July 20, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Brad Lendon, Christian Edwards, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:04 a.m. ET, July 21, 2023
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12:34 a.m. ET, July 20, 2023

At least 18 injured in Russian attack on Mykolaiv, Ukrainian military official says

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Josh Pennigton

A building is seen on fire in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on early Thursday.
A building is seen on fire in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on early Thursday. Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevi

Russia struck the city center of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine on Thursday, according to Vitaliy Kim, the head of the Mykolaiv regional military administration.

At least 18 people were wounded, Kim said in the latest update on Telegram.

"A parking garage and a 3-story apartment building are on fire. The fire brigade is on its way," Kim said on Telegram.

Among the injured people are five children, including a baby less than a year old, and 3-year-old child.

Kim reported fatalities but did not specify how many. He also did not provide more details on the nature of the attack.

11:42 p.m. ET, July 19, 2023

At least 2 people injured after Russia targets Odesa for a 3rd night in a row, Ukraine authorities say

From CNN’s Alex Marquardt, Sebastian Shukla, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Scott McWhinnie

Russia attacked the southern port city of Odesa for the third night in a row, according to Ukrainian authorities.

At least two people were injured in the attacks, the head of the region's military administration Oleh Kiper said in a post on Telegram.

At least eight Russian Tu-22M3 aircraft were "flying in the direction of the Black Sea," the Ukrainian air force said early Thursday.

"There is a threat of cruise missile launches. Don't ignore the air alert!" it said on Telegram on Thursday.

The air force warned that Russian supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles "were launched in the direction of the Odesa region."

A CNN team on the ground witnessed a large explosion and heard the sound of other explosions.

Some background: Russian attacks over the previous two nights damaged the port infrastructure in the city, officials said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday the attacks were the largest since the war began, and he accused Russia of trying to weaponize hunger and destabilize the global food market.

The president linked the strikes with Russia’s decision to pull out Monday of the UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allowed Ukraine to export its grain via the contested body of water.

11:44 p.m. ET, July 19, 2023

Russia could target civilian ships in Black Sea and blame Ukraine, White House says

From CNN's Oren Liebermann

Russia could target civilian ships in the Black Sea and blame Ukraine following the Kremlin’s decision to leave the Black Sea Grain Initiative, according to a spokesperson for the National Security Council.

Russia has laid additional sea mines in the approach to Ukrainian ports, spokesperson Adam Hodge said in a statement Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Russia’s Defense Ministry said any ship sailing toward a Ukrainian port would be considered as potentially carrying military cargo. 

“We believe that this is a coordinated effort to justify any attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea and lay blame on Ukraine for these attacks,” Hodge said.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered one year ago by Turkey and the United Nations, which allowed for the export of Ukrainian grain, expired Monday at midnight. The agreement guaranteed safe passage for ships carrying Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea to Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait.

In the days since the grain deal expired, Russia has targeted the port city of Odesa with missiles and drones, destroying agricultural infrastructure and 60,000 tons of grain, Hodge said. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attacks on Odesa were the largest since the war began, and he accused Russia of trying to weaponize hunger and destabilize the global food market.

12:08 a.m. ET, July 20, 2023

Analysis: Putin just spiked worldwide wheat prices. Here's how

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

Vladimir Putin attends a forum in Moscow on July 13.
Vladimir Putin attends a forum in Moscow on July 13. Alexander Kazakov/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have declared open season on Ukraine’s consequential grain exports, targeting the port city of Odesa with a new ferocity and jeopardizing worldwide food prices.

With the strikes on Odesa, Putin says he wants payback for damage to a nearly 12-mile bridge that connects annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland.

But they also coincide with Russia’s retreat from a yearlong deal known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative to keep Ukrainian grain flowing to the world.

Wheat and corn prices on global commodities markets jumped Monday after Russia pulled out of the deal, and they spiked again Wednesday after attacks on the ports in Odesa and as hope faded for Russia to rejoin the grain deal.

Turkey brokered previous versions of the grain deal, and it plans to host Putin for talks in August.

Without a new grain deal, the options are to use railroads to ship Ukrainian grain to ports in Romania or in southeastern Europe. The problems in both of those scenarios are time and money, according to Simon Evenett, a professor of international trade and economic development at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. He told CNN’s Rosemary Church that ports in Romania are being expanded.

Church noted that China has come to rely on grain from Ukraine and wondered if Beijing could lean on Russia to reenter the deal.

Evenett said it’s true that China has also suffered from droughts that have affected its domestic production.

“If those droughts turn out to be as significant as people highlight, then maybe Beijing will be moved to put leverage onto Russia to relent on this,” Evenett said. “But I think there’s a series of ifs there. It’s not clear yet if Beijing is particularly worried about its own food security needs.”

Read more here.