Russia fired on Ukraine due to uncertainty over the restart of the gas pipeline

Russian troops have shelled eastern and southern Ukraine after Washington said it saw signs that Moscow was preparing to formally annex territory it had seized during the nearly five months of the war.

Meanwhile, uncertainty has risen over Thursday’s scheduled restart of Russia’s huge gas pipeline to Europe, as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that its capacity could be further reduced by slow progress in equipment maintenance.

Fearing that Russia could cut off supplies, the European Union will develop an emergency plan in the coming months to reduce gas demand.

Ukrainian military and politicians have reported massive and sometimes fatal Russian artillery attacks amid what they say are largely unsuccessful offensive attempts by Russian ground forces.

Territorial acquisitions

British military intelligence said the Russian offensive in eastern Donbass continued to make minimal progress as UK-assisted Ukrainian forces held the line.

More than two weeks have passed since the last major territorial conquest of Russia, the city of Lisichansk.

Russia Ukraine War

Search and rescue workers and local residents remove a body from under the rubble of a building following a Russian air raid in Lysichansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Source: A MONKEY / AP

The Kremlin has said that the so-called “special military operation” to ensure its own security in the face of NATO expansion has no time limit and that it will do everything possible to achieve its goals.

Ukraine and the West condemn the conflict as Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression against its neighbor.

Five civilians were killed and 16 were injured as a result of Russian shelling in the Donetsk region, two civilians were killed as a result of shelling in the city of Nikopol in the south, the respective governors of the regions of Ukraine reported on Telegram.

Foundation laying

Meanwhile, the Russian news agency TASS quoted the mayor of Horlivka, a city in the Russian-backed self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, as saying that one person was killed and three were injured, including a child, in Ukrainian shelling.

Reuters was unable to immediately verify Ukrainian or Russian accounts.

Citing US intelligence, White House national security spokesman John Kirby accused Russia of laying the groundwork for the annexation of Ukrainian territory it had seized since the start of the war on Feb. 24. According to the Russian embassy in Washington, this statement distorts what Moscow is trying to do.

The embassy presented what Ukraine and the West see as a blatant land grab, a “return of peace to the liberated territories” in order to protect the rights of people regardless of their ethnicity or language – referring to Russian-speakers or ethnic Russians in Ukraine, whom Russia calls being saved from persecution by the side of those whom he considers dangerous Ukrainian nationalists.

Russia Ukraine War

Ukrainian soldiers fire an 82mm mortar during an exercise in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Source: A MONKEY / AP

Pipeline to Germany

Kyiv says the Russian narrative is false. NORTH STREAM 1 Russian natural gas exports via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Germany are due to resume on Thursday after 10 days of annual repairs.

Sources told Reuters that Nord Stream, Europe’s largest supply chain for Russian gas, is expected to resume operations as scheduled but with reduced capacity.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday after a visit to Tehran, Putin said that Nord Stream 1’s capacity could be reduced due to problems with other pumping units, one of which would need to be sent for maintenance on July 26.
He said that the Russian energy giant Gazprom is ready to meet its gas export obligations.

Last month, Gazprom cut exports along the route by up to 40%, citing a delay in the return of a turbine that Siemens Energy was servicing in Canada, which initially banned the return of equipment, citing sanctions.

Russia will punish Wikimedia for fakes about the conflict in Ukraine

Russia’s communications watchdog said on Wednesday it was taking steps to punish the Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, for violating Russian law in connection with the conflict in Ukraine.

Roskomnadzor said in a statement that Wikipedia continues to host “prohibited material, including fake news about a special operation in Ukraine,” and that search engines will be used to inform users that Wikimedia violates Russian law.

Deputy Chairman of the Russian Parliament Committee on Information Policy Anton Gorelkin wrote on Telegram that links to Wikipedia will be accompanied by a disclaimer warning users about violations of the law by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Roskomnadzor said the measures would remain in place until the Wikimedia Foundation is fully compliant with Russian law.

The Wikimedia Foundation appealed the Moscow court decision on June 13, fined it $91,000 ($132,000) for refusing to remove what it called disinformation from Russian-language Wikipedia articles on the Ukraine conflict, including “Russian Invasion of Ukraine”, “Military crimes during the Russian invasion of Ukraine”, and “Massacre in Bucha”.

Wikipedia, which offers a “second draft of history”, is written and edited by volunteers in more than 300 languages.
With the closure of many independent Russian media after the invasion of Ukraine, Wikipedia has become one of the last sources of verified information about the war available to Russians.
Russia introduced sweeping new laws on the sharing of information about the conflict in Ukraine shortly after the Kremlin invaded the country.
Tales of the conflict, the largest in Europe since 1945, are highly controversial. Russia does not call what is happening a “war” or an “invasion”, criminalizing the use of both words and instead presenting it as a “special military operation” to “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine.

Ukraine and the West say the Russian setup is a fig leaf to justify an imperial-style war of aggression.