‘Pearl of the Sea’ in ruins after Russian assaults on Ukraine city: Live updates

Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine who spent nearly three years in a Russian prison before being freed in an inmate swap, was wounded while fighting in Ukraine, according to multiple media reports.

CNN, citing a source familiar with the matter, said Reed was taken to a hospital in Kyiv before being evacuated to Germany for more medical care.

Themessenger.com, citing two U.S military officials, said Reed was wounded after stepping on a land mine about two weeks ago. The officials, who spoke under condition of anonymity because of Defense Department regulations, said he suffered shrapnel wounds from the explosion. 

Reed was arrested in summer 2019 after Russian authorities said he assaulted an officer following a night of heavy drinking. He was sentenced to nine years in prison, though his family has maintained his innocence and the U.S. government described him as unjustly detained.

The U.S. obtained Reed’s release in April 2022 in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot who had been serving a 20-year federal prison sentence in Connecticut for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. The Justice Department has described Yaroshenko as “an experienced international drug trafficker.”

A man works on the rubble of an apartment building destroyed in Russian missile attacks in Odesa on July 23, 2023.


∎ Russian lawmakers approved legislation drastically increasing fines for draftees who fail to promptly report for service and banning them from leaving the country once a summons to report has been issued.

∎ Russian President Vladimir Putin was politically paralyzed and failed to act decisively in the first hours of last month’s attempted mutiny by Wagner group mercenaries, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing Ukrainian and other security officials in Europe. No orders were issued for most of the day, the officials said. After negotiations, the coup was abandoned within 120 miles of Moscow.

∎ Revival of an agreement to allow exports of grain from Ukraine is not possible because Russian conditions have not been met, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday. The Kremlin wants the removal of trade obstacles it says keep Russia from exporting agricultural products and fertilizers.

Can latest US aid package jump-start counteroffensive?

The latest U.S. military aid package bound for Ukraine includes armored vehicles, surveillance drones and ammunition Kyiv desperately needs for a counteroffensive against an entrenched Russian military that continues to pound Ukrainian cities.

The $400 million package comes as Ukraine weathers a barrage of missiles targeting the port city of Odesa that has left the “Pearl by the Sea” in ruins.

“We must defend Odesa,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted Tuesday. “Ukraine urgently needs to strengthen its air defense to protect its historical heritage.”

The package includes dozens of Stryker armored vehicles and missiles for the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), along with Stinger air defense missiles and anti-tank Javelin weapons, the Pentagon said Tuesday. The weapons are being provided through presidential authority that allows the Pentagon to deliver items often within days.

Zelenskyy has conceded the counteroffensive was “slower than desired.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged this week that Ukraine faces “a very hard fight” and predicted the counteroffensive would continue for several more months. 

Days after the Russian invasion in February 2022, Tetiana Khlapova moved to Odesa to escape the bombings that battered the eastern city of Kharkiv. Now she says she will ride out the war in Ireland.

“I am a refugee from Kharkiv. I endured that hell and came to sunny Odesa,” she said. In Ukraine, “we are not protected for a single second, in any city.”

Russia’s ‘dysfunctional targeting process’ adds to damage in Odesa

The Black Sea Grain Initiative had allowed crucial grain shipments from Odesa to sail through a Russian blockade bound for ports in Europe, Asia and Africa. But Russia, since pulling out of the deal a week ago, has battered the elegant city known for its history, art, architecture and beaches. Russia generally refrained from striking civilian infrastructure in Ukraine’s southern ports for the year the agreement was in effect, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its latest assessment of the war.

“Since Russia failed to renew the deal, the Kremlin likely feels less politically constrained, and is attempting to strike targets in Odesa because it believes Ukraine is storing military assets in these areas,” the assessment says. Russia’s strike campaign has been characterized by poor intelligence and a “dysfunctional targeting process,” the assessment says.

Audrey Azoulay, head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said dozens of historical buildings have been damaged. The collateral damage includes the Transfiguration Cathedral, the city’s first church, which dates to the 1790s, and marks an escalation of violence against Ukraine’s heritage, Azoulay said.

I strongly condemn this attack against culture, and I urge the Russian Federation to take meaningful action to comply with its obligations under international law,Azoulay said in a statement.

It’s summer, but Ukraine already bracing for a cold winter

It’s only the middle of summer, but authorities in Ukraine are already girding for winter. About 60% of restoration work has been completed on power grids damaged by massive Russian rocket attacks, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. He urged Ukrainians to begin conserving power now and to be prepared for blackouts that could last for days when winter comes.

“We are continuing the campaign to restore the energy sector,” he said. “Enhanced protection for energy facilities is being provided. At the same time, work is being carried out to prepare the thermal power industry for winter.”

Ukraine drones batter Moscow:Moscow; Kremlin threatens ‘tough retaliatory measures’: Updates

International experts find land mines at Russian-held nuke plant

International Atomic Energy Agency experts discovered land mines around the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Russian-occupied southeastern Ukraine, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Tuesday. Grossi said the mines were found in a restricted “buffer zone” that plant personnel cannot access. The team did not observe any within the inner perimeter, he said, and he added that detonation of the mines that were found should not affect the site’s nuclear safety and security systems. Grossi said experts have not yet been provided access to some areas of the plant, which has not generated power for several months.

“Having such explosives on the site is inconsistent with the IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance and creates additional psychological pressure on plant staff,” Grossi said. “Our team has raised this specific finding with the (Russian plant operators), and they have been told that it is a military decision.”

Contributing: The Associated Press


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