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Latest Developments in Ukraine: July 22

Ukrainian servicemen react after they identify a body of a friend killed by Russian shelling at Barabashovo market in Kharkiv, Ukraine, July 21, 2022.
Ukrainian servicemen react after they identify a body of a friend killed by Russian shelling at Barabashovo market in Kharkiv, Ukraine, July 21, 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.

10:14 p.m.: Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will begin an African tour in Egypt on Sunday, Reuters reported, seeking to draw on demand for non-Western alliances as Moscow pushes back against international censure over the war in Ukraine.

In Egypt, Lavrov will meet officials trying to square deep links to Russia with their close relationship to the United States, which along with other Western powers sought to isolate Russia with tough sanctions after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

After meeting Arab League members in Cairo, he will travel to Ethiopia and Uganda, two countries whose relations with the West have come under strain, as well as Congo Republic.

9:25 p.m.: Ukraine has about $10 billion worth of grain available for sale in the wake of a deal signed with Russia to unblock supplies and will also have a chance to sell the current harvest, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday, according to Reuters.

"This is another demonstration that Ukraine can withstand the war," Zelenskyy said in a late-night address.

Russia and Ukraine signed a landmark deal on Friday to reopen Ukrainian Black Sea ports for grain exports, raising hopes that an international food crisis aggravated by the Russian invasion can be eased.

"Approximately 20 million tons of last year's grain harvest will be exported. There will also be a chance to sell this year's harvest ... at the moment we have about $10 billion worth of grains available," Zelenskyy said.

The deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, was a chance to prevent a global food catastrophe that could cause chaos in many countries, he said.

"There may be some provocations on the part of Russia, attempts to discredit Ukrainian and international efforts," said Zelenskyy. "But we trust the United Nations."

8:38 p.m.: Demilitarization and "de-Nazification." Keeping Ukraine out of NATO. Preventing "genocide" in the Donbas. And now, a land grab, seizing territory with an eye toward incorporation into Russia.

For the Kremlin, there have been various justifications and goals for its invasion of Ukraine, launched five months ago on July 24. For Ukraine, the response has been straightforward: defending its territory. For the West, however, the shifting rationales have required shifting responses, in helping Ukraine both fight the war and find some basis for negotiation.

It's not easy when your opponent keeps changing his tune, according to an analysis by RFE/RL's Mike Eckel.

7:45 p.m.: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Western nations would be watching to ensure the grain deal did not put Ukraine at risk of being further invaded by Russia, Reuters reported.

"The G-7 is working closely with partners like Turkey and others to ensure that we can get that grain out of Ukraine and to places around the world where it's needed without putting at risk Ukraine's sovereignty and protection," Trudeau said.

6:31 p.m.: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow would not use the de-mining of Ukraine's ports for further attacks, according to Reuters.

"Russia has taken on the obligations that are clearly spelled out in this document. We will not take advantage of the fact that the ports will be cleared and opened," Shoigu said on the Rossiya-24 state TV channel.

Ukraine's infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov also said that Kyiv does not see a risk of Russian ships attacking through Ukrainian ports.

5:11 p.m.: A farmer from Zaporizhzhia told CNN he felt positively about the grain export deal, but he said he was wary of its implementation.

"We will watch and observe what will happen. It's good that they signed. But there are no results yet," Pavlo Serhienko said on Friday. “The price will be higher in the ports, but you still have to get there. We need to hire a car, logistics, etc. What will be the queues? How to go? Thousands of checkpoints.”

A farmer from Mykolaiv told CNN that the deal is important, but he does not want it to come at the expense of any military concessions to Moscow from Kyiv.

"For us, it is absolutely necessary. Our warehouses and elevators are full of grain. The grain of the last harvest, the grain of this harvest," Mykhailo Trokhymovych said. "But we should sign this treaty only if we do not make any military concessions to Russia."

4:15 p.m.: The United States believes Russia's military is sustaining hundreds of casualties a day, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday. The official said Washington also believed that Ukraine had destroyed more than 100 high-value Russian targets in Ukraine, including command posts and air-defense sites, Reuters reported.

There have been no major breakthroughs on the front lines since Russian forces seized the last two Ukrainian-held cities in eastern Luhansk province in late June and early July.

Kyiv hopes that its gradually increasing supply of Western arms, such as U.S. High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), will allow it to recapture lost territories.

Russia's defense ministry said on Friday its forces had destroyed four HIMARS systems between July 5 and 20. Kyiv denied the claims. Reuters could not verify the assertions.

3:29 p.m.:

2:51 p.m.: Ukraine's infrastructure minister, who signed the U.N.-led deal to unblock Ukraine's ports for grain exports in Turkey on Friday, said the agreement was only possible thanks to Ukraine's military successes.

Speaking on television, infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov cited the recapture of Snake Island, a small but strategically located outcrop near several key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, as an "important moment," Reuters reported.

Kubrakov also said that Ukraine does not see the risk of Russian ships reaching Ukrainian ports through green corridors agreed by the deal, as they would be fired upon by Ukrainian missiles in the case of such an attempt.

Later Friday, Ukraine's defense intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said on television that Ukraine's coast was defended by onshore rocket systems, and that Russia had tried and failed to get several "unacceptable" conditions for Ukraine into the deal.

2 p.m.: Russia and Ukraine signed a landmark deal on Friday to reopen Ukrainian Black Sea ports for grain exports, raising hopes that an international food crisis aggravated by the Russian invasion can be eased, according to Reuters.

The accord is the result of two months of talks brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, a NATO member that has good relations with both Russia and Ukraine and controls the straits leading into the Black Sea.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Istanbul, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the deal opens the way to significant volumes of commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports – Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

"Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope ... possibility ... and relief in a world that needs it more than ever," Guterres told the gathering.

12:55 p.m.: Britain’s defense ministry said Friday that Ukraine continues to push back Russian attempts to assault a key power plant in the Donetsk region. It also says Russia is making increased use of air-defense missiles for ground attacks, due to a “critical” lack of ground attack missiles.

12:42 p.m.: Several European Union countries are objecting to a plan to reduce natural gas consumption as a protective measure against Russia cutting energy supplies.

The plan, unveiled by the EU’s executive arm this week, calls for the EU’s 27 members to curtail gas consumption by 15 percent for eight months beginning in August. However, officials from Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and other countries have voiced opposition to the plan, reports Bloomberg.

Officials from Spain and Cyprus say such a sharp cut could spark social and economic issues, especially if energy is rationed.

10:58 a.m.: The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. has so far declined a Ukrainian request for advanced MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, on fears the drones could fall into Russian hands.

The drones can carry up to four Hellfire missiles and have a range of more than 320 kilometers.

10:40 a.m.: Russia and Ukraine have signed agreements in Istanbul designed to unblock some 20 million tons of grain held up in Ukraine’s blockaded Black Sea ports.

The agreements, signed Friday in the presence of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, are aimed at lowering food prices that have spiked since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and ease a growing hunger crisis in many parts of the globe.

The New York Times reports that the first shipments of grain will leave from Odesa and neighboring ports within weeks and will quickly bring five million metric tons of Ukrainian grain and other foodstuffs to world markets per month.

The deal was brokered with the help of the United Nations and Turkey.

8:35 a.m.: The Russian defense ministry says its forces have destroyed four of the U.S.-supplied high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) being used by Ukraine, reports Reuters.

The defense ministry said Friday the rocket launchers, hailed by Ukraine as a crucial weapon in its defense against the Russian invasion, were destroyed between July 5 and 20. Reuters said it could not verify the report.

On July 6, just days after the first HIMARS arrived in Ukraine, Russia said its forces had destroyed two of them and released a video of the alleged strike. Ukraine dismissed the claim and has said it is using the HIMARS to inflict heavy blows on Russian forces. Earlier this week, Ukraine said it used the launchers to damage a key bridge that crosses the Dnieper River in Russian-occupied parts of the southern Kherson region.

8:03 a.m.: Russia and Ukraine will sign separate agreements in the deal that will allow Ukraine to resume grain shipments to world markets, reports the Associated Press.

