Iran aiding Russian war effort, White House says; at least 6 killed as Russia strikes civilians in Kharkiv: July 11 recap

Editor's note: This page recaps the news from Ukraine on Monday, July 11. Follow here for the latest updates and news from Tuesday, July 12, as Russia's invasion continues.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Iran next week, the Kremlim announced Tuesday, one day after the Biden administration revealed that Tehran has agreed to  provide Russia with “several hundred” drones.

Putin will meet with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has criticized sanctions imposed by the West against Russia.

On Monday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said intelligence indicates that Iran could train Russian forces on the drones, including some with military capability as soon as this month. He said it was unclear whether Iran has delivered any drones already. Sullivan, appearing at a White House press briefing, brought up Russia’s reliance on Iran for military equipment as an example of how Russia’s fighting in eastern Ukraine is “coming at a cost to the sustainment of its own weapons.”

The White House’s disclosure of potential Iran-Russia cooperation comes as President Joe Biden heads to the Middle East on Tuesday – with visits lined up in Israel and Saudi Arabia – in which Iran’s nuclear program will be among topics of discussion.

– Joey Garrison

Latest developments:

►The United Nations said Monday that it will start monitoring the war in Ukraine and conflicts in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Africa’s central Sahel region for violations against children, including killings, injuries, recruitment, rape and other forms of sexual violence.

►Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov said he is pulling out of the media business so he won't be labeled as an oligarch. Akhmetov's System Capital Management group will transfer media holdings to the government, including his Ukraina TV channel and Ukraina 24 news channel, the Kyiv Independent reports. "As the largest private investor in Ukraine, I have repeatedly said that I was not, am not, and will not be an oligarch," Akhmetov said in statement.

►Nord Stream 1, which supplies Russian gas to Europe, was shut down for routine maintenance until July 21, according to its website. Klaus Mueller, chief of Germany's energy regulator, told CNBC last week: “We cannot rule out the possibility that gas transport will not be resumed afterward for political reasons.”

►As the Kremlin continues its efforts to claim the entire Donbas region in the east, its soldiers are weary, the British military said. Troops have been on active duty since Russia invaded Feb. 24 and President Vladimir Putin has ordered a period of rest for them, but the bombardment goes on.

A rescue worker puts out the fire on a destroyed house after a Russian attack in a residential neighborhood in downtown Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 11, 2022.  The top official in the Kharkiv region said Monday the Russian forces launched three missile strikes on the city targeting a school, a residential building and warehouse facilities.
A rescue worker puts out the fire on a destroyed house after a Russian attack in a residential neighborhood in downtown Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 11, 2022. The top official in the Kharkiv region said Monday the Russian forces launched three missile strikes on the city targeting a school, a residential building and warehouse facilities.

Sanctions pressure squeezes Russian car industry

Sales of new passenger cars in Russian are expected to decline 28% in 2022 and could drop as much as 50%, according to a report in the state-run media outlet Tass. The Trust Technologies auditing firm blamed increased sanctions pressure, declining imports and a "massive departure of players" as foreign firms leave Russia. Sales were forecast to include 227,000 cars from Russian brands, 688,000 foreign cars assembled in Russia and 175,000 imported cars. About 1.5 million new cars were sold in Russia last year.

Zelenskyy chastises Canada for sanction exemption

Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Canada's representative in Kyiv after Canada approved a sanction exemption to allow return of turbines to Russian that Moscow had blamed for a reduction of gas flows to Europe. The Canadian government said the deal would support Europe’s ability to access energy while the EU transitions away from Russian oil and gas. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the decision "absolutely unacceptable" and warned it will be perceived in Moscow as a reflection of weakness.

"This is about common rules," Zelenskyy said. " "If a terrorist state can squeeze out such an exception to sanctions, what exceptions will it want tomorrow or the day after tomorrow? ... Now there can be no doubt that Russia will try not just to limit as much as possible, but to completely shut down the supply of gas to Europe at the most acute moment."

Russia's latest attack on residential areas kills at least six

Missiles struck residential areas in Ukraine's second-largest city Monday, killing at least six people and injuring 31 others as Russia pounded Kharkiv and its surroundings in its continued assault on civilians despite pausing its ground offense.

Missiles hit a school and a residential building and also aimed for a warehouse, according to a Telegram post by Kharkiv regional Gov. Oleh Syneihubov. "All exclusively on civilian objects, this is absolute terrorism!" Syneihubov said. He added that those injured included children ages 4 and 16.

Also Monday, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said the death toll in the Russian weekend shelling that destroyed three apartment buildings in the Donetsk province town of Chasiv Yar rose to 30. Nine people have been pulled out of the rubble.

Putin to all Ukrainians: Become Russian citizens

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Monday expanding a fast-track procedure for all Ukrainians to receive Russian citizenship, in yet another effort to expand Moscow's influence in war-torn Ukraine. Until recently, only residents of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as residents of the southern Zaporizhzhia and the Kherson regions, large parts of which are under Russian control, were eligible for the simplified procedure.

Ukrainian officials haven’t yet reacted to Putin’s announcement.

From 2019, when the procedure was first introduced for the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk, to this year, more than 720,000 residents of the rebel-held areas in the two regions – about 18% of the population – have received Russian passports.

UK highlights 'personnel issues' in Russian army

The British Ministry of Defense on Monday highlighted a Russian army morale problem in its regular intelligence update on the war in Ukraine.

The ministry tweeted early Monday that a media agency in Russia uploaded a video late last month that shows wives of soldiers from a unit in the Eastern Military District appealing "to a local politician for their husbands to be returned home from service in Ukraine."

"One woman claimed that personnel of EMD's 5th Separate Guards Tank Brigade are 'mentally and physically exhausted’, because they have been on active combat duty since the launch of the 'special military operation' " on Feb. 24.

The ministry said Russia's troops have not had scheduled breaks from combat since the invasion, which "is highly likely one of the most damaging of the many personnel issues the Russian MoD is struggling to rectify amongst the deployed force."

A local man clears rubble from his house which was destroyed after a Russian attack in a residential neighborhood in downtown Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 11, 2022. The top official in the Kharkiv region said Monday the Russian forces launched three missile strikes on the city targeting a school, a residential building and warehouse facilities.
A local man clears rubble from his house which was destroyed after a Russian attack in a residential neighborhood in downtown Kharkiv, Ukraine, on July 11, 2022. The top official in the Kharkiv region said Monday the Russian forces launched three missile strikes on the city targeting a school, a residential building and warehouse facilities.

No fries for you! McDonald's replacement in Russia changes menu

It's one thing to replace McDonald's outlets in Russia with a domestic brand when the famed American fast-food chain departs because of the war in Ukraine. In entirely another matter to expect Russian consumers to put up with having no french fries on the menu. "Nyet!'' McDonald's Russian successor, “Vkusno i Tochka,” which translates to "Tasty and that's it,'' told the Russian state news agency Tass that some of its restaurants won't be serving fries until the fall because of a shortage of the required type of potatoes.

The company, which bought the 840 McDonald's locations in Russia two months ago, blamed the inability to offer fries on "the fact that 2021 in Russia has become a lean year for potato varieties,'' Tass reported.

Poll: US strongly supports Ukraine holding firm against Russia

More than 60% of Americans believe Ukraine should fight until Russia ends its invasion, according to a survey by Rasmussen Reports and Human Events released Monday. The 63% polled who held that opinion is down from 72% in a similar survey in April. The poll found 19% of likely voters think Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy should consider giving up territory to Russia.

The survey was conducted July 6-7 and included 1,000 likely American voters. The margin of sampling error is 3 percentage points, with a 95% level of confidence.

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine recap: Iran to supply Russia hundreds of drones