July 5, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Sana Noor Haq, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury, Tori B. Powell and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, July 6, 2023
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10:00 p.m. ET, July 5, 2023

4 people injured in missile attack on Lviv

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Josh Pennington

At least four people were wounded in a missile attack on Lviv in western Ukraine on Thursday, according to the city's mayor, Andriy Sadovyi. 

"Currently, we know of four wounded from the rocket attack. This number is increasing. The information is being clarified," Sadovyi said in a post on Twitter.
"One person in critical condition is being transported by ambulance," Sadovyi added.

Maksym Kozytskyi, the head of the region's military administration, said in a Telegram post Thursday that "a critical infrastructure facility in Lviv has been damaged, and there are initial reports of wounded."

"A fire broke out, but it was quickly extinguished. There are victims," Kozytskyi said in a Telegram post, adding that emergency officials are at the scene and that rescuers are clearing rubble from the site.

Sadovyi, the mayor, also confirmed that a residential building was hit by fragments of a missile, according to a post on Twitter on Thursday. He said he is on the way to the scene.

"Rescue teams are extracting people out from under the rubble," Sadovyi said.

Lviv is a strategic Ukrainian city close to the Polish border that has largely been spared from the relentless bombardment seen across much of the country during the Russian invasion.

9:38 p.m. ET, July 5, 2023

US protests Russia’s move to designate Anglo-American school of Moscow as a “foreign agent”

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

The US State Department objects Russia’s move to designate the Anglo-American school in Moscow as a “foreign agent," according to a statement from Matthew Miller, State Department spokesperson.

Miller called the decision "egregious" and said it is "the latest in a series of Russian Government actions that have forced the closure of the Anglo-American School.”

The school provides education to children both of foreign diplomats and Russian citizens. It was established in 1949.

“It is troubling that the Russian government would single out — without legitimate cause — an established, trusted, and professional educational institution in this manner,” the spokesperson said. “For 74 years the United States and Russia recognized our mutual interest in ensuring both sides’ dependent children were able to access educational opportunities without unnecessary disruption or harassment. The Russian government’s recent actions directly undermined this principle.”

The move by Russia is the latest in a series of tit-for-tat moves between the two countries that have greatly reduced both countries’ diplomatic footprint inside the other. 

In the 2022-2023 school year, the school had a total staff of 184. Of the 54 teachers, 11 are American citizens, 29 are Russians and 14 are third-country nationals, according to the State Department

CNN has asked the State Department to detail the immediate and long-term impact of the designation.

8:32 p.m. ET, July 5, 2023

Key takeaways from Zelensky's CNN interview about the situation on the Ukraine front lines

From CNN's Erin Burnett, Yon Pomrenze, Mick Krever and Victoria Butenko

Zelensky spoke with CNN in an exclusive interview broadcast on Wednesday, July 5.
Zelensky spoke with CNN in an exclusive interview broadcast on Wednesday, July 5. CNN

Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been “slowed down” by entrenched Russian defenses, President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN in an exclusive interview broadcast on Wednesday– adding that he wished that Western weapons had arrived sooner to allow the campaign to begin “much earlier.”

Speaking with CNN’s Erin Burnett in Odesa, Zelensky said that his military cannot “even think of starting” attacks in some areas, because it does not have “the relevant weapons.”

Here are some of the other key takeaways from the interview:

Ukraine's counteroffensive: Zelensky said difficulties on the battlefield are leading to a "slowed down" counteroffensive. Speaking through an interpreter, he said he wanted the counteroffensive to happen much earlier "because everyone understood that if the counteroffensive unfolds later, then a bigger part of our territory will be mined" and emphasized that time is critical.

Call for more weapons: As he has done so often since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the president pleaded with Western governments to give Kyiv more advanced weaponry — such as the US-made long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems — now rather than later. He also re-emphasized his plea for American-made F-16 fighter jets. 

“This is only about being equal. F-16s help not only those on the battlefield to move forward. It is simply very difficult without cover from the air," he said.

On Vladimir Putin: Zelensky said the Russian president's response to the armed Wagner rebellion was “weak” and Putin is losing control of his own people. He also suggested that the Russian leader had been notably out of public sight since the secretive Kremlin deal that ended the insurrection.

