July 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Hafsa Khalil, Aditi Sangal, Hannah Strange, Adrienne Vogt and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 7:13 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022
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7:13 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Zelensky thanks US for its support and military assistance: "It is what helps us press on the enemy"

From CNN's Karen Smith

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the US for its support “in countering Russia’s aggression,” following Friday’s news that the US would be providing Ukraine with a new security assistance package.

“Truly grateful to 🇺🇸 President @POTUS, the 🇺🇸 people for continuing effective support of 🇺🇦 in countering Russia's aggression. More #HIMARS, 155mm shells are our priority needs. It is what helps us press on the enemy. We appreciate the 🇺🇸 support! Let's go to victory together!,” Zelensky said on Twitter.

The US will be providing Ukraine with four more high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) in a new security assistance package valued at $400 million, according to a senior defense official.

5:48 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Biden praises CIA employees for Putin intelligence reports ahead of Ukraine invasion

From CNN's Aaron Pellish

President Joe Biden speaks at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Friday, July 8.
President Joe Biden speaks at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Friday, July 8. (Susan Walsh/AP)

US President Joe Biden praised the work of CIA employees for their role in assessing Vladimir Putin’s intentions ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he called “critical to our ability to rally our allies” in a speech at CIA headquarters on Friday.

Biden said the work of intelligence officials made it possible to "forwarn the world."

“We saw what he was doing. You saw the forces he was amassing, the plans he was making. Exposing Putin playbook punched a gigantic hole in the pretense and discredited his lies about what we were doing in Ukraine,” Biden said.

Biden said the intelligence on Putin helped keep the NATO nations aligned in the effort to preserve Ukraine’s autonomy and push back against Russia’s invasion.

“And by the way, I've spent well over 135 hours doing just that on almost a daily basis because Putin counted on, counted on the ability to break up NATO and a break our resolve,” Biden added.

6:20 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022

US ambassador: "No way" Putin and leadership can argue they were unaware of crimes committed in Ukraine

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

US ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack appears before a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing in January.
US ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack appears before a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing in January. (Shutterstock)

The US ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice said “there's no way” that Russian President Vladimir Putin “and his leadership and the military side can argue that they were unaware” of the crimes being committed in Ukraine. Ambassador Beth Van Schaack told CNN that because there has been so much attention on those crimes, the Russian president and his inner circle could face international prosecution.

"There are legal doctrines that enable prosecutors to work all the way up the chain of command, including to the commander-in-chief, and individuals in leadership positions can be held responsible for ordering abuses if there's evidence of an order to do so. They can be held responsible for failing to properly train and supervise their troops, and they can be held responsible for failing to adjudicate violations when they become aware of them," Van Schaack said.

She also noted that based upon “the patterns of abuses that we're seeing, it's hard to conclude that these are the acts of rogue individuals or rogue units.”

Van Schaack said there are “plenty of courts with jurisdiction” to prosecute Putin for war crimes, but “the question is getting custody over him, and so as long as he remains within Russia, he may be out of reach.”

“There's no question that this is a long game and it has to be a long game. There's no way this can be accomplished in six months or a year,” she added.

Van Schaack said they still have not made a formal determination of genocide in Ukraine, noting that “genocide is difficult to prove — the special element is this intent to destroy the group in whole or in part — but we're obviously tracking these events very carefully.”

US President Joe Biden accused Putin of committing genocide in Ukraine in April. 

Van Schaack told CNN that Russia’s crimes against civilians Ukraine have clear roots in its past atrocities, including those committed in Syria, and said Moscow “probably does perceive that they have had a green light here when it came to using certain tactics.”

However, she said she hoped Russia learns from the international community’s response to Ukraine. 

She discussed the US work — along with the EU and the UK — on the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group, comprised of two main components: veteran advisors who are embedded with the Prosecutor General in Ukraine and the deployment of “multidisciplinary, multinational mobile justice teams that are being deployed out into the field to work side by side with” Ukrainian investigators who are working at the sites of attacks.

Van Schaack also noted the Department of Justice’s efforts, though she explained the US war crimes statute requires there to be a nexus to the United States for people to be prosecuted in the US.

