Russia-Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy says no cease-fire without reclaiming territory

Russia-Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy says no cease-fire without reclaiming territory

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday told the Wall Street Journal newspaper that a ceasefire with Russia without reclaiming lost territories would only prolong the war. 

To cede lands that Russia currently controls would encourage Russia’s aggressive behavior while at the same time giving it a much-needed opportunity to regroup and rearm before launching the next assault.

Zelenskyy told the paper that although US high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) are “making a difference,” they are not enough “to turn the tide.” 

“A more pressing need is air-defense systems that could prevent Russia from raining long-range missiles on otherwise peaceful cities hundreds of miles from the front lines,” added the president.

“The territories,” said Zelenskyy, “must be liberated first, and then we can negotiate about what to do and how we can live in the centuries ahead.”

The White House on Friday announced the US would provide Ukraine with yet another defense aid package, this one worth $270 million (€264.6 million). 

The loan includes $100 million for the purchase of “Phoenix Ghost” kamikaze drones. Kyiv will receive 580 of the so-called loitering munition drones in the deal. 

Produced by California-based AEVEX Aerospace, the drones can loiter for up to six hours before engaging medium-armored ground targets with an explosive charge. They can also be used for surveillance and have infrared sensors for night operation.  

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on July 22.

Ukraine-Russia grain deal reached

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey has been reached to allow Ukrainian ports to restart grain exports.

A monthslong Russian blockade has pushed prices higher and threatened global food shortages.

The proposal, which was signed by both warring parties in Istanbul on Friday, marks the first major agreement between the two warring sides and has boosted hopes that a worsening food security crisis can now be eased.

Kyiv denies Russia destroyed US-delivered artillery rocket systems

Russia says its forces destroyed four US-supplied high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) in Ukraine earlier this month.

Between July 5-20, “four launchers and one reloading vehicle for the U.S.-made multiple launch rocket systems (HIMARS) were destroyed,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a daily briefing.

Kyiv rejected Moscow’s claims, calling them “fakes” designed to undermine the West’s support for Ukraine. The reports could not be verified independently.

Kyiv has hailed the arrival of eight HIMARS in Ukraine as a possible gamechanger in the war.

The advanced weapons are more precise and offer a longer range than other artillery systems, allowing Kyiv to strike Russian targets and weapons depots further behind the front lines.

School in eastern Ukraine hit by Russian strike

Three bodies have been pulled from a school hit by a Russian strike in eastern Ukraine, officials said.

The deaths happened in Kramatorsk, in Donetsk province, where Russian shelling also damaged 85 residential buildings.

A spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed the strike had killed over 300 Ukrainian troops who used the building of the school as their base. He said another strike destroyed a munitions depot in the industrial zone of the southern city of Mykolaiv.

The casualties follow a barrage on a densely populated area of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, that killed at least three people and wounded 23 others.

US: War leaving hundreds of daily Russian casualties

Russia’s military is taking hundreds of casualties a day in its war in Ukraine, a senior US defense official said.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that in addition to the lieutenants and captains killed, the lives of hundreds of colonels and “many” Russian generals had been lost as well.

The US estimates that Russian casualties so far have reached around 15,000 killed and perhaps 45,000 wounded.

The Kyiv government said in June that 100 to 200 Ukrainian troops were being killed per day.

German public supports sanctions on Russia

More than half of Germans back the sanctions imposed on Russia, despite the possible consequences from the fallout, according to a poll conducted by public broadcaster ARD. 

When asked in the survey, 58% came out in support of the hard line on Moscow, even though energy prices are set to soar as a result.

In eastern Germany, however, 51% were opposed if the sanctions meant an increase in energy prices and a decline in the country’s economy. In the western part of the country, 63% were in favor of the measures against Russia, whatever the consequences on energy prices.

Earlier this month, Germany’s energy regulator estimated that monthly heating bills could triple due to a significant decrease in Russian gas imports.

Russia-backed separatists block Google

Separatist pro-Russian authorities in eastern Ukraine said Friday they had blocked Google, accusing the search engine of advocating “violence against Russians, in particular the people of the Donbas.”

“We took the decision to block Google on the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” rebel leader Denis Pushilin said on Telegram.

The self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, which neighbors Donetsk, blocked Google on Thursday. 

Russia accuses Greece, Denmark, Slovenia, Croatia and Slovakia of ‘carrying out unfriendly actions’

The Russian government has added Greece, Denmark, Slovenia, Croatia and Slovakia to its list of foreign states that it deems “unfriendly.”

“The [Russian] government has updated the list of foreign states that are carrying out unfriendly actions against Russian diplomatic and consular missions abroad. Greece, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Croatia have been included in the list,” a statement from the Russian government said.

A decree has been adopted which means Slovenia and Croatia will no longer be in a position to hire people in Russia for their diplomatic missions there, while having employees in Russia has been limited for Greece, Denmark, and Slovakia.

Russian gas still flowing through Nord Stream

The German operator of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline said Friday that the same amount of gas is flowing as before the maintenance period began. However, this only amounts to around 40% of total capacity, as Russia has turned down the taps.

There are continued fears in Europe that Russia could completely turn off gas flows by winter, which would trigger an energy crisis. 

On Friday, Germany finalized a bailout package for Uniper, Germany’s largest importer of Russian gas, after Russia’s Gazprom cut supplies, raising prices and forcing the company to the brink of bankruptcy. 

Catch up on DW’s Ukraine content

What has Russia learned from Iran about evading Western sanctions? After Vladimir Putin’s trip to Iran, Moscow is perhaps taking a lesson from Iran’s expertise in sanctions-busting, observers note.

As Russia’s energy supply is jeopardized by tensions with Russia, the European Union is coming up with ways to reduce dependency. 

jsi/wmr (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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Last Update: Fri, 22 Jul 22 16:03:06