More than a year of war: That Zelensky has a stressful job is certainly not in doubt. He’s running a war effort, motivating citizens and allies alike, and trying to avoid near-constant assassination attempts. “I’ll be honest with you,” he said. “If I were thinking about it constantly I would just shut myself down, very much like Putin now who doesn’t leave his bunker.” Zelenksy said music or a book helps him to relax — Ukrainian music and AC/DC are on the president's playlist. A workout at six or seven in the morning, to the beat of AC/DC, he said, “gives you energy for all the day.”

8:32 p.m. ET, July 5, 2023

It's past midnight in Kyiv. Here's what you should know

From CNN staff

More than 30 combat engagements have taken place across eastern Ukraine within the last day, according to Ukraine's General Staff. Russia is continuing to focus "its main efforts" there in areas including Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka.

If you're just now catching up, here's what you should know:

  • Missile strikes: One person was killed and at least three more were injured with shrapnel wounds following a Russian attack in the Kherson region on Wednesday, according to the Kherson Regional Prosecutor's Office. And at least 68 people were injured from Ukrainian shelling in the Makiivka district in Donetsk, according to Russian state media RIA Novosti. Meanwhile, Ukrainian strikes caused an oil depot fire in the Makiivka district of the Russian-occupied Donetsk, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said on Wednesday.
  • Sweden and NATO: The US “fully supports" Sweden’s membership in NATO, President Joe Biden said Wednesday while speaking alongside the country's prime minister, Ulf Kristersson. Both Sweden and Finland stated their intent to join NATO through its open-door policy in May of 2022, just weeks after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
  • Military assistance: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell highlighted the importance of continued aid for Ukraine during an award ceremony at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on Wednesday.  
  • Zaporizhzhia speculation. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claims that Russia has been using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a cover for shelling neighboring cities. The United Nation's nuclear watchdog said in an update on Wednesday that there are no visible indications of mines or explosives at the power plant, although it requested additional access to the site.
8:35 p.m. ET, July 5, 2023

Zelensky says Russia uses Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a cover for shelling nearby areas 

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Svitlana Vlasova

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside Enerhodar, Ukraine , seen on June 15.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside Enerhodar, Ukraine , seen on June 15. Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters/FILE

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claims that Russia has been using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a cover for shelling neighboring cities.

Zaporizhzhia NPP, with six reactors, is the largest nuclear power station in Europe. It was mostly built in the Soviet era and became Ukrainian property after its declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Russia captured the plant in March 2022. Since then, international and local experts have voiced grave warnings, not only for the safety of the plant's workers but also for fear of a nuclear disaster that could affect thousands of people in the surrounding area.

Russian forces have "set up artillery on the territory of the plant or near it and fire," Zelensky said in a virtual address to students and professors from several universities in Argentina on Wednesday.   

"Moscow is considering various scenarios, including those similar to the man-made disaster at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station. That is, for cynical military purposes. But we should not even think about which scenario is most likely. We should only think about how to prevent any disaster scenario," Zelensky added. 

It's not yet clear whether the Russian-occupied Nova Kakhovka dam collapsed in June because it was deliberately targeted or if the breach was caused by structural failure. Dozens of people died in the flooding, according to officials, while it also caused widespread damage to homes and farmland. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the collapse. 

Ukrainian officials earlier on Wednesday said that they are well prepared for a Russian attack at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, though they warned that Moscow is capable of anything, even "completely reckless actions" that it could try to pass off as sabotage by Ukraine. 

Russia claimed to be taking precautionary measures to counter a threat at the plant by Ukraine amid increasing rhetoric. According to Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, the situation at Europe's largest nuclear station is "quite tense," and the potential for "sabotage by the Kyiv regime" is "high," which could have "catastrophic consequences."

The UN's nuclear watchdog said in an update on Wednesday that there are no visible indications of mines or explosives at the power plant, although it requested additional access to the site.

CNN's Lauren Kent and Anna Chernova contributed reporting to this post.

6:36 p.m. ET, July 5, 2023

US secretary of state calls on Turkey to support Sweden's bid to join NATO

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is calling on Turkey to support Sweden's membership in NATO ahead of the alliance's summit next week.

