July 8, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Hafsa Khalil, Aditi Sangal, Hannah Strange, Adrienne Vogt and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 7:13 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022
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7:32 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Ukrainian official responds to Putin saying offensive is not "anything in earnest" yet

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

Mykhailo Podolyak in Kyiv on April 19.
Mykhailo Podolyak in Kyiv on April 19. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A senior Ukrainian official has responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin's assertion that the offensive in Ukraine was only just beginning.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of President Volodymyr Zelensky's office, said on Twitter: "37,000 dead Russian soldiers. Total sanitary losses [injured] of 98-117 thousand people. 10 generals were eliminated. 1605 tanks, 405 planes/helicopters were turned into scrap."

"Has Russia not started fighting yet? Is [the] Kremlin considering war only by Stalin's mathematics - 20 million losses?"

CNN is unable to verify Ukrainian claims of Russian losses.

Podolyak was responding to remarks by Putin to parliamentary leaders in Moscow on Thursday. 

"Everybody should know that largely speaking, we haven’t even yet started anything in earnest" in Ukraine, Putin said.

He said the conflict might drag on until the “last Ukrainian is left standing.”

“Today we hear that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. Well, what can I say? Let them try,” Putin said during a meeting which aired on state media television Russia-24. 

"We have continuously heard that the West is ready to fight with us until the last Ukrainian is left standing. This is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people. However, it seems like everything is going towards this," he said.

4:27 p.m. ET, July 8, 2022

It's 2:30 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Talks are underway at the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali, where a big part of the agenda is Russia’s war in Ukraine. The meeting comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN that Ukraine is unwilling to cede any of its land to Russia, and Russia's Vladimir Putin warned the war could drag on until the "last Ukrainian is left standing."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer on Thursday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer on Thursday. (CNN)

Here are the latest headlines: 

  • Russia pushes into Donetsk: Over 40 towns and villages in Donbas have come under attack over the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian military said. The General Staff said that Russian forces are advancing towards the cities of Bakhmut and Sloviansk, west of the Luhansk-Donetsk border, while regional military administrators have reported fire in Sumy in the north, and Kryvyi Rih in the south. Also in the south, many villages in Kherson and Mykolaiv are on the “verge of destruction.”

  • Atacks on Russian military supplies: Ukrainian forces have attacked Russian military warehouses in the southern region of Kherson before dawn on Friday. The adviser to the head of Kherson’s military administration, Serhii Khlan, told Ukrainian television that their fire is destroying the “occupiers” warehouse and rear reserves. Khlan claims there have been three attacks on warehouses in Nova Kakhovka, a town in Kherson.
  • Russia’s destruction of agriculture: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told foreign ministers at the G20 meeting in Bali that Russia is conducting “a well-thought and cynical strategy" to destroy Ukraine's agriculture, blackmailing the world as it destabilizes global food security. Kuleba called Ukraine “a global breadbasket…looted by Russian criminals” who have struck grain terminals, blocked Ukrainian ports exporting grain, and stolen Ukrainian grain.
  • Zelensky won't cede territory: The Ukrainian President said "Ukrainians are not ready to give away their land," in an exclusive interview with CNN. Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that Russia controls "almost all the Luhansk region" but urged the West to continue providing military support to help Ukraine keep up its fight. He also reiterated his call for US President Joe Biden to visit Kyiv, saying it would send a message to Russia and the world.
  • Putin warns of long war: Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a warning to the West and Ukraine, saying the war could drag on until the "last Ukrainian is left standing." Putin challenged the West to defeat Russia on the battlefield, saying "Let them try." He also said the longer the conflict goes on, "the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us."

7:55 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Russian military warehouses in Kherson struck by Ukrainian forces

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova 

Ukrainian forces continue to target Russian military supplies and warehouses far behind the front lines in the southern region of Kherson, according to regional officials.

Ukrainian fire destroyed "the warehouses [and] rear reserves of the occupiers," Serhii Khlan, adviser to the head of the Kherson military administration, told Ukrainian television.

