July 22, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Sana Noor Haq and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 2:51 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022
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11:21 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

JUST IN: Russia and Ukraine agree to deal that would resume Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports

From CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, Radina Gigova and Tim Lister 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, sit at the start of the signature ceremony for the safe transportation of grain and foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports, in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 22
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, sit at the start of the signature ceremony for the safe transportation of grain and foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports, in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 22 (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine and Russia have agreed to a deal that would allow the resumption of vital grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports — a major diplomatic breakthrough aimed at easing a global food crisis sparked by the war, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday.

This comes after months of negotiations between Ukraine and Russia mediated by Turkey and the United Nations.

"Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea. A beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief in a world that needs it more than ever," Guterres said. 

"Promoting the welfare of humanity has been the driving force of these talks," he said. "The question has not been what is good for one side or the other. The focus has been on what matters most for the people of our world. And let there be no doubt – this is an agreement for the world."

Guterres said the deal will bring relief for developing countries and help stabilize global food prices, "which were already at record levels even before the war – a true nightmare for developing countries."

The agreement "did not come easy" and "it has been a long road" since Guterres first met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to propose a plan for solutions in April.

"We count on the government of Turkey to maintain its critical role going forward," he said, adding the UN will remain "closely involved in working for the agreement’s success."

Guterres urged "all sides to spare no effort to implement their commitments" and said "we must also spare no effort for peace."

"This is an unprecedented agreement between two parties engaged in bloody conflict. But that conflict continues. People are dying every day. Fighting is raging every day," he said. 

"The beacon of hope on the Black Sea is shining bright today, thanks to the collective efforts of so many. In these trying and turbulent times for the region and our globe, let that beacon guide the way towards easing human suffering and securing peace," he added. 

9:54 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

German government agrees to a multibillion-euro bailout for gas importer Uniper hit hard by the war in Ukraine

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on July 22.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks during a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on July 22. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a multibillion-euro bailout to rescue the Germany’s gas importer Uniper, which has been hit hard by the reduction of gas supply as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Under the deal, the German government will acquire a 30% stake in Uniper — the country's largest importer of Russian gas — and provide it with funding.

As the gas supply was reduced, Uniper had to purchase more expensive gas from other sources on the market in order to fulfil its contracts, which has caused major liquidity problems.

“No one will be left alone,” Scholz said as he announced the bailout. “We can shoulder problems this year and next year and will help as long as necessary.”

Scholz went on to say that German households would have to pay for higher gas prices in the fall.

“Everything will become more expensive,” the Chancellor said. “'Sooner or later, that will be noticeable for everyone.”
The levy for consumers could lead to an increase of 2 euro cents per kilowatt hour, Scholz explained, which could add up to 200 to 300 euros ($204-$305) per year, for a family of four.

“You will never walk alone,” Scholz added, saying that Germany will launch a welfare payment reform in 2023.

There will be legal protection for low-income families who have problems paying their energy bills, according to the German chancellor.

“We will do everything necessary, so that together as a country, as companies and as citizens, we get through this situation so that no one is put in a situation that is insoluble for him or her,” he said. 

9:34 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

US assesses Ukraine has taken out more than a hundred "high value" Russian targets 

From CNN's Barbara Starr

The commander of the unit shows the rockets on a HIMARS vehicle in Ukraine on July 1.
The commander of the unit shows the rockets on a HIMARS vehicle in Ukraine on July 1. (Anastasia Vlasova/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

The US assesses Ukraine “has taken out more than a hundred high-value targets,” according to a senior US defense official. Most of the targets have been in the east in recent weeks as the Ukrainians have been able to improve their precision targeting with the use of US provided artillery. 

“These strikes are steadily degrading the Russian ability to supply their troops, command and control of their forces, and carry out their illegal war of aggression,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters on Wednesday.

The Ukrainians are “attacking Russian command posts, ammunition depots, air-defense sites, radar and communications nodes, and long-range artillery positions,” the official said. This is contributing to the broader assessment that Ukraine has been able to make progress against Russian forces. However, the US also assesses that Russia still is launching “tens of thousands” of artillery rounds per day.

“They can’t keep it up forever,” the Russians “have expended a lot of smarter munitions …their capabilities are getting dumber,” the official noted, adding that Russia has not taken out a single HIMARS system yet, but it is likely they will “get lucky” and do so at some point.

The fight for Donetsk is “likely last through the summer” with Russia achieving slow gains at a high cost, the official said.

Russian fatalities include “thousands” of lieutenants and captains, “hundreds” of colonels, and “many” generals, the official said. “The chain of command is still struggling.”

The US estimates Russia has committed nearly 85% of its army to the invasion of Ukraine.

The chief of Britain's foreign intelligence service said he believes that Russia could be “about to run out of steam” in Ukraine. “I think our assessment is that the Russians will increasingly find it difficult to supply manpower material over the next few weeks,” Richard Moore, the head of MI6 told CNN on Thursday. “They will have to pause some way and that will give the Ukrainians opportunities to strike back,” he said.

8:23 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Russia is “about to run out of steam” in Ukraine, MI6 chief says

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand and Jim Sciutto

Richard Moore, the head of MI6 speaks with CNN, at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday July 21.
Richard Moore, the head of MI6 speaks with CNN, at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday July 21. (CNN)

British spy chief Richard Moore has said Russia is “about to run out of steam” in Ukraine, in an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto.

“Russians will increasingly find it difficult to supply manpower, material over the next few weeks. They will have to pause, and that will give Ukrainians an opportunity to strike back," Moore, chief of MI6, said in the interview, his first outside of the UK.

“(Putin) has suffered a strategic failure in Ukraine," and forces have lost 15,000 lives, Moore said on the sidelines of the Aspen Security Forum, adding that it's "probably a conservative estimate.”

However, Moore said it is very important for Ukrainians' morale to demonstrate their ability to strike back.

"It will be an important reminder to the rest of Europe that this is a winnable campaign by the Ukrainians. Because we are about to go into a pretty tough winter."

“Winter is coming and clearly, in that atmosphere with the sort of pressure on gas supplies and all the rest, we are in for a tough time,” Moore added.

He said that following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, European countries have taken concerted effort against Russian intelligence.

“North of 400 Russian intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover have been expelled,” and it has reduced Russian ability to spy in Europe by half.

When asked about rumors of Putin’s ill-health, Moore said: “There is no evidence that Putin is suffering from serious ill-health.”

His comments came after the expulsion of more than 400 Russian intelligence officers from cities across Europe and the arrest of several deep-cover spies posing as civilians.

Moore told CNN that since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, European countries have expelled "north of 400 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover" across the bloc.

"And we reckon, in the UK, that has probably reduced their ability to do their business to spy for Russia in Europe by half," Moore said. He added that a number of "illegals," or Russian spies operating under deep cover and masquerading as ordinary civilians, have also been exposed and arrested in recent months.

Asked whether the war in Ukraine has made Russia a "target rich environment" for the UK and its allies to recruit potential assets, Moore would only say that "it is our hope" that Russians in the intelligence and diplomatic services will "reflect on what they are witnessing in Ukraine" and decide to "strike back against the system" as many did during the Prague Spring in 1968.

Read more here.

11:21 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Ukrainian farms try to bring in the harvest amid fires, mines and tank attacks

From CNN's Julia Presniakova

Unblocking Ukrainian ports is the only way to prevent a global food crisis and save Ukrainian agricultural producers, said Mykola Horbachov, the President of the Ukrainian Grain Association.

Horbachov was speaking to Ukrainian television ahead of the expected agreement in Istanbul Friday to secure safe corridors through the Black Sea for Ukrainian agricultural exports.

Russians had stolen about 500,000 tonnes of grain in occupied territories and about 1 million tonnes of grain remains in the elevators under the control of the occupiers, he claimed, estimating that the losses of the Ukrainian agricultural industry due to the war at about $20 billion. 

Horbachov forecast that the grain harvest in the current season will decrease by 30-35%, which is about 70 million tonnes of grain and oilseeds compared to 106 million tonnes last season. And he said farmers will need help in order to be able to carry out the next sowing campaign, which will start in 2 months.

A farmer harvests wheat as he drives past a crater suspected to be caused by an air strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on July 7.
A farmer harvests wheat as he drives past a crater suspected to be caused by an air strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on July 7. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

However, the harvest in Ukraine was gaining momentum, the Ukrainian Ministry of Agrarian Policy said Friday. Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiv, and Odesa regions had each collected more than a million tonnes of new crop grain. Peas were threshed for more than 59% of the area, and rapeseed for a third.

It said figures from the regions showed that an area of 2.1 million hectares had been harvested so far.

Across Ukraine, the harvest of grain is underway - but every day brings new details about the perils farmers are facing as they try to bring in the crops, and about the theft of produce and equipment in Russian-controlled areas.

Read more here.

11:20 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Ukrainian adviser warns Russia against provocations as countries expected to sign deal on grain exports

From CNN's Gul Tuysuz in Kyiv

Oleksandr Kubrakov, Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attend a meeting in a location given as Istanbul, Turkey, in this handout picture released on July 22.
Oleksandr Kubrakov, Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attend a meeting in a location given as Istanbul, Turkey, in this handout picture released on July 22. (Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine/Reuters)

The Ukrainian government has warned Russia against provocations as the two countries are expected to sign a deal with the United Nations and Turkey that would facilitate the exports of grain.

“No transport escort by Russian ships and no presence of Russian representatives in our ports,” Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the Ukrainian President’s chief of staff tweeted on Friday. “In case of provocations, an immediate military response."

Podolyak also added that Ukraine was not signing an agreement with Russia, but with Turkey and the UN. He also said inspections of ships would be carried out in Ukrainian waters by joint groups, if necessary.

8:16 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Over half of Ukraine's regions under extreme fire warnings due to high temperatures

From CNN’s Alex Hardie in London

Over half of Ukraine's regions are under extreme fire danger warnings due to high temperatures, as parts of Europe grapple with a sweltering heat wave.

Information updated by the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Center Friday morning showed that 15 of country's 27 regions received an orange fire threat level signalling “dangerous weather conditions."

The extreme fire danger is due to a “threatening combination of high air temperature and dry weather,” the Center said.

The affected regions are largely in the west and south of Ukraine, according to a map published by the Center. Regions with warnings include Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.

“July 23-25 will see the extreme fire hazard level in the south of Ukraine, in western regions and Vinnytsia and Zhytomyr regions,” the Center added.

Much of Europe has been experiencing record temperatures and wildfires in the past week. 

The UK recorded its hottest ever temperature of 40.3 degrees Celsius (104.54 degrees Fahrenheit) Tuesday. Elsewhere in Spain and Portugal, more than 1,700 people have died due to the current heat wave, the head of WHO Regional Office for Europe Hans Kluge said Friday. 

Slovenia is facing "no doubt, one of the biggest wildfires in its history," EU Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said Thursday.

The heat is expected to peak for parts of western Europe and “move eastward," World Meteorological Organization (WMO) official Robert Stefanski said at a press conference Tuesday.

11:20 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Ukrainian MP names three ports to be included in grain export agreement

From CNN's Tim Lister

A member of the Ukrainian delegation in the grain export negotiations says three Ukrainian ports will be included in the agreement on exporting agricultural produce through agreed corridors in the Black Sea. 

“The exports will take place through three ports: Odesa, Pivdenny, (Yuzhiy) and Chornomorsk," parliamentarian Rustem Umerov told Ukrainian media.

"In the future, we hope, we can also expand the list. All recommendations of the maritime forces, the armed forces must be respected. There are safe corridors, routes that we have developed together with the military, and all civilian ships will go through these routes. We will sell grain to everybody. And all vessels that follow these guidelines can come to us,” Umerov said.

Full details of the ports and safe channels for merchant shipping will be announced in Istanbul later Friday.

Meanwhile the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry said the delegation led by Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov had now arrived in Istanbul.

"The Ukrainian side held a meeting with the Secretary General of the [United Nations], Antonio Guterres," it said on its Facebook page. "The Secretary General once again expressed his support for the unblocking of Ukrainian ports and assured that security is an indisputable priority of the UN."

11:20 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Russian defense minister to attend grain deal ceremony in Turkey, Kremlin says

From CNN's Anna Chernova

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrives at Istanbul Airport to participate in the agreement ceremony on unblocking Ukrainian grain exports, in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 22.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrives at Istanbul Airport to participate in the agreement ceremony on unblocking Ukrainian grain exports, in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 22. (Arife Karakum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu has traveled to Turkey to attend the signing of an agreement on facilitating grain export Friday, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a daily briefing.

 “Yes, we can confirm that Defense Minister Shoigu went to Turkey. We can confirm that an agreement is being prepared to be signed today,” Peskov said.

Asked about the importance of striking this deal for Russia, Peskov referred to President Vladimir Putin’s earlier statement about the food crisis.

“President Putin has said that against the backdrop of the food crisis that is looming, it is very important to unblock the supply routes to world markets -- fertilizers, food and grain,” Peskov said.

A combine harvester in a wheat field near Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on July 21.
A combine harvester in a wheat field near Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on July 21. (Ionut Iordachescu/AFP/Getty Images)

According to the Kremlin, it is a “relatively small amount” of Ukrainian grain. “But still, it is very important that this grain gets to the world markets, and that the indirect restrictions that apply to our goods also allow the market to receive additional volumes of fertilizers, grain, etc.,” he added.

Russian and Ukrainian delegations, mediated by Turkey and the UN, are expected to sign the agreement on grain exports. From the Ukrainian side, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov will be attending the signing in Istanbul, his press office confirmed to CNN.