July 6, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan and Kathleen Magramo, CNN

Updated 2:35 a.m. ET, July 7, 2022
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1:59 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

At least 2 killed, 7 injured as Russia pummels Sloviansk, regional military chief says

From CNN's CNN’s Cameron Hubbard and Josh Pennington

Firefighters work to control flames at the central market of Sloviansk, following a suspected Russian missile attack on July 5.
Firefighters work to control flames at the central market of Sloviansk, following a suspected Russian missile attack on July 5. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

At least two people were killed and seven others injured when Russian forces shelled Sloviansk in the Donetsk region, a regional military chief said on Tuesday.

“The Russians are once again deliberately attacking places where civilians are gathered,” the head of the Donetsk regional military administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote in a Telegram post. “This is pure terrorism.”

Kyrylenko called for residents to evacuate, saying “the most important thing is to save your lives.”

Some context: After Russian and separatist forces secured Lysychansk — effectively taking over nearly all the Luhansk region, barring a few pockets of resistance — they are now setting their sights on the Donetsk cities still under Ukrainian control, namely Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

10:19 p.m. ET, July 5, 2022

Norway steps in to end oil and gas strike, averting a fresh energy shock for Europe

From CNN Business' Gayle Harrington and Anna Cooban

Norway has intervened to end a strike by oil and gas workers, the country’s government said in a statement late Tuesday, citing concerns about Europe’s energy crisis amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Natural gas prices spiked after Norwegian oil and gas workers went on strike over a pay dispute Tuesday, shutting three fields in the North Sea and threatening to escalate action over the course of the week.

Some context: Norway is Europe’s second-largest energy supplier after Russia and the strike had pushed gas prices to their highest level in four months.

The Norwegian oil and gas employers’ lobby had said the strikes could have halted almost 60% of Norwegian gas exports to Europe from July 9.

What this means: The closure of the three fields resulted in the loss of the equivalent of about 89,000 barrels of oil a day, Norway’s state-owned energy company Equinor said in a statement.

How significant was the closure: Europe is trying to reduce its reliance on Russia’s exports, which are already being curtailed by Moscow. Any sustained drop in Norway’s output could deal a big blow to efforts to replenish gas stocks ahead of the winter, as well as raise the risk of a catastrophic energy shortage.

What is being done: The Norwegian government has proposed a compulsory wage arbitration to settle the dispute, the statement said.

Read the full story here.

1:48 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Blinken to talk Ukraine relationship with Chinese foreign minister

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a press conference at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on June 24.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends a press conference at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on June 24. (Mika Savolainen/Pool/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet his Chinese counterpart during the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali this week, for a “candid exchange” on Beijing’s response to the war in Ukraine.

The top priority for the meeting between Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is to "underscore our commitment to intense diplomacy and maintaining open lines of communication with the People's Republic of China," Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Dan Kritenbrink said on a call with reporters Tuesday. 

“I would expect that in the course of that meeting, we'll be able to discuss having guardrails, so to speak, on the relationship so that our competition does not spill over into miscalculation or confrontation,” he said. 

Some context: China's ruling Communist Party has neither condemned Russia's war in Ukraine nor even labeled it as an invasion. Meanwhile, China's state media has presented a carefully censored version of the war to its citizens and parroted Kremlin talking points on NATO.

Last week, China was for the first time included in NATO's "Strategic Concept," adopted at the bloc's summit in Madrid. The document lays out the security challenges facing the US-led military alliance while outlining a course of action, and now says China's ambitions and "coercive policies" challenge the allies' interests, security and values.

The move came after the Group of Seven (G7) major democratic economies included tough language on China in their own communique, released days after launching an infrastructure investment plan to counter China's Belt and Road Initiative.

10:25 p.m. ET, July 5, 2022

G20 foreign ministers to discuss food and energy security impacted by Russia's war in Ukraine

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler

US Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Ramin Toloui said “food and energy security are going to feature very prominently in the discussions” at the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali this week

“One purpose of engaging in a forum like that is to first of all highlight the source of the problem, and one important source of the problem when it comes to food and energy security is Russia’s continued war in Ukraine,” Toloui said on a call with reporters Tuesday. 
“Russian actions have trapped an estimated 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain and kept it from reaching global markets.”

The United Nations “is now undertaking an initiative to try to reopen the Black Sea to commerce to get Ukrainian and Russian foodstuffs and fertilizer to local markets,” Toloui added. “We support that and we would like the G20 to hold Russia accountable” and “support that initiative, whether that happens at the level of the G20 or the level of individual G20 countries.”

Some context: Up to 60 million tons of grain could be stuck in Ukraine by the fall if Russia continues to block its exports, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday. Zelensky added he was working with the UN to try to open a safe corridor that would allow Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports. 

