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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7:54 a.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Russia has not yet eliminated any of the advanced rocket systems donated by the West, top US general says

From CNN’s Vasco Cotovio and Tim Lister

A Ukrainian commander shows the rockets of a HIMARS vehicle in Ukraine on July 1.
A Ukrainian commander shows the rockets of a HIMARS vehicle in Ukraine on July 1. (Anastasia Vlasova for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Russia has yet to take out any of the Western rocket artillery donated to Ukraine, according to the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley. This comes as Russia claims that they had hit HIMARS near the front line. 

"To date the HIMARS that we have provided them – and we're not the only country by the way, other countries are providing long range fires as well, Britain, for example, and some others are donating long range rocket artillery – to date those systems have not been eliminated by the Russians," he said after the fourth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on Wednesday, a platform which includes 50 countries from all continents.

Milley went on to detail how Ukraine was putting the donated rocket systems to use.

"The Ukrainians are effectively employing these HIMARS strikes against Russian command and control nodes, their logistical networks, their field artillery and air to find sites and many other targets," Milley told journalists in DC. "The Ukrainians have excellent artillery soldiers, excellent gunners as the British would call them and they're being very, very effective."

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov acknowledged the praise that Ukraine has received from the US and other allies on its use of the donated multiple launch rocket systems, such as the HIMARS.

"I would like to note that the American partners and as well as colleagues from other countries expressed their admiration for the skill of our soldiers, including the way they use artillery and HIMARS," Reznikov said.

The minister said these Western donated weapons were "already affecting the course of the war."

In his review of the meeting, Reznikov also said the Ukraine Defense Contact Group had been presented with an overview of the situation in the battlefield, which, he claimed, showed Russia had suffered significant losses in terms of manpower and equipment. 

"These are impressive numbers which prove that Ukraine is indeed the shield of Europe," he said. "It is important that this overview was prepared specifically by the partners based on their data and evaluations."

7:31 a.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Father in Kharkiv prayed for two hours over son's dead body, says Ukraine's ambassador to US

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Yong Xiong

A father holds the hand of his 13 year-old son, who was killed by a Russian military strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine on July 2o.
A father holds the hand of his 13 year-old son, who was killed by a Russian military strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine on July 2o. (Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters)

The father of a 13-year-old boy who was killed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv on Wednesday prayed over the body of his dead child for two hours, according to a top Ukrainian official.

The boy's sister was also wounded in the shelling, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, said on Thursday.

"Ukrainian father who holds the hand of his 13-year-old son killed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv today. His sister is wounded. The father read prayers over his son for two hours. After the attack three people were killed. We must stop criminal and terrorist Russia now," Markarova tweeted

Markarova's post also featured two photos showing the father holding the hand of his dead son as the boy's body lay on the ground covered with a red foil sheet. 

The young teenager was among three victims of a Russian attack in the Saltivskyi district of Kharkiv, according to Oleh Synehubov, head of the regional military administration. The shelling also killed a man and a woman.

9:04 a.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Russian missiles strike Mykolaiv overnight

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Seven missiles struck critical infrastructure in the southern city of Mykolaiv overnight, according to the city's mayor.

"Today at 3 a.m. (local time) it was chaotic shelling of the city," Oleksandr Sienkevych said.

"I cannot think of any explanation for this shelling, as none of the military objects or warehouses were hit. Critical infrastructure and objects in the vicinity to the civilians were hit. Luckily, there are no casualties."

Seven S-300 missiles had been fired at the southern Ukrainian city, he added.

Sienkevych said months of shelling has destroyed about 540 multi-story apartment blocks, "including six which are impossible to restore." About 680 private homes have been damaged and 121 people killed in the city.

Mykolaiv lies close to the front lines dividing Ukrainian and Russian troops along the regional border with Kherson.

Out of 480,000 Mykolaiv residents before the war, only around 230,000 remain in the city, according to Sienkevych.

"I do recommend Mykolaiv residents to leave the city, as the city is being constantly shelled," he said.

Two of the missiles hit and destroyed a warehouse full of humanitarian aid, Vitalii Kim, head of Mykolaiv region military administration, said.

Some background: Fighting has intensified in southern Ukraine as recently supplied US weapons have bolstered the country's military ability to strike down Russian targets, causing fresh problems for Moscow.

Earlier this month, there were huge explosions in several occupied areas in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. The available evidence, from satellite imagery and Western analysts, is that the targeting has been highly effective.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that as the West continues to supply Ukraine with more long-range weaponry, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), the Kremlin's geographical objectives in Ukraine would extend beyond the eastern Donbas region into the country's south.

CN's Radina Gigova, Sana Noor Haq and Jack Guy contributed reporting to this post.

6:07 a.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Putin is "healthy" despite "rumors," says top US intelligence official

From CNN's Katie Bo Lillis and Sana Noor Haq

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference following the Astana Process summit in Tehran, Iran, on July 19.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference following the Astana Process summit in Tehran, Iran, on July 19. (Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is "entirely too healthy" despite "lots of rumors" about his health, according to a top US intelligence official.