Mykhalio Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, outlined the structure of the deal on Twitter. “Ukraine does not sign any documents with Russia,” he said, adding that his country will sign an agreement with Turkey and the United Nations, with Russia signing a separate “mirror agreement.”

Russia’s defense minister and Ukraine’s infrastructure minister are expected to sign the deal Friday in Istanbul. Turkey and the U.N. mediated the deal, which will allow Ukraine to export some 20 million tons of grain held up for months in Black Sea ports.

The cutoff of exports has exacerbated food shortages and price increases in African and Middle Eastern countries that normally rely on Ukraine grain to meet their food requirements.

AP says the deal makes provisions for the safe passage of ships, and foresees the creation of a control center in Istanbul, to be staffed by U.N., Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials, to run and coordinate the process. It says ships would undergo inspections to ensure they are not carrying weapons.

7:22 a.m.: Bloomberg reports that Russia’s defense minister is in Turkey to a sign a deal which will allow grain exports from Ukraine to resume. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also traveled to Istanbul for the signing, slated for Friday.

5:28 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. ministry of defense said Ukrainian troops are continuing to hold off Russian attacks on the Vuhlehirsk power plant.

Russian artillery, the update said, remains focused around Kramatorsk and Siversk. Russia's running short of dedicated ground-attack missiles, the update noted, and has upped its use of air defense missiles in a secondary ground attack to compensate.

4:42 a.m.: Reuters reported that 10 known British sex offenders traveled to Poland shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine purportedly to provide humanitarian help before being sent back home, British police said on Thursday.

The individuals, who all had convictions for sex offenses, went to Poland in the six weeks that followed the outbreak of war, a spokesman for the National Crime Agency said.

The spokesperson said that offenders were supposed to inform police in Britain of their intent to travel, and then declare any convictions on their arrival.

"Normally they're meant to have declared this as part of their entry. We find inevitably, they haven't," the spokesperson told reporters.

"As far as I understand it, all 10 were asked to leave, following an interview with Polish immigration and Polish law enforcement," he said. "So they're no longer in Poland."

The spokesperson said there were about 5,000 unaccompanied children who had been displaced from Ukraine and "making sure that they are safe is absolutely paramount."

3:35 a.m.: An Italian astronaut teamed up with a Russian cosmonaut in a rare spacewalking show of unity, The Associated Press reported. Thursday's seven-hour spacewalk was conducted as tensions over Ukraine continue to ricochet back home. The spacewalk was in question last week when the Russian Space Agency's now former chief threatened to halt work on the 37-foot arm outside the International Space Station. Samantha Cristoforetti and Oleg Artemyev joined forces to work on Europe's new robot arm. Russian cosmonauts typically pair up for spacewalks, although astronauts from NASA and the European Space Agency occasionally ventured out with them years ago.

2:42 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian forces are unlikely to be able to take significant ground in the coming weeks.

Russia, the update noted, has likely used as much as 55-60% of its high-precision weaponry reserve. It's continuing to attack east of Siversk, south of Bakhmut, north of Kharkiv City and in Kherson Oblast.

1:37 a.m.: Russia has added 39 representatives of Australian security services and defense companies to a "stop-list" that bars them from entering the country, in response to a sanctions law adopted by Canberra, the Russian foreign ministry said, according to Reuters.

Australia has adopted a sanctions law similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act that provides for targeted financial sanctions and travel bans against individuals.

The original act, adopted by the United States in 2012, is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who was arrested and later died in prison in Russia in 2009 after accusing Russian officials of a massive tax fraud.

12:02 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke by phone and underlined the importance of further cooperation within the OPEC+ group of oil producers, the Kremlin said, according to Reuters.

The conversation took place six days after U.S. President Joe Biden visited the prince in Saudi Arabia -- highlighting the kingdom's importance to both Washington and Moscow at a time when Russia's war in Ukraine is roiling global energy markets.

"The current situation on the world oil market was considered in detail. The importance of further coordination within the framework of OPEC+ was emphasized," the Kremlin said.

"It was noted with satisfaction that the countries participating in this format are consistently fulfilling their obligations in order to maintain the necessary balance and stability in the global energy market."

Some information in this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.

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