Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Gazprom signs agreement with Iran’s national oil company

The logo of Russia’s energy giant Gazprom is pictured at one of its petrol stations in Moscow on July 11, 2022.

Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP | Getty Images

Russia’s state gas giant Gazprom has signed a memorandum of understanding for strategic cooperation with Iran’s national oil company, NIOC.

The preliminary deal comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Tehran on Tuesday, meeting Iranian officials as well as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The memorandum envisages both sides assessing possible collaborative projects including “the development of Iranian oil and gas fields and oil fields, performance of swap transactions with natural gas and petroleum products, implementation of large-scale and small-scale LNG projects, construction of gas trunklines , and sci-tech and technology cooperation,” Gazprom said in a statement.

Gazprom is likely to be eager to forge new partnerships abroad during a period when its traditional customer base in Europe is quickly collapsing as the EU and UK look to curtail all Russian gas imports due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

—Holly Ellyatt

Kramatorsk and neighboring Sloviansk attacked, number of victims unknown

The center of Kramatorsk, a key target for Russian forces in Donetsk, has been attacked according to the city’s mayor, with the number of victims yet to be determined.

“An attack on the central part of Kramatorsk. There are victims. Specialists of explosive engineering services and rescuers are working on the spot,” Oleksandr Vasylovych, the mayor of Kramatorsk said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

Policemen react in front of a burning building after an air strike hit the courtyard of civilian residences in the center of Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, on July 19, 2022.

Miguel Medina | dpa | Getty Images

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk also reported on Telegram that there had been loud explosions in the city, adding that Russian forces had hit the central part of the city. He said preliminary information suggested missiles had been launched by plane. One image he posted showed a dead civilian on the ground outside a burning building.

Fires broke out in the residential floors that were at the epicenter of the impact with emergency services working at the scene to extinguish them.

Ukraine’s emergency services posted on Facebook that, as a result of shelling in a five-story apartment building, a fire broke out in the balconies on the third and fourth floors. “As a result of the shelling, 10 people were injured, of which 5 people were hospitalized,” they said.

Separately on Tuesday, Kramatorsk’s neigbor Sloviansk was also attacked, according to the head of the local military administration Vadym Lyakh.

“Unfortunately, Sloviansk was shelled again,” Lyakh said, adding that there were four explosions. “Many households are damaged, people are trapped under the rubble, there are wounded. Fortunately, there’s no one confirmed as killed yet,” Lyakh said in a video address.

—Holly Ellyatt

Death toll from Vinnytsia blast last week rises to 25

The death toll from a devastating strike in a public area of ​​the city of Vinnytsia last week has now risen to 25, the head of the city’s Regional Military Administration said on Tuesday.

Russian forces struck central Vinnytsia last Thursday with three Kalibr missiles, according to Ukrainian officials, causing a large number of deaths and wounded. Among the fatalities was a 4 year old child.

Ukrainian servicemen lay flowers and toys at a place where 4-years-old girl Liza was killed by a Russian cruise missile strike. Vinnytsia, Ukraine July 15, 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

“Three Kalibr missiles cost the lives of 25 people,” Serhii Borzov said on Telegram today, adding that the 25th victim from the strike was 45-year-old neurologist Natalya Falshtynska, who died in a military hospital today.

The funeral ceremony for four-year-old Liza Dmytriieva, one of the victims of the Vinnytsia missile attack on July 14, takes place at Holy Transfiguration Cathedral, Vinnytsia, west-central Ukraine.

Oleksandr Rabbit | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Borzov said 54 people who were injured in the attack are still in Vinnytsia hospitals with eight of those in a serious condition, including a 20-year-old girl with 98% burns, he said. Some of the most serious casualties have been transferred to a specialist burns center in Lviv.

Russia has said it does not target civilians but the attack last week was one of many in which there have been mass civilian casualties.

—Holly Ellyatt

Russia over-committed in Donbas and likely to make slow progress, UK says

A photograph taken on June 13, 2022 shows Russian serviceman in front of the school number 22, which was shelled on April 30 in Donetsk, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.

Yuri Kadobnov | AFP | Getty Images

Russia continues to commit what are nominally six separate armies to its Donbas offensive, according to the latest intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defence, that noted Tuesday that at full strength, before the invasion, these formations were established for around 150,000 personnel.

In recent weeks, Russia has often operated with company-sized groupings of around 100 personnel when undertaking offensive operations in any one sector at a time, the ministry noted.

Nevertheless, Russia has struggled to sustain effective offensive combat power since the start of the invasion and this problem is likely becoming increasingly acute, it added.

“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 southwestern Kherson sector.”

