Russia-Ukraine war: US cluster bombs being used by Kyiv against Russia, White House confirms – as it happened

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US-supplied cluster bombs have been deployed by Ukraine against Russia, confirms White House

US-supplied cluster munitions are in Ukrainian hands and being deployed in the field as part of Kyiv’s battle against Russia, the White House national security spokesman, John Kirby, has confirmed.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post had reported today that Russian forces on the frontlines of the invasion in south-eastern Ukraine came under attack from the controversial weapons.

Col Oleksandr Bakulin of Ukraine earlier this week said that the weapons – which have already been used by both sides in the conflict – were necessary to “inflict maximum damage on enemy infantry”.

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Summary

That concludes the Guardian’s Russia-Ukraine war live blog.

Here’s what happened today:

Here’s a link to this morning’s summary.

The blog is now closed. To read our latest news on Ukraine, click here.

Ukraine on Thursday warned ships coming to Russian ports in the Black Sea, as Russia has targeted Ukraine ports with drones and missiles.

Here’s more information from AFP:

Kyiv on Thursday put ships in the Black Sea headed for Russian-controlled ports on notice, as Moscow hit the Ukrainian ports of Mykolaiv and Odesa with drones and missiles in another night of “hellish” strikes.

Ukraine said it would treat the ships as potential carriers of military cargo, mirroring a move made by Russia after it withdrew from a key grain export deal.

At least three people died and more than 20 were injured in the Russian strikes on the southern Ukrainian ports, officials said, posting images of buildings in flames and partially collapsed.

Russia pounded the cities with 19 missiles and 19 drones, the Ukrainian air force said, after the Kremlin promised retribution for an attack on the bridge linking annexed Crimea to mainland Russia.

“A hellish night for our people!” said Serhiy Kruk, head of the Ukrainian State Emergency Service.

Relatives and friends of two Russians who were killed in an attack on the Kerch bridge in Crimea gathered on Thursday to pay tribute to the couple, AFP reports.

Natalya and Alexei Kulyk were killed after the bridge was attacked by a drone on Monday.

The couple’s daughter survived the incident and was taken to hospital.

“This is an irreparable loss to all of us,” said Natalya Tkachenko, a former colleague of Natalya Kulyk, to AFP. “A young beautiful family, taken away by fate.”

The family was on holiday when the attack happened.

Putin vowed on Monday to retaliate for the deadly attack, which has been attributed to Ukraine, AFP reports.

US-supplied cluster bombs have been deployed by Ukraine against Russia, confirms White House

US-supplied cluster munitions are in Ukrainian hands and being deployed in the field as part of Kyiv’s battle against Russia, the White House national security spokesman, John Kirby, has confirmed.

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post had reported today that Russian forces on the frontlines of the invasion in south-eastern Ukraine came under attack from the controversial weapons.

Col Oleksandr Bakulin of Ukraine earlier this week said that the weapons – which have already been used by both sides in the conflict – were necessary to “inflict maximum damage on enemy infantry”.

The US has imposed sanctions on roughly 120 firms and people from Russia to the UAE to Kyrgyzstan in an effort to restrict Moscow’s access to products, money and financial channels that support its invasion of Ukraine.

We reported earlier that former Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin had been added to a US treasury list of people sanctioned. AP has combed the document that was published today and reports that the sanctions target dozens of Russian mining, technology and munitions firms and commercial banks.

A group of Kyrgyzstan-based electronics firms and its leadership were also targeted as exporters of components and other technology to Russia. Kyrgyzstan earlier denied helping its ally Moscow circumvent sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine but did not rule out the involvement of private companies.

A UAE-based engineering company that sent dozens of shipments of electronics to Russia was also sanctioned.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said:

Since Russia launched its full scale invasion of Ukraine, the United States, working with our allies and partners, has taken unprecedented steps to impose costs on Russia and promote accountability for the individuals and entities who support its illegal war. We will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.

China has confirmed that its consulate building in Odesa was damaged in the overnight strike by Russia.

The Chinese foreign ministry press secretary said:

The explosion occurred next to the Chinese Consulate General in Odessa. The blast wave shook part of the wall covering and window panes. The consular staff had left the premises long before and no one was hurt.

The spokesperson did not say whether China had made any diplomatic overtures to Russia to complain.

Odesa’s governor said earlier:

The aggressor deliberately hits the port infrastructure. Administrative and residential buildings, as well as the consulate of the People’s Republic of China, were damaged. This suggests that the enemy does not pay attention to anything.

AFP has more details on the EU announcement that it is seeking to provide up to €5bn a year for the next four years for Ukraine’s defence needs.

After a Brussels ministerial meeting, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the union would “transform existing support into a long term commitment to Ukraine security and resilience”. Diplomats confirmed the military aid being discussed was €5bn a year over four years – 2024 to 2027 – but one cautioned that the talks were at the “early stages”.

EU foreign ministers were shown the plan at today’s foreign affairs council but a more detailed debate will take place on 31 August at their meeting in the Spanish city of Toledo.

Some member states, notably Hungary – Moscow’s best friend in the EU – may oppose the idea, and final political approval is not expected until European leaders meet at EU summits in October or even December.

Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, did not dispute the €20bn figure when asked.

For this we need very, very large financial resources, for further support of Ukraine in the military area, in order to be able to implement its right to self-defence. It all has to go hand-in-hand. It’s not enough to just throw numbers around, it has to be logically and meaningfully interlinked and we’re going to talk about that today, but also in the coming months.

