The essentials in brief:
- Fire in Crimea: 2,000 people have to leave four villages
- Port city of Odessa again under Russian fire
- US General: Ukrainian counter-offensive has by no means failed
- South Africa requested an exemption to not have to arrest Putin
- Scandal over Ukraine war at EU-CELAC summit in Brussels
After a fire at a military site on the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia in violation of international law, 2,000 people from the surrounding area have to be evacuated to safety. The residents of four towns are affected, said the local governor Sergei Akjonov in the online service Telegram. Because of the fire, the highway between the port of Kerch in eastern Crimea and the city of Sevastopol in the south-west of the peninsula is also closed. It is the main road across the peninsula. The region around the city of Stary Krym in the east of the peninsula was affected.
Russian media reported explosions and a burning ammunition depot. The Ukrainian news agency RBC-Ukraine reported that there were explosions at the military compound. Russian authorities initially did not confirm the reports. The Ukrainian military spoke of a “successful operation”. The enemy is hiding the extent of the damage and the number of casualties, the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, said via Telegram.
Ukraine has repeatedly attacked Russian military targets in Crimea and is striving to recapture the peninsula. Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula on the Black Sea in 2014 and is currently using it as a staging area for the war of aggression against Ukraine.
Odessa under Russian fire again
The Ukrainian Air Force reports extensive Russian airstrikes last night. 37 out of 63 enemy objects were destroyed, including 23 Iranian-made Shahed-type drones and 14 cruise missiles. The aim of the attacks were infrastructure and military facilities. The region around the port city of Odessa in the south was particularly affected. There were also air alerts in several other areas of Ukraine during the night.
The night before, Russia had launched aerial attacks on Odessa. The southern Black Sea regions, which are of great importance to Ukraine due to their port infrastructure, are repeatedly targets of Russian airstrikes. Millions of tons of food have been exported through the port of Odessa in recent months as part of the international grain agreement.
US General: Ukrainian counter-offensive has by no means failed
The US military has denied statements that Ukraine’s counteroffensive had failed. This is by no means the case, said Chief of Staff Mark Milley. “The Ukrainians are advancing steadily and purposefully,” Milley said at the US Department of Defense after an online meeting of the international Ukraine contact group, which was used to coordinate military aid. “I think there is still a lot to fight and I stand by what we said before: it’s going to be long, it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be bloody.” Milley cited the area mined by the attackers as the reason for the slow advance against the Russian army. “The losses suffered by the Ukrainians in this offensive are not so much due to the strength of the Russian air force as to minefields,” he said.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin assured that the allies of the Russian-attacked country would not let up in their support for Ukraine. “Our work continues and we will do everything we can to ensure that Ukrainians can be successful.”
South Africa: Don’t want to have to arrest Putin at BRICS summit
South Africa is looking at ways not to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Johannesburg on August 22-24. The country is hosting the upcoming BRICS summit. Their heads of state are expected to attend, including Putin. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant against the Russian President for war crimes. As a member of the ICC, South Africa would therefore be obliged to arrest Putin if he appeared at the summit.
According to a published submission by a South African court, President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked the International Criminal Court for an exemption from arresting Putin, saying it would be tantamount to “a declaration of war.” Ramaphosa said in a statement that he could not answer to the South African people “to take the risk of a war with Russia”.
South Africa is under increasing international pressure to confirm that it would carry out the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court should Putin arrive. South Africa has signed the statutes of the International Criminal Court, but has not yet made a clear statement on the procedure.
There is speculation the summit might be moved to China because of the problem. The country is not a member of the ICC.
Scandal about the Ukraine war at the EU-CELAC meeting in Brussels
The EU’s first major summit meeting with Latin American and Caribbean countries in eight years has been overshadowed by disputes over a declaration on the Ukraine war. At the two-day meeting in Brussels, countries allied with Russia such as Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba managed to ensure that the text contained no explicit condemnation of the war and that Russia was not even mentioned.
In the end, the 27 member states of the European Union and the 33 countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) only expressed their “deep concern at the ongoing war against Ukraine,” which is causing immense human suffering and compounding existing vulnerabilities in the global economy . However, Russia as an aggressor is not mentioned in the document. With the exception of Nicaragua, which is loyal to Moscow, all CELAC and EU states agreed to this “watered down” text after tough negotiations.
The aim of the EU was to send a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin with the summit declaration. It should be made clear to the latter that he is increasingly isolated in the world community and must fear further economic disadvantages if the war of aggression continues.
Selenskyj is trying to get support from African countries
After the end of the grain deal, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is trying to get Africa on his country’s side in the conflict with Russia. He gave an interview to a number of African media, Zelenskyj said in his daily video address. “We (…) spoke in particular about the grain export situation and Russian aggression against global food stability,” he said. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is less harshly criticized in Africa than in western industrial nations.
African Union (AU) Commission President Moussa Faki Mahamat wrote on Twitter that the AU regrets Russia’s decision to phase out the deal to export Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea. He urged everyone involved to “solve the issues to enable the resumption of safe transportation of grain and fertilizers from Ukraine and Russia to regions in need, including Africa.”
The termination of the grain agreement by Russia is internationally criticized. Fears of rising grain and food prices are growing again. Thanks to the agreement, Ukraine has been able to export grain in large quantities by sea since last summer, despite the Russian war of aggression.
qu/fw/se/kle (dpa, rtr, afp)
This article will be continuously updated on the day of its publication. Reports from war zones cannot be independently verified.