Timeline: Week 20 of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Al Jazeera looks at the main events that marked the 20th week of the war in Ukraine:

July 6

For the first time since the start of the war, Russia claims no territorial advances and Ukraine reports none, suggesting that Russian forces may be taking an operational pause, says the Institute for the Study of War.

Russian forces are trying to establish control of the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway in Donetsk Oblast, a crucial logistics path that would enable them to move offensive equipment west.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai says Ukraine has still not surrendered its eastern Luhansk province as fighting continues in smaller settlements, though Russian forces are advancing.

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence says Russian forces have gained 5km (3 miles) in their advance towards Sloviansk on the E40 highway over the past week “in the face of extremely determined Ukrainian resistance”, and are approximately 16km (10 miles) north of the city. It sees the battle for Sloviansk as the likely next hotspot of the war in the east.

In the south, Russian forces shell Ukrainian positions but appear not to win back any of the ground lost to counteroffensives.

Ukraine’s air force says it shot down two Kaliber cruise missiles in the Mykolaiv region fired from a submarine in the Black Sea. Odesa City Council says Ukrainian forces shot down an X-31 missile launched in the Black Sea.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL MAP DAY141_July14
(Al Jazeera)

July 7

Ukraine’s general staff say their forces repelled a ground assault on Bogorodychne, a settlement on the front line in Donetsk Oblast, and other areas further south near Bakhmut. They say Russian forces have still not entirely established control of Luhansk Oblast, which Russian forces proclaimed conquered on July 3. Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar confirms this.

Ukraine’s southern command says Russian forces launched 12 Kalibr high-precision missiles at Mykolaiv and Ochakiv. Ukrainian jets engage a Russian SU-35 as it releases a missile against Odesa, forcing it to withdraw and destroying the missile.

Ukrainian special forces say they approached Snake Island, which Russian forces recently evacuated, establish a safe passage for naval ships, take stock of the destroyed or abandoned Russian equipment there, raise Ukrainian flags and depart. Too late, Russian ships launch missiles that hit the island pier. Ukraine’s southern command says its forces found 30 pieces of destroyed Russian equipment and abandoned ammunition. The Russian defence ministry version is that its rockets killed several members of the landing party.

Russian forces fire missiles into the centre of Kramatorsk in the heart of Donetsk Oblast, causing casualties, reports the city council.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL MAP DAY141_July14
(Al Jazeera)

July 8

Ukraine’s general staff say Russian forces in Donetsk Oblast attempted to storm Bogorodichne, near Sloviansk, and were repulsed after suffering significant losses. Russian forces are also twice pushed back from Dementievka, a settlement in the northern Kharkiv region, where they are increasingly active. Luhansk Governor Haidai says advancing Russian forces shelled villages indiscriminately, causing civilian casualties.

Russian Su-30 again launches a cruise missile at the Odesa coast from the Black Sea.

European High Commissioner Josep Borrell says Russia’s war in Ukraine is “dramatically aggravating the food crisis” and has made approximately 50 million people “seriously food insecure”.

“In just two years, the number of seriously food insecure people in the world had already doubled from 135million before the COVID-19 pandemic to 276 million in early 2022, and [it is] 323 million today,” Borrell is reported to say. A total of 1.2 billion people are “severely exposed to the combination of rising food prices, rising energy prices, and tightening financial conditions”, he says.

Borrell says the European Union will donate 7 billion euros ($7.005bn) over two years to support financially vulnerable nations, raise its own crop production and exports, and help Ukraine export its blockaded grains through Solidarity Lanes across Europe.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights publishes a report on Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Dunja Mijatović says in the report the Russian invasion resulted in “serious and massive violations … of virtually all human rights”.

“The Commissioner received compelling evidence of systematic violations of the right to life by Russian forces, including arbitrary killings and enforced disappearances; violations of property rights, including widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure; cases of torture and ill-treatment, gender-based violence and war-related sexual violence; violations of the right to liberty and security of person, including abductions, arbitrary detention and incommunicado detention,” the report says.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov walks out of a G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, after what he called “frenzied criticism” of Russia from Western members of the group of the world’s 20 largest economies.

July 9

Haidai, the governor of Luhansk Oblast, which was overrun in early July, says Russian forces are attempting to move forward into neighbouring Donetsk Oblast across the entire border, from Kremenyuk to Popasna.

Ukraine’s general staff say Russian forces shelled Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, the twin cities in the heart of Donetsk Oblast that are deemed to form the Russians’ ultimate goal.

The head of Donetsk Oblast, Pavlo Kyrylenko, says Russian forces shelled civilian infrastructure and housing along the entire length of the front line in the Donbas.

July 10

Russian rocket attacks in Kharkiv district destroy a school, and in Chasovoy Yar they level a high-rise building, reportedly killing six and burying dozens of people in the rubble. An Iskander missile lands in the city of Kharkiv.

Ukraine protests against the return to Germany of a turbine that operates on Nord Stream 1, after it underwent repairs at Siemens’ Canadian subsidiary. Ukraine’s foreign ministry says this goes against the sanctions regime on Russia. Turbines are used to pressurise gas pipelines and increase their capacity to deliver gas, but Ukraine says NS1 can easily operate at a higher capacity using its existing turbines, or use alternative pipelines crossing Polish and Ukrainian territory.

Ukraine’s agriculture ministry says it can export grains following the removal of Russian forces from Snake Island and the freeing of the Bystre passage.

July 11

Russian forces continue efforts to move south along the E40 highway from Izyum to Sloviansk in Donetsk Oblast.

Russia fires four X-31 missiles at coastal Odesa Oblast. There are no reported casualties.

Ukraine reports that Czech Mi-24B attack helicopters had entered active duty.

Putin signs a decree extending fast-track Russian citizenship procedures to all Ukrainians. Previously they had been offered only to citizens of the occupied Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson oblasts. Ukraine calls it “yet another encroachment on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. The EU’s high representative later says the EU will not recognise Russian passports issued to Ukrainians in occupied territories.

The Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline shuts down for 10-day maintenance. Some European officials fear it will not restart, depriving Europe of the opportunity to fill its gas storage to 85 percent of capacity before winter. US investment bank Goldman Sachs estimates a Russian gas shutoff would cause a 65 percent spike in European energy prices over winter.

July 12

Russian forces continue small-scale ground assaults in the Sloviansk and Bakhmut areas in Donetsk Oblast.

Mykolaiv is subjected to “massive rocket fire”, with two medical facilities and homes destroyed.

The Institute for the Study of War says, “Russian forces continue to regroup, rest, refit, and reconstitute; bombard critical areas to set conditions for future ground offensives; and conduct limited probing attacks.”

The UN’s Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights says 5,024 civilians are confirmed killed due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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