"There are lots of rumors about President Putin's health and as far as we can tell, he's entirely too healthy," CIA director Bill Burns said when asked directly if Putin is unhealthy or unstable.

Burns acknowledged his public remarks at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado Wednesday were not "a formal intelligence judgment."

Putin has recently appeared in photos with some apparent facial puffiness that have led to speculation that he may be undergoing medical treatment for an unknown illness. 

The Kremlin has previously denied rumors of ailments.

"I do not think that any sane person can see in this person signs of some kind of illness or ailment. I leave this on the conscience of those who spread such rumors despite daily opportunities to ensure who looks how in this world," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told French broadcaster TF1 in May.

Some background: When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, American politicians and former diplomats openly speculated about Putin's stability.

From using an enormous table during talks with French President Emmanuel Macron after he refused a Russian Covid-19 test, to making a speech laced with conspiracy theories to justify invading Ukraine, some of Putin's behavior has bordered on bizarre.

According to a CNN report published in March, US officials are also "on guard for the possibility that Putin's strategy may well be to project instability, in an attempt to push the US and allies to give him what he wants for fear that he could do worse."

When asked in March if there have been noticeable changes in Putin's behavior, psychiatrist Dr. Kenneth Dekleva told CNN: "Yes and no."

Dekleva, who previously worked at the US Embassy in Moscow and specializes in leadership analysis/political psychology profiling for national security purposes, said Putin's behavior is a sign of frustration at the pace of Russia's invasion.

"I don't think he's erratic or changed, but he certainly is in more of a hurry," Dekleva said.

"The saddest thing here, the most tragic thing is Putin has gone from being a respected world leader when he first came to power to ... he's now looking more and more like Russia's Slobodan Milosevic," Dekleva added, comparing Putin to the Serbian autocrat who died in The Hague in 2006 while awaiting trial for war crimes.

CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Sarah Diab and Zachary B. Wolf contributed reporting to this post.

4:44 a.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Ukrainian military claims another six Russian ammunition sites in Kherson were struck

From CNN's Tim Lister, Julia Kesaieva and Olga Voitovych

Several Russian ammunition warehouses and command posts in Kherson have been destroyed, the Ukrainian armed forces have said.

Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for Operational Command South, said a total of six ammunition warehouses in occupied Kherson had been destroyed in the last day.

CNN is unable to confirm the new strikes but has previously geolocated several strikes by long-range Ukrainian artillery in the Kherson, Beryslav and Kakhovka districts.

A bridge over the Dnipro river — an important link for the Russians to Crimea — was also hit several times. Despite damage it appears to remain open to some traffic.

The regional military administration for Kherson said Thursday that "there were loud explosions and gunshots at night in Kherson region," including in Beryslav, on the north bank of the river. 

Fighting continues along the border of Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, with the Russians trying to improve their defensive positions. The command said the Russians had tried to counter-attack around the settlement of Lozove but without success.

The command said it had carried out 10 airstrikes against the enemy: "Five times enemy strongholds were hit, three times — accumulation of manpower and equipment in Kherson region."

The Ukrainian air force has continued to operate despite Russian air superiority.

The Russians continue to use missiles against the city of Mykolaiv, according to the regional military administration.

"Russian occupiers fired seven S-300 missiles at Mykolaiv at night," the administration said. A gas pipeline and a warehouse were hit.

"Villages located on the demarcation line remain under constant shelling," it added. 

"As a result of constant fighting in the region, fields with crops and forest areas continue to burn," the regional military administration said.

Destroyed forests: According to official information, more than 230 hectares of wheat in the Beryslav and Henichesk districts, as well as about 10 hectares of forest near the city of Oleshki, burned in just the last few days.

4:05 a.m. ET, July 21, 2022

When Russia is the only way out of a war zone, Ukrainian refugees must hide their hatred

From CNN's Zahra Ullah, Matthew Chance and Katharina Krebs

Alexey Nechipurenko, 45, speaks with CNN recently.
Alexey Nechipurenko, 45, speaks with CNN recently. (CNN)

On a sweltering summer day in July, hundreds of Ukrainians try to rest on metal beds lined up in a basketball court-turned-shelter. Their tales of horror and hardship along with a few belongings are all they have left.

But with this safe haven being inside Russia, they are hesitant to share those stories.

Alexey Nechipurenko, 45, was maimed as Russian forces entered the southern port city of Mariupol. His foot was shot to pieces and his wife was killed before his eyes, he tells CNN.

But, as a Russian doctor tends his wounds, he insists Ukraine, not Russia, is to blame for his suffering.

"The Russians were just beginning to enter the city. Therefore, they just couldn't actually have been on the side where we were," he told CNN.

The basketball court shelter is in Taganrog, southern Russia, just 69 miles from Mariupol where Ukrainian soldiers and civilians held out for weeks in the Azovstal steel plant before Russia took full control of the city.

CNN was given exclusive access to the center set up to process some of the more than 2 million refugees estimated to have poured onto Russian soil since the invasion began on Feb. 24.

Human rights groups say Ukrainians are being "filtered" before being taken to the temporary shelters in Russia and any suspected of posing a threat are not allowed through.

