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The Guardian Russia-Ukraine war live: peace will be on Russia’s terms, says former president; Putin and Erdoğan to discuss grain deliveries

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LIVE – Updated at 02:08

Putin to discuss Ukrainian grain exports with Turkish officials in Tehran.

Summary

02:08

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.

  • Russian President, Vladimir Putin, won the endorsement of the Iranian supreme leader for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during a visit to Tehran on Tuesday. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Putin: “War is a harsh and difficult issue, and Iran is not at all pleased that ordinary people suffer from it, but in the case of Ukraine if you had not taken the initiative, the other side would have caused the war with its own initiative … If the road is open to Nato, it knows no boundaries and if it was not stopped in Ukraine they would start the same war some time later under the pretext of Crimea.”
  • Khamenei sdded that Tehran and Moscow needed to stay vigilant against “western deception”, calling for long-term cooperation between Iran and Russia. “Iran and Russia’s long-term cooperation is greatly, deeply beneficial to both countries,” he said.
  • Putin said progress has been made that may allow Russia to lift the blockade on Ukrainian wheat. “I want to thank you for your mediation efforts,” he told Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his Turkish counterpart, during a trip to Tehran in comments released by the Kremlin. “With your mediation, we have moved forward. Not all issues have yet been resolved, but the fact that there is movement is already good.”
  • A senior Russian security official said that peace in Ukraine would be on Moscow’s terms. Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president who is now deputy head of its security council, said: “Russia will achieve all its goals. There will be peace – on our terms.”
  • Putin claims Moscow has not seen any desire from Ukraine to fulfil the terms of what he described as a preliminary peace deal agreed to in March. When asked about a possible meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Russian president replied that Kyiv had not stuck to the terms of a preliminary peace deal he said had been “practically achieved” in March. “The final result of course… depends on the willingness of the contracting parties to implement the agreements that were reached. Today we see the powers in Kyiv have no such desire.”
  • Ukraine does not want the war to last into winter because it would give Russian forces time to dig in and make any Ukrainian counter-offensive more difficult. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andry Yermak, said: “It is very important for us not to enter the winter. After winter, when the Russians will have more time to dig in, it will certainly be more difficult.”
  • Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby claimed Russia is laying the groundwork for the annexation of more Ukrainian territory, and installing illegitimate proxy officials in areas under its control. Kirby, unveiling what he said was US intelligence, said Russia was seeking to establish the rouble as the default currency and force residents to apply for citizenship.
  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he expects “significant results” for Ukraine following his wife’s trip to Washington on Tuesday. “Increasing American support for Ukraine, additional assistance to protect people from Russian terror, addressing humanitarian needs are all the tasks of the ongoing visit of the First Lady of Ukraine to the United States,” he said. Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska met her US counterpart Jill Biden on Tuesday ahead of her appearance on Wednesday before members of Congress.
  • The EU is set to add Russia’s biggest bank Sberbank and the head of giant zinc and copper firm UMMC to its black list of individuals and companies. A new list of 48 officials and nine entities to be blacklisted, prepared by the EU foreign affairs service, also includes leaders of the Night Wolves motorcycle club, actors, politicians, the deputy head of a Russian security service, family members of sanctioned oligarchs and military people.
  • Putin said gas giant Gazprom will fulfil all its obligations “in full” and mocked the west for relying on green energy. “Gazprom has fulfilled, is fulfilling and will fulfil its obligations in full,” he told reporters in Tehran.
  • Ukrainian farmers are to receive support from the US government in the form of a $100m (£83m) programme intended to provide supplies to maintain future harvests. The money from the US agency for international development (USAID) aims to boost Ukraine’s agricultural exports.
  • The governor of the southern Ukraine region of Mykolaiv has offered a $100 (£83) reward for anyone who can identify people collaborating with Russia. Vitaliy Kim offered the compensation in exchange for information about “those who reveal to the occupiers the places of deployment of Ukrainian troops” or help them establish the coordinates of potential targets.
  • Another six French-made Caesar artillery guns are “on their way” to Ukraine, France’s foreign minister has confirmed. Twelve of the guns, prized for their accuracy and mobility, have already been delivered to Ukraine and “the six others are on their way,” Catherine Colonna told a Senate commission.
  • The United States will announce a new weapons package for Ukraine in the coming days, a government official said. It is expected to include mobile rocket launchers knows as Himars, and various artillery munitions, Reuters reports.
  • US senators have backed Sweden and Finland in their bid to join Nato. The foreign relations committee of the US Senate unanimously approving a resolution to ratify their membership on Tuesday.
  • A special commission to control the use of weapons provided to Ukraine has been set up, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. “Our partners are fully informed about how we use the weapons provided. But in order to put an end to any manipulations of Russian propagandists and those who help them in Ukraine or somewhere else, such an additional parliamentary control tool will enter into force,” he said.

01:56

A special commission to control the use of weapons provided to Ukraine has been set up, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

It is very important that today the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine implemented the initiative of Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak to set up a special commission to control the use of weapons provided by our partners. The commission included representatives of all parliamentary factions and groups.”

However, Zelenskiy stressed “there is no ground for any claims to our state in this regard” and added: “Our partners are fully informed about how we use the weapons provided. But in order to put an end to any manipulations of Russian propagandists and those who help them in Ukraine or somewhere else, such an additional parliamentary control tool will enter into force.”

01:23

A video of Vladimir Putin waiting to meet his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has gained some traction online today after footage emerged showing the Russian President anxiously standing in a room looking “frazzled”.

“Those 50 seconds that Erdogan made Putin wait, looking frazzled in-front of cameras say plenty of how much has changed after Ukraine,” Joyce Karam, senior correspondent at the National News quipped.

Tuesday’s visit to Iran is the Kremlin leader’s first trip outside the former Soviet Union since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. During his visit to Tehran, Putin will also hold his first face-to-face meeting since the invasion with a Nato leader, Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, to discuss a deal that would resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports as well as peace in Syria.

01:06

The United States placed Russia on lists of countries engaged in a “policy or pattern” of human trafficking and forced labour or whose security forces or government-backed armed groups recruit or use child soldiers.

The State Department included the lists in its annual human trafficking report, which for the first time featured under a 2019 congressional mandate a “State-Sponsored Trafficking in Persons” section, according to Reuters.

Russia appeared frequently throughout the report because of its invasion of Ukraine and what the document called the vulnerability to trafficking of millions of Ukrainian refugees in countries to which they have fled.

“Millions of Ukrainians have had to flee their homes … some leaving the country altogether, most with just what they were able to carry,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a ceremony as he presented the report. “That makes them highly vulnerable to exploitation.”

The report contained a separate list of 12 countries that employ or recruit child soldiers. That list included Russia and a number of those in the new state-sponsors section.

Moscow, the Russia chapter said, was “actively complicit in the forced labour” of North Korean migrant workers, including by issuing visas to thousands in an apparent bid to circumvent United Nations resolutions demanding their repatriation.

