July 10, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Helen Regan, Jack Guy, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023
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6:24 p.m. ET, July 10, 2023

Russia says Turkey is turning into an "unfriendly country" after a series of "provocative decisions"

From CNN’s Mariya Knight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, Turkey on July 07.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, Turkey on July 07. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/TUR Presidency/Getty Images/FILE

A Russian defense official told Russian state media that Turkey is turning into an "unfriendly country" after a series of "provocative decisions."

“The events of the past weeks, unfortunately, clearly demonstrate that Turkey is gradually and steadily continuing to turn from a neutral country into an unfriendly one,” Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, told state media TASS.

The series of “provocative decisions” came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Turkey on Friday, he said, pointing to Ankara endorsing Ukraine's NATO bid and releasing Azovstal leaders, despite an agreement about them staying in Turkey until the end of the war. 

Zelensky said on Saturday that five men, part of the Azovstal defense which defended Mariupol following Russia’s invasion in February 2022, would return back to Ukraine from Turkey. The five Ukrainian soldiers surrendered following the fall of Mariupol.

After their release from Russian captivity, they were taken to Turkey as part of a prisoner swap back in September where they were obliged to stay until the end of the war, according to the terms of the swap.

"Such behavior could not be called anything other than a stab in the back,” he said, calling the “unfriendly step” a result of pressure from NATO.

Bondarev said that the only reason NATO needs Turkey is “to control the Black Sea straits and stabilize or destabilize the Middle East region,” and said Turkey should think about “leaving NATO and creating an alliance with Russia.” 

5:50 p.m. ET, July 10, 2023

Turkey received Sweden's full support for EU entry, state media reports

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam and Tatiana Arias in Atlanta 

Sweden fully supports Turkey's entry process into the European Union, state-run news agency Anadolu reported — citing a top Turkish official late Monday. 

Turkey received full support for the lifting of sanctions, visa liberalization and EU process. In the meeting between Turkey, Sweden and NATO, it was agreed to work towards eliminating sanctions and removing obstacles in defense trade and investments among the allies, Anadolu reported.

This comes as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg announced that Turkey had agreed to back Sweden’s NATO bid on Monday, with a statement from the alliance outlining that Stockholm would “actively support” efforts to reinvigorate Turkey’s accession process to the European Union. 

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that Sweden’s membership of NATO should be linked to Turkey’s membership of the EU, arguing, “Turkey has been waiting at the gate of the European Union for over 50 years now,” and “almost all NATO member countries are European member countries.”

More background: Turkey’s EU membership bid has been on hold since 2016 — when an attempted coup failed to remove Erdogan from power. Erdogan has since tightened his grip on power through constitutional reforms that have prompted concerns from the EU on human rights and legal grounds. 

5:42 p.m. ET, July 10, 2023

Agreement with Turkey for Sweden to join NATO is not a result of “new negotiation," alliance chief says

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg answers questions during a press conference on July 10.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg answers questions during a press conference on July 10. Celestino Arce/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Turkey's agreement to allow Sweden to become a member of NATO has been in the works since last year, the alliance chief said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the move was not a result of “new negotiation” and that the agreement "builds on what we agreed a year ago in Madrid."

“This is not new negotiation, but it is about implementing, and reassuring the implementation of the different things we agreed a year ago in Madrid,” he said at a news conference, a day before the NATO summit.

Stoltenberg went on to say that discussions between both nations have been able to address each of their concerns and find “common ground.”

“What we have seen is that we have been able to reconcile the concerns that Turkey has expressed and with the concerns that Sweden has expressed, and then we have been able to find a joint ground, a common ground and move forward based on that,” he said. 

Sweden joining NATO is good for the alliance, the NATO chief said, adding that “this is in the security interest of all of us.”

Asked when Sweden can be expected to officially become a NATO member, Stoltenberg showed himself unwilling to commit to an answer, saying that it was up to Turkey to make an announcement, and preferred to focus on the merits of a “historic day.” 

7:07 p.m. ET, July 10, 2023

Biden and Zelensky to meet Wednesday during NATO summit in Lithuania, official says

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

US President Joe Biden waves as he arrives in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Monday, July 10.
US President Joe Biden waves as he arrives in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Monday, July 10. Susan Walsh/AP

US President Joe Biden will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the NATO summit on Wednesday, an official familiar with the meeting confirms. 

