Here is the situation on Wednesday, July 19, 2023.
- Russia launched overnight air attacks on Ukraine’s south and east using drones and possibly ballistic missiles, Ukrainian officials said. The southern port of Odesa and the Mykolaiv, Donetsk, Kherson, Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions were under threat of Russian drone attacks.
- Ukraine’s air force said it downed 31 out of 36 Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones, all six Kalibr cruise missiles and one reconnaissance drone launched by Russia overnight.
- Russia’s defence ministry said it carried out overnight attacks on two Ukrainian port cities in what it called “a mass revenge strike”, a day after an attack on the Crimean Bridge. The ministry said in a statement it struck Odesa and Mykolaiv and hit all targets.
- Every missile fired by Russia at Ukraine’s port of Odesa is equivalent to firing a missile at starving people, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said. She made the remark as Moscow faced a backlash for attacking Ukrainian ports a day after pulling out of the Black Sea grain deal.
- Russia’s Ministry of Defence said its forces repelled another major drone attack near Crimea a day after Moscow said a waterborne attack damaged a bridge that links the annexed peninsula to the Russian mainland, killing two people. A total of 28 Ukrainian missiles were shot down or diverted from their planned flight path overnight, the ministry said.
- Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said road traffic has partially resumed on the Crimean Bridge, which came under attack on Monday.
- The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said five people were injured in Ukrainian shelling on the outskirts of the village of Shamino.
- Ukraine’s counteroffensive is far from a failure, but the fight ahead will be long and bloody, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters. “I think there’s a lot of fighting left to go and I’ll stay with what we said before: This is going to be long. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be bloody.”
- The commander of Ukrainian ground forces said the situation in the east of the country was “difficult but under control”. “The enemy is transferring reserves to the Bakhmut direction, trying to stop our advance,” General Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Telegram.
- Russia’s parliament extended the maximum age at which men can be mobilised to serve in the army by at least five years, up to 70. The law allows men who have completed their compulsory service without any further commitment to be mobilised up to the age of 40, 50 or 55, depending on their category, the State Duma or lower house of parliament said on its website.
- US weapons maker Lockheed Martin raised its annual profit and sales outlook as conflicts such as the war in Ukraine stoke demand for military equipment.
- The US is set to announce a new pledge to buy $1.3bn worth of military aid for Kyiv in the coming days, two anonymous US officials told the Reuters news agency.
- The German military ordered several hundred thousand artillery shells in a deal with defence company Rheinmetall as it works to replenish stocks dented by the war in Ukraine. Rheinmetall said the potential order volume is about 1.2 billion euros ($1.35bn).
Black Sea grain exports
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about ways to restore food supply via the Black Sea routes a day after Russia withdrew from the deal.
- Following suggestions that Turkey could protect Ukrainian grain ships, the Kremlin said shipping grain without security guarantees given by Russia would be risky as Ukraine uses waters for military activities.
- Russia’s decision to quit the Black Sea grain export deal must not be allowed to destabilise the Polish grain market, Poland’s prime minister said. “As far as transit is concerned, we will assist the EU in defusing this worldwide problem caused by Russia,” Mateusz Morawiecki said at a news conference in Brussels.
- The African Union expressed “regret” over Russia’s decision to suspend the deal.
- Russia’s decision to pull out from the grain deal was an “escalation of the weaponisation of hunger”, Canada said.
- A cargo insurance facility providing cover for Ukrainian grain shipments was suspended after Russia quit the grain export agreement. The marine cargo and war facility provided insurance of up to $50m per cargo from underwriters led by the Lloyd’s of London insurer Ascot.
- Several Group of 20 (G20) members condemned Russia for quitting the Black Sea grain deal during a two-day summit in Gandhinagar, India’s finance minister said.
- US aid chief Samantha Power pledged $250m in funding to help Ukrainian farmers deal with blocked Black Sea grain shipments. Power said the investment focused on Ukraine’s agriculture sector would aim to boost agricultural infrastructure and expand other export routes.
- Russia’s foreign ministry says Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke to his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, about ways of exporting Russian grain via routes “that would not be susceptible to Kyiv and the West’s sabotage”.
- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa asked permission from the International Criminal Court (ICC) not to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he visits the country, as to do so would amount to a declaration of war. Ramaphosa made the remarks in a legal response to a court case brought by the opposition Democratic Alliance to compel the government to arrest Putin should he set foot on South African soil.
- The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said athletes from Russia and Belarus should not be punished for the actions of their governments. Asked about the participation of Russians and Belarusians at next year’s Paris Games, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “We have a mission to unite all the athletes of the world in a peaceful competition. We have the responsibility not to punish athletes for the acts of their governments.”
- European, Latin American and Caribbean leaders failed to agree on a statement holding Russia to account for the war in Ukraine, highlighting their differences over the crisis. A joint communique issued after the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit expressed “deep concern” about the conflict but contained no mention of Russia.
Trade and economy
- Private Russian lender Sovcombank said it will spin off a portion of its business to hold assets blocked as a result of Western sanctions after the plan won unanimous shareholder approval. Sovcombank, one of Russia’s 13 official “systemically important” credit institutions, has been starved of access to some markets by restrictions imposed on Russia and its financial sector over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
- An increase in Russia’s debt burden has become inevitable as Moscow spends on the military and economy, Russia’s deputy finance minister said. Irina Okladnikova said Russia’s current level of debt is 22.8 trillion roubles or 14.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies