July 6, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan and Kathleen Magramo, CNN

Updated 2:35 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022
18 Posts
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9:04 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Ukraine expects to harvest 50 million tonnes of grain

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva

Farmers harvest grain in the fields of the Odesa region, Ukraine, on July 4.
Farmers harvest grain in the fields of the Odesa region, Ukraine, on July 4. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukraine expects to harvest at least 50 million tonnes of grain in 2022 — well below the 85 million tonnes it produced the previous year but still above expectations, said Taras Vysotskyi, the first deputy minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine.

“Taking into consideration all circumstances and difficulties of the sowing campaign and the logistics during the wartime, we expect the harvest to be not that bad — higher than the average for the last five years,” Vysotskyi said. “At least 50 tonnes of grain, maybe more. It depends on corn harvest, the results of which we will see in October."

Vysotskyi went on to say that Ukraine would have to export at least a portion of that grain.

“We have internal consumption less than 20 million tonnes, meaning that at least 30 million tonne of harvest will have to be exported,” he said.

Vysotskyi added, “350,000 tonnes of agricultural products were exported in March, 1,000,000 tonnes in April. Now, in June, it was 2,100,000 tonne. This means that our alternative logistics ways, excluding the Black Sea Ports, have increased.”

He also said the wheat crop will be of a food consumption quality, meaning it can be used for flower and bread making, as opposed to feed livestock. 

8:38 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Crowdfunded Bayraktar drone will arrive in Ukraine from Lithuania

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio in London

The crowdfunded Bayraktar BH2 combat drone destined for Ukraine is delivered to Lithuania, in this undated handout image obtained on July 4.
The crowdfunded Bayraktar BH2 combat drone destined for Ukraine is delivered to Lithuania, in this undated handout image obtained on July 4. (Lithuanian Ministry of Defence/Reuters)

A Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone, secured by Lithuania for Ukraine after a local crowdfunding campaign, is expected to be shipped to Kyiv in the coming hours. 

The “Vanagas” (which means "Hawk" in Lithuanian), along with ammunition, arrived in the Baltic country on Monday, the country’s Defense Minister, Arvydas Anušauskas, tweeted. After a press introduction on Wednesday, Anušauskas added the drone would be transferred to Ukraine soon.

“Last hours of Bayraktar “Vanagas” in Lithuania. Very soon it will be delivered to Ukraine,” he tweeted.

The crowdfunding campaign was launched by Lithuanian online broadcaster Laisves TV last month and was able to secure around 6 million euros ($6.11 million) to purchase the drone. 

The purchase was organized by the Lithuanian Defense Ministry, but it says that after learning it was being purchased via a crowdfunding campaign, the manufacturer donated the drone for free. 

“Citizens of Lithuania collected funds for this aircraft, but inspired by the idea, the Turkish company 'Baykar', the manufacturer of 'Bayraktar', decided to donate it,” the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said in a statement. “1.5 million euros of the donated 5.9 million was allocated for arming the unmanned aircraft.”

It is not the first time Baykar has donated some of its drones to the Ukrainian armed forces. Last month, after a Ukrainian crowdfunding campaign secured enough funds to purchase three of the drones, the company said it would be donating them for free.

“We ask that the raised funds be remitted instead to the struggling people of Ukraine,” it said in a statement on June 27.

The Bayraktar TB2 drone has played a key role in Ukraine’s defense against Russia. The country had around 20 of the unmanned aerial vehicles before the start of the war on Feb. 24, but Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on June 28 that his office had been able to secure up to 50 drones since the invasion began.

“In the near future, almost all capacity of the Baykar Makina plant will be focused on meeting the needs of the Armed Forces. It's about ordering dozens more drones,” Reznikov added.

8:23 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Russia likely to attack Sloviansk, city official says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Russia is likely to try and mount an offensive towards Sloviansk, the head of the city's military administration, Vadym Liakh said, adding that Ukrainian forces are currently holding Moscow’s armies on the Siverskyi Donets river.

