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Russia orders military to intensify attacks; Zelensky marks anniversary of MH17 airliner crash

Russia orders military to intensify attacks; Zelensky marks anniversary of MH17 airliner crash
A damaged building after shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine on 7 July 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Ukrainian State Emergency Service Handout)

Russia’s defence minister instructed military units in Ukraine to “further intensify” combat activity as the arrival of advanced Western weapons is boosting Kyiv’s counterattack capabilities.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky marked the anniversary of the Malaysian Airlines jet shot down in 2014 over Donetsk, blamed on Russian-backed separatists. He also vowed to gradually liberate occupied areas of Ukraine.

The EU foreign policy chief urged “strategic patience” on economic sanctions taken against Russia, saying they may take a long time to work. A top UK defence official said 50,000 Russian troops had been killed and injured as the war approaches the five-month mark.

Key developments

On the ground

A week ahead of the war’s five-month mark, Russian troops have been commanded by the nation’s defence minister “to further intensify the actions of units in all operational areas”.

Sergei Shoigu’s directive on Saturday, 16 July, followed a series of deadly missile strikes on civilian targets far from the front lines.

On Sunday, 17 July, Russian rocket strikes on the Zaporizhzhia region triggered field fires, state officials said. Russian missiles hit an industrial facility in the southern city of Mykolaiv on Sunday, the city’s mayor said.

Ukraine’s troops repelled Russia’s advance near villages close to the town of Bahkmut, which, with Siversk, is the next target for the Kremlin’s offensive in the east, according to an update from military headquarters in Kyiv.

In the Kharkiv region, Russia’s troops are focusing their efforts on holding defence to prevent Ukrainian counterattacks.




Hundreds of trucks stuck at Latvia’s border

Trucks waiting at Latvia’s border with Russia early on Sunday, 17 July, reached 1,250, with 850 and 400 vehicles sitting at the Terehova and Grebneva checkpoints respectively, according to Latvia’s State Revenue Service. The approximate time to stand in a queue ranged from 144 to 153 hours.

There are also lines at Latvia’s border with Belarus, with 150 and 300 trucks sitting at Paternieki and Silene, respectively, and waiting times of 32 to 67 hours.

Last Sunday, 10 July, marked the end of a transition period that allowed sanctioned goods to be exported from the European Union to Russia, and to be imported to the EU from Russia under previously concluded deals.

50,000 Russian soldiers killed or injured, says UK defence chief

Russia has lost more than 30% of its land-combat effectiveness in Ukraine, Admiral Tony Radakin, chief of the defence staff for the UK, said on Sunday.

“What that actually means is 50,000 Russian soldiers that have either died or been injured in this conflict,” Radakin told the BBC.

He estimated that nearly 1,700 Russian tanks and nearly 4,000 Russian armoured fighting vehicles had been destroyed as the war in Ukraine nears the end of its fifth month.

Zelensky marks 2014 MH17 crash anniversary

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has recalled the 298 victims of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that crashed in Ukraine’s Donetsk region in 2014, promising to punish Moscow for the jet’s alleged downing and other actions.

The “most convincing scenario” is that the jet was hit by a Russian-supplied Buk surface-to-air missile, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said last month. A trial began in March in The Hague, Netherlands, with a verdict likely by year-end.

“Nothing will go unpunished! Every criminal will be brought to justice!”, Zelensky said on Twitter.

Ukrainian plane crashes in Greece transporting ammo to Bangladesh

Ukrainian officials travelled to inspect the site of a Ukrainian cargo plane crash overnight in northern Greece, en route from Serbia to Jordan and on to Bangladesh.

Serbian Defence Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said the plane had been carrying Serbian-made mortar ammunition purchased by Bangladesh, the Associated Press reported.

Russia braces for counterattacks in south, UK says

Moscow is reinforcing its defensive positions across occupied areas in Ukraine’s south, likely in response to anticipated counteroffensives, the UK defence ministry said on Twitter.

That includes the movement of manpower, equipment and defensive stores between Mariupol and Zaporizhia, and in Kherson, as well as increased security measures in Melitopol.

The ministry said that given the pressures on Russian manpower, the reinforcement of the south while the fight for the Donbas continued probably indicated the seriousness with which Russian commanders viewed the threat.

Canada tells Putin’s technocrats they’re liable for war crimesCanada warned a Russian delegation participating in a meeting of G20 finance chiefs in recent days that it views President Vladimir Putin’s economic advisers as personally responsible for aiding war crimes.“Russia’s economic technocrats, who work to fund Putin’s war machine, are personally complicit in Russia’s war crimes, just as Putin’s generals are,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she told the group.

Zelensky vows to retake territory

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine would gradually liberate the occupied areas of the country.

“It is obvious that any missiles and artillery of Russia will not succeed in breaking our unity and knocking us off our path,” Zelensky said on Saturday in his nightly video address, marking the anniversary of Ukraine’s declaration of sovereignty from the then Soviet Union in 1990.

“It should be equally obvious that Ukrainian unity cannot be broken by lies or intimidation, fake information or conspiracy theories,” he said.

EU’s Borrell urges ‘strategic patience’ on sanctions

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said it “may take a long time” for sanctions on Russia to have an impact.

“Even if sanctions do not change the Russian trajectory in the short term, that does not mean they are useless, for they do affect sheer amount of resources it has to wage its war,” Borrell said in a blog post on the six packages of EU sanctions against Moscow.

Many ask whether the sanctions adopted by the EU and like-minded partners against Russia are effective. DM


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