It also cited reports that after seizing parts of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region in 2014, Russian-led separatists used children to man checkpoints and serve as fighters and in other posts.

20 Jul 2022 00:44

Another six French-made Caesar artillery guns promised to Ukraine by President Emmanuel Macron in June are “on their way”, France’s foreign minister has confirmed.

Twelve of the guns, prized for their accuracy and mobility, have already been delivered to Ukraine and “the six others are on their way,” Catherine Colonna told a Senate commission.

“At the national level, France is fully committed even though we communicate less than others what we are doing,” Colonna added. “We made the decision to not communicate all of our military contribution.”

As well as ammunition, France is known to be providing its Milan anti-tank missiles and defence minister Sebastien Lecornu said in late June that Paris would be sending “significant quantities” of armoured personnel carriers.

Built by France’s partly state-owned arms maker Nexter, the Caesar is a 155-mm howitzer mounted on a six-wheeled truck chassis, capable of firing shells at ranges of more than 40km (25 miles).

Putin claims Ukraine did not make good on preliminary peace deal

20 Jul 2022 00:30

Russian President Vladimir Putin claims Moscow has not seen any desire from Ukraine to fulfil the terms of what he described as a preliminary peace deal agreed to in March.

Putin, speaking to reporters in televised comments after a visit to Iran, was asked about a possible meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The Russian leader replied that Kyiv had not stuck to the terms of a preliminary peace deal he said had been “practically achieved” in March.

The final result of course… depends on the willingness of the contracting parties to implement the agreements that were reached. Today we see the powers in Kyiv have no such desire.”

He added that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were offering to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.

20 Jul 2022 00:30

Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he expects “significant results” for Ukraine following his wife’s trip to Washington on Tuesday.

 

Increasing American support for Ukraine, additional assistance to protect people from Russian terror, addressing humanitarian needs are all the tasks of the ongoing visit of the First Lady of Ukraine to the United States.

I expect from this visit of the First Lady significant results for Ukraine in cooperation with America. It is important right now. There have already been meetings with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with Samantha Power and other influential female politicians representing the government and parliamentary structures of America.

Tomorrow Olena will speak in the Congress – on behalf of all Ukrainian mothers, all Ukrainian women, and it will be an important address. And I really believe that it will be heard by those on whom decision-making in the US depends.”

 

US First Lady Jill Biden and President Joe Biden welcome the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday. Photograph: Bonnie Cash/UPI/REX/Shutterstock© Provided by The Guardian US First Lady Jill Biden and President Joe Biden welcome the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday. Photograph: Bonnie Cash/UPI/REX/ShutterstockJill Biden and Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine met on Tuesday at the White House.

On Wednesday, she is scheduled to address members of Congress in an auditorium at the Capitol, following a similar appearance by her husband at an earlier point in the war.

Putin says gas giant Gazprom to fulfil obligations ‘in full’

19 Jul 2022 23:50

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said gas giant Gazprom will fulfil all its obligations “in full” and mocked the west for relying on green energy.

Putin told reporters in Tehran:

Gazprom has fulfilled, is fulfilling and will fulfil its obligations in full.”

Putin also took a jab at the west for seeking to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and switch to green energy.

 

They are great experts in the field of non-traditional relations, and in the field of energy, they have also decided to rely on non-traditional types of energy – the sun and wind.

They themselves are shutting down everything and then looking for someone to blame – it would be funny if it were not so sad.”

 

Source: Nord Stream 1 pipeline to reopen on time

19 Jul 2022 22:48

Reuters is reporting that Russia is “seen” restarting gas exports through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on schedule on Thursday following a 10-day maintenance closure.

A source, whom the news agency said was speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the pipeline was expected to resume operation on time, but at less than its capacity of some 160m cubic metres (mcm) per day.

There has been speculation that Russian president Vladimir Putin would keep the pipeline closed at the end of the annual routine maintenance in order to pressure European Union countries into easing sanctions imposed following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read more here:

Related: Russian gas shutoff would send some EU countries into recession, IMF warns

19 Jul 2022 22:36

Beleaguered Ukrainian farmers are to receive support from the US government in the form of a $100m (£83m) programme intended to provide supplies to maintain future harvests and alleviate the global food security crisis aggravated by the Russian invasion.

The money from the US agency for international development (USAID) is calculated to boost Ukraine’s agricultural exports at a time when farm machinery is in short supply and many farmers have lost land and crops to the conflict.

Before Moscow’s 24 February invasion, Ukraine was the world’s fourth-largest exporter of corn and fifth-largest exporter of wheat, but Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports has strangled the industries.

USAID says it has already been working with more than 8,000 Ukrainian farmers, and the new programme, the Ukraine agriculture resilience initiative (AGRI-Ukraine), will ramp up those efforts exponentially, the agency said in a statement:

 

The initiative will increase Ukrainian farmers’ access to critical agricultural inputs including seeds, fertiliser, equipment, and pesticides…

[It will] enhance Ukrainian infrastructure capacity and capability to efficiently export agricultural goods, increase farmers’ access to financing and expand the capacity of Ukrainian businesses to dry and temporarily store, and process agricultural commodities.

 

USAID said it will work with banks, credit unions and governments to ease financing restrictions and help farmers with the rising cost of transportation, labor and other expenses.

Samantha Power, administrator of USAID, met Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska in Washington DC on Tuesday to discuss the humanitarian crisis in the country.

US senators back Sweden and Finland for Nato

19 Jul 2022 21:58

The foreign relations committee of the US Senate took a symbolic but notable first step on Tuesday towards embracing Sweden and Finland into Nato, unanimously approving a resolution to ratify their membership.

Ultimately, all 30 existing members of Nato must approve the two nations’ applications to join the mutual defence alliance, but the backing of the full US Senate, which today’s resolution set up, is a powerful statement of support.

Senator Bob Menendez. Photograph: Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters© Provided by The Guardian Senator Bob Menendez. Photograph: Elizabeth Frantz/ReutersCommittee chair Bob Menendez, a Democrat, called the accession of Finland and Sweden “undoubtedly one of the most consequential foreign policy successes in recent years”, AFP reports:

As US foreign policy priorities evolve to account for a changing world, what is self-evident is the future of the transatlantic partnership will be even more intertwined and integrated thanks to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s recklessness.

US preparing new weapons package for Ukraine

19 Jul 2022 21:47

The United States will announce a new weapons package for Ukraine in the coming days, a government official has said. It is expected to include mobile rocket launchers knows as Himars, and various artillery munitions, Reuters reports.

The news came during an afternoon briefing at the White House, at which Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby also revealed the US assessment that Russia is laying the groundwork for the annexation of Ukrainian territory, and installing illegitimate proxy officials in areas under its control.

John Kirby addresses reporters at the White House on Tuesday. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images© Provided by The Guardian John Kirby addresses reporters at the White House on Tuesday. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesKirby, unveiling what he said was US intelligence, said Russia was seeking to establish the rouble as the default currency and force residents to apply for citizenship.

He also weighed in on Russian president Vladimir Putin’s trip to Iran, saying his talks with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday, the Kremlin leader’s first trip outside the former Soviet Union since Moscow’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine, showed how isolated he had become.

The US said last week it had information that Iran was preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred drones, including some that are weapons capable, but Kirby said on Tuesday that there was no indication the transfer had taken place.

19 Jul 2022 21:42

Here’s an update, of sorts, from Russia’s president Vladimir Putin on his talks today with the presidents of Iran and Turkey.

The three-way summit in Tehran, ostensibly to discuss the conflict in Syria but overshadowed by Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine, was “truly useful and rather substantial”, Putin said, according to Reuters.

Vladimir Putin (left) walks with Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on Tuesday. Photograph: APAImages/REX/Shutterstock© Provided by The Guardian Vladimir Putin (left) walks with Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on Tuesday. Photograph: APAImages/REX/ShutterstockPutin said he had agreed a joint declaration with presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Ebrahim Raisi of Iran pledging to strengthen cooperation in the interests of the “normalisation” of the situation in Syria.

He also said he and Erdoğan discussed the export of Ukrainian and Russian grain as well as food security, but provided no further details.

Earlier in the day, Putin praised the Turkish leader for mediating talks on the export of grain from Ukraine, saying there had been some progress.

Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine has hampered shipments from one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat and other grain, sparking fears of global food shortages.

19 Jul 2022 20:58

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has been talking with Italy’s prime minister, Ukraine’s president tweeting that his Tuesday afternoon conversation with Mario Draghi included a discussion on his country’s application to join the European Union.

Zelenskiy has also been chatting with Alassane Ouattara, president of Ivory Coast, during a busy afternoon on the telephone.

He says it was the first time leaders of the two nations had spoken directly, saying the aim was to “open a new page in relations with the African continent”.

19 Jul 2022 20:44

Ukraine does not want the war to last into winter, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff said Tuesday, because it would give Russian forces time to dig in and make any Ukrainian counter-offensive more difficult.

Andry Yermak was talking to Ukrainian magazine NV, Reuters reported, and expressed hopes that weapons from the US, UK and other western allies will allow Ukrainian troops to achieve “victory” before then.

In the interview, Yermak said:

It is very important for us not to enter the winter. After winter, when the Russians will have more time to dig in, it will certainly be more difficult.

19 Jul 2022 20:15

The governor of a southern Ukraine region under constant Russian rocket fire on Tuesday offered a $100 (£83) reward for anyone who can identify people collaborating with Russia.

Vitaliy Kim, the governor of the Mykolaiv region, is offering the compensation in exchange for information about “those who reveal to the occupiers the places of deployment of Ukrainian troops” or help them establish the coordinates of potential targets, AFP reports.

Kim also indicated that he planned to “close” the city of Mykolaiv for a few days in order to neutralise “traitors and Russian collaborators”.

“We are considering curfew measures. We have a large database. We will close the city for a few days,” he said.

19 Jul 2022 19:53

Earlier today we reported that the European Union was set to add Russia’s biggest bank Sberbank and the head of giant zinc and copper firm UMMC to its list of individuals and companies sanctioned for supporting Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Now we’re learning, courtesy of AFP, that the EU is at the same time considering unblocking assets at Russian banks linked to trade in food and fertiliser.

The news agency reports the exception would be intended to boost food trade, and quotes one unnamed diplomat as saying the move was “completely understandable”.

Member countries “want to make it abundantly clear that there is nothing in the sanctions that is slowing the transport of grain out of Russia or Ukraine,” the diplomat said.

The EU proposal is part of the bloc’s latest sanction update being negotiated by member states and will require unanimous approval.

It comes as Brussels battles Moscow’s allegations that western sanctions, and not its invasion of Ukraine, are causing a global food crisis.

Bidens welcome Ukraine first lady Zelenska to White House

19 Jul 2022 19:50

Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska is at the White House meeting her US counterpart Jill Biden, ahead of her appearance on Wednesday before members of Congress.

Joe Biden handed Zelenska a large bouquet of flowers, while the president’s wife greeted her with a hug.

A White House statement said the first ladies are discussing “the United States’ continued support for the government of Ukraine and its people as they defend their democracy and cope with the significant human impacts of Russia’s war, which will be felt for years to come” as well as ways of holding Russia accountable for war crimes.

After speaking with Mrs Biden, she will meet second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield and other US government officials.

On Monday, Zelenska met secretary of state Antony Blinken and USAid administrator Samantha Power, and on Wednesday will address members of the US House of Representatives and Senate at 11am local time.

19 Jul 2022 19:50

It’s Richard Luscombe in the US picking up our Ukraine blog coverage. I’ll be guiding you through the next few hours, thanks for joining me.

The US-based cable network CNN has an exclusive interview with Ukraine’s former prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova, who adamantly denies any Russian collaborators worked with or for her.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiyfired Venediktova and Ivan Bakanov, head of the domestic security agency SBU, at the weekend, citing collaboration with Russia by officials in their offices.

Talking to CNN’s Nic Robertson in Kyiv today, Venediktova said:

Here in my office we can’t have collaborators at all, because collaboration is it’s only people who worked in occupied territory. Here is not occupied territory.

She went on to say that a top priority of her office was working on the problems of state treason and collaborators, and her office had been very open about it.

She said she did not want to discuss the reason Zelenskiy fired her because she believed Russia would exploit it. Regarding Zelenskiy, she said:

President now, its chief of command. He understands his strategy and tactic. And he makes his decision with his views.

19 Jul 2022 19:15

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Russian president Vladimir Putin that Tehran and Moscow needed to stay vigilant against “western deception”, calling for long-term cooperation between Tehran and Moscow, state TV reported.

Referring to the Ukraine crisis, Khamenei said:

War is a harsh and difficult event, and Iran is not at all pleased that ordinary people suffer from it.

He added:

The US dollar should be gradually taken off global trade and this can be done gradually.

19 Jul 2022 19:15

Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, on Tuesday accepted a human rights award on behalf of the people of Ukraine in recognition of their fight against Russia’s invasion of their country.

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation recognised the Ukrainian people with its dissident human rights award. Zelenska, who is visiting Washington this week, accepted the award in person.

“It is an honour to be here and accept this award in the name of every Ukrainian man and woman fighting Russian aggression today,” she said, speaking through a translator.

Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP© Provided by The Guardian Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Summary

19 Jul 2022 18:55

The time in Ukraine is just coming up to 9pm. Here is a round-up of all the day’s latest headlines:

  • A senior Russian security official said that peace in Ukraine when it came would be on Moscow’s terms as Russian forces struck targets across the country with missiles even as their ground offensive stuttered. More than two weeks have passed since Russia’s last major territorial gain – capturing the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk – and Ukraine’s general army staff said that Moscow’s forces were busy shoring up their positions in recently seized territory.
  • Russian president Vladimir Putin held talks with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran on Tuesday, the Kremlin leader’s first trip outside the former Soviet Union since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. During his visit to Tehran, Putin will also hold his first face-to-face meeting since the invasion with a Nato leader, Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, to discuss a deal that would resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports as well as peace in Syria.
  • The European Union is set to add Russia’s biggest bank Sberbank and the head of giant zinc and copper firm UMMC to its black list of individuals and companies accused of supporting Moscow’s invasion of UkraineA new list of 48 officials and nine entities to be blacklisted, prepared by the EU foreign affairs service, also includes leaders of the Night Wolves motorcycle club, actors, politicians, the deputy head of a Russian security service, family members of sanctioned oligarchs and military people.
  • Russian forces shelled a town in eastern Ukraine, killing six people, according to Ukrainian officials. “Early in the morning, the town of Toretsk was shelled. A two-storey building with people inside was destroyed,” Ukraine’s state emergency services said. “Rescuers found and recovered the bodies of five dead people in total. Three people were rescued from the rubble and one of them died in hospital.”
  • Russia has struggled to sustain effective offensive combat power and the problem is likely becoming increasingly acute, according to British military intelligence. It says “As well as dealing with severe under-manning, Russian planners face a dilemma between deploying reserves to the Donbas or defending against Ukrainian counterattacks in the south-western Kherson sector.”
  • At least one person was killed in a Russian missile strike on the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Tuesday, the regional governor said. Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, said the attack caused loud explosions and a fire in a residential building.
  • A 16-year-old Ukrainian boy has described how he was held hostage by Russian soldiers for 90 days as he heard other prisoners being tortured in a nearby cell. His vivid account of his time in captivity is a depiction of violent interrogations involving brutal beatings, and confirms other reports of Russian and pro-Russian separatist forces mistreating detainees.
  • A panel of retired military leaders from the United States, Canada and the Netherlands will advise a pro-Ukraine campaign on the procurement of protective gear for Ukrainian defence forces, a Canada-based non-profit group said. The panel of four includes former commander of US forces in Afghanistan David Petraeus, former Nato commander Wesley Clark as well as former Dutch defence chief Dick Lodewijk Berlijn, according to the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC).
  • Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, on Tuesday accepted a human rights award on behalf of the people of Ukraine in recognition of their fight against Russia’s invasion of their country. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation recognised the Ukrainian people with its Dissident Human Rights Award. Zelenska, who is visiting Washington this week, accepted the award in person.

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

Peace will be on Moscow’s terms, says former president

19 Jul 2022 17:56

A senior Russian security official said that peace in Ukraine when it came would be on Moscow’s terms as Russian forces struck targets across the country with missiles even as their ground offensive stuttered.

More than two weeks have passed since Russia’s last major territorial gain – capturing the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk – and Ukraine’s general army staff said on Tuesday that Moscow’s forces were busy shoring up their positions in recently seized territory and mounting limited but unsuccessful ground assaults, albeit in numerous different locations.

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president who is now deputy head of its security council, struck a defiant tone though, signalling that Moscow was ready to do whatever it took in order to prevail, Reuters reported.

“Russia will achieve all its goals. There will be peace – on our terms,” Medvedev said.


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Putin in Iran for Syria summit overshadowed by Ukraine war

19 Jul 2022 17:45

Flows of gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline spiked for the second time on Tuesday, data from its website showed, with flows of 23,681 kwh/h between 3pm and 5pm German time, Reuters reported.

Hourly flows through the pipeline, the main source of natural gas fuelling Europe’s largest economy, have been at zero since 11 July, when the pipeline’s 10 days of annual maintenance began.

A similar spike took place two hours before, when flows leapt from zero to 27,137 kwh/h for the hour from 12pm UK time. Flows stood at 29 million kwh/h before the shutdown, about 40% of the pipeline’s full capacity.

Nominations – the volume of gas requested – remained at zero despite the two surges, the pipeline’s data feed showed.

Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline in Lubmin, Germany. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters© Provided by The Guardian Pipes at the landfall facilities of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline in Lubmin, Germany. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

19 Jul 2022 17:38

A panel of retired military leaders from the United States, Canada and the Netherlands will advise a pro-Ukraine campaign on the procurement of protective gear for Ukrainian defence forces, a Canada-based non-profit group said.

The panel of four includes former commander of US forces in Afghanistan David Petraeus, former Nato commander Wesley Clark as well as former Dutch defence chief Dick Lodewijk Berlijn, according to the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC).

The panel, expected to grow in size, is chaired by retired Canadian chief of defence staff Rick Hillier, Reuters reported.

It would focus on helping supply Ukraine’s territorial defence force with protective gear, such as helmets, body armour, ballistic goggles, and medical kits, the UWC said in a statement.

“If we can help get them [Ukrainian defence forces] the equipment from the west … we can help them win this war,” Hillier said at a news conference.

19 Jul 2022 16:49

The US Department of Justice is seeking broader authority from Congress to seize Russian oligarchs’ assets as a means to put pressure on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, a senior prosecutor said on Tuesday.

In testimony to the US Senate committee on the judiciary, Andrew Adams, who leads the department’s KleptoCapture taskforce, said Congress should let prosecutors seek forfeitures of assets used to evade US sanctions, not just proceeds of sanctions evasions.

Adams also said statutes of limitations for some financial crimes, such as money laundering, should be doubled to 10 years to give prosecutors “time to follow the money”, Reuters reported.

Adams’ testimony comes as Congress considers legislation to allow proceeds from seized assets to help the people of Ukraine.

19 Jul 2022 15:13

Ukraine’s parliament has confirmed the removal of Ivan Bakanov and Iryna Venediktova from their posts. There was confusion when on Sunday night Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had dismissed them, but on Monday a presidential aide said they were suspended. The Verkhovna Rada has confirmed their exits today.

David Arakhamia, a Ukrainian lawmaker, said on Telegram:

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has voted for the termination of powers of Iryna Venediktova as prosecutor general of Ukraine. Venediktova will remain part of the team. Her experience will serve the state at a new place, which needs to be reinforced with competent managers and employees. We are waiting for news about personnel appointments on the diplomatic front, and thank you for your work.

The Ukrinform website reports that a total of 265 members of parliament voted in favour of Bakanov’s dismissal as chief of Ukraine’s security services.

19 Jul 2022 15:12

Here is a selection of some of the latest photographs sent to us over the newswires from the scene of a rocket attack on a residential building in Kramatorsk, Ukraine.

A woman salvages what she can from her damaged apartment, after a rocket hit her five-storey residential building in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/AP© Provided by The Guardian A woman salvages what she can from her damaged apartment, after a rocket hit her five-storey residential building in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/APMykola Zavodovskyi, right, and Tetiana Zavodovska, injured from a rocket attack that hit a five-storey building. Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/AP© Provided by The Guardian Mykola Zavodovskyi, right, and Tetiana Zavodovska, injured from a rocket attack that hit a five-storey building. Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/APDebris lies on the floor near the damaged building. Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/AP© Provided by The Guardian Debris lies on the floor near the damaged building. Photograph: Nariman El-Mofty/AP

Russia expects grain talks to continue, says Kremlin spokesman

19 Jul 2022 14:48

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said Russia expects talks on safe passage for Ukrainian grain shipments via the Black Sea to continue in the near future, Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reported.

