June 9, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales, Matt Meyer, Sophie Tanno and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 8:15 p.m. ET, June 9, 2023
28 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
5:27 p.m. ET, June 9, 2023

Ukrainians are relying on water handouts in flooded areas, according to charities

From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls in London

Residents of Kherson receive drinking water from volunteers on June 8.
Residents of Kherson receive drinking water from volunteers on June 8. Seth Herald/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ukrainians living in areas flooded by the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam are “completely reliant” on handouts for clean drinking water, the nongovernmental organization World Central Kitchen told CNN on Friday.

“Roads and bridges have been flooded out and so food cannot move (into the area),” World Central Kitchen coordinator Yuliya Konovalova said. “Water is offline and so people are now completely reliant on water provided by us and others.”

The collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine has flooded entire villages, destroyed homes, and left tens of thousands of people without power or clean water. 

Humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger’s field coordinator in the region, Phil Oldham, told CNN that the lack of clean drinking water in the area could mean that even those people whose homes have not been directly impacted by the flood will have to leave.

“We can see the possibility that there will be a much larger displacement as a result of the lack of drinking water,” Oldham said. “Now even some of the wells in the area above the (area flooded by the) dam are running dry. ... That could create additional displacements far beyond the level we're seeing now directly from the flood zone.”

Oldham said that those who've been displaced will likely be out of their homes for months, even as the water recedes.

Others in the area will try to stay in their homes no matter what, Konovalova told CNN. “Many have resisted evacuation because they do not want to leave their homes in a war for the uncertainty of evacuation sites and relocation,” she said.  

Supplies and other goods are gathered for those affected by the flooding in Kherson on June 8.
Supplies and other goods are gathered for those affected by the flooding in Kherson on June 8. Seth Herald/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Christian Aid’s Ukraine Response Director Iryna Dobrohorska told CNN that the possibility of water-borne illnesses exists as well.

"Water contamination from dead animals and sewage is likely to have an impact on the rise of health dangers, (with) cholera being one of key risks in the affected areas,” Dobrohorska said.

For those who have chosen to stay, Dobrohorska said urgent medical help is needed – and not just physical help.

“The affected populations are equally in need of immediate psychosocial support,” she said. “... Coupled with stress and shock from flooding, the people require close medical attention." 

“The people we are seeing are the elderly and the poor — that is the horror of the front line,” Konovalova said. “People are scared, people have lost everything, people are clinging to the little they have left."

3:42 p.m. ET, June 9, 2023

Zelensky says "a lot of problems" persist as rescue operation continues after dam collapse

From Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits areas impacted by flooding in Kherson on June 8.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits areas impacted by flooding in Kherson on June 8. Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday “there are a lot of problems” as rescue operations in the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions continue following the Nova Kakhovka dam collapse.

“But we are working to overcome them at all possible levels,” Zelensky said in his nightly address. He did not elaborate on the issues.

Amid reports of intensified fighting in the south of the country, Zelensky said, “For our soldiers, for all those who are in particularly tough battles these days. We see your heroism, and we are grateful to you for every minute of your life.”

The president also thanked the United States for a new security assistance package of support worth more than $2 billion. He said the package will ensure “missiles for the Patriots and other air defense systems, strengthening our defense on the ground, strengthening the strength of all our soldiers.”

3:39 p.m. ET, June 9, 2023

32 nations can submit opinions in case where Ukraine accuses Russia of false genocide claims, UN court says

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in London

Thirty-two countries, but not the United States, can submit opinions in a case in which Ukraine is accusing Russia of using false genocide claims as a pretext to launch its full-scale invasion, the International Court of Justice said in a statement Friday.

On February 27, 2022, Kyiv filed a case against Moscow, stating that “the Russian Federation has falsely claimed that acts of genocide have occurred in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine, and on that basis recognized the so-called ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ and ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’, and then declared and implemented a ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine.”

“Ukraine ‘emphatically denies’ that such genocide has occurred and states that it submitted the Application ‘to establish that Russia has no lawful basis to take action in and against Ukraine for the purpose of preventing and punishing any purported genocide’,” according to the original submission.

The United Nations' top court on Friday granted applications from the UK, Canada and 30 other states to participate. 

The countries have until July 5 to submit their opinions, according to the judgment document. 

1:01 p.m. ET, June 9, 2023

UK jets scramble twice in 24 hours to intercept Russian aircraft flying close to NATO airspace

From CNN's Max Foster and Radina Gigova in London 

British Royal Air Force Typhoons scrambled twice over one day to intercept several Russian aircraft flying close to NATO airspace, the UK's Ministry of Defense said in a statement Friday.

On Thursday evening: RAF Typhoons based at Amari Air Base in Estonia and Swedish Air Force Gripens sought to intercept a Russian Air Force IL-20 "Coot- A" and Su-27 "Flanker-B" flying close to NATO and Swedish airspace, the ministry said. 

