July 28, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Hafsa Khalil, Jack Guy and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 12:09 p.m. ET, July 30, 2022
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9:34 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

Hungary's Orban says Ukraine "cannot win" war with NATO's current strategy

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman and Benjamin Brown in London

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks at a press conference on July 28, in Vienna, Austria.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks at a press conference on July 28, in Vienna, Austria. (Michael Gruber/Getty Images)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told journalists on Thursday that Ukraine cannot defeat Russia with NATO’s current strategy of support, while also warning of dire consequences for the European economy. 

“This war in this form cannot be won,” Orban said, speaking alongside Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Vienna. Orban added that NATO countries’ strategy of supporting Ukraine with weapons and training “has shown until now that it will not lead to success.”

“Without changing the strategy, there is not going to be peace,” he said, warning that, without peace in Ukraine, all of the European Union will “be pushed into a war situation.”

“It is not clear how we can avoid recession in the EU if the war carries on,” Orban added.

Both leaders warned against the possibility of a European Union embargo on Russian gas.

“We met a wall just now, and that wall is called gas embargo, and I would suggest to the EU that we do not knock against that wall,” Orban said, as Nehammer warned such an embargo “is not possible.”

“Not only because we, as Austria, are dependent on Russian gas. The German industry is also dependent on Russian gas. And if the German industry collapses, the Austrian industry collapses,” said Nehammer, adding that that situation could result in “mass unemployment.”

“There are many announcements from the EU Commission, but very little is being implemented,” he said, regarding EU action on the energy crisis, adding that there is “no sign” of the implementation of the common gas purchase platform that was proposed by the EU Commission.

He said that, given the current pressures on the energy market, that "this common platform would be more important than ever."

12:09 p.m. ET, July 30, 2022

Russian journalist who led on-air protest found guilty of "discrediting Russian armed forces" by Moscow court

From CNN's Rob Picheta and Alex Hardie

Former Russian state TV employee Marina Ovsyannikova attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, on July 28.
Former Russian state TV employee Marina Ovsyannikova attends a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, on July 28. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)

Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian state television journalist who made a dramatic, on-air stand against the invasion of Ukraine in the first weeks of the war, has been found guilty of “discrediting the Russian armed forces” after staging more protests this month.

Ovsyannikova was fined 50,000 rubles (around $820) over a video recorded on July 13 in which she spoke out against the conflict, calling it a war, according to her lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov. The Kremlin euphemistically refers to the invasion as a “special military operation.” 

On July 15, Ovsyannikova also shared content of herself holding a one-woman anti-war demonstration on an embankment opposite the Kremlin in Moscow.

In the video and photo she shared on her Telegram channel, the journalist was seen holding a poster saying: “Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children are dead. How many more children need to die before you stop?”

At her feet were two dolls and a stuffed toy, apparently stained with red paint.

More background: Ovsyannikova’s live demonstration during a Russian state TV evening news bulletin in March was one of the defining moments of the early days of the conflict, and earned her international renown for visibly speaking out against the invasion from inside Russia.

During that unexpected demonstration, the former Channel One editor appeared behind a news anchor holding a sign that said: "NO WAR." She told CNN days after the incident that many Russians have been "brainwashed" by state propaganda.

Following her protest on Russian state TV, Ovsyannikova was arrested, interrogated for more than 14 hours, released and fined 30,000 rubles (around $500).

A Moscow court found her guilty of organizing an "unauthorized public event" and she fled Russia in March, but returned in July, according to her official Facebook page.

In June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called the "arbitrary arrest of a large number of anti-war protesters" in Russia "worrying."

This post has been updated to clarify the details of Marina Ovsyannikova's latest court appearance. She was in court on Thursday over the video in which she spoke about Russia’s "special military operation," not over her demonstration outside the Kremlin.

1:42 p.m. ET, July 28, 2022

Ukraine says Russians can no longer move heavy weapons into Kherson after bridge was damaged

From CNN's Tim Lister

The Antonivskyi bridge in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, Ukraine, on July 27.
The Antonivskyi bridge in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, Ukraine, on July 27. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian officials claimed that Russian troops can no longer carry heavy weapons and munitions across a strategic road bridge in the Kherson region after it was repeatedly struck by long-range Ukrainian artillery.

Serhii Khlan, adviser to the head of Kherson civil-military administration, said the Antonivskyi bridge, which is about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) wide, "used to be the main route for the supply of weapons, ammunition and food to the Mykolaiv front" for Russian forces.

But "the strikes on the bridge were accurate," he said. "The new hits were at the exactly those spots that were hit before. This made it impossible for any type of transport to cross the bridge. At the moment, the entrance to the bridge is blocked."

Ukrainian officials said the bridge was hit on Tuesday night. Social media video also showed large detonations in a cluster toward one end of the bridge.

"Hypothetically, the Russians might be able to build a pontoon crossing. However, the left bank of Dnipro almost entirely consists of floodplains and swamps," Khlan said. 

The Russian-appointed deputy head of the Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, said via Telegram that ferry crossings from near the bridge were already underway, adding, "just come here to the bridge and you will definitely get to the opposite bank of Dnipro."  

Video grabs show the damaged Antonivskyi bridge in the aftermath of shelling, in Kherson, Ukraine, on July 27.
Video grabs show the damaged Antonivskyi bridge in the aftermath of shelling, in Kherson, Ukraine, on July 27. (Ukrinform/Reuters)

On Thursday, the UK's defense ministry said that Russia’s 49th Army, which is stationed on the west bank of the Dnipro river, "now looks highly vulnerable" after Ukrainian long-range artillery hit a total of three bridges.

"Kherson city, the most politically significant population centre occupied by Russia, is now virtually cut off from the other occupied territories," the ministry said. 

However, the Russians still control large areas to the northeast of the city and may be able to resupply forces on the west bank with pontoon bridges and river ferries across the Dnipro. 

Khlan also said that "a month ago, the invaders used the railway bridge. They brought whole trains to Kherson and to the right bank (of the Dnipro river) of military equipment and weapons. After the ammunition depots located near the railway bridge were destroyed, the occupiers stopped using the railway bridge."

As a result of the damage to the Antonivskyi bridge, Khlan said that "the detour for civil transport is via the hydroelectric power station through Kakhovka; a lot of cars have accumulated there." 

The bridge at Kakhovka upstream from Kherson is smaller than the Antonivskyi.

Khlan also referenced reports that a police vehicle in Kherson was attacked with an explosive device Wednesday, claiming that "the resistance movement in Kherson is gaining momentum. This is the result of their work."

Dmytro Butriy, temporary acting head of Kherson region military administration, said the attack on the police car had been carried out by a radio-controlled explosive device and had killed one policeman.

Butriy said attacks against Russian positions in Kherson continued. "Our aircraft made five strikes on the enemy. Pairs of attack aircraft and a bomber hit three enemy strongholds," he said.

He also claimed that Russian occupation authorities had announced a ban on the Ukrainian currency hryvnia. "The so-called occupation 'police' are walking around the market and warning people who sell cash that they will be punished for issuing hryvnias," he said.

Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are trying to build a pontoon crossing next to the Antonivskyi bridge to help them move heavy military equipment across the Dnieper river. 

The First Deputy Head of Kherson regional council, Yurii Sobolevskyi posted a picture of the operation on Facebook. CNN geolocated the picture to one of the banks, next to the Antonivskyi bridge.

“Four tugboats pulling pontoons with cars will not solve the problem of supplying the military group of 'orcs' in Kherson,” Sobolevskyi said in the post. “Not much they will help during the retreat of the occupying forces.”

CNN has reached out to the Ukranian General Staff and Southern Command for additional information but has yet to hear back.

8:42 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

US officials frustrated at Moscow's lack of substantive response to proposed prisoner swap

From CNN's Kylie Atwood, Kaitlan Collins and Betsy Klein

US President Joe Biden's administration officials are frustrated that Moscow has yet to respond in a meaningful way to their “substantial proposal” to try to free two detained Americans – a deal which includes a trade for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, as CNN exclusively reported Wednesday.

That proposal was presented to Russia weeks ago, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said when publicly announcing it Wednesday. Administration officials told CNN that they felt Moscow would jump at the offer, but it is now almost August and they have not received a substantive response, officials said.

On Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed that “so far there is no agreement on this issue.”

Frustration at Russia’s lack of substantive response to the deal was an underlying factor in the administration’s decision to publicize that an agreement from the US is on the table.

"We communicated a substantial offer that we believe could be successful based on a history of conversations with the Russians," a senior administration official told CNN Wednesday.

However, there was acknowledgement within the administration that negotiations to try to free detained Americans are often difficult.

“We start all negotiations to bring home Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained with a bad actor on the other side. We start all of these with somebody who has taken a human being American and treated them as a bargaining chip," the senior official said.

"So in some ways, it's not surprising, even if it's disheartening, when those same actors don't necessarily respond directly to our offers, don't engage constructively in negotiations,” they said.

New details: National Security Council strategic coordinator for communications John Kirby offered some new details Thursday on the decision to go public with news that the US had offered the prisoner swap.

“We have made that decision seriously in terms of whether we were going to go public with it and I could just tell you that there was a lot that went into that decision. A lot of context here, both in terms of what was happening, what wasn't happening, and certainly in the context of Mrs. Griner having to testify yesterday,” Kirby said during an appearance on ABC’s "Good Morning America."

Kirby continued: “There was an awful lot of discussion about whether we should even acknowledge that there was a proposal but ultimately, we came down on the side that it was important to put this out there that people that the American people know how seriously President Biden takes his responsibilities to bring American citizens home when they've been unjustly detained. But we also thought it was important for the world to know how seriously American takes that responsibility.” 

Kirby did not offer any updates on the status of the offer.

“We’re still hoping that this proposal will be accepted by the Russians and then we can move forward to bring Brittney and Paul home,” he said.

He said it had been put forth “many weeks ago.”

8:28 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

At least 15 injured in Kyiv region missile strikes

From CNN's Anastasia Graham Yooll

Smoke rises over Kyiv after Russian missile strikes in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 28.
Smoke rises over Kyiv after Russian missile strikes in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 28. (Vladyslav Sodel/Reuters)

At least 15 people were injured in Thursday morning strikes in the Kyiv region, according to Andrii Nebytov, the head police in the Kyiv region.

More than 20 projectiles were fired in five separate attacks on the area — hitting a military facility — Oleksiy Kuleba, the head of Kyiv region state administration, posted on Telegram.

“Two more missiles were shot down by air defence forces,” Kuleba said.

"The enemy launched a rocket attack on a community in the Vyshhorod district this morning. An infrastructure target was hit," Kuleba said earlier.

8:12 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

It's mid-afternoon in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

Ukraine is observing a new national holiday today — its first Day of Ukrainian Statehood. Here are the latest headlines:

Prisoner swap possible? The US made a “substantial offer” in June to release convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout — dubbed the “Merchant of Death” — in exchange for Moscow’s release of two US citizens, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, according to sources, which Biden signed off on. On Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said “no agreement” has been reached so far regarding the issue. 

Ukraine’s new holiday: July 28 marks the first Day of Ukrainian Statehood, to celebrate the connection between all Ukrainian people, past and present, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky. He summed up the day as: “We existed, exist and will exist.” In a video, Zelensky said Ukraine is “a free, sovereign, undivided and independent state” and always will be. 

Numbers on Russian casualties: According to US officials on Wednesday, “over 75,000 Russians have either been killed or wounded” during the war. Casualty figures are difficult to determine, with both Russian and Ukrainian officials having at times exaggerated events. The Kremlin dismissed the figures, which were quoted in a New York Times report on Thursday, saying that “even the most reputable newspapers do not shy away from spreading all sorts of fakes.”

Attacks near Kyiv and in the north: Shelling was reported in the northeastern cities of Chernihiv and Kharkiv “from the territory of Belarus,” according to V​yacheslav Chaus, the head of the Chernihiv regional military administration. Meanwhile, explosions were heard in Kyiv on Thursday morning. Oleksiy Kuleba, head of Kyiv's regional state administration, said "the enemy launched a rocket attack on a community in the Vyshhorod district this morning," hitting infrastructure.

Russian gains in Donetsk: The Ukrainian military on Thursday said that Russian forces had made “partial success” in gaining ground outside of Vershyna, a town located around 10 kilometers (6 miles) southeast of Bakhmut, which they have been bombarding for several weeks. The Ukrainian military’s General Staff also said that four attacks from different directions on Bakhmut were repelled, and in northern Sloviansk, two Russian advances were thwarted on Wednesday.

