1. Russian missile strikes hit civilian objects, port infrastructure in Odessa and Nikolaev
Russia launched airstrikes on the Ukrainian Black Sea regions of Odessa and Mykolaiv on Tuesday, damaging private property and port infrastructure along the country’s southern coast, according to the Ukrainian military.
Kremlin forces used air-launched missiles to attack, according to a Facebook post by the Ukrainian Operational Command South.
In the Odessa region, several private houses in coastal villages were damaged and caught fire, the report said. In the Mykolaiv region, port infrastructure has been targeted, despite an agreement signed last week by Moscow and Kyiv that should allow grain shipments to resume from Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
Hours after the strikes, a Moscow-appointed official in southern Ukraine said the Odessa and Mykolaiv regions would soon be “liberated” by Russian forces, as would the already-occupied Kherson region to the east.
Bombing continued on other fronts, with Russian rockets allegedly destroying a school in Donetsk.
Capturing the rest of the eastern industrial region of Donbass remains a Kremlin priority, although a recent escalation in rocket fire and shelling across the country suggests a possible offensive is being prepared, Ukrainian authorities have warned.
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2. Russia will abandon the ISS, build its own space station after 2024
As tensions between Russia and the West continue to rise over the ongoing war in Ukraine, Moscow has announced that it will leave the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024.
The decision, reported by Russian media, was announced during a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Yuri Borisov, the newly appointed director general of Roskosmos, Russia’s space agency.
This announcement, which is generally seen as bad news for international cooperation in space, does not mean that Russia is abandoning its galactic ambitions, as Moscow suggests that it will create its own new orbital station.
Borisov, who replaced his predecessor Dmitry Rogozin after Putin personally ousted him as head of Roscosmos earlier this month, called the decision to build his own space station in Russia “raising the bar” for the space industry and a top “priority” for the program. .
“Of course, we will fulfill all obligations to our partners, but the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov said.
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3. The Russian military will conduct exercises in Siberia
The Defense Ministry said Russia plans to conduct strategic military exercises in the east of the country starting next month, thousands of miles away from the war it is waging in Ukraine.
The Vostok exercise will take place from 30 August to 5 September. They seem to be meant to show that Russia, despite a costly five-month war in Ukraine, remains focused on defending its entire territory and capable of militarily maintaining “business as usual.”
The ministry’s statement stressed that the invasion of Ukraine had not affected its ability to conduct such exercises.
It stated that Russia did not cancel any exercises or international cooperation, and the exercises would be provided with all necessary personnel, weapons and equipment.
The upcoming exercise will involve the Eastern Military District, which includes part of Siberia and is headquartered in Khabarovsk, near the border with China.
They will include some foreign forces, the Ministry of Defense, without specifying from which countries. Last year, troops from Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia took part in major exercises in Russia and Belarus.
4. The UK government introduces new sanctions against Russian officials
The UK said on Tuesday it had sanctioned Kremlin-imposed officials in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine in response to Moscow’s incursion in late February, as well as 29 regional governors across Russia.
The 42 new faces added to British sanctions against Russia also include a Russian minister and deputy justice minister, as well as two nephews of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who himself came under British sanctions in March.
“We will continue to impose tough sanctions on those who seek to legitimize Putin’s illegal invasion until Ukraine wins,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is one of Boris Johnson’s top contenders for prime minister, said in a statement.
Vitaly Khotsenko and Vladislav Kuznetsov, the Russian-appointed prime minister and first deputy chairman of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, are now subject to a travel ban and asset freeze, the UK Foreign Office has said.
5. The Prime Minister of Ukraine says that the country will save almost billions by postponing the payment of the debt, and asks to conclude a “gas lend-lease” agreement with the United States.
Ukraine can save 200 billion hryvnia (about 5.4 billion euros) for priority needs by postponing the repayment of external debt, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Tuesday.
Ukraine has begun a formal solicitation of the consent of its international bondholders by proposing a two-year debt freeze on most of its bonds and giving creditors the opportunity to vote on the proposal until August 9.
Shmygal also said that the Ukrainian government had approved a request to the US government for a “gas lend-lease” to help Ukraine survive what he said was the worst heating season in its history.
Yuriy Vitrenko, chief executive of Ukrainian state oil and gas company Naftogaz, said last week that the company is working with the government to raise about €8bn of funds to buy an additional 4bcm of gas needed to heat Ukraine in 2022/23. season.
Vitrenko said on July 18 that Ukraine currently has reserves of 11.5 bcm and has secured import funding to bring stocks up to 15 bcm, but that the government has set a higher target of 19 bcm due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine .