July 12, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Jack Guy and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 2:58 a.m. ET, July 13, 2022
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7:58 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Satellite image shows massive crater after Ukrainian strike on Russian ammunition depot in Kherson region

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Gianluca Mezzofiore 

A massive crater is seen after a Ukrainian missile hit a building — which Ukrainian officials say was being used as an ammunition depot by Russia — in Russian-occupied Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region of Ukraine. The satellite image was taken on July 12, according to Planet Labs. 
A massive crater is seen after a Ukrainian missile hit a building — which Ukrainian officials say was being used as an ammunition depot by Russia — in Russian-occupied Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region of Ukraine. The satellite image was taken on July 12, according to Planet Labs.  (Courtesy Planet Labs)

A massive crater is the only thing left after a Ukrainian missile hit a building — which Ukrainian officials say was being used as an ammunition depot by Russia — in Russian-occupied Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region of Ukraine, according to a new satellite image from Planet Labs.  

The satellite image was taken on July 12, according to Planet Labs. Comparing it to a satellite image taken by Planet Labs on July 11, a number of the surrounding buildings have also been destroyed, or significantly damaged.  

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated when the images were taken. It was July 12 and July 11.

3:12 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Russia opens criminal case against opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who has spoken out against war

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

Ilya Yashin, center, listens to the court's decision in Moscow on June 29. A court in Moscow has rejected the appeal of a prominent opposition figure of the 15-day jail term he was handed on charges of failure to obey police.
Ilya Yashin, center, listens to the court's decision in Moscow on June 29. A court in Moscow has rejected the appeal of a prominent opposition figure of the 15-day jail term he was handed on charges of failure to obey police. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Russian authorities have launched a criminal case on Tuesday against Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin for spreading “fake” information about the Russian army, according to his lawyer Vadim Prokhorov.

“The Main Investigation Department has initiated the criminal case under Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, against Ilya Yashin,” Prokhorov said on Facebook. 

"I got a call from an investigator – they are beginning to search his home," he said. 

Yashin, who is also a former Moscow city council and Alexey Navalny’s close ally, has been openly speaking out against Russia’s war with Ukraine and has been a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin for years. 

Shortly after coming back to Russia, Yashin was detained on the night of June 28. The next day, he was arrested for 15 days for police disobedience. 

He started his career in opposition politics along with Navalny and has risen to public prominence during the 2011-2012 mass protests against Putin’s third term. 

A criminal case has also been opened against another prominent opposition leader, Vladimir Kara-Murza, who now faces up to 10 years in prison. 

Similarly, to Yashin, Kara-Murza has been detained and arrested for 15 days in April before being charged for spreading “fake” information about the Russian army. 

3:29 p.m. ET, July 12, 2022

European Space Agency terminates cooperation with Russia on Mars mission 

From CNN’s Sugam Pokharel and Amy Cassidy 

The ExoMars rover shown in 2019 as it was being prepared to leave Airbus in Stevenage, England.  
The ExoMars rover shown in 2019 as it was being prepared to leave Airbus in Stevenage, England.   (Aaron Chown/PA Images/Getty Images)

European Space Agency is terminating cooperation with Russia on the mission to launch Europe's first planetary rover, designed to search for signs of life on Mars, the agency’s chief said on Tuesday.  

The ExoMars Rover, a collaboration between the ESA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, had been on track to leave for Mars in September this year. But the ESA said in February that Russia's invasion of Ukraine had made that "very unlikely." 

Then in March, the agency suspended cooperation with Roscosmos over their joint mission on Mars in the wake of the Ukraine invasion and sanctions imposed on Russia. 

“Today @ESA Council addressed the ExoMars Rover and Surface Platform mission, acknowledging that the circumstances which led to the suspension of the cooperation with Roscosmos – the war in Ukraine and the resulting sanctions – continue to prevail,” ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.  

As a consequence, the agency’s board instructed him to officially terminate cooperation with Russia on the program, Aschbacher said.

“New insights on the way forward with other partners will come at a media briefing on 20 July, details to come,” he added.  

The rover was initially scheduled to launch in July 2020 but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The mission is intended to search for life on Mars and investigate the history of water on the red planet. The rover has the capability to drill beneath the surface of Mars to a depth of 6.5 feet (about 2 meters), where the scientists hope they may find signs of life. 

CNN's Katie Hunt contributed reporting to this post.

11:09 a.m. ET, July 12, 2022

"Unsanitary conditions are growing" in Severodonetsk, Ukrainian official says

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporkenko in Kyiv

A resident walks a bike past a building in Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on July 1.
A resident walks a bike past a building in Severodonetsk, Ukraine, on July 1. (Victor/Xinhua/Getty Images)

"Unsanitary conditions are growing" in Severodonetsk and "there is not enough water and not enough food" in the city, said Roman Vlasenko, head of the city's regional administration.

Vlasenko added that there are also issues with gas and electricity supplies.

He described the living situation as “very sad” for those that have remained even though "there are not many people left there."

