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July 14, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

'Pretty grim': CNN reporter in Vinnytsia after Russian missile strike
03:27

What we covered here

  • A Russian strike in Vinnytsia, central Ukraine, has killed at least 23 people, Ukrainian officials say.
  • Prosecutors from Ukraine, the ICC and the EU are meeting at a conference in The Hague to discuss investigating Russian war crimes during the conflict.
  • Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the UN have agreed to form a joint coordination center to ensure the security of Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea following talks in Istanbul, said an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • Witnesses in Russian-occupied Kherson reported another Ukrainian strike Wednesday, the second this week. An official said the target was a Russian munitions depot.
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Zelensky calls on international community to recognize Russia as a "terrorist state" after Vinnytsia attack 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the international community to officially recognize Russia as a terrorist state in his nightly address on Thursday in the wake of the Vinnytsia attack. 

“Russia has shown its attitude to international law, to Europe, and to the entire civilized world,” Zelensky said. 

He added, “After that, no one can have any doubt that a Special Tribunal on Russian aggression against Ukraine is needed as soon as possible.”

Zelensky’s remarks come after missiles struck the city of Vinnytsia on Thursday. He said that among 23 people killed were three children under the age of 10. 

The President called for the confiscation of “all Russian assets and funds in all countries of the world” in order to compensate “for the victims of Russian terror.” 

“It is absolutely necessary to implement as soon as possible such restrictions against Russian energy exports, which will not allow terrorists to cover their costs at the expense of the international community,” he added. 

According to Zelensky, a final number of casualties is still being clarified as “the debris clearance is ongoing” and “dozens of people are listed as missing.” 

“One of the missiles destroyed the Neuromed medical center. There were people inside,” he said.  

The President said that among the dead was a four-year-old girl named Liza and added that her mother is” in critical condition at the moment.” 

“Russia ended the girl’s life just at the time when a conference on Russian war crimes was taking place in the Netherlands, in The Hague,” Zelensky said.

New report finds evidence that Russia used torture chambers and civilians as human shields in Ukraine

Investigators work on June 13, at the scene where bodies of civilians killed by Russian soldiers were found near the village of Myrotske in Bucha district.

A new report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe documents the discovery of torture chambers at a summer camp in Bucha, Ukraine.

This report — OSCE’s second one — covered the period between April 1 to June 25. The OSCE experts traveled to Ukraine to collect evidence, including visiting the towns of Bucha and Irpin, which the report said were “two emblematic examples of the breaches of International Humanitarian Law under the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, which constitute war crimes.”

The experts noted that photographic and video evidence showed Russian forces carried out “targeted, organized killings of civilians in Bucha” who were found shot dead with their hands tied behind their backs.

The report documented a “series of torture chambers separated by concrete walls” discovered at a summer camp in Bucha, including a room that the report said appeared to be used for executions with bullet holes in the walls.

In another room where experts said there was evidence of torture and waterboarding, five dead men were found. “They were covered with burns, bruises, and lacerations,” the report said.

In a village in the Bucha district, the bodies of 18 men, women and children were discovered in a basement.

The report said that “some had their ears cut off, while others had their teeth pulled out.”

The OSCE mission wrote that reports of women and girls being raped and sexually abused by Russian forces “have become abundant,” especially in territories newly occupied by Russian forces.

The report noted several particularly atrocious cases, including a report from the Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmyla Denisova, who said that 25 girls aged 14 to 24 years old were kept in a basement in Bucha and gang-raped. Nine became pregnant, the report said.

The report also documented instances of Ukrainian civilians being used as “human shields,” being forced to fight alongside Russians against their own country in the ongoing war and being displaced to Russia without their consent. 

The report noted: “Russian soldiers used over 300 Ukrainian civilians as human shields and held them captive for 25 days in March in the basement of Yahidne School, where a major Russian military camp was located.”

Experts document crimes against humanity committed by Russian forces in Ukraine

A new report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe found that patterns of violent acts by Russian forces in Ukraine meet the qualification of crimes against humanity, detailing horrific actions by Russian forces.

