July 14, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Jack Guy, Hafsa Khalil, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 3:14 a.m. ET, July 15, 2022
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1:22 p.m. ET, July 14, 2022

More than 40 settlements in Kherson region back in Ukrainian control, official says

From CNN's Tim Lister

Dmytro Butriy, the acting head of the Kherson region military administration, said that 44 settlements in the largely occupied area have been liberated.

Butriy gave no timescale. A Ukrainian offensive in Kherson began in May and has since recovered a number of villages, but no towns of any size.

Butriy said at a news briefing that the settlements were still suffering as they were under constant Russian bombardment.

"We urge people to evacuate to protect themselves and their families. Russian occupiers are not human," he said.

Butriy alleged that the Russians had shot civilian cars in convoys as they tried to leave the region. CNN has previously reported on the shelling of convoys of civilian vehicles as they have tried to leave Russian-occupied areas.

Butriy also claimed that "there were times when civilians were discovered dead with traces of torture."

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that "people can leave the occupied territories of Kherson region through the occupied Crimea or through [the] Vasylivka [checkpoint] towards Zaporizhzhia. It is necessary to leave, despite the fact that it is difficult. It is much more dangerous to stay in the occupied territory than to dare to go through all the checkpoints and leave."

Other Ukrainian officials have said it's increasingly difficult for people to leave through the Russian checkpoint at Vasylivka, with people spending several days waiting to get through. 

12:15 p.m. ET, July 14, 2022

Russia turning to Iran for drones because "sanctions are biting," US official says

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi  

Russia looking to Iran to supply drones “speaks volumes” about the isolation of both nations from the international community and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “problems in terms of replenishing his own defense needs,” National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Thursday. 

“Russia turning to Iran for the help speaks volumes about the degree to which both nations, for their actions into different areas of the world, have been increasingly isolated by the international community,” Kirby said.

Newly declassified US intelligence indicates that Iran is expected to supply Russia with "hundreds" of drones — including weapons-capable drones — for use in the war in Ukraine, with Iran preparing to begin training Russian forces on how to operate them as early as late July, according to White House officials.

“We know the sanctions are biting; we know the export controls are biting. We know his ability to replenish munitions and now UAVs are limited because of the pressure that the rest of the world is putting on Mr. Putin,” Kirby added.

“Clearly, they have the domestic production capability. I don't know the parameters of the deal that Mr. Putin struck; I can't speak with specificity about how well Iran will be able to step up to this requirement,” Kirby said.

Kirby said that Biden’s “preferred option” with Iran still remains diplomatic, but the US “will not take any option off the table.”

3:06 p.m. ET, July 14, 2022

Ukraine's foreign minister calls for creation of a special tribunal to investigate Russia's "crime of aggression"

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 12.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 12. (Andrew Kravchenko/AP)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Thursday for the creation of a special tribunal "on the crime of aggression against Ukraine" that will bring to account Russia's "top military and political leadership."

"Together with other countries, organizations and institutions, we shall use all available tools to get justice for the thousands of innocent victims of this crime, and we shall not rest until the guilty are brought to justice," Kuleba said in his address to an international conference in The Hague on crimes committed in Ukraine.

While the international criminal justice system is sufficiently equipped to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide, the available institutions face legal difficulties investigating the crime of aggression against Ukraine, he said, adding that "it is necessary to create a Special Tribunal capable of holding the Russian leadership accountable for this kind of crime."

"In the absence of appropriate tools to allow justice to be done, we shall return to the beginnings of international criminal justice in order to create these," Kuleba said. 

Kuleba said the initiative to create a Special Tribunal has been already supported by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Sejmas of the Lithuanian Republic.

The initiative to create a Special Tribunal is not intended "to replace or weaken the important efforts of the International Criminal Court and other international courts and tribunals," but rather "supplement" them, he told the conference Thursday.

The ad-hoc Tribune's mandate would be investigate and prosecute crimes of aggression against Ukraine since Feb. 24, covering all individuals — including state heads and officials, Kuleba detailed.

"Justice is also required for the international community as a whole in order to punish this greatest violation of international law since the Second World War. We must put an end to impunity and leave future generations with a world where the rule of law is always supreme," he added. 

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, who is chairing the conference, echoed Kuleba's comments, saying a Special Tribunal would fill a legal “vacuum” to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes committed in Ukraine.

3:21 p.m. ET, July 14, 2022

Putin signs law introducing special economic measures to support the military 

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova and Radina Gigova

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference on June 29 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference on June 29 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. (Contributor/Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Thursday allowing the government to introduce special economic measures to support the Russian armed forces during "counter-terrorism and other operations" outside the country.

