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LIVE – Updated at 01:16

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Summary

01:16

Thank you for joining us for today’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

We will be pausing our live reporting overnight and returning in the morning.

In the meantime, you can read our comprehensive summary of the day’s events below.

  • A deal to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports is to be signed by Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN on Friday, Turkey says. The agreement will be put in writing by the parties and signed at the Dolmabahce Palace offices at 1.30pm GMT, the office of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said. “In summary, a document may be signed which will bind the sides to (ensure) safe functioning of export routes in the Black Sea,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko added.
  • The US said it would hold Russia accountable for implementing the deal. State department spokesperson, Ned Price, accused Russia of weaponising food, saying: “What will really matter is the implementation of this agreement. We will of course continue to work with our partners to hold Russia accountable for its implementation.”
  • Russia is “about to run out of steam” and take an operational pause offering Ukraine the chance to strike back, the head of UK intelligence said. “I think they’re about to run out of steam. I think our assessment is that the Russians will increasingly find it difficult to supply manpower material over the next few weeks,” said Richard Moore, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) known as MI6. “They will have to pause in some way, and that will give the Ukrainians opportunities to strike back.”
  • Britain will send scores of artillery guns and more than 1,600 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, the UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said on Thursday. Wallace said Britain would also provide counter-battery radar systems, hundreds of drones and more than 50,000 rounds of ammunition.
  • Ukraine has called for an international tribunal to bring Putin to justice more quickly. Trying Russia separately for the act of aggression, with international participation, would speed up its quest to hold the Russian president and his inner circle accountable, officials said. “We hope to have the indictment within three months,” Andriy Smyrnov, Ukraine’s deputy head of the presidential administration, said.
  • Belarus president said the war must be stopped in order to avoid the “abyss of nuclear war” and insisted that Ukraine accept Russia’s demands. “There’s no need to go further. Further lies the abyss of nuclear war,” he told AFP. Lukashenko also accused the west of seeking a conflict with Russia and of provoking the war. “If Russia had not got ahead of you, members of Nato, you would have organised and struck a blow against it,” he said.
  • Russian proxies in the Russian-occupied territory of Donbas have been confiscating documents from forcibly mobilised troops, according to Ukrainian military chiefs. Russian proxies have reportedly been stripping personal documents from residents in attempts to force them to fight against Ukraine and making it impossible for forcibly mobilised troops to desert or identify those that have been killed, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said.
  • Half of all the Russian spies operating under diplomatic cover around Europe have been expelled since the start of the war in Ukraine, the chief of MI6 told a US security conference. Richard Moore, who heads British foreign intelligence, said the expulsions of about 400 Russian diplomats from countries in continental Europe, including France and Germany, had dramatically reduced the Kremlin’s espionage capabilities.
  • The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) has called for more funding to tackle Russian kleptocracy. The (NCA) said the UK had been slower to seize sanctioned Russian oligarchs’ assets than the US because it could not rely on the same “substantial level of investment” that Washington has poured into tackling international corruption and sanctions busting.
  • The Kremlin claims Putin is in good health, dismissing what it called “false reports” he was unwell. “Everything is fine with his health,” the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said in reply to a question at his daily briefing. “These are nothing but fakes,” he added.
  • What could be a priceless Fabergé egg has been found on board a Russian oligarch’s superyacht seized by US authorities. US deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco told the Aspen security forum on Wednesday it was one of the more “interesting” finds her team has made.
  • Germany’s economics minister announced a new wave of emergency measures to cut the country’s consumption of gas after flows from Russia through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline resumed at reduced levels following a scheduled shutdown.
  • An EU proposal that member countries cut gas use by 15% to prepare for possible supply cuts from Russia is facing resistance from governments, throwing into doubt whether they will approve the emergency plan.

22 Jul 2022 00:41

Russia’s top diplomat will address the Arab League at its Cairo headquarters on Sunday, the organisation said.

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Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will meet Arab League head Ahmed Aboul Gheit and representatives of the 22 nations that make up the pan-Arab bloc, according to Agence France-Presse.

On Tuesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi hosted a summit that was attended by his Russian and Turkish counterparts, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

22 Jul 2022 00:06

Ukraine has the potential to inflict major losses on Russia and make gains on the battlefield, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says.

Speaking in a late-night video address after meeting with senior military commanders, he said the group discussed the supply of modern weapons, adding the intensity of attacks on the Russians had to be stepped up.

(We) agreed that our forces have the strong potential to advance on the battlefield and inflict significant new losses on the occupiers,” he said.

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Kyiv hopes that western weapons, especially longer-range missiles such as US Himars which Ukraine has deployed in recent weeks, will allow it to launch a counterattack and recapture territory.

“Every one of these Russian attacks is an argument for Ukraine to receive more Himars and other modern and effective weapons. Every one of these attacks only strengthens our desire to defeat the invaders and that will certainly happen.”

Deal to resume grain exports to be signed Friday, Turkey says

21 Jul 2022 23:48

Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will sign a deal on Friday to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said on Thursday.

Turkey, a Nato member with good relations with both warring countries, controls the straits leading into the Black Sea and has acted as a mediator on the issue. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who would potentially sign any agreement, was headed there.

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Ankara said a general agreement was reached on a UN-led plan during talks in Istanbul last week and that it would now be put in writing by the parties.

Full details of the agreement were not immediately known. It is due to be signed on Friday at the Dolmabahce Palace offices at 1.30pm GMT, Erdogan’s office said.

The Kyiv government did not confirm a deal was set. The foreign ministry said late on Thursday that another UN-led round of talks to unblock Ukrainian grain exports would take place in Turkey on Friday.

In summary, a document may be signed which will bind the sides to (ensure) safe functioning of export routes in the Black Sea,” foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said.

