Russia strikes Odesa and Mykolayiv again, killing three and injuring two dozen others. Ukraine to consider ships heading to Russian, Russian-occupied ports as military targets. Wagner chief speaks to his fighters in Belarus.
Russia strikes Odesa and Mykolayiv again, killing three and injuring two dozen others
Overnight on Thursday, Russia launched another major missile strike at southern Ukraine, targeting Odesa and Mykolayiv. Russian forces used Kh-22, Onyx, Kalibr, and Iskander missiles and Shahed drones in the attack.
A three-story apartment building was damaged in Mykolayiv’s central area, killing two and injuring 18 others, including five children. Nine people were taken to hospital.
In Odesa, the strike destroyed an administrative building in the central part of the city. A security guard was killed, and four other people were injured, including a child.
Russian strikes on Mykolayiv and Odesa regions caused damage to port facilities, quays, apartment buildings, and shops, the Ukrainian Air Force said.
Russia launched 19 Shahed drones and 19 missiles at southern Ukraine overnight. Russia used the Kalibr, Kh-22, Iskander and Onyx types of missiles. Ukraine’s air defenses intercepted 18 of the 38 targets, including 13 Shahed drones, two Kalibr missiles, and three Iskander cruise missiles.
According to Mykolayiv mayor Oleksandr Senkevych, at around 3 a.m., Russian missiles hit an apartment building and a garage area. He said 65 apartment buildings were damaged, with most of the damage to windows, doors, balconies, and roofs. Two buildings were fully destroyed. Three educational facilities, a medical facility, and an administrative building were affected.
“Firefighters rescues around 30 people trapped in a burning building. Nine people were taken to hospital. Many received medical assistance on site. Two were pulled alive from the rubble,” Senkevych said.
The bodies of two people – a woman and a man, were found in the rubble, he later added.
Ukraine to consider ships heading to Russian, Russian-occupied ports as military targets
Ukraine has warned that it could target all shipping out of Russian and Russian-occupied ports in the Black Sea.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that from midnight on Thursday, July 21, all shipping plying Russian-held ports “may be considered by Ukraine as such carrying military cargo with all the associated risks”.
The ministry also said it was declaring northeastern parts of the Black Sea’s waters and the Kerch-Yenikale canal as unsafe for navigation from 5 a.m. on July 20, 2023.
A navigational warning was issued, it added.
“The fate of the cruiser Moskva proves that the defense forces of Ukraine have the necessary means to repel Russian aggression at sea,” the ministry said.
The announcement mirrored a threat from Russia on Wednesday against all ships using Ukrainian ports. Russia said it will consider them “military targets”.
Two days earlier, Russia said it withdraws from the grain deal following an attack on the Crimean bridge. It also called back the guarantees of safe navigation in the Black Sea.
Wagner chief speaks to his fighters in Belarus
Wagner group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin greeted his fighters in Belarus, saying they will train the Belarusian army, a video posted to Telegram channels linked to the Wagner group shows.
“We fought with dignity! We have done a lot for Russia. What is happening now at the front is a disgrace in which we do not need to participate. We need to wait for the moment when we can prove ourselves fully. Therefore a decision was taken for us to station here in Belarus for some time,” he said.
On July 19, reports emerged of the ninth group of Wagner fighters moving toward Asipovichy from Babruysk along the M5 highway.
About five hundred of wheeled vehicles are reportedly deployed near Wagner tent camp in Belarus.
Prigozhin said that “during this time we will make the Belarusian army second greatest in the world”. And if needed, they “will defend them if it comes to it.” “We should prepare, get better and set off on a new journey to Africa. Maybe we will return back [to Ukraine] when we will be confident that we will not be asked to make an embarrassment of ourselves and our experience,” he said.
Outcomes of NATO summit in Vilnius for Ukraine. Ukraine in Flames #483
NATO’s stance on Ukraine can be summed up in two words: strategic ambiguity. The Vilnius NATO summit has not shut the door on Ukraine’s membership aspirations, nor has it introduced obstacles to its path towards joining. However, it is essential to note that the decision has not expedited this process either. The Ukrainian path to NATO remains as uncertain as before the summit, with both opportunities and challenges lying ahead. Watch Ukraine in flames #483 to find out about the outcomes of the Vilnius NATO summit concerning Ukraine and whether these results align with the expectations of Ukrainian society, identify the primary benefits Ukraine has gained from the summit, and explore the steps Ukraine can take to secure a potential NATO invitation in the future.
- Ihor Seletskyi, Executive Director of the NGO “Euroatlantic Course”
- Yevhen Hlibovytsky, Expert on Social Transformations, Member of the Nestor Group
- Volodymyr Tsybulko, Political Expert