July 28, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Hafsa Khalil, Jack Guy and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 12:09 p.m. ET, July 30, 2022
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11:12 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

Ukraine celebrates its first ever Day of Statehood

From CNN's Hafsa Khalil

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, seen in this file photo released by the government, has announced July 28 as the first-ever Day of Ukrainian Statehood.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, seen in this file photo released by the government, has announced July 28 as the first-ever Day of Ukrainian Statehood. (President of Ukraine)

For the first time, Ukraine is celebrating the Day of Ukrainian Statehood today.

In a speech published on the presidential site on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the week "symbolic" because it marks the first time they will hold a day of statehood.

Zelensky said they will "celebrate at the time of such a brutal war — in the sixth month of it. After eight years of war in Donbas. But we will celebrate, despite all, because Ukrainians cannot be broken."

Unlike Ukraine's independence day, which falls on Aug. 24, the Day of Ukrainian Statehood will connect Ukrainian people through their experiences, culture and an identity that Zelensky described as stretching back more than a millennium.

"Now, in many exploits of our warriors, in the wisdom of our people in battles, even simply in the conversations of ordinary Ukrainians about what is happening, we can see, we can hear and understand examples of the same characters but hundreds of years ago," Zelensky said.

On Thursday, Zelensky addressed citizens saying that the history of Ukraine's statehood can be described in one sentence: "We existed, exist and will exist!"

He also told lawmakers that Ukraine’s resistance against Russia will be remembered.

“We will become not a new legend of heroic resistance, but a state of winners,” Zelensky told lawmakers inside the Ukrainian Parliament. “Not 300 Spartans, worthy of films, books and plays, but the multimillion-strong nation-hero which is worthy of living, worthy of winning and which will teach others in the world how to defend themselves and how to win."

“We will be remembered not as those who tried, but as those who preserved, strengthened and passed our state to our children so that they could pass it on to their children,” Zelensky added. 

The Ukrainian president highlighted that even after more than 150 days of war with Russia, Ukraine was still able to celebrate. 

"Due to the cruelty of history — after several unfortunate historic turns — our state was not mentioned for some time. Then they’ve been saying that Ukraine is somewhere next to Russia, or is even allegedly a part of it. We know that now they definitely know: Ukraine is the only state in the world that has the bravery to beat Russia, beat on our land notwithstanding any of its threats," the president said.

10:24 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

2 killed in missile strike in Donetsk town of Toretsk

From CNN's Petro Zadorozhnyy

Rescuers help a woman evacuate from a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike in the town of Toretsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on July 28.
Rescuers help a woman evacuate from a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike in the town of Toretsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on July 28. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters)

At least two people were killed as a five-story building in the Donetsk town of Toretsk in eastern Ukraine collapsed following a Russian strike on Thursday.

“Today, the rescuers of the Toretsk garrison, during emergency rescue operations on the destroyed part of a 5-story residential building in the city of Toretsk, discovered and pulled out the bodies of 2 dead persons (1 man and 1 woman),” the State Emergency Service of Ukraine reported on Thursday. 

The Ukrainian military’s General Staff had reported a missile strike on the town early in the morning.

“At 5.00 in the morning, there was a rocket attack on Toretsk. A rocket hit an apartment building; two floors were destroyed,” it said on Thursday.

Toretsk has been under intense fire as Moscow’s armies continue to try and make gains in the Donetsk region. In addition to the missile strikes, heavy shelling was also reported in the the area.

10:12 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

Turkish foreign minister praises grain export deal

From Ipek Yezdani

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu attends a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 28.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu attends a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 28. (Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey that will allow both Russian and Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports removes obstacles for both countries, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday.

“We did not only remove the obstacles against the Ukrainian grain, but we have also removed the obstacles against the export of the Russian grain and fertilizer,” Çavuşoğlu said. 

Speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Georgian Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili, Çavuşoğlu praised the agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey and signed by Ukraine and Russia last week.

Once the deal goes into effect, Çavuşoğlu said the grain and wheat could then be transported to countries in urgent need. 

The successful implementation of the deal “could really boost trust between Russia and Ukraine,” he said.

