Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine


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Biden says he will work with U.K. government to support Ukraine after Johnson steps down

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the US President Joe Biden in Carbis Bay Cornwall after their meeting ahead of the G7 Summit June 10, 2021.

Andrew Parsons | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

President Joe Biden said that the resignation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not strain the united international effort to aid Ukraine during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.

“I look forward to continuing our close cooperation with the government of the United Kingdom, as well as our allies and partners around the world, on a range of important priorities,” Biden wrote in a statement obtained by NBC News.

“That includes maintaining a strong and united approach to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend themselves against Putin’s brutal war on their democracy, and holding Russia accountable for its actions,” Biden added.

Johnson, who was one of the first world leaders to visit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv following Russia’s invasion, quickly became one of the most visible Western supporters of Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

German lawmakers back plan to expand renewable energy

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends the summer party of the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE), in Berlin, Germany, July 6, 2022. 

Michele Tantussi | Reuters

German lawmakers approved a major package of reforms aimed at boosting the production of renewable power, as Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned that the country has for too long relied on energy supplies from Russia.

The government unveiled its 600-page “Easter package” in April, less than two months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalated the simmering energy crisis between Moscow and western European neighbors, many of which were buyers of Russian fossil fuels.

Germany has sharply reduced its energy imports from Russia in recent months. The government aims to end the purchase of Russian coal and oil this year, and of natural gas by 2024.

Scholz said late Wednesday that the war was another reason for Europe’s biggest economy to double down on its efforts to expand the use of renewable energy.

“Germany has relied for too long and too unilaterally on energy supplies from Russia,” he said at a renewable energy industry event in Berlin.

— Associated Press

U.S. diplomats speak to Griner and give her letter from Biden

US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on July 1, 2022.

Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP | Getty Images

Diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow attended WNBA star Brittney Griner’s trial in Russia and delivered a letter from President Joe Biden.

Griner, 31, who plays professional basketball in Russia during the WNBA offseason, was arrested in February at a Russian airport. She pleaded guilty to drug charges and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

“The U.S. government, from the highest levels, is working hard to bring Brittney and all wrongfully detained U.S. citizens home safely,” the U.S. Embassy in Moscow wrote in a tweet.

Earlier in the week, Griner wrote a letter to Biden asking for his help with her case in Russia.

“I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote to Biden.

— Amanda Macias

Blinken calls for the immediate release of WNBA star Griner and other wrongfully detained Americans

US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on July 7, 2022.

Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner after she pleaded guilty to drug charges in Russia.

Griner faces up to 10 years in prison.

Blinken said in a tweet that the U.S. “will not relent until Brittney, Paul Whelan, and all other wrongfully detained Americans are reunited with their loved ones.”

On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Cherelle Griner, the wife of the professional basketball star who plays in Russia during the WNBA offseason.

Biden reassured her that he is working to secure her wife’s release as soon as possible. He also said he aims to win the release of Paul Whelan and other U.S. nationals wrongfully detained in Russia and around the world.

— Amanda Macias

UK’s Boris Johnson speaks to Zelenskyy after resignation speech, says Britain’s support is ‘unwavering’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement at Downing Street in London, Britain, July 7, 2022.

Henry Nicholls | Reuters

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by phone after resigning as head of Britain’s Conservative Party.

During the call, Johnson “highlighted the U.K.’s unwavering cross-party support for President Zelenskyy’s people, and said the U.K. would continue to supply vital defensive aid for as long as needed,” a spokesperson for the prime minister’s office said.

“He thanked President Zelenskyy for everything he’s doing to stick up for freedom, for his friendship and for the kindness of the Ukrainian people,” according to the spokesperson, who added that Zelenskyy thanked Johnson for his rapid action on Ukraine, and said the Ukrainian people were grateful.

Johnson also told Zelenskyy, “You’re a hero, everybody loves you,” the spokesperson said.

— Natasha Turak

Kyiv to summon Turkey’s ambassador after Russian ship with ‘stolen’ grain allowed to depart

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said it will be summoning Turkey’s ambassador in the country after a Russian ship carrying what it says is Ukrainian grain was able to leave the Turkish port of Karasu.

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“We regret that Russia’s ship Zhibek Zholy, which was full of stolen Ukrainian grain, was allowed to leave Karasu port despite criminal evidence presented to the Turkish authorities,” foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Twitter.

