July 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

vid thumb ukraine uni 2
A Russian missile strike hit this Ukrainian university. See what's left of it
03:24 - Source: CNN

What we covered here

  • More than forty towns and villages in Donbas have come under attack in the last 24 hours, Ukraine’s military reported Friday, as Russians push into the eastern Donetsk region.
  • The G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali heard from Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, who said Russia is “playing hunger games with the world” by blocking ports and preventing the export of grain from the country, often described as “a global breadbasket.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the US following news Friday that President Joe Biden’s administration will provide Ukraine with four more high mobility artillery rocket systems in a new security assistance package.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a warning Thursday to the West and Ukraine, saying the war could drag on until the “last Ukrainian is left standing.”
24 Posts

Follow the latest news on Russia’s war in Ukraine here and read more about today’s developments in the posts below. 

Ukraine's deputy prime minister calls on residents to not wait and evacuate Kherson region

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, called on residents Friday to evacuate the southern Kherson region.

She warned residents they could be used as human shields by the Russians and staying in the occupied districts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions is dangerous.

“People must look for an opportunity to leave because our Armed Forces will de-occupy. There will be huge battles,” she warned.

On Thursday, Oleksandr Starukh, head of the Zaporizhzhia region military administration, said last month almost 40,000 evacuees arrived to Zaporizhzhia.

Starukh said approximately 30,000 people arrived from parts of the Zaporizhzhia region (Melitopol, Vasylivka, Berdiansk and Enerhodar), approximately 6,000 people came from the Kherson region and approximately 1,700 people came from the besieged city of Mariupol.

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

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.

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

President Joe Biden speaks at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Friday, July 8.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

The gutted remains of cars sit along a road during heavy fighting in Severodonetsk on June 8.

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.

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

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. 

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

A view shows Russian oil producer Gazprom Neft's Moscow oil refinery on the south-eastern outskirts of Moscow on April 28.

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.

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

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.

Read more:

A worker arranges freshly baked bread for sale at the Al-Monira market in Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.

'It's getting scary.' How the war in Ukraine plunged this Middle East nation into crisis

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

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.

Ukrainian official responds to Putin saying offensive is not "anything in earnest" yet

Mykhailo Podolyak in Kyiv on April 19.

A senior Ukrainian official has responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that the offensive in Ukraine was only just beginning.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, said on Twitter: “37,000 dead Russian soldiers. Total sanitary losses [injured] of 98-117 thousand people. 10 generals were eliminated. 1605 tanks, 405 planes/helicopters were turned into scrap.”

“Has Russia not started fighting yet? Is [the] Kremlin considering war only by Stalin’s mathematics - 20 million losses?”

CNN is unable to verify Ukrainian claims of Russian losses.

Podolyak was responding to remarks by Putin to parliamentary leaders in Moscow on Thursday. 

“Everybody should know that largely speaking, we haven’t even yet started anything in earnest” in Ukraine, Putin said.

He said the conflict 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 which 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.

It's 2:30 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Talks are underway at the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali, where a big part of the agenda is Russia’s war in Ukraine. The meeting comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN that Ukraine is unwilling to cede any of its land to Russia, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin warned the war could drag on until the “last Ukrainian is left standing.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer on Thursday.

Here are the latest headlines: 

  • Russia pushes into Donetsk: Over 40 towns and villages in Donbas have come under attack over the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian military said. The General Staff said that Russian forces are advancing towards the cities of Bakhmut and Sloviansk, west of the Luhansk-Donetsk border, while regional military administrators have reported fire in Sumy in the north, and Kryvyi Rih in the south. Also in the south, many villages in Kherson and Mykolaiv are on the “verge of destruction.”
  • Atacks on Russian military supplies: Ukrainian forces have attacked Russian military warehouses in the southern region of Kherson before dawn on Friday. The adviser to the head of Kherson’s military administration, Serhii Khlan, told Ukrainian television that their fire is destroying the “occupiers” warehouse and rear reserves. Khlan claims there have been three attacks on warehouses in Nova Kakhovka, a town in Kherson.
  • Russia’s destruction of agriculture: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told foreign ministers at the G20 meeting in Bali that Russia is conducting “a well-thought and cynical strategy” to destroy Ukraine’s agriculture, blackmailing the world as it destabilizes global food security. Kuleba called Ukraine “a global breadbasket…looted by Russian criminals” who have struck grain terminals, blocked Ukrainian ports exporting grain, and stolen Ukrainian grain.
  • Zelensky won’t cede territory: The Ukrainian President said “Ukrainians are not ready to give away their land,” in an exclusive interview with CNN. Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that Russia controls “almost all the Luhansk region” but urged the West to continue providing military support to help Ukraine keep up its fight. He also reiterated his call for US President Joe Biden to visit Kyiv, saying it would send a message to Russia and the world.
  • Putin warns of long war: Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a warning to the West and Ukraine, saying the war could drag on until the “last Ukrainian is left standing.” Putin challenged the West to defeat Russia on the battlefield, saying “Let them try.” He also said the longer the conflict goes on, “the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us.”

