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Russia-Ukraine war live: Moscow launches wave of airstrikes; Crimea bridge partially reopens after explosion

Road traffic partially reopens on Crimean bridge struck by explosion

Partial road traffic opened on one lane of the Crimean Bridge late on Monday, Russian deputy prime minister Marat Khusnullin said on his Telegram channel, almost 24 hours after it was struck by two explosions.

“Motor transport on the Crimean Bridge has been restored in reverse mode on the most outer right lane,” Khusnullin wrote on Monday according to Reuters.

Damage to the Crimea Bridge after Monday’s attack.
Damage to the Crimea Bridge after Monday’s attack. Photograph: Reuters

However, ferry operations were suspended early on Tuesday, due to bad weather, Russian agencies reported, citing the Moscow-backed emergency situations ministry of Crimea.

Early on Monday two explosions damaged the bridge, also known as the Kerch Bridge or Kerch Strait Bridge, connecting Crimea to mainland Russia, killing two people and closing the main conduit for Russian road traffic to the occupied peninsula.

Moscow called it a “terrorist” strike by Ukrainian sea drones though Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

Key events

Yevgeny Balitsky, the Russian-imposed head of occupied Zaporizhzhia, has posted to Telegram to say that he has visited a damaged school in Stulneve in the region.

He stated it was “significantly damaged as a result of a missile strike by the armed forces of Ukraine on 14 July. The school buildings were practically destroyed, the roof, load-bearing structures, windows were broken.”

He said that the authorities were assessing how best to prepare an educational enviroment for children in the region by September, adding “there is a lot of work, work in difficult conditions, but our settlements, despite the aggression of Ukraine, must and will be restored.”

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and in September 2022 the Russian Federation claimed to annex the territory of Zaporizhzhia.

Suspilne, Ukraine’s state broadcaster, reports that Vitaliy Kim, the governor of Mykolaiv oblast, said the port was ready to continue with the grain deal but “the Russian side is not interested in regulating food security in the world, and continues blackmail”.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday it plans to invest £2.5bn in army stockpiles and munitions “to improve fighting readiness”, as it “takes learnings from the war in Ukraine”.

It also announced the creation of a “global response force”, combining its deployed and high-readiness service personnel and drawing on “capabilities from all domains”.

It identified the threat posed by Russia to European security as the most pressing short- to medium-term priority but also called China an “epoch-defining challenge”, AFP reports.

The ministry said its latest plans – detailed in a so-called defence command paper – aim to deliver “a credible warfighting force that will keep us on track to act as a global heavyweight both now and in the future”.

The outgoing defence secretary, Ben Wallace, said in a statement:

We must adapt and modernise to meet the threats we face, taking in the lessons from [Russian] President Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

This defence command paper will sharpen our strategic approach – ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of military capability, and a leading power in Nato.

The armed forces minister, James Heappey, said the ministry recognised the UK needed “to do things differently, responding to rapidly evolving geopolitical, technological and economic threats, learning lessons from Ukraine, and championing closer integration with our allies and partners”.

On the risks of continuing to ship grain out of Ukrainian Black Sea ports without security guarantees from Russia, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said:

Without appropriate security guarantees, certain risks arise here.

[Until an arrangement to allow for exports to be] formalised without Russia, then these risks should be taken into account.

But Peskov put Moscow’s position in starker terms when he said Ukraine was using the Black Sea export corridor “for combat purposes”, Reuters reports.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, discussed with his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, ways of exporting Russian grain via routes “that would not be susceptible to Kyiv and the west’s sabotage”, Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

A year-old deal to permit Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports despite Russia’s war in Ukraine lapsed on Tuesday after Russia suspended its participation.

Russia says the west failed to meet its obligations under a parallel agreement to facilitate exports of Russian grain and fertiliser in the face of western economic sanctions, Reuters reports.

The German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said on Tuesday that every missile fired by Russia at the Ukrainian port of Odesa was also the equivalent of firing a missile at people who are starving in the world.

