July 25, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 3:42 a.m. ET, July 26, 2022
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11:58 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Ukrainian government calls Russian foreign minister's trip to Africa "the quintessence of sadism"

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

The Ukrainian government has criticized Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s trip to Africa, with a senior official calling it “the quintessence of sadism.”

“You arrange an artificial hunger and then come to cheer people up,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian President’s chief of staff, tweeted on Monday. “With one hand you sign the Istanbul initiative, with the other attack Odessa sea port." 

“Whether Moscow wants or not, grain will get to the world,” Podolyak promised. “We know well what an artificial famine prescribed by scriptwriters in the Kremlin is, so we responsibly fulfil agreements. All needed is for to stop lying and start fulfilling the commitments made in Istanbul.”

1:21 p.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Russia's Gazprom announces reduction of gas flow through Nord Stream 1 pipeline again

From CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, Darya Tarasova, Inke Kappeler and Anna Chernova 

Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom says it will have to further reduce gas flow through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Wednesday as it halts another turbine for repairs.

This comes days after Gazprom resumed gas shipments through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, a vital artery linking Russia's vast gas reserves to Europe via Germany. The pipeline had been shut 10 days for scheduled maintenance, and many had feared Russia would not resume deliveries once the work was done.

“Due to the expiration of prescribed time before overhaul (in line with the Rostekhnadzor notification and taking into account the technical condition of the relevant machine), Gazprom is shutting down one more gas turbine produced by Siemens at the Portovaya [compressor station],” the company said in a statement on Monday. 

“The daily throughput of the Portovaya CS from 7:00 am (Moscow time) July 27 will be up to 33 million cubic meters,” the statement added.

The head of Germany’s gas regulator, Klaus Muller, confirmed the move in a tweet on Monday. 

“According to our information, there is no technical reason for a reduction in gas deliveries via Nord Stream 1,“ the German Ministry of Economy insisted in a tweet on Monday. 

“If Russian gas deliveries via Nord Stream 1 continue at this low level, a storage level of 95% by November is hardly achievable without additional measures,“ Germany's regulatory office for gas and electricity said in a statement Monday.  

The country’s Economics Minister Robert Habeck had previously called on Germans to reduce gas consumption in order to get the gas storage facilities as full as possible for the winter. 

Germany’s current total gas inventories are at 65.9%, according to the daily figures provided by the government. 

The reduction in the gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will also affect the transfer of gas to other European countries such as France, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Wholesale prices have risen noticeably as a result of the reduction in gas supplies and have recently settled at a higher level, Germany’s regulatory office said, warning that “businesses and private consumers must prepare for significantly high gas prices.”

The Nord Stream 1 pipeline delivers 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year, or nearly 40% of the bloc's total pipeline imports from Russia.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Pesko said on Monday that a repaired gas turbine for Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline will be installed after all the technical procedures are fulfilled, after which the gas flow to Europe will resume “to the extent that is technologically possible.” 

Peskov insisted that the issues with gas supply have nothing to do with politics.

“There is no politics here. These are the consequences of the restrictions that the Europeans themselves have introduced, and the Europeans themselves suffer from these restrictions,” he said, adding that Russia does not want Europe to give up Russian gas.

Moscow will continue to be a “reliable gas supplier," he said.

Read more here on why it matters.

11:30 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Ukraine says it hopes to resume grain exports from Odesa despite Russian strike

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Sharon Braithwaite

The Ukrainian government is hoping to resume exports of grain from the Black Sea port of Odesa despite a Russian missile strike on Sunday, said Markiyan Dmytrasevych, the deputy minister for agrarian policy and food.

“We expect that, as announced, despite the incident that happened on Saturday, [export of grain] will start in the coming days. Hopefully we'll see some early results this week,” Dmytrasevych told journalists on Monday.

On Friday, Ukraine and Russia agreed to a deal that would allow the resumption of vital grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Ministers from both countries signed an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in Istanbul. Just 24 hours after the deal, Russian missile strikes hit the southern Ukrainian port of Odesa.

President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday pointed to the role of UN and Turkey to ensure security given their involvement in mediating the deal.

"We trust UN and Turkey, who with we signed the corresponding documents with," Zelensky said at a press conference. "This is a very important moment to control the security of the corridors for the grain exports. And further down, there'll be questions to Turkey and United Nations: how they can control Russian Federation who showed it could strike with rockets ... That shows their attitude to their agreements and Turkey."

Zelensky said Ukraine will start exports "in order to prove to the world that it's not Ukraine who is blocking the exports," but said Turkey and the UN "should look after the security."

Separately, Deputy Minister Dmytrasevych said the Russian strike had reduced the “enthusiasm” that local farmers had over the deal signed with the UN and Turkey in Istanbul last week. 

“Scepticism towards this agreement was also felt by farmers and security experts even before the signing of the agreement. It is clear that no one trusts the Russians, no one believes them,” Dmytrasevych said. “Let's see how this initiative will work in practice, and for how long. Because we understand that this work can be interrupted.”

