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Latest Developments in Ukraine: July 19

Relatives and friends of 35-year-old Anna Protsenko, who was killed in a Russian rocket attack, pray over her coffin before burial during her funeral procession, on the outskirts of Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, July 18, 2022.
Relatives and friends of 35-year-old Anna Protsenko, who was killed in a Russian rocket attack, pray over her coffin before burial during her funeral procession, on the outskirts of Pokrovsk, eastern Ukraine, July 18, 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.

10:30 p.m.: The United States on Tuesday placed Russia on the lists of countries engaged in a "policy or pattern" of human trafficking, forced labor or whose security forces or government-backed armed groups recruit or use child soldiers.

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

Russia appears frequently throughout the report because of its February 24 invasion of Ukraine and what the document called the vulnerability to human trafficking of millions of Ukrainian refugees who fled their country.

The Russian embassy in Washington did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the allegations in the report.

In addition to Russia, the new section listed Afghanistan, Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and five other countries with a "documented 'policy or pattern' of human trafficking," forced labor in government-affiliated sectors, sexual slavery in government camps or employ or recruit child soldiers.

8:32 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for mediating talks on the export of grain from Ukraine, saying there was some progress, Agence France-Presse reported.

"With your mediation, we have moved forward," Putin said. "Not all issues have yet been resolved, but the fact that there is movement is already good."

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

7:27 p.m.: Ukraine's defense minister asked the West on Tuesday to drastically scale up its supply of precision rocket systems, Agence France-Presse reported.

The United States since mid-June has delivered eight units of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which can precisely strike targets within 80 kilometers.

"These systems allowed us to destroy approximately 30 command stations and ammunition storages," Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov told the Atlantic Council.

"This has significantly slowed down the Russian advance and dramatically decreased the intensity of their artillery shelling. So it's working. We are grateful to our partners," he said in a virtual appearance at the Washington think tank.

6:30 p.m.: Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska met with U.S. first lady Jill Biden at the White House on Tuesday.

The two last saw each other during Biden's unannounced visit to western Ukraine in May when they visited a school and joined children who were making Mother's Day gifts.

President Joe Biden presented the Ukrainian first lady with a bouquet of flowers — yellow sunflowers, blue hydrangeas and white orchids — the colors of Ukraine's flag.

The White House said Zelenska is visiting Washington "to highlight the human cost of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. They will discuss 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."

Zelenska also met Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

5:46 p.m.: The governor of the Mykolaiv, a southern Ukrainian region under constant Russian rocket fire, on Tuesday promised a $100 reward for anyone who could help to identify people who have been collaborating with Russia, Agence France-Presse reported.

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.

"After careful verification and confirmation of the information provided, you will receive a bonus of $100," he said in a statement on his Telegram account.

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

4:48 p.m.: More than two weeks have passed since Russia's last major territorial gain in Ukraine, the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk, Reuters reported.

Ukraine's General Army Staff said on Tuesday that Moscow's forces were shoring up their positions in recently seized territory and mounting limited but unsuccessful ground assaults in numerous different locations.

Britain's ministry of defense, which supports Kyiv, said on Thursday it believed Russia is facing a resources dilemma, having to decide how much military hardware and personnel to commit to achieving its stated objective of seizing full control of Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region and how much to deploy to southern Ukraine to contend with a Ukrainian counterattack.

4 p.m.: Footage from Ukraine's Odesa region on Tuesday showed badly damaged buildings smoldering from Russian barrages, Reuters reported.

Oleksii Matsulevych, a spokesman for the regional administration, said on Telegram the Russian strike had injured at least four people, burned houses to the ground, and set other homes on fire.

Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine's presidential office, wrote on Twitter that the houses had been struck by seven Russian Kalibr cruise missiles.

Russia's defense ministry said its forces had destroyed ammunition depots in the area that were storing weapons supplied to Kyiv by the United States and European countries.

Reuters could not immediately verify that assertion.

3:18 p.m.: Six more French-made Caesar artillery guns promised to Ukraine by President Emmanuel Macron in June are on their way to the war-torn country, France's foreign minister said on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

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

As well as ammunition, France is known to be providing its Milan anti-tank missiles and Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said in late June that Paris would be sending "significant quantities" of armored personnel carriers.

The Caesar is a 155-mm howitzer mounted on a six-wheel truck chassis, capable of firing shells at ranges of more than 40 kilometers.

2 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Iran’s top leaders during a visit to Tehran Tuesday, in his first trip outside the former Soviet Union since Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Putin extolled Moscow’s trade ties with Iran during a meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and then met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reports CNN.

