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Russia-Ukraine war – live: Global wheat prices soar as Putin destroys 60,000 tonnes of Odesa grain

Global wheat prices have soared following Russia’s attack in Odesa oblast that destroyed 60,000 tonnes of grain.

The attack comes after Moscow pulled out of an agreement allowing the safe passage of Ukrainian produce via the Black Sea. Instead, the Russian defence ministry said it would consider all vessels sailing on the water to Ukrainian ports as “potential carriers of military cargo”.

“Flag states of such vessels will be considered to be involved in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of the Kyiv regime,” it added.

Wheat prices on the European stock exchange soared by 8.2 per cent, while corn prices were up by 5.4 per cent.

Wheat futures in the US jumped nearly 9 per cent yesterday, reportedly the highest daily rise since Russia’s invasion.

The White House said Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the grain deal will “worsen food insecurity and harm millions of vulnerable people around the world”.

Meanwhile, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was shown in a video claiming his troops would not fight in Russia’s war for now.

“What is going on at the front is a disgrace that we do not need to get involved in,” Mr Prigozhin said in the purported video.

Key Points

  • Wagner’s Prigozhin says in video his mercenaries will not fight in Ukraine for now

  • More than 2,000 to be evacuated from near military base on fire in Crimea

  • ‘Hellish’ attack on Ukraine’s Odesa port – official

  • UK MI6 spy chief says Putin 'clearly under pressure'

  • Head of UK’s MI6 tells Russians: ‘Join us as agents to end war’

  • Why the expiry of the Black Sea grain deal matters

Wagner’s Prigozhin says in video his mercenaries will not fight in Ukraine for now

Wednesday 19 July 2023 15:11 , Tara Cobham

Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was shown in a video welcoming his Wagner fighters to Belarus and telling them they would for now take no further part in the Ukraine war.

In the video, the authenticity of which Reuters could not immediately verify, a man whose voice and Russian sounded like Prigozhin's is heard welcoming his men. The video was reposted by his press service on Telegram.

"Welcome lads... Welcome to Belarusian soil," Prigozhin said. The video was shot after night had fallen and it was only possible to discern what looked like Prigozhin's profile.

"We fought honourably," said Prigozhin. "You have done a great deal for Russia. What is going on at the front is a disgrace that we do not need to get involved in."

Prigozhin then tells his men to behave well towards the locals and orders them to train the Belarusian army and collect their strength for a "new journey to Africa."

"And perhaps we will return to the SMO (special military operation in Ukraine) at some point when we are sure that we will not be forced to shame ourselves," Prigozhin said.

A man who sounded like Dmitry Utkin, who helped found Wagner, then spoke to the men.

"This is not the end. This is just the beginning of the biggest work in the world that will be carried out very soon," Utkin said, before switching to English. "And welcome to hell!"

Ukraine says Russia ‘blackmailing world with hunger’

04:40 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Kyiv has accused Moscow of “blackmailing the world with hunger” after Russia launched its fiercest attack yet on Ukraine’s port city of Odesa, destroying 60,000 tonnes of grain and key infrastructure.

Odesa’s mayor said Tuesday night was “one of the most terrifying” for the Black Sea city since the start of president Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of the country last February.

For a second consecutive night, Russia bombarded the southern coast, destroying food terminals and tens of thousands of tonnes of grain that was due to be shipped out via a United Nations-brokered grain corridor, according to Ukraine’s agriculture ministry.

The attack came after Moscow pulled out of the year-old agreement allowing the safe passage of Ukrainian produce via the Black Sea, which was mediated by the UN and Turkey to minimise the impact of the war on global food security.

Bel Trew reports.

Ukraine says Russia ‘blackmailing world with hunger’ after attack on Odesa port

Russia likely to attack civilian ships in Black Sea, claims White House

04:20 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The White House has warned that the Russian military is preparing for possible attacks on civilian shipping vessels in the Black Sea.

The warning comes days after Moscow suspended participation in the Black Sea Grain Deal, which allowed the export of grains from Ukraine.

Since leaving the deal, Russia has already struck Ukraine’s grain export ports in Odesa with missile and drone attacks, destroying nearly 60,000 tons of grain.

“Our information indicates that Russia laid additional sea mines in the approaches to Ukrainian ports,” White House national security council spokesperson Adam Hodge said in a statement.

“We believe that this is a coordinated effort to justify any attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea and lay blame on Ukraine for these attacks.”

Nine injured in Russian strike on Mykolaiv

04:01 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

At least nine people sustained injuries in a Russian strike on the Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv on Thursday, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said.

A three-storey residential building was hit in the Mykolaiv city centre, the governor wrote on the Telegram.

According to Odesa administration speaker Serhiy Bratchuk, two people were hospitalised after a strike on Odesa which damaged a building and caused a fire.

Ireland will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, vows Leo Varadkar

01:00 , Holly Evans

Ireland’s premier has vowed to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes after holding talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky on a visit to Kyiv.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited the sites of several atrocities committed in the early weeks of the Russian invasion, before meeting the Ukrainian leader in the capital.

After an engagement with the president, Mr Varadkar then met Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk.

Read more

Ireland will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, vows Leo Varadkar

MI6 spy boss in extraordinary call for Russian officials to turn on Putin

Thursday 20 July 2023 00:00 , Holly Evans

It was an extraordinarily public recruitment drive from an MI6 chief – an open invitation to senior officials in Russia’s security establishment to join those who have defected in disgust over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sir Richard Moore wanted to send a direct message to officials and politicians in Moscow: “You know the address – come and talk to us… our door is always open… our loyalty to our agents is lifelong… our gratitude eternal… Their secrets will always be safe with us.”

Kim Sengupta has more

MI6 spy boss in extraordinary call for Russian officials to turn on Putin

Video appears to show Russian mercenary chief Prigozhin for first time

Wednesday 19 July 2023 23:00 , Holly Evans

A video released Wednesday appears to show Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin for the first time since he led a short-lived rebellion last month, and he is seen telling his troops they will spend some time in Belarus training its military before deploying to Africa.

Video appears to show Russian mercenary chief Prigozhin for first time since short-lived mutiny

Moscow’s demands to return to the Black Sea deal

Wednesday 19 July 2023 22:00 , Holly Evans

President Putin stated Moscow’s position that it would return to the Black Sea grain deal as soon as the West met its five key demands. Since Monday, Russia has backed out of the deal, which allowed Ukraine to continue exporting grain to alleviate a global food crisis.

Of his five conditions, Putin enumerated:

- readmission of the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to the SWIFT payment system;

- resumption of exports of agricultural machinery and spare parts to Russia;

- removal of restrictions on insurance and access to ports for Russian ships and cargo;

- reinstatement of a now-damaged ammonia export pipeline from Russia’s Togliatti to Odesa in Ukraine;

- the unblocking of accounts and financial activities of Russian fertiliser companies.

“If all these conditions are fulfilled, which we previously agreed on - they are not something I have invented now - but as soon as they are fulfilled, we will immediately return to the deal,” Putin said.

Wednesday 19 July 2023 21:00 , Holly Evans

President Vladimir Putin has accused Western countries of perverting the expired Black Sea grain deal for their own ends, after targeting the port city of Odesa for two nights.

However, he said Russia would immediately return to the agreement if all its conditions were met.

On Monday, Moscow had quit the deal, under which it had allowed Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports despite the war to alleviate a global food crisis/

It said a parallel memorandum signed at the same time, intended to facilitate its own grain and fertiliser exports in the face of the Western sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, had been ignored.

“Initially, the essence, the meaning of the grain deal has a colossal humanitarian significance,” Putin said.

“The West has completely emasculated and perverted this essence, and instead of helping countries in real need, the West used the grain deal for political blackmail, and in addition ... made it a tool for enriching transnational corporations, speculators in the global grain market.”

The port city of Odesa was the target of Russian airstrikes after the end of the Black Sea deal (via REUTERS)
The port city of Odesa was the target of Russian airstrikes after the end of the Black Sea deal (via REUTERS)

US announces new $1.3 billion in military aid to Ukraine

Wednesday 19 July 2023 20:08 , Holly Evans

The Pentagon has announced a new $1.3 billion package of long-term military aid to Ukraine, including four air defense systems and an undisclosed number of drones.

The new assistance comes on the heels of a meeting Tuesday by defense and military leaders from around the globe to discuss ongoing efforts to give Ukraine the weapons it needs in its battle to retake territory seized by Russian forces.

Included in the aid, which is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, will be funding for four National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS, and munitions for them, as well as Phoenix Ghost and Switchblade drones.

