July 20, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Aditi Sangal, Sana Noor Haq and Hannah Strange, CNN

Updated 2:48 a.m. ET, July 21, 2022
8 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:25 a.m. ET, July 20, 2022

Three killed in Kharkiv shelling, including 13-year-old boy

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Police experts examine a crater left by a Russian missile strike at a bus stop in Saltivskyi, a northern district of of Kharkiv on July 20.
Police experts examine a crater left by a Russian missile strike at a bus stop in Saltivskyi, a northern district of of Kharkiv on July 20. (Sergey Bobok/AFP/Getty Images)

A 13-year-old boy was among three victims of a Russian attack on the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Wednesday morning, said Oleh Synehubov, head of the regional military administration.

“Unfortunately, 3 people, including a 13-year-old boy, a man, and a woman, were killed as a result of the morning shelling by the occupiers of the Saltivskyi district of Kharkiv," he wrote in a Telegram post. "A 72-year-old woman was injured.” 

Synehubov advised people in Kharkiv -- Ukraine's second-largest city before the start of Russia's invasion -- not to go outside unless necessary. 

4:51 a.m. ET, July 20, 2022

Ukrainian forces shell strategic bridge to Russian-occupied Kherson

From CNN's Irene Nasser, Teele Rebane and Josh Pennington

The Antonovskiy bridge to the largely Russian-occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine has been shelled by Ukrainian forces, seen in this video grab released July 19.
The Antonovskiy bridge to the largely Russian-occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine has been shelled by Ukrainian forces, seen in this video grab released July 19. (Telegram)

A bridge to the largely Russian-occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine has been shelled by Ukrainian forces for two days in a row, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

Eight or nine rockets hit the Antonovskiy bridge, which crosses the Dnieper River, on Wednesday, TASS reported, citing Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the region's Russian-backed administration.

Stremousov told TASS the bridge was "very badly damaged" in the shelling, but said there is no danger of it collapsing. 

On Tuesday, videos shared on social media already showed damage to the bridge. 

According to the UK Ministry of Defence, the bridge is a "key vulnerability for Russian forces," as it is one of only two crossing points over the Dnieper River, which Russia can use to supply or withdraw their forces "in the territory it has occupied west of the river."

"This area includes the city of Kherson, which is politically and symbolically important for Russia. The lower reaches of the Dnieper present a natural barrier, with the waterway typically around 1000m wide. Control of Dnieper crossings is likely to become a key factor in the outcome of fighting in the region," the UK ministry said in a tweet.
3:27 a.m. ET, July 20, 2022

Russian shelling kills 2 in southern city of Nikopol

From CNN's Irene Nasser and Teele Rebane

Two people died and nine others were injured following Russian shelling of a residential area of Nikopol in southern Ukraine late on Tuesday, according to Sergey Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration. 

Four of the injured are children, he said, adding that the shelling destroyed three houses and damaged 12 other homes.

8:43 a.m. ET, July 20, 2022

It's 10 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Russian forces are renewing efforts to break through Ukrainian defenses in eastern Ukraine and stepping up missile strikes in the south of the country. Meanwhile, Ukraine's first lady is on a high-profile trip to the United States.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Annexation intelligence: The White House said Tuesday it has intelligence showing Russia plans to further annex of parts of Ukraine, repeating a playbook it used in the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Those steps could include "sham" referenda and forcing Ukrainians to apply for Russian citizenship. Washington would punish Moscow with additional sanctions if it attempted to annex more Ukrainian territory, the White House added.
  • Southern conflict: The thrust of the Russian offensive is focused on the eastern Donbas region — but missile strikes and rocket attacks have also picked up in southern Ukraine, with targets including the port city Odesa, according to the Ukrainian military. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are carrying out a counteroffensive in the largely Russian-occupied Kherson region.
  • Zelensky vows retaliation: In his nightly address Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted that Russian strikes on Odesa had hit civilian structures without any military significance, and promised to deliver "retaliatory strikes."
  • Putin in Iran: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Iran on Tuesday for his first international trip since launching the invasion. He met with Iran's President and Supreme Leader, and Turkey's President. It comes as Iran's national oil company signed a $40 billion agreement with Russia's state-run gas company Gazprom.
  • First lady's trip: Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska is due to address members of the US Congress on Wednesday. Zelenska visited the White House on Tuesday where she privately met with first lady Jill Biden.
  • Trafficking risks: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the war could cause human trafficking to get worse in the coming year by forcing people from their homes and exacerbating food insecurity around the globe. "We are deeply concerned about the risks of human trafficking faced by individuals internally displaced by the war, as well as those fleeing Ukraine, an estimated 90% of whom are women and children," he said.
2:54 a.m. ET, July 20, 2022

Russia planning to follow its Crimea playbook with annexation attempts in Ukraine, White House says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

John Kirby, communications coordinator at the National Security Council, speaks during a news briefing on Tuesday.
John Kirby, communications coordinator at the National Security Council, speaks during a news briefing on Tuesday. (CNN/Pool)  

Russia is forming plans to annex more parts of Ukraine, repeating a playbook it used in the 2014 annexation of Crimea to seize territory, the White House said Tuesday.

