Latest Developments in Ukraine: July 26
For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.
The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT.
11:35 p.m.: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has presented Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with the Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award, drawing comparisons between the two leaders in times of crises, The Associated Press reported.
Zelenskyy accepted the award by video link Tuesday during a ceremony at Johnson’s London office. The event was attended by members of the Churchill family, the Ukrainian ambassador and Ukrainians who have received training from British soldiers. Johnson recalled how Zelenskyy confirmed on Feb. 24 that Russia had invaded, adding: “In that moment of supreme crisis, you faced a test of leadership that was, in its way, as severe as Churchill’s challenge in 1940.” Zelenskyy thanked Johnson and Britain for their support.
10:45 p.m.: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen highlighted a proposed price cap on Russian oil on a phone call with British Finance Minister Nadhim Zahawi on Tuesday, a move to reduce the impact of the war in Ukraine on global energy prices.
Reuters reported that both discussed the need to continue to accelerate budgetary support for Ukraine, and opportunities to build on sanctions imposed on Russia, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.
9 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping are expected to speak on Thursday, according to a source, on a call the White House said earlier would include the topics of Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.
The White House declined to comment on the timing of the call.
8 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy on Tuesday said Russia was deliberately cutting supplies of natural gas to impose a “price terror” against Europe, and he called for more sanctions on Moscow.
“Using Gazprom, Moscow is doing all it can to make this coming winter as harsh as possible for the European countries. Terror must be answered — impose sanctions,” he said in a late-night video address.
7 p.m.: Local residents say when Russian troops occupied their village in the Kyiv region, they were dumbfounded by Ukraine’s “high living standards.” Now, most of the village is in ruins, leaving many locals homeless and in need. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.
6 p.m.: Ukrainian soldier Mykola Zabavchuk planned to marry his girlfriend when he next returned home from the war against Russia, but never made it back, Reuters reported.
Zabavchuk, who was 25, and two other soldiers were buried in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Tuesday after being killed in action.
“He was a very good boyfriend, a sincere one. He loved and took care of me very much. He was very devoted to me and to his friends,” his fiancée Oleksandra told Reuters at the funeral.
5 p.m.: All over the Donetsk region, close to the front lines of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Nataliia Voronkova turns up at Ukrainian field positions and hospitals wearing high heels. A helmet and a protective vest aren’t part of her uniform, either, as she distributes first-aid kits and other equipment to Ukrainian soldiers and paramedics. She is a civilian, the founder of a medical non-profit. The former adviser to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry with graduate degrees in banking and finance is a familiar sight to officers and troops in eastern Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.
4 p.m.: A new issue of International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights (SDF) reserves is among options that could be considered to aid countries struggling with spillovers from the Ukraine war but there are no active discussions on the matter, IMF officials said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
“There has been no discussion at the IMF of a further SDR allocation,” an IMF spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Despite recent developments and high global uncertainty, it would be premature to conclude that the long-term global need for reserves has changed significantly.”
More than 45 progressive U.S. lawmakers led by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal, both Democrats, earlier this month urged President Joe Biden and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to support a new SDR allocation of at least $650 million to avoid famine and a destabilizing debt crisis in developing countries.
3 p.m.: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said her country’s military “did the worst you can ever imagine” with keeping up-to-date, leaving Berlin in a poor position to supply modern arms to Ukraine. Speaking to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Ray Furlong in Prague on Tuesday, she said criticism that Germany had been slow to provide military support went to her heart, and “this is why we try to get better.”
2:30 p.m.: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the European Union would not give in to Russian “blackmailing,” after Gazprom announced a large reduction in gas supplied via the Nordstream 1 pipeline linking Russia and Germany. Speaking to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Ray Furlong in Prague on Tuesday, she said the EU was united as never before despite Kremlin efforts to divide it.
2:05 p.m.: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended meeting a Russian oligarch with a KGB past, saying “as far as I am aware” no government business was discussed at the 2018 get-together, The Associated Press reported.
Johnson, who quit as Conservative Party leader July 7 after months of ethics scandals, is facing questions about his relationship with Russia-born newspaper owner Evgeny Lebedev and his father, Alexander. The older man is a businessman and former Cold War-era KGB officer who has been sanctioned by Canada for his alleged role in enabling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In April 2018, Johnson went to a party at Evgeny Lebedev’s Italian mansion that was also attended by Alexander Lebedev. Johnson, who was British foreign secretary at the time, was not accompanied by any officials.
Johnson told a committee of senior lawmakers that his meeting with Alexander Lebedev “was not a formal meeting, nor something that was pre-arranged.” He said it was normal for Britain’s top diplomat to attend a “private, social occasion” without officials or security staff.
