Key developments on July 17:
Grains deal collapses after Russia pulls out of deal
Crimean bridge damaged after reported explosions
Military: Russian forces on the offensive towards Lyman-Kupiansk
Foreign Ministry marks 9th anniversary of Russian downing of MH17
More Wagner mercenaries arrive in Belarus
Russia dealt a major blow to global food security on July 17 by announcing its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grains Initiative, thus nullifying the agreement.
The initiative, brokered by Turkey and the UN in July 2022, has played a crucial role in stabilizing food prices around the world amid a spike caused, in part, by Russia’s full-scale war. against Ukraine.
Ukraine is one of the largest grain suppliers in the world. The deal allowed Ukraine to continue exporting its agricultural products across the Black Sea during the full-scale invasion.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed that “the part of the Black Sea agreements concerning Russia has not been implemented so far”, adding that “as soon as the Russian part is completed, the Russian side will immediately return to the implementation of this agreement”.
Peskov did not say whether Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal was related to the explosions at the Crimean Bridge on the same day, or give further details on “the Russian side”.
However, Russia has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the grain deal since its implementation, using it as a bargaining chip to demand the lifting of sanctions affecting its fertilizer industry.
UN Secretary General António Guterres condemned Russia’s decision.
“At the end of the day, participation in these agreements is a choice. But struggling people everywhere and developing countries have no choice,” he wrote, adding that the hundreds of millions people facing hunger “will pay the price”.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said all parties involved other than Russia “are ready to continue supplying grain”, adding that Ukraine has been “approached by companies that own ships. They said they were ready if Ukraine allowed it and Turkey let the ships through. .”
Zelensky also said that “even without the Russian Federation, everything must be done so that we can (continue to) use this Black Sea corridor”.
Explanation: What about the grain deal and Russia?
On Nov. 2, Russia announced it would continue its participation in the deal that allows grain shipments from Ukraine via the Black Sea, ending days of unrest when the vital deal hung only a wire. The grain export crisis began with Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, which
Explosions reported at Crimean Bridge
Russian media reported two explosions at the Crimean Bridge around 3 a.m. local time on July 17 and blamed Ukraine for the act.
The Crimean Bridge connects the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which has been under Russian occupation since 2014, with Russian Krasnodar Krai.
Russian-installed proxy agents in Crimea reported that traffic had been halted on the bridge due to an “emergency” incident and issued a warning to local residents, urging them not to use the bridge.
Local proxies claimed the bridge’s rail track had not been damaged. However, a conflicting report by Russian news agency TASS said eight trains traveling to and from Crimea suffered delays due to the blasts.
During a meeting with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on July 17, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said that a span of the part of the bridge reserved for road vehicles was completely destroyed and could not be restored.
The Governor of Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, Vyacheslav Gladkov, also claims that the explosions killed a man and a woman and injured a child.
According to Andrii Yusov, the Ukrainian defense intelligence spokesman, the damage to the Crimean bridge could create logistical difficulties for Russian forces, noting that Russia uses the bridge as “a major logistical hub to move forces and resources deep into the territory of Ukraine”.
kyiv has neither claimed responsibility for the explosion nor denied its involvement.
Yusov said Kyiv would not comment on the cause of the damage, noting he could “only quote Ukraine’s defense intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov who said ‘the Crimean Bridge is an unstable structure'”.
This is not the first time that such an incident has been reported at the Crimean Bridge. On October 8, 2022, the bridge suffered damage from an explosion, which Russian authorities say was caused by a truck loaded with explosives that exploded near a tank train on the bridge.
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Russian forces on the offensive in Lyman-Kupiansk direction
Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for Ukraine’s Eastern Military Command, told state television July 17 that Russia was concentrating “over 100,000 troops, over 900 tanks, over 555 artillery systems, 370 MLRS ” in the Lyman-Kupiansk direction.
Kupyansk was liberated during the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast in September 2022. Lyman, located in Donetsk Oblast, was liberated a few weeks later.
According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russia “continues to focus its main efforts on the axes of Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka”, and heavy fighting is ongoing.
Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, said the situation in the east was difficult.
According to Syrskyi, Russia is trying to gain ground in the Kupyansk region and continue “the offensive in the depth of our combat formations”.
At the same time, Russia is moving more troops to the area around Bakhmut, in an attempt to prevent Ukrainian forces from advancing, Syrskyi added.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar previously reported on July 16 that Ukrainian forces had advanced along Bakhmut’s southern flank and were trying to hold positions along the northern flank.
Ukrainian forces also engage in artillery strikes against Russian forces in the town of Bakhmut while coming under the shelling themselves, according to Maliar.
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Foreign Ministry marks 9-year anniversary of Russian downing of MH17
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry celebrated on July 17 the ninth anniversary of the Russian attack on flight MH17, calling it “one of the most terrible pages (in the history) of the Russian armed aggression of Russia against Ukraine”.
MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when Russian proxies in Donetsk Oblast shot down the plane using a BUK missile system. All 298 passengers on board were killed, including 80 children.
In November 2022, The Hague District Court declared Russian nationals Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinsky, as well as Ukrainian national Leonid Kharchenko, guilty murder for their involvement in the downing of MH17.
The trial began in March 2020. The three men were sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to pay 16 million euros in compensation to the relatives of the victims.
However, they were tried in absentia, which means they are still at large.
The Foreign Ministry said Ukraine was determined to bring those responsible for the tragedy to justice.
“Ukraine will continue to make every effort to bring justice to the victims of the tragedy, hold Russia and all the culprits accountable and ensure that such tragic incidents do not happen again.”
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More Wagner mercenaries arrive in Belarus
The Belarusian monitoring group Hajun reported on July 17 that a third convoy of the Wagner mercenary group arrived in Belarus and was heading towards the camp near Asipovichy.
“Another large Wagner Group mercenary convoy is currently heading towards Asipovichy and the camp in the village of Tsel along the M5 highway from Bobruisk,” Hajun wrote on Telegram.
According to the anti-government group’s report, the column includes 20 vehicles, including vans, trucks and buses, driving under Russian and Wagnerian flags.
Belarusian Hajun wrote that this was at least Wagner’s third convoy to arrive in Belarus since July 11.
Belarusian state media reported on July 14 that Wagner mercenaries were in the country to train the Belarusian territorial defense forces.
Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko would have helped negotiate an agreement for Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and his troops to move to Belarus after their armed rebellion end of June stopped before reaching Moscow.
Ukraine’s Border Guard Service said July 16 that Wagner mercenaries stationed in Belarus do not pose a serious threat to border security because they number in the hundreds, not thousands.
However, it is possible that the Wagner mercenaries may be used to try to destabilize the situation along the border with Ukraine, which is why the Ukrainian authorities are monitoring their movements.
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