"Now, it is time to focus on brokering a ceasefire. This is not just a process to be carried out at the level of foreign ministers,” Çavuşoğlu said, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

9:34 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

Hungary's Orban says Ukraine "cannot win" war with NATO's current strategy

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman and Benjamin Brown in London

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks at a press conference on July 28, in Vienna, Austria.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks at a press conference on July 28, in Vienna, Austria. (Michael Gruber/Getty Images)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told journalists on Thursday that Ukraine cannot defeat Russia with NATO’s current strategy of support, while also warning of dire consequences for the European economy. 

“This war in this form cannot be won,” Orban said, speaking alongside Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Vienna. Orban added that NATO countries’ strategy of supporting Ukraine with weapons and training “has shown until now that it will not lead to success.”

“Without changing the strategy, there is not going to be peace,” he said, warning that, without peace in Ukraine, all of the European Union will “be pushed into a war situation.”

“It is not clear how we can avoid recession in the EU if the war carries on,” Orban added.

Both leaders warned against the possibility of a European Union embargo on Russian gas.

“We met a wall just now, and that wall is called gas embargo, and I would suggest to the EU that we do not knock against that wall,” Orban said, as Nehammer warned such an embargo “is not possible.”

“Not only because we, as Austria, are dependent on Russian gas. The German industry is also dependent on Russian gas. And if the German industry collapses, the Austrian industry collapses,” said Nehammer, adding that that situation could result in “mass unemployment.”

“There are many announcements from the EU Commission, but very little is being implemented,” he said, regarding EU action on the energy crisis, adding that there is “no sign” of the implementation of the common gas purchase platform that was proposed by the EU Commission.

He said that, given the current pressures on the energy market, that "this common platform would be more important than ever."

12:09 p.m. ET, July 30, 2022

Russian journalist who led on-air protest found guilty of "discrediting Russian armed forces" by Moscow court

From CNN's Rob Picheta and Alex Hardie

Former Russian state TV employee Marina Ovsyannikova attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, on July 28.
Former Russian state TV employee Marina Ovsyannikova attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, on July 28. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)

Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian state television journalist who made a dramatic, on-air stand against the invasion of Ukraine in the first weeks of the war, has been found guilty of “discrediting the Russian armed forces” after staging more protests this month.

Ovsyannikova was fined 50,000 rubles (around $820) over a video recorded on July 13 in which she spoke out against the conflict, calling it a war, according to her lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov. The Kremlin euphemistically refers to the invasion as a “special military operation.” 

On July 15, Ovsyannikova also shared content of herself holding a one-woman anti-war demonstration on an embankment opposite the Kremlin in Moscow.

In the video and photo she shared on her Telegram channel, the journalist was seen holding a poster saying: “Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children are dead. How many more children need to die before you stop?”

At her feet were two dolls and a stuffed toy, apparently stained with red paint.

More background: Ovsyannikova’s live demonstration during a Russian state TV evening news bulletin in March was one of the defining moments of the early days of the conflict, and earned her international renown for visibly speaking out against the invasion from inside Russia.

During that unexpected demonstration, the former Channel One editor appeared behind a news anchor holding a sign that said: "NO WAR." She told CNN days after the incident that many Russians have been "brainwashed" by state propaganda.

Following her protest on Russian state TV, Ovsyannikova was arrested, interrogated for more than 14 hours, released and fined 30,000 rubles (around $500).

A Moscow court found her guilty of organizing an "unauthorized public event" and she fled Russia in March, but returned in July, according to her official Facebook page.

In June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called the "arbitrary arrest of a large number of anti-war protesters" in Russia "worrying."

This post has been updated to clarify the details of Marina Ovsyannikova's latest court appearance. She was in court on Thursday over the video in which she spoke about Russia’s "special military operation," not over her demonstration outside the Kremlin.

1:42 p.m. ET, July 28, 2022

Ukraine says Russians can no longer move heavy weapons into Kherson after bridge was damaged

From CNN's Tim Lister

The Antonivskyi bridge in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, Ukraine, on July 27.
The Antonivskyi bridge in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, Ukraine, on July 27. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian officials claimed that Russian troops can no longer carry heavy weapons and munitions across a strategic road bridge in the Kherson region after it was repeatedly struck by long-range Ukrainian artillery.

Serhii Khlan, adviser to the head of Kherson civil-military administration, said the Antonivskyi bridge, which is about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) wide, "used to be the main route for the supply of weapons, ammunition and food to the Mykolaiv front" for Russian forces.