"The Russian aircraft were not complying with international norms by failing to communicate with the relevant Flight Information Regions (FIRs), however they remained in international airspace and flew in a professional manner," the statement said. 

On Friday morning: RAF Typhoons were scrambled again to intercept one Antonov An-12 "Cub" and one An-72 "Coaler" flying south from mainland Russia toward the Kaliningrad region, the ministry said.

"The RAF fighters were later re-tasked to intercept two Tupolev Tu-22M ‘BACKFIRES’ and two Su-30 SM FLANKER H, also flying south from mainland Russia over the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea," the ministry said. "The Russian aircraft were once again not complying with international norms by failing to liaise appropriately with local FIRs."

The British were joined by the Finnish Air Force to escort the Russian aircraft through the Gulf of Finland and later handed off to the Swedish Air Force.  

"Portuguese and Romanian F16s, based out of Siauliai Airbase in Lithuania, were also scrambled to escort the Russian aircraft as they transited further south through the Latvian and Lithuanian FIRs," the UK ministry added.

“These intercepts are a stark reminder that the RAF is always ready to defend our skies and those of our allies, while the coordinated action by several air forces serves as a clear demonstration of the value of our international alliances," UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is quoted as saying in the statement.

A pilot who was involved with the scramble said that "although there is an apparent increase in regional activity, these intercepts remain normal jogging for us and we are ready to respond to any task that may pose a threat to regional security," according to the statement. 

NATO is currently conducting naval exercises in the Baltic Sea and, "as expected, Russian aircraft have been monitoring allied vessels throughout," the ministry said. 

12:44 p.m. ET, June 9, 2023

Floating mines have increased danger in Ukraine’s coastal area, military spokesperson says

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

The danger in Ukraine’s southern coastal area has increased as mines dislodged by the Nova Kakhovka dam collapse are potentially being carried to the Black Sea, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military said Friday.

“These mines may collide with the sea mines, nuclear mines, which are littered in the territorial sea of Ukraine — this will be an additional danger, a threat," Operational Command South's Natalia Humeniuk told a media briefing.

She also confirmed reports that parts of houses destroyed by flooding are drifting to the coast of Odesa from the southern Kherson region. At least 600 square kilometers (232 square miles) of the Kherson region have experienced flooding following the dam collapse, according to Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Kherson regional military administration. The catastrophe has destroyed entire villages, flooded farmland, deprived tens of thousands of people of power and clean water, and caused massive environmental damage.

Humeniuk said Russian forces continue to shell the Ukrainian-controlled western bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson but the number of attacks has decreased. 

"If earlier there were 70-80 attacks per day, now there are 30-50," she said.

"Due to flooding, the enemy lost some mortar positions that had previously delivered powerful attacks, including on Kherson city," Humeniuk said.

She said Russian troops continue to shell evacuation areas. "Where people are being helped from the high water, the enemy is inflicting fire, including on the hubs where people who need further redeployment are gathered," she said.

View where flooding has occurred:

12:44 p.m. ET, June 9, 2023

Putin claims Ukrainian counteroffensive has begun, but without success 

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Andrew Carey

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed on Friday that the Ukrainian counteroffensive had begun, but it has not been successful.

"It can be stated with absolute certainty that the counteroffensive has begun," Putin said on the sidelines of a conference in Sochi on Friday, claiming it is "evidenced by the use of strategic reserves."

“It can be stated that all counteroffensive attempts made so far have failed. But the offensive potential of the Kyiv troops regime still remains,” Putin said in video shared on Telegram from Russian state media.

Putin said "the Ukrainian troops have not achieved the tasks assigned to them in any of the main sectors. This is an absolutely obvious thing," adding that the last two days have been "very intense."

Ukrainian forces appear to have stepped up activities along the front line to the southeast of the city of Zaporizhzhia. But it is still too early to get a true picture of what is unfolding and the extent that Ukraine really is attempting a major push forward. Kyiv has been largely mum on a potential counteroffensive, but officials have previously said that it would not be announced.

The Russian leader’s comments are the latest in a series of upbeat Russian characterizations of events along the front line between the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.  

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Thursday Ukraine’s 47th Mechanized Brigade had suffered heavy losses of personnel and arms in four separate attempts to break through Russian lines. All attempts had failed, he said.

What Ukraine is saying — or not: Ukrainian officials remain tight-lipped about how fighting is progressing. In his address Thursday evening, President Volodymyr Zelensky described "very tough battles."

"There is a result, and I am grateful to everyone who ensures the result," he added, though it is quite possible he was referring to fighting around the eastern city of Bakhmut, which is along a very different part of the front line and where Ukrainian forces have made limited gains recently. 

Not all Russian reports are positive: Information emerging from the battlefields of the Zaporizhzhia region is not all sunny for the Russians. On Friday morning, Russian pro-Kremlin blogger Semyon Pegov, who blogs under the alias WarGonzo reported that Ukraine’s armed forces had made gains south of Orikhiv toward the town of Tokmak in Russian-held territory. The situation facing Russian forces was very serious, he said.

CNN cannot independently verify claims made by Russian officials or those of well-sourced Russian military bloggers. But a local Ukrainian commander leading troops along the same front line rejected the suggestion Ukraine had begun its big attempt to recapture territory. Instead, the commander characterized the pushes as "reconnaissance in force" – operations designed to probe the enemy’s defenses for weak spots and to test its combat readiness.

11:53 a.m. ET, June 9, 2023

Parts of houses destroyed by dam collapse are washing up on Odesa’s shoreline, lawmaker says

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Goncharenko shared three videos on Telegram that he said were filmed at Dolphin beach in Odesa.
Goncharenko shared three videos on Telegram that he said were filmed at Dolphin beach in Odesa. Oleksiy Goncharenko/Telegram

Parts of houses destroyed by the Nova Kakhovka dam collapse in Ukraine’s Kherson region are washing up on the Black Sea shoreline in Odesa, according to Oleksiy Goncharenko, a Ukrainian member of parliament.

Goncharenko shared three videos on Telegram that he said were filmed at Dolphin Beach, near the city's university.

“The port of Odesa is over there. And look: It's a house. The house is washed up on the shore,” he said in one video.   

The lawmaker goes on to point out pieces of the home, including the roof and a wall, saying "it was brought in by the sea" some 100 kilometers (over 60 miles) from Kherson to the port city.

Some background: The dam collapse is one of the biggest industrial and ecological disasters in Europe for decades.

At least 600 square kilometers (232 square miles) of the southern Kherson region have experienced flooding. The catastrophe has destroyed entire villages, flooded farmland, deprived tens of thousands of people of power and clean water, and caused massive environmental damage.

It’s still impossible to say whether the dam collapsed because it was deliberately targeted or if the breach could have been caused by structural failure. Russia and Ukraine each blame the other country for causing the break.

CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Gianluca Mezzofiore contributed to this report.

11:37 a.m. ET, June 9, 2023

Pentagon announces new $2.1 billion security assistance package for Ukraine

From CNN's Jamie Crawford

The Pentagon on Friday announced a new $2.1 billion security assistance package for Ukraine that it said includes “critical air defense and ammunition capabilities,” according to a press release. 

"This USAI (Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative) package illustrates the continued commitment to both Ukraine’s critical near-term capabilities as well as the enduring capacity of Ukraine’s Armed Forces to defend its territory and deter Russian aggression over the long term," the statement said.

According to the Pentagon, the package includes:

  • Additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems
  • HAWK air defense systems and missiles
  • 105mm and 203mm artillery rounds
  • Puma unmanned aerial systems
  • Laser-guided rocket system munitions
  • Support for training, maintenance and sustainment activities

Some context: With the new package announcement, the US has committed more than $40.4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including more than $39.7 billion since the beginning of the war in February 2022.

11:31 a.m. ET, June 9, 2023

Drone plant that Russia is building with help from Iran could be fully operational by early 2024, US says

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand

Destroyed Russian drones are seen as members of the mobile air defense groups attend a handover ceremony of trucks with DShK machine guns near the town of Borispil, Kyiv region, Ukraine, on May 10.
Destroyed Russian drones are seen as members of the mobile air defense groups attend a handover ceremony of trucks with DShK machine guns near the town of Borispil, Kyiv region, Ukraine, on May 10. Gleb Garanich/Reuters

The US believes that an attack drone manufacturing plant Russia is building with Iran’s help could be fully operational by early next year, National Security Council official John Kirby said on Friday.

Iran is shipping equipment for the plant, as well as fully-built drones, to Russia via the Caspian Sea, US officials believe. Russia has purchased hundreds of drones from Iran since last summer and is using them extensively in the war in Ukraine.

Kirby, the NSC's coordinator for strategic communications, confirmed previous CNN reporting that Iran is using the Caspian Sea route to move drones, bullets and mortar shells to Russia, often using vessels that are “dark,” or have turned off their tracking data to disguise their movements.

The US released a map on Friday showing the route Iran appears to be using to ship the equipment from Amirabad, Iran to Makhachkala, Russia.

“Russia has been using Iranian UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in recent weeks to strike Kyiv and terrorize the Ukrainian population, and the Russia-Iran military partnership appears to be deepening,” Kirby said in a statement.

CNN has asked the Russian embassy in Washington and the Iranian mission to the United Nations for comment.

“The support is flowing both ways: from Iran to Russia, and from Russia to Iran,” Kirby said.

Some background: Iran appeared to be modifying the attack drones it has provided to Russia so that the explosive warheads could inflict maximum damage on infrastructure targets inside Ukraine, according to an investigative report obtained exclusively by CNN in February.

Iran has given Russia hundreds of drones to use in its war in Ukraine, many of which have targeted Ukraine’s power grid and energy facilities to devastating effect.

Drone sales have deepened Iran’s relations with Russia, which were already strengthening as the two countries were increasingly locked out of international commerce and the financial system.

Read more here.