German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stands in front of a turbine for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline at the Siemens Energy plant in Muelheim an der Ruhr, Germany, August 3, 2022 (Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty)
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1605 GMT:
A Moscow court has sentenced US basketball star Brittney Griner to 9 years in prison.
Griner was seized at a Moscow airport in mid-February, a week before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and charged with possession of hashish oil in vaping cigarettes.
Griner’s defense team said they will appeal, noting that the court had ignored Griner’s testimony about her guilty plea and all other evidence they presented.
US President Joe Biden said in a statement:
[This] is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.
It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.
UPDATE 1143 GMT:
Russian shelling of Toretsk in eastern Ukraine has killed eight people and wounded four, including three children.
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote that the victims were gathered near a public transport stop.
Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak said the attack was “another terrorist act” by Russia.
UPDATE 1003 GMT:
Amnesty International has criticized the Ukrainian military for establishing bases and weapons systems in residential areas, including in schools and hospitals.
Amnesty emphasized that many Russian assaults were on civilian sites where there was no military presence, “In certain locations…Russia had committed war crimes.”
Many of the Russian strikes that Amnesty has documented in recent months were carried out with inherently indiscriminate weapons, including internationally-banned cluster munitions or other explosive weapons with wide-area effects. The Ukrainian military’s practice of locating military objectives within populated areas does not in any way justify indiscriminate Russian attacks.
However, the head of the organization, Agnes Callamard, said, “Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.”
Amnesty based its findings on several weeks of research of Russian strikes in the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine, Mykolaiv in the south, and the Donbas in the east.
UPDATE 0910 GMT:
Russia’s ally Belarus has sentenced journalist Iryna Slaunikava to five years in prison.
Slaunikava worked for Poland’s Belsat TV. She was charged with creating an extremist group and organizing civil unrest.
Polish officials said the verdict unacceptable and they will respond.
UPDATE 0756 GMT:
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, is again appealing for access to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.
Grossi said contact with the nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, is “fragile” and not functioning every day.
We can’t afford faulty communication with the plant in areas relevant to safety. We know of allegations that live ammunition is stored in the plant, that there are attacks on the power plant.
Frankly, if I don’t have access, I can’t determine that. There are contradictions between the accounts of the Russian and Ukrainian sides. I receive information, I also mention it in my situation reports, but I have no way of determining whether it corresponds to the facts.
Russian forces seized Zaporizhzhia, with six of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors, in the opening days of their invasion.
This week Ukraine’s military warned that the Russian forces are shelling from the plant, notably on the city of Nikopol across the Dnipro River, and using the complex as a shield from any Ukrainian response.
Nikopol was shelled 60 times by Russian forces overnight, said the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko. A residential building was destroyed and dozens of civilian and commercial sites damaged. A woman was injured and is recovering at home.
Grossi said there are discussions of an accord on security zones around nuclear plants, but he saw no prospect of a deal at this stage.
UPDATE 0647 GMT:
US officials assess that Russia is trying to fabricate “evidence” to maintain that the Ukrainian military killed about 53 of its own troops.
The Ukrainian POWs were slain last Friday in an explosion in a detention center in the Russian proxy area of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry initially tried to claim an attack by Kyiv. That line fell apart amid intercepted phone conversations between Russian troops, the lack of reported shelling in Olenivka, and the absence of casualties among Russian personnel at the prison.
A “US official familiar with the intelligence” said Russian officials may plant ammunition from US-made HIMARS medium-range rocket systems to claim that they were used in the attack.
The Red Cross has been unable to get access to the site or wounded POWs. However, the UN said on Wednesday that it is conducting a fact-finding mission.
The Russian side was not planning to exchange prisoners of war and, in order to conceal the improper conditions and forms of questioning faced by Ukrainian POWs (which could serve as an evidence base in The Hague court), deliberately eliminated the prisoners.
According to the available data, the premises where Ukrainian POWs were kept had been mined by the Wagner Group’s militants, using a flammable substance, which resulted in the rapid spread of the fire.
UPDATE 0637 GMT:
In a 95-1 vote, the US Senate has ratified the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO.
President Joe Biden said in a statement, “This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”
Of NATO’s 30 members, 30 have affirmed the accession. The challenge is likely to come from Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says he will not support ratification until Sweden and Finland confirm measures cracking down on Kurdish groups.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: After weeks of excuses and diversions, Russia has made its threat to Europe explicit: remove international sanctions on Moscow or we will sharply cut gas supplies permanently.
Russian State energy company Gazprom said on Thursday that its acceptance of a turbine for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, repaired by the German manufacturer Siemens, is “impossible” because of sanctions.
Sanctions regimes in Canada, in the European Union and in Britain, as well as the inconsistencies in the current situation concerning the contractual obligations of Siemens make the delivery impossible.
A complete cut-off of gas supply was anticipated last month when the pipeline was shut for 10 days for maintenance. Gazprom restored delivery on July 21, but only at 20% capacity.
Before and after the maintenance, the company and Russian officials demanded the delivery of the repaired turbine, but then gave a variety of reasons why they would or could not take it. Earlier this week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was blaming “a lack of documentation”.
During a visit to a Siemens plant on Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz noted that the turbine is fully operational and can be shipped to Russia at any time: “It’s quite clear and simple: the turbine is there and can be delivered, but someone needs to say ‘I want to have it’.”