World: Ukraine warns Kremlin to 'retreat or be annihilated' in Kherson; US pushing deal to free Griner: July 27 recap

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Editor's note: This page recaps the news from Ukraine on Wednesday, July 27. Follow here for the latest updates and news from Thursday, July 28, as Russia's invasion continues.

Ukrainian forces using U.S.-supplied precision artillery severely damaged a bridge vital to the Russian military's supply lines in occupied Kherson, Ukraine authorities said Wednesday.

"Successful missile strikes on bridges over the Dnipro River by #UAarmy create an impossible dilemma for russian occupiers in #Kherson," the Ukrainian Defense Ministry tweeted. "Retreat or be annihilated by #UAarmy. The choice is theirs."

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The bridge is one of two crossings over the river that Russia uses to transport personnel and equipment to territories it occupies. The strike didn't aim to destroy the bridge but to make it impossible for the Russian military to use, Ukraine's Operational Command South spokeswoman Nataliya Gumenyuk said.

Ukrainian soldiers ride a tank, on a road in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state-controlled RT television and the RIA Novosti news agency that Russia has expanded its © Nariman El-Mofty, AP Ukrainian soldiers ride a tank, on a road in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, July 20, 2022. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state-controlled RT television and the RIA Novosti news agency that Russia has expanded its "special military operation" to include the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and other captured territories.

The Ukrainians used a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System the U.S. has been supplying in recent weeks. Russia has relied on less-precise artillery to indiscriminately shell civilian areas since its invasion began five months ago.

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Other developments:

►A "Hero of Ukraine" died in combat Tuesday, the military reported. Major Oleksandr Kukurba, 28, was chief of intelligence for a tactical aviation brigade. In April, Kukurba was awarded the Hero of Ukraine title and a military Gold Star for personal bravery and heroism. Three days of mourning began Wednesday.

►Germany approved the sale of 100 tank howitzers worth $1.7 billion, according to Der Spiegel and other media reports. The deal is worth about three times the value of what Germany thus far has provided Ukraine.

►Ukraine estimated total Russian combat losses to include more than 40,000 troops killed or wounded along with the destruction of 1,738 tanks and 3,971 armored vehicles. Neither nation releases details of its own losses.

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Inflation in Ukraine climbed from 10% in January to 21.5% in June, "mainly the result of war-driven shocks and global price pressures,'' the National Bank of Ukraine said.

►Ukraine's parliament approved lawmaker Andriy Kostin, a staunch loyalist of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's party, as prosecutor general. Kostin replaces Iryna Venediktova, removed from office this month amid concerns of treason within the office's ranks.

US has made 'substantial' offer to free Griner, fellow American

WNBA star Brittney Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan could be freed from captivity in Russia under the terms of a deal the Biden administration has proposed, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.

It's not yet known whether Russia will accept the deal, but Blinken's acknowledgement of it and his revelation that he intends to communicate with his Kremlin counterpart for the first time since the war started signify a major reversal of previous policy.

Blinken said the US put “a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago” to facilitate their release and that he intends to make his case in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Blinken did not reveal details of the possible prisoner swap, but CNN reported the U.S. offered Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer nicknamed "The Merchant of Death."

Blinken says U.S. made offer to Russia for release of Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan

  Blinken says U.S. made offer to Russia for release of Brittney Griner, Paul Whelan The secretary of state said securing the Americans' release remains a "top priority" for the U.S."In the coming days, I expect to speak with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov for the first time since the war began," Blinken said. "I plan to raise an issue that's a top priority for us: the release of Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, who have been wrongfully detained and must be allowed to come home. We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate their release. Our governments have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal.

Griner, who was arrested on drug-related charges at a Moscow airport in February, testified in a Russian court Wednesday, saying her interpreter translated only a fraction of what she said when questioned after being detained. Griner also testified she was not provided an explanation of her rights or access to a lawyer and was instructed to sign documents she did not understand.

Griner, 31, has pleaded guilty to a drug charge that could result in a 10-year prison sentence.

Zelenskyy: Visit from Biden would be a 'big signal' of support

President Joe Biden visiting Ukraine would be a "great signal" of support for the war-battered nation, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview in Britain to be telecast Wednesday on TalkTV. The White House has not revealed any plans for a Biden trip to Kyiv.