The trip is seen as a sign of deepening ties between Russia and Iran, which are both subject to U.S. and European economic sanctions. U.S. National Security Adviser Jay Sullivan said Monday that newly-declassified intelligence indicates Iran is preparing to supply Russia with hundreds of drones, some capable of carrying weapons, for the war in Ukraine.

While in Tehran, Putin is also scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and discuss the proposed resumption of Ukrainian grain exports. Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports has contributed to food shortages and inflation in countries that normally rely on Ukrainian grain.

1 p.m.: Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov rejected the idea of giving up land to Russia in return for peace, in comments Tuesday to a U.S. think tank.

VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports that Reznikov, speaking to the Atlantic Council, said Ukraine “will not agree to pay our territory for a cease-fire regime” despite the severe disruptions caused by the Russian invasion. "Moscow will use the idea of a cease-fire just for refreshing their armed forces,” he said.

The defense minister said Russia does not just want land, “it is interested in destroying Ukraine completely.”

Reznikov said Ukraine can liberate captured territory if it receives enough weapons in time. He said U.S. HIMAR rocket systems have destroyed 30 Russian command stations and ammunition storage facilities and dramatically decreased the intensity of Russian artillery shelling.

The defense minister said Ukraine needs armored vehicles and 100 long-range rocket systems to launch a counter-offensive.

12 p.m.: Russian natural gas flows via the Nord Stream pipeline will likely resume on time Thursday after completion of annual maintenance, according to a Reuters report.

The pipeline, which accounts for more than a third of Russian gas exports to the European Union, was shut down for ten days of maintenance on July 11.

The report out of Moscow Tuesday cites two sources familiar with export plans. The sources said the pipeline is expected to resume operation on time but at less than its capacity of 160 million cubic meters per day.

Earlier, European Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn told reporters in Singapore that the European Commission does not expect the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to restart after maintenance was done.

9:10 a.m.: Western weapons are key to Ukraine’s defense against Russian invasion, but the weapons systems contributed by various countries have little in common, complicating efforts to use them in battle, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The article published Tuesday says Ukrainian forces also face a steep learning curve in learning how to fire and maintain the weapons, which are more accurate but more complex than the Soviet-era systems that Ukraine has used until now.

“A lot of the Ukrainian stuff is legacy—40-year-old vehicles that you fix with a hammer and a wrench, brute force, lubricants and prayer,” said Scott Boston, a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corporation.

8:10 a.m.: At least one person was killed Tuesday in a Russian missile strike on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, reports Reuters.

The governor of the Donetsk region said the attack caused a fire in a residential building. Video posted on social media showed flames rising out of an apartment building and what appeared to be a body covered by a blanket.

7:50 a.m.: The chief of Russia’s foreign spy service met Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan this week, just three days after CIA Director William Burns visited Yerevan for talks, Reuters reported citing the Armenian government.

Sergei Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, met Pashinyan on July 18 in the same room where Pashinyan received Burns on July 15, according to pictures of the two meetings released by the Armenian government.

Armenian statements on the two meetings were similar: they discussed bilateral relations and also questions of international and regional security, including in the South Caucasus, the Armenian government said.

Russia’s Sputnik state news agency quoted Naryshkin as saying: “My visit to Yerevan is definitely not connected with the arrival of my American colleague. But I don’t exclude that his visit is on the contrary connected with mine.”

Armenia is a Russian ally and Moscow has peacekeeping troops in Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian-controlled region of Azerbaijan, where Armenian forces were driven back in a disastrous war against Azerbaijan in 2020. In recent months, Armenia has held talks aimed at normalizing relations with its NATO-member neighbor Turkey.

7:25 am: Russia’s defense ministry said Tuesday its forces destroyed ammunition depots in Ukraine’s Odesa region that were storing weapons supplied to Kyiv by the United States and European countries.

Local officials reported Russian missile attacks and said the missiles struck homes and other civilian buildings, wounding at least four people. The Associated Press quotes an official as saying such attacks are meant to intimidate the population.

7 a.m.: Ukraine’s parliament dismissed the country’s domestic security chief and prosecutor general on Tuesday, two days after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suspended them for failing to root out Russian spies, according to Reuters.

Ivan Bakanov was fired from his position at the helm of the Security Service of Ukraine by a comfortable majority, several lawmakers said on the Telegram messaging app.

The head of Zelenskyy’s political faction said Iryna Venediktova had also been voted out as prosecutor general.

In a statement published on Telegram minutes before his dismissal was confirmed, Bakanov said “miscalculations” had been made during his tenure, but said he was proud of his record.

