War in Ukraine – voices and developments: ammunition depot in Crimea exploded – places evacuated, train traffic stopped.
Russian spies report that Wagner boss Prigozhin had accomplices in the Russian security authorities. Volodymyr Zelenskyy saws off his ambassador in London because he accuses him of “unhealthy sarcasm”. All the latest news about the war against Ukraine in the ticker.
Russian ammunition dump in Crimea explodes
11:53 am: According to the authorities, an ammunition depot on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia, caught fire as a result of a Ukrainian drone attack. According to initial findings, there were no dead or injured, said Moscow’s governor Sergei Aksjonov on Saturday. For safety reasons, the evacuation of the adjacent towns and the cessation of rail traffic had been ordered.
The incident happened in the Krasnogvardeysk district north of Simferopol in the central part of Crimea. Videos documenting a major fire are circulating on social networks. Detonations can also be heard on some videos. At first there was talk of an attack on a fuel depot.
Russian governor: Ukraine bombards Belgorod with cluster munitions
11:42 a.m.: According to Russian sources, Ukraine fired cluster munitions at the Russian border region of Belgorod. The governor there, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported on Saturday about Ukrainian attacks on the village of Zhuravlyovka, during which rocket launchers that fire cluster munitions were also used. There were no casualties or property damage.
Despite international criticism, the United States had delivered cluster munitions to Ukraine in recent weeks to defend it against Russia. More than 100 countries – including Germany – have outlawed the use of such weapons with an agreement.
Overall, Gladkow reported attacks on 13 towns in his region. Cluster munitions were only used in Zhuravlevka. In three of the attacked settlements there was damage to houses and vehicles as well as to a power line.
Zelenskyy: Crimean bridge is “enemy facility”
Saturday, July 22, 5:48 a.m.: According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Crimean Bridge is a “hostile facility” that must be destroyed. The bridge, which connects the Russian mainland with the Russian-occupied Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, is “not just a logistical road,” Selenskyj said via video link at a security conference in Aspen, Colorado on Friday (local time). Rather, it is the road used to supply ammunition to the Russian war of aggression every day. This leads to a militarization of Crimea. And any goal that brings war and not peace must be neutralized, the President said.
Russia, which has been waging a war of aggression against Ukraine for around 17 months, had already annexed Crimea in violation of international law in 2014 and later connected it to its own mainland via the Crimea Bridge. According to Moscow, the 19-kilometer-long structure was attacked by Ukrainian drones early Monday morning, causing part of the roadway to sag. Kiev, which wants to liberate all occupied territories, has so far not confirmed any involvement in the attack. After the attack on the strategically important Crimean bridge, Moscow canceled the international agreement on the export of grain from Ukraine.
However, Zelenskyy doubts that the termination of the grain agreement by Russia is in retaliation for the damage to the Crimean bridge. Despite the agreement, Russia had repeatedly blocked the corridors and hindered grain transport. The shelling of the Crimean bridge was just another pretext for the end of the agreement, Zelenskyy said.
Russian spies: coup attempts against Putin are becoming more likely
5:53 p.m: Almost a month ago, the putsch by the Russian mercenary group Wagner shook Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin. As the Russian investigative portal “The Insider“ according to anonymous sources from the Russian secret services GRU and FSB as well as the Interior Ministry, this could not have been the last coup attempt.
GRU spies report that Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin had accomplices in the Russian security authorities. “Everyone in the Defense Ministry and in the entire government is fed up with this war and would like to end it,” the source said. That’s why Prigozhin received support.
The spy therefore expects further coup attempts in the future. “Everyone saw that nobody really stood up for Putin.” Wagner’s putsch showed that something “that many until recently considered absolutely impossible” had almost succeeded. Therefore, “others may want to try again”.
In the domestic secret service, the employees were officially surprised by Prigozhin’s plans, but security at the headquarters of the secret service had been increased beforehand. An alpha unit of the Russian Spetsnaz, which is primarily responsible for countering terrorism, was stationed in front of the building.
During the invasion, little action was taken to stop the mercenaries. According to a secret service official, Prigozhin was “very successful”. “There was no resistance. Nobody knows exactly why he stopped.”
A former Wagner mercenary reported to the portal that Prigozhin’s men were also partly surprised by his actions. Although the troops were also dissatisfied with the Russian conduct of the war, they were not really ready to attack their own country. He suspects that the uprising was just “a kind of circus”.
