Resolving Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain supplies is a matter of “life and death for many human beings,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday.
Russia has to de-block and allow Ukrainian grain to be exported,” Borrell told reporters ahead of a European Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
What will they talk about? The meeting will focus on Ukraine. Kyiv’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is expected to join the meeting and report on the situation on the ground.
Ministers will discuss how to better implement sanctions against Russia and increase military support for Ukraine, Borrell said.
Gas supply: On Wednesday, the EU Commission will discuss gas supply and the bloc’s reliance on Russian energy.
“We are not going to stop supporting Ukraine and putting sanctions on Russia,” Borrell said.
“Certainly there is a risk to our energy supply. Everybody knows (that),” Borrell said.
He added that the EU Commission and Council were prepared to face “any possible situation.”
Social media videos published early Monday showed large explosions in the Kherson region, close to the River Dnipro.
Serhii Khlan, an adviser to the head of the Kherson civil-military administration, told CNN that two warehouses in Russian-occupied territory had been struck – one in Chulakivka at 11pm local time Sunday and the other in Raiske near Nova Kakhovk at 5am local time Monday. He said detonations had continued for several hours In Raiske.
Social media video showed a large plume of smoke rising over the river.
Some context: Ukrainian forces had previously targeted a large warehouse said to contain Russian munitions in Nova Kakhovka, setting off multiple detonations and sending a huge fireball into the sky.
The arrival of high-precision long-range artillery and rocket systems from western allies has allowed Ukrainian forces to target Russian supply lines and storage sites far behind the front lines.
The Ukrainian military said Monday that shelling of its defenses across Donetsk is continuing, but renewed attempts by Russian forces to win territory have been foiled.
The General Staff said that north of the city of Sloviansk more than ten settlements had come under fire. Most civilians left the area weeks ago.
The Russians continued to shell areas along the border of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions and were persisting with a ground assault to the east of the city of Lysychansk, which they took last month.
Ukrainian forces still defending this pocket of territory in eastern Donetsk region are being attacked from two sides as the Russians try to close in on the town of Siversk. But the General Staff said that “our defenders successfully repulsed the assaults in the areas of Verkhniokamianske, Spirne and Serebrianka settlements,” all close to Siversk.
The Ukrainian military said Russian efforts to attack from the south, near Bakhmut, had also been rebuffed.
At a standstill: Overall, very little territory has changed hands in Donbas since the fall of Lysychansk as Ukrainian forces have adopted new defensive positions.
Oleksandr Honcharenko, the mayor of Kramatorsk, said that early Monday, there had been four strikes on an industrial zone in the city. Kramatorsk is some distance from the front lines but one of several cities in the west of Donetsk region that are seeing an uptick in long-range Russian missile and rocket attacks.
In the south, the military said the Russians had tried to carry out an airstrike in northern Kherson, parts of which were liberated in recent weeks.
“After attacking our positions, the [enemy] immediately retreated under the onslaught of fire,” Operational Command South said. It claimed that Ukrainian aircraft had hit Russian weapons and ammunition near Davydiv Brid, on the border of Kherson and Mykolaiv regions.
Elsewhere in the south, heavy shelling was reported overnight in the town of Nikopol in Dnipropetrovsk region, with about ten homes and a power plant hit.
At least 353 Ukrainian children have died and more than 665 been injured due to Russia’s invasion, the Ukrainian Juvenile Prosecutor’s Office said on Monday.
Most injuries were reported in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Kyiv, it said.
It said at least 2,138 educational institutions have been damaged, of which 221 have been completely destroyed.
Russian forces hit Pokrovsk, a city in Donetsk region, with two Iskander-M ballistic missiles on Saturday, killing at least one person and injuring 14, according to Marharyta Idrisova, the city’s deputy mayor.
“Fourteen people were injured with medium and light injuries and were admitted to the hospital,” Idrisova said.
“Unfortunately, there’s one dead civilian. It’s a woman born in 1987, she was simply sitting on the bench when the strike took place,” she added.
Idrisova said 30 buildings in the city were damaged in the strike.
Pokrovsk is 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the front lines but has seen an uptick in missile and air strikes as Russian forces try to weaken Ukrainian defenses in Donetsk.
The battle for southern Ukraine is heating up, with Russia sending reinforcements westward from Mariupol as its forces come under attack from Ukrainian long-range weapons.
Here’s what you need to know:
Battle for the South: Ukrainian officials say a steady flow of Russian military equipment is moving westward from Mariupol toward other parts of southern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces are on the offensive. A convoy of up to 100 units of military equipment passed through Mariupol in the direction of Zaporizhzhia on Saturday, according to Ukrainian officials. Some independent analysts believe this is to support Russian forces in Kherson that have come under attack from Ukrainian long-range weapons.
Russian advance foiled: The Ukrainian military says Russian forces are trying to eliminate its defensive positions in Donetsk, with the town of Siversk their immediate priority. After withdrawing from the city of Lysychansk last month, the Ukrainians appear to be defending terrain further west with tenacity – despite superior Russian firepower.
Zelensky fires top officials: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed his Prosecutor General and the head of the Security Service, saying many officials in both departments are suspected of treason and collaborating with Russia. He said 651 criminal proceedings had been registered regarding treason and collaboration and that “more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the Security Service of Ukraine remained in the occupied territory and are working against our state.” Among those detained on suspicion of treason is the former head of the Main Directorate of the Security Service in Crimea.