11:19 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Ukrainian defense minister welcomes German anti-aircraft guns

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has welcomed the arrival of three German self-propelled anti-aircraft systems, just days after a missile struck the port of Odesa. 

“Our capabilities to protect our sky will be strengthened. Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft systems began to arrive in Ukraine,” Reznikov tweeted on Monday, thanking Germany and the country’s defense minister for the delivery.

Reznikov also addressed the arrival of the new weaponry on Ukrainian television, explaining that the first delivery included three of these machines, with “a few thousand rounds of ammunition.” A total of 15 are expected, he added.

The Ukrainian defense minister went on to ask for additional equipment from western countries and called on companies involved in the defense industry to test their products in his country.

“I have already said this and I will repeat: we invite all the manufacturers of the military-industrial complex of various countries to give us modern weapons and we will show you how it works on the battlefield against the enemy that is the main threat in the world today,” he said. “I would say that we got more than just a hint, there are already some ongoing discussions with my colleagues, the defense ministers of various countries. And I already have some information that they have placed orders at their enterprises and some things will continue to be supplied to us and accordingly modernized.”
9:45 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Russia says grain deal does not exclude strikes on military targets in Odesa

From CNN's Anna Chernova

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow’s strike on the port of Odesa did not break any of the commitments it agreed to in a deal to guarantee the export of Ukrainian grain. 

“If we talk about the episode that took place in Odesa, there is nothing in the obligations that Russia has taken on — including within the framework of the agreements signed on July 22 in Istanbul — which would prohibit us from continuing the special military operation, destroying military infrastructure and other military targets,” Lavrov told journalists during a press conference in Congo. 

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, shake hands prior to their talks in Brazzaville, Congo, on July 25.
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, shake hands prior to their talks in Brazzaville, Congo, on July 25. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/AP)

Lavrov went on to repeat Moscow’s claims it only struck military targets. 

“As for the targets of those high-precision strikes, they are located in a separate part of the Odesa port, in the so-called military part of the Odesa port,” he said. “These targets were the combat boat of the naval forces of Ukraine and the ammunition depot, where the Harpoon anti-ship missiles were recently delivered. They were brought there to pose a threat to the Russian Black Sea Fleet.”

“The experts also confirmed that the grain terminal of the Odesa port is located at a considerable distance from the military unit, there are no obstacles for grain to be delivered to customers in accordance with the agreements signed in Istanbul, we did not create them,” he added.

The Russian foreign minister is visiting several African countries to try and drum up support for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. African nations have been the worst affected by the restrictions on Ukrainian grain exports. 

8:32 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

It's 3:30 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

A Ukrainian official said the country was preparing to resume grain exports soon despite Russia's attack on Odesa, while Russia's foreign minister has started a tour of various African nations aiming to shore up alliances. Fighting continues in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, while Ukrainian officials say they have carried out "very successful strategic operations" in southern Kherson region.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Ukraine hopes first grain shipment will happen this week: A Ukrainian official said Monday he hoped vital grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports would resume as soon as this week. His comments come after one of the ports, Odesa, was hit by Russian missile strikes on Saturday, a day after the countries agreed on a deal that would allow the resumption of grain exports. Despite the attack, Kubrakov said preparations for the first grain shipments were underway.
  • US working on "Plan B" if grain deal collapses: US and Ukrainian officials are working on a backup plan to get grain exports out of the country if the deal with Russia falls apart, United States Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power told CNN. "Plan B involves road and rail and river and sending in barges and adjusting the rail systems so that they're better aligned with those in Europe so that the exports can move out more quickly," said Power, who spoke to CNN after Russia's strikes on Odesa.
  • Ukraine celebrates successes in Kherson: Ukrainian officials say they are confident of progress on the battlefield in the southern region of Kherson, as strikes against Russian command posts and ammunition depots impede the invading force's defensive capabilities. Serhii Khlan, an adviser to the head of the Kherson civil military administration, said that last week Ukrainian forces carried out "very successful strategic operations, as bridges that helped supply ammunition and equipment to the enemy's network were hit."
  • Russian forces attacking in Kharkiv and Donetsk: Russian forces continue to attack Ukraine's Donetsk region and Kharkiv region, but there are conflicting reports about whether any territory has been won or lost. Fighting continues around the Vuhlehirska power plant south of Bakhmut, said the Ukrainian military, but pro-Russian officials in occupied Donetsk claimed that the power plant was surrounded.
  • Lavrov embarks on Africa tour: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Africa this week to demonstrate Russian commitment to the region and shore up alliances amid the war in Ukraine. He visited Egypt on Sunday and will also travel to Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of Congo.
  • Russia charges Ukrainians with crimes against humanity: Russia has charged 92 members of Ukraine's military high command with crimes against humanity, according to Alexander Bastrykin, head of Russia’s Investigative Committee. In total, Moscow has opened more than 1,300 criminal cases against Ukraine’s military and political leadership, Bastrykin said in an interview with government news site Rossiyskaya Gazeta published Monday. 
1:23 p.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Ukraine hopes at least one port will resume grain export this week

