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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6:45 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Self-declared Donetsk People's Republic to shut down Google

From CNN's Julia Presniakova

Denis Pushilin, Head of the Donetsk People's Republic, visits the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2022, in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 16.
Denis Pushilin, Head of the Donetsk People's Republic, visits the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2022, in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 16. (Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

The leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said access to Google will be shut down within the territory.

“We have decided to block Google on the territory of the DPR,” Denis Pushilin wrote on his official Telegram account Friday. “This is what you must do in any society with criminals: isolate them from other people.”

“If Google stops doing its criminal policy and returns to the mainstream of law, morality and common sense, there will be no obstacles for its work,” he added.

The leader of the so called DPR went on to accuse Google of being part of Ukrainian and Western propaganda efforts targeting Russians and Russian speakers.

“The inhuman propaganda of Ukraine and the West has long crossed all boundaries. There is a real persecution of Russians, the imposition of lies and disinformation,” he claimed. “At the forefront of the information technology is the Google search, which openly, on the orders of its curators from the US government, promotes terrorism and violence against all Russians, and especially the population of Donbas.”

Pushilin went on to say the move was designed to ensure the security and protection of the population of the Donbas and was made in consultation with leadership in Russia.

“The West and Ukraine are exerting unprecedented pressure on the Republic and creating threats to both physical and psychological security,” he claimed. “The purpose of this pressure is to intimidate the inhabitants of the Donetsk People's Republic, to break their spirit.”

5:58 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Russia adds Greece, Denmark, Slovenia, Croatia, and Slovakia to list of "unfriendly" countries

From CNN's Anna Chernova

The Russian government has expanded its list of "unfriendly foreign states," adding Greece, Denmark, Slovenia, Croatia and Slovakia, a decree signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and published on the official website said.

The Russian authorities consider "unfriendly countries" states that "commit unfriendly actions" against Russia. The list previously included the Czech Republic and the US. 

In accordance with the decree on unfriendly countries signed by President Vladimir Putin last April, these countries are limited in their ability to hire workers located in the territory of Russia for embassies, consulates and representative offices of state bodies.

Greece has a limit of hiring 34 people, Denmark of 20, and Slovakia of 16, the decree added. Slovenia and Croatia will not be able to hire employees for their diplomatic missions and consular offices, as was the case with the US.

5:19 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

EU targets additional 54 individuals and 10 entities including major Russian bank over Ukraine aggression

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London 

General view of the headquarters of the largest Russian credit institution Sberbank in Moscow, Russia, on May 31.
General view of the headquarters of the largest Russian credit institution Sberbank in Moscow, Russia, on May 31. (Yuri Kochetkov/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The European Council has imposed restrictive measures on 54 individuals and 10 entities, including Sberbank, in response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

"We are listing another major Russian Bank, Sberbank, and preventing it from conducting transactions outside Russia," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Friday.

"We are also adding further individuals involved in Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, such as military officials, the Nightwolves motorcycle club and disinformation actors," Borrell added.

This decision is in addition to the “maintenance and alignment” package of sanctions adopted by the Council Thursday.

The listed individuals include Syrians responsible for recruiting mercenaries fighting in Ukraine alongside Russian troops, the EU council said.

The European Union further tightened sanctions against Russia by adopting additional measures Thursday.

"We are effectively banning Russia’s most significant export after energy – Russian gold," Borrell said.

"We are also extending the exemption of transactions for agricultural products and transfer of oil to third countries. Because the EU is doing its part to ensure we can overcome the looming global food crisis. It is up to Russia, to stop bombing Ukraine’s fields and silos, and stop blocking Black Sea ports," Borrell said Thursday. 

The latest measures come days after Ukraine's foreign minister called on the EU to enforce additional sanctions on Russia.

“Today, I addressed EU ministers at the Foreign Affairs Council,” Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Monday. "My key message: weapons to Ukraine, sanctions on Russia, and accountability for Russia are the three ways to restore peace, enhance security, and protect stability in Europe."