Unlike the presidential drawdown authority that the Pentagon has used repeatedly over the past 17 months to pull weapons from its own stocks and quickly ship them to Ukraine, the USAI-funded equipment could take a year or two to get to the battlefront.

As a result, this new package will do little to help Ukraine in its current offensive, but will help in future defense of its country.

Irish prime minister meets Ukrainian actor assaulted in Dublin

Wednesday 19 July 2023 19:30 , Holly Evans

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has met with a Ukrainian actor who was assaulted in Dublin last month.

Oleksandr Hrekov was attacked in Dublin city centre shortly after performing at the city’s Abbey Theatre.

He was part of a Kyiv theatre company that had travelled to Dublin to put on a production of Translations by Irish playwright Brian Friel. The actor required stitches in hospital.

Mr Varadkar visited the Lesya Ukrainka National Academic Drama Theatre company in Kyiv on his visit to the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday.

They performed a song for the Taoiseach before presenting him with a copy of Translations signed by the cast.

Mr Varadkar then spoke with Mr Hrekov, shaking his hand and inquiring about his well-being since the assault.

Leo Varadkar lights a candle at a memorial in Kyiv (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA Wire)
Leo Varadkar lights a candle at a memorial in Kyiv (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA Wire)

Putin says Russia would return to grain deal if conditions met

Wednesday 19 July 2023 19:00 , Holly Evans

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday blamed western countries he said “completely distorted” the expired Black Sea grain deal, but said Russia would “immediately” return to the deal if all its conditions for doing so were met.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russia’s Defence Ministry said Moscow would consider all vessels heading to Ukrainian ports as potential carriers of military cargoes, days after the collapse of the grain deal, which Russia had repeatedly criticized in recent weeks.

Zelensky meets with Samantha Power to discuss further support

Wednesday 19 July 2023 18:30 , Holly Evans

USAID administrator Samantha Power met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday afternoon to discuss further support following Russia’s strikes on the Black Sea port of Odesa.

Russia says it will consider Ukraine-bound ships as potential carriers of military cargo

Wednesday 19 July 2023 18:00 , Holly Evans

Reuters has reported that Russia’s Defence Ministry has said it would consider all ships traveling to Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea as potential carriers of military cargoes from midnight on Thursday morning Moscow time (2100 GMT on Wednesday), following the end of the Black Sea grain deal.

In a statement posted on the Telegram messenger app, the ministry said that it was declaring southeastern and northwestern parts of the Black Sea’s international waters as unsafe for navigation, and that the flag states of ships travelling to Ukrainian ports would be considered parties to the conflict on the Ukrainian side.

Russian airstrikes have hit Odesa following the end of the Black Sea grain deal (via REUTERS)
Russian airstrikes have hit Odesa following the end of the Black Sea grain deal (via REUTERS)

Ukraine says Russia ‘blackmailing world with hunger’

Wednesday 19 July 2023 17:40 , Holly Evans

Kyiv has accused Moscow of “blackmailing the world with hunger” after Russia launched its fiercest attack yet on Ukraine’s port city of Odesa, destroying 60,000 tonnes of grain and key infrastructure.

Odesa’s mayor said Tuesday night was “one of the most terrifying” for the Black Sea city since the start of President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of the country last February.

For a second consecutive night, Russia bombarded the southern coast, destroying food terminals and tens of thousands of tonnes of grain that was due to be shipped out via a United Nations-brokered grain corridor, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Agriculture.

Bel Trew has more

Ukraine says Russia ‘blackmailing world with hunger’ after attack on Odesa port

Ukraine adviser says they need more weapons to defend grain supplies

Wednesday 19 July 2023 17:30 , Holly Evans

Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff has said Ukraine needs more defensive weaponry to protect grain supplies from Russian airstrikes.

Writing on Telegram, Andriy Yermak said: “Russian attacks on the infrastructure of the ‘grain agreement’ are attacks on global food security.

“It is possible to protect the infrastructure - more ABM (anti-ballistic missile) systems are needed for Ukraine to repel air attacks.”

It comes after Ukraine’s agriculture minister said that 60,000 tonnes of grain had been lost when Russia fired cruise missiles on the port of Odesa last night.

Wednesday 19 July 2023 17:00 , Holly Evans

The Irish prime minsiter Leo Varadkar has placed a soft toy at a memorial in central Kyiv for the children who have died in the conflict.

The Taoiseach, who was told the youngest victim of the war was just two days old, paused for a moment’s silence before setting the toy lamb among other teddies.

He has also visited the Verkhovna Rada parliament where he met with its chairman Ruslan Stefanchuk before he went to the National Museum of the History of Ukraine, where he paused to view the striking Ukrainian Motherland Monument.

Leo Varadkar is shown destroyed buildings in Kyiv (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA Wire)
Leo Varadkar is shown destroyed buildings in Kyiv (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA Wire)

Ukraine setting up temporary shipping route to help grain exports after Russian strikes

Wednesday 19 July 2023 16:30 , Holly Evans

Ukraine is setting up a temporary shipping route to maintain grain shipments after Russia quit a deal allowing Ukrainian exports via a UN-backed safe corridor in the Black Sea, Kyiv said on Wednesday.

Russia attacked Ukraine’s Black Sea Odesa port for the second consecutive night on Tuesday after quitting the deal on Monday, which included Moscow revoking guarantees for safe navigation.

In an official letter letter dated July 18 submitted to UN shipping agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Ukraine on Wednesday said it had “decided to establish on a temporary basis a recommended maritime route”.

“Its goal is to facilitate the unblocking of international shipping in the north-western part of the Black Sea,” Vasyl Shkurakov, Ukraine’s acting minister for communities, territories and infrastructure development, said in the letter.

Ukraine added in the letter that it would establish shipping traffic routes close to the waters around Chornomorsk, Odesa, Pivdennyi, the three Ukrainian ports that were part of the corridor, leading up to the territorial waters and the exclusive maritime economic zone of Romania.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said the Black Sea grain deal could continue without Russian participation, and Ukraine is working on options to keep its commitments on food supplies.

Probe under way into image of drone in Ukraine with Ireland stamp – Varadkar

Wednesday 19 July 2023 16:10 , Tara Cobham

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said an investigation is underway into an image of a drone downed in Ukraine which had a "Made In Ireland" stamp on it.

A post on Twitter shared the image and stated that the drone was shot down over the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine, near the Black Sea.

Asked about the issue during a press conference in Kyiv, the Taoiseach said: "We are aware of that, and we are investigating it at the moment. We don't believe any Irish companies have evaded sanctions, but there are third parties that find ways around the sanctions, and it's really important that we crack down on that and we do take it very seriously."

Former foreign affairs minister Charlie Flanagan called it "a matter of some concern".

Under EU sanctions imposed on Russia, there is a ban on the sale, supply or export of drone engines and electronic components, along with other items, that may contribute to Moscow's military or the development of its defence and security sector. The list of restricted items also includes toy drones and various technologies.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, left, with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of a joint news briefing at Horodetskyi House in Kyiv, Ukraine (PA Wire)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, left, with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of a joint news briefing at Horodetskyi House in Kyiv, Ukraine (PA Wire)

Putin will not attend South Africa summit – where he faced risk of arrest

Wednesday 19 July 2023 15:53 , Tara Cobham

Vladimir Putin will not attend a summit in South Africa next month – allowing the hosts to avoid a decision whether or not to arrest the Russian leader thanks to an international warrant over war crime allegations.

As a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) which issued the warrant, South Africa would be expected to detain Mr Putin once he sets foot in the country. Although it has refused to honor that obligation in the past, allowing safe passage to Sudan's then-President Omar al-Bashir in 2015 who was facing allegations of war crimes against his own people.

Chris Stevenson reports:

Putin will not attend South Africa summit – where he faced risk of arrest

Revealed: Ukraine’s chilling warning to Tony Blair about Putin

Wednesday 19 July 2023 14:55 , Tara Cobham

Newly unsealed government documents reveal that Tony Blair received a chilling warning that Ukraine feared the West was nurturing too “rosy” a view of Vladimir Putin – two decades before Russia’s invasion.

At a time when the Labour prime minister argued that Mr Putin should be given a seat at the international “top table”, having been the first Western leader to visit him in Moscow, files now issued to the National Archives show that Ukrainian officials harboured eerily prescient concerns about the relationship.

In addition to revelations about Mr Blair’s fears over Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi – and admiring letters from Margaret Thatcher to the Labour prime minister – the documents show that Mr Blair was urged by aides not to snuff out Kyiv’s aspirations to join the EU, arguing that the presence of Ukraine within the alliance could form a “formidable barrier” to Russian imperialism.

