#UkraineWar Update (Day 152) – Multiple #News Sources

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Russia-Ukraine war: Himars weapons destroy 50 Russian ammunition depots in one month

July 25th 2022

US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars) have destroyed at least 50 Russian ammunition depots in less than a month on the battlefield, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said. Himars are one of the most sophisticated artillery systems in the world and have been credited for stalling Moscow’s advance through the Donbas. Today on national television Reznikov said: “This cuts their (Russian) logistical chains and takes away their ability to conduct active fighting and cover our armed forces with heavy shelling.” Artillery crews had also used the state-of-the-art systems to conduct “precise” strikes on several bridges believed to be three river crossings in the Russian-occupied Kherson region over the past week.

Guatemalan president visits Ukraine

Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei has visited Ukraine at the invitation of his counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, who said it was the first visit of a Latin American president to his country in 12 years. The invitation to visit Ukraine came in June during a telephone conversation between the two presidents. Following Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine, Giammattei closed Guatemala’s embassy in Moscow. The Central American country exports nickel to Ukraine while importing iron and steel, but also continues to export coffee and bananas to Russia, while importing fertilizer, medical supplies and paper.

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SOURCE = The Telegraph

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Zelenskyy Relieves NSDC First Deputy Secretary Demchenko

July 25th 2022

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has dismissed Ruslan Demchenko as First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC). This is stated in decree No. 528 of July 25, Ukrainian News Agency reports. The reason for the dismissal is not indicated in the decree. As Ukrainian News Agency earlier reported, Zelenskyy in June 2020 dismissed Demchenko from the post of his adviser and appointed him as First Deputy Secretary of the NSDC. Demchenko had been Zelenskyy’s adviser since July 2019. Since September 2014, he had been an adviser to the previous President Petro Poroshenko. From February 2010 to March 2014 Demchenko was Deputy and First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, from February 23 to 27, 2014 he acted as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. The Secretary of the NSDC is Oleksii Danilov.

SOURCE = Ukrainian News

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Russia expands its Ukraine goals, now seeks to oust Zelenskyy’s ‘unacceptable regime’: Live updates

July 25th 2022

Russia has expanded its military goals in Ukraine from seizing control of the eastern Donbas region of the embattled country to regime change in Kyiv, the Kremlin’s top diplomat says. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking to envoys at an Arab League summit in Cairo late Sunday, said Moscow is targeting the “absolutely unacceptable regime” of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  “We feel sorry for the Ukrainian people, who deserve far better,” Lavrov said. “We feel sorry for Ukrainian history, which is collapsing before our eyes.” Zelenskyy was unbowed, pleading to win “this war for independence” and to keep Ukraine on a course toward full membership in the EU and becoming one of the most modern states in the world. Russian troops swept into Ukraine on Feb. 24 and rolled toward Kyiv before bogging down on the outskirts of the capital. The Kremlin then hit reset, focusing its efforts on the industrial Donbas.

More developments:

►Ukraine will hand over “Eurovision” hosting duties to Britain next year, despite winning this year’s blockbuster TV event, because of dangers caused by the war, the European Broadcasting Union said.

►Wheat prices rose sharply Monday after Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian shipping port of Odesa over the weekend.

►The Ukraine military denied the Kremlin’s claim that it has destroyed four American High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers delivered to Ukraine this month.

►Russia’s Federal Security Service, the KGB’s successor agency, said Monday that it has thwarted an attempt by the Ukrainian military intelligence to entice Russian military pilots to surrender their combat jets to Ukraine.

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SOURCE = USA Today

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Putin rocked as drone blows up T-72 tank, killing 15 Russian soldiers ‘watching movies’

July 25th 2022

Frontline video footage released by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) shows the moment a bomb is dropped on a stationary T-72. Though it is unclear which version of the tank is hit, Russia has relied on widespread deployment of the T-72B3 – a more mobile version of the Soviet-era T-72. Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces, meanwhile, are increasingly deploying drones to carry out precision strikes behind enemy lines. These range from being lightweight, handheld devices to the size of a small plane, as is the case with the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2. In the black and white video clip released on Monday, the tank is stalked in the crosshairs of the drone. A bomb is then dropped, hitting the heavy armoury with pinpoint accuracy – causing it to explode.

According to the SBU, a telephone call was intercepted from a nearby Russian soldier who witnessed the tank’s destruction. The translated call said: “Mum, there was a real circus today! “At two o’clock in the morning, 15 ‘cargo 200s’ [Russian military code for casualties]. “They were watching movies on the tank. “In short, they dropped a f****** drone into the tower! “A drone, mum, a drone, f***! It just flew up, dropped the ammunition and blew it up.” The incident occurred several days ago, the SBU said, without elaborating on the exact date and location. Details were released by military counterintelligence officers.

