Russian President Putin says Ukraine did not make good on preliminary peace deal

Negotiations took place in March, with both sides making proposals but without a breakthrough. At the time, Zelensky said only a concrete result from the talks could be trusted.

Putin met Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on Tuesday, deepening ties between the two countries who are both under Western sanctions.

During the visit to Iran, Putin also met Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to discuss a deal that would resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports, now blocked by Russia.

Russia was ready to facilitate Ukrainian grain exports by the Black Sea, but also wanted the remaining curbs on Russian grain exports to be removed, said Putin, who was shown by Russian state TV answering questions from the media at the end of his visit to Iran.

On Tuesday the Russian leader had said that not all the issues had been resolved yet on grain shipments, “but the fact that there is movement is already good.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a summit of leaders from the guarantor states of the Astana process in Tehran, Iran on July 19, 2022.
via REUTERS

It was Putin’s first in-person meeting with a NATO leader since Russian troops invaded and was a pointed message to the West about Russian plans to forge closer strategic ties with Iran, China and India to help offset Western sanctions imposed over the invasion.

ISOLATED

The trip shows how isolated Russia has become, said White House national security spokesman John Kirby.

Kirby also said the United States was preparing to unveil another weapons package for Ukraine. Citing US intelligence, he accused Russia of laying the groundwork to annex Ukrainian territory, which the Russian embassy denied.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attend a summit of leaders in Tehran on July 19, 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attend a summit of leaders in Tehran on July 19, 2022.
via REUTERS

The Kremlin has said there is no time limit to a conflict it calls a “special military operation” to ensure its own security. Ukraine and the West condemn it as an unprovoked war of aggression against its neighbor.

Russia was trying to “drag” Ukraine into a protracted conflict into the winter, Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said in a magazine interview published on Tuesday.

“It is very important for us not to enter the winter. After winter, when the Russians will have more time to dig in, it will certainly be more difficult” for any Ukrainian counter-offensive, Yermak said.

Russia’s offensive in the eastern Donbas region continues to make minimal gains as Ukrainian forces hold the line, British military intelligence said on Wednesday.

A local resident looks out a window in a building damaged by a Russian military strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine on July 19, 2022.
A local resident looks out a window in a building damaged by a Russian military strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine on July 19, 2022.
Reuters

More than two weeks have passed since Russia’s last major territorial gain – capturing the city of Lysychansk in the Donbas.

Ukraine’s general staff reported widespread shelling and attacks in various areas of the country.

“In the Bakhmut direction, the occupiers are conducting combat operations with the aim of creating conditions for an offensive on the city of Bakhmut and taking over the territory of the Vuglegirsk power plant,” the general staff said.

“There is a shortage of ammunition, food and water in the enemy units,” he added, without elaborating.

Five civilians had been killed and 16 had been wounded by Russian forces in the Donetsk region, while two civilians had been killed by shelling in the city of Nikopol in the south, the respective regional governors said on Telegram.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (center), President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo in Tehran on July 19, 2022.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (center), President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo in Tehran on July 19, 2022.
ZUMAPRESS.com

Reuters could not immediately verify the Ukrainian accounts.

At least one person was killed in a Russian missile strike on the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, authorities said.

“I felt a really powerful explosion and I understood it was somewhere here,” said Valentina, a 70-year-old local resident whose son-in-law, Maksym, was critically injured in the attack.

“I called my daughter and she says that Maksym is not picking up the phone. He must have been knocked off then,” she cried.

GAS EXPORTS

As the war drags on, concerns that Russia may halt supplies of natural gas to Europe have risen.

In response, the European Union is considering a voluntary 15% cut in natural gas use by its member states beginning next month, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing EU diplomats.

A local resident reacts after her building is damaged by a Russian military strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine on July 19, 2022.
A local resident reacts after her building is damaged by a Russian military strike in Kramatorsk, Ukraine on July 19, 2022.
Reuters

Brussels is expected to publish plans on Wednesday for how the 27 EU members can reduce gas use. The exact number for the reduction target was not specified in a draft document of the plan seen by Reuters.

Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom was ready to fulfill its obligations on gas exports, Putin said, and was not to blame for a reduction in gas transit capacity, including shutting down one of the routes via Ukraine to Europe by Kyiv.

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