Andy Gregory reports:

Revealed: Ukraine’s chilling warning to Tony Blair decades before invasion

Video surfaces purporting to show Wagner chief welcoming men to Belarus

Wednesday 19 July 2023 14:35 , Tara Cobham

A video purporting to show Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin welcoming his Wagner fighters to Belarus surfaced on Wednesday on one of his official Telegram channels.

In the video, the authenticity of which Reuters was unable to immediately verify, a man whose voice sounded like Prigozhin's is heard welcoming his men, telling them to behave, and saying theie training will make the Belarusian army the second-best in the world.

The video was shot after night had fallen and it was only possible to discern what looked like Prigozhin's profile.

He is heard saying that his men will stay in Belarus for some time and calling what is happening on the front line in Ukraine a "disgrace" that Wagner should not take part in.

Yevgeny Prigozhin is boss of the Russian Wagner group (PRIGOZHIN PRESS SERVICE)
Yevgeny Prigozhin is boss of the Russian Wagner group (PRIGOZHIN PRESS SERVICE)

British troops to use e-bikes to sneak up on enemy

Wednesday 19 July 2023 14:01 , Tara Cobham

The British army is trialling battery-powered bikes to gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield, following Ukraine’s example in its war against Russia.

During the early days of the invasion, Ukrainian troops attacked Russian tanks using Delfast e-bikes that have a range of around 200 kilometres.

Now, British soldiers are experimenting with using Carl Gustaf shoulder-fired rifles from a £6,500 electric bike called the Stealth H-52, that would enable fighters to attack the enemy undetected.

Maanya Sachdeva reports:

British troops to use e-bikes to sneak up on enemy

Zelensky thanks Ireland for welcoming 86,000 Ukrainian refugees

Wednesday 19 July 2023 13:12 , Holly Evans

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has thanked the people of Ireland for taking in thousands of Ukrainian refugees since the Russian invasion.

He was speaking as he met with Irish premier Leo Varadkar on his unannounced visit to Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky said that although Ireland was a neutral country, it did not mean they were not helping Ukraine and that he was “very grateful” the Taoiseach began his visit in Kyiv’s conflict-hit suburbs of Moschun, Irpin and Bucha.

Zelensky thanked Ireland for their support during Leo Varadkar’s unannounced visit to Kyiv (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA Wire)
Zelensky thanked Ireland for their support during Leo Varadkar’s unannounced visit to Kyiv (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA Wire)

“You have seen with your own eyes the consequences of the war, the consequences of Russia’s aggression,” he said.

“I, first of all, would like to extend words of gratitude to you and to the whole people of Ireland for hosting our nationals in Ireland, this is a significant moral support to our nation.

“You’ve hosted 86,000 Ukrainian citizens, you’ve provided them with accommodation, with funding, with access to education and health support, this is very important.”

Irish prime minister insists Ukraine would win the war during Kyiv visit

Wednesday 19 July 2023 12:58 , Holly Evans

During an unannounced visit to Kyiv, Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar told a press conference “Russia cannot be allowed to succeed.”

As well as meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Varadkhar visited cities and villages where scores of civillians had been killed under Russian occupation.

“Perhaps Russia believes that it can break the resolve of the Ukrainian people, but I know from the way you fought for the past few years, and from my visit here, that it cannot,” he said.

“My visits to the sites of these atrocities this morning, and my meeting here in Kyiv, has confirmed to me that Russia will not succeed, and Russia cannot be allowed to succeed.

“This is the 21st century and the idea that national boundaries can be changed by violence, or the democratically-elected governments can be overthrown by foreign invasion, must perish.

“We need to make sure that Ukraine succeeds, that it wins this war, so that no other country gets attacked.

“If Russia thinks that targeting civilians and essential infrastructure will discourage Ukraine’s friends, including Ireland, well, it’s wrong.

“Volodymyr Zelensky, we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Ukraine will prevail and Ukraine will be rebuilt.”

Kremlin says it did not tell South Africa that Putin arrest would mean war

Wednesday 19 July 2023 12:49 , Holly Evans

Russia did not tell South Africa that arresting President Vladimir Putin on an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) would mean “war”, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

Shortly after the Kremlin’s comments, South Africa said that Putin would not attend a summit of the BRICS group of nations in South Africa in August “by mutual agreement.”

The ICC has accused Putin and his children’s commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova of the war crime of deporting children from Ukraine to Russia, something Moscow rejects as false.

A local court submission published on Tuesday had shown that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had asked permission from the ICC not to arrest Putin in the context of the BRICS summit because to do so would amount to a declaration of war.

Speaking before South Africa said Putin would not be attending, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that everyone understood - without having it explained to them - what an attempt to infringe on Putin’s rights would mean.

Putin will not be attending a summit of BRICS nations in South Africa ‘by mutual agreement’ (AP)
Putin will not be attending a summit of BRICS nations in South Africa ‘by mutual agreement’ (AP)

Russia says it seizes railway station in Ukraine's Kharkiv region

Wednesday 19 July 2023 12:32 , Holly Evans

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that its forces had captured Movchanove railway station in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, the TASS news agency reported.

Ukraine, which recaptured much of the region last September, said this week that Russia was again on the offensive there and that “heavy fighting” was taking place.

‘Heavy fighting’ has been reported in the Kharkiv region as Russia reports capturing railway station (REUTERS)
‘Heavy fighting’ has been reported in the Kharkiv region as Russia reports capturing railway station (REUTERS)

Zelenskiy claims Russians ‘deliberately targeted’ grain terminals in latest strike

Wednesday 19 July 2023 12:17 , Holly Evans

Ukraine have accused Russia of intentionally striking grain terminals and infrastructure in the Black Sea port of Odesa, with one official saying the main aim was to stop Kyiv shipping grain from there.

Russia attacked Odesa for the second consecutive night after quitting a deal on Monday that allowed the safe passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

The Black Sea grain deal, which was agreed in July last year, was intended to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Russian terrorists absolutely deliberately targeted the infrastructure of the grain deal,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on the Telegram messaging app. “Every Russian missile - is a strike not only on Ukraine but on everyone in the world who wants normal and safe life.”

On the ground in Ukraine, there’s one weapon troops want from the UK

Wednesday 19 July 2023 11:57 , Askold Krushelnycky in Bakhmut, Ukraine

I am standing outside a base – concealed by camouflage netting – for soldiers of the air defence units belonging to Ukraine’s 10th Separate Mountain Assault Brigade. Beside me, the commander, a captain, identified by his war name “Kamin” (which translates as “rock”), reels off the impressive amount of Russian hardware his men have shot out of the sky. Eight fighter jets, six helicopters, and more than three dozen drones of varying types – worth tens of millions of pounds.

We talk not far from the front lines around Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, although Kamin has asked for the exact location to remain unsaid. The Brigade – consisting of thousands of men – was moved here last year to face some of the bloodiest, most intense fighting of Russia’s invasion so far. The job of Kamin’s four battalions? To protect from overhead assault the men, equipment, trenches and fortifications of the brigade, which stretch out across 20 miles of this key front line, as Ukraine pushes on with its counteroffensive to retake territory occupied by Russian forces.

Read more:

On the ground in Ukraine, there’s a weapon troops really want from the UK

Russia on grain deal: ‘We can restart talks if UN meets our needs within three months’

Wednesday 19 July 2023 11:25 , Tara Cobham

Russia said on Wednesday the United Nations had three months to implement the terms of a memorandum that would facilitate Russian agricultural exports if it wanted Moscow to resume talks about allowing Ukrainian grain exports to restart.

Russia said on Monday it was halting participation in a year-old UN-brokered deal that let Ukraine export grain through the Black Sea, complaining that promises to facilitate its own shipments of food and fertilisers had not been kept.

The Black Sea deal was brokered by the UN and Turkey in July last year to help combat a global food crisis and overcome additional obstacles thrown up after Russia sent troops into Ukraine.

Kyiv and Moscow are among the world's top grain exporters.

Russia's withdrawal meant that the related pact to assist its own grain and fertiliser exports was also terminated, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres signalled at the time.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Radio Sputnik on Wednesday the onus was now on the United Nations to implement the Russian deal if it wanted Moscow to return to wider talks about it helping revive Ukrainian exports.

Ukraine says Russia intentionally struck grain terminals in Odesa

Wednesday 19 July 2023 11:05 , Tara Cobham

Russia intentionally struck grain terminals and port infrastructure in Odesa in its latest air strikes, a senior Ukrainian presidential adviser said on Wednesday.

