July 31, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Brad Lendon, Joshua Berlinger, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:29 a.m. ET, August 1, 2023
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10:59 a.m. ET, July 31, 2023

Death toll from Kryvyi Rih missile attack rises to 6 and 75 injured, authorities say

From CNN's Olga Voitovych, Maria Kostenko and Vasco Cotovio

A view of a site of an apartment building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, on July 31, 2023.
A view of a site of an apartment building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, on July 31, 2023. State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Reuters

The death toll has risen to six, with 75 others injured, after two Russian missiles struck a residential area and a university in Kryvyi Rih, according to a revised death toll from the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region military administration, Serhii Lysak.

“Floors four through nine of the residential building have been completely destroyed,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a post on Monday afternoon. “The work is difficult – parts of the building's structure were falling down.”

More than 350 people are involved in the search and rescue effort following Monday’s strikes, according to Zelensky.

Russia used two ballistic missiles to target Kryvyi Rih, the head of the city’s Defense Council, Oleksandr Vilkul, told CNN earlier on Monday.

Here's the other information Vilkul provided:

  • A 10-year-old girl was among those killed in the attack
  • Of those, 22 wounded are in hospitals, including two children. Two people are in serious condition.
  • The numbers may rise as the first responders work through the rubble.
  • Aid centers will operate until dark, and tomorrow starting at 8:30 a.m. local time.
  • Tuesday would be a day of mourning in Kryvyi Rih. 

The Russian Ministry of Defense has yet to comment on Monday’s strikes on the central Ukrainian city.

The death toll and the number of injured people have been updated to reflect the latest information from authorities.

10:18 a.m. ET, July 31, 2023

Putin signs law imposing fines for those who fail to follow draft procedures

From CNN’s Uliana Pavlova

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Monday, imposing fines for failure to notify or ensure the presence of those who are subject to mobilization, as well as for failure to facilitate mobilization.

According to the law, the fine for officials will be 60,000 to 80,000 rubles ($650 -$870) for officials and 400,000 to 500,000 rubles ($4350-$5440) for collective entities.

Putin also signed a law raising the fine to 30,000 rubles ($326) for failure to appear at the draft board without a good reason.

Previously, the fine for failure to appear at the draft board on the agenda without a good reason ranged from 500 to 3,000 rubles ($5-$32).

9:33 a.m. ET, July 31, 2023

More than 700,000 Ukrainian children taken to Russia since start of war, Russian official says

From CNN's Anna Chernova

More than 700,000 Ukrainian children have been taken to Russia since the beginning of the war, according to Maria Lvova-Belova, Russian ombudsperson for children's rights.

“Since February 2022, the Russian Federation has received about 4.8 million residents of Ukraine and the Donbas republics, of which more than 700,000 are children,” she said in a report Monday.

The report claims most of them arrived “with their parents or other relatives.”

Lvova-Belova is one of the two Russians that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague issued a warrant against in March, alleging their responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation and transfer of children during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin is the second individual they charged.

According to the document, about 1,500 students of institutions for orphans or those left without parental care came to Russia, and 288 children from the occupied Donetsk region were subsequently placed under guardianship in foster families of Russian citizens.

“Children from the LPR [Luhansk People’s Republic] returned to their institutions, but subsequently 92 children left without parental care, at the request of the authorized bodies in the field of guardianship and guardianship of the Republic, were placed under guardianship in Russian foster families,” it added.

8:30 p.m. ET, July 31, 2023

"There was no alarm, the whole house shook," Kryvyi Rih residents share accounts of missile strike

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Vasco Cotovio in London

A firefighter works at the site of an apartment building heavily damaged by a missile strike in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, on Monday.
A firefighter works at the site of an apartment building heavily damaged by a missile strike in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, on Monday. State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters

Residents of the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih say they heard no air raid sirens before two Russian missiles struck on Monday.

“At the time of the missile attack, I was at work, which is quite far away, but we could hear it very clearly. My husband and son were at home. The house shook and swung — the explosion was very powerful,” a Kryvyi Rih resident Natalia Balaba, who lives opposite one of the buildings that was hit, told CNN over the phone on Monday. “All the windows in our apartment are completely smashed, everything is damaged. We were very frightened, we were in great shock.”

“There was no air raid alarm. Usually, when the siren sounds, we either go to the shelter or to the corridor. This time, we did not have time to orient ourselves,” she added.

Balaba's son was in their bathroom when the missile struck, away from any windows, which shielded him from the blast, she said. “It was easier for him to go through this. My husband was in the corridor, he was knocked down by the wave.”

One of the missiles hit the State University of Economics and Technology and destroyed most of the building, according to acting director Natalia Voloshaniuk. 

“The missile landed right in our laboratory building, where classes are usually held. The building was almost completely destroyed. Windows and doors in our administrative building were blown out,” Voloshaniuk told CNN on Monday. “I was blown away with my chair, a little scratched. We sent two employees to the clinic, they have minor injuries.”

Voloshaniuk went on to say the toll could’ve been much higher had classes been in session. 

“There were no people in that building at the time of the explosion. Sometimes teachers come there and prepare the classrooms for classes. But today, thank God, there was no one there,” she explained. “We were preparing to start classes on September 1. But now no one will enter these buildings. They cannot be restored.”

According to Voloshaniuk, the missiles landed without warning.

“I did not hear the alarm, my colleagues only heard whistling. Everything happened very quickly. When it hit, we ran to hide in the shelter, because we were afraid that there would be another attack,” she explained. “There are three educational buildings here, two dormitories across the street, and a nine-story building where people live. I don't know what military targets Russians were shooting at. They always lie. They are not human! Shooting at educational buildings is beyond the pale.”

