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Latest Developments in Ukraine: July 12

Local residents look at their residential building damaged by a Russian military strike, amid Russia's invasion on Ukraine, in the town of Chasiv Yar, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on July 11, 2022.
Local residents look at their residential building damaged by a Russian military strike, amid Russia's invasion on Ukraine, in the town of Chasiv Yar, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on July 11, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

11:50 p.m.: Ukraine sparked hopes Tuesday for an increase in grain exports despite Russia's blockade of Black Sea ports, noting that ships had started to pass through an important mouth of the Danube River.

The ministry said 16 vessels were now waiting to be loaded with Ukrainian grain for export to foreign markets, while more than 90 more vessels were awaiting their turn in Romania's Sulina canal.

Only four ships could be received per day along the Sulina route, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Vaskov said, while a rate of eight per day was needed. If such conditions were met, and with the opening of the Bystre, he said Ukraine expected this ship congestion would end within a week and that monthly exports of grain would increase by 500,000 tons.

11:30 p.m.: Russia has blocked the exits from the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol for the second day in a row, according to city mayor Ivan Fedorov, CNN reported.

Russian forces were "so afraid of the counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that they have covered themselves with thousands of civilians as human shields," said Fedorov, who is not in Melitopol.

The whole city is held hostage," he added.

Fedorov said the Russians had closed the checkpoint at Vasylivka, the main crossing point for civilian traffic trying to reach other parts of Ukraine

10:30 p.m.:

9:20 p.m.: The Ukrainian military on Tuesday reported destroying a Russian ammunition depot in southern Ukraine, resulting in a massive explosion captured on social media, while rescuers said the death toll from a weekend Russian strike in the country's east grew to 45, The Associated Press reported

An overnight rocket strike targeted the depot in Russian-held Nova Kakhovka, the Ukrainian military's southern command said. Nova Kakhovka is about 55 kilometers (35 miles) east of the Black Sea port city of Kherson, which is also occupied by Russian forces.

The precision of the strike suggested Ukrainian forces used U.S.-supplied multiple-launch High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS. Ukraine indicated in recent days that it might launch a counteroffensive to reclaim territory in the south as Russia bombards the eastern Donbas region.

8:51 p.m.: LeBron James is publicly criticizing the Biden administration’s handling of Brittney Griner's case in a trailer for an upcoming episode of his television show: "The Shop: Uninterrupted."

The WNBA All-Star is on trial in Russia for drug possession. She pleaded guilty last week and will appear again in court on Thursday.

"Now, how can she feel like America has her back?" James said in the trailer.

8:12 p.m.: Vitaly Tsitsurov has been protesting for months for protesting Russia's war in Ukraine, but calling it a war is a criminal offense, so he edited his sign to read: "No *ar!" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

7:22 p.m.: "Unsanitary conditions are growing" in Severodonetsk and "there is not enough water and not enough food" in the city, said Roman Vlasenko, head of the city's regional administration, CNN reported.

Vlasenko added that there are also issues with gas and electricity supplies.

He described the living situation as “very sad” for those that have remained even though "there are not many people left there."

Vlasenko said that "pressure continues on pro-Ukrainian activists" and that they continue to face serious challenges.

6:55 p.m.: Ukrainian soldiers have been training in the United Kingdom, with up to 10,000 troops to be trained eventually.

6 p.m.: There have been several unexplained explosions and reports of gunfire in the Ukrainian town of Enerhodar in the past day, according to social media accounts and the Russian-installed mayor, CNN reported

"Enerhodar did not sleep tight tonight," said Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of the town, who is now in nearby Zaporizhzhia.

"At first, people were awakened by the sounds of several explosions that were heard either in the city itself or somewhere outside of it," he added. "And then during the second half of the night, weird chaotic shots were heard in various residential neighborhoods."

Unofficial social media accounts — reposted by Ukraine's state nuclear enterprise Energoatom — claimed that the Russians had staged a firefight that damaged the local Security Services (SSU) building.

5:12 p.m.: Russian prosecutors on Tuesday brought criminal charges against another opposition figure who has criticized Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

Ilya Yashin was to be released after spending 15 days in jail on charges of failing to obey police. Instead, Yashin was charged under a new law making it a crime to spread false information about the military, said his lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov. It carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Russia has cracked down on those who criticize what it calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine. Vladimir Kara-Muza, a well-known opposition figure, was arrested in April and charged under the same law.

Yashin, a member of a Moscow municipal council, was detained in late June in a city park.

4:30 p.m.: Ukrainian military intelligence says that its troops have rescued five Ukrainians in a special operation in the Kherson region, Agence France-Presse reported.