Political adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter that the attacks on Ukraine's main Black Sea port reflected Russia's attitude towards food security.

"The main objective is to destroy the possibility of shipping Ukrainian grain," he said after Russia attacked Odesa port for the second successive night.

Russia quit a deal allowing the safe passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea on Monday, a move that raised concerns in Africa and Asia about rising food prices and hunger.

The deal was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey in July last year to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and a blockade of Ukrainian ports.

Andriy Yermak, head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office, called for tighter international sanctions on Moscow and more military aid to Ukraine.

Video reportedly showing destruction by Russian strikes on Odesa

Wednesday 19 July 2023 10:47 , Tara Cobham

A video reportedly showing the destruction caused by Russian airstrikes on Ukraine’s port city of Odesa overnight has been posted on social media by the Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

Anton Gerashchenko also wrote in his tweet of a nine-year-old boy being among six people injured in a blast.

The Independent has not been able to independently verify the footage.

Russians against Ukraine war should spy for the UK, MI6 boss says

Wednesday 19 July 2023 10:17 , Tara Cobham

The head of MI6 has urged Russians appalled by the war in Ukraine to “join hands” with his spy service and bring the bloodshed to an end.

In his second speech since becoming chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in 2020, Richard Moore said there appeared little prospect of Vladimir Putin’s forces regaining momentum in Ukraine – whose long-awaited counteroffensive is now under way.

Delivering his speech at the British embassy in Prague, the MI6 chief likened the current situation in Ukraine to the Prague Spring in 1968, when the Soviet Union quashed liberalising reforms.

Andy Gregory reports:

Russians against Ukraine war should spy for the UK, MI6 boss says

In pictures: ‘Hellish’ Russian strikes on Ukraine’s Odesa port for second night

Wednesday 19 July 2023 10:00 , Tara Cobham

A local resident walks with a dog next to an apartment building damaged during Russian missile and drone strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near Odesa (REUTERS)
A local resident walks with a dog next to an apartment building damaged during Russian missile and drone strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near Odesa (REUTERS)
A firefighter works at a site of storage facilities hit during Russian missile and drone strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Odesa (via REUTERS)
A firefighter works at a site of storage facilities hit during Russian missile and drone strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Odesa (via REUTERS)
Firefighters work at a site of storage facilities hit during Russian missile and drone strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Odesa (via REUTERS)
Firefighters work at a site of storage facilities hit during Russian missile and drone strikes, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Odesa (via REUTERS)

UK MI6 spy chief says Putin 'clearly under pressure'

Wednesday 19 July 2023 09:54 , Tara Cobham

The head of Britain's MI6 foreign spy service said the Wagner group's mutiny attempt in June showed Russian President Vladimir Putin was under pressure, adding he was optimistic about Ukraine's counter offensive.

"He's clearly under pressure," Richard Moore, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, said of Putin.

Head of UK’s MI6 tells Russians: ‘Join us as agents to end war’

Wednesday 19 July 2023 09:45 , Tara Cobham

The head of Britain's MI6 foreign spy service appealed on Wednesday to Russians appalled by the war in Ukraine to "join hands" with his intelligence service and bring the bloodshed to an end.

In his second speech since becoming chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in 2020, Moore said there appeared little prospect of Russia regaining momentum in Ukraine.

Delivering his speech at the British embassy in Prague, he likened the current situation in Ukraine to the Prague Spring in 1968 when the Soviet Union quashed liberalising reforms.

"As they witness the venality, infighting and callous incompetence of their leaders - the human factor as its worst - many Russians are wrestling with the same dilemmas as their predecessors did in 1968," Moore said.

"I invite them to do what others have done this past 18 months and join hands with us. Our door is always open ... Their secrets will be safe with us and together we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end."

He described Iran's decision to supply Moscow with suicide drones for the Ukraine conflict as "unconscionable" and it had provoked internal quarrels at the highest level of the regime in Tehran.

Fire at Crimean military facility 'was Ukrainian operation’

Wednesday 19 July 2023 09:30 , Tara Cobham

A fire that broke out at a military training base in occupied Crimea was a Ukrainian operation, it has been claimed.

The Kyiv Independent reported the chief of military intelligence Kyrylo Budanov said an explosion of an ammunition warehouse in the Kirovske district on Wednesday was a Ukrainian special operation.

"We successfully conducted an operation in occupied Crimea. The enemy hides the extent of the damage and the number of casualties," Budanov reportedly wrote on his Telegram channel.

Chechen leader's 'dear' nephew made head of Russia's Danone subsidiary

Wednesday 19 July 2023 09:00 , Tara Cobham

A nephew of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been appointed the new head of Russia's Danone subsidiary after the Kremlin ordered the state to take temporary control of the French yoghurt maker's business in Russia.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, many Western companies have fled Russia and some assets have been put under state management, with close allies of President Vladimir Putin gaining day-to-day control.

According to a decree signed by Putin on Sunday, the Russian state had taken control of Danone's Russian subsidiary along with beer company Carlsberg's stake in a brewer.

Yakub Zakriev, 32, a deputy prime minister of Chechnya and the republic's agriculture minister, took the post of general director of Danone Russia on Tuesday, Interfax's SPARK database of company disclosure documents in Russia showed.

Kadyrov, a close ally of Putin, has referred on social media to Zakriev as his "dear nephew". Zakriev is the son of Zulai, one of Kadyrov's elder sisters, and studied economics at Moscow State University.

The appointment is another indicator of the scope of the transfer of assets underway in Russia since the Ukraine war triggered the biggest crisis in Moscow's relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. It also indicates the considerable clout of Kadyrov, the son of former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov who was assassinated in a 2004 bombing in Grozny.

Russia strikes Ukraine's Odesa port in 'hellish' attack, says official

Wednesday 19 July 2023 08:32 , Tara Cobham

Russia launched a massive air attack on the Ukrainian port of Odesa for a second night in a row, which one Ukrainian official on Wednesday described as "hellish".

However, authorities vowed they would not be intimidated, saying they would continue work to export grain.

The attack was "very powerful, truly massive," Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for the Odesa military administration, said in a voice message on his Telegram channel on Wednesday. "It was a hellish night," he said, adding that details on damage and casualties would come later.

The attacks on Odesa, one of Ukraine's main ports for exporting grain, followed a pledge of retaliation by Russia after a blast on a bridge linking Russia to the Crimean Peninsula on Monday that Moscow blamed on Ukraine.

Shortly after the bridge was hit on Monday, Moscow withdrew from a year-old Black Sea grain agreement that allowed for the safe export of Ukraine's grain, a move the United Nations said risked creating hunger around the world.

"(They) are trying to scare the whole world, especially those who want to work for the grain corridor ... Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations," said Bratchuk.

Ukraine's air force says it destroyed 37 of 63 targets in overnight attack

Wednesday 19 July 2023 07:42 , Tara Cobham

Ukraine's air force said on Wednesday it downed 37 out of 63 targets in a vast Russian overnight missile and drone attack, including 23 suicide drones and 14 cruise missiles.

The air force said critical infrastructure and military facilities had been attacked in the nighttime strikes, and that the main target was Ukraine's southern Odesa region.

More than 2,000 to be evacuated from near military base on fire in Crimea, says official

Wednesday 19 July 2023 06:34 , Arpan Rai

More than 2,000 people from the area near the Kirovske military base in Crimea will be temporarily evacuated after a fire broke out at the base, Russian-installed Governor Sergei Aksyonov of Crimea said on Telegram.

“It is planned to temporarily evacuate residents of four settlements - this is more than 2,000 people,” Aksyonov said.

Russia claims advances in Kharkiv

Wednesday 19 July 2023 06:17 , Arpan Rai

Moscow and Kyiv have presented vastly different accounts of fighting in northeastern Ukraine.

A Russian defence ministry spokesperson said its forces had advanced by up to 2km (1.2 miles) in the direction of Kupiansk, an important railway junction in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

Contesting the claims, Ukrainian deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said the initiative in the area had switched to Ukrainian forces.

She said Ukrainian forces made new gains near Bakhmut in the east, a town that was captured by Russian forces in May after months of battles.

Six weeks since Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in the east and south, Russia is mounting a ground offensive of its own in the northeast.

‘Hellish’ attack on Ukraine’s Odesa port – official

Wednesday 19 July 2023 05:31 , Arpan Rai

Russia launched a massive air attack on the Ukranian port of Odesa for a second night in row, which one Ukrainian official described as “hellish”.

The Ukrainian authorities maintained they have not been intimidated and will continue to work to export grains.