But "the strikes on the bridge were accurate," he said. "The new hits were at the exactly those spots that were hit before. This made it impossible for any type of transport to cross the bridge. At the moment, the entrance to the bridge is blocked."

Ukrainian officials said the bridge was hit on Tuesday night. Social media video also showed large detonations in a cluster toward one end of the bridge.

"Hypothetically, the Russians might be able to build a pontoon crossing. However, the left bank of Dnipro almost entirely consists of floodplains and swamps," Khlan said. 

The Russian-appointed deputy head of the Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, said via Telegram that ferry crossings from near the bridge were already underway, adding, "just come here to the bridge and you will definitely get to the opposite bank of Dnipro."  

Video grabs show the damaged Antonivskyi bridge in the aftermath of shelling, in Kherson, Ukraine, on July 27.
Video grabs show the damaged Antonivskyi bridge in the aftermath of shelling, in Kherson, Ukraine, on July 27. (Ukrinform/Reuters)

On Thursday, the UK's defense ministry said that Russia’s 49th Army, which is stationed on the west bank of the Dnipro river, "now looks highly vulnerable" after Ukrainian long-range artillery hit a total of three bridges.

"Kherson city, the most politically significant population centre occupied by Russia, is now virtually cut off from the other occupied territories," the ministry said. 

However, the Russians still control large areas to the northeast of the city and may be able to resupply forces on the west bank with pontoon bridges and river ferries across the Dnipro. 

Khlan also said that "a month ago, the invaders used the railway bridge. They brought whole trains to Kherson and to the right bank (of the Dnipro river) of military equipment and weapons. After the ammunition depots located near the railway bridge were destroyed, the occupiers stopped using the railway bridge."

As a result of the damage to the Antonivskyi bridge, Khlan said that "the detour for civil transport is via the hydroelectric power station through Kakhovka; a lot of cars have accumulated there." 

The bridge at Kakhovka upstream from Kherson is smaller than the Antonivskyi.

Khlan also referenced reports that a police vehicle in Kherson was attacked with an explosive device Wednesday, claiming that "the resistance movement in Kherson is gaining momentum. This is the result of their work."

Dmytro Butriy, temporary acting head of Kherson region military administration, said the attack on the police car had been carried out by a radio-controlled explosive device and had killed one policeman.

Butriy said attacks against Russian positions in Kherson continued. "Our aircraft made five strikes on the enemy. Pairs of attack aircraft and a bomber hit three enemy strongholds," he said.

He also claimed that Russian occupation authorities had announced a ban on the Ukrainian currency hryvnia. "The so-called occupation 'police' are walking around the market and warning people who sell cash that they will be punished for issuing hryvnias," he said.

Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are trying to build a pontoon crossing next to the Antonivskyi bridge to help them move heavy military equipment across the Dnieper river. 

The First Deputy Head of Kherson regional council, Yurii Sobolevskyi posted a picture of the operation on Facebook. CNN geolocated the picture to one of the banks, next to the Antonivskyi bridge.

“Four tugboats pulling pontoons with cars will not solve the problem of supplying the military group of 'orcs' in Kherson,” Sobolevskyi said in the post. “Not much they will help during the retreat of the occupying forces.”

CNN has reached out to the Ukranian General Staff and Southern Command for additional information but has yet to hear back.

8:42 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

US officials frustrated at Moscow's lack of substantive response to proposed prisoner swap

From CNN's Kylie Atwood, Kaitlan Collins and Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden's administration officials are frustrated that Moscow has yet to respond in a meaningful way to their “substantial proposal” to try to free two detained Americans – a deal which includes a trade for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, as CNN exclusively reported Wednesday.

That proposal was presented to Russia weeks ago, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said when publicly announcing it Wednesday. Administration officials told CNN that they felt Moscow would jump at the offer, but it is now almost August and they have not received a substantive response, officials said.

On Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed that “so far there is no agreement on this issue.”

Frustration at Russia’s lack of substantive response to the deal was an underlying factor in the administration’s decision to publicize that an agreement from the US is on the table.

"We communicated a substantial offer that we believe could be successful based on a history of conversations with the Russians," a senior administration official told CNN Wednesday.

However, there was acknowledgement within the administration that negotiations to try to free detained Americans are often difficult.

“We start all negotiations to bring home Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained with a bad actor on the other side. We start all of these with somebody who has taken a human being American and treated them as a bargaining chip," the senior official said.

"So in some ways, it's not surprising, even if it's disheartening, when those same actors don't necessarily respond directly to our offers, don't engage constructively in negotiations,” they said.

New details: National Security Council strategic coordinator for communications John Kirby offered some new details Thursday on the decision to go public with news that the US had offered the prisoner swap.

“We have made that decision seriously in terms of whether we were going to go public with it and I could just tell you that there was a lot that went into that decision. A lot of context here, both in terms of what was happening, what wasn't happening, and certainly in the context of Mrs. Griner having to testify yesterday,” Kirby said during an appearance on ABC’s "Good Morning America."

Kirby continued: “There was an awful lot of discussion about whether we should even acknowledge that there was a proposal but ultimately, we came down on the side that it was important to put this out there that people that the American people know how seriously President Biden takes his responsibilities to bring American citizens home when they've been unjustly detained. But we also thought it was important for the world to know how seriously American takes that responsibility.” 

Kirby did not offer any updates on the status of the offer.

“We’re still hoping that this proposal will be accepted by the Russians and then we can move forward to bring Brittney and Paul home,” he said.

He said it had been put forth “many weeks ago.”

8:28 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

At least 15 injured in Kyiv region missile strikes

From CNN's Anastasia Graham Yooll

Smoke rises over Kyiv after Russian missile strikes in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 28.
Smoke rises over Kyiv after Russian missile strikes in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 28. (Vladyslav Sodel/Reuters)

At least 15 people were injured in Thursday morning strikes in the Kyiv region, according to Andrii Nebytov, the head police in the Kyiv region.

More than 20 projectiles were fired in five separate attacks on the area — hitting a military facility — Oleksiy Kuleba, the head of Kyiv region state administration, posted on Telegram.

“Two more missiles were shot down by air defence forces,” Kuleba said.

"The enemy launched a rocket attack on a community in the Vyshhorod district this morning. An infrastructure target was hit," Kuleba said earlier.

8:12 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

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

From CNN staff

Ukraine is observing a new national holiday today — its first Day of Ukrainian Statehood. Here are the latest headlines:

Prisoner swap possible? The US made a “substantial offer” in June to release convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout — dubbed the “Merchant of Death” — in exchange for Moscow’s release of two US citizens, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, according to sources, which Biden signed off on. On Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said “no agreement” has been reached so far regarding the issue. 

Ukraine’s new holiday: July 28 marks the first Day of Ukrainian Statehood, to celebrate the connection between all Ukrainian people, past and present, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky. He summed up the day as: “We existed, exist and will exist.” In a video, Zelensky said Ukraine is “a free, sovereign, undivided and independent state” and always will be. 

Numbers on Russian casualties: According to US officials on Wednesday, “over 75,000 Russians have either been killed or wounded” during the war. Casualty figures are difficult to determine, with both Russian and Ukrainian officials having at times exaggerated events. The Kremlin dismissed the figures, which were quoted in a New York Times report on Thursday, saying that “even the most reputable newspapers do not shy away from spreading all sorts of fakes.”

Attacks near Kyiv and in the north: Shelling was reported in the northeastern cities of Chernihiv and Kharkiv “from the territory of Belarus,” according to V​yacheslav Chaus, the head of the Chernihiv regional military administration. Meanwhile, explosions were heard in Kyiv on Thursday morning. Oleksiy Kuleba, head of Kyiv's regional state administration, said "the enemy launched a rocket attack on a community in the Vyshhorod district this morning," hitting infrastructure.

Russian gains in Donetsk: The Ukrainian military on Thursday said that Russian forces had made “partial success” in gaining ground outside of Vershyna, a town located around 10 kilometers (6 miles) southeast of Bakhmut, which they have been bombarding for several weeks. The Ukrainian military’s General Staff also said that four attacks from different directions on Bakhmut were repelled, and in northern Sloviansk, two Russian advances were thwarted on Wednesday.

Russian journalist protester: The former Russian state TV employee Marina Ovsyannikova is appearing in court on Thursday over another anti-war protest: a one-woman anti-war protest on an embankment opposite the Kremlin in Moscow. Ovsyannikova previously gained attention in March for holding up a “No War” sign during a live nightly newscast on the station where she previously worked.