Funeral for girl, 4: A funeral was held on Sunday for a 4-year-old girl who died during Russian strikes on the central Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia. Ukrainian broadcaster Suspilne aired video of Sunday’s funeral for the girl, Liza. The footage showed mourners surrounding her casket, a crown of flowers on her head and stuffed animals surrounding her body. “It’s to avoid pictures like this that I sent my own children away,” said Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko. “And it’s why I urge Ukrainian mothers with kids to temporarily seek safety abroad whenever possible.”
Ukrainian officials say a steady flow of Russian military equipment continues to move westward from Mariupol toward other parts of southern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces are on the offensive.
The assertion is supported by recently geolocated video of Russian armor moving through parts of southern Ukraine.
We continue to record the movement of military equipment through Mariupol,” Petro Andriushenko, an adviser to the mayor of occupied Mariupol, said Sunday.
Andriushenko, who is not in Mariupol, said “a large convoy of up to 100 units of military equipment passed through the city in the direction of the Zaporizhzhia region” on Saturday. The column included infantry fighting vehicles.
“In addition, a large number of Russian soldiers, brought in by KAMAZ trucks, settled in the villages of the Nikolske and Manhush districts” – two districts west of Mariupol.
Last week, CNN geolocated a large Russian military convoy heading west near the city of Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Photographs posted in a Mariupol local community group on July 15 also appeared to show Russian military vehicles on the move through the city on the way to Berdiansk.
Some independent analysts believe the Russians are moving forces westward potentially to support Russian forces that are on the defensive in Kherson after coming under attack by Ukrainian long-range weapons.
On Sunday, Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, said there had been a number of explosions south of the city (in Yakymivka – where Ukrainian saboteurs blew up a railroad bridge in April.) He gave no explanation, but Russian bases in the region have been struck by long-range Ukrainian artillery at least three times this month.
Fedorov said Russian forces were increasing the pressure on the civilian population in Melitopol, sealing off neighborhoods and conducting questionnaires.
People in the temporarily occupied territories live in such a hell today. And of course, the [Russians] will use the data they collect for their fake statistics and pseudo-referendums,” Federov said.
Fedorov added some 500 people were stranded at the Russian-controlled checkpoint in Vasylivka, the last remaining crossing-point for civilians to reach Ukrainian-controlled territory.
In Kherson, where Russian command posts and ammunition dumps have come under attack in recent weeks, Ukraine’s Operational Command South said “units of the Russian occupying forces (have) massively changed their deployment points, trying to hide behind the civilian population.”
It claimed that Russian forces have abandoned some bases for fear of further strikes and chosen “new deployment locations in densely populated residential areas, hoping that the defense forces of Ukraine will not carry out strikes that could be a threat to local residents.”
The Ukrainian military says Russian forces are continuing their efforts to eliminate its defensive positions in Donetsk, with the town of Siversk their immediate priority.
The enemy continues to focus its main efforts on attempts to establish control over the city of Siversk and advance in the direction of the city of Bakhmut,” the General Staff of the armed forces said Sunday.
After withdrawing from the city of Lysychansk last month, the Ukrainians appear to be defending terrain further west with tenacity – despite superior Russian firepower.
Last week, the leadership of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic claimed that Siversk had been taken, but western intelligence assessments are that it is still held by the Ukrainians. The General Staff said Sunday that another attempt by the Russians to break through towards Siversk had been foiled near Hryhorivka.
The General Staff said several settlements south of Bakhmut had been shelled, while towns further from the front lines had been hit by missile and airstrikes.
After what some observers regarded as an operational pause by Russian forces to re-equip, it appears they are now trying to advance on the ground again, but are meeting stiff resistance.
“The occupiers tried to storm and advance near Berestove, Bilohorivka, Yakovlivka, and Novoluhanske,” all settlements within the pocket of Donetsk that the Ukrainians are trying to defend, the General Staff said.
“The actions of the enemy again ended in failure and loss of personnel,” it added
The General Staff also said there had been shelling of more than ten districts north of the city of Sloviansk, but did not say whether any territory had been lost in the area.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed two important figures in his government — questioning their leadership qualities and accusing many of their subordinates of treason and collaborating with Russia.
In his nightly video address, Zelensky said, “Today I made a decision to remove the Prosecutor General from office and to dismiss the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine.”
The two officials dismissed are Iryna Venediktova — the Prosecutor General — and Ivan Bakanov — head of the powerful SBU or State Security Service, and a long-time associate of the President.
Zelensky said many officials within both departments are suspected of treason.
“As of today, 651 criminal proceedings have been registered regarding treason and collaboration activities of employees of prosecutor’s offices, pretrial investigation bodies, and other law enforcement agencies,” he said.
“In particular, more than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and the Security Service of Ukraine remained in the occupied territory and are working against our state.”
Explaining his decision to remove Venediktova and Bakanov, Zelensky said, “Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state and the connections detected between the employees of the security forces of Ukraine and the special services of Russia pose very serious questions to the relevant leadership. Each of these questions will receive a proper answer.”
Zelensky said the former head of the Main Directorate of the Security Service in Crimea had been detained on suspicion of treason.
“Everyone who together with him was part of a criminal group that worked in the interests of the Russian Federation will also be held accountable. It is about the transfer of secret information to the enemy and other facts of cooperation with the Russian special services.”
Senior officials in the SBU in southern Ukraine have been blamed for the ease with which Russian forces were able to capture large areas of the south within a week of the invasion.
Zelensky indicated there would be further action.
“The specific actions and any inaction of each official in the security sector and in law enforcement agencies will be evaluated. The corresponding inspection of law enforcement agencies has already yielded the first results and will be continued.”
Zelensky also said the prime minister would be tasked with intensifying the search for a new head of the National Anticorruption Bureau.