Russia strikes eastern and southern Ukraine while Kiev's forces hit and seriously damage a crucial bridge in the south on the 147th day of the conflict.
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
CIA: Around 15,000 Russian forces killed in Ukraine
The United States estimates that Russian casualties in Ukraine so far have reached around 15,000 killed and perhaps 45,000 wounded, CIA Director William Burns has said, cautioning that Kiev has endured significant casualties as well.
"The latest estimates from the US intelligence community would be something in the vicinity of 15,000 (Russian forces) killed and maybe three times that wounded. So a quite significant set of losses," Burns said at the Aspen security forum in Colorado.
"And, the Ukrainians have suffered as well — probably a little less than that. But, you know, significant casualties."
Russia 'won't supply' oil if price is capped below production cost
Russia will not export oil to the world market if the price is capped below the cost of production, Interfax news agency has quoted Deputy Prime Minister AlexanderNovak as telling Russian television.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is pushing for a cap to make it harder for Moscow to fund its attacks in Ukraine. Officials say the goal is to set the price at a level that covers the marginal cost of production so Moscow is incentivised to continue exporting oil.
Brazil, China, India and some African and Middle Eastern countries have increased energy imports from Russia, which sells at deep discounts to global benchmarks because many European refiners have stopped buying Russian oil.
US to send more advanced rocket systems to Ukraine
The United States will provide four more precision rocket systems to Ukraine to help it battle Russia's offensive, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said.
Washington will send "four more Himars advanced rocket systems for a total of 16. The Ukrainians have made excellent use of Himars, and you can see the impact on the battlefield ," Austin told journalists at the Pentagon.
His Ukrainian counterpart had asked the day before for Washington to send more M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars) saying Kiev's forces have used them to destroy some 30 Russian command stations and ammunition depots so far.
Western lenders give Ukraine more time on debt
A group of Western countries have given their green light to allow Ukraine to postpone interest payments on its debt and called on other countries to do so.
"In these exceptional circumstances, and acknowledging Ukraine's exemplary track record of honouring debt service to date, the members of the Group of creditors of Ukraine support this" request to postpone interest payments, they said in a statement.
The group, which includes Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States, called on other countries which have lent money to Ukraine to join in the effort, as well as holders of Ukraine's bonds. The delay in payments from August through at least the end of 2023 was accorded at the request of the Ukrainian government.
Russian official says Ukraine shelled border villages, killing one
The governor of Russia's southern Belgorod region has said that Ukraine had shelled two Russian villages near the border, killing a local resident.
"According to preliminary reports, five shells landed. In Nekhoteevka, four houses were damaged, roofing, windows, a fence and a village clubhouse were hit," governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram, adding that a local man was killed.
Moscow's military focus in Ukraine is no longer just the east of the country, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov says pic.twitter.com/kAoUoByZsO— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) July 20, 2022
Lavrov says Russia's objectives in Ukraine now go beyond Donbass
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said the geographical objectives of Moscow's "special military operation" in Ukraine are no longer limited to the eastern Donbass region but include a number of other territories, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti has reported.
Lavrov added that Russia's objectives will expand still further if the West delivers long-range weapons to Kiev, the agency said.
After being beaten back in an initial attempt to take the capital Kiev, Russia's defence ministry said on March 25 that the first phase of the special operation was complete and it would now focus on "achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbass".
Russia: Destroyed US-made anti ship missile launcher in Ukraine
Russia's defence ministry has said that a US-made Harpoon anti-ship missile launcher had been destroyed in Ukraine's Odessa region.
Ukraine began receiving the Harpoon missiles from Denmark in May as part of wider Western arms shipments to Kiev. Reuters could not immediately confirm the strike.
EU draws up energy plan in case of Russian gas cutoff
The European Union’s head office has proposed that member states cut their gas use by 15% over the coming months to ensure that any full Russian cutoff of natural gas supplies to the bloc will not fundamentally disrupt industries next winter.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has played hot and cold in recent days with his threats to cut off gas deliveries to the bloc of 27 members, but Brussels is asking EU countries to prepare for the worst.
“Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon. And therefore, in any event, whether it’s a partial major cutoff of Russian gas or total cutoff of Russian gas, Europe needs to be ready,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
Ukrainian forces strike key bridge in Russian-occupied south
Ukrainian shelling has badly damaged the crucial Antonivskyi bridge in the Russia-controlled Kherson region of southern Ukraine, Moscow-installed regional authorities have said. The bridge — one of two crossing points for Russian forces to territory they have occupied on the western bank of the vast Dnipro river — has been a key target for Ukrainian forces.
The Russian-backed head of the Kherson region, Volodymyr Saldo, closed the bridge to cargo traffic on Wednesday morning in what he called a "temporary restriction" to allow repair works. Passenger cars were still able to use the bridge, which is more than a kilometre long, Saldo said.
Local officials told the RIA news agency that Ukraine hit the 1.4-kilometre (0.9-mile) bridge at around 4:00am with 12 shells from the newly arrived High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), a US supplied long-range artillery weapon. Britain's defence ministry described the bridge as a "key vulnerability for Russian forces".
Russia ally Syria breaks ties with Ukraine
Syria has announced severing ties with Ukraine in support of its close ally Russia, saying the move is a response to a similar move by Kiev.
"The Syrian Arab Republic has decided to break diplomatic relations with Ukraine in conformity with the principle of reciprocity and in response to the decision of the Ukrainian government," a foreign ministry official, who was not identified, told the state news agency SANA.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced he was severing ties with Syria late last month after Syria recognised the Russian-backed breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine intends to postpone debt payments for 24 months
Ukraine intends to postpone repayment of its Eurobonds and payments of interest on them for 24 months from August 1, according to a government resolution.
The government, which is trying to deal with the impact of Russia's February 24 assault, instructed the finance ministry to hold negotiations with creditors on deferring payments by August 15 and promised additional interest on postponed payments.
The government also plans to postpone payment on the GDP-linked warrants to August 2024 from May 2023, it said.
Russia to punish Wikimedia Foundation over Ukraine conflict 'fakes'
Russia's communications watchdog has said it will taking steps to punish the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, for violating Russian law around the conflict in Ukraine.
In a statement, Roskomnadzor said Wikipedia still hosted "prohibited materials, including fakes about the course of the special military operation on the territory of Ukraine", and that search engines would be used to inform users that Wikimedia violated Russian law .
Writing on Telegram, vice chair of the Russian parliament's committee on information policy Anton Gorelkin said that links to Wikipedia would be accompanied by a disclaimer warning users about legal violations by Wikimedia Foundation.
US, allies discuss possible training for Ukrainian air force
The United States and allies are starting to examine possible training for Ukrainian pilots as part of a long-term effort to potentially help Kiev build a future Ukrainian air force, Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles "CQ" Brown said.
He stressed that future training for Ukrainian pilots was a complex question, one that would need to take in account the state of the conflict and the ability for Kiev to remove pilots from the fight to undergo lengthy instruction.
Brown's comments came days after lawmakers in the House of Representatives moved forward a measure that, if it passes other hurdles, would authorise $100 million to train Ukrainian pilots and maintainers on US combat aircraft.
Zelenskyy fires another top official, calls for even stronger ties with US
President Zelenskyy has dismissed a deputy head of the domestic security service (SBU) and appointed a number of new regional heads of the SBU.
Ivan Bakanov was fired from his position at the helm of the SBU by a comfortable majority, several lawmakers said on the Telegram messaging app.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska arrived in Washington and Zelenskyy said his wife's scheduled address to congress on Wednesday should yield "significant results", saying he hopes it will influence US decision-makers in Washington.
Zelenska's tasks include increasing US support for Ukraine, obtaining additional support to "protect people from Russian terror" and boosting humanitarian assistance, he said in his video address.
Putin warns EU that gas supplies could keep dwindling
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said it is the West’s own fault that the flow of Russian natural gas to European customers has dwindled and warned that it could continue ebbing.
Putin's statement further cranked up the pressure on the European Union, which fears Russia could cut off gas to wreak economic and political havoc in Europe in the winter.
Speaking to Russian reporters in Tehran, Putin said the amount of gas pumped through the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany will fall further from 60 million to 30 million cubic metres a day, or about one-fifth of its capacity, if a turbine isn't quickly replaced.
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