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Moscow launched its special military operation in Ukraine on February 24 as Kiev intensified attacks in Donbass, triggering mass evacuations of civilians. President Vladimir Putin said the actions of the Kiev's troops amid the eight-year-long conflict amount to genocide, adding that the Ukrainian war criminals should be held accountable.
Russian forces and Donbass militia continue to press on after on July 3 they fully liberated the territory of the Lugansk People's Republic from the Ukrainian military.
In total, since the beginning of the special op, the Russian troops eliminated 257 Ukrainian warplanes, 140 helicopters, 1,558 drones, 4,058 tanks and other armored vehicles, 747 rocket launchers, and 3,151 artillery pieces.
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Table of contents
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01:06 GMT 19.07.2022
No Evidence of Airstrike at Mariupol Drama Theater, Blast Occurred Inside - Investigators
DONETSK (Sputnik) - An investigation into the March explosion at the Mariupol drama theater revealed that no airstrike occurred and the blast was initiated inside, a Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) investigator told Sputnik.
"The materials of the criminal case, interrogations of eyewitnesses, examinations indicate that the explosion in the building of the drama theater took place inside. During the analysis of the rubble in the building of the drama theater, not a single damaging element, not a single part or element of an air bomb, or any other ammunition was found," Aleksei Kutsurbenko said.
In March, Ukraine claimed that a Russian airstrike leveled a drama theater in Mariupol that was allegedly being used as a bomb shelter. The allegations were dismissed by the Russian Defense Ministry. Kutsurbenko told Sputnik that Kiev’s claims are "a lie and a fake."
"We conclude that, most likely, there was an explosion inside the building of some kind of shellless explosive device. We have evidence in the materials of the criminal case that shortly before the explosion, a few days, some boxes were brought into the drama theater by persons in military uniform. We assume that these boxes may have detonated," the DPR investigator told Sputnik.
00:11 GMT 19.07.2022
Kherson Region Boosting Air Defense Amid More Frequent Attacks
SIMFEROPOL (Sputnik) - The Kherson Region is beefing up its air defense system amid intensifying missile attacks from the Ukrainian army, the deputy head of the Kherson regional military-civil administration, Kirill Stremousov, told Sputnik.

"The air defense system is getting strengthened," Stremousov said, adding that there is data on where the Ukrainian forces are shelling the Kherson region from.

The shelling of residential districts in Kherson by Ukrainian troops has become more frequent in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the city of Nova Kakhovka was targeted by Ukrainian forces using the US-supplied multiple rocket launcher HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System). As a result, a hospital and residential buildings were damaged and several deaths were reported.

The Kherson Region and most of Zaporizhzhia Region of Ukraine are now controlled by Russia's military as a result of the special operation that began on February 24, after the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics requested help from Russia amid intensifying attacks by Ukrainian troops. Local military-civil administrations have already been formed in the two regions, which have announced plans to hold referendums for accession to Russia.
21:26 GMT 18.07.2022
European Official Spurned US Warnings of Ukraine Conflict on Day Operation Began - Blinken
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A senior European official dismissed warnings from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken of an impending Russian military operation in Ukraine on the same day that the operation began, Blinken said during remarks to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
"On the day that it [the special military operation in Ukraine] actually happened, I was on the phone that morning with a very senior European colleague who I will not identify, and I said to this colleague, ‘It’s going to happen the next 24 hours,’ and the colleague replied, ‘You’re still saying that?’ This person called me at about 1:30 in the morning saying, ‘I guess you were right,’" Blinken said on Monday.
Blinken praised the efforts of US intelligence officials, like those at ODNI, for their work leading up to and during the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the synergy between the intelligence and diplomatic communities.
Blinken also thanked the ODNI employees for their work, adding that they do not receive appreciation often enough.
20:37 GMT 18.07.2022
Western Instructors in Charge of HIMARS Systems in Ukraine - LPR Army Official
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The People's Militia of the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) gathered sufficient evidence pointing to the fact that all HIMARS systems supplied to Ukraine by the United States are controlled by Western instructors, who direct Ukrainian soldiers to target civilian infrastructure in Donbas, an officer with the LPR People's Militia, Lt. Col. Andrei Marochko, said on Monday.
