Copyright © 2021 Euromaidanpress.com

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 513: Russia attacks ports after the withdrawal from “grain deal”

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 513: Russia attacks ports after the withdrawal from “grain deal”

Ukraine changes grain corridor route. Russia keeps attacking Ukrainian ports after the withdrawal from the “grain deal.” Ukraine forces gained ground in three front sectors. 

Daily overview — Summary report, July 21

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, July 21, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Day 513 of the russian full-scale military aggression against Ukraine has begun.
Last night, the russian federation launched yet another missile strike on the territory of Ukraine. Information on the aftermath of this terrorist attack is currently being updated.
During the day of July 20, the russian occupiers launched a massive missile and air strike on the territory of Ukraine, using 3x Kalibr sea-launched cruise missiles, 5x Iskander-K ground-launched cruise missiles, 4x Kh-22 cruise missiles, 7x Oniks cruise missiles, and 19x Shahed combat UAVs. Air defense of the Ukrainian Defense Forces intercepted 2x Kalibr cruise missiles, 3x Iskander-K ground-launched cruise missiles, and 13x Shahed combat UAVs.
In addition, the enemy launched 49x air strikes and 72x MLRS attacks. Unfortunately, the russian terrorist attacks have caused civilian casualties, destroyed or damaged industrial facilities, residential buildings, and other infrastructure.
The likelihood of missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains very high.
The enemy continues to focus its main efforts on Kup’yans’k, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mar’inka axes, with 32x combat engagements taking place during the day of July 20.
Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes. No signs of formation of an offensive group.
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the adversary continues to maintain its military presence. The invaders launched air strikes in the vicinities of Semenivka, Novhorod-Sivers’kyi (Chernihiv oblast), Hrabovs’ke (Sumy oblast), and the city of Sumy. The russian forces fired mortars and artillery at more than 25x settlements, including Leonivka (Chernihiv oblast), Seredyna-Buda, Basivka, Volfyne (Sumy oblast), Udy, Kozacha Lopan’, Odnorobivka, Starytsya, Vovchans’k, and Budarky (Kharkiv oblast).
Kup’yans’k axis: the Ukrainian troops are standing their ground, and have
successfully repelled enemy attacks southwest of Masyutivka (Kharkiv oblast). Dvorichna, Zapadne, Fyholivka, Kam’yanka, Krasne Pershe, Kup’yans’k, Kucherivka, Monachynivka, and Topoli (Kharkiv oblast) came under enemy artillery and mortar fire.
Lyman axis: the settlements of Nevs’ke, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Tors’ke, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke Spirne, Berestove, Kyslivka, and Rozdolivka (Donetsk oblast) were shelled with artillery.
Bakhmut axis: under heavy fire from enemy artillery, the Ukrainian defenders successfully repelled enemy attacks in the vicinity on the southwestern outskirts of Klishchiivka. More than 10x settlements, including Vasyukivka, Markove, Bohdanivka, Ivanivske, Stupochky, Chasiv Yar, and Oleksandro-Shul’tyne (Donetsk oblast), suffered from enemy artillery shelling.
Avdiivka axis: under heavy fire from enemy aircraft and artillery, the Ukrainian defenders successfully repelled russian troops’ attacks in the vicinity of Nevel’s’ke. The adversary launched air strikes in the vicinities of Sjeverne and the city of Avdiivka. At the same time, the invaders fired artillery at more than 10x settlements, including Avdiivka, Karlivka, Pervomais’ke, and Nevel’s’ke (Donetsk oblast).
Mar’inka axis: the Ukrainian forces continue to hold back the russian offensive in the vicinities of Novomykhailivka and Mar’inka (Donetsk oblast). The adversary launched air strikes near Oleksandropil’ and Novomykhailivka. The invaders shelled more than 15x settlements, including Krasnohorivka, Mar’inka, Zhelanne Pershe, Pobjeda, and Heorhiivka (Donetsk oblast).
Shakhtars’ke axis: the adversary launched air strikes in the vicinities of Zolota Nyva, Vuhledar, Storozhove, Makarivka, Blahodatne, and shelled the settlements of Velyka Novosilka, Vuhledar, Vodyane, Blahodatne, and Odradne (Donetsk oblast).
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the adversary focuses its main efforts on preventing further advance of Ukrainian troops. The invaders made unsuccessful attempts to regain the lost position in the area north of Pryyutne (Zaporizhzhia oblast). The enemy launched air strikes in the vicinities of Mala Tokmachka, Novodanylivka, Yehorivka, P’yatykhatky (Zaporizhzhia oblast), and Kozats’ke (Kherson oblast). The occupant forces shelled more than 30x settlements, including Novodanylivka, Malynivka, Hulyaipole, Lobkove, Zaliznychne, Bilohir’ya (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Ponyativka, Tyahynka, Chervonyi Mayak, Antonivka, Zymivnyk (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson.
At the same time, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to conduct the offensive operation on Melitopol’ and Berdyans’k axes, consolidating their positions, firing artillery for effect on the identified enemy targets, and conducting counter-battery fire.
During the day of July 20, the Ukrainian Air Force launched 8x air strikes on the concentrations of enemy troops. Also, the Ukrainian defenders intercepted 1x operational-tactical level reconnaissance UAV of the enemy.
During the day of July 20, Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 10x artillery systems at their firing positions, 2x air defense assets, 2x electronic warfare stations, and 4x other important enemy targets.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