The new report released Thursday is the latest documentation of potential war crimes committed by Russian forces. The OSCE experts who put together the report traveled to Kyiv and met with Ukrainian authorities there as well as Bucha and Irpin, where they found “grave breaches” of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention. 

The report “found credible evidence” that suggested “some patters of violent acts which had been repeatedly documented during the conflict,” including “killing, rape abductions or massive deportations of civilians, qualified as a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population.” 

The OSCE mission that compiled the report wrote that 1.3 million Ukrainian citizens have been deported against their will to Russia and said there was evidence that tens of thousands of civilians had been detained at so-called “filtration centers” before being transported to Russian-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine.

“Approximately 2,000 children from various orphanages and children’s institutions” have been “purportedly transferred to Russia, even though they have living relatives and were in the institutions only for medical care,” the report stated.

US Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter said in a statement that the report “gives us an opportunity to pull back and document the unconscionable atrocity crimes, human rights violations, and abuses members of Russia’s forces have committed.”

This week’s report is the second that OSCE has released documenting atrocities committed against the Ukrainian population. In April, the group released its first report with similar findings of “credible evidence” suggesting violations of “even the most fundamental human rights.”

Together, both reports “comprise the most comprehensive accounting of evidence to date of Russia’s human rights abuses, international humanitarian law violations,” US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said in a statement after the second report’s release Thursday. 

“The United States and our partners will seek to hold accountable those responsible for all human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes, they commit in Ukraine,” Price added in the statement.

The report noted that it had identified “numerous violations” of international humanitarian law that constituted war crimes, “if the responsible individuals can be found.”  

“These violations included mistreatment of prisoners of war, deliberate killing of civilians, deliberate attacks against civilians and against civilian objects, including schools, hospitals or cultural property, or the failure to respect the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions,” the report said. 

Conscription, meaning forced military service, “was imposed on all local men between the age of 18 and 65 in areas under Russian control in the Donbas as well as of the oblasts of Kharkiv, Kherson, and Sumy,” the report added. 

Missile strike in Vinnytsia leaves a trail of destruction on scene

Images from the scene of the missile strike in Vinnytsia, central Ukraine, have been released by Ukrainian Emergency Services.

The strike killed at least 23 people, officials said. On the ground, images shows scorched cars as firefighters search through rubble of a damaged building.

View the images here:

Damaged cars sit in the street following a missile strike in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, on Thursday, July 14.
Firefighters dig through the rubble of a damaged building in Vinnytsia on July 14.
Damage is seen following a missile strike in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.
Damage is seen following a missile strike in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.
Damage is seen following a missile strike in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

Russian cruise missiles from Black Sea killed at least 23 people in attack on Vinnytsia, Ukraine says

Smoke rise from a destroyed building at the site of a Russian military strike in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, on July 14.

At least 23 people have died in an attack on the central Ukrainian town of Vinnystia, according to Chief of Ukraine’s National Police Ihor Klymenko. 

The number of dead includes three children, and dozens of people are still unaccounted for, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service (SES).

A further 64 people, including four children, have been hospitalized — 34 of whom are in a serious condition and five in critical condition, SES said, adding that the search continues for 42 people who are unaccounted for.

Klymenko said only six of the bodies had so far been identified, and DNA tests may be required to identify others.

More than 50 buildings and more than 40 cars were damaged by the strikes, Klymenko added.

The attack was carried out with Russian Kalibr cruise missiles that were launched from submarines stationed in the Black Sea, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

“The enemy continues to keep ready 32 cruise missiles of the ‘Kalibr’ type on three surface and two submarine ships, and two big landing ships are also present” in the Black Sea, the Operational Command South of the Ukrainian Armed Forces had said on Monday.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, described the missile attack as “terrorism.”

“Already 20 civilians have been confirmed dead following a Russian missile strike on Vinnytsia. Three children, including a toddler, in the photo. This is terrorism,” Kuleba tweeted.

“Deliberate murder of civilians to spread fear. Russia is a terrorist state and must be legally recognized as such,” he added.

More reaction: The United Nations secretary-general said he is appalled by the missile attack in Vinnytsia.

