July 16, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Sophie Tanno, Thom Poole, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, July 17, 2023
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11:03 a.m. ET, July 16, 2023

Russian strikes leave at least 7 people wounded in southern Ukraine, regional official says

From Maria Kostenko in Kyiv

Russia pounded the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia and surrounding areas with 52 strikes over the course of about 24 hours this weekend, according to a Ukrainian leader in the region.

The rocket attacks left three adult women and four adult men wounded in Sepnohirsk, a village south of Zaporizhzhia city, Yurii Malashko, the head of the regional military administration, said in a Telegram post Sunday.

The Russian barrage also targeted the city itself and at least nine surrounding settlements, Malashko said.

A member of the Zaporizhzhia City Council said the attacks damaged infrastructure and left parts of the city without power.

3:09 p.m. ET, July 16, 2023

US running low on stockpile ammunition as it gives military aid to Ukraine, national security advisor says

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 7.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 7. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/File

The United States is running low on ammunition in its own stockpile as the country works to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia, according to US national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

President Joe Biden's administration, upon taking office, “found that overall stocks of 155 munition, which is the NATO standard ammunition used for artillery rounds, was relatively low,” Sullivan said in an interview with CNN.

Sullivan said the administration also learned that it would take years, not months, to restock the supplies to acceptable levels — a daunting task for a nation supplementing the war in Ukraine.

“President Biden ordered his Pentagon to work rapidly to scale up the ability of the United States to produce all the ammunition we could ever need for any conflict at any time,” Sullivan said. “Month on month, we are increasing our capacity to supply ammunition.”

Earlier this year, CNN reported that Ukraine is burning through ammunition faster than the US and NATO can produce it, and that the Pentagon has taken a central role in trying to ramp up production.

On cluster munitions: The national security adviser was not able to say whether Ukraine was currently using the controversial cluster munitions Biden recently sent to Ukraine, but said, “if they have not been deployed yet, they will be in the coming hours or days.”

Sullivan confirmed that the munitions had arrived in the country, as CNN has previously reported.

“They have now very rapidly been shipped into the fight and are in the hands of Ukrainian defenders on the front lines,” he added. 

4:28 p.m. ET, July 16, 2023

Ukrainian counteroffensive has been unsuccessful so far, Putin says

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Radina Gigova

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Ukranian counteroffensive has been "unsuccessful," during an on-camera interview with pro-Kremlin journalist Pavel Zarubin published Sunday. 

“All attempts by the enemy to break through our defenses, including with the use of strategic reserves, they were unsuccessful during the entire offensive. The enemy is not successful,” Putin said. “Our troops have behaved heroically. Unexpectedly for the enemy, in some areas (Russian troops) themselves go on the offensive, take the most advantageous positions,” he said.

Putin added that Russia has an opportunity to study the military equipment of enemy troops and see what can be used by Moscow,

"There is such an expression as reverse engineering," he said. "If there is an opportunity to look inside and see if there is something that can be applied to us — well, why not?"

Kyiv says there is slow progress in counteroffensive: Senior Ukrainian officials and generals alike continue to describe tough fighting and limited progress on the battlefield as they look to drive Russian forces out of the country and turn the tide of the war.

Just days after Ukraine’s key partners met at the NATO summit in Lithuania, pledging even deeper security ties — albeit without specifying any timetable for Ukraine's potential membership in the alliance — Kyiv insists it does not feel under pressure to deliver quick results. 

Speaking to journalists Friday in Kyiv following his attendance at the NATO summit, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, admitted the counteroffensive — seen as being underway since the start of June — was “hard work.”

“It’s not going that fast; it is slow,” he said, adding that it is important Ukrainians are told the truth about developments on the ground.

CNN's Andrew Carey and Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv contributed to this report.

12:54 p.m. ET, July 16, 2023

Putin warns he will use more cluster munitions if Ukraine deploys them

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in Moscow, Russia, on July 13.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in Moscow, Russia, on July 13. Contributor/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned he will use more cluster munitions if Ukraine also deploys the controversial weapons, adding that Russia has sufficient reserves.

Both Moscow and Kyiv have already deployed cluster munitions during the war, but the bombs have come into sharp focus after the US decided to provide Ukraine with the weapons for the first time in a recent aid package.

In his remarks, Putin argued that previously the US administration itself had considered using cluster munitions a crime. Therefore, Ukraine's use of the weapons should be treated as such, he told pro-Kremlin journalist Pavel Zarubin. 

The deadly weapons are banned by more than 100 countries due to their potential risk to civilians, although not by the US, Russia or Ukraine. 

Putin claimed "Russia has a sufficient supply of various types of cluster munitions," but has held off from fully employing it.

"But of course, if they are used against us, we reserve the right to mirror actions," he added.

Remember: The weapons are so controversial because they scatter smaller "bomblets" across a wide area, and if those smaller units do not explode upon impact, they can pose a long-term threat to anyone who comes through the area, including civilians.

Key context: While Putin highlighted what he views as US hypocrisy on the use of cluster munitions, Washington has sought to draw a distinction between Russia's use of the weapons and how Ukraine will employ the US-provided bombs.

To start, US officials argue, Kyiv will use the weapons on its own territory and to defend against an "aggressive war" launched by Russia.