1:10 p.m.: With two years to go until the Paris Olympics open, Russia is making plans for its athletes to live and compete in the French capital even though many remain barred from upcoming qualification events because of the war in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.
Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov wrote on the Telegram messaging app Tuesday that the country was working to get its athletes access to qualification events and already making plans for the Olympic village in 2024.
Most Olympic sports have suspended athletes from Russia and Belarus since the invasion of Ukraine began in February, following a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee. However, the IOC has not suspended the Russian Olympic Committee, the body which enters Russian teams for the Games.
“In exactly two years, the Olympic Games start in Paris. Despite all of the circumstances, the Russian Olympic Committee is a full-fledged participant in the Olympic movement,” Pozdnyakov wrote. “We are continuing our systematic preparations for the Games and are also carrying out work to ensure qualifying opportunities and equal presence of our athletes in the Olympic village and at the venues, their participation in events during the Games.”
12:30 p.m.: Ukraine can save $5.45 billion for priority needs by deferring its external debt repayments, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Ukraine has launched a formal consent solicitation to holders of its international bonds, proposing a two-year debt freeze on most of its bonds and giving creditors until August 9 to vote on the proposal.
Shmyhal also said the Ukrainian government had approved a request to the U.S. government for a “gas lend-lease” arrangement to help Ukraine through what he said would be the toughest heating season in its history.
11:55 a.m.: The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) reported Tuesday on efforts by members of a Ukrainian non-governmental organization to help civilians in the besieged eastern region of the country. “Andrii, a driver with the Ukrainian NGO Proliska, explains how he navigates tremendous challenges to evacuate people from areas under constant bombardment,” UN OCHA said in a story published on its website.
11:25 a.m.: A fire broke out overnight at an oil depot in Russian-controlled territory of eastern Ukraine after Ukrainian forces shelled the city of Donetsk, the head of the city administration said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
“As a result of overnight shelling in the Budennovsky district, there was a fire at a fuel storage warehouse,” Donetsk mayor Alexey Kulemzin said in a post on the Telegram social network.
There were no casualties as a result of the blaze, Donetsk’s emergency services said. The fire was extinguished around 1000 a.m. local time, Kulemzin said.
Reuters could not verify the reports or the cause of the fire.
11:00 a.m.: Russia will hold wide-ranging military drills in the country’s east as it continues regular troop training despite the action in Ukraine, Russia’s military authorities said Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Vostok 2022 (East 2022) exercise scheduled for August 30-September 5 will involve troops on maneuvers at 13 firing ranges of the Eastern Military District. It added that units of Airborne troops, long-range bombers and military cargo planes will also be involved in the war games.
The ministry said troops from unspecified foreign countries will participate. Russian and Chinese troops took part in a series of joint military maneuvers last year, reflecting increasingly close military ties between Moscow and Beijing.
The ministry rejected allegations that it’s mobilizing forces to beef up its forces in Ukraine, noting that “only part of the Russian military has been involved in the special military operation.” Without disclosing details, the ministry said the number of troops operating in Ukraine are “quite sufficient for fulfilling the tasks” and emphasized that the military hasn’t canceled any of the planned drills.
10:30 a.m.: European Union countries on Tuesday agreed to an emergency plan to use less gas, as they attempt to save fuel for a winter of uncertain Russian supplies. Reuters has this review of what they agreed to.
10:10 a.m.: Russia’s foreign minister said his country supports reforming the U.N. Security Council to give a more powerful role to developing nations, including African countries, The Associated Press reported.
Sergey Lavrov spoke Tuesday in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, after meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. “We confirmed our positions when it comes to the reforming of the U.N. Security Council,” Lavrov said. “The main problem here is the underrepresentation in the Security Council of developing states and the only solution to this problem is bigger representation of Asian, African and Latin American countries.”
Uganda is the third stop on Lavrov’s tour of Africa as Russia tries to break diplomatic isolation over its war in Ukraine. Lavrov will end his trip with a visit to Ethiopia, the headquarters of the 54-nation African Union.
Lavrov spoke alongside Museveni, a U.S. ally whose government also maintains friendly ties with Russia. Uganda is one of 25 African nations that abstained or didn’t vote in the U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
9:45 a.m.: Russian energy giant Rosneft said on Tuesday it has started construction of an Arctic oil terminal at the Bukhta Sever port, part of its huge Vostok Oil project, aimed at facilitating development of the Northern Sea Route, Reuters reported.
Russia is facing challenges in developing its oil industry due to the sweeping Western sanctions imposed against Moscow after the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine on February 24.