“Turkey’s ambassador in Kyiv will be invited to Ukraine’s ministry of foreign affairs to clarify this unacceptable situation.”

Moscow denies its ship was being detained, saying it was undergoing routine procedures.

Turkey has been trying to negotiate with Moscow and Kyiv the release of Ukrainian grain to export markets, after Russia’s blocking of Ukrainian ports has led to global food shortages. Ukraine is one of the world’s top exporters of grain and other agricultural staples.

— Natasha Turak

At least one killed and six injured in missile strike on Kramatorsk, governor says

A Ukrainian serviceman walks near a burning car after an air strike in the courtyard of hotel Industria and civilian residences in the center of Kramatorsk, on July 7, 2022.

Miguel Medina | Afp | Getty Images

A Russian missile strike on the city of Kramatorsk killed at least one person and injured six, Ukraine’s governor of Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko, wrote in a Telegram post.

“A Russian missile hit the center of Kramatorsk. It is known for sure about one dead and six wounded, but these figures may still change. Six buildings were damaged by the impact, including a hotel and a residential high-rise building. This is a deliberate attack on civilians,” Kyrylenko wrote.

The details have not been independently confirmed by NBC. Moscow insists that it does not target civilian areas.

An injured woman is helped by an ambulance nurse after an air strike in the courtyard of hotel Industria and civilian residences in the center of Kramatorsk, on July 7, 2022.

Miguel Medina | AFP | Getty Images

The Donetsk oblast, or province, of eastern Ukraine is part of the Donbas region, the capture of which Moscow has called an “unconditional priority.” It is swiftly becoming the main target for Russian forces after they seized all of neighboring Luhansk after weeks of bloody fighting.

— Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy has international support ‘regardless of what government is in power,’ White House aide says

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks at Downing Street in London, Britain July 6, 2022.

Henry Nicholls | Reuters

Former Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the resignation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson should have no effect on international security assurances and support for Ukraine.

“Every leader at NATO and every leader at the G-7 said they were going to continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” said Kirby, the National Security Council strategic communications coordinator, in an interview on Fox News.

“I think President Zelenskyy understands that he has that international support, regardless of what government is in power in any one of those countries,” he said, adding that aid from the U.S., U.K. and other countries “continues to flow into the country every single day.”

Johnson, who was one of the first world leaders to visit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv following Russia’s invasion, quickly became one of the most visible Western supporters of Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

American basketball player Brittney Griner pleads guilty in Russian court

US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on July 7, 2022.

Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP | Getty Images

American basketball player Brittney Griner pled guilty in a Russian court, admitting to drug charges that could have her sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, Reuters reported.

“I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law,” Griner said. “I’d like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare.” The next hearing is set for July 14.

Griner has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17. The Olympic gold medalist was accused by Russian authorities of having cannabis oil in her luggage and smuggling the narcotic material.

U.S. officials argue that Griner is being wrongfully detained. U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan has previously said that the athlete is being “wrongfully detained, unjustly detained, and we have made that clear as an official determination of the U.S. government.”

— Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy posts photos of meeting with Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal in Kyiv

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a meeting with United States Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal who represent the Republican and Democratic parties of the United States.

Courtesy: Ukraine Presidential Press Service

President Zelenskyy posted photos on his Telegram channel of his meeting with U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in Kyiv. He expressed his appreciation for the visit in his post, writing: “Pleased to meet US Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal. Bicameral and bipartisan support is very important to us. We feel and appreciate this unity.”

He went on to stress the importance of getting Ukrainian students back into their classrooms and families back to their homes by the end of the summer, and how central the delivery of advanced weapons is to that goal.

“Now the primary task is that by September 1, women with children can return home, and children and students – to go to schools and universities. We count on the support of Congress in the issue of supplying modern air defense systems,” he said. “We must ensure such a level of security of the sky that our people are not afraid to live in Ukraine.”

— Natasha Turak

U.S. Troop deployment departs for Europe

Members of the U.S. Army 2nd Brigade Combat Team depart for their deployment in Europe on July 7, 2022 in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. 

Members of the U.S. Army 2nd Brigade Combat Team await their flight to Europe for deployment on July 7, 2022 in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Brett Carlsen | Getty Images

Members of the U.S. Army 2nd Brigade Combat Team depart for their deployment in Europe on July 7, 2022 in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. 