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SOURCE = The Express

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The spy who was ‘too hot’ to love me: Russian intelligence operation is foiled after Ukrainians realize ‘pilot defector’s girlfriend’ is too good looking for him and ‘is working for FSB’

July 25th 2022

An alleged ‘too hot’ FSB ‘girlfriend-for-hire’ is at the centre of a spy operation in which both Russian and Ukrainian intelligence agents were evidently seeking to outsmart each other. Russia today went public claiming it had foiled an audacious plot to entice Vladimir Putin‘s air force pilots to defect and fly their warplanes to Ukraine. The FSB alleged the scheme was hatched by British and Ukrainian intelligence aimed at embarrassing the Kremlin. Yet a new claim from a respected media investigator who says he was monitoring the operation for a documentary is that the Russians suffered a significant failure. The sudden appearance of Maria – an alleged ‘too hot’ plant by the FSB – proved to the Ukrainians that a clumsy Lubyanka sting operation was underway, says the journalist Christo Grozev, a leading sleuth of the British Bellingcat internet investigation bureau.

Kyiv military intelligence officers ‘tried to recruit Russian military pilots for a monetary reward and guarantees of obtaining citizenship of one of the EU countries,’ said the FSB, once headed by Putin. Reports said Russian pilots could have made $2 million (USD) for defecting with their military aircraft. Putin’s security apparatchiks claimed to have intercepted text and voice communications between ‘an employee of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’ and ‘a Russian pilot’. The plan allowed for $4,000 advance payments in a bid to persuade a Russian pilot to fly his Su-24, Su-34 or Tu-22MZ to Ukraine, giving a huge propaganda coup to Kyiv.

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SOURCE = The Daily Mail

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2 Americans killed while fighting Russian forces in Ukraine identified

July 25th 2022

The two Americans who were recently killed fighting Russian troops in Ukraine have been identified as Luke Lucyszyn and Bryan Young, with their families confirming their deaths to CBS News. Lucyszyn’s parents and Young’s wife confirmed their names on Sunday, after the State Department formally notified both families of their deaths. A department spokesperson originally said two Americans had been killed but declined to provide additional information “out of respect” for the families. Lucyszyn and Young were among four foreigners who died while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces in the country’s disputed Donetsk region on July 18, Ukrainian commander Ruslan Miroshnichenko told Politico. The two others were identified as Swedish and Canadian citizens, he said, a detail he confirmed to CBS News.

Their commanding officer told CBS News that Lucyszyn was injured by Russian shelling. When Young and others went to help him, they were killed by additional tank fire, he said. Kathryn and George Lucyszyn spoke about the death of their 31-year-old son, who was a father of two, in an interview with NBC News. The North Carolina residents said Luke decided to start volunteering as a medic in Ukraine in early April, and had asked them to send supplies, like a tactical vest, after noting that his group lacked proper equipment. “He didn’t go there to be a hero. He went there because he wanted to help people,” said Kathryn, whose husband is Ukrainian.

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SOURCE = KTVQ News

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Slovakia may consider giving Ukraine Russian-built warplanes

July 25th 2022

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovakia’s defense minister says his country may consider donating its Soviet-era warplanes to Ukraine. Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said Monday the Slovak air force is planning to ground its fleet of 11 MiG-29 fighter jets “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 start of September. Nad says once that happens, “we can discuss the future of the Mig-29s.” He says “there’s a positive attitude of helping Ukrainians with MiG-29s.”

SOURCE = KEYT-TV

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EU struggles with how to cut off reliance on Russian gas

July 25th 2022

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union nations struggled Monday to find common ground on how to wean the bloc off its reliance on Russian natural gas, seeking to appease wary consumers at home while upholding unity as Moscow turns down the tap. On the eve of an emergency meeting to discuss plans to cut gas use by 15% over the coming months, envoys were still brokering a possible compromise that should keep all 27 nations in line by Tuesday night. “This a still a work in progress,” said a senior diplomat who asked not to be identified because the talks were still ongoing. The bloc is bracing for a possible full Russian cutoff of natural gas supplies that could add a big chill to the upcoming winter, leaving nations like economic juggernaut Germany especially exposed. Some other countries, with little dependence on Russian gas, do not want to force such a major cut on their people. Russia has cut off or reduced gas to a dozen EU countries and on Monday said it will slash flows this week through a major pipeline to Germany by another half, to 20% of capacity. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline reductions further endanger goals to fill storage for winter as envoys haggled over EU plans.

The diplomat said ambassadors had been working nonstop on the divisive issue and had sought to clip the powers of the executive European Commission, which under its plan, could sidestep member countries to impose such reductions. “First and utmost” was the need to put members in charge of deciding when such cuts should become mandatory, the diplomat said, in case Russian President Vladimir Putin weaponizes gas exports to pressure the bloc into reducing its sanctions over the war in Ukraine or push other political aims. Yielding some of their powers over energy policy to Brussels has long been anathema in some national capitals. Spain and Portugal have already said making mandatory reductions are a nonstarter. They noted that they use very little Russian gas compared with countries such as Germany and Italy and that there are scant energy connections linking them to the rest of Europe. A one-size-fits-all solution seemed off the table Monday as envoys were looking at derogations for island nations that are not connected to other networks, for Baltic nations that have close links with the Russian electricity grid, or nations whose industries depend heavily on them.