As the special measures get adopted, companies will not be able to refuse government contracts and employees will have to work at night and on holidays. 

The government also received the right to temporarily reactivate mobilization capacities and facilities and the right to unbook the material assets of the state reserve.

Although the Russian government continues to reject framing the conflict in Ukraine as a war, the new measures effectively mean the country is re-shaping its industry in support of the ongoing invasion. 

On Thursday, Putin also signed additional laws that include tougher measures for individuals or entities considered foreign agents by Russia, and expanding criminal liability for defection to high treason. 

11:54 a.m. ET, July 14, 2022

Griner hearing concludes without verdict and is set to resume Friday, US official says

From CNN's Kylie Atwood, Anna Chernova and Chris Liakos

US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner is escorted to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow, Russia, on July 14.
US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner is escorted to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow, Russia, on July 14. (Alexander Utkin/AFP/Getty Images)

WNBA star Brittney Griner's hearing at a Russian court near Moscow has concluded today without a verdict and is due to resume tomorrow at 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), according to a US official.

The hearing was held at the Khimki court of the Moscow region a week after Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges. This is Griner’s third appearance over the past three weeks at the court.

The two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist was arrested Feb. 17 at a Moscow airport, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine, on accusations of alleged attempted drug smuggling, which is an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  

One of Griner's lawyers, Maria Blagovolina, told reporters in a statement that during today’s hearing, Maxim Ryabkov, the director of BC UMMC Ekaterinburg — the basketball club that Griner played for in Russia — “gave a positive description of Brittney Griner during his speech in court, noting her outstanding abilities as a player and personal contribution to strengthening the team spirit, which allowed the team to achieve the highest results in the Russian basketball premier league and in international competitions for many years.”  

Elizabeth Rood, charge d’affaires of the US embassy, also attended the hearing.

10:25 a.m. ET, July 14, 2022

Ukraine's new long-range US rockets are making an impact far beyond Russia's front lines

From CNN's Tim Lister and Oren Liebermann

The commander of the unit shows the rockets on a HIMARS vehicle in eastern Ukraine on July 1.
The commander of the unit shows the rockets on a HIMARS vehicle in eastern Ukraine on July 1. (Anastasia Vlasova/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

There's a new and potentially very significant factor in the Ukrainian conflict: the Ukrainians' ability to use recently supplied Western systems to hit Russian command posts, logistical hubs and ammunition dumps a long way beyond the front lines.

In the past week, there have been enormous explosions in several occupied areas in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. The available evidence, from satellite imagery and Western analysts, is that the targeting has been highly effective.

For months, the Ukrainian military pleaded for long-range precision artillery and rocket systems from Western partners. Now they have them and are deploying them to considerable effect in both the south and east of the country.

The Ukrainian military is not giving away many specifics but Vadim Denysenko, a senior official at the Interior Ministry, said Wednesday that in the past two weeks, "above all things thanks to the weapons that Ukraine received, we were able to destroy approximately two dozen warehouses with weapons and stocks of fuel and lubricants. This will certainly affect the intensity of fire" the Russians can muster, he said.

Best-in-class is the US-supplied HIMARS multiple launch rocket system, but the Ukrainians have also received M777 howitzers from both the US and Canada and Caesar long-range howitzers from France.

What Russia is saying: The Russian foreign ministry said Thursday that the United States provided Ukraine with the necessary intelligence information and sent instructors to help Ukraine shell Donbas with the HIMARS missile systems.

"The armed formations of Ukraine widely used HIMARS multiple rocket launchers received from the United States and did so with the direct assistance of the American side, which not only provided the necessary intelligence information but also secretly seconded instructors who helped representatives of the Kyiv regime to aim correctly,” said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, according to state news agency TASS.

Zakharova added that “the noticeable activation of the artillery of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is connected to the supply of these heavy weapons which, apparently, received an order from Kyiv without the slightest hesitation to use the mentioned installations against the civilian population."

Read the full story here.

CNN's Anna Chernova contributed reporting to this post.

10:16 a.m. ET, July 14, 2022

Ukrainian refugees recount "explosions all the time" in Mykolaiv

From CNN’s Ivana Kottasová and Ana Sarbu at the Moldova-Ukraine border

Viktor and Svetlana Maximchuk wait for transportation at the Moldovan side of the Moldova-Ukraine border in Palanca.
Viktor and Svetlana Maximchuk wait for transportation at the Moldovan side of the Moldova-Ukraine border in Palanca. (Ivana Kottasova/CNN)

For months, Viktor and Svetlana Maximchuk watched many of their friends and relatives pack up and leave their hometown of Mykolaiv.

They stayed put, even as the war kept edging closer to the southern Ukrainian city.