“Probably, they will [attack Sloviansk]. Probably, that is why the incoming hits have become more frequent,” Liakh said Wednesday. “I think that as soon as the enemy is able to carry out assault operations, it will begin the destruction of the infrastructure and the city itself.”

Liakh gave an update, saying that the frontline is now along the Siverskyi Donets river, a "natural obstacle" that Russia has already failed to surpass. He added that many fortifications were built near Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, making it possible for Ukrainian troops "to restrain the enemy for 4 months.” 

So far, Russian forces have been stationed by the Siverskyi Donets river for a month, which he thinks "will continue to be this way. But, unfortunately, the civilian population will be shelled more and more often.”

Liakh also explained that the situation inside the city is “tense,” given the intensified shelling in the past few weeks, with several killed and wounded.

“Critical infrastructure is operating, but there has been no centralized water supply for more than a month,” he said. “There are also problems with electricity, about a third of the population periodically remains without electricity. We restore it, but the enemy destroys it again.”

7:35 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Brittney Griner case has "indisputable evidence," says Russian Foreign Ministry 

From CNN's Anna Chernova

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner, center, is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, on July 1.
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner, center, is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, on July 1. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

WNBA star Brittney Griner committed a “serious offense” that is supported by "indisputable evidence,” the deputy spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexey Zaytsev, said Wednesday.

“Basketball player Brittney Griner, who was taken into custody at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arrival from New York, is accused of smuggling and storing hash oil, which is classified as a narcotic drug," Zaytsev said.

"This is a serious offense, supported by indisputable evidence and liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, according to Art. 229 Part 1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation," Zaytsev added.

Attempts to present Griner’s detention as “illegal” do not stand up to criticism, according to Zaytsev.

“The law has been violated, and arguments about the innocent nature of Griner's predilection -- which, by the way, is punishable in some US states -- are inappropriate,” Zaytsev said.

The spokesman added that “no one stops Brittney Griner from filing an appeal or asking for clemency” after the court issues a verdict.

Some background: Griner, 31, who has played in Russia during the WNBA's offseason, was arrested February 17 in Moscow, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine.

She went on trial at a court near Moscow on Friday on drug smuggling charges.

Griner's supporters and US officials say she has been wrongfully detained and have called for her release as fears mount that she is being used as a political pawn amid rising tensions between Russia and the US.

Earlier this month, she wrote a handwritten letter to US President Joe Biden saying she is "terrified" she will be detained in Russia "forever" and pleaded with the President not to forget about her and other American detainees.

6:18 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Irish prime minister to meet with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin has arrived in Kyiv for meetings with the Ukrainian government in a show of support from both his country and the European Union.

“On the visit he will engage with Ukrainian authorities on how Ireland and the EU can support the country’s current, and future, needs,” a statement by the Taoiseach’s office on Wednesday read. 

Martin is expected to visit some of the areas around Kyiv worst affected by Russia’s invasion.

“The people of Ireland stand with Ukraine and its people in the face of Russia’s immoral and unprovoked war of terror,” he said ahead of the visit, according to the statement. “The bombardment and attacks on civilians are nothing short of war crimes, and I will use my visit to express Ireland’s support for moves to hold those behind these attacks fully accountable.”

Martin described the Ukrainian people's "spirit and resolve" as inspiring, and added that “Ireland will provide every support for Ukraine’s path to full EU Membership, and continue to welcome and support civilians fleeing this war.”

2:34 p.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Residents in Donetsk region urged to evacuate as fighting in eastern Ukraine rages

From CNN's Olga Voitovich, Yulia Kesaieva and Vasco Cotovio

People walk through the damage caused to the central market in Slovyansk, Ukraine, on July 6.
People walk through the damage caused to the central market in Slovyansk, Ukraine, on July 6. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian officials are urging the remaining residents in the Donetsk region to evacuate to safer areas, as Russian forces inch closer to the eastern territories.

“Russia has turned the entire Donetsk region into a hot spot where it is dangerous to remain for civilians,” the head of the Donetsk regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko said, commenting on a missile strike in Toretsk on Wednesday.