TASS cited Peskov as saying that Russia was willing to do its best to ensure that Ukrainian grain can reach global markets.

19 Jul 2022 14:25

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has issued a statement today detailing what it alleges are crimes committed by Ukrainian forces which will be investigated by the Russian Investigative Committee. They allege, without providing evidence, that:

 

Units of the armed forces of Ukraine are deployed on the territory of civilian facilities, and in residential buildings, artillery and MLRS positions are equipped, while the evacuation of local residents from nearby houses was deliberately not carried out.

In Kalinovka, Bakhmut district of the DPR, neo-Nazis placed artillery and MLRS on the territory of the granary, from which they systematically fire at the positions of the Russian Armed Forces, provoking return fire.

In Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and Kherson regions, servicemen of the armed forces of Ukraine, together with militants of nationalist battalions, purposefully set fire to fields with grain crops using helicopters and artillery.

 

Russia, Syria and North Korea are the only UN member states to recognise the DPR as a legitimate authority in occupied Donetsk.

19 Jul 2022 14:08 Larry Elliott

A total shutdown of Russian gas supply would reduce GDP in the most vulnerable EU countries by as much as 6% and send them plunging into recession, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

Amid speculation that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will keep the Nord Stream 1 pipeline closed when routine annual maintenance ends later this week, the IMF said Europe lacked a comprehensive plan to cope with shortages, further increases in energy prices and the impact on growth.

The Washington-based fund identified Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as the three EU countries likely to suffer most, but said Italy, Germany and Austria would also suffer significant effects.

Read more of the report from our economics editor Larry Elliott here: Russian gas shutoff would send some EU countries into recession, IMF warns

Related: Russian gas shutoff would send some EU countries into recession, IMF warns

19 Jul 2022 13:34 Peter Beaumont

A 16-year-old Ukrainian boy has described how he was held hostage by Russian soldiers for 90 days as he heard other prisoners being tortured in a nearby cell.

Vladislav Buryak, who was separated from his family on 8 April at a checkpoint while attempting to flee the city of Melitopol, was released after a months-long negotiation between his father, Oleg – a local Ukrainian official – and Russian soldiers, who wanted to exchange Vladislav for an individual of interest to the Russian military.

Vladislav’s vivid account of his time in captivity is a depiction of violent interrogations involving brutal beatings, and confirms other reports of Russian and pro-Russian separatist forces mistreating detainees.

In an interview with the Guardian, Vladislav described his long ordeal and how he was taken from a convoy of vehicles.

Related: Ukrainian boy held hostage by Russia tells of cleaning up torture rooms

19 Jul 2022 13:12

Ukrainian shelling of a hydroelectric power station in Russian-controlled territory in southern Ukraine could lead to a complete shutdown of navigation on the Dnipro river, the country’s largest waterway, Russia’s TASS news agency has claimed.

The report cites Russian-installed authorities in the occupied Kherson region.

Russian forces took the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, located in the Kherson region just north of Russian-annexed Crimea, in the first days of Russia’s invasion.

Russian-installed authorities in Kherson have said Ukraine’s armed forces have accelerated shelling of the town and power station in recent days as part of a counter-offensive by Kyiv.

19 Jul 2022 13:02

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is expected to point to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an urgent reason for governments to cooperate more closely on the international supply chain, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing state department officials.

At a virtual meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Blinken will also emphasise the need to reduce dependence on petroleum and natural gas from unreliable countries, instead focusing on trade in clean-energy products, the report added.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AP© Provided by The Guardian The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AP

19 Jul 2022 12:47

At least one person was killed in a Russian missile strike on the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Tuesday, the regional governor said.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, said the attack caused loud explosions and a fire in a residential building.

“The Russians hit the central part of the city … At least one dead civilian is currently known about,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Rescue workers were on the scene. A photograph posted online by the Kramatorsk mayor, Oleksandr Honcharenko, and the city council showed flames pouring out of a residential building.

Summary of the day so far …

19 Jul 2022 12:01
  • The European Union is set to add Russia’s biggest bank Sberbank and the head of giant zinc and copper firm UMMC to its blacklist of individuals and companies accused of supporting Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. A new list of 48 officials and nine entities to be blacklisted, prepared by the EU foreign affairs service, also includes leaders of the Night Wolves motorcycle club, actors, politicians, the deputy head of a Russian security service, family members of sanctioned oligarchs and military people.
  • Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will discuss the export of Ukrainian grain at their meeting in Tehran on Tuesday.
  • Russian forces shelled a town in eastern Ukraine, killing six people, according to Ukrainian officials. “Early in the morning, the town of Toretsk was shelled. A two-storey building with people inside was destroyed,” Ukraine’s state emergency services said. “Rescuers found and recovered the bodies of five dead people in total. Three people were rescued from the rubble and one of them died in hospital.”
  • Russia has struggled to sustain effective offensive combat power and the problem is likely becoming increasingly acute, according to British military intelligence. It says “As well as dealing with severe under-manning, Russian planners face a dilemma between deploying reserves to the Donbas or defending against Ukrainian counterattacks in the south-western Kherson sector.”
  • There are currently unverified reports that there are explosions in occupied Kherson. Video clips being circulated on social media appear to suggest that the targets may have been the Kherson International Airport at Chornobaivka and one of the bridges that cross the Dnipro river.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has appointed a new security official as acting head of the domestic security agency after two top officials were fired over claims of failure to counter Russian infiltration. Zelenskiy’s childhood friend, Ivan Bakanov, will be replaced by Vasyl Maliuk, a former first deputy head of the SBU who led the anti-corruption and organised crime unit of the agency’s central directorate.
  • Ukraine has received the bodies of another 45 servicemen “in accordance with the norms of the Geneva Convention” according to a statement from the ministry of reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
  • Russia has claimed to have killed at least 260 members of the Ukrainian forces in the last 24 hours, to have shot down one helicopter and four drones, and claims – without producing evidence – that Kyiv is carrying out forced mobilisations in the Donetsk region, including confiscating private vehicles for use in military formations.
  • The governor of Russia’s Bryansk region, Alexander Bogomaz, has said that the village of Novye Yurkovichi was shelled from Ukrainian territory. He reported there were no casualties, but posted to Telegram an image of damage to a road. The village is to the north of Ukraine’s Chernihiv region, close to where the borders of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus meet.
  • North Korea could send workers to two Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine, according to Russia’s ambassador in Pyongyang. His comments come days after North Korea became one of only a few countries to recognise the two territories, accusing the Ukrainian government of being part of Washington’s “hostile” stance towards Pyongyang.

