We've wrapped up our live coverage for the day. You can read more about Russia's invasion of Ukraine here, or scroll through the updates below.
While Russian forces mount an essentially defensive operation in the south of Ukraine, they've adopted a more offensive posture elsewhere along the front line, according to updates from Kyiv's military, regional leaders and Russian bloggers.
In Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region, in particular, Moscow’s troops appear to have Ukraine firmly on the back foot.
“Yesterday the enemy tried to advance almost along the entire front line (running through the Luhansk region). These attempts were stopped by our military. The enemy is suffering significant losses in personnel and means but is pressing on every day,” Artem Lysohor, head of the region's military administration, said on Telegram Saturday.
Lysohor listed five locations in Luhansk where Russian forces had recently attacked.
A Ukrainian army spokesperson reminded TV viewers that Russia has assembled 100,000 soldiers to the east of an area between the towns of Lyman and Kupyansk. The towns are about 100 kilometers (62 miles) apart, north of Bakhmut on the eastern front.
“Although the situation is complicated, it is under our control,” said Serhii Cherevatyi, the military spokesperson.
“The enemy is acting according to the classic scheme — they are conducting artillery and air strikes on our positions to the maximum extent possible. And then they try to attack with platoon-company-level units … trying to attack our positions,” Cherevatyi added.
Reports from Russia: Rybar, a Russian military blogging site, says Moscow's forces have made territorial gains in the northeastern Kharkiv region, capturing a railway station in the village of Movchanove and expanding control around the nearby town of Lyman Pershyi.
It is not possible for CNN to immediately verify claims of battlefield gains or losses by either side, but it is notable that the DeepState mapping site also suggests modest Russian gains in the same area.
Also in the east, Ukrainian forces continue their efforts to capture higher ground around Bakhmut, but gains are small and hard to defend, according to reports.
Rybar reported the Ukrainian army has "once again managed to gain a foothold on the heights" near the town of Klishchivka, just south of Bakhmut. But, the Russian site reported, it had come “at the cost of significant losses.”
“The Ukrainian defense forces are holding the initiative (around Bakhmut), putting pressure on the enemy, and liberating Ukrainian land meter by meter,” Cherevatyi said.
The number of Wagner fighters in Belarus "may reach about 5,000," according to Andrii Demchenko, a spokesperson for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.
"At the beginning, when mercenary groups began to enter Belarus, their number was estimated in the hundreds. However, now, given the available information about representatives of private military companies, their number is certainly different and may reach about 5,000,” Demchenko said in a media briefing with Ukrainian state news agency Ukrinform on Saturday.
He noted that such a number of Russian mercenaries does not pose a direct threat to Ukraine, but the border guards are ready for any situation.
“The situation on the border is fully under control,” he added.
Serhiy Naiev, the commander of the combined forces, commented on the situation on the border with Belarus in a Facebook update Saturday. He said "the steps that the members of the "Wagner" PMC in Belarus are taking aim to put psychological pressure and intimidate the population of Ukraine."
Naiev added that "in order to prevent enemy actions, five sections of roads leading to the state border with Belarus were destroyed over the last week."
He said Ukrainian fighters created and mined more than 60 forest landslides, adding that “more than two and a half thousand anti-tank mines were laid.”
Some background: Wagner fighters arrived in Belarus following a short-lived mutiny by the private military group against the Kremlin last month. On Wednesday, its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin was apparently seen in a video greeting his fighters in the country.
The paramilitary group had served as a key cog in Russia's war on Ukraine, but the future of its relationship with Moscow is now unclear.
Meanwhile, Belarusian forces will soon hold joint military exercises with Wagner fighters near the border with Poland, according to the country's defense ministry.
In their phone call Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he asked NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg “to urgently convene” a meeting between Kyiv and members of the military alliance, due to Russia's "aggressive steps" in the Black Sea.
Moscow has pulled out of a deal that allowed for the safe passage of Ukrainian grain exports during the war, throwing the near-future of the global food market into question.
"Any destabilization in this region and the disruption of our export routes will mean problems with corresponding consequences for everyone in the world," Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday.
Zelensky said a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council is urgently needed “for appropriate crisis consultations” and to decide on steps “to unblock and ensure the stable operation of the grain corridor.”
The Ukrainian leader said he expects the meeting to occur in a few days.
About the council: The NATO-Ukraine Council is the joint body where Zelensky formally meets with leaders from the alliance for crisis consultation, input on key issues and updates on Ukraine's ongoing membership efforts.