The meeting will be one sign of unity as Zelensky’s attendance at the summit had been in question. Russia’s war in Ukraine is among the top agenda items for NATO leaders gathering in Vilnius, Lithuania, along with discussing a future pathway for the war-torn country to join the alliance, which has prompted some division among leaders. 

Biden poured cold water on the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO as the war is ongoing and cited reforms the country would still need to make to join the alliance. 

 "I don't think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war,” Biden told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. 

Zelensky had previously said he does not plan on attending the summit “for fun” as he seeks a clearer pathway for his country to join the alliance along with security guarantees. 

“It would be an important message to say that NATO is not afraid of Russia. Ukraine should get clear security guarantees while it is not in NATO. Only under these conditions, our meeting would be meaningful, otherwise, it’s just another politics,” Zelensky said in an interview with ABC. 

4:30 p.m. ET, July 10, 2023

It's nighttime in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

As NATO leaders prepare for a key summit in Lithuania on Tuesday, Turkey has agreed to back Sweden’s bid to join NATO, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday. Hours earlier, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Brussels should clear the path for Ankara’s EU accession before it approved Sweden’s bid.

Catch up on other key headlines:

  • Biden meets Sunak in London: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden agreed on the need to “strengthen” their alliance and maintain support for Ukraine, a Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement Monday. The two leaders discussed Ukraine's counteroffensive and emphasized the "importance of the country’s international partners committing to its long-term defense, providing the support Ukraine needs to win this war and secure a just and lasting peace,” the spokesperson said in the statement.
  • Kyiv pushes for NATO membership: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s push for NATO membership is expected to be among the key issues at the summit. Ukraine wants a unanimous invitation from NATO members to join the defense alliance, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna said, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said NATO has agreed to let Kyiv bypass a detailed formal process in its application. Biden has stressed, however, that the war must end before NATO considers Ukraine.
  • Germany will announce new support for Ukraine at NATO summit: Germany will announce new support packages for Ukraine during the upcoming NATO summit, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said. The preliminary work is "practically completed," Pistorius said during a joint news conference with his French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu in Berlin.
  • Ukrainian counteroffensive making slow progress: The Ukrainian military says it has liberated 169 square kilometers of territory in the south since the beginning of the offensive in mid-May, an area roughly the size of the city of Odesa. The Institute for the Study of War said that “the current pace of the Ukrainian counteroffensive is reflective of a deliberate effort to conserve Ukrainian combat power and attrit Russian manpower and equipment at the cost of slower territorial advances.”
  • Prigozhin and Putin have met: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has confirmed that Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin after his short-lived mutiny at the end of June. There has been widespread speculation about where the Wagner leader has been since the aborted mutiny on June 23-24.
  • Moscow accused of "war crime": Russia's deadly bombing Sunday of a school where civilians were receiving humanitarian aid is a "war crime," according to police in Ukraine's southern Zaporizhzhia region. The death toll in the attack has risen to at least seven after three bodies were pulled from the rubble on Monday, Ukraine's State Emergency Service said in an evening update. Search operations have now been completed, the emergency service said. 
5:57 p.m. ET, July 10, 2023

World leaders welcome Turkey’s decision to support Sweden’s ascension to NATO

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal and Tatiana Arias

US President Joe Biden leaves 10 Downing Street after a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London on July 10.
US President Joe Biden leaves 10 Downing Street after a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London on July 10. Leon Neal/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden welcomed Turkey’s decision to support Sweden’s ascension to NATO on Monday, saying he stood “ready to work with President ( Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan and Turkey on enhancing defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area.”

“I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister (Ulf) Kristersson and Sweden as our 32nd NATO Ally,” Biden said in a statement shortly after the announcement.

The US president also thanked NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for his leadership.  As CNN previously reported, Stoltenberg said that Turkey has agreed to back Sweden's bid to join the military alliance.  

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also welcomed the move, saying in a tweet that Sweden's membership to NATO is "in everyone's interest."

"Their accession makes us all safer. The UK welcomes the steps Turkey has taken today to bring this closer. We continue to stand by our Swedish friends," Cleverly tweeted.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, whose country joined NATO in April, said that "Finland's NATO membership is not complete without that of Sweden."

"Now we are one clear step closer to completion. With Sweden, the whole Alliance will be stronger," Niinisto said in a tweet.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, called it a "historic step."

President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda said in a tweet that the agreement will significantly strengthen the Baltic sea region and the entire Alliance, adding that the allied countries are united and strong. The NATO summit is being held in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Some context: The announcement came on the eve of NATO's summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, and represents a stunning about-face from Erdogan, who had earlier on Monday suggested Sweden could only join the alliance after his country is accepted into the European Union.