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

EU set to add Russia’s biggest bank Sberbank to sanctions list – reports

19 Jul 2022 11:53

The European Union is set to add Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank, and the head of giant zinc and copper firm UMMC to its blacklist of individuals and companies accused of supporting Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according a draft document seen by Reuters.

The new list of 48 officials and nine entities to be blacklisted, prepared by the EU foreign affairs service, also includes leaders of the Night Wolves motorcycle club, actors, politicians, the deputy head of a Russian security service, family members of sanctioned oligarchs and military people.

Adding Sberbank to the blacklist would freeze its assets in the west and completely prevent transactions, with the exception of financial operations for the trade in food and fertiliser, an EU official told Reuters.

19 Jul 2022 11:52

The UK’s Ministry of Defence has just tweeted that “the illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is continuing” and posted a map of where British intelligence assesses the current front line to be.

19 Jul 2022 11:44

Ukraine has said in a statement from the ministry of reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine that it has received today the bodies of 45 servicemen “in accordance with the norms of the Geneva Convention”.

19 Jul 2022 11:43

Reuters have issued a correction to say that Iranian state TV was in error when it said Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, had arrived in Iran earlier. The president is still en route.

19 Jul 2022 11:43

Russia’s ministry of defence has issued its daily operational briefing, claiming to have killed at least 260 members of the Ukrainian forces in the last 24 hours, to have shot down one helicopter and four drones, and claiming, without producing evidence, that Kyiv is carrying out forced mobilisations in the Donetsk region, including confiscating private vehicles for use in military formations.

The claims have not been independently verified.

19 Jul 2022 11:42

Ukraine’s general staff of the armed forces claim to have killed “about 38,550” enemy forces since 24 February, when Russia started its invasion of Ukraine.

It also says that in battle so far, the Russians have lost 1,691 tanks, 3,892 armoured fighting vehicles, 851 artillery systems, 248 multiple launch rocket systems, 113 defence systems, 188 helicopters, 220 airplanes, 693 drones, and 15 boats.

The claims have not been independently verified.

19 Jul 2022 11:40

Here is an image of a residential property destroyed by a Russian missile strike on the outskirts of Odesa, Ukraine, today.

A view shows a residential house destroyed by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, on the outskirts of Odesa, Ukraine July 19, 2022. Photograph: Reuters© Provided by The Guardian A view shows a residential house destroyed by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, on the outskirts of Odesa, Ukraine July 19, 2022. Photograph: Reuters

19 Jul 2022 11:04

Here is one of the as yet unverified images that purports to show a Ukrainian strike on a key bridge in the occupied Kherson region this morning.

The city of Kherson is on the north bank of the Dnipro, and the Antonovskiy Bridge connects the city to the bulk of the region, which is also occupied by Russia and is to the south of the river.

Russia currently occupies the city of Kherson and a pocket of land stretching north-west towards the city of Mikolaiv, which is still under Ukrainian control. Any Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south would require them to retake Kherson and push the Russian forces back over to the south side of the river.

19 Jul 2022 10:32

There are currently unverified reports that there are explosions in occupied Kherson. Video clips being circulated on social media appear to suggest that the targets may have been the Kherson International Airport at Chornobaivka and one of the bridges that cross the Dnipro river.

More details soon …

19 Jul 2022 10:17

Iranian state TV has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is en route to Iran, according to reports from Reuters. It is Putin’s first visit since the start of the war outside the borders of the former Soviet Union, having visited Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in June.

  • This post was amended at 10.16am after a correction was issued by Reuters, to say that Putin had not yet arrived in Iran, contrary to the earlier statement from Iranian state TV.

19 Jul 2022 10:08

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has repeated his calls for Russia to be declared a “terrorist state” and for those committing what he has described as war crimes on Ukrainian soil to face an international tribunal.

In his latest message on Telegram, Ukraine’s president said:

Hundreds of thousands of our warriors hold back the Russian onslaught every day and every night. Ukrainians make one of the most significant contributions in history to the the fight against terrorism. And we are grateful to everyone who helps us. But the time has come for the democratic world to enshrine all this in proper legal instruments. The status of a terrorist state for Russia. The special tribunal on Russian aggression. The special compensation mechanism and, of course, new sanctions for terror.

19 Jul 2022 09:51

Here are some of the latest images to be sent to us from Odesa, in southern Ukraine.

Firefighters after a shelling in a location given as Odesa in this picture from the state emergency service of Ukraine. Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Reuters© Provided by The Guardian Firefighters after a shelling in a location given as Odesa in this picture from the state emergency service of Ukraine. Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/ReutersFirefighters at work in this picture released by the state emergency service of Ukraine. Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Reuters© Provided by The Guardian Firefighters at work in this picture released by the state emergency service of Ukraine. Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/ReutersA destroyed building after a Russian missile attack hit the village of Dachnoye in Odesa. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images© Provided by The Guardian A destroyed building after a Russian missile attack hit the village of Dachnoye in Odesa. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesA destroyed building in Dachnoye in Odesa. The attack is said to have injured six people including a child. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images© Provided by The Guardian A destroyed building in Dachnoye in Odesa. The attack is said to have injured six people including a child. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

19 Jul 2022 09:44

The governor of Russia’s Bryansk region, Alexander Bogomaz, has said that the village of Novye Yurkovichi was shelled from Ukrainian territory.

He reported there were no casualties, but posted to Telegram an image of damage to a road. The village is to the north of Ukraine’s Chernihiv region, close to where the borders of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus meet.

19 Jul 2022 09:04

Russia’s embassy in Washington has issued a punchy statement in response to recent comments coming out from the US administration about Russia being isolated.

It writes on social media:

 

We paid attention to the statement of the press office of the State Department that our country was allegedly isolated from the rest of the world economically, politically, culturally and diplomatically.

Such words are nothing more than an attempt to give wishful thinking. The Russian leadership is actively involved in international processes and is in constant contact with the heads of most countries of the world.

As for the statements about the “isolation” of our delegation at the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Indonesia, this is outright fiction. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov held a number of productive meetings with colleagues from other countries.

The unsubstantiated statements of Americans resemble a self-hypnosis session. Instead of recognising the impossibility of “canceling” Russia, they prefer to amuse themselves with illusions. We see in this a desire to convince US citizens of the justification of the anti-Russian course and illegitimate Western sanctions, which turn into large costs for their initiators.

 

19 Jul 2022 08:55

Officials in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have claimed that the Mariupol theatre bombing early in the war was caused by Ukrainians detonating the theatre from inside, and that the death toll was 14, and not the hundreds claimed by Kyiv.

In March the bombing was considered the deadliest single attack since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, and video footage appeared to show civilians who had been sheltering in the basement of the theatre fleeing afterwards.

Aleksey Kutsurubenko, head of the investigative department of the DPR prosecutor general’s office, is quoted by the Russian RIA Novosti news agency saying “During the investigation, the remains of 14 bodies were found in the premises of the destroyed drama theatre. No other remains were found.”