The council was created at the 2023 NATO summit as part of a package of support and assurances bringing Ukraine closer to the alliance.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the counteroffensive's slower-than-anticipated progress can be tied to the operation starting later than expected, as well as a lack of munitions. Meanwhile, Ukraine says it is holding off constant attacks from Russian forces in the east of the country, with both sides claiming "significant losses."
Here are some of today's developments:
- Ammo dump hit in Crimea: Ukrainian forces hit an ammunition dump in Crimea on Saturday, forcing an evacuation of the area and canceling train services, according to Russian-backed authorities. The leader of the Crimean Tatar national movement in Ukraine also confirmed evacuations. It marks the latest in a series of recent strikes on Russian supplies and infrastructure in the Russian-annexed peninsula.
- Russian assaults on eastern front: At least six people were killed and eight others were wounded following Russian strikes in eastern Ukraine, military administration officials from the Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv and Kherson regions said Saturday. While Russian forces mount an essentially defensive operation in the south of Ukraine, they've adopted a more offensive posture elsewhere along the front line — particularly in the eastern Luhansk region and the northeastern Kharkiv region — according to updates from Kyiv's military, regional leaders and Russian bloggers.
- Journalist casualties: A Russian journalist has been killed and three others wounded in the area of Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region that is occupied by Moscow's forces, according to Russia’s defense ministry. Additionally, a cameraman for the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle was wounded by shrapnel from a Russian cluster munitions attack in Ukraine Saturday, DW said in a statement.
- Reactions to arrest of pro-Russian blogger: Several pro-war Russian military bloggers have publicly questioned the decision to arrest Igor Girkin, a former government official who had also covered the war online. An example of one comment: "Are we sure that everything is fine in our country?"
- Belarusian president to hold talks with Putin: Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has arrived in St. Petersburg ahead of a planned meeting on Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Belarus' state media agency. It comes as satellite imagery shows a buildup of vehicles and equipment at a garrison in central Belarus.
The Tsel military garrison in central Belarus has seen a recent build-up of vehicles and equipment, according to satellite imagery from technology company Umbra.
Previous imagery from Maxar Technologies on July 16 showed only about 10 cargo trucks and five buses within the same storage area.
On Thursday, Belarus’ defense ministry said its forces will hold joint military exercises with Wagner fighters near its border with NATO member Poland.
At the beginning of July, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko invited Wagner forces into Belarus to help train his country’s military. The invite came shortly after the failed armed insurrection by Wagner forces against Moscow, which Lukashenko was credited with helping diffuse.
On Wednesday, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin was apparently seen in a video greeting his fighters in the country.
Lukashenko arrived in Russia Saturday ahead of a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin Sunday, according to state media.
Russian strikes killed at least two people and wounded two others in the northeastern Kharkiv region Saturday, Ukrainian officials said.
A 57-year-old woman was among those killed when Russian shelling struck the city of Kupyansk, according to the Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office. A business' property was also damaged in the city, the office added in a Telegram post.
Russia also shelled the town of Dvorichna, just north of Kupyansk, the prosecutor's office said.
“A 60-year-old man was injured. He was admitted to the hospital. A 45-year-old civilian was killed,” the office said.
And early Saturday on Telegram, Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, said a 30-year-old man was wounded by Russian shelling in Velykyi Burluk, east of Kharkiv city.
In areas surrounding Kupyansk, Ukraine's fighters "reliably hold their positions," Syniehubov said. "The enemy has not advanced."
Two people were wounded in a Russian cluster munitions attack on the city of Druzhkivka in eastern Ukraine, the city’s military administration reported Saturday.
“The enemy once again attacked the Druzhkivka community,” the administration said in a Telegram post. “According to preliminary data, two residents were injured after cluster munitions hit the residential building."
The Druzhkivka military administration said about 12 private sector houses were damaged by the attack.
Earlier today, German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) said a cameraman was wounded by shrapnel from a Russian cluster munitions attack in the same city. That attack killed a Ukrainian service member and badly wounded others, according to DW.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has arrived in Russia ahead of a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Video from Belarus' state media agency, Belta, showed Lukashenko arriving at the airport in St. Petersburg on Saturday. The two leaders are set to meet Sunday.
The meeting is expected to focus on "further development of Russian-Belarusian relations of strategic partnership and alliance, as well as integrational collaboration within the Union State of Russia and Belarus," according to Russian state media TASS.
Some context: Belarus is Russia's closest ally. It is a subject of renewed focus in recent months as Moscow says it has moved some of its nuclear weapons to the country, and as Minsk says its forces will hold joint training exercises with the Wagner private military group in the wake of its failed rebellion against the Kremlin.