6:15 a.m.: The British ministry of defense said, “the illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is continuing” and shared the current battleground intelligence update with a map showing where the current front line is.

5:45 a.m.: European Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn told reporters in Singapore that the European Commission does not expect the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to restart after its annual 10-day maintenance, which is scheduled to conclude on Thursday.

“We’re working on the assumption that it doesn’t return to operation,” Hahn is quoted as saying in a report by the Wall Street Journal, Reuters reported.

Hahn’s comments come after Reuters reported that Russia’s Gazprom had told customers in Europe it cannot guarantee gas supplies because of “extraordinary” circumstances, adding to fears in Europe that Moscow may not restart the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Thursday.

5 a.m.: Reuters reported that Russia’s former President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday that his country will prevail in Ukraine and will set the terms for a future peace deal with Kyiv.

“Russia will achieve all its goals. There will be peace — on our terms,” Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said in a post on Telegram.

The former leader, once held up in the West as a possible partner, has becoming increasingly hawkish and outspoken in his criticism of the West since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24.

4:30 a.m.:

4 a.m.: Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska is set to meet with U.S. first lady Jill Biden at the White House on Tuesday.

The two last met during Biden’s unannounced visit to western Ukraine in May when they visited a school and joined children who were making Mother’s Day gifts.

Zelenska on Monday met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Zelenska and Blinken talked about “the immense and growing human costs of Russia’s full-scale invasion,” and that Blinken emphasized the U.S. commitment to supporting Ukraine.

“Secretary Blinken commended First Lady Zelenska’s work to help Ukrainians impacted by the war,” Price said. “He reiterated that the United States will continue to provide assistance to help Ukraine respond to the significant economic and humanitarian challenges it faces, including supporting the First Lady’s mental health initiative for citizens affected by the war.”

Zelenska’s schedule also includes going to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to address lawmakers.

3:20 a.m.: The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world risks multiple famines this year because of multiple factors — including the war in grain-rich Ukraine.

Guterres said next year could be worse. “But we can avoid this catastrophe if we act now,” he said in his remarks to the U.N. General Assembly.

3 a.m.: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that the United States will impose harsh consequences on those countries that abuse or break international economic order.

“Economic integration has been weaponized by Russia,” she said, calling for all responsible countries to unite in opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

She 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.

2:45 a.m.: Poland plans to offer households a one-off payment of $635 (3,000 zlotys) to help cover the rising cost of coal, according to a draft bill published late on Monday, as the country faces surging energy prices as a result of the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Due to their high quality, Russian coal imports were mainly used by individual households and heating plants in smaller towns before they were banned in April.

The subsequent spike in prices cause by the shortfall has left many Poles fearing they will be unable to heat their homes in winter.

“The proposed regulation aims to provide support for a large group of households in Poland, including the poorest in terms of energy, in covering part of the costs resulting from the increase in prices on the energy market,” the draft bill said.

2:15 a.m.: In his first trip outside the former Soviet Union since the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Iran for a summit with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts on Syrian conflict, Reuters reported Tuesday citing Iranian state TV.

In Tehran, Putin and Erdogan will meet to discuss a deal aimed at resuming Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports. “Considering the evolving geopolitical ties after the Ukraine war, the establishment tries to secure Moscow’s support in Tehran’s confrontation with Washington and its regional allies,” said a senior Iranian official, who asked not to be named.

Putin’s visit to Tehran is watched closely as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reconfigured the global oil market and because of Washington’s warning about Tehran’s plan to provide Russia with up to several hundred drones. Tehran has denied selling drones to Moscow to use in Ukraine.

2 a.m.: British military intelligence said on Tuesday Russia has struggled to sustain effective offensive combat power since the start of its invasion of Ukraine and the problem is likely becoming increasingly acute.

“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,” the Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update.

The ministry also added that while Russia may still make further territorial gains, their operational tempo and rate of advance is likely to be very slow.

1:15 a.m.: The Kyiv Independent reports via Telegram that Russian forces shelled Nikopol up to 40 times overnight. No casualties were reported, but the shelling reportedly ignited both residential buildings and industrial areas.

12:05 a.m.: Survivors of a Russian missile strike on the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsya on July 14 have been recounting the shock and violence they endured that day, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. Many said they were stunned to see rockets hitting a commercial zone in a civilian area far from the front lines. The day after the incident, family members of victims described the grave wounds their loved ones suffered. Allowed only five minutes to visit per day, some of them only discovered the extent of the injuries and deaths after traveling hundreds of kilometers.

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

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