July 11, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Christian Edwards, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, July 12, 2023
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9:06 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

White House says Ukraine joining NATO in the immediate future "isn't likely"

From CNN's DJ Judd

Ukraine still has requirements to meet before it can possibly join NATO, according to White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby.

He pushed back against comments from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Tuesday criticizing NATO leaders over discussions on a path to NATO membership.

“We believe that NATO is in Ukraine's future. I mean, that's something that the alliance agreed way back in 2008,” Kirby told CNN. “Now there’s some reforms — good governance, rule of law, political reforms — that Ukraine needs to work on, and we understand it's hard to work on some of those reforms when you are at war. Of course, they are at war right now. So, NATO membership in the immediate future isn't likely because that would put NATO at war with Russia.”

Still, Kirby acknowledged frustration from Zelensky, who tweeted a scathing criticism of discussions over a potential path to NATO membership at this week’s summit in Lithuania on Tuesday, writing “Uncertainty is weakness.”

“Yes, there are frustrations, there are desires to end this war quickly, all of that we understand, Kirby said. “Of course, we share many of those concerns.”

9:01 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

France sending new longer-range missiles to Ukraine, Macron says

From CNN's Pierre Bairin in Paris and Radina Gigova in London

France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the NATO summit, in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11.
France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the NATO summit, in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

France has sent some longer-range missiles to Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday, as he arrived for the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. 

“In view of the situation and the counter-offensive being led by Ukraine, I have decided to increase deliveries of arms and equipment to give the Ukrainians the capacity to strike further, while maintaining the clarity and coherence of our doctrine, i.e. enabling Ukraine to defend its territory,” Macron said earlier Tuesday.

“I think what's important for us today is to send a message of support for Ukraine, of NATO unity, and of determination that Russia cannot and must not win this war,” he added.

A few hours after Macron delivered the announcement at the NATO summit in Vilnius, a spokesperson for the Elysee Palace told CNN that some SCALP missiles — also known as "Storm Shadow" by their UK name — have already been delivered to Ukraine.

The spokesperson also confirmed to CNN that the SCALP missiles will be fired from Ukrainian aircraft.

More about the missiles: Storm Shadow is an Anglo-French low-observable, long-range, air-launched cruise missile developed since 1994 by French conglomerate Matra and British Aerospace, and now manufactured by MBDA. The full French name of the missiles is SCALP-EG, which in English stands for "Long Range Autonomous Cruise Missile System – General Purpose."

SCALP or Storm Shadow missiles have a firing range in excess of 250 kilometers, or 155 miles, which is just short of the 185-mile range capability of the US-made surface-to-surface Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, that Ukraine has asked for.

The Storm Shadow has the range to strike deep into Russian-held territory in eastern Ukraine — a capability that British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has said Kyiv has made use of since the UK provided the missiles to Ukraine in May.

What Russia says: Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has condemned France's announcement, describing it as a mistake that could have consequences for Kyiv.

“From our point of view, this is an erroneous decision, fraught with consequences for the Ukrainian side, because, naturally, this will force us to take countermeasures,” the Kremlin spokesperson said.

CNN’s Anna Chernova contributed reporting to this post.

8:47 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

The NATO summit is focused on Ukraine's possible accession. Catch up on the latest from Vilnius and Kyiv here

From CNN staff

The NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, is underway. Topping the agenda: Ukraine’s potential accession to the alliance. Ahead of the summit, US President Joe Biden told CNN that Ukraine was not yet ready to join the alliance as Russia's full-scale invasion rages on.

NATO is instead finalizing a communique in which members will “agree on the language” surrounding Ukraine’s future ability to join the alliance. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is expected to arrive in Lithuania later today, voiced his frustration about his country not being involved in that language. He also said that "uncertainty" over Ukraine's membership is motivation for Russia to "continue its terror."

Here are the latest developments:

  • Finding the right words: US President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he agreed on proposed language for Ukraine’s future ability to join NATO. Speaking alongside the president in Vilnius, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters “you will see the language in a few hours because we are now finalizing the communique.” Stoltenberg had said earlier Tuesday that he is “confident” the summit will send “a positive and strong message” on Ukraine’s path to full membership.
  • It's not enough, Ukrainian president says: Zelensky has said that “uncertainty” over Ukraine’s NATO membership is motivation for Russia to “continue its terror” in his country. In a blistering message posted on his Twitter account, Zelensky said “it’s unprecedented and absurd when time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership. While at the same time vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine.”
  • France sends longer-range missiles: French President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday that France would send longer-range missiles to Ukraine to aid its counteroffensive. “I have decided to increase deliveries of arms and equipment to give Ukrainians the capacity to strike further,” Macron said as he arrived in Vilnius. These “Storm Shadow” missiles, jointly developed with the UK, allow Ukraine to strike deep behind enemy lines in the east of the country.
  • Russian commanders killed: Two senior Russian commanders have been killed in separate incidents, according to Ukrainian officials. Stanislav Rzhitsky, a submarine commander, was shot to death in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar on Monday while on a morning job in a local park, Ukrainian defense intelligence claimed. Ukrainian officials then said Tuesday that Lt. Gen. Oleg Tsokov had also been killed near the Russian-occupied city of Berdiansk in the southern Zaporizhzhia region on Tuesday.
  • Turkey approves Sweden bid: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally agreed to green-light Sweden’s bid to join NATO after obstructing it for months, Stoltenberg told reporters on the eve of the Vilnius summit. The announcement represented a stunning about-face from Erdogan, who earlier on Monday had suggested that Sweden could only join the alliance after Turkey had joined the European Union. Erdogan’s decision allowed NATO to project the image of unity it had long aimed for, just hours before its key summit was set to start.
  • On the battlefield: Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv early Tuesday as Ukrainian air defenses repelled a Russian drone attack on the capital, a senior military official said. In the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, three people were injured after Russian forces bombarded the region with sustained shelling over the past day, a Ukrainian military official said. The Ukrainian military also said Tuesday its forces had launched an offensive in Bakhmut, and were "entrenching themselves" and "inflicting artillery fire on the identified enemy targets." And Russia targeted grain facilities in Ukraine's southern port city of Odesa overnight with Shahed drones, according to Ukrainian military officials, a week before the Black Sea grain deal is set to expire.

Here's the latest map of control:

8:13 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

NATO summit will demonstrate alliance's "enduring support for Ukraine," including membership, Blinken says

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

NATO leaders attend the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government, at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11.
NATO leaders attend the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the level of Heads of State and Government, at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Ukraine will get a robust package of “political and practical” support from NATO allies at the summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during an interview Tuesday morning on ABC.

“We've got a unified alliance that is going to demonstrate in very practical ways its enduring support for Ukraine, including the fact of membership,” Blinken said.

There will be a clear demonstration of the progress Ukraine has made toward membership, Blinken said in a separate interview on NBC. "That's going to be reflected in what comes out of the summit, as well as work that still needs to be done,” he said.

“I think everyone's been clear, including President (Volodymyr) Zelensky, that in the midst of a war, membership can't happen, but they've made real progress and the alliance will lay out the further reforms both in terms of their security work and their democracy that are necessary to keep moving down that path,” Blinken said.

Blinken’s comments come after the Ukrainian president expressed his concern about what NATO is considering offering Ukraine at the summit, pressing the need for an invitation for Ukraine to join the alliance.

7:59 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

Norway increases Ukraine military aid fund to $960 million in 2023

From CNN’s Catherine Nicholls in London

Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store speaks prior to the official opening of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11.
Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store speaks prior to the official opening of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11. Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images

 

Norway will provide $960 million in military aid to Ukraine in 2023, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced Tuesday.

“Ukraine has an urgent need for more military support and equipment. Norway is therefore increasing its military support to Ukraine by 2.5 billion Norwegian Krone (nearly $240 million) to a total of 10 billion Norwegian Krone (nearly $960 million) for 2023,” Støre announced at the NATO Summit in Vilnius.

According to the Norwegian government, Norway will be providing more than $7.2 billion in civilian and military support to Ukraine over five years, as well as $144,000 “in support for Ukraine’s reform efforts” over the same time period. 

In addition to pledging financial aid to Ukraine, Norway also committed to increasing its defense spending to a minimum of 2% of its gross domestic product.

NATO has requested that countries within the alliance spend a minimum of 2% of their GDP on defense spending since 2006, but in 2022, only seven allied countries — Greece, the US, the UK, Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Croatia — met that guideline.

7:53 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

Zelensky to arrive at NATO summit on Tuesday, Stoltenberg says

From CNN's James Frater in Vilnius, Lithuania and Sharon Braithwaite in London

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to arrive in Vilnius, Lithuania, for the NATO summit on Tuesday. 

"President Zelensky will come. I'm glad to welcome him, both at the dinner tonight and at the inaugural meeting of the NATO Ukraine Council tomorrow," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told journalists Tuesday at the summit. 