Russian military warehouses in Kherson struck by Ukrainian forces

Ukrainian forces continue to target Russian military supplies and warehouses far behind the front lines in the southern region of Kherson, according to regional officials.

Ukrainian fire destroyed “the warehouses [and] rear reserves of the occupiers,” Serhii Khlan, adviser to the head of the Kherson military administration, told Ukrainian television.

Khlan said that before dawn on Friday, there was “a powerful explosion” in Nova Kakhovka, a town occupied by Russian forces in Kherson.

Their warehouses are placed “far from the front line” as they think it will protect the rear, “but we see hits,” Khlan said. “In recent days we have been constantly hearing about explosions at the warehouses of the occupiers — in Kherson, in Nova Kakhovka, in Chernobaivka.”

Khlan claimed that there had been three attacks on warehouses in Nova Kakhovka. A video from the area soon after dawn Friday showed thick smoke rising from an unknown location. 

The pro-Russian authorities now in control of Kherson say that Ukrainian saboteurs have been detained.

Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-backed military-civilian administration, said “Russian special services detained three saboteurs who were planning assassination attempts on the leaders of the region and military personnel of the [Russian] Armed Forces.”

Stremousov claimed that authorities had uncovered the command structure of “agent networks organized in the Kherson region by the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] and Ukrainian military intelligence.”

Some background: In recent days, Ukraine has stepped up attacks in both Donetsk and Kherson against Russian supply lines and storage depots as it tries to hinder Russian operations.

The US director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, said the Kremlin “faces rising partisan activity in southern Ukraine” during a conference in Washington DC last month.

US officials added that they believe Russia does not have enough forces in Kherson to effectively occupy and control the region, with three assassination attempts against pro-Russian officials in June suggesting a burgeoning resistance movement among the Ukrainians.

Ukraine minister accuses Russia of "cynical" strategy to destroy country's agriculture

Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has told the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting that Russia has embarked on a “a well-thought and cynical strategy” to destroy Ukraine’s agriculture.

Kuleba addressed the G20 meeting in Indonesia by video link.

“The Russian naval blockade of Ukrainian ports has already shredded global chains of food supply and has a detrimental effect on global food security. Adding insult to injury, Russia steals Ukrainian grain and bombs Ukrainian granaries,” he said. 
“Russia is essentially playing hunger games with the world by keeping the naval blockade of Ukrainian ports with one hand and shifting the blame for it on Ukraine with the other hand. Russia sees dependence of other countries on any type of resources as weakness and an invitation to use this dependence as a leverage to Russia’s gain.”

Kuleba said that Russian forces had struck Ukraine’s second largest grain terminal complex at the port of Mykolaiv in June, claiming that “Russia knew exactly where it fired its missiles.” The strike was aimed at causing destruction in Ukraine and “blackmailing the world,” he added.

Kuleba told the foreign ministers that for decades, Ukraine – often described as “a global breadbasket” – has been essential to worldwide food security, but is now being “attacked, bombed, and looted by Russian criminals.”

Responding to Russian claims that Ukraine was blocking its own ports, Kuleba said: “Their accusations defy basic logic. How can we be interested in blocking our own food exports when they provide one of our main sources of revenues for the budget? We are interested in exporting our food products just as much as our consumers are interested in getting them as soon as possible.”

Separately, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has alleged that Russia is using munitions to set farmland on fire as harvest season gets underway. A recent video shows combine harvesters in parts of southern Ukraine trying to gather in grain as fires burn through fields.

Some background: The UN has said Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports has already raised global food prices and threatens to cause a catastrophic food shortage in some parts of the world. 

On Thursday, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said the release of a Russian ship allegedly carrying stolen Ukrainian grain from Turkish waters was “unacceptable.” Turkey ignored a request to arrest the vessel and cargo and the ship was released on July 6, according to a ministry statement. The Russian merchant ship, Zhibek Zholy, had carried the grain from the occupied port of Berdiansk to the Turkish port of Karasu.

