Ukraine updates: Putin warns Poland not to attack Belarus

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Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

After Poland reacted to the arrival of Wagner mercenary troops to Belarus by moving some of its troops to its eastern border, Russia's President Vladimir Putin accused Warsaw of trying to seize more land in eastern Europe.

Putin claimed there were press reports about forming a Polish-Lithuanian unit that would operate in western Ukraine. He also warned that any attack on Belarus, Moscow's sole ally in Europe, would be treated as an attack on Russia.

"It is well known that they also dream of the Belarusian lands," Putin said.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of Russia's Security Council, Putin said that Russia would respond "with all means at our disposal.

Here are more major developments in Russia's war in Ukraine from Friday, July 21:

Skip next section Bulgaria to send Ukraine armored vehicles

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Bulgaria to send Ukraine armored vehicles

Bulgaria has agreed to send 100 armored personnel carriers, marking the first time the Balkan country has sent heavy military equipment to Kyiv.

The shipment of Soviet-made BTR carriers would also include armaments and spare parts.

"This equipment is no longer necessary for the needs of Bulgaria, and it can be of serious support to Ukraine in its battle to preserve the country's independence and territorial integrity after the unjustified and unprovoked Russian aggression," Bulgaria's parliament said in its decision.

So far, Bulgaria has only sent one military aid package to Kyiv, consisting mostly of flak jackets and helmets.

The parliament also voted on Friday to end Russian oil firm Lukoil's concession to run the Rosenets oil terminal near the Black Sea port of Burgas.

The port is the only specialized oil terminal on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. 

Lukoil has controlled it since 2011 when the Russian company was granted a 35-year lease. next section Russia vows to deal with 'concerns' of African countries over grain

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Russia vows to deal with 'concerns' of African countries over grain

Russia has promised that it will ensure deliveries to needy countries in Africa.

Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergey Vershinin did not explain how deliveries would be guaranteed but said it would be discussed at an upcoming summit with African leaders. 

"The countries in need in the course of contacts with us and in the course of the upcoming Russia-Africa summit will naturally receive the necessary assurances regarding their needs for agricultural products, first of all grain," he said.

Moscow quit the Black Sea grain deal earlier this week that had allowed Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea safely. next section UN warns 'many may die' as Black Sea grain deal ends

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UN warns 'many may die' as Black Sea grain deal ends

Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal was a "threat to their future" of millions of people needing humanitarian aid, the United Nations aid chief told the Security Council.

"Some will go hungry, some will starve, many may die as a result of these decisions," the UN's humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths said.

Moscow said on Monday that it would not renew the deal that allowed the safe passage of cargo ships carrying Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports. It led to a spike of grain prices over the past week. 

"Higher prices will be most acutely felt by families in developing countries," Griffiths told the 15-member Security Council.

He said some 362 million people in 69 countries need humanitarian aid.

At the same meeting, UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council that attacks on Ukrainian Black Sea ports risk "having far-reaching impacts on global food security, in particular, in developing countries." 

DiCarlo added that threats posed to civilian vessels in the Black Sea by both Russia and Ukraine were "unacceptable."

"We strongly urge restraint from any further rhetoric or action that could deteriorate the already dangerous situation," she said.

The number of ships looking to pick up grain cargoes from the Black Sea area has fallen 35% this week versus the previous week, according to analysis from maritime and commodities data platform Shipfix. next section Ukrainian official says Russian shelling killed 2 children in east

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Ukrainian official says Russian shelling killed 2 children in east

The local governor of the eastern Ukrainian village of Druzhba said Russian shelling killed a brother and sister on Friday.

"At about three o'clock in the afternoon, the Russians shelled the village with artillery — one of the shells hit the yard where the children were," Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on social media.

According to media reports, the boy was aged 10 and the girl 16. next section Russian officials detain Igor Girkin, ex-FSB official involved in Crimea annexation

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Russian officials detain Igor Girkin, ex-FSB official involved in Crimea annexation

Prominent Russian nationalist Igor Girkin, who first came into the public eye by helping Russia annex Crimea and leading rebel forces in eastern Ukraine, has been detained by Russian federal investigators

They have asked a Moscow court to keep Girkin in detention on charges of inciting extremism, state-owned news agencies TASS and RIA Novosti reported. 

If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison. 

On her husband's Telegram channel, Miroslava Reginskaya said members of Russia's Federal Investigative Committee "came to our house" while she was out.

"Soon, according to the concierge, they took my husband out by his arms and in an unknown direction," she wrote.

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year, Girkin, a former FSB agent also known as Igor Strelkov, has grown increasingly critical of what he saw as the Kremlin's mismanagement of the war.

He openly questioned the goals and capabilities of Russia's government and its military and highlighted Ukraine's achievements on the battlefield.