Russian journalist protester: The former Russian state TV employee Marina Ovsyannikova is appearing in court on Thursday over another anti-war protest: a one-woman anti-war protest on an embankment opposite the Kremlin in Moscow. Ovsyannikova previously gained attention in March for holding up a “No War” sign during a live nightly newscast on the station where she previously worked.

9:21 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

Former Russian journalist who held anti-war sign on state TV appears in court over fresh protest

From CNN’s Alex Hardie

Marina Ovsyannikova, who has been accused of "discrediting" the Russian army fighting in Ukraine, appears in court in Moscow on July 28, 2022.
Marina Ovsyannikova, who has been accused of "discrediting" the Russian army fighting in Ukraine, appears in court in Moscow on July 28, 2022. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Russian state TV employee Marina Ovsyannikova will appear at a court hearing in Moscow today over another anti-war protest.

Earlier this month, Ovsyannikova shared content of herself holding a one-woman anti-war protest on an embankment opposite the Kremlin in Moscow.

In the video and photo she shared on her Telegram channel, she was seen holding a poster saying: “Putin is a murderer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children are dead. How many more children need to die before you stop?” 

At her feet were two dolls and a stuffed toy stained with what looks like red paint. 

Ovsyannikova was briefly detained in Moscow on July 17, her lawyer Dmitry Zakhvatov told CNN.

According to Zakhvatov, Ovsyannikova was detained by the police for “actions aimed at discrediting the Russian army” for a video statement she recorded. 

Ovsyannikova, a former journalist for Russian state TV “Channel One,” gained international attention in March for holding up a “No War” sign during a live nightly newscast on the channel. 

Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour days after her protest, she said that it was “impossible to stay silent” and that she wanted the world to know that many Russians are against the invasion.

Following her protest on Russian state TV, Ovsyannikova was arrested, interrogated for more than 14 hours, released and fined 30,000 rubles (approximately $526).

A Moscow court found her guilty of organizing an “unauthorized public event.” She fled Russia in March but returned in July, according to her official Facebook page.

In June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the "arbitrary arrest of a large number of anti-war protesters" in Russia was "worrying."

6:51 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

Kremlin says "no agreement" has been reached on possible prisoner release

From CNN's Darya Tarasova

Following reports of a prisoner exchange offer by the US to release convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for US citizens Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, the Kremlin has responded, “so far, there is no agreement on this issue,” according to a spokesman.

When asked by journalists during his daily conference call on Thursday, Dmitry Peskov said: "Well, look, since there are no agreements now that would be finalized, then, accordingly, I have nothing more to add to what has been said.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that he expected a call with his Russian counterpart this week to discuss a "substantial proposal" presented to Moscow "weeks ago" to try to secure the release of the two Americans, whom the US say are wrongfully detained.

8:16 a.m. ET, July 28, 2022

Analysis: Biden faces a dilemma with the stunning prisoner swap offer to Russia

Analysis by CNN's Stephen Collinson

In this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, former Soviet military officer and arms trafficking suspect Viktor Bout, center, deplanes after arriving at Westchester County Airport November 16, 2010 in White Plains, New York.
In this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, former Soviet military officer and arms trafficking suspect Viktor Bout, center, deplanes after arriving at Westchester County Airport November 16, 2010 in White Plains, New York. (U.S. Department of Justice/Getty Images)

Is the United States really ready to let the "Merchant of Death" out of prison?

Viktor Bout, one of the world's most notorious arms dealers, could be the key to a possible deal with Moscow to win the freedom of basketball star Brittney Griner and another American, Paul Whelan, according to an exclusive CNN report.

A "substantial offer" was made to Moscow in June, according to three sources, and President Joe Biden personally signed off on it.

To put it mildly, this is a stunning development. The Kremlin has yet to respond. But if the swap goes ahead, it could transform perceptions of how the US deals with governments who detain its citizens overseas, making American travelers more tempting targets. It would also be an act of great humanity by Biden to bring Americans home from hellish Russian prisons.

This is one of those problems with no right answer that leaders face. Freeing a prisoner like Bout is a risk. He is not only close to Russian intelligence, but could pose a future threat -- he was convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to kill Americans, among other charges. A high-profile swap like this might also send a message to hostile governments and bandits around the world that the US will cut deals to get people home.

Read the full analysis here.