Khlan said that before dawn on Friday, there was "a powerful explosion" in Nova Kakhovka, a town occupied by Russian forces in Kherson.

Their warehouses are placed "far from the front line" as they think it will protect the rear, "but we see hits," Khlan said. "In recent days we have been constantly hearing about explosions at the warehouses of the occupiers — in Kherson, in Nova Kakhovka, in Chernobaivka."

Khlan claimed that there had been three attacks on warehouses in Nova Kakhovka. A video from the area soon after dawn Friday showed thick smoke rising from an unknown location. 

The pro-Russian authorities now in control of Kherson say that Ukrainian saboteurs have been detained.

Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-backed military-civilian administration, said "Russian special services detained three saboteurs who were planning assassination attempts on the leaders of the region and military personnel of the [Russian] Armed Forces."

Stremousov claimed that authorities had uncovered the command structure of "agent networks organized in the Kherson region by the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] and Ukrainian military intelligence."

Some background: In recent days, Ukraine has stepped up attacks in both Donetsk and Kherson against Russian supply lines and storage depots as it tries to hinder Russian operations.

The US director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, said the Kremlin "faces rising partisan activity in southern Ukraine" during a conference in Washington DC last month.

US officials added that they believe Russia does not have enough forces in Kherson to effectively occupy and control the region, with three assassination attempts against pro-Russian officials in June suggesting a burgeoning resistance movement among the Ukrainians.

6:51 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Ukraine minister accuses Russia of "cynical" strategy to destroy country's agriculture

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba. (Ruslan Kaniuka/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has told the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting that Russia has embarked on a "a well-thought and cynical strategy" to destroy Ukraine's agriculture.

Kuleba addressed the G20 meeting in Indonesia by video link.

"The Russian naval blockade of Ukrainian ports has already shredded global chains of food supply and has a detrimental effect on global food security. Adding insult to injury, Russia steals Ukrainian grain and bombs Ukrainian granaries," he said. 
"Russia is essentially playing hunger games with the world by keeping the naval blockade of Ukrainian ports with one hand and shifting the blame for it on Ukraine with the other hand. Russia sees dependence of other countries on any type of resources as weakness and an invitation to use this dependence as a leverage to Russia’s gain."

Kuleba said that Russian forces had struck Ukraine’s second largest grain terminal complex at the port of Mykolaiv in June, claiming that "Russia knew exactly where it fired its missiles." The strike was aimed at causing destruction in Ukraine and "blackmailing the world," he added.

Kuleba told the foreign ministers that for decades, Ukraine -- often described as "a global breadbasket" -- has been essential to worldwide food security, but is now being "attacked, bombed, and looted by Russian criminals."

Responding to Russian claims that Ukraine was blocking its own ports, Kuleba said: "Their accusations defy basic logic. How can we be interested in blocking our own food exports when they provide one of our main sources of revenues for the budget? We are interested in exporting our food products just as much as our consumers are interested in getting them as soon as possible."

Separately, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has alleged that Russia is using munitions to set farmland on fire as harvest season gets underway. A recent video shows combine harvesters in parts of southern Ukraine trying to gather in grain as fires burn through fields.

Some background: 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. 

On Thursday, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said the release of a Russian ship allegedly carrying stolen Ukrainian grain from Turkish waters was "unacceptable." Turkey ignored a request to arrest the vessel and cargo and the ship was released on July 6, according to a ministry statement. The Russian merchant ship, Zhibek Zholy, had carried the grain from the occupied port of Berdiansk to the Turkish port of Karasu.

Russia has repeatedly denied it is blocking the ports or stealing grain.

8:21 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

More than 40 settlements under fire as Russians push into Donetsk

From CNN's Tim Lister

Local residents look on as smoke rises after shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine, on July 7.
Local residents look on as smoke rises after shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine, on July 7. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

More than forty towns and villages in Donbas have come under attack in the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian military has reported, acknowledging the "partial success" of a Russian attempt to advance on one front.