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SOURCE = Associated Press

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Bringing Russia to Account: “We must use all possible tools”

July 25th 2022

There is no single court or tribunal that would resolve absolutely all issues related to bringing all war criminals to justice and compensating for the damage caused to Ukraine by the Russian invasion, so all possible tools must be used. Ukraine’s First Deputy Interior Minister Yevhenii Yenin said this in an interview with Ukraine’s Telegraf news site, Ukrinform reports. “We actively cooperate with the ICC, and there are plans to create a separate tribunal for the Russian Federation. There is no single court or tribunal that would resolve absolutely all issues related to the prosecution of all war criminals and compensation for damage to the population of Ukraine and the state. Therefore, it is necessary to use all possible tools,” he said. According to him, the issue concerns both the International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights. “Despite the fact that the Russian Federation left the Council of Europe, the European Court [of Human Rights] still has the ability to accept and consider applications regarding violations of the human rights convention committed by the Russian Federation,” he said.

Commenting on the possibility of establishing a tribunal for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian military leadership, Yenin said Ukraine hopes that a respective international tribunal will be set up, adding that this is not an easy task. He also said that when Ukraine was looking for ways to hold Russia accountable for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, it was already clear then that the creation of a large-scale UN-backed tribunal was impossible, “because Russia has the right of veto in the UN Security Council.” “Any ad hoc tribunal will have limited ability to apprehend relevant offenders and bring them to justice. For now, we can see that all the red lines have been crossed. Therefore, now the answer lies with the international community, how to ensure the inevitability of punishment for all war criminals, including the Russian president,” Yenin said.

SOURCE = Kyiv Post

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Ukraine war: Grain exports could restart ‘within days’

July 25th 2022

Ukraine has said the first vessels with grain could leave its Black Sea ports “within days” under a landmark UN-brokered deal signed on Friday. “If the sides guarantee security, the agreement will work. If they do not, it will not work,” Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said. Russia’s fired missiles on Ukraine’s main port of Odesa on Saturday, raising fears that the deal could be derailed. Moscow’s invasion in February has all but ended Ukraine’s grain exports. As many as 20 million tonnes of grain are trapped in ports, unable to leave because of Russian naval forces controlling most of the Black Sea. Heavy fighting has also damaged harvests and left ports blocked and mined.

This has led to food shortages and price rises across Africa, which usually relies on Ukraine – as well as Russia – for wheat. In another development, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would help Ukrainians “to get rid of the regime that is absolutely anti-people” – despite earlier pledges that Moscow was not seeking to topple Ukraine’s government. And Russia’s Gazprom giant said it would cut its gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to 20% of capacity from Wednesday, citing a turbine repair as a reason. Speaking in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Mr Kubrakov said commercial vessels would be organised into convoys accompanied by Ukrainian ships “within days”.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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Kazakhstan Boosts Defense Spending Amid Ukraine Invasion – WSJ

July 25th 2022

Kazakhstan is significantly increasing its defense spending and seeking closer ties with China and NATO countries amid fears of Moscow’s geopolitical ambitions spreading beyond Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a Kazakh official. The Central Asian country will commit an extra 441 billion tenge ($918 million) to its defense budget, a nearly 1.5-fold increase over last year’s budget of $1.7 billion, WSJ reported. Part of the additional funds will be spent on strengthening its military reserves. While Russia deployed peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan in early 2022 amid a series of deadly anti-government protests across the country, Moscow’s war against Ukraine has complicated ties between Russia and its southerly neighbor and ally. Kazakhstan has taken a neutral stance in the current war, declining to offer full support to either Russia or Ukraine. And speaking alongside Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at June’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said his country would not recognize the sovereignty of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples’ Republics. 

The comments were widely seen as a snub to Putin, who has named the “liberation” of the pro-Moscow separatist republics as a reason for sending troops into Ukraine. Following Tokayev’s comments, Russia halted Kazakh oil exports headed toward Europe via the Russian port of Novorossiysk, citing alleged environmental violations. The measure wich quickly canceled after Kazakh authorities threatened to block sanctions-dodging parallel imports to Russia via their customs checkpoints. The weakening of ties with Russia has seen Kazakhstan draw closer to China, the United States and NATO member Turkey in recent months, WSJ reported. A senior official from a Central Asian country told The Wall Street Journal that unease is rising across the region over Moscow’s aims beyond Ukraine. “Imagine if they [Russia] don’t have Ukraine to abuse. Are we going to be next?” the unnamed official told WSJ.

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SOURCE = The Moscow Times

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