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Latest Developments in Ukraine: July 29

Barricades to prevent Russian troops from invading the city sit along a street as pedestrians walk by in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 28, 2022.
Barricades to prevent Russian troops from invading the city sit along a street as pedestrians walk by in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 28, 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.

8:45 p.m.: The Netherland pledges more military aid to Ukraine.

7:20 p.m.: The delivery of a Nord Stream 1 gas turbine to Germany from Canada after maintenance was not in line with the contract, Gazprom's senior manager said on Friday, stepping up criticism of manufacturer Siemens Energy.

The comments signaled a deepening of a row in which Russia has cited turbine problems as its reason for cutting gas supply via Nord Stream 1, its main gas link to Europe, to just 20% of capacity from Wednesday.

The European Union disputes Russia's and Gazprom's argument that turbine problems are to blame for the sharp drop in supply through the pipeline that links Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. The shortfall has raised the risk of shortages and gas rationing in Europe this winter.

6:40 p.m.: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Friday it is seeking access to the facility holding Ukrainian prisoners of war that was hit by an artillery strike and has offered to help evacuate the wounded.

"The ICRC has offered its support in the evacuation of the wounded and to donate medical supplies, protective equipment and forensic material. Our priority right now is making sure that the wounded receive life-saving treatment and that the bodies of those who lost their lives are dealt with in a dignified manner," it said in a statement.

"We have requested access to determine the health and condition of all the people present on-site at the time of the attack. We are also in contact with families, taking their requests and inquiries."

5:53 p.m.: Soldiers with Ukraine's 3rd Tank Brigade are fighting to hold on to territory around Slovyansk and Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, where Russian invaders have made little to no progress in recent weeks. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty spoke with tank crews who recounted their experiences in battle.

5 p.m.: Oil companies swam in record profits over the last few months at a time when Americans struggled to pay for gasoline, food and other basic necessities, The Associated Press reported.

The industry has long gone through boom-and-bust cycles. But due to the ongoing war Russia waged on Ukraine, which resulted in less oil and gas on the market from Russia, as well as other global supply constraints, high prices could linger for some time.

On Friday, Exxon Mobil booked an unprecedented $17.85 billion profit for the second quarter and Chevron made a record $11.62 billion. The sky-high profits come one day after the U.K.’s Shell shattered its own profit record.

4:07 p.m.: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Roman Pahulych met with artillerymen from Ukraine's 93rd Mechanized Brigade in the country's eastern Kharkiv region as they continued to try and push back Russian forces. He has this story.

3:15 p.m.: The head of Russia’s space agency said Friday that the country has not set a date for pulling out of the International Space Station program, noting that it would only do that after it puts its own space station in orbit, The Associated Press reported.

Yuri Borisov, who was appointed this month to lead the Roscosmos state space corporation, told President Vladimir Putin this week that a decision was made for Russia to leave the station after 2024 and to focus on building its own orbiting station.

NASA and its partners hope to continue operating the 24-year-old International Space Station until 2030, and the Russian announcement threw that plan into doubt.

Speaking Friday in televised remarks, Borisov said Russia will start the process of leaving the station after 2024 but the exact timing would “depend on the International Space Station’s condition.”

He said Russia won’t pull out of the International Space Station until it puts its own space outpost into operation.

2:30 p.m.:

2:25 p.m.: Long-time allies the United States and Japan launched a new high-level economic dialogue on Friday aimed at pushing back against China and countering the disruption caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The two countries agreed to establish a new joint research center for next-generation semiconductors during the so-called economic "two-plus-two" ministerial meeting in Washington, Japanese Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Hagiuda also discussed energy and food security, the officials said in a press briefing.

Blinken said recent world events, including COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, had shown the vulnerability of critical supply chains, while a growing number of countries were struggling with debt burdens due to unsustainable and non-transparent lending practices.

2:05 p.m.: A senior U.S. defense official and a senior U.S. military official told journalists Friday that Russia is "paying a high price for very little gain" in its war in Ukraine. The officials said that Russian officials are using "rhetoric" to try to "mask these losses." They also said that the U.S. has intelligence indicating that Russia is running at least 18 so-called "filtration camps" in occupied areas of Ukraine where civilians are vetted and sent to Russian-controlled territory, and some are allegedly executed. VOA's National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin shared more details on Twitter.

1:45 p.m.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Washington was not living up to promises regarding the exemption from sanctions for the supply of food from Russia, Reuters reported.

A Russian foreign ministry read-out of the call also cited Lavrov as telling Blinken that Russia would achieve all the goals of its "special military operation" in Ukraine and said western arms supplies would only drag out the conflict.

