Ukraine update: what happened tonight
Russia sinks its own ships to protect the Crimean Bridge
Russia is apparently intentionally sinking its own ships to protect the bridge from Crimea to the mainland. This is reported by the Ukrainian military intelligence service HUR. Accordingly, the Russians have already sunk a ferry and are currently preparing another. A total of six ships are to be sunk, which are then to be connected to further protective material.
The Russians want to defend themselves against renewed attacks by the Ukrainians. On July 17, the Ukrainians carried out a successful attack on the bridge with two Sea Baby drones. Since the bridge is an elementary supply line for the Russian army, Moscow is now demanding that everything be done to protect the structure.
The Ukrainian secret service sees the strange measure as “proof of the panic in the enemy’s decisions and of the intellectual crisis in the military-political leadership of Russia”. The HUR also showed a map on the Internet. It shows where the first Russian ship was sunk.
Large majority of Ukrainians reject compromises for peace
In a survey, a large majority of Ukrainians spoke out against compromises with war opponent Russia in exchange for a peace agreement. According to the results of two well-known institutes published on Tuesday, more than 90 percent of the approximately 2,000 respondents are against the transfer of territory. Almost 74 percent ruled out the option of joining NATO. Meanwhile, the presidents of Ukraine and Russia sought broad support from the heads of state and government of other countries. According to the authorities, the air defense in Moscow fended off new Ukrainian drone attacks.
In the survey, 80 percent of the participants rejected a reduction in the number of troops in the Ukrainian army in peacetime. At the same time, only just under 49 percent of them expected a positive development of events in their own country. In December last year, after the successful expulsion of the Russian occupiers from northern Ukraine and large parts of the Kharkiv and Cherson regions, it was still almost 60 percent. The survey was conducted in government-controlled regions excluding Luhansk Oblast, Donetsk Oblast and the Crimean Peninsula.
Ukraine has been fighting off a Russian invasion for almost 18 months with massive Western aid. Russian demands include relinquishing Ukrainian territory in the east and south, including Crimea, annexed in 2014. Ukraine should also refrain from joining the western military alliance NATO, which is enshrined in the constitution, agree to extensive demilitarization and grant the Russian minority in the country more rights. Moscow currently controls almost 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory.
Zelenskyj thanks EU countries for military and reconstruction aid
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj was satisfied with the results of his multi-day trip through European capitals and thanked the countries for the promised military and reconstruction aid. “There are planes for Ukraine. There is additional armor and we are strengthening air defenses,” he said in his daily video address on Tuesday. This time it was recorded on a train that Selenskyj was taking back to Kiev after traveling through various EU countries.
After stays in Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark, he finally visited Greece and spoke to several heads of state and government in the Balkan region, explained Zelenskyj. Denmark and the Netherlands recently promised Ukraine the delivery of Western F-16 fighter jets. Zelenskyy thanked Greece not only for the arms aid, but also for the promise to take over the patronage for the reconstruction of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, which had been hit several times by Russian rocket and drone attacks.
Putin denies blame for breach of grain deal
Meanwhile, during an appearance at the Brics summit in South Africa, Russian President Vladimir Putin renewed his criticism of the West and Ukraine. For example, the grain agreement with Ukraine was suspended because none of the conditions stipulated in the agreement to facilitate the export of Russian grain and fertilizers had been met. “Commitments to Russia in this regard have simply been ignored,” he claimed in a video-transmitted speech at the Brics Group meeting of key emerging economies in South Africa on Tuesday.
Moscow will only lift the blockade of Ukrainian ports and return to the agreement once all Russian demands have been met, Putin said. At the same time, he offered to replace Ukrainian deliveries of grain on the world market with Russian transports, “both on a commercial basis and through free aid to the needy countries”. Despite international warnings of a food crisis, Moscow suspended the agreement concluded last summer on the export of Ukrainian grain, mediated by the UN and Turkey.
Media: Senior Russian General Surovikin deposed
According to the media, the head of the Russian aerospace troops, General Sergei Surovikin, who was important in the war against Ukraine, was relieved of his office two months after the uprising of the Wagner mercenary group. The former editor-in-chief of the dissolved liberal radio station Echo Moskvy, Alexey Venediktov, wrote on his Telegram channel on Tuesday, citing an official decree. The decree itself was not initially published, although several nationalist Russian military blogs reported on Surovikin’s replacement.
From October 2022 to January 2023, Surovikin was the supreme commander of Russian units in Ukraine. He was considered one of the most important allies of the mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in the regular Russian army in his power struggle with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov. Although Surovikin publicly condemned the uprising of the Wagner troops at the end of June, according to political observers he was subsequently sidelined.
Biden adviser: Continued US bipartisan support for Kyiv
The US government continues to pledge long-term support to Ukraine – despite different tones from parts of the Republican Party. US President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Tuesday there are strong Republican and Democratic voices in key leadership positions in both the House and Senate that are committed to continuing financial support for Kiev. The government therefore assumes that aid to Kiev will be maintained, even if there are some dissenting voices on the Republican side.