Crimean Bridge badly damaged after ‘multiple blasts’ in early hours

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has been shown in a video claiming his troops would not fight in Russia’s war in Ukraine for now.

In the video, the authenticity of which could not be immediately verified, a man whose voice and Russian sounded like the mercenary boss is heard welcoming his men to Belarus.

“We fought honourably,” said Prigozhin, adding: “What is going on at the front is a disgrace that we do not need to get involved in.”

He continued: “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.”

This comes after the head of Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service, Richard Moore, said Vladimir Putin is “clearly under pressure” in the wake of the Wagner group’s mutiny attempt in June.

Russia was evacuating thousands of people in the Crimean peninsula on Wednesday after a fire broke out at a military training base in the Kirovske district.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s port city of Odesa witnessed “hellish” scenes overnight as it sustained more Russian airstrikes, a day after Putin pulled out of a deal to allow safe grain exports from the region.


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

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!”

Tara Cobham19 July 2023 15:11


US announces new $1.3 billion in military aid to Ukraine

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.

Holly Evans19 July 2023 20:08


Irish prime minister meets Ukrainian actor assaulted in Dublin

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)

Holly Evans19 July 2023 19:30


Putin says Russia would return to grain deal if conditions met

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.

Holly Evans19 July 2023 19:00


Zelensky meets with Samantha Power to discuss further support

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.

Holly Evans19 July 2023 18:30


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

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


Holly Evans19 July 2023 18:00


Ukraine says Russia ‘blackmailing world with hunger’

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.

Holly Evans19 July 2023 17:40


Ukraine adviser says they need more weapons to defend grain supplies

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.

Holly Evans19 July 2023 17:30


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)

Holly Evans19 July 2023 17:00


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

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.

Holly Evans19 July 2023 16:30

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