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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12:50 p.m. ET, June 7, 2022

IAEA: Ukraine appealed to nuclear watchdog and the UN to "liberate" the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

From CNN's Adam Pourahmadi in Abu Dhabi 

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine has appealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations secretary-general to “liberate” the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the head of the nuclear watchdog told CNN on Tuesday.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said in an interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson that “the Ukraine government has effectively invited, indeed, appealed, to me and to the UN secretary-general to deploy efforts to liberate the nuclear power plant.”

“The Ukrainian government has requested us to come to perform an obligation,” he added. “The IAEA has to perform these inspections in Ukraine. It is not a matter of wanting or wishing, it is an obligation.”

The director-general told CNN that inspections have not taken place for “a long time now” and “there is a lot of nuclear material there that needs to be inspected.”

Asked about whether a visit would legitimize Russia’s control of the plant, Grossi said, “It is absolutely incorrect. When I go there, I will be going there under the same agreement that Ukraine passed with the IAEA, not the Russian Federation. Ukraine!”

Earlier on Tuesday, Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator accused the IAEA head of legitimizing Russia’s occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and of “lying” in claiming that Ukraine requested he travel to the plant. 

11:20 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

War in Ukraine is impacting energy and food prices around the globe, US treasury secretary says 

From CNN’s Matt Egan

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen conceded on Tuesday that inflation is at “unacceptable levels,” but also sought to underscore it is not a problem exclusive to the United States.

“Putin’s war in Ukraine is having impacts on energy and food prices globally,” Yellen told lawmakers. “We are not the only country experiencing inflation. You can see that in virtually every developed country around the world.” 

Speaking during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday, Yellen pointed to the Biden administration’s record-setting release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

“Energy and gasoline prices, while very high, they would be higher without that,” Yellen said of the emergency oil release. 

She also emphasized that the United States is not immune to global energy shocks. 

“We are part of global oil markets that are subject to geopolitical influences,” Yellen said. “Given the global nature of these markets, it’s virtually impossible for us to insulate ourselves from shocks like the ones that are occurring in Russia that move global oil prices.”  

She added that it is critical that the United States becomes “more dependent on the wind and the sun that are not subject to geopolitical influences.” 

9:45 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

Severodonetsk situation "is consistently difficult," says city official

From CNN's Maria Kostenko and Mick Krever

Columns of smoke rise from different parts of Severodonetsk, as seen from Lysychansk, Ukraine, on June 5.
Columns of smoke rise from different parts of Severodonetsk, as seen from Lysychansk, Ukraine, on June 5. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

The military situation in Severodonetsk “is consistently difficult,” according to the head of Severodonetsk’s city military administration.

“Our armed forces have consolidated their positions, holding the borders in the city that they have occupied,” Oleksandr Striuk said on national television.

“The fighting does not subside. The orcs are throwing more and more forces; lots of artillery and equipment are concentrated here, assaulting the city. The orcs are trying to advance, we stop them.”

“Our armed forces are doing their best to defend the city," Striuk said, adding that between 10,000 and 11,000 people remain in the city.

Some background: The battle between Russian and Ukrainian forces for Severodonetsk has intensified over the last week.

Russian artillery, aircraft and helicopters have been occupying the area in an attempt to gain control of the eastern Ukrainian city, 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.

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Olga Voitovych contributed reporting to this post.

9:52 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

Russia claims it has opened a land corridor to Crimea through occupied Ukrainian territory

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

Steel rolls are stacked on the dock before being loaded on board a cargo ship at the Port of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 30.
Steel rolls are stacked on the dock before being loaded on board a cargo ship at the Port of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 30. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russia's Ministry of Defense claimed on Tuesday that it had opened a land corridor to Russian-occupied Crimea, allowing civilians and goods to pass through the eastern Ukrainian territory now under its control.

Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said in a conference call on Tuesday that the military, working with Russian Railways, had restored 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) of train tracks and opened roads to allow "full-fledged traffic" between Russia, eastern Ukraine's Donbas region and Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russian forces from Ukraine in 2014. The supply of water through the North Crimean Canal -- a lifeline for Crimea -- had also resumed, Shoigu said.

According to an official readout of the call, the defense minister said that the land corridor allowed Russia to begin delivering goods to Mariupol, Berdiansk and Kherson, southeastern Ukrainian port cities that have been seized by Russia since it launched its invasion in late February. He claimed that the Mariupol and Berdiansk ports were operating normally and were ready to ship grain, amid international condemnation over Russia's months-long blockade of key ports that has left millions of tons of grain languishing in Ukraine.

As instructed by Supreme Commander (Russian President Vladimir Putin), we are ready to load grain in the ports,” Shoigu said on Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov restated that Ukraine must de-mine the coastal waters for grain ships to pass and ensured Russia will facilitate their passage and won't use the de-mined sea corridors to attack Ukraine.

“President Putin… said that Ukraine should de-mine the approaches to the ports, which will allow the ships, after being checked by our military to ensure that the ships do not import weapons, to enter the port, load with grain and then, if necessary, even with our help, proceed to the international waters,” Peskov told reporters on a regular conference call.

Some background: The minister's comments come as global leaders have condemned a months-long blockade by Russian forces at key ports in Ukraine -- including Mariupol on the Sea of Azov and Odesa on the Black Sea -- which has left more than 20 million tons of grain stuck inside the country. In a United Nations Security Council speech Monday, European Council President Charles Michel accused the Kremlin of "using food supplies as a stealth missile against developing countries" by holding hostage millions of tons of Ukrainian grain and blockading Ukraine's ports.

CNN's Sana Noor Haq, Eliza Mackintosh, Maegan Vazquez and Sam Fossum contributed reporting to this post.