"As for the instructors — this is confirmed information from three different sources, so it is reliable: indeed, all HIMARS are supported by Western English-speaking instructors. This is a fact," Marochko told Russian broadcaster Channel One.
Commenting on the targets of HIMARS strikes, the LPR army official said that Western instructors deliberately target critical civilian infrastructure and recalled a recent attack on a trolleybus depot in the city of Alchevsk, which had nothing to do with the military.
Marochko noted that the Joint Center on Control and Coordination of the ceasefire regime observed intensified usage of HIMARS by Ukrainian troops.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had previously expressed a similar opinion, saying that NATO specialists may be behind recent HIMARS attacks on Donbas. The minister also expressed the hope that the West is aware of the implications of such activities.
Last month, the United States committed 12 and delivered eight HIMARS systems to Ukraine. Pentagon policy chief Colin Kahl said on June 1 that the United States obtained the promise of the Ukrainian authorities, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, not to use HIMARS against Russian territory. According to the Russian defense ministry, at least two HIMARS systems have been destroyed to date.
20:36 GMT 18.07.2022
Kiev Forces Set Crops on Fire Using Artillery, Helicopters - Russian Defense Ministry
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Ukrainian forces have been deliberately setting crop fields on fire using helicopters and artillery in Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and Kherson regions to frame Russia as a threat to food security, head of the Russian National Defense Control Center, Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, said on Monday.
According to the senior army official, Ukraine deliberately carries out provocations at agricultural facilities — despite the unfolding food crisis at home and around the world — to use them as proof of Russia's allegedly indiscriminate strikes against civilian infrastructure.
"In Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions, Ukrainian military, together with militants of nationalist battalions, intentionally set fire to crop fields using helicopters and artillery," Mizintsev said.
Similarly, Ukrainian soldiers in the village of Kalinivka in the Donetsk People's Republic, currently under Kiev's control, deployed artillery and multiple rocket launchers in a grain depot and repeatedly attacked the Russian troops, baiting them to open retaliatory fire, the official said.
Mizintsev added that Kiev uses such ploys against the backdrop of Western hysteria and false accusations of Russia as the country responsible for triggering international food crisis. The army official lamented the fact that the global community has effectively turned a blind eye to such provocations and urged the UN, the WHO and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent to pressure Kiev to stop the attacks against Ukrainian civil population.
On February 24, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian forces.
18:33 GMT 18.07.2022
Ukrainian Militants Deliberately Burn Grain Fields in Zaporozhye, Nikolaev, Kharkov and Kherson Regions - Russian MoD
18:14 GMT 18.07.2022
Two Security Guards of Kakhovka HPP Killed as Result of Ukrainian Strike, Source Tells Sputnik
18:10 GMT 18.07.2022
Microsoft - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.07.2022
Russia's Special Operation in Ukraine
Russian Deputy FM Says Microsoft is Taking Over Ukraine's Digital Networks at Pentagon's Behest
17:41 GMT 18.07.2022
US Army National Guard Troops to Train Ukrainian Forces in Germany
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Army National Guard announced on Monday that 140 National Guardsmen from the state of New York are deploying to Germany to help train Ukrainian troops.
"One hundred and forty New York Army National Guard soldiers assigned to the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team said farewell to their families July 15 and left on a mission to Germany to help train Ukrainian military personnel," the US Army National Guard said in a press release.
The soldiers being deployed to Germany will replace the 160 Florida National Guard troops who had been training Ukrainian troops inside Ukraine but subsequently relocated to Germany following Russia's special military operation in the country.
The release did not detail the kind of training Ukrainian forces will receive from the New York Army National Guard. However, the New York has trained at Fort Bliss, Texas, before deploying in full to Germany by September.