CNN's James Frater, Radina Gigova and Yulia Kesaieva contributed reporting to this post.

4:20 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Russian artillery fire fails to move front lines in Donetsk, Ukrainian military says

From CNN's Tim Lister

A member of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) militia monitors a section of the road in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 20.
A member of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) militia monitors a section of the road in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 20. (Alessandro Guerra/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Russian forces have failed to make any progress on the ground in Donetsk despite sending a barrage of artillery and rocket fire across the front lines, the Ukrainian military said.

The two areas where the fighting appears to be most intense in the eastern region of Ukraine are immediately to the west of Lysychansk — which fell to the Russians at the beginning of the month — and south of Bakhmut, where repeated Russian attempts to break down Ukrainian defenses have yielded just a few kilometers of territory.

In Bakhmut: Ukrainian forces continue to defend a pocket of territory some 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) long.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Friday the Russians had shelled about a dozen settlements south and east of Bakhmut and launched an airstrike near Striapivka, to the east of the city.

It said the assault "ended for the enemy with losses."

"Our soldiers drove the disorganized units of the invaders back. The enemy continues to attempt an assault in the direction of the Vuhlehirska [power station] and near Pokrovske, hostilities continue," the General Staff said.

Further artillery fire took place north of the nearby city of Sloviansk, the General Staff added.

War prediction: In its latest assessment of the battlefield, US-based think thank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), said the intensity of Russian forces' actions are "not markedly different" from during an officially declared operational pause earlier this month, and the Russian grouping northwest of Sloviansk had "conducted fewer ground attacks along the Kharkiv-Donetsk oblast border than it did during the official operational pause."

"The lack of successful ground attacks beyond the Sloviansk, Siversk, and Bakhmut areas is consistent with ISW's assessment that the Russian offensive is likely to culminate without capturing Sloviansk or Bakhmut," the ISW said.

Northern Ukraine: The General Staff said sporadic artillery fire continued across the border into the northern regions of Chernihiv and Sumy.

Southern Ukraine: Meanwhile, fighting has intensified along part of the border between the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, according to Ukrainian officials.

The Ukrainians said attempts from the Russians to carry out assaults around Davydiv Brid in Kherson "were immediately suppressed" by Ukraine's soldiers.

Valentyn Reznichenko, head of the Dnipropetrovsk Region Civil-Military Administration, said eight people were injured in Russian rocket attacks in the cities of Nikopol and Kryvih Rih that hit residential areas and schools.

11:19 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Turkey says an agreement for Ukrainian grain transport will be signed Friday. Here's what we know

From CNN's Yusuf Gezer, Victoria Butenko, Niamh Kennedy, Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood 

A farmer harvests a barley field in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on July 18.
A farmer harvests a barley field in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on July 18. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

An agreement to allow the safe transport of Ukrainian grain from the country's blocked ports will be signed on Friday in Istanbul, according to a statement from Turkey's communications directorate.

Details of the emerging deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey with Russia and Ukraine, have not yet been divulged, and Turkey's statement was met with caution by Ukrainian officials.

The statement said the deal would be signed at 4:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. ET) by the Ukrainian and Russian sides, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and UN Secretary General Secretary-General António Guterres.

