June 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Helen Regan, Jack Guy and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 12:22 p.m. ET, June 9, 2022
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9:13 a.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Lavrov says Russia's intentions are "clear" after being confronted by Ukrainian journalist 

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a news conference after meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara, on June 8.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a news conference after meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara, on June 8. (Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Russia's intentions and goals in Ukraine are "clear" and maintained that Moscow is not halting grain exports from Ukraine.

During a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, a Ukrainian journalist asked Lavrov: "Aside from the grain products, what [else] did Russia steal from Ukraine?"

He responded that "with regards to grains, there is no obstacle or challenge caused by the Russian Federation."

"Mr. Zelensky needs to give an instruction so that Ukrainian ports can become safe," Lavrov said, reiterating his earlier remarks that Ukraine needs to de-mine its waters to ensure the safe passage of ships. 

Lavrov said "we are not the ones to blame" for creating an issue and that "the ball is in their [Ukraine's] court."

The Russian foreign minister said Russia is discussing securing the safe passage of ships with the Turkish military. 

Lavrov said Russia has "clear intentions and clear goals" in Ukraine, which he claimed are to "liberate" the country from a "neo-Nazi regime," once again repeating a false claim from the Kremlin about Ukraine's government.

The spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry hit back at Lavrov’s statements.

“Lavrov’s words are empty,” Oleg Nikolenko said via Twitter, alongside photos of news headlines summarizing Lavrov’s statements.

“Ukraine has made its position on the sea ports clear: military equipment is required to protect the coastline and a navy mission to patrol the export routes in the Black Sea. Russia cannot be allowed to use grain corridors to attack southern Ukraine,” Nikolenko said.

CNN's Mick Krever contributed reporting to this post.

8:03 a.m. ET, June 8, 2022

It's 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

People sweep debris at a shopping mall destroyed by shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine on June 8.
People sweep debris at a shopping mall destroyed by shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine on June 8. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The battle for the key city of Severodonetsk continues to rage, while Norway has donated 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. Russia has been accused of keeping around 600 people "hostage" in the occupied Kherson region, and there is further controversy over blocked grain shipments.

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

Fight for Severodonetsk continues: Ukraine could pull back its military “to more fortified positions” but Ukraine will not “give up” the key city, said Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration.

Norway ships artillery pieces: Norway has donated 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine to help it "withstand Russian attacks," according to the Norwegian Ministry of Defense (MOD).  

Deportations to Russia continue: More than 1,000 Ukrainian servicemen who recently surrendered in Mariupol will be transported to Russia for “investigation,” Russian state-run news agency TASS reported Wednesday, citing a source in law enforcement. 

Further accusations of human rights violations: Around 600 people are “being held hostage” in “rooms outfitted as torture chambers” and “pre-trial detention” facilities in the Russian-occupied Kherson region, according to a Ukrainian official.

Controversy over grain shipments: A top Ukrainian official has accused Russia of “artificially creating obstacles” to gain control over the country’s grain market, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says grain shipments can resume when Ukraine removes mines from coastal waters.

Zelensky discusses cooperation with Germany: The Ukrainian President said he had a telephone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during which the pair discussed "enhancing defense support" and other issues.

More World Bank funding for Ukraine: The bank has approved $1.49 billion of additional financing for Ukraine, part of a support package worth more than $4 billion that will help pay the wages of government and social workers. 

7:30 a.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Food is now part of Russia's "arsenal of terror," says EU chief

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy in London  

Food has become part of Russia's “arsenal of terror,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.  

In an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, von der Leyen stressed the urgent need to restore Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, as a remedy to the looming global food crisis.

“This is a cold, callous and calculated siege by Putin on some of the most vulnerable countries and people in the world. And therefore now, Honorable Members, food has become now part of the Kremlin's arsenal of terror, and we cannot tolerate it,” von der Leyen told EU lawmakers.  

The EU’s sanctions against Russia “do not touch basic food commodities,” the EU Commission chief stressed.  

“They do not affect the trading of grain or other foods between Russia and third countries. And the port embargo specifically has full exemption on agricultural goods,” she added, highlighting the need to counter Russian "disinformation" about the food crisis.  

Her remarks come as Russian and Turkish foreign ministers held meetings in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss issues related to grain exports from Ukraine.

Von der Leyen thanked the United Nations for its “efforts” to help restore Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, reiterating that the “majority of Ukrainian grain can only be exported” through these routes. 

There is an expectation for the EU to show the “same solidarity” it has “shown to Ukraine when it comes to addressing the food crisis in the world,” she added, committing the bloc to this task.  

8:12 a.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Ukraine suffering "significant losses" in Donbas, says Russian military

From CNN's Olena Makerovska, Zahra Ullah, and Mick Krever

Ukrainian troop members repair an army's Main Battle Tank (MBT) in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 7.
Ukrainian troop members repair an army's Main Battle Tank (MBT) in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 7. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine is suffering “significant losses” in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the Russian military claimed Wednesday.

“The Ukrainian force in the Donbass [‘Donbas’ in Ukrainian] suffers significant losses in manpower, weapons and military equipment,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a press release.

“Only during the liberation of Svyatogorsk [‘Sviatohirsk’ in Ukrainian] in the Donetsk People's Republic, over three days of fighting, the losses of Ukrainian troops amounted to more than 300 nationalists, six tanks, 15 armored combat vehicles of various types, 36 field artillery guns and mortars, four Grad multiple rocket launchers and over 20 automotive units," it said.