17:28 GMT 18.07.2022
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks to The Associated Press in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.07.2022
Russia
UN Chief Ready to Visit Istanbul After Progress Made on Ukraine Grain Deal - Spokesperson
15:44 GMT 18.07.2022
Ukrainian Forces Launch Missile Strike on Hydropower Plant in Novaya Kakhovka, City Administration Says
15:30 GMT 18.07.2022
Check Out the Map: Military Situation in Ukraine
15:02 GMT 18.07.2022
Situation With Short-Term Gas Deliveries to EU Causes Most Concern - Borrell
BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The situation with gas supplies in the near future causes the most concern in the EU, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.

"Nord Stream 1 is still under repair. Let's see what happens after this period. We will continue to monitor the situation with gas supplies, which causes the most serious concern for our society, our economies," he said after EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting.
14:24 GMT 18.07.2022
Erdogan Reiterates Threat to 'Freeze' Sweden, Finland's NATO Bids
ANKARA (Sputnik) - Ankara can hold up the process of accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO if its demands are not met, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.
"I repeat once again that if our demands are not met the process will be slowed down. We see that especially Sweden does not show the proper reaction," Erdogan said in a nationwide address after a cabinet meeting.
Finland and Sweden submitted membership applications to NATO in May, ending decades of neutrality in light of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Their membership bids were initially blocked by Turkey, which accused them of supporting "terrorists," referring to supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorist organization. Turkey lifted its objections after the three leaders met in Madrid in June and Erdogan said his concerns were addressed.
13:21 GMT 18.07.2022
Hungarian Foreign Minister: New Package of EU Sanctions Against Russia Doesn't Include Energy Transportation Bans, Nor Does it Apply to Gazprombank
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto added that the bloc plans to impose an embargo on Russian gold, as well as additional restrictions on public procurement, deposits, audit and consulting services.
According to Szijjarto, 48 individuals, including a Russian deputy prime minister and regional politicians, and 9 organizations, including Sberbank, have been blacklisted.
13:12 GMT 18.07.2022
London is Politicizing Situation Around Death of British Mercenary in the DPR - Russian FM
The Russian foreign ministry emphasized that the UK ignored the possibility of talks on the return of the British citizen as part of a prisoner exchange procedure.
Last week, DPR Ombudswoman Daria Morozova said that British mercenary Paul Johnson Anthony Dominic Urey, who was held captive in the DPR, died on July 10 due to illness and a depressed state "due to indifference to his fate in his homeland."
Russian Foreign Ministry - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.07.2022
Russia
London Politicizing, Escalating Situation Around Death of UK Mercenary in DPR - Moscow
13:04 GMT 18.07.2022
Putin, Erdogan to Discuss ‘Grain Issue’ During Meeting - Kremlin
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will discuss the issue of exporting grain from Ukrainian ports during the upcoming meeting in Iran, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said on Monday.
"Yes sure. This will be discussed. The work is very active … We are ready to continue work on this issue, this work will be continued. … of course, this issue will be discussed by the presidents [Putin and Erdogan], 100%," Ushakov told reporters.
13:03 GMT 18.07.2022
Kremlin Says If Russia-Ukraine Talks Resume, There Will Be New Conditions for Kiev
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Ukrainian negotiating delegation does not maintain any contacts with Russia after reaching the Istanbul agreements, if the Russian-Ukrainian talks are resumed, then the conditions for Kiev will be completely different, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said on Monday.
"They [the negotiations] were interrupted after ... the Istanbul agreements. After that, the Ukrainian delegation did not maintain and does not maintain any contacts with us. So if negotiations are resumed now, the conditions will be completely different. So far, there is no interest from Kiev, as well as from Western states," Ushakov told reporters.
12:58 GMT 18.07.2022
A general view of the monitoring station of a pipeline bringing Azerbaijani gas from Turkey to Greece at the Ipsala border crossing  - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.07.2022
Energy Crisis in Europe
EU, Azerbaijan Sign Strategic Energy Partnership Memo as Bloc Aims to Double Gas Imports From Baku
12:36 GMT 18.07.2022
In this Wednesday, April 8, 2020, file photo, the sun sets behind an idle pump jack near Karnes City, Texas. Demand for oil continues to fall due to the new coronavirus outbreak. - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.07.2022
Russia
US Claims Talks With India to Cap Russian Oil Price 'Encouraging', But Delhi Yet to Agree to Idea
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