A key bridge linking southern Russia to Crimea was damaged again, with Moscow blaming Ukraine. The attack could be part of Ukraine’s ongoing counter-offensive to retake occupied territories.
Meanwhile, Russia has canceled a July 2022 deal on the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.
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Here are the latest developments:
Monday, July 24 (Tokyo time).)
1:20 p.m The Russian Defense Ministry has accused Ukraine of a “terrorist” drone attack on Moscow after the city’s mayor said two buildings were hit and media reported that debris was found near the ministry’s buildings. The Ministry of Defense said on its news app Telegram that two drones had been “shot down and crashed”. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on his Telegram news app that around 4 a.m. (01:00 GMT) two non-residential buildings were hit, adding that there had been no “serious damage or casualties”.
10:45 a.m Fragments of a drone were found in the center of Moscow about two kilometers from the main building of the Ministry of Defense, state Russian news agencies report, citing rescue services. The RIA news agency reported, citing the Moscow Ministry of Transport, that Komsomolsky Avenue from the center of Moscow towards the outskirts had been closed. A Portal witness heard two loud explosions before reports of the drone fragments were found. Preliminary information indicates that there were no injuries.
7:30 a.m The Russian investigative committee says it has launched a criminal investigation into the killing of a Russian war reporter. The committee said on its website that “Ukrainian armed formations targeted a group of Russian journalists” working near Pyatikhatka in Ukraine’s south-eastern Zaporizhia region. No information was given on the type of weapons or ammunition used, but it was said that Rostislav Zhuravlev, a journalist with the state news agency RIA, was killed.
5:40 a.m A previously announced meeting of a new NATO-Ukraine Council expected to deal with Black Sea security is scheduled for Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his evening video address on Sunday.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Saturday the meeting requested by Zelenskyy in a phone call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg would discuss the situation following Russia’s withdrawal from a year-long agreement to control grain exports from Ukrainian ports.
Sunday 23 July
11:30 p.m US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that while Ukraine has regained half of the territory Russia originally captured when it invaded, Kiev faces a “very uphill battle” to regain more.
“Already about 50% of the amounts originally confiscated have been recovered,” Blinken said in an interview with CNN on Sunday. “The counteroffensive is still in its infancy. It’s difficult,” he said, adding, “It’s not going to happen in the next week or two. We still reckon, I think, with several months.”
17:30. Russian airstrikes on Ukraine’s southern port of Odessa kill one, injure nearly 20 and badly damage an Orthodox cathedral.
“Odesa: another night attack of the monsters,” Odessa region governor Oleh Kiper said on news app Telegram.
The Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi Cathedral, or Transfiguration Cathedral, was badly damaged, the Odessa military administration said. It is the largest church building in Odessa and is located in the historic city center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An interior view shows the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odessa, which was damaged in a Russian missile attack. © Portal
Saturday 22nd July
5:40 p.m Road traffic on the bridge connecting Russia with the Crimea peninsula resumed after a brief interruption on Saturday, an official Telegram channel said. The reason for the road closure was not given. On Monday, the road was shut down after an attack that killed two people. The bridge was only recently fully operational again after being damaged in a bomb blast last October.
3:10 p.m Prominent Russian nationalist and former military commander Igor Girkin, who publicly accused President Vladimir Putin and army leaders of not waging the war in Ukraine tough and effective enough, was remanded in custody on Friday for inciting extremism. His arrest by his former employer, the FSB state security service, suggests authorities have grown weary of his criticism of the war in Ukraine after a failed mutiny last month led by another outspoken critic, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary force.
Prominent Russian nationalist Igor Girkin, who publicly accused President Vladimir Putin of not waging the war in Ukraine tough enough, was remanded in custody on July 21. © Portal
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in a regular intelligence report on Saturday that the arrest “is likely to anger other members of the military blogger community, who largely view Girkin as an astute military analyst and patriot.”
8:00 am Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the Moscow-built bridge between the Crimean Peninsula and Russia, which opened in 2018, is a military target because it is “not just a logistical route” and brings “war, not peace.” Speaking via videoconference at the Aspen Security Conference in the United States, he said: “To us, this is understandably a hostile facility built outside of international law and all applicable norms. So, understandably, this is a goal for us. And a target that brings war and not peace must be neutralized.” Ukraine welcomed Monday’s attack on the bridge that killed two civilians. However, those responsible did not directly claim responsibility, while Moscow blamed Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy describes the bridge connecting the Crimean peninsula with Russia as a legitimate military target. © Portal
7:30 a.m French President Emmanuel Macron’s top diplomatic adviser says China is supplying Russia with items that could be used as military equipment, according to Portal. Asked late Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum whether the West had seen any evidence that China had in any way armed Russia in the war in Ukraine, Emmanuel Bonne, the head of Macron’s diplomatic team at the Elysee Palace, replied to the moderator: “Yes, there are indications that they are doing things that we would rather not do.” but.” [we need that to be] no delivery.”