The Donbas has seen intense fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces for weeks.

Parts of the Ukrainian cities of Rubizhne and Severodonetsk in the region have been significantly destroyed by fighting, satellite images taken on Monday by Maxar Technologies show. 

Ukrainian forces there have held on despite intense bombardments by Russian artillery and jets. Russian forces are continuing to try to advance into, and past, the two major Donbas cities. 

7:01 a.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Ukraine files eight more war crimes cases, says prosecutor general

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Mick Krever

Ukraine has filed eight more war crimes cases involving Russian soldiers, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said on national television on Wednesday.

“We are not just talking about combatants who came to the theater of operations, but about those who came to rape, loot, kill civilians,” Venediktova said.

On May 23, a 21-year-old Russian soldier was sentenced to life in prison for killing an unarmed man in Ukraine's first war crimes trial since Russia's invasion.

Another two Russian soldiers were convicted for “violating the laws of war” by the Kotelevsky district court of Poltava region on May 31.

Venediktova said that prosecutors are investigating about 16,000 war crimes cases.

6:51 a.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Zelensky says he discussed "enhancing defense support" with German leader

From CNN's Mick Krever

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday that he had discussed improving his country's defenses during a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“Had a phone conversation with Olaf Scholz,” Zelensky said on Twitter. “Discussed enhancing defense support for [Ukraine] & ensuring global food security. Raised the issue of RF [The Russian Federation]'s compliance with international rules of treatment of war prisoners. Stressed the importance of decisions on the integration of [Ukraine] in [The European Union].

In recent months, the German government and Chancellor Scholz have come under pressure from Ukraine and politicians at home for not doing enough to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion.

But at the end of April, Germany agreed to deliver Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine, and last week it said it will supply Ukraine with seven self-propelled howitzers.

While relations between the two countries have improved, ''we have to make sure that the positive dynamic is maintained and we all move forward and that right decisions are being taken,'' Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on May 12.

6:41 a.m. ET, June 8, 2022

New ground is possible for grain and peace negotiations, says Turkish foreign minister

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Stationary cargo ships and bulk carriers in the Black Sea wait to enter the Sulina Canal, a river channel that provides access to the Danube River, offshore from Sulina, Romania on June 4.
Stationary cargo ships and bulk carriers in the Black Sea wait to enter the Sulina Canal, a river channel that provides access to the Danube River, offshore from Sulina, Romania on June 4. (Andrei Pungovschi/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

"There could be new ground for negotiations" between Ukraine and Russia on halting the fighting and securing safe corridors for grain exports, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Turkey believes the war should be ended through a diplomatic process "as soon as possible" for "the sake of the whole region and the whole of humanity," said Cavusoglu, speaking at a joint press conference in Ankara with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday.

Turkey is willing to take a facilitating role, said Cavusoglu.

The halt of grain exports is one of the negative consequences of the war and a plan for the resumption of exports should be established," he added.

"There are multiple ideas" about how to establish an open corridor for grain exports from Ukraine, said Cavusoglu, who added that a UN plan was "reasonable and can be implemented " but requires more talks. 

Also speaking at the joint press conference, Lavrov said issues related to grain exports from Ukraine could be resolved, but Ukraine needs to de-mine its waters to ensure the safe passage of ships. 

"If Ukraine is ready to kick off de-mining activities, then we are ready for that [resolving the issues] as well," he said.

Lavrov reiterated that Russia is portrayed in the wrong light, and that every ship and vessel that wishes to use the corridors is free to act in "whatever way they please." 

6:08 a.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Russia "artificially creating obstacles" to seize grain market, says Ukrainian official

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman and Mick Krever

A top Ukrainian official has accused Russia of “artificially creating obstacles” to gain control over the country’s grain market.

“Our position on the supply of grain is clear: security first,” said Oleksii Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, via Twitter on Wednesday.

“Russia is artificially creating obstacles to seize the market and blackmail Europe over food shortages," he added. 

The Turkish and Russian foreign ministers are meeting in Ankara Wednesday to discuss the re-establishment of grain exports from Ukraine.

5:28 a.m. ET, June 8, 2022

Norway donates 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine to "withstand Russian attacks" 

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy

This photograph taken on May 10, 2022, shows an Ukrainian Army's self-propelled howitzer loading on a tank transporter near Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
This photograph taken on May 10, 2022, shows an Ukrainian Army's self-propelled howitzer loading on a tank transporter near Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

Norway has donated 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine to help it "withstand Russian attacks," according to the Norwegian Ministry of Defense (MOD).  

In a statement Wednesday, defense minister Bjørn Arild Gram said that the "development in the war in Ukraine now suggests that it is necessary to also donate heavier artillery and weapons’ systems." 

The Norwegian Army has donated the M109 artillery guns, which are long-range weapons, after recently replacing their stock with new artillery from South Korea, the statement said.

The guns were donated along with equipment, spare parts and ammunition, according to the Norwegian MOD.  

Ukrainian soldiers were already trained in the use of the system by the Norwegian Army in Germany, the statement added.  

Gram called Norway's donation a "substantial contribution" that is "very much in demand by Ukraine."  

"The Norwegian government has waited to publicly announce the donation for security reasons. Future donations may not be announced or commented upon," the statement said.  

The United States, the Netherlands and Germany are some of the other nations who have also provided Ukraine with supplies of howitzers.