The steps Russia is planning could include "sham" referenda, installing illegitimate proxy officials, establishing the Russian Ruble as the official currency and forcing Ukrainian citizens to apply for Russian citizenship, said John Kirby, the communications coordinator at the National Security Council.

Kirby warned the US would punish Russia with additional sanctions for attempts to further annex Ukrainian territory, and said the White House would unveil additional security assistance to Ukraine later this week. He cited US intelligence that had been downgraded and approved for public release to make the claims about Russia's plans.

"Russia is beginning to roll out a version of what you could call an annexation playbook, very similar to the one we saw in 2014," Kirby told reporters at the White House. He said the potential referenda could take place soon.
"The Kremlin has not disclosed the timeline for the referenda, but Russian proxies in these territories claim they will take place later this year, possibly in conjunction with Russia's September regional elections," Kirby said, listing the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, along with the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, as likely targets of Russia's annexation plans.

The US and its Western allies have sought to turn around momentum in Ukraine as Russia makes incremental gains in the western part of the country. Biden has approved billions in arms shipments and other security assistance and applied several rounds of sanctions on Moscow.

11:28 p.m. ET, July 19, 2022

CNN exclusive: Dismissed Ukrainian prosecutor general denies collaborators worked in her office

From CNN's Nic Robertson, Sarah Dean and Anastasia Graham-Yooll

Former Ukraine Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova speaks with CNN on Tuesday.
Former Ukraine Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova speaks with CNN on Tuesday. (CNN)

Former Ukraine Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said she accepts President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to dismiss her but denies any collaborators worked in her office.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Nic Robertson on Tuesday in Kyiv, Venediktova said, “Here in my office we can't have collaborators at all, because collaboration is it's only people who worked in occupied territory. Here is not occupied territory.”

She said a top priority of her office was working on the problems of state treason and collaborators and her office had been very open about It.

When Venediktova was asked what the real justification was for her dismissal, she said, “You know that my chair, it is political chair and I was 16th Ukrainian prosecutor during 30 years. It is realpolitik in Ukraine. This is my answer.” 

When pressed on the real reasons why Zelensky had decided to dismiss her, Venediktova made it clear she doesn’t want to debate it in public because Russia will exploit it. “President now, its chief of command. He understands his strategy and tactic. And he makes his decision with his views,” Venediktova said.

11:28 p.m. ET, July 19, 2022

Putin visits Iran in first trip outside former Soviet Union since his invasion of Ukraine

From CNN's Rob Picheta, Anna Chernova, Uliana Pavlova and Chris Liakos,

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrive at a news conference in Tehran, Iran on Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi arrive at a news conference in Tehran, Iran on Tuesday. (Turkish Presidential Press Office/Handout/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Iran on Tuesday for his first international trip beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union since launching his invasion of Ukraine, which effectively ruptured ties with the West.

Putin met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, and with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He also met with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Tuesday.

"I am very pleased to be on the hospitable Iranian soil ... We can boast about record figures in terms of trade growth," said Putin in a bilateral meeting with Raisi. "We are strengthening our cooperation on international security issues, making a significant contribution to the settlement of the Syrian conflict."

Raisi also hailed a "significant" commitment to security cooperation between Iran and Russia, saying the two countries had "good experience" in fighting terrorism.

Energy deal: Also on Tuesday, Iran's national oil company signed a $40 billion agreement with Russia's state-run gas company Gazprom, according to a statement from Shana, the news agency for Iran's oil ministry. The deal includes development of Iranian gas fields and building new gas export pipelines.

Khamenei meanwhile hailed mutual cooperation between Russia and Iran as "deeply beneficial."

"World events show Iran and Russia's need for increasing mutual cooperation," he said in a statement.

Referring to Putin's war in Ukraine, Khamenei also said the expansion of Western security alliance NATO had to be "stopped."

"NATO is a dangerous entity. The West is totally opposed to a strong, independent Russia. If the way is opened for NATO, it will recognize no limits," Khamenei said. "If it hadn't been stopped in Ukraine, it would have later started a similar war in Crimea."

Read more here.

11:29 p.m. ET, July 19, 2022

Jill Biden meets with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska at the White House

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Kate Bennett

US first lady Jill Biden, first lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska and US President Joe Biden pose for photos at the White House on Tuesday.
US first lady Jill Biden, first lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska and US President Joe Biden pose for photos at the White House on Tuesday. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska visited the White House on Tuesday to privately meet with first lady Jill Biden and take part in a larger bilateral meeting with American officials.

Zelenska was greeted at the White House by President Joe Biden and Jill Biden. The President handed a large bouquet of flowers to Zelenska when she got out of the car and the two first ladies hugged.

According to the White House, the first ladies were scheduled to "discuss the United States' continued support for the government of Ukraine and its people as they defend their democracy and cope with the significant human impacts of Russia's war, which will be felt for years to come."

Read more here.