December 7, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Amy Woodyatt and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 3:11 a.m. ET, December 8, 2022
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7:03 a.m. ET, December 7, 2022

American fighter receives Ukrainian honor from President Zelensky

From CNN's Victoria Butenko in Kyiv

‘Stretch,’ an American fighter serving in the International Legion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, has been honored for his services to Ukraine by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In a video released by Zelensky’s office, the Ukrainian leader is seen visiting soldiers in a military hospital in Kyiv on Tuesday evening. The footage shows him awarding medals to soldiers, including 'Stretch'.

In a very short exchange, the first name of the American is revealed to be Eric.

“Eric, thank you so much for your bravery,” Zelensky says in the video, to which Eric replies: “it is my honor. Thank you, sir.”

A statement from the International Legion said: ‘Stretch’ “got a medal from the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in recognition of his heroic efforts on the Ukrainian frontlines. Victories do not come cheap. They do not come easy. But our soldier's efforts are appreciated and awarded with official recognition.”

It was not immediately clear what the title of the honor was, what it was for or what injury the American had sustained.

6:45 a.m. ET, December 7, 2022

Crews race to repair Ukraine's energy system as hospitals suspend planned surgeries after Russian strikes

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Hannah Richie

People walk down a darkened street in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, on December 6.
People walk down a darkened street in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, on December 6. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

Repair work on critical energy infrastructure facilities across Ukraine continued Wednesday, in an effort to fix the ongoing power deficit caused by Russian strikes.

“The gradual restoration of the power system after the missile attacks continues…The situation in the east of the country remains difficult -- last night, the enemy one more time shelled several infrastructure facilities, while the temperature in the region reached -17 C,” Ukrenergo, Ukraine's state-run energy operator said Wednesday.

“Repair crews are working to eliminate the consequences of the missile attack in Kyiv and Odesa regions, restoring power supply to the regions under backup schemes,” it continued, adding that there was still a “significant deficit” in the nation’s power system, triggering limits on consumption.

Some background: On Monday, Russia unleashed a wave of drone and missile attacks across Ukraine, targeting the country's energy infrastructure. Ukraine has been facing a wide assault on critical infrastructure and power sources since early October.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the strikes caused extensive power outages in several regions, including Kyiv and Odesa.

Power deficit: Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that after Monday's attacks "power engineers promise to eliminate the consequences" in the coming days.

"At the same time the power deficit in the energy system will remain. Currently, it is 19% of the forecast consumption."

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s health ministry announced the suspension of planned surgeries in an effort to insulate the medical system from the impacts of rolling power outages.

"They will be carried out when the situation around the supply of electricity stabilizes…all emergency medical care will be provided to patients in full," the statement said.

12:45 p.m. ET, December 7, 2022

Russia resorting to "cheap" methods by using Iranian drones, says Ukrainian presidential official

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Seb Shukla in London

Andrii Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, has said that Russia is resorting to using “cheap mopeds” -- referring to Iranian ‘Shahed’ drones -- in attacks against Ukraine. Ukrainians refer to 'Shahed' drones colloquially as 'mopeds' because of the noise they make in flight.

Writing on Telegram, he said that Russia is having to use Iranian drones because its missiles are “running out” and that the strikes are not having the “desired effect of terror” intended.

Yermak noted that Ukrainian forces have “worked out” how to combat the drone. He barbed that Russia has been left behind, saying that Ukraine is "smarter, stronger more creative and modern.”

On Wednesday Russia launched a series of drone attacks on Ukraine using Iranian made ‘Shahed’ drones. Ukrainian forces claimed to have shot down 14 out of 136 ‘Shaheds’ launched.

Some context: A variety of Iran-made drones have been used by Russian forces in Ukraine, often in attacks on infrastructure, with the 'Shahed' one of the most widely used models. In November, Iran acknowledged that it had sent a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of its invasion of Ukraine.

5:28 a.m. ET, December 7, 2022

Kherson and Donetsk under shelling

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

The Kherson and Donetsk regions are under shelling, according to both regional heads.

In Kherson, Yaroslav Yanushevych, head of the Kherson region military administration, said Kherson had been shelled 51 times and that “Russo-fascists fired at peaceful settlements of the region with artillery, MLRS, tanks and mortars.”

He added that there were also civilian casualties: 2 dead and 1 wounded.

In Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region military administration, said that while there were no fatalities, 3 were wounded in Bakhmut, Pavlivka and Kurakhove on December 6. He added there is “destruction” including of infrastructure facilities in Kurakhove.

The general staff of the armed forces said they had repelled a number of attacks from the Russians, including in the Donetsk region in Verkhnokamianske, Spirne, Yakovlivka, Bakhmut, Bila Hora, Kurdiumivka, Novobakhmutivka, Maryinka and Novomykhailivka. 

3:25 a.m. ET, December 7, 2022

4 killed in Ukrainian shelling of Donetsk, Russia-backed officials claim

From CNN’s Josh Pennington and Olga Voitovych

A firefighter works to extinguish a blaze at a market in Russian-occupied Donetsk on December 6.
A firefighter works to extinguish a blaze at a market in Russian-occupied Donetsk on December 6. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Four people were killed and 19 others injured after Ukrainian forces shelled Donetsk on Tuesday, according to a statement from Russia-backed officials in the occupied city.

No further information about the victims was released by the Russian Joint Centre for Control and Coordination in Donetsk and CNN cannot independently verify its claim. 

Pro-Russian authorities in the eastern Ukrainian city reported their third day of shelling by Kyiv's forces Tuesday. 

Some context: Donetsk has been occupied by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, however Ukrainian forces remain within a few miles of its limits. In October, Russia’s legislature approved President Vladimir Putin’s decision to annex four parts of Ukraine, namely Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Luhansk, despite not having full control of those regions. The move is illegal under international law.

2:20 a.m. ET, December 7, 2022

Ukrainian military says it shot down 14 Iran-made attack drones overnight

From CNN’s Josh Pennington and Nick Paton Walsh

The Ukrainian Armed Forces shot down 14 Iran-made attack drones overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, it said in its daily operational update. 

“Over the past day, our troops shot down 14 Shahed 136 drones, 1 Orlan, and 2 others that we haven't identified yet," the AFU post read. 

CNN is unable to independently verify the Ukrainian military’s claim. 

On Tuesday, a Western official told CNN that Russia had “run out” of Iranian attack drones in recent weeks, but the Kremlin was anticipating a “resupply.” The official was speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue. 

Some context: A variety of Iran-made drones have been used by Russian forces in Ukraine, often in attacks on infrastructure. The Shahed is one of the most widely used models. In November, Iran acknowledged that it had sent a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of its invasion of Ukraine.

2:13 a.m. ET, December 7, 2022

Russian drones and missiles strike Zaporizhzhia

From CNN's Josh Pennington 

Two villages in Ukraine's southern region of Zaporizhzhia were struck with drones and S-300 missiles early Wednesday, injuring three people, the regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said in a post on Telegram. 

One of those injured was a 15-year-old girl, he said.

Three houses were destroyed in the Russian attack while a further 18 were damaged across two villages. 

Starukh added that Ukrainian forces also shot down half a dozen unmanned aerial vehicles.

Zaporizhzhia has come under deadly Russian shelling in recent weeks, which has also damaged critical infrastructure and residential buildings.

3:25 a.m. ET, December 7, 2022

US is not preventing Ukraine from developing long-range strike capabilities, defense secretary says

From CNN's Kylie Atwood, Michael Conte and Jennifer Hansler

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks at a press conference during the 32nd annual Australia - US Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations at the State Department in Washington D.C, on December 6.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks at a press conference during the 32nd annual Australia - US Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations at the State Department in Washington D.C, on December 6. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The US is not working to prevent Ukraine from developing its own long-range strike capabilities that could potentially target inside Russian territory, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

“We are not working to prevent Ukraine from developing their own capability,” Austin said on Tuesday. 

His comments come after a top US State Department official on Tuesday suggested that the Ukrainians were behind the recent drone strikes on two Russian bases, and directly accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of committing war crimes by targeting civilian populations and infrastructure.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told CNN that “nobody has claimed responsibility” for the drone strikes, but added that “the Ukrainian people are incredibly innovative; they are making their own drones, air and sea, that are incredibly effective.”

Additionally, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the US has “neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia.” 

Speaking at a press conference with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Australian counterparts, Blinken said he was aware of the reported drone strikes on Russian territory, but had no further information.

1:07 a.m. ET, December 7, 2022

Ukraine reduces power deficit as Russian strikes continue in south

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Denys Shmyhal attends a joint briefing in Kyiv on December 6.
Denys Shmyhal attends a joint briefing in Kyiv on December 6. (Hennadii Minchenko/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

Ukraine said it has reduced its "power deficit" as engineers work to restore infrastructure damaged by waves of Russian missile strikes.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that after Monday's attacks, "power engineers promise to eliminate the consequences" in the coming days.

"At the same time, the power deficit in the energy system will remain. Currently, it is 19% of the forecast consumption," he said. It has been higher than 30% in recent weeks.

Even so, Shmyhal said, "35% of key facilities of the main power grids have been damaged by massive attacks by the Russians in recent months."

"The enemy fired seven missiles at once at one of the substations in the Odesa region. Therefore, power outages schedules are still in effect in the country," he added.

Odesa Mayor Hennadii Trukhanov said that water supply and sewage treatment had been restored by Tuesday evening.

Eleven district and quarter boiler houses — used for heating — were operating, serving about 88% of consumers. "This means that more than 600,000 Odesa residents have heat," Trukhanov said.

More strikes in the south: Russian missile and artillery attacks have continued elsewhere in southern Ukraine.

Yaroslav Yanushevych, the head of the Kherson regional military administration, said Tuesday that "Russian occupiers shelled Kherson city again, hitting an "infrastructure facility and residential buildings."

One person had been killed and a large fire was extinguished, he said.

Further north, Russians attacked the city of Kryvyi Rih.

Valentyn Reznichenko, the head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration, said an industrial enterprise had been hit.

Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the Kryvyi Rih district, said the strike appeared to have been by a ballistic missile, calling them "very significant destructions."

Vilkul said that after Monday's missile attacks, the gradual restoration of electricity had begun. But hourly and scheduled outages would continue "to keep the power system of Ukraine intact."