June 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Sana Noor Haq, Hafsa Khalil, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond, Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, June 28, 2022
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12:16 p.m. ET, June 27, 2022

Russian hacker group Killnet claims responsibility for cyberattacks on Lithuania 

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

(Redpixel/Adobe Stock)
(Redpixel/Adobe Stock)

Russian hacker group Killnet claimed responsibility for cyberattacks on Lithuanian websites in response to Vilnius banning the passage of goods sanctioned by the European Union across its territory and into the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, an isolated but strategically significant territory on the Baltic coast.  

Killnet admitted to the attacks on their official Telegram channel on Monday.   

“At the moment, we have disrupted the work of the entire Lithuanian online accounting department. We are certainly surprised that Lithuania uses an "online system" for accounting. Amazon servers are not capable of saving the situation,” the hacker group said. “What about the blocking of transit to Kaliningrad, comrades? Maybe you are hearing something."

Several Lithuanian public institutions have experienced cyber attacks, said the Lithuanian government public and media relations department.

“Due to cyber attacks on several public institutions there are temporary service disruptions. Our institutions are taking measures to solve current problems and prevent further disruptions. The most severe DDoS attacks have been already managed," the media department said in an email to CNN.

The situation was under control, Asta Galdikaite, head of the public information division at the Lithuanian defense ministry, told CNN. 

But in an online statement published Monday, the Ministry of Defense warned of an “ongoing” cyber-attack. 

“The National Cyber Security Centre (NKSC) under the Ministry of National Defence warns of an intense ongoing Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack against the Secure National Data Transfer Network, other governmental institutions and private companies of Lithuania. Part of the Secure National Data Transfer Network users have been unable to access services, work is progress to restore it to normal. The Core Center of State Telecommunications is identifying the most severely attacked websites in real time and applying additional protections, while also collaborating closely with international web service providers in search of solutions,” the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense said. 

“It is highly probable that such or even more intense attacks will continue into the coming days, especially against the communications, energy and financial sectors,” said Jonas Skardinskas, acting NKSC director and head of Cyber Security Management Department, in the statement.

It was not immediately clear, when the online statement was published. 

Why this matters: Tensions are mounting around the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Russia has reacted furiously after Lithuania banned the passage of sanctioned goods across its territory and into Kaliningrad. But Lithuania said it is merely upholding European Union sanctions, and the European bloc has backed it. The row now threatens to escalate strains between Moscow and the EU, which has unveiled several packages of sanctions on Russian goods.

Read more here.

11:21 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022

Putin's language on nuclear-capable missiles is "irresponsible," a senior US defense official says

From CNN's Michael Conte and Barbara Starr

A senior US defense official called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “cavalier” language around the nuclear-capable missile systems pledged to Belarus “pretty irresponsible.”

“Our strategic forces are always monitoring things in that regard,” said the official in a background call with reporters. “We are certainly taking that seriously and have taken that threat seriously from the very beginning.”

Here's the full quote:

“Certainly any time anybody uses the word nuclear, you have concerns. Quite honestly it seems pretty irresponsible of a national leader to talk about the employment of nuclear weapons and to do so in a generally cavalier fashion. In terms of my concerns, other than the fact that they talk about, again, I mean the way that that statement read from Putin was, hey we’re going to give them Iskanders, and oh by the way they can hold nuclear weapons. And everybody takes that very seriously when you use that language. So we are certainly taking that seriously and have taken that threat seriously from the very beginning. And as you know our strategic forces are always monitoring things in that regard.”

Some more context: Russia will transfer nuclear-capable Iskander-M missile systems to Belarus over the coming months, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting in St. Petersburg on Saturday.

“In the next few months, we will transfer to Belarus the Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which, as you know, can use both ballistic and cruise missiles, both in conventional and nuclear versions," Putin told Lukashenko, according to the Kremlin.

In a transcript of the meeting, Lukashenko expressed to Putin his "stress" and concerns over what he alleged are flights by the United States and NATO planes "training to carry nuclear warheads" close to Belarus' border.

Lukashenko asked Putin to consider “a mirrored response" to the flights or to convert Russia's Su-35 fighter jets, which are currently deployed to Belarus, so that "they can carry nuclear warheads."

Putin replied that although it is possible to match the US flights, "there is no need," and suggested that because Belarus' military has a large number of Su-25 aircraft that can be converted to nuclear-capable instead.

