July 1, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Simone McCarthy, Rob Picheta, Laura Smith-Spark, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 6:35 p.m. ET, July 1, 2022
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7:18 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022

Putin says Western sanctions are pushing Russia and Belarus toward "speeding up integration"

From CNN's Radina Gigova in London 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed Western sanctions are pushing Russia and Belarus toward "speeding up integration" in various sectors, which he said would "minimize the damage" of the sanctions. 

"Russia and Belarus continue to grow in their cooperation in the political, trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres," Putin said in a video message to the participants of an annual Russia-Belarus forum on Friday

"The unprecedented pressure of sanctions from the so-called collective West is pushing us towards speeding up integration. Together it is easier to minimize the damage from the illegal sanctions, it is easier to set up the production of demanded products, develop new competencies and expand cooperation with friendly countries," Putin said. 

Belarus is a staunch Russian ally and helped facilitate Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February, with some Russian forces entering the country through the Ukrainian-Belarusian border.

A number of joint programs between the two nations have already been developed and more are on track for the coming years, Putin said. Areas of cooperation include technological and industrial innovation, finances and transport.

Putin said the joint programs were aimed at creating "equal economic conditions for our countries" and would "form a reliable framework for a financial market and transports base."

His message comes just days before Belarus celebrates its independence from Nazi Germany on July 3, and as Russia and Belarus marked 30 years of diplomatic relations earlier this year. 

6:34 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022

Oleksandr Usyk says injured Ukrainian soldiers urged him to "fight for the country"

From CNN's Matias Grez

Oleksandr Usyk during a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel, London, England, on June 29.
Oleksandr Usyk during a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel, London, England, on June 29. (Philip Sharkey/TGS Photo/Shutterstock)

Heavyweight boxing world champion Oleksandr Usyk said he didn't want to leave Ukraine amid the ongoing war but was urged by injured Ukrainian soldiers to "fight for the country" in his rematch against Anthony Joshua.

Usyk returned to Ukraine, took up arms and joined a territorial defense battalion in Kyiv following Russia's invasion of his homeland and spent weeks helping out in the war efforts.

Back in March, the Ukrainian sports minister said Usyk would be granted permission to return to training in the lead-up to his fight with Joshua, but still the 35-year-old was reluctant.

"I really didn't want to leave our country, I didn't want to leave our city," Usyk told reporters, according to Reuters. "I went to the hospital where soldiers were wounded and getting rehabilitation from the war.

"They were asking me to go, to fight, to fight for the country, fight for your pride and if you're going to go there, you're even going to help more for our country.

"I know a lot of my close people, friends, close friends, are right now in the front line and fighting. What I'm doing right now, I'm just supporting them, and with this fight, I wanted to bring them some kind of joy in between what they do."

Read more here.

6:02 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022

Attacks on pro-Russian officials in southern Ukraine suggest growing resistance movement, US officials say

By CNN's Oren Liebermann and Katie Bo Lillis

US officials say a trio of assassination attempts targeting pro-Russian officials over the past two weeks suggests a burgeoning resistance movement against pro-Russian authorities occupying parts of southern Ukraine.

While it is just a few incidents isolated to the town of Kherson so far, US officials say the resistance could grow into a wider counterinsurgency that would pose a significant challenge to Russia's ability to control newly captured territory across Ukraine.

The Kremlin "faces rising partisan activity in southern Ukraine," Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, said during a conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

The United States believes that Russia does not have enough forces in Kherson to effectively occupy and control the region, one US official said, especially after pulling forces from the area for the fight to the east in Donbas. Another US official told CNN that move may have provided Ukrainian partisans with a window in which to attack locally installed Russian officials.

Ukraine has also conducted limited counterattacks near Kherson, further straining Russian forces.

The region is critical to Russia's hold on Ukraine's Black Sea coast and controls access to the Crimean peninsula. It's unclear how many Russian forces are in or near Kherson, but an occupation against a hostile local population requires far more soldiers than a peaceful occupation of territory.

Read the story in full.

10:31 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022

It's midday in Ukraine. Here's what you need to know.

Russia is making further gains in eastern Ukraine, and launched strikes on residential buildings in Odesa overnight that killed several people -- including two children.

It's just past midday across Ukraine. Here are the key headlines this Friday.

  • Russia strikes residential block: At least 19 people were killed, including two children, when three Russian missiles hit a nine-story residential building and a recreation center in the southern Odesa region on Friday, Ukrainian authorities said. Another 30 people were injured in the strikes in the village of Sergiivka, authorities added.
  • Battle for Lysychansk: Russian troops have "completely taken over" an oil refinery in the embattled city of Lysychansk, eastern Ukraine, a pro-Kremlin official said. A Ukrainian official said Russia has had only “partial success.” Russian forces have made small gains around the key city in recent weeks.
  • Snake Island “free again”: The small but strategic territory of Snake Island is “free again,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Thursday. “It significantly changes the situation in the Black Sea,” Zelensky said. “Step by step, we will drive them out of our sea, our land, and our sky.”
  • NATO’s rejuvenated support for Ukraine: NATO leaders have wrapped up a summit that saw two new countries invited to join the alliance and pledges of unity and weaponry for Ukraine. US President Joe Biden said NATO would back Ukraine “as long as it takes” and would stop Russia advancing across Europe.
  • Attacks on pro-Russian officials: US officials say a trio of assassination attempts targeting pro-Russian officials over the past two weeks suggests a burgeoning resistance movement against the pro-Russian authorities occupying parts of southern Ukraine.
  • Russia’s “immoral” and “stupid” war: Former US Defense Secretary James Mattis criticized Russia’s war in Ukraine on Friday. He told a conference in Seoul the world is “watching Russia wither before our eyes right now,” and blasted its “incompetent” generals.
  • Humanitarian crisis: Almost 16 million people in Ukraine need humanitarian assistance — including “water, food, health services, (a) roof over their head and protection” — the United Nations' resident coordinator for Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, said in a press conference on Thursday.
7:00 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022

Ukraine raises death toll following Russian missile attacks in Odesa

A destroyed building after a missile attack in Odesa, Ukraine, on July 1.
A destroyed building after a missile attack in Odesa, Ukraine, on July 1. (Maksym Voitenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukraine says an additional person has died after Russia's overnight missile attacks in Odesa, bringing the death toll to 19.