Summary

21 Jul 2022 22:59

It’s 1am in Kyiv. Here’s where things stand:

  • The US hailed on Thursday a Turkish-brokered deal to export grain from Ukrainian ports and urged Russia to implement it. “We welcome the announcement of this agreement in principle, but what we’re focusing on now is holding Russia accountable for implementing this agreement and for enabling Ukrainian grain to get to world markets,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
  • Russian proxies in the Russian-occupied territory of Donbas have been confiscating documents from forcibly mobilized troops. According to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Russian proxies have been stripping personal documents from residents in Donbas in attempts to force them to fight against Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian officials appeared to be on the fence about Friday’s deal signing between Russia in Istanbul over grain exports. The Ukrainian foreign ministry said late on Thursday that another UN-led round of talks to unblock Ukrainian grain exports would take place in Turkey on Friday. “In summary, a document may be signed which will bind the sides to (ensure) safe functioning of export routes in the Black Sea,” foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said.
  • Russia’s justice ministry is seeking to shut down the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency, the body that processes the immigration of Jews to Israel, a Moscow court said Thursday. “The court received an administrative complaint from the justice ministry’s main department requesting the dissolution... of the organisation ‘Support for links with the Jewish diaspora, Jewish Agency Sokhnut’,” said Ekaterina Buravtsova, spokeswoman for the Basmany court in Moscow, quoted by Russian agencies.
  • Three men have been convicted in Estonia for purchasing drones for the Russian military, the Kyiv Independent reports. According to the outlet, a man in Estonia posted a public call to arms on the Russian social media site Vkontakte to support Russia and also organized a fundraiser to purchase three drones for the Russian military.
  • The CIA director has said that Russian president Vladimir Putin believes that the US will forget about Ukraine, the New York Times reported on Thursday. During a Q&A session at the Aspen Security Conference in Colorado, William Burns said, “Putin’s view of Americans is we always suffer from attention deficit disorder and get distracted by something else.”
  • Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko said that Russia, Ukraine and the West must agree to stop the war in order to avoid the “abyss of nuclear war” and insisted that Ukraine accept Russia’s demands. “We must stop, reach an agreement, end this mess, operation and war in Ukraine,” Lukashenko, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s top ally, told AFP in an exclusive interview in Minsk on Thursday.
  • Ukraine will develop a system and information hub for monitoring the use of western military equipment, Euromaidan reports. The system will monitor new arms deliveries by status (example, ready for shipment, on the way or received by the Armed Forces) and classification to Soviet weapons samples, the outlet said.
  • Approximately 15,000 Russians have died in the five-month-old invasion of Ukraine, according to US and British spy chiefs. Richard Moore, the head of Britain’s MI6, said Thursday that the 15,000 dead was “probably a conservative estimate” and marked a “very bloody nose” for Putin who expected quick victory.

That’s it from me, Maya Yang, as I hand the blog over to my colleague Samantha Lock who will bring you the latest updates. I’ll be back tomorrow, thank you.

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21 Jul 2022 22:50

The US hailed on Thursday a Turkish-brokered deal to export grain from Ukrainian ports and urged Russia to implement it.

“We welcome the announcement of this agreement in principle, but what we’re focusing on now is holding Russia accountable for implementing this agreement and for enabling Ukrainian grain to get to world markets,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“We should never have been in this position in the first place. This was a deliberate decision on the part of the Russian Federation to weaponize food,” Price added.

He went on to applaud UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s diplomacy and “the diligent work of our Turkish allies,” who have recently been at odds with the US on various geopolitical issues including Syria and arms purchases from Russia.

He said that the US was monitoring details of the deal, which will be signed on Friday.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, food prices have soared around the world, hurting poor countries the hardest, due to Ukraine’s status as a major grain exporter.

Up to 25 million tonnes of wheat and other grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships and landmines Kyiv has laid to avert a feared amphibious assault.

Ukrainian farmers collect wheat at a field about 25 kilometers from the front line in the Chuhuiv region of Kharkiv area, Ukraine, 19 July 2022 amid the Russian invasion. Photograph: Sergey Kozlov/EPA © Provided by The Guardian Ukrainian farmers collect wheat at a field about 25 kilometers from the front line in the Chuhuiv region of Kharkiv area, Ukraine, 19 July 2022 amid the Russian invasion. Photograph: Sergey Kozlov/EPA

21 Jul 2022 22:40

Russian proxies in the Russian-occupied territory of Donbas have been confiscating documents from forcibly mobilized troops, the Kyiv Independent reports.

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According to the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Russian proxies have been stripping personal documents from residents in Donbas in attempts to force them to fight against Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities added that Russian proxies are trying to make it impossible for forcibly mobilized troops to desert or identify those that have been killed in the fighting.

21 Jul 2022 22:19

Ukrainian officials appeared to be on the fence about Friday’s deal signing between Russia in Istanbul over grain exports.

Reuters reported on Thursday that the Kyiv government did not confirm that a deal has been set.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry said late on Thursday that another UN-led round of talks to unblock Ukrainian grain exports would take place in Turkey on Friday.

“In summary, a document may be signed which will bind the sides to (ensure) safe functioning of export routes in the Black Sea,” foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said.

The UN and Turkey have been working for two months to broker what UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called a “package” deal - to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports and facilitate Russian grain and fertilizer shipments.

Ukraine could potentially restart exports quickly, Ukraine’s Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskiy said on Thursday.

“The majority of the infrastructure of ports of wider Odesa

- there are three of them - remains, so it is a question of several weeks in the event there are proper security guarantees,” he said on Ukrainian television.

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21 Jul 2022 21:57

Russia’s justice ministry is seeking to shut down the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency, the body that processes the immigration of Jews to Israel, a Moscow court said Thursday.

Agence France-Presse reports:

“The court received an administrative complaint from the justice ministry’s main department requesting the dissolution... of the organisation ‘Support for links with the Jewish diaspora, Jewish Agency Sokhnut’,” said Ekaterina Buravtsova, spokeswoman for the Basmany court in Moscow, quoted by Russian agencies.

Buravtsova said the request was made after legal violations, but did not provide further details, according to Interfax news agency.

The judge said there would be a preliminary hearing to discuss the demand on July 28, the spokeswoman said, without giving details.

Following the court’s statement, Israel said it would send a delegation to Russia next week “to ensure the continuation of the Jewish Agency’s activity in Russia,” a statement from Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said.

The delegation was to include representatives of the prime minister’s office as well as the foreign, justice, and absorption ministries, the statement said.

“The Jewish community in Russia is deeply connected with Israel. Its importance arises in every diplomatic discussion with the Russian leadership,” Lapid said in the statement.

“We will continue to act through diplomatic channels so that the Jewish Agency’s important activity will not cease.”

An Israeli official told AFP the delegation was not going to deal with any issues besides the Jewish Agency.

21 Jul 2022 21:18

Three men have been convicted in Estonia for purchasing drones for the Russian military, the Kyiv Independent reports.

According to the outlet, a man in Estonia posted a public call to arms on the Russian social media site Vkontakte to support Russia and also organized a fundraiser to purchase three drones for the Russian military.

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He later attempted to transfer the drones to Russia via the Koidula border. He was detained at the crossing.

Two other men were charged for transferring money to purchase the drones, the outlet reported.

21 Jul 2022 20:39

The CIA director has said that Russian president Vladimir Putin believes that the US will forget about Ukraine, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

During a Q&A session at the Aspen Security Conference in Colorado, William Burns said, “Putin’s view of Americans is we always suffer from attention deficit disorder and get distracted by something else.”

“And I think he’s wrong now,” he said, adding that it is difficult to understand Putin’s strategic decisions without comprehending his risk mindset.

“He is relentlessly suspicious, always attuned to vulnerabilities that he can take advantage of,” Burns added, saying, “He is not a big believer in our better angels.”

Burns said that Putin has recently been relying on an increasingly smaller circle of advisers and that it is not “career enhancing” for the advisers to counter him.

21 Jul 2022 20:19

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko said that Russia, Ukraine and the West must agree to stop the war in order to avoid the “abyss of nuclear war” and insisted that Ukraine accept Russia’s demands.

“We must stop, reach an agreement, end this mess, operation and war in Ukraine,” Lukashenko, Russian president Vladimir Putin’s top ally, told AFP in an exclusive interview in Minsk on Thursday.

“Let’s stop and then we will figure out how to go on living,” he added.

“There’s no need to go further. Further lies the abyss of nuclear war. There’s no need to go there,” he said, speaking on the 148th day of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

Lukashenko has accused the West of seeking a conflict with Russia and of provoking the Ukraine war.

“You have fomented the war and are continuing it,” he said, continuing, “We have seen the reasons for this war.”

“If Russia had not got ahead of you, members of NATO, you would have organised and struck a blow against it,” he said, echoing Putin. “He just got slightly ahead of you,” Lukashenko added.

Since the invasion, Belarus has served as a staging ground for Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine but the Lukashenko has so far avoided becoming directly involved in the conflict.

He went on to urge Ukrainian authorities to accept Russia’s terms, saying, “Right now, the peculiarity of the moment is that this war can be ended on more acceptable terms for Ukraine...[they should] sit down at the negotiating table and agree that they will never threaten Russia.”

Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko gives an exclusive interview to Agence France-Presse (AFP) at his residence, the Independence Palace, in the capital Minsk on July 21, 2022. Photograph: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko gives an exclusive interview to Agence France-Presse (AFP) at his residence, the Independence Palace, in the capital Minsk on July 21, 2022. Photograph: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

21 Jul 2022 19:41

Ukraine will develop a system and information hub for monitoring the use of western military equipment, Euromaidan reports.

The system will monitor new arms deliveries by status (example, ready for shipment, on the way or received by the Armed Forces) and classification to Soviet weapons samples, the outlet said.

Russia has alleged that Ukraine is selling weapons to other countries. However, according to the National Security and Defense Council chief Oleksiy Danilov, due to the system, “We know that not a single bullet from the supplies has disappeared anywhere,” adding that each weapon unit is controlled.

Additionally, the system’s information “will facilitate the work of military journalists, correspondents of Ukrainian and foreign media.”

“This will make it possible to inform the world community as quickly as possible about the situation at the front and the use of equipment and weapons that the Ukrainian army receives from partners,” Ukrainian authorities announced.

21 Jul 2022 19:17

Approximately 15,000 Russians have died in the five-month-old invasion of Ukraine, according to US and British spy chiefs.

Richard Moore, the head of Britain’s MI6, said Thursday that the 15,000 dead was “probably a conservative estimate” and marked a “very bloody nose” for Putin who expected quick victory.

“That’s probably a conservative estimate. That is the same number, roughly, as they lost in 10 years in Afghanistan in the 1980s,” he told the Aspen Security Forum in the US Rocky Mountains.

“And these are not middle-class kids from Saint Petersburg or Moscow,” he said.

“These are poor kids from rural parts of Russia. They’re from blue-collar towns in Siberia. They are disproportionately from ethnic minorities. These are his cannon fodder.”

On Wednesday, CIA director Bill Burns, who spoke on the same conference, said that US intelligence estimated Russian losses “in the vicinity of 15,000 killed and maybe three times that wounded.”

“So quite a significant set of losses. The Ukrainians have suffered as well, probably a little less than that, but significant casualties,” Burns said.

Ukraine has offered a much higher figure on losses inflicted on Russia. Earlier this month, Ukrainian officials said that approximately 36,200 Russian personnel had died.

Russia, which has been significantly reticent on its losses, has only given an official toll twice. In March, it provided a figure of 1,351 which experts believe is far too low.

Hi everyone, it’s Maya Yang here taking over the blog for the next few hours. I will be bringing you the latest updates on the Russian invasion of Ukraine so stay tuned.

21 Jul 2022 18:08

Russia has added 39 representatives of Australian security services and defence companies to a “stop-list” that bars them from entering the country, in response to a sanctions law adopted by Canberra, the Russian foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Australia has adopted a sanctions law similar to the U. Magnitsky Act that provides for targeted financial sanctions and travel bans against individuals, Reuters reports.

The original act, adopted by the United States in 2012, is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who was arrested and later died in prison in Russia in 2009 after accusing Russian officials of a massive tax fraud.

Russia 'about to run out of steam' offering Ukraine chance to strike back, head of UK intelligence says

21 Jul 2022 17:48

Russia’s military is likely to start an operational pause of some kind in Ukraine in the coming weeks, giving Kyiv a key opportunity to strike back, Britain’s spy chief said on Thursday, addressing the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

“I think they’re about to run out of steam. I think our assessment is that the Russians will increasingly find it difficult to supply manpower material over the next few weeks,” said Richard Moore, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) known as MI6.

“They will have to pause in some way, and that will give the Ukrainians opportunities to strike back.”

21 Jul 2022 17:30
An elderly couple stands near a damaged school after a missile strike hit the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. At least one person was killed after shelling hit the school and two others are feared under the rubble, the Ukrainian State Emergency Service said. Photograph: George Ivanchenko/EPA © Provided by The Guardian An elderly couple stands near a damaged school after a missile strike hit the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. At least one person was killed after shelling hit the school and two others are feared under the rubble, the Ukrainian State Emergency Service said. Photograph: George Ivanchenko/EPA

21 Jul 2022 17:16

U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres will travel to Istanbul on Thursday as United Nations and Turkish officials seek a general agreement with Russia and Ukraine in writing to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports, Reuters reports.

Summary

21 Jul 2022 17:00

The time in Kyiv is now 7pm. Here is a round-up of the day’s main news stories:

  • Britain will send scores of artillery guns and more than 1,600 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine in the latest supply of western arms to help bolster its defence against Russia, the UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said on Thursday. The commitment comes after the outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson, last month promised a further £1bn of military support to the country.
  • Russia’s military is likely to start an operational pause of some kind in Ukraine in the coming weeks, giving Kyiv a key opportunity to strike back, Britain’s spy chief said on Thursday, addressing the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. “I think they’re about to run out of steam. I think our assessment is that the Russians will increasingly find it difficult to supply manpower material over the next few weeks,” said Richard Moore, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) known as MI6.
  • New EU sanctions hitting Russian gold, a major bank, a nationalist motorcycle club known as the Nightwolves and actors backing Vladimir Putin have been dismissed as insufficient by Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Approval of the EU’s seventh wave of economic sanctions by the 27 member states on Thursday morning has been lauded by the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, as a “strong signal”.
  • The Russian Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline has restarted with gas flowing from Russia to Germany after maintenance, according to data viewed this morning. “It’s working,” a Nord Stream spokesperson said, without specifying the amount of gas being delivered. If Gazprom resumes gas deliveries at 40% of the capacity before the maintenance break, Germany will narrowly scrape through the winter without shortages, modelling by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy suggests.
  • Russia’s foreign minister has said Moscow’s military “tasks” now go beyond the eastern Donbas region to permanently occupy broad swaths of southern Ukraine. Sergei Lavrov said Russia may seek more territory along the frontlines in Ukraine, calling it a buffer against US-supplied Himars rocket artillery. “Now the geography is different,” Lavrov said. “It’s not just Donetsk and Luhansk, it’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and a number of other territories.”
  • The Kremlin has claimed that Russian president Vladimir Putin is in good health, dismissing what it called “false reports” he was unwell. “Everything is fine with his health,” the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said in reply to a question at his daily briefing.
  • Russia has shut down the idea of resuming peace talks with Ukraine, accusing it of being undeserving of “serious attention from serious people”. Lavrov said the previous sit-down proved Ukraine had no “desire to discuss anything in earnest”. He continued: “They simply will never be able to articulate anything that would deserve the serious attention of serious people.” “[Peace talks] don’t make any sense in the current situation.”
  • At least two people have been killed and 19 injured in an attack on Kharkiv, according to the region’s governor, Oleh Synyehubov. He posted on Telegram to say the injured included one child, and that four people “are in serious condition”.
  • Russia’s ministry of defence claims to have shot down one Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft, one Mi-8 helicopter, and five unmanned drones in the last 24 hours.
  • Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Russia would consider a Hungarian request to increase gas purchases from Russia. Lavrov was speaking during a visit to Moscow by Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto, Reuters reported.

That’s it from me, Tom Ambrose, for today. My colleague Nadeem Badshah will be along shortly to continue bringing you all the latest news from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

21 Jul 2022 16:10

Ten known British sex offenders travelled to Poland shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine purportedly to provide humanitarian help before being sent back home, British police said on Thursday.

The individuals, who all had convictions for sex offences, went to Poland in the six weeks that followed the outbreak of war, a spokesman for the National Crime Agency said.

The spokesman said that offenders were supposed to inform police in Britain of their intent to travel, and then declare any convictions on their arrival, Reuters reported.

“Normally they’re meant to have declared this as part of their entry. We find inevitably, they haven’t,” the spokesman told reporters.

“As far as I understand it, all 10 were asked to leave, following an interview with Polish immigration and Polish law enforcement,” he said. “So they’re no longer in Poland.”

The spokesman said there were about 5,000 unaccompanied children who had been displaced from Ukraine and “making sure that they are safe is absolutely paramount”.

21 Jul 2022 15:32

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Russia would consider a Hungarian request to increase gas purchases from Russia.

Lavrov was speaking during a visit to Moscow by Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto, Reuters reported.

European Union member Hungary has maintained close relations with Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, opposing EU plans to reduce dependency on Russian oil and gas imports.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Hungarian Foreign and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto (R) during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, 21 July 2022. Photograph: Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Handout/EPA © Provided by The Guardian Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Hungarian Foreign and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto (R) during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, 21 July 2022. Photograph: Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Handout/EPA

Video: Russians targeting Ukraine as a 'proxy for the West' (Sky News Australia)

21 Jul 2022 14:54

Air-raid sirens blared across the city after the missile hit the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv overnight.

At least one person was injured in the strike, which authorities say hit a humanitarian warehouse.

21 Jul 2022 14:53

Ukraine’s ministry of defence has tweeted to thank Ben Wallace for the announcement of more weapons from the UK [see 11.41am].

In a message addressed to the British defence minister, it said: “Thank you Great Britain! Let’s win this war!”

21 Jul 2022 14:53

Oleh Synyehubov, governor of Kharkiv, has said that 14 emergency teams are working at the scene of today’s shelling, which has hit a transport stop, killing at least two people and injuring 21.

Synyehubov said: “Law enforcement agencies carefully record all the crimes of the occupiers against the population.”

In a later post, the governor said medics successfully resuscitated a 49-year-old man on the scene after he had received complex shrapnel wounds.

The claims have not been independently verified.

Pictures from the scene of the attack show a bus with blown-out windows and cars that have been burned.

A heavily damaged public bus is seen after Russian forces targeted Kharkiv. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty © Provided by The Guardian A heavily damaged public bus is seen after Russian forces targeted Kharkiv. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Security forces inspect the damaged area after this morning’s attack. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty © Provided by The Guardian Security forces inspect the damaged area after this morning’s attack. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Damaged cars at the scene of the attack. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty © Provided by The Guardian Damaged cars at the scene of the attack. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty

21 Jul 2022 14:11

A European Union proposal that member countries cut gas use by 15% to prepare for possible supply cuts from Russia is facing resistance from governments, throwing into doubt whether they will approve the emergency plan.

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday that all 27 EU countries use 15% less gas from August to March compared with the average over the last five years, Reuters reported. The target would be voluntary, but the EU could make it mandatory if Brussels declares a substantial risk of gas shortages.

At a meeting of EU national diplomats, at least 12 of the 27 member states raised concerns about the proposal, five EU officials with knowledge of the meeting told Reuters.

The main sticking point is whether the EU should have the power to make the targets binding. Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal were among the states that said Brussels should not be able to do this without first giving countries a say – and possibly a veto.

“Member states want to have the ability to trigger crisis mechanisms themselves. This is not something they are very keen on giving away to the commission,” one EU official said. Under the proposal, the commission would consult the bloc’s Gas Coordination Group of country representatives before making the target mandatory.

European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

21 Jul 2022 14:09

Hungary’s foreign minister travelled to Moscow on Thursday and will meet the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the deputy prime minister, Alexander Novak, the state news agency MTI reported, citing a foreign ministry spokesperson.

Peter Szijjarto and Lavrov are expected to hold a news conference later on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

“We have arrived in Moscow. We have two tasks ahead: to ensure that there will be natural gas supplies for Hungarian people and stress that we want peace as soon as possible,” Szijjarto posted on his Facebook page.

21 Jul 2022 13:12 Daniel Boffey

New EU sanctions hitting Russian gold, a major bank, a nationalist motorcycle club known as the Nightwolves and actors backing Vladimir Putin have been dismissed as insufficient by Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Approval of the EU’s seventh wave of economic sanctions by the 27 member states on Thursday morning has been lauded by the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, as a “strong signal”.

