July 7, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Rob Picheta, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer, Elise Hammond and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 3:32 a.m. ET, July 8, 2023
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5:50 a.m. ET, July 7, 2023

Ukraine in talks with US over long-range weapons, and needs them to fight Russia, Zelensky says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Vasco Cotovio

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky address a joint press conference in Prague, Czech Republic, on July 7.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, right, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky address a joint press conference in Prague, Czech Republic, on July 7. Milan Kammermayer/AFP/Getty Images

Kyiv is in discussions with the United States to acquire long-range weapons to fight off Russian forces, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday. 

“Without long-range weapons it is difficult not only to carry out an offensive mission but to be honest also to conduct a defensive operation,” Zelensky said, speaking alongside Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

“We talk about it, about appropriate weapons, with our partners. First and foremost, we are talking about long-range systems with the United States.”

“It depends only on them as of today,” he added.

Zelensky explained that without those weapons, Russia maintained the upper hand in certain situations. 

“It is very difficult. It means that you are defending your land and you cannot reach the appropriate distance to destroy your enemy. That is, the enemy has a distance advantage,” he said. 

4:56 a.m. ET, July 7, 2023

More than 9,000 civilians have died since Russia invaded Ukraine, UN says

From CNN's Andrew Carey in Kyiv

Civilian graves in Chasiv Yar Cemetery in Ukraine on January 21.
Civilian graves in Chasiv Yar Cemetery in Ukraine on January 21. Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

More than 9,000 civilians, including over 500 children, have been killed since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, some 500 days ago, the United Nations has said.

The UN also warned that the true number of fatalities could be much higher than what they have been able to confirm.

May and June have seen an increase in the number of civilians killed, the UN added, after a relative decline in civilian fatalities in the first four months of the year. This weekend marks exactly 500 days since the war began.

“Today we mark another grim milestone in the war that continues to exact a horrific toll on Ukraine’s civilians,” said Noel Calhoun, the deputy head of the UN’s Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU)
2:39 a.m. ET, July 7, 2023

UN nuclear watchdog "making progress" at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, chief says

From CNN's Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo 

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday. Kyodo News/Getty Images/FILE

The International Atomic Energy Agency is "making progress" inspecting several areas of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said Friday, following claims by Kyiv that the facility had been mined.

"I think we are making progress," Grossi told reporters in Tokyo.

Grossi said IAEA officials had visited sites including cooling pools and hadn't seen "any indication of explosives or mines in these places."

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia may be using the nuclear plant as a weapon. He accused Russian troops of placing “objects resembling explosives” on roofs at the plant.

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog had not yet been given access to the rooftop, Grossi said. He also reminded reporters the plant is in an "active war zone" and that access takes time.

Nuclear plant on front lines: The Zaporizhzhia facility is the largest nuclear plant in Europe and has been under Russian control since March last year. Its position on the front lines of the war means shelling nearby is common and it has frequently been disconnected from Ukraine's power grid, repeatedly raising fears of a nuclear accident. 

1:51 a.m. ET, July 7, 2023

Ukrainian air defenses shot down Russian attack drones overnight, Air Force says

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

Ukraine's air defenses intercepted 12 of 18 Iran-made Shahed attack drones launched by Russia overnight into Thursday, the Ukrainian Air Force said.

The drones came from the southeast and were destroyed as a result of "combat operations, units of anti-aircraft missile forces, fighter aircraft and mobile fire groups of the Air Force," it said in a statement Friday.

The statement did not mention what happened to the six drones that were not destroyed nor any damage they may have caused. 

1:40 a.m. ET, July 7, 2023

Ukraine's big weapons donors not meeting commitments, think tank says

From CNN's Brad Lendon

Deliveries of arms to Ukraine from key suppliers including the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom are falling well short of pledges, even as Ukrainian forces need them during their current offensive, according to a German think tank.

"In general, only slightly more than half of the heavy weapons committed have been delivered," the Kiel Institute for the World Economy said Thursday on its Ukraine Support Tracker.

The report also said pledges of new aid for the Kyiv government decreased during the period covered by the report — February 25 to May 31 — from the previous reporting period.

"After a spike in new pledges before the anniversary of the start of the war, the overall level of new commitments from Ukraine supporters has trended downward again," Christoph Trebesch, the team leader of the Ukraine Support Tracker, said in a statement.
"Military pledges gain in importance with the duration of the war and Ukraine's offensive plans. But the gap between promised and delivered military aid is wide."

In a positive note for Ukraine, however, the report said smaller countries including the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland and Slovakia had come through with about 80% of the weapons they've promised.

1:11 a.m. ET, July 7, 2023

Lviv death toll rises to 10 as authorities end search efforts

From CNN's Olga Voitovych 

An emergency worker is seen in the residential building damaged by a Russian missile strike in Lviv on Thursday.
An emergency worker is seen in the residential building damaged by a Russian missile strike in Lviv on Thursday. Mykola Tys/SOPA/LightRocket/Getty Images

The death toll has risen to 10 following a Russian missile strike in Lviv as officials in the western Ukrainian city said search and rescue efforts have concluded Friday.

"This will complete the rescue and search operation," Lviv Mayor Andrii Sadovyi said on Telegram.

Ukrainian authorities said earlier that at least 42 people were wounded in the strike.

All bomb shelters in Lviv will be open "all the time" following the attack, Sadovyi told CNN Thursday.

When asked why 10 of the shelters in the city were closed during the attack, Sadovyi said "we must completely change the situation about shelters."

"We have in my city 6,000 shelters. It is private shelters, local government shelters, different owners. After the missiles attacked, we made a new decision — all shelters must be open all the time," he said. 

He added that Lviv used to be a safe city but now "it's a very tough situation."

The time for Russian missiles to reach Lviv if they are launched from Crimea is about 30 minutes, Sadovyi said. If they are launched from Belarus, the time to reach Lviv is 17 minutes. 

"But if Russia uses Kinzhal [missiles], the time is only 3 minutes," he said. 

Russia claimed to have targeted only military targets, but Sadovyi said the Russian missiles hit civilian infrastructure, including buildings, schools and office spaces. 

12:46 a.m. ET, July 7, 2023

Death toll rises to 9 in Russian missile strike on Lviv

From CNN's Olga Voitovych 

Rescuers work at the site of a Russian missile strike in Lviv on Thursday.
Rescuers work at the site of a Russian missile strike in Lviv on Thursday. Roman Baluk/Reuters

Nine people are now confirmed dead and at least 42 others injured following a Russian missile attack on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv Thursday, Ukrainian authorities said in an update Friday.

In a Telegram post, Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs said search and rescue operations are ongoing.

Ukrainian officials said earlier that the missile attack destroyed more than 30 houses, more than 250 apartments, at least 10 dormitories, two university buildings, an orphanage and a school. It also damaged a power substation.

The attack violated the World Heritage Convention by hitting a historic building in a protected area, UNESCO said.

12:18 a.m. ET, July 7, 2023

Analysis: Prigozhin's fate remains unclear and it signals more trouble in Russia

Analysis from CNN's Jill Dougherty

The bizarre tale of Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former pal-turned-mutineer, just got a whole lot weirder.

The foul-mouthed former head of the Wagner private military company — who ran a business empire that included a troll farm, a multi-million dollar catering company, and a media group — had the temerity to launch a mutiny on June 23 against Putin’s top military brass.

The rebellion was quelled by a “deal” supposedly brokered by another Putin friend (some call him “vassal”), Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko. It required Prigozhin to leave Russia and move to Belarus. His men had three choices: follow Prigozhin to Belarus, join the regular Russian military, or stop fighting and go home.

After the mutiny ended, Lukashenko claimed Prigozhin had, indeed, arrived in Belarus. But for weeks, no one could confirm that. Then Thursday, Lukashenko reversed himself, telling CNN that Prigozhin was in St. Petersburg and might be traveling “to Moscow or elsewhere.”

In any case, he said, Prigozhin wasn’t where he was supposed to be. Neither were the Wagner fighters at the camps Lukashenko’s government apparently had set aside for them in Belarus, raising questions about the fate of the Wagner boss.

As if on cue, Russian state-controlled TV began broadcasting video of security forces raiding Prigozhin’s St. Petersburg office and residence. His “mansion” or “palace” had a pool, a private operating room, even a “dedicated prayer room,” as the Russian propaganda website RT described it, along with a few sledgehammers — a tool Wagner is accused of using to murder defectors. The security agents reportedly found 10 million rubles (about $110,000) in cash, along with gold, guns, and wigs — presumably for Prigozhin to disguise himself.

And yet, a few hours later, there were reports that some of his money and possessions were returned to him. It adds another layer to the mystery as to why Putin has, so far, let Prigozhin remain free even as he fails to abide by the Lukashenko deal.

Read the full analysis here.

12:00 a.m. ET, July 7, 2023

It's early morning in Istanbul, where Zelensky is due to discuss the Black Sea grain deal. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet his Turkish counterpart in Istanbul on Friday, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.

Zelensky and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will discuss a number of issues, including the war and the Black Sea grain deal, Anadolu said.

Russia's foreign ministry on Tuesday said it sees no basis for renewing the UN-brokered agreement, which is set to expire on July 17, threatening vital food supplies for millions of vulnerable people across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Here's what else you need to know:

  • Where is Prigozhin? Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko was noncommittal in an answer to CNN during a press conference in Minsk, saying the Wagner boss "is in St Petersburg," or perhaps "would travel to Moscow." When asked if the Kremlin is aware of Prigozhin's whereabouts, spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he was "not commenting on that right now.” Prigozhin has not been seen in public since his short-lived uprising ended on June 24.
  • Police raid: Just as we were learning that Prigozhin was in Russia, not Belarus, Russian state media released images from a reported police raid on Prigozhin’s office and residence in St. Petersburg. The footage — described by presenters as “scandalous” — shows what is described as a stash of gold, money and wigs, along with weapons and several passports apparently belonging to the Wagner chief under different aliases.
  • Lviv attack: The death toll from a Russian missile strike in the western city rose to six on Thursday, Ukrainian officials said. More than 30 houses, over 250 apartments, at least 10 dormitories, two university buildings, an orphanage, a school and a power substation were damaged. The attack violated the World Heritage Convention by hitting a historic building in a protected area, UNESCO said.
  • On the front lines: Ukraine's offensive "is not fast" but is "moving forward," Zelensky said Thursday. Ukraine's top general told his US counterpart that Kyiv's counteroffensive is going "according to the plan." And Ukrainian forces on the southeastern front continue to advance and take back territory, according to a senior commander.

  • NATO look ahead: Ukraine hopes for "a clear signal" in regard to an invitation to join the defense alliance during the NATO summit in Lithuania next week, Zelensky said after meeting with leaders of NATO members Czech Republic and Bulgaria on Thursday. Meanwhile, the alliance's chief says admission is "within reach" for Sweden, which was driven to join NATO by Russia's war in Ukraine, but has been stalled in the process by objections from Turkey.
  • Cluster munitions: The US is expected to announce a new military aid package for Ukraine Friday that will include cluster munitions for the first time, defense officials told CNN. Changing battlefield conditions inside Ukraine over the past two weeks prompted US officials to give the weapons renewed consideration, they said.