The comment piled criticism on Moscow as Russia fired at Ukrainian ports a day after pulling out of a UN-backed deal to let Kyiv export grain, Reuters reports.

Russia described its wave of missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian ports as revenge for attacks they say are launched by Kyiv. Moscow’s decision to withdraw from the grain deal prompted the UN to warn it risked creating hunger around the world.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said grain exports by sea and port security were top of the agenda on Tuesday’s staff meeting.

The number one issue on the agenda of today’s Staff meeting is grain exports by sea and port security. Deputy Prime Minister Kubrakov and Naval Forces Commander Neizhpapa reported on supply logistics and the protection of the coastal region.

There were reports by Minister…

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) July 18, 2023

A summit between European, Latin American and Caribbean leaders on Tuesday highlighted their differences over how to tackle Russia’s war in Ukraine.

As leaders from the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) met for a second day, diplomats were struggling to agree the language of a final communique, according to AFP.

A handful of Latin American countries – diplomats cited Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela as the most adamant – were opposed to agreeing a text holding Moscow responsible for the conflict.

Other leaders from the region were ready to sign up in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty, but put more emphasis on the need for a negotiated peace, rather than a victory for Kyiv, in their public declaration.

Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, said:

It would be a shame that we are not able to say that there is Russian aggression in Ukraine.

It’s a fact, and I’m not here to rewrite history.

The Irish leader, Leo Varadkar, said talks had gone late into the night on Monday and the debate was a valid one, even if the conclusion should be clear.

He told reporters:

A lot of countries will point out that there are other conflicts in the world, and I hear that.

And they will say that other conflicts in the world perhaps haven’t got the same amount of attention as Ukraine.

In the opening session on Monday, CELAC president Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, cited the crisis in Haiti, the Palestinian struggle for statehood and various wars in Africa as deserving of European attention.

And he warned that “sanctions and blockades” triggered by the war in Ukraine would only serve “to penalise the most vulnerable populations”.

This satellite image from the wires gives some perspective of the damage to the Kursk Bridge, connecting Crimea to Russia. Russian officials said on Telegram that partial road traffic opened on one lane of the bridge late on Monday.

Birdseye view of the damaged Kursk Bridge
Birds-eye view of the damaged Kursk Bridge connecting Crimea to Russia. Photograph: Maxar Technologies/Reuters

Summary of the day so far …

  • Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday it had carried out overnight strikes on two Ukrainian port cities in what it called “a mass revenge strike” a day after an attack on the Crimean bridge, which it blamed on Kyiv. The ministry claims it hit “facilities where terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared using crewless boats, as well as at the place of their manufacture at a shipyard near the city of Odesa”, and fuel depots in Mykolayiv.

  • Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal on Monday, brokered by the UN and Turkey a year ago to alleviate a global food crisis by allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported safely. Moscow said the decision was final. Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said Russia’s decision was “unconscionable”, while the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said he did not accept its explanations for terminating the agreement, including the loss of Russian food markets.

  • The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the grain deal must continue and could operate without Russian participation. “Africa has the right to stability. Asia has the right to stability,” he said in his nightly video address.

  • Continuing to ship grain out of Ukrainian Black Sea ports without security guarantees from Russia would carry risks, because Ukraine uses those waters for military activities, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in his regular daily briefing that Moscow rejected US criticism of its withdrawal from the grain deal, and would continue supplying grain to poor countries.

  • Poland’s agriculture minister, Robert Telus, said Russia is using grain as ammunition.

  • Ukrainian presidential adviser Andriy Yermak commented on Russia’s overnight attacks, saying: “The Russian night attack on Odesa and Mykolaiv with the use of rockets and kamikaze drones is more proof that the terrorist country wants to endanger the lives of 400 million people in various countries that depend on Ukrainian food exports.”

  • Kyiv reported a “complicated” situation in fighting in eastern Ukraine and success in parts of the south on Tuesday as it pressed on with its counteroffensive against occupying Russian forces. “The situation is complicated but under control [in the east],” Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukrainian ground forces, said on Telegram. He said Russia had concentrated forces in the direction of Kupiansk in the north-eastern region of Kharkiv, but Ukrainian troops were holding them back.