The Pentagon says Ukraine will also use much more care to employ the weapons only against military targets, and then make every effort to sweep for unexploded bomblets, whereas it has accused Russia of "indiscriminately killing civilians" with the weapons.

Finally, the US says its version of the weapon has a much lower rate of failure than Moscow's cluster weapons, so the risk of unexploded bomblets is lower.

Russia has rejected and disputed these characterizations.

9:05 a.m. ET, July 16, 2023

Russian authorities in Sevastopol say they repelled a "massive" Ukrainian drone attack

From CNN's Josh Pennington

Russian-appointed authorities in Crimea reported on Sunday that their air defense forces and electronic warfare units had fended off a Ukrainian drone attack overnight on the Crimean port city of Sevastopol.

The Russian-backed governor of the city, Mikhail Razvozhaev said on Telegram several drones were shot down and called the attack "massive and prolonged."

He said "no structures either in the city or in the water area were damaged" and the city was now "quiet and everything is calm."

Some background: The Ukrainian military has been carrying out attacks in Crimea for months, with two likely goals: harass the Russian Black Sea fleet and disrupt vital Russian supply lines.

Russian-appointed authorities in Crimea reported in May that their air defense forces fended off at least three Ukrainian drone attacks in Sevastopol.

In April, a suspected drone strike sparked a huge fire at a fuel storage facility, also in Sevastopol.

Without claiming responsibility for that attack, Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence called the fire “God’s punishment,” particularly for the civilians killed in the Ukrainian city of Uman, where a Russian strike left at least 23 people dead.

Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014 and its recapture remains a goal for Ukraine.

8:19 a.m. ET, July 16, 2023

Putin says goal of grain deal "has not been realized" as deadline looms to extend it

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

Liberia-flagged bulker Eneida, carrying grain under UN's Black Sea grain initiative, waits for inspection in the southern anchorage of Istanbul, Turkey, on May 17, 2023.
Liberia-flagged bulker Eneida, carrying grain under UN's Black Sea grain initiative, waits for inspection in the southern anchorage of Istanbul, Turkey, on May 17, 2023. Mehmet Emin/Reuters/FILE

Russian President Vladimir Putin told South African President Cyril Ramaphosa the main goal of a crucial deal allowing the export of Ukrainian grain has not been realized.

The Black Sea grain deal expires on Monday unless Russia extends it.

During a call with Ramaphosa, Putin stressed the importance of Russia's side of the deal being upheld, including the removal of tariffs on Russian food exports, according to the Kremlin.

“(Putin) stressed that the obligations set out in the relevant Russia-UN memorandum to remove obstacles to the export of Russian food and fertilizers still remain unfulfilled,” the Kremlin readout of the call said.

“Moreover, the main goal of the deal, namely the supply of grain to countries in need, including those on the African continent, has not been realized,” it said.

What is the Black Sea grain deal?: The Black Sea grain deal was first reached in July 2022.

The deal – brokered by the United Nations and Turkey with Russia and Ukraine – created procedures to ensure the safe export of grain from Ukrainian ports after Russia launched its full-scale invasion and blockaded ports there.

As part of the deal, grain ships were able to navigate through a safe corridor in the Black Sea under the direction of Ukrainian pilots, and then pass through the Bosphorus Strait – an important shipping corridor in northwest Turkey – in order to reach global markets.

The agreement has proven vital for stabilizing global food prices and bringing relief to the developing countries that rely on Ukrainian exports.

The deal’s survival continues to rest in Russia’s hands. Prior to its third renewal in May, the Kremlin had remained elusive as to whether it would remain in the pact until agreeing to an extension.

8:22 a.m. ET, July 16, 2023

Kharkiv mayor says city hit by Russian missiles

From CNN’s Mariya Knight and Josh Pennington

Russian missiles struck the city center of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine during the early hours of Sunday, according to the city's Mayor Ihor Terekhov.

One of the strikes was recorded in the Shevchenkivskyi district and did not cause any damage, Terekhov said.

"As for the rest of the missile strikes, the State Emergency Service is inspecting the area. It is highly likely that Kharkiv was hit by S-300 missiles," he said, referring to a type of long-range missile commonly used by Russia that is capable of considerable destruction.

The mayor said there was no information about casualties at the moment.

Located in northeastern Ukraine, Kharkiv is the country's second-largest city and municipality and was considered a major target for the Russian military early in the invasion.

9:33 a.m. ET, July 16, 2023

Here are the areas each side controls in southern and eastern Ukraine

Ukraine's summer counteroffensive is, by its own accounts, a grueling slog.

Recaptured territory has not come easily in areas of southern and eastern Ukraine where Russia has created multi-layered defenses and heavily mined the land.

As has been the case for months, some of the fiercest fighting is centered on the eastern city of Bakhmut. The Russian private military group Wagner claimed it captured the city and handed it over to Moscow's troops back in May, but in the time since, Ukraine has consistently reported modest gains in areas immediately surrounding Bakhmut.

Meanwhile, one of Kyiv's most important strategic priorities can be found on the southern front. Analysts view reclaiming Russian-occupied parts of the Zaporizhzhia region as critical to the Ukrainian counteroffensive, because it could break Russia's land bridge between annexed Crimea and the eastern Donetsk region — effectively separating the route between the territory Russia seized in 2014 and its new incursions in eastern Ukraine.

The map below shows the latest state of control for both militaries: