June 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Simone McCarthy, Helen Regan, Jeevan Ravindran, Hafsa Khalil, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 3:12 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022
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8:48 p.m. ET, June 29, 2022

15,000 people remain in Lysychansk as Russian forces try to storm the city, local official says

From CNN's Julia Presnikova

Russian forces attempting to storm Lysychansk are maintaining shelling of the eastern Ukrainian city where some 15,000 people remain, Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk region military administration, said on Wednesday. 

“The fighting continues on the outskirts of the city, [the Russians] are trying to storm constantly,” Hayday said in a televised address. “Lately, our guys have been hitting warehouses, headquarters and barracks [of the Russian forces]. And this makes it possible to have a pause in these attacks.”

Hayday also said “around 15,000 people” remain in Lysychansk, despite a recommendation from officials in the past few weeks that they evacuate from the front line. But with the city under constant shelling, it has become much harder for people to leave. 

“Now the density of fire is so strong. So much that we can only put 30 people on a bus,” he said. “Therefore, we are very careful about this.”

“The Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway has not been used for a long time. But we have other routes, we do not name them, and we have the opportunity to pick up something sometimes,” he added. “Now is the peak of hostilities.”

8:10 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

Biden announces strengthening of NATO forces

From CNN's Kevin Liptak, Niamh Kennedy and Sharon Braithwaite

U.S. President Joe Biden, left, talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 29.
U.S. President Joe Biden, left, talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 29. (Susan Walsh/AP)

US President Joe Biden and fellow NATO leaders assembled in Madrid Wednesday to unveil a significant strengthening of forces along the alliance's eastern flank as Russia's war in Ukraine shows no signs of slowing.

Speaking alongside NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, Biden listed new troop movements, equipment shipments and military installations meant to demonstrate the importance of security in the face of Moscow's aggression.

"The United States and our allies, we are going to step up — we are stepping up. We're proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been and is as important as it ever has been," Biden said.

Biden said the US would:

  • Establish a permanent headquarters for the Fifth Army Corps in Poland
  • Maintain an extra rotational brigade of 3,000 troops in Romania
  • Enhance rotational deployments to the Baltic states
  • Send two more F-35 fighter jet squadrons to the United Kingdom
  • Station additional air defense and other capabilities in Germany and Italy
"Together with our allies, we are going to make sure that NATO is ready to meet threats from all directions — across every domain, land, air and the sea," Biden said.

"No communication with Moscow": The US did not convey to Russia its plans to bolster its force posture in Europe ahead of time.

"There has been no communication with Moscow about these changes nor is there a requirement to do that," John Kirby, the NSC coordinator for strategic communications, said after Biden announced the series of measures.

A second official told reporters the announcements did not violate any agreements between Russia and NATO, which stipulate parameters for positioning troops in Europe.

"The decision to permanently forward station the Five Corps headquarters forward command post does not, you know, is consistent with that commitment and our understanding of the NATO Russia founding act," said Celeste Wallander, United States assistant secretary of defense for international affairs.

Read more here.

8:10 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

NATO formally invites Finland and Sweden to join alliance

From CNN's Kevin Liptak, Niamh Kennedy and Sharon Braithwaite

Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson speaks next to Finland's President Sauli Niinisto during a news conference at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 29.
Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson speaks next to Finland's President Sauli Niinisto during a news conference at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 29. (Nacho Doce/Reuters)

NATO formalized its invitation to Sweden and Finland to join its alliance Wednesday, a historic expansion of the defense bloc that directly undercuts Russian President Vladimir Putin's aims as his war in Ukraine grinds ahead.

The group collectively decided to approve countries' applications to join after Turkey dropped its objections Tuesday, paving the way for NATO's most consequential enlargement in decades.

"The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them safer, NATO stronger, and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure. The security of Finland and Sweden is of direct importance to the Alliance, including during the accession process," the statement said.

What happens next: The decision will now go to the 30 member states' parliaments and legislatures for final ratification. NATO's leaders said they expected the process to move quickly, allowing for an unprecedentedly swift accession and a show of unity against Putin.

Read more here.

2:26 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

Zelensky conditionally accepts personal invitation to attend G20 summit in Indonesia

From Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London and Victoria Butenko in Kyiv

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky arrive for a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 29.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky arrive for a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 29. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo in Kyiv Wednesday and accepted his personal invitation to attend the G20 summit in Bali in November. 

“Ukraine’s participation will depend on the security situation in Ukraine and who else might be attending,” Zelensky said at the joint press briefing to mark Widodo’s first visit to Ukraine. 

Zelensky went on to say Widodo’s visit was important to help stop the war.  

“I consider our talks today to be an important step for strengthening global anti-war coalition of all the countries that can bring back and guarantee stability to the world,” he said. “You achieved victory in your struggle for freedom, we believe that we can defend our freedom and independence from the colonizing war of the Russian Federation.”

Widodo also said he offered to convey a message of peace from Zelensky to Russian President Vladimir Putin when he meets with him on Thursday. Widodo also invited Putin to the G20.

The Indonesian President also discussed the importance of Ukraine to the world food supply chain, saying, “all efforts must be made so that Ukraine can return to exporting food again.”

Remember: In April, Putin accepted an invitation to attend the G20 summit, Widodo had announced. However, there has been vehement opposition to the prospect of his attendance. The White House has conveyed privately to Indonesia that Russia should not be allowed to participate in this year’s G20 summit. Finance ministers from multiple nations walked out of a closed-door G20 session in Washington in April when the Russian delegate began his prepared remarks.

CNN's Masrur Jamaluddin contributed reporting to this post.

8:35 p.m. ET, June 29, 2022

UN report documents 10,000 civilian casualties in Ukraine, with toll likely "considerably higher"

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London 

The United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published an alarming report Wednesday about the human rights situation in Ukraine in the context of the ongoing Russian invasion.

The UN documented 10,000 civilian casualties since the conflict began on Feb. 24, “among them, 4,731 people were killed,” Matilda Bogner, head of Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, told journalists in Kyiv as she presented the report’s findings.

She warned the casualty numbers are “considerably higher” as the report only highlights the figures the mission was able to independently verify. 

“The armed attack by the Russian Federation against Ukraine has had a devastating impact on the human rights across the country. We documented violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including war crimes. These violations highlight the heavy toll the conflict is having day in and day out,” Bogner said.

The report is based on information gathered during 11 field visits, three visits to places of detention and 517 interviews with victims and witnesses between Feb. 24 and May 15, 2022. The evidence also draws from court documents, official records and open sources.

8:32 p.m. ET, June 29, 2022

Ukrainian mayor of Kherson detained as Russian-run region prepares for referendum

From CNN's Tim Lister and Sanyo Fylyppov

The elected Ukrainian mayor of Kherson was arrested Tuesday, according to pro-Russian officials in the city, hours before the region's Russian-backed administration announced plans for a referendum.

Ihor Kolykhaiev's arrest comes amid growing efforts by the Russian-appointed authorities in the region to strip it of Ukrainian associations, as well as occasional assassination attempts against people collaborating with the Russians.

"I confirm that Kolykhaiev was detained by the commandant's office," Kateryna Gubareva, an official in the interim administration of the Kherson region, said late Tuesday.

Kolykhaiev has remained in the city throughout the occupation, but the Russian-backed authorities had removed him from office.

Speaking about his arrest, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the military-civilian administration of the Kherson region, said Kolykhaiev had "posed as a benefactor" but "made every effort to ensure that some people continued to believe in the return of neo-Nazism."

Stremousov also claimed, without offering evidence, that Kolykhaiev "stole millions, and gave people a penny."

"I believe that just retribution will come to all those who want blood, death and war," he added.

Read more here.