June 7, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Eliza Mackintosh, Jack Bantock, Sana Noor Haq, Helen Regan, Adrienne Vogt, Mike Hayes and Kathleen Magramo, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, June 8, 2022
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8:08 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

Unburied bodies and contaminated drinking water spark fears of cholera outbreak in Mariupol

From CNN's Mick Krever, Maria Kostenko, Taras Zadorozhnyy, Kostan Nechyporenko, and Yulia Kesaieva

A grave is pictured in front of destroyed residential buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 31.
A grave is pictured in front of destroyed residential buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 31. (AFP/Getty Images)

In Mariupol, the ravaged southeastern Ukrainian port city now under Russian occupation, fears have shifted from relentless bombardment to deteriorating sanitary conditions: sewage seeping into drinking water and fears of a cholera outbreak.

On Monday, one of the city's exiled local officials said that Russian officials now in control of Mariupol were considering imposing a quarantine in the city, where decomposing corpses and garbage were contaminating drinking water, putting remaining residents at risk of cholera and other diseases.

“There are talks about quarantine. The city is being quietly closed," said mayoral adviser Petro Andriushchenko, a reliable source of information from residents remaining in the city.

“The city has really turned into one with corpses everywhere,” Andriushchenko said on national television. “They are piled. The occupiers cannot cope with burying them even in mass graves. There is not enough capacity even for this.”

CNN could not independently verify Andriushchenko’s claims.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alarm about the potential for a cholera outbreak in Mariupol and has pre-positioned vaccines in Dnipro, but it is not clear how they would get to residents. Cholera, an infection that causes acute diarrhea​, is linked to inadequate access to clean water and kills tens of thousands around the world every year, according to WHO.

Dr. Dorit Nitzan, WHO Europe's emergencies director, who visited Ukraine last month, said that the hygienic situation in Mariupol was a huge hazard. “We got information that there are swamps actually in the streets, and the sewage water and drinking water are getting mixed,” Dr. Nitzan said on May 17 in the capital Kyiv.

Andriushchenko said that it was "difficult to convey" how grim the situation had become in Mariupol, with natural water sources in the city waning as warmer months arrive and Russian evacuations stopping altogether.

“You can enter the city with a residence permit in Mariupol. But this is a one-way ticket, because you cannot leave," he said. "Of all the possible scenarios to fight the epidemic, in our opinion, Russia has chosen, as always, the most cynical one -- just to close the people in the city and leave everything as it is: Whoever survives, survives.” 

The deputy mayor of Mariupol, Serhiy Orlov, who is not in Mariupol either, said Tuesday that he believes around 150,000 people remain in the city out of a pre-invasion population of more than 400,000, with a further 30,000 to 40,000 in surrounding suburbs.

7:40 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

Russia comes under fire at the UN for fueling global food crisis

From CNN's Sana Noor Haq and Eliza Mackintosh in London

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, speaks at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on May 31.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, speaks at the European Council headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on May 31. (Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Russia is coming under increasing fire for its role in fueling a growing global food crisis.

Speaking at the United Nations Security Council on Monday, European Council President Charles Michel accused the Kremlin of "using food supplies as a stealth missile against developing countries," by holding millions of tons of Ukrainian grain hostage and blockading Ukraine's ports.

“The dramatic consequences of Russia's war are spilling over across the globe. And this is driving up food prices, pushing people into poverty and destabilising entire regions. Russia is solely responsible for this food crisis, Russia alone,” Michel said in his speech at the UN headquarters in New York. 

The European Council chief refuted Russia's claims that Western sanctions were to blame for the food crisis, calling the narrative "disinformation" and saying that the EU had no sanctions on the agricultural sector in Russia. “Even our sanctions on the Russian transport sector do not go beyond our EU borders,” he continued. “They do not prevent Russian-flagged vessels from carrying grain, food or fertilizers to developing countries.” 

Michel's remarks, at a Security Council meeting convened primarily to discuss sexual violence and other alleged atrocities carried out by Russian forces in Ukraine, underlines the concerns in Brussels about the Kremlin's false narrative on the food crisis.

“The Kremlin is also targeting grain storage and stealing grain in Ukraine while shifting the blame on others. This is cowardly. This is pure and simple propaganda. Let's get to the facts,” Michel said. 

The comments prompted Russia's UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, to storm out of the meeting, to which Michel responded: "You may leave the room, maybe it's easier not to listen to the truth Mr. Ambassador."

Since launching its invasion of Ukraine in late February, Russia has upended food production and distribution from the country, known to the world as Europe's breadbasket. A months-long barricade of key ports -- including Mariupol on the Sea of Azov and Odesa on the Black Sea -- have left more than 20 million tons of grain stuck inside Ukraine.

In May, satellite images of the Crimean port of Sevastopol appeared to show bulk carrier ships with Russian insignia docking and loading up what is believed to be stolen Ukrainian grain. The EU's High Representative, Josep Borrell, on Monday condemned a Russian missile strike that demolished a big grain storage terminal in the southern port city of Mykolaiv over the weekend.

US officials looking to salvage Ukrainian grain: The Biden administration is working to get temporary storage containers for Ukrainian grain into the country, a stopgap measure as it seeks to mitigate the food crisis, administration officials told CNN earlier this month. The storage containers -- such as bags or boxes -- could help salvage some of the grain stuck inside Ukraine, and ideally be loaded onto trains or trucks out of the country once overland routes are established. Still, the US and its international partners are no closer to finding a quick and absolute solution to lifting the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports that's raised global food prices and threatened to cause a catastrophic food shortage in parts of the world.

Read more of our coverage on the food crisis here:

9:26 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

Ukraine accuses international nuclear chief of "lying" and legitimizing Russia's occupation of Zaporizhzhia plant

From CNN's Mick Krever, Denis Lapin and Maria Kostenko

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi attends a press conference at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on June 6.
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi attends a press conference at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on June 6. (Christian Bruna/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Ukraine's nuclear energy operator on Tuesday accused the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of legitimizing Russia’s occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNNP), and of “lying” in claiming that Ukraine requested he travel to the plant.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Monday that there was a "clear and present risk to the safety, security and safeguards” at the plant, adding that "at least five of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security have been compromised."

Grossi said that he was "working actively to agree, organize and head an IAEA-led International Mission” to the plant, writing on Twitter that "Ukraine requested us, will we go there."

In response, Ukraine's state-run nuclear power station operator Energoatom accused Grossi of "lying again" in a post on Telegram.

"The Ukrainian side did not invite Grossi to visit ZNPP and had previously denied him such a visit, emphasizing that a visit to the power plant will be possible only when our country regains control over it," Energoatom wrote.

"We consider this message from the head of the IAEA as another attempt to get to ZNPP by any means to legitimize the stay of the occupiers there and in fact, to approve all their actions," it added.

The IAEA declined to comment on the Ukrainian nuclear energy operator’s accusation. “We have no comment on the statement you are referring to,” IAEA Spokerson Fredrik Dahl told CNN via email Tuesday.

It comes as the Ukrainian mayor of Russian-occupied Enerhodar, the town neighboring the power plant, said that plant employees and their families are coming under increasing pressure.

Mayor Dmytro Orlov, who is not himself in Enerhodar, said that the situation “is becoming more difficult every day.”

“For almost a week there is no mobile communication or Internet, so it is difficult to monitor the current situation,” he said. “For the last three weeks there have been mass kidnappings, mass robberies, and mass pressure on the population, which has a pro-Ukrainian views.”

CNN cannot independently verify his claims.

Some context: The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been under Russian control since early March. Grossi visited the now-defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kyiv, which was briefly occupied by Russian forces, at the end of April.

6:51 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

UK intelligence: Russia plans to cut off Severodonetsk area from north and south

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

Pro-Russian troops ride an infantry fighting vehicle in the town of Popasna in the Luhansk Region, Ukraine, on June 2.
Pro-Russian troops ride an infantry fighting vehicle in the town of Popasna in the Luhansk Region, Ukraine, on June 2. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russia plans to cut off the strategic Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk and surrounding area from both the north and south, according to an intelligence update from the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) on Tuesday, as the Kremlin continues to fight for control of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian forces recaptured parts of Severodonetsk, the MOD said in its daily assessment of the situation on the ground, adding that Russian forces will likely continue to occupy eastern districts of the city. Ukrainian troops are locked in fierce street battles with Russian soldiers in the industrial city on Tuesday, while other towns were under increased air assault, according to Ukrainian officials.

Meanwhile, on the southern axis of fighting in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, the UK MOD said that Russian forces -- which have been advancing in the area since May, when they took control of the town of Popasna -- have stalled.