On July 19, Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in at least three sectors of the front, making gains, Institute for the Study of War reports. Footage that was geolocated and published on the same day shows Ukrainian forces making progress near Andriyivka, located approximately 10 kilometers southwest of Bakhmut. Previously, Euromaidan Press reported that Ukrainian forces are preparing for advance in this direction. The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed that offensive operations continued north and south of Bakhmut City, compelling Russian forces to retreat from positions northeast of Orikhovo-Vasylivka, situated approximately 11 kilometers northwest of Bakhmut.

 Reznikov says Ukraine plans to resume e-declaration system after war to protect its soldiers. Ukraine will resume the e-declaration anti-corruption system after the war to protect its military, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov says. Ukraine implemented the electronic declaration system, which opened access to about incomes of officials to the public after the Revolution of Dignity in 2023-2014. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in 2022, for security reasons, declarations for officials have become optional. However, the EU says Ukraine needs to resume the system to fight corruption in the country, as per UkrInform.

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1682335900787679232

  • In the coming days, Russia’s Wagner Group is likely to release the last of its convict-recruits from their mandated service. Its Project K prison recruitment scheme peaked in early 2023 and at least 40,000 men served under it.
  • A significant number of the now pardoned convicts are likely to take up the offer to continue with Wagner as professional contractors. Meanwhile, the Russian MOD has taken over Wagner’s prison recruitment pipeline.
  • The end of the scheme marks a way point in the history of Wagner and of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The soldiers provided by Project K enabled Russia to seize Bakhmut: one of its few recent claims to success. The project grew Wagner into the organisation which, last month, directly challenged the authority of President Putin. It also marks one of the bloodiest episodes in modern military history: up to 20,000 convict-recruits were killed within a few months.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

Humanitarian 

31 civilians died following Russia’s destruction of the Kakhovka dam. 31 civilians have died following Russia’s destruction of the Kakhovka dam on 6 June, Svoboda Radio reported, quoting Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko. “As for the victims: we have 31 people dead as of today. 29 people are from Kherson Oblast and two citizens died in Mykolaiv Oblast,” Klymenko said. According to the Minister, the estimates of material losses have not yet been completed.

Ukrainian journalist abducted by Russia held hostage in Moscow prison. Dmytro Khyliuk, a reporter for the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN, was abducted by the Russians in the garden of his family’s home north of Kyiv less than two weeks after the start of the Russian full-scale invasion. After months of research, Reporters Without Borders managed to track him down. While the Russian authorities continue to deny holding him, RSF has obtained evidence of his enforced disappearance and subsequent transfer to a prison east of Moscow. According to RSF’s information, Khyliuk was moved from Pre-trial Detention Centre No. 2 in Novozybkov, a small town in the far southeast of Russia, around May 13, 2023. He had been held without any legal basis in this prison for just over a year, as previously established by RSF through unpublished testimonies confirming his detention.