It says a military serviceman, a former police officer and three civilians were freed, and that one of those released has "a serious combat wound."

The Ukrainian army has for several weeks been waging a counter-offensive to recapture Kherson, which was taken by Russian troops early in the invasion of Ukraine.

The deputy head of the pro-Russian authorities in Kherson, Ekaterina Gubareva, said Ukraine had used long-range, precision artillery systems supplied by the United States in the strikes in Nova Kakhovka.

3:40 p.m.: Ukraine is getting $1.7 billion more in aid from the U.S. government and the World Bank to pay the salaries of its beleaguered health care workers and provide other essential services.

The money coming Tuesday from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Treasury Department and the World Bank is meant to alleviate the acute budget deficit caused by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal war of aggression,” USAID said in a statement, The Associated Press reported.

Since the Russian invasion, many medical staffers have left Ukraine, some hospitals have shut down and other hospitals have been bombed. The health workers who remain in Ukraine do their jobs under dire circumstances.

To date, USAID has given $4 billion in budgetary support to the Ukrainian government. These funds have been used for keeping gas and electricity flowing to hospitals and schools, getting humanitarian supplies to citizens and paying the salaries of civil servants and teachers, the organization said.

2:22 p.m.: Ukraine is itself bracing for what it expects will be a massive new Russian offensive in the part of the country that Moscow says it is determined to take control of all of the industrial Donbas region, Reuters reported

Russian forces, which captured Luhansk province in the Donbas, have for weeks been shelling parts of neighboring Donetsk province.

Regional Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said there was a significant buildup of Russian troops, particularly in the Bakhmut and Siversky areas, and around Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

The entire front line in the region was under constant shelling as Russian troops tried to break through but were being repelled, he said.

12:14 p.m.: Military delegations from Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey will meet with UN representatives to discuss the safe export of Ukrainian grain, which has become disrupted because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, RFE/RL reported.

The meeting will take place on July 13 in Istanbul, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on July 12.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 11 discussed Ukrainian grain exports in separate phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Ukraine and its allies have pushed for the reopening of Ukraine's Black Sea ports, which Kyiv says are shut because of a Russian blockade.

10:47 a.m.: The U.N. human rights office (OHCHR) said on Tuesday that more than 5,000 civilians had been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, adding that the real toll was likely much higher, Reuters reported.

OHCHR, which has dozens of human rights monitors in the country, said in its weekly update that 5,024 people had been killed and 6,520 injured.

10:00 a.m. Lego is closing its business in Russia indefinitely and laying off its 90 Moscow-based employees, owing to "extensive disruption" in the country, the Danish toymaker said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Lego has terminated its contract with franchisee Inventive Retail Group (IRG) which owned and operated 81 stores on Lego's behalf.

IRG, which also operated shops in Russia for Western brands such as Nike and Samsung, said earlier on Tuesday that the contract with Lego had been terminated.

Companies including Nike and Cisco have announced their departures from Russia in recent weeks as the pace of Western firms leaving accelerates after Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February.

9:08 a.m.: European Union member states have so far frozen Russian assets worth $13.8 billion since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders has said, according to RFE/RL.

"For the moment, we have frozen -- coming from oligarchs and other entities -- 13.8 billion euros [$13.8 billion], so it's quite huge," Reynders told reporters in Prague on July 12 ahead of an informal meeting of EU justice ministers.

"But I must say that a very large part of it, more than 12 coming from five member states," he added.

He did not specify the five countries, but he urged other EU members to step up efforts to identify and freeze assets under their jurisdictions.

7:59 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Iran next week, the Kremlin said Tuesday, a day after the U.S. warned that Tehran could provide Moscow with drones for its action in Ukraine, the Associated Press reported.

During a trip to Tehran next Tuesday, Putin will attend a trilateral meeting with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, the so-called Astana format of meetings for Syria-related talks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

While in Tehran Peskov said Putin will also have a separate meeting with visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan had earlier helped mediate talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives in Istanbul, Turkey.

6:30 a.m.: Ukrainian and Russian officials gave differing accounts Tuesday of a Ukrainian attack in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.

According to the Ukrainian side, a long-range rocket struck a Russian ammunition depot in Nova Kakhovka, killing 52 Russian troops.

Russia said the Ukrainian strike instead hit civilian infrastructure.

6 a.m.: A Moscow court fined U.S. tech giant Apple million roubles ($33,900) on Tuesday for allegedly refusing to store the data of Russian citizens on Russian territory, the Interfax news agency reported.

Moscow has clashed with Big Tech over content, censorship, data and local representation in a simmering dispute that has erupted into a full-on battle since Russia sent its armed forces into Ukraine on February 24, Reuters reported.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

5:30 a.m.:

5:15 a.m.: Russian foreign ministry said a fresh round of talks between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations over grain exports from Ukraine will take place on Wednesday in Istanbul, Reuters reported citing Interfax news agency.

