Ukrainian forces able to inflict ‘significant losses’ on Russians

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2 hr 3 min ago

Ukrainians say multiple Russian assaults into Donetsk have been resisted

From CNN’s Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian service members fire a shell from a towed howitzer FH-70 at a front line in the Donbas region, Ukraine, on July 18.
Ukrainian service members fire a shell from a towed howitzer FH-70 at a front line in the Donbas region, Ukraine, on July 18. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Russian forces are making renewed efforts to break through Ukrainian defenses in the northeastern Kharkiv region as they try to resume their offensive toward the city of Sloviansk in the neighboring Donetsk region, according to the Ukrainian military.

Following an airstrike, Russian forces tried to attack the village of Husarivka about 30 kilometers northwest of Sloviansk but the Ukrainian military said they “answered with heavy fire and pushed the invaders back.”

Elsewhere, along the three-sided front in Donetsk, the Ukrainian military’s General Staff said many areas had come under fire. The Russians had also carried out assaults near the village of Spirne, but “had no success and retreated,” it said.

Spirne is deep inside the pocket of territory in Donetsk that Ukrainian forces are defending and has been under almost constant attack since the Russians took the city of Lysychansk in neighboring Luhansk. 

Ukrainian troops had also repelled efforts by Russian forces to launch assaults south of the city of Bakhmut, the General Staff added.

Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said the Russians had “attacked from four directions, almost everywhere the attack has already been repulsed.”

Further south in the region of Dnipropetrovsk, Valentyn Reznichenko, head of the Civil Military Administration, said Russian forces had fired at Nikopol — located across the Dnipro River from Russian-held Enerhodar — and Kryvyi Rih districts.

“Up to 40 rockets were fired at Nikopol,” Reznichenko said, adding the city had come under fire for three consecutive nights.

3 hr 44 min ago

It’s 8:30 a.m. in Kyiv. Here’s what you need to know

Ukraine is now able to inflict “significant losses” on the Russians, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday, as other Ukrainian officials claimed an influx of Western weapons is changing the battlefield.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Battlefield shift: The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said the “timely arrival” of longer range artillery such as the US HIMARS system was helping to change the war. CNN has identified nearly 20 strikes far behind Russian lines so far this month — some of them causing large explosions and multiple detonations. In his nightly video address, President Zelensky said, “It is increasingly difficult for the Russian army to hold positions on the captured territory.”
  • Officials suspended: Zelensky has suspended two key figures in his government, questioning their leadership qualities and accusing many of their subordinates of treason and collaborating with Russia. The two high-ranking officials — Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and State Security Service (SBU) head Ivan Bakanov — are now subject to an investigation and have been temporarily replaced.
  • Frontline fighting: Ukrainian forces are resisting attacks by Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military said. “The enemy continues offensive attempts in the direction of the cities of Bakhmut and Siversk” but is meeting pushback from Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainian General Staff said. But the leadership of the Russian-backed separatist-held Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) claimed its offensive was going to plan.
  • Nuclear plant incident: A number of people died and at least nine Russian soldiers were injured in an unexplained incident on Monday at a nuclear power plant in central Ukraine, the mayor of the city of Enerhodar said. There has been no word yet from the Russian side on what happened.
  • Washington visit: Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday as part of her high-profile trip to the United States, where she will address members of Congress and meet US first lady Jill Biden. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that Blinken emphasized the US’ “commitment to support Ukraine’s victory.”
  • NATO threat: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday renewed his threat to “freeze the process” of NATO membership for Sweden and Finland after conditionally agreeing to green light their bid in June. “I would like to remind you once again that we will freeze the process if they do not take the necessary steps to fulfill our conditions,” Erdoğan said.
  • Putin’s tech vow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged Moscow faces “colossal” difficulties in accessing high-tech goods due to Western sanctions, but said it was impossible to cut off his country from the world economy. “It is clear that we cannot develop in isolation from the whole world. But we won’t,” he said. “In the modern world, it is impossible to … put up a huge fence. It’s just impossible!”
4 hr 12 min ago

Russian missiles hit Odesa overnight, Ukrainian official says

From CNN’s Teele Rebane and Josh Pennington

Destruction in the Ukrainian city of Odesa on Tuesday following a Russian missile attack.
Destruction in the Ukrainian city of Odesa on Tuesday following a Russian missile attack. (Odesa City Council)

At least six people were injured, including a child, after Russian missiles struck the city of Odesa in southern Ukraine, a Ukrainian military official said Tuesday.

Serhiy Bratchuk spokesman of the Odesa military administration said in a Telegram post that the city was targeted by seven “Kalibr” cruise missiles fired from the Black Sea.

