June 30, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Simone McCarthy, Helen Regan, Jeevan Ravindran, Hafsa Khalil, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 3:12 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022
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10:39 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

"Too early" to establish outpost on Snake Island, Ukrainian military official says

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

While the Russian forces have withdrawn from Snake Island in the Black Sea, it may be “too early” for Ukraine to establish an outpost there, said the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Military’s Southern Command, Natalia Humenyuk.

Humenyuk reported the island remains engulfed in heavy smoke as explosions continue. Although the Ukrainian military saw Russian troops evacuate using speedboats, Humenyuk said investigation needs to take place into possible “diversion tools left behind” before claiming back the island.

“Our forces haven’t landed on the island yet,” she added clarifying it is not clear if Russian troops withdrew completely. “We cannot state that they all withdrew. But we hope that they had enough sense to do that."

Humenyuk suggested the Russian military set anti-air missile systems and radar station on fire “to cover their tracks.”

“As soon as they understood all these systems were being targeted by us effectively and could not serve them anymore, they realized they had to fold their outpost and get out," she added. “We have to monitor their behavior in terms of their ship groupings and the use of other forces. It is too early for us to form an outpost on the Snake island. We have to finish the investigation into the result of the military operation." 

Russian military command justified their withdrawal from the island on Thursday “as a gesture of goodwill.”

An islet off the Ukrainian coast near Odesa, Snake Island had been captured by the Russian Navy in the early day of the war in February. An important outpost for marking Ukrainian territorial waters, it has become the symbol of Ukrainian resistance against Russian occupation. 

Read more about Russian withdrawal from Snake Island here.

10:28 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

Ukraine severs diplomatic ties with Syria over recognition of separatist-controlled areas in Donbas

From CNN's Oleksandra Ochman

Ukraine announced Thursday that it has severed diplomatic relations with Syria after Damascus on Wednesday recognized the independence of the pro-Russia separatist-controlled Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine strongly condemns the decision of the Syrian Arab Republic to recognize the so-called 'independence' of the temporarily occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine,” the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

“We consider this decision to be an unfriendly act against Ukraine, an encroachment on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state, and a gross violation of Ukrainian law, the UN Charter, and the fundamental norms and principles of international law," it added.

Syria is the only country aside from Russia to formally recognize the independence of the breakaway regions.

“In response to this unfriendly act, Ukraine declares the severance of diplomatic relations with Syria without the severance of consular relations, in accordance with Article 2 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations done in Vienna on 24 April 1963,” Ukraine's foreign ministry also said, adding that it will impose a trade embargo, as well as other sanctions, on Syria.

Read more about the two pro-Moscow regions here.

10:05 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

Putin has made "a big mistake" in underestimating both Ukraine and NATO, alliance chief tells CNN

From CNN’s Emmet Lyons and Claire Calzonetti

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN that Russian President Vladimir Putin has underestimated both Ukraine’s resistance and the unity of the NATO military alliance. 

“He [Putin] has made a big mistake; he totally underestimated the strength of Ukrainian armed forces, the courage of Ukrainian leadership and the Ukrainian people, and he also underestimated the unity of NATO and partners in providing support to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour Thursday. 

Speaking from the NATO Madrid summit, Stoltenberg said that Putin had failed in achieving his objectives when it came to weakening the NATO alliance. 

“One of his main messages at the beginning of this war was that he wanted less NATO. He actually proposed to sign an agreement to have no further NATO enlargement. What he’s getting now is more NATO and two new NATO members, including Finland with a border … with Russia, doubling NATO’s border with Russia,” he told Amanpour. 

“That does not mean we don’t see the seriousness of the difficulties that Ukraine is facing in Donbas,” Stoltenberg said.  

Stoltenberg told CNN that he is ignoring Putin’s rhetoric and that he will “assess him on his actions.” 

“What he does in Ukraine is a brutal violation of international law. It is a war that has led to a lot of civilian casualties, civilians killed and huge losses,” he told CNN. 

The accomplishments at the NATO summit in Madrid are a “victory” for the military alliance, according to Stoltenberg. 

“It is a victory for NATO that we once again have demonstrated our unity and ability to change, adapt when the world is changing,” the NATO chief said.

“We live in a world where we see brutal use of force against a close neighbor of NATO, a close partner of NATO in Ukraine, and that’s the reason why we have significantly stepped up and will further step up our presence in the eastern part of the alliance to remove any room for miscalculation or misunderstanding in Moscow about our readiness to protect and defend all allies,” he said.

“This is deterrence, and the purpose of deterrence is to prevent conflict. And that’s exactly what NATO has done for more than 70 years — prevent conflict and preserve peace,” he added.

9:35 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

Biden places blame for gas prices and food crisis squarely on Russia

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 30.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 30. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

US President Joe Biden said the increase in gas prices and food shortages around the globe are due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"The bottom line is ultimately the reason why gas prices are up is because of Russia. Russia, Russia, Russia. The reason why the food crisis exists is because of Russia," Biden said during a news conference at the NATO summit in Madrid.

Russia has blockaded Ukrainian Black Sea ports, not allowing grain to be exported from one of the main areas of grain production in the world.

"In addition, at home ... I've released a million barrels of oil per day from our oil reserve, and in addition to getting other nations to move forward, a total of 240 million barrels of oil to release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, number one. Number two, I have asked Congress, would they in fact go and temporarily end the tax on gasoline at the pump, and, thirdly to ask the states to do the same thing. If we do these things, it is estimated we could bring down tomorrow, if they — if Congress agreed and the states agreed, we could bring down the price of oil about a dollar a gallon at the pump in that range," he said, adding it would bring "immediate relief."

9:21 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

Biden: Russia is paying a "very heavy price" for Ukraine war

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 30.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 30. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

While pledging to "support Ukraine as long as it takes," US President Joe Biden said that the war in Ukraine has already taken a toll on Russia.

"Look at the impact that the war on Ukraine has had on Russia. They've had to renege on their national debt for the first time since the beginning, almost well over 100 years. They've lost 15 years of the gains they've made in terms of their economy. They're in a situation where they're having trouble because of my imposition of dealing with what can be exported to Russia, in terms of technology. They're going to have trouble maintaining oil production because they don't have the technology to do it. ... And they also are in a similar situation in terms of their weapons systems and some of their military systems," he said at a news conference concluding the NATO summit in Madrid.  

"So they're paying a very, very heavy price for this," Biden said.  

Biden pledged the US and NATO will "stick with Ukraine."

"Ukraine has already dealt a severe blow to Russia: Russia in fact has already lost its international standing. Russia is in a position where the whole world is looking and saying, 'wait a minute, all this effort to try to take the whole country; you tried to take Kyiv, you lost, you tried to take the Donbas and all of it, you haven't done that yet,'" Biden said.

"The generic point is we're supplying them with the capacity and the overwhelming courage they have demonstrated that in fact they can continue to resist the Russian aggression. And so I don't know ... how it is going to end, but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine," Biden continued.

9:20 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

Biden portrays transatlantic alliance as more united than ever in concluding NATO news conference

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

US President Joe Biden sought to portray the transatlantic alliance as more united than ever as he prepared to depart Europe after two summits focused heavily on the war in Ukraine.

“I told (Russian President Vladimir) Putin that if he invaded Ukraine, NATO would not only get stronger, but would get more united,” Biden said at a press conference at the conclusion of a NATO summit in Madrid. “And we would see what see democracies in the world stand up and oppose his aggression and defend the rules based order. And that's exactly what we're seeing today.”

Biden said the United States was “doing exactly what I said” and enhancing its force posture in Europe.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, ON June 30.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, ON June 30. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

He said the United States was “rallying the world to stand with Ukraine” and said he was preparing to unveil an additional $800 million in security assistance, including air defense systems, artillery, ammunition and counter-battery radar.

“We're moving to a place that reflects the realities of the second quarter of the 21st century And we're we're on the verge of making significant progress,” he said.

“Putin thought we could break the Transatlantic Alliance,” he went on. “He tried to weaken us, expected our resolve the fracture, but he's getting exactly what he did not want.”

11:34 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

Biden: Putin is "getting exactly what he did not want"

(Susan Walsh/AP)
(Susan Walsh/AP)

US President Joe Biden said the decisions and deals announced at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, show that NATO is "moving to a place that reflects the realities of the second quarter of the 21st century."

The world's response to every crisis created due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows Putin is "getting exactly what he did not want," Biden said.

"At every step of this trip, we set down a marker of unity, determination and deep capabilities of the democratic nations of the world to do what need to be done," he said. "Putin thought he could break the transatlantic alliance. He tried to weaken us. He expected our resolve to fracture. But he's getting exactly what he did not want."

"He wanted the Finlandization of NATO. He got the natoization of Finland," Biden added, as NATO invited Sweden and Finland to join the US-led military alliance, which has drawn an angered response from Russia. "We're more united than ever. And with the addition to Finland and Sweden, we'll be stronger than ever. They have serious militaries, both of them. We're going to increase the NATO border by 800 miles along the Finnish-Russian border. Sweden is all in."

Biden also noted NATO's work to address price hike in gas and oil and food insecurity affecting different parts of the world because of Russia's war in Ukraine.

"We tasked our teams to work on the details of the price cap on Russian oil, to drive down Putin's revenues without hurting Americans and others at the gas pump. We'll seek to use the funds from the tariffs on Russian goods to help Ukraine rebuild. We've committed more than $ 4.5 billion — more than half of that from the United States — to address food insecurity, and the immediate crisis caused by the Russian war."


9:05 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

Biden calls NATO summit "historic" as alliance aims to address threats from Russia and China

U.S. President Joe Biden holds a news conference before departing the NATO summit at the IFEMA arena in Madrid, Spain, on June 30.
U.S. President Joe Biden holds a news conference before departing the NATO summit at the IFEMA arena in Madrid, Spain, on June 30. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

US President Joe Biden said the NATO summit in Madrid has been "historic" citing the decision to invite Finland and Sweden to the military alliance.

"This summit was about strengthening our alliance, meeting the challenges of our world as it is today, and the threats we're going to face in the future," he said.

Biden also addressed how the alliance is looking to meet "the direct threats Russia poses to Europe" and the "systematic challenges that China poses."

"The last time NATO drafted a new mission statement was 12 years. At that time, it characterized Russia as a partner, and it didn't even mention China. The world has changed — changed a great deal since then. And NATO is changing as well. At this summit, we rallied our alliances to meet both the direct threats of Russia poses to Europe and the systemic challenges that China poses to a rules-based world order," he said on Thursday.
9:03 a.m. ET, June 30, 2022

NOW: Biden holds news conference at NATO summit

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

U.S. President Joe Biden holds a news conference before departing the NATO summit at the IFEMA arena in Madrid, Spain, on June 30.
U.S. President Joe Biden holds a news conference before departing the NATO summit at the IFEMA arena in Madrid, Spain, on June 30. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Before returning to Washington, US President Joe Biden is holding a news conference at the NATO summit in Madrid where he's expected to address the state of the war in Ukraine.

With Russia bogged down in a long-term conflict of attrition, NATO leaders leave here having taken historic steps to address a fundamentally altered security situation. It has given the organization a renewed sense of purpose after years wavering on how to approach Russia.

The alliance is poised to grow larger after formally inviting Finland and Sweden to join. The path was cleared for the two countries, each with long histories of military non-alignment, after Turkey dropped its objections, giving this summit a somewhat unexpected boost as it commenced.

Leaders made major enhancements of NATO's force posture along its eastern edge, increasing the number of high-alert troops by sevenfold. Biden announced new rotational deployments of US troops in the Baltics and Romania, new ships to Spain and planes to the United Kingdom, and for the first time a permanent Army garrison headquarters in Poland.

Read more about the summit here.