From CNN’s Chris Liakos, Joseph Ataman and Alex Hardie

Ukrainian farmer Oleksandr Chubuk stands with wheat grain in the village of Zhurivka, Ukraine, on July 23.
Ukrainian farmer Oleksandr Chubuk stands with wheat grain in the village of Zhurivka, Ukraine, on July 23. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)

Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Yurii Vaskov said that he hopes the first convoy will leave from the port of Chornomorsk this week after Russia and Ukraine signed a deal Friday that would allow the resumption of vital grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

Within the next two weeks, three Ukrainian ports, including Odesa, will be ready to export grain, Vaskov added. He said that the agreement with Russia also included the import and export of fertilizers, which are crucial for future harvests.

A Coordination Center is being set up in Istanbul, Turkey, to oversee the maritime caravans, Vaskov said, adding that representatives from the countries involved are “already” in Istanbul and the center should be ready to function “by Wednesday.”

There is no limit on the volume of exports of grain under the agreement, according to Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, who signed the deal.

Underlining the importance and the urgent need for these exports, Kubrakov said, “Clearly, the situation is dire and it’s crucial for us to receive hard currency from our exports.”

The exports should mean “at least $1 billion in monthly export revenue” for Ukraine, he noted.

“We will lose a lot” if sowing for next year’s harvest doesn’t go ahead as planned, he added. “It’s a matter of survival.”

All of the maritime caravans will be escorted by Ukrainian ships, he explained.

“It was very crucial to us that — in the Ukrainian territorial waters — we will be controlling everything. The Ukrainian Navy will be controlling and not any other countries nor United Nations representatives or any other countries. That will be only the Ukrainian Navy,” Kubrakov said.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly attributed the timeline of exports. The timeline came from Ukraine's deputy infrastructure minister.

8:40 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Ukraine claims it has successfully targeted 3 bridges in Kherson region

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva

A view of the Antonivskyi bridge across the Dnipro river in the Russia-controlled Kherson region of southern Ukraine, on July 23.
A view of the Antonivskyi bridge across the Dnipro river in the Russia-controlled Kherson region of southern Ukraine, on July 23. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian forces have hit three bridges in Kherson region as part of its campaign to hamper Russian logistics in occupied areas.

Two bridges over the Dnipro river were hit, as well as another bridge further north, according to Dmytro Butriy, a Ukrainian official who is acting head of Kherson military administration.

The Ukrainian military "work very precisely on the enemy's warehouses and manpower accumulation and very effectively on the enemy's logistics chains," Butriy told a news briefing.

Butriy said the strikes on Antonivskyi bridge, Dariivskyi bridge and Kakhovskyi bridge mean "the movement of the heavy equipment and vehicles is very complicated."

"They [Russian forces] are making the attempts to repair these bridges. There is information that they are planning to organize a pontoon crossing," he said.

9:07 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Russia has charged 92 Ukrainian military members with crimes against humanity, top official says

From CNN's Anna Chernova

Russia has charged 92 members of Ukraine's military high command with crimes against humanity, according to Alexander Bastrykin, head of Russia’s Investigative Committee.

In total, Moscow has opened more than 1,300 criminal cases against Ukraine’s military and political leadership, Bastrykin said in an interview with government news site Rossiyskaya Gazeta published Monday. He did not name any of those charged.

CNN has not independently verified the claims made by Bastrykin.

“In the course of the preliminary investigation, more than 220 people have been identified as involved in crimes against the peace and security of humanity that do not have a statute of limitations, including representatives of the high command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as commanders of military units that fired at civilians,” Bastrykin told Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

“A total of 92 commanders and their subordinates have been charged. 96 people were put on the wanted list, in particular 51 commanders of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he said.

The head of the Investigative Committee also suggested creating a separate international tribunal for crimes in Ukraine.

“Taking into account the position of the ‘collective West,' which openly sponsors Ukrainian nationalism and supports the Kyiv regime, the creation of such a tribunal under the auspices of the UN in the current perspective is extremely doubtful,” he said.

“The establishment of the court and its charter could be formalized by an agreement between Russia, the member countries of these organizations, the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics.”

Some background: Bastrykin’s claims come as Ukraine is investigating more than 20,000 war crimes, according to now former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.

Venediktova had previously said that 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.

Earlier this month, prosecutors from Ukraine and the International Criminal Court (ICC) met in The Hague to share expertise on investigating global war crimes and apply it to the atrocities committed in Ukraine.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan had called Ukraine a "crime scene" after visiting the Ukrainian towns of Bucha and Borodianka in April, where mass graves and murdered civilians were discovered following the Russian withdrawal.