Environmental

Ukraine changes grain corridor route. Ukraine sets up a temporary shipping route to maintain grain shipments after Russia quit the Black Sea grain agreement, Reuters reported. On the night of 19 July, the Russian army launched the most massive-yet attack on Odesa. The grain infrastructure of international and Ukrainian traders and carriers Kernel, Viterra, and CMA CGM Group was damaged in the port cities of Odesa and Chornomorsk. Particularly, 60,000 tons of grain waiting for shipping to China were destroyed. It happened two days after Russia withdrew from the “grain deal,” a UN-brokered arrangement allowing to export Ukrainian grain through Black Sea ports.

Ukraine urges EU to open pathways for grain exports, rejects restrictions. Head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, called on the European Union and EU member states to urgently expand all available pathways for Ukrainian grain exports and described any restrictions on grain transportation as unacceptable. Kuleba made these remarks on Thursday, July 20, during a meeting of the European Union’s Council of Foreign Ministers, European Pravda reports. He emphasized the need for Ukraine and the EU to exert maximum efforts to facilitate the export of food from Ukraine, including significantly increasing the capacity of alternative transportation corridors known as “Solidarity Corridors.”

Ukraine responds reciprocally to Russian blackmail, will consider “vessels heading to Russian ports as potential carriers of military cargo”. Ukraine “can consider all vessels heading to Russian ports as carrying military cargo” responding reciprocally to the same Russian blackmail, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement on 20 July 2023. In particular, it said that shipping through the Kerch Strait is banned from 21 July 2023. The statement comes as a response to a similar Russian statement made on 19 July. As was reported, the Russian Federation said it withdraws from the “grain deal” with Türkiye and the UN on 17 July. According to the deal, Ukraine could safely export grain worldwide using its Odesa seaports. Subsequently, Russia launched several deadly attacks on the Ukrainian city of Odesa and its port facilities at night on 19 and 20 July, damaging grain terminal and destroying more than 60,000 tons of food destined for China.

Russia attacks two Ukrainian port cities amid withdrawal from “grain deal”. On the night of 20 July 2023, Russia launched a second wave of attack against the Ukrainian port cities of Odesa and Mykolayiv. The attack comes after the Russian statement that it withdraws from the “grain deal” with Türkiye and the UN to prevent any grain export from Ukraine by sea. The most devastating missile wave hit Mykolayiv, badly damaging at least five residential buildings and 15 garages, wounding 18 people among whom five children. Two people were rescued from the rubble. It is a miracle that they were saved. However, one man was killed, head of Mykolayiv Oblast administration Vitaliy Kim said.

Belarus Red Cross involved in kidnapping Ukrainian children. Dzmitry Shautsou, head of the Belarusian Red Cross, acknowledged that the Belarusian Red Cross “has been and will continue to be involved” in taking Ukrainian children to Belarus. During his visit to the occupied Donbas, Shautsou gave an interview for a propaganda film on the state-controlled channel Belarus 1, where he admitted that the Belarusian Red Cross takes part in kidnapping Ukrainian children and taking them to Belarus. “I was outraged to the core by the fact that people, I think, to the extent of their minds being inflamed, or they think it is logical to do so, accused Belarus of kidnapping children who come to us for rehabilitation. And frankly speaking, the fact is that the Belarusian Red Cross has been actively involved in this and will continue to be so,” Shautsou said.

Support

Canada imposes sanctions on Russian military-industrial, cultural sectors. Canada has announced additional sanctions against Russia in response to its ongoing aggression against Ukraine. The sanctions target individuals and entities connected to Russia’s military-industrial complex and the cultural and education sectors. The sanctions target a total of 39 individuals and 25 organizations. In the military-industrial complex, the sanctions focus on private military companies and volunteer organizations supporting Russia’s war of aggression.

EU renews sanctions against specific sectors of Russia’s economy. The Council of the European Unit decided to prolong by six months, until 31 January 2024, the restrictive measures targeting specific sectors of the economy of the Russian Federation, EU Council reported. Certain Russian companies and enterprises in the areas of trade, industry, technology, dual-use goods, luxury goods, and transportation remain under restrictions. The sanctions include a ban on imports of crude oil from Russia, disconnection of several Russian banks from SWIFT, and suspension of licensing of several Kremlin-backed propaganda media.