8:41 a.m. ET, July 31, 2023

Kremlin will monitor Ukraine peace negotiations in Saudi Arabia

From CNN's Anna Chernova

The Kremlin has said it will be “monitoring” upcoming peace talks on Ukraine expected to take place in Saudi Arabia, between Kyiv and the heads of several western and developing nations. 

The Kremlin spokesperson reiterated Russia’s claim that it does not have any “prerequisites” when it comes to a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian conflict, but accused Kyiv of not wanting peace.

“The Kyiv regime does not want and cannot want peace as long as it is used solely as a tool in the war of the collective West with Russia,” presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists during a call on Monday. “Is it possible at the moment to reach a peaceful settlement with the participation of the Kyiv regime and its current position, the answer is unequivocal: no, it is impossible.”

“We have repeatedly said that any attempts to promote a peaceful settlement are worthy of a positive assessment,” he added.

Saudi Arabia is set to host Ukraine peace talks including Western and several developing countries, the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, said on Sunday. Yermak did not provide specific dates for the summit. 

Yermak said that "each point of the Peace Formula is being discussed in an individual and group format with representatives of more than 50 countries of the world on an almost weekly basis," referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky's 10-point plan he presented to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last year. The steps include a path to nuclear safety, food security, a special tribunal for alleged Russian war crimes and a final peace treaty with Moscow. 

Yermak said that the goal of the talks is “to unite the world around Ukraine.”

CNN's Mariya Knight and Jonny Hallam contributed reporting to this post.

9:01 a.m. ET, July 31, 2023

Russia is intensifying its attacks on Ukraine

From CNN's Anna Chernova and Vasco Cotovio

Police officers stand guard near a residential building partially destroyed as a result of a missile strike in Kryvyi Rih on Monday.
Police officers stand guard near a residential building partially destroyed as a result of a missile strike in Kryvyi Rih on Monday. (AFP/Getty Images)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says Moscow has intensified attacks on Ukraine in response to drone strikes on his country’s territory, including those in Moscow on Sunday.

“The intensity of attacks on Ukrainian military facilities, including those supporting these terrorist attacks, has been increased several times,” he said Monday.

Speaking during a conference call with Russian Armed Forces leadership, Shoigu said that "additional measures" had been taken to protect domestic targets.

The Russian defense minister also alleged that attempted drone attacks by Kyiv were carried out to deflect from what he said was Ukraine’s lack of success on the battlefield.

“Obviously, the supplied Western weapons do not lead to success on the battlefield, but only prolong the military conflict,” he claimed. “Against the backdrop of an unsuccessful so-called counteroffensive, the Kyiv regime - with the support of Western sponsors - focused on carrying out terrorist attacks on civilian infrastructure in the cities and towns of the Russian Federation.”

Some context: No casualties were reported in the attempted Moscow drone strikes over the weekend. However, Russian bombardments in Ukraine have struck civilian homes, schools, hospitals, churches and power plants, killing thousands of bystanders in the process.

Ukraine's counteroffensive has gone slower than expected, with Russian troops putting up tough resistance as Ukrainian soldiers attempt to break through the front lines.

Since the counteroffensive started, 204.7 square kilometers (79 square miles) have been retaken, of which 12.6 square kilometers (5 square miles) were retaken over the past week, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Monday.

7:10 a.m. ET, July 31, 2023

Russia says Ukraine's drone strikes in its territory are "acts of desperation"

From CNN's Anna Chernova

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Ukraine's attempts to attack Moscow with drones are "acts of desperation."

Peskov's comments came after Kyiv attempted several attacks on Russian territory using unmanned aerial vehicles over the weekend. Russia said Sunday it had downed or intercepted three drones over Moscow and another 25 over the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.

Hours after the attempted strike on Moscow, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine was succeeding on the battlefield and that war is “gradually returning” to Russian soil.

On his regularly scheduled call with journalists Monday, Peskov likened the drone attacks to "terrorist strikes." He added that security measures have been in put in place in the Russian capital to minimize the risk from these types of attacks.

10:24 a.m. ET, July 31, 2023

Death toll in Kryvyi Rih missile strike rises to 4

From CNN's Olga Voitivych in Kyiv, Ukraine

A view shows an apartment building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, on July 31.
A view shows an apartment building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, on July 31. State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout/Reuters

Four people have now been reported dead following missile strikes on the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, the country's emergency services said Monday.

The number of injured has risen to 43.

A rescue team comprising of 230 people and 57 vehicles are involved in the search and rescue for people from the two buildings damaged in the attack.

Three people, including a child born in 2013, have been rescued from the rubble, while 30 people were helped out of what remains of the structures.

8:12 a.m. ET, July 31, 2023

Analysis: What Ukraine must do to win in its southern push – and what Russia has in reserve

From CNN's Tim Lister

The Ukrainian military is doubling down on efforts to break through thick Russian defenses in its counteroffensive in the south, which has struggled to gain momentum since being launched at the beginning of June.

Ukrainian officials have said little about what fresh units are being committed to the offensive, but the military has clearly added recently-minted units equipped with western armor in at least one important segment of the southern front.

The challenges faced by the Ukrainians are perhaps less to do with numbers and more to do with capabilities, training and coordination, factors that are critical when an attacking force is faced with such an array of defenses.

The commitment of new units last week does appear to have enabled the Ukrainians to make modest advances south of the town of Orikhiv, edging closer to the important Russian hub of Tokmak some 20 kilometers to the south of the current frontline.

There are other modest successes further east, but the few frontline accounts to have emerged speak of unceasing Russian aviation and artillery strikes.

Read the full analysis here: