Russia's war in Ukraine

By Aditi Sangal, Rhea Mogul, Lianne Kolirin and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 6:49 p.m. ET, June 24, 2022
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5:16 p.m. ET, June 24, 2022

Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol says there is no water and thousands of tons of garbage in the streets

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla

Vadym Boichenko, the exiled mayor of Mariupol, gave a brief update on the situation inside the city now under Russian control. 

Speaking on Friday, Boichenko said that 120,000 residents of the city are trapped, unable to escape. He added that the sanitary situation in the city is becoming critical.

“Garbage has not been taken out since February. Thousands of tons of garbage lie on the street, rotting. The sewer does not work. There is no water,” he said.

Boichenko is no longer physically in the city, but he provides updates on the conditions inside the city from sources and information he receives. 

According to those sources, Russian forces have “distanced themselves from the locals because they are afraid of getting infected." 

Boichenko added that he is unsure if diseases may be spreading around the city.

3:33 p.m. ET, June 24, 2022

US secretary of state says it "makes no sense" for Russia to demand inspecting Ukrainian ships

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Michael Conte

Antony Blinken during the International Conference On Global Food Security on June 24 in Berlin, Germany.
Antony Blinken during the International Conference On Global Food Security on June 24 in Berlin, Germany. (Mika Savolainen/Pool/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it doesn't make sense for Russia to demand that it be able to inspect every Ukrainian ship leaving Ukrainian ports.

“By what right or by what logic does Russia insist on inspecting Ukrainian sovereign ships leaving Ukrainian ports going to other countries? That makes no sense,” Blinken said to CNN’s Fred Pleitgen at a press conference in Germany on Friday.

Blinken is in Berlin for a ministerial conference on food security. He also said that Ukraine needs assurances that its ports will be safe from potential Russian ships, when asked about Russian demands that Ukraine clears the passages of mines. 

“When Russia says that it might be prepared to let ships out, that potentially creates the risk of Russian ships going in and attacking Odesa directly. So the Ukrainians have to have confidence that in doing anything that would allow their ships to get out of port that the Russians won’t take advantage of that and allow Russian ships to go in and attack Odesa,” Blinken said. 

Blinken did not say there has been any definitive progress on getting Ukrainian grain out of the country despite high-profile attention — both by the Biden administration and its allies — on the problem for over a month now. 

Blinken also expressed support for the United Nations, which has been trying to work with both the Russians and the Ukrainians to develop a solution. 

“The United Nations, the secretary general, have been working very persistently to see if some kind of agreement can be reached that would allow a channel out of Odesa for Ukrainian ships and so food and grain. We very much support that effort,” Blinken said. 

1:07 p.m. ET, June 24, 2022

Mykolaiv mayor urges "everyone who wants to stay alive to leave the city"

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla

The mayor of the southern Ukraine city of Mykolaiv, Oleksandr Sienkevych, has urged residents of the city to leave.

"I suggest everyone who wants to stay alive to leave the city. About 230,000 people remain in Mykolayiv city now," the mayor said.

Evacuation routes out of the city are in the directions of Odesa, Kryvyi Rih and Kyiv.

He described the situation as “generally very bad. The city is shelled every day.”

The mayor said 111 people have been killed and 502 people have been injured, including six children.

10:21 a.m. ET, June 24, 2022

IAEA "increasingly concerned" for staff at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

A Russian serviceman guards in an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1.
A Russian serviceman guards in an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1. (AP)

The International Atomic Energy Agency is "increasingly concerned about the difficult conditions facing staff" at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Friday in a statement.

Grossi also stressed that IAEA must go there "as soon as possible" and that the situation at the site, under the control of Russian armed forces, is "clearly untenable."

"The IAEA is aware of recent reports in the media and elsewhere indicating a deteriorating situation for Ukrainian staff at the country’s largest nuclear power plant," Grossi said.

“The situation at this major nuclear power plant is clearly untenable. We are informed that Ukrainian staff are operating the facility under extremely stressful conditions while the site is under the control of Russian armed forces," he said, adding the recent reports are "very troubling and further deepen my concern about the well-being of personnel there.”

 

9:45 a.m. ET, June 24, 2022

Ukrainian forces are withdrawing from Severodonetsk to "better defend themselves," senior US official says

From CNN's Michael Conte, Barbara Starr and Sonnet Swire

Ukrainian forces moving back from Severodonetsk are “putting themselves in a position where they can better defend themselves,” according to a senior US defense official.

“The Ukrainian armed forces are performing a professional, tactical retrograde in order to consolidate their forces in positions that they can better defend themselves,” said the official in a background call with reporters.

The official also said Russian forces are still “just eking out inch by inch of territory” in Donbas and characterized the Russian move on Severodonetsk as a “very small, very incremental gain.” 

However, the official said they did not want to minimize the “significant” percentage of territory Russia does control in Ukraine or the loss of Ukrainian lives.

9:46 a.m. ET, June 24, 2022

Settlements south of Lysychansk are under increased fire, Ukraine's defense ministry says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Several settlements south and southeast of the city of Lysychansk are currently under increased fire by Russian forces, Ukrainian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzianyk said at a briefing Friday. 

“The hottest sectors of the front are the settlements in the southern and southeastern directions from Severodonetsk. The enemy has significantly increased the number of air strikes,” Motuzianyk told journalists. “As a result of the strikes on Lysychansk, a large number of buildings were destroyed in the surrounding settlements.”

“The settlements of Borivske, Verkhniokamenka, Mykolaivka and Bila Hora are under fire,” Motuzianyk added.

The remarks highlight the ground Russian forces have gained in the past few days, with all the settlements in close distance to the strategic axis of Lysychansk-Severodonetsk. 

“[Russia] is trying to establish full control over Severodonetsk, conducts offensive operations to try to surround our troops in the area of ​​Lysychansk and to block the main logistics routes,” Motuzianyk said. “Heavy fighting continues; the enemy is trying to entrench in the areas of Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka.”

Motuzianyk also said Ukrainian forces had been able to repel a Russian offensive in Borivske.

Ukrainian forces will have to withdraw from Severodonetsk, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration said earlier.

9:27 a.m. ET, June 24, 2022

All pledged rocket systems will be in Ukraine by mid-July, US defense official says

From CNN's Michael Conte and Barbara Starr

The first batch of four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems that the US pledged to Ukraine are now in the country, and the newly announced batch of four HIMARS will be delivered by “mid-July,” according to a senior US defense official.

Another platoon of Ukrainians is in training to operate the systems, the official told reporters on a background call.

9:29 a.m. ET, June 24, 2022

G7 foreign ministers say Russia is to blame for exacerbating food insecurity

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

Russia's war against Ukraine is exacerbating food insecurity, the G7 foreign ministers said Friday in a joint statement.

The ministers reiterated their condemnation of the war and called on Moscow "to cease its attacks and threatening actions and un-block the Ukrainian Black Sea ports for food exports."

"In today’s meeting the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, reaffirmed in the strongest terms their condemnation of Russia’s continued war of aggression against Ukraine," according to the joint statement.

A Russian soldier guards a pier with grain storage silos in the background at Mariupol Sea Port, Ukraine, on June 12.
A Russian soldier guards a pier with grain storage silos in the background at Mariupol Sea Port, Ukraine, on June 12. (AP)

The ministers said that in addition to Russia's blockade of ports, troops are bombing grain silos and damaging Ukraine's agricultural infrastructure.

"Ministers rejected Russia’s false narrative and disinformation on sanctions. All G7 sanctions include exemptions to allow Russian food and agricultural products to get to global markets," according to the statement.

The foreign ministers pledged to support Ukraine with military and defense assistance "for as long as necessary."

8:26 a.m. ET, June 24, 2022

International partners "united" in fight against looming food crisis, German foreign minister says

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt and Claudia Otto in Berlin

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, address journalists following a meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, Germany, on June 24.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, address journalists following a meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, Germany, on June 24. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/AFP/Getty Images)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Friday international partners are working together in the fight against the looming food crisis caused by Russia's war in Ukraine.

''We are working together against Russia's cynical grain war that threatens to destabilize countries,'' Baerbock told reporters at a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, adding, ''This difficult time is also a time of almost unprecedented closeness and unity.''

''We will not allow this war to starve the world,'' Baerbock said, adding, ''There is insecurity in the world regarding delivery, especially of grains, and payment.'' 

Baerbock said the top priority of Friday's food security conference hosted by Germany is to set up reliable transport routes, including the opening of transport via sea and rail, to allow grain from Ukraine to be exported.

The German foreign minister also said with the initiative of the US, temporary silos will be built in Ukraine to store and export grain to avert a global food crisis.