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August 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Jessie Yeung, Sana Noor Haq and Adrienne Vogt, CNN
Ukrainian authorities have welcomed the arrival in Turkey of the first grain shipment to leave the Black Sea port of Odesa since Russia began its invasion.
"The first cargo ship RAZONI with corn arrived in Istanbul. Our allies are helping us to fight #RussianAggression, and Ukraine is helping the [world] to prevent hunger crisis," Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Twitter.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this shipment must be the first of many to ensure food security internally and across the world.
"Our goal now is to have regularity: that when one ship leaves the port, there should be other ships... Exports this year are needed so that our farmers and agricultural companies have sufficient resources for next year's sowing," Zelensky said in his Tuesday video address. "This is a matter of food security for our country as well -- we are now ensuring next year."
Zelensky accused Russia of provoking the food crisis to use "the supply of wheat, corn, oil as a weapon."
"Russia creates a deficit, plays to raise prices, and when this provokes social unrest, it demands political concessions. It should not work with food," the Ukrainian president said.
"But when the world is united, when partners fulfill their commitments, the necessary result can be achieved. Let's see how the grain initiative will work in the coming days," he added.
The M/V Razoni, the first shipment of grain to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa since Russia began its invasion, has arrived in the Black Sea entrance of the Bosphorus channel of Istanbul, Turkey’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Tuesday night.
The Razoni has anchored to the place that has been designated for the ship, the Ministry of Defense added.
The first inspection on the grain ship, which is heading to Lebanon, will be carried out in Istanbul on Wednesday around 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), Turkey’s Ministry of Defense said earlier.
“Inspection will be carried out by a Delegation consisting of representatives of Turkey, Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the UN on the dry cargo ship Razoni, carrying 27 thousand tons of corn with the flag of Sierra Leon, leaving the Ukrainian port of Odesa,” Turkey’s Defense Ministry said.
The Ukrainian air force says that Russian bombers launched a cruise missile attack on Tuesday afternoon.
It said Tu-95 strategic bombers were used to fire eight cruise missiles at Ukrainian territory.
The air force said that 7 of the 8 missiles were shot down — most of them by anti-aircraft missile forces.
One missile had struck an anti-aircraft missile complex in the western Lviv region. Damage was being assessed.
US President Joe Biden's administration on Tuesday took a series of actions targeting Russian elites — including several with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin — in its latest attempt to penalize the Kremlin for its ongoing war in Ukraine.
In a statement, the Treasury Department announced a new round of sanctions against a number of oligarchs, a major steel production company and two of its subsidiaries, as well as a financial institution accused of running a sanctions evasion operation and its general director.
Separately, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced sanctions on three oligarchs, a Russian state-owned company overseen by the Russian Ministry of Transport, "four individuals and one entity illegitimately operating in Ukraine’s territory in collaboration with Russia," and 24 Russian defense and technology-related entities.
The US is also imposing visa restrictions on 893 Russian Federation officials and "31 foreign government officials who have acted to support Russia’s purported annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and thereby threatened or violated Ukraine’s sovereignty," Blinken said.
Many of the designations announced by the US target oligarchs who were previously sanctioned by allies like the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the European Union. The actions come as the war in Ukraine nears its sixth-month mark.
"As innocent people suffer from Russia’s illegal war of aggression, Putin’s allies have enriched themselves and funded opulent lifestyles,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement. “The Treasury Department will use every tool at our disposal to make sure that Russian elites and the Kremlin’s enablers are held accountable for their complicity in a war that has cost countless lives."
The oligarchs sanctioned by the State Department Tuesday are Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, Alexander Anatolevich Ponomarenko and Dmitry Aleksandrovich Pumpyanskiy. The yacht Axioma was identified as blocked property in which Pumpyanskiy has an interest, the State Department said in a fact sheet.
According to that fact sheet, Ponomarenko "is an oligarch with close ties to other oligarchs and the construction of Vladimir Putin’s seaside palace" who has previously been sanctioned by the UK, EU, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Among the oligarchs sanctioned by the Treasury Department Tuesday is Andrey Grigoryevich Guryev, the Russian billionaire founder of the chemical company PhosAgro and former government official described by the Treasury as "a known close associate" of Putin. He is also sanctioned by the UK, and according to the US Treasury, he "owns the Witanhurst estate, which is the second largest estate in London after Buckingham Palace."
The US Treasury Department on Tuesday identified the yacht Alfa Nero, reportedly owned by AG Guryev, as blocked property.
Another close ally of Putin, Alina Maratovna Kabaeva, was sanctioned Tuesday. Kabaeva is a former State Duma member and current head of the National Media Group, "a pro-Kremlin empire of television, radio, and print organizations." According to the Treasury Department, "she has also been sanctioned by the EU and the UK."
AG Guryev's son, Andrey Andreevich Guryev, was also sanctioned by the US Tuesday, after previously being sanctioned by Australia, Canada, the European Union, Switzerland, and the UK, as was his investment firm Dzhi AI Invest OOO.
Natalya Valeryevna Popova was sanctioned "for operating or having operated in the technology sector of the Russian Federation economy, and for being or having been a leader, official, senior executive officer, or member of the board of directors of LLC VEB Ventures," which is a sanctioned entity. She was also sanctioned for being the wife of Kirill Aleksandrovich Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Both he and the RDIF were sanctioned in the days following the start of the war.