A sign in the city was repainted from Ukrainian to Russian colors on Monday.

Vlasenko said that "pressure continues on pro-Ukrainian activists" and that they continue to face serious challenges.

9:35 a.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Selling drones to Russia would be a big win for Iran. But would it make a difference in Ukraine?

From CNN's Abbas Al Lawati

The United States on Monday unveiled a potential new player in the Ukraine war: Iran.

Newly declassified US intelligence indicates that Tehran is preparing to supply Russia with "hundreds" of drones -- including those with weapons capability -- for use in the war in Ukraine, White House officials said

"Our information further indicates that Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use these UAVs, with initial training session slated in as soon as early July. It's unclear whether Iran has delivered any of these UAVs to Russia already," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House press briefing on Monday.

Sullivan argued that news of Iran supplying the drones is evidence that Russia's attacks against Ukraine in recent weeks are coming at the "severe" cost of depleting of its own weapons.

The announcement has raised eyebrows, and not everyone is convinced that Iran is capable of exporting large quantities of drones. “It's unlikely Iran even has that many operational drones in its own fleet,” tweeted Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder of Bourse Bazaar, a London-based think tank. “It also has no experience exporting drones at scale.”

The White House’s claim comes as nuclear talks between Iran and the United States have come to a dead-end, potentially raising the specter of renewed conflict in the Middle East should they fail. But it also comes as Middle East states prepare to launch an alliance of Arab states and Israel, reportedly under US backing, to counter potential threats from Iran. Iran has warned that it views the move as provocative and a threat to its national security. 

If Iran is indeed planning to sell arms to Russia for use in its war on Ukraine, it would be essentially inserting itself into a Russian-Western proxy war in NATO’s backyard. The message to the Biden administration is that Tehran too can spread its influence to faraway conflict zones where the US has vested interests.  

While Iran’s drones haven’t been known to be sought after by militaries around the world, they do pose a potent threat to its adversaries. They have been an integral part of Iran’s military strategy and have caught the attention of American officials. Last year, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the top US commander in the Middle East, told Congress that Iran-linked drones “present a new and complex threat to our forces and those of our partners and allies.” For the first time since the Korean War, “we are operating without complete air superiority,” he said.

Drone warfare was especially important in the early weeks of the Ukrainian conflict, when Turkish-made strike drones were used by the Ukrainian military to great effect. But Russian air defenses now provide greater coverage in the east. 

Iranian drones would not be a game changer but might mitigate Russian weaknesses in exploiting UAVs. 

Major General Hossein Salaami, the commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, said last year that his country possesses drones with a 7,000 kilometer (4,300 mile) range. According to the United States Institute of Peace, Iran’s medium-to-large drones can likely stay in the air for up to 20 hours while carrying fairly sophisticated sensors, payloads and a range of weapons. Some its drones, like those used by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, can carry a payload of up to 150kg, it said.

Iranian drones have been used outside its borders before, but that has largely been in Middle East conflict zones where Tehran can smuggle them to its non-state proxies. They have been effective in Iraq, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, where they were believed by the US to have been used in an attack on Saudi oil facilities in 2019 that saw crude prices soar to a record high. Iran denied launching that attack. 

The arrival of Iranian weapons into Europe’s biggest conflict since the Second World War would be a major milestone for Iran’s weapons industry and its status as an arms manufacturer. And it would represent a rare occasion when Tehran’s weapons were being employed not just by a state actor, but one that is a top global military power. 

CNN’s Tim Lister contributed to this article.

9:28 a.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Death toll rises to 38 after Chasiv Yar residential building strike

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London and Petro Zadorozhnyy in Kyiv

Rescue workers stand on the rubble in the aftermath of a Russian rocket attack that hit an apartment residential block, in Chasiv Yar, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on July 10.
Rescue workers stand on the rubble in the aftermath of a Russian rocket attack that hit an apartment residential block, in Chasiv Yar, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on July 10. (Nariman El-Mofty/AP)

The death toll from a strike at a residential building in the town of Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine on Saturday has increased to 38, including a child, according to the Emergency Services of Ukraine. 

Nine people were rescued from the rubble and "more than 320 tons of destroyed elements of the building were cleared and disassembled," according to an earlier statement on Facebook from Ukraine's State Service for Emergency Situations in the Donetsk region.

Emergency teams continue to work at the site, it said.

9:13 a.m. ET, July 12, 2022

Unexplained explosions and gunfire in occupied Enerhodar

From CNN's Tim Lister, Julia Kesaieva, Julia Presniakova and Katharina Krebs

There have been several unexplained explosions and reports of gunfire in the Ukrainian town of Enerhodar in the past 12 hours, according to social media accounts and the Russian-installed mayor.

"Enerhodar did not sleep tight tonight," said Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of the town, who is now in nearby Zaporizhzhia.

"At first, people were awakened by the sounds of several explosions that were heard either in the city itself or somewhere outside of it," he added. "And then during the second half of the night, weird chaotic shots were heard in various residential neighborhoods."

