Russia-Ukraine War Newsletter – JULY 17-23, 2023

Situation as of 8:00 a.m. on July 24, 2023 

  • The Russian Federation has withdrawn from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and de facto established a maritime blockade on Ukraine by mining its waters. They have declared that ships heading to Ukrainian ports will be considered “potential carriers of military cargo,” and “the countries of their flags will be seen as involved in the conflict on the side of the Kyiv regime”. These conditions could lead to the blockage of Ukrainian grain exports, resulting in increased food prices worldwide. This situation has the potential to cause famine and destabilization in the poorest African and Asian countries.
  • During the week, Russian forces have been launching daily strikes on Odesa region, attempting to destroy its port infrastructure. As a result of the damages, residential buildings and architectural landmarks in the city center have been affected, and dozens of people have been injured.
  • During the meeting with Vladimir Putin, self-proclaimed President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, stated that the Wagner Group mercenaries deployed in Belarus want to move “to the West” to attack neighboring Poland. Poland reacted to the arrival of the mercenaries in Belarus by relocating some of its forces to its eastern border.


Positional battles continue on the front line. The Armed Forces of Ukraine continue offensive operations in the Bakhmut area and try to break through Russian defenses in the south. They use cluster munitions received from the United States. Russian troops are carrying out offensive operations in the Kupyansk direction, near Svatove (Luhansk region).

During the week, the exchange of strikes aimed at the rear facilities of the enemy continued between Ukrainian and Russian troops. Ukrainian troops carried out several operations against Russian bases on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea, in particular, the Starokrym military training ground near Feodosia, an oil depot and an ammunition depot in Oktiabrske and Dzhankoy district.  In addition, strikes were carried out on Russian targets near Melitopol (Zaporizhzhia region). On the night of July 24, a drone attack was carried out in the area of the Ministry of Defense building of the Russian Federation in Moscow.

Instead, Russian troops concentrated their activities on strikes against Odesa region after Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal (which was accompanied by threats to attack any ships heading to Ukrainian ports). They daily attack the regional center and other settlements with rockets and kamikaze drones. The main targets of the attacks are grain terminals of international and Ukrainian traders, as well as port infrastructure in the Black Sea and the Danube.  As a result of the strikes, grain terminals in the ports of Odesa and Chornomorsk were damaged; at least 60 thousand tons of agricultural products, which were intended for shipment to the China, were destroyed. Agricultural enterprises in the region and numerous residential buildings were also damaged. The buildings of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China and Consulate General of Greece were damaged as well. As a result of the attack on the night of July 23, the Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa was hit; also a total of 25 architectural monuments in the historic center of Odessa, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, were damaged. During the week, the loss of civilians in Odesa and the region amounted to 1 person killed and 45 people wounded.

In addition to Odesa, during the week, Russian troops attacked Mykolaiv (where 2 people were killed and 18 people were injured as a result of the attack on the night of July 20), Ochakiv (where 1 person was injured), Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv region, Chernihiv region (where 2 people were killed), Dnipropetrovsk region (where 3 people were injured) and Zhytomyr region.

As a result of Russian attacks, civilian losses per last week in the frontline regions of Ukraine amounted to at least: in Donetsk region – 16 people killed and 34 people wounded; in Kherson region – 1 person killed and 9 people wounded; in Kharkiv region – 4 people killed and 11 people wounded; in Sumy region – 4 people killed and 16 people wounded; in Zaporizhzhia region – 6 people killed and 10 people wounded.

Mercenaries from the so-called “PMC Wagner” continue to move to the territory of Belarus. They conduct exercises together with the Belarusian army near the Polish-Belarusian border. This activity forces Poland to closely monitor the situation and deploy additional forces to the border area. At the same time, Ukrainian border guards do not record signs of the presence of a real threat from the northern direction. According to them, currently there are only about 5 thousand merceneries in Belarus.


On July 17th, Russia announced the termination of the “Grain Deal” and declared that all vessels heading to Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea would be treated as potential carriers of military cargo. According to Adam Hodge, the spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Russia has placed additional naval mines in the approaches to Ukrainian ports and may attack civilian ships in the Black Sea. As a result of this situation, the number of vessels transporting grain from the Black Sea region has dropped by 35% this week compared to the previous week. The risks for commercial transportation remain uncertain due to Russia’s attacks on food industry targets in Ukraine. Consequently, insurance coverage for cargoes from Ukraine has been suspended (with the exception of small ports on the Danube). Russia’s actions may be seen as a coordinated strategy to exert pressure on Western countries amid the risks of exacerbating the global food crisis.