Russia has repeatedly denied it is blocking the ports or stealing grain.

More than 40 settlements under fire as Russians push into Donetsk

Local residents look on as smoke rises after shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine, on July 7.

More than forty towns and villages in Donbas have come under attack in the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian military has reported, acknowledging the “partial success” of a Russian attempt to advance on one front.

The General Staff said that Russian forces were now trying to advance west of the Luhansk-Donetsk border towards the cities of Bakhmut and Sloviansk, and “the enemy led an offensive in the direction of Verkhnokamianske, with partial success.” The Russians were also advancing “in the area of ​​the Spirne settlement,” it added.

Verkhnokamianske and Spirne are adjacent to the main highway leading westwards from the city of Lysychansk, which fell last week.

The Ukrainians also said that “the occupiers are advancing in the direction of Vesela Dolyna,” which is close to Bakhmut. 

The General Staff said the Russians were using artillery, mortars, multiple launch rocket systems and air strikes as they tried to eliminate Ukrainian defenses.

In its analysis of the military situation on Friday, international security consultancy the Cavell Group tweeted:  “Fighting continues to be heavy on many of the roads and settlements around Siversk now with heavy artillery exchanges also in this region. The situation is very fluid here as Russia pushes forces west.” Siversk is the last town of any size on the roads west towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. 

Cavell added: “A similar situation is occurring towards Bakhmut with Russia making slow gains against heavy resistance, but slowly securing more of the highway to Lysychansk and closing in on Bakhmut defences.”

The Institute for the Study of War said: “Russian forces still conducted limited ground offensives and air, artillery, and missile strikes across all axes on July 7, and will likely continue to confine themselves to small-scale offensive actions as they rebuild forces and set conditions for a more significant offensive.”

Besides trying to push west from the Luhansk border, the Russians have sustained artillery fire on settlements north of Sloviansk, with the Ukrainian General Staff that saying “our defenders inflicted losses on the enemy during its next offensive attempt and pushed the invaders back near Bohorodychne,” some 20 kilometers north of the city.

Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk region military administration, said “in order to reach the administrative border of Luhansk region, the Russians are destroying the surrounding villages with artillery….they do not stop firing from all types of heavy weapons ” on the few villages not already under their control.

“But our armed forces hold the fort,” Hayday said, indicating that resistance continues along the regional border.

Elsewhere, the Ukrainian General Staff reported further artillery attacks against settlements north of Kharkiv, and local authorities said there had been civilian casualties in a rocket attack on the eastern outskirts of the city.

Regional military administrations reported incoming fire in both Sumy, in the north, and against Kryvyi Rih, in the south, without causing casualties. 

Also in the south, Russian forces continue to shell areas of Kherson and Mykolaiv in an effort to retrieve recently lost territory, according to regional administrations, and several villages were on “the verge of destruction.”

The Cavell Group assessed that “north of Kherson there were phases of intensive artillery shelling yesterday [Thursday], but no significant changes on the ground. Around Kherson City Ukrainian [forces] fired coordinated artillery onto some Russian fortified defensive positions.”

Watch for background here.

It's 11 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN 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.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Zelensky won’t cede territory: The Ukrainian President said “Ukrainians are not ready to give away their land,” in an exclusive interview with CNN. He acknowledged that Russia controls “almost all the Luhansk region” but urged the West to continue providing military support to help Ukraine keep up its fight. Zelensky also reiterated his call for US President Joe Biden to visit Kyiv, saying it would send a message to Russia and the world.
  • Putin warns of long war: Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a warning to the West and Ukraine, saying the war could drag on until the “last Ukrainian is left standing.” Putin challenged the West to defeat Russia on the battlefield, saying “Let them try.” He also said the longer the conflict goes on, “the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us.”
  • Kharkiv strikes: At least three people were killed and five others injured in shelling in one of Kharkiv’s districts in northeastern Ukraine, according to a National Police official. Russian troops carried out an attack on a residential area in the Nemyshliansky district of the city, using Uragan multiple launch rocket systems and high-explosive shells, the official said.
  • Donbas missile: A missile struck the center of Kramatorsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region on Thursday, according to a regional official. As the battle for control in the east intensifies and Russian forces prepare for a renewed assault in Donetsk, hundreds and thousands of people have been urged by Ukrainian officials to evacuate the region.
  • Snake Island: A Russian aircraft a