Unofficial social media accounts — reposted by Ukraine's state nuclear enterprise Energoatom — claimed that the Russians had staged a firefight that damaged the local Security Services (SSU) building.

"Why they did it is unclear. Perhaps to "justify" the shelling of settlements on the opposite bank of the Dnieper [river]," the reposted message said.

"What is certain is that it makes no sense for our Armed Forces to fire at the SSU building, since it has not been used by the Russians themselves for a long time."

A later post on a local, unofficial Telegram channel showed smoke rising from somewhere in the town on Tuesday morning.

Russia claimed the Ukrainian Armed Forces attempted to use a "kamikaze" drone in Enerhodar, but it was destroyed by the air defense systems of the Russian Armed Forces, a spokesperson from the press service of the city's military-civilian administration told Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti on Tuesday. 

According to RIA Novosti, the Ukrainian military used the drone to attack a residential area.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine have just tried to use another drone in Enerhodar. It was destroyed by the air defense of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation," the spokesman told RIA Novosti.

"Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, located in the city of Enerhodar, is operating normally. At the nuclear power plant itself, the situation is still calm," he added. 

Authorities are clarifying information about possible victims, RIA Novosti reported. 

According to RIA Novosti, the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Monday hit a building near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is located in Enerhodar, with two drones. The drones dropped two mines with a caliber of 120 millimeters, damaging the roof and glazing, according to RIA.  

Enerhodar has been occupied by Russian forces since early March and is adjacent to a large nuclear power station that is also under Russian control.

8:01 a.m. ET, July 12, 2022

It's 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Dozens of civilians have been killed as Russian forces step up their bombardment of residential areas, while the Ukrainian military is pushing hard to regain territory in the south of the country.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Civilians in the firing line: Russian forces have carried out a spate of attacks on residential areas in the last few days, causing dozens of casualties. On Monday, six people were killed and a further 31 injured in rocket attacks on Kharkiv, while 12 people were injured and homes destroyed after the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv came under heavy fire Monday night. In addition, at least 35 people died after Russian rockets hit a residential building in Chasiv Yar on Saturday.
  • Heavy fighting as Russia renews offensive: The Ukrainian military has reported widespread fighting with Russian artillery active in Donetsk and Kharkiv. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Russian forces tried to advance in Kharkiv region -- some 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the city -- but were rebuffed. However, they continued to shell districts close to Kharkiv city and other parts of the region, according to Ukraine's military.
  • Ukraine's southern counterattack continues: Russian forces are largely on the defensive as Ukrainian forces try to make advances in the south. The Ukrainian military's Operational Command South said three Russian ammunition warehouses had been struck in parts of Mykolaiv under Russian control, and Ukrainian helicopters had attacked Russian positions in neighboring Kherson.
  • Explosions rock Russian-occupied town: Seven people are missing following huge blasts overnight in Nova Kakhovka, in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson. The explosions are possibly the largest in a Russian-occupied part of Ukraine since the invasion began in late February. At least six people were killed, Russian state news agency TASS reported earlier on Tuesday.
  • Grain exports back on the agenda: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed grain shipments from Ukraine with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in separate calls. The Kremlin said the two leaders exchanged views on “coordinating efforts to ensure the safety of navigation in the Black Sea and grain exports to world markets.” Erdogan told Zelensky that Turkey wants peace in Ukraine and is working on a UN plan to export Ukrainian grain to world markets, according to a readout by the Turkish presidency.
  • Tehran talks scheduled: Putin will travel to Tehran to hold talks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish Erdogan on July 19, according to the Kremlin. In addition to the trilateral meeting, there will also be a bilateral meeting between Putin and Erdogan.
  • Russia simplifies citizenship process: Putin also signed a decree Monday that would make it easier for all Ukrainian citizens to acquire Russian citizenship. Previous versions of the decree applied to residents in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), as well as the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine.
7:46 a.m. ET, July 12, 2022

12 hurt after Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv comes under heavy fire

From CNN's Tim Lister

Firefighters work at a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike, in Mykolaiv, on Tuesday.
Firefighters work at a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike, in Mykolaiv, on Tuesday. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout/Reuters)

Twelve people were injured and homes destroyed after the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv came under heavy fire Monday night, according to Ukrainian officials.

"The enemy shelled the city massively at night," said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the President's office, on Telegram.

"The Russians direct their missiles at residential areas, shopping centers, recreation centers, and apartment buildings," Tymoshenko said.

Oleksandr Sienkevych, the mayor of Mykolaiv, said two hospitals were damaged by shelling, but there had been no injuries.

The regional military administration said Russian forces continued their fire against communities around Mykolaiv, but had caused no casualties.

Villages along the border between Mykolaiv and Kherson have become the front lines as Ukrainian forces try to penetrate Russian defenses in the region.

The first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, said Tuesday that Russia has “children's blood on [their] hands” following the Mykolaiv shelling.

She further stated that “a hospital and school were destroyed” while “private houses were damaged.”