1. Representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey, through the mediation of the UN, reached an agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain. It is expected that the corresponding agreement will be signed on July 22 in Istanbul. Erdogan and UN Secretary-General António Guterres will also attend the ceremony. The US State Department positively assessed the agreement reached through the mediation of the UN to resume the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that the country’s delegation will support only those decisions that guarantee the security of the southern regions of Ukraine, the strong position of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Black Sea, and the safe export of Ukrainian agricultural products. “Tomorrow we will have news from Turkey regarding the unblocking of our ports,” President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said. But the Russian side did not comment on the likely signing of the agreements. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the issue of a meeting in Istanbul should be addressed to the military. In turn, the office of Guterres confirmed that the UN Secretary-General flew to Turkey, but the organization is not completely sure that the signing will take place. Meanwhile, Ukraine has agreed to remove some of the mines from its ports in the Black Sea. According to the interlocutors of the publication, Kyiv is ready to take this step as part of a deal to export Ukrainian grain. (Source: Anadolu).
1. UK Intelligence: Russian and separatist forces continue to attempt small-scale attacks along the front lines in Donbas. Russia prioritizes capturing critical national infrastructure such as power plants. Russian forces will likely be approaching Ukraine’s second largest power plant, the Uglegorsk Thermal Power Plant, 50km northeast of Donetsk. However, Russian troops are probably trying to break through to the Uglegorsk thermal power plant, restoring momentum in the southern direction of their advance towards the critical cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. (Source: Twitter).
2. Russia’s plans for the arms trade in Africa are likely to have to be seriously adjusted due to the war in Ukraine. As a result of its military campaign, the Kremlin may lose a significant source of income. On the other hand, the slowdown in the supply of Russian weapons to African countries will give odds to competitors – China and the United States. Today, Russia supplies about half of all primary weapons to Africa. Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, and Angola are the largest buyers of Russian weapons. “We expect them to have serious problems fulfilling supply contracts, given the rate at which they are losing equipment in Ukraine,” says an anonymous US intelligence source. Russian instructors, who help conclude contracts for supplying Russian helicopters and other weapons, are now operating in many African countries. Since the outbreak of the war, Russia has not stopped trying to get to African resources – Libyan oil and gas and gold from Sudan, which said that it was considering the possibility of deploying a Russian naval base. Added to this is the effect of Western sanctions that prevent the Kremlin from purchasing high-tech components, such as microchips for self-guided missiles. Damage to the export of weapons will affect the entire Russian military-industrial complex. The ability of the defense industry to produce weapons for the Russian troops or create new weapons is likely to decline. “They can’t afford to produce weapons in small quantities, given the cost of labor and materials. They need export sales to offset the cost of domestic production,” said Rand Corp. analyst John Parachini. (Source: FP).
Economy, Social life, and Culture
1. Law enforcement officers exposed a scheme of manipulations with humanitarian aid in Kyiv. The founder and head of one of the capital’s chains of stores specializing in the sale of military goods were suspected of illegal use of humanitarian aid for profit during martial law. Law enforcement officials do not name names, but according to sources, it is about Voyentorg “DiSI”. In April 2022, the manager and founder of the network appealed to one of the military units of the National Guard of Ukraine in the city of Kyiv with a request to provide their company with an end-user certificate for the purpose of importing military ammunition – armor plates and protective helmets – into the customs territory of Ukraine for further free transfer to this military unit. After receiving the certificate, the entrepreneurs imported a shipment of 1,500 armor plates and 300 ballistic helmets to the territory of Ukraine from Poland. Military ammunition was registered as humanitarian aid. This gave them the opportunity to avoid going through customs formalities and paying customs payments to the state budget. According to the law enforcement officers, the suspects later refused to hand over this property to the needs of the defenders of Ukraine. They insisted on the transfer of humanitarian aid exclusively on a paid basis at retail price through the conclusion of sales contracts. The suspects put the imported armor plates and helmets up for sale through the network of their enterprises. On July 21, law enforcement officers conducted 8 authorized searches at their places of residence, as well as in stores and warehouses of enterprises belonging to them. In the course of the investigation, part of the unrealized military ammunition, draft records, and 120,000 unregistered cartridges for firearms were seized. The market value of imported military ammunition is about UAH 8 million. Currently, the issue of choosing preventive measures is being resolved. As part of the investigation, the involvement of the suspects in other illegal actions with humanitarian aid is checked. The sanction of the article is imprisonment for up to 7 years. (Source: UP).
1. The Kremlin plans to hold a referendum on the annexation of the occupied territories of Ukraine in mid-September. Voting should take place in the Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions. It will be prepared by the first deputy head of the presidential administration, Sergei Kiriyenko. Along with the territories already occupied, the areas that the Russian army will settle in the time remaining until September will also be subject to annexation. Suppose Russia succeeds in annexing all the territories not controlled by Kyiv. In that case, Ukraine will lose about a fifth of its territory, including land communication with Crimea and transport routes in the Black Sea, which are vital for Ukrainian exports. The day before, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the “geographical” tasks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine had changed now. It is not only the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR within the borders of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine but also “several other territories.” (Source: Bloomberg).
2. Yuriy Ryzhenkov, general director of the Ukrainian metallurgical company Metinvest, which owns, in particular, the Azovstal metallurgical plant in Mariupol, which during the siege turned into the last stronghold of the Ukrainian defenders of the city, said that steel with a total cost of about 600 million dollars. These are thousands of tons of steel, and buyers from Europe and the UK have already paid for a significant part of them. “They are essentially just robbing. They are stealing not only our products but also part of the products already owned by European customers. They are stealing not only from us but also Europeans,” Ryzhenkov said. He stressed that the company is documenting all these theft facts and preparing for lawsuits. “At some point, the Russians will have to answer in international courts and criminal ones. We will sue them wherever possible,” Metinvest’s top manager stressed. Azovstal and another metallurgical plant in Mariupol, named after Ilyich, accounted for 40% of Ukrainian production. 300 Azovstal workers and 200 members of their families died, Ryzhenkov said. (Source: BBC).
1. New UK sanctions against Russia ban the import of oil, coal, and gold. This is stated in a document published on the website of the British government. It also informs about the ban on the provision of appropriate technical support, financial services, and brokerage services. It is noted that the ban on the import of gold will come into force on July 21, coal – from August 10, and oil – from December 31, 2022. “The amendment prohibits the import of oil and petroleum products, coal and coal products, and gold, as well as the purchase, supply, and delivery – directly or indirectly – of these goods. It also prohibits the provision of technical assistance, financial services and funds and intermediary services related to these goods,” the document says. Earlier, the British authorities banned the import of iron, steel, silver, caviar, cement, chemicals, plastics, potassium and fertilizers, rubber tires, wood, uncoated kraft paper, glass, aluminum, unwrought lead, turbojet engines, ships, furniture, glass, auto parts and a number of other goods from Russia. On July 20, the permanent representatives of the EU countries approved a new, seventh package of anti-Russian sanctions, which also included a ban on gold from the Russian Federation. Also, the sanctions lists include more than 50 organizations and individuals, including politicians and the military. The package also includes new export control measures. (Source: SF).
2. Gas from Russia began to flow again via Nord Stream 1 to Germany after the completion of all technical work on the pipeline. It concerned local news agencies. According to the operator company Nord Stream AG, today, 67 million cubic meters of fuel have been announced for pumping – this corresponds to approximately 40% of the gas pipeline’s load. “Gas is flowing again,” a company spokesman said. But before the gas pipeline works at total capacity, some more time must pass. The volumes of gas announced today are comparable to those supplied via Nord Stream immediately before maintenance. On July 20, the head of the Federal Network Agency of Germany, Klaus Müller, announced that gas supplies via Nord Stream after its launch would amount to 530 GWh (approximately 30% of the load). However, the German gas transmission operator Gascade announced that it expects to transport gas at the pre-maintenance level (40% capacity). As follows from the data of gas transmission operators, Germany has resumed receiving gas at the terminal in Greifswald. Nord Stream was closed from July 11 to July 21 due to scheduled maintenance and repairs. Before this, gas pumping through the pipeline was 63.4 million cubic meters per day. It was due to technical problems and sanctions. According to Gazprom, for full-fledged operation, the gas pipeline needs a turbine, which was taken to Canada for repairs before the imposition of sanctions. Initially, Ottawa did not want to return the unit, but after the request of the FRG agreed. Canada later decided to repair five more turbines for Nord Stream. (Source: SF).