July 11, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Christian Edwards, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, July 12, 2023
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12:41 p.m. ET, July 11, 2023

"Ukraine’s future is in NATO," alliance members reaffirm in joint declaration at summit 

From CNN's Sugam Pokharel and Lauren Kent in London

Participants of the NATO Summit pose for a photo in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday.
Participants of the NATO Summit pose for a photo in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday. Odd Anderson/AFP via Getty Images

NATO allies on Tuesday reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s push for membership of the alliance, according to a final declaration issued by the 31-member group at a summit in Lithuania. 

“Ukraine’s future is in NATO,” it said. 
"We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the alliance when allies agree and conditions are met," it added.

NATO allies also reiterated their condemnation “in the strongest terms (of) Russia’s blatant violations of international law, the Charter of the United Nations, and OSCE commitments and principles.” 

“We do not and will never recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexations, including Crimea,” the statement said.

“There can be no impunity for Russian war crimes and other atrocities, such as attacks against civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure that deprives millions of Ukrainians of basic human services,” according to the declaration. 

12:42 p.m. ET, July 11, 2023

US secretary of state: "I don't think we've seen the last chapter" yet in the Putin-Prigozhin drama

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

MSNBC
MSNBC

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that he doesn’t believe “we've seen the last of” the developments related to Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.

“I don't think we've seen the last chapter in this drama,” Blinken said in an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

“Putin is clearly trying to work his way through something. But this was a direct challenge to his authority, a direct challenge to the basic premises of the war that he laid out,” he said. “And I don't think we've seen the last of it.”

The top US diplomat reiterated that the revolt was an internal Russian matter, but called it a “truly extraordinary thing.”

“We're at a place 16 months ago where Russia was on the doorsteps of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital. And now, just a couple of weeks ago, mercenaries of Putin's own making were on the doorsteps of Moscow,” he said.

Some more context: Putin met Prizgozhin days after his short-lived mutiny last month, the Kremlin claimed Monday, clearing up some confusion over the Wagner chief's whereabouts but adding to the mystery over what was the greatest threat to Putin’s rule yet.

12:36 p.m. ET, July 11, 2023

US secretary of state: Allies understand why the US is providing cluster munitions to Ukraine 

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Allies know why the United States is providing controversial cluster munitions to Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday.

“Every ally I've talked to has said they understand why we're doing this, when we're doing it,” Blinken said in an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

The top US diplomat reiterated that the US is providing the munitions, which have been banned by more than 100 countries, to “fill the gap” as the world’s ammunition stocks run low.

“The stockpiles around the world and in Ukraine of the unitary munitions, not the cluster munitions, were running low. They're about to be depleted,” Blinken explained.

“And so the hard but necessary choice to give them the cluster munitions amounted to this: If we didn't do it ... then they will run out of ammunition. If they run out of ammunition, they will be defenseless,” he said.

Blinken said allies have been working to ramp up capacity of conventional weapons, but "there was gonna be a gap between when they ran really low on those munitions and when the new ones were able to come online. These cluster munitions fill the gap.”

Blinken said that Ukraine is using these munitions in defense, while Russia is implementing them “for a war of aggression.”

He added that because of Moscow’s use of the controversial munitions, the world would already have to assist Ukraine in de-mining its territory.

12:20 p.m. ET, July 11, 2023

NATO allies call for Iran to stop supplying drones to Russia

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy

Leaders attend the opening high-level session of the 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday.
Leaders attend the opening high-level session of the 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

NATO allies have expressed “serious concern” over Iran’s “malicious activities” within allied territory, urging the country to stop supplying drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine. 

In a joint communiqué published Tuesday during a meeting in Lithuania, NATO allies stressed that “Iran’s support to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine” is impacting Euro-Atlantic security. 

“We call upon Iran to cease its military support to Russia, in particular its transfer of Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which have been used to attack critical infrastructure, causing widespread civilian casualties,” NATO allies said. 

“We express our serious concern over Iran’s malicious activities within Allied territory,” the statement added. 

The allies also reiterated its “clear determination” that Iran never develops a nuclear weapon, calling on the country to “fulfill its legal obligations under its Non-Proliferation Treaty-required safeguards agreement.” 

12:21 p.m. ET, July 11, 2023

Ukraine reaches agreement on coalition to train pilots on F-16 fighter jets

From CNN's Tim Lister

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov addresses the media in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov addresses the media in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday. Ints Kalnins/Reuters

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov says Ukraine has reached an agreement with 11 partner states on forming a coalition that will train pilots on F-16 combat aircraft.