Six of the Russian missiles evaded Ukrainian air defenses and hit areas with a “civilian population,” Bratchuk said.

Three homes and at least two other buildings were destroyed in the attack, with damage reported to several other structures, he added.

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.

4 hr 57 min ago

To Russia, he’s a traitor and right-wing extremist. In Ukraine, he’s a Russian fighting his own country

From CNN’s Scott McLean, Sarah Dean and Dennis Lapin in Kyiv, Ukraine

On the outskirts of Kyiv, past endless rows of Soviet-style apartment blocks, there’s a sterile rehabilitation center filled with Ukrainian troops injured on the front lines.

There are patients with nerve damage, burns, breaks, even an amputated leg — and it seems almost everyone’s inked arms and legs are spotted with shrapnel wounds.

Stepan Kaplunov lies on a bed with a medieval-looking contraption moving his leg back and forth — both legs were broken in battle when a tank shell exploded next to him.

Sporting a shaved head, beard and a sleeve of tattoos, he looks like every other Ukrainian soldier in the room — except that Kaplunov is actually Russian. It’s the only citizenship he holds.

Born in Ivanovo, about 150 miles northeast of Moscow, he grew up in Russia’s far north and later joined the Russian military, serving a tour of duty in Syria. He showed us his identification papers to prove his Russian birth.

He described himself as an “opponent of the Russian government and the presidential regime,” and described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “tyrant who is pining to restore the USSR.”

Yet, Kaplunov says, he never felt compelled to act on his opposition, until 2014, when Russia invaded Ukraine — seizing Crimea and part of the Donbas region.

It moved me,” he told CNN through a translator. “I’m not going to say that 100% of my motivation is exactly justice. There’s a predisposition in people, people who like adventure, risk taking. I had been a soldier before and wanted to apply my skills, and I had sympathy for Ukraine, I thought Ukraine was right and deserved to be helped.”

So, he crossed the border, and joined up with the Azov Battalion — then a ragtag militia of Ukraine’s most hardcore fighters, many of whom were ultra-nationalists, and white supremacists.

Read Kaplunov’s story here.

5 hr 57 min ago

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska

From CNN’s Rashard Rose and Kate Bennett

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska at the State Department on Monday in Washington, DC.
Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska at the State Department on Monday in Washington, DC. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday as part of her high-profile trip to the United States, where she will address members of Congress.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that Blinken emphasized the US’ “commitment to support Ukraine’s victory” during his meeting with Zelenska.

Blinken and Zelenska also spoke about the immense and growing human costs of Russia’s invasion.

“The Secretary strongly condemned Russia’s brutal attacks, which continue to wound and kill innocent civilians and destroy homes, hospitals, schools, and other civilian infrastructure — including a July 14 strike on Vinnytsya that killed three children,” Price said.

“The Secretary reiterated that the United States remains dedicated to helping the people of Ukraine recover and rebuild from the devastation inflicted on them by President Putin’s unjust war.”

Price said Blinken had reiterated that the US will continue to help Ukraine respond to the significant economic and humanitarian challenges it faces, including supporting Zelenska’s mental health initiative for citizens affected by the war.

On Tuesday, US first lady Jill Biden will host her Ukrainian counterpart at the White House, according to a release from the East Wing.

Biden and Zelenska first met in person in May, when the US first lady visited Ukraine.

The first ladies had been in communication prior to their one-hour closed meeting, during which Zelenska shared with Biden her concerns for the emotional health of Ukrainian children.

6 hr 23 min ago

Ukrainian official reports fatalities and injured Russian soldiers in incident at nuclear power plant

From CNN’s Kostan Nechyporenko

A number of people died and at least nine Russian soldiers were injured in an unexplained incident on Monday at a nuclear power plant in central Ukraine, the mayor of the city of Enerhodar said.

Mayor Dmytro Orlov, who is not in the Russian-occupied city, said the Russian troops “were urgently delivered to the city hospital with injuries of varying severity. Some had been hospitalized and one was in intensive care.”

“There are also dead people, but we cannot give their exact numbers at the moment,” he said.

There has been no word from the Russian side on what happened. The Russians occupied Enerhodar and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant early in March.

2 hr 47 min ago

Zelensky says influx of Western weapons is shifting battlefield balance

From CNN’s Tim Lister

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his nightly address on Monday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivers his nightly address on Monday. (Office of the President of Ukraine)

Ukraine is now able to inflict “significant losses” on the Russians, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, as other Ukrainian officials said an influx of Western weapons is changing the battlefield.