Earlier this year, he said he would enter politics.Earlier this week, he posted a scathing rant apparently aimed at Russian President Putin, although he never named the politician.

"For 23 years, the country (Russia) has been governed by a nobody," he wrote on Telegram, describing the ruler as an "ungifted coward." next section Putin accuses Poland of trying to get involved in Ukraine war

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Putin accuses Poland of trying to get involved in Ukraine war

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the West is running out of "cannon fodder" in Ukraine and said Polish leaders were seeking to intervene under the umbrella of NATO.

"The perspective is obvious," Putin said. "If Polish troops enter, for example, Lviv or other Ukrainian territories, they will stay there. And they will stay there forever."

The Russian president also spoke at length about Poland's alleged history of claiming territories of other countries. According to Putin, this history culminated in 1939 with Poland being cast away by its Western allies to be "eaten" by Nazi Germany.  In reality, Berlin and Moscow agreed to divide Polish territory in 1939 after Germany and the Soviet Union formed a non-aggression pact.

He did not make any comparison to Moscow's illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 or its claims that regions of eastern Ukraine occupied by Russian forces are part of Russia. 

Putin claimed the Soviet Union restored Polish independence after WWII and allowed it to expand into German territories.

"Have our friends in Warsaw forgotten about this? We will remind them," Putin said, instructing its foreign intelligence chief to closely monitor Warsaw's actions. next section Zelenskyy sacks Ukrainian ambassador to UK

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Zelenskyy sacks Ukrainian ambassador to UK

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed his country's ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, without giving a reason for the presidential order.

The dismissal comes after Prystaiko criticized Zelenskyy for his response to a comment from the UK's Defense Minister Ben Wallace that Ukraine should be more grateful for the weapons supplies it has received from its Western backers.

The order also said Prystaiko has been removed as Ukraine's representative to the International Maritime Organization. next section Russia strikes Ukrainian port for fourth night in a row

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Russia strikes Ukrainian port for fourth night in a row

For the fourth consecutive night following Moscow's withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal, Russia has struck port terminals in Ukraine's southern Odesa region.

Russian missiles hit an agricultural enterprise, Odesa's regional governor Oleh Kiper said on Friday. However, the strikes appeared less intense than on previous nights.

"Unfortunately, the grain terminals of an agricultural enterprise in the Odesa region were hit. The enemy destroyed 100 tons of peas and 20 tons of barley," he said on the Telegram messaging app.

Kiper added that the missiles, which he said were Kalibr cruise missiles, were fired from the Black Sea at a low altitude so as to avoid air defenses.

Two people were injured in the attack and grain storage facilities were hit. Agricultural and rescue equipment was also damaged, Kiper said.

A grain warehouse that has been destroyed by a Russian missile, a fire is burning behind itMoscow has said it is carrying out "retaliatory strikes" after a blast that damaged a key bridge to Russian-occupied CrimeaImage: Ukrainian Armed Forces/REUTERS next section Russia conducts naval exercieses in Black Sea

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Russia conducts naval exercieses in Black Sea

The Russian Navy carried out a live-fire "exercise" in the northwest Black Sea on Friday, Russia's state news agency RIA reported, citing the Russian Defense Ministry. 

"The target ship was destroyed as a result of a missile strike," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a Telegram post.

The Black Sea Fleet fired anti-ship cruise missiles at surface targets during the said exercises, RIA reported, adding that the fleet's ships and aviation crew practiced isolating and detaining vessels.

Moscow's exercises in the region come days after the Kremlin said it would consider blowing up ships traveling to Ukraine through the Black Sea.

Russia has also declared unspecified areas of northwestern and southeastern parts of the international waters of the Black Sea as "temporarily dangerous for passage."

In response, Kyiv said ships bound for Russia or Russian-occupied ports in Ukraine could be considered military targets.

Russia's threats are a way to 'stop the grain exports,' maritime security expert tells DW next section Poland to move soldiers to east of country

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Poland to move soldiers to east of country

Poland's security committee decided to move some military units to the country's east to mitigate risks of the Wagner Group's presence in Belarus, the state-run PAP news agency reported Friday, adding that the committee reached the decision on Wednesday.

"Training or joint exercises of the Belarusian army and the Wagner Group is undoubtedly a provocation," Zbigniew Hoffmann, secretary of the committee told PAP.

"The committee analysed possible threats, such as the dislocation of Wagner Group units. Therefore, the Minister of National Defense, chairman of the Committee, Mariusz Blaszczak, decided to move our military formations from the west to the east of Poland."

The Belarusian Defence Ministry had earlier said that Wagner mercenaries had started to train Belarusian special forces at a military range just a few miles from the border with NATO member Poland.

Wagner fighters training troops in Belarus?

mh/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP, DPA)
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