October 7, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Sana Noor Haq, Adrienne Vogt and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 2354 GMT (0754 HKT) October 7, 2022
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12:52 p.m. ET, October 7, 2022

Ukraine says 2,400 square kilometers of territory liberated in south since war began

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva

Ukrainian troops hoist a flag above a building in Vysokopillia, in southern Kherson region.
Ukrainian troops hoist a flag above a building in Vysokopillia, in southern Kherson region. (@AndriyYermak/Twitter)

The Ukrainian military has liberated 2,400 square kilometers (more than 926 square miles) of territory in the south "since the beginning of the full-scale war," a senior Ukrainian official said Friday.

Almost all of that land has been recovered in the past two weeks as Ukraine has stepped up its counteroffensive in Kherson.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president's office, said the progress in Kherson includes:

  • Six settlements that were liberated in the Kherson district, which is to the north of the city itself.
  • 61 settlements that were recaptured in the region's district of Beryslav

Meanwhile, the evacuation of civilians continued amid massive destruction to critical infrastructure in towns like Arkhanhelske, Vysokopillia and Osokorivka, all of which saw weeks of heavy fighting and indirect fire, Tymoshenko said, adding that de-mining was in progress.

Ukrainian forces have been making steady progress in Kherson since beginning an offensive at the end of last month. In his Thursday night evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv has retaken more than 500 square kilometers (about 193 square miles) of territory in the southern Kherson region since Oct. 1.

9:57 a.m. ET, October 7, 2022

Alaska's governor says arrival of 2 Russians seeking asylum is "maybe a one-off"

From CNN's Julia Vargas Jones and Priscilla Alvarez

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said during a Wednesday night news conference that the arrival of two Russian nationals seeking asylum in the US to avoid Moscow's draft had been a surprise and that officials “don’t anticipate a continual stream of individuals.”

The Russians crossed the Bering Strait, landing on western Alaska’s St. Lawrence Island earlier this week.

“The Russian nationals reported that they fled one of the coastal communities on the east coast of Russia to avoid compulsory military service,” said Karina Borger, a spokesperson for Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

The governor said “this is maybe a one-off” incident, warning of a storm hitting areas of northwest Alaska and adding that “any type of transiting the Bering Strait for the next couple days could be dangerous.”

The individuals were transported to Anchorage for inspection, which includes screening and vetting, and were then processed in accordance with US immigration laws, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security told CNN.

The Russian Embassy in Washington said its diplomats will hold a “telephone conversation” with the two male citizens, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

More context: The pair’s arrival in Gambell, Alaska, follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call last month for “partial mobilization” of the country’s population, prompting an exodus of Russian men out of the country, with cars lining up to cross the border into neighboring Finland, Georgia and Mongolia.

Protests of the draft have erupted in ethnic minority regions, and some military enlistment offices have been set on fire. The mobilization announcement also prompted anti-war protests across Russia.

At its narrowest point, the distance between mainland Russia and Alaska is 55 miles (88 kilometers), according to Alaska Public Lands Information Centers.

CNN has reached out to the Alaska governor’s office.

9:18 a.m. ET, October 7, 2022

Ukraine’s defense minister promises "life, safety and justice" to Russian troops who lay down their arms

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Jo Shelley in London

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov delivers a video message via social media.
Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov delivers a video message via social media. (Ukrainian military TV/YouTube)

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov released a video in which he urges Russia’s frontline troops to lay down their arms and promises “life, safety and justice” to those that do.

In the video posted on YouTube on Friday, Reznikov spoke in Russian and warned that "thousands of Russian lads will die" as Moscow's forces continue to suffer losses.

"Your paratroopers are now dying on the right bank of the Dnipro," he said. "You pay in blood for someone's fantasies and false goals."

As Ukrainian fighters advance in the southern region of Kherson, Kyiv has claimed that Russian units have suffered losses and are trying to evacuate their wounded across the Dnipro River.

What Moscow is saying: Russian President Vladimir Putin has falsely claimed that one of the reasons Russia invaded Ukraine was to stop a genocide being committed against Russian speakers.

“You know that in Ukraine you are not liberating anyone,” Reznikov said, claiming that Russian armed forces were “deceived and betrayed” when they were sent into Ukraine in February. “Many of you have already understood that you were not sent to die for a just cause. Maybe that's why your [President] is hiding in a bunker, and not taking a punch next to you. He is afraid of your insight, contempt and your justified anger.”

Reznikov compared Putin to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — who has been pictured with his country’s troops on the frontline. “Our President is with his army. Where is yours?” he asked.  

9:29 a.m. ET, October 7, 2022

There's no change in US nuclear posture, sources say, despite Biden's "Armageddon" warning on Putin’s threats

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

The morning after US President Joe Biden warned that the world faces the highest prospect of nuclear war in 60 years, a senior administration official says there has been no shift in US nuclear posture.

"We haven't seen any indication of activity [from Russia] that would cause us to change our own nuclear deterrent posture," the senior official said, adding that the US continues to monitor Russian military movements for any change in its nuclear stance.

While this official would not go so far as Biden in saying that the world faces the prospect of nuclear crisis for the first time since the 1960s, the official said that "the stakes are clearly higher right now" as a result of a string of military setbacks Russia is facing in Ukraine.

The official said Biden was speaking "frankly" based on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s "irresponsible and reckless" rhetoric, but not based on any new information about Russia's nuclear posture.

What Biden said Thursday night: During a Democratic fundraiser in New York, Biden delivered a stark warning about the dangers behind Putin’s nuclear threats as Moscow continues to face military setbacks in Ukraine.