After lawsuit by ex-Wagner mercenary: Putin officials arrest pro-war Girkin
1:41 p.m.: Ex-secret service officer and ultra-nationalist Igor Girkin, known under the pseudonym Igor Strelkov, has been arrested in Moscow, according to his wife. Miroslava Reginskaya said on Friday on Girkin’s Telegram channel that he was accused of extremism. Officials from the investigative committee took him away. Nothing is known about his whereabouts.
Girkin led the 2014 Kremlin-led separatist uprising in Ukraine’s Donbass region. He has an international arrest warrant for his part in the 2014 downing of the MH17 passenger plane over Donbass.
While Girkin is seen as a clear supporter of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, he has increasingly criticized Russia’s conduct of the war. He accused the military leadership in Moscow of incompetence and corruption. He also called for an even tougher and more ruthless crackdown in Ukraine. Initially he criticized chief of staff Valeri Gerasimov and defense minister Sergei Shoigu, but most recently his accusations have increasingly been directed at President Vladimir Putin, whom he accused of inaction.
According to the Russian Internet portal RBK, a house search was also carried out at Girkin. The arrest followed a complaint from a former mercenary in Wagner’s private army. Wagner fought in Ukraine for a long time alongside regular Moscow troops. Girkin had been in a sharp conflict with the head of the Wagner troupe, Yevgeny Prigozhin, for months. After the brief revolt against the military leadership led by Prigozhin, he accused him of high treason.
Russia wants to conscript conscripts up to 30 years in the future
12.20 p.m.: In the middle of the war against Ukraine, Russia wants to raise the maximum draft age by three years. In future, men up to the age of 30 should be able to be drafted into the army, announced the chairman of the Duma’s defense committee, Andrei Kartapolov, on Friday in Moscow. So far, the maximum age is 27 years.
The minimum age, however, should remain at 18 years, as reported by the state agency Interfax, citing Kartapolov. In the meantime it had been announced that it should be increased to 21 years. According to media reports, the new regulation will apply from next spring. Parliament still has to agree.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced changes at the end of last year. Observers explained this with the planned increase in the armed forces from the current 1.15 to 1.5 million soldiers. At the same time, independent media pointed out that the new army regulations could bring hundreds of thousands of additional conscripts. The maximum age for calling up reservists was recently raised from 50 to 55.
Zelenskyi saws off ambassador in London because he accuses him of “unhealthy sarcasm”.
11:37 am: Shortly after a critical statement about President Volodymr Zelenskyj, the Ukrainian ambassador to Great Britain, Vadym Prystajko, was recalled from his post. Selenskyj had the corresponding decree published on his website in Kiev on Friday without further explanation. Just under a week ago, the ambassador accused his head of state of “unhealthy sarcasm” on British television. Prystajko was posted in London for three years. Before that he was Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace had previously called on Kiev to show more gratitude for the aid it has provided in the war against Russia. Selenskyj then asked at a press conference what exactly the British minister wanted. “Should he write to me? We can thank the minister personally every morning when we wake up,” he said. Prystajko had criticized this exchange of blows as counterproductive. Great Britain is one of Ukraine’s most important partner countries.
“Culture in wartime” – Ukrainian culture minister resigns
2:35 a.m: After dissatisfaction with the handling of state funds, the Ukrainian Minister of Culture Olexander Tkachenko has submitted his resignation. There had been “a wave of misunderstandings about the importance of culture in times of war,” Tkachenko said on Telegram late Thursday evening as an explanation for his move. After that, he was surprised by a statement by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on this subject.
Zelenskyi said in his evening video address on Thursday that he had asked Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal to consider replacing Tkachenko. Previously, Ukrainian media reported that the culture minister wanted to spend 500 million hryvnia (about 12 million euros) to complete a national museum dedicated to the Ukrainian victims of the Holodomor genocide in the 1930s.
On Thursday evening, on his Telegram channel, Tkachenko defended spending on culture even in times of war. “Culture during the war is important because it is not only a war for territories but also for people,” Tkachenko wrote there. Funds for culture are no less important during the war than funds for drones, “because culture is the protective shield of our identity and our borders,” said the politician.
Zelenskyj criticized in his speech: “In times of war like this, the main attention of the state, and thus also of state resources, should be devoted to defence”. Although museums and other cultural areas are important, “we have other priorities right now.” After around 17 months of Russian war of aggression, Ukrainian society understands that savings are currently being made on things that are not urgently needed. Zelenskyj also instructed the government to develop alternative financing options for cultural and other projects.