Brett Carlsen | Getty Images

Members of the U.S. Army 2nd Brigade Combat Team depart for their deployment in Europe on July 7, 2022 in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. 

Brett Carlsen | Getty Images

Members of the U.S. Army 2nd Brigade Combat Team depart for their deployment in Europe on July 7, 2022 in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. 

Brett Carlsen | Getty Images

A boarding school for visually impaired children bombed in Kharkiv

Teachers and employees clear debris in a corridor of a special comprehensive boarding school for visually impaired children which has suffered damages after a strike on its premises, in Kharkiv, on July 7, 2022, amid Russia’s military invasion launched on Ukraine.

The school, before today’s hit, had already been shelled twice, on March 16 and July 1.

An Ukrainian serviceman examines a crater outside a special comprehensive boarding school for visually impaired children after a strike on its premises, in Kharkiv, on July 7, 2022, amid Russia’s military invasion launched on Ukraine.

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Teachers and employees clear debris in a corridor of a special comprehensive boarding school for visually impaired children which has suffered damages after a strike on its premises, in Kharkiv, on July 7, 2022, amid Russia’s military invasion launched on Ukraine.

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Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Employees of a boarding school for children with impaired vision are cleaning up the fragments of windows and doors that were shattered as a result of a Russian rocket hitting the yard of the institution in Kharkiv, Ukraine on July 07, 2022.

Sofia Bobok | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Teachers and employees clear debris in a corridor of a special comprehensive boarding school for visually impaired children which has suffered damages after a strike on its premises, in Kharkiv, on July 7, 2022, amid Russia’s military invasion launched on Ukraine. 

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian troops raise the flag on recaptured Snake Island

Ukrainian troops have raised the country’s flag once again on Snake Island, a strategically important outpost in the Black Sea that was re-captured by Ukrainian forces last week.

Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Head of the Odesa Regional Military Administration, posted images of the Ukrainian flag being raised on Snake Island, also known as Zmiinyi Island, on Telegram on Thursday.

Separately, Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces said they had completed the task of clearing the island, with the destruction of 30 units of enemy equipment in the process.

“Abandoned ammunition and vast ruins were discovered” the Operational Command “South” posted on Facebook with images of the flag posted on Youtube.

Snake Island was occupied by Russian forces at the start of the invasion back in February, but Ukrainian forces were able to recapture it last week. For their part, Russian forces claimed they had left the island as a “gesture of goodwill.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Battle for Luhansk ‘not over yet,’ region’s governor says

Plumes of smoke rising to the sky during heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Lysychansk, Ukraine, on July 1, 2022. Russia claimed it had captured Lysychansk on Sunday, a development later confirmed by Ukraine.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The battle for Luhansk — the part of the Donbas that Russian forces claimed to have captured last weekend — is not over yet, accoding to Serhiy Haidai, the head of the region’s military administration.

Haidai reiterated his comments yesterday that the “Luhansk region is 100% NOT occupied. Fighting continues in the outskirts of the area,” saying again on Facebook on Thursday that “the battle for [the] Luhansk region is not over yet.”

“Fights continue on the outskirts of Luhansk region,” he said, with Russian forces trying to establish complete control over the area and the main road between Lysychansk (in Luhansk) and Bakhmut (in the neighboring Donetsk region).

CNBC was not able to immediately verify Haidai’s claims.

Holly Ellyatt

Calm before the storm? Russia makes few advances as its forces re-group

Ukrainian service members are seen at a position on the front line, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the town of New York, Donetsk region, Ukraine June 9, 2022. 

Gleb Garanich | Reuters

Russian forces on the frontline in Donetsk have made few advances over the last 24 hours, according to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence, but this is likely to be due to its troops regrouping before a renewed push into the Donetsk region.

“Russian units involved in last week’s gains are now likely re-constituting,” the ministry said on Twitter Thursday.

Russia has not claimed to have taken any new territory in recent days but analysts say it is likely due to its forces regrouping before launching another assault on the Donetsk region in the Donbas. Russia has already seized the neighboring Luhansk province following the capture of the city of Lysychansk last weekend.

Analysts from the Institute for War said Wednesday evening that “the Russian Defense Ministry claimed territorial gains every day from the start of the war but has not claimed any new territory or ground force movements since completing the encirclement of Lysychansk on July 3.

However, Russian forces still conducted limited and unsuccessful ground assaults across all axes on July 6. Such attempts are consistent with a Russian operational pause, which does not imply or require the complete cessation of active hostilities.”

It means, in this case, the analsysts said that Russian forces will likely confine themselves to relatively small-scale offensive actions as they attempt to set conditions “for more significant offensive operations” and rebuild the combat power needed to attempt those more ambitious undertakings.   

— Holly Ellyatt

Humanity at risk if the West seeks to punish Russia over Ukraine, official warns

Former President Dmitry Medvedev said on Telegram on Wednesday that he thought it was a “crazy” idea “to create tribunals or courts for the so-called investigation of Russia’s actions” in Ukraine.

Ekaterina Shtukina | Sputnik | Reuters

A top Russian official has warned that humanity could be at risk if the West tried to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine, in response to U.S. calls for an international tribunal to prosecute potential war crimes in the country.

Former President Dmitry Medvedev, once known for his more liberal stance but now a decided hawk as the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said Wednesday on Telegram that he thought it was a “crazy” idea “to create tribunals or courts for the so-called investigation of Russia’s actions” in Ukraine.

“These proposals are not only legally void. The idea of punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials is absurd in itself. And potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity.”

He said the U.S. had itself sown “chaos and devastation around the world under the guise of ‘true democracy’,” criticizing the U.S. for killing Native Americans, nuclear attacks on Japan and for taking part in wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

At the end of his Telegram message, Medvedev referenced the Bible, saying that if the U.S. judges Russia it could face the wrath of God.

“The US and its useless stooges should remember the words of the Bible: ‘Judge not, lest you be judged; so that one day the great day of His wrath will not come to their house, and who can stand?,'” Medvedev said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s claims that it destroyed 2 U.S.-made HIMARS are fake, Ukraine says

A Ukrainian serviceman on a HIMAR system on July 1, 2022, in eastern Ukraine. “HIMARS jet systems provided by American partners constantly deliver devastating strikes at strategically important enemy points, resulting in colossal losses among equipment, personnel and occupying forces,” Ukraine said.

The Washington Post | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Russia claimed on Wednesday that it had destroyed two U.S.-made rocket systems (Ukraine was given eight such systems by the U.S. in recent weeks) but Ukraine has denied this, saying it was propaganda and fake news.

“Russian propagandists actively spread false messages about the alleged destruction of the American artillery system ‘HIMARS’,” Ukraine’s armed forces said on Facebook yesterday, adding that it’s “nothing but another Russian fake.” HIMARs refers to High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.

“HIMARS jet systems provided by American partners constantly deliver devastating strikes at strategically important enemy points, resulting in colossal losses among equipment, personnel and occupying forces,” Ukraine said.

Ukraine’s rebuttal came after Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed on Wednesday that it destroyed two U.S.-made HIMARS.

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“High-precision air-based missiles have destroyed 2 U.S.-made Himars multiple-launch rocket launchers and 2 ammunition depots near Malotaranovka in Donetsk People’s Republic,” the ministry claimed in its latest military update on Wednesday.

CNBC and NBC News were unable to immediately verify the claim or a video that the ministry published claiming to be of the strike on the HIMARS.

Holly Ellyatt

Russian forces are finally feeling the impact of Western artillery, Zelenskyy says

“Finally, it is felt that the Western artillery – the weapons Ukraine received from its partners – started working very powerfully,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Wednesday.

Alexey Furman | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Heavy weaponry given to Ukraine by its Western allies is finally having an effect on Russia, Ukraine’s president has said.

“Finally, it is felt that the Western artillery – the weapons Ukraine received from its partners – started working very powerfully,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Wednesday.

The accuracy of such weapons is exactly what Ukraine needs at this point, Zelenskyy said, particularly as it tries to repel Russia’s aggressive tactics in the east of the country.

“Our defenders inflict very noticeable strikes on depots and other spots that are important for the logistics of the occupiers and this significantly reduces the offensive potential of the Russian army. The losses of the occupiers will only increase every week, as will the difficulty of supplying them,” Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine has been pleading for more heavy weaponry from its NATO allies to try to match Russia’s near-constant bombardment of towns and cities on the front line, particularly in Luhansk (which has been seized by Russia), and as it tries to pound its way into the neighboring Donetsk region.

