Here are the key events so far on Friday, July 29.
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- Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine say at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war captured during the fighting for Mariupol were killed and 130 were wounded on Friday when Ukrainian shelling hit a prison in the town of Olenivka. Russian private military firm Wagner has likely been allocated responsibility for specific sectors of the front line in eastern Ukraine, Britain’s ministry of defence said. Fifteen people were injured when missiles hit military installations in Vyshhorod district on the edge of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, Kyiv regional Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram. More than 10 Russian missiles also hit the city of Chernihiv about 120km (75 miles) northeast of the capital, Kyiv, regional Governor Vyacheslav Chausov told Ukrainian TV. Kyiv said Russia has begun to redeploy troops to Ukraine’s southern regions of Kherson, Melitopol and Zaporizhia, as Ukraine appeared to launch a long-awaited counteroffensive to retake them.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will address a United States request for a call with Secretary of State Blinken when he has time, Interfax reported, saying his schedule is busy. Moscow said there was no deal yet with Washington on swapping detained US basketball star Brittney Griner and a former marine for a jailed Russian cast by prosecutors as one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers. A Moscow court ordered journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who denounced Russia’s intervention in Ukraine during a live TV broadcast, to pay a fine for discrediting the Russian army. Figures cited by the US on Russian dead and injured amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine are “fake”, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said. “After all, these are not data from the US administration, but publications in newspapers.”
- United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said he was hopeful the first shipment of grain from a Ukrainian Black Sea port could take place as early as Friday, but “crucial” details for the safe passage of vessels were still being worked out. Russian gas flows to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline and via Ukraine remained steady on Thursday, operator data showed. Russia cut flows on the pipeline to 20 percent of its capacity on July 27, citing maintenance work. The German city of Hanover has banned hot water in public buildings and has introduced measures to reduce heating amid the gas crisis, according to the mayor’s office. Russia’s Sakhalin Energy Investment Co has asked its liquefied natural gas customers to make payments via a Moscow unit of a European bank and is negotiating to switch payment currencies away from US dollars, two sources familiar with the matter said.