On the northern axis in Donbas, reports of heavy shelling near the Russian-occupied city of Izium suggest that Moscow is preparing to make a renewed push.

"Russia will almost certainly need to achieve a breakthrough on at least one of these axes to translate tactical gains to operational level success and progress towards its political objective of controlling all of Donetsk Oblast," the UK MOD said.

6:16 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

US State Department: Kremlin engaged in "full assault on media freedom"

From CNN's Zahra Ullah in Moscow and Kylie Atwood in Washington, DC

The United States continues to issue visas to qualified Russian journalists and has not revoked credentials of any Russian journalists working in the country, the State Department said on Monday, adding that the Kremlin was engaged in a "full assault on media freedom."

The comments came after reports on Monday that Russia had warned US news organizations they risked being stripped of their accreditation and expelled unless the treatment of Russian journalists in the US improved.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told around a dozen journalists in Moscow from various American news outlets, including CNN, the Associated Press, NBC, the Washington Post, ABC and NPR, that unless the “rights” of Russian media in the US were “restored,” the “same measures will affect you.”  

Reacting to the comments, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the Kremlin continues to make a "false equivalency" between press freedoms in the US and the media landscape in Russia -- where independent, accurate reporting on the war in Ukraine is effectively criminalized and journalists who air "false information" face stiff sentences.

“The Russian government fundamentally and willfully disregards what it means to have a free press as evidenced by them blocking or banning nearly every independent Russian outlet seeking to report inside their country, threatening professional journalists for simply trying to do their jobs and seeking to seal off Russia's population from any foreign information illustrates the flimsiness and the fragility of the Russian government's narrative," Price told reporters. “The US government continues to engage with Russian media outlets because we believe it is vital for the people of Russia to have access to information."

Price noted that the US has sanctioned several Russian media outlets, including Russia 1, Channel One and NTV, because they are “directly or indirectly state-owned and state-controlled media within Russia, and the revenues from which support President Putin's war.”  

In the meeting with journalists on Monday, Zakharova alleged that Russian reporters were facing issues in the US ranging from visa renewals to accreditation, blocked bank accounts and alleged harassment by US special services. She told US media representatives that unless American authorities took action, then the journalists would have to leave Russia.

"If this is their (US government) final decision, then guys, you'll have to pack up and go home. We'll block you all here, we'll take away your visas and so on," the spokeswoman said.

4:22 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

Ukrainian military reports heavy fighting in the battle for Severodonetsk

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva, Maria Kostenko, Olga Voitovych, and Mick Krever

Intense combat for control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk is continuing Tuesday, with Russia using artillery, aircraft, and helicopters in the area, according to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Two people were injured after Russian forces shelled a mining college in Lysychansk, which sits on strategic high ground across the Siverskyi Donets River from Severodonetsk, according to Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk Region Military Administration.

Hayday said Russia was using “sabotage and reconnaissance groups” in the village of Bilohorivka, just west of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk. That town also sits on high ground next to the Siverskyi Donets River, and was the site of a massive Ukrainian rout of a Russian assault last month.

On the outskirts of Severodonetsk, the Ukrainian military said Russia was using “remote mining of the area in the direction of the offensive of our troops towards Rubizhne.”

Rodion Miroshnik, an official in the separatist, self-declared Luhansk People's Republic, claimed on Telegram that nine civilians had been killed by Ukrainian shelling over the past day.

On Monday night, Oleksandr Striuk, head of the Severodonetsk military administration, said there were “fierce battles and street fights,” and the situation was “changing every hour.”

Ukrainian military fire a shell from a M777 Howitzer near the front line in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, on June 6.
Ukrainian military fire a shell from a M777 Howitzer near the front line in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, on June 6. (Reuters)

Further west, in the Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military said Russia was focusing its efforts on moving south from Izyum toward Sloviansk, where the front line has not moved very much despite many weeks of intense fighting.

“The entire front line is under constant fire,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk Region Military Administration, on national television. He said Ukrainian forces were focused on defending the line, and it was “inexpedient to talk about a counterattack at the moment.”

In the southern Zaporizhzhia region, authorities said fighting continues along the entire line of contact, but decreased somewhat in intensity on Tuesday.

In the Kherson region, the Ukrainian military said Russia was “concentrating its main efforts on improving its tactical position, maintaining the occupied frontiers, replenishing ammunition and fuel.” Authorities said Russia had begun preparations “for the celebration of Russia Day in the region.” Russia celebrates its national holiday on June 12.

