July 29, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Jessie Yeung, Sana Noor Haq and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 3:05 a.m. ET, August 1, 2022
16 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:19 p.m. ET, July 29, 2022

Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of purported strike on prison

From CNN's Tim Lister, Julia Kesaieva and Josh Pennington

Buses carrying service members of Ukrainian forces arrive under escort of the pro-Russian military at a detention facility in the settlement of Olenivka in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine, on May 17.
Buses carrying service members of Ukrainian forces arrive under escort of the pro-Russian military at a detention facility in the settlement of Olenivka in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine, on May 17. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Russian and Ukrainian authorities on Friday traded accusations over a purported strike on a prison in separatist-held eastern Ukraine that Russia says resulted in the death of dozens of prisoners.

CNN could not immediately verify the allegations. Brief clips of video aired on Russian networks and by social media channels in Donetsk show extensive destruction to a building and several bodies.

CNN has analyzed social media videos and footage from pro-Russian broadcasters of the strike in Olenivka and has been able to geo-locate it to an industrial area 3 kilometers (about 1.8 miles) outside of the town. 

The Olenivka prison near Donetsk has been used to house many of the Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol several months ago.

What Russia is saying: In a statement, the Russian defense ministry said "the Kyiv regime deliberately carried out a bloody provocation."

"The pre-trial detention center in the area of ​​the settlement of Yelenovka (Olenivka), which contains Ukrainian military prisoners of war, including militants of the Azov formation, was hit by a missile attack from the American HIMARS multiple launch rocket system."

The Russian defense ministry was reiterating claims made earlier by authorities in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, a separatist-held area of eastern Ukraine. 

"It was a direct hit on the prisoner barracks. The result as of now: 40 dead, 130 wounded. They are still clearing the rubble. The numbers may increase,” the deputy information minister of the DPR, Daniil Beznosov, said on his Telegram channel.

Russia’s defense ministry claimed that "this blatant provocation was committed to intimidate Ukrainian servicemen and prevent them from being taken prisoner."

Later Friday, the deputy head of the militia of the DPR, Eduard Basurin, said the death toll had climbed to 53, with at least 71 wounded.

“At the moment, it is known for sure that 53 are dead, and 71 are wounded. The numbers may change,” Basurin said.

The senior on-duty surgeon at the Central City Clinical Hospital of Donetsk No. 16, Mikhail Yurenko, said seven survivors who were brought to his facility for treatment are in critical condition. 

“Seven prisoners of war of the Ukrainian army with lesions of different localization were delivered by ambulance. All patients received combined surgical care,” Yurenko said in a news conference broadcast over social media. “The patients are currently in the intensive care unit.”

What Ukraine is saying: The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces accused Russian forces of carrying out "a targeted artillery shelling of a correctional institution in the settlement of Olenivka, Donetsk oblast, where Ukrainian prisoners were also held."

"Russian occupiers pursued their criminal goals -- to accuse Ukraine of committing 'war crimes,' as well as to hide the torture of prisoners and executions," the General Staff said.

"The alleged shelling of civilian infrastructure and the population by the Armed Forces of Ukraine are outright lies and provocation, the responsibility of which is borne by Russia."

The General Staff statement added: "According to the commander of the Missile Forces and Artillery of the Land Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not launch missile and artillery strikes in the area of Olenivka settlement."

"Missile troops and artillery of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, thanks to the high-precision weapons received from partner countries, deliver extremely accurate strikes only on Russian military objects."

The General Staff said that the armed forces "have never conducted and are not conducting shelling of civilian infrastructure, especially places where combat fellows are likely to be kept as POWs."

"Russia has committed another petrifying war crime by shelling a correctional facility in the occupied Olenivka where it held Ukrainian POWs. I call on all partners to strongly condemn this brutal violation of international humanitarian law and recognize Russia a terrorist state," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.

A group that works on behalf of Ukrainian soldiers held as prisoners of war posted Friday that "it is with deep sadness that we are forced to confirm the information about the attack on the penal colony in Olenivka, where the 'Azov' regiment soldiers are being held as POW."

On its Telegram channel, the group — known as the Angels of Azov — said: "We are finding out the names of the dead and injured through our own channels. The International Committee of the Red Cross also went to the place."

The International Committee of the Red Cross, whose representatives had previously visited the prisoners, has not commented. 

Kostan Nechyporenko contributed reporting to this post.

8:08 a.m. ET, July 29, 2022

It's just past 3 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know.

From CNN staff

Russian and Ukrainian forces have accused each other of killing 40 prisoners in a strike in separatist-held eastern Ukraine.

Plus, the Ukrainian military said Russian forces have made incremental gains in the Donetsk region by shelling frontline cities including Sloviansk and Bakhmut.

Here are the latest developments:

Allegations fly over prisoners' deaths: Russian and Ukrainian authorities on Friday traded accusations over a purported strike on a prison in separatist-held eastern Ukraine that Russia says resulted in the death of at least 40 prisoners. CNN could not immediately verify the allegations. Brief clips of video aired on Russian networks and by social media channels in Donetsk show extensive destruction to a building and several bodies, but the location cannot be independently verified. The Olenivka prison near Donetsk has been used to house many of the Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol several months ago.

Russian shelling ramps up in the east: The Ukrainian military conceded that Russian forces made small gains near the Donetsk towns of Soledar and Vershyna in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities said Russian shelling twice struck the center of Kharkiv and hit frontline cities in Donetsk Friday. Earlier this week, the Ukrainian military assessed that Russia was focusing its main efforts on "establishing full control over the territories of Luhansk and Donetsk" and maintaining the captured southern Kherson region and parts of Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv.

Fighting intensifies in the south: Ukrainian officials said a Russian ammunition depot in the southern Kherson region was destroyed. Video and images published overnight and Friday morning on local Telegram channels indicated a major explosion in the area of Brylivka, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of the city of Kherson. Further north in Mykolaiv, a Russian strike near a bus stop killed five people and injured seven, according to Ukrainian officials.

Grain exports deal: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the G7 ambassadors to Ukraine gathered at the Chornomorsk port near Odesa on Friday in a show of unity following an agreement to allow the resumption of grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Although a deal was brokered last week between Ukraine and Russia to allow urgent grain to be exported, no ship has left so far, despite hopes to resume shipments as early as this week. 

Global leaders meet to temper diplomatic ties: French President Emmanuel Macron discussed and stressed the importance of working with Saudi Arabia to resolve Europe’s energy fears in a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Thursday, according to an Élysée Palace readout released Friday. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister also met with Russia’s deputy prime minister on Friday in Riyadh to discuss diplomatic relations, the Saudi energy ministry said. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia and the US are coordinating the timing for a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in regard to a potential prisoner swap, acknowledging his government has received an official request, according to Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti.

7:43 a.m. ET, July 29, 2022

Russian foreign minister says they are coordinating timing for call with US regarding prisoner swap

From Evgenii Shapovalov in Moscow

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a session of the Foreign Ministers Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on July 29.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a session of the Foreign Ministers Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on July 29. (Russian Foreign Ministry/Reuters)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia and the US are coordinating the timing for a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in regard to a potential prisoner swap, acknowledging his government has received an official request, according to Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti.

The contact "should happen when I’m in my office," Lavrov said while on a visit to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Friday.

“Obviously, it is unlikely to happen today, but in the coming days we will offer our American colleagues a suitable date,” Lavrov said.

"If we are talking about an exchange of prisoners, about an exchange of people who are detained in Russia and the United States, we have already commented on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that this topic was considered more than a year ago at the Geneva meeting in June 2021 between Presidents Putin and Biden. There, they agreed to authorize the competent people to deal with these issues. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not one of them. But still, I will listen to what he has to say," Lavrov added.

On Thursday, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Lavrov will “pay attention” to the US State Department request to speak with Blinken when “time permits," according to RIA Novosti.

Some background: Biden 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, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan – 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, 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 say.

On Thursday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri 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.

CNN's Uliana Pavlova, Kylie Atwood and Kaitlan Collins contributed reporting to this post.

6:54 a.m. ET, July 29, 2022

Russian ammunition depot struck in Kherson, Ukraine says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

A Russian ammunition depot in the southern Kherson region has been destroyed, according to Ukrainian officials.

Video and images published overnight and Friday morning on local Telegram channels indicated a major explosion in the area of Brylivka, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Kherson city.

"One of the important logistical hubs of the occupiers, the railway station in Brylivka, was destroyed in Kherson region. The Russians just brought equipment and ammunition there; everything has burned down," Serhii Khlan, advisor to the head of Kherson Civil Military Administration, said on Facebook Friday.

"People are reporting loud explosions and detonation. It is likely the oil depot was hit," Khlan added.

Satellite imagery shows a fuel storage site close to the railway in Brylivka.

Social media videos uploaded on a community Telegram channel overnight indicated multiple detonations in the area, but darkness prevented their accurate geolocation. 

Photographs published by a Ukrainian official Friday showed damage in the area of the railway station.

The official, Yurii Sobolevskyi, who is deputy head of Kherson regional council, captioned the photographs as "Brylivka now."

"I want to appeal to everyone who is forced to stay in the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson region ... If you were unable to evacuate (for whatever reason), please stay as far away from their military infrastructure and deployment sites as possible," Sobolevskyi said.

"The Ukrainian AF will continue to strike because there is no other way to free our people and our area," Sobolevskyi added.

