July 4, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Amy Woodyatt, Hafsa Khalil and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 8:45 a.m. ET, July 5, 2022
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11:19 a.m. ET, July 4, 2022

UK announces further Belarus sanctions

From CNN's Benjamin Brown in London

The United Kingdom has announced a new sanctions package against Belarus, including a trade block of around 60 million pounds ($73 million) of goods, over its role in supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Announced by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) Monday, the new economic, trade and transport sanctions are to ban the import of Belarusian iron and steel, while prohibiting the export of oil refining goods, advanced technological components and luxury products.

The sanctions will come into effect Tuesday and also ban Belarusian companies from issuing debt and securities in London, according to the FCDO.

"The Belarus regime has actively facilitated Putin's invasion, letting Russia use its territory to pincer Ukraine — launching troops and missiles from their border and flying Russian jets through their airspace," an FCDO statement read. "[Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko has also openly supported the Kremlin's narrative, claiming that Kyiv was ‘provoking Russia’ in order to justify Putin's bloody invasion," it added.

The UK had previously introduced tariffs on a range of Belarusian goods and sanctioned several Belarusian citizens and companies.

11:04 a.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Criminal investigation into Russian grain theft in Zaporizhzhia underway, regional prosecutor says 

From Julia Presniskova in Lviv and Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

The Zaporizhzhia regional prosecutor’s office has launched a criminal investigation into the theft of more than 400 tonnes of grain and sunflower seeds from a Ukrainian agribusiness in the southeastern region on Monday, according to the statement posted on the regional prosecutor’s website.                                                                                                                                

The investigation deals with the theft of assets from a company with storage facilities in Russian occupied Polohivsky district at the end of June, according to the statement.

“According to the investigation, military forces of the aggressor country using the pretence of war and violating international law, entered the storage premises and stole almost 200 tonnes of wheat and 210 tonnes of sunflower seeds,” the statement reads.

Zaporizhzhia regional security services are conducting the pre-trial investigation, according to the statement.

 

10:24 a.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Reconstruction of Ukraine is a "common task" of the democratic world, Zelensky says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite, Shama Masinde and Chris Liakos

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on a giant screen as he delivers a statement at the start of a two-day International conference on reconstruction of Ukraine, in Lugano, Switzerland, on July 4.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky appears on a giant screen as he delivers a statement at the start of a two-day International conference on reconstruction of Ukraine, in Lugano, Switzerland, on July 4. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

The reconstruction of Ukraine is a "common task" of the democratic world, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday during the opening statement at the "Ukraine Recovery Conference" in Lugano, Switzerland – a two-day conference looking to set a roadmap for the reconstruction of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

"The reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local project. It's not a project of one nation, but a common task of the entire democratic world, all countries who can say that they are civilized," Zelensky said in the virtual address.

The Ukrainian president also said that restoring his country means restoring the principle of life, "restoring the space of life, restoring everything that makes humans human."

This reconstruction also implies "an opportunity for our countries and our companies and our specialists to show why freedom is mightier than any tyranny," he added.

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen announced on Monday that the European Union has proposed setting up a reconstruction platform to help the Ukrainian government rebuild the country after the war with Russia. 

“The European Commission has proposed to the government of Ukraine to set up a reconstruction platform to map investment needs, to coordinate action, to channel resources and, of course, in support of an ambitious reform agenda," Von der Leyen said during the opening ceremony of the Ukraine recovery conference.

"This platform will be the place to shape strategic orientations and priorities for our common work,” she added. 

Von der Leyen also said the platform will “focus on future-proof reconstruction, moving towards climate neutrality, embracing the digital decade [and] building a social market economy that leaves no one behind.”

She went on to say that the Kremlin's aim is to “undermine Ukraine’s very existence as a state,” the "the military, political and economic destruction" of the country and that the European Union “will never let that happen."

Von der Leyen added that the EU has already mobilized 6.2 billion euros in financial support and that “more has to come and more will come.”

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal reiterated the need for financial assistance in his speech at the conference, saying that the country’s recovery plan will cost an estimated $750 billion. Shmyhal said confiscated Russian assets should be a key source of funding.

“Who should pay for the recovery plan which is already estimated at $750 billion? We believe that the key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs. The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction and they should be held accountable for it,” Shmyhal said during the conference, adding that “Russia’s frozen assets, according to various estimates, range from $300 billion to $500 billion.”

According to the Ukrainian prime minister, other sources of funding for the recovery plan should include grants and soft loans from international financial organizations and partner countries, private sector investments and off-budget contributions from individuals and corporations as well as Ukraine’s own budget funds.

The prime minister also said that Ukraine’s direct infrastructure losses amount to more than $100 billion.

“More than 1,200 education institutions, more than 200 hospitals, thousands of kilometers of gas pipelines, water, and electricity network, roads and railways were destroyed or damaged,” Shmyhal said.