“The Secretary-General condemns any attacks against civilians or civilian infrastructure and reiterates his call for accountability for such violations,” a spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

In a joint statement, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič condemned the strike.

“We have both witnessed the horrific destruction Russia brought on Ukraine and its people with our own eyes. The civilian population continues to pay a high toll in this war, due to Russia’s fundamental disregard of international humanitarian law, facing death, violence, including sexual violence, forced deportations and destruction,” they said.

There can be no impunity for these actions and all those responsible will be held accountable, they added.

See what the scene looks like on the ground:

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More than 40 settlements in Kherson region back in Ukrainian control, official says

Dmytro Butriy, the acting head of the Kherson region military administration, said that 44 settlements in the largely occupied area have been liberated.

Butriy gave no timescale. A Ukrainian offensive in Kherson began in May and has since recovered a number of villages, but no towns of any size.

Butriy said at a news briefing that the settlements were still suffering as they were under constant Russian bombardment.

Butriy alleged that the Russians had shot civilian cars in convoys as they tried to leave the region. CNN has previously reported on the shelling of convoys of civilian vehicles as they have tried to leave Russian-occupied areas.

Butriy also claimed that “there were times when civilians were discovered dead with traces of torture.”

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that “people can leave the occupied territories of Kherson region through the occupied Crimea or through [the] Vasylivka [checkpoint] towards Zaporizhzhia. It is necessary to leave, despite the fact that it is difficult. It is much more dangerous to stay in the occupied territory than to dare to go through all the checkpoints and leave.”

Other Ukrainian officials have said it’s increasingly difficult for people to leave through the Russian checkpoint at Vasylivka, with people spending several days waiting to get through. 

Russia turning to Iran for drones because "sanctions are biting," US official says

Russia looking to Iran to supply drones “speaks volumes” about the isolation of both nations from the international community and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “problems in terms of replenishing his own defense needs,” National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Thursday. 

“Russia turning to Iran for the help speaks volumes about the degree to which both nations, for their actions into different areas of the world, have been increasingly isolated by the international community,” Kirby said.

Newly declassified US intelligence indicates that Iran is expected to supply Russia with “hundreds” of drones — including weapons-capable drones — for use in the war in Ukraine, with Iran preparing to begin training Russian forces on how to operate them as early as late July, according to White House officials.

“We know the sanctions are biting; we know the export controls are biting. We know his ability to replenish munitions and now UAVs are limited because of the pressure that the rest of the world is putting on Mr. Putin,” Kirby added.

“Clearly, they have the domestic production capability. I don’t know the parameters of the deal that Mr. Putin struck; I can’t speak with specificity about how well Iran will be able to step up to this requirement,” Kirby said.

Kirby said that Biden’s “preferred option” with Iran still remains diplomatic, but the US “will not take any option off the table.”

Ukraine's foreign minister calls for creation of a special tribunal to investigate Russia's "crime of aggression"

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 12.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Thursday for the creation of a special tribunal “on the crime of aggression against Ukraine” that will bring to account Russia’s “top military and political leadership.”

“Together with other countries, organizations and institutions, we shall use all available tools to get justice for the thousands of innocent victims of this crime, and we shall not rest until the guilty are brought to justice,” Kuleba said in his address to an international conference in The Hague on crimes committed in Ukraine.

While the international criminal justice system is sufficiently equipped to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide, the available institutions face legal difficulties investigating the crime of aggression against Ukraine, he said, adding that “it is necessary to create a Special Tribunal capable of holding the Russian leadership accountable for this kind of crime.”

“In the absence of appropriate tools to allow justice to be done, we shall return to the beginnings of international criminal justice in order to create these,” Kuleba said. 

Kuleba said the initiative to create a Special Tribunal has been already supported by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the Sejmas of the Lithuanian Republic.

The initiative to create a Special Tribunal is not intended “to replace or weaken the important efforts of the International Criminal Court and other international courts and tribunals,” but rather “supplement” them, he told the conference Thursday.

The ad-hoc Tribune’s mandate would be investigate and prosecute crimes of aggression against Ukraine since Feb. 24, covering all individuals — including state heads and officials, Kuleba detailed.

“Justice is also required for the international community as a whole in order to punish this greatest violation of international law since the Second World War. We must put an end to impunity and leave future generations with a world where the rule of law is always supreme,” he added. 

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, who is chairing the conference, echoed Kuleba’s comments, saying a Special Tribunal would fill a legal “vacuum” to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes committed in Ukraine.

Putin signs law introducing special economic measures to support the military 

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference on June 29 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Thursday allowing the government to introduce special economic measures to support the Russian armed forces during “counter-terrorism and other operations” outside the country.

As the special measures get adopted, companies will not be able to refuse government contracts and employees will have to work at night and on holidays. 

The government also received the right to temporarily reactivate mobilization capacities and facilities and the right to unbook the material assets of the state reserve.

Although the Russian government continues to reject framing the conflict in Ukraine as a war, the new measures effectively mean the country is re-shaping its industry in support of the ongoing invasion. 

On Thursday, Putin also signed additional laws that include tougher measures for individuals or entities considered foreign agents by Russia, and expanding criminal liability for defection to high treason. 

Griner hearing concludes without verdict and is set to resume Friday, US official says

US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner is escorted to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow, Russia, on July 14.

WNBA star Brittney Griner’s hearing at a Russian court near Moscow has concluded today without a verdict and is due to resume tomorrow at 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), according to a US official.

The hearing was held at the Khimki court of the Moscow region a week after Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges. This is Griner’s third appearance over the past three weeks at the court.

The two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist was arrested Feb. 17 at a Moscow airport, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine, on accusations of alleged attempted drug smuggling, which is an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.  

One of Griner’s lawyers, Maria Blagovolina, told reporters in a statement that during today’s hearing, Maxim Ryabkov, the director of BC UMMC Ekaterinburg — the basketball club that Griner played for in Russia — “gave a positive description of Brittney Griner during his speech in court, noting her outstanding abilities as a player and personal contribution to strengthening the team spirit, which allowed the team to achieve the highest results in the Russian basketball premier league and in international competitions for many years.”  

Elizabeth Rood, charge d’affaires of the US embassy, also attended the hearing.

Ukraine's new long-range US rockets are making an impact far beyond Russia's front lines

The commander of the unit shows the rockets on a HIMARS vehicle in eastern Ukraine on July 1.

There’s a new and potentially very significant factor in the Ukrainian conflict: the Ukrainians’ ability to use recently supplied Western systems to hit Russian command posts, logistical hubs and ammunition dumps a long way beyond the front lines.

In the past week, there have been enormous explosions in several occupied areas in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. The available evidence, from satellite imagery and Western analysts, is that the targeting has been highly effective.

For months, the Ukrainian military pleaded for long-range precision artillery and rocket systems from Western partners. Now they have them and are deploying them to considerable effect in both the south and east of the country.

The Ukrainian military is not giving away many specifics but Vadim Denysenko, a senior official at the Interior Ministry, said Wednesday that in the past two weeks, “above all things thanks to the weapons that Ukraine received, we were able to destroy approximately two dozen warehouses with weapons and stocks of fuel and lubricants. This will certainly affect the intensity of fire” the Russians can muster, he said.

Best-in-class is the US-supplied HIMARS multiple launch rocket system, but the Ukrainians have also received M777 howitzers from both the US and Canada and Caesar long-range howitzers from France.

What Russia is saying: The Russian foreign ministry said Thursday that the United States provided Ukraine with the necessary intelligence information and sent instructors to help Ukraine shell Donbas with the HIMARS missile systems.

“The armed formations of Ukraine widely used HIMARS multiple rocket launchers received from the United States and did so with the direct assistance of the American side, which not only provided the necessary intelligence information but also secretly seconded instructors who helped representatives of the Kyiv regime to aim correctly,” said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, according to state news agency TASS.

Zakharova added that “the noticeable activation of the artillery of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is connected to the supply of these heavy weapons which, apparently, received an order from Kyiv without the slightest hesitation to use the mentioned installations against the civilian population.”

Read the full story here.

CNN’s Anna Chernova contributed reporting to this post.

Ukrainian refugees recount "explosions all the time" in Mykolaiv

Viktor and Svetlana Maximchuk wait for transportation at the Moldovan side of the Moldova-Ukraine border in Palanca.

For months, Viktor and Svetlana Maximchuk watched many of their friends and relatives pack up and leave their hometown of Mykolaiv.

They stayed put, even as the war kept edging closer to the southern Ukrainian city.

“We really didn’t want to leave,” Svetlana said. “We hoped everything would be fine. Every day, we hoped there would be peace. Every week, we told ourselves, ‘just one more week, one more week and it will be fine.’”

Earlier this week, after days of heavy shelling, the bombing got worse yet again. They had no choice anymore.

They stuffed their most important possessions into a few backpacks and headed for the border.

“It’s not safe there anymore; there’s shooting and there are explosions all the time,” Viktor told CNN on Wednesday at a refugee assistance point at the Palanca border crossing between Ukraine and Moldova. 

“Russians came to our neighborhood, and there was a fight between the Russian and Ukrainian soldiers, and the Ukrainian soldiers saved us. One of our friends died there,” Svetlana said. 

While the family survived unscathed, their car was damaged in the attack. Viktor managed to sell it, raising just enough money for their journey.

The fighting around Mykolaiv has ramped up in recent days. Twelve people were injured and several homes were destroyed in heavy fire on Monday night, officials said.

Another assault came on Thursday. According to reports from officials on the ground, the city was shelled by “more than 10 missile strikes” from a S-300 surface-to-air missile system. One person was reported injured.

As the fighting got worse, the Palanca refugee center was getting ready for another big influx — a bus carrying 70 people was on the way to the border.

The Maximchuks have two young children together, and Viktor has another child from a previous relationship. As a father of three, now out of job because of the war, he got permission to accompany his family and travel abroad. Most men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine. 

As the hot sun bore down on the refugee center, the couple recounted the horrors of life in Mykolaiv — the constant bombing and the front line moving ever closer to them. Their children were waiting inside a UNICEF playroom nearby.

“We don’t tell the children much. They hear the explosions and they see the explosions and they know there is a war, but we try not to show them too much,” Svetlana said. 

In a few hours, a bus will take them toward Germany, where they have family and relatives.

“We told the kids we’re going on holiday. Our youngest didn’t want to go, but now, after two hours here, she is fine; she likes the toys here,” Svetlana said. 

Macron calls on "collective sobriety" from French to counter gas shortages 

French President Emmanuel Macron, center left, stands next to Chief of Staff Thierry Burkhard, center right, during the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, on July 14.

French President Emmanuel Macron asked for “collective sobriety” from his country’s residents “to be in a position of consuming less” in the face of gas shortages.

“We are in a so-called hybrid war. So energy isn’t a consequence of our sanctions. Russia uses energy as it uses food in fact, as a weapon of war,” he said in an interview from the Elysée Palace garden after the traditional Bastille Day parade on Thursday. 

Macron said that he would “ask public administrations, big groups, and all those who can to put together a plan now, this summer” to reduce general consumption and save up on gas. 

“I think that today we should get ready for a scenario in which we should do without Russian gas in its totality,” Macron told France 2 journalist Caroline Roux and TF1 journalist Anne-Claire Coudray.

“This scenario is not theoretical. It is a very harsh scenario, and we should get ready for it,” he said.

Macron also sought to reassure the French, saying that “we are currently refilling our reserves to have almost 100% of our reserves back by the fall,” also reiterating that France is “not very dependent on Russian gas.”

France gets less gas from Russia than some of its European neighbors.

Speaking more generally about the war in Ukraine, Macron said that “we should all prepare ourselves for the fact that it will last,” adding that the summer and early fall will “undoubtedly be very difficult.”

A moment of silence for victims of Russian aggression at a war crimes conference in The Hague

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via video conference at the Ukraine Accountability Conference in The Hague, Netherlands, on July 14.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a moment of silence as he addressed a war crimes conference in The Hague, Netherlands, via videolink on Thursday, just hours after a deadly missile strike landed on central Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia.

“This morning, Russian missiles hit our city of Vinnytsia — an ordinary, peaceful city. Cruise missiles hit two community buildings; houses were destroyed, a medical center was destroyed, the cars and trams were on fire. This is the act of Russian terror. People couldn’t do this, they are animals. Eight rockets, two of them targeted the city center. Twenty people died as of this moment, three children among them,” Zelensky told the conference. 

In a closing statement, Zelensky referred to the meeting of prosecutors and judiciary in The Hague as an act of “rescue” for international law.

“It depends on you, on me, whether or not international law will work,” Zelensky told the panel.

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Russian air strikes continue to target civilians, with at least 20 people killed by missiles fired at the central city of Vinnytsia. Meanwhile, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey have agreed to cooperate on grain exports, and Ukrainian prosecutors are traveling to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to discuss investigating war crimes committed during the conflict.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Russian offensive continues in the east: Russian forces continued their advance toward the towns of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region on Thursday, with mixed success, the Ukrainian military said. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said an attempted Russian assault in the direction of the village of Kurulka was “unsuccessful” and Moscow’s forces “retreated.” 
  • At least 20 dead in Vinnystia strike: Russian Kalibr missiles launched from submarines stationed in the Black Sea have killed at least 20 people, including two children, in the city of Vinnystia in central Ukraine. Vinnytsia has not been the site of any previous Russian attacks since the invasion.
  • More than 300 children killed so far: A total of 349 children have been reported killed and more than 1,000 injured in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said Thursday. The Donetsk region has seen the highest rates of children affected, followed by Kharkiv, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Kherson and Zaporizhia.
  • Discussions over war crimes investigations: Ukraine’s top prosecutor and officials from the International Criminal Court and the European Union are meeting in The Hague today to discuss investigating war crimes committed during the conflict. “The world is united with Ukraine to find effective means to bring Russia to justice for the atrocities its forces commit on our land,” Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova tweeted from The Hague. 
  • Coordination over grain exports: Ukraine, Russia and Turkey have agreed to set up a joint coordination center to ensure that Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea can be secured. More than 20 million tons of grain remain stuck in Ukraine due to Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports, according to Ukrainian officials.
  • Ukraine severs ties with North Korea: The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “strongly condemns” the decision by North Korea to officially recognize the “so-called” independence of the Russian-occupied Luhansk and Donetsk regions in Ukraine, according to a statement released Wednesday. In response, Ukraine announced the severance of diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea’s official name. 

Russian strike in central Ukraine kills 17, including two children, officials say

Firefighters work to extinguish fire at a building damaged by shelling, in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, on July 14.

Three Russian missiles have been fired at buildings in Vinnytsia, central Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials.

At least 17 people, including two children, were killed in the air strikes, said the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine.

“Several dozen” more were injured, and search operations are ongoing, it added.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said that “90 rescuers, as well as dog trainers and psychologists, are working at the scene of the terrible tragedy” in a post on Facebook.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Presidency of Ukraine, called the attack “another crime of the occupiers in our peaceful city” on Telegram.

The head of police in Vinnytsia, Igor Klymenko, said the “missiles were aimed at a building with office premises.” Nearby residential buildings were also damaged, he added.

Vinnytsia has not been the site of any previous Russian attacks since the invasion.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the air strikes on Twitter.

“While Accountability Conference in The Hague is underway, Russia commits another war crime. At least one child killed, among other victims of a missile strike on Vinnytsia,” wrote Kuleba.

“We will put Russian war criminals on trial for every drop of Ukrainian blood and tears.”  

War crimes conference with Ukrainian and ICC prosecutors begins in The Hague

War crimes prosecutors and top European judicial authorities meet to coordinate efforts to investigate and put on trial alleged perpetrators of atrocities since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the Ukraine Accountability Conference in The Hague, Netherlands, on July 14.