The attack was “very powerful, truly massive,” Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for the Odesa military administration, said in a voice message on Telegram.

“It was a hellish night,” he said, adding that details on damage and casualties will come later.

UN says ideas 'floated' on how to get Ukraine, Russia grain to world

Wednesday 19 July 2023 05:22 , Arpan Rai

There are a “number of ideas being floated” to help get Ukrainian and Russian grain and fertilizer to global markets after Moscow quit a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain, the United Nations said yesterday.

The Black Sea deal was brokered by the UN and Turkey in July last year to combat a global food crisis worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top grain exporters.

Russia’s withdrawal on Monday, which included revoking its guarantees for safe navigation, also ended a pact between the United Nations and Moscow in which UN officials agreed to help Russian food and fertilizer exports reach world markets.

However, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres “will continue to explore all possible avenues to ensure that Ukrainian grain, Russian grain, Russian fertilizer are out on the global market,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

“There are a number of ideas being floated,” he told reporters, without giving details.

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said an alternative to the Black Sea grain deal had to be found and “there are very active discussions now.”

Fire breaks out at military base in Crimea, major highway closed

Wednesday 19 July 2023 05:11 , Arpan Rai

A fire broke out at the military training grounds in the Kirovske district on the Crimean peninsula, the Moscow-backed governor of Crimea said today.

The fire forced the closure of the nearby Tavrida Highway, Russian-installed governor Sergei Aksyonov of Crimea said on Telegram.

Earlier, the RBC-Ukraine news agency reported that there were explosions on the military training grounds.

Russian air strikes continue for second night on Ukraine port

Wednesday 19 July 2023 04:32 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian air defence systems were engaged in repelling a Russian air attack on the southern port of Odesa for a second consecutive night, the region’s governor said today.

Russia struck Ukrainian ports last night, a day after pulling out of a UN-backed deal for safe Black Sea grain exports, a decision that raised concern primarily in Africa and Asia of rising food prices and hunger.

“Do not approach the windows, do not shoot or show the work of air defence forces,” Odesa governor Oleh Kiper said on Telegram

All of the eastern part of Ukraine was under air raid alerts, starting soon after midnight.

US general defends Ukraine counter-offensive, says ‘far from failure'

Wednesday 19 July 2023 04:07 , Arpan Rai

The top US general has warned that while Ukraine’s slow-moving counteroffensive against Russian invasion is far from failure, the war ahead will be long and bloody.

“I think there’s a lot of fighting left to go and I’ll stay with what we said before: This is going to be long. It’s going be hard. It’s going to be bloody,” General Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters.

Asked whether the counter-offensive was a failure, at least so far, he said: “It is far from a failure. I think that it’s way too early to make that kind of call.”

He confirmed that the counteroffensive will be slow, and was asked about another round of talks on arms for Ukraine.

In a delayed counteroffensive that began only a few weeks back, casualties on both sides mount and the frontlines have moved only incrementally.

The United States and other allies have spent months building Ukraine a “mountain of steel” of weaponry and training Ukrainian forces in combined arms techniques to help Kyiv pierce formidable Russian defences during its counteroffensive.

Kyiv has recaptured some villages in the south and territory around the ruined city of Bakhmut in the east, but has yet to attempt a major breakthrough across heavily defended Russian lines.

Kyiv says it is deliberately advancing slowly to avoid high casualties on fortified defensive lines strewn with landmines, and is focused for now on degrading Russia’s logistics and command. Moscow says the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed.

Ukraine making 'slow but sure progress'

Wednesday 19 July 2023 04:00 , Matt Drake

Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said the initiative in the area had switched to Ukrainian forces in northeastern Ukraine.

It came after Moscow reported advances by its troops.

Ms Mailiar said Ukrainian forces were "making slow but sure progress" in the south as they try to approach occupied ports on the Sea of Azov to sever a land bridge Russian forces have set up between the east and the Crimean peninsula, annexed in 2014.

"The enemy's key task is to stop us here. They are doing this with all their might," she told national television. "Our forces must first overcome these obstacles and prepare the ground so we can advance more effectively."

Russia continues overnight attack on Kyiv, Ukrainian air defences active

Wednesday 19 July 2023 03:54 , Arpan Rai

Russia is continuing its spate of overnight attacks on Ukraine as the sounds of blasts have been heard near Kyiv.

The Ukrainian air defence systems were engaged in repelling the attacks on Kyiv, the capital’s military administration said on the Telegram channel.

Witnesses have reported hearing blasts and smoke rising near Kyiv.

EU likely to retain Iran ballistic missile sanctions after supplying Russia

Wednesday 19 July 2023 03:00 , Matt Drake

In June, sources told Reuters that European diplomats had informed Iran they planned to retain EU ballistic missile sanctions set to expire in October under the nuclear deal.

It is a step they said could provoke Iranian retaliation.

The sources cited three reasons for keeping the sanctions: Russia's use of Iranian drones against Ukraine; the possibility Iran might transfer ballistic missiles to Russia; and depriving Iran of the nuclear deal's benefits given Tehran has violated the accord, albeit only after the United States did so first.

Keeping the EU sanctions would reflect Western efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them despite the collapse of the 2015 deal, which then-US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.

Aftermath of Russian missile attack on Odesa captured in bodycam footage

Wednesday 19 July 2023 02:00 , Matt Drake

Ukrainian police have released bodycam video said to show the aftermath of a Russian missile attack on Odesa.

The attack on Odesa, one of Ukraine’s main ports for exporting grain, followed a pledge of retaliation by Moscow after a blast on a bridge linking Russia to the Crimean Peninsula on Monday 17 July.

Ukraine’s air force said all six Kalibr missiles that were fired overnight, and 31 out of 36 drones, were shot down. The missiles and most of the drones were downed over Odesa and Mykolaiv regions in the south.

Falling debris and blast waves damaged several homes and unspecified port infrastructure in Odesa.

There was no word of any deaths, but an elderly man was wounded, Ukraine’s southern military command said.

Aftermath of Russian missile attack on Odesa captured in bodycam footage

IOC's Bach says key to Russian decision for Paris Olympics is athletes' respectful conduct

Wednesday 19 July 2023 01:00 , Matt Drake

The key factor in weighing the IOC’s ultimate decision on letting Russians participate at the 2024 Paris Games is how well athletes behave in international competitions, the Olympic body’s president Thomas Bach said Tuesday.

“It’s too soon to draw final conclusions,” Bach said, adding “we have the responsibility not to punish athletes for the acts of their government.”

The International Olympic Committee has pushed sports governing bodies this year to approve some athletes from Russia and its military ally Belarus competing as neutrals for international competitions including Paris qualifying events.

Bach has previously said the IOC can take its own final decision “at the appropriate time, at its full discretion” which could include barring Russians and Belarusians as their countries’ war on Ukraine continues.

IOC's Bach says key to Russian decision for Paris Olympics is athletes' respectful conduct

EU-Latin America summit clouded by wrangling over war in Ukraine

Wednesday 19 July 2023 00:00 , Matt Drake

European, Latin American and Caribbean leaders proclaimed a new era of increased political and economic cooperation on Tuesday but their summit meeting was clouded by wrangling over how to address Russia's war in Ukraine.

The gathering of some 50 leaders from the three regions in Brussels was intended to revitalise their relations as the EU seeks to revamp its international alliances in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and a growing wariness of China.

But while leaders at the summit declared they share common values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law, their struggles over the war in Ukraine highlighted differences on an issue of paramount importance to Europe.

EU officials had hoped the summit with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) would clearly deplore Russia for invading its neighbour in February last year. But the final declaration did not mention Russia.

US says Ukraine has significant combat power not yet committed to the war

Tuesday 18 July 2023 23:00 , Matt Drake

Ukrainian forces have a “significant amount of combat power” that hasn’t yet been committed to the war, the top U.S. military officer said Tuesday, saying Kyiv is conserving some of its tactical effort while troops slowly work their way through deadly Russian minefields.

Speaking to reporters after defense leaders from around the world met to discuss Ukraine‘s military needs, Army Gen. Mark Milley was asked about the slow pace of Ukraine’s offensive to take back territory seized by Russia. He said Ukraine will decide when to use the combat power and complex training the U.S. and allies have provide. He flatly dismissed suggestions the offensive is failing.

“It is far from a failure, in my view. I think that it’s way too early to make that kind of call,” said Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Right now they are preserving their combat power. And they are slowly and deliberately and steadily working their way through all these minefields, and it’s a tough fight. It’s a very difficult fight.”

