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Latest Developments in Ukraine: July 25

This handout picture taken and released by Ukraine Emergency Service on July 25, 2022, shows a firefighter facing a fire in front of a burning residential building after a shelling in Mykolaiv region. (Photo by Ukraine Emergency Service / AFP)
This handout picture taken and released by Ukraine Emergency Service on July 25, 2022, shows a firefighter facing a fire in front of a burning residential building after a shelling in Mykolaiv region. (Photo by Ukraine Emergency Service / AFP)

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

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

10:45 p.m.: The Ukrainian General Staff said Monday that Russia forces have advanced in the Donetsk region, CNN reported.

“The enemy carried out airstrikes near Soledar, Pokrovske, New York, and on the territory of the Vuhlehirska TPP. It led assault operations in the directions of Klynove — Pokrovske, and Volodymyrivka — Pokrovske, suffered losses and withdrew,” the General Staff update read. “In the area of the Vuhlehirska TPP, individual units of the enemy have partial success.”

According to the General Staff, intense shelling was reporting along the frontline in the entire Donetsk region. And Russia also made a push towards Spirne and Ivano-Dariivka.

“[Russian forces] received a tough fight back and withdrew,” the General Staff said.

CNN could not independently verify the claims made by the Ukrainian military.

8:45 p.m.: Russia's invasion of Ukraine leaves hundreds of thousands homeless.

7:54 p.m.: Their homes have been destroyed by Russian rockets, and now they live on a train in a rail siding in Irpin, near Kyiv. One little girl takes comfort from a cuddly alien salvaged from her family's apartment before it burned down. Another resident says: "It's hard for me to talk about it. It's driving me crazy." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

7 p.m.: Moscow could try to skew the forthcoming Italian national election by spreading fake news on social media to favor pro-Russian parties, the head of Italy's center-left Democratic Party (PD) said on Monday, according to Reuters.

Enrico Letta, who is trailing a rightist alliance in the polls, said he wanted Italian intelligence agencies and the European Union's disinformation unit to monitor the two-month election campaign and prevent outside interference.

It was the first time that Letta highlighted his concern, although he did not give any evidence that Russia was planning to interfere. The Russian embassy in Rome did not immediately reply to an emailed request for a comment.

6:12p.m.: Bomb shelters coming to bus routes in Kharkiv.

5:17 p.m.: Despite a weekend air strike, the first ships from Ukraine's Black Sea ports may set sail in days under a deal agreed on Friday, the United Nations said. This would help ease an international food crisis, although mistrust and potential danger remained.

A Ukrainian government official said he hoped the first grain shipment from Ukraine could be made from Chornomorsk Wednesday, with shipments from other ports within two weeks. The United Nations expects the first ship to move within a few days.

4:22 p.m.: At the sharp end of efforts to stop the Russian army's progress in eastern Ukraine are the Carpathian Sich battalion, a unit of Ukrainians and foreign nationals who answered Kyiv's call for help to confront the invader, Reuters reports.

3:28 p.m.: The latest from VOA's National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin:

3 p.m.: Russian energy giant Gazprom said Monday that it would further reduce natural gas flows through a major pipeline to Europe to 20% of capacity, citing equipment repairs. The move ramps up fears that Russia may cut off gas as political leverage over the war in Ukraine just as Europe tries to shore up storage for winter, The Associated Press reported.

The Russian state-owned company tweeted that it would reduce “the daily throughput” of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to 33 million cubic meters as of Wednesday, saying it was shutting down a turbine for repairs. The head of Germany’s network regulator, Klaus Mueller, confirmed that the flow was expected to be cut in half.

2:30 p.m.:

2:20 p.m.: The Russian authorities on Monday briefly detained a liberal politician who recently returned to Moscow from abroad, the latest move in a relentless crackdown on dissent amid Moscow’s military action in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

Leonid Gozman was detained after the Russian Interior Ministry issued a warrant for his arrest while investigating a criminal case against him.

Gozman has been accused of breaching the law that requires Russian citizens to notify authorities about a foreign citizenship or a residency permit. If found guilty, Gozman could be sentenced to a fine or community work.