RIA Novosti reports:

Investigators from the DPR came to the conclusion that the building was blown up from the inside by a “shell-less explosive device.” According to Kutsurubenko, during the analysis of the rubble, they did not find “a single damaging element, not a single part or element of an air bomb, or any other ammunition.”

The assault on the Mariupol theatre attracted attention early in the war particularly because it had been marked outside дети, meaning “children”, to show that it was being used as a civilian shelter.

A view of the destroyed theatre one month after the attack, with the word ‘Children’ still visible. Photograph: Reuters© Provided by The Guardian A view of the destroyed theatre one month after the attack, with the word ‘Children’ still visible. Photograph: ReutersRussia has repeatedly denied striking at civilian targets in Ukraine, despite the evidence of attacks on train stations, hospitals and shopping malls in areas far away from the front line in eastern Ukraine. Russia, Syria and North Korea are the only UN member states to recognise the DPR as a legitimate authority rather than an occupying force.

19 Jul 2022 08:22

Also on the topic of Ukraine’s agricultural produce, Dalton Bennett writes for the Washington Post today that Ukraine’s farmers are becoming the latest target of Russian missiles:

“The fields are burning,” the farmer yelled in a panic.

He had been just days away from starting the harvest, but the Russian shelling came first — despite his modest farm’s distance from Ukraine’s southern front. In minutes, the flames threatened what was left of this year’s grain crop.

Fires are the latest scourge that farmers face in the Mykolaiv region. With the planting season delayed by fighting to retake the area from occupying Russian forces, they must now choose between harvesting near an active front line or abandoning their crop. After months of war and the financial strain of Russia’s Black Sea blockade, a decision to let the wheat go could mean financial ruin.

Russian shelling has grown increasingly chaotic and random as Ukrainian forces reinforce their positions and prepare for what is expected to be a counteroffensive. Farmers and Ukrainian soldiers in the area report new fires daily, which continue to destroy fields and farming equipment.

Read more here: Washington Post – Ukraine’s farmers become the latest target of Russian missiles

19 Jul 2022 08:17

Timed as Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are expected to discuss the export of Ukrainian grain at their meeting in Tehran today, the Russian foreign ministry has issued a statement which it claims is “debunking myths” about Ukraine’s grain exports. It states

 

Myth: President Putin is deliberately blocking the wheat supply of the world.

Fact: According to UN statistics, 800 million tonnes of grain is produced annually around the world. Thus, the estimated 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain cannot radically resolve the problem by definition.

 

Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat. Last year, Ukraine produced about 33m tonnes of wheat, of which it exported about 20m tonnes. However, that 20m tonnes of wheat cited by the ministry is not the only grain or agricultural product Ukraine exports – the country produces one-third of the world’s sunflower oil, and also exports corn, barley and rapeseed.

The ministry goes on to say:

Russia has never blocked grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. On the contrary, we are doing our best to provide two humanitarian maritime corridors in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The problem is the high mine hazard and Kyiv’s threats to fire at ships. This makes safe navigation in its territorial waters impossible.

While it is true that mining the Black Sea has increased the hazards of navigation, the Russian foreign ministry neglects to mention that the reason the water has been mined is to prevent the approach of the Russian Black Sea fleet closer to Ukraine’s southern coast in order to make it more difficult for the Russians to launch missile attacks on Ukraine’s cities.

19 Jul 2022 07:38

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in occupied Ukraine, which is only recognised as a legitimate authority by Russia, Syria and North Korea, has stated that as a result of shelling by Ukrainian forces, “one resident of Verkhnotoretske was killed, and three people were injured. Twenty-two residential buildings and seven civil infrastructure facilities were damaged.”

The claims have not been independently verified.

19 Jul 2022 07:25

Serhai Haidai, Ukraine’s governor of Luhansk, has posted to Telegram to say “The Russians are almost continuously shelling both Luhansk region and the populated areas of Donetsk region.”

He said that “During the day, they simultaneously tried to conduct an assault in four directions” and that “the Russians continued to bombard a small part of Luhansk region, where the armed forces of Ukraine held defences, from aviation, artillery, and rockets.”

In a second post, Haidai said “even the second longest army in the world has limited human resources” and accused, without presenting evidence, Russia of forced mobilisation within the occupied areas of the Donbas, saying “they have the addresses of those who previously managed to delay their own death.”

19 Jul 2022 07:07 Justin McCurry

North Korea could send workers to two Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine, according to Russia’s ambassador in Pyongyang – a move that would pose a challenge to international sanctions against the North’s nuclear weapons programme.

According to NK News, a Seoul-based website, ambassador Alexander Matsegora said North Korean workers could help rebuild the war-shattered infrastructure in the self-proclaimed people’s republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Matsegora said there were potentially “a lot of opportunities” for economic cooperation between the North and the self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine’s Donbas region, despite UN sanctions.

He told the Russian newspaper Izvestia in an interview, according to NK News, that “highly qualified and hard-working Korean builders, who are capable of working in the most difficult conditions, could help us restore our social, infrastructure and industrial facilities”.

His comments come days after North Korea became one of only a few countries to recognise the two territories, accusing the Ukrainian government of being part of Washington’s “hostile” stance towards Pyongyang.

Read more of Justin McCurry’s report from Tokyo: North Korean labour could be sent to rebuild Donbas, Russian ambassador says

Related: North Korean labour could be sent to rebuild Donbas, Russian ambassador says

19 Jul 2022 07:00

Women serving in Ukraine’s armed forces will now have their own uniforms after years of fastening standard-issue men’s clothes with pins and belts.

Female military personnel will receive the first batch of trousers, jackets and tactical underwear, which are sewn according to women’s standards, according to local media reports.

The Arm Women Now volunteer project is working on functional uniforms for military women.

“The first uniform for our defenders is sewn according to women’s patterns – comfortable, functional, comfortable and made of very high-quality material,” the organisation said in an Instagram post earlier this month alongside a photo of a woman in the new clothes.

Ukraine’s ministry of defence provides approval for a single uniform standard for men. The women’s uniform is provided only in formal scenarios with coat, skirt and high-heeled shoes.

Servicewoman Liudmyla Rochacheva looks on as she attends a combat medic course training in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photograph: Vasilisa Stepanenko/AP© Provided by The Guardian Servicewoman Liudmyla Rochacheva looks on as she attends a combat medic course training in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photograph: Vasilisa Stepanenko/AP

19 Jul 2022 06:59

Russia has struggled to sustain effective offensive combat power and the problem is likely becoming increasingly acute, according to British military intelligence.

As well as dealing with severe under-manning, Russian planners face a dilemma between deploying reserves to the Donbas or defending against Ukrainian counterattacks in the south-western Kherson sector.”

The UK Ministry of Defence added that Russia’s immediate policy objective is to seize all of Donetsk and although its forces may still make further territorial gains, their “operational tempo and rate of advance is likely to be very slow”.