The US announced a new $1.3 billion military aid package for Ukraine procured from industry. The US announced a new $1.3 billion military aid package for Ukraine with crucial NASAMS air defense systems, other equipment and ammunition. The new aid package will be provided as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). Unlike Presidential Drawdown authority, which allows to deliver equipment to Ukraine from stocks, according to USAI the United States procures capabilities from industry or partners to then send to Ukraine.

New Developments

New German ambassador begins work in Kyiv. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Yevhen Perebyinis, accepted the credentials from the new German Ambassador to Ukraine, Martin Jäger, on Thursday, July 20. This was announced by the press service of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Jäger will replace Anka Feldhusen, who served in Kyiv since 2019. Prior to his appointment in Kyiv, Jäger served as the ambassador to Iraq. Perebyinis informed the diplomat about the current situation in Ukraine amid the resistance to Russian aggression and highlighted the importance of the significant assistance received from Germany

The International Gymnastics Federation allows Russians & Belarusians to compete as “neutral,” claiming that “gymnastics is seeking peace.” The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) allowed Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as “individual neutral athletes,” condemning the “senseless invasion of Ukraine by Russia” and claiming that “gymnastics is seeking peace.” The decision softens the previous ban for Russian & Belarusian athletes imposed in May 2022.

Assessment 

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-20-2023*

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  July 20, 2022:

Russian forces launched a third night of missile and drone strikes against port and grain infrastructure in southern Ukraine on July 20 following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched seven Onyx cruise missiles, four Kh-22 anti-ship missiles, three Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles, five Iskander ballistic missiles, and 19 Iranian-made Shahed drones.[1] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed 18 targets, including two Kalibrs, three Iskanders, and 13 Shaheds.[2] Spokesperson of the Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Captain First Rank Nataliya Humenyuk stated that Russian forces targeted port infrastructure in Mykolaiv and Odesa oblasts and noted that the strikes mainly affected warehouses and logistics facilities.[3] Humenyuk noted that Russian “blackmail and sabotage” of Ukrainian ports started shortly after Russian began its rhetoric about its conditions for the expansion of the grain deal.[4] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces struck Ukrainian manufacturing and storage facilities in Odesa City and Chornomorske in Odesa Oblast, and fuel infrastructure facilities and ammo depots in Mykolaiv City.[5] Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces destroyed the Odesa Seaport Administration building in the center of Odesa City and noted that residential buildings were damaged by the blast wave.[6] Ukrainian sources reported that Russian missile strikes also damaged a Chinese consulate building in Odesa City.[7]

Ukrainian military officials outlined the challenge of defending against Onyx missiles and Russia’s shortage of Kh-22 missiles. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat stated that Onyx missiles fly at a speed of more than 3,000 kilometers per hour at a high altitude and then quickly change altitude to 10–15 meters above the surface when striking a target, making it difficult to detect and destroy.[8] Ihnat noted on July 19 that Russian forces are using Onyx cruise missiles that are designed to destroy targets located directly on the coastline along the sea.[9] Ihnat also stated on July 20 that Russia does not have the same ability to manufacture Kh-22 missiles that it does to produce other types of high-precision long-range missiles.[10] Ihnat noted that Russia had approximately 250 Kh-22 missiles at the beginning of the war in February of 2022 and has already used approximately 150 missiles against Ukraine.[11]

The Russian military announced that it may consider civilian ships in the Black Sea en route to Ukrainian ports legitimate military targets. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated on July 19 that as of midnight Moscow time on July 20 Russian forces will consider all ships en route to Ukrainian ports as potential carriers of military cargo and will consider the flag countries of such vessels as “involved in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of the Kyiv regime.”[12] The Russian MoD declared a number of sea areas in the northern and southern parts of the Black Sea “temporarily dangerous for navigation” and claimed that it issued relevant warnings to sailors in the Black Sea about the withdrawal of safety guarantees.[13] The Russian MoD specified that these naval measures are connected to the termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the curtailment of the maritime humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea.[14] The announcement prompted the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD) to announce on July 20 that as of midnight Kyiv time Ukrainian forces may treat all ships in the Black Sea heading to ports in Russia and occupied Ukrainian territories as military cargo vessels.[15] The Ukrainian MoD similarly stated that Ukrainian officials released relevant navigation information to seafarers.[16] US National Security Council Spokesperson Adam Hodge stated on July 20 that US intelligence indicates that Russian forces have laid additional sea mines in the approaches to Ukrainian ports.[17] Hodge added that the White House believes that Russia is engaging in a coordinated effort to justify possible attacks against civilian ships in the Black Sea and blame Ukrainian forces for the attacks.[18]

The Russian military’s intensifying strikes against Ukrainian port and grain infrastructure and threats of maritime escalation are likely a part of a Kremlin effort to leverage Russia’s exit from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and exact extensive concessions from the West. Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on July 19 that Russia is ready to return to the grain deal immediately if all previously agreed-upon conditions for Russia’s participation in the initiative are fulfilled and the parties restore the deal’s “original humanitarian essence.”[19] Putin accused Western countries of exploiting the grain deal so that European enterprises could profit at the expense of Russian businesses.[20] Putin claimed that elements of the grain deal led to a 30 to 40 percent discount on Russian grain on global markets, which caused Russian farmers to lose $1.2 billion and Russian fertilizer producers to suffer $1.6 billion in losses.[21] Putin stated that returning to the deal in its current form is pointless and called for the lifting of sanctions on Russian grain and fertilizer deliveries and the removal of obstacles for Russian banks servicing food supplies to the global market, including their connection to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) banking system.[22] Putin also called for the resumption of deliveries of components and spare parts for Russian agricultural machinery and fertilizer production, the resolution of issues with Russia ship chartering and insurance of Russian food exports, the renewal of operations for the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline, and the removal of blocks on Russian agricultural assets.[23]

The Kremlin likely views the Black Sea Grain Initiative as one of its few remaining avenues of leverage against the West and has withdrawn from the deal to secure these concessions. The Kremlin now appears to be attempting to create a sense of urgency around its return to the Black Sea Grain Initiative by conducting intensifying strikes against Ukrainian port and grain infrastructure and threatening to strike civilian ships in the Black Sea. Ukraine harvests most of it grain between July and August, and Russia’s strikes on Ukrainian port and agricultural infrastructure can further complicate Ukraine’s ability to free up space for newly harvested grains.[24] Prolonged disruptions to grain logistics in Ukraine will likely have increasingly cascading effects on grain supplies, adding to the sense of urgency that the Kremlin hopes to create.

The Kremlin routinely engages in escalatory rhetoric surrounding the West’s support for Ukraine in an effort to shape Western behavior, although Russia appears notably to be conducting these shaping efforts concerning the grain deal with kinetic operations instead of rhetoric. It is unclear to what extent Russian forces intend to strike civilian ships in the Black Sea, although the Kremlin likely believes the announcement will have a chilling effect on maritime activity in the Black Sea and create conditions reminiscent of the complete blockade of Ukrainian ports at the start of the full-scale invasion.[25] This attempt to achieve economic concessions from the West may undermine the Kremlin’s international outreach efforts by threatening the food supplies of several countries that are the intended targets of the Kremlin’s outreach.[26] Russian strikes against Ukrainian port and grain infrastructure and naval posturing also continue to illustrate that the Kremlin is willing to use naval and precision strike assets to prioritize immediate economic concerns instead of operations in Ukraine that pursue the Kremlin‘s overall campaign objectives.

The Kremlin may be destroying Ukrainian port and grain infrastructure before renegotiating the Black Sea grain deal to set conditions for the export of stolen Ukrainian grain from Russian-occupied territories that could disproportionately benefit the Russian economy. Ukrainian Minister for Agrarian Policy Mykola Solskyi stated that it would take Ukraine no less than one year to restore the Chornomorsk port in Odesa Oblast, which was used for export of grain.[27] The destruction of Ukrainian port infrastructure in government-controlled Odesa and Mykolaiv oblasts may restrict Ukraine’s ability to export grain by sea even if the grain deal is renegotiated, while allowing Russia to offer grain from occupied Ukraine or Russia to fulfil the deal in the meantime.