The General Staff said that Russian forces were now trying to advance west of the Luhansk-Donetsk border towards the cities of Bakhmut and Sloviansk, and "the enemy led an offensive in the direction of Verkhnokamianske, with partial success." The Russians were also advancing "in the area of ​​the Spirne settlement," it added.

Verkhnokamianske and Spirne are adjacent to the main highway leading westwards from the city of Lysychansk, which fell last week.

The Ukrainians also said that "the occupiers are advancing in the direction of Vesela Dolyna," which is close to Bakhmut. 

The General Staff said the Russians were using artillery, mortars, multiple launch rocket systems and air strikes as they tried to eliminate Ukrainian defenses.

In its analysis of the military situation on Friday, international security consultancy the Cavell Group tweeted:  "Fighting continues to be heavy on many of the roads and settlements around Siversk now with heavy artillery exchanges also in this region. The situation is very fluid here as Russia pushes forces west." Siversk is the last town of any size on the roads west towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. 

Cavell added: "A similar situation is occurring towards Bakhmut with Russia making slow gains against heavy resistance, but slowly securing more of the highway to Lysychansk and closing in on Bakhmut defences."

The Institute for the Study of War said: "Russian forces still conducted limited ground offensives and air, artillery, and missile strikes across all axes on July 7, and will likely continue to confine themselves to small-scale offensive actions as they rebuild forces and set conditions for a more significant offensive."

Besides trying to push west from the Luhansk border, the Russians have sustained artillery fire on settlements north of Sloviansk, with the Ukrainian General Staff that saying "our defenders inflicted losses on the enemy during its next offensive attempt and pushed the invaders back near Bohorodychne," some 20 kilometers north of the city.

Serhiy Hayday, head of Luhansk region military administration, said "in order to reach the administrative border of Luhansk region, the Russians are destroying the surrounding villages with artillery....they do not stop firing from all types of heavy weapons " on the few villages not already under their control.

"But our armed forces hold the fort," Hayday said, indicating that resistance continues along the regional border.

Elsewhere, the Ukrainian General Staff reported further artillery attacks against settlements north of Kharkiv, and local authorities said there had been civilian casualties in a rocket attack on the eastern outskirts of the city.

Regional military administrations reported incoming fire in both Sumy, in the north, and against Kryvyi Rih, in the south, without causing casualties. 

Also in the south, Russian forces continue to shell areas of Kherson and Mykolaiv in an effort to retrieve recently lost territory, according to regional administrations, and several villages were on "the verge of destruction."

The Cavell Group assessed that "north of Kherson there were phases of intensive artillery shelling yesterday [Thursday], but no significant changes on the ground. Around Kherson City Ukrainian [forces] fired coordinated artillery onto some Russian fortified defensive positions."

Watch for background here.

4:00 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

It's 11 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN that Ukraine is unwilling to cede any of its land to Russia, standing firm that a concession of Ukrainian territory won't be part of any diplomatic negotiations to end the war.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Zelensky won't cede territory: The Ukrainian President said "Ukrainians are not ready to give away their land," in an exclusive interview with CNN. He acknowledged that Russia controls "almost all the Luhansk region" but urged the West to continue providing military support to help Ukraine keep up its fight. Zelensky also reiterated his call for US President Joe Biden to visit Kyiv, saying it would send a message to Russia and the world.
  • Putin warns of long war: Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a warning to the West and Ukraine, saying the war could drag on until the "last Ukrainian is left standing." Putin challenged the West to defeat Russia on the battlefield, saying "Let them try." He also said the longer the conflict goes on, "the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us."
  • Kharkiv strikes: At least three people were killed and five others injured in shelling in one of Kharkiv’s districts in northeastern Ukraine, according to a National Police official. Russian troops carried out an attack on a residential area in the Nemyshliansky district of the city, using Uragan multiple launch rocket systems and high-explosive shells, the official said.
  • Donbas missile: A missile struck the center of Kramatorsk in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region on Thursday, according to a regional official. As the battle for control in the east intensifies and Russian forces prepare for a renewed assault in Donetsk, hundreds and thousands of people have been urged by Ukrainian officials to evacuate the region.
  • Snake Island: A Russian aircraft attacked Snake Island Thursday, according to both the Russian Defense Ministry and the Ukrainian armed forces, shortly after Ukrainian troops raised the national flag there. Russia claimed it killed "some" military personnel but Ukraine did not mention any casualties.
  • Anger over grain ship: Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said the release of a Russian ship allegedly carrying stolen Ukrainian grain from Turkish waters is "unacceptable." Turkey ignored a request to arrest the vessel and cargo and the ship was released on July 6, according to a ministry statement. The Russian merchant ship, Zhibek Zholy, had carried the grain from the occupied port of Berdiansk to the Turkish port of Karasu.
  • Foreign leaders talk Ukraine: Russia's war will be a priority at the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali on Friday, with the US warning it is not a time for business as usual with Moscow. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is not planning to have a one-on-one meeting with his Russian counterpart, breaking with tradition. He will, however, meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for a "candid exchange" on Beijing’s response to the war in Ukraine.
2:59 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets Russian counterpart at G20

