Strike on Odesa will not affect grain shipments says Russia

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The Kremlin said Monday that a strike on the Ukrainian port town of Odesa would not impact grain exports as it only hit military targets. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered reassurances over Russian grain supplies to Egypt during a visit to Cairo on Sunday, amid uncertainty over a deal to resume Ukrainian exports from the Black Sea. Read about the day’s events as they unfolded on our live blog. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).


This live page is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

11:37pm: Guatemala president says global food crisis could kill millions

Millions around the world could die due to the “food crisis” caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei said during a visit to Ukraine on Monday.

“An irrefutable proof of the consequences of this war are the global economic effects that have generated inflation, increased the cost of living and produced more poverty,” he said in a joint statement with Zelensky published by the Guatemalan presidency.

And he warned that the conflict would cause a future “food crisis that could mean the death of millions of people.”

Central America has been badly affected by the war as it imports all of its grain from the conflict zone.

“The whole world is suffering the serious consequences of the Russian aggression such as the food crisis and price destabilization,” said Zelensky. “The cost of living is unfairly rising and only together can we protect the world and international legal order.”

9:55pm: Guatemala president visits Ukraine at Zelensky’s invitation

Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei visited Ukraine on Monday at the invitation of his counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to view the damage caused by Russia’s invasion, the Central American country’s government said. The invitation to visit Ukraine came in June during a telephone conversation between the two presidents.

In a brief press release, Guatemala’s communication secretariat for the presidency gave no details on when the visit began or how long it would last. Following Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine, Giammattei closed Guatemala’s embassy in Moscow.

9:35pm: Zelensky urges Europe to retaliate against Russia’s “gas war” by boosting sanctions

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Europe to retaliate against Russia’s “gas war” by boosting its sanctions against Moscow. “Today we heard new gas threats to Europe… This is an open gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe,” Zelensky said, reacting to Gazprom’s announcement of a new cut in gas deliveries to Europe.

5:35pm: Lavrov says Russian goal to oust Ukraine’s Zelensky

Russia’s top diplomat said Moscow’s overarching goal in Ukraine is to topple President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, expressing the Kremlin’s war aims in some of the bluntest terms yet as its forces pummel the country with artillery barrages and airstrikes.

Speaking to envoys at an Arab League summit in Cairo late Sunday, Lavrov said Moscow is determined to help Ukrainians “liberate themselves from the burden of this absolutely unacceptable regime.” “Russian and Ukrainian people would continue to live together. We will certainly help Ukrainian people to get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical,” he said.

Lavrov accused Kyiv and its Western allies of spouting propaganda intended to ensure that Ukraine “becomes the eternal enemy of Russia.”

5:25pm: French prosecutors open probe into Russian oligarchs, legal source says

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the assets owned by Russian oligarchs, a legal source said on Monday. The probe is expected to look into possible money laundering and corruption.

The investigation, first reported by the Parisien newspaper, comes after anti-graft group Transparency International filed a legal complaint against oligarchs in France in May. France has frozen Russian-owned assets worth billions of euros since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February, including luxury yachts, ski chalets and property.

The country’s Mediterranean coast, high-end ski resorts and Parisian real estate market have long been favoured destinations for Russian cash for investment and leisure. “The ambitions of the sanctions regime against Russia and the first asset seizures are running into difficulties in identifying the assets owned by sanctioned individuals,” Transparency International France said in a statement last month.

5:15pm: Germany says ‘no technical reason’ for Nord Stream gas delivery cut

The German government said there was no technical justification for Russian gas giant Gazprom’s announcement on Monday that it was slashing gas flows via the Nord Stream pipeline. “According to the information we have there is no technical reason for a reduction of deliveries,” a German economy ministry spokeswoman told AFP after Gazprom said it was cutting the supply to 33 million cubic metres a day.

4:50pm: Gazprom to further cut Nord Stream 1 gas supplies

Russian gas giant Gazprom said Monday it was cutting daily gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline to 33 million cubic metres a day from Wednedsay (July 27), down from its full capacity of more than 160 mcm per day.

The company said it was halting the operation of another turbine due to the “technical condition of the engine”.

4:30pm: Kyiv welcomes UK hosting Eurovision ‘on behalf of Ukraine’

Ukraine on Monday welcomed the decision for Britain to host next year’s Eurovision song contest after initially condemning the move to strip the war-torn country of its right to host on security grounds.

“We received assurances… that they will hold Eurovision… with an extremely high integration of Ukrainian contexts and presenters,” Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said on Facebook, adding that the decision was made following “several rounds of consultations”.

4:00pm: Two Russian-occupied regions may vote to join Russia in September

Russian news agency RIA said the two regions, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, might hold referendums in early September on joining Russia, quoting Vladimir Rogov, member of the Russia-appointed Zaporizhzhia provincial government.