And those who passed Russia's first test and made it to Taganrog are reluctant to say too much.

"Now I'm here [in Russia] so please don't press me, said a 30-year-old man from Mariupol who asked not to be identified and only wanted to be recorded talking to CNN with his back to the camera.
"I didn't see who killed my relatives," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, they're just a casualty of this conflict."

Read the full story here.

3:50 a.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Russian bombardments "around the clock" on parts of Donetsk, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

Ukrainian firefighters work at the Bakhmut market after it was shelled in the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on July 21.
Ukrainian firefighters work at the Bakhmut market after it was shelled in the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on July 21. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russian forces are trying "around the clock" to break through Ukrainian lines in the eastern Donetsk region but have not been successful, according to Ukrainian officials.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk Civil Military Administration, said on Ukrainian television Thursday that shelling around the city of Bakhmut is constant.

"This is one of the main lines on which the enemy is trying to make a breakthrough and then go to the main goal — Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from the side of Bakhmut," Kyrylenko said, referring to two larger nearby cities coveted by Moscow.

The Russians have inflicted considerable damage in Bakhmut, according to Kyrylenko. He added that 350,000 people were still in the region and evacuations were taking place daily.

In its latest operational update, the Ukrainian military's General Staff said more than a dozen locations around Bakhmut had come under fire Wednesday.

"Ukrainian soldiers forced the occupiers to flee. Fighting continues in the area near Novoluhanske," it said. 

Novoluhanske and neighboring settlements are under almost constant attack as the Russians try to break down Ukrainian defenses south of Bakhmut and encircle Ukrainian defenses in the pocket of territory bordering the neighboring Luhansk region. 

The General Staff said the Russians also continued shelling in the Sloviansk direction.

Kramatorsk: The eastern city again came under attack Wednesday night.  

Kyrylenko said two schools were destroyed in Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka, to the south of the city. The mayor of Kramatorsk said two industrial plants were also hit. There were no details about casualties.

Tens of thousands of people are thought to remain in Kramatorsk and the surrounding areas. 

Southern Ukraine: Russian artillery continues to bombard towns behind the front lines that run through parts of Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, according to the General Staff. On Wednesday, Russia's foreign minister said Moscow's objectives in Ukraine now extend beyond the Donbas into the south of the country, warning it "cannot allow" Ukraine to have weapons that threaten Russia or its territories.

3:12 a.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Russia reports nearly 40% rise in bankruptcy in first half of 2022

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Wayne Chang

The number of Russian citizens who have declared bankruptcy and faced liquidation in the first half of 2022 rose by 37.8% over the same period from last year, a Russian Ministry of Economic Development report shows.

From January to the end of June, 121,313 Russian citizens filed for bankruptcy and had their assets liquidated to pay off debts, the report stated. Among them, the largest number of bankruptcy declarations were from Moscow at more than 6,000 individuals, followed by the region surrounding the capital, with more than 5,600.

Within the same timeframe, 20,185 Russian citizens filed for bankruptcy and went through debt restructuring, according to the report. 

The number of individual bankruptcies in the country nearly tripled from 68,980 in 2019 to 192,833 in 2021, the report added. 

"In absolute terms, the number of bankruptcies of citizens has already reached very substantial levels," said ministry official Alexei Yukhnin.

Some context: While there is no clear link between the significant increase of individual bankruptcy filings and the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia has since seen numerous high-profile international conglomerates end operations in the country or cut business ties. Meanwhile, Russia has been slapped with sanctions including asset freezes by the United States, European Union, Japan and other governments.

2:30 a.m. ET, July 21, 2022

Gas flow from Nord Stream 1 pipeline resumes from Russia into Germany

From CNN's Irene Nasser, Yong Xiong and Nadine Schmidt

The gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline in the industrial area of Lubmin, Germany, on July 21.
The gas receiving station of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline in the industrial area of Lubmin, Germany, on July 21. (Stefan Sauer/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Russian state energy giant Gazprom has resumed gas shipments through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline into Germany, according to data from the operator’s website.

''We are in the process of resuming gas transportation through the pipeline. It can take some time to reach the nominated transport volume," a Nord Stream 1 spokesperson told CNN on Thursday.

Nord Stream 1 had been closed for 10 days of scheduled maintenance, and there had been fears Russia would not resume deliveries once the work was done.

The reading on Thursday showed 21,388,236 kWh/h gas was sent through the pipeline between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. ET — well below Nord Stream 1's capacity.

The head of Germany's network regulator Klaus Mueller said on Twitter Wednesday that Gazprom had scheduled deliveries on Thursday of only about 30% of the pipeline's capacity.

Before the pipeline closed, Gazprom was only delivering 40% of its capacity after a dispute over repairs to a key gas turbine.

Some context: On Wednesday, the European Union announced plans to ration gas until next spring, amid fears Russia could drastically cut the flow of natural gas to the continent. The "Save Gas for a Safe Winter" plan sets a target for the 27 member states to reduce their gas demand by 15% between August and March next year. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that a total shut off of Russian gas was a "likely scenario."