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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5:44 p.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Zelensky says reconstruction of Ukraine goes beyond "the restoration of the walls that we had"

From CNN's Chris Liakos and Kostan Nechyporenko

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his nightly televised address to the nation hailed Monday as a “very important day” as a conference devoted to the recovery of his country commenced in Lugano, Switzerland.

But he says the reconstruction of Ukraine should go beyond “the restoration of the walls that we had and that were destroyed by shelling.”

“Ukraine must become the freest, most modern and safest country in Europe — in every sense of the word, in particular, in terms of our environment. I'm sure we will,” he said.

Zelensky warned that efforts on the recovery should not only focus on the next years but also on the present. 

“Ukrainian forces liberated more than a thousand settlements from the occupiers, and new ones are added every week. Now, for example, in the south of our country. All of them suffered large-scale destruction. And this also means the need for colossal funds for the restoration of infrastructure, for the return of medicine and social services, for the restoration of normal economic life. There are tens of thousands of destroyed houses alone in the liberated areas,” he said, adding that “a significant part of the economy has been destroyed."

“That is why the recovery of Ukraine is not only about what needs to be done later, after our victory, but also about what needs to be done at this time. And we have to do it together with our partners, with the entire democratic world. Do now,” he said.

Zelensky concluded his address by congratulating US President Joe Biden and the American people on Independence Day saying that responding to the daily Russian offensive requires “superhuman efforts."

“But we have no alternative — this is about our independence, about our future, about the fate of the entire Ukrainian people,” he said.


4:43 p.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Sweden will support NATO open door policy, prime minister says in Kyiv

From CNN's Rob Iddiols

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a joint news conference on July 4, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a joint news conference on July 4, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Alexey Furman/Getty Images)

Sweden "would be supportive of NATO's open door policy," Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Monday during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. 

NATO’s "open door policy" is based on Article 10 of its founding treaty, which states that any decision to invite a country to join the alliance must be based on consensus among all allies.

"What I can tell you is that when we become members, we would be supportive of NATO's open door policy,” Andersson said alongside Zelensky.  

Sweden and neighboring Finland completed accession talks on Monday at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. Both countries formally confirmed their willingness and ability to meet the political, legal and military obligations and commitments of NATO membership, the alliance said in a statement. 

Both countries have held neutral status for years, but support for NATO membership within the countries has risen since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Andersson also said Sweden remains “open to further sanctions” against Russia.

“I think there are different opinions within the European Union if that would be the right way forward right now,” Andersson said. “We are open for it," she added. 

Zelensky said, "Of course, I want to congratulate Sweden and the Prime Minister personally on the historic decision of the NATO summit in Madrid on Sweden joining the alliance under an accelerated procedure."

2:20 p.m. ET, July 4, 2022

UK PM suggests finding "alternative routes" to move grain out of Ukraine

From CNN's Rob Iddiols

The international community will need to find “alternative routes” to transport grain supplies out of Ukraine, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday. 

Speaking in parliament following meetings with fellow G7 leaders last week, Johnson suggested using railway lines or the Danube River if the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey cannot be relied on. 

“We are looking at all the possible options,” Johnson said, including the railways “to try to get the grain out in smaller quantities.” 

Ukraine accuses Russia of blocking its ports and trying to "steal" Ukrainian grain. The United Nations has said Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports has already raised global food prices and threatens to cause a catastrophic food shortage in parts of the world.   

On Monday, Ukrainian officials appealed to Turkey to detain a Russian-flagged ship carrying grain from Ukraine. 

“The Turks are absolutely indispensable to solving this and they are doing their very best,” Johnson said. “I thank President Erdoğan for the efforts that he is making. It does depend on the Russians agreeing to allow that grain to get out.” 

The UK is offering de-mining facilities and insurance protection, Johnson added.

“There are alternative solutions that don't involve the presence of UK or other warships in the Black Sea,” Johnson said. “We will increasingly have to look at alternative means of moving that grain from Ukraine if we can't use the sea route, if we can't use the Bosphorus."

"Though they might involve a tougher approach, what we are also looking at is the possibility of using the rivers, using the Danube in particular,” Johnson said. 

