The Kremlin has been less than transparent about its battlefield casualties in Ukraine, as
More than 100 families of Russian servicemen have turned to Russian President Vladimir Putin with a demand to find their sons, husbands and brothers who have been lost in the war zone in Ukraine.
Relatives say they receive scattered, unclear replies from Russian departments and ministries. According to Russian-language Radio Liberty.
The group of families released a statement: “We demand that you find our relatives, and add them to the lists of prisoners of war who are missing. Search work is not being carried out, since they are in the status of missing. The Russian Ministry of Defense has been blocking a change in the status of servicemen for more than five months. Relatives have to look for facts and prove of their own back that their son or husband is in captivity (not “dead” as Ministry of Defense would claim) – this is the case throughout the country.”
CIA estimates of Russian military deaths stand at some 15,000, while the Kremlin has refused to publicly update its count, which stood at 1,351 in late March.
Public anger and confusion over the accounting for war casualties is not new in Russia, where authorities have long placed victory at all costs far ahead of personal accountability. Dating back to Afghanistan and Chechnya, the Kremlin prefers not to offer an accurate public toll of its military lost on the battlefield.
Ukraine Recaptures Another Town In South
Ukrainian military says it has liberated the village of Andriyivka, near the northwestern border of the southern Kherson region. According to Ukraine’s Operational Command “South,” Ukrainian air forces struck four Russian strongholds in Andriyivka, Bilohirka and Blahodatne. The nearby city of Lozovo was liberated a few days earlier.
Ukrainian forces also attacked a key bridge in southern Ukraine in a move to cut off Russia’s supply routes and isolate the Russian-occupied city of Kherson. The Antonivskiy bridge has been hit with missiles over the past week.
By all accounts, the major counteroffensive that Kyiv has planned to recapture occupied parts of southern Ukraine has begun. Die Welt reporter Ibrahim Naber has a report from the front lines.
Can U.S. Step In To Fill Gas Supplies?
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has asked the U.S. to provide gas supplies in preparation of the coming winter. He described the supplies requested by Ukraine as a "gas lend-lease" - a reference to the 2022 U.S. Lend-Lease Act that frees up aid flows.
Even in the middle of summer, the winter and Russian energy supplies are looming over the war in Ukraine. The European Union announced Tuesday that it would encourage a 15% reduction in imports of Russian gas.
Meanwhile, Chief Economist for the International Monetary Fund, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, told AFP that higher energy prices are keeping the Russian economy afloat despite Western sanctions. And while the IMF has upgraded Russia's GDP estimate by 2.5%, its economy is expected to shrink by 6%. "That's still a fairly sizable recession in Russia in 2022," Gourinchas said.
Cement Arrives In Kaliningrad, Easing Sanctions Standoff With Lithuania
Cement train arrives in Kaliningrad
The first 60 wagons of cement have arrived in Kaliningrad from Russia in transit through Lithuania following the introduction of import restrictions by the Lithuanian side, Moscow-based newspaper Kommersant reports, citing Dmitry Lyskov, head of the press service of the local government.
The information was confirmed by the Governor of the region Anton Alikhanov.
“This is really the first composition that came to us after the decision of the EU on sanctions. This will relieve a certain tension that was in the building materials market,” Alikhanov said.
On June 18, Lithuania had stopped the transit of sanctioned goods from other regions of Russia to the Kaliningrad enclave, which lies between Lithuania and Poland. On July 13, the European Commission clarified that rail transport to Kaliningrad via Lithuania is allowed with a number of conditions regarding transit supervision.
Britney Griner To Testify In Russian Court
Brittney Griner Appears for Questioning in Russia
US basketball star Brittney Griner is expected to testify in a Russian courtroom as part of ongoing trial on drug charges. She faces up to 10 years in prison.
Griner's attorney, Alexander Boykov, announced that his client would testify, adding that prosecutors will also have the opportunity to question her. The Olympic gold medalist pleaded guilty earlier this month, saying she had cannabis oil in her bag but had no intention to break the law.
Griner spoke with the media on Tuesday for the first time since she was arrested back in February. She said she has “no complaints” about her current situation and that she’s “waiting patiently” for a resolution in her case.
British Give Zelensky Churchill Courage Award
President Zelensky Receives Churchill Leadership Award
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given Volodymyr Zelensky the Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award, citing the Ukrainian President’s courage, defiance and dignity in the face of Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Johnson said: “Churchill would have cheered and probably have wept too” if he had heard Zelensky’s phrase that he needed “ammunition, not a ride” out of Kyiv when Russia launched its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24.
Thanking Johnson for the award, Zelensky said: “This award would not be possible if the entire Ukrainian people had not risen up to defend freedom from the attack of tyranny,” Zelensky stressed.
Russia To Leave The International Space Station After 2024
Assembling the Russian Orbital Service Station
Russia says it is planning to opt out of the International Space Station and focus on building its own orbiting outpost, according to the newly appointed head of Russia's space agency.
Yuri Borisov, appointed this month to lead the state space agency, Roscosmos, said during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin that Russia will fulfill its obligations to its partners before it leaves.
The space station is run by the space agencies of Russia, the U.S., Europe, Japan and Canada. It usually has a crew of seven, who spend months at a time aboard the station as it orbits about 250 miles from Earth. Three Russians, three Americans and one Italian are currently on board.
This announcement comes amid soaring tensions between Russia and the West over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.