9:30 a.m.: Earlier this month, Germany agreed to allow the reactivation of coal-fired power plants or an extension to their lifespans as it braces for falling Russian supplies of gas, Reuters reported. But high coal prices, supply bottlenecks and aged plants are posing a challenge to Germany’s plan to increase electricity production from hard coal-fired power plants to compensate for declining gas deliveries, according to operators and industry experts.
9:10 a.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron described the global food crisis as one of Russia’s “weapons of war” during a visit to Cameroon on Tuesday, dismissing suggestions Western sanctions were to blame, Reuters reported.
Cameroon, like many developing countries, is grappling with sharp increases in prices for oil, fertilizer and foodstuffs. Severe fuel shortages hit the capital Yaounde last week leading to long queues at petrol stations.
Macron is on a three-leg tour of Africa, a trip meant to strengthen political ties with the continent and help boost agricultural production amid the growing food insecurity linked to the war in Ukraine.
African governments have largely avoided taking sides and refused to join Western condemnation and sanctions.
8:55 a.m.: Russia says it will quit the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024 to focus on building its own project in outer space at a time of heightened tensions between the Kremlin and the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Tuesday.
8:40 a.m.: The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), established as part of a landmark deal to resume grain exports from Ukraine, has started work in Istanbul, Russia’s defense ministry said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
The Russian delegation to the JCC will arrive in Turkey today and begin work in a four-way format, alongside Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations, the ministry said in a statement posted on social media.
Russia and Ukraine signed a landmark deal last Friday, brokered by Ankara and the U.N., to unblock grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and ease an international food crisis.
8:20 a.m.: In late June, HBO premiered a new documentary called “Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes”, which features newly recovered documents about the events of 1986. VOA’s Ukrainian Service interviewed the documentary director James Jones on the details of his work. Khrystyna Shevchenko has this story.
8:05 a.m.: The Kremlin says a gas turbine for Russia’s Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline has not yet arrived after maintenance in Canada, but officials hope it will be installed “sooner rather than later” to allow gas flows to Europe to rise, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that sanctions against Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine have complicated the work on Nord Stream 1, a major artery for gas supplies to reach the European Union, which has accused Moscow of weaponizing energy in retaliation for its isolation over the war.
Germany’s energy regulator on Monday reiterated Berlin’s position that the cuts are not necessary for technical issues. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday urged Europe to retaliate against Russia’s “gas war” by boosting its sanctions against Moscow.
7:30 a.m.: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is visiting Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of Congo this week, trying to counteract Western blame of Russia for a growing global food crisis, VOA’s Mohammed Yusuf reports.
Experts say Russia will push its own narrative as to why it’s attacking Ukraine and use the visit to show it has friends. Steven Gruzd is the head of the Russia-Africa Program at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said Russia will play the victim card when meeting with African leaders.
“It’s a propaganda war as much as it’s a shooting war and we have seen from the Ukrainian side how successfully President Zelensky has used social media,” Gruzd said. “He gives daily messages, he talks to parliaments and to [the U.S.] Congress and to groups around the world. Virtually, he is seen being on the frontline and Russia is mounting a counter-offensive. I think this is all part of that same trend.
Gruzd said it’s interesting that it is an in-person visit rather than online communication. “I think it’s deliberately calculated to show that Russia is not isolated, that Russia still has friends in the world, that Russia still cares about Africa,” Gruzd said.
7:05 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Tuesday that it believes former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is in Moscow, and did not rule out possible contact with him, Reuters reported.
“As far as we know, he is in Moscow,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked if the Kremlin was aware of reports that Schroeder had travelled to Moscow on Tuesday. “There is no meeting as such, but we do not rule out possible contact,” Peskov added.
German broadcaster RTL late on Monday reported that Schroeder was in Moscow, posting a picture of him on its website. Asked by RTL whether he would meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Schroeder was quoted as saying: “I’m on holiday here for a few days. Moscow is a beautiful city.”
Schroeder’s office in Germany did not immediately reply to a request for comment on why Schroeder had travelled to Moscow.
6:30 a.m.: Britain said on Tuesday it had added 42 new designations under its Russian sanctions regime in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.
The sanctions, which included travel bans and asset freezes, were imposed on several governors of Russian regions.
6:10 a.m.: European Union countries agreed on Tuesday to an emergency regulation to curb their gas use this winter, as Europe prepares for a winter of uncertain supplies from Russia.
“This was not a Mission Impossible! Ministers have reached a political agreement on gas demand reduction ahead of the upcoming winter,” the Czech Republic, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said in a Twitter post.