“I call on everyone to evacuate. Evacuation saves lives,” he added.

Ukraine still controls 45% of Donetsk, but after taking over Lysychansk in the neighboring Luhansk region, Russian forces are now pushing toward Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. Renewed strikes have increased the pace of evacuations but most people have already left the city, according to the head of the Sloviansk military-civilian administration, Vadym Liakh.

(Slovyansk Military Administration)
(Slovyansk Military Administration)

“Those who saw (what happened in Severodonetsk or Lysychansk) left a long time ago. Now there are approximately 23,000 residents of Sloviansk (out of around 100,000) which remain in the city,” Liakh said. “The number of people willing to leave has increased. We are working on evacuation in two directions: to Lviv, Dnipro or Rivne.”

Due to the increase in the flow of passengers leaving Donetsk, Ukrainian Railways said it would add additional wagons to facilitate the movement of people.

Although some are resisting calls from officials to evacuate, most people have already left the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region. Only around 340,000 people — out of 1,670,000 before the war — remain, according to Kyrylenko.

“It is difficult to persuade people to evacuate,” Kyrylenko said on Friday, “We are working on that all the time. People are starting to leave more actively, as there is chaotic shelling of civilian infrastructure.”

Some background: The General Staff of the Ukrainian military said on Monday that after taking over the last remaining Ukrainian-controlled city in the Luhansk oblast, Russian forces were preparing to continue their move toward cities in Donetsk still controlled by Kyiv. 

Sloviansk and Kramatorsk are the two largest population centers in the area. 

After taking Lysychansk, Russian forces now control nearly the entirety of the Luhansk region, barring a few pockets of resistance. 

4:22 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Ukraine says it's fighting back in Donbas, inflicting significant casualties on Russia

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio and Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian servicemen are seen riding on top of an armored personnel carrier in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, on July 5.
Ukrainian servicemen are seen riding on top of an armored personnel carrier in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, on July 5. (Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukraine says its military is putting up fierce resistance to Russian forces trying to advance through the eastern Donbas region, inflicting significant losses on Moscow's armies.

The head of the Luhansk region military administration, Serhiy Hayday, says Ukrainian fighters are putting up stiff resistance.

“We restrain the enemy on the border of Luhansk region and Donetsk region — the occupiers are suffering significant losses, as they themselves admit,” Hayday said. “Every day, the Russians receive an order to advance further, but they do not always carry it out, because the losses in personnel are very significant.
“During the assault of Lysychansk alone, the enemy lost thousands of dead and wounded. Yes, they have more forces and means, but the Ukrainian army is better prepared and motivated.”

The Russian Ministry of Defense does not regularly report the number of dead and injured among its forces and CNN could not independently verify Hayday’s claims about Russian casualties. However, independent analysts and observers, including some pro-Russian bloggers, have criticized the effort made by Moscow to capture the city of Lysychansk, saying it was too costly.

Ukraine needs weapons support: Hayday called for additional supplies of Western weapons to help balance the fight.

“When there is more long-range weapons, the advantage of the enemy in personnel will be leveled,” he said.

Russian forces now occupy most of the Luhansk region, barring a few pockets of resistance, and are pressing toward the Donetsk cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

Pushback against Russia: Russian shelling targeted Ukrainian military positions in Luhansk “near Lysychansk in the direction of Bakhmut,” according to the Ukrainian military General Staff. In the neighboring Donetsk region, “the entire territory of the region,” was targeted, including Sloviansk, killing six civilians and wounding 21, the General Staff added.

Hayday said Russian attempts to push toward Donetsk and to cut the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway that passes by Bilohorivka, were repelled by Ukrainian forces.

“The enemy was forced to retreat under the pressure of our fighters,” Hayday said.

4:03 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Ukraine's grain export crisis is escalating. Here's what you need to know

Farmers harvest grain in Odesa, Ukraine, on July 4.
Farmers harvest grain in Odesa, Ukraine, on July 4. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

For months, Ukraine and allied countries have been trying to mitigate a growing food crisis caused by Russia’s months-long blockade of Ukrainian ports, with Moscow being accused of using food as a weapon of war.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said up to 60 million tons of grain could be stuck in the country by the fall if it continues to face blocked exports.