The “reinforced, prolonged EU sanctions against the Kremlin” send “a strong signal to Moscow: we will keep the pressure high for as long as it takes”, Von der Leyen tweeted.

In Kyiv, however, Ukraine’s president was withering about the incremental moves by the EU, where the central concern for politicians and officials in recent days has been the Russian threat to gas supply this winter.

Related: EU imposes sanctions on Russian motorcycle club and pro-Putin actors

UK to send more weapons to Ukraine, including drones and anti-tank systems

21 Jul 2022 12:48

Britain will send scores of artillery guns and more than 1,600 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine in the latest supply of western arms to help bolster its defence against Russia, the UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said on Thursday.

The commitment comes after the outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson, last month promised a further £1bn of military support to the country.

“Together with our international partners, we will ensure Ukraine has the tools to defend their country from Putin’s illegal invasion,” Wallace said in a statement.

Wallace said Britain would also provide counter-battery radar systems, hundreds of drones and more than 50,000 rounds of ammunition.

  • Hello. I’m Tom Ambrose and I’ll be bringing you all the latest news from Russia’s war on Ukraine throughout the day.

21 Jul 2022 12:20

The Kremlin has claimed that Russian president Vladimir Putin is in good health, dismissing what it called “false reports” he was unwell.

“Everything is fine with his health,” the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said in reply to a question at his daily briefing.

“You know that Ukrainian information specialists, and American and British ones, have been throwing out various fakes about the state of the president’s health in recent months – these are nothing but fakes,” he added.

Putin coughed during a public appearance on Wednesday, when Interfax news agency quoted him as saying he had caught a slight cold during a visit to Iran the previous day.

“It was very hot in Tehran yesterday, plus 38C, and the air conditioning was very strong there. So I apologise,” Putin, 69, was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, speaks to the media following a summit of leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey in Tehran on 20 July. Photograph: Sergei Savostyanov/Sputnik/Kremlin pool/EPA © Provided by The Guardian The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, speaks to the media following a summit of leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey in Tehran on 20 July. Photograph: Sergei Savostyanov/Sputnik/Kremlin pool/EPA

Summary of the day so far …

21 Jul 2022 11:34
  • The Russian Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline has restarted with gas flowing from Russia to Germany after maintenance, according to data viewed this morning. “It’s working,” a Nord Stream spokesperson said, without specifying the amount of gas being delivered. If Gazprom resumes gas deliveries at 40% of the capacity before the maintenance break, Germany will narrowly scrape through the winter without shortages, modelling by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy suggests.
  • Russia’s foreign minister has said Moscow’s military “tasks” now go beyond the eastern Donbas region to permanently occupy broad swaths of southern Ukraine. Sergei Lavrov said Russia may seek more territory along the frontlines in Ukraine, calling it a buffer against US-supplied Himars rocket artillery. “Now the geography is different,” Lavrov said. “It’s not just Donetsk and Luhansk, it’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and a number of other territories.”
  • Russia has shut down the idea of resuming peace talks with Ukraine, accusing it of being undeserving of “serious attention from serious people”. Lavrov said the previous sit-down proved Ukraine had no “desire to discuss anything in earnest”. He continued: “They simply will never be able to articulate anything that would deserve the serious attention of serious people.” “[Peace talks] don’t make any sense in the current situation.”
  • At least two people have been killed and 19 injured in an attack on Kharkiv, according to the region’s governor, Oleh Synyehubov. He posted on Telegram to say the injured included one child, and that four people “are in serious condition”.
  • Russian forces destroyed two schools in the Donetsk towns of Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka overnight, Ukrainian officials say.
  • The state emergency services of Ukraine has stated on Telegram that in the Donetsk region, the central market of the city of Bakhmut has also been shelled.
  • Russian and separatist forces continue to attempt small-scale assaults along the Donbas frontline and are also closing in on Ukraine’s second-biggest power plant at Vuhlehirska, according to the latest British intelligence report.
  • Russia’s ministry of defence claims to have shot down one Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft, one Mi-8 helicopter, and five unmanned drones in the last 24 hours.
  • The United States estimates that Russian casualties in Ukraine so far have reached about 15,000 killed and perhaps 45,000 wounded, CIA director William Burns said.
  • Ukraine’s central bank has devalued the hryvnia currency by 25% against the US dollar because of the impact of the invasion by Russia.
  • Officials from Turkey, Finland and Sweden will meet in August to evaluate the progress made in fulfilling Ankara’s counter-terrorism demands from the Nordic countries to lift its veto on their Nato membership bid, the foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.
  • What could be a priceless Fabergé egg has been found onboard a Russian oligarch’s superyacht seized by US authorities. The US deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, told the Aspen security forum on Wednesday it was one of the more “interesting” finds her team has made. Monaco did not specify exactly which yacht she was referring to but did say it was currently docked in San Diego Bay after sailing from Fiji last month.

That is it from me, Martin Belam, for now. I will be back later. Tom Ambrose will be here shortly.

21 Jul 2022 11:30

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, gave her weekly press briefing this morning, and according to Reuters said Ukraine was not entering into peace talks because it was under the instructions of the US.

She is quoted as saying: “The American administration forbids its wards in Kyiv to even think about talks with us, and evidently forces them to fight to the last Ukrainian.”

Earlier we reported that Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said the idea of resuming peace talks with Ukraine was undeserving of “serious attention from serious people”. [see 6.28am]

He also said Moscow’s military “tasks” now go beyond the eastern Donbas region. He said: “It’s not just Donetsk and Luhansk, it’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and a number of other territories.” [see 5.52am]

21 Jul 2022 10:56

Russia’s ministry of defence has issued its daily operational briefing. In it, it claims Russian forces have shot down one Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft, one Mi-8 helicopter, and five unmanned drones. It additionally claims to have destroyed Ukrainian artillery positions and rocket-launch systems across a wide range of locations. It also claims, without providing evidence, that a brigade of the Ukrainian armed forces had to be disarmed after refusing to serve in Donbas. None of the claims have been independently verified.

21 Jul 2022 10:28

If you are interested in more context about the importance of Russian gas supplies to Germany, this morning Philip Oltermann in Berlin has a Q&A on the topic:

How reliant is Germany on Russian gas?

Natural gas makes up about 27% of Germany’s overall energy mix. Before the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, just over half (55%) of gas consumed in Germany was imported from Russia.

Why is German reliance on Russian gas causing so much anguish?