Ukraine’s top prosecutor and officials from the International Criminal Court and the European Union are meeting in The Hague today to discuss investigating war crimes committed during the conflict.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova traveled to the Ukraine Accountability Conference in the Dutch city to coordinate evidence sharing, prosecution strategy and the legal framework of bringing war criminals to justice.

“The world is united with Ukraine to find effective means to bring Russia to justice for the atrocities its forces commit on our land,” Venediktova tweeted from The Hague. 

In an opening statement at the conference, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said: “The national justice system of Ukraine has already taken important steps of investigation and trial, which we are monitoring. Given the breadth of the challenges it is facing it is crucial that the international community continues to support increased capacity for Ukraine’s investigations into alleged war crimes committed on its territory, whatever the circumstances.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba are expected to deliver closing statements by video link later today.

Venediktova previously said Ukraine has identified more than 600 Russian war crime suspects and has started prosecuting around 80 of them. Two Russian soldiers have already been convicted under Ukrainian criminal law.

Russia continues to deny any troops have been involved in war crimes in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

France’s Bastille Day parade to honor Ukraine and eastern European allies

Troops march down the Champs-Elysées during the Bastille Day parade on July 14, in Paris, France.

Nine NATO countries affected by the Russian aggression in Ukraine have been invited to take part in the traditional Bastille Day parade in Paris on Thursday, to demonstrate France’s commitment to its partners and allies.

“It’s a rather strong signal symbolically,” French armed forces spokesperson Pascal Ianni told Franceinfo Thursday.

“Why this signal? Because France has been resolutely committed to strengthening the deterrent and defensive posture of NATO since the beginning of the war in Ukraine,” he added.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria “will have the honour of opening the parade on foot” with 106 troops.

French troops deployed to NATO’s Eastern Flank will follow the march down the Champs-Elysées.

French President Emmanuel Macron is also set to give a rare 45-minute live interview from the Elysée Palace after taking part in the parade.

In France, July 14 marks the anniversary of the capturing of the Bastille prison in 1789 – a symbol of the French Revolution – and a military parade takes place every year down the Champs-Elysées.

A total of 4,925 troops are to take part this year, alongside 65 fixed-wing aircraft, 25 helicopters, 181 vehicles and 200 horses of the Republican Guard.

More than 100 Azov fighters are awaiting trial, says Donetsk separatist leader

Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Donetsk People's Republic, speaks to journalists in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on July 13.

More than 100 of Ukraine’s Azov fighters will face trial, said Denis Pushilin, leader of the Russian-backed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). 

“They have already been transferred from the places where they were kept as prisoners to the pre-trial detention center. All further steps are being prepared for them. A tribunal awaits them,” Pushilin said Wednesday on news channel Solovyov Live, broadcast on Telegram.

Last fighters: The Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol — the final holdout of Ukrainian resistance in the otherwise Russian-occupied southern city — fell to Russian forces in May when the final group of fighters at the steel plant surrendered.  

At the time, Russian authorities said more than 1,700 fighters defending the steel plant had left and were either in detention or in hospital in the self-proclaimed DPR. 

Western governments and human rights groups fear those convicted may face the death penalty.  

Path cleared for executions: Last Friday, the Donetsk People’s Republic parliament abolished its ban on executions, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Yelena Shishkina, who chairs the parliament’s committee on criminal and administrative law, said “the option to use capital punishment will serve as a deterrent against very grave crimes,” according to TASS. 

It comes as Britons Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, and Moroccan Brahim Saadoune, appeal death sentences after they were convicted of being “mercenaries” for Ukraine by a court in the DPR. 

Previously, Shishkina has ruled out the possibility of releasing any Azov fighters as part of a prisoner exchange.  

Ukraine, Russia and Turkey agree to set up joint coordination center to allow grain exports

Military delegations from Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, along with UN officials, attend a meeting to discuss the shipment of Ukrainian grain stuck due to the blockade of Black Sea ports, at Kalender Pavilion in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 13.

Talks between Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations held in Istanbul Wednesday resulted in the parties agreeing to form “a Joint Coordination Centre under the UN auspices” to ensure that Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea can be secured, according to Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian President’s office.