Given that Russia’s stated immediate policy objective is to seize all of Donetsk in the Donbas, while Russia may still make further territorial gains, its operational tempo and rate of advance is likely to be very slow, the UK said, “without a significant operational pause for reorganization and refit.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Himars from the US are helping to stabilize frontline, Ukraine military official says

A Ukrainian army unit shows the rockets on HIMARS vehicle in eastern Ukraine on July 1, 2022.

The Washington Post | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Ukraine’s top military commander said that the “timely arrival of M142 Himars” from the US is helping Ukrainian forces to withstand Russian attacks on the frontline in the Donbas.

Himars are long-range multiple launch rocket systems and are seen as a potential game-changer in Ukraine’s resistance, and fightback, against Russia’s near-constant artillery, battering cities and towns in Donetsk, a region of the Donbas.

In a Telegram post on Monday, General Valery Zaluzhny said the weapons were allowing his forces to “stabilize 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,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Putin and Erdogan set to meet, and talk Ukraine grain exports

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Iran later today with the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports one of the main talking points.

Kremlin aide Yuriy Ushakov said Putin and Erdogan will “discuss key issues of Russian-Turkish cooperation, the implementation of flagship projects in the trade and economic area, as well as give an in-depth consideration to some international issues, including the situation around Ukraine and the export of Ukrainian grain,” Russian state news agency Tass reported Tuesday.

An aereal picture taken on July 15, 2022 shows a farmer harvesting wheat, near Kramatorsk in the Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Miguel Medina | AFP | Getty Images

The issue of creating a grain corridor from Ukraine, which has seen its ships blockaded and its grain exports unable to leave the country via the Black Sea, is a major one as global food prices rise.

Representatives from Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and the UN held talks last week that appeared to have gone in the right direction with a deal said by Ukraine to be in sight.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar appeared confident that more progress could be made this week, saying Monday that the sides could sign a final document agreeing to the creation of a coordination center to manage and oversee the resumption of grain exports.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia seeking oil payments from India in UAE dirhams: Reuters

Russia is seeking payment in United Arab Emirates dirhams for oil exports to some Indian customers, according to Reuters.

Patrick Pleul | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Russia is seeking payment in United Arab Emirates dirhams for oil exports to some Indian customers, Reuters reported, citing three sources and a document.

Reuters said it has seen an invoice showing the bill for the supply of oil to one refiner in dollars while payment was requested in dirhams.

Russian oil major Rosneft is pushing crude through trading firms into India, according to the news agency.

That comes after the slew of Western sanctions prompted oil importers to shun Moscow, causing spot prices for Russian crude to fall to record discounts against other grades. Indian refiners bought exports at heavily discounted prices, and Russia replaced Saudi Arabia as the second-biggest oil supplier to India after Iraq for the second month in a row in June, said Reuters.

Natalie Tham

Ukrainian nuclear power plant official abducted by Russian forces, Ukraine says

Six power units generate 40-42 billion kWh of electricity making the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant the largest nuclear power plant not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe, Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine, July 9, 2019. Ukrinform.

Dmytro Smolyenko | Future Publishing | Getty Images

A Ukrainian nuclear power plant company said that Russian forces abducted Ihor Kvashnin, the head of the environmental protection service of the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant in southeastern Ukraine.

“They took him to an unknown destination,” Energoatom stated on the Telegram messaging platform. “It is still impossible to locate Kvashnin,” the company added.

Russian forces took Kvashnin on July 17.

—Amanda Macias

Russia has launched 3,000 missiles, Ukraine’s Air Force says

A Ukrainian serviceman inspects the ruins of Lyceum building, suspected to have been destroyed after a missile strike near Kharkiv on July 5, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s Air Force wrote on Facebook that Russia’s military has launched about 3,000 missiles over Ukraine.

“These are cruise missiles, aviation missiles of the air-to-surface class, missiles fired from operational-tactical complexes, like the Tochka-U and Iskander, as well as Onyx missiles,” Ukraine’s Air Force wrote on its Facebook page.

The group wrote that Russia is also using old Soviet missiles “against Ukrainian military positions and civilian objects.”

—Amanda Macias

Ukraine’s first lady to address Congress this week

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska attend the funeral ceremony of Ukrainian first president Leonid Kravchuk in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 17, 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska will address the US Congress this week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office said in a statement announcing the visit.

Zelenska is expected to deliver a speech on Wednesday at 11 am ET

Pelosi invited all members of the House and Senate to attend the address.

—Amanda Macias

Russia orders its forces to intensify operations ‘in all directions’; Ukraine’s Zelenskyy suspends top officials after treason fears

Click here to read yesterday’s live blog.


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