“This modernization should be carried out at aircraft factories in Russia, but we will agree with you on how to do this. And accordingly, start training the flight crew,” Putin said.

The Iskander-M is a Russian-built short-range ballistic missile system that can carry conventional or nuclear warheads with a maximum range of up to 500 KM (310 miles), according to Janes Defense.

The weapon uses both optical and inertial guidance systems to strike its targets, hitting them with a range of warheads, such as cluster munitions, vacuum bombs, bunker-busters, and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) warheads, according to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. 

The Iskander-M was first used in 2008 during the Russia-Georgia conflict, when the Russian Army used it to hit targets in Gori, according to the alliance.

Mariya Knight and Jonny Hallam contributed to this report

11:15 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022

Ukraine and Moldova should coordinate response to "common threats" from Russia, Zelensky says

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on his Moldovan counterpart Maia Sandu for a coordinated response to Russia’s threats, as the pair met in Kyiv on Monday. 

"Our countries have threats with a common root, created by Russian aggression and Russian politics. If the threats have common roots, we should have a coordinated response to them,” Zelensky said at a joint news conference. 

Zelensky also reiterated “Ukraine remains a guarantor” in regulating situation in Transnistria, Moldova’s breakaway region with Russian military presence, and “will actively assist Moldova going forward.”

Sandu visited the towns of Borodyanka, Bucha and Irpin, which were devastated by Russia’s occupation in March. Sandu reiterated Moldova’s position "loud and clear" condemning "the senseless violence of this war and the invasion." 

Sandu added her country of 2.6 million has welcomed half a million of Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war in February. 

Some background: The European Union last week agreed that Ukraine and Moldova should be given candidate status — a significant step on the path to full membership.

However, it is still likely to be years before Ukraine is able to join the EU. The process is lengthy and requires agreement from the 27 member states at almost every stage. This means that there are multiple opportunities for member states to use their veto as a political bargaining chip. 

CNN's Luke McGee contributed reporting to this post.

12:40 p.m. ET, June 27, 2022

2 dead and 20 wounded after mall with more than 1,000 people inside hit by airstrike, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla

(From Facebook)
(From Facebook)

Two people are dead and 20 people are injured following an airstrike on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

Of the 20 people injured, nine are in serious condition, Tymoshenko said.

Initial reports from President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested that at least 1,000 people may have been in the building when it was struck.

Volodymyr Solohub, chief of the Poltava oblast Department of State Emergency Services of Ukraine, said he does not know “how many more people might still be under the rubble."

The mall is 10,000 square meters and the missile struck around 4:00 p.m. Kyiv time, Solohub said.

See the shopping mall here:

11:17 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022

Zelensky accuses Russia of striking busy shopping mall

From CNN's Seb Shukla

(From Facebook)
(From Facebook)

More than 1,000 people were inside a mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk when a Russian missile was fired at the building, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

"The number of victims is impossible to imagine," he added.

On Telegram, alongside a video, Zelensky said the site had “no danger to the Russian army. No strategic value. Only the attempt of people to live a normal life.”

The mall remained on fire and emergency services were on the scene, he said.

9:47 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022

Mariupol residents "forced to hunt pigeons" to eat, mayor says

From CNN's Yulia Kesavia

Wide scale destruction in the aftermath of the Russian invasion in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12.
Wide scale destruction in the aftermath of the Russian invasion in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12. (Pavel Klimov/Reuters)

Residents in the occupied city of Mariupol are being “forced to hunt pigeons” in order to feed themselves, Vadym Boichenko, the exiled mayor of Mariupol, said in a statement on Monday.

Boichenko said residents are “using improvised traps” to catch the pigeons and that Russian forces are making “a mockery of people who used to live their life to the fullest before the war — not knowing what hunger or lack of drinking water was."

"These terrible things are happening in the 21st century, in the heart of Europe, in front of the whole world," he added.

Boichenko's statement ended with some advice about the dangers of people eating pigeons from Oleksandr Lazarenko, head of Primary Health Care Center No. 3 in Mariupol who said, “Pigeons are a breeding ground for many viral, bacterial and fungal diseases. In this regard, the meat can be infected. It can cause histoplasmosis, encephalitis, ornithosis, salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis and other dangerous diseases. Such diseases are especially dangerous for children and the elderly. In the absence of proper medical care, it can even lead to death.”