Here's what you need to know about the situation:

  • Grain blocked: Zelensky said 22 million tons of grain are currently blocked in Ukraine but that number could triple in the next few months. "Then we will be in a really difficult, very difficult situation," he said. The President said he was working with the United Nations to try to open a safe corridor that would allow Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports. 
  • Why Ukrainian grain matters: Ukraine has long been described as one of the world’s breadbaskets. But Kyiv accuses Moscow of blocking its ports and trying to steal its grain. The UN has said Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports has already raised global food prices and threatens to cause a catastrophic food shortage in some parts of the world. Russia has repeatedly denied it is blocking the ports or stealing grain.
  • Finding alternative routes is vital: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that the international community will need to find “alternative routes” to transport grain supplies out of Ukraine. Johnson suggested using railway lines or the Danube River if the Bosporus Strait in Turkey cannot be relied on. 
  • Ship in Turkey: Kyiv has appealed to Ankara to detain a Russian-flagged ship carrying grain from Ukraine. Ukraine's Ambassador to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar said the Zhibek Zholy ship was loaded in the southeastern port of Berdiansk. "It is possible that the grain was delivered from neighboring areas, but the loading point was Berdiansk, that is, the occupied territory," he said. According to Bodnar, Turkey's Ministry of Trade responded to the initial appeal saying the ship will remain anchored near the port of Karasu without being allowed to unload nor go back, while Turkey evaluates Ukraine's request. 
  • Russia harvesting grain: About 2 million metric tons of grain are being harvested from fields in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, which is controlled by Russian forces, according to Yevgeniy Balitsky, military head of the Russian-occupied areas of Zaporizhzhia. “The grain supply is facilitated by close cooperation with the Crimean authorities, who ensured unimpeded passage through customs and border checkpoints,” Balitsky said. Ukraine has accused Russia of appropriating last year’s grain supply from the occupied territories in the country’s south.
  • Warnings of famine: The UN has said Russia's war in Ukraine could push up to 49 million people into famine or famine-like conditions because of its devastating impact on global food supply and prices. Last month, Zelensky said Africa has been "taken hostage" by Russia's war and warned the global food crisis will continue “as long as this colonizing war goes on,” affecting the lives of up to 400 million people who depend on Ukrainian exports.
3:53 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Zelensky calls for modern air defenses following Russian missile strikes

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio, Olga Voitovych and Kostan Nechyporenko

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his nightly address from his office in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 5.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his nightly address from his office in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 5. (President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Western allies to supply his country with a modern, effective air defense system after Russia struck targets in the Khmelnytskyi region of western Ukraine on Tuesday evening, causing air raid sirens to ring across the country.

“The Russian army does not take any breaks. It has one task — to take people's lives, to intimidate people — so that even a few days without an air alarm already feel like part of the terror. And this evening, Kyiv and again almost the whole of Ukraine heard the air alarm,” Zelensky said in his nightly address on Tuesday.
“Some of the missiles were shot down by our air defense forces. And we have not reduced and will not reduce our diplomatic activity for a single day to obtain modern anti-missile systems for Ukraine in sufficient quantity.
“This is a maximum task for our state — to provide basic security for Ukrainians, basic protection against missile attacks already this year. But the fulfilment of this task depends not only on us, but also on the understanding of our fundamental needs by our partners.”

Missiles fired: The head of the Khmelnytskyi region military administration, Serhii Hamalii, said four missiles had been fired at the territory. One of the projectiles was intercepted by Ukraine’s air defenses, with debris falling in the Shepetiv district. The remaining three landed on civilian infrastructure, Hamalii said.

“The target of the strikes was a water tower that fully supplies the community with water,” he said on Tuesday evening. “As a result of the explosions, one person was injured.”

According to Zelensky, there were also Russian strikes in Sumy, Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk on Tuesday.