June 15, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Christian Edwards, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 12:04 a.m. ET, June 16, 2023
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3:49 a.m. ET, June 15, 2023

Biden holding firm on Ukraine joining NATO

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Jennifer Hansler

Joe Biden speaks in Washington, on June 14.
Joe Biden speaks in Washington, on June 14. Susan Walsh/AP

President Joe Biden and his team are in the midst of a high-stakes conversation with fellow NATO members on how and when Ukraine may join — a debate that could expose strains in the alliance ahead of a key summit.

The matter of Ukrainian membership in NATO is one of several issues leaders will tackle when they meet in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in mid-July. Also up for discussion are new defense spending commitments and a successor to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is planning on leaving his post in the autumn.

Yet it is the issue of Ukrainian membership that will prove one of the biggest flash points for the group, which has managed to remain remarkably united amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion.

At past NATO summits, the allies have produced a joint declaration outlining their shared views. A failure to reach a consensus this year would be hugely consequential and would signal trouble for the unity of the alliance as the war in Ukraine continues.

Some allies, particularly those in Eastern Europe who are located closer to Ukraine and Russia, have advocated for a more concrete path for Kyiv to join the defensive alliance once the war ends.

Other European officials, particularly those in western and southern Europe, have argued an expedited entrance of Ukraine into NATO could be too provocative and that it could amount to an extremely risky gamble for the alliance even if there is an end to the fighting, particularly if Russia still stakes claim over Ukrainian territory.

Biden and members of his administration have remained committed to the alliance’s current posture, which states Ukraine will eventually join NATO but without any certainty of when.

The divide has prompted urgent discussions ahead of the summit. The result of the conversations could determine whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends.

“If we are not acknowledged and given a signal in Vilnius, I believe there is no point for Ukraine to be at this summit,” he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month.

Read the full story here.

12:30 a.m. ET, June 15, 2023

Floodwaters from dam collapse predicted to recede by next week, Russia-appointed official says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva

A local resident stands near a flooded house after the Nova Kakhovka dam breached, in Afanasiivka, Kherson region, Ukraine on June 12.
A local resident stands near a flooded house after the Nova Kakhovka dam breached, in Afanasiivka, Kherson region, Ukraine on June 12. Oleksandr Klymenko/Reuters

Floodwaters from the Nova Kakhovka dam collapse in southern Ukraine are predicted to fully recede by June 20, according to Andrey Alekseenko, the Russia-backed head of the Kherson region.

The breach of the dam on June 6 unleashed a mass of water down the Dnipro River and flooded towns and villages on both sides.

"As of today, the water in Oleshky and the district remains only in the lowlands — up to 1.6 meters [5.2 feet]. Supplies have returned to normal — vehicles with food products were able to enter," he said on Telegram. Oleshky is around 70 kilometers (43 miles) west of Nova Kakhovka.

The head of the Russia-appointed Kherson region administration, Vladimir Saldo, said Tuesday that the water level in Nova Kakhovka was unchanged at 5 meters.

Remember: Ukraine controls the west bank of the Dnipro River and the city of Kherson after its counteroffensive last year, while Russian troops remain on the east bank in the larger Kherson region.

On the Ukrainian side: Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said "everything" is being done to return citizens "to a normal, peaceful and safe life as soon as possible" nine days after the collapse.

He said more than 3,000 people in Ukraine-controlled Kherson have filed police reports about flooded homes, and 3,761 people have been evacuated from Ukrainian-controlled parts of the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions.