Ukrianian troops and artillery on the frontline in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, July 2022 (Getty)
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1913 GMT:
The US Government has sanctioned two individuals and four entities carrying out the Kremlin’s political warfare and election interference operations, including in the US and Ukraine.
The Treasury said in a statement:
The individuals and entities designated today played various roles in Russia’s attempts to manipulate and destabilise the United States and its allies and partners, including Ukraine.
The sanctioned individuals are Russian citizens Aleksandr Ionov and Natalya Burlinova. The entities are the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, Ionov Transkontinental, STOP-Imperialism, and the Center for Support and Development of Public Initiative Creative Diplomacy.
Ionov was also indicted for working with the Russian intelligence service FSB to “support, usually in the form of monetary donations, to organizations that he and Russia’s intelligence services believed would create socio-political disturbances in the United States” from March 2014 to 2022.
The indictment, issued by a Federal grand jury in Tampa, Florida, cites 3 US political groups as “unindicted co-conspirators” supported by Ionov.
The Treasury does not name the three organizations. However, FBI agents today raided the site of the “Black nationalist” Uhuru Movement in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Movement fits the Treasury description of “U.S. Political Group 1 based in St. Petersburg, Florida”.
The Treasury says that after paying for a trip to Russia by the leader of “UIC-1” in May 2015, “for at least the next seven years, Ionov exercised direction and control over senior members of U.S. Political Group 1”.
The current leader of the St. Petersburg Uhuru Movement, Eritha “Akile” Cainion, ran for city mayor in 2017. In a press conference today, she defended the Kremlin, saying the US and other “world Colonial powers have been collaborating against Russia for well into the early 1900s….What this is is a propaganda campaign against Russia. We can have relationships with whoever we want.”
She did not address any of the specific points in the indictment.
“US Political Group 3” is almost certainly “YesCalifornia”, a California secessionist movement founded by Louis Marinelli, who spends most of his time in Russia.
The indictment describes “US Political Group 3” as “an organization based in California whose primary goal was to promote California’s secession from the United States”.
UPDATE 1905 GMT:
Bolstering the pretext for Vladimir Putin’s reduction of gas supplies to Europe, the deputy chief executive of the Russian State’s Gazprom said the delivery of a refitted Nord Stream 1 gas turbine from Canada to Germany is not satisfactory.
Vitaly Markelov claimed that Siemens Energy fixed only a quarter of the faults found.
Gazprom has cut supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20% capacity.
UPDATE 1322 GMT:
Russian shelling has killed one person and injured five in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said two private houses were completely destroyed and 21 were damaged.
UPDATE 1300 GMT:
The Kyiv Court of Appeals has reduced the sentence of Vadim Shishimarin, the first Russian soldier convicted of murder during Moscow’s invasion, from life to 15 years.
Shishimarin, 21, was found guilty of war crimes in May for killing an unarmed civilian in the village of Chupakhivka near Kyiv.
The sergeant from Siberia admitted to killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov, who was riding a bike in the village of Chupakhivka in northeast Ukraine. He said he shot the man under pressure from another soldier as his unit tried to retreat and escape in a stolen car on February 28.
UPDATE 1253 GMT:
In its latest strike on Russian positions in the occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine (see Original Entry), the Ukrainian military says it destroyed an ammunition depot and possibly an oil depot.
Video and images on Telegram channels show a major explosion in the area of Brylivka, about 40km (25 miles) southeast of Kherson city.
Serhii Khlan, an advisor to the head of Ukraine’s Kherson Civil Military Administration, wrote:
One of the important logistical hubs of the occupiers, the railway station in Brylivka, was destroyed in Kherson region. The Russians just brought equipment and ammunition there; everything has burned down.
People are reporting loud explosions and detonation. It is likely the oil depot was hit.
UPDATE 1240 GMT:
Ukraine Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov told reporters that 18 blockaded vessels in the Black Sea port of Odesa are loaded with grain, with another in process.
Kubrakov expressed hope that the first vessels will leave Odesa by the end of this week.
Visiting the Black Sea port of Chornomorsk, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine is awaiting a signal from the UN and Turkey to start the shipments.
Our side is fully prepared. We sent all the signals to our partners, the UN and Turkey, and our military guarantees the security situation.
Lloyd’s of London insurer Ascot and broker Marsh said they have authorized marine cargo and war insurance for grain and food products moving from the Black Sea ports.