5:07 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Postal workers deliver cash to elderly Ukrainians in hard-hit village near Kharkiv as fighting drags on  

(CNN)
(CNN)

Postal workers in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv donned bulletproof vests as they set off on a mission to deliver cash to elderly residents of the nearby village of Vil’khivka that recently was occupied by Russians.

Maryna Gulevska of the Ukrainian Postal Service said that the pensioners are part of the "most vulnerable people" who could not escape the village when Russian troops arrived.

"We come here because no one else will help them," she told CNN's Alex Marquardt.

At the post office, pockmarked by shrapnel, about $100 is counted out for each person to survive on.

(CNN)
(CNN)

One resident, 78-year-old Stepania Leskiv, burst into tears as she showed CNN's team the ruins of her home, which was destroyed in late March. She said she was able to escape shelling, but her house was burned down within 30 minutes.

She is staying with a neighbor, but she worries what will happen when winter comes. She is a widow, and her son died as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, she said.

"I wish it was over for me. When the bombing starts, I don't know where to hide," she said.

Russian troops have been pushed back from the area, and Ukrainian forces told CNN that they are ready for a return.

"They might be stronger than us in numbers and in weapons, we know that. But we are much more motivated; we'll be fighting until our last bullet so they don't take our land," one solider named Oleg told CNN.

5:38 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Ukrainian official warns that humanitarian situation in Severodonetsk will become "catastrophic" soon

From CNN's Karen Smith

The gutted remains of cars sit along a road during heavy fighting in Severodonetsk on June 8.
The gutted remains of cars sit along a road during heavy fighting in Severodonetsk on June 8. (Oleksandr Ratushniak/AP)

The humanitarian situation in the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk will be “catastrophic” in the near future, according to Oleksandr Striuk, the head of the city's military administration.  

Striuk said Friday that most of the city’s infrastructure cannot be restored, and sanitary conditions are especially bad. He said the central sewage collector has been severely damaged along with pumping stations and water intake.

After months of fighting, Russian troops took control of the eastern city in late June.

Striuk said “90% of the housing stock is damaged; 60% require demolition and rebuilding."

He added most of the city will have to be rebuilt, and many high-rise buildings will have to built again from scratch.

6:29 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022

US will provide Ukraine with 4 more rocket systems in new $400 million security assistance package

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman and Barbara Starr

US President Joe Biden's administration will provide Ukraine with four more high mobility artillery rocket systems, or HIMARS, in the latest security assistance package, according to a senior defense official. 

The latest package is valued at $400 million and is drawing from Presidential Drawdown Authority funding only, meaning the US is sending weapons directly from US stockpiles of weapons.

The $400 million package includes four additional HIMARS and additional ammunition for those HIMARS; three tactical vehicles to “recover equipment, support Ukrainian efforts to repair, resupply as the battle continues;” 1,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition; demolition munitions; counter battery systems; and spare parts and other equipment, the official said.

The 1,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition that the US is providing to Ukraine in this package is a “new type” of ammunition that the US has not provided to Ukraine previously, the official added. 

“It has greater precision. It offers Ukraine precise targeting, precise capability for specific targets; it will save ammunition, it will be more effective due to the precision, so it’s a further evolution in our support for Ukraine in this battle for the Donbas,” the official said. 

The US has provided Ukraine with 12 HIMARS total with the commitment of these additional four systems, the official said.

Reports that Russians have destroyed two HIMAR systems are false, the official added.

“The ones that have already been provided are fully accounted for. Ukrainians are still using them in the fight,” the official said. 

12:47 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Putin urges Russian energy companies to be ready for an oil embargo, state media reports

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

A view shows Russian oil producer Gazprom Neft's Moscow oil refinery on the south-eastern outskirts of Moscow on April 28.
A view shows Russian oil producer Gazprom Neft's Moscow oil refinery on the south-eastern outskirts of Moscow on April 28. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Russian companies on Friday to be ready for an oil embargo and new European Union sanctions package, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

“As you know, the European Union introduced another sanctions package against Russia with an oil embargo. Domestic companies should be ready for this decision. We spoke about the prospects for such restrictions at the last meeting on the fuel and energy complex," he said at a meeting with the government, according to TASS.

In May, the European Union agreed to an embargo on 90% of the oil it imports from Russia.