Blinken, on a call with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Wednesday, emphasized the "importance of NATO unity in such a critical time" and asked Turkey to allow Sweden to join, according to state department spokesperson Matthew Miller.

The secretary of state said the United States and Turkey have "longstanding and deep bilateral defense ties" and that Turkey's ability to work with NATO is a priority, the spokesperson said in a statement.

Other world leaders: President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the US “fully supports" Sweden’s membership in NATO after meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. 

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius called on Turkey to admit Sweden to NATO “soon,” during a joint news statement Monday with his Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak.

Some context: Turkey has been blocking Sweden’s accession for a number of reasons.

Among them is the claim that Sweden allows members of recognized Kurdish terror groups to operate in the country, most notably the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

Sweden changed its terrorism laws earlier this year, making it a crime to be part of these groups, but it is not clear whether this will convince Turkey to allow the country to join NATO.  

5:55 p.m. ET, July 5, 2023

Ukrainian strikes in Donetsk cause oil depot fire, Russian state news agency says

From CNN's Josh Pennington

Ukrainian strikes have caused an oil depot fire in the Makiivka district of the Russian-occupied Donetsk, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said on Wednesday.

A video posted by RIA shows large flames and plumes of smoke, with a fire truck heading toward the flames.

Ukrainian fighters used HIMARS to conduct several strikes on the oil depot, according to the news agency. Citing preliminary information, RIA Novosti reported there were no victims, but that a severe fire broke out. Local emergency service workers are responding to the incident, RIA said.

Makiivka was shelled Tuesday night according to Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). It was shelled again on Wednesday night, according to local mayor Vladislav Klyucharov.

At least one person was killed and 68 were injured from Tuesday’s strikes on Makiivka, according to state media outlets.

4:22 p.m. ET, July 5, 2023

Ukraine's military says Russia continues to focus main efforts in eastern areas, including Bakhmut 

From CNN's Svitlana Vlasova and Lauren Kent

Russia continues to focus "its main efforts" on the areas of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka in eastern Ukraine, with more than 30 combat engagements taking place there within the last day, according to Ukraine's General Staff. 

In the Lyman sector, more than 10 villages came under artillery fire as Russian forces unsuccessfully tried to force Ukrainian troops out of their positions near Novoyehorivka in the Luhansk region, the General Staff said in an update.

A further 10 localities were shelled in the Avdiivka sector, where Ukrainian defense forces claim to be continually holding back the Russian offensive in the city of Avdiivka. 

"The enemy launched air strikes in the areas of Bohdanivka and Toretsk," the General Staff said. "More than 10 localities suffered from enemy artillery shelling, including Vasyukivka, Khromove, Oleksandr-Shultine and Pivnichne, in the Donetsk region."

According to the General Staff, Ukrainian defenders "successfully repelled enemy attacks in the areas south of Berkhivka and Bohdanivka in the Donetsk region."

"At the same time, they continue to conduct offensive operations south and north of the city of Bakhmut, strengthening their positions," the update continued.

The commander of Ukraine's "Terra" reconnaissance unit, Mykola Volokhov, described the situation in the Bakhmut area as "quite positive and optimistic."

"Over the last month (in the Bakhmut sector) we have been making steady progress in moving forward: liberating Ukrainian land from the enemy, regaining what was lost. We are starting to enter the territories that we did not initially control," Volokhov said. 

"The nature of the fighting is a lot of infantry battles, but lately, both our side and the enemy have been using a lot of tanks," he continued. "Previously, it was just infantry, but now the enemy is actively showing off their equipment. For us, this is a good sign, because it means that they are not able to cope and need to pull out reserves."

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military said it also repelled all attacks around the town of Marinka. 

"At the same time, the Ukrainian Defence Forces continue to conduct offensive operations in the Melitopol and Berdiansk directions, strengthening their positions, inflicting artillery fire on the identified enemy targets, and carrying out counter-battery measures," the update continued. 

Ukraine's General Staff also said that Russia launched five Iranian Shahed drones within the last day, two of which were destroyed by Ukrainian air defense.