9:34 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

Zelensky says he's glad "very important ally" Johnson will remain UK prime minister

From CNN's Mick Krever in London

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 9.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 9. (Ukrainian Presidency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday that he was “very happy” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had won a confidence vote on Monday, as he is “a true friend of Ukraine.”

“I am glad that we have not lost a very important ally,” Zelensky told the Financial Times in a broadcast interview. “This is great news.”

“I cannot comment on the internal situation. I do not know all the details. So I beg pardon to Mister Johnson about this. I think that he is much better informed about the details than I am.”

But “Boris is very concrete in supporting Ukraine,” Zelensky said.

Johnson met with Zelensky in Kyiv in April.

8:42 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

Russia will be unable to maintain military strength due to West's sanctions, German chancellor says

From CNN's Inke Kappeler

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, on June 7.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, on June 7. (Michael Kappeler/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Russia will be unable to sustain its military capabilities due to tough Western sanctions, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday.

Western countries have hit Russia with a swathe of sanctions since its invasion of the Ukraine, with Scholz asserting that the "very effective, very-far reaching" injunctions would set the Russian economy back "by decades."

"It [Russia] will not be able to participate in the progress of the world, in economic and technical progress. That is becoming clearer every day, and it is a significant detriment,“ the Chancellor said at a press conference during his visit to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius for a meeting with the heads of the Baltic states.

Scholz added that even if Russia abused imports of civilian goods for military purposes, Moscow will also not be able to retain its military capabilities the same way due to the sanctions.

In his first visit to a NATO country that borders Russia, the Chancellor also joined leaders from Estonia and Latvia in promising to strengthen NATO's eastern flank by pledging to bolster Germany's military support to Lithuania.

“As allies in NATO, we are committed to each other and will defend every inch of NATO territory in the event of an attack,“ Scholz added, speaking alongside Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krisjanis Karins.

Read more of our coverage on Russian sanctions here:

8:35 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

"Very surprising": Zelensky criticizes Macron's comments that "we are not going to humiliate Russia"

From CNN's Mick Krever in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pictured in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 6.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pictured in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 6. (President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday that he “simply cannot see the preconditions for ending the war.”

In a broadcast interview with the Financial Times, Zelensky​ said that while “any war should be ended at the negotiating table,” the position for “victory must be achieved on the battlefield.”

He conceded that “restoring the borders that we controlled before 24th of February” — the date of the massive Russian invasion — could be considered a “serious temporary victory.” But he insisted that it was a “war for independence.”

“Independence in my opinion, and in the opinion of most of our people, is regaining all of our territories, restoring all of our territorial integrity and inviolable sovereignty of Ukraine,” Zelensky said.  

“We have already lost too many people to simply cede our territory,” he said.

He reserved particularly harsh criticism for French President Emmanuel Macron over recent remarks he made that “we are not going to humiliate Russia."

“Some people want to be leaders. In order to be a leader, you do not need to consider yourself one, but to be behave as a leader,” Zelensky said. “How can we achieve a ceasefire in the territory of Ukraine without listening to the position of country, and without listening to position of the leader of this country? This is very, very surprising.”

In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 28, the leaders of France and Germany “renewed their demand for a ceasefire” and called on Putin to have a direct exchange with Zelensky. 

In an interview published Saturday, the French President said, "We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means. I am convinced that it is France's role to be a mediating power."

“We are not going to humiliate anyone,” Zelensky said. “We are going to respond in kind.”

Zelensky said that Macron, as a leader of the Normandy Format of negotiations that existed before Russia’s expanded Feb. 24 invasion, “has a profound understanding of all the details, of all the details of all the arrangements made with the Russian Federation, and with Russia’s failure to comply with these accords.” 

He said that he was prepared for negotiations with Russia, but that the only person capable of discussing an end to the war was Putin himself.

“Any war should be ended at the negotiating table,” he said. “This is exactly how it has happened in history. I am still resolute and determined, whether I want it or not, I am ready for direct negotiations with President Putin if we are ready to discuss putting an end to this war seriously.”

Zelensky also said Russia's blockade of ports, which is preventing grain exports, “is a threat of global magnitude.”

“There is just one side to this threat; this is the Russian Federation. There is no dialogue here. This is a very concrete, tangible threat to Asia, Africa, and certain countries in Europe,” he said.

“We understand that the ensuing consequences might be famine and migration that is going to affect Europe. So the consequences might be very severe," he said. "And everyone knows for a fact that we are not going to let Russian ships to Ukrainian ports, because they attack us on a daily basis, and everyone knows that Ukraine is ready to export everything that we have. We are ready for a normal civilized conditions, but on safe terms.” 

8:15 a.m. ET, June 7, 2022

UK foreign secretary says more sanctions on Russia are "in the pipeline"

From CNN's Lauren Kent and David Wilkinson in London

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss arrives to attend the weekly Government cabinet meeting at Downing Street on June 7, in London, England.
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss arrives to attend the weekly Government cabinet meeting at Downing Street on June 7, in London, England. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the United Kingdom will not back down in its support for Ukraine and that more sanctions on Russia are "in the pipeline," according to a readout of Monday's cabinet meeting.

"She said the UK would not back down in its support, with further sanctions in the pipeline and continued work with global allies on how to help Ukraine rebuild in the future," the cabinet readout said. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also reiterated that the UK will remain at the forefront of supporting Ukraine. 

"He said it was vital that President Zelensky was not pressured into accepting a bad peace, noting that bad peace deals do not last," according to the cabinet readout. "He said the world must avoid any outcome where Putin’s unwarranted aggression appears to have paid off."

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.