In his daily video message Monday, Zelensky said Ukrainian forces are “able to inflict significant logistical losses on the occupiers.”

“It is increasingly difficult for the Russian army to hold positions on the captured territory,” he said. “Step by step, we advance, disrupt the supply of the occupiers, and identify and neutralize collaborators.”

Valeriy Zaluzhniy, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said the “timely arrival” of longer range artillery such as the US HIMARS system was helping to change the battlefield.

“We managed to stabilize the situation. It is complex, intense, but completely controlled. An important factor contributing to our retention of defensive lines and positions is the timely arrival of M142 HIMARS, which deliver surgical strikes on enemy control posts, ammunition and fuel storage depots,” Zaluzhniy said.

CNN has identified nearly 20 strikes far behind Russian lines, in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, so far this month — some of them causing large explosions and multiple detonations.

Ukrainian service members prepare to shoot from a towed howitzer FH-70 at a front line in the Donbas Region, Ukraine, on July 18.
Ukrainian service members prepare to shoot from a towed howitzer FH-70 at a front line in the Donbas Region, Ukraine, on July 18. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)

Zaluzhniy said he had thanked Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the United States, for the help of the US and its allies “in the struggle for freedom.”

Separately, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, told Ukrainian television that “today, we really have a completely different situation than it was a month ago. Now, thanks to the fact that we receive enough weapons from our partners, we have established a certain parity in certain positions.”

Danilov said Ukraine would like more weapons in future to tip the balance in its favor “so that we have as many capabilities as possible to end this war as soon as possible.”

Speaking about the situation in Donbas, Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said Monday that “Western weapons work not at 100% but at 200% because [Russian] warehouses are blown up. Command posts are also blown up. “

Hayday said “we can clearly understand that the Russians are really afraid of a further increase in those Western weapons.”

6 hr ago

Ukrainian forces claim success in defense of cities in Donetsk

From CNN’s Tim Lister

People stand in front of a destroyed market after a Russian missile strike in the town of Bakhmut, Donetsk region on July 16.
People stand in front of a destroyed market after a Russian missile strike in the town of Bakhmut, Donetsk region on July 16. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian forces are resisting attacks by Russian forces in the eastern Donetsk region, the Ukrainian military said Monday.

“The enemy continues offensive attempts in the direction of the cities of Bakhmut and Siversk” but is meeting pushback from Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainian General Staff said.

At the same time, Russians are intensifying hostilities toward the town of Avdiivka, trying to improve their “tactical position,” but they were unsuccessful and had withdrawn, the General Staff added.

Avdiivka is immediately north of the city of Donetsk and remains in Ukrainian hands despite months of Russian bombardment. 

However, the leadership of the Russian-backed separatist-held Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) claimed its offensive was going to plan.

Preparations are underway “to carry out the tasks planned for the liberation of the republic’s territory. The same thing is happening in Avdiivka and in the Horlivka area,” DPR militia spokesman Eduard Basurin said.

The goal of DPR forces was to surround Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut and ensure that territory held by the DPR is beyond the range of Ukrainian artillery, Basurin said.

Advances by DPR forces along with Russian units and the separatist Luhansk People’s militia would “”make it possible to force the enemy to retreat deep into the Ukraine territory, thereby securing both Donetsk and Yasynуvata and Makiivka from shelling,” he added.

8 hr 39 min ago

Zelensky suspends top officials over staffers’ “collaboration” with Russia

From CNN’s Tim Lister and Mariya Knight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has suspended two important figures in his government, questioning their leadership qualities and accusing many of their subordinates of treason and collaborating with Russia.

The two high-ranking officials — Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and State Security Service (SBU) head Ivan Bakanov, a long-time associate of the President — are now subject to an investigation and have been temporarily replaced.

“For a long enough time, we have been waiting for more concrete and sufficiently radical results from the leaders of these two departments, to clean these two departments of collaborators and state traitors,” the deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andrii Smyrnov, told Ukrainian television on Monday.

“However, in the sixth month of the war, we continue to find … packs of these people, in each of these departments,” Smyrnov said.

In his nightly video address on Sunday, Zelensky appeared to suggest that the pair had been fired. “Today I made a decision to remove the Prosecutor General from office and to dismiss the Head of the Security Service of Ukraine,” Zelensky said, adding that many officials within both departments were suspected of treason.

But Smyrnov said Monday that the pair have been suspended to ensure they did not interfere with the investigations. Zelensky will decide whether or not to submit a motion to dismiss them to Ukraine’s Parliament, depending on the results of the probe.

Read more here.

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