6:15 a.m. ET, July 29, 2022

Russian strike in Kramatorsk residential area injures at least three people, mayor says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Chris Liakos

A Russian missile strike Friday has injured at least three people in the residential area of Bilenke in Kramatorsk, according to the city's mayor.

Houses have suffered serious destruction and explosive unit specialists, firefighters and rescue teams are on the scene where operations are still ongoing, Oleksandr Honcharenko said on Facebook.

The nearby towns of Sloviansk and Bakhmut in Donetsk also came under heavy Russian shelling Friday, as Russian forces attempt to advance westwards through the eastern region.

Some background: On Thursday, the Ukrainian military said Russian forces made further incremental progress in Donetsk.

The Russian military had "partial success" in the direction of Vidrodzhennia-Vershyna and were entrenched southeast of the settlement of Vershyna, according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian military.

Vershyna is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) southeast of Bakhmut. Earlier this week, the Russians took the nearby village of Novoluhankse and an adjacent power plant.

The General Staff assessed that Russia was focusing its main efforts on "establishing full control over the territories of Luhansk and Donetsk," and maintaining the captured southern Kherson region and parts of Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Mykolaiv.

Russia was blocking Ukraine's maritime communications in the Black Sea, it added.

CNN's Tim Lister contributed reporting to this post.

6:06 a.m. ET, July 29, 2022

French President discusses Europe’s energy crisis with Saudi Crown Prince

From CNN’s Joseph Ataman in London and Camille Knight in Paris

France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, greets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he arrives at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on July 28.
France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, greets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he arrives at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris, France, on July 28. (Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron discussed and stressed the importance of working with Saudi Arabia to resolve Europe’s energy fears in a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday.

The French President underlined “the importance of pursuing the committed coordination with Saudi Arabia in the perspective of the diversification of European states’ energy supplies,” according to an Élysée Palace readout released Friday. 

In a wide-ranging discussion, the two also touched upon the question of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

Some background: As the war in Ukraine rages on, a gas emergency is unfolding in Europe.

This week, Russia's state-owned gas company Gazprom cut flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany in half, to just 20% of its capacity. A US official said the move was retaliation for western sanctions, and that it put the West in "unchartered territory" when it comes to whether Europe will have enough gas to get through the winter.

The Biden administration has been working furiously behind the scenes to keep European allies united against Russia as Moscow further cuts its energy supplies to the European Union, prompting panic on both sides of the Atlantic over potentially severe gas shortages heading into winter, US officials say.

In response to the turmoil, the White House dispatched presidential coordinator for global energy Amos Hochstein to Europe on Tuesday, officials said. He will be traveling to Paris and Brussels to discuss contingency planning with the US-EU energy task force created in March, one month after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting to this post.

7:04 a.m. ET, July 29, 2022

Saudi Energy Minister met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister to discuss diplomatic relations

From CNN’s Wayne Chang

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 10.
Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 10. (Jane Barlow/PA Images/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister met with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister on Friday in Riyadh to discuss cooperation between both countries, the Saudi energy ministry said.

The meeting between Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and Russia’s Alexander Novak covered "the latest developments in the work of the Saudi-Russian joint committee," and "opportunities for cooperation between the two countries within this framework," the ministry tweeted. 

The tweet did not specify what areas both countries plan to cooperate in. 

The meeting came after a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud on July 21, where they discussed the oil market at length and emphasized expansion of "mutually beneficial trade and economic ties," according to a Kremlin readout. 

8:19 a.m. ET, July 29, 2022

Russian strike in Mykolaiv kills five people and leaves seven injured

From Anastasia Graham-Yooll

A Russian strike near a bus stop killed five people and injured seven early Friday, according to Ukrainian officials.

Emergency services found 12 people on the ground, Vitaliy Kim, head of Mykolaiv regional military administration, said.

Close to the front lines in neighboring Kherson, Mykolaiv has been struck almost every night for the last month.

The bombardment follows attacks on the southern city early Thursday, when "powerful explosions" were heard, according to the city's mayor Oleksandr Senkevych.

3:53 a.m. ET, July 29, 2022

Russia is "failing on the ground" in Ukraine, says UK defense minister

From CNN's Joseph Ataman in London

Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace leaves Downing Street after attending the weekly cabinet meeting in London, England, on July 12.
Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace leaves Downing Street after attending the weekly cabinet meeting in London, England, on July 12. (Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace claimed Friday that the "Russians are failing on the ground in many areas" in Ukraine.

“Putin’s plan A, B and C have failed and he may look to plan D,” Wallace said of the Russian invasion in an interview with Sky News.

He added that he believed the fight against Russia to be a "noble cause," characterizing the war as a "fascist state invading Ukraine."

Wallace, who has overseen British efforts to equip Ukraine with anti-tank weapons, armored vehicles and ammunition, said "everyone" believes the invasion to be "wrong" and "brutal."