And in the northern Sumy region, authorities said Russian forces shelled the border town of Seredyna-Buda early Tuesday morning. At least six houses and a farm building were damaged, but no casualties were reported.

3:03 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

Russia sanctions 61 more Americans, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

From CNN’s Teele Rebane, Sophie Jeong and Josh Pennington

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the Ministry of Finance in Warsaw, Poland, on May 16.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the Ministry of Finance in Warsaw, Poland, on May 16. (Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Russia has placed 61 more US officials and leading defense and media executives on its “stop list,” banning them from entering the country, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The list includes heads of leading defense firms, media platforms, rating agencies and aircraft and shipbuilding companies, as well as individual US State Department officials.

The ministry said the sanctions were in response to the “ever-expanding US sanctions against Russian political and public figures, as well as representative of domestic businesses.”

US officials on the list include Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination James O’Brien.

Some context: In May, Russia banned a total of 963 American officials and figures from entering the country, including President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

That list included the majority of US senators and members of the House of Representatives, former and current government officials, journalists, military personnel, advocates, citizens and CEOs.

12:00 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

It's 7 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Russian troops have resumed an offensive on the northern approaches to the key city of Sloviansk amid heavy fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials say the situation is changing "every hour" in the battle for the nearby city of Severodonetsk.

Here are the latest headlines from Russia's war in Ukraine:

  • Intelligence sharing: US President Joe Biden gave the order to declassify intelligence in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 because US officials’ claims about the impending attack were being met with “skepticism” by American partners and allies, according to the nation’s top spymaster. 
  • Azovstal prisoners: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said there may be more than 2,500 prisoners from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol now detained in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine. Zelensky said Russia's plans regarding the treatment of these prisoners were changing constantly. 
  • Russia "withdraws" Black Sea ships: The Ukrainian Navy said ships of the Russian Black Sea fleet have withdrawn to more than 100 kilometers (about 65 miles) from Ukrainian shores as a result of its attacks with missiles and drones. In an operational update Monday, the Navy said in an effort to regain control of northwestern parts of the Black Sea, the Russians had deployed coastal missile systems in the Crimea and Kherson regions.
  • Situation changing "every hour" in Severodonetsk: As heavy fighting rages in the eastern city, local military official Oleksandr Striuk, said "there are enough [Ukrainian] forces and means to recapture the city. There are fierce battles and street fights." Striuk said the city was being "leveled" by Russian forces.
  • Russia increases missile and air attacks: Ukraine's Defense Ministry said Russian forces launched missiles and airstrikes against a number of targets across Ukraine, as they try to break down Ukrainian defenses and hit key infrastructure. A Defense Ministry spokesperson said Russia was carrying out "intense fire and assault operations along the entire line of combat confrontation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions."
  • Grain storage hit by missile: The EU's foreign policy chief condemned a Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian grain terminal at the weekend in the southern port city of Mykolaiv. Josep Borrell said the strike was at odds with recent pledges by Russian President Vladimir Putin to offer safe passage through the Black Sea from Ukrainian ports for merchant shipping.
11:59 p.m. ET, June 6, 2022

Biden declassified Russia intel due to allied "skepticism," US spy chief says

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis

US President Joe Biden.
US President Joe Biden. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

US President Joe Biden gave the order to declassify intelligence in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 because US officials’ claims about the impending attack were being met with “skepticism” by American partners and allies, according to the nation’s top spymaster. 

“When we explained to our policymakers and our policymakers went to their interlocutors, they found that there was a fair amount of skepticism about it," Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said at a cybersecurity conference on Monday. 
"As a consequence, the President came back to us and said, ‘you need to go out and share as much as you possibly can and ensure that folks see what it is that you're seeing, so that we can engage again and perhaps have more productive conversations about how to plan for essentially the potential of a Russian invasion'."

Some context: Dating back to the early days of the Russian buildup on the Ukrainian border, the Biden administration has been selectively declassifying and releasing intelligence surrounding Russia’s war in Ukraine, both to media organizations and to other friendly nations. The approach has been aimed at combating Russian propaganda globally and to ensure the US partners and allies are sharing a unified picture. 

Haines said Monday the US “did a lot of sharing in this space with partners and allies,” ultimately developing “mechanisms for sharing” that can be used in the future.