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British man captured by separatists in Donetsk dies

July 15, 2022

NGOs had described Paul Ulrey as a humanitarian volunteer while Russia-backed separatists said he was a soldier. Elsewhere, Germany has rejected the idea of easing sanctions on Moscow. Follow DW for the latest.

Armed pro-Russian separatists in the municipality of Kostiantynivka in Donetsk, in 2014
Moscow-backed separatists said Paul Ulrey died on July 10Image: Burak Akbulu/AA/picture alliance
  • Ukraine receives M270 multiple rocket launch systems
  • German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock rules out easing of Russia sanctions
  • Zelenskyy labels Russia "terrorist state" after missile strike on Vinnytsia
  • At least 10 explosions rock Mykolaiv, hitting two universities

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Russian strike kills three in Dnipro

A Russian airstrike has killed three people and injured a further 15 in Dnipro, Ukraine’s fourth-largest city, on Friday, according to local reports.

"The rockets hit an industrial plant and a busy street next to it," regional governor Valentyn Reznychenko said.

Among the victims was a city bus driver, a local transport official said on Facebook.

"The man had finished his work day and was headed to the depot to go back to work at 5 a.m. tomorrow. He didn't make it," Ivan Vasyuchkov wrote.

"Two children have been left without a father. A really young guy, my age, he still had so much time to live. There are simply no words,"

Ukraine says six missiles — four of which it intercepted — were fired from the northern part of the Caspian Sea.

Decrees threaten to expel critics of Russian occupation

Decrees published by pro-Russian administrations in the southern Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson threatened residents with expulsion to Ukraine-controlled territory if they criticize new pro-Russian authorities. In both areas, residents have routinely protested against Russian occupation.

The decrees officially are to "maintain order" and counter "threats to socio-political stability." The forced relocations would apply in cases where the occupation governments and their backers in Moscow face "denigration" by their residents.

Russian negotiator rules out peace talks with Ukraine

Leonid Slutsky, a Russian lawmaker who took part in peace talks with Kyiv, said agreements over grain export from Ukraine will not lead Russia to resume negotiations with Ukraine over a possible cease fire.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said Russian proposals to resume grain exports from Ukraine were "largely supported" by negotiators during talks in Istanbul earlier this week.

Ukraine receives first M270 multiple rocket launch systems

Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine's defense minister, said the first M270 multiple rocket launch systems from an unspecified country had arrived in Ukraine. The M270 carries a load of 12 rockets on a mobile launcher.

On Twitter, Reznikov wrote, "They will be good company for HIMARS on the battlefield," referring to US long-range artillery donated by Washington.

"No mercy for the enemy," his tweet concluded.

Putin reshuffles defense procurement and space agency positions

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a presidential decree removing Dmitry Rogozin "from the post of general director of the Roscosmos state space corporation."

It was unclear why Putin sacked his longtime ally but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Rogozin would be given a new job "in due time." Russian media was rife with speculation that Rogozin might be placed in charge of Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine.

Rogozin was head of Roscosmos since 2018 and has repeatedly garnered attention for his bellicose statements writing in May for instance on social media that Russia would only need thirty minutes to "destroy" NATO countries in a nuclear conflict.

Putin replaced Rogozin with Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov who also headed the Russian space and defense industry in his previous role. Previously, Borisov had acknowledged issues in Russia's weapons program in the context of what Moscow will only refer to as a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

UK summons Russian ambassador over aid worker's death

The UK's Foreign Office summoned the Russian ambassador, Andrei Kelin, following reports of the death of British aid worker Paul Urey. Earlier Friday, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic announced Urey's death while in the detention.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement, "I am shocked to hear reports of the death of British aid worker Paul Urey while in the custody of a Russian proxy in Ukraine. Russia must bear the full responsibility for this."

Russia alleges Urey was a foreign fighter and not an aid worker.

Russia sanctions 384 Japanese lawmakers

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it has imposed sanctions on 384 members of the House of Representatives of the Japanese Parliament.

As of Thursday, they are prohibited from entering Russia due to what the ministry characterizes as "an unfriendly anti-Russian position."

Specifically, the 384 members of parlilament are alleged to have made "unfounded accusations against our country in the contest of a special military operation in Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

Russia's latest move was tied to the sanctions that Japan had imposed on a large group of Russian deputies, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Deal on resuming Ukrainian grain exports ready soon, Russia says

Russia's Defense Ministry said that the Russian proposal on how to resume grain exports from Ukraine was "largely supported" by negotiators at the ongoing talks in Istanbul and that an agreement was close.

Russia is set to sign a deal with Ukraine, Turkey, and the UN next week to pave the way for Ukrainian grain to once again be exported via the Black Sea.

The Russian Defense Ministry said a finalized version of the agreement would be ready soon.

Russia claims Vinnytsia strike hit military target

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Friday that it had targeted the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia with a missile strike on Thursday, but claimed that those killed were soldiers and arms suppliers.

Ukraine has said at least 23 people, including children, were killed in the strike on the city that is several hundred kilometers from the frontline.