Ukraine is a key agricultural exporter and its inability to ship vital grain supplies has caused a surge in food prices, aggravating concerns about a global food crisis.

4 a.m.: Interfax on Tuesday quoted a separatist official as saying decisions on the appeals of British and Moroccan fighters sentenced to death by the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine will be taken within a month, Reuters reported.

Two Britons and one Moroccan citizen captured fighting with the Ukrainian army were sentenced to death as mercenaries by a Russian-backed separatist court last month. All three have appealed their sentences.

Ukraine and Western countries have said that the men are prisoners of war, entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions.

3:30 a.m.: The head of the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday the G-7 proposal to impose a price cap on Russian oil should include refined products as well, Reuters reported.

The Group of Seven rich nations are considering imposing a price cap on Russian oil in an effort to keep oil flowing and curb inflation, while still limiting revenue to Moscow for the war on Ukraine that it calls a "special military operation."

"My hope is that the proposal, which is important to minimize the effect on the economies around the world, gets buy-in from several countries," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Sydney Energy Forum. "And if it is pursued, it is not only focused on crude oil, as refined products are also an important challenge for the economies and will be more of a challenge in the next months to come," he said.

Prices of refined products, such as gasoline and diesel, have soared even more than crude oil in the wake of the loss of Russian supply, because of a global refinery capacity crunch following the closure of several plants around the world.

3 a.m.: As a Russian offensive intensifies in eastern Ukraine, authorities there are urging residents to evacuate for other, safer cities and towns in the west of the country. And yet, there are still people who refuse to leave. Many of them are pensioners living alone.

Some say they don't earn enough money to support themselves away from home. Others have more complex reasons, including a dislike of the current government in Kyiv or believing that life under a Russian flag won't be much different than it is now.

Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko has urged residents to evacuate, saying it would allow the Ukrainian army to better defend towns. He added that about 80% of the region had left by Monday. The Associated Press has the story.

2 a.m.: In its battleground report, the U.K. ministry of defense said Tuesday that Russia continues to make "small incremental territorial gains in Donetsk oblast with Russia claiming to have seized control of the town of Hryhorivka." Russia also continued its "assault along the E-40 main supply route towards the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk."

Personnel shortage might force Russia to "turn to non-traditional recruitment," the ministry said. That means recruiting from Russian prisons for the Wagner Private Military Company, the ministry added.

1:15 a.m.: Ukraine expects a fresh assault by Russian ground forces, following widespread shelling which killed more than 30 people, as Kyiv’s Western allies brace for a worsening of the global energy crisis if Russia cuts its supply of oil and gas, Reuters reported.

Ukraine’s general staff said the shelling across the country amounted to preparations for an intensification of hostilities as Russia seeks to seize Donetsk province, and control the whole of Ukraine’s Donbas industrial heartland.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia had carried out 34 air strikes since Saturday, one hit a five-story apartment killing 31 people and trapping dozens.

Moscow denies targeting civilians but many Ukrainian cities, towns and villages have been left in ruins. And the human cost of Russia's invasion, Europe’s biggest conflict since World War Two and now in its fifth month, mounts.

Russia said a Ukrainian attack on the Russian-held town of Nova Kakhovka in Kherson region left an unknown number of casualties.

12:30 a.m.: A celebrated Ukrainian medic who was held captive by Russian forces said she thinks about the prisoners she left behind constantly. Yuliia Paievska, who is better known as Taira, was freed on June 17.

She was captured on March 16 in the besieged city of Mariupol, a day after a team of journalists with The Associated Press smuggled out a data card on which she’d recorded 256 gigabytes of bodycam footage showing her medical team’s desperate efforts to save wounded civilians and troops, including Russian soldiers.

Taira credits the release of the video by AP with helping win her freedom. Taira is trying now to regain her health and plans to write a sort of self-help book about enduring captivity.

12:01 a.m.: The global price of oil could surge by 40% to around $140 per barrel if a proposed price cap on Russian oil is not adopted, along with sanction exemptions that would allow shipments below that price, Reuters reported citing a senior U.S. Treasury official said on Tuesday.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will discuss implementation of the proposed oil price cap with Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki when they meet later on Tuesday, the official said.

The goal was to set the price at a level that covered Russia’s margin cost of production, so Moscow is incentivized to continue exporting oil, but not high enough to allow it to fund its war against Ukraine, the official said.

Japanese officials had expressed concern about the price cap being set too low, but had not rejected a potential price range of $40 to $60 per barrel outright, the official said.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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