Day 514: 22 July
Today the biggest news comes from Crimea. After a series of broad drone attacks on the peninsula, Ukrainians finally found a temporary weakness in the Russian airspace.
It looks like in the light of attacks on the bridges and the Black Sea Fleet, Russian forces concentrated their air defense in the northern part of Crimea to protect the bridges and in the southern part of Crimea to protect the fleet.
That is why on 21 July, Ukrainian drones managed to penetrate Russian airspace by dozens of kilometers and simultaneously reached three Russian airfields in the deep rear.
Ukrainian forces understood that they had identified another chance to make a decisive blow, and understanding that the enemy would likely reinforce Hvardiyske overnight, Ukrainians chose their next target 20 kilometers north.
On 22 July morning, huge explosions happened in the Krasnohvardiysk district, the center of Crimea.
Local residents reported hearing secondary detonations in the aftermath of this strike. Later, it became clear that Ukrainians successfully struck multiple targets at once. The first target of Ukrainian forces became one of the biggest airfields in Crimea, where Ukrainians managed to destroy a huge ammunition depot.
The second target of Ukrainian forces became the oil depot in Oktiabrskoe, the center of Crimea. Continuous secondary detonations just 2.5 kilometers from the town, combined with huge fires, made local authorities implement drastic measures, and it was decided to evacuate everyone in a five-kilometer radius. On top of that, since the settlement was located right on one of the main railways, the railroad movement was stopped.
Later, due to the heightened threat of the continuation of the strikes, Russians closed the Kerch bridge as well, meaning that absolutely all main supply lines were out of use today.
By the way, many people questioned the decision to prioritize the destruction of the road bridge in Kerch over the railroad.
However, apart from the fact that it is more fragile, in the short term, it created significant problems for the Russians in Zaporizhzhia. Even though Putin stated that the military does not use the road on the Kerch Bridge, simultaneously, the head of the Crimean administration urged all people not to use the Kerch Bridge so that military supplies could move without hurdles.
So by taking out the road bridge, almost all Crimean traffic necessarily headed through Zaporizhzhia, creating massive traffic jams and effectively blocking Russian supplies to the front basically the same day.
In fact, Ukrainian fighters reported that the shortages started to kick in on 20 July, as Russians started returning fire less frequently and less intensely.
This also meant that more Russian operations and counter-attacks were conducted with less or no artillery support, turning many areas of secondary value from relatively safe to very dangerous. And this is exactly when many Russian war correspondents started rapidly dying.
On 22 July, Russian war correspondent Rostislav Zhuravlyov, who was reporting on how Russian drones are destroying Ukrainian artillery, got under Ukrainian artillery fire together with his team. All of them were still located somewhere on the Russian base and were preparing to get closer to the contact line. He was the only one who did not survive this strike.
On 21 July, it was confirmed that a famous military blogger and walker, correspondent “Misha na Donbase,” got under artillery fire somewhere near Krasnohorivka and died. Ukrainian sources say that he died in the aftermath of a cluster shell explosion, while Russian sources say that he died after a successful Ukrainian counterattack.
On 22 July, Russian MP Aleksandr Boroday also got under Ukrainian artillery fire during his PR visit to Bakhmut. There is graphic footage that confirms that he was wounded but survived. Back in 2014, Borodai was one of the commanders of the “DNR” (Russia’s proxy “Donetsk People’s Republic”) militia, helping Girkin to facilitate the secession of Ukraine.
By the way, on 21 July, Russian authorities unexpectedly showed up at Girkin’s house and arrested him. Later, he was charged with extremism, which threatened imprisonment for 5 to 20 years.
Girkin is the founder of the “Club of Angry Patriots,” and he openly and consistently criticized Putin and the Russian Ministry of Defense. Girkin was especially vocal after the Wagner coup and called for the removal of Putin and the Defense Minister for their ineptitude and the execution of Prigozhin for making the coup.
Interestingly, some sources claim that Girkin was arrested at the request of a Wagner-affiliated person in Russia. The arrest of Girkin caused a huge backlash in the media space, with everyone questioning why Prigozhin is walking free and even visiting Moscow and meeting with Putin after he conducted a coup, took cities, shut down Russian aviation and killed dozens of Russian soldiers, while Girkin may spend the rest of his life in prison basically for talking smack on the internet.
In any case, for Ukrainians, it only means that over the last several days, Russians have lost a lot of voices actively justifying the invasion.
In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.