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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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.

2:34 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Russian missile strike in Kharkiv kills at least 3 people and injures 5, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Chris Liakos

An Ukrainian serviceman examines a crater outside a school in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 7.
An Ukrainian serviceman examines a crater outside a school in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 7. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

At least three people have been killed and five others injured following shelling in one of Kharkiv’s districts in northeastern Ukraine, according to Serhii Bolvinov, the head of the investigation department of the National Police in the Kharkiv region.

Bolvinov said Russian troops carried out an attack on a residential quarter in the Nemyshliansky district of the city, “repeatedly shelling Kharkiv city” using Uragan multiple launch rocket systems and high-explosive shells.

Oleh Syniehubov, head of Kharkiv region military administration, said on Telegram that rescue officers are on location and investigators on the ground are establishing more details. 

Syniehubov urged residents to “be as careful as possible, do not stay on the streets of the city without an urgent need.”

“The enemy strikes insidiously, striking residential areas and civilian infrastructure,” he said.
9:31 p.m. ET, July 7, 2022

Putin says war could continue until "last Ukrainian is left standing"

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday issued a warning to the West and Ukraine, saying the war 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 with the heads of the State Duma party factions that aired on state-run television channel 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. 

Putin has also blamed the West for “encouraging and justifying genocide against people in Donbas.” 

"We are not refusing peace negotiations. But those who do refuse should know that the further [the conflict continues], the more difficult it will be for them to negotiate with us," Putin said. 

The eastern Donbas region has became the key centerpiece of Putin’s military ambition in Ukraine after his troops failed to take over the Ukrainian capital Kyiv earlier this year.

2:37 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug charges in Russian court

From CNN's Anna Chernova, Abby Phillip, Dakin Andone and Alaa Elassar

US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, Russia, on July 7.
US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, Russia, on July 7. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

Two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist Brittney Griner has pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian court near Moscow, her lawyers confirmed to CNN on Thursday.

Griner, whom the US State Department has classified as wrongfully detained, faces up to 10 years in prison under the charge. Supporters of the Phoenix Mercury player have called for her release over fears she is being used as a political pawn amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Griner's lawyers expect the court to take into account the 31-year-old athlete's guilty plea and hope for leniency, Alexander Boykov and Maria Blagovolina told journalists Thursday.

Samples taken from Griner did not show any traces of drugs, Boykov added. "She was clean, and she was tested," the lawyer said.

It was her decision to plead guilty, Griner's Russian legal team said in a statement, adding that she "sets an example of being brave."

"She decided to take full responsibility for her actions as she knows that she is a role model for many people," their statement read.
"Considering the nature of her case, the insignificant amount of the substance and BG's personality and history of positive contributions to global and Russian sport, the defense hopes that the plea will be considered by the court as a mitigating factor and there will be no severe sentence."

Her lawyers said they expect the trial to end around the beginning of the August.

Griner left the courtroom Thursday without giving any comment to reporters. Her next hearing is set for July 14.

Read more here.

2:39 a.m. ET, July 8, 2022

Ukraine angered by release of ship carrying allegedly stolen grain

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

The Russian-flagged cargo ship 'Zhibek Zholy' anchored on the Black Sea, Turkey, on July 5.
The Russian-flagged cargo ship 'Zhibek Zholy' anchored on the Black Sea, Turkey, on July 5. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

The release of a Russian ship allegedly carrying stolen Ukrainian grain from Turkish waters is "unacceptable," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

Turkey ignored a request to arrest the vessel and cargo and the ship was released on July 6, according to a ministry statement on Thursday.

It expressed "deep disappointment and appeals to the Turkish side with an urgent request to conduct an investigation ... and provide a full response to the requests of the relevant authorities of Ukraine."

The Russian merchant ship, Zhibek Zholy, had carried the grain from the occupied port of Berdiansk to the Turkish port of Karasu.

"In relation to the unacceptable situation, the ambassador of Turkey in Kyiv was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the ministry added.

CNN has reached out to the Turkish government for comment. 

The Russian news agency TASS said Thursday that the Zhibek Zholy, "which is anchored in Turkey, plans to leave due to idle time and ship grain to a storage vessel."

"It is planned to go to the accumulative (storage) vessel and trans-ship," TASS said, citing one of the ship's crew members. "Then, when the large vessel is loaded, (it) goes to ports and unloads."

Shipping monitoring data Thursday showed the transponder of the Zhibek Zholy no longer active at its recent anchorage outside Karasu.  

Satellite imagery shows that Russian ships frequently offload their cargoes to other vessels in the Black Sea.

Ukraine's Ambassador to Turkey Vasyl Bodnar previously told CNN the Zhibek Zholy was at anchor near Karasu as "it was in fact detained by Turkish customs authorities and it is not allowed to enter the port."

"Now we are waiting for the decision of the relevant authorities of Turkey regarding the actions that the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine insist on," he added.

Some background: 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.

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.