“Russia continues to commit what are nominally six separate armies to its Donbas offensive. At full strength, before the invasion, these formations were established for around 150,000 personnel,” the latest report reads.

Putin and Erdoğan to discuss grain exports

19 Jul 2022 06:40

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will meet in Tehran later today to discuss the export of Ukrainian grain, according to a Kremlin aide.

Putin is scheduled to travel to Tehran to meet Erdoğan and Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi as part of the so-called Astana format of talks related to Syria, the Kremlin said last week.

“The issue of Ukrainian grain shipment will be discussed with Erdogan … We are ready to continue work on this track,” Yuriy Ushakov, foreign policy adviser to Putin, said on Monday.

A Russian serviceman stands guard in a field in Zaporizhia, south-eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA© Provided by The Guardian A Russian serviceman stands guard in a field in Zaporizhia, south-eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Sergei Ilnitsky/EPAPutin will also meet with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his visit, the first trip by the Russian leader to a country outside the former Soviet Union since he launched Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

Negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations are reportedly close to a deal expected to be signed later this week to resume the shipping of grain from Ukraine across the Black Sea.

The Turkish defence minister, Hulusi Akar, confirmed that “an agreement in principle … has been found” between Ukraine and Russia to establish a secure sea corridor allowing grain transport.

‘Economic integration weaponised by Russia’: US treasury secretary

19 Jul 2022 06:12

US treasury secretary Janet Yellen has said the United States will impose harsh consequences on those countries that abuse or break international economic order.

Economic integration has been weaponised by Russia,” she said on Tuesday, according to a Reuters report.

Yellen called for all responsible countries to unite in opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine. She also said she was heartened by conversations with Korean counterparts on a proposed cap on Russian oil price while visiting South Korea, the final leg of her 11-day visit to the Indo-Pacific region.

US-supplied Himars helping to ‘stabilise’ frontlines, military chief says

19 Jul 2022 05:40

Ukraine’s top military commander has credited the “timely arrival of M142 Himars” – the US-supplied advanced long-range rocket systems – with helping soldiers retain their defensive positions on the frontline.

General Valery Zaluzhny said the powerful weapons allowed his forces “stabilise the situation” through “major strikes at enemy command points, ammunition and fuel storage warehouses” in a Telegram post on Monday.

US military personnel stand by a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars) as Ukraine’s top military commander credited their arrival with helping soldiers retain their defensive positions on the frontline. Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images© Provided by The Guardian US military personnel stand by a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars) as Ukraine’s top military commander credited their arrival with helping soldiers retain their defensive positions on the frontline. Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty ImagesZaluzhny said he continued to maintain a close dialogue with US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley.

 

We managed to stabilise the situation. It is complex, intense, but completely controlled.

An important factor contributing to our retention of defensive lines and positions is the timely arrival of M142 Himars, which deliver targeted strikes on enemy control points, ammunition and fuel storage depots.”

 

Earlier on Monday, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said he had ordered the military to concentrate on destroying Ukraine’s western-supplied rockets and artillery.

Summary

19 Jul 2022 05:24

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.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Erdoğan, will meet in Tehran later today to discuss the export of Ukrainian grain, according to a Kremlin aide.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s top military commander has credited the “timely arrival of M142 Himars” – the US-supplied advanced medium-range rocket systems – with helping soldiers retain their defensive positions on the frontline.

It is 7.30am in Kyiv and here is where things stand:

  • Russian forces shelled a town in eastern Ukraine, killing six people, according to Ukrainian officials. “Early in the morning, the town of Toretsk was shelled. A two-storey building with people inside was destroyed,” Ukraine’s state emergency services said. “Rescuers found and recovered the bodies of five dead people in total. Three people were rescued from the rubble and one of them died in hospital.”
  • Zelenskiy has appointed a new security official as acting head of the domestic security agency after two top officials were fired over claims of failure to counter Russian infiltration. Zelenskiy’s childhood friend, Ivan Bakanov, will be replaced by Vasyl Maliuk, a former first deputy head of the SBU who led the anti-corruption and organised crime unit of the agency’s central directorate.
  • The United States will continue to provide intelligence to Ukraine despite recent changes in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s inner circle, the US state department said on Monday. Zelenskiy removed his security service chief and top prosecutor from office on Sunday. US state department spokesperson Ned Price said: “We invest not in personalities, we invest in institutions. We do have an intelligence-sharing relationship with our Ukrainian counterparts … We continue to proceed ahead with that.”
  • Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, met the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, on Monday as she began a series of high-profile appearances in Washington that will include a session with US counterpart Jill Biden.
  • Russia’s Gazprom has told customers in Europe it cannot guarantee gas supplies because of “extraordinary” circumstances, according to a letter seen by Reuters. The Russian state gas monopoly said it was declaring force majeure on supplies, starting from 14 June.
  • Turkey has said a meeting with Ukraine, Russia and the UN this week to discuss resuming Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports is “probable”, while a Turkish official said lingering “small problems” should be overcome. A Kremlin aide also told reporters that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will discuss the export of Ukrainian grain at their meeting in Tehran on Tuesday.
  • Erdoğan has threatened once again to “freeze” Sweden and Finland’s Nato bids unless the military alliance complies with his conditions. “I want to reiterate once again that we will freeze the process if these countries do not take the necessary steps to fulfil our conditions,” he said. Last month, Erdoğan urged the two countries to “do their part” in the fight against terrorism, accusing them of providing a haven for outlawed Kurdish militants.
  • Ukraine will break diplomatic ties with Belarus if its forces cross the border in support of the Russian invasion, foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with Forbes. “Belarus is an accomplice to the crime of aggression, there is no doubt about that. We broke off diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation immediately after the start of the full-scale attack. Relations with Belarus will likewise be severed if the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus cross the border of Ukraine,” he said.
  • Foreign ministers from European Union countries have agreed another €500m (£425m) of EU funding to supply arms to Ukraine, taking the bloc’s security support to €2.5bn since February. “Today at the EU foreign ministers’ meeting, a political agreement was reached on the fifth tranche of military assistance to Ukraine,” Sweden’s minister for foreign affairs, Ann Linde, said.
  • Putin said it would be impossible to cut Russia off from the rest of the world, adding that sanctions imposed by western countries would not turn the clock back on Russia’s development.
  • EU foreign ministers are discussing a ban on Russian gold imports to further curb funding for the Kremlin’s war machine. The EU’s high representative for foreign policy, Josep Borrell, said the ban on Russian gold was the most important measure of the latest plan, which is focused largely on “improving the implementation of the already existing sanctions”.
  • The independent Russian TV station, Dozhd, has begun broadcasting from abroad. The outlet was blocked in March as the government cracked down on independent media outlets following the invasion of Ukraine.

A Ukrainian serviceman walks at a position near a frontline near a frontline in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on July. Photograph: Reuters© Provided by The Guardian A Ukrainian serviceman walks at a position near a frontline near a frontline in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on July. Photograph: Reuters

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