Ukraine’s military reported progress in what it has termed a steady counter-offensive in Kherson, however, saying its forces had moved within firing range of Russian targets. Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports. Britain said Russian commanders continue to face a dilemma – whether to bolster their defences around Kherson and nearby areas or resource their offensive in the east.

As well as the eastern Donbas region, Russia has set its sights on large swathes of southern Ukraine, where it has occupied two regions north of the Black Sea peninsula Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

1:55pm: Ukraine says ‘turning point’ has been reached in Kherson

Kherson was the first major city to fall to Russian forces in Ukraine. Now, Ukrainian forces say a “turning point” has been reached in the region in south Ukraine. 

In recent weeks Ukrainian forces have been recapturing territory in the region thanks to weaponry sent from allies in the west. Western intelligence shows that Russian defensive positions have been reinforced. 


1:31pm: Ukraine hopes for grain exports to restart on Wednesday

Ukraine said on Monday it hoped a U.N.-brokered deal aimed at easing global food shortages by resuming grain exports from the Black Sea region would start being implemented this week.

A senior government officials told a news conference he hoped the first grain shipment under the deal would be from the port of Chornomorsk on Wednesday.

1:22pm: UK to host 2023 Eurovision instead of Ukraine

Britain said Monday it had reluctantly agreed to take Ukraine’s place as hosts of next year’s Eurovision song contest after organisers said there was no prospect of the event going ahead in the war-torn country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said it was his “strong wish” for Ukraine, this year’s winner, to host the 2023 edition and found it “deeply regrettable” that was no longer possible, with the BBC stepping in to host.

11:11am: Kremlin says strike on Odesa will not affect grain exports

The Kremlin said on Monday that a Russian missile strike against the Ukrainian port of Odesa would not affect grain exports but said the United Nations must secure the removal of curbs on Russian exports for the landmark grain deal to work.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia had targeted military infrastructure in a missile strike on Saturday, just hours after Kyiv and Moscow had secured the conflict’s first diplomatic breakthrough since February in a deal to restart crucial grain exports from Ukraine.

“These strikes are connected exclusively with military infrastructure,” Peskov said. “They are in no way related to infrastructure that is used for the export of grain. This should not affect — and will not affect — the beginning of shipments.”

The hit on Odesa had raised questions about whether the deal would go ahead or if all sides would honour the agreements reached in Istanbul.

9:07am: ‘Inconclusive’ fighting continues in Donbas and Kherson says British military

Inconclusive fighting has continued in both Donbas and Kherson regions in eastern Ukraine, British military intelligence said on Monday.

Russian commanders continue to face a dilemma — whether to resource Russia’s offensive in the east, or to bolster the defence in the west, Britain’s defence ministry said on Twitter.

The ministry added in its regular bulletin that on July 18, the British intelligence identified a Russian military vehicle refit and refurbishment facility near Barvinok, in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, which is 10 kilometres (6.21 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

“At least 300 damaged vehicles were present, including main battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and general support trucks,” the update added.

8:35am: Russia waging war out of working nuclear power plant in Ukraine

Russian forces have recently been using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, near Nikopol, as a base to launch attacks, ramping up scurity concerns in surrounding areas. The power plant is the largest in Europe and has been under Russian control since March.

“Ukrainian forces can’t shoot back in case they hit the plant,” a local told FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg, reporting from Nikopol.

The Ukrainian nuclear energy agency also raised concerns about the risk of heavy military equipment and explosives being stored inside reactor buildings.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant seen from an embankment of the Dnipro river in the town of Nikopol, Ukraine, on July 20, 2022. © Stringer, Reuters

4:34am: Lavrov offers reassurance over Russian grain supplies in Cairo visit

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered reassurances over Russian grain supplies to Egypt during a visit to Cairo on Sunday, amid uncertainty over a deal to resume Ukrainian exports from the Black Sea.

Egypt is one of the world’s top wheat importers and last year bought about 80% of those imports from Russia and Ukraine. Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine disrupted shipments and sped up a rise in global commodity prices, delivering a financial shock to Egypt.

In its response to the war, Egypt has been torn between long-standing ties to Russia and its close relationship to Western powers that have sanctioned and sought to isolate Moscow.

Western embassies had lobbied Egypt and the Arab League ahead of Lavrov’s visit, which included talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and representatives of the Arab League.

“We reaffirmed the commitment of Russian grain exporters to meet all their commitments,” Lavrov said in a press conference with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

The Cairo visit was the the first leg of an Africa trip that will also include stops in Ethiopia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Russia’s state-run RT television network.


© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AP and AFP)