US says Ukraine has significant combat power not yet committed to the war

South African leader says that arresting Putin if he comes to Johannesburg next month would be 'war'

Tuesday 18 July 2023 22:00 , Matt Drake

South Africa’s president said Tuesday that arresting Russian President Vladimir Putin — should he show up at an economic summit next month in Johannesburg — would amount to a “declaration of war” by his country.

The August summit is bringing together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — a bloc of developing economies known as BRICS. Officials have said that Putin wants to attend the gathering but have been trying to persuade him to stay away to avoid the legal and diplomatic fallout over his international arrest warrant.

Putin is the subject of a warrant of arrest by the International Criminal Court related to alleged war crimes during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, South Africa would be obligated to arrest Putin if he visits the African nation.

South Africa’s biggest political opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has tried to compel President Cyril Ramaphosa‘s government to pledge to arrest Putin in an action before the High Court in Pretoria.

But in a strongly worded affidavit to the court, made public on Tuesday, Ramaphosa reiterated his past statement that such an action against Putin could also derail any efforts to end the war in Ukraine.

South African leader says that arresting Putin if he comes to Johannesburg next month would be 'war'

Ukraine dismisses reports of Russian advance

Tuesday 18 July 2023 21:30 , Matt Drake

Russia and Ukraine presented vastly different accounts of fighting in northeastern Ukraine on Tuesday, with Moscow reporting advances by its troops and Kyiv saying it had seized the initiative in the region.

Both sides reported no letup in the fighting.

A Russian Defence Ministry spokesman said its forces had advanced by up to 2 km (1.2 miles) in the direction of Kupiansk, an important railway junction in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

But Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said the initiative in the area had switched to Ukrainian forces.

"The enemy's offensive in the Kupiansk sector is having no success at this time," Maliar wrote on the Telegram messaging app. "Fighting is continuing, but we have taken the initiative."

Maliar said Ukrainian forces made new gains near Bakhmut, captured by Russian forces in May after months of battles.

Ukraine has significant combat power not yet committed to the war

Tuesday 18 July 2023 21:00 , Matt Drake

Ukrainian forces have a “significant amount of combat power” that hasn’t yet been committed to the war, a top US military officer said.

General Miley said Kyiv is conserving some of its tactical effort while troops slowly work their way through deadly Russian minefields.Speaking to reporters after defence leaders from around the world met to discuss Ukraine’s military needs, General Milley was asked about the slow pace of Ukraine’s offensive to take back territory seized by Russia.

He said Ukraine will decide when to use the combat power and complex training the US and allies have provide. He flatly dismissed suggestions the offensive is failing.“It is far from a failure, in my view. I think that it’s way too early to make that kind of call,” said Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Right now they are preserving their combat power. And they are slowly and deliberately and steadily working their way through all these minefields, and it’s a tough fight. It’s a very difficult fight.”

Russian state TV encourages people to go on holiday to Crimea

Tuesday 18 July 2023 20:30 , Matt Drake

Coming only a day after a major attack on a bridge linking Crimea to the mainland, Russian state TV has apparently been encouraging its citizens to holiday in the region.

Crimea has always been a traditional holiday destination, but it has now become a warzone.

But BBC's Francis Scarr shared a clip in which a Russian presenter said: "Summer, sea and sun! Crimea is waiting for every guest with open arms!"

Russian mounting its own offensive

Tuesday 18 July 2023 20:00 , Matt Drake

Six weeks since Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in the east and south, Russia is mounting a ground offensive of its own in the northeast.

Russia also spent months digging into defensive positions, surrounding them with landmines and building heavily armed fortifications that have made Ukrainian advances in the east and south slow and bloody.

Russia's defence ministry said its forces had advanced 1.2 miles in the vicinity of Kupiansk, a frontline railway hub recaptured by Ukraine in an offensive last year.

Kyiv acknowledged a "complicated" situation in the area. Reuters could not independently verify the situation.

Russia is 'more fragile' than it admits

Tuesday 18 July 2023 19:30 , Matt Drake

Ben Wallace, who recently resigned as UK defence secretary, spoke at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change conference in London.

He arugued that Russia is "much more fragile" than Moscow concedes.

Mr Wallace said: "An ever more aggressive President Putin, with constant threatening red lines that then usually melt away, he hasn’t dared go near NATO.

"Russia has been very, very cautious of respecting NATO’s territory. We have not seen lashings out into areas like Estonia or Latvia.

"They have been absolutely considerate of NATO. They have been really, really cautious to make sure that they don't provoke. You could argue that the alliance in itself does function. The deterrent of Article 45 [the part of the UN charter that allows for 'urgent military action' if member states are threatened] functions."

Ukrain counter-offensive 'far from a failure'

Tuesday 18 July 2023 19:15 , Matt Drake

Ukraine's counter-offensive is far from a failure but the fight ahead will be long and bloody, a US general said on Tuesday.

"It is far from a failure... I think that it's way too early to make that kind of call," General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters.

"I think there's a lot of fighting left to go and I'll stay with what we said before: This is going to be long. It's going be hard. It's going to be bloody."

Fewer frontline troops in future as UK depends on AI

Tuesday 18 July 2023 18:30 , Matt Drake

The UK is set to have fewer front line troops as it relies more on artificial intelligence in the wake of the Ukraine war, according to a new strategy.

It comes after outgoing defence secretary Ben Wallace said cutting the size of the British Army was necessary or soldiers would have to be sent into battle equipped with “pitchforks”.

In its updated Defence Command Paper the Ministry of Defence (MoD) defended plans, set out two years ago, to cut numbers.

The paper adds that future the UK “may have fewer people on the front line but a much larger community of specialists supporting them” as more is learned “from Ukraine about the changing nature of modern battle and explore the opportunities in AI (artificial intelligence) and automation.”

Fewer frontline troops in future as UK depends on AI, new strategy suggests

UN says ideas ‘floated’ on how to get Ukraine/Russia grain to world

Tuesday 18 July 2023 17:51 , Matt Drake

There are a "number of ideas being floated" to help get Ukrainian and Russian grain and fertiliser to global markets after Moscow quit a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.

The grain deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last July, aimed to alleviate a global food crisis by allowing Ukrainian grain blocked by the Russia-Ukraine conflict to be exported safely.

But Russia said it will terminate the Black Sea grain deal which could cause hunger for millions of people as a result.

Russia has suspended cargo routes via Kerch Straight since Sunday after drone attacks

Tuesday 18 July 2023 17:10 , Matt Drake

Cargo routes through the Kerch Straight which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov has been suspended by Russia since July 16.

It came after drone attacks on Sevastopol in Crimea, according to Reuters.

Russia claims its forces prevented Ukraine from attacking Sevastopol on Sunday, destroying seven aerial and two maritime drones.

On Monday, there was also an apparent attack on the Kursk Bridge which spans from the Kerch Strait.

Top US firms supplied equipment to keep Russian oil flowing after Ukraine invasion

Tuesday 18 July 2023 17:00 , Matt Drake

Major American providers of oilfield services supplied Russia with millions of dollars in equipment for months after its invasion of Ukraine, helping to sustain a critical part of its economy even as Western nations launched sanctions aimed at starving the Russian war effort.

The largest – SLB, formerly Schlumberger – maintained and even slightly grew its business after others eventually departed. It announced on Friday it would stop exporting equipment there as The Associated Press prepared to publish a report on the companies' Russian operations.

Russia imported more than 5,500 items worth more than $200 million from the top five U.S. firms in the sector — led by SLB, Baker Hughes and Halliburton — in the year following the invasion that began in February 2022. That's according to customs data obtained by B4Ukraine and vetted by The AP.

It was "deeply shocking to find a U.S. company continuing to supply equipment to Russia’s oil and gas sector,” said Eleanor Nichol, executive director of B4Ukraine, a coalition of more than 80 nonprofits calling for multinationals to leave the Russian market.

Top US firms supplied equipment to keep Russian oil flowing after Ukraine invasion

Medical leaders to convene in Ukraine and discuss ‘Lessons Learned' in a wartime environment

Tuesday 18 July 2023 16:16 , Matt Drake

An International Healthcare Summit has been scheduled in Kyiv, Ukraine for November 7-9, 2023.

August Mission, a humanitarian non-profit agency, and JANZ Corporation, a global medical equipment supplier, will be hosting the Summit.

Discussion Tracks will include Battlefield Trauma (Hemorrhagic Shock, Traumatic BrainInjuries, Transport and etc.), Hospital Services (Surgical Procedures, Pharmaceuticals, and Medical Equipment) and Rehabilitation (Prosthetics and Mental Health), Panels of experts will be scheduled to share ideas and discuss "Lessons Learned" in a wartime environment.