  • Both sides have achieved “marginal advances” in different areas over the past week, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said in its latest intelligence update on the conflict.

  • Russian air defences and electronic countermeasure systems downed 28 Ukrainian drones over Crimea in the early hours of Tuesday, the RIA news agency has cited the Russian defence ministry as saying. The drone attacks caused no casualties or damages, the ministry said

  • Russian state-owned media is reporting that Russian Federation security services claim to have detained a woman on suspicion of preparing “a terrorist attack” in the Yaroslavl region, to the north of Moscow.

  • Germany’s military has ordered several hundred thousand artillery shells in a deal with the manufacturer Rheinmetall as it works to replenish stocks dented by the war in Ukraine.

Continuing to ship grain out of Ukrainian Black Sea ports without security guarantees from Russia would carry risks, because Ukraine uses those waters for military activities, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Reuters reports that Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in his regular daily briefing that Moscow rejected US criticism of its withdrawal from the grain deal, and would continue supplying grain to poor countries.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday it had carried out overnight strikes on two Ukrainian port cities in what it called “a mass revenge strike” a day after an attack on the Crimean bridge, which it blamed on Kyiv.

Reuters reports the ministry said in a statement it had struck Odesa and Mykolayiv and hit all targets.

Tass quotes the ministry claiming that it hit “facilities where terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared using crewless boats, as well as at the place of their manufacture at a shipyard near the city of Odesa”.

Russia is using grain as ammunition, Poland’s agriculture minister, Robert Telus, has told Reuters, commenting on the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal. Telus urged the EU to help improve grain logistics, as more Ukraine grain will start flowing through borders after the harvest.

Explosion reported in occupied Melitopol

Vladimir Rogov, one of the Russian-imposed leaders in occupied Zaporizhzhia, has reported a loud explosion in occupied Melitopol. On his Telegram channel he stated “Loud in Melitopol! The sound of an explosion sounded in the city. Details later.”

An air alert has been declared in Kharkiv region in north-east Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Gen Syrskyi: situation ‘complicated but under control’

Kyiv reported a “complicated” situation in fighting in eastern Ukraine and success in parts of the south on Tuesday as it pressed on with its counteroffensive against occupying Russian forces.

“The situation is complicated but under control [in the east],” Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukrainian ground forces, said on Telegram.

He said Russia had concentrated forces in the direction of Kupiansk in the north-eastern region of Kharkiv, but Ukrainian troops were holding them back.

Reuters reports that Ukrainian officials have increasingly pointed to an intensification of Russian military activity near Kupiansk and Lyman in the north-east. Both cities were retaken by Ukraine late last year.

On Monday, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern forces said the Russian military had amassed more than 100,000 troops and more than 900 tanks in the area.

Germany’s military has ordered several hundred thousand artillery shells in a deal with Rheinmetall as it works to replenish stocks dented by the war in Ukraine, the defence company said on Tuesday.

Reuters reports Rheinmetall said it had been awarded a new framework contract for the supply of 155mm artillery ammunition, representing a potential order volume of about €1.2bn (£1bn).

Russian state-owned media is reporting that Russian Federation security services claim to have detained a woman on suspicion of preparing “a terrorist attack” in the Yaroslavl region, to the north of Moscow.

It quotes the FSB saying “a Russian citizen born in 1987 was detained, who, on the instructions of the Ukrainian special services, collected and transmitted information about a critical infrastructure object in the Yaroslavl region.”

The report says a criminal case has been instigated, which could result in a 10-year jail term.

Oleksandr Senkevich, the mayor of Mykolaiv, has posted some additional information about the fire that broke out there overnight after a Russian drone attack. He said on Telegram:

In Mykolaiv, at around 1.50am an industrial facility was hit. There was a fire with an area of ​​500 sq metres. The state emergency service attended and at around 5.30am, the fire was extinguished.




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