Tweeting from Vilnius, Lithuania, where he is attending the NATO summit, Reznikov said:

“It’s official: a coalition for F-16 training of the Ukrainian Air Force has been formed! Today, 11 partner states + Ukraine signed a Memorandum outlining the terms. I'm especially grateful to Denmark and the Netherlands for their outstanding leadership in this process.”

Key context: President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have made the acquisition of F-16s a priority in their negotiations with Western partners. So far, no government has committed to providing Ukraine with the US-made aircraft.

CNN reported in May that US President Joe Biden administration has signaled to European allies that the US would allow them to export F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

The Pentagon also said in May that "F-16s for Ukraine is about the long-term commitment to Ukraine," and not for the country's current counteroffensive.

A handful of European countries have a supply of the US-made F-16s, including the Netherlands, which has signaled a willingness to export some of them to Ukraine. But the US would have to approve that third party transfer because of the jets’ sensitive US technology.

12:20 p.m. ET, July 11, 2023

Ukrainian flag is "still alive and free," Zelensky tells a crowd in Lithuania

From CNN's Lauren Kent and Niamh Kennedy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the crowd at Lukiskiu Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the crowd at Lukiskiu Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday. Odd Anderson/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed a public crowd in Lithuania on Tuesday, saying that the Ukrainian flag is "still alive and free" despite being under attack.

Zelensky pointed to a Ukrainian flag sent from the embattled city of Bakhmut, saying it is a symbol that Lithuania and the rest of Europe will never have to fight Russian soldiers because there will be no war in Europe. Ukraine will protect its freedom and Europe's freedom, he added.

Zelensky is in Vilnius for the NATO summit. After his speech, the Ukrainian flag sent from the frontlines of the war was raised in the Lithuanian capital.

"NATO will give Ukraine security," Zelensky added as his country continues to bid to join the military alliance. "Ukraine will make NATO stronger."

"Russian ambitions will stay in ruins," he said.

12:02 p.m. ET, July 11, 2023

More Ukrainian missile attacks reported on Russian-occupied cities in southern Ukraine

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva and Tim Lister

There are reports of further missile attacks late Tuesday on the Russian-occupied cities of Berdiansk and Tokmak in southern Ukraine.

Geolocated images show large plumes of smoke rising close to the coast in Berdiansk after reports of explosions on Tuesday afternoon local time.

The Ukrainian-controlled Berdiansk city administration (which is not physically in the city) said local residents reported hearing an explosion around 2 p.m. “We are waiting for details and official confirmation from the General Staff,” it said.

Later it added: “At 4:30 p.m. the local Berdiansk residents heard explosions again — this time around 6 of them.”

A Russian-appointed official in the region, Vladimir Rogov, said that “AFU militants launched another missile strike on Berdiansk," referring to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. "Most of the missiles were shot down over the sea near Berdiansk commercial seaport by the air defense system…One hit was recorded on the territory of a city enterprise," Rogov added.

A local community channel posted that "communication and internet is down in the [Berdiansk] area," citing local reports. "About four explosions have been heard, and air defense is working," the channel added.

Ivan Fedorov – the Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, which is in the same region – posted on Telegram: “Hot summer in South of Ukraine. The occupiers in Berdiansk and Tokmak experience abundant fires.”

In Tokmak, a pro-Russian social media outlet said “The AFU massively shell Tokmak. Preliminary, 6 strikes were recorded.”

Both Berdiansk and Tokmak are critical hubs for Russian forces in supplying the frontline defenses in Zaporizhzhia. They have been frequent targets for Ukrainian missile and rocket attacks.

11:55 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

NATO to remove one step to Ukraine's alliance accession, Stoltenberg says

From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday. Ints Kalnins/Reuters

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Tuesday that the alliance has changed the requirements needed for Ukraine to join the group.

Stoltenberg said allied countries “agreed to remove the requirements for membership action,” which will change Ukraine’s membership path from a “two-step process to a one-step process.” 

While he said NATO allies will invite Ukraine to join the military alliance "when conditions are met," Stoltenberg reaffirmed that the country “will become a member of NATO.” 

11:30 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

Biden and Erdogan are now meeting at NATO summit

US President Joe Biden meets with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday.
US President Joe Biden meets with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are now holding a bilateral meeting at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Before going into the meeting, Biden thanked Erdogan for his leadership and diplomacy on issues that confronted NATO ahead of this summit, such as approval of Sweden's bid to the US-led alliance.