Day 159 of the Invasion of Ukraine: First Ship with Grain since the beginning of the War sailed from Odesa
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Greece expects Russia to completely stop gas supplies to Europe
Greece expects Russia to completely cut off gas supplies to European countries and is preparing for an alternative plan. Liquefied gas supplies have increased, with some of them going to Bulgaria.
The Greek Deputy Minister of Economy, Theodoros Skilakakis, in an interview with Sky TV, stated that Athens is preparing for the worst-case scenario - a complete cessation of natural gas supplies from Russia.
"In all probability, on the Russian side, they will not officially announce that they are completely stopping the supply of gas, but they will probably pursue a policy that sooner or later will lead to a gas cut."
The Energy Ministry is optimistic that LNG supplies and increased storage capacity on Revithoussa Island will compensate to some extent for Russian gas. Bulgaria has an agreement with the Greek side to receive gas from Revithoussa, energy experts recall.
Putin wanted Russia to buy Turkish drones, Erdogan just smiled
These days, an interesting piece of news has been circulating the information sources - CNN Turk reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed Russia to cooperate with Turkey in the production of Turkish military drones TV2 "Bayraktar". There have also been reports that a joint drone manufacturing plant will be built in the UAE.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet Putin on August 5 in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi.
Turkish Bayraktar drones have proven to be one of the most effective weapons used by Ukrainian forces against Russian forces in the conflict in Ukraine. According to official data, Turkey has delivered 50 drones to Ukraine.
Turkey also sells these weapons to other countries. Will they cooperate with Russia? Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin gave an interesting answer to this question. In a TV show that Kalin appeared on, he stated the following:
"Vladimir Putin, in a conversation with Erdogan, somewhat jokingly, and somewhat seriously, said to Erdogan: ‘You provide drones to Ukraine. Give it to us, we would also like to buy.' Our president just smiled. In the sense that we can negotiate. We have not made a commitment".
In response to a question about which topics are expected to be discussed at the meeting in Sochi, Ibrahim Kalin said that among them will be the implementation of the agreement on the grain corridor, the conflict in Ukraine, as well as issues of a bilateral and regional nature.
First ship with grain since the beginning of the war sailed from Odesa, mass evacuation in Donetsk
For the first time since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a merchant ship with grain left the port of Odesa. The ship "Razoni", sailing under the flag of Sierra Leone, is loaded with 26 thousand tons of corn and is traveling to Lebanon.
The Turkish Ministry of Defense and the Ukrainian government confirmed that the cargo ship had sailed from Odesa. "It is expected to arrive in Istanbul tomorrow, where it will be inspected," the Turkish Defense Ministry said. Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement with Turkey and the United Nations to ease the global food crisis due to blocked grain supplies via the Black Sea. A joint coordination center was opened in Istanbul to oversee the safe passage of ships along established routes and to enforce the weapons ban on entering and exiting the Black Sea.
According to the Ukrainian government, 20 million tons of grain from last year's harvest are planned for export.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "warmly welcomes" the departure of the first ship under the grain deal, his spokesman said. Guterres hopes that this will be the first of many merchant ships and that it will bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security. And Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter that the "day of relief" has come for the world, and especially for the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Meanwhile, a mass evacuation of more than 50,000 children and 200,000 adults from the Donetsk region has begun, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk announced.
British intelligence said in its analysis of military operations today that Russia is likely to have shifted a significant portion of its forces from northern Donbas to southern Ukraine. The report also says that Russia has apparently identified the Zaporizhzhia front as a vulnerable area that needs reinforcement.
The Kremlin is preparing an offensive towards Kharkiv
Russian forces have resumed local ground attacks northwest and southwest of Izyum and are preparing the ground for an advance west into Kharkiv Oblast or toward Kharkiv, experts from the American Institute for Military Studies (ISW) said in a report.
"For several months, Russian forces have been holding positions in the area of Balakleya and Velika Kamishevaha and could use these two areas as a springboard for an offensive operation," they believe.
They say it is unlikely that Russian forces will be able to capture Kharkiv Oblast or capture Kharkiv itself, Ukraine's second most populous city, given the pace of progress in Donbas and ongoing problems with force formation and logistics.
Russian forces may launch strikes to prevent a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces, ISW experts say.
Over the past four days, Russia has continued to carry out tactical attacks in the direction of Bakhmut, northeast of Donetsk. As the Ukrainian authorities announced last week, Moscow is likely to move a significant part of its forces from the northern sector of Donbas to southern Ukraine, the BBC reported.
Russia is likely to adjust its operational plan for its Donbas offensive after failing to achieve a decisive operational breakthrough according to the plan it had been following since April. They probably identified their Zaporizhzhia Front as a vulnerable area that needed strengthening.
Meanwhile, the authorities in Mykolaiv released new details about the night shelling of the city. As a result of the projectile strikes in the private sector, three people were injured.
In addition, a fire broke out on the territory of a new medical facility, reports the mayor of the city, Oleksandr Senkevich. The trauma clinic building was partially destroyed. The blast wave broke the windows of the neighboring medical buildings. There are no victims.
"We will recover! We will recover everything! But first we must destroy every Russian terrorist who dares to come to our land," the mayor wrote on his Telegram channel.
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