July 7, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Sana Noor Haq, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 3:58 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022
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7:15 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Zelensky says he's confident Britain's policy toward Ukraine won't change after Johnson's resignation

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to CNN Thursday as one of his top Western allies, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announced he would be resigning. 

Speaking in Ukrainian via a translator, Zelensky said he was confident that Britain's policy toward Ukraine "will not be changing" even if the country's leadership is in tumult.

"What Johnson has been doing for Ukraine was helping us a great deal. I consider him a friend of Ukraine, but I think his society also supported Ukraine in Europe. That's why I think the UK, it's on the side of good, on the side of Ukraine," Zelensky said during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"And I'm sure the UK policy toward Ukraine is not ... changing because of Boris Johnson's resignation. Our relations obviously gained a lot from Boris Johnson's understanding of things. We went through a lot of dramatic moments quite quickly. The help we needed was delivered rather quickly ... if (his resignation) will affect this speed of help I don't know. I will pray to God it won't be affecting that help."

5:49 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Zelensky says additional aid from US would be helpful to win war and calls for Biden to visit Kyiv

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. (Ukrainian President's Press Office)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN that he is grateful for the military support that Ukraine has received from the United States, which has provided weapons with greater capability as the war has dragged on, while urging the West to continue providing military support to help Ukraine keep up its fight.

"(The) United States are helping Ukraine, helping a lot, but it's not enough in order to win. I hope my trust will speed up this help to Ukraine," Zelensky said during an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" on Thursday.

He added, "We want the increment of this help — we're fighting for our land, we don't want people from different countries fight for our territory. But the US are a world economy and can help us with both arms and finances."

Zelensky highlighted the US's influence over European nations and how that can further be leveraged in support of Ukraine.

"And also, the US can influence the decisions of the European countries — this is also the political support. I have to be honest, some countries in Europe want a balance between Russia and Ukraine. But owing to the US help they started supporting us. So, when I talk about the volume and speed of the arms support, I'm not appealing only (to) the United States, I appeal to all the world leaders and saying that the faster help, the increment of help, will save the lives of Ukrainians and help us to regain territories occupied by Russia," he explained.

Asked whether the war could be over before the end of the year, Zelensky said, "Our country will stay united and unified. If the powerful weaponry from our partners will be coming to us on-time, and if good luck and God will be on our side, we can achieve a lot of things before the end of the year and we can stop this war. We can stop the military part, at least, of this war."

Zelensky also reiterated his call for US President Joe Biden to visit Kyiv, saying it would send a message to Russia and the world.

"We would love to see President Biden in Ukraine. I heard that he supported the idea. There are some security moments, which stand in the way of his visit, we understand that," Zelensky said. "I truly think this would help the Ukrainians. Ukrainians support (the) United States, the trust of the Ukrainians to the United States is very high, same as to the UK and Poland and the Baltic states," he said.

Zelensky added, "So, visits of the world leaders who are not just partners but real friends — they give a signal, a sign, that the United States support Ukraine because they believe in Ukrainian victory and are not afraid of Russia. They come despite the rockets flying in. They are not afraid of Putin because the world is much bigger than one leader of one country."

5:36 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Zelensky says he "fully" supports Sweden and Finland's NATO membership

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN that he was happy that Sweden and Finland were being accepted as NATO members, even though the Western military alliance has long resisted accepting Ukraine as a member.

"It's not superficial, but deep understanding of the risks for these countries because of the aggressive attitude of Russia to sovereign countries," Zelensky said during an exclusive interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday.

He added, "That's why we fully support their membership. The whole world is helping Ukraine, some doing humanitarian aid, some financial or military aid, both houses in the United States support us.

"The world is doing a lot, but it could have been easier — Ukraine could have been accepted as a NATO member. It would be much more straightforward than people imagine," Zelensky said.

5:31 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Zelensky says Ukraine is unwilling to cede any of its territories to Russia: "This is our land"

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. (Ukrainian President's Press Office)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday that Ukraine is unwilling to cede any of its land to Russia, standing firm that a concession of Ukrainian territory won't be part of any diplomatic negotiations to end the war.

"Ukrainians are not ready to give away their land, to accept that these territories belong to Russia. This is our land," Zelensky said in an exclusive interview aired Thursday on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"We always talk about that, and we are intending to prove it," he added.

Russia's war with Ukraine has now lasted for more than four months, with no sign of either side backing down soon. Ukraine's early successes forced Russia to scale back its initial aims of toppling Kyiv, and Moscow's forces have now focused on taking territory in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have now occupied most of the Luhansk region, outside of a few pockets of resistance, and are pressing toward cities in Donetsk.

CNN reported last week that White House officials are losing confidence Ukraine will ever be able to take back all of the land it has lost to Russia since the war began, even with the aid of heavier and more sophisticated weaponry that the US and its allies plan to provide Kyiv.

Zelensky acknowledged that Russia controls "almost all the Luhansk region," saying that his forces are now "fighting on the outskirts of this region." He said that Kyiv retreated to avoid mass losses of troops.

"I don't even understand what exactly they're controlling there. They ruined towns, school. They are the occupiers of the rubble?" Zelensky said.