1:29 p.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Ukraine freezes $12 million worth of Russian and Belarusian assets, prosecutor general says

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

The office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general announced the freezing of $12 million worth of assets belonging to Russian and Belarusian businesses. 

The assets include 300 railway containers with mineral fertilizers found to be in breach with Ukrainian customs regulations, according to the statement posted on the prosecutor’s website.

“To ensure the property is preserved as evidence and its potential confiscation, the Office of the Prosecutor General imposed the freeze, based on the decisions of the investigating judges of the Shevchenkivskyi District Court of Kyiv,” the statement read.

Ukrainian Bureau for Economic Security and Large Scale Tax Evasion is conducting the investigation, according to the statement.

1:43 p.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Russian cosmonauts photograph with flags of occupied Donbas regions at International Space Station

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Yulia Kesaieva and Chris Liakos

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov pose with a flag of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic at the International Space Station (ISS), in this picture released on July 4.
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov pose with a flag of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic at the International Space Station (ISS), in this picture released on July 4. (Roscosmos/Reuters)

Three Russian cosmonauts have been pictured holding the flags of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) at the International Space Station on Monday. 

“Roscosmos and our cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov, working on the International Space Station today joined LPR head Leonid Pasechnik in congratulating on the 'new Great Victory Day,’" the Russian space agency said in a message posted on its official Telegram channel.

On July 3, the leader of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic declared that the breakaway region in eastern Ukraine has been “liberated” with the help of the Russian forces. The Ukrainian military said on Sunday it was forced to withdraw from Lysychansk — their last holdout in the region.

“This is the long-awaited day that the residents of the occupied districts of the Luhansk region have been waiting for eight years,” Roscosmos message added.

In March, the trio of Russian cosmonauts sparked speculation after arriving at the International Space Station wearing bright yellow flight suits trimmed with blue, which some interpreted as a symbolic sign of solidarity with Ukraine. 

The head of Roscosmos denied the speculation back then saying that the crew were not representing Ukraine but wearing colors from their alma mater: Bauman Moscow State Technical University.

1:00 p.m. ET, July 4, 2022

German chancellor calls high inflation caused by Russia's aggression a "historic challenge"

From CNN’s Inke Kappeler in Berlin

People in Germany must stand together to cope with the “historic challenge“ of soaring costs of living caused by Russia's aggression on Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Monday after meeting trade union and employer association leaders. 

“The current crisis will not pass in a few months,“ Scholz told reporters. “We need to be prepared for this situation not to change in the foreseeable future."

“Russia's war of aggression on Ukraine has changed everything, and at the same time, supply chains are still disrupted since the pandemic and general uncertainty is growing," he added. “We will only get through the crisis if we agree jointly on solutions.”

Scholz kicked off a series of meetings on Monday to spur “the spirit of togetherness“ in a so-called “concerted action“ with unions, employers, the Federal Bank, scientists and the government in order to cope with the challenges of inflation caused by skyrocketing energy costs.  

Germany will spend 30 billion euros (USD $31.3 billion) to help households with the rising costs, the chancellor said.

1:43 p.m. ET, July 4, 2022

Captured British fighter appeals against death sentence by DPR court, Russian state media reports

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Chris Liakos

British citizen Aiden Aslin stands behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) on June 9.
British citizen Aiden Aslin stands behind bars in a courtroom in Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) on June 9. (Associated Press)

The defense team of British citizen, Aiden Aslin, who was sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) last month, has filed an appeal, asking to exclude several articles from the DPR criminal code, Russian state news agency TASS reported Monday citing lawyer Pavel Kosovan.

Aslin’s defense has asked for the case to be dismissed “due to the absence of corpus delicti in the actions of the defendant,” TASS quoted his lawyer Pavel Kosovan as saying.

On June 9, Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner, along with Moroccan national Brahim Saadoune, were sentenced to death after they were found guilty of being “mercenaries” for Ukraine by a court in DPR, Russian state media reported at the time.

According to RIA, the three foreigners were captured in Mariupol in mid-April, while “training in order to carry out terrorist activities.”

Last week, appeals were also lodged on behalf of Shaun Pinner and Brahim Saadoune, according to Russian state media.

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.