"At the time of the strike, a meeting of the command of the Ukrainian Air Force with representatives of foreign arms suppliers was held," the Russian Defense Ministry claimed.

It added that the meeting was about supplies of military jets and weapons, as well as how to repair Ukrainian aircraft.

British man captured by separatists in Donetsk dies

A British man captured by pro-Russian forces in Ukraine has died in detention, Moscow-backed separatists said on Friday. 

"He died on July 10," Darya Morozova, a representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said, adding that he had diabetes.

Non-governmental organizations described Paul Urey as a humanitarian aid volunteer, while Russia-backed separatists insisted he was a "professional" soldier.

EU targets Russian gold in next sanctions package

The European Union will target Russian gold exports in its next batch of sanctions while seeking to "close exit routes" that circumvent its previous packages, Maros Sefcovic, deputy head of the European Commission, said Friday.

The EU has so far approved six sanction packages against Moscow. The last one, which passed in June, implemented a ban on most Russian oil imports.

The EU will look into "ways we could slap a sanction regime on gold, which is an important commodity for exports from Russia,"  Sefcovic said.

"As soon as we reach an agreement at the level of member states, we will publish it," he added.

The move follows a ban on gold exports from Russia agreed by the world's most industrialized nations at a G7 meeting last month.

Russian parliament recalled for extraordinary session, sparking fears in Kyiv

The lower house of the Russian parliament — the State Duma — on Friday was recalled for an extraordinary session.

The Russian parliament, dominated by a party that always supports President Vladimir Putin, listed some amendments on competition and information policy that would be discussed.

Vladimir Vasilyev, the head of the pro-Putin United Russia party, which has 325 seats in the 450-seat chamber, said lawmakers would discuss more than 60 issues at the session. He did not, however, specify what items were on the agenda.

From Kyiv, DW's Nick Connolly reported on speculation surrounding the extraordinary session.

"The take on this from Kyiv is that this is going to prepare the way for some kind of annexation of the Ukrainian territory that Russia has occupied since February 24," he said from the Ukrainian capital. "There had been speculation they might hold a referendum as they did in Crimea in 2014 or they might just go straight out and annex all this territory, say 'This is Russian core territory and if you, Ukraine, or Western countries helping Ukraine, do anything to change that we will use nuclear weapons to protect our core territory.' That is the fear here."

Orban says EU sanctions on Russia 'bad for the economy'

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said EU sanctions imposed on Russia were "bad for the European economy" and "do not help Ukraine."

"Initially, I thought we had only shot ourselves in the foot," Orban told a public radio station. "But now it is clear that the European economy has shot itself in the lungs, and it is gasping for air."

Gas supplies to Europe have dwindled while fuel costs have soared since Russia invaded its neighbor, with Germany on Thursday warning of a threefold increase in heating bills. Subsequent sanctions have left countries scrambling to refill storage and diversify supply lines.

The surge in energy prices has forced the recently reelected Orban to curtail a yearslong cap on utility prices for higher-usage households, rolling back one of his signature economic policies.

"The moment of truth must come in Brussels, when leaders admit they have made a miscalculation, that the sanctions policy was based on wrong assumptions and it must be changed."

Gas supply: How will Germany cope in winter?

Russia bans Bellingcat as a security 'threat'

Russia on Friday banned investigative news outlet Bellingcat and its main partner, The Insider, from operating inside the country, with Moscow's Prosecutor General saying they "posed a threat to... the security of the Russian federation."

Bellingcat exposed the Russian-backed soldiers behind the downing of the Malaysian Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The Netherlands-based news platform also unmasked FSB agents ordered to poison Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in 2020.

Both media outlets will be added to the Kremlin's "undesirable" list, which prohibits them from operating in Russia and makes cooperating with them illegal for Russian organizations and individuals.

But Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins said, "It's unclear how Russia expects to enforce this" as "Bellingcat has no legal, financial or staff presence" in Russia.

The Insider is registered in Latvia in order to protect it from Russian authorities.

Russia strikes Mykolaiv

At least 10 explosions rocked the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, wounding at least two people.

Vitaliy Kim, the head of the military in Mykolaiv said Russia had hit "two of the biggest universities" in the city.

Mayor Oleksnadr Sienkevych said at least four people were wounded in the strikes.

UK intelligence highlights Russian flaws over Snake Island strategy

In its latest intelligence update, the UK Ministry of Defense highlighted deficiencies over Russian attempts "to successfully engage in the tactical battle" over Snake Island.

"Since withdrawing from the strategically located Snake Island on 30 June 2022, Russia has been attempting to deny its use by Ukraine," the ministry said, adding that a pair of airstrikes Wednesday failed to hit the island.

The intelligence briefing revealed that "over" 2.5 million people have been "evacuated" from Ukraine to Russia since the start of the invasion.

However, "Russia continues to face accusations that it is forcibly deporting Ukrainians; in many cases Ukrainians have reportedly been mistreated in filtration camps set up by Russia."

Elsewhere, Russian forces have been slowly advancing westwards in the direction of Siversk in Ukraine's Donetsk region, the ministry said, while "Bakhmut is likely to be the next objective, once Siversk is secured."