2:10 p.m.: Seven-year-old Roman is one of dozens of victims of Russia's attack on July 14 on the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsya. His head, arms, and legs were severely injured in a Russian rocket strike. His mother died in the explosion and was identified days later only through a DNA test. Roman has been transferred to a hospital in Germany for special treatment. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

1:55 p.m.: Construction sites, factory assembly lines and warehouses across central Europe are scrambling to fill vacancies after tens of thousands of Ukrainian men left their blue-collar jobs to return home after Russia invaded their country, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian workers had flocked to central Europe in the past decade — drawn by higher wages and aided by an easing of visa requirements — filling jobs that weren't highly paid enough for local workers in construction, the automotive sector and heavy industry.

Many of these workers have returned home to help the war effort since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, abruptly worsening labor shortages in some of Europe's most industrialized economies.

Reuters spoke to 14 company executives, recruiters, industry bodies and economists in Poland and the Czech Republic who said the departure of Ukrainian workers was leading to rising costs and delays in manufacturing orders and construction work.

1:40 p.m.:

1:10 p.m.: The appeal of Ukraine’s first war crimes conviction was adjourned on Monday, as prosecutors keep pushing to hold Russia legally accountable for atrocities even as fighting rages in the south and east of the country, The Associated Press reported.

Thin and subdued, Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old captured Russian soldier who pleaded guilty to killing a civilian and was sentenced in May by a Ukrainian court to life in prison, sat in a glass box in the courtroom as he faced news cameras. The hearing was postponed until July 29 due to his lawyer’s ill health.

Around Ukraine’s capital region, where Russian forces pulled out four months ago, much of the work of documenting crime scenes and interviewing witnesses has been done. Now a new, more difficult phase in the search for accountability is underway: Finding those responsible.

12:45 p.m.:

12:15 p.m.: United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday that U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has “unequivocally condemned” Russian strikes on the Ukrainian port of Odesa, according to VOA’s U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer.

At a press briefing, Haq said that both Russia and Ukraine had made commitments to move the Ukrainian grain, and he said Guterres noted these products are desperately needed to address a food crisis. He said full implementation of the deal, signed last Friday by Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, is imperative.

Since signing the agreement, the parties and the U.N. have been in frequent contact, Haq said, and they have reconfirmed their commitment to the initiative. Turkey provided space for a Joint Coordination Center (JCC) where operations will be housed in the Ataturk War Gaming and Cultural Center in Istanbul. By Tuesday, all parties and U.N. will have a presence in the JCC in Istanbul, and the first ships are expected to move within a few days, Haq said.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to meet on Ukraine this Friday. The focus is expected to be on attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure. Diplomats told VOA that the request was made by the U.S. and Albania before the Odesa port attack, but it is expected that the focus may shift to the issue of the grain shipments now.

12:00 p.m.:

11:45 a.m.: Slovakia may consider donating its fleet of Soviet-era MiG warplanes to Ukraine, the Slovak defense minister said Monday, according to The Associated Press.

Standing alongside his British counterpart Ben Wallace, Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said “we can discuss the future” of his country’s 11 MiG-29 fighter jets after they’re grounded “most probably” by the end of August. Slovakia has already negotiated with NATO allies the Czech Republic and Poland to monitor Slovak air space from the beginning of September.

“No decision has been made yet, no discussions are taking place as of now and we’re ready to discuss that later on,” said Nad. Wallace said Britain isn’t now considering giving Ukraine warplanes but would offer Slovakia fighter jets to help guard its airspace.

Since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24, Ukraine has urged Western allies to provide it with warplanes to challenge Russia’s air superiority.

11:35 a.m.: A local blacksmith in Sumy, Ukraine, who used to weld metal to make furniture, has transformed his business in the face of war. VOA’s Olena Adamenko has the story.

Ukraine Army Gets Helping Hand From Local Blacksmith
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11:10 a.m.: The World Food Programme (WFP) said it was optimistic about a U.N.-brokered deal to reopen Ukrainian ports for grain exports but warned the agreement alone will not solve the global food crisis even if it is implemented effectively, Reuters reported.

Russia, Ukraine, the United Nations and Turkey signed a deal on Friday aimed at allowing safe passage for ships going in and out of three Ukrainian Black Sea ports that have been blocked by Russia since Moscow's Feb. 24 invasion.

"We're optimistic the deal could lead to improvements in global food prices. Countries dependent on grain supplies from the Black Sea would likely be the first to feel a positive impact," a WFP spokesperson told Reuters.