Erdogan has stood in the path of Sweden joining NATO for more than a year over a multitude of concerns.

7:08 p.m. ET, July 10, 2023

Turkey has agreed to back Sweden’s NATO bid, alliance chief says

From CNN’s Sugam Pokharel in London

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 10.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 10. Turkish President

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that Turkey has agreed to back Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance. 

“Glad to announce that after the meeting I hosted with @RTErdogan & @SwedishPM, President Erdogan has agreed to forward #Sweden's accession protocol to the Grand National Assembly ASAP & ensure ratification. This is an historic step which makes all #NATO Allies stronger & safer,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a tweet after a meeting in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.  

Sweden will “actively support” efforts to reinvigorate Turkey’s accession process to the European Union, NATO said in a statement after the meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Stoltenberg.

“Both Turkey and Sweden will look to maximise opportunities to increase bilateral trade and investments. Sweden will actively support efforts to reinvigorate Türkiye’s EU accession process, including modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union and visa liberalisation,” it added. 

Allowing Sweden into the alliance "benefits the security of all NATO allies at this critical time," Stoltenberg said at a news conference.

Erdogan earlier on Monday asked for Brussels to clear Turkey's path into EU membership before approving Sweden's NATO membership.  

“Since the last NATO Summit, Sweden and Türkiye have worked closely together to address Türkiye’s legitimate security concerns. As part of that process, Sweden has amended its constitution, changed its laws, significantly expanded its counter-terrorism cooperation against the PKK, and resumed arms exports to Türkiye, all steps set out in the Trilateral Memorandum agreed in 2022,” the NATO statement read.

“Both Sweden and Türkiye agreed that counter-terrorism cooperation is a long-term effort, which will continue beyond Sweden’s accession to NATO,” it added. 

3:41 p.m. ET, July 10, 2023

Analysis: Biden and Erdogan's comments could overshadow NATO summit – and help Putin

From CNN's Luke McGee

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Joe Biden walk during a meeting at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Joe Biden walk during a meeting at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022. (Made Nagi/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

NATO leaders meet in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on Tuesday, with two big issues on the agenda: Sweden's membership to the US-led alliance and providing a smooth path into the group for Ukraine. But comments from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Joe Biden have diverted the attention from both of these key issues.

On Monday morning, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that Sweden’s membership of NATO should be linked to Turkey’s membership of the European Union.

Turkey’s EU membership bid has been on hold since 2016, when an attempted coup failed to remove Erdogan from power. Erdogan has since tightened his grip on power through constitutional reforms that have prompted concerns from the EU on human rights and legal grounds. The official position in Brussels now is that Turkey would not meet the official criteria to join the bloc.

The Turkish president has been on the West’s naughty step for a number of years. His relationship with Putin has been a problem for many Western allies, whether it be his cooperation with Russia in Syria or painting himself as the key negotiator between the West and the Kremlin on Ukraine. Sweden provides Erdogan with some rare leverage.

It is therefore a headache, but not a huge shock, that Erdogan is using a key international summit to play his best hand. And for what it’s worth, Swedish officials are still confident the deal will be done.

The second headache for NATO comes in US President Joe Biden’s comments to CNN this weekend that Ukraine should not join the alliance until the war is over. Multiple NATO officials told CNN on Monday that these comments were regrettable as they have allowed the conversation to shift from all the good things the alliance has done and will do for Ukraine, to a largely irrelevant conversation about immediate membership.

Both of these issues might be distractions from the main parts of the summit, but Western officials know that distractions that can be spun to make the West look disunited will be welcomed in Russia at the moment.

Read more here.

3:49 p.m. ET, July 10, 2023

Death toll climbs to 7 in Orikhiv school attack 

From CNN's Svitlana Vlasova in Kyiv 

The death toll in the Orikhiv school attack in Ukraine's southern Zaporizhzhia region has risen to at least seven after three bodies were pulled from the rubble on Monday, Ukraine's State Emergency Service said in an evening update. 

Search operations have now been completed, the emergency service said. 

Russia's deadly bombing Sunday of the school where civilians were receiving humanitarian aid is a "war crime," according to police in the Zaporizhzhia region.

A "guided aerial bomb" was used in the attack, officials claimed. Those killed range in age from 43 to 47, and the injured have been hospitalized with varying degrees of severity, he said.

CNN's Olga Voitovych and Alex Stambaugh contributed reporting to this post.