1:53 a.m. ET, July 6, 2022

Ned Price: "Don't expect bilateral engagement with Foreign Minister Lavrov" at G20 meeting

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a news conference at the State Department on March 10.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a news conference at the State Department on March 10. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool/AP)

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the upcoming G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali is not a time for business as usual with Russia due to the Ukraine war.  

Before the Russian invasion, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken would historically meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of major events, but the top US diplomat is not planning to have a one-on-one meeting with his Russian counterpart in Bali. 

“The time is not right for the Secretary to engage with Foreign Minister Lavrov. You should not expect a bilateral engagement with Foreign Minister Lavrov on this visit,” Price said on a call with reporters Tuesday.
“We would like to see the Russians be serious about diplomacy. We have not seen that yet.
"The only thing we have seen emanate from Moscow is more brutality and aggression against the people and country of Ukraine."

A US official familiar with the matter said Blinken plans to avoid appearing in any official group photos with Lavrov during the meeting.

8:42 p.m. ET, July 5, 2022

Blinken to avoid group photos with Lavrov at G20, will challenge Russian counterpart on Ukraine war

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to avoid appearing in any official group photos with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali this week, and will aim to rebut his Russian counterparts false narratives about the Ukraine war, according to a US official familiar with the matter.

For weeks, the US and its G7 allies — all of whom are in the G20 — have been discussing how to approach Lavrov’s presence at the meetings of the world’s 20 largest economies in Bali, according to US and European diplomats familiar with the conversations.

Many different ideas were discussed, including UK officials testing the waters on completely boycotting the meetings, but that strategy was ultimately not pursued, a UK official said.

Blinken is not — as of now — planning to partake in any staged walk-out with allies, US officials said. Part of the calculation is that the Biden administration wants to challenge Russia, not cede the floor to them, the official said.

Another part of the calculation is the fact that the US does not want to embarrass the Indonesians who are hosting the event, the official said, describing it as a “delicate balancing act.” 

The US wants to be seen as acting in unison with G7 allies, diplomats said. Things could change however, as the US is still “fine tuning” its approach and will have to react based on what happens during the meetings, the official said. 

This will be the first time Blinken and Lavrov have been in the same place since Russia invaded Ukraine, and Blinken's approach to his Russian counterpart could foreshadow how President Joe Biden might approach President Vladimir Putin later this year if the two leaders attend the G20 leaders summit.

8:32 p.m. ET, July 5, 2022

Russia is throwing "all the reserves they now have" at battles in Luhansk region, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Bex Wright and Kostan Nechyporenko

Russian and Ukrainian forces are engaged in “heavy battles” in the outskirts of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, according to Serhiy Hayday, the head of Luhansk region military administration.

“All the forces of the Russian army are now thrown there, all the reserves they now have,” Hayday said Tuesday.

Russian forces have suffered “huge number of losses and wounded,” because some troops are being tactically withdrawn to regroup, Hayday claimed. 

“The hospitals are overcrowded and the mortuaries are overcrowded,” he said.

CNN cannot independently confirm the number of casualties on either side.

Hayday added that “many warehouses behind enemy lines have been blown up” in the past few days, destroying “a huge amount” of Russia’s ammunition and fuel.

Hayday estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 residents remain in the city of Lysychansk.

Ukraine’s military said Sunday that it had been “forced to withdraw” from the city, with President Volodymyr Zelensky saying the retreat aimed to save the lives of Ukrainian troops.

“They are looking for the pro-Ukrainian population, negotiating with collaborators, showing apartments where military families lived, breaking down doors and pulling out clothes,” Hayday said.

In a separate update, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Tuesday that Russian troops are concentrating their “main efforts” on taking control of the highway linking the cities of Lysychansk and Bakhmut and attempting to seize the nearby settlement of Bilohorivka.

8:28 p.m. ET, July 5, 2022

Russian parliament passes initial vote on economic measures to support the military

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

A new set of economic measures aimed at supporting the Russian military passed the first vote in the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.

There are still several rounds of parliamentary procedure to go, but if the measures are adopted, legal entities in Russia will not be able to refuse contracts with the Russian armed forces.

Although Russian officials call the war in Ukraine "a special military operation," the new measures would effectively mean the country is reshaping its industry in support of the ongoing invasion, placing the country on a war economy footing.

In a statement, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov noted the "enormous sanction pressure" from the West.

“The bills introduce the obligation of organizations to conclude contracts in order to ensure counter-terrorism and other operations outside the territory of the Russian Federation, and also grant the rights to contractors to purchase products necessary to fulfill the State Defense Order from a single supplier," Borisov said, as quoted by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. 

The economic measures will still need to undergo second and third readings at the State Duma, be reviewed by the upper house of parliament and be signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. While it has made gains in the east of the country, it has also suffered heavy losses in terms of its army and equipment.