Russia has still not let the UN nuclear watchdog’s team at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine have access to the rooftops of the occupied plant’s reactors, the agency has said as it follows up on Ukrainian accusations of foul play.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said:

[IAEA] experts have carried out additional inspections and walkdowns at Ukraine‘s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant over the past week so far without observing any heavy military equipment, explosives or mines but they are still awaiting access to the rooftops of the reactor buildings.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, again claimed Russia may be planning to “simulate an attack” on the Zaporizhzhia plant, claiming that Russian troops had placed “objects resembling explosives” on the roofs of buildings at the site.

Rob Davies

Rob Davies

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has lifted sanctions on the Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov.

The decision comes days after Sir Richard Branson urged the government to reconsider its decision to place sanctions on Tinkov, a serial entrepreneur who founded the digital bank Tinkoff.

Tinkov was sanctioned in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine but has criticised the “insane” war and renounced Russian citizenship over it.

An FCDO spokesperson said:

Having considered all of the factors in this case, including the actions Mr Tinkov has taken following his sanctions designation, we have revoked his designation. We keep all sanctions designations under review.

The EU has announced it is plans to provide up to €5bn a year for the next four years for Ukraine’s defence needs via the means of a “dedicated section” under the European Peace facility, Reuters reports.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said:

It’s still the same tool, the European Peace facility, which has been working very well and we will continue using it but with a dedicated chapter inside it, with a specific funding which can be estimated on the figures I mentioned.

The New York Times has now also reported that Ukraine has begun firing cluster munitions that were controversially provided by the US, citing two American military officials.

US military depots in Europe last week sent hundreds of thousands of the weapons to Ukraine, Pentagon officials said. It was hoped the delivery would allow Ukraine “to sustain the artillery fight for the foreseeable future.”

We reported earlier that Col Oleksandr Bakulin earlier this week said that the weapons – which have already been used by both sides in the conflict – were necessary to “inflict maximum damage on enemy infantry”. A Ukrainian official told the Washington Post that the US-made bombs have now been fired at entrenched Russian positions.

A European Commission proposal to use frozen public Russian assets to help finance Ukraine will not be published until September, a spokesperson has said. A proposal was initially expected before August.

The spokesperson said:

Discussions between member states have been going well. The last meeting of the council working party on this matter was on 12 July and the next one will take place in September. Intensive work is taking place in the G7 context and we aim to have a G7 statement before the summer break. A legal proposal we aim to have after the summer break.”

The EU, which first floated this idea in November, is focused on finding a legal way to use the tax on the interest made by these assets for Ukraine. It was said to be mindful of ensuring the method holds up in court in the event of any lawsuits.

The EU has frozen over €200bn of Russian central bank assets since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the bulk held in Belgium. The EU has also frozen privately held funds and legal pushback has already started.

At least three people are now confirmed to have been killed during Russia’s third night of successive airstrikes on south Ukrainian port cities, according to Ukrainian officials cited by Reuters.

Ukraine’s military said Russian forces launched 19 missiles and 19 drones overnight, and that five of the missiles and 13 of the drones were shot down. In Odesa, a security guard was killed and at least eight other people were hurt, including a child, regional governor Oleh Kiper said. A married couple was killed in the city of Mykolaiv, mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said.

Regional governor Vitaliy Kim had said earlier that 19 people were hurt in the city, and several residential buildings were damaged. Fire fighters in Mykolaiv tackled a huge blaze that left a three-storey residential building without its top floor, and adjacent buildings were gutted by the fire.

Authorities in the northeastern region of Kharkiv said separately a 61-year-old man had been killed there by Russian shelling today,

Ukraine’s Kherson region will have little or no harvest due to a shortage of water in the North Crimean and Kakhovka canals, Russian-installed governor Vladimir Saldo has warned.

The Kakhovka dam, a huge Soviet-era dam on the Dnipro River that separates Russian and Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine, was breached in June, unleashing flood waters across the war zone.

Last month, the BBC reported that the destruction of the dam had led one of Europe’s largest reservoirs to dry up – potentially imperilling drinking water supplies for hundreds of thousands of people mostly in Russian-occupied zones.

UN security council to meet over 'humanitarian consequences' of grain deal collapse

The UN Security Council will meet tomorrow over the “humanitarian consequences” of Russia’s withdrawal from a deal that allowed the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain for the past year, Britain’s UN mission has said.

🚨 #BREAKING

The UN Security Council will meet tomorrow at 10am for a briefing on Ukraine.

The Council will discuss the humanitarian consequences of Russia’s interruption of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.#UNSC 🇬🇧🇺🇳 pic.twitter.com/jKEEeV2nR0

— UK at the UN 🇬🇧🇺🇳 (@UKUN_NewYork) July 20, 2023

The UK has given Ukraine 184,000 more artillery shells than it planned to a year ago, the country’s defence secretary has said.

Ben Wallace said Britain had “donated significant quantities of military equipment, ammunitions and non-lethal aid” as Kyiv’s fighters defend their territory and look to expel Russian invaders.

While in a small number of areas we have delivered less than anticipated … we have exceeded plans in critical capability areas such as artillery, responding with agility to Ukraine’s priorities and developments on the battlefield. For example, we have delivered over 15 times the quantity of artillery ammunition originally planned.”

He spoke as the US embassy in Kyiv released a tweet outlining its support for the Ukrainian war effort.

Ensuring Ukrainians have what they need on the battlefield will help them retake their territory and help secure Ukraine’s ability to determine its own future.

The United States committed an additional $1.3 billion as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).…

— U.S. Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) July 20, 2023
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