On July 21, the head of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, Oleksandr Tkachenko, submitted his resignation due to public dissatisfaction with the plans to allocate budget funds for the completion of the Holodomor Museum (500 million UAH) and the production of TV series (400 million UAH) in Ukraine during the ongoing armed conflict. 

President Zelenskyi signed a decree dismissing Vadym Prystaiko from the position of Ukraine’s ambassador to Great Britain, which he had held since 2020. This step followed Prystaiko’s remarks about “unhealthy sarcasm” from V. Zelensky in response to the words of the British Minister of Defense, Ben Wallace, calling on Ukraine to express more gratitude to its partners for the military support provided.

On July 22, the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine, by decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, fully acquired the shares of “Sens Bank” (until December 2022 known as “Alfa Bank Ukraine”), which was previously owned by the sanctioned Russian oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven. The shares were purchased from the Deposit Guarantee Fund of individuals, and as a result, the bank became state-owned.


On July 18, the 14th meeting of the Contact Group on Defense of Ukraine took place in the “Ramstein” format online with the participation of representatives from about 50 countries. During the meeting, discussions were held regarding the training of Ukrainian pilots on American F-16 fighters, providing Ukraine with additional capabilities for air defense, and increasing the production of ammunition for Ukraine.

Partner countries continue to provide assistance to Ukraine to strengthen its defensive and counteroffensive capabilities. The United States announced the allocation of a new military aid package to Ukraine worth $1.3 billion, which includes NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems and ammunition for them, TOW anti-tank missiles, Phoenix Ghost and Switchblade strike drones, anti-drone and electronic warfare systems. The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg will provide Ukraine with a batch of M113 armored personnel carriers. The German government delivered another batch of military aid to Ukraine, including Leopard tanks, MG3 machine guns for Leopard 2 tanks, Marder infantry fighting vehicles, Dachs engineering armored vehicles, ammunition, and munitions. Additionally, the Bulgarian Parliament approved the provision of about 100 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, along with armaments and spare parts.

In turn, the Swedish government presented the Cooperation Strategy for Reconstruction and Reforms in Ukraine for 2023-2027, allocating 6 billion Swedish kronor (522.6 million euros) for projects aimed at Ukraine’s recovery. Ukraine will also receive a preferential loan of 1.5 billion US dollars guaranteed by the Government of Japan through the World Bank’s Trust Fund Mechanism. Furthermore, during the meeting of the EU foreign ministers on July 20, they discussed the creation of a separate section within the European Peace Fund to provide up to 5 billion euros per year for Ukraine’s long-term defense needs over the next four years.

International sanctions against the Russian Federation are being strengthened. The United States introduced new sanctions against Russian banks “Tinkoff Bank,” “Solidarnost,” and “Unistream,” as well as industrial enterprises and 18 Russian citizens. Canada imposed new sanctions against 20 individuals and 21 companies linked to Russia’s military-industrial complex. The United Kingdom imposed sanctions against individuals and entities in the Central African Republic (CAR), Sudan, and Mali associated with the Wagner Group. The Australian government also introduced new sanctions against 45 individuals and entities in the Russian defense, technological, and energy sectors.

This week, the Russian Federation announced its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was established on July 22, 2022, in Istanbul and aimed to deliver Ukrainian grain to the global markets, including countries facing food shortages. On July 21, during a United Nations Security Council meeting, the situation arising from Russia’s exit from the grain agreement, the blockades and shelling of Ukrainian ports, and Russia’s attempts to exert pressure on international food security were discussed. Additionally, this week, a ministerial-level meeting of the UN Security Council took place regarding the agenda “Supporting the Peace and Security of Ukraine,” and the UN General Assembly held open debates on the “Situation in Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine,” at the level of foreign affairs ministers.

On July 18, the European Court of Human Rights announced its decision in the case “Russia vs. Ukraine,” in which it completely rejected all of Russia’s claims against Ukraine and unanimously decided to strike the case from the docket. Russia had accused Ukraine of killings, abductions, forced resettlement, interference with the right to vote, restrictions on the use of the Russian language, attacks on Russian embassies and consulates, and more. The court found no grounds and deemed Russia’s complaints entirely unfounded.

During the week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held negotiations with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, and the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Akihiko Tanaka, who were visiting Kyiv. Additionally, President Zelensky had phone conversations with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (regarding the convening of the Ukraine-NATO Council in the context of security in the Black Sea), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali. The main topics of discussion were coordinating efforts to restore the Black Sea Grain Initiative and unblock the “grain corridor,” as well as the implementation of the Peace Formula and the recovery of Ukraine.

The information in the newsletter is collected from official sources—reports of state authorities of Ukraine, Ukrainian and international news agencies. The accuracy of the data is carefully checked by the project team and corrected in case of fake news.