Currently, very little gas is flowing from Russia to Germany through any of the three pipelines that connect the two countries. The Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom in May ceased deliveries through the Yamal pipeline passing through Belarus and Poland, while the Ukraine-transiting Transgas, an extension of the Soyuz pipeline from Russia, is prioritising deliveries to Slovakia and Austria.

Will Germany run out of gas this winter?

If Gazprom resumes gas deliveries at 40% of the capacity before the maintenance break, Germany will narrowly scrape through the winter without shortages, modelling by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy suggests. Since Germany has rushed to fill its gas reserves in the first half of the year – ironically buying more gas from Russia than usual in spite of economic sanctions – it is expected to avoid being forced into rationing. It would, however, enter the winter of 2023-24 in a considerably worse situation than this year. In a worst-case scenario where Germany can’t get more gas and also fails to make savings, the institute predicts damage to the economy of up to €283bn (£241.5bn).

Read more of Philip Oltermann’s report from Berlin: How reliant is Germany – and the rest of Europe – on Russian gas?

Related: How reliant is Germany – and the rest of Europe – on Russian gas?

Two dead and 19 injured in attack on Kharkiv - governor

21 Jul 2022 09:44

At least two people have been killed and 19 injured in an attack on Kharkiv, according to the region’s governor, Oleh Synyehubov. He posted on Telegram to say that the injured included one child, and that four people “are in serious condition”. He posted:

The Russian enemy attacks exclusively on city streets, trade pavilions, and residential infrastructure. There is a hit in a residential building where a private dental office was located. There were no people inside the premises. Residents of Kharkiv are asked to be extremely careful, the enemy is firing chaotically and brutally at the city.

Central market in Donetsk city of Bakhmut shelled

21 Jul 2022 09:43

The state emergency services of Ukraine has stated on Telegram that in the Donetsk region, the central market of the city of Bakhmut has been shelled.

It writes “several trading containers on a total arena of 100 square metres caught fire. Information about the dead and injured is being clarified. At present the fire has been localised and completely extinguished. 27 personnel and four units of equipment were involved from the state emergency service.”

There are pictures emerging from the scene on the newswires.

Ukrainian firefighters work at the Bakhmut market. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Ukrainian firefighters work at the Bakhmut market. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Two neighbours speak to each other in front of damaged shops at the Bakhmut market. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Two neighbours speak to each other in front of damaged shops at the Bakhmut market. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Ukrainian firefighters work at the Bakhmut market. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Ukrainian firefighters work at the Bakhmut market. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images A local man takes his belongings from a stand at Bakhmut market. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian A local man takes his belongings from a stand at Bakhmut market. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkey, Finland and Sweden to meet in August to assess progress on Nato membership veto

21 Jul 2022 09:41

Officials from Turkey, Finland and Sweden will meet in August to evaluate the progress made in fulfilling Ankara’s counter-terrorism demands from the Nordic countries to lift its veto on their Nato membership bid, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, has said.

Reuters reports that, speaking to state broadcaster TRT Haber, Çavuşoğlu said the meeting would be the first of a monitoring committee formed under an accord the three countries signed last month. He repeated that Turkey would block the Nordic countries’ memberships if they did not keep their promises.

Ukraine devalues currency by 25% against US dollar

21 Jul 2022 09:40

Ukraine’s central bank has devalued the hryvnia currency by 25% against the US dollar because of the impact of the invasion by Russia. Reuters reports it set the new hryvnia rate at 36.5686 to the dollar.

The bank said in a statement that it had acted “in view of the change in the fundamental characteristics of Ukraine’s economy during the war and the strengthening of the US dollar against other currencies”.

The bank also said the devaluation would aid the “competitiveness of Ukrainian manufacturers ... and support the stability of the economy in wartime conditions.”

The devaluation comes a day after Ukraine asked its creditors for a two-year payment freeze on its international bonds in an attempt to focus its dwindling financial resources on repelling Russia.

Nord Stream gas pipeline restarts, operator says

21 Jul 2022 09:23

The Russian Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline has restarted with gas flowing from Russia to Germany after maintenance, according to data viewed this morning.

Nominations on the pipeline for gas flows from Russia into Germany were at 29,284,591 kWh/h for 6am - 7am CET, from zero previously, data from the operator’s website obtained by Reuters showed.

Data for actual physical flows for the same time period have not been updated, and are at zero for the 4am - 5am CET period.

Operator Nord Stream AG said that gas started flowing again Thursday morning but the flow would take a while to ramp up, German news agency dpa reported.

“It’s working,” a Nord Stream spokesman told Agence France-Presse, without specifying the amount of gas being delivered.

Gas flows via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline into the OPAL and NEL connection points in Germany stood at 0 kilowatt hours per hour on July 21 for the hour of 5am - 6am CET, data from the pipeline operator showed on Thursday.

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany had been closed since 11 July for annual maintenance work. German officials feared that the pipeline — the country’s main source of Russian gas, which has accounted for around a third of Germany’s gas supplies — might not reopen at all.

21 Jul 2022 09:21

Vitaliy Kim, governor of Mykolaiv region, has posted a status update for his region this morning, in which he says “villages located on the demarcation line remain under constant shelling”.

He reports that near Berezneguvat there were two bush fires started by “the fall of ammunition and their fragments”, and that there was at least one death overnight as a result of shelling in the oblast, with casualty details as yet unclear from several incidents.

  • This is Martin Belam taking on the live blog from London. You can reach me at [email protected]

21 Jul 2022 09:21

Oleh Synyehubov, governor of Kharkiv, has just posted a message to Telegram saying “the Russians are striking Kharkiv” and instructing people to stay in shelters.

21 Jul 2022 09:20

The Lviv region in western Ukraine was quiet overnight, according to governor Maksym Kozytskyi, with no air raid alerts. 229 people arrived in the region on evacuation trains from the east of Ukraine and 787 departed for Poland.

21 Jul 2022 09:17 Samantha Lock

What could be a priceless Fabergé egg has been found onboard a Russian oligarch’s superyacht seized by US authorities, one of the more curious items unearthed in sanctions-led investigations so far.

US deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco told the Aspen security forum on Wednesday it was one of the more “interesting” finds her team has made.

“Let’s get to the juicy stuff: the yachts,” she told the forum dedicated to discussing law enforcement’s role in freezing and seizing Russian assets. “We’ve been finding some really interesting things … we recovered a Fabergé – or alleged Fabergé egg – on one of these [yachts] so it just gets more and more interesting.”

Monaco did not specify exactly which yacht she was referring to but did say it was currently docked in San Diego Bay after being sailed from Fiji last month.

A $300m yacht called the Amadea was sailed by US law enforcement officials from Fiji to San Diego late last month after an extensive legal battle over which Russian oligarch owned it.