9:13 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022

France says countries invited to G7 need to pick sides over war in Ukraine

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris

G7-leaders and participants of the outreach program pose for a family photo on June 27, at Elmau Castle, Germany
G7-leaders and participants of the outreach program pose for a family photo on June 27, at Elmau Castle, Germany (John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)

Some countries invited to participate in the G7 summit in Germany “will have to choose sides” as the war in Ukraine continues to rage on, an Élysée source told journalists on Monday.

“It is the stability of the international order that is at stake,” the Élysée source said.

Germany, host country of the G7 summit, has invited Argentina, India, Indonesia, Senegal and South Africa to join the summit. Some of the invitees, such as India, have yet to condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Sessions on Monday afternoon are open to invited countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron is scheduled to meet with the presidents of Indonesia and South Africa separately this afternoon. 

9:12 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022

"Chaotic" Ukrainian retreat underway in Lysychansk, Russian defense ministry claims

From CNN's Tim Lister

Ukrainian soldiers ride an armoured vehicle on the main road to Lysychansk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 26.
Ukrainian soldiers ride an armoured vehicle on the main road to Lysychansk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas on June 26. (Bagus Saragih/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ukrainian military command is "trying to stop the chaotic escape of Ukrainian servicemen near Lysychansk amid the success of Russian army," the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Russian and allied forces of the Luhansk People's militia have been closing in on Lysychansk since the fall of neighboring Severodonetsk.

In a statement on its Telegram channel, the defense ministry claimed that a unit of the Ukrainian Azov regiment had been sent to "hold the personnel" of another Ukrainian unit at the settlement of Vovchoyarivka, near Lysychansk, where there has been heavy fighting.

The Defense Ministry also claimed that it had eliminated two units of international "mercenaries" near Lysychansk, including a group of Georgian fighters. CNN has not independently verified the claim.

The commander of one Ukrainian unit in Lysychansk had lost control over the majority of his troops, the defense ministry added without offering evidence for the claim.

Meanwhile, all four missiles fired at a district of Kyiv on Sunday reached their target, which it described as "the workshops of the Artyom missile corporation" in the Shevchenkivskyi district, the defense ministry also said. "This enterprise produced ordnance for Ukrainian multiple rocket-launching systems (MRLS)."

At least one missile, or wreckage from it, hit an apartment building, leaving one person dead and several injured, according to a CNN team at the site and Ukrainian officials.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the damage to the residential building was caused by one Ukrainian system destroying an anti-air missile fired by another.

"Due to lack of interoperability between the launching ramps of the air defense systems and electronic facilities deployed in residential areas, 2 S-300 air defense missiles have been intercepted by Ukrainian Buk systems. One of the intercepted air defense missiles has presumably fallen down to a residential building," the defense ministry claimed.

There is no independent evidence for such a scenario.

9:12 a.m. ET, June 27, 2022

NATO will enhance its battle groups in the eastern part of the alliance

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 27.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 27. (Johanna Geron/Reuters)

NATO will enhance its battle groups in the eastern part of the alliance up to brigade levels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Monday.

"We will increase the number of high readiness forces to well over 300,000," he said at a news conference in Brussels.

This includes "more pre-positioned equipment and stockpiles of military supplies; more forward-deployed capabilities, like air defense; strengthened command and control, and upgraded defense plans with forces pre-assigned to defend specific allies," Stoltenberg added.

The NATO Response Force comprises around 40,000 troops, according to the NATO website.

"These troops will exercise together with home defense forces. And they will become familiar with local terrain, facilities, and our new pre-positioned stocks so that they can respond smoothly and swiftly to any emergency," Stoltenberg went on to say, stressing that "this constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defense since the Cold War."

These comments come ahead of the NATO summit that will be held in Madrid this week.

The summit will be "transformative," with many important decisions, including on a new "strategic concept for a new security reality," Stoltenberg said Monday, adding that this will include a discussion on China "for the first time."

"Our new concept will guide us in an era of strategic competition. I expect it will make clear that allies consider Russia as the most significant and direct threat to our security," Stoltenberg said. "It will address China for the first time. And the challenges that Beijing poses to our security, interests, and values."

US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will likely speak in the coming weeks, the White House said. While there is no timeframe, the conversation will not happen immediately after the G7 meet, where China was a primary topic of discussion, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in Germany.