Russia is also likely attempting to intensify divisions between Ukrainian and Central European governments as Ukraine and the West search for a way to re-route the grain exports. Senior European officials stated that the European Union (EU) is seeking to transport more Ukrainian grain via road and rail to help make up for Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal.[28] Five Central European countries — Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria — called on the EU to extend the ban on grain imports from Ukraine until at least the end of the year on July 19.[29] Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also announced on July 19 that Poland will retain its ban on Ukrainian grain exports on September 15 even if the EU does not agree to the extension.[30] Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Telus stated on July 18 that Poland is willing to facilitate Ukrainian grain transit through Poland but said that the EU will need to help to establish necessary infrastructure.[31] Telus added that Poland had only begun its harvest and noted that it cannot facilitate the extra transit immediately. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal condemned Poland’s decision to extend the ban as an “unfriendly and populist move that will severely impact global food security and Ukraine’s economy.”[32] Exports through Poland and other EU countries bordering Ukraine had previously sparked resistance from local farmers after the EU lifted tariffs and quotas on food exports from Ukraine in June 2022 as Russia blocked Ukraine from transporting grain and other goods by sea.[33] Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary announced in April 2023 bans on grain and other food exports from Ukraine to protect their agricultural sectors.[34] The European Commission later announced restrictions on the imports of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria until June 5 as a result of farmers’ concerns in Central European countries.[35] The Kremlin may be attempting to disrupt Ukraine’s future prospects for maritime exports in an effort to sour Ukrainian relations with its Western neighbors.[36]

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front and reportedly advanced on July 20. A Ukrainian commander operating in the Bakhmut area reported on July 19 that Ukrainian forces advanced 1.8km likely on the southern flank of Bakhmut, and Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces also advanced on Bakhmut’s northern flank on July 20.[37] Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated that Ukrainian forces cannot rapidly advance near Bakhmut due to heavy Russian force concentrations in the area.[38] The Russian military command concentrated a high density of forces in the Bakhmut area to defend against Ukrainian attacks in the area, likely an intended effect of those attacks, though Syrskyi and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly restated their intent to retake Bakhmut.[39] Ukrainian military officials reported that Ukrainian forces continued advancing in the Berdiansk (Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia oblasts border area) and Melitopol (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast) directions and are continuing to advance by roughly 100 meters per day south and southeast of Orikhiv.[40] Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Mykhailo Podoliak reiterated that the Ukrainian counteroffensive will be slow and difficult but will prevent Russian forces from retaking the battlefield initiative.[41] The Washington Post reported that Ukrainian forces have begun using Western-provided cluster munitions in southeastern Ukraine and assessed that Ukrainian forces will likely use them near Bakhmut soon.[42] The Washington Post, citing an anonymous Ukrainian military official, reported that Ukrainian forces are using the cluster munitions to “break up [Russian] trenches slowing down Ukrainian forces.”

The United States and European Union (EU) reiterated their long-term security commitments to Ukraine via security assistance packages and proposals on July 19 and 20. The Pentagon announced on July 19 a new $1.3 billion security package for Ukraine that includes four National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), 152mm artillery rounds, mine-clearing equipment, and other munitions and vehicles.[43] The US package also includes electronic warfare, communications, and other security equipment. EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrelll proposed a plan to EU ministers on July 20 to provide Ukraine with security assistance worth up to 20 billion euros ($22.4 billion), including weapons, ammunition, and other military aid, over the next four years.[44]

Wagner Group personnel are training Belarusian special forces on modern tactics at the Brest Training Ground in Brest, Belarus. The Belarusian Ministry of Defense and Wagner-linked sources reported on July 20 that Wagner forces began training unspecified Belarusian special forces elements at the Brest Training Ground in Brest, Belarus, and that the training will last until July 24.[45] The Wagner trainers are teaching Belarusian forces modern combined arms techniques and tactics, including using drones for tactical reconnaissance, tactical maneuvers, movement under fire, camouflage, and command and control.[46] Wagner-linked sources praised the Belarusian military and Belarusian trainees for their adeptness, agility, and flexibility in training while complaining that the Russian Ministry of Defense did not appreciate the Wagner Group due to Russian command staff’s “rigidity of thinking and bureaucratic barriers.”[47] A Wagner-linked source specifically praised Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s “old school” style and how Lukashenko managed to preserve the Soviet military’s “best traditions.”[48]

