Live: Ukraine says 10 grain ships ready to depart, awaiting UN go-ahead

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Ukraine on Friday said ten ships loaded with grain were ready to leave its Black Sea ports awaiting confirmation that it is safe to do so from the UN and Turkey. Ukraine’s military on Friday denied Russian claims it struck a prison in separatist-held territory, killing 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war. Kyiv, in turn, blamed the strike on Russian forces. Follow our liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).


8:27pm: Ten grain ships ready to depart awaiting UN go-ahead, says Ukraine

Ukraine says 10 ships are loaded with grain and ready to leave its Black Sea ports but are awaiting confirmation that it is safe to do so from the UN and Turkey.

“It depends on Russia assuring that it really will guarantee the security of these vessels,” says FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reporting from Odesa. “There is a lot of scepticism in Ukraine about whether that will really happen,”

Russia hit the port of Odesa with a missile strike on July 23, just one day after Russia and Ukraine signed agreements allowing Ukraine to resume grain exports from the port on the Black Sea.


7:52pm: Lavrov tells Blinken Russia will achieve goals of ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Russia would achieve all the goals of its “special military operation” in Ukraine and that Western arms supplies would only drag out the conflict, Moscow said.

A Russian foreign ministry read-out of the call also cited Lavrov as telling Blinken that Washington was not living up to promises regarding the exemption from sanctions for the supply of food from Russia.

4:39pm: Grain ships yet to leave Ukrainian ports, awaiting security agreement

Ships carrying grain are still docked in Ukrainian Black Sea ports despite being expected to depart Friday and restart Ukrainian grain exports for the first time since February.

“[Workers] have been loading more ships with grain,” said Gulliver Cragg reporting for FRANCE 24 from Odesa, Ukraine. “But they are still waiting for the final confirmation from the UN.”

The process is reportedly stalled as authorities await final security assurances from Russia.

Grain ships still waiting for security agreement to leave Ukrainian ports © France 24

4:18pm: Ukraine appeals to International Criminal Court over prison attack

Ukraine’s foreign ministry condemned an attack on a prison in territory held by Russian-backed separatists on Friday, and appealed to the International Criminal Court over what it said were Russian war crimes.

Russia said Ukraine carried out Friday’s attack, in which it said about 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed, and has denied involvement in any war crimes in Ukraine.

“We call on the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to urgently draw attention to the atrocities of Russian servicemen in the context of the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by citizens of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Such alleged crimes, it said, coincided with “another war crime by Russia – shelling of penal institutions in occupied Olenivka, where it is believed that Ukrainians were held prisoners of war”.

The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office on Friday also opened its own pre-trial investigation into an attack.

1:27pm: Court reduces sentence for Russian soldier convicted in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial

A Ukrainian court on Friday reduced to 15 years a life sentence handed to a Russian soldier in May for pre-mediated murder in the country’s first war crimes trial.

“According to the result of the appellate review, the appeal filed by the defence was partially satisfied,” a statement on the Kyiv court of appeals’ website said, adding that Russian soldier “Vadim Shishymarin was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment.”

1:06pm: Zelensky visits Odesa to watch first grain exports leaving

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday visited the Odesa region to observe the loading of grain as exports resume for the first time since the start of the Russian invasion.

“The first vessel, the first ship is being loaded since the beginning of the war,” Zelensky said.

He said the export of grain will begin with the departure of several ships that were already loaded but could not depart the Ukrainian ports.

11:56am: Germany to send Ukraine 16 bridge-layer tanks

Germany’s defence minister has decided to deliver 16 BIBER bridge-layer tanks to Ukrainian forces, the ministry said on Friday. 

“The BIBER will enable Ukrainian troops to cross waters or obstacles in combat,” the ministry said in a statement. “The delivery of the first six systems will take place this year, starting in autumn. Ten more systems will follow next year.”


11:47am: Ukraine says Russia responsible for strike that killed Ukrainian POWs

Ukraine’s military denied carrying out an attack on a prison in separatist-held territory that Russia’s defence ministry said killed 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war on Friday, blaming it on Russian forces.

“The armed forces of the Russian Federation carried out targeted artillery shelling of a correctional institution in the settlement of Olenivka, Donetsk oblast, where Ukrainian prisoners were also held,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement.

“In this way, the Russian occupiers pursued their criminal goals – to accuse Ukraine of committing ‘war crimes’, as well as to hide the torture of prisoners and executions…”

The denial came after the Russian defence ministry said in its daily briefing that “a missile strike from the US-made multiple launch rocket system (HIMARS) was carried out on a pre-trial detention centre in the area of the settlement of Olenivka, where Ukrainian military prisoners of war, including fighters from the Azov battalion, are being held”. 

9:46am: Four killed in Russian attack on Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv

At least four people were killed and seven wounded in a Russian missile strike on the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv on Friday, the regional governor said.

Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, said on the Telegram messaging app that at least some of the wounded had been near a public transport stop.

8:50am: Russia strikes northern Ukraine, including from Belarus

Russian forces launched a missile attack on the Kyiv area for the first time in weeks Thursday and struck the northern Chernihiv region, including with missiles fired from neighbouring Belarus.

Russia attacked the Kyiv region with six missiles launched from the Black Sea, hitting a military unit in the village of Liutizh on the outskirts of the capital, according to Oleksii Hromov, a senior official with Ukraine’s General Staff.

He said that the attack ruined one building and damaged two others, and that Ukrainian forces shot down one of the missiles in the town of Bucha.

Fifteen people were wounded in the Russian strikes, five of them civilians, Kyiv regional Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.

Chernihiv regional Governor Vyacheslav Chaus reported that the Russians also fired missiles from the territory of Belarus at the village of Honcharivska. The Chernihiv oblast had not been targeted in weeks.

Russian troops withdrew from the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions months ago after failing to capture either.

6:37am: Russia’s Wagner given responsibility for parts of frontline, UK says

Russian private military firm Wagner has likely been allocated responsibility for specific sectors of the front line in eastern Ukraine, possibly as Russia is facing a major shortage of combat infantry, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update on Friday.

>> Wagner mercenaries recruiting new soldiers to be sent into Ukraine

“This is a significant change from the previous employment of the group since 2015, when it typically undertook missions distinct from overt, large-scale regular Russian military activity,” Britain said in a regular intelligence bulletin on Twitter.

It also said that Wagner’s forces are highly unlikely to be sufficient to make a significant difference in the trajectory of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)