  • Why this matters: Western officials have previously accused Moscow of "weaponizing" food supplies, with leaders and experts warning of a catastrophic food crisis as millions of tons of Ukrainian grain are unable to reach the global market due to the war. A United States official said last month they had intelligence that the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy "is under orders to effectively blockade the Ukrainian ports of Odesa and Ochakiv." The Kremlin has previously rejected accusations that Russia is obstructing the export of grain from Ukraine and instead blamed the West and Kyiv.
  • Some background: Turkish, Ukrainian and Russian officials last held talks with the support of the UN on the issue of grain exports on July 13. Speaking at the time, Guterres said that although the meetings had proven that Russia and Ukraine can talk, there is still "a long way to go" to broker peace between the two countries. 
  • What the UN says now: On Thursday, deputy spokesperson for the UN Secretary General, Farhan Haq, said the UN is trying to reach an "agreement that would allow for Ukrainian and Russian food and fertilizer to reach global markets." Although no deal has been formalized, Haq told a briefing the UN is "hopeful" and will wait to "see what happens" when talks pick up again Friday. 
  • What the Ukrainians say: More talks are expected before the agreement is signed, a top Ukrainian official has cautioned. "Following negotiations, a document can be signed, that will contain the obligations of the parties regarding the safe operation of the export routes in the Black Sea," Oleg Nikolenko, spokesperson for Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Thursday. Nikolenko stressed that the Ukrainian delegation "will support only those decisions that will guarantee the security of the southern regions of Ukraine, the strong positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Black Sea, and the safe export of Ukrainian agricultural products to the world markets." 
  • Western reaction: US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Thursday that Washington welcomes the "agreement in principle" to allow the safe transport of Ukrainian grain, but is focused on "holding Russia accountable for implementing this agreement and for enabling Ukrainian grain to get to world markets," European officials familiar with the discussions expressed optimism about the agreement, but cited concerns about its implementation. The officials said Russia is unlikely to follow through on the agreement without any issues.

1:53 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022

Zelensky says Ukraine has "significant potential" to advance on the battlefield

From CNN's Tim Lister

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during his evening video message on Thursday, July 21.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during his evening video message on Thursday, July 21. (Office of President of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his national security team believes "we have a significant potential for the advance of our forces on the front and for the infliction of significant new losses on the occupiers."

Zelensky was speaking in his daily video message after meeting with intelligence chiefs, the armed forces commander, and the Interior and Defense Ministers.

"We defined tasks in some tactical areas to strengthen our positions. And we also thoroughly worked out the issue of providing the troops with the modern weapons — the intensity of attacks on the enemy still needs to be increased," Zelensky said.

He said that his chief of staff Andriy Yermak and armed forces commander Gen. Valery Zaluzhny had another conversation with the US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley.

"And tomorrow we also expect news for our state from Turkey regarding the unblocking of our ports," Zelensky said. 

Listing places struck by Russian artillery and rocket forces Thursday, Zelensky said each strike "is an argument for Ukraine to receive more HIMARS and other modern and effective weapons."

He also welcomed a proposed resolution in the US Senate that would recognize Russia's actions against Ukraine as genocide. 

8:36 p.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Ukrainian military says Russian assaults in 3 regions were unsuccessful

From CNN's Tim Lister

The Ukrainian military has reported another day of heavy artillery and rocket fire by Russian forces in both the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, accompanied by airstrikes. But it says the Russians have failed to gain ground in either region, nor in the south.

In Kharkiv, "the enemy unsuccessfully tried to advance in the direction of Velyki Prohody -Pitomnyk with assault actions," the military's General Staff said. The area is about 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) north of Kharkiv.

In one of the most intense current battles in Donbas, the General Staff said that another attempt to break through Ukrainian lines along the Luhansk-Donetsk border had failed.

"Ukrainian soldiers repulsed the offensive in the direction of the Lysychansk refinery - Ivano-Daryivka. The enemy suffered losses and retreated," it said.

In the Sloviansk direction, Russia launched artillery fire in areas to the north of the city, The General Staff said.

"The Russians have been constantly shelling the city for 20 days now. As a result of today's shelling, two people were injured," the mayor of Sloviansk, Vadym Liakh, told Ukrainian television. "There has been no water supply in the city for two months, and 15% of residents do not have electricity due to shelling."
"22,000 people remain in the city. If the shelling increases, more people will want to evacuate."

The area around the town of Bakhmut was also shelled again Thursday, and there were also airstrikes, the General Staff said.

In the south, the Russians were repelled when they tried to launch an assault along the border of the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, the General Staff said. This area, around Andriivka, has seen an increase in combat in recent days but no shift in current positions.