She added, however, that the current global food crisis is not a price crisis alone, and that man-made conflict, climate shocks and the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to drive up global food insecurity even if Friday's deal holds.

10:40 a.m.:

10:20 a.m.: Russian natural gas giant Gazprom said on Monday that sanctions were still hampering maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, a strong signal that energy supplies to Europe remain at risk unless the West eases sanctions imposed over Ukraine, Reuters reported.

10:00 a.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron embarked on a three-nation tour of Africa Monday, The Associated Press reported.

The four-day visit to Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau is the French leader’s first diplomatic trip outside of Europe since winning re-election, showing how Africa is high on the list of priorities for the former colonial power.

On the agenda will be common challenges such as the fight against terrorism and combating climate change. But Macron will also discuss the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine, such as ballooning inflation and the cost of living and a likely food crisis due to halts on Ukraine’s key exports of wheat, barley and sunflower oil. Russia and Ukraine provide over 40% of Africa’s wheat supply.

The visit is seen as shoring up bilateral cooperation for France at a time when Russian officials have also been visiting African nations in moves to rally support. Of particular concern are links in the wider African region — including in the Central African Republic and Mali — to the Russian paramilitary organization the Wagner Group that is seen by the EU as a destabilizing force.

In his first stop in Cameroon — central Africa’s biggest economy and an agricultural hub — Macron will discuss food production and how the country will try to fill the Ukraine-linked supply vacuum in the region.

9:55 a.m.: Restrictions on diesel imports from Russia following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine have undermined the fuel’s status in Europe as a cheaper alternative to petrol, amplifying a cost of living crisis across the region, Reuters reported.

9:40 a.m.: The 2023 Eurovision Song Contest will be hosted by the United Kingdom, which has been chosen to take over next year's competition after Ukraine was deemed unable to host due to safety and security concerns arising from the war with Russia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Monday.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in a statement on July 25 that bidding for a host city in the United Kingdom, which placed second behind Ukraine in the 2022 competition, will begin this week.

"The 2023 Eurovision Song Contest will not be in Ukraine but in support of Ukraine," said Mykola Chernotytskyi, head of the Ukrainian state broadcaster that was to head up the 2023 event.

9:25 a.m.: The European Union has urged countries to curb gas use now to help fill storage ahead of winter and warned that a full cut-off of Russian gas is likely. But the EU plan has faced resistance from a swathe of governments, with some flatly against binding cuts and others unwilling to let Brussels control their energy use, Reuters reported.

9:10 a.m.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Congo Republic on Monday, the second leg of an African tour aimed at strengthening Moscow's ties with a continent that has refused to join Western condemnation and sanctions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

African countries, which have a tangled legacy of ties with both the West and the former Soviet Union, have largely avoided taking sides over the war in Ukraine. Many import Russian grain and, increasingly, energy too but they also buy Ukrainian grain and benefit from Western aid flows and trade ties.

Lavrov has already visited Egypt and will head from Congo to Uganda, then Ethiopia.

Africa is also being courted by the West this week, with French President Emmanuel Macron due to visit Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau and U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer on his way to Egypt and Ethiopia.

8:50 a.m.: Anti-war activists are removing symbols of Russia's war on Ukraine that have appeared on city streets throughout Serbia since the early days of the invasion. The facades are decorated with murals of Vladimir Putin, Russian paramilitary groups accused of war crimes and also portray Serbian volunteers fighting alongside Russia in Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

8:25 a.m.: Russia’s top diplomat said Moscow’s overarching goal is to topple the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, making Russian war aims more explicit as its forces keep pummeling Ukraine with artillery barrages and air strikes, The Associated Press reported.

The remark from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov comes amid Ukraine’s efforts to resume grain exports from its Black Sea ports, something that would help ease global food shortages, under a new deal tested by a Russian strike on Odesa over the weekend.

Speaking to envoys at an Arab League summit in Cairo late Sunday, Lavrov said Moscow is determined to help Ukrainians “liberate themselves from the burden of this absolutely unacceptable regime.”

Lavrov accused Kyiv and “its Western allies” of spouting propaganda intended to ensure that Ukraine “becomes the eternal enemy of Russia.”

“Russian and Ukrainian people would continue to live together, we will certainly help Ukrainian people to get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical,” he said.