From CNN’s Shawn Deng

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during their bilateral meeting ahead of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, on July 7.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during their bilateral meeting ahead of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, on July 7. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/AP)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Bali on Thursday ahead of the G20 ministerial meeting, China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The G20 meeting kicked off Friday morning on the Indonesian island. In addition to China and Russia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be in attendance, along with other foreign ministers. 

Prior to the G20 officially starting, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Beijing and Moscow "have eliminated interference, maintained normal exchanges."

It said cooperation between the two sides has “demonstrated the strong resilience and strategic determination."

They also exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine. According to the statement, Wang said China will uphold an objective and fair position, focus on promoting peace and talks, and support all efforts that are conducive to the peaceful resolution of the crisis.

2:46 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Brazil's President Bolsonaro calls Russia an ally "regarding sovereignty"

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro visits a photographic exhibition at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 7.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro visits a photographic exhibition at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on July 7. (Adriano Machado/Reuters)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday the Russian government is an ally in issues regarding a country's sovereignty.

The Brazilian leader, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in February a week before he ordered the invasion of Ukraine, also said economic sanctions imposed by Western countries did not work to stop Russia's actions in Ukraine.

"The United States and European economic barriers against Russia failed. My posture was (of) balance," Bolsonaro said to supporters in Brasilia. "More than trading fertilizers, (we discussed) food security for the world and the sovereignty of our Amazon. A country (Russia) that is with us on the sovereignty issue, that some people do not care about."

Russia and Brazil's relationship is a matter of concern to the United States Congress.

A bill proposal for the military activities budget for 2023 made by Congress on July 1 asks the State Department to provide a "detailed description" of the Russian government's relations with Brazil and Argentina.

10:18 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Zelensky says Ukraine is unwilling to cede any of its territories to Russia: "This is our land"

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Thursday that Ukraine is unwilling to cede any of its land to Russia, standing firm that a concession of Ukrainian territory won't be part of any diplomatic negotiations to end the war.

"Ukrainians are not ready to give away their land, to accept that these territories belong to Russia. This is our land," Zelensky said in an exclusive interview aired Thursday on CNN's "The Situation Room." "We always talk about that, and we are intending to prove it."

Russia's war with Ukraine has now lasted for more than four months, with no sign of either side backing down soon. Ukraine's early successes forced Russia to scale back its initial aims of toppling Kyiv, and Moscow's forces have now focused on taking territory in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces have now occupied most of the Luhansk region, outside of a few pockets of resistance, and are pressing toward cities in Donetsk.

CNN reported last week that White House officials are losing confidence Ukraine will ever be able to take back all of the land it has lost to Russia since the war began, even with the aid of heavier and more sophisticated weaponry that the US and its allies plan to provide Kyiv.

Zelensky acknowledged that Russia controls "almost all the Luhansk region," saying that his forces are now "fighting on the outskirts of this region." He said that Kyiv retreated to avoid mass losses of troops.

"I don't even understand what exactly they're controlling there. They ruined towns, school. They are the occupiers of the rubble?" Zelensky said.

Read more from Zelensky's interview here.