· Top 5 Headlines
· President Zelensky’s Message of the Day
· Ukraine Summer Offensive Summary
· Infographic of the Day
1. Russia is playing Hunger Games with the world, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba indicated to the UN Security Council, as the Kremlin’s termination of the Black Sea grain deal could see Kyiv’s wheat output fall by nearly 50 percent and corn fall by some 40 percent.
“In 2023-2024, Ukraine should export six million tonnes less of wheat and 10 million tonnes less of corn,” said Gautier Le Molgat, an analyst at Agritel, which provides data and analysis on agricultural markets. However, due to the summer harvest and anticipation of the deal’s collapse, there is more likely to be a medium-term impact on world supply, according to experts. “The result of Russia's action today weaponizing food... [is] to make food harder to come by in places that desperately need it, and have prices rise,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “The bottom line is – it's unconscionable.” President Volodymyr Zelensky proposed the UN, Turkey and Ukraine continue the deal without Russia.
2. Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to retaliate after Monday’s attack on the Kerch bridge linking Moscow-occupied Crimea to Russia. "Of course, there will be a response from Russia. The defense ministry is preparing relevant proposals," Putin said. “I am waiting for specific proposals to improve the security of this strategic, important transport facility.”
3. Ukrainian and US defense ministers spoke ahead of the next meeting of the “Ramstein” Ukraine Defense Contact Group. It “will focus on Ukraine's near-term air defense and ammunition requirements, as well as support and sustainment for Ukraine over the long term," the press service of the US Department of Defense stated.
4. US President Joe Biden will host a Vatican envoy to discuss the “brutal war” in Ukraine, the White House said. Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi will visit the White House on July 18 “at the request of Pope Francis… they will also discuss efforts by the US and Holy See to provide humanitarian aid to those affected, and the Papal See’s focus on repatriating Ukrainian children forcibly deported by Russia,” a statement said.
5. EU leaders sparred with their Latin American and Caribbean colleagues on Monday, evidencing an anticipated summit split over how to tackle Russia's war on Ukraine. “We need our close friends to be at our side in these uncertain times,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said. However, the South Americans refused to sign a stern denunciation of Russia's invasion. Their present, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, insisted the summit was not the place to discuss Ukraine, arguing that the war should be brought to a negotiated end even if “not entirely satisfactory to each party.”
President Zelensky’s Message
The very important visit, very important cooperation, very important joint protection of security. 🇺🇦🇰🇷— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) July 15, 2023
I am grateful to President of the Republic of Korea Yoon Suk Yeol @President_KR and First Lady Kim Keon Hee for negotiations, interaction, and joint work between Ukraine and… pic.twitter.com/YhcDTQN11M
Ukraine Summer Offensive Summary
Around 9,300 Ukrainian civilians have died since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, UN Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said at the UN Security Council meeting.
Russia has now lost 100 helicopters during its full-scale invasion, according to independent intelligence organization, Oryx, which confirms equipment losses via video and foot evidence, along with geolocation.
Traffic was partially re-opened on the damaged Kerch Bridge in the “reverse” direction, Russia’s Vice Premier said, adding that one part of the bridge is fully destroyed and cannot be easily restored.
A damaged section of the Crimean Bridge can be seen in new low-resolution satellite imagery. pic.twitter.com/RgELIjtNq9— Brady Africk (@bradyafr) July 17, 2023
Russian milbloggers provided travelers with alternative routes to avoid the jammed Kerch bridge, including this advice: “In Melitopol, in the city center, you can have a delicious lunch and withdraw money.”
Operational Aspects in Bakhmut
For the latest on Bakhmut, including Ukraine’s recent offensive gains and consolidations there, check out this report by Kyiv Post.
Operational Aspects in Crimea, Kharkiv, Kherson, Luhansk, Russia and other areas
Explosions were recorded overnight in Odesa in a possible Russian missile attack on its port. Kharkiv and Mykolayiv also experienced explosions in the early hours of today.
Russian troops have gone on the offensive near Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region, said Oleksandr Syrsky, chief commander of Ukraine’s ground forces. He described the situation as “difficult” and designed to draw Ukraine’s efforts away from Bakhmut.
The General Staff update officially said that “in the Kupyansk sector, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are on the defensive.”
One hundred thousand Russian troops and 900 tanks have been massed in the Kupyansk theater, according to Serhiy Cherevaty, spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern forces.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar posted on Telegram: “As soon as we seize the operational initiative and start moving forward, the enemy immediately activates in additional directions to distract and drag our forces there…it is predictable.”
Pro-Russian milbloggers said the following: “So far, the [Russian Federation] Armed Forces do not have any global breakthroughs [in Kupyansk], but this pressure has already borne fruit, depriving the enemy of some of the reserves that were supposed to take part in the offensive in the Zaporizhzhia direction, and also creating a medium-term threat to Kupyansk.”
According to ISW, “Russian forces likely are engaging in offensive operations in this area of the front in an effort to exploit Ukrainian operational focus on other sectors of the front and draw Ukrainian reserves away from critical areas of the theater, namely the Bakhmut and western Donetsk, and western Zaporizhzhia regions, where Ukrainian forces are pursuing counteroffensive operations.”
Ukrainian milbloggers reported Ukrainian missile strikes, potentially using Storm Shadow missiles, at a large Russian ammo dump in occupied Luhansk, and at logistical centers in occupied Mariupol and Berdyansk.
Fighting continued around the Antonivsky Bridge over the Dnipro River near Kherson. Russian milbloggers described Ukrainian forces as “bringing up manpower by speed boats” and “the situation is quite tense”.
Operational Aspects on the Boundary of Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions and in Western Zaporizhzhia
Ukrainian forces also continued counteroffensive operations south of Velyka Novosilka in the regional border area, and near Orikhiv in the western Zaporizhzhia region, ISW reported.
Russian milbloggers said that “near Orikhiv, the AFU are transferring manpower to the approaches to Robotyne, preparing for a new offensive.”
Russian milbloggers, who recently visited this section of the front, cited “a large deficit of all types of resources”, e.g., supply and logistics difficulties for Russian forces.
Infographic of the Day
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