“We really didn’t want to leave,” Svetlana said. “We hoped everything would be fine. Every day, we hoped there would be peace. Every week, we told ourselves, ‘just one more week, one more week and it will be fine.'"

Earlier this week, after days of heavy shelling, the bombing got worse yet again. They had no choice anymore.

They stuffed their most important possessions into a few backpacks and headed for the border.

“It’s not safe there anymore; there’s shooting and there are explosions all the time,” Viktor told CNN on Wednesday at a refugee assistance point at the Palanca border crossing between Ukraine and Moldova. 

“Russians came to our neighborhood, and there was a fight between the Russian and Ukrainian soldiers, and the Ukrainian soldiers saved us. One of our friends died there,” Svetlana said. 

While the family survived unscathed, their car was damaged in the attack. Viktor managed to sell it, raising just enough money for their journey.

The fighting around Mykolaiv has ramped up in recent days. Twelve people were injured and several homes were destroyed in heavy fire on Monday night, officials said.

Another assault came on Thursday. According to reports from officials on the ground, the city was shelled by "more than 10 missile strikes" from a S-300 surface-to-air missile system. One person was reported injured.

As the fighting got worse, the Palanca refugee center was getting ready for another big influx — a bus carrying 70 people was on the way to the border.

The Maximchuks have two young children together, and Viktor has another child from a previous relationship. As a father of three, now out of job because of the war, he got permission to accompany his family and travel abroad. Most men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine. 

As the hot sun bore down on the refugee center, the couple recounted the horrors of life in Mykolaiv — the constant bombing and the front line moving ever closer to them. Their children were waiting inside a UNICEF playroom nearby.

“We don’t tell the children much. They hear the explosions and they see the explosions and they know there is a war, but we try not to show them too much,” Svetlana said. 

In a few hours, a bus will take them toward Germany, where they have family and relatives.

“We told the kids we’re going on holiday. Our youngest didn’t want to go, but now, after two hours here, she is fine; she likes the toys here,” Svetlana said. 

9:44 a.m. ET, July 14, 2022

Macron calls on "collective sobriety" from French to counter gas shortages 

From CNN’s Camille Knight and Amandine Hess in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron, center left, stands next to Chief of Staff Thierry Burkhard, center right, during the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, on July 14.
French President Emmanuel Macron, center left, stands next to Chief of Staff Thierry Burkhard, center right, during the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, on July 14. (Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

French President Emmanuel Macron asked for “collective sobriety” from his country's residents “to be in a position of consuming less” in the face of gas shortages.

“We are in a so-called hybrid war. So energy isn’t a consequence of our sanctions. Russia uses energy as it uses food in fact, as a weapon of war,” he said in an interview from the Elysée Palace garden after the traditional Bastille Day parade on Thursday. 

Macron said that he would “ask public administrations, big groups, and all those who can to put together a plan now, this summer” to reduce general consumption and save up on gas. 

“I think that today we should get ready for a scenario in which we should do without Russian gas in its totality,” Macron told France 2 journalist Caroline Roux and TF1 journalist Anne-Claire Coudray.

“This scenario is not theoretical. It is a very harsh scenario, and we should get ready for it,” he said.

Macron also sought to reassure the French, saying that “we are currently refilling our reserves to have almost 100% of our reserves back by the fall,” also reiterating that France is “not very dependent on Russian gas.”

France gets less gas from Russia than some of its European neighbors.

Speaking more generally about the war in Ukraine, Macron said that “we should all prepare ourselves for the fact that it will last,” adding that the summer and early fall will “undoubtedly be very difficult.”

8:26 a.m. ET, July 14, 2022

A moment of silence for victims of Russian aggression at a war crimes conference in The Hague

From CNN's Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London 

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via video conference at the Ukraine Accountability Conference in The Hague, Netherlands, on July 14.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via video conference at the Ukraine Accountability Conference in The Hague, Netherlands, on July 14. (Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a moment of silence as he addressed a war crimes conference in The Hague, Netherlands, via videolink on Thursday, just hours after a deadly missile strike landed on central Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia.

"This morning, Russian missiles hit our city of Vinnytsia — an ordinary, peaceful city. Cruise missiles hit two community buildings; houses were destroyed, a medical center was destroyed, the cars and trams were on fire. This is the act of Russian terror. People couldn’t do this, they are animals. Eight rockets, two of them targeted the city center. Twenty people died as of this moment, three children among them," Zelensky told the conference. 

In a closing statement, Zelensky referred to the meeting of prosecutors and judiciary in The Hague as an act of “rescue” for international law.

“It depends on you, on me, whether or not international law will work," Zelensky told the panel.