Ukraine and Russia signed parallel agreements with the UN and Turkey last Friday to lift the Russian blockade. However, Russian forces fired missiles on Odesa less than 12 hours later and subsequently carried out another attack. They have also been regularly striking the port city of Mykolaiv, killing at least five people and wounding seven in the latest assault (see 0822 GMT).
UPDATE 1229 GMT:
The Ukrainian military has accused its Russian counterpart of shelling a detention center in a Russian proxy area of eastern Ukraine, killing at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war.
The armed forces of the Russian Federation carried out targeted artillery shelling of a correctional institution in the settlement of Olenivka, Donetsk oblast, where Ukrainian prisoners were also held.
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.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted:
Russia has committed another petrifying war crime by shelling a correctional facility in the occupied Olenivka where it held Ukrainian POWs. I call on all partners to strongly condemn this brutal violation of international humanitarian law and recognize Russia a terrorist state.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) July 29, 2022
Russian proxy officials claimed earlier on Friday that the Ukrainian military had attacked its own troops in the prison.
UPDATE 0839 GMT:
An online video appears to show Russian troops castrating a Ukrainian prisoner of war.
The footage was initially posted on a pro-Russian Telegram page. A Russian soldier or mercenary, wearing a black fringed hat, mutilates the POW as he is pinned down on the ground, gagged and with his hands tied behind his back.
The Russian soldier in the black fringed hat also appears in a June broadcast by Russia’s State outlet RT. He is carrying a Dragunov sniper rifle as he walks around the Azot chemical plant in the city of Severodonetsk, in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, after it was occupied by Vladimir Putin’s forces. The Russian news agency RIA Novosti identified the man as a member of the Chechen “Akhmat” battalion.
A horrifying video of this Russian soldier castrating a Ukrainian PoW is genuine, Bellingcat’s @AricToler has said. The same soldier appeared on a Russian TV clip (with same hat and bracelet) and there was no evidence the video had been manipulated, he told me. #Ukraine #Russia pic.twitter.com/vWkIa6Vnru
— Maxim Tucker (@MaxRTucker) July 28, 2022
UPDATE 0822 GMT:
The latest Russian attack on Mykolaiv city in southern Ukraine has killed at least five people have been killed and seven wounded.
Governor Vitaliy Kim wrote:
Yesterday, during non-curfew hours, a residential area of the city was targeted, as a result of which many houses were destroyed. There is not even a hint of a military facility.
Today another area was shelled, they hit a public transport stop. 12 people are lying on the ground. Emergency services went to the scene.
Be very careful. Because both yesterday and today they are shelling the city during the day when all the people are doing their business.
UPDATE 0651 GMT:
A sanctioned Syrian ship with “stolen” Ukrainian grain has docked in the Lebanese port of Tripoli, says the Ukraine Embassy in Beirut.
The Laodicea docked on Wednesday. The Embassay told Reuters:
The ship has traveled from a Crimean port that is closed to international shipping, carrying 5,000 tons of barley and 5,000 tons of flour that we suspect was taken from Ukrainian stores.
Ukraine Ambassador Ihor Ostash met Lebanon President Michel Aoun on Thursday and told him that purchase of stolen Ukrainian goods would “harm bilateral ties”.
Lebanon’s Economy Minister Amin Salam said the customs authority and the Agriculture Ministry are following up on the report.
Salam had said earlier on Thursday that severe bread shortages in Lebanon would be eased this week by new wheat imports, without citing the source of the shipments.
A customs official and shipping source said the Tripoli port has not offloaded the ship, suspecting it is carrying stolen goods.
The Laodicea and two sister ships, owned by the Syrian Port Authority, have been sanctioned by the US since 2015.
The Russian Embassy in Beirut said it “has no information regarding the Syrian vessel or a cargo brought to Lebanon by a private company”.
UPDATE 0555 GMT:
A Reuters investigation concludes that “war planners around President Vladimir Putin believed that, aided by [Ukrainian] agents, Russia would require only a small military force and a few days to force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s administration to quit, flee or capitulate”.
Citing “five people with knowledge of the Kremlin’s preparations”, the investigation summarizes how the Russians were able to occupy key sites such as Chernobyl in northern Ukraine with the help of the agents. They allegedly included Chernobyl’s head of security, Valentin Viter, who is in detention and being investigated for desertion of his post, and former top intelligence official Andriy Naumov.