“First time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use (of a) nuclear weapon if in fact things continue down the path they are going,” Biden warned. He added: “I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily (use) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”

It was striking for the President to speak so candidly, particularly at a fundraiser, while his aides from the National Security Council to the State Department to the Pentagon have spoken in much more measured terms, saying they take the threats seriously but don’t see movement on them from the Kremlin.

CNN's Sam Fossum, Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc contributed reporting to this post.

8:09 a.m. ET, October 7, 2022

Ukrainian district of Nikopol "shuddered all night," regional governor says 

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

The district of Nikopol “shuddered all night” under shelling from Russian forces, Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, said in a post on Telegram.

“Almost 40 Russian shells hit Nikopol,” the post read. “Several high-rise buildings, more than 10 private houses, a transport infrastructure enterprise, gas pipelines and electricity networks were damaged in the city.”

No injuries were reported in the shelling, Reznichenko said.

The Nikopol district is in the Dnipropetrovsk region. It sits across the river from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and has frequently come under fire from Russian forces on the opposite bank of the river Dnipro, plant is situated. 

7:41 a.m. ET, October 7, 2022

Putin talks to Turkish President about “latest developments” in Ukraine

From CNN’s Gul Tuysuz in Istanbul

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan attends a news conference during the Informal EU 27 Summit and Meeting within the European Political Community at Prague Castle, Czech Republic, on October 6.
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan attends a news conference during the Informal EU 27 Summit and Meeting within the European Political Community at Prague Castle, Czech Republic, on October 6. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the situation in Ukraine, the presidential office in Ankara said Friday.

“The latest developments in the Russia-Ukraine war were discussed,” during a phone call between both leaders, according to a readout from Erdoğan’s office.

Turkey’s President “reiterated that readiness to do their part for a peaceful resolution of the Ukraine issue for the benefit of all," the readout added.

Some background: Erdogan has played a delicate balancing act since the start of Russia's invasion. He has refused to sign up to Western sanctions against Russia and sought to play something of a peacemaker role between Kyiv and Moscow.

The Turkish leader also helped broker a deal between Russia and Ukraine to allow the resumption of grain shipments from Ukraine's Black Sea ports.

Erdoğan called this agreement "one of the greatest accomplishments of the United Nations in the recent decades."

At the UN General Assembly last month, Erdogan called for an end to the "Russian-Ukrainian crisis," saying the seven-month war had sent a "wave of shock" around the globe.

CNN's Jonny Hallam contributed reporting.

6:36 a.m. ET, October 7, 2022

Russian envoys in US will hold phone call with two Russian citizens who fled to Alaska

From CNN's Mia Alberti, Ben Finley and Cheri Mossburg

The Russian Embassy in Washington has said its diplomats will hold a "telephone conversation" with two Russian men who fled to Alaska to avoid being drafted into the military, state media TASS reported.

"The embassy is aware of the situation with the detained Russian citizens in the state of Alaska. Today we received a notification about this from the Anchorage branch of the US Customs and Border Guard Service," Nadezhda Shumova, the head of the consular department of the Russian embassy in Washington, said, according to TASS.

The two Russians who crossed the Bering Strait, landing in Gambell, Alaska earlier this week said they were seeking asylum to avoid Russia’s draft in the ongoing conflict with Ukraine. 

“The Russian nationals reported that they fled one of the coastal communities on the east coast of Russia to avoid compulsory military service,” said Karina Borger, a spokesperson for Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

7:02 a.m. ET, October 7, 2022

Rescue operations ongoing in Zaporizhzhia after Russian missile strikes kill 11 people

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Ukrainian firefighters looking for survivors in the rubble after a missile strike in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on October 6.
Ukrainian firefighters looking for survivors in the rubble after a missile strike in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on October 6. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

Rescue operations are underway in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia after Russian missile strikes killed 11 people on Thursday, according to Ukrainian authorities.

“Emergency and rescue operations are ongoing at the site of destroyed residential buildings as a result of missile strikes on October 6,” the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said in a Telegram post.

The bodies of the 11 people who died in the strikes were retrieved from two residential buildings, the statement added. Twenty-one people were rescued from both apartment blocks, 13 of whom were hospitalized.

The post updated the death toll from the attack. Officials had previously reported that seven people had been killed.

Some background: Moscow launched a series of fatal missile attacks on the city of Zaporizhzhia early Thursday, just hours after the Kremlin signed a decree to formally seize a massive nuclear power plant nearby.

The city of Zaporizhzhia is not far from the front lines of the conflict. Though the city is under Ukrainian control, about 75% of the greater Zaporizhzhia region is occupied by Russian forces.

That region is one of four Ukrainian territories Russia is claiming to annex in violation of international law.

CNN's Joshua Berlinger contributed reporting.

8:26 a.m. ET, October 7, 2022

It's half past 1 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

As Ukraine continues to press its offensives in the east and south and criticism of Putin's war effort piles up in Russia, here are the latest developments:

  • Putin's private army faces setbacks: An exclusive CNN investigation has revealed that Wagner mercenaries sent to prop up Russia's war in Ukraine have been plagued by morale and supply issues.
  • Kyiv sweeps the south: President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukrainian forces have retaken more than 500 square kilometers of territory in the southern Kherson region in less than a week.
  • Peace Prize in time of war: The Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 was awarded to human rights advocates in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
  • Biden warns of nuclear crisis: The US President warned of "Armageddon" if Russia were to launch a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, though a US official played down the remarks, saying the administration had seen no change in Russia's nuclear posture for now.
  • "I don't have exact numbers": Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied a Russian media report which said 700,000 Russians had fled the country since Putin announced a mobilization drive last month. CNN has not confirmed the report.