Both make up the Donbas in eastern Ukraine, with Moscow saying a key aim of its invasion is to “liberate” the region.

Holly Ellyatt

Think tank says the West could help Ukraine source Soviet-era equipment from non-NATO countries

Rescue operations underway after Russian missile attacks in Serhiivka district of Odessa, Ukraine which left at least 17 people dead and 31 injured on July 1, 2022.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine requires sustained support from countries outside of NATO to provide sufficient Soviet-era arms and ammunition to continue its fight with Moscow, according to a new report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

While the West should continue working to transition Ukraine to NATO-standard equipment, the report noted this will take time and training. For now, Ukraine is set to remain partially dependent on Soviet-standard equipment, the report said.

“Although Washington has scoured the stocks of NATO allies and the Pentagon has explored other potential options, an exhaustive search focusing on non-NATO countries reveals a robust supply of untapped Soviet- and Russian-made arms (and their attendant spare parts and ammunition) that Washington could help Kyiv expeditiously acquire,” said the report.

FDD, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute focusing on foreign policy and national security, identified more than 6,300 relevant systems from countries outside of NATO most likely to handover weapons to Ukraine. These countries were defined as those that voted in favor of Russian withdrawal from Ukraine at the U.N. General Assembly, voted to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council or attended at least one meeting of the U.S.-organized Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

Natalie Tham

Russia earns approximately $1 billion a day in export revenues from oil and gas, expert says

Model of petrol pump is seen in front of Ukraine and Russian flag colors in this illustration taken March 25, 2022. 

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Despite a slew of coordinated global sanctions, Russia still brings in about $1 billion a day in export revenues from oil and gas.

In the weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, Washington and its allies have imposed rounds of coordinated penalties that vaulted Russia past Iran and North Korea as the world’s most-sanctioned country.

However, Russia still receives significant revenues from energy exports, according to research compiled by Gerard DiPippo, a senior fellow at the Economics Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

DiPippo found that oil and gas accounted for 47% of Russia’s revenues from January to May this year. And while Russian oil production fell in April, revenues increased by 80%.

“For comparison, Russian fiscal data suggests that Moscow spent $325 million per day on military expenditures in April, the latest data available,” DiPippo writes, referencing Moscow’s ability to still finance its war in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

British foreign secretary urges NATO allies to bring Finland and Sweden into Article 5 umbrella

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomes British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss before their bilateral meeting in Brussels, Belgium, January 24, 2022.

Olivier Matthys | Reuters

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss urged NATO allies to bring Sweden and Finland into the alliance’s Article 5 umbrella “as swiftly as possible.”

“Both countries’ decision puts them at risk of a potentially aggressive Russian response. Russia has already made several threatening comments in the public domain regarding the possibility of Swedish and Finnish membership of NATO,” Truss wrote in a statement.

The 30-member-strong alliance has consistently warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that an attack on one NATO member state will be viewed as an attack on all, triggering the group’s cornerstone Article 5 mutual defense clause.

To date, the 30-member alliance has only invoked Article 5 once — in defense of the United States in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine tries to hold back Russian forces at the border of Donetsk

A view of damaged artillery equipment facing Severodonetsk from a hillside in Lysychansk, Ukraine, Monday June 13, 2022.

Marcus Yam | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Ukrainian forces are trying to hold back Russian fighters at the border between the neighboring regions of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, according to Serhiy Haidai, the head of Luhansk Regional Military Administration.

Haidai said on Telegram Wednesday that the Russian occupiers were suffering “significant losses” as they tried to advance from one region, which they captured last weekend, into Donetsk as part of their mission to, as Moscow calls it, “liberate” the Donbas.

He said Russian forces had been trying to advance toward Donetsk but had been cut off at the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway, running near Bilohorivka. “Under the pressure of our defenders, the enemy was forced to retreat,” Haidai wrote.

The official said that Russian forces were not able to carry out orders to advance because of “significant losses in terms of personnel.”

“During the assault on Lysychansk alone, thousands of Russian soldiers were killed and injured. In addition, Russian occupiers are facing problems with ammunition supplies, as the Ukrainian military have destroyed several ammunition depots in the occupied areas in recent weeks,” Haidai said.

Haidai was confident that Russia’s advantage in terms of the number of personnel would be reduced as soon as the Ukrainian military receive more long-range weapons.

— Holly Ellyatt

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