But Vladimir Putin failed in his larger objective of installing a pro-Russian government in Kyiv, reportedly including politician Viktor Medvedchuk and hotelier Oleg Tsaryov. The plan was blocked when Russia was unable, in the first 72 hours of its February 24 invasion, to secure the Hostomel airport near Kyiv for special forces to enter the capital and foment an uprising.
Medvedchuk was captured by Ukrainian special forces in April and is awaiting trial for treason.
In mid-July, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy cited 651 cases of treason and collaboration that have been opened against prosecutors and security personnel. Claiming more than 60 officials from the intelligence and security service SBU and Prosecutor General’s Office were supporting the Russians in occupied areas, he dismissed SBU head Ivan Bakanov and Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.
Reuters’ sources said the Kremlin’s Ukrainian agents overstated their influence. “[They] are clowns – they know a little bit, but they always say what the leadership wants to hear because otherwise they won’t get paid,” said a person close to the Russian proxy leadership in eastern Ukraine.
UPDATE 0536 GMT:
A Ukrainian woman defies Russian occupiers in the port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) July 29, 2022
Russian forces overran Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, in May after 12 weeks of bombardment, siege, and ground assaults. More than 22,000 people were killed, according to exiled Mayor Vadym Boychenko. Mass killings including the slaying of up to 600 sheltering civilians in Russia’s shelling of the Drama Theater on March 16.
UPDATE 0533 GMT:
Russian forces have again shelled Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, injuring a man in his late 40s.
A two-story building and a higher educational institution were among sites hit in the attack just after 4 a.m. Emergency services are going through the rubble to ensure no one is buried.
UPDATE 0523 GMT:
A Moscow court has imposed a fine of 50,000 roubles ($820) on former State TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova over her criticism of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ovsyannikova was convicted of discrediting the Russian military in social media posts.
The journalist said the proceedings were “absurd”.
Ovsyannikova rose to international prominence in March when she interrupted a broadcast on Rossiya 1 with a protest placard, “Don’t believe the propaganda. They’re lying to you here. Russians against the war.” She shouted, “Stop the war. No to war.”
She was fined 30,000 roubles for the intervention.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Building up their counteroffensive in the south of the country, Ukraine’s forces have attacked near Russian-occupied Kherson city.
Two days after damaging a key bridge leading into the city, the Ukrainians captured several villages in the Black Sea region, seized by Russia in the opening days of the February 24 invasion. They bombed seven Russian positions near Kherson city, claiming the destruction of four ammunition depots, three tanks, other armored vehicles, three howitzers, and a radar system.
Facing local resistance — including partisan assassinations and attacks — as well as the imminent counter-offensive, Russia has been moving troops, armor, and weapons into the region. However, that redeployment draws from Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine, which is trying to advance in the Donetsk oblast after seizing neighboring Luhansk.
The Russian positions are threatened by Ukraine’s recurrent attacks, using recently-provided US-made medium-range rocket systems, on the four bridges across the Dnieper River and its tributaries. The strike could isolate Russian forces in the east of the region with those in the west, including in Kherson city.
UK military intelligence assessed on Thursday:
Russia’s 49th Army is stationed on the west bank of the Dnipro River and now looks highly vulnerable.
Similarly, Kherson city, the most politically significant population centre occupied by Russia, is now virtually cut off from the other occupied territories. Its loss would severely undermine Russia’s attempts to paint the occupation as a success.
“No One Else’s Rule Over Ukrainian People”
Marking the Day of Ukrainian Statehood, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Parliament:
We ensured that the values of the free world did not remain mere rhetoric and actually started working to protect civilization. We made the European Union the most united in all the years of its existence, and it is getting stronger thanks to our strength. We ensured that all the tyrants of this world saw the potential of democracy. We, the citizens of a state, which has over a thousand years of history, did it.
The President added a message for Vladimir Putin and his military, who have suffered 75,000 killed or wounded troops — one-half of the initial invasion force — according to US intelligence:
Where have you come, the Russian army blinded by your pathetic ambitions? You’ve come up against us — those who were prepared for this crucial war for independence by dozens and dozens of generations of the Ukrainian people who lived and live here, who fought and fight here, who built and build here and who dreamed and dream above everything else that there is no one else’s rule over them and Ukraine.
He concluded, “We will become not a new legend of heroic resistance, but a state of winners.”