1:30 p.m.:

1:15 p.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday said he has held a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and pressed the Kremlin to accept the "substantial proposal" that Washington has put forward to secure the release of two Americans detained in Russia, Reuters reported.

"We had a frank and direct conversation," Blinken told a news conference at the State Department. "I pressed the Kremlin to accept the substantial proposal that we put forth on the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner," he said.

Blinken said he told his counterpart that Russia must fulfill commitments it made as part of a deal on the export of grain from Ukraine and that the world would not accept Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory.

1:05 p.m.:

12:50 p.m.: A Russian operative has been charged with using political groups in the United States to advance pro-Russia propaganda, including during the invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, The Associated Press reported Friday, quoting the Justice Department.

Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov is charged in federal court in Florida with conspiring to have U.S. citizens act as illegal agents of the Russian government. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

The Treasury Department also announced sanctions against him Friday, accusing him of giving money to organizations that he and Russian intelligence services thought would create a political disturbance in the U.S. and also looked into ways to support an unspecified 2022 gubernatorial candidate.

12:35 p.m.:

12:20 p.m.: Ukraine's foreign ministry condemned an attack on a prison in territory held by Russian-backed separatists on Friday, and appealed to the International Criminal Court over what it said were Russian war crimes, Reuters reported.

Russia said Ukraine carried out Friday's attack, in which it said about 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed, and has denied involvement in any war crimes in Ukraine.

"We call on the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to urgently draw attention to the atrocities of Russian servicemen in the context of the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by citizens of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine," the Ukrainian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Such alleged crimes, it said, coincided with "another war crime by Russia - shelling of penal institutions in occupied Olenivka, where it is believed that Ukrainians were held prisoners of war."

12:05 p.m.:

11:55 a.m.: Two Americans captured while fighting with the Ukrainian Army apparently have been sent to a prison where they are spending all their time together, the family of one of the men said, according to The Associated Press.

Alex Drueke, who was captured with fellow veteran and Alabama resident Andy Huynh in early June, told his mother about the transfer in a telephone call, according to a statement issued late Thursday by the Drueke family.

“He sounded strong and clear-minded. He said he and Andy have been moved to a traditional prison, that they are no longer in solitary confinement but that they are together now 24/7,” said Lois “Bunny” Drueke, his mother.

The men are believed to be the first Americans captured while fighting for Ukraine. A third man is in a cell with the pair but Drueke didn’t disclose his name and Drueke said she didn’t press for the information for fear of the call being disconnected.

11:45 a.m.:

11:15 a.m.: Ukrainian officials have called for an investigation after videos appeared on social media that apparently show Russian soldiers castrating, and then killing, a Ukrainian prisoner of war, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on Friday that he had requested the Prosecutor-General's Office to launch a probe into the gruesome videos, which appeared on several Russian- and Ukrainian-language channels of the Telegram social media network a day earlier.

Details of the video, such as where and when it was filmed, have yet to be independently confirmed by official sources. RFE/RL has also been unable to confirm the authenticity of the video and has decided not to publish it.

"I have applied to the Office of the Prosecutor-General of Ukraine to verify the fact and record of a war crime, of a violation of the Geneva Convention," Lubinets said. "Also, we are preparing a communique for the UN Committee Against Torture to organize an urgent visit to the Russian Federation and the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)," he added.

11:00 a.m.:

10:40 a.m.: North Macedonia plans to donate an unspecified number of Soviet-era tanks to Ukraine as it seeks to modernize its own military to meet NATO standards, its defense ministry said on Friday, according to Reuters.

In a statement, the ministry said Ukraine will receive tanks belonging to the western Balkan country's tank battalion which is in the process of being upgraded.

"Taking into account this situation and the requirements of the Ukrainian defense ministry, the government has decided that a certain quantity of these (tank) capacities will be donated to Ukraine, in line with its needs," the statement said.

10:25 a.m.:

10:10 a.m.: Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Cambodia for a U.S.-ASEAN minister's meeting next week during which he will address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, Myanmar and the war in Ukraine, the State Department said on Friday.

After the Aug. 3-5 meetings in Phnom Penh, Blinken will travel to Manila and meet with President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos and foreign secretary Enrique Manalo to discuss efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Philippine alliance, the department said in a statement.

South Africa will be the top U.S. diplomat's next stop, on Aug. 7-9, followed by visits to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. "The Secretary will focus on the role the government of Rwanda can play in reducing tensions and ongoing violence in eastern DRC," the statement said. In Rwanda, he will also raise the "wrongful detention" of U.S. permanent resident Paul Rusesabagina, the department said.

10:00 a.m.: The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to meet Friday at 10:00 a.m. to discuss Ukraine.

9:50 a.m.: An appeals court in Kyiv on Friday reduced to 15 years the life sentence of a Russian soldier convicted in the first war crimes trial since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, The Associated Press reported.

The trial has been closely watched as an early test of whether it’s possible to conduct fair trials during the ongoing conflict and of how well Ukraine’s beleaguered justice system will stand up to the enormous task of prosecuting thousands of complex war crimes cases.

Critics said the sentencing of Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old contract soldier who pleaded guilty to killing a civilian and was convicted in May, was unduly harsh, given that he confessed to the crime, said he was following orders and expressed remorse.

His defense lawyer, Viktor Ovsyannikov, had appealed to the court to reduce the sentence to 10 years. He said it was highly likely Shishimarin would be returned to Russia in a prisoner exchange.

9:45 a.m.:

9:30 a.m.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow would soon propose a time for a call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in which Blinken has said he wants to discuss an exchange of prisoners held in Russian and U.S. jails, Reuters reported.

Blinken said on Wednesday that Washington had made a "substantial offer" to obtain the release of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, both detained in Russia.

Blinken and Lavrov have not spoken since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Lavrov told a news conference that talks on prisoner exchanges had been taking place since a summit in Geneva last year where presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden had agreed to nominate officials to look into the issue. He said his ministry was not involved in that, but "nevertheless, I will listen to what he (Blinken) has to say."

9:15 a.m.: The U.K. Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons said on Twitter Friday that she and other G7 ambassadors were “in Odesa with Turkey to reiterate the importance of the UN-brokered deal allowing food to be shipped out of Ukraine.

9:05 a.m.: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ukraine is ready to start shipping millions of tons of grain sitting at its southern ports and is waiting for Turkey and the United Nations, which have agreed to oversee the shipments, to start the operation, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

"Our side is fully prepared. We sent all the signals to our partners -- the UN and Turkey -- and our military guarantees the security situation," Zelenskyy's office quoted the president as saying on Friday, noting he had personally visited one of the ports, Chornomorsk, to assess the situation.

"The infrastructure minister is in direct contact with the Turkish side and the UN. We are waiting for a signal from them that we can start...It is important for us that Ukraine remains the guarantor of global food security," he added.

Kyiv and Moscow signed agreements with Turkey and the UN on July 22 to free up three of Ukraine's ports -- Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Pivdenniy -- which had been blockaded since Russia launched the invasion of its neighbor in late February.

8:55 a.m.:

8:40 a.m.: Inflation in the European countries using the euro currency shot up to another record in July, pushed by higher energy prices fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine, but the economy still managed better-than-expected, if meager, growth in the second quarter, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Energy prices surged in July by 39.7%, only slightly lower than the previous month due to gas supply concerns. Prices for food, alcohol and tobacco rose by 9.8%, faster than the increase posted last month due to higher transport costs, shortages and uncertainty around Ukrainian supply.

The eurozone’s economy, meanwhile, grew from April through June, expanding by 0.7% compared with the previous quarter, despite stagnation in Germany, Europe’s traditional economic engine. France avoided fears of a recession by posting modest 0.5% growth, while Italy and Spain exceeded expectations with 1% and 1.1% expansions, respectively.

Economists pointed to the rebound in tourism following the COVID-19 pandemic, with short-staffed airports and airlines packed this summer, leading to travel chaos. “This is as likely to be as good as it will get for the eurozone for the foreseeable future,″ Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist for Capital Economics, wrote in an analyst note.

Europe’s risk is largely tied to its reliance on Russian energy, with Moscow throttling down flows of natural gas that power factories, generate electricity and heat homes in the winter. More reductions this week through a major pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream 1, have heightened fears that the Kremlin may cut off supplies completely.

8:25 a.m.:

8:10 a.m.: German growth stagnated in the second quarter of the year, official data showed on Friday, as analysts warned that a recession could be round the corner amid a looming energy crisis, Agence France-Presse reported.

Europe's largest economy grew zero percent due to "difficult" global economic conditions, the federal statistics agency Destatis said. The continuing impact of the "Covid-19 pandemic, interruptions in supply chains and the war in Ukraine, are clearly reflected in the short-term economic development," Destatis said.

Sharp falls in key economic indicators, such as consumer confidence, were already in "recession territory", said Carsten Brzeski, economist at ING bank. A downturn in the second half already looked looks "like a done-deal," he said.

The threat of a cut-off of Russian gas supplies amid tensions over Ukraine has also prompted concerns that Germany may need to ration energy through the winter, with a punishing impact on business. "The war in Ukraine puts an end to the German economic business model" based on cheap energy imports and massive exports of goods in a globalized world, Brzeski said.

7:55 a.m.:

7:40 a.m.: Russia's Sakhalin Energy Investment Co has asked its liquefied natural gas (LNG) customers to pay for supplies via a Moscow unit of a European bank, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

A second source said the energy company was in discussions to switch payment currencies away from U.S. dollars for supply contracts. Both sources said no changes have been made to the existing contracts.

The changes follow Russian President Vladimir Putin's June 30 decree to create a new firm to take over all the rights and obligations of Sakhalin Energy, heightening the threat of gas supply disruptions to Asian customers.

Russia has been hit by a slew of sanctions from the United States and its allies over its invasion of Ukraine in February, which it terms a "special military operation". Using other currencies and a bank within Moscow could help insulate Russia from sanctions aimed at freezing it out of financial markets.

7:35 a.m.:

7:00 a.m.: Dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war appear to have been killed in a missile strike on Friday, with Moscow and Kyiv accusing each other of carrying out the attack, Reuters reported.

Russia's defense ministry said 40 prisoners were killed and 75 wounded in the attack on the prison in the frontline town of Olenivka, in a part of Donetsk province held by separatists. It accused Kyiv of targeting it with U.S.-made HIMARS rockets, Russian news agencies reported.

Ukraine's armed forces denied carrying out strike and blamed it on Russian forces, saying Russian artillery had targeted the prison.

"In this way, the Russian occupiers pursued their criminal goals - to accuse Ukraine of committing 'war crimes', as well as to hide the torture of prisoners and executions," the general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said.

6:20 a.m.:

6:00 a.m.: At least five people were killed and seven wounded in a Russian missile strike on the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Friday, Reuters reported the regional governor as saying.

Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, wrote on the Telegram messaging app that a missile had struck near a public transport stop.

"At the moment, we know of seven wounded and five killed," he wrote.

Reuters could not verify the events in Mykolaiv independently. Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, did not immediately comment on the situation and has denied deliberately targeting civilians.

5:45 a.m.:

5:30 a.m.: Britain's defense minister Ben Wallace said on Friday that Russia was failing in "many areas" in its war in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin might seek to change strategy again, Reuters reported.

"The Russians are failing at the moment on the ground in many areas ... Putin's plan A, B, and C has failed and he may look to plan D," Wallace told Sky News television.

5:23 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest assessment of the Ukraine conflict that Russian forces conducted limited ground assaults northwest of Slovyansk and northeast and southwest of Bakhmut. Russian forces may also be setting conditions for renewed offensive operations toward Kharkiv City and intensifying offensive operations around Avdiivka, the update said.

In the same report, the ISW noted that the Kremlin is planning to “institutionalize” its administration of occupied Ukrainian territory. “Russian Senator Andrei Klishas said on July 28 that the primary objective of the autumn session of the Russian Duma will be ‘the integration of new territories into the legal space of the Russian Federation,’ “ ISW tweeted Friday morning.

4:22 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the British defense ministry said Wagner Group, a Russian private military company, has likely been allocated responsibility for specific parts of the front line. That's similar to how normal army units operate, the update said, and it's a change in how Russia normally uses Wagner Group. In the past, the update said, Wagner took on missions separate from large-scale regular Russian military activity. The change is probably because Russia has a shortage of combat infantry, the update said.

3:21 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced plans to boost Ukrainian electricity supplies to European consumers to help it avert an energy crisis sparked by a gas war with Russia.

"Our export not only allows us to generate foreign currency revenues, but also help our partners withstand the energy pressure from Russia," Zelenskyy said in his daily address to the nation.

Russia's Gazprom this week cut gas deliveries to Europe through the Nord Stream pipeline to about 20% of capacity.

2:05 a.m.:

1:10 a.m.: Britain's military intelligence says Ukraine's counter-offensive in the occupied southern Kherson region near the Crimea peninsula is "gathering momentum," Agence France-Presse reported.

Russian forces "should leave Kherson while it is still possible. There may not be a third warning," Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhaylo Podolyak says on Twitter.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian forces used new long-range weapons to damage a key bridge into the city of Kherson, one of the first to fall to Russian forces in the early days of the war.

Britain's defense ministry says that Kherson city is now "virtually cut off from the other occupied territories."

12:02 a.m.: UEFA said Thursday it is investigating Turkish club Fenerbahçe after its fans chanted the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Champions League qualifying game against Ukraine’s Dynamo Kyiv, The Associated Press reported.

The chants were heard at Fenerbahçe’s stadium in Istanbul shortly after Vitaliy Buyalskiy scored the opening goal for Dynamo in a game the Ukrainian team went on to win 2-1 after extra time Wednesday.

“A UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector will conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding alleged misbehavior of Fenerbahçe supporters,” European soccer’s governing body said in a statement. “Information on this matter will be made available in due course.”

UEFA didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether the chants could count as banned discriminatory language, or could fall under a rule excluding “provocative messages” of a political nature.

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

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