Lavrov’s remarks contrasted sharply with the Kremlin’s line early in the war, when Russian officials repeatedly emphasized that they weren’t seeking to overthrow Zelenskyy’s government.

8:10 a.m.:

8:05 a.m.: Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov says he hopes the first shipments of grain under a deal mediated by the United Nations and Turkey will leave the country's Chornomorsk port this week, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Kubrakov said there was no limit stipulated in the deal as to the amount of grain that could be shipped from Ukraine.

"We expect the agreement to start working in the coming days...We are preparing for everything to start this week," said Kubrakov, who led Ukraine's delegation at talks to clinch the deal in Istanbul last week.

7:50 a.m.:

7:40 a.m.: Wheat prices rose sharply on Monday after Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian port of Odesa over the weekend, despite claims by the Kremlin that the strike targeted military installations and that it would not affect grain exports, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

However, wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade rose nearly 4 percent to $7.86 a bushel on Monday, regaining much of the ground lost after the signing of the agreement.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn, and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion of the country and its naval blockade of Ukrainian ports have halted shipments.

That has caused global food prices to spike, leaving millions of people in impoverished countries at risk of hunger and sparking fears of social unrest.

7:25 a.m.:

7:05 a.m.: Ukrainian forces have destroyed 50 Russian ammunition depots using U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket systems in the war with Russia, Reuters reported Monday citing Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

“This cuts their [Russian] logistical chains and takes away their ability to conduct active fighting and cover our armed forces with heavy shelling,” he said in televised comments.

Reuters could not independently verify Reznikov’s remarks about the use of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). Russia did not immediately comment.

6:30 a.m.:

6:10 a.m.: Russia said Monday its missile strikes on the Ukrainian port of Odesa should not affect an agreement to resume grain exports.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the strikes hit only military infrastructure and were “no way related to infrastructure that is used for the export of grain.”

Russia had initially denied any involvement in the Saturday strike, but said Sunday its forces were responsible.

Ukrainian officials said they were working to get grain exports going again following the deal Ukraine and Russia signed on Friday.

The United Nations and Turkey helped broker the agreement, which calls for Russia’s fleet in the Black Sea to allow safe passage through areas that Russia has blockaded since it launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

5:45 a.m.: The Kyiv Independent reports that residents of a village in Mykolaiv Oblast were evacuated to Odesa, a regional capital in southern Ukraine, on July 25, according to the Mykolaiv City Council.

5 a.m.: Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Monday that its forces had destroyed an ammunition depot for U.S.-made HIMARS rocket systems in Bogdanovtsy, in Ukraine’s Khmelnytskyi region. However, Reuters said it was unable to independently confirm the reports.

Russia has previously said it has destroyed several of the HIMARS systems supplied to Ukraine by the West, in claims denied by Kyiv.

3:45 a.m.:

3:05 a.m.: Tens of thousands of people who evacuated from Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region are returning to homes close to the front line because they can’t afford to live in safer places. They are risking their lives. One woman was killed by a missile outside her home just two days after returning. Ukrainian authorities are frustrated as some civilians remain in the path of war, but the region’s residents are frustrated, too. Some described feeling unwelcome as Russian speakers among Ukrainian speakers in some parts of the country. But more often, the problem is the lack of money to start anew.

The mayor’s office in one small Donetsk city estimates that 70% of evacuated residents have come back. The Associated Press has the story.

2 a.m.: Germany is back on the path of decent gas injection levels and the task is now to reach its target of 75% gas storage levels by September 1, the head of the country’s network regulator said on Twitter on Monday, Reuters reported.

Klaus Mueller, head of the Bundesnetzagentur regulator, added that gas importer Uniper had also ended withdrawals from storage.

1:20 a.m.: Inconclusive fighting has continued in both Donbas and Kherson regions in eastern Ukraine, British military intelligence said on Monday.

Russian commanders continue to face a dilemma — whether to resource Russia’s offensive in the east, or to bolster the defense in the west, Britain's defense ministry said on Twitter.

The ministry added in its regular bulletin that on July 18, the British intelligence identified a Russian military vehicle refit and refurbishment facility near Barvinok, in Russia's Belgorod Oblast, which is 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

“At least 300 damaged vehicles were present, including main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, and general support trucks,” the update added.

1 a.m.: Chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen operating in eastern Ukraine.

12:05 a.m.: A new postage stamp from Ukraine.

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

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