The center will be located in Istanbul and the task will be to carry out “general monitoring and coordination of safe navigation in the Black Sea,” Yermak said Wednesday.

Trucks loaded with grain wait in a queue near Izmail, in the Odesa region, Ukraine on June 14.

Some context: More than 20 million tons of grain remain stuck in Ukraine due to Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports, according to Ukrainian officials.

Before the war, wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine accounted for almost 30% of global trade, and Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of corn and the fifth-largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department. The UN World Food Program — which helps combat global food insecurity — buys about half of its wheat from Ukraine each year and has warned of dire consequences if Ukrainian ports are not opened up.

About 80% of Ukraine’s grain exports were shipped from the country’s Black Sea ports before Russia’s invasion.

With those routes blocked, Ukraine hopes to speed up grain exports through reopened Danube River routes, made possible after Ukrainian troops recaptured Snake Island in June.

A line of barges waiting to sail up the Danube River and load up on grain at one of Ukraine’s river ports will take several weeks to clear, deputy minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Taras Vysotsky said in a televised address Wednesday.

Russian Air Force attacks Snake Island

A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island, Ukraine, on May 12.

A pair of SU-27 Russian fighter jets tried to bomb Snake Island, known as Zmiinyi Ostriv in Ukrainian, according to the South Ukrainian Operational Command.

“The bombs fell into the sea, near the island,” said the Operational Command. They did not give any other details.

The targeting of Snake Island is significant, as Russian forces had abandoned the island on June 30 following a Ukrainian offensive. The island, located in the Black Sea off Ukraine’s southern coast, is widely seen as strategically important to the war as it grants access to the Danube River and its small inland ports to ships carrying Ukrainian grain.

There have been repeated airstrikes on the island since the Russians left, on July 2 and 7.

A pair of KA-52 helicopters also attacked the southern region of Kherson three times, with no casualties, the Operational Command said. 

It added that the Russian Navy had regrouped its ranks, saying it had three missile ships and two submarines at sea that “pose a threat to the entire territory of Ukraine.”

Ukraine says nearly 350 children have been killed since Russia's invasion began

A total of 349 children have been reported killed and more than 1,000 injured in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said Thursday.

The Donetsk region has seen the highest rates of children affected, followed by Kharkiv, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Kherson and Zaporizhia.

Some context: Widespread fighting is continuing in the country, with Ukrainian forces on the offensive in the south. Meanwhile, Russian artillery is active in Donetsk and Kharkiv.

Mykolaiv hit by "massive missile attack," says head of regional military

Mayor of Mykolaiv, Oleksandr Sienkevych, posted on his Telegram pictures of the aftermath of a “massive missile attack”, on Thursday morning, July 14.

The southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv came under a “massive missile attack” on Thursday morning, according to Vitalii Kim, head of the region’s military administration.

Reports from officials on the ground said the city was shelled by “more than 10 missile strikes” from a S-300 surface-to-air missile system.

One person was reported injured.

The shelling targeted the Mykolaiv Hotel, two educational institutions and a trolleybus depot, according to 1st Capt. Natalia Humeniuk, head of the United Coordination Press Center of the Security and Defense Forces of the South of Ukraine.

Ukrainian military says Russian forces meet mixed success in push toward Donetsk

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire near an industrial site after an airstrike in the Kramatorsk district, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on July 13.

Russian forces continued their advance toward the towns of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region on Thursday, the Ukrainian military said.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said an attempted Russian assault in the direction of the village of Kurulka was “unsuccessful” and Moscow’s forces “retreated.”

Russian forces “fired from tanks, barrel and jet artillery” in the Bakhumt direction on a series of towns, including Soledar and New York on the northern outskirts of Donetsk.

Moscow’s forces also shelled Kramatorsk and were “leading an offensive” west of the city, the Ukrainian military said.

Russian troops were apparently running low on food supplies and their ranks were seeing a downward trend due to “significant losses and refusal to participate in hostilities,” the Ukrainian military added.

Ukraine severs diplomatic ties with North Korea over its recognition of breakaway regions