7:59 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

Stoltenberg pledges to "bring Ukraine closer to NATO"

From CNN's Betsy Klein and Anna Chernova

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg chairs the NATO leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg chairs the NATO leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11. Kacper Pempel/Reuters

As the meeting of the North Atlantic Council began, US President Joe Biden sat beside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as the alliance’s leader welcomed two new faces to the table: Finland President Sauli Niinisto and Sweden Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

Stoltenberg offered welcoming words to both before he turned to the matter of Ukraine.

“Today, we will make many decisions for an even stronger alliance. We will increase our practical and political support to Ukraine. This will bring Ukraine closer to NATO, where it belongs,” Stoltenberg said.

His comments come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized the alliance in a tweet for not offering more substantive accession plans to his country.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that Russia will respond "adequately" to the potential expansion of the NATO military alliance.

Lavrov expressed his surprise at "the speed with which both Finland and Sweden abandoned their neutral status" in his opening remarks during talks with the Foreign Minister of Oman on Tuesday.

He also noted the potential loss of special trade, economic, investment, and other relations that the two countries had with Russia.

7:34 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

Kremlin says NATO summit in Vilnius demonstrates "anti-Russian" attitude

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, poses for an official family photo with the participants of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, center, poses for an official family photo with the participants of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11. Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

The content of the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, demonstrates a strong "anti-Russian" attitude among representatives of NATO member countries, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday during a regular conference call with journalists.

“We are talking about a summit of an alliance that has a pronounced concentrated anti-Russian nature. Russia is perceived as an enemy, an adversary," Peskov said, adding that the location of the summit near Russia's borders is not as important as the conveyed hostile stance.

Peskov warned that Ukraine's potential accession to NATO would be "highly dangerous for European security," urging those who will be weighing the decision to consider the risks associated with such a step.

On Turkey and Sweden: Addressing Turkey’s approval of Sweden's entry into NATO, Peskov said Russia acknowledges Ankara's obligations as a member of the alliance and added that despite disagreements, there are areas of mutual interest between Russia and Turkey that are significant for both countries.

But he also noted that while Turkey can orient itself toward the West, there remains a reluctance from Europe to accept Turkey as a member. 

“If you call a spade a spade, no one wants to see Turkey in Europe,” Peskov told journalists, adding that Moscow intends to further develop the dialogue with Ankara.

7:20 a.m. ET, July 11, 2023

Ukraine should join NATO “as quickly as possible” once “conflict finishes,” says UK Defense Secretary

From CNN's Christian Edwards in London

Ukraine should join NATO “as quickly as possible,” but only after the Russian invasion “finishes,” UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told CNN on Tuesday from the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has long asked to join the alliance, but many members have reservations about admitting Ukraine to its ranks while it is still at war. US President Joe Biden told CNN on Sunday that Ukraine is not yet ready to join NATO – a message that Wallace echoed in the interview with CNN.

“I totally agree with the United States that we can’t have a new member in the middle of a conflict. That would just import war into the alliance,” Wallace said.

Wallace said that NATO members should “work together to make sure that Russia fails in its… illegal invasion of Ukraine,” before permitting Ukraine to join the alliance. However, once the conflict finishes, Wallace said that NATO needed to be ready to accept Ukraine as a new member.

“Given we have an open-door policy, it’s important to state that we believe Ukraine does belong in NATO,” Wallace said, adding that Ukraine had taken some of the necessary “steps” to get there, including strengthening its military and eliminating corruption.

“Whenever this conflict finishes, we should be prepared as quickly as possible to bring Ukraine into NATO,” Wallace said.

The British Defense Secretary also said he was “delighted” by Turkey’s eleventh-hour decision to green-light Sweden’s bid to join NATO on the eve of the Vilnius summit, which he claimed to have been “working quite hard behind the scenes” with other Western officials “to make sure this happens.”

“It’s really important because first of all Russia will pick on countries that don’t manage to get in or are transitioning from non-membership to membership. That can leave them exposed, and Russia, we often see, try to use division,” he said.

“But it’s also really important for the integrity of the alliance. We have an open-door policy. We say if you meet certain conditions you can join.”

When asked why Turkey finally agreed to approve Sweden’s bid, having obstructed it for months, Wallace claimed that Sweden had taken measures to “deal with the threat” posed by Kurdish terror groups that Turkey felt Sweden had been soft on.

Wallace was asked if any other concessions had been made to Turkey to secure its approval – such as being provided with F16 fighter jets or even having its bid to join the EU accelerated. “I don’t know if there was anything extra,” Wallace said, adding that “Turkey’s a long way from EU membership.”

He claimed that “the international community talked to the Turkish at length” to persuade them that Sweden’s accession to Nato is “in everyone’s favor.”

“The only winner of this schism would be Putin,” Wallace said.