Russia extends eligibility for military call-up by at least five years

Tuesday 18 July 2023 15:28 , Matt Drake

Russia’s parliament on Tuesday extended the maximum age at which men can be mobilised to serve in the army by at least five years - in the case of the highest-ranking officers, up to the age of 70.

Last September, Russia announced its first mobilisation since World War Two, calling up more than 300,000 former soldiers in an often-chaotic emergency draft to support its war in Ukraine, a campaign that has been much longer and more attritional than Moscow had expected, and shows no sign of ending.

It is already raising the upper age limit for men to be called up for compulsory military service to 30 from 27, and has made it much harder for young men to avoid the draft by dodging recruiters handing out call-up papers.

The law passed on Tuesday allows men who have completed their compulsory service without any further commitment to be mobilised up to the age of 40, 50 or 55, depending on their category, the State Duma or lower house of parliament said on its website. In all cases the age limit was raised by five years.

The new law means that those from this reserve with the highest ranks can now be called back into service up to the age of 70 rather than 65, other senior ranks up to 65, junior officers up to 60 - and all others up to the age of 55 rather than 45.

Washington ‘to announce new $1.3bn military aid package for Ukraine’

Tuesday 18 July 2023 15:15 , Andy Gregory

The United States will announce a new pledge to buy $1.3bn worth of military aid for Ukraine in the coming days, two US officials have told Reuters.

The weapons package includes air defences, anti-drone systems, exploding drones and ammunition, according to one of the officials.

The Us is using funds in its Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) program, which allow Joe Biden’s administration to buy weapons from industry rather than pull from US weapons stocks.

Delivery of the weapons and systems depends on their availability and production timeline, and the contents and value of the package may also change up until the announcement, Reuters reported.

The Pentagon has provided more than $10.8bn in security assistance for Ukraine under the USAI since September, in seven different packages.

Prigozhin ‘betrayed’ by Wagner deputy during mutiny, report claims

Tuesday 18 July 2023 14:19 , Andy Gregory

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was “betrayed” by his second-in-command Andrei Troshev, who refused to back his shortlived mutiny last month, a report claims.

Russian investigative outlet Gulagu.net cited sources “at the now former Wagner headquarters” as claiming that Mr Troshev earned president Vladimir Putin’s favour by being the first Wagner commander to refuse to take part in the armed rebellion, and instead to transfer inside information to the FSB and Russian defence ministry.

The claims come after a Kommersant newspaper interview with Mr Putin in which he appeared to claim that he had offered Wagner fighters the chance to continue fighting under Mr Troshev.

“They could have all gathered in one place and continued to serve,” he told the paper. “Nothing would have changed for them. They would be led by the same person who has been their real commander all along.”

Collapse of Black Sea grain deal will not cause spike in inflation, Varadkar suggests

Tuesday 18 July 2023 13:27 , Andy Gregory

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said he does not believe Russia’s ending of the Black Sea grain deal will affect the price of groceries.

The Kremlin has said the agreement will be suspended until Moscow’s demands to lift restrictions on exports of Russian food and fertiliser to the world are met.

Speaking in Brussels on the second day of an EU summit, Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t think we’re at that point yet. When the war in Ukraine started there was a big shock to energy prices and then a big shock to food prices as well, but we found ways around that and we found ways to adapt to it by finding other sources of energy, for example.

“So I don’t think we’re going to see another spike in inflation because of this, but we do need to work on it. There are other ways to get grain out of Ukraine, for example, through Romania and through Poland.

“If the Russians persist in this policy well then we’ll have to find other ways to get the grain and to get the fertiliser out. What Russia has done is very wrong, it’s not just going to affect people in Ukraine, it’s going to affect people in the poorest part of the world.

“I’m here talking to countries and leaders from Latin America, from the Caribbean, you can add to that Africa and Asia, it’s people in those countries that will bear the worst effects of what Russia has decided to do. We have to try and get around what they’ve done now by finding ways to get the grain out of Ukraine through European ports.”

Divisions over Ukraine war clouds EU-Latam summit - part two

Tuesday 18 July 2023 12:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Arriving at the summit on Tuesday, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the communique had to be “very clear on Ukraine, this is a war of aggression.”

“There were talks late last night on the language, almost every country was able to sign up to a text that was clearly supportive of Ukraine, its right for independence, for freedom. One or two held out. Let’s see again this morning,” he said.

“It’s sometimes better to have no conclusions at all than to have language that doesn’t mean anything but we’re not at that point yet,” he added.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said the communique could not be used to “rewrite history.”

“The fact is that Russia aggressed Ukraine ... we have to face the reality,” he told reporters.

He suggested the statement could end up saying that some specific countries did not agree with the language on Ukraine.

“We still can have a remark that says nearly all the countries accept (the language) ... It’s a shame if we cannot agree, but I’m not here to rewrite history,” he said.

Chile’s Foreign Minister Alberto van Klaveren said his government regretted the dispute.

“We’re very sorry for the situation really and we’re very surprised that there are members of our group which oppose any resolution concerning the war in Ukraine,” he said.

“We think it’s a war of aggression; that’s the position of Chile.”

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Divisions over Ukraine war clouds EU-Latam summit - part one

Tuesday 18 July 2023 12:41 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Leaders from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean were struggling on Tuesday to agree on a joint statement on the war in Ukraine, with some Latin American countries resisting EU pressure for a clear condemnation of Russia.

The wrangling threatened to overshadow the summit in Brussels as the EU tries to revitalise relations with Latin America as part of a geopolitical shake-up prompted by Russia‘s war on Ukraine and growing wariness of China.

The EU had aimed to include condemnation of Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine as part of a broader declaration setting out the leaders’ conclusions of the summit. But as the talks entered their second day, no agreement had been reached.

Countries with close political and economic ties to Russia, such as Cuba and Nicaragua, were resisting attempts to include language condemning Russia, according to officials familiar with the negotiations.

A draft text seen by Reuters showed a paragraph that condemned “the ongoing war against Ukraine“ and referred to U.N. resolutions that “deplore in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation” had been scored out.

The document merely referred to “specific national positions” of the countries represented at the summit, which brought together some 50 leaders from EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

German top diplomat: attacks on Ukraine ports also hit world's starving

Tuesday 18 July 2023 12:19 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday said 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 U.N.-backed deal to let Kyiv export grain.

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

Crimea bridge attack: Everything to know about the Kerch bridge as critical Russian supply line attacked

Tuesday 18 July 2023 11:29 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Two people were killed and their teenaged daughter wounded in an attack on the Crimean Bridge – connecting the Russian mainland to the peninsula.

The bridge, also known as the Kerch Bridge, is a major artery for Russian troops fighting in Ukraine and a prestige project personally opened by President Vladimir Putin. The bridge had had only recently returned to full operation after suffering severe damage in a similar attack last October.

Traffic along the 19km-long road and rail bridge was halted for six hours, following reports of multiple explosions at around 3am on Monday morning.

Here’s everything we know about the attack on the Crimean Bridge and its importance to Moscow:

Everything to know about the Crimean Bridge – as vital Russian supply line attacked

Russia hit Ukraine targets in 'mass revenge strike' after bridge attack

Tuesday 18 July 2023 11:11 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday it had hit military targets in two Ukrainian port cities overnight in what it called “a mass revenge strike,” a day after an attack on the Crimean bridge which it blamed on Kyiv.

The ministry said it had struck Odesa, where the Ukrainian navy has a facility, and Mykolaiv on Ukraine‘s Black Sea coast.

“The armed forces of the Russian Federation carried out a mass retaliatory strike overnight using precision sea-based weapons against facilities where terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared using uncrewed boats,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said it had struck a ship repair plant near Odesa where such boats were being built.

“In addition, storage facilities holding around 70,000 tons of fuel used to supply the Ukrainian military’s equipment were destroyed” near the cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa, it said.

It said all the targets had been struck and destroyed, citing fires and detonations as evidence.

Reuters could not independently confirm the account.

Ukraine‘s air force said earlier that six Kalibr cruise missiles and 31 out of 36 drones had been shot down, mostly over the coastal Odesa and Mykolaiv regions in the south.

Russia says its troops advanced up to 2 km towards Ukraine’s Kupiansk

Tuesday 18 July 2023 10:52 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian forces have advanced by up to 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) in the direction of the city of Kupiansk in Ukraine‘s northeastern Kharkiv region, TASS cited Russia‘s defence ministry as saying on Tuesday.

More updates to follow.

Russia is using grain as ammunition, says Polish minister

Tuesday 18 July 2023 10:22 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia is using grain as ammunition, Poland’s Agriculture Minister Robert Telus told Reuters, commenting on the collapse of the year-old U.N.-brokered deal that allowed Ukraine export grain through the Black Sea.

Telus urged EU to help improve grain logistics as more Ukraine grain will start flowing through borders after the harvest.

Why the Crimea bridge attack will get under Putin’s skin

Tuesday 18 July 2023 09:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Kerch Bridge has both strategic and symbolic value to the Russian president, writes Bel Trew:

A pre-dawn deadly assault on the Kerch Bridge is the second such attack in just nine months. As Ukraine pushes ahead with a summer counteroffensive, it amounts to a personal jab at Vladimir Putin, who has often boasted about its construction.

The 12-mile rail and road structure – the longest in Europe – was a £2.7bn prestige project and was opened by Mr Putin five years ago. It links the Russian mainland and occupied Crimea, which Moscow illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014. When it was opened, Mr Putin boasted that Russian tsars had dreamed of building this “miracle” but had never succeeded. Russian state media hailed it as the “construction of the century”.

Why the Crimea bridge attack will get under Putin’s skin

Ukraine says 'complicated' situation in fighting in east, some success in south

Tuesday 18 July 2023 09:31 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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),” General Oleksander Syrskyi, commander of Ukrainian ground forces, said on the Telegram messaging app.

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

Ukrainian officials have increasingly pointed to an intensification of Russian military activity near Kupiansk and nearby Lyman in the northeast. 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.

Syrskyi added that Russian troops were pulling up reserves in the Bakhmut sector in eastern Ukraine to try to stop Ukrainian forces advancing.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Taiwan says looking to buy NASAMS air defence system from US

Tuesday 18 July 2023 09:05 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Taiwan is looking to buy National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, from the United States to upgrade its air defence capabilities having seen how well they work in Ukraine, the island’s defence minister said on Tuesday.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up military and political pressure over the past three years to try to force the democratically governed island to accept Beijing’s rule.

NASAMS have been provided by the United States for use in Ukraine, with U.S. officials saying they have had a 100% success rate in intercepting Russian missiles.

The system, developed and built by Raytheon Technologies and Norway’s Kongsberg Gruppen is a short- to medium-range ground-based air defence system that protects against drone, missile, and aircraft attack, which both Canada and Lithuania have also bought, or are buying for Ukraine.

Asked on the sidelines of parliament about Taiwan buying NASAMS, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said “certainly” there was a proposal to get them.

“This work must be done in accordance with the enemy situation,” he said. “We have seen from the Russia-Ukraine war that these weapons definitely have good performance.”

However, Taiwan has not received any official notification from the U.S. that they will sell NASAMS to Taipei, Chiu said.

“But we need this work to be done as soon as possible.”

The U.S., Taiwan’s main foreign source of weapons, formally makes notifications to the island about the arms Washington is willing to sell.

The U.S. is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, despite a lack of formal diplomatic relations. China routinely denounces such arms sales.

Taiwan’s military has been paying close attention to the war in Ukraine for lessons on defending against a much larger opponent, for example by the use of drones.

Odesa port infrastructure damaged in overnight Russian attacks

Tuesday 18 July 2023 08:31 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia carried out missile and drone strikes on southern and eastern Ukraine overnight that caused damage to infrastructure in the Black Sea port of Odesa, Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday.

The attacks followed a pledge of retaliation by Russia after a blast on a bridge linking Russia to the Crimean Peninsula on Monday. Moscow accused Ukraine of attacking the bridge, which is used to transport military supplies to Crimea, seized and annexed by Russia in 2014.

Ukraine‘s air force said all six Kalibr missiles that were fired overnight, and 31 out of 36 drones, were shot down. The missiles and most of the drones were downed over Odesa and Mykolaiv regions in the south, while the rest were destroyed over the eastern regions of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk.

Ukraine‘s southern operational military command said that all six Kalibr cruise missiles fired by Russia overnight were shot down over Odesa, and that 21 Iranian-made Shahed drones were downed over the surrounding region.

It said falling debris and blast waves damaged several homes and unspecified port infrastructure in Odesa, but gave few details. There was no word of any deaths but an elderly man was wounded in his home and was taken to hospital, it added.

Odesa has often been attacked since Russia‘s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 although the port was part of the U.N.-brokered deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of grain that Russia pulled out of on Monday.

The latest attack was “further proof that the country-terrorist wants to endanger the lives of 400 million people in various countries that depend on Ukrainian food exports,” Andriy Yermak, the head of the presidential staff, said on Telegram.

A B&Q generator and a commandeered truck: Behind the British Wolfram vehicles helping Ukraine fight Putin

Tuesday 18 July 2023 07:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Wolfram vehicles are now standard weaponry for the British military, with possible export orders pending, writes Kim Sengupta:

The Wolfram armoured vehicle headed for the armoured column coming through the valley and fired salvos from its Brimstone missile system, setting the Russian T-57 tank aflame. Further along the frontline, a rider on an electronic bike was carrying out a lone attack, hitting the convoy at the flank using a Carl-Gustaf Mk4 rocket launcher.

The operation taking place was a military exercise in Lulworth, Dorset – but the tactics and weapons being used were from the Ukraine war. The Wolfram was developed by the British military in the early days of Vladimir Putin’s invasion with an urgent plea for help from Kyiv to counter Russian heavy armour.

A B&Q generator and a commandeered truck: The UK vehicles helping Ukraine fight Putin

Russia launches drones and missiles on Ukraine’s south and east

Tuesday 18 July 2023 07:49 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia launched overnight air attacks on Ukraine‘s south and east using drones and possibly ballistic missiles, Ukraine‘s Air Force and officials said early on Tuesday.

A fire broke out at one of the “facilities” in the port of Mykolaiv late on Monday, the city mayor said. The port city provides Ukraine with access to the Black Sea.

“It’s quite serious,” Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said on the Telegram messaging app of the fire, adding that more detail will come in the morning.

The southern port of Odesa and the Mykolaiv, Donetsk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions were under threat of Russian drone attacks, the Air Force said on the Telegram messaging app.

It added that Russia may be using ballistic weaponry to attack the regions of Poltava, Cherkasy, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Kirovohrad.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports.

Air raid alerts blared in many Ukrainian regions for hours, before being called off at around 04:30 a.m. local time (0130 GMT).

Oleh Kiper, the head of the Odesa region’s military administration, said air defence systems there were engaged in repelling several waves of Russian drone attacks.

Russia foils Ukrainian drone raid on Crimea

Tuesday 18 July 2023 07:29 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia repelled a Ukrainian drone attack on Crimea in the early hours of Tuesday, the Russian defence ministry said, a day after an attack on the Crimean bridge which damaged it and disrupted car traffic.

Russian air defences destroyed 17 drones and another 11 drones were intercepted by electronic warfare systems, the ministry said. The “terrorist attack” did not inflict any damage or casualties, it added.

On Monday, a blast knocked out Russia‘s bridge to Crimea in what Moscow called a strike by Ukrainian sea drones, killing two people.

Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

A satellite image shows a view of the Crimea bridge, in Kerch Strait (via REUTERS)
A satellite image shows a view of the Crimea bridge, in Kerch Strait (via REUTERS)

Russia says Ukrainian drone raid foiled over Crimea

Tuesday 18 July 2023 06:28 , Arpan Rai

Russia’s defence ministry has claimed the country’s air defences and electronic countermeasure systems downed 28 Ukrainian drones over Crimea in the early hours of today, reported the RIA news agency.

No casualties or damages have been seen so far, the ministry said.

The raid comes a day after an attack by suspected Ukrainian sea drones on the Kerch Bridge to Crimea, which damaged it and disrupted car traffic.

Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied it carried out the attack.

Crimea bridge attack: Everything to know about the Kerch Bridge

Tuesday 18 July 2023 06:17 , Arpan Rai

The Kerch Bridge saw traffic halted for six hours following reports of multiple explosions at around 3am yesterday.

Europe’s longest bridge connects the Russian city of Krasnodar in the east to Kerch in Crimea, which was illegally annexed from Ukraine by Moscow in 2014.

The Crimean Bridge runs over the Kerch Strait and is the only direct road link between Russia and the annexed peninsula.

It consists of a separate roadway and railway – fortified by concrete stilts – which give way to a wider span held by steel arches at the point where ships pass between the Black Sea and the smaller Azov Sea.

Here’s everything you need to know about the bridge, now a sensitive target in the invasion:

Everything to know about the Crimean Bridge – as vital Russian supply line attacked