July 21, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner and Sana Noor Haq, CNN

Updated 2:38 a.m. ET, July 22, 2022
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11:13 p.m. ET, July 20, 2022

Ukraine's first lady asks for air defense systems in address to US Congress

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio

Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, addresses members of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, July 20.
Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, addresses members of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, July 20. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/AP/ Pool)

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska asked the United States to send air defense systems to her country in an address to lawmakers on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately the war is not over, the terror continues and I appeal to all of you, on behalf of those who were killed, on behalf of those people who lost their arms and legs, on behalf of those who are still alive and well, and those who wait for their families to come back from the front. I’m asking for something I would never want to ask, I am asking for weapons,” she told the US Congress.

Zelenska added that like many Ukrainian mothers, she craves a sense of normality and wishes they could give their children hope for the future. She also thanked the United States for the aid the country had already sent to Ukraine.

“While Russia kills, America saves and you should know about it, we thank you for that,” Zelenska said.

More weapons: Earlier Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US will send four more high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine in the next package of security assistance, which will be officially announced later this week.

8:20 p.m. ET, July 20, 2022

Europe plans to force countries to ration gas as Russia weaponizes energy

From CNN's Anna Cooban

The European Union has unveiled its emergency gas rationing plan — a day before it fears Russia could drastically cut the flow of natural gas to the continent.

The "Save Gas for a Safe Winter" plan announced Wednesday sets a target for the 27 member states to reduce their gas demand by 15% between August and March next year. That reduction is based on countries' average gas consumption during the same months over the previous five years.

The plan is focused on curtailing demand by businesses and in public buildings, rather than private homes. Among the proposed measures, the EU Commission is encouraging industry to switch to alternate energy sources — including coal where necessary — and to introduce auction systems that compensate companies for reducing their gas consumption.

The Commission is also hoping to pass a new law that would give it the power to force states to reduce their demand for gas "when there is a substantial risk of a severe gas shortage or an exceptionally high gas demand," it said in a press release.

By September, countries would have to update their national gas reduction plans to show how they will meet the new target.

The measures come just one day before officials worry Gazprom, Russia's state gas company, may refuse to re-start deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Nord Stream 1 has been shut over the past 10 days for routine maintenance.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that a total shut off of Russian gas was a "likely scenario."

"Russia is blackmailing us. Russia is using energy as a weapon," she said in a press conference announcing the new plan.

Read the full story here.