Read more from Zelensky's interview here.

5:01 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Russian missile strike in Kharkiv kills at least 3 people and injures 5, according to Ukrainian official

From CNN's Chris Liakos

Firefighters walk by a partialy destroyed building after shelling of multiple launch rocket systems in Kharkiv on July 7. At least three civilians were killed and five injured.
Firefighters walk by a partialy destroyed building after shelling of multiple launch rocket systems in Kharkiv on July 7. At least three civilians were killed and five injured. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

At least three people have been killed and five others injured following shelling in one of Kharkiv’s districts in northeastern Ukraine, according to Serhii Bolvinov, the head of the investigation department of the National Police in the Kharkiv region.

Bolvinov said Russian troops carried out an attack on a residential quarter in the Nemyshliansky district of the city, “repeatedly shelling Kharkiv city” using Uragan multiple launch rocket systems and high-explosive shells.

Oleh Syniehubov, head of Kharkiv region military administration, said on Telegram that rescue officers are on location and investigators are on the ground are establishing more details. 

Syniehubov urged residents to “be as careful as possible, do not stay on the streets of the city without an urgent need.”

“The enemy strikes insidiously, striking residential areas and civilian infrastructure,” he said.

3:23 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Putin says war could continue until "last Ukrainian is left standing"

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting on June 30 in Moscow, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting on June 30 in Moscow, Russia. (Contributor/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday issued a warning to the West and Ukraine, saying the war might drag on until the “last Ukrainian is left standing.”

“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. Well, what can I say? Let them try,” Putin said during a meeting with the heads of the State Duma party factions that aired on state media television Russia-24. 

"We have continuously heard that the West is ready to fight with us until the last Ukrainian is left standing. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people. However, it seems like everything is going towards this," he said. 

Putin has also blamed the West for “encouraging and justifying genocide against people in Donbas.” 

"We are not refusing peace negotiations. But those who do refuse should know that the further [the conflict continues], the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us," Putin said. 

The eastern Donbas region has became the key centerpiece of Putin’s military ambition in Ukraine after his troops failed to take over Kyiv earlier this year.

1:52 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Brittney Griner's head coach: "We just want to get her home"

From CNN's Jacob Lev

Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard looks on during a WNBA game on July 2, in Chicago, Illinois.
Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard looks on during a WNBA game on July 2, in Chicago, Illinois. (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire/AP)

Vanessa Nygaard, the head coach of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, spoke to CNN following Brittney Griner pleading guilty to drug charges in a Russian court near Moscow on Thursday.

Nygaard said she couldn't comment on any legal matters or strategy, but she said the US government needs to "continue doing what they're doing and exhaust every measure possible to help bring BG home."

Asked if the White House was doing enough, Nygaard said she was happy with the administration's response to Griner's handwritten letter to US President Joe Biden and noted Biden's phone call to Griner's wife, Cherelle. However, she called the coverage of women sports and its athletes a "concern."

"The question is ‘Would Tom Brady be home?’ But Tom Brady wouldn’t be there, right? Because he doesn’t have to go to a foreign country to supplement his income from the WNBA. We want to keep the focus on bringing BG home but there is an undercurrent here of lack of coverage and value of women’s sports," Nygaard said.

Nygaard said she is still concerned for Griner's safety in Russia.

"In her letter (to President Biden), she said that she was scared," Nygaard said. "This is just not a regular American in another country, but this is a person who is represented our country well. She’s also a gay woman. She’s also a Black woman in Russia. We need to pay attention to that and help to bring her home. There was a lot of discussion of political pawns, but we know that there is a lot of Americans wrongfully imprisoned around the world. ... She is somebody who has worn the red, white, and blue in the Olympics and so we know that is a value to them. We just want to get her home.”

The Women’s National Basketball Players Association also issued a statement on Thursday. 

“The US State Department determined that Brittney Griner was wrongfully detained for a reason and will continue negotiating for her release regardless of the legal process. We���ll leave it at that," it partly read.

 CNN's Homero De La Fuente contributed reporting to this post.

2:06 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022

"We feel the unity" of American support for Ukraine, Zelensky says after meeting US senators in Kyiv

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll

US Sens. Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal are greeted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine on July 7.
US Sens. Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal are greeted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine on July 7. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed US Sens. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, and Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, in Kyiv on Thursday, recognizing the support for Ukraine from both parties of the United States.

"Bicameral and bipartisan support is really important for Ukraine. We feel it, we feel this unity," Zelensky told the senators.

Zelensky urged them to back the campaign to supply Ukraine with modern air defense systems, adding “we must ensure a level of safety so that our people are not afraid to live in Ukraine."

"The number one task for us today is for women with children to be able to return to Ukraine by September, so that children can go to school, so that students can go to universities," Zelensky told the senators.

Graham and Blumenthal informed Zelensky about their campaign in the Senate to ramp up the sanctions and brand Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

Blumenthal and Graham visit an exhibition of destroyed Russian vehicles and weapons in Kyiv on July 7.
Blumenthal and Graham visit an exhibition of destroyed Russian vehicles and weapons in Kyiv on July 7. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)