 

9:35 a.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Ukraine says it has dropped its flag onto Snake Island, but flag not yet raised

From Oleksandra Ochman

A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island, Ukraine, on June 30.
A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island, Ukraine, on June 30. (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

The spokesperson for the Ukrainian Military’s Southern Command, 1st Capt. Natalia Humeniuk, said the country’s flag was dropped on Snake Island but has not yet been raised, clarifying earlier remarks regarding the status of the flag.

"The flag was delivered to the island by helicopter. It will wait for the arrival of the troops, then it will wave,” Humeniuk told CNN, when asked about her remarks earlier on Monday. 

She also explained that her remarks about the flag being raised should be “understood metaphorically.”

"No one landed on the island. So who will install it, stick it in, raise it?,” she said. “And no one will risk people for the sake of a photo for the media.”

Earlier Monday, Humeniuk had said Ukraine's flag had been raised over Snake Island, after forcing a Russian withdrawal from the strategically important territory.

Some background: Known as Zmiinyi Ostriv in Ukrainian, Snake Island lies around 30 miles (48 kilometers) off the coast of Ukraine and is close to the sea lanes leading to the Bosphorus and Mediterranean.

Russian troops left Snake Island in the Black Sea, the Ukrainian Armed Forces said last week, after they carried out what they said was a "successful" operation.

The small but strategic territory was the scene of one of the opening salvos of the war in Ukraine, with demands from a Russian warship calling for the Ukrainian defenders to surrender, who boldly replied with "Russian warship, go f*** yourself."

8:34 a.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Putin says generals have proposed "development of offensive operations" and forces must proceed per plans

From CNN's Anna Chernova

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that he received a proposal from the Russian army generals on the development of the "offensive operations" in Ukraine. 

“Col. General Alexander Pavlovich Lapin and Army General Sergey Vladimirovich Surovikin also reported to me today on the progress in fulfilling the tasks assigned to them and their proposals for the development of offensive operations,” Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at meeting in the Kremlin. 

The Ministry of Defense “keeps in view” all the proposals of the commanders in the field, Putin added, saying that while military units that participated in the operation in the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) should rest, other formations, including the East and West groups, must proceed with tasks according to plans.

This comes as Putin congratulated Russian troops for "achieving victory" in Ukraine's Luhansk region.

8:49 a.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Putin praises Russian forces for taking Luhansk region

From CNN’s Anna Chernova and Radina Gigova

This image released by the People's Militia of the Luhansk People's Republic on July 3, shows their forces with Soviet and Russian national flags on a government building as they capture the city of Lysychansk, in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.
This image released by the People's Militia of the Luhansk People's Republic on July 3, shows their forces with Soviet and Russian national flags on a government building as they capture the city of Lysychansk, in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. (Eyepress/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Russian troops for "achieving victory" in Ukraine's Luhansk region.

In a meeting televised by Russian state media on Monday, defense minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Putin the Russian advances in the area.

“Starting June 19, [Russian] formations and military units ... in cooperation with units of the second corps of the people's militia of the [self-proclaimed] Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) and with the support of the southern group of troops ... successfully carried out an offensive operation to liberate the territory of the Luhansk People's Republic,” Shoigu said.

Shoigu added that the "Gorsky cauldron" area, Lysychansk and Severodonetsk were surrounded within two weeks, and the Ukrainian army allegedly lost 5,469 soldiers in the battles. 

Putin told Shoigu that the military personnel who contributed to fighting in LPR, will be rewarded for their "bravery," and that they should now "rest."

"Other military units, including the East and West military groups, they have to fulfil their tasks, according to the previously suggested plan," Putin said. "I hope everything will be successful as it happened in the [Luhansk] area," he added.

Putin also praised the LPR's militia for showing "heroism." "My congratulations and my words of gratitude," Putin said. "I congratulate you all and wish you all the best."

8:11 a.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine

From CNN staff

Russia has taken control of Lysychansk, the last city in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine that was still under Ukrainian control. Ukraine's military announced on Sunday that it had been "forced to withdraw" from the critical city.

Here are today's main developments:

Russia preparing for assault on Donetsk region, says Ukraine: The General Staff of the Ukrainian military said that after taking over Lysychansk, Russian forces are preparing to continue their move toward cities in Donetsk still controlled by Kyiv. 

“In the Sloviansk direction, enemy units are trying to establish control over the settlements of Bohorodychne, Mazanivka, and Dolyna through assault operations,” the Ukrainian military said in a status update early Monday. 

The focus now shifts to the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the two largest population centers in the area.

School destroyed in attack on Kharkiv: A secondary school in Ukraine’s second largest city was destroyed after it was hit by a Russian missile around 4 a.m. local time, the head of the regional administration, Oleh Synehubov said in a Telegram post Monday.