Zelenskyy noted that first lady Jill Biden drew rave reviews in Ukraine when she visited on Mother's Day. And Zelenskyy said his wife's visit to the White house and Congress drew a great response in the U.S.

"The visit of President Biden to Ukraine would be the strongest signal that could be given in support of Ukraine," Zelenskyy said.

Russia tries to blame West for food crisis during Africa trip

As if on cue, Russia's top diplomat pointed a finger at the West as he concluded his trip to Africa, home to several nations severely affected by food shortages exacerbated by the war.

Ukrainian official says Russians should 'learn how to swim' after Ukraine knocks out key river bridge with US-made rockets

  Ukrainian official says Russians should 'learn how to swim' after Ukraine knocks out key river bridge with US-made rockets The strike comes as Ukrainian troops continue to advance toward occupied Kherson and launch counterattacks on Russian forces.On Tuesday, the pro-Russia politician was captured by Ukrainian forces after escaping house arrest on treason charges earlier this year. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shared a photo of a haggard-looking, handcuffed Medvedchuk on Telegram as proof of his arrest.

The British Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence assessment that during Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's tour of the continent would likely lead to Russia exploiting the visit "to blame the West for the international food crisis and win the support of the African states which have otherwise remained neutral about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.''

Sure enough, Lavrov dismissed the “so-called food crisis” created by a global surge in food prices, partly the result of Ukraine's inability to export grain blockaded by the invading forces. During Wednesday's stop in Ethiopia’s capital, Lavrov blamed the United States and the European Union for imposing sanctions, pursuing “reckless” green policies and even hoarding food during the pandemic.

“The situation in Ukraine did additionally negatively affect food markets, but not due to the Russian special operation, rather due to the absolutely inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions,” Lavrov said.

Those sanctions, Western nations have emphasized, don't include food.

Philippine government drops plan to buy Russian helicopters

The Philippine government has scrapped a plan to purchase 16 Russian military transport helicopters, citing concerns over U.S. sanctions, a former Philippine defense official said.

Delfin Lorenzana told The Associated Press he canceled the $227 million deal to acquire the Mi-17 helicopters while serving as defense secretary under former President Rodrigo Duterte. Their terms in office ended June 30. Lorenzana said American security officials were aware of Manila’s decision and could offer similar heavy-lift helicopters.

Ukraine to open second front in hopes of liberating key southern province and demonstrating war is winnable

  Ukraine to open second front in hopes of liberating key southern province and demonstrating war is winnable ‘YOU'RE GOING TO SEE A SECOND FRONT’: As the war of attrition in Ukraine grinds into its sixth month, President Volodymyr Zelensky finds himself in need of a dramatic battlefield triumph that will show the world — and in particular his European allies — that Russian forces can be beaten into retreat. And Zelenesky has his eyes on the strategic Kherson Oblast in the south. “It's not just the city of Kherson. It is the entire province of Kherson. An area about the size of the state of Maryland. The capital city of Kherson, of that particular province, has about 300,000 population on a normal day,” says retired Army Lt. Gen.

Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez said the deal was canceled because Manila could have faced sanctions under a U.S. law called the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

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'Gas is now a part of Russian foreign policy': EU energy concerns deepen

Russia's Gazprom was one step away from shutting down gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline Wednesday after reducing the flow to 20% of capacity. The energy giant blamed the cutback on the shutdown of another Siemens turbine at the Portovaya compressor station.

Gazprom is requiring extensive documentation to verify that the turbines, sent to Canada for maintenance, do not violate sanctions. European leaders dismiss the paperwork demands as a ruse by Russia as it seeks political leverage over Europe ahead of winter.

“Gas is now a part of Russian foreign policy and possibly Russian war strategy,” German energy official Klaus Mueller told Deutschlandfunk radio.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine warns Kremlin to 'retreat or be annihilated' in Kherson; US pushing deal to free Griner: July 27 recap

Turkey is openly boasting that vehicle trade with Russia has surged as its exports to Russia hit an 8-year high .
From May to July, Turkey and Russia traded 8,213 vehicles via cargo ships each month — up from the monthly average of 5,208 from January to April. The Turkish authority attributed the surge to new shipping lines between the two countries.Overall, trade between the two countries has boomed, with Turkish exports to Russia hitting $2.91 billion in the first half of 2022, according to the official Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat. That's an eight-year high, according to a Bloomberg analysis of TurkStat's data.

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