Friday 21st July
11:30 p.m Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has dismissed Kyiv’s ambassador to the UK and the International Maritime Organization, Vadym Prystaiko, without giving reasons, on the basis of a presidential decree.
Prystaiko apparently reprimanded Zelenskyy last week for the president’s “sarcastic” reaction to British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace’s comment that the UK was not an “Amazon” arms delivery service for Ukraine.
The sacking comes a day after Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address that the state budget should prioritize defense and that he asked the prime minister to consider replacing the culture minister. “Cobblestones, city decorations and fountains can wait until after victory,” said the President. The culture minister in question, Oleksandr Tkachenko, said he submitted his resignation before Zelenskyy’s speech.
2:40 p.m Poland’s security committee decided at a meeting on Wednesday to move military units to the east of the country due to the Wagner Group’s presence in Belarus, the state news agency PAP quoted its secretary as saying on Friday. On Thursday, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said Wagner mercenaries had started training Belarusian special forces at a military compound a few miles from the border with NATO member Poland. “The training or joint exercise of the Belarusian army and the Wagner group is undoubtedly a provocation,” Zbigniew Hoffmann told PAP. “The committee analyzed possible threats, such as the relocation of Wagner Group units. Therefore, the Minister of National Defense and Chairman of the Committee, Mariusz Blaszczak, decided to transfer our military formations from the west to the east of Poland.”
Polish troops assemble as part of the 12th and 17th Mechanized Brigades and begin the advance to the east of the country, in Poland, on July 8. © Portal
1:57 p.m Russia is not preparing to attack civilian ships in the Black Sea, contrary to American claims, says Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the US, in comments his embassy posted on social media.
1:34 a.m The US announces sanctions against a total of more than 120 individuals and entities, including 14 ships, to “limit Russia’s military capabilities, access to battlefield assets and economic bottom line.” The Russian embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to Portal for comment.
Thursday, July 20th
11:00 p.m Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari supports calls by his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba to restore the Black Sea Grains Initiative. Kuleba, who is visiting Islamabad, says Russia has undermined world food security. Bhutto Zardari says he plans to raise the issue with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“It is not only in our interest, but also in the interest of the whole world that this grain initiative is restored,” says Bhutto Zardari.
9:54 p.m As of Friday, Kyiv time, all ships in Black Sea waters en route to Russian ports and Russian-occupied Ukrainian seaports “could be considered for risk assessment” as they carry military cargo, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.
19.00 A building of the Chinese consulate in Odessa was damaged in a Russian missile and drone attack on the southern Ukrainian port city, regional governor Oleh Kiper said on Thursday. The damage seemed minor. Kiper posted a photo online showing the building with the windows broken. Russia, an ally of China, attacked the port cities of Odessa and Mykolaiv overnight for the third straight day.
3:45 p.m Russia is responsible for a major global food crisis, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday, just days after the Kremlin announced it would suspend a deal on Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea. “What we already know is that this is going to lead to a big, huge food crisis in the world,” Borrell told journalists before heading to a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
Borrell also accused Russia of targeting grain storage facilities in the southern port city of Odessa, which he said would further exacerbate the food crisis.
A fighter from the Russian mercenary group Wagner trains Belarusian soldiers at a firing range near the town of Osipovichi July 14. This image is from a charity video. (Belarusian Ministry of Defense via Portal)
3:40 p.m Belarus’ Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the country’s military continued drills with fighters from Russia’s mercenary group Wagner at a military base near the city of Brest on the border with Poland.
14:00 clock China’s crude oil imports from Russia hit an all-time high in June, Chinese government data released on Thursday showed. Refiners continue to extract oil from the East Siberia-Pacific pipeline, although discounts to international benchmarks are narrowing. Arrivals from Russia in June totaled 10.5 million tons, or 2.56 million barrels per day. According to the General Customs Administration, shipments rose 44.1% from 1.77 million bpd in the same month last year. Russian arrivals totaled 52.61 million tons in the first half of the year, up 21.6% from the same period last year.
8:00 am The White House warned Wednesday that Russia could widen its attacks on Ukrainian grain factories to include attacks on civilian ships in the Black Sea. Adam Hodge, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said US officials have information that suggests Russia has been laying more sea mines in the approaches to Ukrainian ports. “We believe this is a coordinated effort to justify any attacks on civilian ships in the Black Sea and blame Ukraine for those attacks,” he said.
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12:27 a.m Russia’s Defense Ministry says it will consider all ships bound for Ukrainian Black Sea ports as potential carriers of military cargo from midnight Thursday morning Moscow time after the Black Sea Grains Agreement expires, Portal reports.
In a statement published on messenger app Telegram, the ministry said it was declaring the south-eastern and north-western parts of the international waters of the Black Sea unsafe for navigation and that the flag states of ships calling at Ukrainian ports would be considered parties to the conflict on the Ukrainian side.
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