti-tank missiles, grenades and mortars, have put up "stiff resistance," with their forces dug into defensive lines that are several layers deep in some areas and marked by minefields that have taken a heavy toll on Ukrainian armored vehicles. 

US and Western officials have been bracing for an expected counteroffensive for months, moving to shore up Ukraine's defenses ahead of its start. This week, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said an offensive was "taking place in several directions." 

Both US officials say the losses are not expected to impact the larger planned Ukrainian counteroffensive. US and Western officials long expected the counteroffensive to take time and put Ukrainian personnel and equipment, including Western-supplied systems, at high risk.

Keep reading here.

9:32 a.m. ET, June 8, 2023

Ukrainian troops trying to push through Russian lines in Zaporizhzhia, Kremlin-backed official says

From CNN’s Jo Shelley in London, Anna Chernova and Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Ukraine’s frontline troops are trying to break through Russian lines in the south of the country, a Kremlin-appointed official in the Russian-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region has told state news agency RIA Novosti. 

Vladimir Rogov said Ukraine’s armed forces were trying to advance but had not yet had any success, according to RIA. 

In a series of posts on Telegram on Thursday morning, Rogov said the Ukrainians had been “hitting the positions of our guys for many hours with artillery and HIMARS.” 

He said the assault was aimed at forcing Russian troops to “flee” their positions. 

Ukraine shelled the occupied town of Tokmak overnight, destroying two houses, Rogov said in a separate post. He urged civilians there to leave for the southern port of Berdyansk, which lies further into Russian-held territory. 

Later in the day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russian forces repelled four overnight attacks in the region.

Shoigu said there was a two-hour battle after Ukrainian forces attempted to break through Russian defenses at 1:30 a.m. local time “with the forces of the 47th Mechanized Brigade, numbering up to 1,500 people and 150 armored vehicles.”

CNN cannot independently verify Shoigu’s claims, which were posted by the Russian Ministry of Defense on Telegram. 

Some context: Ukrainian officials have been tight-lipped about Kyiv's plans for its long-anticipated counteroffensive, though there have been signs in recent weeks that the effort is nearing.

Ivan Fedorov, the Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, put a cryptic message on his Telegram channel on Thursday. 

“The weather for the Russo-fascists in the Zaporizhzhia direction is hot summer days and nights in the still occupied Tokmak,” Fedorov said. “The occupiers did not sleep today until two in the morning.” 

 

9:20 a.m. ET, June 8, 2023

1 person has died in flooding in Ukrainian-held Mykolaiv region

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych

A 53-year-old man has died after refusing to be evacuated from floodwaters in the Ukrainian-held Mykolaiv region, police said on Telegram. 

"Due to the occupiers' blowing up of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, the territories of Snihurivka, Shyroke and Horokhivske communities in Mykolaiv region are flooded. So far, we have one victim – a 53-year-old man from the village of Vasylivka who refused to be evacuated yesterday," said Serhii Shaikhet, the regional police chief. 

Shaikhet urged people to evacuate flooded areas and said police were, "patrolling the area on boats to identify people in need of help."

More on evacuations: At least 1,854 people have been evacuated since Tuesday as rescue efforts to free people from their flooded homes in Ukrainian-controlled Kherson continued throughout Wednesday, Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said.

The ministry said it was also looking for ways to evacuate citizens from the Russian occupied-eastern bank of the Dnipro River.

“We are trying to do it as quickly as possible. We are hampered by a strong current and shelling by the Russian military,” said Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko.

CNN's Yulia Kesaieva, Fred Pleitgen, Radina Gigova, Sarah Dean and Helen Regan contributed to this post.

10:11 a.m. ET, June 8, 2023

Russian forces shelling "places of evacuation" in Kherson city, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Emergency workers take cover during a Russian military strike while they evacuate people from a flooded area in Kherson, Ukraine, on June 8.
Emergency workers take cover during a Russian military strike while they evacuate people from a flooded area in Kherson, Ukraine, on June 8. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Russian forces are shelling “places of evacuation” in Kherson city, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The ministry said three people have been injured in the shelling: “a civilian woman, a police officer and a rescuer.” 

“All are being provided with the necessary assistance. The shelling began during the evacuation of citizens whose homes were flooded,” the ministry said in a Telegram post on Thursday.

“Russia has left people in trouble in the occupied part of Kherson region. And it continues to prevent Ukraine from saving the most valuable - human lives,” it added.

Some context: Both Russia and Ukraine are accusing each other of shelling as evacuations continue in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region following the Nova Kakhovka dam collapse.

8:26 a.m. ET, June 8, 2023

Analysis: Ukraine dam collapse serves neither side well as war enters next crucial phase

From CNN's Sam Kiley

A satellite image shows the Nova Kakhovka Dam and hydroelectric plant after its collapse, in Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine, on June 7.
A satellite image shows the Nova Kakhovka Dam and hydroelectric plant after its collapse, in Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine, on June 7. Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Fish swept up and dumped by flood waters drive home Ukraine’s claims of Russian “ecocide” while Russian gunners attacked rescuers amid the chaos of the Nova Khakovka dam burst.

Apparently caught unawares, the Kremlin’s own troops were washed away, their trenches flooded, accommodation inundated and, as they ran into the open to save themselves, Ukrainian forces rained death down upon them from the opposite bank of the Dnipro River.

At first glance, this looks like an own goal, or two, by Russia. It controlled the dam that burst, is accused by many Western nations of actually blowing it up, and it engulfed its own troops plus Ukrainian civilians under its occupation.

But Moscow has form for sacrificing the lives of many for the motherland, in the same way, on the same river.

As Nazi troops advanced against the Russian army in 1941 across Ukraine, Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD, were given an order of terrible ruthlessness. They were to blow up the Zaporizhzhia hydroelectric dam that bisected the eponymous industrial city, which stands 200 kilometers (125 miles) upriver from today’s Nova Kakhovka barricade).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has again blamed Moscow for the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam and said Russia should bear “criminal liability” for “ecocide.”

Both Kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of being behind the major breach of the dam, although it is unclear whether the dam was deliberately attacked, or whether the collapse was the result of structural failure.

Zelensky referred to a report by Ukrainian intelligence last year that claimed occupying Russian troops had mined the dam.

“The consequences of the tragedy will be clear in a week. When the water goes away, it will become clear what is left and what will happen next,” he said.

Any plans that Kyiv may have had for a cross-river assault are now much more complicated by a much wider body of water, more boggy landscape, and unmapped waters.

Russia has lost too.

“Their positions were fully destroyed. They are full of water. They have a lot of wounded people and dead people for now, we have information that it’s hundreds of them,” Ukrainian Army Captain Andrei Pidlisnyi told CNN on Tuesday.

Read more here.