Burials in Russian-held areas of Ukraine rise sharply, says NGO

Satellite images along with photographs from the ground reveal a sharp increase in burials in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, according to a report released Friday. 

The Center for Information Resilience (CIR) — a non-governmental organization — focused on six areas, two of which were previously held by Russian forces and four others still under Moscow's control in southern Ukraine.

"Open source information can give unprecedented reach behind the frontlines of the war in Ukraine and into areas occupied by Russian forces," said Benjamin Strick, director of investigations at CIR.

"Our report illustrates the continuing, extreme pressure on civilian life in Ukraine," Strick said.

"Makeshift burials and the growing number of graves around Ukraine, particularly in and around occupied areas, is a stark illustration of the civilian death toll following the Russian invasion," he added.

The United Nations said Tuesday that more than 5,000 civilians had been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, before adding that the actual figure was probably much higher.

US Treasury Secretary Yellen blames Russia for consequences of Ukraine war

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke at the opening session of the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs in Bali and condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"I condemn Russia’s brutal and unjust war in the strongest possible terms," Yellen said. "By starting this war, Russia is solely responsible for negative spillovers to the global economy, particularly higher commodity prices."

Yellen said that Russian officials present at the meeting "share responsibility for the innocent lives lost and the ongoing human and economic toll that the war is causing around the world."

In opening remarks, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati warned against the "triple threat" of surging commodity prices, global inflation and war. She urged officials to work together in the spirit of "cooperation, collaboration and consensus" to find solutions to these crises.

"The cost of our failure is more than we can afford," she said. "The humanitarian consequences for the world and for many low-income countries would be catastrophic."

Ukraine's Zelenskyy labels Russia 'terrorist state'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his nightly address reiterated Kyiv's demand that Russia be recognized as a "terrorist state," after a missile strike on the city of Vinnytsia killed 23.

"This day once again proved that Russia must be officially recognized as a terrorist state," Zelenskyy said.

"No other state in the world allows itself to destroy peaceful cities and ordinary human life with cruise missiles and rocket artillery every day," he added.

Russian missiles strike deep into Ukraine

Ukraine's president underscored that the death toll from the strike on Vinnytsia could increase. "Debris clearance is ongoing. Dozens of people are listed as missing. Heavily wounded are among those hospitalized," he said.

Ukraine's president called for the establishment of a "special tribunal" on Russia's actions in Ukraine, alongside a "special compensation mechanism" that would take funds from Moscow and use them to compensate victims of the invasion.

Germany's Baerbock rejects lifting of Russia sanctions

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock ruled out a relaxation of sanctions on Moscow while speaking with citizens in Bremen.

She said that Germany "would be doubly subject to blackmail" if it were to ease sanctions.

Baerbock argued that this would amount to "an invitation to all those who trample on human rights, freedom and democracy," as Russia had broken international law "in the most brutal way."

Germany's foreign minister said that Berlin will support Ukraine "as long as it needs us. And therefore, we will also maintain these sanctions and at the same time ensure that society is not divided in our country."

Lawmakers from the left-wing Die Linke and far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) have called for the easing of sanctions as a way to reduce pressure on the German economy. Germany is heavily dependent on Russian gas

G20 finance chief meeting to discuss war in Ukraine

The G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs are set to meet in Bali, Indonesia and will discuss the economic impact of Russia's war on Ukraine.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called the war the "greatest challenge" to the global economy and said Russian officials had "no place" at the talks.

"We are seeing negative spillover effects from that war in every corner of the world, particularly with respect to higher energy prices, and rising food insecurity," she said ahead of the meeting.

Yellen is expected to push for a price cap on Russian oil as a way to limit Moscow's access to funds and bring down energy costs.

In April, Yellen lead a walkout of finance officials as Russian delegates spoke at a G20 meeting in Washington.

G20 chair Indonesia declined to exclude Russia from the meetings, despite pressure from Western countries and Japan to do so.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov will participate in the meeting virtually. Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko will address the meeting virtually at the start of talks.

What happened Thursday in Russia's war against Ukraine

The European Union strongly condemned what it called an "atrocity" after 23 people were killed in a Russian missile strike that hit Vinnytsia in central Ukraine. UN chief Antonio Guterres said he was "appalled" by the strike.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) expressed "grave concern" about the treatment of Ukrainians at Russia's so-called "filtration centers" in Ukraine.

The US along with 40 other nations vowed at The Hague to coordinate investigations into suspected war crimes carried out by Russian forces in Ukraine following the invasion on February 24.

Russian-installed officials in the occupied Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine announced they are aiming to hold a referendum on joining Russia in September.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrew Rudenko outlined several conditions that Moscow "would respond positively to" in order to negotiate peace with Ukraine. The conditions included Ukraine becoming non-aligned and non-nuclear and accepting Russia's occupation of Crimea and Donbas.

Officials from both Russia and Ukraine said that talks over the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea had made progress and that a deal could be reached as soon as next week.

Click here for more details on Thursday's events in Russia's war against Ukraine

ar, ab, jsi, sdi/dj, sms, wd (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)