A Fabergé egg on display in London in 2021. Photograph: Vickie Flores/EPA © Provided by The Guardian A Fabergé egg on display in London in 2021. Photograph: Vickie Flores/EPA

Fabergé eggs have become a byword for opulence and luxury since the young jeweller was commissioned by Tsar Alexander III of Russia in 1885 to make one as a gift for his wife, Maria. It became a Romanov tradition for the next three decades. Fabergé created only 50 eggs for the imperial family and not all survived.

Read more of Samantha Lock’s report: Suspected Fabergé egg found on Russian oligarch’s superyacht, US investigators say

Related: Suspected Fabergé egg found on Russian oligarch’s superyacht, US investigators say

One killed in strike on 'public transport stops' in Kharkiv – mayor

21 Jul 2022 09:14

The mayor of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhov, has posted to Telegram to say that “for the second day in a row and at about the same time, the occupier hits public transport stops. As a result, already one dead and 17 wounded, of which one is extremely serious.”

The claims have not been independently verified.

Regional governor Oleh Synehubov said those killed in Kharkiv yesterday included a man, a woman and a 13-year-old boy as he waited at a bus stop. Images of the boy’s father holding his hand while his son’s body laid covered on the ground were widely shared yesterday.

21 Jul 2022 09:13

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) claims that, alongside the similarly self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Russian forces, it has “liberated” 255 settlements in Ukraine. It claims that two people were killed and two injured in shelling by Ukrainian forces on the territory it occupies in the last 24 hours, and that 15 settlements were attacked.

The claims have not been independently verified. Russia, Syria and North Korea are the only UN member states to recognise the DPR and LPR as legitimate authorities.

Gas supplies to Germany via Nord Stream resume as Gazprom says supplies via Ukraine also rise

21 Jul 2022 08:15

Russian gas producer Gazprom said its supply of gas to Europe through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point was up slightly on the day before, as Russia also resumed critical gas supplies to Europe through Germany, reopening the Nord Stream gas pipeline after 10 days.

Gazprom has cut flows to Germany via the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 40% in recent weeks, blaming the absence of a Siemens gas turbine undergoing repairs in Canada. The German government has rejected Gazprom’s explanation.

Agence France-Presse reports the Nord Stream 1 pipeline under the Baltic Sea has been shut since 11 July to undergo annual maintenance. But the resumption of 40% of supplies would be insufficient to ward off an energy crisis in Europe this winter, according to experts.

A total shutdown of imports or a sharp reduction in the flow from east to west could have a catastrophic effect on the European economy, shutting factories and forcing households to turn down the heat.

Last year, Russia accounted for 40% of the EU’s total gas imports and any further disruption to supply would also push consumer prices higher and raise the risk of a deep recession.

Ukraine’s authorities have repeatedly called on Europe to boycott energy supplies from Russia, saying the continent is sending Russia hundreds of millions of euros which can then be used to fund its attack on Ukraine.

15,000 Russians killed: CIA

21 Jul 2022 07:04

The United States estimates that Russian casualties in Ukraine so far have reached around 15,000 killed and perhaps 45,000 wounded, CIA director William Burns said.

“The latest estimates from the US intelligence community would be something in the vicinity of 15,000 (Russian forces) killed and maybe three times that wounded. So a quite significant set of losses,” Burns said while speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

“And, the Ukrainians have suffered as well - probably a little less than that. But, you know, significant casualties.”

Russia classifies military deaths as state secrets even in times of peace and has not updated its official casualty figures frequently during the war. On March 25 it said 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed. Ukraine has also said it will not be releasing the numbers of Ukrainian casualties, however Kyiv said in June that 100 to 200 Ukrainian troops were being killed per day.

Russian troops 'closing in' on Vuhlehirska power plant: UK MoD

21 Jul 2022 06:53

Russian and separatist forces continue to attempt small scale assaults along the Donbas front line and are also closing in on Ukraine’s second biggest power plant at Vuhlehirska, according to the latest British intelligence report.

Russian forces are also likely closing in on Ukraine’s second biggest power plant at Vuhlehirska, 50km north-east of Donetsk, the UK Ministry of Defence said.

Russia is prioritising the capture of critical national infrastructure, such as power plants.

However, it is probably also attempting to break through at Vuhlehirska, as part of its efforts to regain momentum on the southern pincer of its advance towards the key cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.”

Russia shells two schools in Donetsk - reports

21 Jul 2022 06:45

Russian forces destroyed two schools in the Donetsk towns of Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka overnight, Ukrainian officials say.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional military administration, shared photos of the destruction in a Telegram post early this morning.

“Russian occupiers destroyed two schools today - in Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka,” he said, adding that an industrial area in Kramatorsk was also hit.

21 Jul 2022 06:41

The United States has promised it would oppose any possible future annexation of Ukrainian territory by Russia.

Again, we’ve been clear that annexation by force would be a gross violation of the UN Charter, and we would not allow it to go unchallenged. We would not allow it to go unpunished,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a regular daily briefing on Wednesday.

US officials earlier said on Tuesday that it saw signs Russia was preparing to formally annex territory it has seized in Ukraine.

US to send four more Himars rocket systems to Ukraine

21 Jul 2022 06:37

The United States will send four more high mobility artillery rocket systems (Himars) to Ukraine, US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, earlier announced.

“(We) will keep finding innovative ways to sustain our long-term support for the brave men and women of the Ukrainian armed forces and we will tailor our assistance to ensure that Ukraine has the technology, the ammunition and the sheer firepower to defend itself,” Austin said at the start of a virtual meeting with allies on Ukraine.

In a press conference after the meeting, Chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff general Mark Milley said Ukraine had used Himars to hit Russian command and control nodes, logistic network and air defence sites within Ukraine.

Himars have a longer range and are more precise than the Soviet-era artillery that Ukraine has had in its arsenal.

Austin said the new package would also include rounds for Multiple Launch Rocket Systems as well as artillery munitions.

The latest package would bring the total number of Himars the United States has provided to Ukraine to 16.

The United States has provided $8bn in security assistance since the war began, including $2.2bn in the last month.

Lavrov says peace talks ‘don’t make sense’

21 Jul 2022 06:31

Russia also shut down the idea of resuming peace talks with Ukraine, accusing it of being undeserving of “serious attention from serious people”.

Lavrov said the previous sit-down proved Ukraine had no “desire to discuss anything in earnest”. He continued:

They simply will never be able to articulate anything that would deserve the serious attention of serious people.” “[Peace talks] don’t make any sense in the current situation.”

No evidence Putin is unwell, CIA chief says

21 Jul 2022 06:21

CIA director Bill Burns responded to rumours about President Vladimir Putin’s health, denied the Russian leader was ill.

Burns, who speaks Russian and who has dealt with Putin over two decades, was asked about periodic media reports suggesting Putin is unwell at the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday. Burns retorted:

There are lots of rumours about President Putin’s health and, as far as we can tell, he is apparently too healthy.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s is apparently “too healthy” according to CIA director Bill Burns . Photograph: AFP/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Russian President Vladimir Putin’s is apparently “too healthy” according to CIA director Bill Burns . Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Burns served as ambassador early in Putin’s tenure and was quietly sent to Moscow last year in an unsuccessful attempt to dissuade him from invading Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reports.

Burns, noting that he has dealt with Putin over two decades, described the Russian leader as having “a very combustible mix of grievance and ambition and insecurity.”

“He is not a big believer in the better angels of the human spirit,” Burns said.

“He is convinced that his destiny as Russia’s leader is to restore Russia as a great power.”

Russia may seek to occupy more territory in Ukraine

21 Jul 2022 05:52

Russia’s foreign minister has said that Moscow’s military “tasks” now go beyond the eastern Donbas region to permanently occupy broad swaths of southern Ukraine.

The comments made by Moscow’s top official, Sergei Lavrov, are the clearest signal yet that the Kremlin is preparing to launch a new round of annexations.

In televised remarks on Wednesday evening, Lavrov said Moscow’s objectives will expand further more territory along Ukraine’s frontlines if the west keeps supplying Kyiv with long-range weapons such as the US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars).

Now the geography is different,” he said, in a change of rhetoric from the Russian government.

It’s not just Donetsk and Luhansk, it’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and a number of other territories. And this is an ongoing process, consistent and insistent.”

Russia’s foreign minister has said that Moscow’s military ‘tasks’ now go beyond the eastern Donbas region. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Russia’s foreign minister has said that Moscow’s military ‘tasks’ now go beyond the eastern Donbas region. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

In remarks to the RT editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, Lavrov also said Russia would seek more territory due to the western military aid to Ukraine, in particular the delivery of Himars missile systems that have destroyed a number of Russian military command posts.

“The west … in a desire to maximally exacerbate the situation have pumped Ukraine with more and more long-range weapons,” he said, citing a Ukrainian defence minister’s remarks that Ukraine was negotiating for munitions that could strike targets 300 km away. “That means our goal will be to move them back from the current line even further.

“Because we can’t allow that in that part of Ukraine which will be controlled by [Volodymyr] Zelenskiy or whoever replaces him, there were weapons that could present a direct threat to our territory.”

Related: Russia may seek to occupy more territory in Ukraine, says foreign minister

Summary and welcome

21 Jul 2022 05:43

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

I’m Samantha Lock and I will be bringing you all the latest developments for the next short while.

CIA director Bill Burns, who speaks Russian and who has dealt with Putin over two decades, has responded to rumours about President Putin’s health, saying: “As far as we can tell, he is apparently too healthy.”

Russia’s foreign minister has said that Moscow’s military “tasks” now go beyond the eastern Donbas region to permanently occupy broad swaths of southern Ukraine.

It is 8.30am in Kyiv and here is where things stand:

  • Russia’s foreign minister has said Moscow’s military “tasks” now go beyond the eastern Donbas region to permanently occupy broad swaths of southern Ukraine. Sergei Lavrov said Russia may seek more territory along the frontlines in Ukraine, calling it a buffer against US-supplied Himars rocket artillery. “Now the geography is different,” Lavrov said. “It’s not just Donetsk and Luhansk, it’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and a number of other territories.”
  • Russia has shut down the idea of resuming peace talks with Ukraine, accusing it of being undeserving of “serious attention from serious people”. Lavrov said the previous sit-down proved Ukraine had no “desire to discuss anything in earnest”. He continued: “They simply will never be able to articulate anything that would deserve the serious attention of serious people.” “[Peace talks] don’t make any sense in the current situation.”
  • Russian missile strikes in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv killed three people on Wednesday, according to local officials. Regional governor Oleh Synehubov said those killed included a man, a woman and a 13-year-old boy as he waited at a bus stop.
  • Ukrainian shelling badly damaged the crucial Antonivskiy bridge in the Russia-controlled Kherson region of southern Ukraine, Moscow-installed regional authorities said. The bridge is one of only two crossing points for Russian forces to territory they have occupied on the western bank of the Dnieper river in southern Ukraine. It has been a key target for Ukrainian forces in recent days.
  • The Ukrainian first lady, Olena Zelenska, appealed to US lawmakers to provide more weapons to fight “Russia’s Hunger Games” in an emotional 15-minute speech to members of the House and Senate. “I am asking for weapons, weapons that would not be used to wage a war on somebody else’s land, but to protect one’s home and the right to wake up alive in that home,” she said, adding that US weapons could help assure a “joint great victory”.
  • The US will provide four more advanced precision Himars rocket systems to Ukraine, the defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, has announced. “Ukraine needs the firepower and the ammunition to withstand this [Russian] barrage and to strike back,” he said. In addition, the US will provide additional guided multiple launch rocket system (GMLRS) ammunition, which can precisely strike targets up to 80km (50 miles) away.
  • The European Union will mobilise a fifth tranche of military assistance of €500m to further support Ukraine. The EU foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, said the region “remains focused and steadfast in its support for Ukraine, together with partners”.
  • Lithuania will offer Ukraine additional military support, the Lithuanian ministry of defence announced on Wednesday. Included in the package will be M13 and M577 armoured personnel carriers, as well as ammunition for reserve training.
  • The European Union has set out emergency plans to reduce its gas use amid fears Russia could cut off its supply in winter. It proposed a voluntary target for countries to restrict usage by 15% from August until March, accusing the Kremlin of weaponising gas exports. “Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon,” the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said in a news conference.
  • South America’s Mercosur trade bloc has declined Zelenskiy’s request to address its upcoming summit. Bloc members Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay failed to reach an agreement on the request which he made to Paraguay last week, according to the deputy foreign relations minister Raul Cano, who declined to say which states were against it.
  • The European Union has agreed on a new round of sanctions against Russia, this time targeting its gold exports, as well as individuals and entities. The move marks the seventh package of penalties and will see assets frozen at Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, with several more names added to the blacklist.
  • Pro-Russian separatist forces have stepped up the forced conscription of men in the occupied areas of Donbas. Video emerged of a Ukrainian woman confronting officials who attempted to force her husband to join pro-Russian fighters in Donetsk. “He doesn’t want to go and fight. Nobody wants to fight. We are so sick of you and your war,” she said.
  • Russia’s communications watchdog has said it is taking steps against the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts online encyclopedia Wikipedia, for violating Russian laws. The laws are aimed at restricting truthful reporting around the conflict in Ukraine.

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