6 a.m.: Ukraine’s military reported Russian missiles strikes struck areas of the Ukrainian Black Sea coast on Tuesday.
The attacks hit multiple locations, including the Odesa area and port infrastructure in the city of Mykolaiv.
The strikes happened days after a Russian missile attack against Odesa raised questions about an agreement to resume Ukrainian exports from the region.
5:30 a.m.: Germany’s second-largest importer of Russian gas, VNG, warned Tuesday that the current environment creates significant challenges, a day after Gazprom unveiled fresh supply cuts according to Reuters.
“The market situation remains tense. The current situation in the gas market continues to pose major challenges for companies like VNG, across its business areas,” said the company, which is majority-owned by EnBW, a publicly traded energy company headquartered in Karlsruhe, Germany.
“We continue to see our mission as contributing to securing supply and averting damage to our customers and VNG. We explicitly support the German government in its efforts to stabilize the market.”
4:30 a.m.: European Union’s energy policy chief Kadri Simson said Tuesday Russian gas giant Gazprom’s decision to cut gas delivery to Europe claiming it had to halt the operation of a turbine is “a politically motivated step.”
Speaking to reporters after arriving at a ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Simson said, “we have to be ready for that. And exactly for that reason, the pre-emptive reduction of our gas demand is a wise strategy.”
Energy ministers from EU countries are meeting to discuss gas use reduction until next spring, among other pressing energy concerns, caused in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The European Commission last week proposed emergency rules requiring each country to cut its gas use by 15% from August to March. The target would be voluntary, but the Commission could make it binding in a supply emergency.
4 a.m.: The trial of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner resumed Tuesday in a Russian courtroom.
Griner is facing drug possession charges in connection to her February arrest at a Moscow airport. She acknowledged at an earlier trial session that she was carrying vape canisters with cannabis oil, but did not have criminal intent.
U.S. officials have said Griner was wrongfully detained.
Griner’s lawyers provided documentation at the trial that a U.S. medical center had permitter her to use cannabis to treat chronic pain.
Russia’s foreign ministry rejected that line of defense, saying last week that U.S. laws do not apply in Russia, and that Russian laws must be respected.
Griner faces a sentence of up to 10 years if convicted.
3:30 a.m.: According to a report released on The Kyiv Independent’s Telegram account, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said a Russian strike hit a residential area of the city on July 26. There is no information about casualties.
2:30 a.m.: Russia said it will cut gas supplies to Europe from Wednesday in a blow to countries that have backed Ukraine, while missile attacks in Black Sea coastal regions raised doubts about whether Russia will stick to a deal to let Ukraine export grain, Reuters reported.
The first ships from Ukraine may set sail in days under a deal agreed on Friday, the United Nations said, despite a Russian missile attack on the Ukrainian port of Odesa over the weekend. Russian forces have also struck port infrastructure in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region, Reuters reported Tuesday citing Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich.
Soaring energy costs and the threat of hunger faced by millions in low- and middle-income countries show how the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II, now in its sixth month, is having an impact far beyond Ukraine.
European Union countries are set to approve on Tuesday a weakened emergency proposal to curb their gas demand as they try to wean themselves off Russian energy and prepare for a possible total cut-off.
2 a.m.: Britain said on Tuesday there was “no indication” that a Ukrainian warship and a stock of anti-ship missiles were at the dock-side in Odesa port on Sunday, after Russia earlier said it had destroyed those targets with high-precision missiles.
“Russia will continue to prioritize efforts to degrade and destroy Ukraine’s anti-ship capability. However, Russia’s targeting processes are highly likely routinely undermined by dated intelligence, poor planning, and a top-down approach to operations,” the British Ministry of Defense said in a regular intelligence update.
Ukrainian military has said two Kalibr missiles fired from Russian warships hit the area of a pumping station at the Odesa port and two others were shot down by air defense forces.
1:30 a.m.: Russian forces have struck port infrastructure in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region, Reuters reported Tuesday citing Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich.
“A massive missile strike was launched on the south of Ukraine from the direction of the Black Sea, and with the use of aviation,” he told Ukrainian state television, providing no details on the aftermath of the strike.
Last Saturday, Russia struck another southern Ukrainian port of Odesa, casting doubt on a plan to restart Ukrainian grain exports.
The grain deal aims to allow safe passage for grain shipments in and out of Ukrainian ports, blockaded by Russia since its February 24 invasion. Russia has blamed Ukraine for stalling shipments by mining the port waters.
12:15 a.m.: Starlink, a satellite based broadband service founded by Elon Musk, provides internet access to Ukrainians since Russia’s invasion.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.
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