July 19, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sophie Tanno, Leinz Vales, Mike Hayes and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 11:00 p.m. ET, July 19, 2023
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10:54 a.m. ET, July 19, 2023

Russia launches airstrikes on Odesa for a second night in a row

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq, Sebastian Shukla and Josh Pennington

A CNN team in Odesa witnessed a sustained barrage of air defense toward the southwest of the city, in the direction of the port.
A CNN team in Odesa witnessed a sustained barrage of air defense toward the southwest of the city, in the direction of the port. CNN

Russia launched an attack on Odesa early Wednesday, the second night in a row the southern port city has been targeted.

Ukraine's air defenses were repelling a Russian attack, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Odesa military administration said.

"More Kalibr (cruise missile) launches have been documented from the Black Sea," spokesperson Serhiy Bratchuk said on Telegram.

A CNN team in Odesa witnessed a sustained barrage from the air defense near the direction of the port. The team also heard at least three large bangs.

Oleh Kiper, head of the Odesa region's military administration, urged people not to come close to windows.

"Do not approach the windows, do not film or show the work of air defense forces," Kiper said on his Telegram page Wednesday. "All residents of Odesa Oblast take shelter!"

Russian forces launched airstrikes on Odesa Tuesday in what Moscow's Defense Ministry said was retaliation for Kyiv's attack Monday on the strategic and symbolic Crimean bridge linking the annexed peninsula to Russia.

7:21 a.m. ET, July 19, 2023

Moscow would return to grain deal if its demands are met, Russian ambassador says 

From CNN's Radina Gigova

Gennady Gatilov attends a briefing on the Black Sea grain deal in Geneva, Switzerland on April 26.
Gennady Gatilov attends a briefing on the Black Sea grain deal in Geneva, Switzerland on April 26. Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Russia would be prepared to return to the Black Sea grain deal if Moscow's demands are met by international partners, according to Russia's permanent representative at the United Nations headquarters, Gennady Gatilov.

In remarks published on the Russian Foreign Ministry Telegram channel Tuesday in response to a question from Reuters, Gatilov claimed the deal had deviated from its "intended humanitarian purposes."

"Implementation of one of the two components of the Istanbul Agreements - the Russia-UN Memorandum - has failed to make any meaningful progress due to the disruptive stance of the Western countries," Gatilov said. "They continued to increase their sanctions pressure on our country, which constrained Russian agricultural exports by completely blocking bank transactions, insurance, logistics, foreign assets and supplies of spare parts."

Gatilov said the UN had "tried on its part to urge the Western governments and business structures to implement the Russian-UN Memorandum."

"However, despite the efforts, the leadership of the UN Secretariat could not overcome the resistance of the Western countries and private companies, on which depended the fulfillment of our demands," he said.

9:03 p.m. ET, July 18, 2023

2 killed by Ukrainian shelling in occupied areas of Donetsk, Moscow-backed official says

From CNN's Josh Pennington 

Two civilians were killed and seven others injured by Ukrainian shelling Tuesday in parts of separatist-controlled areas of the Donetsk region, a Russia-backed official said.

"Two people have been killed today as a result of shelling by Ukrainian armed formations - [one each] in the Kirovskiy district of Donetsk and Vladymirovka in Volnovakha," the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, said in a Telegram message. 

"Another seven people were wounded in Donetsk, Makiivka and Staromikhailivka, including a 17-year-old boy," the post added.

Several homes, two schools and a hospital were damaged by the shelling, he said. 

8:44 p.m. ET, July 18, 2023

Kerch Strait ferry crossings suspended following strike on bridge, Russian ministry says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Vasco Cotovio

Ferry crossings across the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from Russia, have been suspended, the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia in the Republic of Crimea announced on Tuesday.

The announcement follows an apparent strike Monday by Ukrainian forces on the bridge, which damaged the road.

In addition to ferry crossings being suspended, there are severe traffic delays on the bridge that connects Russian to the annexed Crimean Peninsula and which is an important supply line for Russian forces.

12:25 a.m. ET, July 19, 2023

Ukrainian forces are creating conditions for further advances in the South, deputy defense minister says

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Yulia Kesaieva

Hanna Maliar attends a ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 23.
Hanna Maliar attends a ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 23. Kirill Chubotin/Ukrinform/Future Publishing/Getty Images

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar says Ukraine is creating conditions to continue advancing along the southern front.

“The enemy's task is to stop our advance and they are putting a lot of effort into this. Our enemy is strong. Therefore, our troops have to move in an extremely difficult situation,” Maliar said on Ukrainian national television Tuesday. “In addition, we need to create certain conditions for further advancement.”

“Remember the liberation of Kherson — it also took more than one day,” she added.

Her comments were supported by the commander of the Tavria Joint Forces Operation, Brig. Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, who said Ukraine was making gains along the southern front.

“Fighting continues in the Tavria sector, with the Ukrainian Defence Forces gaining ground in some areas and the enemy retreating,” he wrote in Telegram.

“Over the last day, the enemy's losses in killed and wounded amounted to more than three companies. Forty-one units of enemy military equipment were destroyed,” he added. “Four enemy ammunition depots were also destroyed.”

Ukraine also claimed gains in the east, around Bakhmut, and said it had stopped Russia’s push near Kupyansk.

“The enemy's offensive in the Kupyansk sector is currently unsuccessful. Fighting continues, but the initiative is already on our side,” Maliar said in a Telegram post on Tuesday. “On the southern flank around Bakhmut today, as in all previous days, there was an advance of our troops.”

8:40 p.m. ET, July 18, 2023

Ukrainian counteroffensive "far from a failure" despite moving slower than expected, top US general says

From CNN's Haley Britzky

The Ukrainian counteroffensive is “far from a failure” despite moving slower than anticipated, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Tuesday.

“It started about five or six weeks ago, and the various war games that were done ahead of time that predicted certain levels of advance and that has slowed down. Why? Because that's the difference between war on paper and real war,” Milley said during a press briefing.
“These are real people in real machines that are out there really clearing real minefields and they're really dying. So when that happens, units tend to slow down, and that's rightly so, in order to survive in order to get through these minefields.”
“It is far from a failure,” he added. “In my view, I think that it's way too early to make that kind of call. I think there’s a lot of fighting left to go."

Milley also said Ukraine has a “significant amount of combat power not yet committed” to the counteroffensive.

“I will not say what's going to happen in the future, because that's going to be a Ukrainian decision as to where and when they commit their reserve, etc,” he said. “Right now they are preserving their combat power, and they are slowly and deliberately and steadily working their way through all these minefields.”