There were no injuries at the school, but strikes in other areas of the Kharkiv region left at least three dead and six injured in the village of Bezruky, Synehubov added.

Hockey player detained in Russia for allegedly evading military service, per reports: Russian goalkeeper Ivan Fedotov was detained in St. Petersburg on the request of the military prosecutor's office on Friday for evading military service, according to reports from Russian media outlets.

According to Russian news outlet Fontanka, the military prosecutor's office believes that there are grounds to "consider Fedotov an army evader." The 25-year-old Finnish-born Russian signed a one year entry level contract with the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers on May 7, after the conclusion of Russian and Chinese hockey league KHL's season, where he led CSKA Moscow to win the Gagarin Cup.

Russia says weekend strike on Belgorod was aimed to provoke Moscow: Moscow says the alleged missile strike carried out by Ukrainian forces on the city of Belgorod aimed to provoke Russia, according to the spokeswoman for the country’s Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova. The Russian Ministry of Defense accused Ukraine of targeting the city of Belgorod with three Tochka-U missiles and of using drones laden with explosives to hit the Russian city of Kursk on Sunday.

Ukraine has not acknowledged the strikes.

Ukraine asks Turkey to "detain" Russian-flagged ship carrying Ukrainian grain: Ukraine has requested that Turkish authorities detain a Russian-flagged ship carrying Ukrainian grain, the country's ambassador to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar told CNN Saturday.   

The Zhibek Zholy vessel is currently at anchor near the Turkish port of Karasu as "it was in fact detained by Turkish customs authorities and it is not allowed to enter the port," Bondar said. "Now we are waiting for the decision of the relevant authorities of Turkey regarding the actions that the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine insist on," he added.   

Ukraine says it has raised its flag over Snake Island: The Ukrainian Armed Forces have raised the country’s flag over Snake Island, after forcing a Russian withdrawal from the strategically important territory, a spokeswoman for the military’s Southern Command, 1st Captain Natalia Humeniuk said a briefing on Monday.

The small but strategic territory was the scene of one of the opening salvos of the war in Ukraine, with demands from a Russian warship calling for the Ukrainian defenders to surrender, who boldly replied with "Russian warship, go f*** yourself."

7:14 a.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Key railway bridge outside Melitopol destroyed, says exiled mayor

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

A key railway bridge connecting Russian-occupied Melitopol and Tokmak was blown up at the weekend, the southern city’s exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov said in a video address Monday. 

Speaking live on Ukrainian Rada TV, Fedorov said railway traffic from Melitopol to Berdiansk was “completely paralyzed” on Sunday. Local media reports confirm the bridge was destroyed, but it is not clear who is responsible. 

An explosion blasted the Russian-occupied village of Lyubimivka, Ukrainian news outlet Ria-Melitopol reported on Telegram, adding Russian troops have been using the bridge to transport military equipment. Ria-Melitopol also reported large amounts of Russian military equipment has been seen moving through Melitopol, including tank and armoured vehicle convoys, towards Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. 

Ukrainian forces destroyed Melitopol airfield early Sunday, according to Fedorov. He added that a fire at the Russian base located there continues on Monday. 

Russian troops have occupied Melitopol since early March, using the city for ongoing assaults on Ukraine’s southern territories. 

6:44 a.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Olympic chief visits Kyiv to meet Ukrainian athletes and President Zelensky

From CNN’s Matthew Foster in London

President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, center left, and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, center right, hold a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 3.
President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, center left, and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, center right, hold a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 3. (President of Ukraine)

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), visited Kyiv on Sunday, where he met with Ukrainian athletes before holding talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The visit was announced in a press release emailed to CNN on Monday.

Bach was invited by the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Ukraine, and was accompanied by the federation’s head Sergey Bubka and Ukrainian sports minister Vadym Guttsait. 

Bach met with around 100 Ukrainian athletes in the country’s Olympic Training Centre, and emphasized the IOC’s support for Ukraine in a speech afterwards. 

“We want to show the solidarity of the Olympic Movement with our friends here in the Ukrainian Olympic Community because we know that you are living very difficult moments, and we want not only to tell you, we want to show you, we want to reassure you that you are never alone with the Olympic Community,” Bach said. 

“We are with you with our hearts, with our thoughts every day, and we want to support you to make your Olympic dreams come true.” 

Following that speech, Bach met with Zelensky and thanked him for inviting him to the country and restated the IOC’s support for Ukrainian athletes, saying, “I want to thank you for holding such a meeting addressing sport at such a difficult time for your country. This is further confirmation of your commitment to sport and the Olympic values.” 

“We want to show solidarity in particular with the Ukrainian Olympic Community, and to demonstrate to the athletes and coaches that they are not alone and that we stand by their side.” 

Zelensky in turn thanked Bach and the IOC for their “support for our athletes and the Ukrainian Olympic Community.”