Putin also said that the West is trying to force other countries to increase energy production, but “the Russian market is stable and does not tolerate fuss.”

"Since the beginning of the year, the level of oil production has exceeded the previous year by 3.5%. Gas production for the period from January to May decreased, but only slightly - by only 2%," the Russian president said.

1:17 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Russian invasion of Ukraine spurs economic crisis in Egypt and preparations for unrest

From CNN's Sarah El Sirgany and Lina El Wardani

There are only a few items in Hanna Ayyad’s fridge at any given moment these days. The Cairo street fruit vendor has restricted his family’s diet as inflation triggered by the Ukraine war has soared in Egypt.

“Now we buy new clothes every other holiday,” he tells CNN. “We can do without eating meat, buying it once a month, and we may buy chicken two or three times a month, not like before.”

His customers too can only afford a fraction of what they used to buy, shrinking his daily income.

“Some people used to buy 5kg or 10kg of fruit – now they can buy 1kg or 2kg at most,” he says. It takes him days to sell the same amount of produce he used to sell in one day.

Egyptian households of all income levels are seeing their spending power erode fast. The economic crisis raises prospects of unrest in a country where a regime was overthrown just a decade ago in an uprising calling for “bread, freedom and social justice.”

In recent months, scores have protested because of delays to new car deliveries caused by import restrictions and the devaluation of the local currency; Facebook groups were set up to find local alternatives for pet foods after imports were restricted, and poorer Egyptians like Ayyad have cut back on groceries.

Moody’s credit rating agency warned in May about “social and political risks” as it downgraded Egypt’s economic outlook for the year from stable to negative. And the government appears to share those concerns.

Anticipating unrest, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has initiated a national dialogue with opposition figures, a change of tack from a crackdown on dissent that has kept thousands of people behind bars for years.

Wheat import prices double

Egypt’s official inflation rate stood at 14.7% in June, up from around 5% at the same time last year, but consumers say prices have skyrocketed beyond this figure since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February.

Across the capital, at an upscale supermarket, Haya Aref looks for cheaper, local alternatives on her shopping list. Previously, she would notice 10% to 15% increase in prices every six or eight months, but the price hikes have become more frequent and bigger now, she says.

“I used to buy an international brand [of cereal] that was probably around 70 or 80 Egyptian pounds (around $4) that has now gone up to 250 ($13),” the 23-year-old architect says. She has cut down on proteins and snacks to trim her monthly budget. For her, locally grown vegetables have become an affordable and healthier option.

The war in Ukraine has brought uncertainty to global grain markets and driven up prices. Egypt, which depends on Russia and Ukraine for 80% of its wheat imports, now pays $435 per tonne instead of $270 last year, according to the government.

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8:02 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Pro-Russian officials say Ukrainian missiles hit hydroelectric plant in Kherson, but facility still operational

From CNN's Tim Lister, Olga Voitovych and Julia Presniakova

Pro-Russian officials in the Kherson region say that Ukrainian missiles hit a hydroelectric power station in the town of Nova Kakhovka early Friday, but failed to destroy it.

Ukrainians "attempted to shell the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station. The consequences of the destruction of such a production facility could be catastrophic for the residents of the Kherson region," the Kherson region military-civil administration said.

Russian air defenses "successfully repelled a missile attack from Ukraine," the administration added.

“The terrorists of the Kyiv regime will not be able to intimidate the inhabitants of the Kherson region, who are building a peaceful life together with Russia. The hydroelectric power station continues to provide energy," said Vladimir Saldo, head of the administration and a former Ukrainian official.

The hydroelectric power station is located in the town of Nova Kakhovka on River Dnieper. It was taken by Russian forces early in the invasion but over the last month has become a target for Ukrainian missiles and long-range rockets as the Ukrainians try to disrupt Russian supply lines. 

Following the attempt, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-backed Kherson military-civil administration, said, "There are victims, we are clarifying."

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials claim that a military target was struck. 

Serhii Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration, said that a warehouse of ammunition and air defenses was hit. He also claimed that several dozen Russian soldiers had been killed or wounded.  

Earlier, an adviser to the Ukrainian head of the Kherson regional military administration said three warehouses in Nova Kakhova had been hit by Ukrainian missiles.