The Joint Stock Company Promising Industrial and Infrastructure Technologies, "a financial institution owned by the Russian Federal Agency for State Property Management," and its General Director Anton Sergeevich Urusov were sanctioned Tuesday in relation to alleged sanctions evasion.
According to the Treasury Department, "JSC PPIT attempted to facilitate the circumvention of sanctions imposed on the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF)."
The Treasury Department sanctioned Publichnoe Aktsionernoe Obschestvo Magnitogorskiy Metallurgicheskiy Kombinat (MMK), described as "one of the world’s largest steel producers," the chair of its board of directors Viktor Filippovich Rashnikov — who has also been sanctioned by Australia, Canada, the EU, Switzerland and the UK — and two of MMK's subsidiaries.
"MMK is one of Russia’s largest taxpayers, providing a substantial source of revenue to the Government of the Russian Federation," the Treasury Department said. The agency has authorized a wind-down period for transactions with MMK and one of its subsidiaries.
Ukrainian officials say that tensions are growing in the southern Kherson region as Russian forces try to both avoid the impact of long-range Ukrainian weaponry and reinforce their defensive positions.
Serhii Khlan, adviser to the head of Kherson civil military administration, said Tuesday that “the Russians are gradually transferring personnel, battalion tactical groups and equipment to Kherson.”
“They built pontoon crossings, made platforms out of pontoons and are using tractors to move military equipment along with civilian transport,” he said.
Khlan said that after the destruction of two bridges across the Dnipro river, a large accumulation of traffic had built up at the bridge next to a hydroelectric plant in Kakhovka.
Khlan said there was a great danger that there could be street battles in Kherson, though Ukrainian forces are still a distance from population centers in the region.
Separately, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said Russian forces had experienced an accident when unloading a train of ammunition and equipment on Monday at the Kalanchak railway station in the Kherson region. They had set up a smoke screen to hide the unloading, but there was then an explosion and Russian troops scattered, according to Ukraine.
The directorate also provided more details about a reported explosion at Brylivka station on the night of July 29. It claimed that a train of more than 40 wagons with manpower, equipment and ammunition was struck.
The Ukrainian military said that the Russian military had evicted residents from their houses near the railway station so that the locals would not inform Ukrainian forces about the movement of Russian army equipment.
Fighting also continues in the north of the Kherson region. Dmytro Butriy, acting head of Kherson region military administration, said 53 settlements had been taken back from the Russians, but almost the whole area was under constant shelling.
"The situation in these villages is catastrophic," he said.
The G7 is considering further options to stop Russia “profiting from its war of aggression and to curtail Russia's ability to wage war,” according to a statement from the forum's foreign ministers on Tuesday.
Such options could include “a comprehensive prohibition of all services that enable transportation of Russian seaborne crude oil and petroleum products globally” unless the oil was purchased at or below a set price, the statement said.
The foreign ministers said Russia is using energy as “a tool of geopolitical coercion” and that they would work together to reduce G7 countries demand on Russian energy, while protecting the most vulnerable groups from the impacts of supply disruptions and rising prices.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg held a phone call on Tuesday to discuss the alliance’s military support to Kyiv.
“Good call w/Pres [Zelensky] on priorities for military support,” Stoltenberg tweeted on Tuesday. “It’s vital that #NATO & Allies provide even more assistance to #Ukraine even faster.”
Zelensky’s office echoed Stoltenberg’s remarks, calling on Ukraine’s allies to send military support at a faster rate.
“The President of Ukraine separately informed Jens Stoltenberg about the situation on the battlefield and the need for Ukraine to quickly receive more heavy weapons from NATO member states in order to successfully repulse Russian attacks and proceed to a further counteroffensive,” the Ukrainian president said in a statement on Tuesday.
“In addition, Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized the importance of receiving non-lethal military aid from the Alliance as soon as possible in the framework of the comprehensive package approved at the Madrid NATO Summit,” according to the statement.
The two sides also highlighted the resumption of grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
WNBA star Brittney Griner is “focused” and “nervous” after the seventh hearing in her trial in Russia ended on Tuesday without a verdict, one of her lawyers told CNN in an interview outside the courthouse in Khimki, near Moscow.
“She's still focused, and she's still nervous. And she still knows that the end is near, and of course she heard the news so she's hoping that sometime she could be coming home and we hope too,” said lawyer Maria Blagovolina, a partner at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin and Partners law firm, adding that closing debates are expected Thursday.
The verdict will be very soon,” she said.
Blagovolina said Griner’s legal team is “confident” about a positive verdict but was awaiting the court’s decision.
Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges early last month to try to mitigate her sentence. The 31-year-old Olympic medalist has been held in Russia since February on allegations of attempted drug smuggling, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in Russia.
Asked about their team’s strategy to challenge Russian prosecutors’ evidence after Griner pleaded to drug charges, Blagovolina said: “There are a lot of factors which should be taken by the court into account. She admitted that she did bring something, but we need to know what did she bring, what substance.”
Blagovolina also told CNN her team’s experts identified “a few defects” in the machines used to measure the substance.