July 25, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 3:42 a.m. ET, July 26, 2022
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1:02 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

US working on "Plan B" for Ukrainian grain exports following Odesa strikes, says USAID

From CNN's Larry Madowo, Bethlehem Feleke and Niamh Kennedy

The United States is working with Ukraine on a "Plan B" to get grain exports out of the country following Russia's attack on the port of Odesa, US Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Samantha Power said Sunday.

The strikes came just a day after Kyiv and Moscow signed an agreement to allow grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, leading to anger and concern over the future of a deal aimed at easing the global food crisis sparked by war.

"Plan B involves road and rail and river and sending in barges and adjusting the rail systems so that they're better aligned with those in Europe so that the exports can move out more quickly," Power told CNN's Larry Madowo in Nairobi, Kenya.
"We have been living the contingency plan because there's no way you can trust anything that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin says."

Some 20 million metric tons of wheat and corn are trapped at the port of Odesa, Power said, adding that despite the food security afforded by alternative routes out of Ukraine, "there is no substitute for Putin allowing the blockade to end and the grains being sent out the most efficient way possible."

She said she hoped the grain deal "somehow sticks" despite Russia's move to "immediately turn its back" on the agreement by attacking Odesa — the main port named in the accord.

US food aid: Last week, the US announced an additional $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa, which is experiencing unprecedented levels of drought across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. 

"More than half of the wheat in the country of Somalia comes from Ukraine, it's trapped in the port of Odesa," Power said.
3:04 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Mother identifies son as one of two Americans killed in Ukraine's Donbas region

From CNN's Keith Allen and Steve Forrest

Luke Lucyszyn was one of two Americans who recently died in the Donbas region of Ukraine, according to his mother Kathy Lucyszyn.
Luke Lucyszyn was one of two Americans who recently died in the Donbas region of Ukraine, according to his mother Kathy Lucyszyn. (Kathy Lucyszyn)

One of the two American citizens who recently died in the Donbas region of Ukraine has been identified as Luke Lucyszyn, his mother told CNN.

Kathy Lucyszyn said she was informed of her son's death by the US State Department.

The State Department confirmed the deaths of two Americans to CNN on Saturday, but a spokesperson did not provide any details about the individuals or the circumstances. The spokesperson said they had been "in touch with the families and providing all possible consular assistance."

Politico first reported that Lucyszyn was killed.

Asked Saturday about the condition of Alexander Drueke and Andy Hunyh, two Americans captured by Russian forces while fighting in Ukraine, the spokesperson said they had "been in contact with the Ukrainian and Russian authorities regarding US citizens who may have been captured by Russia's forces or proxies while fighting in Ukraine."

"We call on Russia to live up to its international obligations to treat all individuals captured fighting with Ukraine's armed forces as prisoners of war," they said.
2:41 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Russian and Turkish military will escort ships carrying Ukrainian grain in Black Sea, Lavrov says

From CNN's Darya Tarasova, Mostafa Salem, Chris Liakos

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, left, receives Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, at the organization's headquarters in the Cairo, on July 24.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, left, receives Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, at the organization's headquarters in the Cairo, on July 24. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia and Turkey will use "military naval forces" to escort vessels carrying Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea into the Bosporus once transport restarts, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday.

Lavrov added that "another participant, to be determined" will also be escorting the ships carrying Ukrainian grain, without providing more details.

"Ukraine does the mine clearance, lets the ships out to the high seas, Russia, Turkey, together with another participant, to be determined, accompany the convoys to the [Bosporus] straits," Lavrov said during a meeting with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Meanwhile, Turkey's Defense Ministry said in a statement that "coordination between authorities continues for the first ship loaded with grain to start sailing from Ukrainian ports as soon as possible."

Ukraine and Russia agreed a deal Friday that would allow the resumption of vital grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports — a major diplomatic breakthrough aimed at easing a global food crisis sparked by the war. As part of the deal, grain ships would navigate through a safe corridor in the Black Sea under the direction of Ukrainian pilots, and then pass through the Bosporus strait — an important shipping corridor in northwest Turkey — in order to reach global markets.

Ukraine blamed: During an earlier meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Lavrov placed the blame on Ukraine for the stagnation in any further negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.

"We do not have any prejudice against resuming negotiations on a wider range of issues …the Ukrainian authorities, starting from the President down … constantly declare that there will be no negotiations until Ukraine defeats Russia on the battlefield," he said.
"But the longer they continue to demand from Ukraine to fight to the bitter end — and we all understand what and whose end will come — the more people will die and the longer the current situation will persist." 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addresses the Arab League meeting at its headquarters in Cairo, on July 24.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addresses the Arab League meeting at its headquarters in Cairo, on July 24. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

Africa tour: Egypt is the first stop on Lavrov's Africa trip, where he will also meet with top officials in Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of Congo. Egypt is the world’s biggest importer of wheat, relying heavily on Ukraine and Russia for a supply to feed its 100 million population. 

Lavrov’s trip is aimed at rallying support and reaffirming alliances with Russia, and comes a week after US President Joe Biden visited Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia.

Most African countries have not condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as they have sought to maintain a balance in their relationships with Russia and Western countries.

12:54 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Kirby calls Russian missile strikes in Odesa "deeply concerning"

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

Russian missile strikes on the southern Ukrainian port of Odesa on Saturday were "deeply concerning," John Kirby, US National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said on MSNBC on Sunday.

The strikes came just a day after Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement to allow grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, leading to anger and concern over the future of a deal aimed at easing the global food crisis sparked by war.

"Unfortunately, I mean, what we saw yesterday is indicative of Russian behavior in the past, where they commit to things and then of course don't follow through," Kirby said.

Kirby’s comments track with a warning he offered last week, when he said implementing the grain agreement would require all sides' adhering to their commitments.

"The Ukrainians today said that they still consider this arrangement in effect, that's positive," Kirby said, adding that Washington will be "watching this closely," to see if Moscow meets its commitments.
"But the strikes at the port of Odesa actually came very close to some grain terminals. It's not clear exactly what the damage was. But it was clearly at the port of Odesa. And that's deeply concerning," Kirby added.

CNN previously reported that on Sunday, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the Kremlin struck the port with "high precision" Kalibr missiles, destroying Ukrainian "military infrastructure."

Kirby warned of continued food insecurity issues should the grain deal fall through.

12:53 a.m. ET, July 25, 2022

Kremlin claims Russian strikes on Odesa port destroyed Ukrainian "military infrastructure"

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Alex Stambaugh 

A Russian attack on the southern Ukrainian port of Odesa on Saturday used "high precision" Kalibr missiles to destroy "military infrastructure" including a naval vessel, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Sunday.

The strikes came just a day after Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement to allow grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports, leading to anger and concern over the future of a deal aimed at easing the global food crisis sparked by war.

Serhii Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa military administration, said two missiles hit the infrastructure of the port and two were shot down by Ukraine's air defense.