The Wagner Group may open another base in Belarus in Gomel Oblast near Belarus’ international border with Ukraine. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on July 20 that construction for another Wagner Group base in Belarus began near Naroulia Raion and that Wagner personnel surveyed land near Dyatlik, Naroulia Raion, Gomel Oblast, approximately 2km from Belarus’ border with Ukraine on July 19.[49] ISW has not observed visual confirmation of construction in this area as of this publication.

Approximately 400 Wagner convict fighters are reportedly awaiting their criminal pardon paperwork to clear in Anapa, occupied Crimea. Independent Russian investigative outlet Vazhnye Istorii reported on July 19 that about 400 Wagner convict fighters are waiting in hotels in Anapa until the Russian government approves their pardons.[50] The report states that the Wagner Group suspended its effort to recruit Russian convicts (codenamed “Project K”) and that Wagner seeks to release these convicts no later than July 29.[51] The report states that the former convicts will have the option to extend their contracts with Wagner to serve in Belarus or Africa.[52]

The Wagner Group reportedly suffered an 80 percent casualty rate and a 28 percent killed-in-action rate in Ukraine. A Wagner-linked source reportedly quoted a senior Wagner commander with the callsign “Marx,” who stated that 78,000 Wagner fighters fought in Ukraine (49,000 of whom were convicts), and that Wagner had suffered 22,000 killed-in-action and 40,000 wounded-in-action as of Wagner’s capture of Bakhmut on May 20.[53] These figures — if accurate — indicate that the Wagner Group was likely combat ineffective after fighting in Bakhmut and that the force suffered a 79.5 percent overall casualty rate and a 28.2 percent death rate. Marx reportedly stated that 25,000 Wagner fighters are currently alive and that 10,000 of them are in Belarus and the remaining 15,000 are resting, presumably in Russia.[54]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian forces launched a third night of missile and drone strikes against port and grain infrastructure in southern Ukraine on July 20 following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17.
  • The Russian military announced that it may consider civilian ships in the Black Sea en route to Ukrainian ports legitimate military targets.
  • The Russian military’s intensifying strikes against Ukrainian port and grain infrastructure and threats of maritime escalation are likely a part of a Kremlin effort to leverage Russia’s exit from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and exact extensive concessions from the West.
  • The Kremlin likely views the Black Sea Grain Initiative as one of its few remaining avenues of leverage against the West and has withdrawn from the deal to secure these concessions.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front and reportedly advanced on July 20.
  • The United States and European Union (EU) reiterated their long-term security commitments to Ukraine via security assistance packages and proposals on July 19 and 20.
  • Wagner Group personnel are training Belarusian special forces on modern tactics at the Brest Training Ground in Brest, Belarus.
  • The Wagner Group may open another base in Belarus in Gomel Oblast near Belarus’ international border with Ukraine.
  • The Wagner Group reportedly suffered an 80 percent casualty rate and a 28 percent killed-in-action rate in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces continued limited ground attacks on the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, around Bakhmut and along the Avdiivka–Donetsk City line and advanced on the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line as of July 20.
  • Ukrainian forces continued limited offensive operations east of Kupiansk, near Kreminna, near Bakhmut, and along the Avdiivka–Donetsk City line and made gains near Bakhmut on July 20.
  • Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Vuhledar, on the administrative border between western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts, and south of Orikhiv and made limited territorial gains in western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts and western Zaporizhzhia Oblast on July 20.
  • Russian forces continued to unsuccessfully counterattack Ukrainian positions on the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast administrative border on July 20.
  • The Russian State Duma approved amendments increasing penalties for draft dodging and for officials and legal entities that fail to assist Russian force generation efforts on July 20.
  • Russian authorities continue persecution of non-Russian Orthodox churches in occupied Ukraine.
You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here


    Related Posts