Three Russian missiles hit a nine-story building and two recreation centers in the village of Sergiivka, in the southern Odesa region of Ukraine. Two children are among the dead and 38 people were injured, authorities said on Friday.

According to first deputy interior minister Yevhenii Yenin, there were no military targets or infrastructure in the vicinity of the areas struck by the Russian missiles. 

Speaking at the scene, Yenin also said search and rescue operations were ongoing. 

“We don't expect to find anyone alive, but there is a chance,” Yenin said. “According to preliminary information, there could have been two more people in the premises of the recreation center.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed on Friday that Russian forces "do not target civilian infrastructure" during what Moscow euphemistically calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

He said Russia targets areas where ammunition is stored -- but as with previous Russian attacks on residential or community buildings, he failed to provide any evidence that this was the case at the Odesa sites.

4:51 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022

European Commission leader hails Ukraine's EU membership bid

From CNN's Manveena Suri

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech via a video link to Ukrainian lawmakers during a parliament session in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 1.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech via a video link to Ukrainian lawmakers during a parliament session in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 1. (Reuters)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday reiterated her support for Ukraine for “as long as it takes," during a virtual speech to the Ukrainian parliament.

“Europe will stand up with Ukraine as long as it takes. We will not rest until you prevail. Your brave soldiers on the front line are making ultimate sacrifices to defend the soil of Ukraine and its people and behind the lines there are countless other Ukrainians working to support this national endeavour and they all hope for a brighter future for their country,” von der Leyen told Ukrainian lawmakers.

She added that five months ago it would have been “unimaginable” for Ukraine to be given EU candidate status but that the country has a “very clear European perspective.”

“It's a long road ahead but Europe will be at your side every step of the way, for as long as it takes. From these dark days of war until the moment you cross the door that leads into our European Union,” she said.

3:39 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022

Ukrainian visa regime for Russian citizens goes into effect

From CNN's Victoria Butenko

Russian citizens will from Friday require a visa to enter Ukraine, as Kyiv scrapped a decade-long visa-free regime that facilitated travel across borders for citizens of both countries.

The decision to end the visa-free regime was announced by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, following a petition from a Ukrainian citizen.

Zelensky said that against the backdrop of Russia's invasion, he supported the introduction of stricter controls for the entry of its citizens.

3:19 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022

Russia makes small gains in Lysychansk, takes over parts of oil refinery

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Petro Zadorozhnyy

Russian forces have been able to make small gains in the Lysychansk area, taking parts of an oil refinery, located on the outskirts of the city, the head of the Luhansk region military administration, Serhii Hayday, said on Friday. 

“The occupiers are assaulting the Lysychansk oil refinery, holding the northwestern and southeastern parts of the plant,” Hayday said in a Telegram post.

Big picture: The Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said: "[Russia] is concentrating its main efforts on encircling our troops in the Lysychansk area from the south and west, establishing complete control over the Luhansk region.”

Hayday made a similar analysis. 

“The enemy tries in vain to surround the Ukrainian military, attacking Lysychansk from the south and west,” he said. 

Russian forces have also made a renewed assault on the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway, the main supply line into the city, but were repelled by Ukrainian forces, Hayday added.

Inside the city: The situation remains dire for the nearly 15,000 residents that remain in Lysychansk.

“The residents of Lysychansk spent almost 24 hours in basements and houses. The shelling of the city is very intense,” Hayday said. “Many residential houses and industrial facilities caught fire.”

Elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, the Russian military also intensified the shelling of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, according to the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff.

3:02 a.m. ET, July 1, 2022

"We're watching Russia wither before our eyes," former US defense chief says

From CNN's Paula Hancocks in Seoul, South Korea

Former US Defense Secretary James Mattis criticized Russia’s war in Ukraine, calling it “immoral” and “operationally stupid,” while speaking Friday at the Seoul Forum 2022. 

“We have a saying in America, we say that nations with allies thrive, nations without allies wither and we’re watching Russia wither before our eyes right now," Mattis said.

When asked what military lessons could be taken from the war so far, the former US Marine said: “One is don’t have incompetent generals in charge of your operations.” 

He also called Russia's military performance "pathetic" and decried "the immoral, the tactically incompetent, operationally stupid and strategically foolish effort" of its campaign in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference after meeting his Indonesian counterpart at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on June 30.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference after meeting his Indonesian counterpart at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on June 30. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AFP/Getty Images)

Mattis spoke of previous US efforts to try and bring Russia into the “community of nations,” but said that was not possible with Vladimir Putin as leader.

“The tragedy of our time is that Putin is a creature straight out of Dostoevsky. He goes to bed every night angry, he goes to bed every night fearful, he goes to bed every night thinking that Russia is surrounded by nightmares and this has guided him,” he said.

Putin had removed anyone from his circle that would disagree with him, so he "probably thought that the Ukrainian people were going to welcome him," Mattis added.